Posts Tagged ‘Tokyo Electric Power Company’

Atomic Rat strikes at Fukushima

March 20, 2013

You Dirty Little Rat, You!!!!


A rat may have caused this week’s power outage at Japan’s tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear power plant, says the Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco).

The company suspects the rodent may have caused a short-circuit in a switchboard, triggering the power cut.

“We have deeply worried the public, but the system has been restored,” Tepco spokesman Masayuki Ono was quoted as saying by AFP news agency.

Two years ago a quake-triggered tsunami caused meltdowns at the plant.

This week’s outage was a reminder that the plant remains vulnerable despite the government’s claim that the reactors are in a “cold shutdown” state and no longer releasing high levels of radiation.

Japan Colloquium: Lessons for crises management

July 24, 2011

I was recently invited to write a contribution for a Japan Colloquium for the Indian Institute of Management – Ahmedabad.

My contribution entitled ” Sound judgements must not be stifled by Crisis Management Protocols” appears in Japan’s Tragedy and Aftermath: Lessons for Crises Management, Vikalpa, Volume 36, No.2, April – June 2011, pages 81 – 118.

Sound Judgments Must Not be Stifled by Crisis Management Protocols – Vikalpa June 2011

The story is told that at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant, the three reactors in operation began an orderly shutdown when the Great Tohoku quake of 2011 struck, even though the magnitude at 9.0 was significantly higher than the 8.3, the plant was designed for. But when the tsunami wave rolled in and all the 13 back-up diesel generators and all the emergency cooling pumps were knocked out, then an unprecedented and unforeseen chain of events was set in motion. It is said that the site management quickly came to the conclusion that sea water cooling was necessary even though this would render the reactors permanently inoperable. But it took a further eight hours for the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) management in Tokyo to agree. In the event the meltdown of the fuel rods may have been unavoidable in any case but an additional eight hours of cooling with sea water could not have hurt. A similar story is told about Hurricane Katrina where an operating engineer had the possibility of opening some valves and preventing flooding of some areas of New Orleans but did not do so because such a decision was explicitly excluded from his authority and his superiors were unreachable.

The question that arises is whether the culture of an organization helps or hinders individual managers to make judgments at times of crisis or impending disaster? Should the site manager at Fukushima or the operating engineer in New Orleans have had to wait for higher authority as they did or should the organizational culture have permitted him to bypass the chain of command? ……

The “goodness” of a judgment can only be assessed long after the judgment itself and therefore it is the soundness of judgment which must be sought rather than the intangible goodness of a future result. But a sound judgment must also be consummated by the willingness to exercise it. 

Tepco shares rise sharply on reports of planned break-up and nationalisation

July 4, 2011

Tepco shares rose almost 20% today as reports on Sunday described government plans to break-up the Japanese utility and to nationalise its nuclear plant assets.

Market Watch:


Senior members of Japan’s government have been involved in secret plans to break up the operator of the beleaguered Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, according to reports. 

The plan would see the nuclear operations of Tokyo Electric Power Co. JP:9501 +19.82%  come under government control, said Reuters, citing a report Sunday in a local paper.

The plan has been devised by Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshito Sengoku, said Reuters, citing the Mainichi daily. The newspaper said its information was from unnamed sources.

As well as nationalizing the nuclear business, the plan would see Tepco sell its power distribution business, said Reuters. Power-generation operations that use thermal and hydraulic power plants would remain as the company’s business. 

The plan would shred Tepco’s size, according to the reports, leaving it with 1.6 trillion yen ($19.8 billion) in power industry assets compared to its current 7 trillion yen.

The reports state that Sengoku has met several times with Tepco Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata, and has informed Katsumata about the plans.

Also Sunday, The Wall Street Journal said the company has restarted the use of contaminated water to cool the reactor cores at Fukushima, one week after an initial attempt was suspended because of leaks. Tepco is hoping to achieve a cold shutdown, lowering the fuel rods’ temperature to below 100 degrees Celsius, by January.


Tokyo Electric close to insolvency

June 10, 2011

NYT: On Thursday, shares in Tokyo Electric again fell to a record low, at one point slumping to 148 yen ($1.85), down 93 percent from prequake levels. Shares finished at 192 yen ($2.40), down 4 percent from the previous day, and the company already had a 1.25 trillion yen loss in the year ending March 31, the largest annual loss for a nonfinancial institution in Japanese history.

The physical damage from the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has been so widespread that even conservative estimates of compensation claims amount to tens of billions of dollars — a burden that could render Japan’s largest utility insolvent….


And banks were so certain of this that they agreed, in early April, to lend almost 2 trillion yen ($25 billion) to the struggling utility company. In the eyes of the market, Tokyo Electric was too big to fail.

Now, three months later, the market is not so sure.

…. Meanwhile, the head of the Tokyo Stock Exchange, Atsushi Saito — who was once the president of a state-sponsored organization that assisted ailing companies, — shocked investors when he suggested in an interview last week with local media that Tokyo Electric should go through court-led restructuring, similar to the path Japan Airlines had taken since declaring bankruptcy last year.

Tokyo Electric is Japan’s biggest corporate bond issuer, representing about 8 percent, or about 5 trillion yen, of the country’s 70 trillion yen corporate bond market. And because many of Japan’s largest banks hold shares in Tokyo Electric, they have already taken a direct hit from the utility’s difficulties.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government owns about 3 percent of Tokyo Electric’s shares, and the city’s finances have been thrown into disarray as share prices plunge and dividends are canceled.

TEPCO stocks are on their way to losing all value

March 30, 2011

Shares in Tokyo Electric, commonly known as TEPCO, dropped another 17.7 percent on Wednesday to 466 yen and trading was later stopped.

Chart: tepco stock 20110330

It seems inevitable that TEPCO stocks will lose all their value and will be driven to zero – unless nationalisation comes first. Now even the largest shareholders are being hit:

Shares in TEPCO’s main bank, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group , which is also a large shareholder with a 2.7 percent holding, fell 2.1 percent.
Dai-ichi Life Insurance , which is the second-largest shareholder in TEPCO with 4.1 percent stake, rose 3 percent after Deutsche Securities said the impact of TEPCO stock price fall is limited on its embedded value, a measure of an insurer’s worth that includes the present value of future earnings from life insurance contracts.  However, Dai-ichi shares have fallen 18 percent compared with a 10.3 percent decline in the benchmark Nikkei 225 index .

There is a vacuum in the leadership of TEPCO. The President of TEPCO Masataka Shimizu has been hospitalized for high blood pressure and dizziness. Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata will take over operation of the power company. He is 70 years old and faces an unenviable task.

Tsunehisa Katsumata: kyoto photo

Tsunehisa Katsumata served as President of Tokyo Electric Power Co., Inc., from October 2002 to June 2008. Mr. Katsumata has been the Chairman of Tokyo Electric Power Co. Inc., since June 2008. Mr. Katsumata serves as Chairman of the Board of Federation Of Electric Power Companies of Japan. He has been an Outside Director of Sompo Japan Insurance Inc. and NKSJ Holdings, Inc. since April 1, 2010. Mr. Katsumata has been a Director of Tokyo Electric Power Co., Inc. since June 1996. He serves as an Outside Director at KDDI Corp. He serves as Chairman of Evaluation Committee at Japan Finance Corporation.

TEPCO leadership in disarray as share price drops to 47 year low and Government considers nationalisation

March 29, 2011

TEPCO staff along with SDF forces, police and firefighters at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant are making heroic efforts to get the radiation leakages under control. But they are being let down by the leadership of TEPCO. And the performance of their President  Masataka Shimizu has particularly come in for much criticism.

The company’s stock price dropped 18 % today as shares reached their lowest level in 47 years. TEPCO has dropped to about 20% of the value it had a few weeks ago. The total liabilities that TEPCO may have to face are a long way ftom being known and could exceed $25 billion. As a corporation they could not survive and the Japanese government is considering the nationalisation of just the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant as well as the nationalisation of the entire company as possible options. In any event there is little chance of the current stock holders of TEPCO  ever getting any return or even of holding on to any significant value in their ownership.

BBC reports:

Speculation is growing that the Japanese government may start talks to nationalise Tokyo Electric Power, which owns the Fukushima nuclear plant.

The company has said it will need to raise about $25bn (£15.6bn) to shore up its finances. The talk of Tepco being nationalised has been fuelled by a statement from cabinet minister Koichiro Gemba to the Reuters news agency that a discussion about bailing out Tepco was possible.

But Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said the government was not currently considering a nationalisation. “Although details cannot be seen such as how exactly the government is going to nationalise the company, as long as there are concerns that Tepco may be nationalised, investors don’t want to hold the stock,” said Hajime Nakajima of Cosmo Securities.

On Tuesday a flood of sell orders caused Tepco shares to stop being traded temporarily. A day earlier, the shares dropped to their lowest level in three decades.

Tepco shares have dropped to 566 Yen from a 52 week high of 2,500 Yen.

related: TEPCO was ready to give up and abdicate on 14th March

TEPCO President goes AWOL – not seen in public since March 13th

March 27, 2011

While the toll of casualties keeps increasing it has emerged that TEPCO’s President Masataka Shimizu has gone into seclusion and has not been seen publicly since 13th March. In the meantime the leaderless TEPCO has retracted the very high radiation results from reactor #2.

The National police Agency’s figures for casualties from the earthquake and tsunami, as of Sunday night, exceeds 27,000 killed or missing:

Number of people killed 10,804

Number of people missing 16,244

At the Fukushima plant TEPCO has retracted the measurements of high radioactivity they announced earlier and give the impression, not so much of being clueless, but certainly of being without any coherent leadership.

NHK reports:

Tokyo Electric Power Company has retracted its announcement that 10 million times the normal density of radioactive materials had been detected in water at the Number 2 reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

The utility says it will conduct another test of the leaked water at the reactor’s turbine building.

The company said on Sunday evening that the data for iodine-134 announced earlier in the day was actually for another substance that has a longer half-life.

The plant operator said earlier on Sunday that 2.9 billion becquerels per cubic centimeter had been detected in the leaked water.

It said although the initial figure was wrong, the water still has a high level of radioactivity of 1,000 millisieverts per hour.

The perception of TEPCO being without leadership first built up when the President Masataka Shimizu tried to abdicate all responsibility for the site on March 14th and was severely told off by the Prime Minister and the government.

But it now emerges from Kyodo News that he has not been seen publicly since 13th March. He seems to have gone AWOL:

Masataka Shimizu, president of Tokyo Electric Power Co., which operates the crisis-hit Fukushima nuclear plant, fell sick March 16 and took some days off from the liaison office between the government and the utility firm, TEPCO officials said Sunday.

While Shimizu was away from the office set up at the firm’s headquarters, he collected information and issued instructions from a different room of the headquarters building to address the troubles at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station hit by the March 11 quake and subsequent tsunami, the officials said. He has already recovered and come back to work at the liaison office, they said.

A TEPCO spokesperson declined to elaborate on his health condition, but said he did not fall over or need to be hooked up to an intravenous drip.

Shimizu has not appeared in public since attending a press conference on March 13, two days after the catastrophe that wreaked havoc on northeastern and eastern Japan.

Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant: Status on March 25th

March 25, 2011

It is 2 weeks today since the quake and Tsunami struck. The toll of dead and missing exceeds 27,000.

Progress continues steadily but painfully slowly at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant. The radiation levels are fluctuating but pose no health hazard to the general public. Containment vessel at Reactor #3 is damaged and may be causing radiation spikes.


  • The work to restore external AC power for units-1, 2, 3 and 4 is in progress. External AC power to the main control room at unit-2 will be available today. According to TEPCO, the reactor surface temperature at unit-1 increased to  approx. 400 ° C once (design assumption maximum 302 ° C).  Now it has dropped to 204.5 ° C (as of 06:00 on March 25).
  • Meanwhile,  in the turbine building at unit-3, drainage work is also in progress. (10:45, March 25)
  • On March 24, 2 workers, who were working to lay electrical cables in turbine building at unit-3, were sent to the hospital. TEPCO suspected that the nuclear fuel in the reactor or spent nuclear fuel at the pool was damaged and water contaminated with high radioactivity was leaked  to the workspace. Further investigation is now carrying on. These 2 workers were not wearing boots. Another worker wearing boots is safe. (07:15, March 25).
  • As for the coolant of reactors at Fukushima Daiichi, TEPCO would like to switch from seawater to fresh water as fast as possible. The first switch will be carried out at unit 3. (04:30, March 25)
  • Ministry of Defense announced that the Self-Defense Force helicopter measured the surface temperatures of Fukushima Daiichi units-1, 2, 3 and 4 from the air by using infrared rays and  found that the temperature of each units is below 20 ° C. Unit-1:17 ° C; Unit-2: 13°C; Unit-3: 11 °C; Unit-4: 17 °C (as of the morning on March 24). Especially, the surface temperature of the spent fuel pool at unit-3 dropped significantly to 31 °C, compared to 56°C on the previous day. (21:15, March 24)

From IAEA:

Unit 1: Workers have advanced the restoration of off-site electricity and lighting in the Unit’s main control room was recovered as of 24 March, 11:30 UTC. They are now checking the availability of the cooling system. While the pressure in the reactor vessel remains high, Japanese authorities are reporting that it has stabilized.

Unit 2: Engineers are working for the recovery of lighting in the main control room, and the instrumentation and cooling systems.

Unit 3: Around 120 tonnes of seawater was injected in the spent fuel pool via the cooling and purification line. The operation was carried out between 23 March, 20:35 UTC and 24 March, 07:05 UTC. Work was under way for the recovery of the instruments and cooling systems. However, it had to be suspended because three workers were exposed to elevated levels of radiation on 24 March.

Unit 4: The spent fuel pool was sprayed with around 150 tonnes of water using concrete pump truck. The operation was carried out between 24 March, 05:36 UTC and 06:30 UTC of the same day.

Units 5 and 6: Repair of the temporary pump for Residual Heat Removal (RHR) was completed as of 24 March, 07:14 UTC, and cooling started again 21 minutes later.

At the Common Spent Fuel, the power supply was restored as of 24 March, 06:37 UTC and cooling started again 28 minutes later. Work is now under way for the recovery of the lighting and instrumentation systems. As of 24 March, 09:40 UTC, the water temperature of the pool was around 73 °C.

As of 24 March, 10:30 UTC workers continue to inject seawater into the reactor pressure vessels of Units 1, 2 and 3 and are preparing to inject pure water.


Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant: Reactor #3 control room powered up and cooling pumps to be switched on tomorrow

March 23, 2011

Progress at the Fukushima Dai-ihi nuclear plant continues steadily but slowly.External power is now available to all 6 reactors. Highlights today:

  • A high-powered water cannon truck has arrived from Australia at a US base in Tokyo to help recovery efforts at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The water cannon can shoot 150 liters of water per second at a target 150 meters away. It can also operate unmanned for 2 to 3 days while pumping seawater. It will be sent o Fukushima if needed.
  • A vehicle with a long spraying arm injected water into the No.4 reactor at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant for about 3 hours on Tuesday. The vehicle, owned by a construction firm in Mie Prefecture in central Japan, began the operation at 5:17 PM Tuesday at the request of the Tokyo Electric Power Company. The vehicle is used in construction of high-rise buildings, and is capable of extending its arm more than 50 meters to pour concrete. The operation ended at about 8:30 PM.

Water spraying into Reactor #4: image nhk

  • Tokyo fire department started operation of spraying water to Unit-3 through cooperation with Osaka fire department. Water spraying  was conducted for one hour and finished around 16:00. Total amount of water sprayed is more than 3 times the pool capacity.
  • TEPCO said on Tuesday that it will restore power to the control rooms of No.3 and No.4 reactors as soon as water-spraying operations are completed to cool down fuel storage pools.
  • Defense Minister Kitazawa announced  that surface temperature measurement by helicopter will be conducted everyday, weather permitting, and not just twice a week in view of the smoke and steam that has been observed.

NHK World:

TEPCO has restored the electricity supply to the control room of the Number 3 reactor at the quake-damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Lights in the control room were switched on again on Tuesday night.
Eleven days have passed since the massive earthquake devastated northeastern Japan and cut off external power to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
TEPCO reconnected power cables to the Number 3 and Number 4 reactors earlier on Tuesday.
TEPCO will now try to reactivate vital monitoring systems in the control rooms, such as those for measuring temperatures inside the reactors and water levels in the spent fuel storage pools. TEPCO says it will transmit electricity to the cooling pump for the Number 3 reactor on Wednesday. The company says if the pump functions normally, it will begin cooling the reactor and the spent fuel storage pool

Media coverage dies as work resumes at Fukushima Dai-ichi – steam plumes did not raise radiation levels

March 22, 2011

Fukushima hysteria dies down as the media find that their alarmist and sensational reporting is not going to be sustainable.

Perhaps they will return their attention and their headlines to the victims of the earthquake and the tsunami in between the bombing raids on Tripoli.

As George Monbiot puts it in The Guardian:

As a result of the disaster at Fukushima, I am no longer nuclear-neutral. I now support the technology.

A crappy old plant with inadequate safety features was hit by a monster earthquake and a vast tsunami. The electricity supply failed, knocking out the cooling system. The reactors began to explode and melt down. The disaster exposed a familiar legacy of poor design and corner-cutting. Yet, as far as we know, no one has yet received a lethal dose of radiation.

Now George Monbiot’s views about energy in general, and renewables in particular, are usually quite ridiculous and ill thought through but  where he is absolutely right is of course that in spite of the headlines and the apocalypse scenarios, no one has yet received a lethal dose of radiation”.

The work at Fukushima is difficult and hazardous  and it will test the courage and ingenuity of many – but it goes on even if all the headlines are gone     —– Kyodo News:

Work to restore power and crucial cooling functions resumed Tuesday morning at the crisis-hit reactors at the quake-stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, following suspension Monday after smoke was detected at its No. 2 and No. 3 reactors, its operator said.

Firefighters and the Self-Defense Forces also prepared to restart a mission later in the day to spray a massive amount of coolant water onto spent nuclear fuel pools at the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors, according to Tokyo Electric Power Co.

Although white smoke, possibly steam, was found to be continuously billowing from the buildings of the No. 2 and No. 3 reactors, the utility known as TEPCO found it does not obstruct electricity restoration work as radiation levels did not particularly surge at the site.

An external power source was connected to the No. 4 reactor in the morning, making it the fifth of the plant’s six reactors to have regained a power supply needed for the restoration of equipment such as a ventilation system to filter radioactive substances from the air and some measuring tools at the control room.

TEPCO aims to restore power systems to revive some key facilities such as data measuring equipment and functions at a control room by Wednesday for the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors and by Thursday for the No. 3 and No. 4 reactors, said Hidehiko Nishiyama, a spokesman for the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, at a press conference.

%d bloggers like this: