NY Times: ‘Shameful’ situation at Fukushima — Tepco “seems unaware of what is happening” — Gov’t must take control of plant — “So little is understood about how to deal with the melted-down reactors”

Published: March 21st, 2014 at 2:06 pm ET


New York Times Editorial Board, Mar. 21, 2014: Fukushima’s Shameful Cleanup — A pattern of shirking responsibility permeates the decommissioning work at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. An increasing proportion of the 3,000 contract laborers at Fukushima are poorly trained, with little technical expertise or knowledge of radiation. […] Many are destitute, recruited by ruthless labor brokers, some with ties to the mob. And the laborers are tossed out once they are exposed to the legal radiation limit. […] [Tepco] seems unaware of what is happening on the ground. […] The subcontracting system […] is dangerous in the continuing emergency at Fukushima. Moreover, it is questionable whether Tepco is even capable of cleaning up radioactive material, controlling contaminated water and decommissioning melted-down reactors. These are tasks beyond the abilities and expertise of an electric power company. […] The government kept Tepco afloat to protect shareholders and bank lenders […] This arrangement has conveniently allowed the government to avoid taking responsibility for the nuclear cleanup. […] the current setup is untenable — particularly since so little is understood about how to deal with the melted-down reactors, or how long it will take to end the radiation threat. It is long past time that the government take direct control of the disaster site.

NHK, Mar. 20, 2014: NRA urges TEPCO to focus on Fukushima Daiichi […] NRA Commissioner Toyoshi Fuketa said the troubles could have been prevented. He called on TEPCO to place top priority on decommissioning reactors and dealing with radioactive water. He urged the company to spend more money on safety measures at the plant. NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka said TEPCO should improve working conditions to ensure the safety of, and maintain morale among, more than 4,000 workers at the plant.

Watch the NHK broadcast here

Published: March 21st, 2014 at 2:06 pm ET


Related Posts

  1. Anonymous Senior Tepco Employee: No one knows what to do at Fukushima, it’s impossible to fix — Reactors not under control — “We just can’t deal with the melted fuel” March 10, 2014
  2. Times: 200-year wait faced at Fukushima — Plant Chief: “No idea” how to decommission reactors… “the technology does not exist”; “No viable method” to deal with melted fuel; “So many uncertainties… we don’t have accurate information” — Engineers declared problems ‘insurmountable’ March 29, 2015
  3. Fukushima Daiichi Worker: Situation at plant “most likely to get worse” — “Japan likely to face a critical situation again” if Tepco remains in control July 3, 2013
  4. Nuclear Expert: Melted fuel is exiting Fukushima site — Very effective way of it being dispersed to humans far away from plant — Situation is beyond man’s control — 3 or 4 times Chernobyl’s radioactivity available for release (AUDIO) September 2, 2013
  5. Radiation expert back from Japan: “Clear that the situation in Fukushima is rapidly spinning out of control” — “Gov’t doesn’t know how to deal with the massive contamination” December 8, 2011

84 comments to NY Times: ‘Shameful’ situation at Fukushima — Tepco “seems unaware of what is happening” — Gov’t must take control of plant — “So little is understood about how to deal with the melted-down reactors”

  • Nick

    "Tepco says it is not in a position to comment on the employment practices of the contractors, and the company seems unaware of what is happening on the ground."

    Tepco is also unaware where the missing bits of the reactor cores are.

    Some TEPCO executives can't even find their own —holes.

    Which is strange, because the entire command structure of TEPCO is peppered by Peter Principled assholes.

    • Kashiko Kashiko

      And so TEPCO should hand over control to the government? You think the Japanese government is any less inept than TEPCO? Some hope

      • We Not They Finally

        What by now is even the difference between TEPCO and the government? Or the difference between either of them and Yakuza? What is your point? It's all right hand/left hand, and good cop/bad cop. I feel very badly for the Japanese people having nothing to "hope" for, but shy of international authorities coming in there and arresting TEPCO, government and Yazuka one and all, then evacuating all of the northern Japan, I'm unclear what to "hope" for. Maybe hope for a God Who will spare the innocents from ever enduring this again.

    • As time goes by and more data emerges the Yoichi Shimatsu Interview Transcript of Aug26'13 seems to ring more and more true…
      Yoichi's speculations correlate with Japan's insisting that they will restart their Plutonium Refinement Reactor Oct'14…
      Japan is in the Plutonium business…

      Here's the transcript…still worth the read if you don't have this info….


      Yoichi is an International World Renowned Journalist who stands by his work heroically…If he's right about the stories her's heard TEPCO/Japan will NEVER allow visitors…Yoichi says they'd be killed entering unknowing high radiation spots if they insist on visiting…check it out?!

  • Cisco Cisco

    “So little is understood about how to deal with the melted-down reactors”…really, no sh#t. TEPCO can't find a solution, nor can any other of these nuclear physicists, because there is none. End of story, end of us, and end of them, too.

  • Nick

    The reactors did not JUST melt down. Units #1 and #3 went kaboom, releasing their cores into the biosphere.

    Cesium the day. The future is gone.

    • combomelt combomelt

      cisco, nick, obewanspeaks, et al…. c'mon, its ok, smiles everyone, smiles, look at the big beautiful mural TEPCO made for your viewing pleasure while we clean up this little mess we made over here, and here, and over there, and there, and over there, and right here, and….!!!


      fuke them all

      • Cisco Cisco

        Combomelt- Murals…Das ist gut! Moslenen…Das ist schlecht!

        • HoTaters HoTaters


          Bremsstrahlung defined

          "Bremsstrahlung is a German term that means "braking rays." It is an important phenomenon in the generation of X-rays. In the Bremsstrahlung process, a high speed electron traveling in a material is slowed or completely stopped by the forces of any atom it encounters. As a high speed electron approaches an atom, it will interact with the negative force from the electrons of the atom, and it may be slowed or completely stopped. If the electron is slowed down, it will exit the material with less energy. The law of conservation of energy tells us that this energy cannot be lost and must be absorbed by the atom or converted to another form of energy. The energy used to slow the electron is excessive to the atom and the energy will be radiated as x-radiation of equal energy.

          If the electron is completely stopped by the strong positive force of the nucleus, the radiated x-ray energy will have an energy equal to the total kinetic energy of the electron. This type of action occurs with very large and heavy nuclei materials. The new x-rays and liberated electrons will interact with matter in a similar fashion to produce more radiation at lower energy levels until finally all that is left is a mass of long wavelength electromagnetic wave forms that fall outside the x-ray spectrum."

          Also known as "gamma shine" ???

          • HoTaters HoTaters

            Gamma shine would be the gamma energy traveling and impacting with other materials, causing the "Bremmstralung" phenomenon, if I understand this correctly.

            Very funny caption, nonetheless (even though the physics are complicated for the layperson like me).

            • HoTaters HoTaters

              Not sure how gamma and x-rays are related, actually.

              • From the physical point of view both are the same thing: electromagnetic energy emitted in form of photons. As is visible and invisible light (infrared, ultraviolet), microwaves, thermal radiation etc. They differ in their wavelength which determines the energy. The shorter the wavelength, the higher the energy (it's a simple formula: energy E = Planck constant h * frequency f). Higher energy denotes higher potential of destruction. The different names listed above are man-made categorizations based on wavelengths. Damage to cells/DNA starts from ultraviolet upwards (energy-like; that is downwards wavelength-like). After ultraviolet come X rays, and basically everything above a certain energy level is then commonly called gamma radiation.
                Search for "electromagnetic spectrum" using your favourite search engine.

                • A particularity of Bremsstrahlung is that is not produced at only one specific wavelength, but as a continuous spectrum with a well-defined maximum energy and a well-defined distribution with a known high point for photons of a certain energy (below the max energy) all the way down to photons of (almost) no energy. When plotted as a curve, it looks a little like the famous "Gaussian bell curve".

                • Bremsstrahlung is created when eg highly energetic electrons (ones traveling at high velocity) hit an obstacle (eg the massive nucleus of an iron, lead or gold atom) and are thus heftily decelerated (think of a cat crashing into a concrete wall) which sets free the energy observed as Brensstrahlung.
                  If you have a good old cathode ray (that is a focused, accelerated electron beam) tube TV set, this happens permanently while the electron beam is rastering the screen to illuminate the phosphoric layer (simplified). In order to shield you from the X rays, the tube has a massive lead-glass front.

                • While the electron beam is purposefully created in a CRT, fast electrons are also produced in the type of radioactive decay called beta radiation. Of course the energy levels involved are much higher than in your TV set. One of the major problems they are struggling with at Fukushima is that beta decay apparently occurs massively within the contaminated water stored in those big tanks. As the beta radiation (fast electrons) hit the tanks' steel walls, high-energy Bremsstrahlung (X ray and gamma class) is generated, rendering the place to one big "X ray chamber".

                • Gamma rays can also stem directly from a distinct type of radioactive decay which is therefore called gamma decay. In contrast to Brensstrahlung it has a single fixed wavelength/energy that is specific to the exact disintegration occuring.
                  The third (or first, if you stick with the sequence in the Greek alphabet) type of radiation originating from yet another form of radioactive decay is called alpha radiation. Physically, alpha rays are Helium nuclei (Helium atoms with the two electrons missing, thus only the "core" consisting of two protons and two neutrons). Their danger stems mainly from their pure kinetic energy which correlates exponentially with the velocity they are emitted.

                • I have to admit my last physics lessons dates back to 1995 or so; anyone is invited to correct me wherever I fuku'ed up with the laws of physics 😉

                  • unincredulous unincredulous

                    1995? You do have a lot of catching up to do!!!

                    The laws of physics have changed since then. Big time. In 2001, George W. Bush changed a whole mess of those laws by executive order. In the aftermath of the twin towers, two 110 story skyscrapers with all their asbestos, plastic, file cabinets, telephones, computers, ink cartridges, modems, wires, desks, compressed wood, everything was turned into vapor and dust all at once. The government said all that was safe to breathe. Biology was also updated at that time.

                    In 2011, radioactive material was no longer hazardous to human health due to international physical and biological law treaties. Nature had a hard time adjusting, but it obeyed.

                    Happiness is now one of the laws of physics, right next to the conservation of energy. Happiness changes the physical nature of biology, resulting in invulnerability; only to the specific physical hazard radioactivity. Apparently happiness did not work for the 911 victims. Had the new laws been enacted earlier those people may have been saved, it is hard to tell.

                    Bullshit has replaced the scientific method, much to the chagrin of old school physicists and sane people. Nonetheless, you will benefit greatly from studying the new physics. The last generation had to deal with the new math, and you must take your medicine. Make sure not to mistake these new laws with reality-based science. Reality is an illusion only to be suffered by those in the lower class. Whatever you do, just be…

                    • unincredulous unincredulous


                    • obewanspeaks obewanspeaks

                      .. 🙂 Writing science on the fly..soon mankind will cry.

                    • name999 name999

                      unincredulous, I didn't ever follow the unfolding of the new post 911 science you have described…thank you for breaking that down
                      I have found similar complete rewrites of psychiatric, mental health related sciences, medicines and treatments.
                      The names have been changed to protect the guilty.

                • P.S. Please use your imaginative skills to picture the "don't try this at home" disclaimer I should probably have placed above all this…

                  • razzz razzz

                    The point is with all the radioactive substances stored suspended in water, some collected and untreated as is happening in Daiichi's storage tanks, they are highly concentrated and confined radioactive elements which create their own environment. So much radioactivity occurring that it interacts with itself/it-selves. Hydrolysis of water can occur creating hydrogen and oxygen in potential explosive ratios, decays rays being particulate or wave energies bump into each other being so concentrated and confined creating all the various interactions you see being defined.

                    Tritium molecules can travel right through most materials besides all the neutrons flying
                    around at Daiichi the site is becoming out of control and shielding workers is becoming more and more problematic. Unit 3 debris removal has been suspended because of all the radiation emitting from its broken reactor and containment. Unit 1's and 2's and even 4's pools have to be further protected from ever increasing radiation with lead and/or thick concrete barriers.

                    The entire site will become aglow as it is further energized with the eroding melted cores as they dissolve into the surrounding soil and groundwater. So far they can't stop it.

                    What is left of Unit 3's building emits radiation freely into the surrounding air, unimpeded. Affects workers at Unit 4 to the point more shielding is necessary before doing any more rod removal work.

    • Ness Ness

      Core 3 went kaboom. I think core 1 is still sinking down happily, together with core 2…

    • chevvvy chev

      I dont see the core of the problem……………….neither does tepco!

  • So many cores, so little time !

    Thank you, NYT, for speaking out this true and hidden tragedy of human existence !

    If only Tepco had used those failure-proof cores we luckily have in US and European reactors, none of this would have happened. The reason for they didn't will probably remain a mystery for millions of years…

  • PhilipUpNorth PhilipUpNorth

    Look out!
    There is a mess over there!
    And over here, too.
    And right there.
    Don't step in that, or you will be over your rad limit, and you'll lose your job!
    Hey, I'm only here 'cause I owe some money to some guy in my neighborhood.
    He said I could leave after two weeks.
    Ah, shit. What was that water I just splashed through.
    Nothing bad, I hope.
    I got here, maybe, March 1.
    Has it been two weeks, yet?
    Can I get out of here today?
    Here is your shovel.
    Go over there with this guy.
    Shovel that stuff into this here front end loader.
    Shut up!
    Keep working!

  • Ontological Ontological

    Right. Clean energy. Check.

  • Nick

    "“The use of zeolites such as clinoptilolite in nuclear waste decontamination is a
    common practice (IAEA 1972)."

    Not so sure eating zeolites does much good to "remove" radionucleotides from the body. It might slow down absorption but once the stuff is in the cells, how is a "clay-type" material going to cation exchange with the inter-cellular decaying atoms?

    I urge caution in suggesting others TRY ZEOLITE, etc.

    My suspicion is that it is a fantasy to think ingesting a mineral magically gets rid of decaying atoms. Remember, the energy of some alpha/beta/gamma toxins is/has already done damage to the cellular structures at the molecular level.

    • We Not They Finally

      We got suspicious of zeolite when we saw the most beautiful glossy website advertising crystal pure zeolite from the pristine Himalayas. But when we did some research on the company, we discovered that their zeolite was coming from a contaminated mine in Pakistan.

      Doesn't mean that ALL zeolite is like that. We just registered a big buyer-beware. You may be ingesting something that has already absorbed exactly what you are trying to get rid of.

  • Nick

    Ya can't eat or drink radioactivity away……

    All you can do is REDUCE exposure.

    • We Not They Finally

      But you CAN do cleansing and juicing and anti-oxidant supplements. Liposomal vitamin C is one of the best — four times more effective than vitamin C caps and you can make it cheaply at home. Also baking soda (just a 1/4 teaspoonful in a 1/4 teaspoonful of vinegar 2 or 3 times a day) keeps the body alkaline, which also wards off cancer. Better to do something than nothing. To at least try to stay ahead of the curve.

      • atomicistheword

        Resistant DNA structures allow the rejection of attachment, otherwise we ALL would have died from radiation sickness and viral attack ages ago.

        An at peak immune system is your best chance of living longer and healthier.

        No chameleon imposter (GMO/canola) food, synth sugars, concentrated fructose (really bad)….

      • unincredulous unincredulous

        It's hard to stay ahead of this curve. Reminds me of that theory that at the speed of light, you can see around corners before you get to the corner.

        Maybe we are traveling faster than the speed of light.

        That curve has curved around and hit me in the butt, now it's like I want to slow down, but I am afraid I will bleed to death when it pulls out.

        Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

  • dka

    NRA speaks a lot, is in charge of TEPCO really, but does nothing.

  • We Not They Finally

    I couldn't get past the "TEPCO seems unaware" claim. Choked.

    • unincredulous unincredulous

      Could it possibly be that they actually bought that idea that radiation is harmless to the happy?

      Now, I am not joking. Maybe they were told that and just believed it.

      I can see them subcontracting all this work out, to avoid the possible downer of dealing with it. They think the downer is what kills you?

  • Nick

    ." He urged the company to spend more money on safety measures at the plant"

    So, as of immediately, condoms will be issued to all workers with functioning testicles and erectable appendages!

  • Nick


    Why don't we have a radiation.gov site?

    Carbon ain' t the enemy, nuclear industrial toxins are!

    • We Not They Finally

      Yeah, the big scam. The REALLY big scam. The environmental movement has been infiltrated and half-wrecked. Carbon dioxide — no, not the crap of dangerous pollutants that usually accompanies it, but CO2 by itself just helps the flowers grow. It is also notably absorbed by plankton and algae, which IN TURN gives off 50-70% of the world's oxygen.

      But not any more. Now the plankton is getting so contaminated that dead plankton will be giving off methane instead of oxygen. So we can't breathe.

  • TheBigPicture TheBigPicture


    Governments litter the planet with nuclear waste.

    They can't even find a missing airliner.

    • Your missing airliner is at Diego Garcia airbase where they are busy refactoring the 777 to IAEA's dirty bomb.

      • Alaskan Ice Alaskan Ice

        It's like an "Elvis sighting".

        • HoTaters HoTaters

          Alaskan Ice, is that Avatar a picture of a beautiful woman staring at floating pigs in the sky? I can't tell what it is.

          • Alaskan Ice Alaskan Ice

            It is an artists rendition of flying pigs, influenced by the Lewis Carroll storybook, "Through the Looking Glass", in which Tweedledum and Tweedledee recite to Alice the poem "The Walrus and the Carpenter."
            In the poem, the Walrus fools some young Oysters, along with the connivance of an older Oyster who remains in the Oyster bed, to come with him to their doom at his dinner table. The Walrus uses the following political speech to lull them along:
            "'The time has come," the Walrus said,
            'To talk of many things:
            Of shoes–and ships–and sealing-wax–
            Of cabbages–and kings–
            And why the sea is boiling hot–
            And whether pigs have wings.'"

  • Fukugeddon: "Shameful" situation at New York newspaper. Editors "seem to be unaware of what happened" – Gov't has long taken control of plant – "So little is understood about how to deal with the waken-up's reactions"

  • Alaskan Ice Alaskan Ice

    They're turning Fukushima into a Zombie factory.

  • jackassrig

    "The most serious accident will occur i f , by mistake or by
    sabotage, the control rods are moved in very fast, so that the
    pile becomes prompt critical." H.A. Bethe

  • rogerthat

    well, hooray columbus. the nyt editorial board, after a mere 1000 days, has noticed that something shameful is happening at fukushima. today's news today.
    ''Moreover, it is questionable whether Tepco is even capable of cleaning up radioactive material, controlling contaminated water and decommissioning melted-down reactors.''
    – goodness me, hoocoodanode?

    and maybe in another three years' time they will realise that in this spinning world of winds, jet streams and ocean currents, what goes around comes around – and around, and around, and around, forever – and that fukushima's little problem is everyone's little problem.

    • Wait until they retract from that unreflected statement tomorrow !

    • rogerthat

      … and maybe, in the dim and distant future, and if we're all really, really lucky, they might look at the evidence and conclude that the earthquake, not the tsunami, caused the meltdowns, and ask whether there are similar plants operating elsewhere in the world, just waiting for an earthquake to happen.

      they might ask what the global nuclear plant meltdown rate is – one every seven years, and accelerating? – and wonder what that means for life on earth. little old us. them too, ha ha.

      they might ask themselves whether it's not logical to conclude, since radiation cannot be permanently contained by any means known to man, that the radiation from the world's 500 nuclear plants and their many decades of spent fuel rods will all eventually end up in the environment.

      now wouldn't that be a eureka moment? the new age of enlightenment.

      — nah, i must be dreaming.

  • rogerthat

    The saddest thing is that this is groundbreaking stuff. The New York Times is still way ahead of the rest of the media. It is also way, way ahead of the UN and the IAEA, who say it's all harmless and that Tepco is doing a wonderful job, and its all harmless, not to worry, radiation is harmless, here, have a banana, smile, smile, smile, and never forget that no-one's ever died from radiation. So great journalism lives on, informing the people, asking the hard questions, our eyes and ears, keeping governments honest, holding governments and corporations and industries to account, on the side of the little people … words fail me, which is lucky for you all because i'm just your common or garden kind of dork, don't know my arse from my elbow

  • razzz razzz

    NY tries to outlaw sugar but not nukes. They could start in their own backyard by supporting the suspension of nuke plants until Daiichi is resolved and we know how long that will take. If they would agree, I would agree to it. Look for bananas to be banned next while we await further awareness to the nuke power fallout problems.

  • Shaker1

    In general I abstain from commenting to stuff like this, but I'll admit that the acceptance of the NY Times as any representative of truth or of responsibility rankles me beyond endurance. The NYT is really a sad joke and has been for quite a number of years. They're at least 2 1/2 years behind the obvious conclusions arrived at by others who they would probably consider 'less informed'. They have published knowingly manipulated information, withheld information at the behest of the unscrupulous who they mimic, and would likely lie about the score of a soccer game to allow one of the chosen few time to hide from their bookie. So, they finally decided to state the apparent? I wouldn't use their rag for insulation in the cardboard box I use on the street (where they and their ilk put me) for my shelter.

    Sorry for the rant. I'm generally more constrained…

    I guess I should be thankful that they published some truths for the other idiots who still have some deluded reverance for their information and investigative determination.

    • rogerthat

      Sad but true. Lie about the score, the game, the teams, the sport, the full catastrophe. Not even a shadow of their former selves, barely a glimmer of former glory. But who, in the world of the Most Sad Media, is better?

  • atomicistheword


    Nothing to worry about, bananas, potatoes, falls to the bottom of ocean, no jet streams, lick I-phone charger.

    Liar, liar, HAARP on fire.

  • There wasn’t any single case where the Japanese had to decommission a plant. Decommissioning is a new experience for them, since GE the builder of most of the plants was supposed to support them when needed and even in operating and probably in decommissioning the plants as well!
    Therefore, the Japanese just forgot about the waste fuels in the pools and do we usual maintenance works. They were not ready at all for such a catastrophe, and it had been a big mistake for the entire world to abandon these tasks of recovering the plant to them. We may had thought that the Japanese only will support financial and the health consequences, but we will soon learn how irresponsible we had been to believe that.

  • earthsmith earthsmith

    The NYT has been sophisticated,dressed up propaganda machine with nothing but slight of hand intent,content since the advent of collapsible economies(The Federal Reserve)

  • Nick

    Today, the NYT understood The Fukushima Experiment.

    The Fukushima Experiment was begun before 3/11/11 since it took awhile to construct one of the world's largest nuclear electrical generating stations.

    Quite simply, The Fukushima Experiment is a wonderful opportunity to study the effects of radiation on the global biosphere. Careful study will reveal the demise of vast swaths of ecosystems.

    Scientists the world over are jumping up and down at this once in a life-time opportunity.

    All Aboard.

    The Fukushima Experiment is well underway.

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