Entries in TEPCO (13)


Japan Utility Admits It Was Unprepared for Nuclear Disaster

STR/AFP/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- Fifteen months after Japan’s worst nuclear disaster, the company at the center of it all now says it wasn’t prepared.

In its final report, TEPCO Vice President Masao Yamazaki applauded his employees’ efforts, saying they did their best under such harsh circumstances. The utility company concluded it took appropriate actions in the midst of Japan’s worst natural disaster -- a powerful earthquake and tsunami -- that triggered three meltdowns at the Fukushima plant.

But TEPCO also acknowledged they were too slow to act, failing to quickly disclose important radiation information to the public. The report said power outages limited the amount of data available and that TEPCO did not deliberately withhold data to downplay the situation.

The lengthy investigation offered few answers about the cause of the meltdowns, the radiation fallout, and where the toxic substance was released -- few concrete answers that could help avoid a similar disaster.

Instead, it criticized the government, saying that officials caused unnecessary confusion.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


More Radioactive Water Spotted Leaking from Japan's Fukushima Plant

STR/AFP/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- Radioactive water from Japan's crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has leaked into the Pacific, yet again.

Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) says workers spotted water spilling out of a broken pipe connected to the wastewater treatment system on Thursday.

The water contained high levels of the radioactive material strontium, and TEPCO estimates tons have already leaked into the ocean.

The company has struggled to control contaminated water leaks at the Fukushima plant since a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami triggered nuclear meltdowns last March.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Japan's Fukushima Plant Director Stepping Down After Falling Ill

STR/AFP/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- The director of Japan's crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, has been hospitalized for an undisclosed illness and will step down later this week, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) said Monday.

TEPCO has not said whether the illness is related to radiation, and has refused to release the amount of Masao Yoshida’s radiation exposure, citing privacy issues -- though they’ve revealed numbers for previous employees.

According to the newspaper Sankei, Yoshida sent a letter to workers saying doctors detected an illness at a recent checkup and advised him to seek treatment right away.

The 56-year-old has headed the nuclear plant since the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and ensuing tsunami struck Japan in March, triggering the country's worst nuclear disaster.  Yoshida led the effort to stabilize the reactors that were damaged as a result.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Japanese Gov't: 1,600 Plant Workers Exposed to High Radiation Levels

STR/AFP/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- New documents released by the Japanese government show that officials estimated about 1,600 workers at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant would be exposed to radiation levels that exceeded 50 millisieverts -- the maximum level allowed per year.

The documents from the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry were released after a public disclosure request.

The newly released data is significant because both the government and TEPCO, the company that operates the plant, have refused to publicly release any estimates about the extent of radiation exposure until now.  TEPCO has only said that six company employees were exposed to radiation levels that exceeded 250 millisieverts, while subcontractors estimate that more than 400 of their workers have exceeded the allowable limit.

According to the Mainichi newspaper, the document -- dated April 25 -- said,  "Those who in the days ahead will be exposed to over 50 mSv of radiation are expected to number around 1,600."

The ministry expressed concerns that “it will be difficult to secure the safety of other nuclear power plants unless those who have been exposed to more than 50 mSv of radiation continue to engage in radiation work."  The document also said workers should be instructed not to be exposed to over 100 mSv of radiation in a five-year period.

Clearly, many have already exceeded that level.

The numbers are troubling, considering the past history of health issues at Japan’s nuclear power plants.  Government figures show nine out of 10 plant workers who developed cancer were exposed to radiation levels much lower than those at the Fukushima plant.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Japanese Retirees Volunteer for Fukushima Duty

DigitalGlobe via Getty Images(TOKYO) -- Yasuteru Yamada cringes at any comparison to the kamikaze pilots who flew suicide missions during World War II.

The retired engineer has rallied more than 200 aging workers who have volunteered to tackle the nuclear crises at Japan's crippled Fukushima Daiichi power plant.  But he says, this is no suicide mission.

"We don't want to die," says the 72-year old, a former engineer for Sumitomo Metal Industries Ltd.  "We just want to stabilize the nuclear plant, nothing more."

The team of volunteers call themselves the Skilled Veteran Corps.  The group is made up of former engineers, doctors, cooks and even singers.  The common thread is that they are all over the age of 60.

Yamada says he decided to establish the group shortly after a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami shut down cooling systems at Fukushima's reactors in March, triggering the world's worst nuclear crises since Chernobyl.  Yamada watched on television, as younger workers dressed in hazmat suits, braved radiation fears to bring the damaged reactors under control.

Nearly three months after the accident, the reactors continue to spew radiation into the air, while contaminated water leaks into the ocean.

Yamada worries about the health of current Fukushima workers, and says the nuclear burden should be tasked to an older generation that has "consciously or unconsciously" supported the plant, and reaped the benefits of the electricity it's generated.  He often jokes that he has just 15 years to live, not long enough for cancer -- a common side-effect of radiation exposure -- to develop.

The Skilled Veteran Corps's cause, has piqued the interest of plant operator Tokyo Electric, commonly known as TEPCO, and Japanese politicians.  In talks with TEPCO, Yamada says the utility has expressed enthusiasm in teaming up, though neither has a "concrete idea on how we can work together."

The need for workers is expected to increase.  TEPCO has already said the company is unlikely to meet its self-imposed deadline of bringing the reactors to a cold-shutdown by the end of the year.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


TEPCO Confirms Meltdown of Three Reactors at Japan's Plant

STR/AFP/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- The power company that operates Japan's crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant confirmed Tuesday that not one, but three of the plant's reactors suffered a meltdown after the earthquake and tsunami hit Japan two months ago.

As experts had speculated all along, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said that fuel rods at reactors number two and three began melting just days after the natural disasters struck on March 11.  The company had previously confirmed a meltdown at reactor number one.

Workers at the plant continue to struggle to stabilize the reactors, which are still spewing radiation.  More than 80,000 people have been evacuated from their homes as a result.

TEPCO says it hopes to shut down the plant within the next year.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


TEPCO President to Resign; Company Reports Record Loss

YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- The president of the power company that operates Japan's crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant announced Friday that he will step down from his position.

Masataka Shimizu's resignation comes as Tokyo Electric Power Co. reported a record net loss of nearly $15 billion for the fiscal year ending in March.  That loss is greatly due to the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that rocked Japan, damaging the Fukushima Daiichi plant and spreading fears of a nuclear crisis.

Shimizu also announced that TEPCO will scrap four of the power plant's damaged reactors, units one through four.  Plans to build two new reactors at Fukushima Daiichi will also be abandoned.

TEPCO's current managing director, Toshio Nishizawa, will step in as the company's new president.  His takeover will be made official in June.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


TEPCO Begins Moving Radioactive Water from Japan's Nuclear Plant

STR/AFP/Getty Images(TOKYO) -- The operator of Japan's troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant began transferring highly radioactive water out of one of its reactors on Tuesday. 

Tokyo Electric Power Company announced it has begun pumping about 25,000 tons of water in and around the number two reactor turbine building to another facility -- a process that's expected to take several weeks.  The utility company believes the water in and around the turbine building originated from the reactor’s core, where fuel rods have partially melted.

Pumping out the contaminated water is important to prevent further leaks into the Pacific, since the trench connected to the reactor turbine building is located close to the ocean.

TEPCO says workers can't resume efforts to restore cooling systems to three of the plant's reactors until the water's removed.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Two Bodies Found at Japan Nuclear Complex

DigitalGlobe via Getty Images(TOKYO) -- The Tokyo Electric Power Co. confirmed the first tsunami-related deaths at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex: a 21-year-old and a 24-year-old who were working when the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami hit Japan.

"It pains us to have lost these two young workers who were trying to protect the power plant amid the earthquake and tsunami," TEPCO Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata said in a statement.

Radioactive water has been spilling into the Pacific Ocean from a crack in a maintenance pit discovered Saturday at the distressed nuclear complex.

On Sunday engineers used a mix of sawdust, shredded newspaper and an expanding polymer to try to seal the crack. TEPCO is also devising a third plan in case the polymer injection does not plug the crack, which will be more apparent on Monday.

A representative for TEPCO said on Saturday that attempts to plug the crack with fresh concrete did not reduce the amount of water leaking from the reactor.

The air above the radioactive water in the pit was measuring 1,000 millisieverts of radiation per hour on Saturday, according to Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency spokesman Hidehiko Nishiyama. Risk of cancer is greatly increased by exposure to 500 millisieverts over a short period of time.

So far 12,000 deaths have been confirmed in Japan following the earthquake, and another 15,500 people are missing.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


President of Power Company that Runs Japan's Nuclear Plant Hospitalized

DigitalGlobe via Getty Images(TOKYO) -- The president of the power company operating Japan's troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has been hospitalized as fears of a nuclear meltdown at the plant continue to rise.

Masataka Shimizu, 66, was admitted to a hospital after suffering from high blood pressure and dizziness, a spokesman for Tokyo Electric Power Company announced at a news conference Wednesday.

TEPCO also said that its chairman, Tsunehisa Katsumata, will step in and take charge of the company while the president is being treated.

Shimizu hasn't been seen in public in over two weeks.  His last public appearance was at a news conference on March 13, two days after the devastating earthquake and tsunami struck Japan.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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