The "more political thread" besides "Japan Earthquake: nuclear plants" scientific one


by jlduh
Tags: scientific
pdObq
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#145
May17-11, 03:38 PM
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Quote Quote by gmax137 View Post
Source, please?

Oh, almost certainly there is no source.
Source?? I guess that would be me, as I wrote that was a thought I had while watching that documentary...

Did you watch it? One could probably make a list of the actual sources shown in the documentary (studies and interviews). It's pre Fukushima-crisis, though, so there is no information about the history of TEPCO or the plant in there. However there is about GE and its BWR design.
jlduh
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#146
May17-11, 03:44 PM
P: 468
Don't preclude to quickly that there are none

Sorry if it isn't a pure source (peer review article etc.) but at least this is an article that summarizes the history of mark I containment and some old studies (not sure they are available on the net anyway) which made this design very controversial:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/16/wo...16contain.html

Several utilities and plant operators also threatened to sue G.E. in the late 1980s after the disclosure of internal company documents dating back to 1975 that suggested that the containment vessel designs were either insufficiently tested or had flaws that could compromise safety.
See also this document hyperlinked in the article, which criticizes the technology used by GE in order to reduce size of containment and ultimately cost:
http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/...nc/hanauer.pdf

And you have also an interesting page, PAGE 63, in this document, where are compared the abilities of different containments to absorb a sudden Hydrogen production from Zr oxydation, and Mark I is far behind the other ones (high percents of H2 inside the containment are reached much quicker, increasing risks of explosion...)

http://www.galcit.caltech.edu/~jeshe...0April2011.pdf

I don't have access to all the documents behind this article of the NY times but in the mega trial that will follow this desaster, no doubt that there will be a cascade of responsabilities that will be debated (long and hard anyway!) and that Tepco will mayb be tempted to sue GE and maybe other subcontractors to share the burden of responsabilities, as anyway this history exist and that some documents may be available...

Meanwhile, the article precise that "G.E.’s liability would seem limited in Japan — largely because the regulatory system in that country places most liability on the plant operator".

Also, these reactors have been through some retrofit to improve the flaws but it is unclear right now which ones are implemented at Daichi (the hardened venting seems part of this, also some deflectors in the torus, but still retrofit has its limits of course...)

Anyway, this will be a VERY COMPLEX trial (a bunch of different trials in fact), as an expert for courts, with some experience in this kind of technical debate, i can assure you that!

By the way it seems the first ones (of a long list...) to claim compensation from Tepco will be the farmers:

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/daily/english/17_33.html

Farmers in Fukushima Prefecture plan to demand about 5.5 million dollars in damages from TEPCO over radioactive contamination from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

32 agricultural groups decided at a meeting in Fukushima City on Tuesday that they will make the demand to Tokyo Electric Power Company on May 27th. It will be their first compensation claim.
Danuta
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#147
May17-11, 06:33 PM
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Quote Quote by jlduh View Post

I don't have access to all the documents behind this article of the NY times but in the mega trial that will follow this desaster, no doubt that there will be a cascade of responsabilities that will be debated (long and hard anyway!) and that Tepco will mayb be tempted to sue GE and maybe other subcontractors to share the burden of responsabilities, as anyway this history exist and that some documents may be available...

Meanwhile, the article precise that "G.E.’s liability would seem limited in Japan — largely because the regulatory system in that country places most liability on the plant operator".

Couldn't seem like a better time for a certain law revision.

Laws revised to make it easier to sue foreign firms in Japan
Thursday 28th April 2011
http://www.japantoday.com/category/p...firms-in-japan


"Legal revisions to enable consumers to file lawsuits against foreign companies more easily in Japan were approved Thursday by a majority of lawmakers in the House of Representatives.

With the approval, consumers and workers will be able to file suits against foreign firms with Japanese courts, in principle, if their residence addresses are in Japan.

The enactment of the revised Code of Civil Procedure and the revised Civil Preservation Law will also allow Japanese courts to deal with legal cases if defendant foreign firms have their main offices in Japan or if their representatives live in Japan.

Until now, there was no domestic law governing the jurisdiction of civil litigation involving parties belonging to Japan and other countries, thus Japanese courts had to handle those suits on a case-by-case basis, based on precedents.

The legal revisions were made to stipulate under what kind of circumstances Japanese courts can have jurisdiction amid an increasing number of problems involving transactions through the Internet and employment contracts between people in Japan and foreign firms."
gmax137
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#148
May17-11, 09:10 PM
P: 819
Thanks for those links, jlduh, the hanauer memo especially is interesting (as is typical of his work). But I don't see how AEC debating the merits of the pressure suppression containment designs shows that the weaknesses of the design were some secret closely guarded by GE. Further, the issues discussed by hanauer don't really address what seems to have happened at fukusima -- namely h2 explosions in the secondary containment.
pdObq
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#149
May17-11, 11:33 PM
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Quote Quote by pdObq View Post
One thought during watching: It would not seem terribly unfair if GE (or GE-Hitachi) had to pay its share in the whole mess. After all, they designed those reactors and sold them to TEPCO, almost certainly without letting them know about the known risks.
Quote Quote by gmax137 View Post
Source, please?
Oh, almost certainly there is no source.
Quote Quote by pdObq View Post
Did you watch it? One could probably make a list of the actual sources shown in the documentary (studies and interviews). It's pre Fukushima-crisis, though, so there is no information about the history of TEPCO or the plant in there. However there is about GE and its BWR design.
jlduh, thanks for the backup !

gmax137, I suppose you were offended a bit by the "almost certainly without letting them know about the known risks". I mean, you probably don't want to debate about that GE designed the reactors, nor about that GE (and later GE-Hitachi AFAIK) sold them to TEPCO?

I was looking for a transcript of that documentary, but I couldn't find anything so far. However, Adam Curtis (who made it for BBC back in 1992) puts it into the context of the Fukushima accidents in his blog entry that jlduh found in his post above. So, let me quote Mr Curtis (with some highlighting by me):
The film shows that from very early on - as early as 1964 - US government officials knew that there were serious potential dangers with the design of the type of reactor that was used to build the Fukushima Daiichi plant. But that their warnings were repeatedly ignored.

[...]

Those early plants in America were the Boiling Water Reactors. And that is the very model that was used to build the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Three of them were supplied directly by General Electric.

In 1966 the US government Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards tried to force the industry to redesign their containment structures to make them safer. But the chairman of the committee claims in the film that General Electric in effect refused.

And in 1971 the Atomic Energy Commission did a series of tests of Emergency Core Cooling systems. Accidents were simulated. In each case the emergency systems worked - but the water failed to fill the core. Often being forced out under pressure.

As one of the AEC scientists says in the film: "We discovered that our theoretical calculations didn't have a strong correlation with reality. But we just couldn't admit to the public that all these safety systems we told you about might not do any good"

And again the warnings were ignored by senior members of the Agency and the industry.

That was the same year that the first of the Fukushima Daiichi plant's reactors came online. Supplied by General Electric.
There are more interviews and references to studies in the film itself, in which IIRC is stated that a) they knew their plants were not as safe as possible quite early on, b) they were trying to make it a profitable business (since they had spent already so much money on the technology that they could not go back any more), so they had to sell plants at the lowest possible prices to be competitive with fossile fuel plants, which lead to safety compromises.

So, common sense tells me, that in order to do b), you don't tell your potential customers about a), at least not in any honest way (Just think about used car dealers...). Because if you did they just would not buy it. Probably the TEPCO people really were convinced that it was a safe technology (maybe even the GE sales people were!), but of course there is no easily available source for that either .

In terms of responsibility, maybe those law suits agaist the tobacco industry in the US are more related to this case, in the sense of "But you told us it was safe..."

Well, we'll see what's going to happen regarding possible law suits against GE.
jlduh
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#150
May18-11, 03:32 AM
P: 468
I was ready to answer to GMAX137 but I think you summarized pretty well pdObq what would have been my answer.

There are a lot of information in this documentary and I'm sure that there are documents behind to support what the guys interviewed in the documentary are saying. Most were "insiders" at this time with responsabilities in various organisations, and that's the force of the film. They are talking freely because they are much older, or even very old, and no more implied in the business! Also the film is not one based on sensationalism after the Fukushima accident, this documentary is from 1992, so its interest is just being rediscovered in light with the Fukushima disaster.

The dates mentioned in the video seem to pretty well correlate with the possibility that at the date of building Fukushima plant was started to be built in 1967, so at this date, based on some of the dates mentionned in Adam CURTIS site (1966), the discussions between american regulators and GE about redesign demands and flaws of the primary design, already occurred, but as you said it is very probable that the japanese weren't informed of that (the Hanauer document is from a later date, September 1972, so one year after the start of reactor N1 at Fukushima).

So yes, it can be said with some reason that it has "probably" been kept secret at this date to Japanese buyers.

Something else to mention to explain what the documentary is showing very well -the fact that in this era, some countries were rushing in a race to be the first, and that safety was NOT AT ALL the primary concern- is that, in addition to the "make money" reason, there was as second reason why these leading countries wanted to build a profitable civil nuclear industry: the race they were involved in was also a military one, and as i mentionned already in some previous posts, they needed PLUTONIUM in larger quantities for the bombs and missiles... And one way to get it was through civil reactors, where PU is a byproduct of the nuclear fission in used cores. This is a know fact that civil nuclear birth happened as a close brother of military nuclear.

All of this old history is resurging with the Fukushima disaster, which scares a little bit the nuclear industry IMO...

It very premature to know IF there will be a juridic battle on this, it depends closely of the behind the screen relations that are currently taking place between governments and various interests. Personally i would be very surprised if this would happen, but we'll see. Don't forget that Tepco is or will be in a short future almost nationalized (and at least very dependent of state funding...) so the game will be decided at high level with strategical things on the table.
zapperzero
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#151
May19-11, 03:56 AM
P: 1,030
Here's a nice example of regulator capture
http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-co.../sec3/108.html

Executive summary:

The NRC is telling the industry "There was this safety rule that was supposed to prevent the pressure suppression pool from cracking, but we're going to go ahead and waive it because, umm, if we do you'll save some money on unplanned outages. So yeah."

Before you ask, yes, I know the NRC is regulating American plants, but the industry is global and "lessons learned/ best practices" have an amazing tendency to spread.
tsutsuji
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#152
May19-11, 05:24 AM
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Asahi is asking :
A column on "the current status," which existed in the initial timetable released in April, is not present in the revised timetable released May 17.

Could the company have been reluctant to change the former phrase "partial damage to fuel" to "core meltdown"?

http://www.asahi.com/english/TKY201105180362.html


Yomiuri is proposing :

The government should encourage the development and practical application of robots and other sophisticated remote-control technologies that could be used in such places. If technologies developed by universities and manufacturers are used in tandem at the accident site, work to stabilize the reactors will be accelerated. In addition, it will improve the nation's technological capability in this field.

The government also should set up a contact point where a wide spectrum of people can submit ideas so expertise from Japan and abroad could be harnessed to bring the crisis under control.
http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/editorial/T110518004597.htm
Tsuneo Futami, former superintendent of the plant, from 1997 to 2000 told IEEE Spectrum :
I think we should never discharge highly contaminated water to the ocean, because there is no border in seawater.
http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/e...my-imagination
, which leaves open the question of discharging "low contaminated" water into the Ocean.

The Japanese government's envoy to South Korea, Oriza Hirata, said to his South Korean audience that the seawater discharge was a request of the US government : http://jp.ibtimes.com/articles/18754...1305641051.htm. That statement was then rebutted by Yukio Edano and Goshi Hosono, and Oriza Hirata finally retracted and apologized : http://www.j-cast.com/2011/05/18095925.html?p=all
gmax137
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#153
May20-11, 12:20 PM
P: 819
Well I finally had time to view the show, and it was pretty interesting. One thing that continues unabated is the repeated juxtaposition of (admittedly dramatic) weapons test films with discussion of nuclear power. Just because Weinberg and Seaborg et al worked on the Manhattan project doesn't mean that a power plant is a bomb factory. This 'journalistic' fantasy has been a staple of the anti-nuclear-power movement ever since the US and USSR began negotiating down the weapons stockpiles. Many well-meaning people have fallen for this story. See, for example:

Quote Quote by jlduh View Post
... there was as second reason why these leading countries wanted to build a profitable civil nuclear industry: the race they were involved in was also a military one, and as i mentionned already in some previous posts, they needed PLUTONIUM in larger quantities for the bombs and missiles... And one way to get it was through civil reactors, where PU is a byproduct of the nuclear fission in used cores. This is a know fact that civil nuclear birth happened as a close brother of military nuclear.
Nobody has ever used a BWR to produce weapons grade plutonium. Why? Because a BWR is operated for 12 to 18 months between refuelings, and this ensures that the spent fuel contains large amounts of Pu-240 in addition to the Pu-239. If you wanted to make a bomb out of the fuel, you'd need to separate out the 240, a profligate source of neutrons that would ruin any attempt to make a weapon with the material. And, if you have the technology to separate the Pu-240 from the Pu-239, then you can just as well make a uranium bomb and skip the BWR step.

Reactors run to create Pu-239 for bombs are run for short times between refueling, or have the ability to add and remove fuel while operating. To refuel a BWR, you need to remove the vessel closure head, and then remove all of the steam separator/dryer components before you can even see the fuel. There is no connection between a BWR and the weapons.
jlduh
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#154
May21-11, 03:13 PM
P: 468
Did workers at Fukushima ingested much more than what has been measured and announced?

I cross reference this post on the other thread:

http://www.physicsforums.com/showpos...postcount=7933


Quote Quote by intric8 View Post
Whoa, NISA comes clean about isotope ingestion resulting in considerable exposures to thousands who were involved early on at Dai-ichi.

http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/...na021000c.html

Some dose calculations these poor guys got, or are expected to get:

http://www.falloutphilippines.blogspot.com/

I always suspected that they were understating potential exposures, but i still find this a bit unsettling. Information is constantly subject to change out of the Japanese agencies, and most often, for the worse.
Drakkith, could you explain us how this is possible with what you asserted some pages ago when we were discussing the assessment of internal exposures?

Nuceng, if I quote your answer to my question:

Originally Posted by jlduh
thanks, so can you just answer this question (if possible by a no or yes answer as a minimum, but you can then elaborate of course):

do the measurements in mSv/h used by Japanese government, which are then compared to certain "limits" (like the 20 mSv /year for children now) to inform people (through the press for example) about "risks" and take decisions (eg evacuating, or removing soil, or whatever), do these specific measurements, the way they are done, with the equipment they use, take ALSO into account internal exposures through inhalation and ingestion of the various isotopes (mainly I-131 and CS-137 of course, but also Strontium as it appeared recently this one is also a concern?

Nuceng: Yes, IF they are doing it correctly

http://www.physicsforums.com/showpos...2&postcount=98
do you conclude that "they didn't do it properly" for these many workers?

And if the answer confirms this, what are the implications for the other citizens around in exposed areas?

Please don't consider my comment as personal attacks, but I, as many other people, would like do understand all those apparent important contradictions between communications and facts and reality...
Luca Bevil
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#155
May21-11, 05:10 PM
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Quote Quote by gmax137 View Post
Well I finally had time to view the show, and it was pretty interesting. One thing that continues unabated is the repeated juxtaposition of (admittedly dramatic) weapons test films with discussion of nuclear power. Just because Weinberg and Seaborg et al worked on the Manhattan project doesn't mean that a power plant is a bomb factory. This 'journalistic' fantasy has been a staple of the anti-nuclear-power movement ever since the US and USSR began negotiating down the weapons stockpiles. Many well-meaning people have fallen for this story. See, for example:



Nobody has ever used a BWR to produce weapons grade plutonium. Why? Because a BWR is operated for 12 to 18 months between refuelings, and this ensures that the spent fuel contains large amounts of Pu-240 in addition to the Pu-239. If you wanted to make a bomb out of the fuel, you'd need to separate out the 240, a profligate source of neutrons that would ruin any attempt to make a weapon with the material. And, if you have the technology to separate the Pu-240 from the Pu-239, then you can just as well make a uranium bomb and skip the BWR step.

Reactors run to create Pu-239 for bombs are run for short times between refueling, or have the ability to add and remove fuel while operating. To refuel a BWR, you need to remove the vessel closure head, and then remove all of the steam separator/dryer components before you can even see the fuel. There is no connection between a BWR and the weapons.
I disagree.
The point being made is about the overall cultural interrelation of civil use of nuclear power and military use.
It is historically true that military use came first, and that the era of first diffusion of civil nuclear plants was also a period of cold war and military weapons proliferation.

The technical fact that a BWR reactor may not be the best reactor to breed military grade plutonium does not undermine, I think, the cultural point being made.

Even recently when IRAN was supposedly building plants for claimed civil use, the international comunity was suspicious to say the least.

By the way if a nation is determined to produce military grade plutonium and can only get his hands on a BWR could it be possible to make a shorter run with a core of fuel just to obtain better chances of extracting military grade plutonium from it ?
Drakkith
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#156
May22-11, 02:04 AM
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Quote Quote by jlduh View Post
Drakkith, could you explain us how this is possible with what you asserted some pages ago when we were discussing the assessment of internal exposures?
Could you elaborate? Did I say or imply somewhere that it was impossible for that to happen? I went back several pages, but I'm not sure what you are referring to exactly.
jlduh
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#157
May22-11, 03:25 AM
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Quote Quote by Drakkith View Post
Could you elaborate? Did I say or imply somewhere that it was impossible for that to happen? I went back several pages, but I'm not sure what you are referring to exactly.
Well, we were discussing the fact that the officials (government, Tepco, etc.) were only communicating with measurements in mS/h or mSv to set the limits over which it was considered to be safe for the various people involved (citizens, children, workers, etc.).

Some of us were saying that this was an oversimplification because it could not take into account all the specific factors especially all the ones related to what the individuals would ingest by inhalation, food, drink...

For Tepco workers, until now, we only heard about the facts that the doses they got was below a certain level (250mSv) and that consequently, except for 2 or 3 isolated cases, everything was safe for them.

But now, it seems (but I'm sure that we will have more infos on that in the future) that their internal contamination could be also a problem...

My question is concerning this apparent contradiction: the readings (i guess based on their dosimeters) were under the limits but they may be internally more contaminated than expected?

One (partial) explanation could be that as we know, the first workers in the plant, during one months, didn't have all a dosimeter because Tepco didn't have enough (which is in itself criminal), and that they had one for two based on what Tepco finally recognized.

But, is it the only explanation or is it link also to the way the limits and measurements are set, not assessing the specificities of internal contamination from the various isotopes?
Drakkith
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#158
May22-11, 07:23 AM
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My question is concerning this apparent contradiction: the readings (i guess based on their dosimeters) were under the limits but they may be internally more contaminated than expected?
I believe that is true.
But, is it the only explanation or is it link also to the way the limits and measurements are set, not assessing the specificities of internal contamination from the various isotopes?
The different isotopes will have very different effects on the body depending on which ones they are. The full body measuring thing cannot take this into account, it only measures Full Body Dose I believe. The actual effects could differ greatly from person to person.
Astronuc
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May22-11, 09:07 AM
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Quote Quote by Luca Bevil View Post
I disagree.
The point being made is about the overall cultural interrelation of civil use of nuclear power and military use.
It is historically true that military use came first, and that the era of first diffusion of civil nuclear plants was also a period of cold war and military weapons proliferation.

The technical fact that a BWR reactor may not be the best reactor to breed military grade plutonium does not undermine, I think, the cultural point being made.
The military certainly made use of such an effective energy source. The civilian side wanted to use "atoms for peace" to use the phrase that Eisenhower used. The civilian uses were quite independent of the nuclear weapons program. The civilian power reactors essentially evolved from the naval nuclear propulsion reactors, not nuclear weapons program. There were several Pu production reactors in various countries, and they were different than power reactors. The form in which Pu is produced is different than that used for commercial fuel.

Even recently when IRAN was supposedly building plants for claimed civil use, the international comunity was suspicious to say the least.

By the way if a nation is determined to produce military grade plutonium and can only get his hands on a BWR could it be possible to make a shorter run with a core of fuel just to obtain better chances of extracting military grade plutonium from it ?
There is the concern that any nuclear reactor could be used to produce Pu for weapons. One could certainly run a reactor in short cycles if the primary goal is isotope production instead of power. The more frequent the outage, the much lower capacity factor - and isotope production. That's why isotope production reactors are designed to have isotope targets inserted and removed while operating.

Quote Quote by jlduh View Post
I wanted to mention here this documentary that was made by a famous documentarist, Adam Curtis, whose films have been widely shown and awarded especially at the BBC (more on him: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam_Curtis )

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adamcurti..._for_atom.html

very interesting because it goes back to old times and history of BWR reactors and GE...
That's an excellent documentary - and spot on!
tsutsuji
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#160
May23-11, 03:14 AM
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Quote Quote by jlduh View Post
And if the answer confirms this, what are the implications for the other citizens around in exposed areas?
The opinion developped by Mito Kakizawa at the House of Representatives Budget Committee on May 16th (see http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/natio...na021000c.html ) is that if no internal contamination surveys are conducted now among the general citizens, it will be more difficult for them to make their case in court, should they suffer from cancer later, years from now. It will be more difficult to assess the causality between NPP troubles and cancer.

Mito Kakizawa had to rely on the data for workers at nuclear power plants because until that day (May 16th) no such internal contamination survey had been performed among the general population.
tsutsuji
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#161
May23-11, 05:58 PM
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Fukushima prefecture announced the launching in July of a medical survey of 150,000 people from 12 villages and cities around the plant. The long term survey will be conducted over at least a 30 year span, and will study white blood cell count, cancer occurrence and genetic impact. Experts from the National Institute of Radiological Sciences in Chiba will be invited : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPl9pfp13wI
yakiniku
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#162
May24-11, 06:52 AM
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Below text copied from http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/...7GO04420110524

Some analysts said the delay in confirming the meltdowns at Fukushima suggested the utility feared touching off a panic by disclosing the severity of the accident earlier.

"Now people are used to the situation. Nothing is resolved, but normal business has resumed in places like Tokyo," said Koichi Nakano, a political science professor at Tokyo's Sophia University.

Nakano said that by confirming the meltdowns now, Tepco may be hoping the news will have less impact. The word "meltdown" has such a strong connotation that when the situation was more uncertain more people would likely have fled Tokyo, he said.


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