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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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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

http://climate.nasa.gov/news/903

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/2011/04/what-i...

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/8948363/150...


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
quote:
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.
http://www.kcet.org/news/rewire/wind/ocotillo-wind...

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.


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