Reports of a Fukushima cover up abound
di Redazione FGB , 30 Marzo 2011
As Japanese engineers are risking their lives in an attempt to save their country (and possibly the rest of the world) from the effects of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, a couple of stories have appeared on the Internet that raise some extremely serious questions about the integrity of the nuclear industry and the behaviour of some of its mangers and technicians.
On 23 March, Bloomberg published a report  in which it claimed that Hitachi Ltd had been involved in covering up a problem that arose during the manufacturing process of reactor pressure vessel number 4 at fukushima.
The whistle blower is Mitsuhiko Tanaka, one of the engineers that helped to build the large steel vessel that holds radiation within the reactor core. During the manufacture process this multi million dollar vessel was accidentally damaged (the structure warped) and Tanaka claims that the problem was hidden until it could be repaired (a repair that he designed himself).
He claims that the company risked bankruptcy if the vessel was deemed unsafe and finding a solution to the problem earned him a bonus of 3 million yen, but after witnessing the Chernobyl disaster he re-thought his actions and left the nuclear industry.
As Robert Ritchie, Professor of Materials Science & Engineering at the University of California of Berkeley argues, "These procedures (the repair), as they're described, are far from ideal, especially for a component as critical as this".
In 1988 Tanaka informed Japan's Trade Ministry of the problem but as Hitachi argued that the plant was safe it appears that no further action was taken.
Recently The Times also carried an interesting article  detailing operational problems at the same site, with infringements and dishonesty seemingly the norm.
We will probably never know how much truth there are in these allegations nor whether the events currently unfolding have been in any way effected by a faulty component, but the issue of responsibility is plain to see, and an engineer that was once deemed a hero by his company now feels a great burden on his shoulders.
(Photo: fukushima wind directions  by Daveeza from Flickr)
Link citati nell'articolo:
- 1] http://www.fondazionebassetti.org/schedabiografica/Redazione FGB
- 2] http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-03-23/fukushima-engineer-says-he-covered-up-flaw-at-shut-reactor.html
- 3] http://www.theaustralian.com.au/fukushima-nuclear-plant-owner-falsified-inspection-records/story-fn84naht-1226023073141
- 4] http://www.flickr.com/photos/vizpix/5528115571/in/set-72157626145275305/