Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), operator of the disaster stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant, has been in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons, one of them is the continuous leaking of radioactive waste water into the ground beneath the plant and into the Pacific Ocean. A former employee in the facility has come out saying that one of the reasons for the leaks may be the cost-cutting measures being applied by TEPCO, such as using duct tape and wire nets to mend the leaking tanks.
Yoshitatsu Uechi, currently an auto mechanic and tour-bus driver, worked at the devastated nuclear power plant between July 2 and Dec. 6, 2012. He claims that he was one of the workers sent to work at the crippled nuclear plant in 2012, specifically to make new storage tanks for the contaminated waste water – water used to cool the molten down cores damaged by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. The 48 year old former TEPCO employee said that in October 2012, Uechi was given a task to cover five or six storage tanks which were missing lids. Uechi said that he was instructed to use only four bolts on the lid that required eight. Adhesive tape was then applied to the other holes. “I couldn’t believe that such slipshod work was being done, even if it was part of stopgap measures,” Uechi said.
Uechi also pointed to other cost-cutting measures, such as the use of wire nets instead of reinforcing steel bars during the placement of concrete for storage tank foundations. Also, waterproof sheets of plastic were used the joints of these cylindrical tanks to save on the sealing agent. When the tanks were exposed to daily weather, the sealing effect would be reduced, which may in turn have contributed to the many leaks reported at the facility. TEPCO is currently preparing for cleaning the plant’s drainage system that contains more than 20,000 tons of water with high levels of radioactive substances. One can only hope that this process will be done correctly, rather than in ways that may cut costs but are dangerous in the long-term.