Fukushima nuclear shutdown: 'No progress is being made'

Fukushima nuclear shutdown: 'No progress is being made'

Summary: The Japanese government says that troubled nuclear plant Fukushima is under control. But an undercover journalist suggests that no progress is being made towards recovery.

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TOPICS: Toshiba, Google, Hardware
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The Japanese government announced publicly today that the troubled Fukushima plant is now under control, having achieved a 'cold shutdown'.

Takashi Sawada, vice chairman Japan's nuclear safety authority, stressed that this does not necessarily indicate that all four reactors are safe but that the plant is in a stable condition.

Nine months after the disastrous Tohoku quake, regulators and rescue workers may finally be getting the very serious meltdown at Fukushima under control.

This is reassuring news for the public after the reactor sprung a leak earlier this month, pouring out an estimated 45 tonnes of radioactive water, which may have reached the sea.

After that setback, it is important to reassure public opinion with some significant progress towards fixing the reactor.

However, freelance journalist Tomohiko Suzuki, who worked undercover at Fukushima for over a month, disputed this news.

(Fukishima from above -- Source: CBS News)

Suzuki spoke to reporters at a Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan conference yesterday, telling a very different story to the one officially given by the Government.

"Absolutely no progress is being made", he said.

Claiming to have taken pictures of the site via a pinhole camera in his watch, Suzuki documented "many problems stemming from the shoddy, rushed work at the power plant".

He alleges that companies including Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco) are not adequately caring for workers on the site, claiming that they are cutting corners in both the repair of the plant and the welfare of the public.

"(Nuclear) technology experts I've spoken to say that there are people living in areas where no one should be," he stated. He suggests that the evacuation zones have not been sufficient and that the 80-kilometer evacuation radius recommended by the U.S. government would have been "about right."

He added that the Government was likely avoiding the huge task of evacuating major cities like Iwaki and Fukushima.

Suzuki's comments on the major companies involved also suggest a lack of co-ordination in the clear-up operation.

"Reactor makers Toshiba and Hitachi each have their own technology, and they don't talk to each other. Toshiba doesn't tell Hitachi what it's doing, Hitachi doesn't tell Toshiba what it's doing".

He also expressed concern for those working to recover the plant. He said: "Working at Fukushima is equivalent to being given an order to die".

Until Suzuki's evidence is thoroughly verified it is hard to say how truthful his claims are.

The timing of the Government's announcement of the 'cold shutdown' coincides directly with Suzuki's statement, which presents a confusing, contradictory message for the Japanese public.

Although the Government's statement should help to assuage concerns about the reactor, they could be severely harmed by these allegations.

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Topics: Toshiba, Google, Hardware

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7 comments
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  • It's easy for us to criticize from the outside.

    Recovering from an apocalyptic disaster is no small feat. It takes time and a whole lot of money. Considering the scale and what these people did to mitigate the damage an radiation is amazing. One may think that since this was the greatest neuclear disaster in history, that ultimately things were not handled properly.

    If a 9.0 quake and 30 foot tsunami hit a large nuclear plant in the US. Everyone would be radio active zombies by now because we all know how long US took to react to Katrina.
    Bakabaka
    • You have no idea what you're talking about

      @Bakabaka

      First off, no we wouldn't be radioactive zombies. We would have long ago done what is referred to as the Chernobyl option. We would have buried the entire place in lead and concrete rather than continue to fight a losing battle for 9 months to save face.

      Second, the US government is not allowed to go into a state for disaster assistance until it is requested by the governor of that state. LA's governor waited over 3 days to request assistance. Also, comparing a hurricane where people had sufficient time to evacuate [b]before[/b] the disaster to an earthquake and tsunami is completely ignorant. If you live in a city on the coast that is below sea level and a massive hurricane is headed straight for you, you GTFO. But nope, they stayed. Then we had to deal with people crying for help. People who think the government should swoop in and magically fix everything, give them new houses, etc etc. Isn't that what home owners or renter's insurance is for? But no, let's not hold these people responsible for shirking their responsibilities. Let's blame the government!

      I lived in Galveston when Hurricane Ike hit a few years ago. I evacuated, as did most people. When I got back things were a total mess, damage everywhere. Did we sit around crying for the government to come "save" us and fix everything? Nope, we called our insurance companies, we rolled up our sleeves and we got to work. We put things back together. We cleaned up the roads, fixed our houses, shingled our roofs. The people in New Orleans that you saw on the news aren't Americans as far as I'm concerned. They're a culture of self-entitled morons. My brother went to help after Katrina. He gave a lady his personal ration of water because she had kids and was thirsty. She threw it on the ground and cursed him out because it wasn't cold.

      You have no idea what you're talking about. I suggest you keep your opinions to yourself.
      LiquidLearner
  • RE: Fukushima nuclear shutdown: 'No progress is being made'

    Fire fighters and rescue personnel are not cutting corners going into extreme danger trying to save people.
    That is what they have to do to get the job done.
    Those people have to do the same, bad deal but there is no other speedy way.
    MoeFugger
    • The Fukushima 50 were volunteers

      @MoeFugger <br><br>The Fukushima 50 were made up of staff employees and engineers, volunteer workers, firemen and even some soldiers. Many of these brave folks who chose to stay in the pocket were older and thus less likely to have additional children, still others were (are) senior citizens with special skills.<br><br>The original 50 quickly grew by tenfold plus practically from the get-go, thus that alias is a bit of a misnomer. Every one of these individuals should be endowed with special lifetime privileges from the state for services rendered to the country. What they did was far more than "just doing their jobs" -- though I agree with you that firemen on the whole are amongst the bravest mofos found anywhere. <br><br>*343*
      klumper
  • RE: Fukushima nuclear shutdown: 'No progress is being made'

    The U.S. reacted quickly to Katrina. But the Bush administration has yet to react to Katrina.
    ITOdeed
    • In the United States of America, the federal government cannot step in

      until requested to do so by the local state government. So, if Bush delayed in Katrina, blame the state governor. Nah, that would require intelligence, and Bush Derangement Syndrome requires total deactivation of the frontal lobes.
      baggins_z
  • Save us from hysteria born of ignorance.

    Low levels of radiation are harmless. 45 tons of water is 12,000 gallons. Or about what a typical home uses in a couple of months. In the ocean, that will dilute to such a tiny amount that you're getting more radiation sitting in a granite building for 8 hours. There's absolutely no reason to evacuate any of the surrounding communities except for hysteria. For crying out loud, hundreds of thousands of people live in Hiroshima and Nagasaki right now. And have been for 70 years. Without horrible birth defects or devastating cancer rates.
    baggins_z