Talk by Mr. Yasutel Yamada at UC Irvine from the Skilled Veterans Corps for Fukushima


John Whiteley sponsored this talk for his class along with the Environmental Institute

October 29, 2012

First John showed a short film on the Sendai earthquake and tsunami by NHK World Film.  Some notes from the film follow.

The quake got up to 2 to 3 g’s, and lasted 3-6 minutes.

The tsunami arrived 20 minutes later or maybe 10 minutes after people could leave a building after the shaking.

At some places it was a 10 meter high wave that lasted for 10 minutes.

One-half million people lost their homes.  

Mr. Yamada represents the Skilled Veterans Corps for Fukushima, a group of 700 older members who wanted to take on repairs at Fukushima and replace younger workers, since the radiation would matter less to the senior workers.

His talk was titled “An Answer to the Crises at Fukushima Daiichi”.

Some short notes on this follow.  Please do not take them as 100% authoritative, since I had some trouble hearing, and they were not explicitly printed on the slides.  Also, Mr. Yamada does not represent TEPCO, which is in charge of the cleanup of its own plant.

Units 1, 2, and 3 had meltdowns.

Explosions of hydrogen occurred at buildings for 1 through 4.

In 1 and 3m all fuel melted and eroded the base concrete, according to a computer model.

Reactor 2 melted but part of the fuel remains in the vessel.

Spent fuel pool should be emptied to avoid a meltdown if its water cover fails.

No one has gone into to inspect 1, 2, and 3.

The number 4 building has serious damage but support of spent fuel pool is being repaired.  It contains all of fuel of the number 4 reactor.

Fuel removal started there as there is less radiation.

In units 1, 2, and 3 the foundations are cracked from the earthquake, and water leaks to the ground.

The supplied water is 400 tons a day.

Some leaks out to the ocean.

It will take 4 yrs to complete a sealing wall to keep the water out of the ocean.

The water storage tanks are bolted in sections, but not welded, so water leaks out.

Lines of hoses leak to the sea.

The water pool is sealed with plastic, and another earthquake could rupture it and leak out water.

Cesium 137 is removed and stored. 

Plastic hoses froze and leaked. 

Hoses are easily mixed up

10 years of cooling is needed for the reactors.

A 50 foot temporary seawall has been built that is supposed to last for 40 years.

There are no plans for concrete wall to replace it.

TEPCO is handling cleanup alone, which is supposed to last for 40 years.

In 2022 there will be a start of fuel removal, and workers will be exposed to 12,000 reducing to 5,000 rems a year. 

Older skilled workers in his organization request to do this work to replace younger workers.

Babies have more cell splitting and are more risk if born to younger workers? (not sure I got that right).

There is less damage to older workers and less time for them to get cancer with their already reduced life span.

No babies to worry about.

His organization has been criticized since his generation installed the reactor and feel responsible for it.

They were asked to submit their licenses and capabilities to TEPCO which they did.

They heard nothing, then TEPCO said it had no room for them.

The government says TEPCO is managing the cleanup and is in charge.

There are 3000 workers at the site. 

The problem is the subcontracting system which has 7 or 8 layers.

There are 500 subcontractors.

The workers dose is controlled by the bottom level workers.

They must leave if overexposed.

TEPCO pays them $200 a day, but with all the layers of subcontractors, the worker gets less than $100 a day.

There are only 120 workers from TEPCO, but 2200 from subcontractors.

The local community becomes a nuclear village and supplies the workers.

This is the Japanese system, and why he thinks TEPCO turned down their offer for help.

His organization wants a national project :

an independent headquarters;

an international inspection team; and

integrated project management.

For exposure control they want worldwide expertise.

There is a more complicated problem on the reactors than at Three Mile Island.

He is on a US and world wide tour to appeal for help and raise awareness of his organization in order to get the Japanese government to hire them at Fukushima.

About 250 students and others attended the talk.

In questions about radiation effects, he said that he was not an expert in that, but thought that for less than 100 milliSieverts that there would be no damage.  (Back ground is about 3 milliSv, and medical tests about the same).

His slides will be available on their website in a few weeks.

He was asked who pays for the cleanup, he answered TEPCO, but said it may end up as some from ratepayers in increased electricity charges.

Another question was when the waste pool would be removed, since if coolant was removed, it could fuse and be an international threat.  The answer was in 10 years.

Then he said that they just want to replace young workers, not to run it or change the project.

(Again, I have been only reporting here, but I don’t think that any government or people or industry wants international pressure on its internal policies.)


About Dennis SILVERMAN

I am a retired Professor of Physics and Astronomy at U C Irvine. For a decade I have been active in learning about energy and the environment, and in lecturing and attending classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at UC Irvine.
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