Yomiuri: Meltdowns were advancing while being kept hidden from public for months — Gov’t “very cautious” about saying meltdown

Published: December 15th, 2011 at 5:19 pm ET
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Govt pressure on N-agency cast doubt on meltdown, Daily Yomiuri, Dec. 15, 2011:

When did a meltdown occur at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant after the March 11 disaster?

Events Compiled by Yomiuri

  • [On March 12]  “It’s a core meltdown. We believe the fuel has started to melt [in the No. 1 reactor],” Koichiro Nakamura of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said at a press conference at 2 p.m.
  • [On March 14] Nakamura did an about-face only two days after his initial statement:
  • – “We can’t say for certain whether there’s been a meltdown”
  • According to research results announced by TEPCO in May:
  • – Most of the fuel at the No. 1 reactor had melted by the morning of March 12
  • – This means Nakamura’s initial explanation was correct
  • Finally admitted on June 7 there had been a meltdown
  • Nov. 30 [Tepco said of Unit 1]:
  • – “Almost all of the (68 tons of) nuclear fuel melted, fell through a pressure vessel and eroded the concrete bottom of the containment vessel by up to 65 centimeters”
  • Therefore, a meltdown had advanced in the reactor core and this fact was hidden from the public for about three months

Explaining why the agency’s information had undergone such a change, Terasaka said: “After the Prime Minister’s Office’s instruction, we became very cautious about using the term ‘meltdown.’ We felt our statements should not exceed what the Prime Minister’s Office said at press conferences.”

Published: December 15th, 2011 at 5:19 pm ET
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