He’s an auto mechanic. He was a tour-bus driver for a while. He had no experience building tanks or working at a nuclear plant, but for six months last year, he was part of the team frantically trying to create new places for contaminated water to go.
Uechi and co-workers were under such pressure to build tanks quickly that they did not wait for dry conditions to apply anti-rust coating over bolts and around seams as they were supposed to; they did the work even in rain or snow. Sometimes the concrete foundation they laid for the tanks came out bumpy. Sometimes the workers saw tanks being used to store water before they were even finished.
“I must say our tank assembly was slipshod work. I’m sure that’s why tanks are leaking already,” Uechi, 48, told The Associated Press from his hometown on Japan’s southern island of Okinawa. “I feel nervous every time an earthquake shakes the area”….
In October 2012, Uechi was told to climb to the top of the 10-meter-high (30-foot-high) tanks and replace temporary covers for hose-insertion openings with disc-shaped steel covers, each the size of a dinner plate. He found that the temporary covers were nothing but masking tape that a worker could have easily stepped through.
In October, when radioactive water overflowed from another tank, TEPCO said that vessel and four others connected to each other were built on a slope slightly tilting to the ocean. The tank that leaked was built without a water gauge and alarm that could have alerted workers.
The company has said that other tanks exceed its self-imposed 1-degree tilt limit. It also said the tanks are not anchored to the ground, but sit on a 20-centimeter-thick (8-inch-thick) layer of cement on top of a wire-mesh panel.
I admire Yoshitatsu Uechi. He has the courage of his convictions to speak truth to power. His story rings true. But who is going to hold TEPCO to a higher standard? The Prime Minister is trying to sell nuclear technology abroad. The UN is relying on information from TEPCO.
- Japan nuke-plant water tanks flawed, workers say (sfgate.com)
- Fukushima’s Water Tanks Flawed Because Of Hasty Construction, Workers Say (huffingtonpost.com)
- TEPCO says was reluctant to worry public over leak (bigstory.ap.org)
- Nuke-plant water tanks flawed, Japanese workers say (triblive.com)
- Fukushima Roundup (crooksandliars.com)