Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Japan's Nuclear Safety Commission Chief: "I Have No Idea Why Professor Kosako Is So Upset!"

And this hilarity from the head of Nuclear Safety Agency, who says he is "genuinely puzzled as to what Professor Kosako is upset about", from Sankei Shinbun (5/2/2011; my translation, emphasis is mine):

 福島第1原発の事故を受け、文部科学省が定めた校庭の利用基準「年間被曝(ひばく)線量20ミリシーベルト以下」をめぐって与党内からも見直し論が出る 中、政府の原子力安全委員会(班目春樹委員長)は2日、定例会議を開いたが、同問題はまったく議題とならなかった。また、政府の対応を批判した小佐古敏荘 (こさこ・としそう)東大大学院教授の内閣官房参与辞任について、班目委員長は会議終了後、「新聞報道しか知らないが、正直に言って小佐古氏が何に憤慨し ているのかわからない」と述べた。

Even as the members of the ruling party have started to call for the revision of the annual allowable radiation exposure limit of 20 millisieverts for children for using school yards, the number set by the Ministry of Education and Science, the government's Nuclear Safety Commission chaired by Haruki Madarame held its regular meeting on May 2. There was no discussion whatsoever about the issue in the meeting. Referring to the resignation of Professor Toshiso Kosako of Tokyo University as the Prime Minister's special advisor over the government response to the nuclear crisis at Fukushima [and in particular about the radiation exposure for children], Madarame said, "I only know what's reported in the newspapers, but honestly, I haven't a clue as to why Professor Kosako is so upset."

 同委員会は先月19日、福島県の小学校などでの屋外活動における積算放射線量の基準について文部科学省から助言要請を受け、「年間20ミリシーベルトま で」と回答。小佐古教授は先月29日の辞表提出時、「(この数値を)基礎に毎時3・8マイクロシーベルトと決まったが間違いだ」と指摘した。

On April 19, the Ministry of Education and Science requested advice from Madarame's Nuclear Safety Commission on the [new] standard for the cumulative radiation level for outdoor activities in schools in Fukushima Prefecture, and the Commission told the Ministry "up to 20 millisieverts per year" was acceptable. When he tendered his resignation on April 29, Professor Kosako pointed out that "3.8 microsieverts per hour limit was decided, based on (this number of 20 millisieverts per year), but that is a mistake."

 会見した班目委員長は「子供たちが年間20ミリシーベルトを浴びても良いと言ったことはない。(被曝量を)可能な限り低くしていくのが原則だ」とし、文 科省が同委員会に報告した同県内の小学校などでのモニタリング結果についても「われわれは満足していない。『毎時3・8マイクロシーベルトを下回ったから 校庭を使わせる』との非常に安易な報告と受け止めた」と述べ、文科省側への不満を示した。

In the press conference [after the meeting], Madarame said "We never said it was OK for children to be exposed to 20 millisieverts radiation per year. The basic rule is to minimize the radiation level." Regarding the monitoring data of the schools in Fukushima that the Ministry of Education and Science reported to the Commission, Makurame said, "We are not happy. We took it to mean the Ministry would allow the use of school yards as long as the radiation was below 3.8 microsieverts/hour."


In advising the Ministry of Education and Science, the Commission didn't call a formal meeting, and gave the advice that "it was appropriate [to set the annual exposure limit for children at 20 millisieverts]" 2 hours after the advice was first sought. There was no minutes of the Commission's deliberation.


The Commission's procedure was one of the things that Professor Kosako pointed out as shortfalls when he said "I thought it lacked in the judgment following the proper procedure based on law". The Commission says its advice is not based on law, and there is no problem in the procedure.


Madarame defended his Commission's advice, saying "We decided it would be better to give advice as soon as possible instead of holding a meeting in an emergency situation." But he added, "Since it's been more than a month since the accident, it cannot be an emergency situation much longer. As to the advice we give, we are thinking of creating a minutes [of the deliberation]."

Apparently, 4 Commissioners quickly exchanged ideas and decided on the 20 millisieverts per year limit for children, and that was promptly adopted by the Ministry of Education and Science. But the Commission denies that it ever said 20 millisieverts were acceptable. Something doesn't add up here, does it?

But aside from who really "advised" the Ministry of Education and Science on the final number, Commissioner Madarame comes across as another "space alien" just like the former Prime Minister Hatoyama, who doesn't seem to share the same common sense with the rest of us. He genuinely doesn't understand why Professor Kosako was in tears over the 20 millisieverts for children.

Madarame told [link is Japanese] the grandstanding Prime Minister Kan on their way to Fukushima I Nuke Plant on March 12, "But Prime Minister, the nuclear reactors won't blow! It is structurally impossible." It was possible, and they did blow. (Or at least Spent Fuel Pools did.)

And his Commission sat on the SPEEDI simulation data of the nuclear fallout from Fukushima, dutifully following the government order.


Anonymous said...

"Since it's been more than a month since the accident, it cannot be an emergency situation much longer"

So, to have no less than four nuclear reactors venting radioactive steam and spewing radioactive water will soon be business as usual for Japan.

I can see how neighbors might want to forcefully disagree, perhaps even going so far as to create some new emergency.

Anonymous said...

Robbie001 sez:

OK I'm waiting for my ride to the airport but I have to post one last thing. It seems the parents around Fukushima have really started a movement to rescind the 20mSv allowance. They want to know who came up with this number and nobody's fessing up. This might make a good story.

"In response to the nuclear accident in Fukushima, MEXT announced on 19 April an interim radiation dose standard of “20mSv/y” in determining use of school buildings and grounds. This “20mSv/y” standard is currently in disarray. The meeting with the government was called for by the citizen organizations Green Action, Citizens Against Fukushima Aging Nuclear Power Plants (Fukuro-no-Kai), Osaka Citizens Against the Mihama, Oi, and Takahama Nuclear Power Plants (Mihama-no-Kai), Friends of the Earth Japan.

The meeting began with MHLW, followed by MEXT and NSC. As shown below, not only did the two ministries fail to respond with certainty about their understanding of and decision-making process taken for arriving at the “20mSv/standard, the NSC also stated that it does not endorse “20mSv/y” as a standard. The conundrum over how and by which government authority the standard was determined is deepening.

MHLW has stated that children should not/ cannot be allowed to play within a radiation-controlled area (0.6microSv/h or more), however, the ministry did not respond to whether or not playing in an area of equivalent contamination as a radiation-controlled area should be/ could be allowed.

NSC stated that it does not endorse “20mSv” as a standard. In addition, it confirmed that none of the Nuclear Safety Commissioners or any of the experts that were involved in the decision-making had deemed 20mSv/y was safe."

arevamirpal::laprimavera said...

@robbie, have a nice trip. That no one fesses up to 20 millisieverts/year for kids, that's so Japanese. Somebody somewhere did mention that number and somebody somewhere decided on the number.

@anon, yes, the reactors at Fukushima spewing out radioactive materials into the ocean, the air and the soil and sludge are what they consider normal now. Soon, everyone in Japan without Internet connection will forget completely that there are broken nuke reactors out there somewhere. Talk to someone above, say 70, in Japan without access to alternative news on the net. They may think everything is dandy and food is safe, and may get angry when you tell them plutonium has been detected in the US that came from Fukushima.

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