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Tokyo Power company had deep Yakuza ties, ignored warnings from its most senior engineers

A petulant Tokyo Electric Power Comp. (TEPCO) (TPE:9501) vowed on Monday to come clean about details it had long denied or refused to confirm regarding radiation leakage from its Fukushima nuclear power plant and employee exposure to radiation.

I. TEPCO Owns up to Leakage Lies

Masayuki Ono, the company's spokesman, at a regular monthly news conference, confirmed for the first time that TEPCO was aware of the leakage of radioactive water into the sea and groundwater.  TEPCO had previously denied that any radioactive waste had reached the sea even as radiation began to spike in sea and groundwater samples.  The company was eventually forced to begin to revise its tune in May after a coastal well sample showed abnormal levels of dangerously radioactive Caesium-137, a "sticky" radioisotope with a half-life of 30 years.

The company claims that most of the leakage entered the groundwater shortly after the March 2011 meltdown of reactors at the southern Fukushima "Daiichi" plant.  It claims that its preventive efforts have since blocked significant amounts of additional radiation from leaking out of the sealed shells of the ruined reactors.

Fukushima disaster
The smoldering remains of a Fukushima reactor. [Image Source: Reuters]

TEPCO believes that a large amount of leaked material, though, is still lingering in the ground table near the plant.  There's concern that tides and rainwater may eventually wash that contaminated water into the Pacific Ocean bay near the plant.

On Monday TEPCO also revealed that it is embarking on a complex strategy to try to block the wastewater from reaching the ocean.  The plan involves injecting chemicals into the ground near the coast to solidify it, in an attempt to block the flow of contaminated ground water.

Mr. Masayuki, in his company's mea culpa, remarked, "We are very sorry for causing concerns. We have made efforts not to cause any leak to the outside, but we might have failed to do so."

The company also admitted that the amount of employees exposed to dangerous doses of radiation was much higher than previously published.  TEPCO admits 10 percent of its plant workers -- 1,972 total employees -- had radiation doses of 100 millisieverts (mSv) or more, roughly 10 times the "safe" radiation limit.  All of these employees now face elevated risks of cancer.  TEPCO refutes, though, numbers from a 2012 World Health Organization (WHO) report which indicated roughly a third of workers -- 178 of 522 checked -- were exposed to >100 mSv (~34%) doses.

II. Managers Tied to Yakuza, May Face Criminal Negligence Charges

Currently fish and seafood from the Fukushima region is banned from sale, both domestically and internationally.  That ban has cost the local economy millions, if not billions of dollars in losses.  

An estimated 1T ¥ ($13B USD) will be required to decontaminate large areas of land surrounding the plant.  The area surrounding the plant, once heavily populated, is now largely abandoned.  The city of Fukushima in total lost an estimated 60,000 residents -- or roughly 20 percent of the population -- has left the region.

TEPCO manager
TEPCO's greedy/incompetent managers, like VP Sakae Muto rejected engineers' safety advice and purposefully maintained a dangerously unsafe design to pad their profits.
[Image Source: Reuters/Toru Hanai]

Analyses indicated that meltdown of the 40-year old reactors could have been avoided if business people at TEPCO had merely agreed to follow the advice of their engineers.  In a 2007 report the company's senior safety engineer warned that there was a 10 percent chance per decade of a tsunami sweeping over the 6-foot floodwall.  The report advised either switching to waterproof backup generators or raising the wall to prevent a total loss of power and subsequent catastrophic meltdown.

But TEPCO's managers were too greedy and incompetent to heed that warning from their technical experts and called the risk "acceptable".  In fact, in 2012 it was revealed that TEPCO had ties to the Yakuza -- a criminal Mafia-like organization in Japan.  Local ring leader Makoto Owada had supplied workers to the Fukushima plant since at least 2007, taking a cut of their earnings.

TEPCO chairman
TEPCO chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata's has been tied to criminal Yakuza dealings.  He and his fellow managers may face criminal charges for negligence. [Image Source: AFP]

Japanese officials are currently probing the Fukushima situation trying to decide whether to charge TEPCO officials with criminal negligence, a crime which carries a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment under the island nation's penal code.

Source: The Asahi Shimbun

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Nice going.
By Motoman on 7/23/2013 2:38:19 PM , Rating: 4
Hey, thanks you dipsh1ts. Now you've got the whole of Japan, and significant portions of the rest of the world, convinced that nuke plants are just inherently unsafe and we shouldn't use them.

Like the mouth-breathing whoreds needed any further prodding.

RE: Nice going.
By retrospooty on 7/23/2013 2:42:27 PM , Rating: 3
"Like the mouth-breathing whoreds needed any further prodding."

RE: Nice going.
By FITCamaro on 7/23/2013 2:48:54 PM , Rating: 2
Well luckily for them the ignorance of others is not something that is their fault.

RE: Nice going.
By Labotomizer on 7/23/2013 3:25:14 PM , Rating: 4
At least they're considering sending them to jail for... 5 years. You know, for endangering thousands of people, ruining a local economy, forcing the Japanese government to say that they're going to retire all nuclear power and scaring the rest of the world of what should be a huge portion of our energy portfolio. But, 5 years in jail... Totally legit.

RE: Nice going.
By Morvannec on 7/23/2013 3:41:50 PM , Rating: 3
They should be made to bath in the sea around the plant for every day of those 5 years.

RE: Nice going.
By nafhan on 7/23/2013 7:48:12 PM , Rating: 4
That would likely have no effect.

Drinking the well water on the other hand... might. That wouldn't necessarily even have an effect, though. Note that they specifically use the wording "abnormally high" rather than "dangerous". To me this indicates that the source article either doesn't know or wants to intentionally misrepresent what's happened. Basically, there's not much in the way of medically interesting info in this article or the source.

RE: Nice going.
By melgross on 7/23/13, Rating: -1
RE: Nice going.
By lightfoot on 7/24/2013 9:23:10 AM , Rating: 3
You're an idiot. Radiation and its effects are well understood. There ARE levels that are considered safe, otherwise there would be no such thing as sunbathing, x-rays or air travel. All of which, when done in moderation, are completely safe.

RE: Nice going.
By Kurz on 7/24/2013 9:29:06 AM , Rating: 2
Radiation actually can have a positive effect on health.

RE: Nice going.
By zhivaji on 7/25/2013 1:27:32 PM , Rating: 2
Wish you good luck. maybe they'll turn out to be like the X-men or Fantastic four characters :-)

RE: Nice going.
By Sunrise089 on 7/24/2013 9:46:50 AM , Rating: 3
This is hilariously wrong, or would be if it didn't represent the thinking of a huge swath of the population when it comes to nuclear power.

On top of bathing in seawater having basically no impact as others have already said, the "WILL cause problems" demonstrates a misunderstanding of how increased probability of risk leads to negative outcomes. Many things increase the rate of potential harms by trivial amounts, others by non-trivial amounts. Smoking packs of cigarettes per day greatly increases the risk of some cancers, but it doesn't mean they "WILL" occur, nor does getting lung cancer mean one was a smoker.

Please stop making the faulty chain of [potentially dangerous thing]->[must be dangerous]->[something bad "WILL" happen]

RE: Nice going.
By nafhan on 7/24/2013 1:17:12 PM , Rating: 2
Uhm... "natural background" levels vary greatly, and can be dangerous (i.e. radon, skin cancer from UV, etc.).

RE: Nice going.
By DennisB on 7/24/2013 1:49:07 PM , Rating: 2
There's an age old solution: Have them (e.g. EPA) set the levels higher; problem solved. No longer alarms and news articles. Wouldn't wonder if reports use differing levels of evaluation...

RE: Nice going.
By flyingpants1 on 7/23/2013 4:37:33 PM , Rating: 4
Don't make me laugh. Almost all of the criminals on Wall Street and in the United States government got nothing whatsoever. 5 years is plenty.

RE: Nice going.
By Labotomizer on 7/23/2013 4:52:39 PM , Rating: 3
Just because that was wrong doesn't make it okay here.

I do find it funny that more people are upset about Zimmerman getting off than paid attention to the lack of Wall Street investigations. Then again, one got lots of play on ET, CNN, TMZ and FOX. The other, not so much.

RE: Nice going.
By Kurz on 7/25/2013 1:28:21 PM , Rating: 3
People care more about race baiting, than when they are actually getting screwed out of their own money.

RE: Nice going.
By ClownPuncher on 7/23/2013 5:51:22 PM , Rating: 2
TBH, any Yakuza or corrupt officials involved with this should kill themselves.

RE: Nice going.
By Motoman on 7/23/2013 8:01:00 PM , Rating: 2
The Yakuza might. But I don't expect that kind of integrity from corporate or government officials.

RE: Nice going.
By Reclaimer77 on 7/23/2013 8:46:15 PM , Rating: 2
You would think a country that had two nuclear bombs dropped on them would like, oh I don't know, exercise a little more planning and forethought when they decided to put a nuclear power station right on the freaking sea in an area known for geological instability...

RE: Nice going.
By Gondor on 7/24/2013 5:43:51 AM , Rating: 2
Entire Japan (all of its islands) is situated in geologically unstable area as tectonic plates meet right alongside its length. They went nuclear so they must have considered the risk acceptable.

RE: Nice going.
By Dorkyman on 7/24/2013 11:00:53 AM , Rating: 3
And the risk WAS and IS acceptable. I am mystified by a public that panics at the word "nuclear" when it is, by far, the safest power source. Safer than wind. Safer than solar.

RE: Nice going.
By gamerk2 on 7/24/2013 11:12:01 AM , Rating: 3
If a Wind Generator breaks, you aren't at risk unless you are standing right underneath it at the time.

If a Nuclear Reactor breaks, you aren't at risk unless you are inside a 100 mile or so radius.

See the issue? Nuclear must be held to a much higher safety standard, because the fallout (no pun indented) of a problem is so much greater.

Nevermind the Wind and Solar power is already cheaper per megawatt hour in some parts of the world.

RE: Nice going.
By mead drinker on 7/24/2013 12:23:47 PM , Rating: 3
FUD. Most nuclear "disasters" are hardly disasters at all. They may have environmental impacts that are quantitatively difficult to ascertain but they are hardly apocalyptic manifestations of a wall of fire coming at you. Fissile material in a reactor is not concentrated enough to be bomb grade.

So let's forget about "if a nuclear reactor breaks." They have, some have had meltdowns, and the worse case single incident has led to 50 some-odd immediate deaths, all of which were workers. So more people unrelated to the production of energy have died as a result of wind turbines than nuclear. It is the safest and most reliable source of energy we have. Since it is beyond your comprehension to understand and trust, I leave you with the following quote and links:

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
Arthur C. Clarke

RE: Nice going.
By web2dot0 on 7/26/2013 4:08:31 PM , Rating: 2
Then you should have been a victim and see how it feel to die from radiation poisoning. It's "not that bad". Hardly a disaster for your health really. I wonder what you'll look like when al your hair falls off your head, and die a slow death.

goverment documents promote nuclear because that's their initiative.

"Clean Coal"...... right ..... Keep drinking that kool aid.

RE: Nice going.
By Solandri on 7/25/2013 8:31:18 AM , Rating: 3
If a Wind Generator breaks, you aren't at risk unless you are standing right underneath it at the time.

If a Nuclear Reactor breaks, you aren't at risk unless you are inside a 100 mile or so radius.

See the issue? Nuclear must be held to a much higher safety standard, because the fallout (no pun indented) of a problem is so much greater.

This is a false comparison. You're comparing a single wind turbine which generates on average a few hundred kilowatts to a nuclear plant which generated over 4 gigawatts.

If you want to correctly compare their risk, you need to compare the Fukushima Daiichi plant to about 10,000 2MW wind turbines (because wind has a capacity factor of about 0.22). Once you do that and compile figures for 10,000 turbines, you find that the risk of death to maintenance workers and nearby residents is actually higher for wind than for nuclear. And that the land area at risk of a blade or ice throw whenever the turbine is in use actually comes pretty close to the current evacuation area around Fukushima.

Incidentally, the throw distance used by the industry is estimated at:

1.5 * (turbine_height + rotor_diameter)

But the above story I linked to is worrying because the rotor traveled about twice that far. As noted in the story, this puts the freeway within throw distance of the turbines. This is an area that definitely needs more study if wind is to be widely adopted.

RE: Nice going.
By superstition on 7/24/2013 11:15:32 AM , Rating: 2
Nuclear power is inherently safe because we can inherently rely upon human nature to not be greedy.

Those few bad apples, after all, are hardly similar to the vast majority of people.

RE: Nice going.
By lelias2k on 7/24/2013 5:56:15 PM , Rating: 2
No, they aren't inherently unsafe, but sh*t happens, as it evidently did there.

RE: Nice going.
By web2dot0 on 7/26/2013 4:04:33 PM , Rating: 1
You mean like Chernobyl, "shit happens". I would you to be a victim of the disaster and tell me that it's safe. It's easy to be a keyboard warrior.

Normal disasters is don't have 10000 half life, and long term environmental damage. All it takes is one mistake and it's game over.

If a solar panel explodes, people in 100mile radius aren't gonna immediately die. that's a fact.

Think before you speak.

RE: Nice going.
By Fallen Kell on 7/29/2013 3:00:24 PM , Rating: 2
And Chernobyl is something that could only happen in the Soviet Union (or other places with the same mentality). They wanted to simply claim they had the most nuclear power plants, generating the most power. They built them half-assed and with no consideration at all to risk factors. There was no containment building! Why? Because building a containment building would have admitted at some level that there was a possibility that something could go wrong, and this is Soviet Russia, we are the best, nothing can be wrong with our design, because admitting to that as an engineer was that you were sent to Siberia to do hard labor until you died...

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