Fukushima Smoking Gun Emerges: Founding Engineer Says Reactor 4 Has Always Been A "Time Bomb", Exposes Criminal Cover Up

Tyler Durden's picture

It was only a matter of time before someone grew a conscience, and disclosed to the world that in addition to the massive cover up currently going on with respect to the true extent of the Fukushima catastrophe, the actual plant itself, in borrowing from the BP playbook, was built in a hurried way, using cost and labor-cutting shortcuts, and the end result was a true "time bomb." Bloomberg has just released a report that if and when confirmed should lead to the prompt engagement of harakiri by the Hitachi executives responsible for this unprecedented act of treason against Japan's citizens. Quote Bloomberg: "One of the reactors in the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant may have been relying on flawed steel to hold the radiation in its core, according to an engineer who helped build its containment vessel four decades ago. Mitsuhiko Tanaka says he helped conceal a manufacturing defect in the $250 million steel vessel installed at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi No. 4 reactor while working for a unit of Hitachi Ltd. in 1974. The reactor, which Tanaka has called a “time bomb,” was shut for maintenance when the March 11 earthquake triggered a 7-meter (23-foot) tsunami that disabled cooling systems at the plant, leading to explosions and radiation leaks....“Who knows what would have happened if that reactor had been running?” Tanaka, who turned his back on the nuclear industry after the Chernobyl disaster, said in an interview last week. “I have no idea if it could withstand an earthquake like this. It’s got a faulty reactor inside.” What follows is the harrowing tale of a criminal cover up at the only reactor that luckily was empty when the catastrophe occurred. We can only imagine what comparable horror stories will emerge in the next several days as other whistleblowers emerge and disclose that Reactors 1 through 3 (which unfortunately do have radioactive fuel in their reactors) passed the same "rigorous" quality control process that makes them the same time bombs just waiting or the signal to go off (and probably already have... but since the truth is the last thing the public will uncover one can only speculate).

More on this sad story of criminal corruption and incompetence from the bottom all the way to the top, from Bloomberg:

Tanaka’s allegations, which he says he brought to the attention of Japan’s Trade Ministry in 1988 and chronicled in a book two years later called “Why Nuclear Power is Dangerous,” have resurfaced after Japan’s worst nuclear accident on record. The No. 4 reactor was hit by explosions and a fire that spread from adjacent units as the crisis deepened.

Hitachi spokesman Yuichi Izumisawa said the company met with Tanaka in 1988 to discuss the work he did to fix a dent in the vessel and concluded there was no safety problem. “We have not revised our view since then,” Izumisawa said.

Kenta Takahashi, an official at the Trade Ministry’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, said he couldn’t confirm whether the agency’s predecessor, the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, had conducted an investigation into Tanaka’s claims. Naoki Tsunoda, a spokesman at Tokyo Electric Power Co., which owns the plant, said he couldn’t immediately comment.

Tanaka, who said he led the team that built the steel vessel, was at his apartment on Tokyo’s outskirts when Japan’s biggest earthquake on record struck off the coast on March 11, shaking buildings in the nation’s capital.

“I grabbed my wife and we just hugged,” he said. “I thought this is it: we’re dead.”

For Tanaka, the nightmare intensified the next day when a series of explosions were triggered next to the reactor that he helped build. Since then, the risks of radioactive leaks increased as workers have struggled to bring the plant under control.

Here is why one should not trust anything coming out of the authorities out of TEPCO and out of all other pundits who now rely on what is certifiably faulty information:

Tanaka says the reactor pressure vessel inside Fukushima’s unit No. 4 was damaged at a Babcock-Hitachi foundry in Kure City, in Hiroshima prefecture, during the last step of a manufacturing process that took 2 1/2 years and cost tens of millions of dollars. If the mistake had been discovered, the company might have been bankrupted, he said.

Inside a blast furnace the size of a small airplane hanger the reactor pressure vessel was being treated one last time to remove welding stress. The cylinder, 20 meters tall and 6 meters in diameter, was heated to more than 600 degrees Celsius (1,112 degrees Fahrenheit), a temperature that softens metal.

Braces that were supposed to have been placed inside during the blasting were either forgotten or fell over when the cylinder was wheeled into the furnace. After the vessel cooled, workers found that its walls had warped, Tanaka said.

The vessel had sagged so that its height and width differed by more than 34 millimeters, meaning it should have been scrapped, according to nuclear regulations. Rather than sacrifice years of work and risk the company’s survival, Tanaka’s boss asked him to reshape the vessel so that no-one would know it had ever been damaged. Tanaka had been working as an engineer for the company’s nuclear reactor division and was known for his programming skills.

Saving Hitachi billions by putting millions at risk:

I saved the company billions of yen,” said Tanaka, who says he was paid a 3 million yen bonus and presented with a certificate acknowledging his “extraordinary” effort. “At the time, I felt like a hero,” he said.

Over the course of a month, Tanaka said he made a dozen nighttime trips to an International Business Machines Corp. office 20 kilometers away in Hiroshima where he used a super- computer to devise a repair.

Covering up the lies with a sheet, and bribing with golf and hot springs:

Meanwhile, workers covered the damaged vessel with a sheet, Tanaka said. When Tokyo Electric sent a representative to check on their progress, Hitachi distracted him by wining and dining him, according to Tanaka. Rather than inspecting the part, they spent the day playing golf and soaking in a hot spring, he said.

The guy wouldn’t have known what he was looking at anyway,” Tanaka said. “The people at the utility have no idea how the parts are made.”

After a month of computer modeling, Tanaka came up with a way to use pumpjacks to pop out the sunken wall. While it would look like nothing had ever happened, no-one knew what the effect of the repair would have on the integrity of the vessel. Thirty- six years later, that reactor pressure vessel is the key defense protecting the core of Fukushima’s No. 4 reactor.

“These procedures, as they’re described, are far from ideal, especially for a component as critical as this,” Robert Ritchie, Professor of Materials Science & Engineering at the University of California of Berkeley, said in a phone interview. “Depending on the extent of vessel’s deformation, it could possibly lead to local cracking in some its welds.”

"The father of the Japanese Chernobyl":

After the meltdown at Chernobyl in 1986, Tanaka was asked to narrate a Russian movie documenting the disaster. A team of Soviet filmmakers had taken 30 hours of footage inside the plant, getting very close to the ruptured core. The movie’s director died of radiation poisoning about a year after the filming. While watching the footage, Tanaka had a breakdown.

“All of a sudden I was sobbing and I started to think about what I’d done,” Tanaka said. “I was thinking, ‘I could be the father of a Japanese Chernobyl.’”

Two years later Tanaka says he went to the Trade Ministry to report the cover-up he’d been involved in more than a decade earlier. The government refused to investigate and Hitachi denied his accusations, he said.

Everybody lies.

“They said, if Hitachi says they didn’t do it, then
there’s no problem,” Tanaka said. “Companies don’t always tell
the truth.”

So... is there still someone who believes anything coming out of Fukushima? And anyone who thinks that spraying water on overheating reactors from hopelessly irradiated firetrucks will actually do anything at all?

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bob_dabolina's picture

How fucking DARE you Tyler Durden.

Harlequin001's picture


So let me get this right. It was repaired at great expense, worked fine for 37 years and still didn't fail in a scale 9 earthquake...


Strikes me as a bit of a red herring.

The real question should be, 'why was this apparently adequately repaired reactor sited on a fault line in the first place?'

Whistleblower? Sounds like he's kind of the good guy. This dude just wants some limelight when in reality he should be hanging from a tree along with everybody else connected with this fiasco.

Matte_Black's picture

Unit 4 was in shutdown and so at least one bullet was dodged. So this converup is not the point really.

The question that emerges is how many other poison seeds are bursting into bloom and decay at Fukushima?

Futhermore, how many poison seeds are planted and waiting to bloom at all the other nukes around the world?

Read much about Indian Point?

wretch's picture

Plutonium production waste at Hanford will leak into the Columbia River soon.

And fuck you, captcha, for messing with my baked head.

SunBlaster's picture

Well that didn't take long, I knew they would come up with something soon enough.

The Profit Prophet's picture

The depth and breadth of the scams to keep this turd of a financial system afloat can only increase over time.  Alas, I fear the worst is yet to come......or in the immortal words of the great Canadian band B.T.O: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJmBPCYt5LY

T.E.I.N. everyone!

maximin thrax's picture

Yeah, my feelings are kinda split on this as well. On the one hand, where there's one cover up there's bound to be more. On the other hand, a 20' diameter vessel less than 1.5" out of round just doesn't seem important, and if in the end there's no problems related to the "defect" after the quake, explosions and meltdowns, I'd think the standards could even be relaxed. I'm sure the whistle-blower believes it's a really bad situation, but he has an admitted anti-nuke agenda, having even written a book on the subject. The idea that Chernobyl, having no containment vessle like the one he built, and having graphite as a moderator that burned in the meltdown, would lead him to conclude that all other nuclear power designs are just as suspect, I find hard to understand outside of fear and regret from having been a part of nuclear power himself.

pslater's picture

"On the other hand, a 20' diameter vessel less than 1.5" out of round just doesn't seem important...."

Try that line out on the people who run the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.  This is nuclear physics, not commodities processing.

CPL's picture

wait until someone mentioned that the families of some of them were threatened with death if they didn't jump into the core and die for the home land.

Raymond K Hassel's picture

Indeed Tyler, how dare you tell a potential version of the truth.  Seeing much normalcy bias backlash from ZH posts I share on FB.  It's getting unpleasant.  I have friends in Japan, military related, thanking me for sharing your posts, because they know they and their Japanese friends are getting less than the truth.   You are a lifeline for them and they send their gratitude.  Most of the rest who speak out don't want to hear it.

CD's picture

Hmm... The original interview with Mr. Tanaka took place on March 12th, the day after the quake...

“I saved the company billions of yen,” Tanaka said in an interview March 12, the day after the earthquake."

Bloomie published this 3/18. Mr. Tanaka appears in a number of articles starting on 3/12, but the link above seems to be the first (easy to find) mention of this specific issue.

Why did a full week need to pass for THIS particular tidbit to come to light? The guy is quoted in the NYT
other Bloomberg articles

did this topic not come up then?

Jim in MN's picture

Latest n greatest:

NEWS ADVISORY: Fukushima No. 1 reactor temperature rising, water injection up: agency   *** NEWS ADVISORY: No. 2 reactor power repair work halted, 500 millisievert per hr radiation found ***   Tokyo megabanks eyeing more than 1 trillion yen loan to TEPCO Keep it flowin' now
bob_dabolina's picture


Rising temperatures are due to a strong and robust recovery. This means there is a strong sign of increased demand as the temperature indicates, the increase is due to a need for the power produced; thus recovery. I win.


Sathington Willougby's picture

Well of course the leading indicator to a roaring economy is, you guessed it, radioactive fallout.

InfinityZero's picture

BREAKING NEWS: TEPCO says that the reactor became a time warp portal and now they can travel back on time to stop the tsunami.

bob_dabolina's picture


It's a strong and robust global recovery. The core temperatures clearly indicate a strong recovery. We wouldn't need the energy if it wasn't released.

-Ben Bernanke

Sokhmate's picture

They must've gotten their hands on the USA gov's 'source code'

InconvenientCounterParty's picture

Of course you heard it here first....

Oh regional Indian's picture

Well, there you go. It's all leaking now, reactors, people, vessels, vassals.

And this is 1974. I think the world got a lot better at telling lies since.

It will get worse. Genie's do not go back into lamps once freedom has been tasted.

Our glowing, nuculur future.




kinetik's picture

Sorry but your predictive skills are worse than useless so just stop.

Oh regional Indian's picture

Because you say so? Hah!

Anyways, check this out, Fukushima Daiichi 1 had a planned decomissioning date of......

26th March 2011. Co-inky-dink?

Possibbly, eh?



kinetik's picture

March 19th earthquake lol, just stop man. Or keep going, the laughter... the laughter.

Sabibaby's picture

WTF are you talking about there have been numerous earthquakes over the past week in Japan. They happen every freaking day!!! Not to hard to predict dontcha think?

Harlequin001's picture

I predict that it will either rain or go dark today...

UGrev's picture

You're good.. do have a traveling show? I'd like to buy tickets for a future date to see what's going to happen tomorrow.

Harlequin001's picture

I predict that it will either rain or go dark tomorrow...

Tickets are $10 a pop.

I predict that I might not sell very many...

Ident 7777 economy's picture


by Oh regional Indian , on Tue, 03/22/2011 - 22:41 #1088424 
Anyways, check this out, Fukushima Daiichi 1 had a planned decomissioning date of......

26th March 2011. Co-inky-dink?

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

No, completely WRONG.


Back in Feb the operating license was extended for 10 years.


Verify it, in fact, I dare you to verify it ...



Oh regional Indian's picture

ident, I appreciate your self-appointed role as my troll-hound.

In this case, I provided a link. Be a gent and do the same. 

Unlike some, I can and will do a graceful mea culpa.

On the other hand, extending the license of an already defunct design for a further 10 years reeks of something rotten, don't you think?

If you are not a paid troll, I suggest being on-topic, not on-person. A waste of energy.


Ident 7777 economy's picture

Blather; failed to find anything about the license extension, is that it?

Oh regional Indian's picture

This is the last time I'll inter-act with you, you clown.
You think you'll "dare" me to do something and I'll go do it?
Delusional asswipe troll.

Ident 7777 economy's picture


2011? Make that 2021 (but FAT CHANCE of that happening now):

Tepco — the utility that supplies power for Japan’s capital and biggest city — accounted for nearly a third of that market capitalization, though its shares have been battered since the disasters, falling 65 percent over the past week to 759 yen ($9.6) Thursday.

Last month, it got a boost from the government, which renewed authorization for Tepco to operate Fukushima’s 40-year-old Unit 1 reactor for another 10 years.

Source: AP story: http://ph.news.yahoo.com/bungling-cover-ups-define-japanese-nuclear-powe...


prophet's picture

When this site adds the "like" button to the "junk" button function, perhaps they should add a "missing link" button too.

Harlequin001's picture

and maybe even a 'nice guy, wrong planet' button too...

FreeMoney Bernie's picture

Co-inky-dink? I don't thinnk so. God is the reason there is 24 hours in a day and 24 beers in a case. However the Fed is making it so we can only afford an 18 pak.

maximin thrax's picture

Tragically, with all the reported air, surface and grounwater contamination, it appears Tokyo may be decommissioned on the 26th of March.

homersimpson's picture

I junk him because of his worthless website link, not because of his predictions.

Arch Duke Ferdinand's picture

"Well, there you go. It's all leaking now, reactors, people, vessels, vassals."

You gonna believe Japanese MSM?....


27 Signs That The Nuclear Crisis In Japan Is Much Worse Than Either The Mainstream Media Or The Japanese Government Have Been Telling Us


Wrong Side Up....OT Comedy Short...


Judge Judy Scheinlok's picture

"Regarding Cesium-137, the situation is a bit different. In the cloud eventually propagating to the United States, the ratio of Iodine-131 to Cesium-137 was about 30. This is similar to the Chernobyl accident. In Takasaki, however, this ratio was four. This would indicate a much larger Cesium-137 release in the second two-day period after the accident. Taking this together, the source terms would be about 3 1015 Bq during the first two days, and 3 1016 during the second two-day period. In sum, this could amount to about 50% of the Chernobyl source term of Cesium-137."


DoChenRollingBearing's picture

What a story.  Of course he should feel terrible, but at least he had the guts to pass along word to the authorities in 1998.

This guy can only be one of legion who share fault in this catastrophe.  I have a feeling that TEPCO and .gov Japan will not be able to keep all the secrets under wraps for much longer.

Japan´s Chernobyl, what an awful thought.  I really hope we don´t have one coming our way as well.


Great work Tylers for keeping this story front and center.

DoChenRollingBearing's picture

Ah, my bad.  Thanks for catching the mistake and giving us the right year.  Good information is better than bad!

franzpick's picture

Refreshing true story: usually the whistleblower is ignored, then discredited, and sometimes hit by a passing car. 

I suspect his story will never gain media or public traction:  it reminds me of a medical teaching journal that recommended to doctors confronted by patients asking about unsatisfactory tests and reports: "Confuse them with technics", which obfuscation is the main course delivered to us all by network media.