(NaturalNews) Just days after the 9.1 mega-earthquake and tsunami hit off the east cost of Japan, a former employee of Hitachi Ltd. (6501) came forward saying that he helped cover up a flawed steel protective vessel that was installed in the Fukushima Dai-Ichi Reactor 4 core in 1974. Mitsuhiko Tanaka told Bloomberg that the defective steel in the $250 million vessel was a very serious "time bomb" just waiting to go off, as it represents the key protective unit for the reactor's core.
Though Reactor 4 was not running at the time of the quake and tsunami, its cooling pool contains a number of spent fuel rods that require proper cooling in order to prevent a serious meltdown. Earlier this week, reports indicated that the pool is empty, and that it seems to have a crack or hole that is preventing it from being effectively refilled, which could spell disaster for the 130 tons of uranium inside the reactor (http://www.naturalnews.com/031769_fuel_rods_...).
More recent reports say that power has been restored to Reactors 1, 2, and 4, but that crews are still concerned about "inadequate water coverage" over the spent fuel rods in the Reactor 4 cooling pool (http://uk.ibtimes.com/articles/126269/201103...).
Concerning Tanaka's role in the situation, the former nuclear engineer admits that he directly participated in the coverup to disguise the known safety hazard in the Reactor 4 pressure vessel -- a hazard that could have devastating consequences if relief workers cannot get the situation under control in upcoming days.
According to the Bloomberg report, a mistake during the final construction process of the vessel caused the steel walls to become warped. Based on regulatory guidelines, the cylinder should have been scrapped, said Tanaka, but because doing so would have potentially bankrupted the company, his bosses asked him to come up with a quick fix -- and he complied.
After figuring out a way to reshape the flawed vessel and make it look as though nothing was wrong, Tanaka was awarded a three million yen bonus from Hitachi, which also gave him a certificate honoring his "extraordinary" work.
Years later when asked to participate in a documentary on the Chernobyl disaster, Tanaka says he became convicted over what he had done, and decided to come forward with the truth. When he told the Japanese Trade Ministry about the coverup in 1988, they allegedly refused to do anything about it, saying that because Hitachi had denied the accusations, they must not have been true.
Since the current situation at the Fukushima plant is still unfolding, nobody knows for sure the extent of the damage that will take place, and whether or not Tanaka's dirty little secret will cause a very serious meltdown. In fact, so little information has been coming out of Japan regarding the situation that the world can only speculate as to what is actually going on, including whether or not all the radioactive water being dumped on the reactors is ending up back in the Pacific Ocean. (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/worl...).