Tokyo Electric Power Co. <9501> had failed to respond quickly to the government’s instruction to vent radioactive steam from the reactor vessels at a nuclear power plant damaged by the March 11 quake and tsunami, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said Monday.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan made the instruction at 1:30 a.m. on March 12, before he visited the Tokyo Electric Power Co. <9501> plant in Fukushima Prefecture, northern Japan, later in the day, Edano said, asked whether venting was delayed because of Kan’s visit to the plant.
The government expected the company to start the venting process at around 3 a.m. on that day, but the company had taken no action by 6 a.m., when the prime minister was to leave Tokyo, Edano said. The government thus repeatedly urged the company to begin the venting work immediately, he said. Kan traveled to the Fukushima No. 1 plant on the assumption that the release of contaminated steam would not pose a health threat, Edano said. The prime minister arrived at the plant shortly after 7 a.m. by helicopter. During a stay of about one hour, he was briefed by Tokyo Electric officials.