Tepco lied to Fukushima meltdown investigators | Connect Asia

Tepco lied to Fukushima meltdown investigators

Tepco lied to Fukushima meltdown investigators

Updated 8 February 2013, 15:52 AEDT

In a further blow to its already battered credibility, the operator of Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant has been caught out misleading investigators appointed by the Japanese parliament to probe the meltdowns.

An audio recording reveals that a TEPCO official gave false testimony in an apparent bid to stop an investigation being carried out inside the shattered Reactor One building.

The official repeatedly said the building was dark and dangerous and there was a risk of getting lost in a high radiation area - a testimony that turned out to be false.

Correspondent: Mark Willacy, Tokyo Correspondent

Speaker: Toshimitsu Tamai, TEPCO official

MARK WILLACY: It remains one of the biggest mysteries of the Fukushima meltdowns - was the cooling system in the plant's oldest reactor, reactor one, damaged by the massive earthquake before it was even swamped by the tsunami?

That was what the investigation panel appointed by the Japanese parliament wanted to know during its cross examinations of TEPCO officials last year.

And to get to the bottom of this mystery the investigators wanted access to the reactor one building.

But as this recording of a meeting between TEPCO official Toshimitsu Tamai and investigation panel member Mitsuhiko Tanaka makes clear, the company wanted none of it.

(Sound of Toshimitsu Tamai speaking)

"Now there's a cover over the building," says TEPCO's Mr Tamai. "There are no lights. So I'd like you to understand that the building is completely dark. You won't see anything," he tells investigator Mitsuhiko Tanaka.

To support his case the TEPCO official produces some images showing shafts of light inside the reactor one building. Those pictures, explains Mr Tamai, were taken before the roof cover went on the shattered structure.

Now, he explains again, the building is in complete darkness. In fact, as the tape recording obtained by Japan's Asahi newspaper reveals, Toshimitsu Tamai spent one hour and nine minutes insisting that there was no way investigators could see anything inside.

(Sound of Toshimitsu Tamai speaking)

"If you get lost in there, you'll enter a terribly high radiation area," warns the TEPCO official. "You won't know how to get back again," he says.

But this was all false. So what does TEPCO say in response to the allegation that one of its officials lied to parliament-appointed investigators?

Well in a statement to the Asahi newspaper the company apologised, admitting there had been a mistake and saying it had no intention of making a false statement.

And as to the mystery of the reactor one building and the possibility that it was damaged before the tsunami hit, in its report the parliamentary panel found that there was a possibility that pipes had burst during the earthquake causing a cooling problem.

It called for a full investigation - one that still has not been carried out.

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