Saturday, June 25, 2011

#Radioactive Tea in Shizuoka: Shizuoka City Mayor Launches "We Are Drinking Teas Made in Shizuoka City" Campaign

The Oxford PhD governor of Shizuoka has found a strong ally in the 49-year-old mayor of Shizuoka City.

The tea that the French authorities seized at the airport in Paris for high cesium level exceeding the safety limit by more than 100% came from Shimizu-ku in Shizuoka City.

Undeterred, Mayor Nobuhiro Tanabe has gone on the offensive. He said on June 23 that he will launch a campaign titled "We Are Drinking 'Teas Made in Shizuoka City'". He intends to work closely with the city's tea industry and force, oops, promote the teas made in Shizuoka City to consumers.

Again, radiation is a rumor, baseless rumor in Shizuoka, and in many, many places. Why is it so hard to see that if, say 300 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium is found in the tea, even if the amount is below Japan's loose provisional standard of 500 becquerels/kg, the tea is radioactive by definition? In Shizuoka City's case, it was over 1000 becquerels/kg.

Drink away, mayor. But don't force others to drink with you and do study some science.

Mainichi Shinbun Regional (Shizuoka) Version (6/24/2011):

静岡市葵区と清水区内の製茶から、暫定規制値を超える放射性セシウムが検出されたことを受け、静岡市の田辺信宏市長は23日、「私たちは、『静岡市 のお茶』を飲んでいます」プロジェクトを始めることを明らかにした。田辺市長は、「市産のお茶を積極的に飲むことで、風評被害を払しょくしていきたい」と 話した。  同プロジェクトでは、行政と市産業界が一体となって、市産のお茶の購入と飲用を推進する。また、賛同者の氏名をインターネット上で公表し、静岡茶の愛飲者の輪を広げていくという。

In response to radioactive cesium that was detected in the tea made in Aoi-ku and Shimizu-ku in Shizuoka City [in Shizuoka Prefecture], Nobuhiro Tanabe, major of Shizuoka City said he will launch a new project named "We Are Drinking 'Teas Made in Shizuoka City'". The mayor wants to "wipe out the baseless rumors by drinking the teas made in the City". In this project, the municipal government and the city's tea industry will promote the sales and consumption of the teas made in Shizuoka City to consumers. They will also publish the names of those who support the project on the internet as Shizuoka tea lovers.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Radioactive Strontium from Ocean Soil Off the Plant

Strontium-89 and strontium-90 have been detected in soil and ocean water, but for the first time they have been detected in ocean soil 3 kilometers off the coast where Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant is located. The samples from 2 locations were taken on June 2.

The Ministry of Education and Science have announced the detection of radioactive cesium from the ocean soil, but has been silent about strontium.

Strontium-89 (half-life 51 days) was detected at 140 becquerels/kg at one location (off Minami-Soma City), 42 becquerels/kg at the other (off Naraha-machi). Strontium-90 (half-life 29 year) was detected at 44 becquerels/kg at one location, 10 becquerels/kg at the other.

There is no safety standard set for radioactive strontium. The amount detected in regular sampling surveys from 1999 to 2008 at Fukushima II (not I) was ND (not detected) to 0.17 becquerel/kg.

The survey also detected a minute amount of plutonium-239+plutonium-240.

Clearly, no one cares any more in Japan. No major news outlet carried the news, not at least on line. The only paper that carried this news was the Japan Communist Party's newspaper, Akahata (red flag).

Here's TEPCO's press release on June 25, 2011:

#Fukushima I Nuke Accident: TEPCO Created Radiation Dispersion Simulation Maps on March 12

TEPCO faxed them to the government, Fukushima Prefecture, and two towns where Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant is located. The government and Fukushima Prefecture didn't bother to tell anyone else.

TEPCO's Tokyo headquarters did the simulation clearly using their own software, faxed the results back to the plant who then faxed those maps, along with the plant status data and radiation monitoring data (as much as they could get at that time) to:

  • The Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry;

  • Governor of Fukushima Prefecture;

  • Mayors of Ookuma-machi and Futaba-machi.

The simulation is in the 11,000 documents that the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, regulatory agency for the nuclear industry under the METI, suddenly decided to dump onto the public on June 24, after NHK somehow obtained part of the documents and made a news story out of it on June 22. (The news story linked is in Japanese. More later.)

TEPCO was assuming the release of noble gas (xenon, krypton, probably) and iodine. This map is one of the several that was sent out by fax, and the simulation date and time was March 11, 2011 at 11:50PM, assuming the release of radioactive materials from the exhaust tower for the Reactors 1 and 2. This map is on page 10 of the March 12 file that NISA dumped on June 24.

The release of radioactive materials was based on the assumptions as follows (handwritten note on page 6 of the March 12 file released by NISA):

Secondary [?] vent of the Reactor 2 Dry Well
"Severe Accident" with fuel damage
Capacity of Dry Well plus Suppression Chamber = 6930 cubic meters
Pressure dropping from 8 atmospheric pressure to 1 atmospheric pressure
Wind direction: north by northeast
Wind speed: 1.2 meter per second
Atmospheric stability: F [no idea what that means; "fair"?]
Amount of radiation and direction:

1 hour after the release: noble gas 26 mSv, SE 0.28 km
3 hours after the release: 50 mSv, S 4.29 km
5 hours after the release: 50 mSv, S 4.29 km

So, TEPCO assumed from the beginning that it was a "severe accident".

The simulation was for the body dose equivalent internal radiation for adults for the total of 18 locations, but it is hard to see on the map as it was faxed multiple times before it was scanned.

Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant faxed this map to the above recipients at 3:35AM JST, March 12, 2011.

At the bottom, it looks to me to be saying "amount of noble gas released: 6.01E+17 becquerels", or 6.01 x 10^17, or 601,000,000,000,000,000 becquerels or 601,000 terabequerels.

We know that the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and the NISA sat on these maps, the Fukushima prefectural government sat on them, and TEPCO didn't release them as it was not in their capacity to release to the general public. The company released them to the affected municipalities, or at least 2 of them.

Okuma-machi and Futaba-machi acted on the data, and informed the residents to evacuate using the emergency broadcasting system. We weren't told back then that the towns had this information when they evacuated the residents.

If you recall, it was only in mid May that the government decided to release the early simulations by SPEEDI.

The NISA would probably have continued to sit on them if it were not for the NHK news story.

So, where's the outrage in Japan against their government? I see a lot of anger against TEPCO, but the evidence suggests that the anger should be directed far more to the government.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Reactor 2's Pressure Gauge Still Doesn't Work

Bad juju continues at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. The temporary pressure gauge that the workers braved the high radiation to set up on June 22 in the Reactor 2's reactor building are not working properly, and TEPCO is unable to confirm the water level inside the Reactor Pressure Vessel, or whether there's any water inside.

From NHK World English (6/25/2011):

The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says it still cannot obtain accurate data on the water level and pressure of the Number 2 reactor. It says a provisional measuring device installed earlier this week is not operating properly.

Tokyo Electric Power Company believes that readings by the original device are incorrect due to damage suffered in the March disaster.

Workers at the utility company entered the Number 2 reactor building and installed the provisional gauge on Wednesday. The company initially planned to have the gauge begin providing data on Thursday.

But it says as of Saturday, the device is not yet working properly.

TEPCO says this is because the temperature near the reactor containment vessel is so high that water inside the device's pipes has evaporated.

Fuel meltdowns are believed to have occurred at the Number 1 through Number 3 reactors, leading to a possibility that there is little water left inside the Number 2 reactor.

Accurate measurement of the water level is essential for ensuring stable cooling of the reactor.

The utility is struggling to find ways to activate the device.

Just like AP's article, NHK World continues to talk about "cooling of the reactor" as if the fuel is still inside the reactor. NHK also says "fuel meltdowns", as if it were only fuel that melted down. Maybe it's the peculiarity of the Japanese language, of avoiding to use precise words out of politeness or tact, but in this nuclear accident it has served to obfuscate the situation and strangely mollify people's fear, delaying proper response.

Now we've heard news on the Reactors 1, 2 and 3 in recent days. Haven't heard much about the Reactor 4. Another minor thing I've noticed is that TEPCO has stopped disclosing the survey map (aka "contamination map") of the plant. The last one posted on TEPCO's site is dated June 5. It's been issued every week since March 23.

Friday, June 24, 2011

TEPCO President's Golden Parachute: Over 7 Million Dollars

TEPCO's President Masataka Shimizu will resign on June 28 when TEPCO holds the annual shareholders' meeting with a very rich severance package, if what's circulating on Twitter in Japan is correct.

The message is that the TEPCO's president will receive about 600,000,000 yen, or about US$7.46 million.

It's the same no matter where - US or Japan; the incompetence is rewarded, and rewarded very richly as long as you are part of the "ruling class" - politicians, top executives at major corporations with strong connections with the government.

Shimizu, not an engineer, has been known for the relentless cost-cutting at TEPCO, which contributed to the bottom line for the shareholders. Never mind if some of his cost cutting measures may have contributed to the worst nuclear disaster that Japan has ever seen.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: TEPCO Cannot Confirm Identities of 37 Workers

TEPCO was so desperate to recruit workers for Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant that it hired people who didn't even "exist". Or rather, workers used pseudonyms at Fukushima I so that they could keep working at other nuke plants later without the radiation limit restricting them from working elsewhere.

Mainichi Shinbun Japanese (6/24/2011) reports that 37 of 69 workers whom TEPCO cannot trace after they stopped working at the plant used bogus names.


TEPCO haven't been able to contact 69 workers who worked at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant in March and whose internal radiation levels haven't been measured. On June 24, the company announced that 37 workers out of 69 cannot be confirmed even to exist.


TEPCO's Junichi Matsumoto said, "We can't rule out the possibility that those workers used pseudonyms to hide the level of radiation exposure so that they could work at other nuclear power plants [after their work at Fukushima I]."


All 37 workers were registered as employees of TEPCO affiliate companies. But TEPCO couldn't confirm that the workers existed when the company contacted its affiliate companies.

TEPCO's affiliate companies include large manufacturers like Toshiba, Hitachi and Kandenko. They each hire subcontractors, who then hire their own subcontractors, all the way down to at least 5, 6 layers. At the bottom of the subcontracting pyramid, they are often one-man operations that find willing workers, even from far-away places like Okinawa (video is in Japanese), where there is no nuke plant.

Made-In-Japan Robot "Quince" Joined the Also-Failed at #Fukushima I Nuke Plant

Kurion's water treatment system underperformed by a vast margin, T-Hawk crashed on the roof of the Reactor 2 building, and now the Japanese robot "Quince" got caught in a bad juju at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant.

"Quince" was designed and developed by Chiba Institute of Technology, and was going to install the water gauge for the highly contaminated water (radiation near the surface of water was 430 millisieverts/hour the other day) in the basement of the Reactor 2's reactor building.

(Photo is from CIT's site. You can see how it is supposed to work here on Youtube.)

Quince tried to go there in the morning of June 24, but it got stuck in the stairway leading to the basement, and had to be retrieved by the carbon-based workers.

From AP Tokyo (6/24/2011):

The Quince robot, developed by Chiba Institute of Technology for nuclear and biological disaster relief activity, had ventured out into the Unit 2 reactor building to set up a gauge to measure the contaminated water pooling in the basement. Radioactivity inside the reactor buildings is too high for workers to take measurements there.

The machine got stuck at a staircase landing and failed to go downstairs, TEPCO spokesman Junichi Matsumoto said. A cable that was supposed to drop a gauge into the basement also malfunctioned.

The workers retrieved the robot and were going to make adjustments before sending it back in for another try, Matsumoto said. He did not elaborate.

TEPCO's handout for the press doesn't make any mention of it, although it does mention the crashed T-Hawk.

By the way, the above AP article, just like any other reports by the Japan-based media, continues to say:

TEPCO and the government have said they hope to achieve a cold shutdown of the reactors by January by bringing the core temperatures to below 100 Celsius (212 Fahrenheit.)

A "cold shutdown" cannot even be defined for a broken reactor where the fuel core had melted away along with control rods and other in-vessel equipment and got out of the Reactor Pressure Vessel and probably out of the Containment Vessel. The RPV is broken, and so is the Containment Vessel. Sure, TEPCO measures temperature of the RPVs, but what does that mean, when the corium is already out of the RPVs? How could a temperature of a broken RPV be an indication for a "cold shutdown"? Do they know how hot the escaped corium is, or where exactly the corium is right now?

Do reporters ask such questions?

#Contaminated Water Processing: AREVA Overachieved, Kurion Underachieved, But Full-Run Ready Next Week

According to TEPCO, Kurion's system reduced radioactive cesium in the highly contaminated water at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant to about 1/16 (or Decontamination Factor (DF) of 16), again falling short of 1/1,000 as hoped for.

But that was made up by AREVA's system that reduced radioactive cesium to about 1/6,700 (Decontamination Factor of 6,700) after Kurion, making the entire system reduction at slightly over 1/100,000. Good enough to go, even though they had hoped for 1/1,000,000.

Kurion's system fared even worse than the previous test with highly contaminated water announced on June 22. So it may not be just a matter of switching the order of decontamination or changing the zeolite types.

(Kurion can blame "workers", like TEPCO does habitually...)

From TEPCO's handout for the press, June 24 (Japanese only, so far), I added the English labels, DF for each system, and spelled out the amount of nuclides. The higher the DF, the better the system performance is. (Click on the image for a clearer view.)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: T-Hawk Helicopter Crashed onto Reactor 2 Building

The US-made unmanned helicopter T-Hawk crashed on the roof of the Reactor 2 reactor building of Fukushima I Nuke Power Plant as it was taking air samples for radiation measurement.

Never a dull day at Fukushima I.

Yomiuri Shinbun (12:31PM JST 6/24/2011) reports:


TEPCO announced on June 24 that the US-made unmanned helicopter T-Hawk became inoperable at about 7AM and crashed into the roof of the Reactor 2's reactor building. The helicopter was taking air samples to measure radiation.


T-Hawk weighs about 8 kilogram, with the wingspan of about 50 centimeters. There is no fire or smoke observed on the building, but TEPCO will use the crane to take a video of the roof and make sure there is no damage to the building.


The reactor building's double door has been open since the night of June 19 to release the humid air inside the building. T-Hawk was to fly over the Reactor 2 to collect air samples, and to measure the radiation after landing.

#Radiation in Japan: "Experiment" Just Got Bigger, As Fukushima to Fit All Infants, Kindergarteners, School Children with Radiation Monitoring Badges

(CORRECTION: From NHK English it was not clear how young these children could be, but I checked the NHK Japanese, and found out that they will distribute these badges to 0-year-olds and older, all the way to junior high school students.)

There they go. Dr. Shunichi Yamashita must be thrilled for the prospect of a research of a lifetime!

Fukushima Prefecture decided to fit ALL kindergarteners, elementary school and junior high school children in Fukushima Prefecture, 280,000 of them, with what NHK World called "dosimeter" to monitor the radiation level as experienced by these small and young children.

From NHK World (English) (6/24/2011):

Fukushima Prefecture has decided to distribute dosimeters to about 280 thousand children to monitor their radiation exposure caused by the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Voices of parents expressing concern about their children's health have been growing louder.

The prefecture said on Thursday it will give dosimeters to children ranging from infants to junior high school students.

The prefecture will also subsidize cities and villages to replace top soil in the school yards or set up air conditioners in schools.

Some municipalities in the prefecture have already distributed, or decided to distribute, dosimeters to children to monitor radiation exposure.

The prefecture will provide financial help to those municipalities.

Voices of parents have been getting louder indeed, but they don't necessarily demanding for the radiation monitoring badges; they are demanding that their cities and towns do something to lower the radiation especially in the school environment and measure radiation in more detail so that their children can avoid "hot spots".

As I mentioned in my previous post, these are not "dosimeters" but "glass badges" that passively collect radiation information. It won't help these children or their parents to avoid high-radiation areas and spots, it won't tell them how much radiation they will have been exposed unless they are sent in to a company to interpret the data.

It costs about 3,000 yen a piece (US$37), so the total cost of the badges will be 840 million yen, or about US$10 million for the entire Fukushima Prefecture.

The company that manufactures these glass badges is Chiyoda Technol Corporation in Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo. Tokyo Brown Tabby, on reading my blogpost, called the company's Tokyo regional sales office. And here's what Tabby found:

  • You can't tell the amount of radiation the wearer has been exposed just by looking at the badge;

  • It is not designed to give alarm sound when the radiation is high;

  • It will be collected after a certain period of time, and the data will be downloaded from the badge by Chiyoda Technol, and the company will report back to the municipalities.

(Image from Chiyoda Technol site)

Well, the national government and the Fukushima government willfully withheld information on radioactive materials being carried by the wind and dispersed in the wide areas in the first 2 weeks of the accident because they "feared panic". So what do they do now? Not much, other than issuing one "safety declaration" after another and glass badges to children. As long as people look to them for "guidance" and "direction", they are safe and secure in their positions.

Monju: The In-Vessel Transfer Machine Has Been Pulled Out

3rd time charm.

The Japan Atomic Energy Agency who runs the Monju Fast Breeder Reactor announced the In-Vessel Transfer Machine (IVTM) was successfully pulled out of the reactor at 4:55AM JST on June 24.

Ministry of Environment Sets Radiation Standard for Ocean Water for Beach-Goers

The amount of iodine-131 in the seawater is to be less than 30 becquerels/liter, and radioactive cesium is to be less than 50 becquerels/liter (I assume it is the total of cesium-134 and -137) in order for the local municipalities to open their beaches.

The Ministry felt, no doubt, that it could set the limits very low because the tests done by the local governments showed there was no radioactive materials detected in the ocean water at the beaches, except one in Fukushima that detected 13 becquerels/liter of radioactive cesium.

These limits are lower than the legal density limits for radioactive materials in the exhaust water out of a nuclear power plant in a normal operation:

  • Iodine-131: 40 becquerels/liter
  • Cesium-134: 60 becquerels/liter
  • Cesium-137: 90 becquerels/liter

They are also lower than the provisional limit for drinking water and milk for babies. By the way, did you know that the provisional standards for radioactive materials in water and milk for babies are HIGHER than those for the exhaust water from a nuclear plant?:

  • Iodine-131: 100 becquerels/liter
  • Cesium total: 100 becquerels/liter

Not to mention they are much lower than the provisional limits for drinking water and milk for the rest of the population:

  • Iodine-131: 300 becquerels/liter
  • Cesium (total): 200 becquerels/liter

The reasoning? Read the article I translated below, and be puzzled.

From Fukui Shinbun (6/23/2011):

環境省は23日、全国の海水浴場など海や湖沼、河川にある遊泳場所(水浴場)を安全に利用できる目安とし て、放射性セシウム濃度は水1リットル当たり50ベクレル以下、放射性ヨウ素は30ベクレル以下とする指針値を策定した。適用は今夏限り。24日に全都道 府県に通知する。

The Ministry of the Environment announced its guideline on June 23 regarding the safe use of bathing facilities at the ocean, lakes and rivers in Japan, setting the limits of radioactive materials in the water at 50 becquerels/liter for radioactive cesium and 30 becquerels/liter for radioactive iodine. This guidance will apply to this summer only. The Ministry will formally notify the prefectural governments on June 24.

...指針値は、放射性セシウムで1リットル当たり200ベクレルという飲料水の暫定基準値より厳しい設定とな る。理由について環境省は「日常生活に不可欠な飲料水などと違い、海水浴などのレジャーは余暇を楽しむ選択的行為だから、被ばくは可能な限り小さく抑える のが望ましい」と説明している。

The guideline numbers are lower than the provisional safety limits on drinking water. The Ministry of the Environment explained the reasoning as "Unlike drinking water which is indispensable for daily life, the ocean bathing is a recreational activity that people choose to do. So, it is desirable to make the radiation exposure as small as possible."


The Ministry will leave the decision of whether to open the beaches to the local municipalities. Already, Iwate and Miyagi Prefectures have decided not to open any beaches at all within the prefectures, and Fukushima Prefecture is not going to open any ocean beaches.

Well, WHAT ABOUT THE BEACH SAND? Has anyone measured the beach sand, with the equipment that can measure alpha, beta and gamma rays? People will sit on the beach, lie down on the beach for sun bathing. Bare feet and near-naked bodies. Hello? AND OCEAN SOIL?

Maybe it is safe to swim, but I wouldn't sun-bathe on the beach unless I hear someone actually tested the sand.

Monju: Pull-Out of In-Vessel Transfer Machine Still On-Going

(UPDATE: The technical glitch that delayed the start of the operation was a argon gas leak at the bottom of the container that would hold the IVTM as it was being pulled out of the reactor. Argon gas fills the reactor to prevent air from entering the sodium-cooled reactor. Information from Fukui Shinbun.)


The attempt to remove the 3.3-ton In-Vessel Transfer Machine from the Monju fast breeder reactor was supposed to start in the morning of June 23 JST, and the operation was supposed to be over by now (3:00AM JST on June 24). However, some technical glitches delayed the start, and the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) who runs the reactor decided to halt the operation until June 23 night.

From Fukui Shinbun, local newspaper in Fukui Prefecture where Monju sits (5:59PM JST 6/23/2011):


The operation to pull out the In-Vessel Transfer Machine from the Monju Fast Breeder Reactor, which was scheduled to commence in the afternoon of June 23 was delayed till after the nightfall due to delay in preparing the necessary equipment for the operation. If the operation starts sometime on June 23 and everything goes smoothly, the IVTM will be out of the reactor sometime in the morning of June 24.

The operation is supposed to last for 8 to 9 hours.

According to the press release from the JAEA, the operation finally started at 8:50PM JST on June 23. There is no explanation of the cause of the delay. The press release has one picture of the operation, taken at 9:30PM:

There have been doubts expressed whether the operation is technically feasible.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

#Contaminated Water Processing at #Fukushima: Wrong Valve Was Open in Kurion's System

Or so TEPCO says. The company also says it was the worker's error.

From what I can figure from the TEPCO's handout for the press in English on June 23 (their English reads like Google translation...maybe it is), the problem was in the Skid No.4 of the cesium absorption. One valve was open which shouldn't have been, letting some of the water bypassing the cesium absorption vessels No. 2 and No.3.

So, will this account for 1/20 of desired performance by the Kurion system? TEPCO is running the test with this valve closed.

#Radiation in Japan: Children as Subjects of Radiation Research?

Some anecdotes I picked up from Japanese blogs and tweets about Fukushima Prefecture that seems to agree with what Professor Kunihiko Takeda of Chubu University has been saying all along, that schools are forcing children to be exposed to more radiation. I do not vouch for accuracy.

  • At one school in Aizu City, if parents want their children to have the physical education class indoors, they have to petition the school. The school knows very well that many parents are intimidated to ask for a "special" treatment for their children. The default PE class is outdoors.

  • Some schools and kindergartens are having the parents sign a consent form to let their children play on the schoolyards, and use the consent as some sort of endorsement for "safety" when someone questions the wisdom.

  • Some junior high schools say they will give students who skip the outdoor PE class the lowest grade, even if that significantly lower the grade point average for the seniors trying to get into good high schools.

  • School principals in Fukushima are trying hard to persuade parents not to remove their children from the schools.

And then, there is this news that has been reported widely in Japan as something "good": Cities and towns in Fukushima Prefecture are fitting children - kindergarteners, elementary school children, and junior high school children - with radiation monitoring badges to keep track of the external radiation that they will receive.

I wrote about it on June 10, when Date City in Fukushima Prefecture decided to fit the young children with "dosimeter". I didn't like the news, as I thought they'd better move those children from places where the radiation monitoring was necessary.

Then I found out that these radiation monitoring devises (which was described in the news as "dosimeter") were not the kind that beeps when high radiation is detected. It is just a badge to record the cumulative external radiation that the wearer is exposed to, usually in one month. It doesn't help small children or their parents avoid high-radiation "hot spots". It just records how much radiation that children receive as they continue to live and play in the elevated radiation environment.

Schools doing all they can to keep children coming to schools and playing outdoors, and the prefectural and municipal governments fitting them with radiation monitoring badges to record the cumulative radiation.

Children in Fukushima seem to have been turned into subjects of a radiation research.

For these kids in Kawamata-machi in Fukushima Prefecture, Kinki University in Osaka has donated those badges. The University is noted for its cancer research.

Monju: They Will Try to Pull Out the In-Vessel Transfer Machine on June 23

(UPDATE: Operation started late, and it is still on-going as of 11:24AM Pacific Standard Time in the US. See my post.)


The 3.3-ton In-Vessel Transfer Machine (IVTM) dropped back inside the Reactor Vessel of Monju Fast Breeder Reactor in August last year, when they were finishing up on exchanging the fuel rods. The past 2 attempts to pull out the IVTM were unsuccessful.

This time, by removing the "sleeves" (part of the lid) with the 12-meter-long IVTM, they think they can pull the whole thing out and without any air entering the reactor.

According to Fukui Shinbun (6/22/2011), they will pull out very slowly (6 centimeters/minute), and the entire process is expected to last 8 to 9 hours.

The coolant of this reactor is sodium, which burns on contact with air. The reactor uses MOX-fuel.

Information from Monju site on how to pull out the In-Vessel Transfer Machine (blue rod in the diagram):

TV Asahi did a documentary on Monju in June, in which you get to see the inside of Monju:

増殖炉事故 [もんじゅ] 現場で何が・・・内部取材 by sean2010jp

About 3 minutes and 30 seconds into the documentary, a local councilman shouts at the Monju operators after the sodium leak and fire accident in 1995: "A courage to climb the mountain? You need a courage to quit, you idiot!"

About 10 minutes into the documentary, you get to see the inside of the Containment Vessel of Monju. Brightly lit, cavernous hall. We cannot assume the safety of the reactor, but if there is no radiation leak, it means it is safe, says the engineer.

17, 18 minutes into the documentary, you see the public buildings built by Tsuruga City with the money from the government for having nuclear reactors. The documentary then shows the local fishermen reluctant to say anything about Monju. One elderly man says "Safe, of course it's safe." One elderly woman says "I can't answer anything", when asked about the nuclear accident in Fukushima.

Contaminated Water Processing at #Fukushima: Kurion's System Achieved Less Than 1/20 of Hoped-For Performance

AREVA's system fared better, achieving 40% of the hoped-for performance.

The reason? The deadly combo of seawater and very high radioactive materials in it.

According to TEPCO's handout for the press on June 22, Kurion's system managed to reduce the radioactive materials as follows:


Before the treatment: 6900 becquerels/cubic centimeter
After the treatment: 990 becquerels/cubic centimeter
Decon Factor: 6.97
Hoped-for DF: not known


Before the treatment: 2,000,000 becquerels/cubic centimeter
After the treatment: 43,000 becquerels/cubic centimeter
Decontamination Factor: 46.5
Hoped-for DF: 1,000


Before the treatment: 2,200,000 becquerels/cubic centimeter
After the treatment: 48,000 becquerels/cubic centimeter
Decon Factor: 45.8
Hoped-for DF: 1,000

So, Kurion's system achieved less than 1/20 (or 4.6%) of the performance hoped for.

The result for AREVA's system are listed as "ND" (not detected), but it was assumed by TEPCO that AREVA's system's Decon Factor was less than 400, where 1,000 was hoped for. (Information from Yomiuri Shinbun)

By using both Kurion's and AREVA's systems, TEPCO had hoped that the radioactive materials in the water could be reduced to 1/1,000,000.

If Kurion's system reduced the radioactive materials to about 1/46 and AREVA's system 1/400, the combined performance was only 1/18,400, short of the minimum performance needed for the smooth operation of the desalination system (by Hitachi).

Desalination is essential if TEPCO wants to use the treated water as cooling water for the reactors.

TEPCO's Matsumoto said in the press conference that he had hoped that the water treatment system would start running full-scale in a couple of days, but now he wasn't sure when. (Information from Asahi Shinbun)

The Tohoku region that include Fukushima Prefecture entered the rainy season on June 21.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Reactor 2 Radiation at 430 Millisieverts/Hr

TEPCO sent in 7 of its employees and 3 "affiliate" company employees to the Reactor 2 reactor building on June 21 to take some measurements in preparation for the future work.

The highest radiation measured was 430 millisieverts/hour on the way to the 1st basement floor. The radiation on the 2nd floor seems generally higher than the 1st floor.

The overall radiation level is pretty high, judging from the amount of time they spent inside the building and the amount of external radiation they received. They spent 10 minutes measuring over 30 locations, and received between 2.16 and 5.52 millisieverts.

If the Reactors 1 and 3 are the examples, they must have taken the video, more photographs, and gamma-ray photographs. Why they can't disclose all of them at once, I don't know.

TEPCO's handout for the press on June 22, 2011:

Note the water in the photos of the 1st floor. The color of the water is rust red. According to Asahi Shinbun, the depth of the water is 6.1 meters from the basement floor, about half way to the 1st floor.

The stairs that they measured 430 millisieverts/hour radiation is in the northwest corner (upper left) of the 1st floor. TEPCO says that's no problem, because the work will be mostly done on the 1st floor.

Well, with the Suppression Chamber in the basement of the Reactor 2 broken, I don't think TEPCO want to send in carbon-based workers yet.

They will be installing the pressure gauge on the Reactor Pressure Vessel of the Reactor 2. When they did the same in the Reactor 1, they found out that there was no pressure in the RPV, and there was no water.

Dr. Shunichi Yamashita, Radiation Advisor to Fukushima: "Fukusima Will Be World-Famous! It's Just Great!"

Dr. Shunichi Yamashita is a professor at Nagasaki University (molecular medicine and radiation research), who became one of the two advisors to Fukushima Prefecture in order to "educate" the residents throughout Fukushima about radiation after the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident.

He is still the radiation advisor, though a movement started by irate Fukushima residents is gathering steam to demand the prefectural government to remove him from the position. Why are they angry at him now?

Because he epitomizes the government and government scholars who told them all along that the radiation from Fukushima I Nuke Plant was at a totally safe level, there was nothing to worry about, it was all in your head, foreign news media are lying, eat, drink, play, live as normal. It turned out to be anything but normal for Fukushima.

Immediately after the accident, he was sent by the government to major cities in towns in Fukushima to address the concerns of the citizens. He addressed them by saying radiation was nothing to worry about, it was all in their heads, Fukushima would be world-famous so they shouldn't miss this great opportunity, and the residents should stay put.

Some of his incredible remarks have appeared in the US media, including this one in Democracy Now (6/10/2011):

He says that mothers, even mothers exposed to 100 millisieverts, pregnant mothers, will not have any effect, health effect. Remember the number 100. Compared to that, the Soviet Union required a mandatory evacuation during Chernobyl at five millisieverts. This doctor is quoted as saying, “The effects of radiation do not come to people that are happy and laughing. They come to people that are weak-spirited, that brood and fret.”

Well, that and so much more.

The reference that the Democracy Now guest made in the program is part of his hilarious lecture about radiation and its effect on health, delivered on March 21, 2011 in front of the large, and worried audience in Fukushima City, 60 kilometers from Fukushima I Nuke Plant, 2 days after he was appointed as the official radiation advisor to Fukushima Prefecture.

Fukushima City is the same city where Greenpeace detected cobalt-60 on June 7.

Also recall that March 21 was is one of the days that saw a large spike in air radiation throughout Kanto and Tohoku region, for reasons still not disclosed.

From the lecture on March 21 in Fukushima City, toward the end, before the Q&A session:

Original Japanese audio
Japanese transcript of the event


The name "Fukushima" will be widely known throughout the world. Fukushima, Fukushima, Fukushima, everything is Fukushima. This is great! Fukushima has beaten Hiroshima and Nagasaki. From now on, Fukushima will become the world number 1 name [when it comes to radiation/nuclear incident]. A crisis is an opportunity. This is the biggest opportunity. Hey, Fukushima, you've become famous without any efforts! [a chuckle from the audience] Why
not take advantage of this opportunity? For what? Recovery.


First off, my sincere condolences for people who died in the earthquake and tsunami. We need to deal with the loss, and to recover from this nuclear disaster. I don't know how it [the nuke accident] will affect the nuclear energy policy of the national government, as the nuclear energy is the core of the national energy policy. But I can tell you this; the health effects are minimal. The only thing we need to keep an eye on is the amount of exposure of plant workers who are working with a do-or-die resolution. But we don't have to worry about the health effects of ordinary people.


And yet you are worried. Worried about whom? Women, pregnant women, and infants. We are responsible for the future generation. So, every radiation protection safety limit is based on the amount allowable for babies. Administering potassium iodide, deciding on the evacuation, they are all based on protecting children. Adults over 20 years old have very little sensitivity to radiation. Almost zero. That's the first thing you have to remember. Still, adults are the ones who worry the most. This is wrong. Especially wrong if you are male. You smoke and drink, and worry about radiation? Men don't have to worry. All we need to do is protect women, children, pregnant women and infants. If the situation deteriorates, pregnant women and children should escape. Men should stay put and fight for recovery. You [as Fukushima residents] are the descendants of people who produced the proud Byakko-Tai. You should have such a resolution.


To tell you the truth, radiation doesn't affect people who are smiling, but those who are worried. This has clearly been demonstrated by animal studies. So, drinking may be bad for your health, but happy drinkers are less affected by radiation, luckily. I'm not advising you to drink, but laughter will remove your radiation-phobia. But there's precious little information to scientifically explain the effects of laughter. So, please ask all your questions. This is not a lecture, it's a dialog between you and I.

If you understand Japanese, go listen to the audio file. About 43 minutes and 40 seconds into the audio, you can hear him say these things.

"Byakko-tai" members were boys aged mostly 16 to 17 but as young as 13 who fought to defend their lord's land (today's Aizu in Fukushima Prefecture) but chose to kill themselves rather than to surrender in the civil war that ensued after the Meiji revolution that brought down the Tokugawa Shogun government. Fukushima was on the side of Tokugawa.

Professor Yamashita was telling the Fukushima City residents to be like them in the battle with radiation.

His "non lecture" preceding the above is full of misrepresentations and some outright lies. I may translate that later, if I'm not too disgusted.

So, imagine the Japanese, particularly those in Fukushima Prefecture, who have been bombarded by the messages like this since March. A veritable brainwash, and it may be working, despite the effort by "outsiders" like Greenpeace.

Throughout Japan, mothers continue to accompany their small children to kindergartens, and fathers are too busy working. Just like in Japan before March 11, before the nuke accident. They sometimes frown on mothers and fathers who are considering withdrawing their children from kindergartens, saying "How they overreact! How silly!"

#Contaminated Water Processing at #Fukushima: TEPCO Is Ready for Full Run Again

Kyodo News Japanese (7:21PM JST 6/21/2011) says TEPCO successfully treated the highly contaminated water at a rate of 50 tonnes per hour, after adjusting the water pumps at AREVA's subsystem.

No information on how long TEPCO ran the system at the 50 tonnes/hour rate, or when the full run resumes.

#Radioactive Tea in France: Correction from Shizuoka, It Was Green Tea After All

and not the green tea blended with roasted rice. It was exported by the same tea merchant who was indignant that his tests never showed the level exceeding the limit (500 becquerels/kilogram).

From Yomiuri Shinbun (6:45PM JST 6/21/2011):


The Shizuoka prefectural government announced on June 21 that it was not "Genmai-cha" (tea with roasted brown rice) but "Ryoku-cha" (green tea) that was found in France to contain radioactive cesium exceeding the limit of the EU.


According to the announcement, the green tea was exported along with the "genmai-cha" by the same tea merchant in Omaezaki City in Shizuoka. The tea measured 1,038 becquerels/kilogram cesium, exceeding the EU limit of 500 becquerels/kilogram. Shizuoka will test the tea.

"Aracha" (bulk tea before the final blend) from 3 tea-growing areas in Kanagawa Prefecture (east of Shizuoka Prefecture) is found with radioactive cesium exceeding 1,000 becquerels/kilogram. The Kanagawa prefectural government has asked the tea growers in these areas on a voluntary basis not to ship their teas, as Asahi Shinbun reports (6/22/2011).

Monday, June 20, 2011

Contaminated Water Processing at #Fukushima: Now It's AREVA's Turn to Cause Problem

The pumps at AREVA's portion of the water treatment system at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant shut down automatically when too much water went through them. TEPCO has been conducting the test run after the Kurion's problem earlier.

AREVA's subsystem comes after Kurion's (cesium absorption) which in turn comes after Toshiba's (oil separation). After AREVA's subsystem, the water goes to Hitachi's for desalination.

It was the 6th time since the test run started on June 10 that the system had stopped, as the following Yomiuri article says.

From Yomiuri Shinbun (1:06PM JST 6/21/2011):


TEPCO announced on June 21 that the water treatment system for highly contaminated water at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant had an emergency shut down at 7:20AM. TEPCO was running the test run in order to resume the full-scale operation.


The problem was at AREVA's subsystem for decontamination. Two pumps for the chemical injection line that connects to the main line for the contaminated water were shut down automatically. TEPCO adjusted the pumps, and the test run resumed in the afternoon. It was the 6th time since the test run started on June 10 that the system had stopped because of troubles and malfunctions.


The pumps feed water to the chemical injection line for dilution. They seem to have stopped when too much water went through. TEPCO will adjust the amount of water. The water treatment system is a combination of multiple subsystems, and AREVA's subsystem mixes chemicals and silica to remove cesium and strontium.

#Radiation in Japan: Greenpeace Detected Cobalt-60 and High Radiation "Hot Spots" in Fukushima City in Fukushima

Fukushima City in Fukushima Prefecture is 60 kilometers northwest from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. No part of the city is designated as "evacuation" zone of any kind (mandatory or planned). It is the 3rd largest city in Fukushima Prefecture with over 290,000 people.

Shukan Gendai, a Japanese weekly magazine, had a feature article in early June (for the June 24 Issue) that described the radiation survey in Fukushima City done by Greenpeace on June 7.

The article says Greenpeace detected cobalt-60 in a park in Fukushima City.

Cobalt-60?? From the RPV??

Very rough, partial translation of the Shukan Gendai (June 24 Issue) article follows:


Fukushima City is in danger
Extremely high radiation detected
Our urgent, special report reveals

More than 10 times the radiation limit. Even cobalt-60 was detected. Children should be evacuated immediately, but the government says nothing, pretending not to know anything 

[body of the article]

What some have feared all along is coming true.

"This Fukushima City has become a place where children should not live. The only choice left would be a mass evacuation. But no politician understands that. Or rather, they don't want to know, probably."

Seiichi Nakate, 50-year-old man who lives in Fukushima City, could barely suppress his anger.

On April 19, the Japanese government suddenly raised the upper limit of the annual radiation exposure for children from 1 millisievert to 20 millisieverts. Mr. Nakate is the head of the organization called "Fukushima Network to Protect Children from Radiation", which was set up to protest against this barbaric act.

Located 60 kilometers away from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, Fukushima City is not in the evacuation zone designated by the government. However, it is now a known fact that the heavy radiation contamination exists in the northwest direction from the plant, in places like Namie-machi and Iitate-mura. People started to wonder from early on that Fukushima City might be in danger also.

Nakate says, "Unlike Namie and Iitate where the radiation is high everywhere, Fukushima City has so-called "hot spots" hidden throughout the city where the radiation spikes up compared to areas surrounding them. But since the government insists "it's safe", the residents are complacent. That makes the situation even more dangerous."

The residents do not know that they are not safe - because they "cannot see" the radiation contamination. Because it can't be seen, the government is simply kicking the can, doing nothing.

Fukushima City is the capital of Fukushima Prefecture, with government offices and headquarters of major businesses. Its population is over 290,000. But the government doesn't do anything.

"If the national government doesn't do anything for us, then we'll have to think and act for ourselves."

And Mr. Nakate started the network.

On June 7, an urgent survey was done in Fukushima City.

The survey was conducted by Greenpeace, an international non-profit organization for environment. Seven Greenpeace staff came to Fukushima City, responding to Mr. Nakate and his organization.


The survey team started the measurement in a park located at 5-minute driving distance from the Fukushima City Hall.

There is a reason why they [Greenpeace] included the parks in the survey. On April 24, Fukushima Prefecture restricted the use of 5 parks in the prefecture to "1 hour per day" when the radiation exceeding 3.8 microsieverts/hour was detected, which was the national safety limit. Then, the prefectural government removed the restriction on June 6, one day before the Greenpeace survey, saying the later survey showed the radiation within the limit.
"To begin with, 3.8 microsieverts/hour was calculated, based on the high annual radiation exposure limit of 20 millisievert, and it's not appropriate. It isn't just the matter of restricting the use. Parks directly affects the health of children, and should be very carefully monitored", says Greenpeace Japan's Sato.

The survey team went to locations where the high radiation was expected - dirt pile in the corner of a park, water drain behind the public restroom. The radiation measuring equipment was made in Czech Republic, home country of one of the Greenpeace staff members. It costs about 1.2 million yen. It can not only measure the overall radiation level, but it can also identify the nuclides.

The dirt pile measured 6.3 microsieverts/hour, 1.7 times the national guideline. The staff were surprised at the high number. A pile of dead leaves in the corner measured 4.2 microsievert/hour.

Mr. Sato said, "Contaminated dead leaves should be collected in secure containers and managed for 20, 30 years. Burning them is out of the question, as it only spreads radioactive materials. If these leaves blow in the wind, they will spread contamination."

More serious numbers were to come. The ground surface with weeds behind the restrooms measured 9.1 microsievert/hour, and the area near the water drain at the restroom entrance measured 12.5 microsieverts/hour.

A local parent who accompanied the Greenpeace staff was surprised.

"Small children are attracted to dirt piles and leaf piles. They also like to play in a water puddle. I was shocked to see the high numbers around leaf piles and water. I don't feel like letting my children play in the park, no matter how safe the national or municipal government say it is."

Another thing that the survey team paid attention to was the types of nuclides that were detected in the park. They detected cesium-134, cesium-137, and cobalt-60.

Professor Kazuhiko Kudo of Kyushu University (nuclear engineering) says, "Cobalt-60 does not exist in nature. It has a half-life of 5.3 years. That cobalt-60 was detected in Fukushima City, 60 kilometers from the plant, proves that a certain amount of cobalt-60 was released from the reactor meltdown."

The survey team stood out in the summer-like heat, with uniforms, long boots, protective masks and the radiation measurement equipment. Men and women from different parts of the world that made up the survey team looked very foreign indeed in the park in a quiet residential neighborhood.

So, while the team was in the park, the residents stayed away. As soon as the survey was done, a young child went to the swing with the mother. They didn't know that there was a "hot spot" right near by.

Next, we went to Watari Junior High School, located near the park.

That day, they were removing the surface soil from the schoolyard. According to the workers, the soil was being buried in the hole dug in the schoolyard. The perimeter of the schoolyard was covered with blue tarp, because the neighbors complained. Needless to say, tarp cannot completely prevent the radioactive materials from spreading. It looked as if they wanted to hide.

Just when the team was about to do the survey, an elderly man came and started to protest loudly.

"You, why don't you stop already. There are people here who don't want to know the numbers. I say, "Stop squawking". I am a doctor, and I think there's no problem living in this neighborhood. For children? There isn't any data that proves the danger, is there?"

Spitting out the words breathlessly, he left.

We cannot criticize the man. He is also being threatened by radiation.

However, it is a reality that the Japanese citizens are underestimating the negative effect on health, because the government has emphasized "baseless rumors" more than "negative effect on health". It is absolutely necessary to recognize the danger for children and pregnant women.

Mr. Nakate did his own measurement before the surface soil removal started at Watari Junior High. The soil around the warehouse near the parking lot measured 360 microsieverts/hour.

This time, the survey team measured the soil after the surface soil removal. It was till 45 microsieverts/hour, about 12 times the limit. It is equivalent to 240 millisieverts per year [?], almost the radiation exposure limit of 250 millisieverts for the workers at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. The Greenpeace staff frowned, put on the protective suits and collected the soil sample.

Mr. Nakate said, as he looked on the work to remove the surface soil from the schoolyard,

"Look. The workers are removing the contaminated soil, and the regular class is being held as usual. What a contradiction, isn't it? This is how the government responds. Haphazard, with no long-term vision. What's most important right now is to evacuate children to safe places.

(The article continues.)


There is one more segment on a private nursery school 200 meters from the junior high school. The article describes how the Greenpeace survey team measured radiation along the road that small children walk on, on the way to the nursery school. 35 microsieverts/hour under the rain gutter. At the nursery school, the principal didn't know what to do with the radioactive soil that had been removed. "We want the national government to tell us how to deal with the contaminated soil, the playground equipment. We need guidance."

Toward the end, a mother whose daughter goes to this nursery school says,

"There are many mothers who want radiation measuring equipment. Whether to send children to places with lower radiation, or to continue to live here. I wonder everyday. But looking at the silly exchange between the politicians in the Diet [she is probably referring to the vote of no confidence in which PM Kan conned everyone and stayed on], we will have to leave on our own, if we leave."

Many readers have wondered why the mothers like her don't simply pick up and leave with their children to safer places. I can tell you one reason. Unless the evacuation is ordered by the government, they don't get compensated for their inconvenience. It's not about money but children's health, many would say. These parents, mostly, know that, but not all of them can afford to do so without assistance.

And this is the government who wants to tax the money that TEPCO has given to people for their suffering because of the plant accident as "income".

"Corium Coolability Under Ex-Vessel Accident Conditions for LWRs"

The paper was written by the scientists in the Nuclear Engineering Division at the Argonne National Laboratory and published in Nuclear Engineering and Technology in June 2009.

That's exactly what has happened at Fukushima, 3 "ex-vessel" accidents.

Link to the paper, FYI:

Contaminated Water Processing at #Fukushima: TEPCO Says Water Is "Hot", But The System Can Handle It

How? By switching around the order in which the contaminated water is treated at Kurion's system and adjusting the amount of water.

To review the whole process, the water first goes to Toshiba's oil separation system. Then it goes to Kurion's system for oil/technetium removal, then cesium removal, then iodine removal. Then it goes to Areva's system for further decontamination, and finally arrives at Hitachi's desalination system.

From Yomiuri Shinbun (9:56PM JST 6/20/2011):


TEPCO announced on June 20 that the radiation level at the water treatment system at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant rose sharply because the level of contamination of the water to be treated was more than they had expected.


TEPCO said the radiation level [at the system] would go down if they changed the sequence of the water flow [Kurion's system uses 3 types of zeolites for 3 different radioactive materials] and adjust the amount of water. TEPCO will continue the testing on June 20 evening, and the company hopes to resume the full run on June 21.


Initially, TEPCO thought the high radiation at the system was due to the larger than expected amount of radioactive materials absorbed by the zeolite, but when they removed the zeolite and injected the highly contaminated water through the system, the radiation level on the surface of the system jumped to 11.55 millisieverts/hour.


TEPCO's Junichi Matsumoto said in the press conference that they hadn't expected the radiation to be that high. The company will adjust the system so that the radiation level would not rise rapidly, and resume the full operation.

#Radioactive Tea in France Was Made in Shizuoka

The producer says it can't be that radioactive. When he had it measured, it was 400 becquerels per kilogram at most.

From Asahi Shinbun (6/20/2011):

フランス政府が、静岡の茶から欧州連合(EU)の基準の2倍にあたる1キロ当たり1038ベクレルの放射性セシウムを検出したと発表した問題で、静 岡県は20日、輸出時に発行した証明書から、この茶葉は同県御前崎市の茶商工業者が製造した玄米茶だと発表した。ただ、業者は、茶葉の自主検査では基準 (1キロ当たり500ベクレル)を下回っていたとしている。

Shizuoka Prefecture announced on June 20 that the tea from which the French authorities detected 1,038 becquerels/kg cesium, twice the EU limit, has been traced to the "Genmai-cha" (tea mixed with roasted brown rice) produced by a tea merchant in Omaezaki City in Shizuoka, based on the export license record. However, the merchant insists that it was less than the safety limit (500 becquerels/kg) when he had the tea leaves tested on his own.

 同県経済産業部によると、この商品はフランスへの輸出用で、国内での流通は無いという。重量比で約45%を占める玄米は昨年以前に収穫したもので、残り が今年の一番茶。茶葉は、県内の複数の産地にある自社茶園で栽培したものを交ぜており、県外産はブレンドしていないという。

According to the Economy and Industry Division of the Shizuoka prefectural government, this product is for export only to France, and is not sold in Japan. The tea is a combination of 45% (by weight) roasted brown rice (the rice was harvested last year or prior) and the "ichiban-cha" ("first pick of the season" tea, or new tea). The tea leaves came from the tea plantation that the merchant has in several growing regions in Shizuoka, and no out-of-Shizuoka tea leaves were blended.

...一方、この業者は朝日新聞の取材に対し、検査結果に疑問を呈した。茶葉の6回の自主検査では、最も高い数値でも1キロ当たり約400ベクレルだったとい う。業者は「玄米が半分近く交ざっているのに、この検査結果は納得できない。基準を上回ったことは一度もない」と強調した。

...Responding to the Asahi Shinbun's inquiry, the merchant expressed doubt over the test result. He said he had the tea leaves tested 6 times, and the highest radiation detected was 400 becquerels per kilogram. He said, "The test result is impossible, because the tea is mixed with roasted brown rice. [In my tests] it never exceeded the limit."

Two Nebraska Nuke Reactors Are Safe, Says US Authorities

Two nuclear power plants in Nebraska, the Fort Calhoun Station and the Cooper Nuclear Station, are finally getting some coverage from the mainstream media in the US, if only to reassure the public that they are safe.

They have sandbags and diesel generators to prepare for the flood, which is expected to rise another 5 feet. The Fort Calhoun Nuclear Plant has a 8-foot rubber wall outside the reactor building.

Of the two, the Cooper Nuclear Station is in full operation, and they filed a event notification report on June 9 with the NRC (event #46941) that says "the discharges from the sludge pond to the Missouri River are uncontrolled at this time. As a result of high Missouri River levels, the sludge pond was overtopped."

From AP (6/20/2011):

OMAHA, Neb. – The bloated Missouri River rose to within 18 inches of forcing the shutdown of a nuclear power plant in southeast Nebraska but stopped and ebbed slightly Monday, after several levees in northern Missouri failed to hold back the surging waterway.

The river has to hit 902 feet above sea level at Brownville before officials will shut down the Cooper Nuclear Plant, which sits at 903 feet, Nebraska Public Power District spokesman Mark Becker said.

Flooding is a concern all along the river because of the massive amounts of water that the Army Corps of Engineers has released from six dams. Any significant rain could worsen the flooding especially if it falls in Nebraska, Iowa or Missouri, which are downstream of the dams.

The river is expected to rise as much as 5 to 7 feet above flood stage in much of Nebraska and Iowa and as much as 10 feet over flood stage in parts of Missouri. The corps predicts the river will remain that high until at least August.

Becker said the river rose to 900.56 feet at Brownville on Sunday, then dropped to 900.4 feet later in the day and remained at that level Monday morning. The National Weather Service said the Missouri River set a new record Sunday at Brownville when its depth was measured at 44.4 feet. That topped the record of 44.3 feet set during the 1993 flooding.

The Cooper Nuclear Plant is operating at full capacity Monday, Becker said.

The Columbus-based utility sent a "notification of unusual event" to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission when the river rose to 899 feet early Sunday morning. The declaration is the least serious of four emergency notifications established by the federal commission.

"We knew the river was going to rise for some time," Becker said Sunday. "It was just a matter of when."

The nuclear plant has been preparing for the flooding since May 30. More than 5,000 tons of sand has been brought in to construct barricades around it and access roads, according to NPPD.

[The article continues at the link.]

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Contaminated Water Processing at #Fukushima: The Water Was Simply Too "Hot"

for the system to handle, TEPCO found out.

From Asahi Shinbun (1:02PM JST 6/20/2011):


TEPCO investigated the contaminated water treatment system that was halted [when the radiation on the Kurion's subsystem exceeded the limit (4 millisieverts/hour) set by TEPCO] and announced on June 20 that the problem was caused by the flow of the water that contained much more radioactive materials than expected. TEPCO is conducting the test again to measure the radiation level.

Well, over 100,000 tonnes of highly contaminated water at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant are estimated to contain 720,000 terabecquerels of radioactive materials.

If Kurion's vessel absorbed enough radioactive materials in 5 hours and it should have taken 30 days, as I wrote in my previous post, the water was 144 times as radioactive as the system had anticipated.

If the water actually turns out to be 144 times as radioactive, the Fukushima accident would need a new INES category and should not be placed in the same category (Level 7) as the Chernobyl accident which released only 5.6 million terabecquerels of radioactive materials. Maybe it should be simply called "Level Fukushima".

#Radiation in Japan: Mix and Match, and Fukushima's Radioactive Debris Can Be Burned and Buried

"Radiation. If we all share it, there's nothing to fear."

Japan's Ministry of the Environment has decided, upon advice from the experts, that it is OK to burn the radioactive debris in Fukushima Prefecture and bury the ashes in the final processing plant as long as the burned ashes do not contain more than 8,000 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive materials, according to Yomiuri Shinbun (6/19/2011).

The paper also reports that the trick will be to "mix and match":


The Ministry believes that if the [radioactive] debris is burned with other wastes, there will be only a few cases in which this standard [of 8,000 becquerels/kg] will be exceeded. Thus, most of the ashes will be buried.

What happens if one of those rare cases happens and the ashes measure more than 8,000 becquerels/kg?

また、8000ベクレルを超えた場合は、最終処分場や放射線を遮蔽できる施設で一時保管し、その後の処分方法については引き続き検討をする。焼却炉の集じ ん機から回収された微細な灰は、含まれる放射性物質が水に溶けやすいなどの理由から、基準にかかわらず一時保管の対象とする。

If [the ashes] exceed 8,000 becquerels/kg, they will be temporarily stored at the final processing plant or in a facility that could shield radiation, and the final disposal method will be further discussed. The fine ashes collected from the dust collectors of the incinerators will be stored temporarily regardless of the standard, because the radioactive materials in them are water-soluble.

Temporary storage means just that, temporary. They will wait long enough for people to forget (or give up), and they will bury those ashes too.

So spread the good word - radioactive debris can be burned and buried, as long as you mix with something else and "dilute" the radiation!

This is insanity. It reminds me of a satirical saying in Japan long time ago, meant as a joke:

"Red light. If we all cross the street together, there's nothing to fear."

So now, in Japan,

"Radiation. If we all share it, there's nothing to fear."

#Fukushima Contaminated Water Treatment: 75 Tonnes of Water Processed in 5 Hours

Information I found in Chunichi Shinbun says the Toshiba-Kurion-Areva-Hitachi water treatment system at Fukushima managed to process 75 tonnes of highly contaminated water in 5 hours before it was manually shut down.

That's 15 tonnes per hour.

At that pace, it is 360 tonnes per day, and they are pouring 500 tonnes of water per day.

And it also means the contamination level that they expected the Kurion's subsystem to reach in a month was reached in 5 hours. That means the contamination was 144 times more than they had calculated.

(As someone said, it is as if they were reconstituting the nuclear fuel rods.)

I have some questions for the experts on this blog.

Why do they need to do this serially? Kurion's "vessel" (cylinder) is 90 centimeter in diameter, 2.3 meter high. It sure seems like a system meant for much smaller amount of water with much less contamination and the treatment process is to be done very carefully and slowly.

If you pour literally tons of water that needs to be cleaned fast, if you connect the cylinders serially, of course the very first cylinder would take a radioactive hit and the whole system would stop.

Why can't they just fill up a 20-foot container with zeolite, dump water from the top, put the spigot at the bottom, connect a hose to collect water back into a tank, dump the water again until the zeolite in the container gets too dirty? Have several such containers and do it at the same time.

Or for that matter, forget the neat system set up inside the building. Just dump bags of zeolite in the building basements where the contaminated water sits. And forget the idea of circulating the water to cool the reactor. The reactors are cool already because they are devoid of the corium.

Or bring an old oil tanker or two, as many people in Japan and outside have suggested from the beginning, and store the water there until a better water treatment system can be built and tested.

(Oh I forgot. I don't have PhD.)

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: High Radiation from Equipment in Reactor 4?

There's a possibility that the equipment in the "Pit" on the upper floor of the Reactor 4 reactor building may be emitting the high level of radiation because the water that had covered and shielded the equipment drained to the Reactor Pressure Vessel (RPV) that was in maintenance and to the Spent Fuel Pool when the earthquake hit on March 11.

From Kyodo News Japanese (6/19/2011):


It was revealed on June 19 that it is highly possible that the water level in the "Pit" that stores equipment on the upper floor of the Reactor 4 reactor building decreased, exposing the equipment stored in the pit which is emitting a high level of radiation.


The Reactor 4 was in regular maintenance when the earthquake hit. The cooling system was lost due to the earthquake and tsunami, and the water in the Spent Fuel Pool evaporated and the water level decreased. At the same time, the water level of the Pit, which is connected to the Spent Fuel Pool, probably decreased.


TEPCO said that "the radiation level around the Reactor 4 building is not particularly high, and there is no effect on the environment", but the company started injecting water in the Pit on June 19 to raise the water level in preparation for any future work near the Pit.

The diagram is from Kyodo. The Pit is on the left, the Spent Fuel Pool on the right. The dotted blue line at the top was the water level of the Pit when the earthquake hit.


#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Another Leak in Kurion's System at "Rapture" (Rupture) Disk

Since the entire water treatment system was stopped in the early hours of June 18 after only 5 hours of full run due to the faster than expected rise in radiation level on the Kurion's oil/technetium separation unit, TEPCO has been using the low contamination water to clean out the system.

Well, while they were doing the cleaning run, they found another leak in the same oil/technetium separation unit.

From Asahi Shinbun (10:27PM JST 6/19/2011):


TEPCO announced on June 19 that it found a new leak in the water treatment system for highly contaminated water at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. The amount of leak was about 30 liters of the low contamination water that the company was using to clean out the system after the trouble [of the oil/technetium unit] was found. The leaked water has already been collected.

 18日午後9時ごろ、点検中の作業員が見つけた。放射性物質や油分の吸着に使うゼオライトを入れた装置の安全弁が壊れ、円筒形の装置を囲う容器とのすき 間に水がたまっていた。安全弁は内部の圧力が高まると破れる仕組み。東電はポンプの動作と停止を繰り返した影響が考えられるという。安全弁は停止中に水素 がたまるのを防ぐ目的で取り付けているため、運転中は安全弁の手前の弁を閉めるなどの対応を検討する。

The leak was found at 9PM on June 18 by the worker conducting the inspection. The safety valve [rupture disk] of the oil/technetium unit was broken, and there was water between the cylinder [vessel] that contains zeolite and the container that holds the cylinder. The safety valve is designed to break when the pressure inside the vessel gets high. TEPCO believes it may be the result of having to repeatedly start and stop the pump. The purpose of the safety valve is to prevent the hydrogen leak during the system halt. TEPCO is considering closing the valve leading to the safety valve during the operation.

It looks like this water treatment system will have to involve carbon-based workers on a regular basis, instead of automatic, remote-controls.

Here's the detailed diagram of the hydrogen venting system that includes the rupture disk, which TEPCO labeled as "rapture disk". I thought that was funny. The difference in pronunciation between "rupture" and "rapture" totally escapes the Japanese.

(From the press conference handout on June 19; cleaner copy at the link)

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: NISA's Nishiyama Indicates There Is No Plan-B Right Now

if the Kurion-Areva-Toshiba-Hitachi contaminated water treatment system doesn't work.

From Mainichi Shinbun Japanese (6/18/2011), commenting on the latest problem with the Kurion's absorption system:


Hidehiko Nishiyama, spokesman for the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, said, "We'll have to keep solving the problems as they arise. If the system doesn't work, we'll have to look for other alternatives."

I take it to mean that they are not considering alternatives now.

There's a more fundamental problem beyond decontaminating the water at the plant.

One reason for setting up the water treatment system was to decontaminate the water enough so that it can be used as coolant that circulates back into the Reactor Pressure Vessels. But now that it's been admitted by TEPCO that the melted fuel (with other things melted with it, forming the "corium") may be out of the RPVs and possibly out of the Containment Vessels, what will the water be cooling? How can you cool the corium that's eating the concrete foundation?