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Cablegate: Japan: Nuclear Power: Earthquake Causes Fire And

VZCZCXYZ0016
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHKO #3263/01 1981144
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 171144Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY TOKYO
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5571

UNCLAS TOKYO 003263

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TRGY JA
SUBJECT: JAPAN: NUCLEAR POWER: EARTHQUAKE CAUSES FIRE AND
LEAK OF RADIOACTIVE WATER AT NUCLEAR POWER PLANT


1) SUMMARY: The July 16, 2007 earthquake in western Japan
caused a fire and radiation leak at Kashiwazki-Kariwa Nuclear
Power Plant (NPP) and METI ordered that the plant remain
closed until pending safety checks. Reports by Tokyo
Electric Power Company (TEPCO) that the radiation posed no
environmental hazard were confirmed by Post's contact at
Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA). NISA's
report to the IAEA, also forwarded to Post, reported that
four of the plants seven reactors were operating at the time
of the quake, and that all four tripped and automatically
shut down. NISA reported a leak of radioactive water on the
third floor of the reactor building of unit 6 (which was down
for routine maintenance). The radioactivity discharged to the
sea is estimated at approximately 60,000Bq in 1.2 cubic
meters of water. The fire broke out in a transformer that
supplies electricity to unit 3. End Summary.

--------------------------------------------- -----
Initial Confusion RE: Leakage of Radioactive Water
--------------------------------------------- -----

2) On July 16, 2007 at 10:13am a 6.8 magnitude earthquake
interrupted the daily operations at the largest NPP in the
world, TEPCO's Kashiwazaki-Kariwa NPP located in Niigata
Prefecture on the Sea of Japan. The jolt caused an
electricity transformer of the No. 3 reactor to catch fire
sending black smoke billowing into the air. By noon the fire
was contained and TEPCO officials issued a statement that no
radioactive leak was detected. Later in the day, however,
TEPCO announced that water containing radioactive material
was leaked but no adversarial impact on the environment was
detected. EST officer spoke with Mr. Keiichi Yoshida, TEPCO
Manager of Corporate Communications Department, who confirmed
press reports.

3) According to Mr. Fumiaki Hayakawa, Nuclear and Industrial
Safety Agency (NISA) Principal Deputy Director of Nuclear
Emergency Preparedness Division, the amounts of radiation
released was below the legal standard. Mr. Hiroyoshi Koizumi,
Japan Nuclear Energy Safety Organization (JNES) Senior
Officer of the International Affairs Group, Safety
Information Research Division passed along an official
assessment report, which was also sent to IAEA and NRC.
Finally, Mr. Kazuko Nagura, Ministry of Economy, Trade and
Industry (METI), Specialist of Nuclear Safety, International
Affairs Office said that the Japanese government is currently
investigating the exact cause of the water leakage and will
provide updates. Embassy will continue to pass along any new
information obtained from Japanese government officials.

----------------------------------
FIRE AT TRANSFORMER UNIT NO.3
----------------------------------

4) The earthquake struck at 10:13am and by 10:27am, TEPCO
officials reported to the fire department a minor fire at the
unit #3 transformer that supplies electricity to the
facility. By 11:58am the fire was extinguished. At the time
of the earthquake, reactors No. 2,3,4, and 7 automatically
shutdown as designed. The other three reactors were
undergoing routine inspections. TEPCO issued a statement that
no radioactivity leak was detected by any radiation
monitoring systems. However, TEPCO was criticized for taking
too much time to put an end to the fire. There was minor
damage to a nearby service building, but it is not directly
relevant to the operations at the reactor building.

---------------------------------------
RADIOACTIVE WATER LEAKAGE AT UNIT NO. 6
---------------------------------------

5) Mr. Yoshida stated that just before TEPCO's press
conference around 1:00pm, a TEPCO employee discovered that
possible water from the spent fuel pool was leaking.
However, TEPCO did not inform the public because the leakage
was not officially confirmed at the time of the press
conference. After the appropriate authorities investigated
the situation, TEPCO convened another press conference after
6:00pm and announced that small amounts of radioactive
materials spilled into the Sea of Japan.

6) According to Japanese official reporting, the leaked water
was found on the 3rd and mid-3rd floor of the reactor
building No. 6, whose operation had been suspended at the
time of the earthquake due to periodical inspections. The
leakage of water was estimated at 0.6L, 2.8x10 2Bq on the 3rd
floor and 0.9L, 1.6X10 4Bq on the mid-3rd floor. The amount
of water emitted into the sea was estimated around 1.2 cubic
meters and contained 60,000Bq of radioactivity. Government
officials stated that this is the first time radioactive
material spilled from a NPP because of an earthquake and they
are thoroughly investigating the cause of the incident.
(NOTE: Mr. Yoshida stated that radioactive material has

leaked into the sea from the plant before but never resulting
from an earthquake). Because of this incident, METI Minister
Akira Amari told TEPCO's President Tsunehisa Katsumata not to
resume operations of its NPP until preventive measures are
taken and safety can be ensured. As of today, no unusual
events were reported from other nuclear power stations
relatively close to the stricken area, such as the NPPs at
Shika and Fukushima.
SCHIEFFER

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