TEPCO report faults operating manual; disputes hydrogen explosion

TOKYO —

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.

Japan Today

  • 4

    Nicky Washida

    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.

  • 2

    beangry

    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?

  • 1

    sf2k

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

  • 1

    Teachmeteachyou

    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.

  • 3

    marcelito

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

  • 2

    teesquared

    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

    DC2020

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

  • 1

    Christina O'Neill

    If the manual is anything like the 6

  • 2

    globalwatcher

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

  • 3

    gogogo

    So what exploded then? Something did?

  • 2

    Christina O'Neill

    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

    wanderlust

    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.

  • 0

    The Munya Times

    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.

  • 1

    smithinjapan

    Quick question for TEPCO: who made the manual?

  • 1

    SquidBert

    @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

    SquidBert

    @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

    zichi

    If there was no hydrogen explosion in No2 reactor building does not explain how a hole was blown in the suppression chamber. Workers in the building at the time of the earthquake stated there was an event with the spent fuel storage pool, which I understood to be, it lost a large part of the coolant which could have also led to hydrogen being produced. There were also reports of explosions probably from oxygen stored there and the coolant pipes to the reactors being twisted and ripped from their mounting.

    The coolant pipes were old, and hadn't been installed correctly, like weld joints were only made on the visible part of the pipe and not under or behind. TEPCO were warned about the pipes and told to replace them months before 3/11.

    TEPCO owns the nuclear plant and has a responsibility to maintain the plant to the highest safety standards, beyond whatever regulations stated. That is normal in this industry, and others, like the heavy chemical industry. TEPCO had a history of accidents and bad management at its nuclear plants.

    The nuclear engineers, technicians and operatives are all highly trained and to suggest otherwise would be insulting. Over the years, there were engineers who knew there were parts of the plant not safe or up to standards, but in an atmosphere of fear were also afraid to speak up. Since 3/11 some of the retired engineers have spoken up and expressed regret for not speaking out.

    I have had similar experiences working in the heavy chemical industry. Companies broke the laws and regulations but the fines imposed were very small. One company was pouring neat arsenic into the drains and river because it was cheaper to pay the fines than deal with the problem.

    If the disaster manual had been compiled for the worse case scenario, then TEPCO would have also have to admit that the safety standards of the nuclear plant were not good enough and dated back to the original design and safety standards of the plant. The plant was designed and built by General Electrical of America, and built to American standards, not Japanese ones. That company is not without blame in the nuclear disaster.

    The power plant was built on a coast with a very long history of earthquakes and tsunamis. The plant was only built to withstand a 7.6 mag earthquake. The emergency backup generators were located below sea level and not even in a water tight room.

    When the nuclear plant was built there was plenty of land around it. Why didn't TEPCO build a very large lake of water to be used in emergencies like fires and which could have been used to cool down the reactors?

    It's been know for years that the Mark I BWR from GEA wasn't the saftest and their own scientists resigned over the original design.

    At TEPCO there was a major problem the way the company was structured and run. There was a separation of decision making from the TEPCO Tokyo HQ and the running of the nuclear plant which was controlled from their so called "nuclear village" and the head of the village made all decisions about what happened at the power plant. TEPCO executives at the Tokyo HQ had no training in nuclear engineering and it appears their only concern was to generate billions of yen in profit. There was no oversight from the TEPCO Tokyo HQ.

    We can move on to the various government atomic agencies which were at least equal in blame to TEPCO. Prior to 3/11 the same agency gave permission and set the safety standards. It's been known for years that the Japanese Big Nuke and 50+ years of LDP governments were bedfellows and the LDP received very large donations from Big Nuke. We can't blame the current government who have only been in power for two years.

    There is a chain with a number of weak links. Another very weak link is the system of prefecture governors having the power to give permission for the building of a nuclear plant, adding new reactors, and the restarting of reactors after a maintenance shutdown. At best, governors are politicians and not nuclear engineers. The governors of Fukushima over the years, probably like most others in the same situation, were happy to give permission when they received billions of yen in nuclear energy tax. And in the case of Fukushima, TEPCO paid billions more in secret donations for the likes of building sports stadiums and shopping malls. This link should be removed from the chain.

    There are still too many unanswered questions, and personally, I don't understand why TEPCO will be allowed to remain in business.

  • 1

    zichi

    It costs billions of yen to build nuclear power plants, billions of yen to decommission them, billions of yen to deal with the millions of tons of nuclear waste, and trillions of yen to clean up when they go wrong. A very expensive way to boil a kettle.

  • 1

    fds

    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.

  • 3

    Darren Brannan

    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

  • 1

    SquidBert

    @Darren Brannan

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

  • 0

    The Munya Times

    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.

  • 1

    Godan

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

  • 1

    zichi

    Darren,

    In some of those photos (taken from the side on the sea) of reactor building 3 you can see two plumes of steam coming out of the destroyed roof. The left hand one is from the cooling pool but the larger right hand one is coming from the reactor itself. In other photos steam is coming from reactor build ing 2.

  • 0

    zichi

    TEPCO paid for the drones and the photos and released them all along with many more, months ago.

  • 0

    The Munya Times

    @zichi

    In short.

    TEPCO paid for the drones and the photos

    Yes.

    released them all

    No.

  • 0

    zichi

    The Munya Times,

    I have previously seen those photo's and more with close-ups which are even more revealing?

  • 1

    Darren Brannan

    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

    smithinjapan

    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

    SquidBert

    @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"

  • 0

    The Munya Times

    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

    SquidBert

    @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.

  • 1

    Jared Norman

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

  • 0

    zichi

    Computer models about radiation spreading may have some use in helping people to understand but what we all really need to know is, how much radiation was released, what kinds of radiation, where it spread to, and what are the plans for dealing with it, and who's going to pay for it all, most likely, the taxpayer?

  • 1

    JapanGal

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

  • 2

    Darren Brannan

    @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.

  • 0

    SquidBert

    @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

    zichi

    I think the direction of the currents are from Hokkaido down and then out to the Pacific, so any radiation from Fukushima will go out to the sea. I think three times more radiation was released into the sea than originally admitted to by TEPCO?

  • 0

    weedkila

    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

    zichi

    weedkila,

    I have no respect for anything stated by Arnie Gunderson. There was no mushroom shape in the steam and smoke. These are just some of the very wild claims which I have read many times over the last 6 months. They are all more fiction than fact. An atomic bomb can't be set off on it's own.

    The explosion in reactor building 3 was more likely a steam explosion from within the reactor and a hydrogen explosion at the same time.

    The systems used at the plant were not connected to the internet?

    There were many crazy stories following 3/11. None of them have proved to be correct.

    from the article on the rense blog which I also have no respect for,

    "Evaporation in the cooling pools used for spent fuel rods led to the detonation of stored weapons-grade plutonium and uranium."

    plutonium or uranium does not just explode.

    The only plutonium was in the 32 MOX fuel assemblies inside the reactor. There were none in the spent fuel pool.

  • 0

    The Munya Times

    @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.

  • 1

    SquidBert

    @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/Fatherofall_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.

  • 0

    zichi

    If the "atomic explosion" had happened because of the weapons grade plutonium and uranium, there would not have been the extensive damage to the reactor building because the spent fuel pool is located on the top floor. Only the roof and and maybe the side walls of the top floor would have been blown off.

    The explosion , or at least one of them, happened in the lower floors which is why I believe there was a steam explosion.

    You can read the link and decide for yourself,

    http://houseoffoust.com/group/?p=3018

    Its also a good blog for photo's and other info

    http://www.houseoffoust.com/fukushima/fukushima.html

  • 0

    zichi

    Even a "small nuclear explosion" would have taken the entire plant with it, enough said!

  • 0

    weedkila

    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

    lostrune2

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

  • 0

    Utrack

    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

    zichi

    weedkila,

    I did ask on another post I wondered if TEPCO had produced any weapons grade plutonium at the plant?

  • 0

    weedkila

    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.

  • 1

    Utrack

    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

    oberst

    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

    zichi

    Utrack I read that the funding had been cut, but they still intend to restart the Monju reactor in Fukui Prefecture, next year? They have been trying to get it to work since 1994.

    There's a website for Monju

    http://www.jaea.go.jp/04/monju/EnglishSite/index.html

    Instead of water, which is used in commercial nuclear reactors, the prototype reactor uses 1,600 tons of liquid sodium, a hazardous material that reacts fiercely with water and air, to cool its fuel. The presence of an estimated 1.4 tons of highly toxic plutonium fuel at the reactor makes it more dangerous than light-water reactors, which use mainly uranium fuel.

    In 1995 there was a major fire from the sodium.

    After 3/11 the future of nuclear energy is at least being questioned.

    To date, Monju has cost ¥2 trillion but only generated 1 hour of electricity.

    Nuclear weapon states such as the USA, Britain, and France spent decades developing fast breeder technology as part of their nuclear weapons and energy programs.

  • 1

    zichi

    On my previous comment at the end I should have stated that America, Britain and France have abandoned their fast breeder programs.

  • 0

    herefornow

    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.

  • 2

    Fadamor

    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

    nandakandamanda

    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

  • 0

    SquidBert

    @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.

  • -1

    CalvinMontblanc

    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!"?

  • 0

    zichi

    CalvinMontblanc

    If TEPCO had made the disaster manual for the worse possible scenario, then at least someone might have realised that the plant would totally fail and the reactors would go into meltdowns.

    All nuclear power plants, including those outside of the country, should be running training drills for the worse case scenario's, to discover the weak links in the systems and the operators.

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