Why was TEPCO so secretive about their underground barrier plan in 2011?
PRESS CONFERENCE: Sumio Mabuchi, Member of the House of Representatives
(The speech and Q&A will be in Japanese with English interpretation)
Despite Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's claim that radioactive leaks at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant are under control, Tokyo Electric Power Co. and the Japanese government are still struggling to control the flow of groundwater under the plant site. If the groundwater continues to flow into the surrounding sea, the result will be serious environment damage.
To halt the flow of groundwater, TEPCO engineers say they will build a mile-long underground wall of frozen earth around the reactor buildings. But Sumio Mabuchi, a DPJ Lower House member and an ex-advisor to former Prime Minister Naoto Kan on the Fukushima issue, has cast doubts on the plan.
Mabuchi says the idea of building an underground barrier was planned as early as June 2011, when he was working with TEPCO engineers to try to bring the Daiichi plant under control. But the plan was kept secret because the utility was worried about the possible negative impact on the financial markets.
Mabuchi also expresses reservations about the success of the frozen wall because of its technical difficulty and the fact that it has never been tested on such an enormous scale. To reinforce the wall, he says the utility should also build an underground clay wall barrier.
Mabuchi is one of leading figures of the DPJ. He served as Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism in the Kan administration, He twice ran for president of the party, losing to the incumbent Banri Kaieda at the last race of December 2012. He is a graduate of Yokohama National University, Department of Civil Engineering.
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