Investigation committee “there is a possibility that the earthquake damaged equipment”

Following up this article..Edano, former Chief Cabinet Secretary admits he knew melt through on 3/13/2011

 

Nuclear accident investigation committee of the government published the final report.

In the report, they concluded that there is a possibility that the earthquake damaged the equipment, and it was a manmade disaster.(P.16)

 

A “manmade” disaster

The TEPCO Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant accident was the result of collusion between the government, the regulators and TEPCO, and the lack of governance by said parties. They effectively betrayed the nation’s right to be safe from nuclear accidents. Therefore, we conclude that the accident was clearly “manmade.” We believe that the root causes were the organizational and regulatory systems that supported faulty rationales for decisions and actions, rather than issues relating to the competency of any specific individual. (see Recommendation 1)

The direct causes of the accident were all foreseeable prior to March 11, 2011. But the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant was incapable of withstanding the earthquake and tsunami that hit on that day. The operator (TEPCO), the regulatory bodies (NISA and NSC) and the government body promoting the nuclear power industry (METI), all failed to cor- rectly develop the most basic safety requirements—such as assessing the probability of damage, preparing for containing collateral damage from such a disaster, and developing evacuation plans for the public in the case of a serious radiation release.

TEPCO and the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) were aware of the need for structural reinforcement in order to conform to new guidelines, but rather than demanding their implementation, NISA stated that action should be taken autonomously by the opera- tor. The Commission has discovered that no part of the required reinforcements had been implemented on Units 1 through 3 by the time of the accident. This was the result of tacit consent by NISA for a significant delay by the operators in completing the reinforcement. In addition, although NISA and the operators were aware of the risk of core damage from tsunami, no regulations were created, nor did TEPCO take any protective steps against such an occurrence.

Since 2006, the regulators and TEPCO were aware of the risk that a total outage of elec- tricity at the Fukushima Daiichi plant might occur if a tsunami were to reach the level of the site. They were also aware of the risk of reactor core damage from the loss of seawater pumps in the case of a tsunami larger than assumed in the Japan Society of Civil Engineers estimation. NISA knew that TEPCO had not prepared any measures to lessen or eliminate the risk, but failed to provide specific instructions to remedy the situation.

We found evidence that the regulatory agencies would explicitly ask about the operators’ intentions whenever a new regulation was to be implemented. For example, NISA informed the operators that they did not need to consider a possible station blackout (SBO) because the probability was small and other measures were in place. It then asked the operators to write a report that would give the appropriate rationale for why this consideration was unnecessary. In order to get evidence of this collusion, the Commission was forced to exercise our legislative right to demand such information from NISA, after NISA failed to respond to several requests.

The regulators also had a negative attitude toward the importation of new advances in knowledge and technology from overseas. If NISA had passed on to TEPCO measures that were included in the B.5.b subsection of the U.S. security order that followed the 9/11 terrorist action, and if TEPCO had put the measures in place, the accident may have been preventable.

There were many opportunities for taking preventive measures prior to March 11. The accident occurred because TEPCO did not take these measures, and NISA and the Nuclear Safety Commission (NSC) went along. They either intentionally postponed putting safety measures in place, or made decisions based on their organization’s self interest, and not in the interest of public safety.

From TEPCO’s perspective, new regulations would have interfered with plant operations and weakened their stance in potential lawsuits. That was enough motivation for TEPCO to aggressively oppose new safety regulations and draw out negotiations with regulators via the Federation of Electric Power Companies (FEPC). The regulators should have taken a strong position on behalf of the public, but failed to do so. As they had firmly committed themselves to the idea that nuclear power plants were safe, they were reluctant to actively create new regulations. Further exacerbating the problem was the fact that NISA was cre- ated as part of the Ministry of Economy, Trade & Industry (METI), an organization that has been actively promoting nuclear power.

 

Earthquake damage

We conclude that TEPCO was too quick to cite the tsunami as the cause of the nuclear accident and deny that the earthquake caused any damage. We believe there is a pos- sibility that the earthquake damaged equipment necessary for ensuring safety, and that there is also a possibility that a small-scale LOCA occured in Unit 1. We hope these points will be examined further by a third party. (see Recommendation 7)

Although the two natural disasters—the earthquake and subsequent tsunami—were the direct causes of the accident, there are various points in the unfolding of the event that remain unresolved. The main reason for this is that almost all the equipment directly related to the accident is inside the reactor containers, which are inaccessible and will remain so for many years. A complete examination and full analysis are impossible at this time.

TEPCO was quick, however, to assign the accident cause to the tsunami, and state that the earthquake was not responsible for damage to equipment necessary for safety (although it did add, “to the extent that has been confirmed,” a phrase that also appears in TEPCO reports to the government and to the IAEA). However, it is impossible to limit the direct cause of the accident to the tsunami without substantive evidence. The Commission believes that this is an attempt to avoid responsibility by putting all the blame on the unexpected (the tsunami), as they wrote in their midterm report, and not on the more foreseeable earthquake.

Through our investigation, we have verified that the people involved were aware of the risk from both earthquakes and tsunami. Further, the damage to Unit 1 was caused not only by the tsunami but also by the earthquake, a conclusion made after considering the facts that: 1) the largest tremor hit after the automatic shutdown (SCRAM); 2) JNES confirmed the possibility of a small-scale LOCA (loss of coolant accident); 3) the Unit 1 operators were concerned about leakage of coolant from the valve, and 4) the safety relief valve (SR) was not operating.

Additionally, there were two causes for the loss of external power, both earthquake-related: there was no diversity or independence in the earthquake-resistant external power systems, and the Shin-Fukushima transformer station was not earthquake resistant. (See Section 2 of the Summary of Findings)

 

 

Full report here,

 

 

Naiic report hi_res

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