Former worker’s book: TEPCO unfit to operate nuclear plants

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Toru Hasuike, a former employee of Tokyo Electric Power Co., talks about his new book in Kashiwazaki, Niigata Prefecture.
 
August 27, 2018
KASHIWAZAKI, Niigata Prefecture–Toru Hasuike, who worked at Tokyo Electric Power Co. for 32 years, has published another book that he says shows his former employer should be declared “ineligible” to operate nuclear power plants.
“Kokuhatsu” (Accusation), a 250-page book released on Aug. 27 by Tokyo-based Business-sha Inc., reveals episodes that underscore the utility’s culture of cover-ups and collusion, including how it stacked the decks in its favor for government approval of its new reactors, he said.
After graduating from the Tokyo University of Science, Hasuike, 63, had worked in TEPCO’s nuclear division, including a stint at the now-embattled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, from 1977 until he left the company in 2009.
His first book about the utility, titled “Watashi ga Aishita Tokyo Denryoku” (Tokyo Electric Power Co. that I loved), was released by Kyoto-based Kamogawa Co. in September 2011, a half-year after the disaster struck the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
In that book, Hasuike describes the day-to-day activities at TEPCO and the closed nature of the regional monopoly in a matter-of-fact tone. He does not accuse the company of cover-ups or collusion in the book.
“Back then, I believed that even TEPCO would transform itself (following the Fukushima nuclear disaster),” Hasuike said in an interview with The Asahi Shimbun in Kashiwazaki. “But TEPCO’s corporate culture of trying to cover up things and form collusive ties with authorities has not been overhauled. In my latest book, I wrote about all that I saw.”
Assigned to the utility’s main office in Tokyo, Hasuike, who had an engineering background, was primarily involved in work responding to nuclear regulators’ safety inspections of TEPCO’s plants as well as research into the disposal of high-level radioactive waste.
He said he documented a number of his experiences that epitomize the collusive ties between the utility and nuclear regulators before the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Hasuike said these episodes made him question the feasibility of TEPCO’s new stated goal of pushing for organizational reform that puts safety management of its nuclear facilities above everything else.
Hasuike was born and raised in Kashiwazaki, Niigata Prefecture, a city that co-hosts TEPCO’s seven-reactor Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant, the largest nuclear power station in Japan.
His parents and other relatives live in the coastal city.
The Diet’s Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission also pointed out TEPCO’s propensity to seek cozy ties with regulating bodies.
In its report published in 2012, the commission denounced collusion between TEPCO and the government’s nuclear watchdog, describing nuclear authorities as a “regulatory capture” of the company because they were easily manipulated by TEPCO’s vast wealth of nuclear expertise.
In his new book, Hasuike describes, for example, TEPCO’s moves related to the No. 6 and No. 7 reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant.
The company is currently seeking to bring those reactors back online as soon as possible to save on fuel costs needed to operate its thermal plants.
Hasuike said in the book that TEPCO sent some of its employees to the then Science and Technology Agency in 1990 on the pretext of “assisting in preparations” for a public hearing planned by the government’s Nuclear Safety Commission.
The agency’s commission was scheduled to hold a public hearing at the Niigata prefectural government building on whether to give approval and licenses for the construction of the No. 6 and No. 7 reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant.
The TEPCO employees were sent to the agency, where the commission’s secretariat was located, to check postcards sent by those hoping to attend the hearing. Specifically, TEPCO wanted to know their stance on nuclear energy and prevent the hearing from being dominated by anti-nuclear attendees, according to the book.
When they grasped the number of nuclear opponents who planned to attend, the TEPCO employees made arrangements to send several times that number of application postcards to the pro-nuclear energy camp to ensure their representation was larger than nuclear skeptics at the hearing, Hasuike wrote.
After the applicants were selected and those permitted to ask questions at the hearing were chosen, the TEPCO employees advised the pro-nuclear attendees on their proposed questions with the aim to make the plant look safe, according to the book.
Hasuike has also been known as a relentless critic of the government for its handling of the decades-old issue of Japanese nationals abducted by North Korean agents. He has appeared on TV programs and written several books on the subject.
His younger brother, Kaoru, returned to Japan in 2002 after being abducted to North Korea in 1978. But many other abductees remain unaccounted for, and there are few signs of progress toward a resolution of the issue.
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Watchdog says TEPCO nuclear disaster drill ‘unacceptable’

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An emergency drill at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata Prefecture
August 22, 2018
The government’s nuclear watchdog slammed Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s efforts as “unacceptable” in communicating with nuclear authorities during an emergency drill held at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant.
TEPCO, operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, was among three utilities to receive the lowest of the three-level scores in terms of ability to share information expediently and accurately, the Nuclear Regulation Authority said July 25.
It was the first time for the company to be given the lowest score on communication skills in a yearly drill.
“It is unacceptable that TEPCO received a low rating, given that it was responsible for the Fukushima disaster,” an NRA official said. “TEPCO appears to be too compartmentalized for its relevant sections to work together and share information.”
The NRA is set to instruct the company to hold additional drills at the plant, which is located in Niigata Prefecture, if it receives another low rating.
The utility was slow in relaying information to the watchdog, and its briefing on its handling of the mock accident was inadequate, according to the NRA’s report.
“We could not respond sufficiently because the envisioned accident was harsh,” said Kiyoto Ishikawa, the chief of the plant’s publicity department, at a news conference.
The drill in question was carried out in March under the scenario of coping with a serious accident.
It involved difficult procedures to cope with a failure in the communication system to send such critical information as the pressure level in the reactors’ containment vessels to the NRA. Operators also simulated a string of maneuvers of the venting system to lower pressure inside the No. 6 reactor that suffered core damage.
“We had to deal with a tough situation because it proceeded with less time allotted for us than in a real accident,” Ishikawa said. “We are determined to make more efforts and improve our standing.”
The NRA’s assessment comes at a time when TEPCO seeks to bring the No. 6 and No. 7 reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant back on line in the near future to save expensive fuel costs incurred by the operation of its thermal power plants.
With seven reactors, the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant is the largest in Japan. It is the only nuclear complex for TEPCO to turn to as it proceeds with decommissioning of the Fukushima No. 1 and No. 2 nuclear plants.
The two reactors have cleared the screenings by the NRA under the stricter reactor regulations put in place following the 2011 Fukushima triple meltdown.
The other plants that were rated on par with the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in the evaluation of emergency drills were Hokuriku Electric Power Co.’s Shika plant in Ishikawa Prefecture and Chubu Electric Power Co.’s Hamaoka plant in Shizuoka Prefecture.
In the case of the Shika plant, Hokuriku Electric’s in-house information sharing system got bogged down, making it impossible for the NRA to remain in the communication loop.
In total, 10 operators of nuclear power plants carried out emergency drills.
The NRA considers it vital for the operator of a nuclear plant to share accurate information on the accident since the prime minister declares a “nuclear emergency” based on the NRA’s report.
In the Fukushima disaster, TEPCO had trouble passing on information on the unfolding nuclear crisis with the government swiftly and accurately, resulting in confusion.

TEPCO seeks nuclear power industry tie-up with key players

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Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 2 nuclear plant
August 22, 2018
Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc., operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, has begun talks with the nuclear industry’s key players about a possible tie-up for maintenance and management services and decommissioning of reactors.
The company is in discussions with Chubu Electric Power Co., Hitachi Ltd. and Toshiba Corp., according to sources.
If the talks go well, a consolidation of the nuclear industry could be in the cards, the sources said.
TEPCO seeks to restart two of the seven reactors at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in Niigata Prefecture in the near future. Both are boiling water reactors, the same type as those that are to be decommissioned at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
TEPCO operates 11 boiling water reactors, seven of which are located at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant. The remainder are located at the Fukushima No. 2 nuclear plant.
However, the utility announced in June it would pull the plug on the Fukushima No. 2 nuclear plant, which suffered damage in the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami and narrowly escaped a serious disaster like at its sister plant.
Chubu Electric also operates three boiling water reactors at its Hamaoka nuclear plant in Shizuoka Prefecture. The plant’s two other reactors are in the process of decommissioning.
Hitachi and Toshiba were both involved in the design and construction of those reactors.
The four parties seek to streamline their nuclear energy operations through cooperation in maintenance and management services as well as safety management of their facilities after the restarts of their reactors.
Utilities today face an exceedingly higher price tag for bolstering safety precautions at their plants that are required under the stricter new reactor regulations put in place in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima No. 1 disaster.
With none of their reactors back online, TEPCO and Chubu Electric fell behind other utilities.
Kansai Electric Power Co. and other operators of pressurized water reactors have restarted their plants.
Meanwhile, work to decommission reactors is looming large for TEPCO and other utilities, as many reactors are aging and nearing their 40-year life span.
The four companies are also expected to discuss possible construction of new nuclear plants in the coming years.
TEPCO plans to call on other electric power companies to join a consortium it seeks to set up in fiscal 2020 in connection with its project to construct the Higashidori nuclear plant in Aomori Prefecture. The construction of the facility has been suspended since the quake and tsunami.

Tepco’s Sale of Souvenirs

I think Tepco should better sell diluted contaminated water as souvenirs. Why not If people are enough baka (dumb) to buy it and take it home. It is maybe finally a good solution for Tepco to dispose of all that accumulated radioactive water away from the plant site.
 

Tepco halts sale of folders with Fukushima nuclear plant pictures

FUKUSHIMA (Kyodo) — The operator of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant has halted its sale of file folders with photos showing the current conditions of the complex due to public criticism, company sources said Wednesday.
“We received many views, including favorable ones. We will consider whether we can restart their sale (which began Aug. 1),” an official of the operator Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. said.
The folders, offered in a set of three for 300 yen ($2.70), have pictures of the Nos. 1-4 units of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex, stricken by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster.
The operator known as Tepco said it sold them at two convenience stores on the premises of the Fukushima complex after people involved in work to scrap the plant asked the company to sell souvenirs. Tepco said it does not make any profit on the folders.
But there have been complaints from people who were offended by the folders.
A Tepco official involved in the folder sale has said, “As there are very few opportunities to show the real situation of the Fukushima complex, we wanted people to become aware of it through these goods.”
In one of the world’s worst nuclear crises, the Fukushima Daiichi plant on the Pacific coast suffered meltdowns at three of its six reactors, spewing radioactive materials in the surrounding environment.
Decontamination and other efforts are under way to enable people who lived near the disaster-stricken plant to return to their hometowns, while Tepco struggles with massive compensation payments and cleanup costs stemming from the disaster.
 

Tepco halts sales of souvenirs from Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant following public outcry

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A plastic file folder is seen with pictures of Tepco’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. The utility halted sales of the folders amid criticism it was looking to profit from the 2011 disaster at the plant.
Aug 9, 2018
Tepco suspended the sale of souvenirs at its crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant Wednesday — just eight days after launching the products — following public outcry that it was looking to profit from the 2011 disaster.
Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. had been selling plastic file folders imprinted with pictures of the Nos. 1 to 4 units at the crisis-hit plant at two of the facility’s convenience stores since Aug. 1, after receiving requests for memorabilia from visitors and workers.
But the sales by the utility immediately drew criticism with many people posting angry comments on social media. One comment said Tepco was responsible for the disaster and “had no right to profit from” it, adding that the move was “arrogant and showed scant consideration for the disaster victims.” Others said the plant operator should at least donate the proceeds from the sales to local residents and charities.
“We have received a wide variety of opinions over the past week and decided to suspend sales in order to reflect on those views and consider what would be the proper way to handle such merchandise,” Tepco spokeswoman Yuka Matsubara said.
Matsubara also said the utility is unsure if sales would ever resume.
She emphasized the company never intended to take profits from the sales as the ¥300 retail price for a set of three folders was almost the same as the production cost.
“We had learned that visitors and workers had been keeping the receipts they received from the convenience stores at the complex as souvenirs to show their families,” Matsubara said. “To allow visitors a chance to share their experiences and inform everyone that Fukushima is gradually recovering, we made the decision to sell souvenirs.”
After the sales of souvenirs were reported by several news outlets, mixed comments began appearing on Twitter.
A tweet by @mtycskni_ said, “I guess it would be proper to give away such things to the visitors who wish to have them” instead of selling them, while another from @potetohakusyaku asked, “Why don’t visitors buy local products made in Fukushima instead of such goods?”
The Fukushima plant that suffered nuclear meltdowns following the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster is not open to the general public. Only plant workers, decommissioning support staff, media representatives, local politicians and residents are permitted on the grounds as long as they are 18 or older. Last year, 12,500 people visited the complex — up 1,800 from 2016.

TEPCO to open museum to display decommissioning process for Fukushima reactors

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A rendering of a stage, which projects the life-size cross-section of a nuclear reactor, enabling visitors to see inside of the reactor that suffered a meltdown, using computer graphics and actual footage.
 
July 31, 2018
TOMIOKA, Fukushima — Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) announced on July 27 that it will open a museum here to display exhibitions in relation to the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant disaster and its decommissioning work.
The exhibition, which is scheduled to start in November 2018, will mostly display films in which actors re-enact scenes in the form of dramas, to inform visitors of how the Fukushima nuclear disaster that began on March 11, 2011, was handled and follow-up work, in sections titled, “Memories and records” and “Reflections and lessons.” On a different floor, drama footage introducing measures taken to lower the risk of decommissioning work and descriptions of the enormous worksite will be screened in sections titled, “Conditions at the scene” and “Progress of the work.”
There will also be a stage in which a life-size cross-section of a nuclear reactor is projected, using both computer graphics and actual footage. Visitors can also experience a simulation of the situation at the time of the meltdowns and see images of the actual debris.
Makoto Okura, head of TEPCO’s Fukushima Revitalization Headquarters, stated at a press conference, “I want the museum to serve as a venue for people hesitant to come back to local areas to understand what kind of accident it was, and what it’s like in reality.”
The venue for the museum will be a refurbished former Energy Kan building in the Fukushima Prefecture town of Tomioka, which was shut down after the disaster. The exhibition space is approximately 1,900 square meters spread over two stories. Entry to the museum will be free.

Fukushima nuclear plant operator resumes TV ads

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18 Jul 2018

TOKYO: The operator of Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant on Wednesday (Jul 18) resumed television commercials, seven years after a 2011 meltdown that sparked the world’s worst atomic accident in a generation.

A retail arm of Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) Holdings said it was placing commercials on television, radio stations, and trains, as competition among energy companies intensifies.

The decision is controversial, with some activists angered that TEPCO is spending on advertising while it remains on the hook for enormous costs stemming from the disaster, including clean-up, decommissioning and compensation payments.

But a spokeswoman for TEPCO Energy Partner said the new campaign was “necessary” to help Fukushima.

“Our achievement of sales targets will allow us to fulfil our responsibilities for Fukushima,” Megumi Kobayashi told AFP.

The commercials feature “Tepcon”, a rabbit mascot who shares “ear-grabbing” information about the company’s electricity and gas packages.

TEPCO took its commercials off the air in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, which was triggered by a massive earthquake and ensuing tsunami in March 2011.

The tsunami wrecked cooling systems at the Fukushima plant on Japan’s northeast coast, sparking reactor meltdowns and radiation leaks.

Japan shut down all reactors in the wake of the Fukushima crisis, the worst nuclear accident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

The government has poured billions of dollars into TEPCO to keep the company, which supplies electricity to Tokyo and the surrounding area, afloat.

It faces massive ongoing costs as it stumps up cash for decommissioning the reactors, cleaning up contaminated areas and paying compensation to those who fled their homes due to radiation fears.

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/asia/fukushima-nuclear-plant-operator-resumes-tv-ads-10540020

TEPCO aims to build more Fukushima-type nuclear reactors, vows to ‘excel in safety’ this time

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Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant
1 Jul, 2018
TEPCO is conducting an independent geological survey to confirm the absence of active faults in Aomori Prefecture, where it wants to resume the construction of a Fukushima-type nuclear plant, frozen following the 2011 disaster.
“It’s necessary to form a consortium for building a nuclear plant that is excellent in safety, technology and economy,” TEPCO President Tomoaki Kobayakawa said in Tokyo, announcing the decision to conduct a survey of the Aomori Prefecture nuclear site.
The Higashidori Nuclear Power Plant hosts two adjoining sites administered by Tohoku Electric Power Company and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). While Tohoku Unit 1 began commercial operations in December 2005, TEPCO never got a chance to finish their unit, the construction of which began only in January 2011. All activity at the site has ceased since the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear meltdown.
TEPCO’s survey, scheduled for completion by 2020, will check the fault structure under the site using a two-kilometer-long tunnel, Kobayakawa said on Friday. Previous studies of terrain beneath the area by the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) found the likely presence of multiple active, seismogenic faults. However, both TEPCO and the Tohoku Electric Power Company decided to conduct further ‘independent’ investigations to review the validity of the NRA findings.
The energy company wants to build two reactors at the site and is exploring ways to meet the stricter government regulations introduced following the Fukushima disaster. Higashidori units, however, would still use the same type of boiling-water, light-water reactors that suffered meltdown at the Fukushima plant, Japan Times noted.
“As we restart the (Higashidori) project, I want to make sure that a new plant would excel in safety,” Kobayakawa told a press conference. “The geological survey is a very significant step to move forward on the joint development of Higashidori,” he noted, adding that TEPCO has asked major utility companies in the country to contribute to the construction and operation of the Higashidori plant.
Three of the Fukushima plant’s six reactors were hit by meltdowns in 2011, after a 9.0-magnitude earthquake and subsequent tsunami struck the facility, resulting in the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

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