THE OPERATOR of Japan’s stricken Fukushima I nuclear power plant has released video footage showing its staff rushing to manage the three meltdowns that occurred there over a year ago.
The country’s national broadcaster NHK described the video as some of the most important evidence from the immediate aftermath of the nuclear emergency that threatened the country following the March 2011 tsunami.
The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), which owns and operated the plant, had originally refused to issue the footage – but has now agreed to do so, amid continuing concerns about how it managed the world’s largest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.
The tape consists of 150 hours of footage, taken between March 11 and March 16, and tracks conversations between Fukushima staff and management at TEPCO headquarters.
It includes footage showing local staff telling headquarters about a suspected reactor explosion – “We have a big problem, we have a big problem. It seems there has been an explosion at Unit 3″ - and management ordering them to evacuate the plant immediately.
Elsewhere it includes footage of the then-prime minister, Naoto Kan, rushing into TEPCO’s corporate headquarters – though that segment of footage is without audio.
Other segments, ANI reported, included ‘chaotic’ discussions over how to cool another reactor which was overheating.
Critics have argued, however, that the videos are so heavily edited that they do not give a full picture of the events – and have also criticised TEPCO for barring reporters from filming any of the footage, which was shown to them at a press conference.
Instead, TEPCO has merely released a 90-minute video for journalists to use; that video is also heavily edited, though TEPCO says this is to ensure that non-executives cannot be identified.