Real Fukushima Meltdown Cause May Be Earthquake, Not Tsunami
According to experienced science journalist, Mitsuhiko Tanaka, if the safety incident was caused by the earthquake and not the tsunmi, Japan’s government will be forced to review its quake-resistance standards. What this means for Tepco is that the resumption of the operation of existing nuclear power stations, will be delayed by years. These are currently suspended due to regular government inspections.
Tanaka was formerly with Babcock-Hitachi K.K. as an engineer responsible for designing the pressure vessel for the No. 4 reactor at the ill-fated Fukushima nuclear plant.
Tanaka says that the earthquake could have caused the damage to the plumbing, and this lead to a "loss-of-coolant accident (LOCA)" in which vaporized coolant gushed into the containment building from the damaged piping. This "vulnerability to earthquake resistance of the nuclear reactor's core structure" is a new problem and requires a total review of the government's safety standards for nuclear power plants in Japan.
What raises red flags for Tanaka the most is the reason why the emergency condensers, which turn vaporized coolant (steam) into water and are supposed to lower both the pressure and temperature of the reactor, were not operating at the time of the accident although the condensers have the capability of functioning even when electricity becomes unavailable.
Tanaka says that it is highly probable that the plumbing linked with the condensers was damaged by the earthquake, causing water or vapor to leak out, leading to the nonfunctioning of the condensers.
In May 23, 2011, Tepco released a report stating that it stopped the emergency condensers after the quake occurred and before the tsunami hit. This was done in order to ensure no change in temperature of more that 55 degrees Celsius for the pressure vessels. This is in accordance with the instructions contained in the operating manual.
Later, a committee looking into the incident asked Tepco to submit a copy of the manual, however most pages were "blacked out." Tepco said the documents requested contained trade secrets which they did not want make public. On Oct. 24, 2011, Tepco released the manual in its original form and it was this document that led Tanaka to believe the utility company was not telling the truth.
To read more on this report and the conclusion made by science journalist Mitsuhiko Tanaka, visit http://www.japantimes.co.jp/rss/eo20111213a1.html.