SVCF Bulletin No. 48 issued on February 7, 2014

Ad hoc board meeting held

In order to consult on and determine the SVCF’s policy on the subject of the “tank patrol,” an ad hoc board meeting was held on January 30th at the Takinokawa Office. Participants included the following board members: Nobuhiro Shiotani, Touru Ando, Kunio Itoh, Yukio Itoh, Takeshi Kuriyama, Masaaki Takahashi, Yoshio Hirai, and the following Auditors: Mitsuo Nakamura and Ken Iemori.

The following decisions were made at the board meeting.

In accordance with section 3, titled “Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant Cleanup Work,” stipulated in the 2013 business plan, it is stated that we will prioritize such work at Fukushima Daichi Nuclear Power Plant that carries with it little responsibility but high levels of radioactive dosages. We will this year continue our efforts to persuade the government and TEPCO to allow us to get involved; we have started basic exploration of and preliminary work related to patrolling the contaminated water tanks on the Fukushima Daichi Nuclear Power Plant premises.

To this end, we have started investigating the SVCF members who will be able to participate (we need to ensure that the SVCF members are proactively seeking this, or else we cannot further this dialogue, be it with the government or TEPCO), as well as decided on having training sessions related to patrolling these contaminated water tanks.

The 28th Diet Meeting

At 11 am on January 22nd (Wednesday), we held our 28th Diet Meeting in room 109 of the Upper House Building. Forty people were in attendance.

We first received a report from Board Member Kunio Itoh regarding the meeting that was held with TEPCO on Tuesday, January 14th (please refer to the article on page 2).

Next, we moved to the meeting’s main topic, which was “what should SVCF accomplish right now,” and acting President Shiotani reiterated SVCF’s doctrine in the following way.

“The principle of our public organization is to reduce the radiation exposure of young people who are engaged in the cleanup efforts, by replacing them with retired technicians and skilled elderly people. Nothing has been decided upon regarding the methods that will be used, what conditions we would experience, and what kind of work we would do. It must be this way, for things will change, depending on the political situation, TEPCO’s situation, and the situations that we face.”

Next, Board Member Masaaki Takahashi introduced a February, 2012 questionnaire that was completed by SVCF members who are working in the nuclear-power industry as technicians and researchers. This was used at this meeting as a resource that would enable us to understand how SVCF can be involved in the cleanup efforts at Fukushima Daichi Nuclear Power Plant.

In this questionnaire, most of the respondents stated that SVCF members would not be able to work on the cleanup efforts because most of the work is done by workers who work for the manufacturers of the machinery, and are properly trained. However, there is ancillary work, such as removing the rubble from the yard and patrolling the contaminated water tanks, which may be done by SVCF members.

Additionally, SVCF needs to show clearly, during the negotiation process, what kind of workers SVCF has, and the organization needs to confirm the aptitude of the candidates, select the proper candidates, and put into place a system for managing the statistics of these workers (labor, health, radiation exposure notebook).

For the above reasons, Board Member Takahashi stated that he wanted to keep the role of patrolling the contaminated water tanks as a viable option for SVCF to pursue.

A debate followed this report, and the patrolling work was agreed upon (please refer to page 2 for most of the main statements made during this debate).  Following the debate, acting President said, “We will have a board meeting in the near future, to discuss the pros and cons of this work.”

Between the announcements and the debate, Upper Diet member Hiroshi Sakurai said a few words, and he, in addition to reporting on the Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant inspection, stated that he hoped that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission would “conduct an adequate review.”

In addition, Upper Diet member (DPJ) Hiroe Makiyama, the meeting’s host, announced that there had been a response from the Prime Minister to the memorandum on questions concerning the “basic understandings” and “the government’s approach.” She said the response was “perfunctory and a basic bureaucratic answer,” and that she would like to “follow up and ask some more in-depth questions.

Major opinions raised at the regular Diet meeting

The proposal for the tank patrolling was impressive. In the past we have made various side trips that go outside the original aims of SVCF. We should focus better on our task.

SVCF resolutely adopted four principles on March 2012 in that the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant should be separated from TEPCO and cleaning work should be conducted as an open national project, rejecting the multiple subcontracting structure and concerning issues, and proposed “a consolidation of national project for the cleaning” to the Government and the Diet. Despite our firm stance, the petition for TEPCO to participate in the cleaning work is not consistent. I am not convinced by our approach to TEPCO for a participating share, while we have criticized the multiple subcontracting structure.

Some NGOs are only specialized to present proposals to the governments and other organizations, but SVCF totally differs in principle. The basics of SVCF lies in that senior people seek and act in reality. In that sense, presenting such proposals as “National Project” is only a small portion of SVCF activities. Sarcastically speaking, to say that we should not act because it is not a national project, is like a dog being wagged by his tail.

Participation in such work as tank patrolling may be easily achieved on an individual basis, not as SVCF members. Why should we go to TEPCO begging for an SVCF program? We should not participate in the cleaning work as if SVCF were peculiarly privileged while other workers are engaged under the multiple subcontracting structure.

(Questions to acting President Shiotani) In the TEPCO reorganization plan, I hear that it was indicated that future cleaning work will be still “left to TEPCO”. However, my understanding is that a new national organization will be established to decommission the stricken reactors and to achieve peripheral work. SVCF should consider cooperating with the “new organization” to participate in the cleaning work, shouldn’t we?

(Shiotani) I recognize that these new approaches including the establishment of a new organization have faded away because the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry endorsed and admitted the TEPCO’s reorganization plan.

The key issue of participation in such a tank patrolling is whether it good or not to receive wages in return for our labor.

(Shiotani) If we participate in the patrolling work, we should receive predetermined wages so that the workers may be covered by the industrial injury insurance.

It is controversial whether SVCF should work as a subcontractor of TEPCO, but I think the answer is affirmative.

Leakage patrol is a most suitable test case for SVCF activities. I say seeing is believing. We should try this in a 6 to 10 member team and see if it is helpful. If it turns out to be of no use, then it can be scrapped.

SVCF is like a sort of Army in reserve. We should not be disappointed because of lack of a stage right now. It will take tens of years to complete the whole clean-up of the accident. In the long run, shortage of workers may become a problem. It is essentially meaningful to maintain SVCF ready for such a calling.

I do not think that SVCF stands in a reserved duty. We are appealing to contribute senior people who are able to take up the radiation exposure of the youth. We should push this theme forward as SVCF’s basic stance, rather than argue the big agenda on a national project.

As a matter of fact, there will never be any work order to SVCF.

It may be true that we may not receive any, but it is important to continue appealing, even tens of times.

No one will oppose continuing to make efforts toward a concrete action, while we have “realization of a national project” in mind. Memory of the nuclear power plant accident is fading out little by little, and donations to SVCF are decreasing. Under such circumstances, I would seek ways to publicize what SVCF is doing now in order to hand down our thought to the young generations.

Discussion with TEPCO

As informed in SVCF Bulletin No. 46, we visited the TEPCO head office on November 28th and submitted a letter of query and request on the patrol around the contaminated water reserve tanks. A written reply from TEPCO was received on December 26th, last year. In addition, on January 14th, an additional oral explanation was provided by the TEPCO side to board member Kunio Ito and other SVCF members who visited TEPCO head office. Summary of the TEPCO’s reply is as follows:

Who does the patrolling?

Patrolling is to be carried out on a commission basis by TEPCO’s subsidiaries and subcontractors. Details of the individual contracts and of subcontractors may not be released. In principle, orders are generally offered on a competitive basis. We review and consider financial status, potential technology, work experience and so forth for the selection.

Teaching and training for the patrol workers

In the case of a new assignment, a one-week OJT has been provided. Whenever the working procedure changes, an about 2-hour lesson has been provided in advance. In a lecture, patrolling procedure, method to operate measuring instruments, emergency communication methods and others are demonstrated and taught. Also TEPCO employees are checking and giving advice on the patrol site.

Patrol Group Formation

The target tanks (about 300 altogether) are divided in 10 areas and one fixed group is assigned to each area.  One patrol needs ten groups, and each group consists of three members. Two shifts per day are needed, so twenty groups will be in service, that is, 60 staffers are fully required. Currently 120 staffers including backup for holidays are engaged in the routine work.

Procedures for the patrolling

The tanks are patrolled 4 times a day. One of four patrols is made in the middle of the night. These 4 patrols are basically doing visual observation. Patrollers walk around and check the tanks thoroughly in the daytime but observe them from a somewhat larger distance at night. The radiation level is to be monitored in the morning and evening as well. Water level was similarly measured before, but not any more, because every tank is now equipped with a water gauge. One mission takes 1 to 1.5 hours and involves approximately 2 kilometers walking. The radiation exposure level per mission is 0.01 to 0.04 mSv.

Management for duty hours and radiation exposure for patrol workers

Because the time supervision is a task for the subcontracting firms, the time information is not submitted to TEPCO. The dose levels are also managed by each subcontractor, but the amount of radiation exposure is reported to TEPCO.

Disclosure of a patrolling movie

This is shown on the TEPCO homepage.

Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS)

The ALPS, currently in the stage of practical trials, has not yet been delivered to TEPCO. If you have any questions, please ask the manufacturer, Toshiba, directly. The main reason for the low operating rate of ALPS is due to clogging by sediments that are generated by the chemical reaction.

Visit to the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant

Various works are being carried out under severe conditions, so visitors are not accepted at this time, considering their impact on the field works