Saturday, September 17, 2011

#Radiation in Japan: 42,000 Bq/kg of Radioactive Cesium in Dirt Around a Drain in Yokohama City

It's not that the city that clearly does not care much about radiation safety (cesium beef for kids, dumping radioactive ashes in the ocean) did the measurement on its own. A citizen measured the radiation in the area, got the sample and had it tested using his own money, and alerted the city when the result came in.

Then, the city finally went and took the sample to be tested. The result was 42,000 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium from the dirt that accumulated around the drain grid on the side of the road in Kohoku-ku (Okurayama) in Yokohama City, just inside the 250-kilometer radius from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant.

The city also found 35,000 becquerels/kg of cesium in the sediment at a fountain nearby, 27,600 becquerels/kg from the dirt overflow from the plant box on the road, and 11,320 becquerels/kg from the dirt overflow from the plant box on the side walk.

Here's Yokohama City's press release, taken from the message board of Yokohama Assemblyman Ota:

By the way, Assemblyman Ota suggests that Mayor Hayashi is known within the city administration as someone who doesn't think on her own (i.e. she relies on others in any decision making). That makes sense. That's been the ideal for the head of any organization in peace time in Japan, to be the figurehead. Literally deadly in the time of crisis like this.

#Radiation in Japan: Tonga Man Starts Teaching English in Fukushima

to show the world that "Fukushima is OK".

Some people have ridiculed the Bayerische Staatsoper members who refuse to come to Japan for a few weeks for the radiation contamination fear. They should be all praise for this man from Tonga, who persuaded friends and family members and came to Japan to teach English in Iwaki City in Fukushima.

Personally, I cannot join in the praise but feel free.

From Jiji Tsushin (9/17/2011):


"Fukushima" has become world-famous thanks to the Fukushima I Nuclear Plant Accident. In schools in Fukushima, 52 new teachers from 10 different countries have started teaching English as ALT (assistant language teacher). Their families and friends back in their home countries are worried, but the teachers are determined "to show to the world that Fukushima is alright, by working in Fukushima".


"In my country, we dip sashimi in coconut milk", said a 35-year-old teacher ペセティ・ベア [I haven't a slightest idea how this name is spelled] from Tonga in the south Pacific, as a way to introduce himself to the class on the morning of September 5 at Iwaki City Taira Daiichi Junior High School. Part of Iwaki City is within the 30-kilometer radius from the power plant, and more than 300 people perished in the March 11 tsunami. The students laughed. It was the first class, and at first the students were nervous. But as they listened to the stories from a distant country they relaxed, and enjoyed a "telephone game". A 13-year-old girl said, "I don't like English but it looks like fun with this teacher".


Mr. ペセティ・ベア was teaching English at a local high school in Tonga before he applied for the ALT. He says he wanted to learn the Japanese culture of "respecting others". Once his teaching assignment turned out to be in Fukushima, his friends and family worried about radiation exposure, but he steadfastly persuaded them by saying "People live in Fukushima. There is no need to fear excessively."

That's akin to saying "If the food is sold in the market, it is safe", a la the mayor of Yokohama City who fed kindergarteners with radioactive beef. And for Fukushima, it seems impossible to fear excessively when the radiation level is already excessive.

As to the Japanese culture of "respecting others", I have my doubts that "others" only refers to people with money or power or both.

But it's just me.

In the above Jiji's article, I put Fukushima in parenthesis, as the original Japanese. The original Japanese for Fukushima is written in Katakana, instead of Kanji, indicating "Fukushima" as understood outside Japan.

TEPCO's #Fuku I Sub-Drain Density Measurement Shows Increase in Late July and Mid August

According to TEPCO's press release on September 17, there were increases in radioactive cesium in the sub-drain of Reactor 1 in late July, then mid August, and in early September. From mid August to early September, iodine-131 was also detected.

This happened most noticeably in Reactor1's sub-drain, but small increases are discernible in Reactor 2's sub-drain, too. (For the sub-drains for other Reactors, see TEPCO's PDF.)

By the way, in a separate presentation, TEPCO says it doesn't quite know exactly what the pressure or the water level is inside the Containment Vessel or the Reactor Pressure Vessel. In the press conference, they didn't quite seem to know what temperature they were measuring. The presentation is in Japanese only. I'll link if they post the English version.

TEPCO and the government are talking about what to do when the "cold shutdown" is finally achieved. How they determine the "cold shutdown" without knowing the pressure or the temperature remains mystery. They are in no hurry to find out where the corium may be, either.

(H/T viola)

Japanese Researcher: Recriticality in July and August? (UPDATED)

Yoyo Hinuma, currently at University of California San Diego, says recriticality may have happened in one of the three reactors at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant in late July and again in mid August, releasing the largest amount of radioactive materials since April.

I cannot find much about the researcher, other than he was at MIT before, and that he has published papers in peer-reviewed magazines.

The article below says there was a criticality in March, but I don't know if the reporter is referring to the explosion events in March or the recriticality in one of the broken reactors as some researchers have alleged and hypothesized.

(UPDATE: I totally forgot about the report by the UC San Diego researchers that radioactive sulphur of Fukushima origin was detected in California in late March, indicating on-going chain reaction. So the Playboy magazine reporter may be right. To recap, chlorine in the seawater being injected back then captured neutron, turning to radioactive sulphur.)

(Of all magazines) the article appeared in the Weekly Playboy magazine in Japan.

Part from Shukan Playboy Japan (9/12/2011):


... Indeed, there are some inexplicable numbers reported on the air radiation levels by the government agencies. That is, a big rise in the radiation levels from late July to mid August. Dr. Yoyo Hinuma, who has published papers on the net about the seriousness of the situation since the beginning of the accident in March, explains.


"I think there was a recriticality in which the melted fuel started a chain reaction again in one of the reactors at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, and that the largest amount of radioactive materials since April was released from the plant. It may have happened twice. The first was between July 28 and 31. The second was between August 19 and 21. That the large amount of radioactive materials were released can be clearly seen in the radiation survey data in Tokyo and Yokohama City, where it is suspected that the announced radiation levels are lower than the actual levels. So it's a scientific fact."


For example, according to the data released by the Tokyo Metropolitan government, the air radiation level on August 19 was 0.0865 microsievert/hour (maximum), 1.4 times as high as the previous day. On the same day, Yokohama City measured 0.051 microsievert/hour, the level last recorded in late March.


"Further analyzing the data, we find that August saw a more definite rise than July. It may have been caused by the so-called "prompt criticality" which is bigger and lasts longer. The large amount of radioactive cesium and radioactive iodine released as the result may have reached the Tokyo Metropolitan area, raising the air radiation level", says Dr. Hinuma.


Looking back, it is since the end of July that the high level of iodine-131 have started to show up in the "dehydrated sewer sludge" in Tokyo and Kanagawa Prefecture. Half life of iodine-131 is 8 days, so it couldn't have come from the criticality happened in March. Also in August, radiation that exceeded the safety standard was detected in tens of sandboxes in the parks where children play, and the use of the sandboxes was prohibited until the sand was replaced. But before July, air radiation at most of these sandboxes measured lower than the safety standard.


We'd have to admit that there is a high possibility that the recriticality happened this summer at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, at least twice, and fresh radioactive materials are being released.

I checked the Tokyo Metropolitan government's official measurement of air radiation in Shinjuku. The maximum levels recorded on July 30 and August 19 are indeed elevated:

July 29: 0.0697 microsievert/hour
July 30: 0.0735 microsievert/hour
July 31: 0.0610 microsievert/hour

August 18: 0.0621 microsievert/hour
August 19: 0.0865 microsievert/hour
August 20: 0.0605 microsievert/hour

For July and August, the maximum air radiation level recorded in Tokyo is in 0.06 microsievert/hour range, and does not exceed 0.07 microsievert/hour, except for these two days.

Iodine-131 detected in sewer sludge in mid August in Tokyo and in Oshu City in Iwate Prefecture (among others) is attributed to the medical use, because there was no corresponding increase in radioactive cesium. Also in the case of Tokyo, radioactive iodine has been continuously detected in sewer sludge since they started to take measurements in May.

However, iodine-131 detection in sewer sludge is NOT the reason why Dr. Hinuma thinks there were two recriticality events at Fukushima I; it is what the Playboy reporter lists as a supporting evidence.

I do want to point out though that when Fukushima Prefecture detected tellurium-132 in the early morning of March 12 - that is, before the explosion of Reactor 1 building - in Namie-machi and other locations outside the plant including Minami Soma City, 25 kilometers from the plant (and they didn't bother to tell anyone for nearly 3 months), there was no concurrent, significant detection of iodine-131 and radioactive cesium even though this was clearly a precursor to the explosive event that took place that afternoon

Friday, September 16, 2011

Potentially Radioactive Lumber to Be Promoted with "Eco-Point" Incentive?

Seiji Maehara, who lost his bid to become the party leader and the prime minister of Japan, has nonetheless landed on a very powerful party position as the chairman of the DPJ's policy bureau.

He went to Fukushima, and after visiting with the evacuees from Iitate-mura, he disclosed his party's plan to use the "eco-point" system for residential housing to promote timber from the disaster-affected area.


What is the "eco-point" for houses? Well, if you build or renovate your house with energy saving features and alternative energy features (eg. solar panels) the government will give you "eco-points". Then you can use the points at participating stores and buy whatever you want to buy with the points.

Maehara is saying the government may entice builders to use the lumber from the disaster-affected area with "eco-points", even if the potentially radioactive lumber has nothing to do with energy saving.

Iitate-mura's major industry is forestry. Iitate-mura's mountains and forests have been contaminated with whatever fell on them - radioactive cesium, plutonium, strontium. No one has tested them (if someone did, he's not saying anything), but the contamination should be an order of magnitude bigger than the radioactive firewood from Rikuzen Takata City in Iwate Prefecture.

If Mr. Maehara has his way, the contaminated trees are to be cut from the contaminated mountains and hauled out of the mountains, disturbing the contaminated soil and dead leaves, and made into lumber in a village with high air radiation level and sold all over Japan with "eco-points", in order for the rest of the Japanese to help the villagers.

This is "socializing the cost" to the extreme.

From Sankei Shinbun (9/17/2011):


Seiji Maehara, chairman of the policy bureau of the Democratic Party of Japan, visited Fukushima City in the morning of September 17, and visited with the residents of Iitate-mura in their temporary houses. They evacuated to Fukushima City after the Fukushima I Nuclear Plant accident. In the dialog with the residents, Maehara apologized to them about Yoshio Hachiro, who resigned the post of Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry after his inappropriate remarks concerning the nuclear accident. Maehara said, "His words trampled down your feelings. As a member of the ruling party I would like to apologize from the bottom of my heart".


The purpose of his visit was to incorporate the demands from the disaster-affected area into the 3rd supplementary budget plan for the fiscal 2011, which will be the budget for the recovery in earnest from the March 11 earthquake/tsunami disaster. Maehara responded to the decontamination request from the residents, by saying "We want to appropriate a large sum for the effort".


He also disclosed that he [or his party] is discussing the possibility of utilizing "residential eco-point system" if residential houses are built with lumber from the disaster-affected area. After the dialog with the Iitate-mura residents, he met with Governor Yuhei Sato. Governor Sato pointed out the slow response by the national government, and urged the creation of the recovery fund.


Mr. Maehara will go to Miyagi Prefecture in the afternoon to have a talk with Governor Yoshihiro Murai. He is also scheduled to survey the debris clearing operation.

To the right-leaning and the US-favoring (and nuke-favoring) Sankei, Maehara is a darling, WikiLeaks or not.

"Oh it's just outside of the trees that is radioactive. In lumber, there will be no radiation, it's safe" will be the mantra. "Don't you want to help the victims of the accident?" will be another.

My answer: so what? and no. Not through buying their radioactive goods.

Iitate-mura's so-called "decontamination" of farmland and houses is expected to cost 200 billion yen, or US$2.6 billion. Part of the "decon" bubble, as Iitate-mura's "decontamination" is to be done by the national government and its researchers (as if they know anything about radiation decontamination on a massive scale), with the help of large general contractors.

Contaminated Water Treatment at #Fukushima I: What Kurion Took Away, AREVA Put It Back

Radioactive cesium, that is.

TEPCO announced the numbers for the density of radioactive materials after the decontamination using Kurion and then AREVA.

940,000 Bq/cm3 --> Kurion, ND --> AREVA, 450,000 Bq/cm3, and 66,000 Bq/cm3 (2 tests)

1,100,000 Bq/cm3 -->Kurion, ND --> AREVA, 520,000 Bq/cm3, and 77,000 Bq/cm3

So what is TEPCO's solution to the conundrum?

Stop using AREVA.

Does the company know why this happened?


Is the company interested in knowing?


To see the data for yourself, go here (PDF).

#Radioactive Rice? ND, Says Fukushima Prefecture

From Jiji Tsushin (9/16/2011):


On September 16, Fukushima Prefecture announced its first result of the main survey of radioactive materials in the harvested rice. No radioactive cesium above the detection limit (between 5 to 10 becquerels/kg) was detected in the rice harvested between September 12 and 14 in 4 locations in Kitakata City, located in northwest Fukushima. Total 52 locations in the city are to be tested, and the results for the remaining locations will be announced later.


The prefectural government will allow the shipment of rice by the municipalities as long the density of radioactive cesium tests below the national provisional limit (500 becquerels/kg) in the designated locations within a city/town/village. [In case of Kitakata City, therefore] the September 16 survey result was not enough to allow the city to ship rice.

Some Japanese consumers believe neither the report nor the Fukushima prefectural government. Their "baseless" suspicions include:

  • They must be mixing last year's rice.

  • Jiji Tsushin and Fukushima Prefecture, deadly lying combo.

Personally, I think Jiji is better than Kyodo News.

There are eye-witness report of sighting the last year's rice bags with proof of inspection from other prefectures piled up high at rice distributors and wholesalers in Fukushima.

My suspicion: How many points did they measure? One rice paddy or two per town/village?

Let's see. Kitakata City is located north in "Aizu" region of Fukushima Prefecture, the western one-third of the prefecture with less contamination than the rest of Fukushima. According to Japanese wiki, today's Kitakata City is the result of the mergers of 17 towns and villages over time. Total 52 testing locations for 17 towns and villages within Kitakata City would mean about 3 locations per town/village. (Fukushima Prefecture's site says 2 samples per town/village.)

There should be more than 3 rice farmers in each town/village, and the farmers have more than one rice paddy.

My second suspicion: Why don't they incinerate the samples to really measure below a decimal point, if they do care about safety for the consumers?

Well the answer is obvious, that they don't care. But before the Fukushima accident, the highest density of radioactive cesium from Fukushima rice (white rice though, not brown rice) was 0.629 becquerels/kg back in 1977, from rice grown in Fukushima City. (data: Japan Chemical Analysis Center)

My third suspicion: How did the prefecture test the samples?

Were the samples given to them by the farmers, or did the officials go to the locations and took the samples from the field?

Saitama Prefecture was busted this time for trying to do the former to test the tea, like it always does when testing the safety of food. The prefecture announced the intention to test the tea, and the tea farmers were to submit the samples by a given date.

There seems to be hardly any public organization in Japan that sides with the consumers.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

No More Free Lunch at #Fukushima I Because TEPCO Ran Out of Boil-In-The-Bag Food??

It's an unconfirmed bit of information from a Representative in the Lower House of Japan's Diet.

Yukiko Miyake says she had a chance to talk to Banri Kaieda, ex-Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry who lost the bid to become the party leader and the prime minister. According to her tweet on September 16:

本会議で海江田さんと話すチャンスがあった。一昨日連絡した作業員食事打ちきりの件をすぐ調べてくれた。打ちきりは事実で、私達も試食した真空パックの非 常食がなくなったということだが、内部被爆の問題もあり今までのものが安全に思える。全国にストックがあるはずではとのこと。

I had a chance to talk to Mr. Kaieda during the main session of the Diet. I had told him two days ago about the free lunches for the [Fukushima I] workers that were stopped. He immediately did some research, and said to me the following: "It is true that the free lunches were stopped, because the emergency boil-in-the-bag food ran out. But we have to worry about internal radiation exposure for the workers, and I think the boil-in-the-bag lunches are safer. I think boil-in-the-bag food is in stock throughout Japan."

So, TEPCO may have run out of boil-in-the-bag food stocked at Fukushima I and at J-Village, and it couldn't buy more and/or it couldn't ask for more.

I wonder how Mr. Kaieda is doing these days, relieved of the ministerial job. My personal vote for the new PM was actually Kaieda, despite all the badmouthing I did of him. Unlike ex-prime minister Kan and ex-cabinet secretary and current Minister of Economy and Trade Edano, Kaieda hasn't appeared in the media circuit (I almost wrote "circus") to peddle "his side" of the recent 6 months history of Japan's nuclear crisis.

New Prime Minister Noda has gone very quiet after becoming the PM, with some questionable appointments of ministers and party leaders including Mr. Maehara, who was revealed in WikiLeaks to have been informing Americans about Japanese politicians like Ichiro Ozawa.

#Radiation in Japan: 1/4 of Germany's Bayerische Staatsoper Refuse to Come and Perform in Japan For Radiation Contamination Fear

Germany's Bayerische Staatsoper was scheduled to come to Japan to perform some Wagnerian operas, but 100 members including top singers and orchestra members, or one-quarter of the entire members at the theater who were scheduled to come, have refused to come to Japan for the fear of radiation contamination.

Call it "baseless rumor" all they want, but the opera lovers in Japan should be very disappointed.

From Yomiuri Shinbun (9/16/2011):


It was revealed on September 15 that 100 members of Bayerische Staatsoper refused to come to Japan for the fear of radiation contamination from the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident. Bayerische Staatsoper, based in Munich, Germany, is scheduled to perform starting late September. 400 members were scheduled to come to Japan.


The performances in Japan will include "Lohengrin" by Wagner, and are scheduled from September 23 to October 10, mostly in Tokyo.


According to the public relations of the opera, they will hire performers from outside temporarily to fill the vacancies.


It's not clear how many people are not coming in orchestra, chorus, and theater technology. The Japanese organization who invited the opera has announced that several leading singers have canceled the trip. Those who will not come to Japan will take 4-week unpaid vacation.

The leading tenor in "Lohengrin", Jonas Kaufmann, canceled the trip due to a surgery scheduled in early September. He is one of the most sought-after tenors in the world.

Checking the major sponsor's site (Canon), the performances will be in Tokyo, and Kanagawa (Yokohama City).

Well, even if Yokohama loses the Staatsoper, the triathlon world championship is still good to go over the weekend in Yokohama City. The swimming portion is in Tokyo Bay of course. Mayor Hayashi said in the press conference the other day that the world-class triathletes are coming to Yokohama.

#Contaminated Water Treatment System at #Fuku I: TEPCO to Use SARRY Only from October

Just as I thought. TEPCO will ditch the Kurion-AREVA combo that has had numerous problems from the beginning and will rely solely on Toshiba (and IHI and US's Shaw)'s SARRY for highly contaminated water treatment. Toshiba's SARRY has had its share of problems but not as many as the Kurion-AREVA duo.

The latest trouble at the water treatment system: the density of radioactive materials, reduced after Kurion's treament, shot up again after AREVA's treatment.

From Mainichi Shinbun (9/15/2011):


TEPCO announced on September 15 that there was a trouble in the reactor cooling system that circulates water treated in the contaminated water treatment system. The density of radioactive materials that decreased after the treatment with Kurion's system increased after the treatment with AREVA's system. It is possible that highly radioactive sludge in AREVA's system leaked. TEPCO is investigating the cause. Currently, AREVA's system is stopped, and the treatment is done by Kurion's system alone.


TEPCO looked at the treatment performance of both systems and found that Kurion's system had reduced the density of radioactive materials from several million becquerels/cubic centimeter to several hundred becquerels/cubic centimeter. However, when that treated water was further processed in AREVA's system, the density shot up to several hundred thousand becquerels/cubic centimeter.


TEPCO plans to stop using Kurion-AREVA system starting October, and use Toshiba's SARRY exclusively for contaminated water treatment. SARRY has had a relatively small number of failures compared to Kurion's or AREVA's system.

TEPCO was working on both Kurion's and AREVA's system from September 13, replacing a pump at Kurion's and a stirrer in the coagulation settling unit at AREVA's. Maybe that had something to do with the problem. Maybe not. TEPCO is not very forthcoming, as you may have noticed over the past 6 months.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

More on Accident at Marcoule Nuclear Waste Processing Site in France: Furnace Had Many Problems Before

as reported by Kyodo News. Interestingly, if you go to Kyodo News site the article is not there. It was carried by several local/regional papers but in print only, as far as I know.

Rough translation from the original Japanese article, as appeared in Kumamoto Nichinichi Shinbun (9/15/2011):

French nuclear facility: Explosion took place right after the restart of the furnace operation

Employee says "The melting furnace broke down last week"

(Kyodo News-Paris) Regarding the explosion that took place on September 12 at the low-level radioactive waste treatment center (CENTRACO) in Marcoule in southern France, it was revealed that the melting furnace that exploded had broken down last week, and it was restarted on the day of the accident. French papers including Le Figaro reported it on September 14 as information from the sources in the French prosecutor's office who interviewed the employees at the center.

According to the employees testimony, the melting furnace, which is used to melt low level radioactive waste like workers' gloves, protective clothes and metal pumps, was stopped last week after "numerous problems" had been detected. The operation resumed in the morning of September 12, but metals weren't melted well. When an employee tried to break the lump using a stick-shaped object, the molten metal spewed from the lump, causing the explosion.

French prosecutors are set to start investigation on death and injury by negligence in a few days.

From the beginning of the accident, the French media had pointed out the possibilities of heated metal coming in contact with water, or of some chemical reaction taking place near the furnace as the cause of the explosion.

However, the prosecutors say, "To promote further melting using an equipment is a well-known procedure, even if it not practiced widely", indicating they haven't ruled out other possibilities.

According to the major French TV network TF1, the area around the furnace remains in high temperature and no one can approach anywhere near it, and the prosecutors and the French nuclear control bureau haven't made much progress in their investigation.

Le Figaro's article on September 13 had these details:

  • Furnace was set at 1,500 degrees Celsius but the metal didn't completely melt;

  • The employee tried to break the molten mass with a crowbar ("barre à mine").

Oh boy. Crowbar?

But just as TEPCO has the manual for the outside world and the "real" manual(s) for the workers to follow, breaking the molten metal blob with a crowbar probably is part of the "real" manual at the French plant.

Sunflower Planting Hardly Did Anything to Reduce Radioactive Cesium in Soil

Well, it sure looked pretty, a field of sunflowers, but if the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is to be believed, it did not do much more than looking pretty, and creating radioactive sunflowers that'll have to be somehow safety disposed as nuclear waste.

Sunflower seeds were planted in many, many areas within the 20-kilometer radius exclusion zone. Who is going to dispose these nuclear waste, and how?

From Asahi Shinbun (9/14/2011):


The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries announced the result of its study in Fukushima Prefecture on the effectiveness of various method of decontamination of the farmland that have been contaminated with radioactive materials. While it was confirmed that scraping off the surface soil was effective, planting sunflowers to absorb radioactive cesium proved to be hardly effective at all.


The Ministry has been experimenting on the decontamination methods since late May, using 6 locations in Iitate-mura and Kawamata-machi, which are close to Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant.


Of different methods to scrape off the surface soil, the most effective was scraping about 3 centimeters with the shallow-rooted grass. This method decreased radioactive cesium by 97%. Scraping the soil alone about 4 centimeters achieved 75% reduction. If the surface soil was treated with solidifying agent before being scraped, the reduction was 82%.


Filling the rice paddies with water, then tilling and stirring the soil and draining the water reduced radioactive cesium by 36%. Digging the field 30 to 60 centimeter deep and burying the surface soil was also effective in reducing the radiation level in half.


On the other hand, the amount of cesium that sunflowers absorbed from the soil was only one-2000th of the density of radioactive cesium in the soil. The Ministry concluded that "there is no other candidate that has higher absorption ratio. Practically speaking, sunflowers are not effective in decontamination".


Based on the result, the Ministry disclosed its ideas of decontamination based on the density of radioactive materials in the soil.


The farmland whose radioactive materials in the soil would exceed 5,000 becquerels/kg (limit above which the planting of rice is prohibited) is estimated to be 8,300 hectares [about 20,500 acres]. From the result of the experiments, in case of the farmland whose radioactive material density exceeds 10,000 becquerels/kg, it may be difficult to reduce the level down below 5,000 becquerels/kg unless the surface soil is removed. Between 5,000 and 10,000 becquerels/kg, there may not be other choices but removing the surface soil.


If the surface soil is removed in 8,300 hectares, the amount of contaminated soil generated would exceed 3 million tonnes. The Ministry says it hopes to develop a technology to remove cesium from the soil so that the soil can be put back in the field. (reported by Keiichiro Inoue)

What about plutonium and strontium? Cobalt-60?

Isn't removing the surface soil what Russia/Ukraine/Beralus have done and to very little effect? The fresh supply of radioactive cesium and other nuclides come down from the mountains. What about decontaminating the mountains?


I wouldn't call Iitate-mura and Kawamata-machi "close to Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant". They are more than 35 kilometers away. The reporter should have said "close enough for the government researchers to go anywhere near the plant".

By the way, as one refugee from Iitate-mura strongly hints in his tweets, Iitate-mura's political leaders seem in excellent terms with the national government and government-connected contractors keen on getting "decon" jobs. After all, 200 billion yen (US$2.6 billion) is to be spent on this village of 6,000 people alone so that the villagers can come home in 2 years.

#Radiation in Japan: Tsukuba City's Idea of Voluntary "Decontamination"

Shorts, short-sleeve T-shirts, no masks, sneakers, with small kids. (In other words, all the things you should never do.)

As "decontamination" is set to become a new bubble for Fukushima Prefecture if not for entire Japan, the national government strongly encourage citizen volunteers to "decontaminate" their own neighborhood.

So, one elementary school in Tsukuba City in Ibaraki Prefecture called on the parents to do the "decontamination" of the school yard on September 9, and Ibaraki City proudly posted the photographs of the occasion on its webpage.

Except... oops one of the photos showed the presence of small children. It was supposed to be done by adult volunteers only, for the safety for the kids. People started to question the wisdom of "decon" with children, so the city quietly substituted the photo with the one without any children in it.

What were these parents thinking? Well I guess they couldn't secure babysitters. Or they thought this was some kind of family fun activity. Probably the answer was that they weren't thinking.

Professor Hayakawa of Gunma Prefecture (of radiation contour map fame) is one of those people who happened to capture the photo before Tsukuba deleted from its site:

Owly Images

Not only you see children, but the parents are seen in shorts, T-shirts, no masks, no protective gear. They have rakes, shovels and brooms as tools. Tsukuba City's webpage shows houses right next to the school yard. (I bet they were not too happy to see the dust flying up from the operation.)

The website of this particular school proudly announces the radiation level decreased by 0.002 to 0.01 microsievert/hour for the school yard. The radiation level dropped by two-third in ditches and under the rain gutters by removing the dirt.

Why did the school do this nearly useless "decontamination" which hardly reduced the radiation level except under the gutters and in the ditches? Probably to "alleviate fear and anxiety" among parents, as every single politician and bureaucrat in Japan spouts these days. Now the school is all set for its annual autumn school athletic meet.

It's all in your head, they say.

I still occasionally see some tweets by people from high radiation areas saying "We'll adapt to high radiation quickly, won't we? After all, there are locations in the world with 10 millisieverts/year radiation!" Well, according to Dr. Alexey Yablokov (link is PDF file), it takes about 20 generations or 400 years for people to become less sensitive to radiation effect.

There Will Be No Free Lunch for Fuku I Workers Any More, As TEPCO Stops Providing

citing "normalcy" at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. Instead, TEPCO will sell "bento" lunch boxes at the plant. No information yet on how much TEPCO will charge.


From September 14 (JST) tweets by Ryuichi Kino, independent journalist who's been covering TEPCO press conferences from the beginning of the crisis:


TEPCO stopped providing bento lunches at Fukushima I. From now on, the company will sell bento at Fukushima I. Workers are to pre-order in order to get bento. Asking how much TEPCO will charge for bento. Personally they should continue to provide lunch for free.


TEPCO's Matsumoto explains the company has been providing [for free] boil-in-the-bag food because high radiation at the plant prevented [workers] from bringing in bento. But the situation has stabilized at the plant, and the boil-in-the-bag food is no longer necessary, so the company is switching to bento, Matsumoto says.


Matsumoto says now that things are getting back to normal, the workers can bring their own bento or purchase one, and so there is no need to provide free lunch. Hmmm, it doesn't make sense to me.


To begin with, there is no store open anywhere near Fukushima I Nuke Plant. Workers cannot leave the plant [during the work], and they have to leave for work at early hours like 3 in the morning. They are not commuting from their own homes so they cannot make their own bento. How can he called it "normal"?


Why can't TEPCO take care of the meals for the workers? Having them purchase bento will reduce TEPCO's cost, and increase personal cost to the workers. I asked [if it's TEPCO's cost reduction measure], but Matsumoto just repeated "Things are now back to normal..."


Is it TEPCO's cost reduction? "It's not that, but things are getting normal..." I guess what it means is indeed the cost reduction. But the wages for the workers are being raised. It's just shifting the burden on the workers.


The net wages to the workers, after the multiple layers of subcontractors take their cut, are not that much. The living condition of the workers is far from "normal". TEPCO must know that, but still stops providing free lunch. I can't think of any other reason but cost reduction. What is the company thinking, weakening the morale of the workers like this?

And the national government and the Fukushima prefectural government continue to look the other way. Many of these workers are from Fukushima Prefecture, some from the very towns where Fukushima I Nuke Plant is located, but the governor of Fukushima is more keen on securing the next big "dango" businesses which will include "decontamination" and debris clearing and medical data collection/research. NISA said early on in the crisis that it "had no plan to do anything about the situation of food for the workers, as it is TEPCO's problem".

Those rich philanthropists (cum business tycoons) in Japan completely ignore Fukushima I Nuke Plant or the workers. Masayoshi Son, of Softbank for example, has given 10 billion yen (US$130 million) to Miyagi Prefecture for its dubious disaster relief plan. A fraction of that money could provide free bento for the workers at Fukushima.

Let's see... Bento 500 yen a piece, workers 3,000. 1.5 million yen per day. It's been about 180 days. So TEPCO may have spent the total 270 million yen, or about US$3.5 million so far. Annually, it would be 540 million yen, or about US$7 million.

Well, it looks all TEPCO needs to do is to say to ex-President Shimizu, "Sorry, we have to have your fat severance paycheck back".

Or why can't the plant workers receive some of the donation money generously given by people from all around the world, so they can buy lunch? The money is still sitting at all levels - national, prefectural, municipal.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

#Radioactive Turf in Nursery School in Akita Prefecture

The willful ignorance, or the determination to carry on with their lives they knew before March 11, of many Japanese is driving me crazy.

A nursery school in Akita Prefecture bought turf from Ibaraki Prefecture, which is located south of Fukushima Prefecture and was doused with radioactive materials by downwind from Fukushima I Nuke Plant creating areas with high radiation, in middle of July. Small children were playing on the freshly installed turf. Then the city came and measured the air radiation level. Guess what. It was high.


From Yomiuri Shinbun local Akita version (9/8/2011):


Yokote City in Akita Prefecture announced on September 7 that the air radiation level above the turf in the school yard at Soai Nursery School (118 children) was 0.135 microsievert/hr, exceeding the normal maximum level in Akita Prefecture of 0.086 microsievert/hr. The school didn't open on September 7, and removed the turf.


The city had been measuring the air radiation levels since September 5 at 56 facilities including nursery schools. The survey done at this particular nursery school on September 5 revealed abnormal levels at 1 centimeter from the surface of the turf, 50 centimeters, and 1 meter. There was no abnormality outside the turfed area.


The turf was bought by a landscaping contractor in Yokote City from a dealer in Tsukuba City in Ibaraki Prefecture. 800 square meters of the school yard were covered with the turf on July 21. The contractor removed the turf on September 7 and measured the radiation, which was then dropped to normal levels.


The city says "We don't think it is a dangerous level, but we want to be cautious".


The city plans to measure the radiation on September 8, and if there is no abnormal reading the nursery school will open on September 9. The city will measure the density of radioactive materials in the removed turf.

No news of what happened to the turf or what kind of radioactive material density it had.

#Radioactive Landfill: Tokyo Metropolitan Government Has Been Doing It Since May

Yokohama City residents had just enough time to get organized very quickly and were able to halt (for now) the start of dumping of radioactive sludge ashes into the ocean in their final processing facility at the end of Minami Honmoku Pier on Tokyo Bay.

Tokyo residents either did not have a chance to do so because they didn't know, or they didn't care.

It turns out that Tokyo Metropolitan government has been dumping sludge from its water purification plants and burned ashes from the sewer sludge from the sludge plants in its landfill in Tokyo Bay at least since late May. The huge landfill is right near the Haneda Airport. (Photo from the Tokyo Metropolitan Bureau of Environment)

On June 3, Tokyo Metropolitan government announced the result of air radiation survey done on the landfill locations where the radioactive sludge and ashes were being dumped, and that's how some people (mostly bloggers as far as I've found) noticed it and wrote about it.

I remember reading a twitter or two about Tokyo already dumping radioactive ashes and sludge, but there was no substantiating info with those tweets and I didn't follow up. On checking the Tokyo government's site just now, I haven't found any announcement that they would start dumping the ashes and sludge into the landfill in Tokyo Bay.

Instead, on the Tokyo government's site, there is the announcement of June 3 about radiation levels measured at the locations plotted on the map below:

(Translation of the table titles and cells below is mine, not Tokyo government's.)

Sewer sludge ashes buried in Area (A), radiation measurements at 8 locations (microsievert/hr)

Date of Measurement
at 0.01 meter0.270.340.330.230.240.500.290.22
at 0.5 meter
at 1.0 meter
Date of Measurement
at 0.01 meter
at 0.5 meter0.260.320.320.210.240.550.290.23
at 1.0 meter0.240.330.

Sluge from water purification plants buried in Area (B), radiation measurement at 7 locations (microsievert/hr)

Date of Measurement
at 0.01 meter
at 0.5 meter
at 1.0 meter
Date of Measurement
at 0.01 meter
at 0.5 meter
at 1.0 meter

The Bureau of Environment announcement says the facility accepts "sewer sludge ashes and sludge from water purification plants are accepted if they are mixed with cement or if they are wetted". (下水汚泥焼却灰、上水スラッジは、セメント混練りや湿潤化したものを受け入れている) The Bureau also says that they pile dirt on top of the fill for "appropriate management" of the sludge and ashes buried there.

The radiation levels looks pretty high to me for all the supposed precautions. What's peculiar is that the sludge from water purification plants generally tested higher than the sewer sludge ashes, and that there is no discernible difference between the measurement close to the surface and the measurement at 1 meter.

Why are these politicians and city bureaucrats so eager to burn and bury radioactive materials? Because they don't know? Because they think it's safe, as the national government says? Because they are in denial and think nothing has changed since March 11? If the answer is the latter two, why don't they then openly announce it and let the residents know?

(Of All People,) Edano Apologizes to Fukushima Governor for His Predecessor's "Wrong" Words

According to Yomiuri Shinbun (9/13/2011), Yukio Edano, newly installed Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, apologized to the governror of Fukushima Prefecture for the inappropriate words by the just-dismissed Yoshio Hachiro.

And to apologize to the governor who was most likely to be the one who insisted on 20 millisieverts/year radiation exposure limit for school children in Fukushima, according to the report by TBS (link is in Japanese, with audio file of the radio program which has since been taken down as "private") - a major television/radio station.

Edano, who as the Chief Cabiniet Secretary (a very powerful position in a parliamentary system) told Fukushima residents and the rest of Japan that the nuclear accident was contained and the reactor core hadn't melted, that it was safe to eat contaminated food, that his government had no plans to evacuate Iitate-mura because the level of contamination was not high, on and on..., apologized for Hachiro's comments that the area around the nuke plant looked like a ghost town.

Telling the truth is not rewarded in the Japanese politics in particular, and the mistake of Hachiro was not to have learned it in his political career. Lies are to be covered with even bigger lies, and that's universal, not just in Japan.

Let's see, what would Edano's bigger lies be? My guess is decontamination (to be mostly done by the residents) and recovery (of the powerful construction industry and waste processing industry, if I were to be so cynical), and his claim that Japan is now fully recovered from the nuclear disaster.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Nikkan SPA Magazine: Researcher Says Large Amount of Neptunium-239 Also in Date City, Fukushima

It's the same researcher who said several thousand becquerels/kg of neptunium-239 was found in the soil in Iitate-mura, about 35 km northwest of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. It seems it's not just Iitate-mura that got doused with neptunium, which decays into plutonium. Date City, about 25 km northwest from Iitate-mura and 60 km from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, also got a large amount of neptunium.

To recap, uranium-239, whose half life is about 24 minutes, decays into neptunium-239 with a half life of about 2.5 days, which then decays into plutonium-239 whose half life is 24,200 years.

Again, the reason for withholding the information is explained in the article below as "the research paper being peer-reviewed by a foreign scientific journal" - a make-or-break event, apparently, for a young researcher at a prestigious university in Japan - and as precaution against the possible Japanese government action to squash the information. The article was written by the same husband & wife comedian couple who first wrote about neptunium in Iitate-mura on their blog magazine in early August.

I'm sure the nuclear experts who have appeared on TV to soothe the populace ever since the March 11 nuclear accident has the good explanation for neptunium-239 in these locations. They've kept saying "No way plutonium will be found outside the compound, because it is heavy and it doesn't fly". Oh I get it. It's plutonium they were talking about, not neptunium which decays into plutonium. My bad.

From Nikkan SPA September 13 issue (part on Date City only):


The email began thus:

「放射線測定を専門とする大学研究者に直接聞いたのですが、プルトニウムが核変する前のネプツニウムという核種が、少なくとも飯舘村や伊達市まで大量に飛んでいたそうです。今のγ線メインの測定方法ではどんなに頑張ってもセシウムしか検出できないため、本来の危険性が見逃されてしまう。α 線核種を無視した今のやり方を続けていたら、飯舘村はまた“見殺し”にされかねない……」

"I heard it directly from a university researcher whose specialty is radiation measurement. Neptunium, the nuclide that decays into plutonium, flew at least to Iitate-mura and Date City in large quantity. The current survey method focuses only on gamma ray, and all it detects is radioactive cesium. The real danger is alpha-nuclides, which continues to be ignored. Iitate-mura may be being betrayed again..."

The article by the comedian cum independent journalist couple continues and says this person attended a lecture given by this researcher.

It still doesn't make sense to me that the information already freely given at a public lecture has to be withheld because of the peer-review process, but oh well.

Date City by the way has been selected by the national government to conduct "decontamination" experiments. So is Iitate-mura. They are using high-pressure spray washers to blast roofs, sidings and roads, and digging up the soil. Plutonium? What plutonium?

Unlike Iitate-mura, though, almost all residents in Date City still live within the city. Even those who are ordered to move because of high radiation level in their homes have moved to temporary housing that the city has provided, within the city.

Nuclear Protest in Japan: 4 Young Men on Hunger Strike In Front of METI

Upon the 6-month anniversary of the March 11 triple disaster of earthquake, tsunami, and Fukushima I Nuke Plant, 4 young men in their late 10s and early 20s started a 10-day hunger strike in front of the most powerful ministry in the Japanese government, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

From Chugoku Shinbun (9/12/2011):


Naoya Okamoto (age 20) and others from Kaminoseki-cho in Yamaguchi Prefecture will start a hunger strike in front of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry starting September 11, 6 months from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami disaster. They are demanding the plan by Chugoku Electric to build a nuclear power plant in Kaminoseki-cho to be scrapped.


They are members of "The teens group against Kaminoseki Nuke Plant". Until September 21, they will sit in front of the METI during the daytime, taking only water and salt. Their protest will be shown on Internet blogs and video posting sites. They will also demand more compensations for the victims of the nuclear accident.

There was a 2,000-person protest at the Ministry on September 11. The protesters formed a human chain link around the ministry. 10,000-strong demonstration in Shinjuku saw more than 2,000-strong police and riot police, who did their best to provoke protesters and managed to bloody several people and arrested 13. Their offense? It looks like nothing more than touching the policemen and walking on the sidewalk.

A small coverage of the human chain link around METI, hardly any coverage on the Shinjuku protest other than blaming the protesters, in the Japanese mainstream media.

(Video from

TEPCO Did It Again - Blacked-Out Table of Contents

of the severe accident manual that was demanded on September 6 by a Diet committee.

On instruction from the regulatory agency Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, TEPCO submitted an almost completely blacked-out document. Not satisfied, to say the least, the committee asked for re-submission.

NISA accordingly instructed (the link is in Japanese, PDF) TEPCO again on September 8, telling the company to "report to the agency by 6PM as to what conditions are necessary for the disclosure of the information, if any".

On September 12, TEPCO submitted the front cover and the table of contents of the document "Operation Manual for Reactor 1 (Severe Accident)", 3 pages total, with 48 lines out of 50 were blacked out. All the lawmakers in the committee could read was "fire extinguishing line" and "inert gas".

TEPCO's Matsumoto explained that the manual is a company's internal document and not for public consumption, and the company has to protect intellectual properties and the physical protection of nuclear facilities. (Information from Asahi Shinbun, 9/12/2011)

We can blame TEPCO all we want. But again, the company is following instruction from NISA, and NISA makes no effort to have the information disclosed.

The Diet committee is asking for re-re-submission.

A Furnace Exploded at French Nuke Processing Facility, 1 Killed, 4 Injured, No Leak

or so they say for now. The facility is just outside Marseilles. The French Safety Authority has already declared the event as "closed" as of 4:56PM French Time.

First, from Reuters (9/12/2011):

(Reuters) - An explosion in a furnace at the Marcoule nuclear waste treatment site in southern France Monday killed one person, but there was no leak of radioactive material outside the site, officials said.

Four people were injured, one with serious burns, in the blast at the Centraco site, owned by French power utility EDF and adjacent to the Marcoule nuclear research center. The Centraco site does not house any nuclear reactors.

Fatalities in accidents at active nuclear sites in France are extremely rare, although deaths occasionally occur during plant construction.

Monday's blast comes amid heightened safety concerns in the wake of Japan's Fukushima disaster in March.

The U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, said it was seeking information from France about the explosion and had activated its incident and emergency center.

France's ASN nuclear safety watchdog said it was launching an inquiry into the cause of the explosion at 13:06 p.m. (1106 GMT) that hit shares in EDF, France's main power utility.

EDF said the blast was contained within the furnace, which is used to melt waste with levels of radioactivity ranging from low to very low.

"There was an explosion at the site of Marcoule at 13:06 p.m. causing one death and four injured," an EDF spokeswoman said. "We don't know the cause," she added.


Local emergency services said there were no traces of radioactivity on the four people injured.

"The risk of fire is over and there is no radioactive or chemical contamination of either the interior or exterior of the site," a rescue worker said.

Police also said there was no contamination outside the Centraco complex, in operation since 1999.

The Centraco site is next to the town of Codolet in the Gard region, about 30 km (18 miles) from the city of Avignon and about 80 km from the Mediterranean coast.

The complex, employing some 350 people, processes scrap metal such as valves and pumps used in nuclear plant operations in a melting plant and also burns combustible waste in an incinerating plant, according to Centraco's website.

France -- the world's most nuclear-reliant country -- is carrying out stress tests on its 58 nuclear reactors in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster when the Japanese nuclear site was damaged in an earthquake and tsunami.

EDF shares, listed since late 2005, extended an earlier 3 percent loss to sink 6 percent in heavy volume, briefly touching a lifetime low of 17.89 euros. The stock later stabilised down 5 percent at 18.5 euros.

In its 2010 annual report, the ASN says that in 2008 it identified some weak spots in the Centraco site, operated by EDF subsidiary Socodei, that prompted it to ask Centraco to put forward an action plan to improve safety. It said the situation had improved since then at the site.

Malcolm Sperrin, director of Medical Physics and Clinical Engineering at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, England said: "The French authorities are highly competent at disaster management and also in the implementation of safe practice in all industrial environments.

"It is unlikely that there will be significant, or any, releases of radiation into the wider environment but this will need to be confirmed in the next few hours or days."

The announcement by the French Safety Authority (ASN) says "End of the event":

The event that occurred this morning in Centraco, nuclear installation located near Marcoule site (Gard) is considered as closed.

The explosion of a furnace dedicated for the melting of the metallic radioactive waste triggered a fire that ended at 13h00 (11.00 UTC)

The building where the explosion occurred was not damaged. Injured people do not suffer from any radiological contamination and all measures conducted by the licensee outside of the building have shown no trace of radioactive contamination.

One worker died and 4 others have sustained injuries, one of whom suffered deep burns.

This event does not involve any radiological issue and no protective actions was required for the population.

ASN, the French Nuclear Safety Authority, has suspended its emergency organization; ASN is still in permanent contact with the prefecture of Gard and the licensee Socodei. ASN will conduct dedicated inspections in liaison with Labour inspection in order to analyse the reasons of the accident.

Centraco is owned by SOCODEI. The installation is dedicated to the treatment and conditioning of low level radioactive waste, either by melting of metallic waste or by incineration of incinerable waste.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Yokohama's Solution of Ever-Increasing Radioactive Ashes from Sewer Sludge: Dump In the Ocean as Landfill

It's not that I'm picking on Yokohama City but I am just so amazed, more than anything else.

As I said before, my image of Yokohama City has been cosmopolitan, international, modern (i.e. what tourists think). In the nuclear crisis like Japan has had since March 11, I would have assumed the city like this would act in a conservative, responsible way that would never harm any of the residents or the visitors.

In addition to its poor judgment in using radioactive beef for lunches at kindergartens and elementary schools and not admitting it for a long time, and just recently spending a large amount of money to create a PR pamphlet to tell Yokohama residents that radiation is nothing to worry about, the city is going to dump radioactive ashes from the sewer sludge into the ocean as landfill material, starting mid September.

Newspapers reported on September 10 that Yokohama City would start burying the ashes from sewer sludge in its final processing facility in Naka-ku (special ward). According to the city, the ashes measure less than the national safety standard of 8,000 becquerels/kg and therefore they can be disposed in a normal manner. The ashes have so far tested the maximum 6,468 becquerels/kg.

What the report didn't show the readers is this: Photograph of this final processing facility, "Minami Honmoku Waste Final Processing Facility" (from Yokohama City website), which turns out to be a landfill site on the Tokyo Bay:

Below the photograph, the text explains how the ashes are to be brought in:

"Ashes from the incineration plants are to be moistened with enough water, and fly ashes are to be mixed with cement and solidified. They are then to be loaded on a truck and go straight to the processing facility."

A city's assemblywoman's site has a picture of how the disposal is done: go straight into the ocean.

The protection? The walls that separates the wider bay and the area designated for landfill (see the picture above).

She also says there is a fishing park nearby where the city residents come to enjoy recreational fishing. Also, Minami Honmoku Pier, where this final processing facility is located, is a major container port, with cargo handling volume in 2009 well over 12 million tonnes. There are still many fishermen who do commercial fishing in Tokyo Bay.

Yokohama City's plan is to fill this area with radioactive ashes and other industrial wastes, and build a site for offices and businesses. The plan basically says what ex-Chief Cabinet Secretary and soon-to-be Minister of Economy has said all along, that it is safe enough and there is no immediate effect on health.

The plan freely admits that some minute amount of radioactive materials (they only talk about cesium, of course) will leak into the environment - in this case the ocean, marine life, beach sand, and fishing nets of the fishermen. But in conclusion, it declares that the safety of dumping radioactive materials in the landfill is proven "scientifically" because the estimated amount of radiation leaked into the environment is within the level deemed safe by the experts with whom the City consulted.

Well, this is the city whose mayor has said any food item is considered safe if it is sold in the marketplace. At least she asked the experts this time.

But I don't think even the Ministry of the Environment was thinking of the radioactive ashes being dumped into the ocean when they came up with the 8,000 becquerels/kg cesium "safety" limit.

And this mayor of Yokohama City, what did she say she wants to accomplish? Attract more foreign tourists with lively art scene.

#Radioactive Yogurt in Miyagi Prefecture, 6.5 Bq/kg Radioactive Cesium

This has to be the first time ever that radioactive cesium has been detected from yogurt by the official (government) testing, though I could be wrong. has the information posted on the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare website. The ministry has been conducting the sampling tests on food items currently sold in the marketplace, while the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries do the sampling tests on produce before they are sold in the market.

According to the table below from the Ministry of Health, the yogurt was sold in Niigata Prefecture, and tested by the lab in Niigata Prefecture. The yogurt contained 3.4 becquerels/kg of cesium-134, and 3.1 becquerels/kg of cesium-137. It was made in Kami-machi in Miyagi Prefecture, about 135 km from Fukushima I Nuke Plant. But the distance doesn't mean much, as the raw milk used to make yogurt could have come from anywhere and everywhere. (They do mix and match.)

Yukio Edano to Become the New Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry

OK, I struck the "rumor" part. It is true, if Yomiuri Shinbun is dedicated to truth.

Yomiuri Shinbun (11:25AM JST 9/12/2011):


Prime Minister Noda decided informally on September 12 that ex-Chief Cabinet Minister Yukio Edano will become the new Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry after Yoshio Hachiro who resigned.

Criminal incompetency gets rewarded. Cynicism to the extreme is my first reaction.

He will be formally appointed as the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry after the appointment ceremony at the Imperial Residence tonight (September 12).

Let's see, of the "identical nuke triplets" (from left, Edano, Kaieda, Hosono), Goshi "Everyone should share the pain of Fukushima" Hosono remains to be the minister in charge of the nuke accident and he is now the Minister of the Environment who's about to create a "decontamination" bubble and whose ministry will regulate the nuke industry starting next year

, and now Yukio "No immediate effect on health" Edano will be the head of METI. Only one left to get promoted is Kaieda, but he was supposed to become the Prime Minister but failed in the vote. I think that was the plan: Kaieda as PM, Edano and Hosono in the key positions.


That ministry is one of the most powerful, always has been.

This one is even worse than the previous "rumor" that the ex-Chief Cabinet Secretary is going to be the chief justice of the Judge Impeachment Court.

I'm looking for a confirmation.

How can Japan become more cynical? A lot, apparently.

TEPCO Video Explains the Reactor Cooling System at Fukushima I Nuke Plant

TEPCO is on the PR blitz of some sort. Now, the first series of the blitz is "How do we achieve and maintain cold shutdown?" (「冷温停止の実現と維持はどうやって実施するのですか?」), and the company released the first video of the series titled "The setup and operation of the reactor cooling system".

It can be viewed or downloaded at TEPCO's site, but I embedded the video from Youtube below. The video is in Japanese only, but take a look at the "system" made up of jumbled flexible hoses (Kanaflex) snaking their way through the plant compound. The person who explains the system for you is Junichi Matsumoto, TEPCO's spokesman for the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident.

For readers who read Japanese, for your weekend fun: Turn on the Transcribe Audio feature of the video. You get to see some hilarious kanji characters assigned for the phonetic pronunciation, or phonetic pronunciation that Google mishears. Some fun words I noticed:

  • "Chusui" - water injection, is transcribed as "Appendix"

  • "Nanbah-ichi" - number 1, is transcribed as "Nanba (place name in Osaka) 1"

  • "Roshin" - reactor core, is transcribed as "credit union"

  • "Ponpu" - pump, is transcribed as "high school"

  • "Sai Rinkai" - recriticality, is transcribed as "recent household"

  • "Tadachi ni Hosan-sui o chunyu suru" - immediately inject boric acid solution, is transcribed as "only the locally made products is injected"

Ex-Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano to Become Chief Justice of the Judge Impeachment Court?

It is just a rumor floating around, for now. Could be true, could be false. Or as many would say, "Who cares?"

Yukio Edano, who in the early days of the nuclear crisis successfully assured the Japanese that there would be no "immediate effect on health" from the radiation and radioactive materials coming out of the broken reactors at Fukushima, may be set to become the chief justice in the Judge Impeachment Court.

Edano is a lawyer by training.

The rumor says the informal decision has already been made. The Judge Impeachment Court is made up of judges who are the members of the Diet (Lower House and Upper House). Right now, the chief justice position is vacant, after the chief justice Makino became the new vice minister of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

If it's true, it is an interesting job to take after having been in one of the most powerful position in the administration. Some say it is to keep an eye on the judges in the Japanese court system who will soon preside over lawsuits relating to the damages from the nuclear accident.