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TEPCO's footage of first five days

August 6, 2012



August 6, 2012-08-06


Tepco airs internal crisis footage





Staff writer

Tokyo Electric Power Co. on Monday began allowing journalists to view 150 hours of teleconferencing footage between its headquarters and the Fukushima No. 1 plant, showing how executives interacted with workers in the first five days of the meltdown crisis that erupted on March 11, 2011.


Some of the footage, which was finally disclosed after resistance from Tepco, portrayed the extreme tension and chaos that reigned as the crisis escalated toward hydrogen explosions in reactors 1, 2 and 3, raising fears that the primary containment vessels give way.

The footage also showed Tepco Managing Director Akio Komori, one of the key executives involved in handling the crisis, urging others to decide under which conditions workers would have to be withdrawn as the utility surmised that the fuel rods in reactor 2 were fully exposed at 6:22 p.m. on March 14.

"Somebody needs to come up with a criterion for a pullout. At some point we need to make a decision on wether we can stay at the plant or (its) control rooms. Please start considering the criterion," Komori said around 7:30 p.m.

Tepco claims it was only discussing a partial withdrawal of workers and never considered a total pullout from the plant.

But then Prime Minister Naoto Kan and other government officials suspected that Tepco was considering abandoning the plant for good amid the meltdowns. A total pullout would have triggered even more meltdowns and a much larger release of radioactivity over eastern Japan.

The 150 hours of footage only has audio available for 50 hours, and about 100 of the nonsound hours include teleconferences between Tepco's Tokyo headquarters and the Fukushima No. 1 plant. The teleconference network connects Tepco's major facilities, such as Tepco's headquarters in Tokyo, the Fukushima No. 1 and No. 2 plants, an off-site center and the Kashiwazaki Karia plant. The footage is divided by several screens and shows scenes of these places.

The 50-hour video was recorded at Tepco headquarters, and the 100 hours of nonsound video was recorded through the network at Fukushima No. 2.

Tepco claimed that the audio capture and image capture need to be set up separately, but workers, according to Tepco, failed to turn on the audio recording for the 100-hour footage.

The silent footage includes the time when Kan visited Tepco headquarters early on the morning of March 15.

Apparently Kan had a heated exchange with the utility's officials over their handling of the crisis, but the camera was shooting Kan from behind and facial emotions were not captured.

Kan, fearing Tepco was considering quitting the plant, went to the headquarters to take over emergency operations by setting up a joint headquarters.

Tepco claims the emotional exchange with Kan only served to undermine the morale of the workers, while Kan claimed his visit was useful to the government in handling the crisis.

The footage also showed another heated exchange involving Tepco workers. Soon after reactor 3 was rocked by a hydrogen explosion at around 11 a.m. on March 14, Masao Yoshida, then chief of the plant, hurriedly called Tepco headquarters.

"It's probably reactor 3, and it has just exploded!" Yoshida said.

The report caused a big stir at the plant and Tepco HQ, as the voices of confused workers could be more loudly heard from the footage. Some yelled "Check the parameters of reactor 3!" while others were calling around to check if everyone was OK.



Kan demands full disclosure of TEPCO video




Former Prime Minister Naoto Kan has demanded a full disclosure of the TEPCO teleconference video recorded in the aftermath of last year's nuclear accident. Kan led the disaster response as prime minister.

Kan said an unconditional and full disclosure is necessary to get to the bottom of what happened after the accident. He compared the importance of the footage with the voice recorder of a crashed plane.

Kan said the video showing his visit to the TEPCO headquarters on March 15th last year does not have audio. He said he wants to see everything recorded including the audio.


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