13 May 2013

Software Errors Further Weakened Nuclear Utility's Credibility

How bad is it? That's what Japan -- and worriers worldwide -- asked of its utility, Tokyo Electric Power (TEP) after the disastrous quake and tsunami.  TEP employees no doubt lost family members, and some of them braved unprecedented risks to their own health and safety. No doubt working under pressure and minimum rest, TEP nevertheless had a responsibility to provide accurate reports of groundwater radioactivity, and were forced to rely upon software to deliver those reports.

A NY Times report provided this narrative.
"Tokyo Electric Power said late Thursday that the groundwater near the plant had also been contaminated. The company initially said the radiation was 10,000 times the normal level, then later questioned its own data. It did the same with a report that the level of iodine 131 in seawater near the plant had fallen below 2,000 times the statutory limit, compared with a level of more than 4,000 times the limit on Thursday. On Friday, Hidehiko Nishiyama, deputy head of the Japanese Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, said at a news conference that the government had questions about the company’s figures and had asked it to review the data. Tokyo Electric officials said they would recalculate the figures after an error was discovered in a computer program (italics mine). The company has several times issued radioactivity reports only to retract them after experts questioned their validity."

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