Naohiro Masuda, left, president of Fukushima Daiichi Decontamination & Decommissioning Engineering Co., speaks at the podium in a news conference at the Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s head office on Nov. 22.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. said radioactive water likely did not leak from its stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant following the morning earthquake that spawned a tsunami on Nov. 22. TEPCO declared that everything was ok at Fukushima Daiichi before even to be able to go inspect the facilities.
TEPCO officials said the company manually shut down equipment that was transferring contaminated water from reactor buildings after the magnitude-7.4 earthquake struck off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture. The measure was taken because water being transferred could have spilled out if a pipe in the system was fractured in the quake, and because they would be unable to check the system for leaks.
Naohiro Masuda, president of Fukushima Daiichi Decontamination & Decommissioning Engineering Co., TEPCO’s in-house organization, explained during a news conference at the utility’s head office in Tokyo why the company halted operations of the water transfer facility: “The biggest risk is a tsunami causing contaminated water that has accumulated (in the reactor buildings) to leak and pollute the environment.”
After the Japan Meteorological Agency issued a tsunami warning at 6:02 a.m., the company ordered workers in lower areas of the plant to evacuate to higher ground. The workers stayed out of the lower areas as the tsunami warning lasted for hours. They have been unable to check for possible leaks around the reactor buildings and the turbine buildings near the sea.
“It is a bit inappropriate that we’ve been unable to do so,” Masuda said. “That’s why we suspended the transfer facility. We think that no water will leak now.”
Groundwater mixing with contaminated water in damaged reactor buildings has been a serious problem at the plant since the nuclear disaster unfolded in 2011.
TEPCO also reported that pumps to cool water in the spent nuclear fuel pool at the No. 3 reactor building of the Fukushima No. 2 nuclear power plant shut down after the quake. The company said this was an automatic mechanism that kicked in after the water level changed in the tank that adjusts water conditions in the pool. “It is a result of the fact that the automatic suspension device worked normally,” Masuda said. The pumps were later restarted.
In the evening of 11/22/2016, Tepco announced the radiation monitoring post in the sea has been suspended due to the quake. The post is situated at the end of the breakwater of Fukushima plant port. They cannot monitor the radioactive substance spreading to the Pacific with this monitoring post out of order.
TEPCO declared “everything is safe” soon after the quake. They may have visually confirmed nothing large and significant happened such as a vent tower collapsing or larger building damage, but they were unable to go in to inspect to actually confirm nothing was damaged, to check for damage in more detail and to check every system now in place at the plant could easily take an entire day.
TEPCO’s prompt claim of no damage after the earthquake at the disaster site, as always was not done after inspections would have confirmed no damage.