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TEPCO report faults operating manual; disputes hydrogen explosion

60 Comments

A committee set up by Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) to investigate the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant following the March 11 tsunami has released an internal document that says the company's operating manual had not properly prepared workers for a disaster scenario.

According to Fuji TV, the manual apparently gave no instructions on what to do in the event that the system's emergency diesel generators failed to come online – a worst case scenario that was realized following the tsunami.

The document also states that there was no hydrogen explosion at the No. 2 reactor's suppression pool, which contradicts previous reports that there were hydrogen explosions at the reactors after they went into meltdown.

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60 Comments
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Hurray! We have a culprit! Its not TEPCOs fault - its the manual!

Well, dont know about you guys but I will certainly sleep better now knowing that TEPCO is blameless in all this. I mean, if its not in the manual - what can you possibly expect them to do? Its not as if they have been running tens of power stations for many years or anything.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

It's easy to blame TEPCO for this but this is a regulation problem. The govt agencies and politicians who run them could have had better rules in place. TEPCO denied the possibility of animator problem at the plant and the govt agreed and went along with it, so it shows a culture of negligence and corruption.

And it's not like we can say TEPCO and the govt have improved: the govt doesn't even know what the new manual says, and whilst some criticised TEPCO, they're taking their sweet time in addressing the problem. Best hope another eq doesn't come along in the mean time. Btw, what about the other companiez and their manuals?

2 ( +2 / -0 )

oh there's a manual, but it's redacted to protect trade secrets.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Who knows what other companies were following lax rules because the regulators wanted to keep nuclear cheap? It happened to TEPCO, but the problem is a lack of attention to safety around the board.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Spot on Nicky...its the manual!...it should take the blame and resign

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Power utilities, like TEPCO should not be allowed to operate nuclear plants. They are driven by profit and greed to pay stockholder dividends. Let the governments run the plants with scientists and experts who are independent of the politicians and stockholders. Then allow the utility TEPCO in this case, to buy and resell the electricity from the government. And of course ZERO back-handers.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Brings new meaning the the Japanese phrase "Manual Doori".

2 ( +2 / -0 )

If the manual is anything like the 6

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Yay, TEPCO finally admitted the fault there was no manual for risk management in regards to a liability issue.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

So what exploded then? Something did?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

If the manual resembles the 60 page compensation forms and explanatary manual sent to the claimants for compensation then Im not surprised that it failed to deal with an explosive situation

2 ( +2 / -0 )

The BWR/6 reactor operating manuals from GE have been on the internet since March 2011. There is no mention of total electrical failure in them either, emergency power is assumed to be available, which did not happen. They also assumed that due to design for seismic activity, coolant pipes to the reactor vessel would remain intact following an earthquake, which did not happen according to workers on site at the time.

Lots of assumptions...too many for my liking.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I always said that the NPP was run by untrained workers who are dependent on manuals and know and understand nothing about nuclear power and don't even have a general idea of their own work, but the fact that even the manual was a rubbish and the workers didn't even know how to read the manual came as a surprise even to me.

I remember how many offensive rebuking posts I received when I said the workers as well as the execs in Japanese NPPs are not heroes but negligent troublemakers and now more revealing news are coming to justify what I said.

The manuals don't give instructions in case of emergency, they can't even give because it's problem and situation dependent and handling such situations need expertise and independent thinking and problem solving capability that those under-trained workers do not have. Even if the manuals could give option they wouldn't have time to read it through say, a 3000 pages manual. Hopeless.

Most of the faults at NPPs like the seawater flooded cooling chamber at Hamaoka NPP remain undetected 'cause for one, the manual doesn't properly deal with it, for two they can't read and don't understand it, for the last they are badly payed part timers and are not stupid to risk their life attending dangerous sections of the NPP for check-ups for that rubbish salary they get.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Quick question for TEPCO: who made the manual?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@smith

Quick question for TEPCO: who made the manual?

I'll bet ya, it is a translated copy of the original 1960's GE operating manual. Which means that after all it will be possible to put all responsibility outside Japan and now everyone can happily get on with their lives.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@teachme...

Who knows what other companies were following lax rules because the regulators wanted to keep nuclear cheap? It happened to TEPCO, but the problem is a lack of attention to safety around the board.

In fact I think it is naive to assume that the problems within TEPCO only exists in one of the companies operating NPP's, it is far more likely that the situation is the same within all of them. As they have all operated within the same business culture. Also the numerous incidents and accidents prior to the Fukushima accident indicates this.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

A committee set up by Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO)

there's the problem. and the fact that the government is not really holding them accountable and using tax money to help them.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Here are some photos of the reactors taken by an unmanned drone...they made my jaw drop.I don't think these photos have really been officially released in Japan as they were taken by a US company. The damage is STAGGERING.It is far from hunky dory up there. http://photos.oregonlive.com/photo-essay/2011/03/fukushima_dai-ichi_aerials.html

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@Darren Brannan

Great pictures, makes you wonder why all pictures released by TEPCO are in comparison foggy and out of focus.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Darren BrannanOct. 04, 2011 - 12:31PM JST

Thanks for the link. That's exactly why many posters including me suspected the reason behind TEPCO decision to cover the site with a giant tent was their intention to hide this and prevent the drones taking more photos.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Thanks Darren for the link to those pictures. Yep, doesn't look like any explosions occurred there.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@zichi

In short.

TEPCO paid for the drones and the photos

Yes.

released them all

No.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

http://www.asrltd.com/japan/plume.php here is something else that is quite chilling...it is only a projection made by a marine consulting firm but it gives one view of how much radiation has spread out in the ocean from Dai Ichi. You need the google earth plugin but it is very interesting.Glad the currents kept the bulk of it away from Kansai.(according to this model)

1 ( +1 / -0 )

squidbert: So they were following a manual made in the 60s in 2011? Did it talk about the Red Scare and how we should stop, drop, and roll if the plant explodes?

I realize you are not arguing against me, but the idea that it can be fobbed off to a foreign instruction manual from 50 years ago is ridiculous. And why is this only coming out now? -- because they are trying to fob off blame, that's all, and it took them seven months to come up with this excuse.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@smith,

I am not arguing with you. In fact it was sort of half joke (which is of course a bad idea when discussing a serious subject in an internet forum) with a small grain of truth in it.

Look at the Gulf spill in the US for example. An effective way to make "Icky" things go away is often to spread the blame thin enough between operator, contractor, constructor, regulator and government until the blame is so thinly spread that in fact no one did hardly any thing wrong at all.

I would not be too surprised to see something similar here. Spreading the blame between TEPCO, NISA, JAEA, IAEA, Gov, contractors , Hitachi and GE with sub contractors until they are all able to say that "-Well we made some minor mistakes, but nothing serious enough that we can be held accountable"

1 ( +1 / -0 )

zichiOct. 04, 2011 - 01:21PM JST

Fair enough. I don't contest that, I don't know all the photos taken or all their origins or who released them. I was talking in general.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Darren

The asrltd link was interesting to. But as they state by them selves, they don't know the amounts released into the water, so it just shows relative pollution. I.e it is suffering from the same problems as SPEEDI did during the early days of the accident.

There exists similar modelling (don't know if it has been released yet) which incorporates the official direct release from reactors into sea water and with the addition from precipitation. Even though huge amounts of radioactive water was released directly into the sea, the amount added by rainfall was substantial and contributes a lot to the simulated outcome.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

On nuclear submarines, this is one of the very first things we learn about. So when are corrupt politicians going jail.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Can you hear Sato-Bucho calling Ishikawa-kun? "Ishi-kun, reactors are melting down, can you get out the manuals and start studying?"

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@SquidBert yeah mate..it is only an estimate and only for the period April to June too...which is probably the time of most heavy leakage, but it would be interesting how the numerous typhoons redispersed the pollutants. AT any rate I am sure that a wide variety of seaweeds , molluscs and fish would have been affected to various degrees...and it has certain implications for Hokkaido's seafood industry, I would bet.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@Darren,

If it is any sign of things to come, molluscs around Japan already had fairly high concentrations of polonium before the accident, which I think has been traced to nuclear testing and nuclear bombs( not too sure about that part, so you might want to check that out). Anyway I would expect filtrating organisms to be the first to show increased levels, following by whatever feeds on those organisms and then by what ever feeds on those.

Anyway, models might be good for estimates but we need real measured (by independent sources) values to know whats really going on.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Re the hydrogen explosions, I have no idea whether the following information about a weapons program at Daiichi is true (see links below) but I have heard at least one nuclear expert (Arnie Gunderson) say that the hydrogen explosion at reactor number 3 was in fact a small nuke explosion. If you recall it did go up in a kind of mushroom shaped cloud. Even if the following info is not true it makes for a good story.

Secret Weapons Program Inside Fukushima Nuclear Plant?

http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=24275

Secret US-Israeli Nuke Transfers Led To Fukushima Blasts

http://www.rense.com/general94/secbb.htm

The author mentions the Stuxnet Virus interfering with the control system at Daiichi on the day of the accident. On a related note there was a story in the Yomiuri last year which mentioned that this virus was in already in Japan. I have also read an online Israeli newspaper report saying that it was one of their firms which installed the alarm system at Fukushima Daiichi. Not implying anything, just saying since it seems a bit unusual for a foreign company to be doing that kind of work at a secure facility.

Admittedly the above does seem a bit "out there" but it's good to hear all sides of a story so make of it what you will.

The bio of the free lance journalist who wrote these articles, Yoichi Shimatsu, says he is a former editor of the Japan Times Weekly, a former Uni lecturer, is frequently on CCTV news and writes for several media outlets in the US and China.

http://en.m4.cn/category/yoichi-shimatsu/

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@weedkila

That's weird. I saw the video of the explosion, there was no mushroom cloud and the explosion was moderate though the dust/smoke and debris released to the air seemed to be coming from from a deeper section of the complex. The photos of the damaged reactors indicate a different nature of damage and lesser of extent than a nuclear fission could have caused. That's gonna be along way to prove and provide evidences from more trusted sources about what Shimatsu states.

Meanwhile, interesting articles and thanks for the links.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Weedkilla

The mushroom cloud is not something that is inherent to Atomic explosions. It is caused by large thermal explosions as well e.g. "Father of all bombs" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Father_of_all_bombs)

We associate the mushroom with nuclear bombs because they are the most famous ones being able to cause the cloud shape.

A "small nuke explosion" (as you call it) would most likely not produce the mushroom shape cloud. Fission products from a nuclear explosion is also completely different from those produced by melt downs

That being said I would not hold it for 100% impossible that japan has at times experimented with clandestine enrichment.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Zichi, Munya Times, SquidBert,

Good points and thanks for your comments. I had my doubts but obviously there is a lot of mis- and disinfo about and it can be difficult to separate truth from fiction at times, especially when it seems credible. The good thing about the net is that it can be shot down in minutes :)

I saw the video of the explosion, there was no mushroom cloud and the explosion was moderate though the dust/smoke and debris released to the air seemed to be coming from from a deeper section of the complex.

Perhaps my definition of mushroom cloud was slightly exaggerated but the explosion at number 3 was much bigger than the others and the plume pretty much shot straight up (from the 1:46 mark) rather than blown in a "leisurely" and outward direction like it was at reactor 1 (1:25 mark). Nothing to do with a weapons program of course but Gundersen explains that there are indications the nuclear fuel was volatilised at reactor 3.

http://vimeo.com/22865967

That being said I would not hold it for 100% impossible that japan has at times experimented with clandestine enrichment.

Yes, it shouldn't be ruled out.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

There was no explosion at No. 2. Nothing to see here. Move along, move along.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Excerpt: Many people may not realize that every nuclear power plant -- as a normal part of the fissioning process -- produces plutonium. Plutonium and/or highly-enriched uranium are essential ingredients of nuclear bombs.

http://www.nirs.org/factsheets/plutbomb.htm

0 ( +0 / -0 )

zichi

Considering all the secrecy and obfuscation going on by tepco and the government it's a reasonable question. The truth always comes out in the end - especially these days - so we'll see.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The fast breeder reactor that Japan built would have used the plutonium produced by the older nuclear reactors as fuel. It's already built but there is a freeze on the project.

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/daily/english/26_20.html

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The document also states that there was no hydrogen explosion at the No. 2 reactor’s suppression pool, which contradicts previous reports that there were hydrogen explosions at the reactors after they went into meltdown.

............................................

so there's no explosion, just some hole to let in cold air to cool the reactor down. OK, all cleared. Great news.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Finally, the recognition by TEPCO that the old adage "We have seen the enemy, and it is us", is once again true in Japan. Ignorence is not bliss. In fact it is going to cost Japan trillions to cover the expense of looking the other way for all this time when it came to nuclear safety, and quite possibly push Japan into an even steeper decline than it was already staring at.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

The document also states that there was no hydrogen explosion at the No. 2 reactor’s suppression pool, which contradicts previous reports that there were hydrogen explosions at the reactors after they went into meltdown.

OK this is just slimy lawyer gibberish designed to mislead. YES, there appears to be no explosion damage (from hydrogen or otherwise) at the No. 2 reactor, but reactor Nos 1, 3, and 4 absolutely, positively, were shredded by hydrogen explosions. That reactor number 2 appears to have been spared an explosion in no way "contradicts previous reports that there were hydrogen explosions at the reactors after they went into meltdown." There most certainly WERE hydrogen explosions at the reactors.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Er, March 14th, "explosion at No.2 reactor", (perhaps not hydrogen though?) check the reporting half-way down this page: http://factsanddetails.com/japan.php?itemid=1668&catid=23&subcatid=152

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@zichi

The Monju reactor is a good example of how nuclear tech is in a way like the banks that were "to Big to fail". Just nuclear is to expensive to fail, i.e. no one wants to kill a project that has cost so much. Everyone thinks It is better to just keep poring money into it. No one wants to be the boy pointing out that the emperor is butt naked.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I cannot believe this simple question has been overlooked, but what could possibly be in the manual that could have helped the situation?

Can they put batteries in manuals with enough power to run cooling pumps now? Can they insert sticky paper to patch broken pipes?

If the emergency generators don't come on line and the batteries have only 8 hours of juice with no hope of recharge or alternative, what can they put in the manual that will help? Add the words "You may now panic!"?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

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