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TEPCO says Fukushima nuclear plant seismometers were broken

24 Comments
By MARI YAMAGUCHI

The operator of the wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant said Monday that two seismometers at one of its three melted reactors have been out of order since last year and did not collect data when a powerful earthquake struck the area earlier this month.

The acknowledgement raised new questions about whether the company's risk management has improved since a massive earthquake and tsunami in 2011 destroyed much of the plant.

The malfunctioning seismometers surfaced during a Nuclear Regulation Authority meeting on Monday to discuss new damage at the plant resulting from a magnitude 7.3 quake that struck the region on Feb. 13. Cooling water and pressure levels fell in the Unit 1 and 3 reactors, indicating additional damage to their primary containment chambers.

The operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co, has repeatedly been criticized for coverups and delayed disclosures of problems at the plant.

Regulatory officials asked TEPCO at the meeting why it did not have seismological data from the Unit 3 reactor for Saturday's quake, and utility officials acknowledged that both of its seismometers had failed — one in July and the other in October — and had never been repaired.

TEPCO also said that seismometers at all but two of the reactor buildings that survived the 2011 disaster were submerged by water from the tsunami and have never been replaced.

During Monday's meeting, regulatory officials said they were concerned about the declining water levels and pressure in the Unit 1 and 3 primary containment chambers because of the possibility that the quake had expanded the existing damage or opened new leakage paths, and urged the utility to closely check for any increased radiation levels in the ground water surrounding the reactor buildings.

TEPCO said no abnormality has been detected in water samples so far.

New damage could further complicate the plant's already difficult decommissioning process and add to the large amounts of contaminated water being stored at the plant.

Since the 2011 disaster, cooling water has been escaping constantly from the damaged primary containment vessels into the basements of reactor and turbine buildings, where the volume increases as groundwater seeps in. The water is pumped up and treated, then part of it is reused as cooling water, while the rest is stored in about 1,000 tanks.

TEPCO initially reported there was no abnormality at the plant from Saturday's earthquake. But on Monday, it said about 20 of the tanks had slid slightly due to the quake, a storage container carrying radioactive waste had tilted, and asphalt pavement at the plant was cracked.

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24 Comments
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I see ineptitude at all levels of the nuclear industry have remained the same. Don’t need a broken seismic machine or a recalibrated radiation detector to gather that information.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

When will the Japanese learn that anything nuclear has never been beneficial for them...

6 ( +7 / -1 )

What about the mechanisms on all the other aging reactors on fault lines?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

A fragile broken dangerous plant until all the nuclear fuels are removed.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Is the Japanese government in charge of the cleanup?

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

10 years later, TEPCO still finds ways to infuriate me about their poor management

8 ( +8 / -0 )

10 years.

Now take Chernobyl accident in 1986 for example. 10 years later, they done more than our government. Our government just asks TEPCO, hold meetings, investigate over and over again and think who is to blame. This is absurd.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Chernobyl and Fukushima are too very different types of nuclear disaster. Chernobyl was a reactor explosion and all the nuclear fuel went upwards. The only result was to encapsulate the wreck for thousands of years.

Fukushima had reactor meltdowns with the corium still inside the reactor containers. There is an underground river flowing to the ocean. The corium, if possible, must be removed.

TEPCO have made achievements over the past 10 years. Radiation levels around the site reduced. Spent fuel removed from the No4 pool. Spent fuel from No3 reactor is being removed.

Due to the deadly radiation levels the work must be done by remote controlled equipment.

There are no know solutions to the Fukushima problems.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

"No damage" was the first headline that went out and captured everyone's attention. Most people stopped reading at that point.

This quietly changed however into a more truthful "No damage yet reported", when 90% of the readers had gone elsewhere.

One by one we have became aware of what actually happened 10 days ago there in the 7.3 quake on 13 February 2021.

The list of various forms of damage from the latest earthquake slowly grows, but is the trade-off really worth it?

The shock impact was lessened, true, but Tepco's credibility continues to bounce hard along rock bottom.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Quote: "TEPCO initially reported there was no abnormality at the plant from Saturday's earthquake. But on Monday, it said about 20 of the tanks had slid slightly due to the quake, a storage container carrying radioactive waste had tilted, and asphalt pavement at the plant was cracked."

This last paragraph from the article bears reposting; such important detail will surely get brushed under the carpet.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

TEPCO,

Old classical conservative management. Not much too expect

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This part of the article is very distrubing.

Regulatory officials asked TEPCO at the meeting why it did not have seismological data from the Unit 3 reactor for Saturday's quake, and utility officials acknowledged that both of its seismometers had failed — one in July and the other in October — and had never been repaired.

TEPCO also said that seismometers at all but two of the reactor buildings that survived the 2011 disaster were submerged by water from the tsunami and have never been replaced.

Right now, as far as I know, seismographical instruments do not perform a safe shutdown function as they would during normal operation however they provide valuable data which can be used to determine the level of assessment required within the plant to look for further damage.

However the more important concern with this is it makes us ask what other instrumentation (some which may be performing critical safety functions) is inoperable or has not been calibrated within its (typically one year) calibration cycle.

Even the strongest supporter of TEPCO cannot rationalize that this is OK.

It is not OK and should trigger a full and very invasive audit by the NRA.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

"Why didn't you tell us this earlier?"

--"You never asked"

4 ( +4 / -0 )

This culture of omitting things at a high level which creates this fake perception harmony is like shooting on it’s own foot.

And then when major problems like this comes out there will be even more issues.

I hope that someday J-bureaucracy and companies will learn to use transparency.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

When there's another accident they're not going to tell you

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If there is another quake like that of ten years ago, and a subsequent tsunami, we are in the hands of inept people like TEPCO, which means you can kiss most of Kanto goodbye this time.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"No, no, there's nothing wrong here. See? Look at the seismometers! They don't show any signs of unusual activity! Don't worry!"

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Not made clear in the above article, but the seismological measuring instruments in the basements of reactors 1 - 4 were flooded by the tsunami and have not worked since.

https://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/87498

Quote: 福島第一原発では1~6号機原子炉建屋の地下階に地震計が設置されていたが、津波で浸水した1~4号機の機器は動いていない。= "At Fukushima I, of the seismometers in the basements of the six reactors buildings 1 -6, the instruments in 1 - 4 were submerged in the tsunami and do not work."

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Ah, what does "slid slightly" mean in Nuclear terms...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

tango6467, I just checked the J press and found these tanks slid, quote, "about 5 cm, within design limits".

Of possibly more concern is the falling cooling water levels in Nos. 1 and 3, with the possibility that the corium is already exposed in No. 2.

See the water levels in the illustration here. (Water surface in red):

https://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article_photo/list?article_id=87052&pid=266284

https://www.tokyo-np.co.jp/article/87052

0 ( +0 / -0 )

If the reactor cooling waters drop decrease in pressure and hydrogen could be formed which caused the explosions in 2011. TEPCO does not know if there are new cracks or bigger old ones.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So all the previous top officials at Tepco since the build of those reactors up until today need to be arrested and thrown in prison for public endangerment, negligence and anything else that the courts can think up.

They have systematically lied & cheated to make profits and place everyone else in danger.

TEPCO is a filthy corrupt bunch of scumbags

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The general function of seismometers is to stop the nuclear reaction by insertion of the control rods. 

Given the high seismic activity in Japan, seismograph control at a nuclear power plant is among the most important tasks. The persons responsible for the safe operation of the power plant should therefore be held criminally liable.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It doesn't really matter anymore, enough radiation has been released to sicken all of us for the next 50 to 100 years anyways.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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