Saturday, August 20, 2011

"Never Give Up, Fukushima" Sign Right Next to 10-Plus Sieverts/Hr Location

That's the bleakest picture I've seen so far about Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant.

UK's Guardian has a series of photographs taken secretly by Kazuma Obara, who "became the first photojournalist to gain unauthorised access to the power plant and produced an exclusive glimpse of life inside the facility".

On the "Never Give Up, Fukushima" screen, Obara says the photo was taken before the 10-plus sieverts/hour location was found just nearby. The workers in the photo never knew about the radiation, and were never told about it even after the announcement by TEPCO, which was on August 1 evening.

For the rest of the photos and Obara's commentary, go to Guardian.

Kazuma Obara became a freelance photojournalist 3 days after the disaster. For more of his work, go to his website.

4,000 Potentially Radioactive Cows Without Radioactive Rice Hay May Have Been Shipped by One Farmer in Fukushima

Radioactive beef from Fukushima meat cows (then Miyagi, then Iwate, then...) was first in the news in early July. Then, the culprit was very quickly identified as radioactive rice hay that was stored outside when Fukushima I Nuke Plant started to spew out radioactive materials.

First they said the rice hay was fed to the cows because there was nothing else to feed due to supply disruption after the March 11 earthquake. Then it turned out that rice hay was integral part of fattening the meat cows before they were sold to the market.

Then the news broke on August 19 that some meat cows from Fukushima were highly radioactive even without radioactive rice hay.

And then it turns out that 4,000 such cows may have been shipped since the accident by one cattle farmer who owns cattle farms in Namie-machi and in two other towns (Tamura City and Katsurao-mura). The radiation level on the farm in Namie is very high, as you can read in the Kahoku Shinpo article below.

Well, that instantly doubles the number of meat cows potentially contaminated with radioactive cesium. I say potentially, because most of the meat has been consumed already and there's no way to test it.

From Kahoku Shinpo, local Fukushima paper (8/21/2011):


Regarding the 4 meat cows from a cattle farm in Namie-machi in Fukushima Prefecture that exceeded the provisional safety limit for radioactive cesium (500 becquerels/kg), the Fukushima prefectural government disclosed on August 5 that the meat from 5 additional cows from the same farm contained radioactive cesium exceeding the provisional safety limit. From this farm in Namie-machi, total 229 cows including the 9 that were contaminated were shipped to Yokohama City between March 15 and April 19.


The farmer who owns this cattle farm in Namie-machi also owns farms in Tamura City and Katsurao-mura, and total 4,000 cows in his three farms were shipped after the Fukushima nuclear accident.


From the 5 cows, 593 to 786 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium has been detected. The first 4 cows tested 513 to 997 becquerels/kg. The contamination level is similar.


Upon the news of radioactive contamination, the cattle farming section of the Fukushima prefectural government investigated the three farms on August 19 and 20. At the farm in Namie-machi, the entrance to the barn measured 15 microsieverts/hour maximum; 35 microsieverts/hour radiation was detected from the grass growing outside, and 5.5 microsieverts/hour radiation at the feed trough in the barn.


At the farm in Katsurao-mura, they measured inside the barn and on the grass outside, and the storage facility for the dried hay. The air radiation level 1 meter off the ground was between 0.5 to 0.8 microsievert/hour. At the farm in Tamura City, the air radiation level 1 meter off the ground near the entrance to the barn was 0.3 microsievert/hour.


The farmer says he fed the cows with imported hay, not the rice hay. The cause for cesium contamination is not yet known. However, cows lick the dirt to obtain minerals. They may also have eaten the grass outside when the radiation level was higher.


The farm in Namie-machi is located in the "planned evacuation zone" designated on April 22, but the contaminated cows had already been shipped by then. Fukushima Prefecture measured one cow each from the farms in Katsurao-mura and Tamura City on April 28 when the farmer shipped the cows, but radioactive cesium was detected at only 60 to 90 becquerels/kg, below the provisional safety limit.


The farmer has already evacuated outside Fukushima, and there is no cow left in the farms. The national government was going to lift the shipping ban on the meat cows in Fukushima Prefecture, but it decided not to when the radioactive cesium contamination [without radioactive rice hay] was discovered.

Before the Fukushima accident, the amount of radioactive cesium in beef in Fukushima was max 0.055 becquerel/kg. In the post-Fukushima Japan, over 9,000 times the pre-Fukushima level of radioactive cesium has to be considered "safe". (Data on radioactive cesium in Fukushima beef from Japan Chemical Analysis Center database, in Japanese.)

Namie-machi and Kazurao-mura have been designated as "planned evacuation zone". Part of Tamura City has been designated as "evacuation-ready zone". The national government still plans to "revise" these designations and return the residents, as Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant is now "stable".

15 microsieverts/hour radiation would result in the annual cumulative radiation exposure of 131 millisieverts, and that's external radiation only.

Poor cows. After having been fattened up to the max for sale, suffering high cholesterol and high blood pressure, they had to be zapped by radiation...

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Toshiba's SARRY Joins the Underperformers at the Plant

TEPCO released the result of the decontamination by Toshiba's SARRY (cesium absorption) after the start of the full run, and it was OK (according to TEPCO) but not as spectacular as the manufacturers (Toshiba, IHI, and the US's Shaw) had claimed.

SARRY achieved the decontamination factor (DF) of about 50,000, instead of 1 million the manufacturers had confidently hoped. The DF of 50,000 means that the system was able to reduce the amount of radioactive materials (in this case, cesium) to one-50,000th after the treatment.

It is still much better than Kurion, whose most recent DF is slightly less than 350 (reducing the redioactive materials to one-350th.

There goes, for now at least, the idea of just using SARRY and bypassing Kurion and AREVA in decontaminating the water. The desalination unit needs the treated water to have radioactive materials at one-100,000th of the initial contaminated water, at least. TEPCO still needs at least two of the three decontamination units.

From TEPCO's handout for the press on August 20:

Wild Boar in Miyagi Prefecture Was Found With 2,200 Becquerels/Kg of Radioactive Cesium

It adds to the beef conundrum from yesterday's post that the cow that wasn't fed contaminated rice hay. This wild boar was most likely eating the farm crops, wild plant roots and fruits, and occasional maggots and insects.

From Yomiuri Shinbun (8/19/2011):


Miyagi Prefecture announced on August 19 that 2,200 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium was found in the meat of a wild boar caught by a member of the hunters' association in the prefecture. The provisional safety limit [for cesium in food] is 500 becquerels/kg.


Wild boar meat is not sold in the market, but the Miyagi prefectural government is asking people to refrain from consuming the game meat. According to the announcement by the prefectural government, the wild boar in question was caught in Kakuda City in southern Miyagi on August 7, and the hunters' association asked a testing laboratory to do the analysis [for radioactive materials] on August 16. Wild boars normally eat worms in the soil and the field crops.

But don't worry about minor details like wild boars being radioactive (never mind that they don't eat rice hay). Miyagi has a big plan for the future, once the governor's "recovery and reconstruction" plan is approved in the prefectural assembly. One of the central ideas of Governor Murai is to build a big museum to commemorate the earthquake/tsunami of March 11, and build a memorial park around the museum. His other ideas include high-rise towers and high-rise residential buildings to separate out the living space and work space (farmers and fishermen would "commute" to their work which would be organized like corporation).

It's a great recovery plan for the area's general contractors who usually have to team up with the national general contractors to share the project. Great for big agribusiness too, if they don't mind radiation in the soil, as this wild boar clearly demonstrates exists in abundance.

508 Millisievert Annual Cumulative Radiation at 3 Kilometers from Fukushima I Nuke Plant

How do you even begin to decontaminate the area like that, not to mention returning people even on a temporary basis?

The Ministry of Education and Science announced the annual cumulative radiation levels within the no-entry evacuation zone within the 20-kilometer radius from the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, and at the highest place - 3 kilometers west by southwest of the plant - it would be 508 millisieverts in one year from March 11, 2011.

From Asahi Shinbun (8/20/2011):


On August 19 the Ministry of Education and Science announced the amount of cumulative radiation within the no-entry evacuation zone within the 20-kilometer radius from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. The highest estimated cumulative radiation in one year from the day of the accident would be 508.1 millisieverts in Koirino in Okuma-machi in Fukushima Prefecture, located at 3 kilometers west by southwest of the plant. It reinforces the fear that decontamination effort would be difficult. The lowest was 3-plus millisieverts in Kodaka-ku in Minami Soma City. The numbers differ significantly within the 20-kilometer radius.


Of 9 municipalities within the no-entry zone, 50 locations in 8 municipalities were surveyed. The cumulative radiation levels were estimated by assuming people would spend 8 hours outdoors, and stay 16 hours indoors in wooden houses everyday for 1 year until March 11 of 2012.


35 locations out of 50 would exceed 20 millisieverts per year, which was used to determine the planned evacuation zone. In Okuma-machi where Fukushima I Nuke Plant is located, all 12 locations surveyed would exceed 20 millisieverts, with 7 exceeding 100 millisieverts. The highest number in Koirino in Okuma-machi is 508.1 millisieverts, which is equal to 500 years worth of the annual radiation exposure limit for non-nuclear workers (1 millisievert).


In Namie-machi, the highest would be 223.7 millisieverts per year at Kawafusa, 20 kilometers northwest of the plant. The lowest would be 4.1 millisieverts at a location 8 kilometers north of the plant.


The temporary return of residents within the 3-kilometer radius from the plant is being discussed, and this result will be consulted, according to the Ministry of Education and Science.

The national government is planning to allow the residents temporarily returning to their homes within the 20-kilometer radius to bring in their cars and load up whatever they can from their homes.

Friday, August 19, 2011

#Radioactive Manure from Cows Bought from Fukushima

Shimane Prefecture, in Chugoku region, announced that a high level of radioactive cesium has been detected from manure from the cows purchased from Fukushima Prefecture in May and June.

They were not fed with radioactive rice hey.

Some people in Japan suspected from the beginning when the meat cows from Fukushima were found with radioactive cesium that it was not just from the feed but from air and water. They were dismissed by the government officials who insisted the problem was just the radioactive rice hay.

Both the national government and the Fukushima prefectural government encouraged the cattle farmers in the evacuation zones in Fukushima to sell their cows and pigs to cattle farmers outside Fukushima, and many farmers bought them. Now they are being raised all over Japan.

From Asahi Shinbun (5:00AM JST 8/20/2011):


Shimane Prefecture announced on August 19 that radioactive cesium was detected at two cattle farms out of 15 that had purchased meat cows from Fukushima Prefecture in May and June. At one of the farms, the level exceeded the provisional safety limit (400 becquerels/kg). The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries had issued a notice earlier to Shimane Prefecture that it was free to move and ship meat cows, based on the survey results from Fukushima Prefecture.


In Shimane, radioactive rice hay from Miyagi Prefecture was used at some cattle farms, and some manure has been found with radioactive cesium. The cows, whose manure was found to be radioactive this time, are not at these farms.


According to Shimane Prefecture, the 15 cattle farms purchased the total 77 cows at the temporary cattle market in Fukushima, which included cows from the farms near Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries notified on July 21 that the cows and the manures should be kept on the farms. However, on August 11, the ministry notified the Shimane prefectural government that 64 cows could be shipped because they were not fed with radioactive rice hay.


However, Shimane Prefecture did its own survey and found out that the manure at one cattle farm that had purchased 2 Fukushima cows was tested for 2,700 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium, and the one at another cattle farm that had purchased 3 cows was tested for 100 becquerels/kg. The prefecture will test all 77 cows for radioactive materials in their excrement and urine.

High Radiation Right Next to Children's Swimming Pool in Kawasaki City

The government authorities, whether national or municipal, say they've been measuring the radiation at parks and schools where children go, but they've been criticized for picking the least contaminated locations to measure.

Here's a case in Kawasaki City, where a citizens' group measured on their own, found a high radiation location in a park that the city said it had measured, and alerted the city about the highly radioactive dirt right next to the swimming pool that children are using since early July.

From Kanagawa Shinbun local site (8/18/2011):


Kawasaki City announced it measured 0.90 microsievert/hour at the side of the swimming pool in Hirama Park in Kamihirama, Nakahara-ku (special ward), exceeding the target level of 0.19 microsievert/hour set by the Ministry of Education and Science. According to the [Kanagawa] prefectural crisis management division, it is the highest level of air radiation measured in Kanagawa.


The city collected the dirt from the location to have it analyzed, and 12,400 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium was found. The city has decided to close the swimming pool temporarily, starting August 19.


The national government allows sewer sludge to be buried as long as the amount of radioactive materials is 8,000 becquerels/kg and lower. The city has put the plastic tarp over the dirt, and will decide how to dispose the radioactive dirt after consulting with the experts.


The location where the high radiation was measured is right next to the building in which the dressing rooms for the swimming pool users are located. The poolside is just beyond the fence nearby. According to the park management, the area is used to store collected leaves. After cleaning the pool on July 7 to prepare for the pool opening, the leaves and dirt were stored in the 15 square-meter area.


The citizen volunteer group "Peace and Smile Project Kawasaki" measured the near-surface radiation in this area on August 14, which measured 0.50 microsievert/hour at 5 centimeters off the ground. The group alerted the city. When the city measured the same area on August 15, it was 0.66 microsievert/hour (5 centimeters off the ground), and it was 0.90 microsievert/hour on August 18. The radiation levels at the pool entrance and the pool side were below the target level.


The park management says, "We don't know why the radiation is so high in this area".


Kawasaki City measured the radiation levels at 447 locations including parks and schools in June, but they were all below the target level [of 0.19 microsievert/hour]; the maximum level measured was 0.17 microsievert/hour.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

#Radioactive Beef Conundrum: High Level Cesium Detected from Beef Not Fed with Radioactive Rice Hay

Oops. There goes the lifting of the shipping ban for Fukushima.

So where did the cow get the dose of radioactive cesium? Air? Water? No one knows, because everyone in the government and the producers have been looking only at radioactive rice hay.

From NHK News Japanese (2:17PM JST 8/19/2011):


According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, radioactive cesium in the amount exceeding the national provisional limit has been detected from the beef from a cow raised in Fukushima Prefecture. This meat has been stored at a meat processing facility, and according to the investigation so far the cow was never fed the radioactive rice hay. The national government was going to lift the shipping ban on meat cows in Fukushima Prefecture today (August 19) but instead has instructed the Fukushima prefectural government to continue to halt shipping for the time being and conduct further investigation.

On a separate piece of news (link in Japanese), the manure made from chicken poop mixed with dead leaves and sawdust in Tama district of Tokyo (west) has been found to contain 890 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium. I hope it is from dead leaves or sawdust, and not from chickens. Chickens are fed with the chicken feed from the US, and they are raised indoors.

Another "Baseless Rumor": Cicadas in Japan This Summer Have Been Awfully Quiet

(Warning: Photos may be too disturbing to some people.)

This is one of those bits of information that people in Japan have been exchanging on the social media since the beginning of summer: "I don't hear cicadas this year".

A typical summer in Japan is hot and humid (except in a few lucky places like Hokkaido), and the air is filled with the "singing" of cicadas.

But this year, people report that cicadas are either extremely quiet or totally silent in large part of Japan. The exception seems to be the Kansai area, but almost everywhere else people say they don't hear cicadas, and it's been a strangely quiet summer.

It is quite possible that it's been like that every year and people have started to pay heightened and nervous attention to the nature around them after the nuclear accident.

But some people have started to post the photos of cicadas they've found this summer. No wonder they don't "sing". Again, it is quite possible that cicadas in Japan have been malformed for a long time and people have just started to notice, and it's nothing to do with radiation.

Picture of a cicada supposedly taken 60 kilometers from Fukushima I Nuke Plant, on July 22:

A cicada 120 kilometers from the plant. The person who took the photo says on her August 15 blogpost that it was on the ground and trying to flap its wings, and died soon:

Cicadas 300 kilometers from the plant. The person who took the photo says in her blog that in normal year about 100 cicadas hatch in her garden between mid July and mid August but this year the hatching peaked out in early August. He/she also says the male to female ratio is very lopsided this year (way more females than males, and only males "sing" to attract females), and he/she's found 8 cicadas so far that were unable to get out of the shells and died before they could hatch. In a normal year, he/she finds only one or two that fail to hatch and die.

He/she suspects these cicadas may have gotten their radioactive nutrition from the roots of the trees that have been absorbing radioactive materials since the nuke accident. Radioactive fallout like radioactive cesium cannot have penetrated deep enough into the ground to affect cicadas directly.

Cicadas spend between 3 to 17 years underground before they hatch and live a brief summer. Some say only a week, others say as long as one month.

There is another possibility why cicadas are quiet, and that's not good either. It is said in the folklore that the summer before a big earthquake hits is very quiet without hardly any cicadas.

Japanese Government Will Lift Shipping Ban on Cows from Fukushima and Miyagi (Hello #Radioactive Beef Again)

Nothing coming out of Japan makes sense any more, so this news is simply adding to that growing list.

The national government will lift the ban on sales and shipment of meat cows raised in Fukushima and Miyagi Prefectures because the government is satisfied that the radioactive rice hay is now separated from other feed - either under the tarp or buried - so that it will not be fed to the cows.

If I remember right, the worry was not the rice hay but the meat itself, which tested high in radioactive cesium all over Japan as the cows from these two prefectures (and several more in Tohoku) had been sold far and wide because of the suddenly "affordable" price. They were particularly favored by certain cost-conscious municipalities (most notably Yokohama City) that fed the suspected meat to the kindergarteners and school children in school lunches, ignoring protests from the parents.

Humans eat beef not rice hay, as far as I know. But now the ban will be lifted because of ... rice hay storage procedure?

From Mainichi Shinbun (8/18/2011):

政府は18日、福島県と宮城県で飼育されている肉牛の出荷停止を両県全域で解除する方向で検討に入った。早ければ19日にも両県知事に解除を指示す る。肉牛から国の暫定規制値(1キロあたり500ベクレル)を超える放射性セシウムが検出され、政府は7月19日~8月2日、福島、宮城、岩手、栃木の4 県に出荷停止を指示したが、解除すれば初めてとなる。

The Japanese government started to prepare for the total lifting of the shipping ban on meat cows raised in Fukushima and Miyagi Prefectures on August 18. The government will instruct the governors of the two prefectures as early as August 19. As radioactive cesium exceeding the provisional national safety limit (500 becquerels/kg) was found in the meat, the government banned the shipping of the cows in Fukushima, Miyagi, Iwate, and Tochigi Prefectures between July 19 and August 2. Fukushima and Miyagi would be the first to have the ban lifted.

 農林水産省と厚生労働省、福島、宮城両県は、汚染された稲わらの管理や解体後の牛の放射性物質検査の体制などを協議してきた。その結果、汚染稲わ らを他の飼料と明確に区分してシートで覆ったり、地中に埋めて餌として使用できない状態であることが確認され、食肉処理後のセシウム検査で暫定規制値以下 であれば、出荷を認める方向。

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, Fukushima Prefecture and Miyagi Prefecture have been discussing the ways to store the contaminated rice hay and to test radioactive materials after the cows are processed into meat. As the result, [the government is satisfied that] the contaminated rice hay has been confirmed to have been clearly separated from other feed and covered with plastic sheets or to have been buried in the ground so that it cannot be used as feed. As long as the meat tests below the provisional safety limit, the government will allow the shipping.


As soon as the same condition is achieved in Iwate andn Tochigi Prefectures, the government will lift the shipping ban there.


The Ministry of Health and Labor wanted the contaminated rice hay out of the cattle farms as a condition to lift the ban. On the other hand, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fukushima/Miyagi Prefectures insisted the rice hay remain within the farms as long as it was separated from the cows, because it would be hard for the farms to secure the storage space outside the farms.
So the Ministry of Health and Labor lost. This is the Ministry that's supposed to protect consumers.

Will they test all the cows? No they won't. Not even in Fukushima. They only test the meat of the cows raised in the planned evacuation zone and evacuation-ready zone right outside the 20 kilometer radius from Fukushima I Nuke Plant. For everywhere else in Fukushima Prefecture, the first cow to be shipped from a cattle farm will be tested. If that passes the test, all cows can be sold.

Even when they do test, they will just do the simple test using "affordable" instruments that cost only a few thousand dollars and take only 15 minutes to test, and as long as the number is below 250 becquerels/kg they won't test further. Only if it goes above 250 becquerels/kg, they will use expensive instruments that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and take 1 hour to test.

What about the news at the end of July that radioactive cesium is NOT distributed evenly in the meat, not even within the same part?

Well, that's not in the manual of elite bureaucrats in these two ministries, and Fukushima and Miyagi would be the last ones to alert them.

So here we go again. Radioactive beef will be force-fed through social pressure, now that the government declares safety. No way to test all meat, and even if they do, one piece of meat may test differently from another piece of the same part. And they won't even tell you whether it is 244 becquerels/kg or 2 becquerels/kg, as long as it is below 250 becquerels/kg.

Fukushima Prefecture, probably in anticipation of the lifting of the ban, has launched a new campaign to push Fukushima produce - vegetables, fruits, meat - using celebrities. "Fukushima Shin Hatsubai (new product launch)" is the campaign.

The governors of these two prefectures will no doubt do the ceremony of "declaration of safety" of their own, and eat the beef in front of the press to appeal safety to the nation and the rest of the world. If they are so brave as the governor of Shizuoka, they will go to a gourmet Japanese restaurant in New York and host an event with some celebrities who (used to) love Japanese cuisine and eat the safe beef that tested below the provisional safety limit of Japan.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Toshiba's SARRY Starts Full Operation

The contaminated water treatment system, which has been plagued with troubles since the full run started in late June, now has Toshiba's SARRY. It is hoped that the water treatment system can now run in a stable manner to decrease the amount of the highly contaminated water at the plant.

By changing the connections TEPCO can use all three systems, or bypass one or more if there's a problem.

SARRY ("Simplified Active Water Retrieve and Recovery System") can run on its own, without Kurion or AREVA, and still be able to achieve the reduction of radioactive materials in the water to 1-millionth, or so it's claimed in the article by Asahi Shinbun. We'll see.

From TEPCO's handout for the press on August 18:

#Radiation in Japan: A Hokkaido Town Measures Radiation As "Temporary" Disaster Debris Depot May Be Coming Near Them

A neighborhood association in a district in Tomakomai City in Hokkaido has started to measure the radiation levels throughout the district to obtain the baseline data. Why? Because a "temporary" depot to store the disaster debris from Tohoku may be coming near them.

Now that it's a law of their land that the national government will be doing the debris collection and disposal, many cities and towns who have mostly escaped the radioactive plume from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant may receive their "share" of radiation via radioactive debris - either as is, or in the form of radioactive ashes after the debris gets burned.

From Hokkaido Shinbun (8/18/2011):


The Numanohata Central Neighborhood Association in Tomakomai City [in Hokkaido] with 815 households has started the radiation survey on its own. Nearby Komato [Tomakomai East - an ill-fated national industrial development project from 1960s] is one of the candidate sites in Hokkaido for storage of the disaster debris. The Association says, "If the debris come here, we would like to have the baseline data on radiation so that we could compare before and after".


According to the Hokkaido prefectural government (nuclear safety measures section), they've never heard of a systematic radiation measurement on the neighborhood association level.


The Numanohata Central Neighborhood Association covers the area south of Numanohata train station, and the area is within 10 kilometers of Tomato.

I don't think these townspeople want the debris, neither do the residents in cities and towns throughout Japan (from Hokkaido to Kagoshima in Kyushu) where the disaster debris may go for "temporary" storage or final disposal. But there seems to be some sort of campaign is starting, whereby notable "celebrities" appear in the MSM to either praise Fukushima (prefecture) for perseverance in the face of adversity or denounce those Japanese who do not want radiation in their neighborhood or in their food as "selfish".


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wall Street Journal: How the Japanese Government Failed Residents of Namie, Fukushima

Clearly, the Japanese government didn't understand, didn't know the meaning of, "simulation". The whole point of simulation is to provide possible scenarios based on limited inputs, and that's what SPEEDI was supposed to do. It did exactly that, but the government squashed the simulation results.

In order to be "correct" with only the measured data (which was non-existent at that time), the politicians both in the government and in the Nuclear Safety Commission chose to keep quiet and let the residents of Namie-machi irradiated, their homes, fields contaminated, probably beyond repair. Not only that, they went on the offensive, telling Fukushima residents and the Japanese people that everything was under control, it was safe.

Without any warning or advice from the government or TEPCO based on SPEEDI, Namie residents ended up evacuating to where the radioactive plume went. SPEEDI had correctly predicted that the radioactive plume would go the direction of Namie based on the prevailing wind pattern.

Here's the video news created by Wall Street Journal:

There's a long accompanying article to this video in the subscription-only section by Yuka Hayashi:

NIHONMATSU, Japan—On the afternoon of March 12, 24 hours after a tsunami crippled Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex, some 700 residents of the coastal town of Namie were gathered at an elementary school just outside the government's 6.2-mile evacuation zone. Children played in the schoolyard, adults walked their dogs and volunteers cooked rice balls and soup outdoors. With cellphones knocked out and no television, few had any inkling of the rapidly escalating threat posed by the nearby plant.

Back in Tokyo, however, red flags were popping up inside a nondescript office building outside of the central business district, home to one of Japan's nerve centers for responding to a nuclear disaster. A computer system there, called Speedi, used real-time weather data to predict how radiation would spread in the event of an accident, spitting out maps for the government to use to get people out of harm's way.

That afternoon, the system was generating an ominous forecast for Namie: If radiation were to escape the plant, the wind would blow it straight through the town of 21,000, beyond the 6.2-mile safety perimeter and right over the schoolyard. But that information never reached the townspeople, according to Tamotsu Baba, the mayor.

At 3:36 p.m., the plant's reactor No. 1 blew up, spewing radiation sky-high.

"I heard a tremendous noise from the direction of the nuclear plant and knew right away it had exploded," recalls Toshio Konno, a 60-year-old retail-store worker who was standing in the schoolyard. He says he immediately "jumped in my car and headed off in the opposite direction. No one told me what to do. It was up to me to protect myself."

Many people gathered at the school, however, didn't realize what had happened, and most didn't leave for a few more hours.

The mayor later accused central-government representatives at the disaster-response headquarters in Fukushima of failing to protect Namie residents. "We walked straight into the areas where radiation levels were the highest," he said in a recent interview in Nihonmatsu, a neighboring city that is now home to Namie's town hall and some 3,000 of its evacuees. "I told them it was tantamount to an act of murder."

A Wall Street Journal investigation of Japan's efforts to protect people living around the stricken plant reveals that government officials failed to warn those residents despite projections showing a risk of radioactive contamination—information that wasn't made public until days or weeks later. In addition, the government and the plant's operator didn't provide many nearby residents with promised evacuation assistance, which forced the towns to improvise without any clear idea where the radiation was heading.

The fallout projections "could have been used as a guide for evacuation if they had been shared with people ahead of time," says Yukio Sudo, president of Nuclear Safety Technology Center, the government agency that operates Speedi on behalf of the education and science ministry.

The alarming reports did reach the central government's disaster headquarters headed by Prime Minister Naoto Kan. But bureaucrats there later said they didn't alert the politicians who were making evacuation decisions. The bureaucrats said the government didn't know precisely how much radiation had escaped the damaged reactors, so the forecasts, based on assumptions, weren't reliable enough.

Mr. Kan and top aides have said they weren't even aware of the system in the early days of the crisis. "We are truly very sorry that Speedi's projections weren't in the end shared among the parties who needed them," chief government spokesman Yukio Edano told a parliamentary committee on June 20. He said that would be a key subject for a government commission investigating the many things that went wrong at Fukushima Daiichi.

It is unclear how much radiation those living around the plant absorbed. The government to date has done full tests on just 120 residents of the affected communities, and those results haven't been released. Officials are now promising to survey all of Fukushima Prefecture's two million residents sometime in August, and to monitor over the next three decades the 200,000 considered most at risk.

Some experts say the delays mean it is likely too late to detect the full extent of the exposure and potential harm, since some radioactive elements disappear within weeks, even though any damage to the body triggered by those elements remains.

Back in the 1970s and 1980s, when Japan was ramping up its reliance on nuclear energy, the government and the utilities assured those living near reactors that they were safe. In the event of an accident, emergency evacuation protocols required authorities and plant operators to notify local municipalities and to keep residents informed about the accident and evacuation. The government was required to provide evacuation transportation.

In 1980, the year after the Three Mile Island nuclear accident in the U.S., the Japanese government began developing a computer system to help with evacuation planning. The system—called System for Prediction of Environmental Emergency Dose Information, or Speedi—aimed to predict how released radiation would spread if an accident occurred. When the system was launched in 1986, the government said it could produce a detailed radiation map within 15 minutes of any accident that would show which areas were safe.

The guts of the system, developed with the help of Fujitsu Ltd., are housed in a Tokyo office building, above a bank branch. Computers sit in a cooled room, separated by a darkened glass wall from a team of operators at computer monitors. The system crunches data collected from a government meteorological agency and nuclear facilities around the clock, producing regularly updated maps of potential radiation fallout. At least two operators from the nuclear-safety agency are always manning it, ensuring that data are updated every hour.

At 3:42 p.m. on Friday, March 11, about an hour after the tsunami hit the Fukushima Daiichi plant, its operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., declared a nuclear emergency. Speedi was switched into emergency mode. The system began forecasting how radiation, if released from the plant, would spread, and producing detailed weather reports for surrounding areas.

More than 130 miles away in Namie, residents focused first on escaping the giant waves that washed over parts of the town. Many left the town center for evacuation centers at higher elevations, located about 4.4 miles from the plant.

At 5:44 the next morning, a Saturday, the government said conditions at the plant were deteriorating and ordered the evacuation of everyone within 6.2 miles of it—including those gathered at the town's initial evacuation centers.

In addition to Namie, three other towns fell within that 6.2-mile radius. By prior agreement, all four were entitled to special assistance in the event of an emergency. In two of those towns, Futaba and Okuma, the government arranged for buses to transport residents.

Namie and Tomioka were left to fend for themselves. Namie officials began telling residents to get out immediately. They delivered their message over loudspeakers installed around town and from fire trucks driving block to block.

Without access to government buses, most residents left in their own cars, jamming the highway leading away from the coast. Residents say some people were stuck in traffic for hours. Most headed for the town's evacuation centers outside of the 6.2 mile zone, including the school in the neighborhood of Karino.

Back in Tokyo, government officials were using Speedi to forecast radiation fallout from such potential emergencies as venting radiation-laced steam to relieve reactor pressure, or, worse, an explosion at the reactor. That Saturday afternoon, at 12:36, the ministry of education and science received a simulation showing what would happen if reactor No. 1 exploded at 1 p.m. The conclusion: it would carry immense amounts of radiation well over 6.2 miles in a northwest direction, right over Namie, the Karino school and other evacuation sites. A 3 p.m. simulation reached a similar conclusion: any radiation released at about 4 p.m. would be blown in the same direction.

As many as 2,000 residents had fled to areas that Speedi projections showed would be covered by a radioactive cloud if reactor No. 1 was vented that afternoon. The residents were clueless about that danger. At about 2:30 p.m., the venting started.

At one evacuation site about 15 miles from the plant, a community center in Tsushima, dozens gathered in a parking lot to watch clouds of steam shoot up from behind a range of mountains. They knew what they were witnessing. They had heard on television that the plant was going to be vented.

"It never occurred to us radiation would come our way," says Hidehiro Asada, a 43-year-old owner of a lumberyard who was in the crowd. "We assumed the folks from the town or the prefecture would tell us if it was dangerous for us to be there."

At the school in Karino, evacuees also were in the dark about the risk. Many of them had no idea that reactor No. 1 had exploded in the middle of the afternoon until a volunteer fireman arrived about two hours later and told them about it.

That set off a panic. Some evacuees hurried to shut the wide-open sliding doors of the gym. Others started yelling at Tokyo Electric employees who were also taking shelter there, demanding information.

Before long, a Tokyo Electric employee arrived in a company car wearing full protective gear and toting a dosimeter, according to two people who were there. It beeped steadily, indicating high levels of radiation, these people say. He told the evacuees that they were safe because they were outside the official evacuation zone, they say. He left after a few minutes. A Tokyo Electric spokesman confirmed the incident.

That evening, the government expanded the evacuation zone to 12.4 miles, from 6.2, and asked people within 18.6 miles of the plant to stay indoors.

At about 6:30 p.m., a pair of military trucks arrived to pick up people from the school. It was nearly 11 p.m. when the last of evacuees left.

Ryuji Ohura, a town official who spent the day at the school looking after evacuees, locked up the school and headed northwest to another evacuation center. "We felt completely abandoned," recalls the 32-year-old father of two. "As I was driving, I just felt a sense of defeat. I kept thinking how I would get leukemia and die young."

In the wake of the bungled evacuation, government officials have been struggling to explain why the maps and forecast being churned out by Speedi didn't wind up in the hands of the people who needed them most.

Speedi is designed to produce two types of forecasts. Every hour, year-round, it maps where radiation would spread if released, using hypothetical release amounts. In the event of an actual emergency, the system is supposed to use actual radiation-release data collected from the plant.

Following the explosions, Fukushima Daiichi's system for sending real-time radiation-release data wasn't working. Mr. Kan's cabinet, in a report submitted to the International Atomic Energy Agency in June, said complete data on radiation emitted from the crippled plant weren't available in real time. The release of radiation-fallout projections based on estimates, which Speedi produced, could have caused "unnecessary confusion," the report said.

But Japan's emergency law requires Speedi projections to be used even under such circumstances. The overseers of the system say it worked just fine. "Speedi has functioned just as it was always intended, with no error or delay," says Mr. Sudo.

Toshiso Kosako, a nuclear-safety expert at Tokyo University, stepped down as a nuclear adviser to Mr. Kan in late April. In his resignation statement, he blamed government agencies for their "inadequate initial responses" that prevented effectively using Speedi, thus "subjecting residents to unnecessary radiation exposure." In an interview, he said that the system offered useful information for planning evacuations, but that "nobody wanted to be associated with such fearful decisions."

As for the government's failure to communicate effectively with the people of Namie, deputy chief cabinet secretary Tetsuro Fukuyama blames a breakdown of emergency-phone systems.

Today, nearly all of Namie remains closed due to contamination, and residents have no idea when if will be safe to return. Reconstruction is under way in other tsunami-damaged towns, but Namie's coast is still covered in debris. Workers aren't allowed to go near it.

US Vice President Joe Biden to Visit China, Japan, and MONGOLIA

Now that's interesting.

Remember the US and Japan have been pushing for the nuclear fuel final processing facility to be built in Mongolia. Toshiba's president supposedly sent a letter to a high-ranking US official urging them to proceed quickly. Toshiba owns 100% of Westinghouse Electric.

According to CNN, Biden is going to Mongolia to promote "democracy".

From CNN (8/16/2011):

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden will depart Tuesday for a trip to China, Mongolia and Japan that will include meetings with China's top leaders.

The trip to China is at the invitation of Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping as part of planned reciprocal visits by the two nations' top deputies announced earlier this year, according to a White House statement.

Xi is considered the likely successor to President Hu Jintao.

Biden will meet with Xi, Hu and Premier Wen Jiabao while in China, according to the statement. The vice president's itinerary also includes a visit to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province in the southwest.

Biden will also go to the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar to demonstrate U.S. support for democratic development there as well as growing diplomatic ties between the countries, the statement said.

In Japan, Biden will "express steadfast U.S. support for its close ally in the wake of the recent earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear emergency" and will also thank U.S. civilian and military personnel who aided the disaster response, the statement said.

1 Millisievert/hour Radiation from a Truck in Iwaki City in Fukushima??

Well, you can't watch the video below any more, as it has become "private" for some reason on Youtube. It was public. I have seen it at a members-only site.

The video was posted on this Japanese site on July 15, and it is supposed to be the radiation level measured on July 13 on a small truck parked in Iwaki City in Fukushima Prefecture, near Onahama.

Someone is holding the personal survey meter, standing, facing the street. The survey meter shows between 0.17 to 0.45 or so microsievert/hour. The person approaches a small white truck parked on a small parking lot at the side of the road. The survey meter quickly rises above 1 microsievert/hour, then 10, and 20 microsieverts/hour.

The highest level of radiation is measured on the truck bed. As the person slowly lowers the survey meter to the floor of the bed, it goes from several tens of microsieverts/hour to 100 microsieverts/hour, then rapidly rises to 150, 380, and before it reaches the bottom the meter goes overscale and shows just "8888".

The person also measures the front right tire, which measures 17 microsieverts/hour. Inside the truck, the radiation is also very high. The survey meter goes quickly above 80 microsieverts/hour close to the seat.

As the person walks away from the truck, the radiation level quickly drops down to below 1 microsievert/hour, back to between 0.1 to 0.50 microsievert/hour.

The video you cannot see any more on Youtube. The title says "July 13, 2011 Radiation level in Onahama, Iwaki City":

I can give you a few screen shots though...

As the person approaches the truck:

The highest number on the truck bed before the meter goes overscale:

Interior of the truck:

(H/T Dr. Ono)

Now, #Radioactive Sanitary Napkins??

It's in the "rumor" stage - i.e. concerned citizens measuring the radiation themselves with their personal survey meters and exchanging information on Twitter (which is by the way extremely suited for the Japanese language because of kanji characters that pack a ton of info and are still considered one character).

Someone tested the "Unicharm" brand of feminine sanitary napkins, and the survey meter showed 0.15 microsievert/hr on a napkin. The ambient radiation level was 0.07 microsievert/hr (indoors).

He was worried for his wife, and traced the manufacturing number on the package, and it was made in the factory in Fukushima Prefecture. Seeing his twitter, someone else called the customer service of Unicharm, who confirmed that the napkin was made in their factory in Tanagura-machi in Higashi Shirakawa-gun (district), Fukushima Prefecture (福島県東白川郡棚倉町). The customer service person said yes they do a random testing of the napkins but no they haven't detected any radiation.

(Well, talk about ambient radiation in Fukushima. The air radiation level of Tanagura-machi is between 0.17 to 0.49 microsievert/hr outdoors, according to the Tanagura-machi website.)

Now, people are testing tampons, diapers for babies and adults, and baby wipes with their personal survey meters.

Radioactive cesium is said to affect reproductive organs. Probably another "rumor".

US Government Considered Evacuation of 90,000 US Citizens in Tokyo

According to Kevin Maher, a US diplomat and the former director of the Japan Desk at the US State Department in Japan, the US government considered evacuating all 90,000 US citizens in Tokyo right after the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident.

From Yomiuri Shinbun (10:30PM JST 8/17/2011):


The US government was considering the plan to evacuate all 90,000 US citizens living in Tokyo right after the Fukushima I Nuclear power Plant accident, according to a new book.


The book, which is to be published on August 17, is titled "決断できない日本 (Japan that cannot decide)" (Bunshun Shinsho) and was written by Kevin Maher, former Japan Desk director at the US State Department. If the plan to evacuate 90,000 Americans had been carried out, it could have triggered reactions from other foreign governments, and caused panic among the Japanese.


Maher's book recounts the inside information that Maher obtained as he was part of the special task force within the State Department right after the March 11 disaster, communicating with the Japanese side.


The subject of evacuating the US citizens was raised in the early hours on March 16 (local time). The US had already knew about the unusually high temperature of the reactors from the Global Hawk data, and determined that "the fuel has already melted". The US thought the Kan administration was simply leaving the disaster response to TEPCO, and "distrust [in the administration] was intense". The US high-ranking officials wanted to evacuate the US citizens [from Tokyo] but the local officials including Maher objected, as "it would severely undermine the US-Japan alliance". The plan was never implemented.

It's very heart-warming to know they left 90,000 US citizens in Tokyo under the radioactive plume, which literally rained on them on March 15, 16 and 21, for the sake of "alliance", isn't it?

I also remember back in March that the US investment bank Goldman Sachs flew in high-ranking executives to Tokyo, and told the US employees there in no uncertain terms that they were to stay put in Tokyo, or they would lose their jobs.

US Nuclear Regulatory Commission: It's All About Politics?

If Japan's Madarame's Nuclear Safety Commission is "all about money", the US counterpart, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, seems all about political infighting.

It's Chairman Jaczko (Democratic appointee) vs Commissioner Svinicki (Republican appointee), with a former chairman fanning the infighting.

From Politico (8/16/2011):

NRC infighting goes nuclear

By DARIUS DIXON | 8/16/11 4:20 PM EDT

It's war at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko regularly faces the sharp end of Republican spears for his work to shut down the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository, but his biggest clash appears not to be with Capitol Hill but with fellow NRC Commissioner Kristine Svinicki.

Jaczko, a Democrat and former aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Svinicki, a Republican, have sparred over everything from serious issues including safety reviews and agency budgets to minor items like foreign travel requests.

The tension between Jaczko and Svinicki is so thick that the two haven’t addressed one another in months, sources tell POLITICO.

“There’s been a history of punches and counterpunches,” David Lochbaum, director of the Union of Concerned Scientists’s Nuclear Safety Project and a longtime observer of the NRC, said of Jaczko and Svinicki. “I don’t know who started it but at some point it doesn’t matter. It takes two to fight.”

... Dale Klein, a former NRC chairman, said he believed the report presented a tamer version of accounts than what was collected by investigators.

Klein described Jaczko’s behavior as “ruling by intimidation” and by cornering his colleagues on agency issues through the media. When it came to Jaczko’s interactions with Svinicki, he said, “While I was there, he would oftentimes yell at her.”

Before retiring from the NRC, Klein said he gave Jaczko a warning. "I had told him early on, several times, that the title is chairman — not dictator," Klein said.

The latest skirmish came last month after Jaczko went to the National Press Club to announce his plan to have the NRC review recommendations of a special Fukushima task force in 90 days. One problem: The chairman went forward with the proposal without convincing his fellow commissioners to support it, and his announcement was widely seen as a maneuver aimed at painting his colleagues into a corner. (Jaczko told the other commissioners about his plan, but there was little to no negotiation.)

Three commissioners — Svinicki, William Magwood and William Ostendorff — quickly moved to block the 90-day timetable.

For his part, Jaczko struck back last week, writing a memo saying his colleagues have a "preoccupation with process at the expense of nuclear safety policy."

Jaczko’s 90-day proposal was “the classic example of what not to do,” Klein said. “What’s magic about 90 days?

"That’s not the way that you’re going to build a consensus..."

(The article continues.)

Consensus? In nuclear safety?

Then Japan's NSC and NISA should be lauded for their exemplary consensus building over the decades.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant Worker: No Steam Gushing From Cracks, But There Are Many 10-Plus Sieverts/Hr Locations

The anonymous Fukushima I Nuke Plant worker whom I featured before several times tweets on the information, yet to be substantiated, related by an independent journalist Kota Kinoshita on his blog on August 15. Mr. Kinoshita related the information only because he had heard the similar information from his government source.

What is that information? That there is steam gushing out of cracks on the ground, and that there are 6 locations that exceed 10 sieverts/hr radiation.

1. About "steam gushing out from cracks on the ground":

In Mr. Kinoshita's blog:

8月上旬の話です。夜の九時 ごろにおきたこと。福島第一原発の作業員よりつぎの趣旨でメールで情報が地元関係者に届いたという事です。その内容は、「敷地内に​ある地割れから水蒸気 が噴出。周りが真っ白になり、作業員が一時退避した。地下で反応しているようだ。風向きでそちらの線量に注意して」​。

It was early August, around 9PM. A worker at Fukushima I Nuke Plant sent an email to his local contact, saying "Steam gushing out of cracks on the ground. The area is foggy with steam, and the workers evacuated temporarily. Some kind of reaction may be occurring underground. Watch out for radiation level depending on the wind direction".


From the information source within the government, "I've heard about the steam coming out from the ground, and I am concerned".

Fukushima worker's tweet:


As I have said before, I have never seen, or heard about, such steam.

It's possible that he doesn't know but someone else may know.

2. About locations that exceed 10 sieverts/hr:

In Mr. Kinoshita's blog:


[The same worker] also told [his contact] that there are 6 locations that exceed 10,000 millisievert/hr [10 sieverts/hr], unlike what TEPCO has announced.

Fukushima worker's tweet:


I think that is true. But those are the locations that have been measured. I think there are many more.

Mr. Kinoshita's blog has this bit of "rumor" from his worker at the plant:


There are several cracks on the ground near the Containment Vessel, and the steam is coming out from them, not on a regular basis but sporadically.

Wait, does that mean the floor of the reactor building is cracked? He doesn't say which reactor.

And Fukushima worker has another tweet that says:


In the reactor buildings of Reactors 1, 2 and 3, there are many spots that measure even higher [than 10 sieverts/hr] and we can't go near them.

So much for the plant being stable. But so far, the information is unsubstantiated (i.e. not admitted, or denied, by officials at TEPCO or the government).

Speaking of the government, it will allow the residents in Okuma-machi and Futaba-machi, where the plant is located, to temporarily return to their homes later this month now that the plant is stable.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Hokkaido Governor Allows the Re-Start of Tomari Nuke Plant Reactor 3

The Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident may be becoming a distant and inconvenient memory for many, including the governor of Hokkaido Harumi Takahashi, a former elite bureaucrat in what is now the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

She has just approved the formal re-start of Tomari Nuclear Power Plant Reactor 3, despite the protest literally from all over the country. It will be the first re-start of any reactor that has been in maintenance or shut-down after the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident, and Tomari Reactor 3 will simply switch from the long (since March) post-maintenance test-run to full commercial run without undergoing the so-called "stress test" after the Nuclear Safety Commission rubber-stamped and the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency immediately approved.

Governor Takahashi has been receiving campaign donations from executives at Hokkaido Electric Power Company (link in Japanese), and she says she will continue to do so as she sees nothing technically wrong with it.

Reactor 3 of Tomari Nuclear Power Plant was designed by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, and will use MOX-fuel, i.e. in Japanese English, "pluthermal". MOX-fuel will come from France, according to HEPCO (that's Hokkaido Electric Power Company)'s "Pluthermal" webpage (in Japanese).

The Hokkaido prefectural government held a special committee meeting on August 16 to decide whether to allow the re-start of Tomari Reactor 3; the meeting lasted well into the late night, where even the committee members shouted at her that she had already made up her mind and was just trying to fit everything with that conclusion, according to FNN News (in Japanese).

It's all about money, as Haruki "Detarame" Madarame of the Nuclear Safety Commission said in 2006. It applies to those "genpatsu (nuclear power plant)" towns as well as the "genpatsu" governors like her.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Early Days of Confusion and Mistakes at the Plant Being Revealed

The Kan Administration set up a fact-finding commission in late May to figure out what went wrong at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant that led to the catastrophic accident, even if the accident is still ongoing as of August.

There were many critics who said "First thing first", which was to stop the emission of radioactive materials from the broken reactors and do whatever possible to reduce the amount of the contaminated water, and .. (list is endless). But the government, who is always eager to paint a positive picture that everything is according to schedule and going well, wanted the commission to "investigate" the accident to learn from the mistakes.

What better way to give the impression that the accident is over, than to form a commission to investigate the accident?

Still, the commission led by a Tokyo University professor (emeritus) and including 3 attorneys (one of them a UN committee member fighting for equal rights for women) and one novelist, has been interviewing (or "interrogating" is the word used in the Japanese press) TEPCO managers at Fukushima I Nuke Plant, and part of their findings have apparently been leaked to Mainichi Shinbun. The commission meetings are not open to the public.

From Mainichi Shinbun (2:31AM JST 8/17/2011), what TEPCO managers at the plant is saying:

About the explosion of Reactor 1 building at 3:36PM on March 12:


TEPCO was preoccupied with the condition of the reactor and the Containment Vessel, and didn't think of the risk of hydrogen explosion. "There was no one who could have predicted the explosion."


There was no manual for the vent operation. They figured out the procedure by studying the blueprint [of the reactor and Containment Vessel]. After station blackout, they started to collect equipment for the vent, but since there was no detailed information as to what type of equipment was necessary, a wide variety of equipment was brought in, and they wasted time choosing the right equipment.


Then, as they prepared for the vent, some of the equipment was delivered by mistake to Fukushima II Nuclear Power plant (10 kilometers south of Fukushima I) or to J-Village (20 kilometers south of Fukushima I), and someone had to go there to get the equipment. One TEPCO employee at the plant said "There was not enough support from the TEPCO headquarters."


General Manager of the Plant Yoshida and his men planned the accident countermeasures, but they weren't aware that the isolation condenser (IC) that cooled the fuel core of Reactor 1 had stopped temporarily. Yoshida said to the Commission, "It was a huge mistake not to have had this vital information."

Prime Minister Kan's visit March 12:


"We have no idea why he came."


As to Prime Minister Kan's question of "What's going on?", "it was not the atmosphere where we could speak frankly and give detailed explanation."

About Self Defense Force helicopter dumping water on the Spent Fuel Pool:


"We were grateful, but we felt it was not efficient. Most of the water didn't seem to go into the SFP."

Well, the dumping of water from the SDF helicopter was just for the visual effect to impress Americans, as it would look as if the government was actually doing something. That, along with having its soldiers irradiated and injured when the Reactor 3 building blew up, is said to have alienated the SDF from the administration.

186,000 Becquerels/Kg Radioactive Cesium in Aizu Wakamatsu City in Fukushima

from the sludge in the drain. Aizu Wakamatsu City is 100 kilometers west of Fukushima I Nuclear power Plant.

From Sankei Shinbun (8/16/2011):


The Fukushima District Court Aizu Wakamatsu Branch (in Aizu Wakamatsu City, Fukushima Prefecture) announced on August 16 that 186,000 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium was found in the sludge in the drain in the court compound. The Aizu Wakamatsu Branch of the Fukushima District Court is located 100 kilometers west of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. The radioactive sludge will be removed under the guidance from Fukushima Prefecture and Aizu Wakamatsu City.


According to the District Court Aizu Wakamatsu Branch, the sludge containing radioactive cesium was found in the "rainwater box" into which the water in the drain flows. The company that was contracted to do the cleanup took the sludge sample to a testing laboratory to see if the radiation level of the sludge in the "rainwater box" was low enough for safe cleaning and disposal. The result came in on August 11.


The District Court Aizu Wakamatsu Branch has set the 1-square meter areas around this "rainwater box" and another box as off-limit. The air radiation around the other box tested high. The Branch says the daily operation of the Court is not affected.

Monday, August 15, 2011

#Radiation in Japan: Pile of Radioactive Garbage Ashes Next to an Apartment in Fukushima City

From Twitpic of Massahisa Sato, member of the Upper House of the Japan's Diet. Bags of radioactive ashes from the garbage incinerating plant are piled up high right near an apartment building in Fukushima City. He says some of the residents in the apartment building have evacuated for the fear of radiation coming off that pile. (Click the photo to enlarge to see the details.)

On a separate, culturally-correct "rumor", the Japan Buddhist Federation may be planning to organize a nationwide ceremony whereby the debris in the disaster-affected areas in Tohoku will be burned to pray for the spirit of the dead at its member temples throughout Japan.

Radioactive Sulphur from Fukushima I Nuke Plant Reached California

UC San Diego researchers found radioactive sulphur (sulphur-35) in the atmosphere that probably originated from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant in the attempt to cool the reactors by injecting seawater. Chlorine in the seawater reacted with neutrons from the reactors to produce sulphur-35, which was then transported by a strong westerly wind to southern California, the researchers say.

Their findings were published in the electronic version of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America on August 16.

Here's the abstract from the PNAS (emphasis is mine, in blue):

A recent earthquake and the subsequent tsunami have extensively damaged the Fukushima nuclear power plant, releasing harmful radiation into the environment. Despite the obvious implication for human health and the surrounding ecology, there are no quantitative estimates of the neutron flux leakage during the weeks following the earthquake. Here, using measurements of radioactive 35S contained in sulfate aerosols and SO2 gas at a coastal site in La Jolla, California, we show that nearly 4 × 1011 neutrons per m2 leaked at the Fukushima nuclear power plant before March 20, 2011. A significantly higher Graphic activity as measured on March 28 is in accord with neutrons escaping the reactor core and being absorbed by the coolant seawater 35Cl to produce 35S by a (n, p) reaction. Once produced, 35S oxidizes to Graphic and Graphic and was then transported to Southern California due to the presence of strong prevailing westerly winds at this time. Based on a moving box model, we show that the observed activity enhancement in Graphic is compatible with long-range transport of the radiation plume from Fukushima. Our model predicts that Graphic, the concentration in the marine boundary layer at Fukushima, was approximately 2 × 105 atoms per m3, which is approximately 365 times above expected natural concentrations. These measurements and model calculations imply that approximately 0.7% of the total radioactive sulfate present at the marine boundary layer at Fukushima reached Southern California as a result of the trans-Pacific transport.

The amount is so tiny there's nothing to worry about, says one of the researchers at UCSD:

"The levels we observed are in no way harmful in California," Thiemens said.

China's State Oceanic Administration: Wider Ocean Contamination Than Japanese Government Has Admitted

(UPDATE-CORRECTION: the contaminated area according to the Chinese is "252,000 square-kilometer", and not "252,000 square-meter" as in the initial post.)

China sent a survey ship and taking seawater samples off the coast of Fukushima back in June and July. The State Oceanic Administration now says the contamination of the Pacific Ocean may extend as far as 800 kilometers (497 miles) off the coast of Fukushima, as reported by the Science and Technology Daily (ST Daily) in China, according to Asahi Shinbun.

(STDaily's original article in Chinese is here.)

From Asahi Shinbun (12:08PM JST 8/16/2011):


China's State Oceanic Administration cites the result of the environmental survey it did in the western Pacific Ocean off the coast of Fukushima and says a much wider area of the Pacific Ocean is contaminated with radioactive materials than the Japanese government has announced, and that the possibility cannot be eliminated that radioactive materials have entered the ocean under the Chinese control".


The Chinese paper "Science and Technology Daily (electronic version)" reported on August 15 as the State Oceanic Administration's written response to their inquiry.


According to the State Oceanic Administration, the area said to be affected by radioactive materials is a 252,000 square-kilometer [corrected] area inside the 800 kilometer off the coast of Fukushima. Cesium-137 was found maximum 300 times the level found in the Chinese coastal waters, and strontium-90 was found maximum 10 times the level.


The State Oceanic Administration conducted the survey in June and July in the Western Pacific, in response to the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident.

In a separate piece of news, 5,000 angry residents of Chengdu in Sichuan Province in China closed off the roads [to the city?] to protest the frequent power outage, according to Yomiuri Shinbun citing Hong Kong's Oriental Daily.

Neptunium-239 Detected from Soil in Iitate-mura in Fukushima???

(Correction: my initial post said "several thousand becquerels per kilogram", but on checking the original Japanese post there is no mention of "per kilogram" or per any other unit.)

The information comes from a strange source - the husband and wife comedian couple cum independent journalists attending and reporting on TEPCO and the government press conferences when they are not on stage.

In their blogpost on August 11 (in Japanese), they relate their talk with a researcher at the University of Tokyo who has submitted a scientific paper to a foreign academic society. This researcher, whom they say they cannot name because the paper is being reviewed right now, went to Fukushima and collected soil samples, rice hay samples, and water samples. He even went to the front of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant and collected samples there.

He also went to Iitate-mura. And he tells the couple that he found neptunium-239 in Iitate-mura, about 38 kilometers from the plant, in approximately the same amount as he found at the front gate of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. That is the topic of his paper.

The couple says in the very intelligent post that they cannot provide details because the paper is in review (but they also say the researcher has given them permission to talk about it in general terms), but it was in several thousand becquerels. There is no mention of whether it was per kilogram or per square meter or per something else.

There is no mention of when the researcher went to Iitate-mura. I could be wrong but the indication from the post is that it was after the news that chlorine-38 detection at Fukushima I Nuke Plant was false. TEPCO retracted the earlier announcement of chlorine-38 detection, on April 20.

Uranium-239, whose half life is about 24 minutes, decays into neptunium-239 through beta decay. Neptunium-239, gamma emitter whose half life is about 2.4 days, decays into plutonium-239 whose half life is 24,200 years.

If this Tokyo University researcher went to Iitate-mura after April 20 and he was still detecting neptunium-239 whose half life is only 2.4 days, I just abhor to think of the implications. The locations that he found neptunium-239, in Iitate-mura and in front of the plant, were never tested by the Ministry of Education and Science or by TEPCO, according to the post.

Evacuation of Iitate-mura wasn't completed till late May, but not all villagers evacuated. There are still old people living in the village, and the villagers regularly go back to the village to check up on things.

I don't know how much longer Japan can continue to "Extend and Pretend", but probably much longer than anyone outside expects. We'll find out when this paper gets published.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

People's Protest Shuts Down the Dangerous Chemical Plant in Dalian, China

The city's officials have announced the immediate shut down of the plant, an unusually quick response to the protesters that swelled to 12,000 on August 14 over environmental concerns.

It started when the tropical storm caused the seawalls to break, 50 meters from the plant, on August 8. The residents were evacuated for the fear of toxic spills, which didn't happen. But the residents were furious that they didn't know such a dangerous plant was right nearby, and started to demand that the plant be stopped and relocated from the city.

From Wall Street Journal (8/15/2011):

SHANGHAI—The Dalian city government agreed to shutter a chemical plant in an unusual display of responsiveness, bowing to environmental protests that brought thousands of residents onto the streets of the northeastern Chinese port city.

The decision to close the plant was announced just hours after Dalian's Communist Party Secretary Tang Jun, standing atop a police van, tried and failed to disperse a crowd authorities estimated at 12,000 with a pledge to relocate the plant at a future date.

"Time!" "Time!" "Tell us when!" members of the crowd shouted back at Mr. Tang, drowning him out.

...The protests against it weren't a direct challenge to the local government policies, beyond the plant. Rather, there was widespread anxiety among the local community—possibly shared by local officials—that the seaside factory represented a potential environmental calamity.

...Security was heavy on Dalian streets on Sunday. State media reported that police in riot gear scuffled with the placard-carrying crowd. However, the demonstrations were largely peaceful and the crowds greeted the concession to close the plant with enthusiasm.

"This is such good news," said one demonstrator, 28-year-old Ken Zhang, who said he began days ago preparing T-shirts and banners. "I can't just let this toxic project harm the health of myself, my family and all my friends."

Environmental concerns are a growing rallying point for China's generation of new homeowners and parents. Centered on China's richest urban areas, the nascent "not-in-my-backyard" movement has featured a number of peaceful walks by young professionals—many of them carrying Chinese flags—that are sometimes tolerated by authorities, themselves eager to support green causes.

...When the deadly tropical storm Muifa missed Shanghai last weekend and bounced up the Chinese coast, Dalian residents feared its arrival would collapse sea walls and swamp the plant. In postings on microblogs, residents discussed parallels with Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, which was hobbled by a tsunami and unaided by sea walls after the country's earthquake in March.

(Full article at the link above.)

I hope they will very soon wake up to the danger of nuclear power plants that their Communist government is pushing very hard, despite the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident. I suspect the Chinese pride themselves in outdoing the Japanese, but there will be no glory in outdoing the Japanese in a nuclear disaster.

"Plutonium Brothers" and "Role of Specialists" Videos Now in German

Thank you, Viola.

"Plutonium Brothers" in German:

"Role of Specialists - Professor Kodama vs Professor Yamashita" in German:

In case you missed them, you can view the English version on this blog. Both are with the captioned video and the full transcript:

Three Plutonium Brothers of Japan: "They Are So Safe You Can Drink It" (Updated with Transcript)

(Updated with Captioned Video) The Role of Specialists: Dr. Kodama vs Dr. Yamashita

#Radiation in Japan: Bill That Will Allow the National Government to Dispose Radioactive Debris Set to Be Submitted To the Diet, Will Probably Pass

by a coalition of 3 largest political parties - Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ, ruling party), Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), and New Komei Party (NKP) - that make up 92% of the Lower House and 85% of the Upper House.

In other words, the bill is guaranteed to pass and be written into law.

From NHK News (8/15/2011):


The Democratic Party of Japan, the Liberal Democratic Party, and the New Komeito Party will submit a joint bill during the current session of the Diet that will allow the national government to collect and dispose the debris contaminated with radioactive materials from the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident to expedite the cleanup.

福島第一原発の事故の影響で、放射性物質が付着したがれきの処理は、原発に近い警戒区域などでは、 収集も含めて進んでおらず、どのように対応するかが大きな課題となっています。こうした状況を踏まえ、民主・自民・公明の3党は、放射性物質が付着したが れきの処理を、国の責任で速やかに進めるための法案をまとめました。具体的には、原発の周辺など、汚染が著しい地域のがれきをはじめ、それ以外の地域でも 放射性物質が一定の基準を超えるがれきは、国の責任で収集から処分までを行うとしています。また、放射性物質で汚染された土壌についても、汚染が特に深刻 な地域では、国の責任で除染を行うとしています。がれきの処理や土壌の除染にかかった費用は、国や自治体が、最終的に東京電力に請求できるようにする方針 で、3党は、今週、今の国会に法案を共同で提出し、成立を目指すことにしています。

The disposal of the radioactive debris after the Fukushima accident hasn't even started in the no-entry zone closest to the plant. The three parties have compiled a bill that will allow the national government to quickly dispose the radioactive debris. Under the bill, the national government would be responsible for collecting and disposing the debris in the highly contaminated areas [around the plant] as well as the debris outside such areas whose radioactive materials test above certain levels. As to the contaminated soil, the national government would be responsible for decontamination in the highly contaminated areas. The cost for debris disposal and soil decontamination would be eventually billed to TEPCO by the national and municipal governments. The parties are planning to submit the bill this week and hope to have it passed during the current session of the Diet.

Goshi Hosono, minister in charge of the nuclear accident, already said on August 13 that the radioactive debris in Fukushima wouldn't remain in Fukushima. He said the radioactive debris would be "temporarily" stored in cities and towns in Fukushima with the national government's financial assistance, but the final processing of the debris would be done outside Fukushima. (from Yomiuri Shinbun, 8/13/2011)

Mix and match, dilute away and bury everywhere is what is going to happen. An increasingly pessimistic Hiroaki Koide says that's the price the citizens will have to pay for having allowed nuclear reactors all over Japan.

Without waiting for the national government's decision, Fukushima City has already been secretly burying the radioactive dirt and sludge in a remote part of the town without telling the residents. Oh it's just temporary, the city official says. Asahi Shinbun broke the news in Japan on August 5 (Japanese print version only, buried on the page 35), but there's absolutely no follow up anywhere. Not a peep. Local Fukushima papers maintain total silence on the issue.

Curiously, Asahi maintains an English site full of Fukushima accident news, and the news of Fukushima City dumping radioactive dirt was in this English site. The article has this picture of dump trucks dumping bags of radioactive dirt and sludge from Fukushima City's decontamination effort by volunteer citizens:

If you go to the article, you'll read that some of these bags measure over 9.9 microsieverts/hour (the level was beyond what the portable survey meter could measure).

I wonder how long the "temporary" period is going to last. Several decades, maybe. Politicians are good at kicking the can, everywhere. As Dr. Shunichi "100 millisieverts are safe" Yamashita, a good politician doctor, has said already, "I won't be responsible, because I'll be dead by then."