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Tepco releases badly altered image of Fukushima Unit 4 (enenews.com)
62 points by stfu on Sept 3, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 47 comments

Hi, I'm a physician who deployed as part of the US military response, specifically, I was in the contingency planning cell. Assuming there is a hole in the wall, which is a curtain wall, not a containment wall, then it leads to work areas around and outside the base of the reactor containment vessel. The presumed hole is above the wet well and may or may not be on the side facing the containment pool.

If it is on the side of the containment pool, the wet well may not be covered by a floor (I have seen conflicting schematics on this). However, Unit 4's primary issues were with their spent rod pool. If that is involved, there are two concrete decks between the bottom of the pool and the space exposed by presumed hole.

So, my guess is the wet well may be exposed by that hole in the curtain wall, and may or may not have any damage, but the wet well is definitely failed in Unit 2, and I can see where they wouldn't want people whooping and hollering about wet wells. I'm sure the insides of that are a complete mess at this point. Even if this was a normal construction site, it would be a complete mess at this point.

I see others have mentioned there may be a truck access tunnel at this spot. Perhaps, but I'm unclear as to the orientation of the 4 sides, and that seems a bit irrelevant to the reactor.

Meanwhile, the NRC daily updates petered out long ago. I'm not planning any trips to Fukushima any time soon.

Update: here is a great presentation we got from Areva. Glad to see it's available to the public:


Ok, so assuming all that is true, why obscure the hole?

I can still recall during my sentiment during the unfolding of the Fukushima incident. The whole time, I kept reassuring everyone to keep calm and not assume the worst because the information coming out of TEPCO indicated that the reactor was "OK". Heh, boy did that turn out to be a mistake.

So, what we have here is a situation where TEPCO has dropped a nuclear bomb on their credibility. Normally, I'd give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that all these are perfectly plausible explanations worth considering, but after the way they handled the incident as it was occurring, I'm not inclined to believe anything not seen or verified by my own eyes or trusted third-parties.

A doctored image coming from TEPCO gives us every reason to be alarmed. Given their past behavior, it's a good indication that something is amiss.

> something is amiss

I'm not arguing that point. All I'm saying is, whatever is going on, I don't think I'm going to get called back over for contingency operations. The joint task force never disbanded, we're all theoretically still on call for this. As far as TEPCO's relationship with the Japanese people, that is a situation for them to resolve internally. My brother's wife is from Ibaraki prefecture (between Tokyo and Fukushima). He plans to make a career of law in Japan. But I seriously doubt we will see any new catastrophic developments or American tax dollars spent on the problem.

One thing to keep in mind is that Unit 4 was de-fueled at the time of the accident. The explosion was caused by hydrogen leaking over from Unit 3. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fukushima_Daiichi_nuclear_disas... and look for "Reactor 4").

I don't know how this makes me feel.

Should I be upset, because a company aims to purposely lie to the public?

Should I be happy, because any sufficiently large organization will inevitably make stupid mistakes like this one?

Or should I be terrified, because it's likely that better-done versions of shit like this is done by supposedly trustworthy corporations and governments every day?

If everything were okay TEPCO would have a lot to brag about and its image would only go up.

It's no wonder so many rank and file TEPCO employees are resigning of late. http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/tepco-worke...

I bet they know more than the general public does too.

Maybe they made that area blatantly obviously shopped in order to direct attention from more important, well shopped areas of the photo.

You're very good at conspiracy theories.

Perhaps the photo is designed to distract from other better shopped photos at better hidden accidents in better hidden countries.

This picture proves the existence of a conspiracy.

They can't even lie competently. Where are the organizations competent to run a nuclear power station? Because nuclear power, done right and engineered well, is the one of the safest and best sources of energy. Tepco is criminally* incompetent, however, and this makes it hard to make a case for nuclear power when their gross incompetence is stinking up the joint.

* Have any Tepco execs been charged? They should be...

"Because nuclear power, done right and engineered well, is the one of the safest and best sources of energy."

Here's the thing: most human endeavors are going to be done wrong and engineered poorly at some point. If I run a slipshod coal-fired plant I can give cancer to a bunch of people and blow up a town, but I'm not going to threaten the food production of an entire country and possibly an ocean.

Warren Buffett has famously said (I paraphrase) that he only invests in companies that will do OK even if managed by complete idiots for ten years because most companies will be managed by idiots for extended periods of time.

Basically, you want to move to Theory, because that's where nuclear power plants are a great way to generate power.

Here's the thing: Even a completely perfectly managed coal plant does more damage over it's operational lifetime than the nightmare scenario at Fukushima.

Yes, the damage done by the coal plant is more diffuse. But it is not less than the damage done by Fukushima to the ocean and to eastern japan. Coal plants worldwide kill half a million people per year from direct effects, and a lot more from indirect ones.

Also, the nightmare scenario at nuke plants is commonly overstated. Fukushima did not, and cannot, threaten the entire food suppy of Japan. If all it's radioactive isotopes were evenly laid out on all of its fields, the concentrations would be small enough that eating the food would be bad for you, but no worse than breathing the air full of SO4 and NOx found in places where coal plants are run badly (like china).

With coal, the danger is roughly where the profit is. You use cheap coal power? Please have your increased risk of respiratory disease that comes with it. One can make policy based on those risks, and given a democracy, people can choose.

With nuclear power, you have a low probability of a very catastrophic event with consequences that aren't local. In a very simplified scenario, 50 countries can carelessly operate a nuclear power plant each, and only one of them blows up. However, the wind carries the fallout to another country that never used nuclear power. The people who get cancer, whose soil is irradiated, never saw any benefit from nuclear power, and they never had a chance to stop the plant being built, because it was outside their jurisdiction.

So please, could we finally stop comparing Black Swan-type events with non-local consequences to managable, local risks?

Coal is not a "manageable, local risk"; coal causes problems with probability ~1.

Also, the average coal power plant produces more radioactive waste than a nuclear power plant.

The real problem: people fail statistics. People can easily observe a nuclear plant when it shows up on the news, and assign a disproportionately high risk to it. The ongoing damage of coal plants doesn't make the news, because it falls under "day-to-day operation" rather than "disaster".

Nuclear plant failure statistics are meaningless as a measure of safety. You are pointing to the nonoccurrence of a rare event as evidence of its rarity.

Even if coal plants cause more damage to the world, failures are local and manageable. When your nuclear plant fails catastrophically, as they have at Chernobyl and now Fukushima, you can't point to "but this is a six-sigma event!" as an excuse. Given this risk, fission plants have been neither economically nor environmentally preferable enough to displace other ways of generating electricity.

So far nuclear power plants cause a big problem with probability ~1 -- we can't reclaim the sites they're built on and we can't safely dispose of the waste. And these problems are going to last longer than any system of government we've ever created has lasted.

So, everyone in Appalachia should just move if they don't like coal pollution?

"Here's the thing: Even a completely perfectly managed coal plant does more damage over it's operational lifetime than the nightmare scenario at Fukushima." and "Coal plants worldwide kill half a million people per year from direct effects"

I tried to find some kind of data on this and the estimate is that coal power kills ~13,200 people each year in the US as of 2010. That's about a third of the number of people killed each year in car accidents and a sixth or so of Diabetes deaths.


But a well-engineered coal plant perfectly run in the land of Theory (next to the well-run and well-engineered nuclear plants) sequesters its CO2 and its coal is mined by robots, right?

If nuclear is so safe, why is it impossible to get private insurance for nuclear power plants?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economics_of_new_nuclear_power_... (nuclear plants only have a tiny proportion of their liabilities covered by private insurance, they require state guarantees or no-one would ever build one).

No-one knows how bad the downside may be so it's impossible to gauge the risk. If a coal power plant is hit by a tornado, an earthquake, a tsunami, and a wildfire all on the same day the maximum downside is no more coal power plant.

Nuclear plants kill a lot of people from direct/indirect effects too. Uranium doesn't grow on trees and jump into reactors by itself. It's funny how the pro-nuclear crowd likes to wave away (a) legacy plants, (b) geopolitical issues (e.g. uranium mined unsafely in third world countries), (c) proliferation, (d) spent fuel storage, (e) transportation, and so on and so forth, and then tally up lung cancer, people run over by dump trucks at mines, and so on for coal.

"Yes, the damage done by the coal plant is more diffuse. But it is not less than the damage done by Fukushima to the ocean and to eastern japan."

I simply don't know how much damage Fukushima has done and will do in the future. Do you? Wait until we find out what happens to the spent fuel at Fukushima and whether it successfully rolls the dice with aftershocks.

For that well-run land-of-Theory coal plant, you'll want to look at what the net costs of all that scrubbing and sequestering are on a per-MWh basis. While sequestering CO2 is possible, it also consumes a large share of the power output of the plant.

I'll share your assessment of the risks of plant damage -- in the case of coal, it's normal operations which are a risk, in the case of nuclear, it's abnormal operations which pose the greatest risk. We're starting to get sufficient baseline data to have a sense of nuclear's actual risks (though some, such as long-term waste storage still haven't been resolved).

The biggest risks, as I see it, with nuclear are actually organizational. Tepco, Hanford, and Chernobyl are all cases in point: managerial incompetence or malfeasance have resulted in hugely damaging events or consequences. A large part of this managerial threat can be attributed to the very high concentration of value that a nuclear plant poses. At roughly 18 GWh annual production rom a typical plant, that's $1-2 billion in annual retail electrical revenues -- a pretty substantial turnover.

I'm all in favor of nuclear power than eliminates or manages the maximal risk (some of the ideas floating around for household thorium reactors qualify) but we simply can't assess the maximum risk for nuclear power plants so we're comparing a known value to an unknown value, and the known value isn't so bad (ignoring greenhouse).

I'm not disagreeing with you about the lala land coal plant btw, just comparing apples to apples. I assume the well run perfectly engineered nuclear reactor might not be as cheap or efficient as the badly run stupidly engineered reactor.

That's a bit of a straw man. Fallout would obviously not be evenly distributed across Japan, it would be concentrated in the areas near the plant. I don't know anything about the details, but the food from those areas could conceivably become unsafe to eat.

The problem with large-scale fission is that any one failure has the potential to disrupt the entire workings of the machine, which is whatever country happens to be downwind. There is no resiliency in the network - you have people telling you the accident will probably never happen, but when it does, you could get anything from Three Mile to Chernobyl.

Maybe we could have a wider network of smaller plants that pose smaller risks individually, and any one failure wouldn't be a big deal. But that's probably not economically or socially (who wants a mini-reactor in their neighborhood?) feasible.

Maybe they just removed some company's logo? Bad public image and stuff..

Instead of covering it with a black rectangle, they stamped it with a similar color, some people went all conspiracy.

If it were a light grey rectangle, sure. But this looks like someone scrawled on it with mspaint.

Pretty odd place to put a logo.

It looks like there is just a hole in the wall there:

http://photo.tepco.co.jp/library/120120_2/120120_10.jpg http://photo.tepco.co.jp/library/20120810_01/120810_01.jpg

(The damage lines up pretty well across those photos)

Doesn't really explain why they masked it out though.

It could be anything, like a pile of garbage with a coca-cola vending machine on top of it, or just a piece of equipment.

Or, like in a video posted in this thread, an unsuitable writing on the wall, there seem to be a lot of them: http://i.imgur.com/0QL7a.png (similar size btw)

Looking at older images of reactor #4, there should be a hole in the wall were the altered area of the photo is. In older images, there is what looks like a truck entrance, that extended out from the reactor building, and this has since been removed. Perhaps Tepco did not want people to see a gaping hole in the side of building.... you can see the truck bay that is no longer there in this photo.. http://cryptome.org/eyeball/daiichi-npp/pict12.jpg

A more interesting question is why they did their photoshopping in MS Paint.

That is about the most shoddy photoshop job by a $10B corporation ever.

Anyone have any ideas what was in that corner they might want to hide?

I was able to find a video [1] of the building, with that area visible to some extent. You can see it at various points, like at 3:43. I'm not sure of its significance though.

[1] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NX59-ZBO3mo

Looks like a door/access of some kind.

Edit: There was some kind of entrance tunnel connecting there : http://exposingthetruth.info/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/fuku...

Still not clear why they'd shop that.

Edit 2: this article has more details : http://translate.google.com/translate?sl=fr&tl=en&js...

It's the entrance of the tunnel from which fuel is normally loaded.

This looks like the work of Microsoft Paint to me.

Whoever edited this image had ZERO experience with image editing. I think that's an interesting point to consider. It isn't that the person was bad, the person was _untrained_.

A bad graphic designer, say someone who dabbled in photoshop over high school and has no real artistic talent, would have done a better job.

I feel that is an important point because (getting rather tinfoil-hatlike) it leads me to believe the person that took the picture, or a very small circle of individuals, decided to alter the photo. This wasn't a big group-think decision, this was a few people who felt they couldn't talk to anyone else about this, not even pay someone $100 to do a semi-decent job out of fear of the originals turning up in the wrong hands...

or maybe it was just a timestamp embedded on the picture and they didn't want it shown. Who knows.

We should not accept, that a company that can kill us all just with a little mistake, lies to us notoriously.

Kill us all? Exaggerate much? Even if they tried they couldn't kill all that many people.

And lots of companies can cause massive deaths. Dam operators for example.

TEPCO owns and operates quite a few dams : http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/challenge/energy/hydro/p-plants-e....

Looking at the homepage of enenews.com, it looks like the website has a pretty strong bias. I wouldn't put much stock in this photo, in fact I doubt Tepco doctored this image themselves.

The original is hosted on Tepco's website[1] and Google-translating the article[2] suggests that it is purported to be an actual photo.

[1]: http://photo.tepco.co.jp/library/20120830_03/120830_28.jpg [2]: http://translate.google.com/translate?sl=ja&tl=en&u=...

Fair enough. Still, it doesn't look like enenews is the place to go, to get balanced, objective reporting.

I would trust them more than Tepco.

What could they possibly want to hide in a photo that already shows the wreckage of a nuclear power plant?

The most likely thing, to me, is some piece of equipment that they agreed not to publicize.

So one way of looking at it is that they chose to release the rest of the photo.

> some piece of equipment that they agreed not to publicize



There are more appropriate and ethical ways to redact a photo -- like a black rectangle or a watermark "REDACTED" over the photoshopped areas.

There can always be worse wreckage. For example, there could be something leaking.

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