The Mainichi Daily News reports that two Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant workers, whose drowned bodies were discovered on March 30th, nearly three weeks after the earthquake-triggered tsunami inundated the northeastern Japan atomic site, had been ordered by a Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) supervisor down to the turbine building basement of Unit 4 to check for leaks from pipes, despite warnings that large tsunamis were inbound.
In a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission "Event Notification Report" dated July 26th, and posted on NRC's website July 27th, entitled "UNANALYZED CONDITIONS INVOLVING THE SAFETY RELATED DIRECT CURRENT (DC) SYSTEM," an "unanalyzed condition that significantly degrades plant safety" and a "condition that could have prevented fulfillment of a safety function" were reported at the problem-plagued Davis-Besse atomic reactor. Two problems were identified, having to do with "an old design issue" going unresolved despite being identified during inspections. The first problem "could challenge the adequacy of electrical separation between the potentially grounded non-safety related equipment and the safety related batteries. The second problem posed the risk of "If a ground fault existed on one of these switches, the fault could be transferred from one power source to the redundant source, potentially impacting the ability of both safety-related DC power sources to perform their required functions." Davis-Besse has had a long litany of near-disasters, as chronicled in a Beyond Nuclear backgrounder. Beyond Nuclear, along with Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don't Waste Michigan, and the Green Party of Ohio, has intervened against Davis-Besse's requested 20 year license extension, and won standing and the admittance of four contentions from NRC's Atomic Safety (sic) and Licensing Board. The contentions argue that (1) wind power alone could replace Davis-Besse; (2) solar photovoltaics alone could replace Davis-Besse; (3) a combination of wind, solar PV, and compressed air storage could certainly replace Davis-Besse; and (4) Davis-Besse severely underestimated the costs and casualties that would result from a catastrophic radioactivity release, a fatal flaw in its Severe Accident Mitigation Alternatives (SAMA) analyses required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
"The Japanese government disclosed reports Friday showing that its primary nuclear regulator [NISA] tried to manipulate public opinion at forums to promote nuclear power, findings that further damage the industry's already tattered reputation.
NISA had asked nuclear utilities to "seed" public events with utility employees and pro nuclear people and attempted to have the utility "give them supportive questions they could ask."
"NISA has been attacked by industry critics for having been too lax and too close to nuclear-plant operators ever since details of the March 11 events at Fukushima began to emerge." Wall Street Journal
The Mainichi Daily News has reported on the same, and related stories. There is evidence that the Japanese nuclear power utilities, the Japanese federal regulatory agency, as well as elected officials at the prefectural and municipal levels, colluded to turn out pro-nuclear spokespeople at public hearings in favor of loading plutonium fuel into reactors across Japan, as well as in favor of re-starting atomic reactors after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe began. Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps, at the invitation of Green Action Japan and a network of grassroots Japanese anti-nuclear groups, toured Japan a year ago, making presentations about the risks of storing irradiated mixed oxide plutonium fuel in pools, as part of over decade long "Nix MOX" or "anti-pluthermal" campaigns. Despite this, Japanese nuclear utilities -- including Tepco at the now rubblized Fukushima Daiichi Unit 3, as well as Kyushu Electric at Genkai in Saga Prefecture on Japan's south island -- loaded plutonium in reactors in late 2010. U.S. nuclear utilities have similarly often turned out large numbers of their own workers (sometimes renting buses to transport them in), as well as local elected officials and businessmen and women, to promote such things as 20 year license extensions at old reactors, as well as the construction and operation of new reactors.
"The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is approaching completion of an ambitious study that concludes that a meltdown at a typical American reactor would lead to far fewer deaths than previously assumed."
However, "the study assumed a successful evacuation of 99.5 percent of the people within 10 miles, for example. The report also assumes 'average' weather conditions" as noted by Edwin Lyman of UCS. The New York Times
As the Fukushima disaster has clearly demonstrated, nearly perfect evacuation is impossible and radiation does not deposit in concentric circles radiating out from the plant, but rather, follows the weather.
Deadly doses of radiation at ground level around the shambles of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant were recorded at the highest level since the March 11, 2011 nuclear accident at 10 sieverts per hour sending radiation monitors off scale. Radiation exposures of 500 REM can cause prompt fatality.
The Mainichi Daily News has also reported on this story, including that Tepco does not even plan to measure radiation at two other pipes nearby that they already know are emitting at least 1,000 rems per hour, because no workers are expected to work near there. However, as the Mainichi Daily News points out, if such lethally high readings are found elsewhere at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, it could significantly hamper efforts to bring the situation -- of three melted down atomic reactor cores, and multiple boiling high-level radioactive waste storage pools -- under control.
Bloomberg has also reported on this story.