TEPCO reveals Nuclear crisis video footage

Tokyo Electric Power Co. has shown for the first time video footage of its teleconferences in the days after the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami, showing the firm's response to the crisis at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The footage, which it began to show to reporters Monday, includes 150 hours of recorded teleconferences among officials at TEPCO's headquarters in Tokyo, the Fukushima Nos. 1 and 2 nuclear power plants and two other locations. It covers teleconferences held just after the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant was hit by tsunami, until March 16.

The footage vividly captures the confusion among TEPCO officials as they tried to manage the hydrogen explosions at the Nos. 1 and 3 reactor buildings, and documents their slow response to the crisis.

TEPCO released only part of its collection of footage and modified the audio, which prompted criticism that it has disclosed insufficient information.

The 150 hours of video footage is in two parts. The first is 100 hours of silent recordings from the the Fukushima No. 2 nuclear power plant, while the second is 50 hours of footage with sound recorded at TEPCO's headquarters.

The issues mainly discussed in the footage include:

-- Hydrogen explosions at the Nos. 1 and 3 nuclear reactor buildings.

-- Injection of seawater to cool the No. 1 reactor.

-- Evacuation of workers from the plant.

-- Then Prime Minister Naoto Kan's visit to TEPCO's headquarters.

-- Preparations to vent the No. 2 reactor and release steam to reduce pressure inside the reactor, enabling the injection of water to cool it.

In the footage, just after the hydrogen explosion of the No. 3 reactor on March 14, Masao Yoshida, then director of the plant, tensely said: "Headquarters, headquarters, it's a crisis, crisis. An explosion has just occurred."

Officials at the headquarters responded by hastily calling the relevant institutions to report the accident, the footage shows.

Meanwhile, Kan, who visited the headquarters, is shown in the footage giving instructions to officials on two occasions. However, as there is no sound accompanying the footage, Kan's words are unknown.

According to the final report of a government panel charged with investigating the nuclear crisis, Kan strongly said, "Withdrawal is impossible in the face of a crisis that could lead to the nation's collapse."

TEPCO initially refused to reveal the video footage, but later agreed. However, it modified the audio in the footage to prevent individuals other than executives from being identified.

The utility is permitting certain representatives of the media to watch the footage inside its headquarters for one month, but viewers are banned from recording or photographing the video. Instead, TEPCO distributed a 1-1/2-hour summary of the footage.

However, releasing information in this manner has prompted media organisations and observers to demand full disclosure of the footage.

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