Saturday, February 25, 2012

500 Used Cars to Be Shipped from Nagoya Port Have Exceeded Radiation Limit Since August Last Year

That's when they started testing, and 500 used cars from Nagoya Port alone.

Japanese used cars are popular in Russia, Southeast Asia, and Africa. Despite the nuclear accident, the number of exported used cars in 2011 increased slightly over 2010 to 857,779 cars according to the Used Car Export Industry News, with Russia at the top with over 110K followed by the United Arab Emirates.

Kyodo News (2/25/2012):


Nagoya Port Authority disclosed on February 25 that 500 used cars were found with radiation levels at or exceeding 0.3 microsievert/hour, the standard set by the [used car] industry from August last year to January this year, and that the cars were returned to the shippers.


The used cars were to be exported outside Japan or to be transported to different parts of Japan. Nagoya Port Authority does not keep track of the cars returned to the shippers.


According to Nagoya Port Authority, 0.3 microsievert/hour standard was set by the Japan Harbor Transportation Association and All Japan Dockworkers' Union (JDU) to secure the safety of the dockworkers. The radiation testing has been done at ports in Japan since August last year.

Isn't that nice that 0.3 microsievert/hour is not for the safety of the buyers of the cars but for the dockworkers handling the cars and loading them?

It is also nice to know that the radiation levels of the used cars are measured ONLY IF the cars are transported from a port by ships. There is no testing at all if used cars are transported by land within Japan.

The earliest news I caught on this blog of radioactive used cars is from NHK News on April 24, 2011 when Russian authorities in the port of Nakhodka in Siberian Russia found 2 used cars emitting high radiation. The cars came from Niigata Port on April 16, and they were originally from Fukushima Prefecture.

Before the NHK news, there were "rumors" that were officially dismissed. One of the rumors on blogs and tweets that I heard was almost exactly what got finally reported by NHK, that there were many used cars exported from Japan after March 11, 2011 accident that are emitting very high radiation.

TEPCO to Introduce Smart Meters to Households As Early As Fall of Next Year

As if irradiating the population with Fukushima-origin radionuclides is not enough, TEPCO says it will introduce smart meters to its household customers by the fall of 2013.

Privacy concern about smart meters? Nah. The country is set to introduce the numbering system for the citizens for more efficient tax collection and tracking, calling it "My Number" as if you were queuing to be served at a deli.

From Yomiuri Shinbun (2/26/2012):


TEPCO plans to introduce "smart meters" as one of the best ways to conserve energy.


The company will start swapping the current meters for the household customers with the smart meters starting the fall of 2013. The manufacturing cost of the smart meters will be reflected in the increase of utility bills, so TEPCO plans to solicit open competitive bids from manufacturers for the first time for the meters. The bidding will be conducted in October this year. The plan [for the smart meters] will be announced by the end of this month.


Smart meters are said to be effective in saving energy because the users can monitor the electricity consumption real-time. Due to the shortage of electricity after the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident, TEPCO has decided to speed up the plan for the smart meters. In the "Action Plan" for streamlining operations in December last year, TEPCO said smart meters would be installed for all 27 million customers by the end of the fiscal 2022.

Yomiuri would be the last to tell the readers that there has been no shortage of electricity after the nuclear accident, even though TEPCO and the national government introduced the rolling blackout scheme to teach people a lesson. The paper is not about to tell the readers how the smart meters are being resisted in many places in the world and why.

However, that kind of information probably doesn't matter for a nation that decided, soon after the Fukushima accident started, to go ahead with the electromagnetic monster aka "Linear Shinkansen" (JR-Maglev). Being zapped with radiation and radio frequency is clearly not enough. The project will require building a long tunnel right through the Japan's Median Tectonic Line under the Southern Japan Alps. They also want the Large Hadron Collider in Tohoku like the one CERN has. They also want to mine methane hydrate from the ocean floor.

It almost seems like a collective death wish to me, but someone should tell the Japanese "DO NOT DO IT" on the last one. The world does not need two environmental disasters from a same nation in short order.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Tokyo Marathon Will Be On Sunday, February 26, 2012

World-class runners will start the race in front of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Hall in Shinjuku, run through the central and downtown Tokyo, and finish in Tokyo Big Sight on Ariake landfill. Not really a low-rad course, but it will be nothing like the Women's Ekiden Road Race in Fukushima last year featuring 13 year-old girls.

There is no mention of radiation anywhere on the official site of the Tokyo Marathon 2012.

Not when the mayor wants 2020 Olympic.

USGS Paper: "Wet Deposition of Fission-Product Isotopes to North America from the Fukushima Dai-ichi Incident, March 2011"

The paper by Wetherbee, Gregory A. et al was published online on February 22, 2012 ahead of the print, on Environmental Science and Technology.

Abstract, from Environmental Science and Technology (emphasis is mine):

Using the infrastructure of the National Atmospheric Deposition Program (NADP), numerous measurements of radionuclide wet deposition over North America were made for 167 NADP sites before and after the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station incident of March 12, 2011. For the period from March 8 through April 5, 2011, wet-only precipitation samples were collected by NADP and analyzed for fission-product isotopes within whole-water and filterable solid samples by the United States Geological Survey using gamma spectrometry.

Variable amounts of 131I, 134Cs, or 137Cs were measured at approximately 21% of sampled NADP sites distributed widely across the contiguous United States and Alaska. Calculated 1- to 2-week individual radionuclide deposition fluxes ranged from 0.47 to 5100 Becquerels per square meter during the sampling period. Wet deposition activity was small compared to measured activity already present in U.S. soil. NADP networks responded to this complex disaster, and provided scientifically valid measurements that are comparable and complementary to other networks in North America and Europe.

The map above the abstract at Environmental Science and Technology indicates cesium-137 deposition between 0.8 to 240 becquerels/square meter. But without seeing the paper I have no idea how the numbers on the map are related to the numbers in the abstract. (My guess is that the numbers in the abstract, particularly the high number, include iodine-131.)

For more about the paper, here's USGS webpage on the NADP.

USGS press release on February 22, 2012 regarding the paper is here.

Open-File Report detailing the results and methodology is here.

Here's an interesting map at USGS page on the NADP. Green dots represent the NADP sites, and "Dot size represents relative deposition amounts. Fallout amounts measured in precipitation by USGS provide a clearer picture of fission-product wet deposition across the USA."

Radioactive Shiitake Mushrooms from Inzai City, Chiba at 993 Bq/Kg

Inzai City is located in the northwest corner of Chiba where the radiation levels remain elevated.

From Asahi Shinbun (2/23/2012):


On February 23, the Japanese government ordered the governor of Chiba Prefecture to halt shipment of shiitake mushrooms grown in Inzai City in Chiba Prefecture. 993 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium, exceeding the national provisional limit of 500 becquerels/kg, was detected on February 22.

The amount of radioactive cesium detected is nearly 10 times the amount of the new safety limit to be put into effect on April 1.

Still, many people don't seem to care, and the schools continue to use shiitake mushrooms, raw or dried, in their school lunches to feed small children.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant Reactor 2 RPV: Temperatures at Bottom Seen Rising, Diverging

Something is going on inside or outside Reactor 2 Pressure Vessel. Either more thermocouples could be failing, or those that were deemed failed weren't failing.

Here's the latest temperature reading of the Reactor 2 RPV bottom from TEPCO (2/24/2012):


  1. Gradual temperature divergence between 69H2 (now the "official" temperature gauge of the RPV bottom after 69H1 at 0-degree supposedly "failed") and 69H3 (first 2 columns after the date and time column). Up till February 22, the temperature difference between these two thermocouples was 1 degrees Celsius. The difference started to widen on February 22, widened further on February 23, shrinking a little on February 24.

  2. Overall rising trend of temperatures at all thermocouples at "the bottom head" and "support skirt junction". At 6PM on February 18, all temperatures measured at this location was below 30 degrees Celsius; at 5PM on February 24, temperatures are in the upper 30s to mid 40s.

No insight from the media there as to why this may be happening. I'll watch TEPCO's press conference archive later to see what TEPCO had said while I wasn't blogging.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

23,300 Bq/Kg of Radioactive Cesium from a Mix of Wet Soil and Dead Leaves in Mizumoto Park in Tokyo

(Sorry, you can't just multiply the number by 65 and compare it to the Chernobyl evacuation level. Read on to find out why.)

The Mizumoto Metropolitan Park is located in the eastern Tokyo with elevated radiation levels. The Communist Party delegation of Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly, who has done the survey of radiation levels in Tokyo from very early on in the nuclear crisis, released the result of the latest survey in one of the Metropolitan parks in Tokyo.

The survey found 23,300 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium from a wet mix of dirt and dead leaves in one location in the Mizumoto Park in Katsushika-ku, Tokyo (No. 4 location in the table posted below).

The delegation did three tests at this location with 2 samples taken on February 15. The third test was done on February 18 by combining the two samples taken on February 15 and tested on February 16 and 17.

It may be important to note that the Communist Party delegation tested the top 1 centimeter of the soil, and the top 1 to 2 centimeters of the soil and dead leaves mixture. The measured numbers may therefore be higher than the samples taken from the top 5 centimeters, which is a normal procedure in the government tests.

To derive "becquerel/square meter" from "becquerel/kg", you multiply "becquerel/kg" number by 65, but that only applies if the soil is taken from the top 5 centimeters. (Ibaraki Prefecture's measurement page as reference, here.)

From the Communist Party delegation of Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly website (English translation is mine; the last two rows are the reference):

According to Yomiuri Shinbun article (2/22/2012), "the Ministry of Education and Science sets the standard of radiation that requires decontamination as locations that test "1 microsievert/hour higher than the surrounding areas", and the Tokyo Metropolitan Bureau of Environment says "There is no need for decontamination at this point.""

Never mind that the Ministry of Environment's decon standard is 0.23 microsievert/hour.

The surface radiation levels and the air radiation levels at 1 meter off the ground all exceed 0.23 microsievert/hour. The highest surface radiation level was 1.54 microsievert/hour, and the highest radiation level at 1 meter was 0.74 microsievert/hour.

Before the nuclear accident, the average background radiation level in Tokyo was slightly above 0.03 microsievert/hour. That was the level right before something very radioactive arrived from Fukushima on March 15, 2011 sometime between 4AM and 4:59AM. (See the Tokyo Metropolitan government's own measurement, here, as the radiation in Shinjuku went from 0.0347 microsievert/hour average between 3AM and 3:59AM to 0.1 microsievert/hour average in the next hour. )

What the Tokyo Metropolitan government needs to do is to scrape 1 centimeter of the soil under the trees and shrubs and remove dead leaves to lower the radiation. But they openly say they are not going to do anything.


(UPDATE from Kontan Bigcat on Twitter: the 65 multiplier applies only to soil taken from 5 centimeters AND with the soil density (dry) of 1.3 gram/cubic centimeter.

Japanese Magazine "Sensationalizes": "Thyroid Cancer Suspected on Two Children Aged 4 and 7"

One of the major Japanese weekly magazine, Shukan Bunshun has a sensational article on its latest issue about thyroid "cancer" in children who evacuated from Fukushima. Let's see if the Japanese MSM and the government attack the publisher for "fear-mongering", just like they reflexively do for the "international" media.

The article on the magazine's 3/1/2012 issue is available only in print. The following is what little I gathered from tweets including the photo of the printed article in Japan:

Serious abnormalities found in 11 evacuees from Fukushima Prefecture
4-year-old and 7-year-old may have "thyroid cancer"
Medically impossible nodules and cysts...
Shunichi Yamashita, Vice President of Fukushima Medical University emailed "Do not test them." (Title of the Bunshun article)

Reporting by "Oshidori Maco", comedian who's been reporting on the Fukushima accident since last year, and particularly supporting people of Iitate-mura.

7-year old girl had 8 millimeter nodule on her thyroid. The nodule was found with microcalcifications [which may be a sign of cancer]. Her 2-year-old sister also had 2 millimeter nodule with microcalcifications. The doctor who examined them said "I've never seen anything like this."

7-year-old girl and 4-year-old boy both evacuated from Koriyama City in Fukushima.

7-year-old girl subsequently underwent the blood test, and the nodule was determined to be "benign".

2 children and 9 adults were tested in Sapporo, and thyroid cancer was suspected. One of them, an adult woman, has been confirmed to have thyroid cancer, and the surgery is already scheduled.

Orthodoxy by the Japanese researchers is that "it is impossible for children under the age of 6 to have nodules 5 millimeters or larger", but the doctor who examined them in Sapporo, Hokkaido says, "Whatever they say, this is the result."

In the case of Chernobyl, it took 4 years till the cases of thyroid cancer started to appear. The doctor in Sapporo is shocked by the quick onset.

The doctor was in close contact with Dr. Shunichi Yamashita of Fukushima Medical University to confirm how the thyroid echography was done. Dr. Yamashita emailed the doctor "I request that you refrain from testing [them] on your own."

The doctor used the same method of testing as Fukushima Medical University.

The magazine apparently didn't tell the doctor that the magazine was writing an article, and he held a press conference protesting against the magazine.

The doctor's press conference handout is here (PDF).

I watched his press conference, but 10 minutes into his rambling and spaced-out press conference all he said was there should be a system to continuously monitor the thyroids for Fukushima residents. So? What's his beef with the Bunshun article?

  • The reporter ("Oshidori Maco") didn't identify herself as the reporter for Shukan Bunshun. She didn't tell him that the article was about to be published. She apparently told one of the evacuees, who told the doctor.

  • The number of people tested was different.

  • Dr. Shunichi Yamashita didn't say such a thing.

  • He wanted to publish a paper, but now the story is out, and he's very unhappy about it.

So the reporter blew the doctor's chance for having his article published in a peer-review magazine. Apparently she snuck into one of the informational meetings that the doctor had with the Fukushima evacuees without telling him she was reporting for the magazine.

Kouta Kinoshita says in his blog that he and several others had known about it, and were trying to find a better way to disclose the information with the agreement of all the parties involved (parents, for one). He seems rather upset with the reporter. He also quotes an expert of the Chernobyl accident he consults with:


"At this stage, you can't tell whether it is a malignant tumor. I personally think the Bunshun article went overboard. What's known now is that they have some tumor of unknown nature. The growth is rapid, and no doubt it is a health damage from radioactive materials. I think it can be categorized as damage caused by radiation, even if the growth is benign, because before March 11 [accident], such growth was impossible in children."

Others say before the March 11, 2011 nuclear accident, no one tested children younger than 6 years old for thyroid problems, so there is no baseline data to begin with.

It looks like Shukan Bunshun blew things out of proportion and in the process blew the chance for the doctor to get published. (Not that I feel sorry for the doctor for his lost chance...)

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Independent: Fukushima - Return to the disaster zone

Unlike the Japanese MSM who posted perfunctory reports on their press tour of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant on February 20, 2012, David McNeill writing for UK's The Independent filed a more detailed, personal report on his return to Fukushima I Nuke Plant, as follows:

The Independent (2/21/2012)

Fukushima: Return to the disaster zone

By David McNeill

The journey to Fukushima Daiichi begins at the border of the 12-mile exclusion zone that surrounds the ruined nuclear complex, beyond which life has frozen in time. Weeds reclaim the gardens of empty homes along a route that emptied on a bitterly cold night almost a year ago. Shop signs hang unrepaired from the huge quake that rattled this area on 11 March, triggering the meltdown of three reactors and a series of explosions that showered the area with contamination. Cars wait outside supermarkets where their owners left them in Tomioka, Okuma and Futaba – once neat, bustling towns. Even birds have deserted this area, if recent research is to be believed.

The reason is signalled by a symphony of beeping noises from dosimeters on our bus. As we drive through a police checkpoint and into the town of Tomioka, about 15km from the plant, the radioactivity climbs steadily, hitting 15 microsieverts per hour at the main gate to the nuclear complex. At the other end of the plant, where the gaping buildings of its three most damaged reactors face the Pacific Ocean, the radiation level is 100 times this high, making it still too dangerous to work there.

Inside the plant's emergency co-ordination building, the air is filled with the sound of humming filters labouring to keep the contamination out. Hundreds of people work here, many sleeping in makeshift beds. Workers in radiation suits and full-face masks wander in and out. A large digital clock showing the current radiation reading inside the building dominates the wall of the central control room, where officials from operator Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) huddle around computers.

"Our main challenge now is to remove the nuclear fuel from the reactors," explains Takeshi Takahashi in his first interview since he took over as plant manager two months ago. "It's a technically very difficult problem, but we cannot hurry." His predecessor Masao Yoshida was forced to quit in December after being diagnosed with cancer – unrelated to his work, insists Tepco.

Mr Takahashi looks exhausted but says he is satisfied with the progress being made in bringing the plant to "a state of cold shutdown", meaning radiation releases are under control and the temperature of its nuclear fuel is consistently below boiling point.

The term is considered controversial. Engineers have only a rough idea of where exactly the melted fuel lies inside the damaged reactors, or of its exact state. The fuel is being kept cool by thousands of gallons of water that Tepco pumps on to it every day and which it is struggling to decontaminate. Engineers are frantically working to build more water tanks – on a ridge about 65ft from the reactors is a field of 1,000-ton water tanks. A crew is levelling land to make way for more.

We are told to wear our full-face masks for the climax of the visit – a tour of the six reactors. Every inch of our bodies is covered and even in the sub-zero temperatures of Fukushima in February, it is unbearably hot. Thousands of men worked through last year's summer heat of over 30C in this protective gear, struggling to clear debris and bring water to the reactors. "They were dropping like files in the heat," said one worker. "But they just had to keep going."

"The worst time was when the radiation was 250 milisieverts [per year – the maximum, temporary government limit] and we couldn't find people to do the work," explains Kazuhiro Sakamoto, an onsite subcontractor. "We could only work in two-minute bursts, when we were extracting caesium from contaminated water."

Some of that work is clear on site. The concrete building housing Reactor One, blown apart in the first explosion on 12 March, is now completely covered with a tarpaulin to contain its radioactivity. As our bus drives past the building, the beeping dosimeters climb to 100 microsieverts an hour. But as the most badly damaged Reactor Three looms into sight, its mess of tangled metal and steel gives off a startling reading of 1,500 microsieverts. Its cargo of lethal fuel includes plutonium and the roof of the building housing the reactor was blown off in the second explosion. "It's still too dangerous for workers to enter Reactor Three," says engineer Yasuki Hibi.

The state of Reactor Two, meanwhile, sparked some panic last week after Tepco reported that the heat of the fuel inside was climbing and apparently resisting efforts to bring it down. The nightmare scenario of another out-of-control reactor was briefly conjured up by the media before Tepco banished it by claiming faulty equipment. "We've identified the problem as a broken thermometer," says Mr Takahashi, adding: "I'm terribly sorry to everyone for causing so much concern."

Tepco officials constantly apologise. The apologies have become perfunctory and ritualised, failing to douse public anger over the scale of the disaster, or some of the company's sharp-elbowed tactics since it began. Compensation has dribbled into the pockets of over 100,000 evacuees who have lost everything and are stuck in legal limbo, without homes or clear futures. In one now infamous incident, the utility argued against a compensation claim by a golf course operator, saying radioactive materials from the nuclear plant belong to individual landowners, and are not the company's responsibility. Lawyers for the Sunfield Nihonmatsu Golf Club, 28 miles west of the plant, said they were "flabbergasted" by the argument.

But here at the Daiichi complex at least, the apologies seem genuine. Work here is hard, unrelenting and, in the long term, possibly fatal. The depth of feeling about this catastrophe is etched on the faces of hollow-eyed managers like Mr Takahashi, who live day and night in one of the world's least hospitable workplaces. He says he is motivated above all by one thing: "We will try to allow people to return to their homes as early as possible."

It is a mammoth task. Japan's government has admitted that dismantling the reactors and its 260-ton payload of nuclear fuel will take up to 40 years. Many people believe the government and Tepco will eventually be forced to recognise that the people who fled from this plant a year ago may not return for decades. In the meantime, the work at Fukushima Daiichi goes on. And on.

I think McNeill may be wrong in stating in square brackets that "250 millisieverts" the onsite subcontractor mentioned was "per year". I think the subcontractor may have meant "per hour"; thus work in 2-minute burst so that the exposure could be limited to less than 10 millisieverts for the workers. In the first 10 days or so of the accident, the radiation levels in some locations in the plant were extremely high, measured in millisievert/hour instead of microsievert/hour.

On March 16, for example, the radiation level was 400 millisieverts/hour on the 4th floor of Reactor 4. TEPCO actually send one of the employees up the reactor building to measure the level. I hope he ran back down as fast as he could.

Goshi Hosono on Disaster Debris Burning: "It's Only 33 Kilograms Per Person..."

Minister of the Environment Goshi Hosono, who was better known for his extramarital affair with a popular actress before Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant blew up, tells the citizens of Japan on an NHK interview: "It's only 33 kilograms of disaster debris from Miyagi and Iwate per person who lives outside Miyagi and Iwate."

As if it's a good thing.

NHK News (2/21/2012):


In an NHK interview, Minister of the Environment Hosono revealed that his ministry may explore a new way whereby the incineration and the final disposal will be done in different municipalities, in order to expedite the wide-area processing of the disaster debris.


In the interview, Minister Hosono said, "I want to have portion of the debris from Miyagi and Iwate to be processed in wide areas, at all cost. If everyone in Japan outside Miyagi and Iwate Prefectures take on the debris that cannot be processed inside Miyagi and Iwate, the amount of the debris would be 33 kilograms per person. I believe it is manageable."


Hosono further said, "It would be best if a municipality could burn the debris and bury in the final processing site. But there are municipalities without the final processing sites, so in such cases we would like to come up with a system to take the ashes to a final processing site in another municipalities", indicating the Ministry of the Environment may explore a new way whereby the incineration and the final disposal will be done in different municipalities.


Minister Hosono also mentioned the case of Shimada City in Shizuoka Prefecture. After the test incineration of the disaster debris, the city let the citizens measure the radiation level of the ashes. Hosono appealed for citizens' cooperation for the wide-area disposal by saying "I would like the citizens to measure [the radiation] themselves to put their minds at ease. If you want to help the disaster-affected areas recover, please help, because [the debris] will be processed safely."

By moving the radioactive ashes from one municipality to another, it will incur additional cost for the taxpayers and a handsome profit for the waste management industry and the municipalities. Nothing to do with "recovery".

Former Career Bureaucrats-Turned Politicians in Kawasaki, Kanagawa and Oita Eager to Ignore the Residents' Opposition, Want to Burn Disaster Debris

They are both graduates from Tokyo University Law School. After their career in the national government bureaucracy, they "descended from heaven" and landed on political careers.

Mayor Takao Abe of Kawasaki City, Kanagawa Prefecture was actually the first to declare war against citizens who do not want to have disaster debris that has been contaminated with the fallout from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant to be burned in their midst (literally) and buried. On April 6, 2011 he declared his city would accept disaster debris from FUKUSHIMA (not Miyagi or Iwate) and burn it in the city's incineration plant.

Mayor Abe says he will simply ignore the opposition when it comes to disaster debris processing in his city, and he will be willing to go it alone without the prefecture-wide consensus in Kanagawa (because there won't be any).

From Sponichi Annex (2/20/2012):


During the regular press conference on February 20, Mayor of Kawasaki City Takao Abe indicated that his city would consider accepting the disaster debris over the opposition [from the residents] against the Kanagawa prefectural government that declared it would accept the disaster debris. He said, "(Kawasaki City) will ignore any opposition that is unreasonable."


Mayor Abe had offered to accept the disaster debris from Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima last April. However, since the amount of the debris is too large, the plan to process the debris have stalled due to the lack of leadership from the national government. When asked if there's a concrete schedule for accepting the debris, Mayor Abe avoided being specific by just saying "It is not established yet."


He criticized the opposition by saying, "There are people who oppose no matter what, even with the objective data that vouches safety. In the end, someone has to make the final decision and carry it out in a responsible manner."


The Kanagawa prefectural government has come up the plan to burn the debris in Kawasaki City and other locations and bury it [the ashes, non-flammable debris] in the final disposal site in Yokosuka City. But the plan has stalled at the opposition from the residents.

Kanagawa Governor and former TV personality Kuroiwa cried on camera the other day to appeal to the Kanagawa residents. He wants Kawasaki, Yokohama, and Sagamihara to burn the debris and dump it in the final disposal site in Yokosuka, where the local residents have suffered enough from the poor management of the site.

I would love to hear how Mayor Abe is going to take responsibility if a negative consequence from the debris burning ever occurs.

The mayor's declaration last April (April 6, 2011 to be exact) that he was going to bring Fukushima debris to Kawasaki and burn it alarmed the residents so much that they immediately organized themselves into opposing the mayor's unilateral move.

Mayor Abe was born in today's Fukushima City in Fukushima Prefecture, is a graduate of the prestegious Tokyo University Law School and a former career bureaucrat at the Ministry of Home Affairs (which was re-integrated into the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications in 2001) with a stint in the Environment Agency (which has become the Ministry of the Environment) before he successfully ran for mayorship in Kawasaki City in 2001.

Now, on to Oita Prefecture on the island of Kyushu, which has been largely spared from the contamination from Fukushima I Nuke Plant. Governor Hirose, a former super-elite bureaucrat, wants to help out Tohoku so much that he's willing to subject the prefecture to potential contamination from radioactive materials that deposited on the disaster debris, not to mention arsenic and the host of other toxic substances.

From Oita Godo Shinbun (2/20/2012):


Governor of Oita Prefecture Katsusada Hirose held a regular press conference on February 20 and said he wanted to move forward on accepting the disaster debris. "We need to consider from a nation-wide perspective [when it comes to disaster debris] from locations that are far away from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant and there's no need to worry about radioactive materials", he said.


Governor Hirose disclosed that he had been in negotiation with the municipalities over the disaster debris, and appealed to the residents by saying "Over time, I would like the residents to understand."


As to the inspection of radioactive materials on accepting the debris, he said emphatically, "It is a matter of course that we will thoroughly check at the exit [after the debris is burned], and check at the entrance [before the debris is burned]."

The elite governor and former top bureaucrat at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry thinks the radiation contamination lessens by the distance. I guess he believes in contamination in concentric circles just like the Kan administration officials. I guess he's never seen the radiation contour map by Professor Hayakawa. Or even the map by the Ministry of Education.

Mayor Abe pales in comparison with Governor Hirose in terms of achievement as a career bureaucrat. Mr. Hirose was the highest-ranking bureaucrat as the Administrative Vice Minister at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, the most powerful ministry of the Japanese government. The position is as the highest as a career bureaucrat can rise to, in the Japanese government system. Then he descended from heaven to succeed the governorship from his predescessor who had become the governor after successful career at the Ministry.

If Governor Hirose gets his way, there goes the very thriving business by the farmers in Oita who have had brisk sales of their radiation-free produce to the consumers in eastern Japan. Oita is famous for shiitake mushrooms. Bye bye to them also. Call it "baseless rumors", but it is a defense mechanism left for consumers as the governments at all levels side with the producers of Tohoku (and to a lesser degree, of northern Kanto).

Governor of Tokyo Ishihara told the Tokyo residents to "shut up", and will burn the radioactive debris from Miyagi Prefecture in the incineration plants in the populous 23 Special Wards. Mayor of Shimada City Sakurai proudly declared he is subjecting the residents of Shimada to an "experiment".

It continues to be a rude shock to many in Japan that their elected officials do not listen to them, as they are supposed to. People still think the public officials should put the welfare of the residents first and foremost, as they are supposed to.

It is hard for them to accept that these elected officials and unelected bureaucrats behave the way they've behaved since March 11, 2011.

Hardly Any Coverage in Japanese Mainstream Media About 2/20 Fukushima I Nuke Plant Tour

Asahi Shinbun online has 4 lines and one small picture.

Yomiuri online has a decent length article but hardly any new insight or information other than "1,500 microsieverts/hour" radiation near the reactors and that the reporter's cumulative radiation exposure from 4 hour-plus spent on the plant was 79 microsieverts.

Well, they saw the plant last November and the situation has hardly changed, "cold shutdown state" or not.

But many people in Japan saw the plant and the surrounding areas like Tomioka-machi, Ookuma-machi for the first time in the video at Nico Nico News. Nearly 100,000 people checked in to view the unedited video yesterday, while many registered users couldn't check in because the priority was given to the paying "premium" members when the place got crowded.

It was good that the independent journalists demanded access, and TEPCO relented.

For the links to the video, see my previous post.

Links to Nico Nico Fuku-I Press Tour Video (2/20/2012)

The video is over 5 hours. I think I watched yesterday up to 4 hours. (You may need to register to view.)

Edited version (still over 3 hours) is here:

The net media (Yasumi Iwakami's IWJ and Nico Nico News) was in the Group B, along with the reporters and cameramen from the local Fukushima newspapers and TV stations.

Iwakami, and Nico Nico's Nanao (he's a cameraman) asked most questions to TEPCO people on the plant. The rest were pretty much content to just listen.

The moment I thought "Oh this is so stereotypically TEPCO" was when they were on the bus passing Reactor 3 turbine building. Someone was reading out the number off his geiger counter, "200 microsieverts/hour!" Then, TEPCO's PR person on board the bus as the guide said, "Oh, back there, it must have been 1,500 microsieverts/hour", or 1.5 millisievert/hour. So TEPCO tells the reporters after the fact, past the spot, to tell them the radiation level that high.

Nico Nico Fuku-1 Press Tour 2/20/2012 Part 2: Workers on Reactor 4 Bldg

130 Microsieverts/Hr Near the Pump for Reactor Water Injection

Someone's survey meter keeps beeping as soon as they step outside to tour the plant on the bus.

Near turbine buildings. Near Reactor 3 turbine building, the radiation is 200 microsieverts/hour. TEPCO's PR person says there are locations nearby that measure 1500 microsieverts/hour. I think he means inside the bus.

Workers on the Reactor 4 building upper floor.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

(Being Updated) Nico Nico Live Video: Unedited Footage of Fukushima Plant Tour by the Press, 2/20/2011

Can be viewed at Nico Nico's site right now:

You would need to register (free) to view.

They are boarding the bus from J-Village to the plant.

Iwakami is saying it was 30 microsieverts/hour momentarily in the parking lot. TEPCO's Terasawa explains to Iwakami once inside the building that part of the parking lot's asphalt is too contaminated, so TEPCO has put metal sheets to shield the radiation somewhat, and that's where they guided the journalists. They were telling the journalists to stay on the metal plates.

I just saw a female journalist. 1:35:00 or so into the video.

Iwakami says his Inspector measures lower than the "official" TEPCO's measurement.

This building feels unreal. Strange hum in the hallway.

NISA's safety inspection meeting. As if no accident happened.

Emergency Response Room: 500 to 700 people are in this room. Nico Nico's cameraman asks, "Were the teleconferences recorded in any way? Audiovisual, or audio?" TEPCO's PR person answers, "No."

Plant Manager Takahashi. He doesn't look too good, looks sleepy. He says he's fine.

Questions to Takahashi are no different from what these reporters ask TEPCO's Matsumoto in the daily press conference in Tokyo. What a disappointment. What's the point of asking these mundane, work-related trivial questions after having come all the way to the plant??!!

There are many young TEPCO employees in blue uniform.

The strange hum was not my imagination. There are air filtering systems inside the building like this:

(Updated) Max 23 Millisieverts External Radiation Exposure for Fukushima Residents in the First 4 Months of the Nuke Accident

From Jiji Tsushin (2/20/2012):


The Fukushima prefectural government and Fukushima Medical University announced on February 20 that the maximum external radiation exposure in the first 4 months after the March 11, 2011 accident was 23.0 millisieverts among the residents who are not radiation workers. Total 10,000 residents of Fukushima have been surveyed.

The survey, with Dr. Shunichi "Damashita" Yamashita in charge, consists of detailed questions for the residents in order to estimate the radiation exposure. The residents have to fill out the pages with information on their whereabouts, on what day, for how long, what they were doing, etc. Dr. Yamashita's group considers the information with the SPEEDI simulation done specifically for Fukushima Prefecture to figure out the radiation doses in Fukushima in the early days of the nuclear accident.

The press conference is on-going in Fukushima right now, and the information has not been uploaded on the Fukushima government website yet.

(UPDATE) Jiji has filled in more details:

  • 10,468 residents in Namie-machi, Iitate-mura, Kawamata-machi Yamakiya District

  • Highest (23 millisieverts) from a woman who lived in the planned evacuation zone [no mention of which town]
  • 2 people exceeded 20 millisieverts

  • 58.0% of people tested: less than 1 millisievert

  • 99.1% of people tested: less than 10 millisieverts

  • 71 people exceeded 10 millisieverts

  • Max for radiation workers: 47.2 millisieverts

  • "It is difficult to imagine there would be an effect on health", says the Fukushima prefectural government.

If you recall, over 30% of 3,765 children from the same towns tested for thyroid abnormalities were found with lumps/nodules and/or cysts.

Prof. Yukio Hayakawa's Walk with his Survey Meter in Nagareyama-Kashiwa in Chiba Prefecture

流山-柏 garmin at EveryTrail

Radiation levels remain elevated in Kashiwa City in Chiba Prefecture. It was in Kashiwa that 450,000 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium was found from the soil near the drain in the public space in the middle of the city. There is a strange (to me anyway) collaboration between the city and the citizen volunteers to decontaminate the city.

Before the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident, the background radiation level in Kashiwa City must have been no higher than the average in Chiba, which was 0.03 microsievert/hour (see this site). Now, as Professor Hayakawa's walk shows, it is 10 times that in many locations. Contrary to a belief by some in Japan that there was no radioactive plume that went south from Fukushima through Ibaraki to Chiba, Tokyo and Kanagawa, these elevated radiation levels in Kashiwa City are the evidence that the plume did in fact come.

High School Students in Tohoku to PM Noda: "We Want A Memorial Hall for the March 11, 2011 Disaster"

They also want safe environment for disaster volunteers. Do they mean decon volunteers?

The future is bleak.

From Nico Nico News quoting Jiji Tsushin (whose link disappears quickly) (2/19/2012):


Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda met with 8 high school students from 6 Tohoku Prefectures in the morning of February 19. The students delivered the message to the prime minister asking for the participation of high school students in the planning of the recovery from the March 11, 2011 disaster. The prime minister gave them word of encouragement by saying, "I feel heartened to know that the next generation of Tohoku is thinking about recovery passionately. The recovery will need the energy from the young generation."


The high school students requested the safe environment for the volunteers in times of disaster, and the construction of a memorial hall to memorialize the lessons learned from the March 11, 2011 disaster. To their request, the prime minister answered, "Do any of you have friends who cannot continue the study at school because of the disaster? I'm most worried about them. We are getting scholarships ready for such students."

NHK, reporting the same event, quotes one student from Iwaki City as follows:


"Fukushima produce is safe to eat, but is discriminated against because of the nuclear plant accident. I want this problem to be solved quickly."

I guess it hasn't occurred to this student there are things called radioactive materials all over them coming out of that plant. I don't know where he got the idea that for consumers to refuse buying the produce from Fukushima that may be contaminated with radioactive materials is discrimination.

Nico Nico Live Video from Hirono-machi, Fukushima

Journalists getting ready to go to Fukushima I Nuke Plant. It looks cold just outside the JR train station of Hirono-machi.

Nico Nico Live requires registration (free for regular members).

Nico Nico's cameraman is saying he will act as "your eyes" going into the 20 kilometer zone.

Nico Nico's reporter says "I'll do my best to report the truth from Fukushima I Nuke Plant".

Hirono-machi JR station is 3-kilometer south of J-Village (20 kilometers from the plant), and from there they will go to Fuku I by bus. Most of the tour at the plant will be from inside the bus, but they will get to go outside at a location south of Reactor 4.

They are fitted with:

  • Geiger counter made by France's Million, showing 0.43 microsievert/hour at Hirono-machi train station

  • Personal survey meter that can record cumulative radiation exposure

  • Video camera

Yasumi Iwakami appeared briefly on his way:

The Nico Nico reporter just said there were female journalists boarding the shuttle bus to J-Village, whom he said were from AP.

Total 39 journalists (including cameramen) in two groups.

Group A (20) including Reuters, Mainichi (still camera), Nippon TV, US's NBC (video) Nippon TV, AP (voice), Asahi, Nikkei Mainichi, Yomiuri, AP, NHK, TBS, Tokyo TV, The Independent, Chogoku Shinbun (reporters)

Group B (19) including Fukushima Minpo (still camera), TV Fukushima, Nico Nico (video), Sankei, Tokyo, Fukushima Minpo, Minyu, Kahoku, Hiigata Nippo, Fukushima TV, IWJ, Nico Nico (reporters)

The video will be uploaded after 3PM on February 20, unedited. More detailed reporting in the evening.

TEPCO to Allow the Press in to Fukushima I Nuke Plant on February 20, 2012, Net-Based Media Allowed for the First Time

Unlike the last tour by the press invited to Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant in November last year, the tour on February 20 (it's already February 20 in Japan) will include independent journalists who are not part of the Press Club.

Initially, TEPCO wanted to have the Press Club members only, but relented after a vigorous protest from the independent journalists including Yasumi Iwakami, who is going in.

I believe he tweeted several days ago that the audio is allowed this time. I don't know if he is going to do the live feed via the net, but the other independent outfit, Nico Nico Live says it will netcast live, here. (CORRECTION: Only the departure scene will be netcast live.)

Iwakami's IWJ and Nico Nico vow to make all the footage available on the net.


IWJ and Nico Nico will make all the footage available on the net in the afternoon of February 20, after the tour.

Canada Denies Refugee Status to a Japanese Woman Seeking Asylum from Radiation Contamination in Japan

The article by Calgary Sun quoting Toronto Sun doesn't say why the immigration board declined the woman's petition. The article simply lists the woman's claims as:

  • “The claimant feared risks of exposure to radiation,”

  • “She was not convinced by the Japanese government’s assurances of safety from radiation.”

  • the claimant “feared being a victim of hazards that emanated from a combined natural and man-made disaster.”

  • the claimant’s risk “is characterized as being widespread and prevalent in Japan.”

Since the board must have denied the woman's petition for want of validity of her claims, the board's position could be:

  • There are no risks of exposure to radiation;

  • The Japanese government's assurances of safety from radiation are credible enough;

  • It was a natural disaster;

  • The radiation risk is not widespread and not prevalent in Japan.

The above are my guesses only, and I am probably guilty of sensationalizing.

The article says she is one of hundreds of Japanese seeking refuge in other countries since the March 11, 2011 disaster.

From Calgary Sun(2/18/2012):

Japan's nuclear evacuees denied Canadian refuge

By Tom Godfrey ,Toronto Sun

TORONTO - A Japanese woman who claimed exposure to radiation from damaged nuclear reactors has been denied refugee status in Canada almost one year after that nation was rocked by an earthquake and tsunami that left more than 100,000 people homeless.

The woman’s identity has not been released by an Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) since she’s seeking asylum in this country. She is among several dozen Japanese nationals who filed refugee claims to stay in Canada following the disaster and is one of the first decisions to be reached by the IRB.

“The claimant feared risks of exposure to radiation,” an IRB member said in a ruling. “She was not convinced by the Japanese government’s assurances of safety from radiation.”

The woman was one of hundreds of Japanese citizens who sought refuge in other countries following the March 11, 2011 catastrophe caused by a magnitude 9.0 quake and tsunami that left more than 15,000 dead and nearly 3300 missing.

The acts of nature crippled the Fukushima nuclear plant, leading to core meltdowns at three of its six reactors, and ongoing leaks of radioactive material.

A board member ruled the claimant “feared being a victim of hazards that emanated from a combined natural and man-made disaster.”

The member said the claimant’s risk “is characterized as being widespread and prevalent in Japan.”

The woman can still appeal her case to the Federal Court of Canada, and that decision can still be appealed.

She claimed her life was in danger from radioactive contaminants that spewed into the environment from the Fukushima plant.

More than 100,000 people were evacuated from their homes and businesses in a 20-km no-go zone around the plant.

The accident also raised fears of contamination in everything from fruit and vegetables to fish and water.

It took about nine months for the Japanese government to declare that the Fukushima plant was stable, although it will take about 40 years to decommission the plant.

Japan has since decided to lower its reliance on nuclear power, reversing its plans to boost it to 50 per cent by 2030. Most of its 54 reactors are currently off-line, most of them undergoing safety inspections.

"The acts of nature crippled the Fukushima nuclear plant"? I guess Toronto Sun doesn't know TEPCO and the Japanese government very well. The sentence is valid as long as man is part of nature.

In contrast, the Canadian Medical Association published an article last December lambasting the Japanese government for lying through their teeth to the citizens about the risks from the nuclear accident, with potentially dire health consequences:

A “culture of coverup” and inadequate cleanup efforts have combined to leave Japanese people exposed to “unconscionable” health risks nine months after last year’s meltdown of nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant, health experts say.

I'm sure the CMA exaggerated...