Saturday, June 11, 2011

#Fukushima Marine Contamination: US's Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole Massachusetts Surveying Ocean Off Fukushima

Kyodo News Japanese reports that the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) in Woods Hole, Massachusetts has started the survey off the coast of Fukushima to study the extent of radiation contamination in the marine environment. No information in the Kyodo article as to since when the MBL has been doing the survey.

The MBL is the oldest independent marine laboratory in the US, and one of the most prominent; to date, 54 MBL-affiliated scientists have been awarded the Nobel Prize, among many other honors received by the laboratory’s researchers, according to Wikipedia.

The MBL, according to Arnie Gundersen during the interview with Chris Martenson the other day, has said that "the ocean has ten times more radiation from Fukushima than the Black Sea did from Chernobyl."

True to form, the Japanese government didn't bother to announce (it still doesn't) that it has approved the request for the survey, because, according to Kyodo News, "It's done by a US institution not by a Japanese one."

From Kyodo News Japanese (6/11/2011):

福島第1原発事故を受け、米ウッズホール海洋学研究所の専門家 チームが、福島県などの沖合で海洋調査を始めたことが11日、分かった。海水や海洋生物を採取し、原発から放出された放射性物質が生態系に及ぼす影響を評 価する。日本政府は米国からの調査申請を許可したが、米国による調査であることを理由に事実を公表していない。

It was discovered on June 11 that a team of experts from the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts in the US has started the survey off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture. The team will collect sea water samples and marine lives, and evaluate the effect on the marine ecosystem from the radioactive materials released from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. The Japanese government approved the request for the survey, but it continues to withhold the details because it is a survey by an American institution.


According to the surveys by the Ministry of Education and Science and other agencies and institutions, radioactive materials have been found in sea water and the ocean soil in wide areas. They've been found in fish and shellfish. However, the Japanese government hasn't started consolidating the survey data and evaluate the effect of radiation on the total marine ecosystem, letting the US lead the way.

Well, the Japanese government hasn't started it, because it doesn't want to. At least not right now. In fact, the government agency in charge of fisheries doesn't believe in "bioconcentration" or "bioaccumulation", and I don't expect them to do anything to disturb their belief system.

I hope the MBL will release the survey results for the benefit of the rest of us.

Just How Many People Showed Up at 6.11 No-Nuke Demonstrations on June 11?

Even the Japanese MSM had to report the events somewhat, which means the number of participants throughout Japan was probably significant even for the MSM.

That doesn't stop them from downplaying the number, though. Just like the US MSM.

The best (for MSM) coverage goes to Asahi Shinbun, who treated the news of the nationwide events as one of the top news. The article at Asahi has pictures and videos of the protests in various parts of the country, and pins the number of participants as follows:

  • 20,000 in one demonstration in Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, quoting the number by the event organizer;
  • 200 in Koriyama-City, Fukushima Prefecture.

No other information on any other events. There were at least 14 events in Tokyo that were carried live on the net. Including the events that weren't net-casted, there were over 20 events in Tokyo alone. Throughout Japan, the 6.11 No-Nukes site lists 174 events worldwide.

Moving on, Sankei Shinbun only reports on the event in Yoyogi Park in Tokyo:

  • 1,500 people

Yomiuri Shinbun is even more hilarious, and the only number the paper is willing to put out is:

  • 200 people in Kashiwazaki, Niigata Prefecture

Kyodo News says several thousands in Paris, but no number for any event in Japan.

Mainichi Shinbun doesn't even carry the news.

Unofficial numbers for some events in Tokyo and Kanagawa, from the tweets:

  • 20,000 in Shinjuku, Tokyo
  • 6,000 in Shiba Park, Tokyo
  • 1,500 in Yoyogi Park, Tokyo
  • 700 in Kunitachi City, Tokyo
  • 4,000 Yokohama, Kanagawa

Not too bad for a rainy day and for a country not used to go against any official, government policy.

BBC and the US's NPR reported the Tokyo number as 5,000.

New York Times has an article on the event in Tokyo (probably Shinjuku, as the article say 20,000 people attended), which concludes with a cynical remark by a bystander, a 21-year-old girl, saying "It looks fun, but if you think anything will change, it’s naïve."

You watch, girl.

Usual detractors are there in numbers, too; there are tweets attacking those who attended the demonstrations, calling them "naive idiots" for ignoring the need for electricity generated by the nuke plants. Hey just like the girl in the NYT article...

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant Reactor 3 Gamma Camera Photos

Compared to the Reactor 1 gamma camera photos, the numbers for the Reactor 3 are markedly higher. Measurement unit is not noted in the photos, but if it is the same as those for the Reactor 1, it is counts per second (cps).

The location 2 is right below the Spent Fuel Pool, I've been informed.

Location 1 (near the Large Machine Hatch, south side):

Location 2 (west side, below the Spent Fuel Pool):

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant Reactor 4: 4th Floor Photos

The spent fuel pool occupies part of the 4th floor and the 5th floor. These pictures were taken (I'm sure they took more) by the workers on June 10.

In the first photo, you can see the pipe that's bent. That was the pipe that TEPCO was counting on to connect the cooling system for the Spent Fuel Pool, according to Jiji News (6/11/2011). The cooling system for the Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool won't be operational at least until July, as TEPCO will have to either fix the pipe or come up with alternative connection.

The second photo shows a mess of broken pipes, concrete bits and equipments. Any mechanics, engineers, who want to dissect the photo?

The Reactor 4 was in a scheduled maintenance when the earthquake hit on March 11. All the fuel rods had been moved to the Spent Fuel Pool. The workers were in the process of replacing the stainless-steel shroud of the Reactor Pressure Vessel at the time of the earthquake.

From TEPCO's Photo for Press page (click to enlarge):

Earlier (on June 8), TEPCO had released the PDF document detailing the supporting beams underneath the Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool . Here's the PDF image:

For larger photos in the above document, click on these links:

Friday, June 10, 2011

#Radiation in Japan: Date City in Fukushima To Fit Kindergarteners and School Kids with Dosimeter

They're going to fit 3-year-olds with dosimeter.

If the radiation is such a worry, shouldn't they evacuate small children out of the city first? Or are they planning something else?

From Nikkei Shinbun, quoting Kyodo News (6/10/2011):

福島県伊達市は9日、福島第1原発事故で子供がいる親の不安が高まっているとして、市内の小中学校と幼稚園、保育園に通う児童、生徒、園児約8千人全員に小 型線量計を配布すると発表した。7月上旬にも始める方針。福島県内では、町の一部が計画的避難区域となっている川俣町も小中学生と園児1500人全員に近 く線量計を配布する予定。

Date City in Fukushima Prefecture announced on June 9 that they will distribute portable dosimeters to all children in the city's elementary schools and middle schools, kindergartens and nursery schools to calm the fear of the parents of children in school age. There are about 8,000 such children. The program will start in early July. In Fukushima Prefecture, Kawamata-machi will also distribute dosimeters to all of their elementary/middle school children and kindergartners (1,500 children). Part of Kawamata-machi is designated as "planned evacuation zone".


Date City is adjacent to Iitate-mura, which is designated as "planned evacuation zone". Date City has so-called "hot spots" that show elevated level of radiation, and parents have been asking the city to come up with a system to monitor the radiation exposure for their children.


According to the city, dosimeters will be distributed to 6,000 pupils in elementary schools and middle schools, and 2,000 children in kindergartens and nursery schools in the city. They will wear the small dosimeters worn by medical practitioners.


The program details will be decided in discussion with the expert that the city hires as radiation advisor. The cost, including the cost to purchase dosimeters, will be about 30 million yen (US$373,000). The city will pay for the cost, but plans to bill TEPCO later.

I wonder who this "radiation advisor" is.

6.11 No-Nuke Demonstrations Throughout Japan Today

Six-Eleven No-Nuke demonstrations are planned throughout Japan on June 11 their time. It looks to be a totally grassroots movement that's been going on for about a month, which is evidenced by the fact that no Japanese MSM has ever reported it.

It's raining in the mid section of Japan, but the organizers throughout Japan are hoping to bring out 1 million people total at various events throughout the day. Over 100 events are planned.

Almost all events seem to have been coordinated via the net and Twitter. Independent journalists are covering them, and there are several networks of citizens throughout Japan trying to netcast the event live, using sophisticated devices like cellphones and using sites like USTREAM.

Maybe the Japanese are reaching a critical point where the "no nuke" voice makes up the number significant enough to start to make an impact on the majority of Japanese.

Some of the events are about to start. You can view them at this site (in Japanese). Click on the map of Japan, and the events planned for the region pop up.

As if on cue, the Japanese government and Japan's big industries are at it again, trying to scare citizens that power blackout would be the only choice if there were no nuclear power plants and if they want to keep the manufacturing industries in Japan. Never mind that there is actually no power shortage.

But as you will see at these events, more and more Japanese don't seem to care if there's a blackout. They just don't want nuclear power plants any more in their backyards. They are practically everyone's backyards, with 54 reactors throughout Japan. Fukushima I Nuke Plant has shown that the "backyard" extends from Miyagi Prefecture all the way to Shizuoka Prefecture.

There are events planned also in Australia (4), New Zealand (1), San Francisco California, Hawaii, New York, Indonesia (1), Canada (1), Germany (3), France (1), Belgium (1), Taiwan (1), Hong Kong (1), South Korea (1).

The Main hub for the net live cast by Yasumi Iwakami:

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant Reactor 3 Bldg Radiation Measurement

as released by TEPCO at the press conference on June 10.

9 workers (5 TEPCO employees, 4 from TEPCO affiliate companies) entered the reactor building to do measurements and inspections in order to prepare for the nitrogen injection into the Containment Vessel. They spent about 30 minutes, surveying about half the floor, getting exposed to 5.88 to 7.98 millisieverts of radiation for their work.

96 millisieverts/hour radiation at the staircase going down to the basement, at the southwest corner (circled in red).

Blowup of the photo at the location (3), where 100 millisieverts/hour radiation was measured:

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant Reactor 3 Bldg Has Over 6,400 Tons of Contaminated Water

What a surprise.

Workers braved the high radiation (up to 100 millisievert/hour) in the Reactor 3 reactor building on June 9 and found water in the basement. TEPCO says it expected to find water there, but didn't bother to tell us until the water was actually found.

Have I seen this before? Yes, the Reactor 1.

To state the obvious, if there's water in the basement of the reactor building, that means 1) the Reactor Pressure Vessel (RPV) is broken; 2) the Containment Vessel is broken.

The only question is: Where's the corium?

From Asahi Shinbun (10:45PM JST 6/10/2011):


TEPCO announced on June 10 that they confirmed the presence of water in the basement of the Reactor 3 reactor building at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. TEPCO had estimated that 6,400 tons of water would be in the basement as of the end of May, based on the amount of water injected into the RPV. Now its existence has been confirmed.


According to TEPCO, workers entered the reactor building and descended the stairs from the 1st floor to the basement, and saw the water. Depth of the water was 5.8 meters [19 feet] from the basement floor, and the amount of water looked to be slightly more than TEPCO's estimate. The radiation level near the surface of the water was 51 millisieverts/hour.


According to TEPCO, it is possible that the RPV has been damaged by the core meltdown, leaking the water. TEPCO plans to test the water for radioactive materials.


Survey of the 1st floor found distorted doors of the instrument panel and a ladder dropped from the floor above. Part of the equipment was blackened with what looked like soot. TEPCO thinks they were caused by the hydrogen explosion.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Areva's System Leaks

Good Morning, Murphy.

TEPCO did the test run of the contaminated water processing facility by Areva at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, and found leaks in more than 10 places.


But don't worry, only minor leaks. Just like they used to have a water puddle or two in the turbine building basements.

Asahi Shinbun (10:50PM JST 6/10/2011):


TEPCO announced on June 10 that leaks were found at the facility to treat contaminated water at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. TEPCO was doing the test run using regular water for the start of full-scale treatment on June 15, but the discovery of the leaks could delay the start.


The leaks were found on the equipment to remove the radioactive materials. TEPCO found minor leaks on 1 valve and more than 10 pipe joints. They will be repaired shortly.


The water processing facility was scheduled to start on June 15 to reduce the highly contaminated water in the reactor buildings and turbine buildings. If the start is delayed, TEPCO may run out of space to store the water.


Junichi Matsumoto of TEPCo said, "We don't know for sure that the system will be operational on June 15. It is possible that the date will be delayed because of the repair. As we haven't been thoroughly informed of the situation at Fukushima I [regarding the leaks], we don't know the extent of the necessary repair."

Thursday, June 9, 2011

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: One Worker Fell Unconscious, 9 Workers Exceeded Allotted Radiation Level

Yomiuri Shinbun (12:35 PM JST 6/10/2011) reports that one worker at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant was found unconscious early in the morning in the dormitory, and was airlifted to a hospital in Iwaki City.

At least they now have a helicopter that carries workers, not just politicians and TEPCO executives.

According to Asahi Shinbun, the worker in his 40s from a TEPCO affiliate company was spraying the special resin to hold down the radioactive materials on the debris and on the ground the previous day.

Another Yomiuri news says 3 workers who entered the Reactor 3 reactor building exceeded the allotted radiation limit (5 millisievert) for their work on June 9. The radiation suffered by the workers was between 5.88 and 7.96 millisieverts. No information on how long they worked inside the building. No effect on health, of course.

#Radioactive Cement Here We Come!

De facto loosening of standards in radioactive safety is coming fast and furious over in Japan. Shock and awe, sort of.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) is going to allow radioactive sewage sludge to be recycled as cement materials. Starting with the sludge with several hundred becquerels per kilogram of cesium, and gradually expand to the sludge with higher radiation as long as it is "confirmed "safe".

You see, the cement industry is suffering. We've got to help them. The local governments are being flooded with radioactive sewage sludge, We've got to help them. Spread the radiation far and wide, and it will be "safe".

It must be a shock to many Japanese to finally realize that the government ministries are for the benefit of the industries and the ministries themselves, not the citizens and residents of Japan. This is just another proof that the safety and security of the industries ( in the MLIT's case, big ones like construction, railroad, aerospace) is the primary concern of the government, at the expense of "small people".

And I would add that it does make a difference who's at the top. The fish rots from the head. Too bad the rotten head (PM Kan) wasn't taken out, thanks to the silly maneuver by the "space alien" ex-PM Hatoyama.

From Jiji Tsushin (2:34AM JST 6/10/2011):

福島県などの下水処理施設の汚泥から放射性物質が検出された問題で、国土交通省は9日、経済産業省、セメント協会と汚泥のリサイクル再開に向けた最終調整 に入った。放射能濃度が比較的低い汚泥から、セメントの材料に利用する方針で、早ければ来週にも複数のセメント業者が引き取りを再開する見通し。セメント 製品の安全性を確認しながら、段階的に汚泥の利用を拡大する考えだ。

Concerning the radioactive sewage sludge at sewage treatment centers in Fukushima and other prefectures, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) has entered the final negotiation with the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and Japan Cement Association to re-start the recycling of the sewage sludge. Recycling will start with the sewage sludge with relatively low level of radiation and use it as cement material. Several cement companies will start taking the sewage sludge as early as next week. If the safety of the cement products is ascertained, the Ministry will gradually expand the use of the sewage sludge [with higher radioactive materials].

 放射性物質を含む汚泥に関しては、政府が5月中旬、一部をセメントに利用できるとする処理基準を示した。しかし、十分な安全確認体制が確立されていない ことから、セメント業界が引き取りを停止していた。通常、汚泥の約4割はセメントにリサイクルされていたため、処理や保管場所の確保に悩む自治体が相次い でいた。

Regarding the radioactive sewage sludge, the national government issued a guideline in mid May that part of the sludge could be used in cement. However, as there is no system to check the safety, the cement industry has halted taking the sludge. Normally, about 40 percent of the sewage sludge is recycled. Municipalities are having a hard time securing the storage space [after the sludge has been found to be radioactive].

 セメントに利用する汚泥は、自治体側が定期的に放射能濃度を測定することで、安全性を確保する。また、セメント製品については、原子炉等規制法に基づく 基準を満たせるよう業者側が検査を行う。当面は、自治体側で週数回の測定を行い、放射能濃度が1キログラム当たり数百ベクレル程度であれば、業者が引き取 ることで合意する見通し。 

The safety of the sewage sludge is to be ascertained by the local municipalities who will regularly monitor the radiation. As to the safety of the cement product, cement companies will conduct the test so that the radiation level falls within the limit set by the law that governs nuclear reactors, nuclear fuels and materials. Municipalities will conduct the test several times a week, and if the radiation level is about several hundred becquerels per kilogram, the cement companies will take the sludge.

Radioactive Japan. That's what's going to be as long as these government and industry elites run the place.

#Radioactive Tea: Shizuoka Government Told Online Food Grocer Not to Publish the Test Result for Tea on Their Website

It can't get any better. (But that's what I've thought ever since March 11 and I've been wrong.)

It was the proverbial "fly in the ointment" when an online food grocer (home delivery of fresh produce) alerted the Shizuoka prefectural government that one of Shizuoka's teas tested high in radioactive cesium according to the grocer's test. For Shizuoka, it was going to be a "clean bill of health" for all teas in Shizuoka when they started testing the final products, "seicha". 8 tea-growing regions tested below the limit on June 8, and 11 more regions were going to do the same on June 9.

But this grocer came forward with the information that one of the teas were radioactive, exceeding the national limit. So the government was forced to test that particular tea, and it was indeed exceeding the limit.

But it was not before the prefecture told the grocer not to publish the data, because the prefectural government was already doing the minimum necessary to alert the consumer. Their words.

In other countries, this kind of arrogant behavior by the producer ignoring the safety of the consumers may result in boycott of the product.

From Asahi Shinbun (4:15AM JST 6/10/2011):


It has been revealed that the Shizuoka prefectural government requested the online food grocer in Tokyo that the grocer not publish on the grocer's home page the result of the test for radioactive materials in Shizuoka tea that exceeded the national provisional limit.


The grocer is "Radish Boya" (Minato-ku, Tokyo) that does home delivery service of organic vegetables to its members. The grocer informed the Shizuoka prefectural government on June 6 that the Shizuoka tea they tested exceeded the provisional limit for radioactive materials in teas. Upon being alerted, the Shizuoka government demanded the grocer withhold the information and not publish it on the grocer's website. Accordingly, the grocer sent out letters to the members who bought the tea explaining the reason for the recall.


The Economy and Industry Division of the Shizuoka prefectural government explains, "We're doing the minimum that's necessary to alert the consumers. If the information is published on a website, it may spread unnecessary fear."

The grocer "Radish Boya" is well-known for the high-priced but high-quality and safe organic vegetables and foods, according to my contact in Tokyo.

#Radiation Contamination in Japan: "Let's All Help Fukushima Farmers" by Buying Their Produce

Radiation be damned. We're in this together, like it or not!

There are many events throughout Japan to promote goods, including fresh produce, from the area first affected by the March 11 earthquake/tsunami and then by "baseless rumors" (aka radioactive materials) that the vegetables and food items from the area are contaminated with radioactive materials.

Some events are organized by the government ministries and agencies, others by the prefectural or local governments. There are many by private businesses, and here's one of them, as happily reported by a newspaper in Fukushima.

From Fukushima Minpo (6/9/2011):


The "Shipping Ceremony" of the packages of vegetables for the employees of Sogo Keibi Hosho (ALSOK) Group [a security company headquartered in Tokyo] took place on June 8 in Shirakawa City in Fukushima Prefecture, at the Japan Agriculturral Cooperative (JA) in Shirakawa.

 風評被害に苦しむ本県農家を支援しようと、全国約3万5千人のグループ社員に本県産野菜購入を呼び掛けた。500件近くの申し込みがあり、第一弾として JAしらかわが白河地方の野菜を詰め合わせた「白河浪慢野菜BOX」を発送した。注文がまとまり次第、県内の他JAが順次発送する。本庄松雄福島綜合警備 保障社長、小室信一JAしらかわ代表理事組合長、鈴木慎一り菜あん出荷協力会長らが発送開始を祝った。

ALSOK Group called on its 35,000 employees nationwide to purchase vegetables grown in Fukushima, in order to help farmers in Fukushima who suffer "baseless rumors (風評)" [that their vegetables are contaminated with radioactive materials]. Nearly 500 orders came, and as the first shipment, JA Shirakawa packed vegetables grown in Shirakawa. As more orders come in, other JAs within Fukushima Prefecture will take turns shipping the orders. The ceremony was attended by the president of the Fukushima branch of ALSOK Group, the head of the Shirakawa JA, and others.

#Fukushima I Nuke Accident: EU's "Stress Test" For Nuclear Reactors Just like US's "Stress Test" for Wall Street Banks

To "learn" from the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident, as the IAEA is to recommend, no doubt, the EU is going to conduct the "stress test" for the 143 reactors in Europe to see how Europe's nuclear facilities are able to withstand natural or man-made disasters.


The test is voluntary, and as one German MEP (member of European Parliament) contends, the check is "largely in the hands of operators".

Sound familiar?

It's just like the so-called "stress test" devised by the US Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve to assure the world that the US banking system was safe and sound, in the wake of September-November 2008's financial disaster that crashed the financial markets and triggered the worldwide recession. The "test" was not "voluntary" but the Treasury and the Fed handpicked which banks to do the "test". The banks knew exactly what they would be tested for, because for the most part they were the ones who told the regulators what parameters to test.

That should be very familiar to the Japanese, too. In Japan, at least in the past, when the fire department or the public health department conducted safety checks on the public facilities (hotels, restaurants, etc.) they used to "warn" those facilities days in advance about the inspection date and what to inspect.

Globalization is truly here.

From BBC News (6/9/2011):

MEPs split over nuclear 'stress tests'

MEPs have clashed over plans for "stress tests", which are due to be carried out on nuclear facilities in the EU.

There were angry scenes during the Commission statement on 9 June 2011, which caused Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger to appeal for calm.

Mr Oettinger was outlining plans for the tests - ordered in the wake of Japan's Fukushima disaster - which are designed to see how Europe's nuclear facilities are able to withstand natural or man-made disasters.

The so-called stress tests will be performed on Europe's 143 working reactors and other atomic installations and will consider a range of factors, including seismic activity, flooding, and power loss at reactors.

But German Green MEP Rebecca Harms dismissed the plans as a "paper check" designed to "downplay the risks of nuclear power".

Ms Harms attacked the voluntary nature of the tests, saying it left the checks "largely in the hands of operators".

Her comments were dismissed by fellow German MEP Herbert Reul, who described Ms Harms' opinion as "naïve".

Mr Reul praised the commissioner, saying that although the plans were "not 100% what we wanted", they would not be improved by other MEPs "complaining and harking on about it".

British conservative Giles Chichester protested about the "internal German discussion", and asked MEPs to focus on "the European issue".

Germany has recently announced that all of its nuclear power plants will be phased out by 2022, becoming the biggest industrial power to give up nuclear energy.

However Germany's nuclear industry has argued that an early shutdown would be hugely damaging to the country's industrial base.

Meanwhile countries including the UK, France and Poland have all announced further development of nuclear energy.

I wonder if there's an equivalent of "Saturday Night Live" in Europe. I hope they will make a wonderful spoof of this nuke plant "stress test", much like the SNL spoof on Geithner's "stress test" for banks. In case you missed that SNL skit from 2009, here it is.

(h/t Robbie001 for BBC News)

One Shizuoka Tea Tested 679 Becquerels/Kg Cesium in the Final Product

In the morning of June 9 (JST) a local newspaper in Shizuoka Prefecture (Shizuoka Shinbun) vocally questioned the national government policy on the allowed radiation level for teas in various stages of tea processing. By the nightfall the paper had to report that radioactive cesium exceeding that level was detected in the final tea ("seicha") in one of the 11 tea-growing regions whose test results were announced on June 9.

The results for the other 8 tea-growing regions had been announced on June 8, and the growers and tea merchants in Shizuoka were much relieved to see that the numbers for radioactive cesium were below the provisional limit of 500 becquerels per kilogram and declared the Shizuoka tea to be "safe". (They were actually surprisingly high numbers; they were all in 3 digits, the highest being 385 becquerels/kg.)

(When they declare "safe", flee.)

When the paper questioned the validity of the 500 becquerels/kg standard, it cited, of all things, the minutes of the Nuclear Safety Commission's meeting, in which several commissioners expressed their opinion that the standard should be "flexible" (as I posted on June 2). Shizuoka Shinbun took it to mean that the opinion of the nuclear experts at the Nuclear Safety Commission was not reflected in the policy, which is too severe to the tea-growers and tea-merchants in the prefecture.

The Nuclear Safety Commission, as quoted by Shizuoka Shinbun, is of the opinion that the provisional safety limit should not be used as the guideline to restrict sales of the tea.

Vocal questioning of the national standard for teas (Shizuoka Shinbun 8:08AM JST 6/9/2011):

茶の放射性物質検査を検討した原子力安全委員会の議事録によれば、政府が専門家の意見を十分に踏まえた政策判断をしたとは言い難い。背景に「災害対応に追 われる政府が地方の声を吸い上げることができず、放射性物質と食品の安全をめぐる議論が曖昧になっている」(県幹部)実態がある。

In light of the minutes of the Nuclear Safety Commission's meeting in which the testing of radioactive materials in teas was discussed, the policy decision by the national government was hardly based on the expert opinion. The reality is that "the national government is unable to listen to the local people as it is busy dealing with the crisis, and the discussion about radioactive materials and food safety is not conclusive," according to the Shizuoka prefectrual government sources.


The research on radioactivity in teas is lacking in the national government, unlike the regulations on agricultural chemicals and additives. The testing [of teas] this time was done at the express request from the Ministry of Health and Labor who is in charge of testing food items, against the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries who insists the testing of raw tea leaves is enough to ensure safety as "aracha" (bulk tea before the blend) is normally not eaten.


Occasionally, people eat raw tea leaves of "shincha" (new tea) in tempura. However, the government's assessment that "the possibility is not zero that "aracha" will be eaten by the consumers" doesn't specifically say how much ingestion will cause a health hazard.

  福島第1原発事故は想定外の事態であり、国民の健康維持のため食の安全に関する政策が規制強化に傾くのはやむを得ない。ただ、科学的根拠を欠いた政策判断 がまかり通れば社会不安をあおり、仮に製茶が1キロ当たり500ベクレルを上回る結果となれば、県や市町、茶業界はそのダメージ回復の手だてを講ずること すら難しくなる。

The Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident was "beyond assumption", and it can't be helped if the the food safety policies lean toward greater regulation to ensure the health of the citizens. However, if a policy decision without any scientific basis is pushed through, it will only increase the social anxiety and fear. If "seicha" (final product) is tested for more than 500 becquerels/kilogram [cesium], it will be very difficult for the prefecture, local municipalities and the tea industry in Shizuoka to recover from the damage. (By Tadao Nakajima, Political Desk)

Then the tea that exceeded the 500 becquerels/kg was found.

About the tea that exceeded the national standard (Shizuoka Shinbun 8:09PM JST 6/9/2011):

県は9日、県内の11産地13カ所で生産された一番茶のうち販売前の「製茶」について、放射性セシウムの検査を実施した結果、静岡市藁科地区で「本山茶」 を製造した工場から、国の暫定基準値(1キログラム当たり500ベクレル)を上回る679ベクレルを検出したと発表した。

The Shizuoka prefectural government announced on June 9 that it had conducted the test for radioactive cesium in "seicha" (final product) of "ichiban-cha" (first-pick new tea) produced in 13 locations in 11 tea growing regions in Shizuoka, and found 679 becquerels/kg of cesium in "Hon-yama cha" in the Warashina district of Shizuoka City. The national provisional limit is 500 becquerels/kg.


It was the first time that radioactive materials were detected in the tea leaves in Shizuoka in the amount exceeding the provisional limit. At the remaining 12 locations, the numbers did not exceed the limit.


The Shizuoka government says "It is not the level that will affect health." The government will request 100 tea processing plants in the district not to ship the tea on a voluntary basis, and also request the wholesalers not to distribute.

As Nikkei Shinbun reports, this "Hon-yama cha" exceeding the provisional limit was only discovered because a food grocer located outside Shizuoka Prefecture tested the tea on its own and alerted the Shizuoka government.

I am really losing faith in the Japanese growers.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

#Radiation in Tokyo: It's Already a Secondary Radiation Contamination in Koto-Ku

So the Tokyo Metropolitan government finally admitted to the high air radiation level in "Nanbu Sludge Plant" in Ota-ku in Tokyo, after, it turns out, a Tokyo Metropolitan Assemblyman from Ota-ku went inside the plant and measured the radiation.

"Tobu" or Eastern, Sludge Plant in Koto-ku in Tokyo has an even higher level of radioactive cesium, and the plant may have been spewing radioactive cesium from the incinerator where the radioactive sewage sludge is burned, and has been contaminating the air and the soil in the areas around the plant and downwind (upstream) areas along the Arakawa River.

So it's a secondary radiation contamination.

The eastern part of Tokyo has been registering higher air radiation levels than the western part of Tokyo. Unchecked cesium dispersion from the sludge plant ever since the start of the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident may be good part of the reason.

And we wouldn't have known if it were not for the very concerned parents in Koto-ku who decided to organize themselves and ask a researcher from Kobe University to help them measure the radiation.

From Tokyo Shinbun (6/8/2011):


"Koto Association to Protect Children (江東こども守る会)" held a press conference in the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building on June 7, and announced the result of its own survey showing the high level of radioactive cesium detected from the athletic ground near the sewage sludge processing plant "Tobu (eastern) Sluge Plant".

 調査は、同会が神戸大大学院の山内知也教授(放射線計測学)と実施。検出されたセシウムは一平方メートル当たり二三万ベクレルで、放射線障害防止法で、放射線管理区域からの持ち出しが制限される汚染基準の約六倍という。また、プラント周辺と同区の荒川、旧中川沿いでは、放射線量が毎時〇・二マイク ロシーベルトを超える地点が多くあった。山内教授は「値が高い地域の位置と風向きを考慮すると、下水を通じてプラントに集まった放射性物質が処理過程で再 び大気中に放出されている可能性が高い」と主張。同会は同日、プラントの稼働停止と調査などを求め、都に要望書を提出した。

The survey was done by the Association and Professor Tomoya Yamauchi of Kobe University (radiation measurement). Cesium detected was 230,000 becquerels per square meter, 6 times as high as the limit set for the radiation control zone to restrict one from taking an item out of the control zone. Also, in the area around the plant and along the Arakawa river and the old Nakagawa river, there were many locations that registered high air radiation levels exceeding 0.2 microsievert/hour. [The "official" number measured in Shinjuku-ku is about 0.06 microsievert/hour.] Professor Yamauchi says, "Considering the locations with high air radiation levels and the wind direction, it is highly likely that the radioactive materials in the sewage collected at the plant are being released into the atmosphere through the treatment process." The Association submitted the petition to the Tokyo Metropolitan government demanding the halt of sludge processing at the plant and thorough investigation.

If they are demanding the halt, that means it is still in operation. The plant is located near the river mouth of the Arakawa River in eastern Tokyo as it flows into the Tokyo Bay. Prevailing wind is from the south, going upstream from the plant.

Tokyo Disney Land is about 5 kilometers southeast of the plant, by the way.

The Association uploaded the test result of the samples from 2 locations - athletic ground right next to the sludge plant, and a park 5 kilometers north of the plant; the test was done by a French laboratory (Association pour le Contrôle de la Radioactivité dans l’Ouest). It shows the soil in the park upstream (and downwind) from the plant having higher concentration of radioactive tellurium, iodine, and cesium than the soil taken from the athletic ground right next to the plant.

("Now They Tell Us" Series) Strontium Was Detected 62 Kilometers from Fukushima I in April and May, Says Ministry of Education

Update, or rather, review: The numbers are much higher than what was found in the area inside the 10-kilometer radius (actually 2 kilometers from the plant, 68 becquerels/kilogram). The number for strontium-90 in Akogi in Namie-machi (250 becquerels/kilogram) is approaching the number found at Fukushima I Nuke Plant (570 becquerels/kilo).

Does it take that long to analyze the soil samples for strontium? (I know, I know...)

Asahi Shinbun reports that radioactive strontium was detected in soil as far away as 62 kilometers from the plant. The samples were taken between April 10 and May 19.

What's hilarious in the article is the so-called expert's comment, basically saying "Where there's cesium there's strontium. So of course we see strontium in the soil. But don't worry, if you don't eat much cesium, observing the government's provisional limit which may or may not stays the same, you're OK."

Well, he had been awfully quiet about that bit of information until asked by the Asahi reporter who wrote the piece. Disingenuous of Asahi Shinbun also; it is the first time that I remember, that any newspaper has said "where there's cesium, strontium is supposed to be there also." Asahi had a chance to say so from the day one, but didn't bother.

Non-government, non-experts like the rest of the Japanese already suspected it from long ago, particularly when they knew that strontium, plutonium, uranium, even americium, of Fukushima origin had been detected in the US.

From Asahi Shinbun (12:00AM JST 6/9/2011):

 文部科学省は8日、放射性ストロンチウムが東京電力福島第一原子力発電所から62キロ離れた福島市など、福島県内11カ所の土壌で新たに検出されたこと を明らかにした。放射性セシウムが検出されたところでは、微量に見つかるとされており、それが証明された形だ。放射性ストロンチウムには半減期が長いもの があって、体に入ると長期間影響を及ぼす可能性があり、監視が必要だ。

The Ministry of Education and Science disclosed on June 8 that radioactive strontium had been detected at 11 locations in Fukushima Prefecture, including Fukushima City which is 62 kilometers away from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. A small amount of strontium is supposed to be found where radioactive cesium is also found, and now it's been proven so. Some strontium radioisotopes have long half-life, and they could affect the body for long time if ingested.


Radioactive strontium was found from soil samples taken from April 10 to May 19. In Fukushima City, strontium-90 with half-life of 29 years was found in 77 becquerels per kilogram, and strontium-89 with half-life of 50 days was found in 54 becquerels per kilogram.

 最も多かったのは浪江町赤宇木で、それぞれ250ベクレルと1500ベクレル。北西部に36キロ離れた飯舘村では120ベクレルと1100ベクレルで、 これまでに20キロ圏内で検出されていた値よりも高かった。ほかに田村市、広野町、川内村、南相馬市、二本松市でもストロンチウムが検出された。文科省は 採取した土壌をさらに細かく分析するという。

The highest numbers come from the Akogi district in Namie-machi, with 250 becquerels/kg strontium-90 and 1,500 becquerels/kg strontium-89. In Iitate-mura, 36 kilometers northwest of the plant, 120 becquerels/kg strontium-90 and 1,100 becquerels/kg strontium-89 were detected; these amounts were even higher than those that had been detected earlier within 20 kilometer radius from the plant. Radioactive strontium was also detected from the soil samples from Tamura City, Hirono-machi, Kawauchi-mura, Minami-Soma City, Nihonmatsu City. The Ministry of Education and Science will further analyze the soil samples.


Radioactive strontium melts at a higher temperature than cesium to be volatilized. The fact that strontium has been detected would mean that the reactor core started to melt from the early stage of the accident, and then radioactive materials were released.

 ストロンチウムは人体に入ると、骨にたまる性質がある。原子力安全委事務局の加藤重治・内閣府審議官は「ストロンチウムはセシウムに対して一定の割合で 存在している。そのため、食べ物からの取り込み分はセシウムの規制値を守っていればストロンチウムについても影響はない。ただ、土壌から体内に取り込まな いよう注意すべきだ」と話している。

Once ingested, strontium tends to accumulate in bones. The Japanese government's Nuclear Safety Commission's spokesman Shigeharu Kato says, "Strontium exists at a certain ratio to cesium. Therefore, as long as the safety limit for cesium in food is observed, there is no ill effect from strontium. But caution is necessary not to ingest it from the soil."

The Nuclear Safety Commission: "We knew that."

I guess they didn't feel like announcing it.

("Now They Tell Us" Series) #Fukushima I Nuke Accident: 1 Ton of Hydrogen In Few Hours After Fuel Rods Got Exposed

NISA couldn't stop physics from working its way at Fukushima I Nuke Plant, so they did their best to hide it. And the reporters, usually not very much trained in physics not to mention any science at all, didn't know what to ask at the press conferences in the early days of the accidents and/or didn't understand the answer given by TEPCO or NISA.

Those few who did ask and did understand, and wrote about their speculation about the condition of the plant were branded as "fear-mongering liars" both by the government, the MSM who received tons of advertising money from the electric power companies who run nuke plants all over Japan, and also by a surprising number of ordinary Japanese, usually well-educated and therefore very trusting of the "official" explanations.

Anyway, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency now says a huge amount of hydrogen was generated only a few hours after the fuel rods started to get exposed in the Reactors 1, 2 and 3.

Maybe they've finally read the entries in English Wikipedia about "corium".

And always remember this PM assistant who said "We knew it was meltdown from the beginning, we didn't feel like announcing it", and the MSM who let him get away with it.

(That assistant, Goshi Hosono, is visiting the US (the link is in Japanese) to "exchange" information with high-ranking US officials. He will then go to the UK and France, steadfast supporters and promoters of nuclear energy along with the US and Japan.)

From Yomiuri Shinbun (9:43PM JST 6/8/2011):


The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) analyzed the data that suggests the maximum 1 ton of hydrogen gas was rapidly generated within few hours that the fuel rods in the Reactors 1, 2 and 3 started to get damaged at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant.


The majority of the hydrogen gas was generated within the first few hours, which probably led to the hydrogen explosions in the reactor buildings.


According to the NISA's analysis, the water level in the Reactor Pressure Vessel at Reactor 1 started to decline at about 5:00PM on March 11, 2 hours after the earthquake. The fuel rods started to get exposed, and one hour later zirconium in the cladding started to interact with water, generating hydrogen gas. Within few hours, most of 1 ton of hydrogen gas was generated.


Hydrogen gas started to get generated at about 8:00PM on March 14 in Reactor 2, and at about 10:00AM on March 13 in Reactor 3. In both cases, it took place within 2 hours after the fuel rods started to get exposed. The amount of hydrogen gas in Reactor 2 was 0.8 ton, and 1 ton in Reactor 3.

#Fukushima Update: Power Back On in Reactors 1 and 2

(From various Japanese papers)

TEPCO doesn't know yet what caused the power outage in the Reactors 1 and 2. The power stopped for these reactors from 2:20PM to 5:30PM on June 8.

TEPCO plans to open the double door to the Reactor 2 reactor building after they install the air filtering system and run it for several days to "reduce" the amount of radiation inside the reactor building. The same exercise that they did for the Reactor 1 reactor building.

The air filtering system is scheduled to start operating on June 11, which happens to be the day when big "anti-nuke plant" rallies are planned throughout Japan.

In the meantime, the president of TEPCO, Masataka Shimizu, verbally scolded (without any penalty) the head of Fukushima I Nuke Plant, Masao Yoshida, for not stopping the seawater injection on March 11 as agreed at TEPCO and not reporting it to the TEPCO headquarters.

"Tatemae" at its best (I should say worst.)

Just In: Power Outage in Reactors 1 and 2 at #Fukushima I Nuke Plant, Nitrogen Injection Stopped

Kyodo News Japanese (3:52PM JST 6/8/2011):


According to TEPCO, power went out in the afternoon on June 8 in the Reactors 1 and 2 at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. The lights are out in the central control rooms. The nitrogen injection system in the Reactor 1 and some of the monitoring posts have stopped. TEPCO is investigating the cause.

A tweet from NHK's Science and Culture division says this about the nitrogen injection system:


Rather, they halted the nitrogen injection because the pressure [inside the Containment Vessel] went up.

Minor electrical problem, I'm sure. Nothing to worry about. Besides, the Reactor 1's Containment Vessel has been breached. How could the pressure go up?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

("Now They Tell Us" Series) #Radiation in Tokyo: 2.7 Microsieverts/Hr Air Radiation Inside Sewage Treatment Facility in Ota-ku, Tokyo

2.7 microsieverts per hour air radiation level is the highest ever detected in Tokyo so far, and almost the same air radiation level as Iitate-mura in Fukushima Prefecture, which is designated as "planned evacuation zone".

So, what is the excuse by the Tokyo Metropolitan government for withholding this information? "It was detected inside the building. The radiation was no problem at the perimeter of the facility."

It's not even a good excuse.

From Yomiuri Shinbun (2:33PM JST 6/8/2011):


The survey by the Tokyo Metropolitan government revealed that the 2.7 microsieverts/hour radiation was detected in the air inside the sewage treatment facility in Ota-ku, Tokyo.

 計画的避難区域の福島県飯舘村の放射線量と同程度で、文部科学省によると、都内でこれほどの放射線量が検出されたのは 初めて。放射性物質を含む汚泥の影響とみられるが、都は「検出場所は屋内。敷地の境界では問題なく、誤解を招く恐れがある」とし、調査結果を公表していな かった。

The radiation level is almost the same as in Iitate-mura in Fukushima Prefecture which is designated as "planned evacuation zone". According to the Ministry of Education and Science, it is the highest air radiation level ever detected in Tokyo. The radiation is considered to have come from the radioactive sewage sludge, but the Tokyo Metropolitan government didn't disclose the survey result, because "it was detected inside the facility. There was no problem on the facility's perimeter, and it would have caused confusion if we had disclosed the result."

 都によると、この施設は都下水道局の「南部スラッジプラント」で、都内2か所の下水処理場で発生した汚泥を集めて焼却し、灰を東京湾に埋め立てる などしている。都の5月の調査では、この施設の焼却灰から1キロ・グラム当たり1万540ベクレルの放射性セシウムを検出していた。

According to the Tokyo Metropolitan government, the facility is "Nanbu [Southern] Sludge Plant", which collects sewage sludge from two sewage treatment centers in Tokyo and burn it, and bury the ashes in the landfill on the Tokyo Bay. In the government survey in May, 10,540 becquerels/kilogram of radioactive cesium was detected from the slag from this plant.

As this blog posted back in May, "Tobu [Eastern] Sludge Plant" in Koto-ku had 170,000 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive cesium in the slag, which had already been sold as cement material. I hate to think how high their air radiation level was inside the plant.

#Fukushima II's Contaminated Water: Cobalt-60, Cesium-134, Cesium-137

More on the earlier post on 3,000 tons of contaminated water at Fukushima II Nuke Plant.

From Yomiuri Shinbun (1:28PM JST 6/8/2011):


TEPCO disclosed on June 8 that it has entered into negotiations with the government agencies and local municipalities to treat the contaminated water in the basements of the buildings at Fukushima II Nuclear Power Plant and release it into the ocean. 

同原発では、津波で流れ込んだ海水に、配管類のさびなどから出たとみられる放射性物質のコバルト60や、約10キロ北 の福島第一原発から飛来したと考えられるセシウム137、134などが混ざった汚染水がたまっている。汚染濃度は、海への放出が認められている濃度限界の 10~30倍程度。

The water is from the tsunami [on March 11], and it contains radioactive cobalt-60 which probably came from the rusty pipes, and cesium-137 and cesium-134 which are considered to have flown from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant 10 kilometers north. The level of contamination is 10 to 30 times the limit allowed for the discharge into the ocean.

Mainichi Shinbun Japanese reports the level of radioactive materials is "normal" for a nuclear plant during the normal operation.

Hmmm. So, in a normal operation, radioactive cesium will fly from a nearby nuke plant and somehow land on the basement of the enclosed reactor building. Right.

TEPCO's press release on the subject is not up yet.

Genkai Nuclear Plant with MOX-Fuel "Pluthermal" Reactor To Get Back Online by Early July

The municipal government of Genkai-cho in Saga Prefecture (red in the map) in Kyushu and Kyushu Electric Power Company are ready to re-start the Reactors 3 and 4 at Genkai Nuclear Power Plant.

The Reactor 3 at Genkai Nuclear Power Plant uses MOX fuel in addition to uranium fuel, in what the Japanese call "pluthermal" (plutonium + thermal) nuclear power generation. In fact, it is the first MOX fuel reactor in Japan. (The Fukushima I's Reactor 3 is the third one.)

Japan's MOX fuel comes from France, by the way.

In December 2010, 1 year after they started using MOX fuel in the reactor for commercial power generation, an elevated level of radioactive iodine was detected in the RPV cooling water (4 times the limit). They discovered that there were minute pinholes in one fuel rod (uranium) through which radioactive iodine was leaking (Yomiuri Shinbun Kyushu edition, 12/11/2010, Kyushu Electric press release 2/8/2011, in Japanese). Upon the discovery, the plant shut down the Reactor 3 and started a "regular maintenance" earlier than scheduled.

8 out of 12 town assemblymen in Genkai-cho are in favor of re-starting the reactors, quite satisfied with the beefed-up safety measures at the plant. Problem? What problem? Iodine leaking? What is iodine?

The plant is located in northern Kyushu, in Saga Prefecture. Talk about downwind. Almost entire Japan will be downwind from the plant.

Money talks, and talks loud.

From Tokyo Shinbun, citing Kyodo News but including more info than Kyodo News (02:14AM JST 6/8/2011):

 佐賀県玄海町の岸本英雄町長は7日、定期検査で停止中の九州電力玄海原発2、3号機について、九電に安全対策強化などの条件を提示した上で、7月 初旬までに運転再開への同意を伝える方針を明らかにした。東京電力福島第1原発の事故後、原発が立地する自治体が再稼働を容認するのは初。

Hideo Kishimoto, mayor of Genkai-cho in Saga Prefecture, said on June 7 he would agree to Kyushu Electric Power Company's re-starting the Reactors 2 and 3 at its Genkai Nuclear Power Plant by early July, after showing Kyushu Electric the conditions for the re-start including increased safety measures at the plant. It will be the first time any local government agrees to the re-start of a nuclear power plant in its jurisdiction.


There is no law that requires the consent of local municipalities and assemblies to restart reactors after a regular maintenance. However, Kyushu Electric has said the "local consensus" of the prefecture and the town should be in place before the restart. Saga governor Yasushi Furukawa, who has shown


Mayor Kishimoto plans to call the executives at Kyushu Electric to his office around July 1, hand them the memorandum that specifies the conditions for the restart which include 1) stronger measures against terrorism and heavy rains; 2) reduction of human errors as much as possible; 3) PR to the local residents for greater understanding, and will verbally give his consent to the re-start.

  玄海町議会は今月1日の特別委員会で、町議全12人のうち8人が再開に賛成の意を表明済み。岸本町長は「本来なら国が一定の判断をすべきだが、町議会が賛 成の判断を固め、震災後の緊急安全対策もきちんと実施されていることが確認できた。九州の生活を守るには(運転再開が)必要だ」と理由を説明した。

The Genkai-cho Assembly already gave its approval in a special committee meeting on June 1, with 8 assemblymen out of 12 giving their consent to the re-start. Mayor Kishimoto says, "The national government ought to give the decision, but the town Assembly has approved, and we are able to confirm that the emergency safety measures after the March 11 earthquake have been effectively carried out. In order to protect the way of life in Kyushu, the re-start of the reactors at Genkai is necessary."


Meanwhile, the Saga prefectural government will call on the METI's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency on June 9, and receive the explanation on earthquake countermeasures. The prefectural government is still in talks with Kyushu Electric over the re-start of the reactors.

The governor of Saga is another elite Tokyo University graduate (law school), and a career government bureaucrat.

#Radiation in Japan: Gifu Prefecture Doesn't Have Potassium Iodide Pills Ready for Residents

Gifu Prefecture, which sits right about the middle of Japan and downwind from the "Genpatsu Ginza" (Nuke Plant Thoroughfare) in Fukui Prefecture where 14 nuclear reactors including the fast breeder Monju are located right on the pristine Wakasa Bay, admits that it didn't have potassium iodide pills for the residents ready for a nuclear accident. Gifu Shinbun reported on June 7 (in Japanese).

According to Gifu Shinbun, the Gifu prefectural government used to store about 2,500 doses, but that was ditched in 2006, partly because there was a company that manufactured potassium iodide pills in the prefecture. The government decided to rely on the company and the pharmaceutical industry associations in the prefecture to supply the pills to the government as necessary in a nuclear accident.

Gifu Prefecture has a population of over 2 million as of August 2010.

The newspaper reports that in late March this year after the Fukushima accident, the pharmaceutical company donated 35,000 doses of potassium iodide, which then were distributed to seven hospitals in 5 areas.

Well, Gifu Prefecture is not alone. Back on March 16, CBS News in the US reported that the Japanese national government only had 230,000 doses of potassium iodide.

(Is it any wonder that 2 TEPCO employees who exceeded 250 millisievert/yr limit by wide margin didn't take potassium iodide after one day? Maybe there were no more doses...)

Nuclear power plants have been sold to the populace as "safe" for almost a half century in Japan. Stocking up on potassium iodide has been considered an awkward admission that the nuke plants may not be so safe, and therefore hasn't been done at least publicly. It turns out it hasn't been done privately either.

Japanese Government's Report to IAEA on Fukushima I Nuke Plant Accident

It is written as if the accident is long over and now irrelevant.

I'm reading it now. It looks like the IAEA report to the Japanese government, and it also looks like the presentation that one of the government's favorite nuclear scholars at Tokyo University made in late May (h/t helios).

Why do I get this suspicion that all three were written by the same set of people?

The most hilarious part of the report to me is the "lessons learned" section. Before they "learn the lessons", they'd better stop these reactors from spreading further radiation, FIRST.

The Japanese government report to the IAEA (in English):

The IAEA report to the Japanese government:

Professor Naoto Sekimura's presentation on May 26 to the US Academy of Sciences in Washington DC :

#Fukushima II (Not I) Nuke Plant Wants to Dump 3,000 Tons of Water into the Ocean

Did you even know that there was water in the basement of Fukushima II ("Daini")? And that water needs to be treated to remove the radioactive materials?

TEPCO fears that the power supply equipments in the basements may degrade from the salt water from tsunami, but if they have been sitting in the salt water for nearly 3 months, they are practically worthless, I would assume.

Again, a brilliant design by GE, having the power supply in the basement in a nuclear power plant right by the ocean in an earthquake/tsunami-prone country.

From Japan's TBS News (10:58PM JST 6/7/2011; the link will probably be changed or disappear soon, as is often the case with the TV broadcasters):


It has been revealed that TEPCO wants to release about 3,000 tons of water in the reactor buildings [and turbine buildings, according to the news clip at the site] of Fukushima II Nuclear Power Plant. However, fearing the negative effect on marine products, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is strongly against the plan, making the negotiations between TEPCO and the Ministry difficult.


The reactors at Fukushima II Nuke Plant are in "cold shutdown". But the tsunami after the March 11 earthquake inundated the reactor buildings and the turbine buildings. TEPCO planned the release of this large amount of water into the ocean, and has been negotiating with the government officials.


This salt water is estimated to be about 3,000 tons. Since it has been sitting in the basements for long time now, the power supply equipments in the basements may degrade


TEPCO says it will remove the radioactive materials in the water to the level lower than allowed by law before releasing it into the ocean. But the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is strongly against the plan, fearing the effect on the marine products.

Monday, June 6, 2011

#Fukushima I Nuke Accident: Japanese Government Admits "Melt-Through" in Reactors 1, 2 and 3

It's so predictable how these politicians and bureaucrats behave: like they have behaved ever since the start of the accident.

Yomiuri Shinbun (original in Japanese; 6/7/2011) reports that the Japanese government will now admit in the report to IAEA that the "melt-through" may have taken place in the Reactors 1, 2 and 3 at Fukushima I Nuke Plant.

According to Yomiuri, "melt-through" happens when the melted fuel leaked from the Reactor Pressure Vessel and deposits at the bottom of the Containment Vessel, and is considered worse than "melt down".

Well, "fear-mongering" and "sensational" US Representative Ed Markey, D-Mass. was right then. He said back on April 6 that he'd received information that part of the reactor core had probably melted through the Reactor Pressure Vessel at the Reactor 2 at Fukushima. And the NRC said they didn't know for sure. Uh huh.

By the time the report is submitted and discussed at the IAEA, they will be talking about the corium out of the Containment Vessel, eating away the foundation.

#Fukushima I Nuke Accident Tellurium-132 Conundrum: Case of Missing Iodine and Cesium

This blog posted on June 3 that the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency revealed tellurium-132 had been detected 6 kilometers from the plant on the morning of March 12, before the venting of the Reactor 1.

Well, that Yomiuri Shinbun article in that post was incomplete, to say the least. It turns out that it was not only one location in Namie-machi where radioactive tellurium was detected but also at 3 other locations: one more location in Namie-machi, one location in Okuma-machi, and one location in Minami-Soma City.

Moreover, the same air radiation survey done by Fukushima Prefecture detected more volatile iodine-131 at half as much as tellurium, but it hardly detected any cesium-137 except at one location.

It's not supposed to happen that way, if what we've been told about the circumstance is correct, as a Kyoto University professor says in the article in Tokyo Shinbun, below.

(I'll go look for the information at NISA, and update if I find more data.)

Tokyo Shinbun (6/5/2011; emphasis added) reports the puzzling detection of tellurium-132 on March 12:

 東日本大震災の発生翌日、福島第一原発で爆発が起きる前に福島県が行ったモニタリング調査で、金属性で飛散しにくい放射性のテルルが原発から約七 キロ離れた同県浪江町などで検出されていたことが分かった。拡散しやすい揮発性の放射性ヨウ素より多く検出されており、早い段階で金属性の放射性物質が広 く飛散していた。テルルはレアメタル(希少金属)の一種で、放射性同位体のテルル132の半減期は三日余り。主にベータ線を出す。

It has been revealed that radioactive tellurium, a metal that is hard to disperse in the atmosphere, was detected on the next day [March 12] of the earthquake in Namie-machi, 7 kilometers from the plant, and other locations according to the result of the monitoring survey done by Fukushima Prefecture before the explosion at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant that day. More tellurium was detected than more volatile radioactive iodine. It shows that metallic radioactive materials [like tellurium] dispersed wide from an early stage [of the accident]. Tellurium is a rare metal, and tellurium-132 has a half-life of about 3 days, emitting beta rays.

 データは保安院が三日夜に公表。三月十二日朝から十三日夜までの大気を調べたもので、大半がこれまで未公表だった。テルル132は十二日朝から昼 すぎにかけ、浪江町の二カ所と大熊町、南相馬市で検出。濃度は一立方メートルあたり法定限度の二〇ベクレルを超える一一九~二三ベクレルだった。

The data was revealed on June 3 evening by the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency. The monitoring survey of the air was done from March 12 morning till March 13 night, and the most of the data had been withheld until June 3. Tellurium-132 was detected from the morning till the early afternoon on March 12 at 2 locations in Namie-machi, and Okuma-machi and Minami-Soma City. The concentration was between 23 to 119 becquerels per cubic meter, exceeding the safety limit of 20 becquerels per cubic meter.


At that time, there was no air escaping the reactor building as the air exchange system had stopped. The venting to release the steam was done in the afternoon of March 12, and a hydrogen explosion [in the Reactor 1] happened after the venting.


TEPCO thinks that tellurium came from the Reactor 1 whose fuel core was most damaged, and explains, "As the pressure inside the Containment Vessel rose, tellurium, along with hydrogen, may have escaped from the joints [on the Containment Vessel]. The pressure inside the reactor building also rose, and then tellurium leaked outside the building and was carried by the wind and spread wide."


However, volatile and therefore more easily dispersed iodine-131 was detected at half the amount of tellurium. Cesium-137 was detected in one location in Namie-machi in the amount exceeding that of tellurium; however, at other locations, it was detected in only minute amount.


Associate Professor Toshihiro Yamamoto of Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute (reactor physics) says "Under the circumstance that we have understood so far, it is hard to believe that tellurium would spread far."

Well it apparently did, Mr. Yamamoto. Now what?

(I guess the answer is "So what?")

#Radiation from Fukushima I Nuke Plant: It Was 850,000 Terabecquerels, NISA Now Says, and Not 370,000

In April when it nonchalantly raised the INES level of Fukushima I Nuclear Plant accident to "Level 7", the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) said the total amount of radioactive materials (iodine and cesium) released into the atmosphere from the plant was 370,000 terabequerels.

Now it's been revised to 850,000 terabecquerels, 130% jump from 370,000.

Why the revision? NISA says it underestimated the release from the Reactors 2 and 3.

And remember, the contaminated water at Fukushima I Nuke Plant contains 720,000 terabecquerels of radioactive iodine and cesium.

Slowly and steadily approaching Chernobyl.

From Mainichi Shinbun English (6/7/2011):

The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) on June 6 revised the level of radioactivity of materials emitted from the crisis hit Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant from 370,000 terabecquerels to 850,000 terabecquerels.

The Cabinet Office's Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan (NSC) had estimated that the total level of radioactivity stood at around 630,000 terabecquerels, but this figure was criticized as an underestimation. NISA officials plan to present the new figure at a ministerial meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) after reporting it to the NSC.

The NSC and NISA, which operates under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, announced a figure for the total amount of radioactivity on April 12, when the severity of the Fukushima nuclear crisis on the International Nuclear Events Scale was raised to level 7, matching that of the Chernobyl nuclear accident. In the Chernobyl accident, the total amount of radioactivity reached 5.2 million terabecquerels.

The NSC calculated the amount of radioactive materials released into the air between the outset of the crisis and April 5, based on the amount of radiation from measurements taken near the plant. NISA based its calculations on the state of the plant's reactors.

The latest figure takes into consideration the release of radioactive materials during explosions at the plant's No. 2 and 3 reactors. The INES scale designates leaks of tens of thousands of terabecquerels as level 7 events, and the seriousness of the disaster on the scale will not change as a result of NISA's revision of the amount.

Arnie Gundersen: "On-and-Off Recriticality Possible in Reactor 3"

I was listening the podcast of the interview Arnie Gundersen gave to Chris Martenson the other day (in order to translate into Japanese) and noticed something I had missed when I skimmed through the transcript for my post.

Gundersen is saying that 10% of the fuel core of the Reactor 3 may be repeating a re-criticality, on and off:

"Unit 3 may not have melted through and that means that some of the fuel certainly is lying on the bottom, but it may not have melted through and some of the fuel may still look like fuel, although it is certainly brittle. And it's possible that when the fuel is in that configuration that you can get a re-criticality. It's also possible in any of the fuel pools, one, two, three, and four pools, that you could get a criticality, as well. So there’s been frequent enough high iodine indications to lead me to believe that either one of the four fuel pools or the Unit 3 reactor is in fact, every once in a while starting itself up and then it gets to a point where it gets so hot that it shuts itself down and it kind of cycles. It kind of breathes, if you will.

"I think it's a relatively significant amount – maybe a tenth of the nuclear reactor core starts back up and shuts back down and starts back up and shuts back down. And that’s an extra heat load; you are not prepared to get rid of one tenth of a nuclear reactor’s heat by pumping water in the top."

Hiroaki Koide of Kyoto University suspected an on-and-off recriticality in the Reactor 1 back in early April when TEPCO announced, supposedly erroneously, chlorine-38 was detected. Dr. Tetsuo Matsui of Tokyo University suspected recriticality in the Reactor 2 and/or the Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool. Gundersen suspects an on-and-off recriticality in the Reactor 3 (or any of the Spent Fuel Pools).

Below is the chart of iodine-131 detection at the Federal Office of Radiation Protection in Germany, plotting the CTBTO station data from around the world. Station 38 is Takasaki, Gunma Prefecture in Japan, 218 kilometers (135 miles) from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. I always thought it was rather peculiar that there seemed to be periodic spikes in the amount of iodine-131 (also of cesium-137 but to a lesser degree) followed by a relatively calm, steady decline.

Could these spikes indicate what Gundersen is talking about? On-and-off recriticality?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Areva's Water Treatment System Revealed

TEPCO released the process diagram and photographs of the Areva's water treatment system that is being built inside the Central Waste Processing Facility at Fukushima I Nuke Plant.

Process flow:
Bigger photographs at these links:

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant Reactor 1: RPV's Pressure Turns Out to Be Very Close to Atmospheric Pressure

TEPCO installed the pressure gauge in the Reactor 1 on June 4, and surprise surprise! The pressure measurement of the Reactor Pressure Vessel (RPV) had been all wrong.

The pressure readings of the Reactor 1 RPV had been used by TEPCO to defend their position that the RPV was not damaged, or was damaged but not by much. It had been also used by TEPCO to claim that there was water inside the RPV. Say goodbye to both fantasies for good.

From METI's press releases on the Fukushima Plant Parameters on June 3 and June 5:

Reactor 1 RPV Pressure Measurement in megapascals (MPa):

June 3:
Gauge A: 0.578 MPa g
Gauge B: 1.573 MPa g

June 5:
Gauge A: 0.025 MPa g
Gauge B: discontinued

MPa g = MPa abs - atmospheric pressure (0.1013 MPa)
("g" stands for "gauge, and "abs" stands for "absolute". )

So, if you see the RPV number in MPa g equal to zero, it means the RPV pressure is equal to the atmospheric pressure. If the number is negative, like the Reactors 2 and 3 RPVs, the RPV pressure is lower than the atmospheric pressure.

The next fantasy to go will be the pressure of the Reactor 1 Containment Vessel. It is again being used as the reason to believe the melted core is still within the Containment Vessel. (Never mind that the contaminated water is leaking inside the reactor building...) TEPCO says they will install the pressure gauge for the Containment Vessel soon.

For now, the pressure numbers for Containment Vessel show that it is above the atmospheric pressure in the Drywell, and almost at the atmospheric pressure in the Suppression Chamber. That's not surprising about the SC, as we've seen the gushing of "hot" steam (4 sieverts/hour) from the compartment that houses the SC.

Reactor 1 Containment Vessel Pressure Measurement in megapascals (absolute), from METI's press release on June 5:

Drywell: 0.1301 MPa abs [or 0.029 MPa g]
Suppression Chamber: 0.110 Mpa abs [or 0.0087 Mpa g]

(Why can't they just measure everything in either MPa g or MPa abs?)

#Fukushima I Nuke Accident: Plutonium Found Outside the Plant

Actually, the sample was taken on April 21 but only now the researcher is disclosing it.

So, the US NRC's report in late March that the bits of spent fuel rods were found 1 mile (1.6 kilometer) from the plant was right.

From NHK World (6/5/2011):

Minute amounts of plutonium have been detected for the first time in soil outside the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

Shinzo Kimura of Hokkaido University collected the roadside samples in Okumamachi, some 1.7 kilometers west of the front gate of the power station. They were taken during filming by NHK on April 21st, one day before the area was designated as an exclusion zone.

Professor Masayoshi Yamamoto and researchers at a Kanazawa University laboratory analyzed the samples and found minute amounts of 3 kinds of plutonium.

The samples of plutonium-239 and 240 make up a total of 0.078 becquerels per kilogram.

This is close to the amount produced by past atomic bomb tests.

But the 3 substances are most likely to have come from the plant blasts, as their density ratio is different from those detected in the past.

Professor Yamamoto said the quantities are so minute that people's health will not be harmed.

But he recommended that the contamination near the plant should be fully investigated, saying that a study may shed light on how radioactive materials spread in the air.

Sunday, June 05, 2011 23:21 +0900 (JST)

This time, I found no egregious mistranslation from NHK World.

#Fukushima I Nuke Accident: 950 Millisievert/Hr Rubble on West Side of Reactor 3

In this day and age of measuring radiation in "sieverts" at Fukushima I Nuke Plant, anything that measures in "millisieverts" seems like a low radiation and doesn't even make the news.

Still, TEPCO's latest "survey map" (contamination map) of the plant shows a radiation from bits of concrete at 950 millisievert/hour on the west side of Reactor 3 (in the map, right below the Reactor 3 building). There's also a 550 millisievert/hour concrete block on the west side of Reactor 2, which may have flown from Reactor 3.

Spend 15 to 30 minutes handling these concrete bits, and your maximum radiation dose of 250 millisieverts as a radiation worker at Fukushima I Nuke Plant will be reached. For handling the 950 millisieverts/hr concrete bits, radiation workers in France would exceed their level of 20 millisieverts per year in slightly over a minute. For the US radiation workers, their 50 millisieverts per year would be reached in less than 4 minutes.

(The link to TEPCO's survey maps is posted on the right-hand column of this blog.)

And here's the picture of the 950 millisieverts/hr concrete bits, from TEPCO. "12 mSv/hr" dose shown on the card attached to an orange cone is clearly the air radiation: