Skip to comments.Worker aghast at shoddy work on Fukushima radioactive water storage tanks
Posted on 01/04/2014 7:39:09 PM PST by markomalley
Yoshitatsu Uechi recalls with disgust the disregard for worker safety, the makeshift plans and the cost-cutting measures, including the use of adhesive tape on key equipment, at his job last year.
He said an emphasis on saving time and expenses was clear when he helped to build storage tanks for radioactive water accumulating at the site of Japans worst-ever nuclear accident.
I couldnt believe that such slipshod work was being done, even if it was part of stopgap measures, Uechi told The Asahi Shimbun.
He was one of 17 workers from Okinawa Prefecture who were sent to the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant on June 28, 2012. The 48-year-old from Uruma said he worked on foundations and storage tank assembly between July 2 and Dec. 6, 2012.
He said he was sent to various places at the site, including H3, an area now known as the spot where high radiation levels have been found due to leaks of radioactive water from the storage tanks.
The leaking tanks are just part of the problem of contaminated water that continues to build up and leak into the ocean from the plant.
One rainy day in late October, Uechi and a colleague were told to wear yellow raincoats on top of their protective gear and head to the E area close to H3. They were instructed to cover the openings of five or six storage tanks that lacked their top lids.
Uechi climbed to the top of a nearly 10-meter-tall storage tank and found white adhesive tape covering an opening about 30 centimeters across. The tape was all that separated Uechi and the surface of radioactive water only 50 cm below.
After using a blade to remove the tape, Uechi said his legs trembled at the sight of shiny raindrops hitting the water surface.
He applied a sealing agent on the opening, fit a disk-shaped steel lid he had brought with him, and quickly fastened it with bolts.
Uechi said he had been instructed to use four bolts, but he saw that the component had eight bolt holes.
Workers were told to keep away from the radioactive water storage tanks, which had high radiation levels, even on the outside.
I wore a raincoat even on sunny days to block the radiation when I had to go near highly radioactive water, Uechi said.
His seasoned colleagues told him that the use of adhesive tape was one of the makeshift measures devised on the site to deal with the sharp increase in the stockpile of radioactive water.
But he said he was surrounded by signs of shoddy work to slash costs and time requirements.
For example, wire nets were used instead of reinforcing bars during the placement of concrete for storage tank foundations.
And to save on the sealing agent used to join metal sheets of the storage tanks, waterproof sheets were applied along the joints inside flange-type cylindrical tanks. Some of these tanks were later found to be leaking radioactive water.
Uechi said the tip of a special clamping bolt snapped and fell into an opening between the bottom and foundation of a storage tank, possibly causing damage.
Rain and melting snow had washed away the anti-corrosive agent applied around clamping bolts on a bottom plate, reducing its sealing effect, he said.
And many second-hand materials were in use, Uechi added.
The prime contractor for the work project was Taisei Corp., one of Japans leading general contractors.
We decline to comment on individual work projects, a Taisei representative said. We are implementing and supervising work projects in an appropriate manner.
Uechi said he was hired by a construction company, a third-tier subcontractor of Taisei, based in Yonabaru, Okinawa Prefecture.
He received work instructions from foremen and supervisors of Taiseis first-tier and second-tier subcontractors.
Uechi said his job contract was revised in mid-August, after he raised questions about the ambiguity of the wording, so he was hired by the second-tier subcontractor afterward.
Duct tape. Don't leave home without it.
Hey, Brad Pitt and Sean Penn were already working other disasters, oK?
ANyone around here remember the first photos coming out of Fukushima? The ones showing the workers wearing their respirators incorrectly? Yes back then I followed posts from a US nuclear worker who explained that in the region the workers were located, failure to properly wear a respirator could be ultimately fatal. He explained that respirator straps must be worn flush against the skin, not in the “leaky” manner shown in the photos where the workers incorrectly wore the straps of the breathing mask OVER the fabric jumpsuit hoodie. And who here can remember the photos of workers wearing dish washing gloves wrapped with ductape at the wrists while using lawn hoses to fill open swimming pools with radioactive water? I know I do....
Deming must be turning in his grave.
We don’t need no steenking QA.
All of this for decades or more, only because:
the Japanese engineers who approved the plans to place the emergency generators near the sea-level, instead of on top of the near-by cliffs, didn’t allow for a large wave.
Just the same as Katrina, as NOLA decided to place their emergency generators at the same level as the huge pumps to purge water from the city!
Hard to believe that this is happening in the home of "zero defect" manufacturing.
Maybe I'm wrong, but power plants and mass production have very little in common. The big problem with power plants is probably government-regulated electric rates that may not account for all of the costs involved in keeping the plant operating safely.
There is no doubt this guy is telling the truth! none whatsoever! And the Japanese government will cover it up for years!
Government typically focuses on paperwork in the name of "safety" at the expense of reality.
How many died cleaning up Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
Where is all the debris from the 2 cities?
Is it still radioactive? Did they build on top of the radioactive areas?