Sunday, April 3, 2011

Grim News

Today came the grim news that two workers at Fukushima Daiichi are dead.   The inference from the news so far is that they died as a result of the quake or tsunami, not from radiation, but no definitive statements are available.  It was revealed for the first time that the two have been missing for three weeks.  The bodies were actually discovered Wed (4 days ago), but the information has been withheld.   They were working on reactor 4, but according to this report, heroically ran to check the (lower) turbine rooms when the tsunami struck.

My comments on this tragic turn of events:
  • Unlike a small fishing village devastated by a tsunami, a nuclear power plant has the ability to muster workers and determine who is missing, and conduct a search for them within hours if not minutes.  So the plant has known these workers were missing for weeks.
  • The delay in finding the bodies suggests that the radiation environment around is/was so extreme that careful searches could not be conducted.   (The bodies had to be de-contaminated.)
  • Either this or the urgency of dealing with the ongoing nuclear fires was so severe, that the fate of these missing coworkers could be ignored.
  •  Unfortunately this announcement divulges a high degree of cover-up/withholding on the part of TEPCO, perhaps in conjunction with the Japanese govt.  To see this, consider a list of honest announcements that could have been made by TEPCO, but weren't:
Mar 11: Two workers missing at Fukushima Daiichi
Mar 13: Searches (if any) for missing workers unsuccessful
Mar 17: Two missing workers presumed dead
Mar 30: Bodies of workers found; names withheld.
Apr 2:  Dead workers identified.

These types of headlines would be reported in the US press, eg. in the case of missing mountain climbers, sailors, etc.   But all of the above was suppressed.  In the case of the quake and tsunami, there is a completely legitimate reason to withhold the names of the deceased for some time until their family have been tracked down and notified.
  • This cavalier attitude with the truth calls into question many of the other TEPCO announcements/claims.  For example, I have noticed on two occasions when extremely high radiation levels are divulged, TEPCO announces one reading which then later gets questioned (eg by NISA), allowing TEPCO to say "we're sorry just ignore that initial reading".  My guess is that a number of legitimate radiation readings have now been dismissed after being combined with clearly false readings (like that of I-134)
  • I'm surprised no reporter previously asked TEPCO leaders: "are any employees missing?".  Given the information to date, the best question for TEPCO right now is "what else are you hiding?".  For example, I strongly suspect they have close-up photos of the reactor cores and spent fuel pool showing serious damage, which are not being made public. 

R.I.P. Yoshiki Terashima & Kazuhiko Kokubo


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