Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant Weekly Review

Water sampling from unit 1 and a significant mea culpa from Tokyo Electric Power Co. were among the news from Japan this week.

Recent developments related to the nuclear plant blacked out following last year's earthquake and tsunami include:

Fukushima unit 1 water sampling. Source: TEPCOUnit 1 PCV Water Analyzed

Last week, crews successfully inserted monitoring equipment into the primary containment vessel of unit 1. On Saturday, TEPCO published data from a water sample taken from the PCV the previous day. Results published in a TEPCO release were as follows:

-- Iodine: Below the detection limit

-- Cesium 134: 1.9 x 104 becquerels per cubic centimeter

-- Cesium 137: 3.5 x 104 becquerels per cubic centimeter

TEPCO Admits Accidents Avoidable

In a statement Oct. 12, TEPCO's Internal Reform Task Force acknowledged that the company was aware of tsunami threats to the plant and chose not to prepare for them. It did not undertake safety improvements to avoid interfering with plant operations and for fear of provoking anti-nuclear sentiment and litigation.

The announcement represents a sharp reversal of course for the company, which previously stood by its emergency preparations at Fukushima. The new TEPCO findings are more closely in line with the conclusions of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation, which reported in July that TEPCO and its regulators had known of the plant's weaknesses for years.

Recordings Show Disorder Early in Crisis

Japanese media continue to sort through 150 hours of teleconferences recorded during the crisis and reluctantly released by TEPCO in August. On Sunday, the Asahi Shimbun published more highlights translated into English. Among them, one section of the transcript shows that Fukushima Daiichi's general manager was unaware for 70 minutes that the high-pressure coolant injection system of unit 3 had stopped working. In another segment, TEPCO executives brainstorm ways to open the blowout panel on the same unit to prevent a hydrogen explosion, and someone suggests bringing in the military to shoot it out.

Photo: TEPCO workers use remote equipment to collect samples from inside the primary containment vessel of unit 1 on Oct. 12.

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