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Further Japanese revelations

Located in: Industry Talk

30 March 2007

[Asahi Shimbun, Kyodo, 30 March] Three further safety-related incidents have been uncovered in the Japanese Ministry of Economy Trade and Industry's purge of power operator's safety records. Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) admitted concealing an emergency shutdown of Fukushima 1 in 1984, and that in the late 1990s 34 of the unit's 137 control rods were dislodged by 15cm during an inspection. Workers corrected the rod positions immediately and there was no unintentional criticality. At that time, Tepco was not legally required to report the incident. In addition, Japan Atomic Power Company (Japco) admitted that a valve that compromised the airtight status of the continment vessel of Tsuruga 2 was hidden from inspectors before replacement two days later.

Tepco delays commissioning of reactors

Located in: Industry Talk

28 March 2007

[Bloomberg, 28 March] Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) said that it would delay the completion of Units 7 and 8 at its Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant by one year after revealing a series of past safety lapses at its reactors. Commissioning of the two Advanced Boiling Water Reactors (ABWRs) will now be scheduled for October 2013 and 2014. The company recently reported on several incidents in which control rods were dislodged, including one in 1978 which probably caused a criticality incident that could have lasted up to seven-and-a-half hours at Unit three of the Fukushima-1 plant. Tepco's president, Tsunehisa Katsumata apologized on 23 March saying, "We are very sorry for the incidents that deeply hurt public trust." He added, "We will work to restore confidence." The company announced the delays to the new reactors as part of a business plan released today.

Tepco reveals series of past incidents

Located in: Industry Talk

27 March 2007

[Japan Times, 21 and 23 March] Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) revealed that five dislodged control rods probably caused a criticality incident that could have lasted up to seven-and-a-half hours at Unit three of its Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant in 1978. An internal investigation by Tepco and the reactor's constructor, Toshiba Corp, revealed that five control rods were found to have slipped from their correct positions during a regular inspection. Akio Komori, department head of Tepco's nuclear power plant management unit, said "Judging from testimony and data still available, the possibility that the reactor reached a critical state is extremely high." Tepco also said the investigation revealed two further cases where a control rod dislodged from a reactor core at the Fukushima-1 plant: at Unit 5 in February 1979 and at Unit 2 in September 1980. In addition, Tepco said two control rods came off at Unit three of its Fukushima-2 plant in June 1993 and at its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa-1 reactor in April 2000 during routine checks. Criticality did not occur in any of these other incidents. Tepco's admissions come after a series of other disclosures of past safety lapses to Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) as part of a purge of records intended to help transform corporate safety culture in all electric operating companies, nuclear and otherwise. The deadline for nuclear operators to make such disclosures is 31 March.

Tepco admits further data falsification

Located in: Industry Talk

05 March 2007

[Mainichi, 1 March; Tepco, 2 March]Tokyo Electric Power Company admitted six further occasions whenworkers failed to record safety issues at nuclear plants to the NuclearIndustrial Safety Agency on 1 March, in addition to three alreadyknown. One of the new events concerns the breakdown during trial of a diesel back-upgenerator at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa 3 that went unrecorded in 1995. An emergency shutdown of one of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa units in 1992 was also unrecorded. Another concerned the exceeding ofthermal output by 0.1% at Fukushima 1 on five occasions between 1991and 1998 for which workers entered figures below actual output.  "Weapologize from the bottom of our heart for causing anxiety to thepublic and local residents, " said Tepco vice President KatsutoshiChikudate. Six other falsification events which occurred at non-nuclearthermal power plants were also disclosed.

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