Japan is "facing the biggest crisis in the postwar period"
Wpisał: Kyodo   

Japan is "facing the biggest crisis in the postwar period"

Crisis HQ on day one saw meltdown threat

Compiled meeting records show Kan team feared worst, kept mum

[i spełniło się. MD] 


Saturday, March 10, 2012 Kyodo

The government was aware of the possibility of a nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant the same day the complex was hit by the earthquake and tsunami last March, according to a summary released Friday of meetings at the emergency headquarters.

The possibility was pointed out by an unidentified attendee at the first meeting, which started at 7:03 p.m. March 11 and lasted about 20 minutes. The earthquake struck at 2:46 p.m.

The summary suggests the government, from the beginning of the accident, had in mind the worst case scenario at the plant but was reluctant to actively disclose information to the public.

It took months for the government to officially acknowledge that meltdowns had occurred in three of the reactors. The government has also stirred controversy for replacing a spokesman of the Nuclear Industrial and Safety Agency after he touched on the meltdown possibility at a news conference March 12.

After being criticized for failing to create minutes of the headquarters' meetings, the government compiled a 76-page summary of the 23 meetings held from recorded conversations and memos written by officials of NISA and other government organizations who attended.

The document showed that a participant at the first meeting said: "There is a need to move emergency diesel generators to cool (the reactors), but they are not moving because of tsunami. The only thing that is moving is cooling (equipment) that can be operated by batteries. This will last for eight hours."

"If the temperature of the reactor rises after eight hours, there is a possibility that a meltdown will occur," the summary quoted one person as saying.

At the third meeting, held at noon March 12, then national strategy minister Koichiro Genba was quoted as saying, "There is a possibility of a meltdown. Is it OK with the evacuation zone set at 10 km? Is there no need to reconsider?"

In the afternoon, the government decided to expand the evacuation zone to 20 km from the plant.

At the seventh meeting, held March 14, then Prime Minister Naoto Kan said "the consensus of experts is that 20 km is enough," although Genba countered that "some experts have different views."

Genba, now foreign minister, is a Lower House member representing a district in Fukushima Prefecture.

The summary of the fourth meeting, held March 12, showed that Kan feared the crisis at the plant might turn into a situation similar to the 1979 Three Mile Island accident in the United States, which resulted in a partial meltdown of the reactor core.

He also said Japan is "facing the biggest crisis in the postwar period" at a meeting March 13.