Newsflash from the “Tea Kettles of Doom.”

Not that it should come as any surprise, but Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO)  has just admitted that they have massively underestimated  the amount of radiation released by the crippled reactors at Fukushima Daiichi, due to “improper measurement.”

“We are very sorry, but we found cases in which beta radiation readings turned out to be wrong when the radioactivity concentration of a sample was high,” TEPCO spokesman Masayuki Ono told a press conference. Beta ray-emitting radioactive materials include strontium-90.

Guilty of epic fail in the realm of public safety, TEPCO is still inexplicably controlling operations at the site of the worst nuclear disaster in peacetime history.

It doesn’t take much to imagine that this latest revelation is just the tip of the radioactive iceberg.

Since the first day of the disaster, there has been an ongoing conspiracy afoot to keep much of the unfolding story shrouded in secrecy for as long as possible.  

This has been done almost exclusively to protect the corporation, and the industry associated with it, from total collapse.  By limiting the effectiveness of the evacuation zone, falsely minimizing the risk posed by radiation exposure in general, and fudging the data from Fukushima exposures in particular, those who collaborated to protect the industry callously sacrificed the public good.

Thyroid cancers are spiking among children in Fukushima prefecture; but the official position is that escaped radiation from the accident is “unlikely” to be the cause.

How many times did the public receive assurances that meltdown would not occur; that contamination could be contained; that groundwater wouldn’t be contaminated; that the ocean fisheries would be unaffected?  If these were not the most bald-faced lies, the only alternative is that TEPCO is singularly incompetent.

In either case, there is absolutely no legitimate excuse for the Japanese government to have left them in control for so long.

About Sue Prent

Artist/Writer/Activist living in St. Albans, Vermont with my husband since 1983. I was born in Chicago; moved to Montreal in 1969; lived there and in Berlin, W. Germany until we finally settled in St. Albans.

12 thoughts on “Newsflash from the “Tea Kettles of Doom.”

  1. Last Thursday, TEPCO announced “that a groundwater sample taken from a well at the site in July last year contained a record-high 5 million becquerels per liter of radioactive strontium-90.

    Tokyo Electric Power Co. initially said that it had detected 900,000 becquerels per liter of beta ray-emitting radioactive substances, such as strontium, in the water sample taken July 5, but found problems in the measuring equipment in October.

    Estimating from the strontium-90 readings, a TEPCO official said that “all beta radiation could have been 10 million becquerels in total.”

    The quote in your story is an attempt by TEPCO to minimize that statement, by suggesting (not for the first time) that maybe faulty equipment was responsible for these record-high readings: “We are very sorry, but we found cases in which beta radiation readings turned out to be wrong when the radioactivity concentration of a sample was high,” TEPCO spokesman Masayuki Ono told a press conference.”

    So, the real story, which interestingly has gotten NO media attention, is that almost 3 years after the accident, groundwater readings at Fukushima are breaking records.

    That’s unsurprising to anyone who recognizes that this accident is ONGOING: there are holes in several reactors, so they continue to spew radiation into the environment.  Since it’s mostly into water, rather than air, no one seems to care much.  The Pacific Ocean is a convenient sewer, and so close at hand!  

    What we really have is this: after the initial event, operators have gotten sufficient control of the situation to keep the fuel in the damaged reactors from continuing to melt.  BUT, they haven’t stopped the continuing environmental damage from the fuel which DID melt; and, in fact, it’s ongoing.  Hence the high levels of strontium-90 and not long before that, high levels in the Pacific near the plant.

    The media has reported what happened at Fukushima as an “event,” like the tsunami or the earthquake which precipitated it.  Events are one-shot affairs: they have a beginning and an end.

    But nuclear plants don’t work that way.  They require that total control be maintained OVER TIME.  Indeed, forever.  And once an accident in which fuel melts and the containment fails occurs, it doesn’t stop simply because you are able to keep water covering the fuel.  That just keeps things from getting worse, but it doesn’t solve the initial problems.

    In short, there’s a whole ongoing story here that virtually no one is covering.  The risks remain high.  The damage has not stopped.  And since no one knows how much radiation will end up having been released once all the leaks are plugged, the industry’s reassurances are even hollower than usual.

    Thanks for staying tuned!

  2. we are all too familiar with:

    – added emphasis

    Leak of contaminated water at Fukushima Daiichi Unit 3 may have international safety impact

    Jan 20

    [..]The water is coming from a room which houses a main steam isolation valve, which is causing concern among experts around the world.  The latest details have raised questions as to whether the main steam isolation valve or any of its ancillary systems may have failed during the disaster.

    There are two main steam isolation valves in each of the four pipes which carry steam from the reactor vessel to the turbine.  In case of accident or power loss, the MSIV’s are supposed to fail in a closed configuration.

    After the reactor shut down on March 11th, 2011, the main steam isolation valves should have closed with the turbine tripped.  Even if workers had manually re-opened the MSIV’s when emergency diesel generators restored power to plant equipment before the tsunami hit the plant, the pressure inside of the condenser should have automatically re-closed the MSIVs shortly thereafter.

    The fact that water is leaking from a room which houses the main steam isolation valve may indicate that the valve did not close, or was damaged during the course of the disaster.

    In 2011, Dave Lochbaum of the Union of Concerned Scientists drew attention to the fact that water levels in the Unit 3 reactor dropped below zero by 16:00, without any information available that would explain why.

    If the MSIV did not close or broke, operators could have been facing a Loss of Coolant Accident without even knowing how the coolant water in the reactor could have leaked out.

    If the MSIV was damaged or failed open, this would represent an unanalyzed condition which could affect every other operating Boiling Water Reactor in operation currently, who count on the MSIV’s to work as planned.

  3. These calculational errors go way back, perhaps till 2011.  So Tepco screws up and lowballs the dose assessment  until after the Olympics were awarded.

  4. this likely would not have happened:

    – added emphasis

    Tokyo chief chosen amid divided anti-nuke vote

    Feb. 9, 2014 7:36 AM

    Written by

    YURI KAGEYAMA, AP Business Writer

    TOKYO – Yoichi Masuzoe, a former health minister backed by Japan’s ruling party, won Tokyo’s gubernatorial election on Sunday, defeating two candidates who had promised to end nuclear power[..]Masuzoe garnered about 30 percent of the vote, according to NHK exit polls. Hosokawa and Utsunomiya got about 20 percent each, indicating that if the anti-nuclear vote had been united, a win by either might have been possible.


  5. “TEPCO is still inexplicably controlling operations at the site of the worst nuclear disaster in peacetime history.”

    Yakuza: How else would they get paid?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *