6 July 2011, 15:35

Fukushima-1: secrets revealed

Fukushima-1: secrets revealed

The accident at Fukushima -1 in March this year was caused by defects in construction, both the former and the current senior engineers of the Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) - the company operating the Japanese nuclear power plant - told “The Wall Street Journal”. Specialists say that emergency diesel-generators and switchgears were wrongly placed at the Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant.

The accident at Fukushima -1 in March this year was caused by defects in construction, both the former and the current senior engineers of the Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) - the company operating the Japanese nuclear power plant - told “The Wall Street Journal”. Specialists say that emergency diesel-generators and switchgears were wrongly placed at the Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant.   

Only 50 per cent of the devices transmitting electricity from the generators to the reactors’ coolers were well fixed, the TEPCO experts say. All the rest were destroyed by the earthquake and by the tsunami that followed it, which finally led to the wide-scale radiation leak.

Of importance here is the fact that a renewed construction was used. Therefore, during the accident the cooling system at the two reactors of the ill-famed Fukushima- 1 nuclear power plant, as well as all four reactors of the Fukushima -2 nuclear power plant, continued working and the energy units were shut down as is should be under the emergency regime. And with regards to the other reactors of the Fukushima -1 nuclear power plant, including the oldest ones, the TEPCO engineers say that over the past dozen of years the company had no time to modernize them. This was caused by “unjustified self-complacence, by the necessity to save money and by weak regulations”. And the 88-year-old Masatoshi Toyota, former top-manager of the TEPCO Company also acknowledged his guilt - he had failed to see the defects and as a result, made no corrections. The company’s other representatives make no comments, saying that the investigation is still underway.

The Fukushima tragedy should be carefully analyzed because such cataclysms may pose a threat to other countries as well. For example, there’re dozens of reactors in the USA, whose operating life has already exceeded 30 years. And more than 20 of them have the same design as the reactors at the Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant that were designed by the General Electric Company. The design provided for the possibility of an accident once in a 100 years. However, the reality proves much tougher sometimes, the Editor-In-Chief of the Atomic Strategy Journal Oleg Dvoinikov said in an interview with the Voice of Russia.     

"Life shows that every 20 years there’s a big accident, accompanied by a radiation leak, which spreads to other countries. Such are the statistics. Therefore, taking into account the aging of facilities, one can say with absolute certainty that a new tragedy, similar to the one that was mentioned above, may occur in the near future."

The danger became evident after the Japanese disaster, which occurred this March. And still, no measures are being taken in the USA to shut down the outdated reactors. It is quite understandable: the point is that such steps demand serious efforts. 

Nuclear power plants are very complex technical facilities, whose functioning is linked not only to scientific but also to social problems of a given region. It is necessary to create additional capacities for the production of electricity. I think that after the Japanese events the USA will reconsider its projects.

Despite similar problems, Germany and Switzerland have already shut down the old reactors. Of course, the situation in the European countries is incomparable neither with the USA nor with Russia. Russia has repeatedly stressed that there’s no alternative to nuclear power production for the world’s biggest countries in the near future but it insists that in the first place, paramount attention must be paid to the development of the global security system at nuclear facilities.

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