Saturday, October 8, 2011

France 24 Program on Fukushima Workers

It's a program from July 10, 2011 on France 24 International News in English. Unlike NHK documentaries or Germany's ZDF programs, France 24 managed to get the workers talk in front of the camera without hiding their faces and having their voices changed to avoid identification.

It is a well-made program.

One worker in late 50s says he is working at Fukushima I Nuke Plant because that's the job he was able to find. He says he has so much debt, and he is there to earn as much as he can for his family.

A local hotel owner says people praise the workers as heroes in the beginning but there are many different situations, as he shows the reporter one of the rooms that workers stay.

The anchor asked the reporter why these workers agreed to talk with him on camera, when the contact with the media was strictly prohibited by TEPCO. The reporter answered that the workers simply wanted to tell their story.

Towards the end, the reporter says Japan is now the 4th from the bottom in terms of equality (in pay, employment) among OECD countries. Japan's equality was based on full employment, and when that went (mostly thanks to former Prime Minister Koizumi) the famed equality went out the door also. Who could have known...

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Putting the Roof on Reactor 1 Building

The cover-up, literally, will be complete shortly.

From TEPCO's "Photos for the Press" page, taken on October 8. The stairs that climb up to the top of the turbine building (with blue stripe) says "Safety First".

From a different angle, from the reactor building side looking toward the ocean. You wouldn't know that there is a wreck of a reactor inside.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant Reactor 1 Hydrogen Gas Conundrum

So TEPCO tried to expel hydrogen gas inside the pipe that leads to the Containment Vessel of Reactor 1 yesterday. But the word is that the work is stopped, because the hydrogen gas in the pipe, which initially had dropped to 0.1% concentration with nitrogen gas injection, went back up again after 2 hours, indicating continuous supply from somewhere (like the CV, maybe).

As the pipe is originally for the water spray system not for hydrogen gas or any type of gas, the hydrogen gas seems to permeate, even if the valves are closed off.


From Yomiuri Shinbun (10/8/2011):


TEPCO announced on October 8 that the concentration of the hydrogen gas in the pipe that leads to the Containment Vessel of Reactor 1 at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant didn't go down to the intended level of "less than 1%".


Injection of nitrogen gas in the pipe to expel hydrogen gas lowered the concentration of hydrogen gas in the pipe from 63% to less than 0.1%. However, it wet back up to 3.9% in 1 to 2 hours. Hydrogen gas is considered to still remain in the pipe. TEPCO said it will do the nitrogen injection again on October 9.


The company plans to install the "gas management system" that will filter the radioactive materials in the gas inside the Containment Vessel. If the concentration of hydrogen gas is high, it may explode during the installation of the system.

Independent journalist Ryuichi Kino tweeted yesterday that TEPCO either doesn't know (or is not telling) the hydrogen gas concentration, if any, inside the Containment Vessel. The company remain curiously incurious.

The Fuku-1 worker tweeted that he suspects hydrogen gas may be coming from the "torus" (= suppression chamber). He says, as does Kino, that the valves for a water system would not stop hydrogen gas even if they are closed.

TEPCO will repeat the same procedure on October 9, hoping to lower the concentration below 1% so that the pipe can be cut safely to install the gas filtering system. And if hydrogen gas keeps coming through the pipe? TEPCO apparently don't care to know.

To recap, their optimistic diagram of the attempt:

The Economist: Oxford Professor Says OK to Raise Annual Dose Limit by 1000 Times for the Japanese, But the Reporter Reluctant to Inhale

the air in Iitate-mura, 45 kilometers from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. The Economist article mentions Oxford Professor Emeritus Wade Allison in passing toward the end, and that is more interesting than the article itself, which is nonetheless copied below. (Scroll down to Professor Allison's thinking presented below the article.)

The Economist's article on October 8, 2011 titled "Hot spots and blind spots":

CREST the hill into the village of Iitate, and the reading on a radiation dosimeter surges eightfold—even with the car windows shut. “Don’t worry, I’ve been coming here for months and I’m still alive,” chuckles Chohei Sato, chief of the village council, as he rolls down the window and inhales cheerfully. He pulls off the road, gets out of the car and buries the dosimeter in the grass. The reading doubles again.

Iitate is located 45km (28 miles) from the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant hit by a tsunami on March 11th this year. In the mountains above the town, the forests are turning the colour of autumn. But their beauty is deceptive. Every time a gust of wind blows, Mr Sato says it shakes invisible particles of radioactive caesium off the trees and showers them over the village. Radiation levels in the hills are so high that villagers dare not go near them. Mr Sato cannot bury his father’s bones, which he keeps in an urn in his abandoned farmhouse, because of the dangers of going up the hill to the graveyard.

Iitate had the misfortune to be caught by a wind that carried radioactive particles (including plutonium) much farther than anybody initially expected after the nuclear disaster. Almost all the 6,000 residents have been evacuated, albeit belatedly, because it took the government months to decide that some villages outside a 30km radius of the plant warranted special attention. Now it offers an extreme example of how difficult it will be to recover from the disaster.

That is mainly because of the enormous spread of radiation. Recently the government said it needed to clear about 2,419 square kilometres of contaminated soil—an area larger than greater Tokyo—that received an annual radiation dose of at least five millisieverts, or over 0.5 microsieverts an hour. That covered an area far beyond the official 30km restriction zone (see map). Besides pressure- hosing urban areas, this would involve removing about 5cm of topsoil from local farms as well as all the dead leaves in caesium-laden forests.

However, Iitate’s experience suggests the government may be underestimating the task. Villagers have removed 5cm of topsoil from one patch of land, but because radioactive particles continue to blow from the surrounding trees, the level of radiation remains high—about one microsievert an hour—even if lower than in nearby areas. Without cutting down the forests, Mr Sato reckons there will be a permanent risk of contamination. So far, nobody has any idea where any contaminated soil will be dumped.

The second problem is children’s health. On September 30th the government lifted an evacuation advisory warning to communities within a 20-30km radius of the plant. The aim was partly to show that the authorities were steadily bringing the crippled reactors under control.

But these areas are still riddled with radiation hot spots, including schools and public parks, which will need to be cleaned before public confidence is restored. Parents say they are particularly concerned about bringing their children back because the health effects of radiation on the young are so unclear. What is more, caesium particles tend to lurk in the grass, which means radiation is more of a risk at toddler height than for adults. In Iitate, Mihori Takahashi, a mother of two, “believes only half of what the doctors say” and says she never wants to bring her children back. That, in itself, may be a curse. “The revival of this town depends on the children returning,” says Mr Sato.

And even if people return, Mr Sato worries how they will make a living. These are farming villages, but it will take years to remove the stigma attached to food grown in Fukushima, he reckons. He is furious with Tokyo Electric Power, operator of the plant, for failing to acknowledge the long-term impacts of the disaster. He says it is a way of scrimping on compensation payouts.

One way to help overcome these problems would be to persuade people to accept relaxed safety standards. A government panel is due to propose lifting the advisory dose limit above one millisievert per year. This week in Tokyo, Wade Allison, a physics professor at Oxford University, argued that Japan’s dose limit could safely be raised to 100 millisieverts, based on current health statistics. Outside Mr Sato’s house, however, a reading of the equivalent of 150 millisieverts a year left your correspondent strangely reluctant to inhale.

Dr. Wade Allison is professor emeritus of physics (particle physics) at Oxford University. The event that the Economist's reporter refers to in the article must be the talk given at American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) on October 3, where the professor, along with another researcher, presented the strong case that the radiation exposure below 100 millisieverts per year was not a problem, if one only gets rid of the unreasonable fear of radiation. He also says the current food regulation, evacuation regulation are "unreasonable" and should be relaxed significantly.

Here's the screen capture of a page from his presentation slides he used in the ACCJ talk:

He criticizes the ICRP recommendation for radiation dose, and suggests we ditch the ICRP's "As Low As Reasonably Achievable (ALARA)" and adopt "As High As Relatively Safe (AHARS)".

And what is his AHARS level recommendation? His recommendation seems to be based on the therapeutic, targeted doses used in cancer treatment. Here's his slide page 17:

  • 100 mSv max single dose

  • 100 mSv max in any month

  • 5000 mSv max lifelong

100 millisieverts max in any month makes the annual limit of 1,200 millisieverts, or 1.2 sievert. Professor Allison must think that level is an emergency level, as he puts the lifelong max at 5 sieverts.

There you go, Japanese government. Just wholeheartedly embrace the professor's recommendation, and you don't need to do a thing. No decon, no health monitor, no compensation to pay. Even in Okuma-machi and Futaba-machi in Fukushima right outside the plant, everyone can live happily at least for 5 to 10 years at least till they exceed 5 sieverts max for the lifetime. Fuku-I plant workers can continue to work at the plant much, much longer. No one has reached 1.2 sievert yet.

(Why did the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan invite Professor Allison? What was the purpose? Does anyone know?)

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Reactor 1 Aerial Video

This may be your last chance to see Reactor 1 from the top, before TEPCO manages to cover the whole reactor building up.

The video was taken on October 3 when TEPCO did the dust sampling of the air above Reactor 1, and released on October 8. You can download the video for yourself at TEPCO's "Photos for Press" page, or view it here:

This diagram from TEPCO shows the camera angle in relation to the reactor, spent fuel pool, and drier separator pit:

Watching the video, I don't quite understand how TEPCO or the government can claim they watered the Spent Fuel Pool. How? Do you see the pool?

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Measures Soil Contamination in Shinjuku

And it is higher, much higher than the Ministry of Education's aerial survey indicates.

First, to recap, according to the just released Ministry of Education's aerial survey of radioactive cesium deposition in Tokyo, most of Tokyo has less than 10,000 becquerels/square meter of radioactive cesium, with the exception of the western-most Okutama and the eastern special wards ("ku") bordering Chiba Prefecture to the east.

Now, it turns out that the Tokyo Metropolitan government, who is not so eager to measure anything radioactive since March 11, was doing its annual survey of soil contamination in Shinjuku and quietly released the data on September 20.

The soil sample was taken at Tokyo Metropolitan Institute of Public Health in Hyakunin-cho, Shinjuku-ku, as it has always been done. (That's where the official air radiation level is monitored every day for Tokyo.)

For the last 5 years, radioactive iodine and cesium-134 were not detected, and cesium-137 was 2 to 3 becquerels per kilogram.

Now, this year, the numbers for the soil from the surface to 5 centimeters deep were:

  • Iodine-131: ND

  • Cesium-134: 360 becquerels/kg

  • Cesium-137: 430 becquerels/kg

  • Total cesium: 790 becquerels/kg

To convert from "per kilogram" to "per square meter", Japan's Nuclear Safety Commission uses the factor of 65. The total cesium per square meter in Shinjuku therefore is: 51,350 becquerels per square meter.

Even if you just take cesium-137 (for comparison purpose), 430 becquerels/kg translates to 27,950 becquerels/square meter.

The Tokyo Metropolitan government also found cesium-134 and cesium-137 in the soil between 5 and 15 centimeters deep. For the past 5 years, iodine-131 and cesium-134 were ND, and cesium-137 was 2 to 3 becquerels/kg.

But this year:

  • Cesium-134: 4.2 becquerels/kg

  • Cesium-137: 7.1 becquerels/kg

  • Total cesium: 11.3 becquerels/kg

However, true to form, the Tokyo Metropolitan government says it is in agreement with the Ministry of Education's survey of air radiation level. The government says the air radiation at the sample location is not that high (0.07 microgray/hr) therefore no decontamination of a wide area will be necessary. (Mr. Governor, we are talking about soil deposition here, not the air radiation level.)

The air radiation the Institute measures at 18 meters off the ground was 0.0563 microgray/hr that day, according to the announcement. The Tokyo Metropolitan government uses microgray as equivalent to microsievert.

It goes to show that the aerial survey with 300 to 600 meter radius and averaging out the numbers doesn't locate high radiation hot spots in the cities like Tokyo or Yokohama. Or anywhere else for that matter. And this Shinjuku location is not considered to be particularly hot.

Here's the screen capture of the Tokyo Metropolitan government announcement, with highlight:

(H/T for the info and the screen capture)

Friday, October 7, 2011

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: TEPCO Has Started to Expel Hydrogen Gas from the Pipe Leading to Reactor 1 CV

Remember that pipe filled with 63% hydrogen gas (the rest was nitrogen gas, according to TEPCO) that leads to the Containment Vessel of Reactor 1?

TEPCO is removing the gas from the pipe right now. They started at about 2 hours ago (12 noon on October 8, 2011 Japan Standard Time), according to NHK News Japanese (12:57PM JST 10/8/2011):


Regarding the hydrogen gas in the pipe that leads to the Containment Vessel of Reactor 1 at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, TEPCO started the operation to expel the gas from the pipe at noon on October 8. TEPCO says there is no danger of explosion as the nitrogen gas will be injected in the pipe to lower the concentration of the hydrogen gas.


In late September it was discovered that the hydrogen gas was in the pipe that leads to the Containment Vessel of Reactor 1. When TEPCO measured the concentration of the gas, it was very high between 61 and 63%. It is considered that there is no oxygen in the pipe, and there is no danger of explosion so far, according to TEPCO. The company plans to cut the pipe later, and to eliminate the danger of explosion if the hydrogen gas in the pipe is released it started to expel the gas at noon on October 8. Nitrogen gas will be injected in the pipe to lower the concentration of the hydrogen gas there, and a special hose that suppresses static electricity which could trigger explosion will be attached to expel the gas outside the building. There will be no danger of explosion, TEPCO says. TEPCO has been ordered by the national government to check the concentration of hydrogen gas in the similar pipes in Reactors 2 and 3, which the company has said it will do in the near future.

TEPCO hasn't said anything definite about where this hydrogen gas came from, other than saying it may be the remaining gas from zirconium (in the cladding) and steam reaction when the fuel was melted down. The company doesn't seem eager to find out.

Nagano Police to Send Juvenile Delinquents to Disaster-Affected Tohoku as "Volunteers"

so that they get to know the meaning of "life", the police says. (At least they are not sending them to Fukushima.)

The police clearly coerced them, but is calling it a "volunteer" job. (How much more Orwellian can it get?)

The police in Nagano Prefecture is sending 7 youths to the disaster-affected (radioactive on top of it) area in Miyagi Prefecture to "volunteer" cleanup jobs as part of their "rehabilitation" program.

From Kyodo News Japanese (10/7/2011):


Nagano Prefectural Police announced on October 7 that it would send boys with juvenile delinquency to Sendai City as volunteers so that they would experience what it would be like to contribute to the society. The Police said the project would be the first of its kind in Japan.


7 boys in Nagano Prefecture aged between 15 to 18 will participate. A volunteer organization "Sendai Tsunami Recovery Support Center" in Sendai City will accept them. The boys will be taken to Sendai City on October 14 to see the devastation from the tsunami, and on October 15 they will do weeding in the farm fields and backyards and help remove sludge. 6 policemen will accompany the boys. On October 16, they will be back in Nagano Central Police Station to report on the activities.


The plan is to have juvenile delinquents visit the disaster-affected area where people are striving for recovery amid difficulties and give them a chance to reflect on their own future. 7 boys said they would like to participate, after the prefectural police announced the program.

Weeding and removing sludge. I see. The punishment, which is called "volunteer work", is to be exposed to concentrated radiation to compensate for the short stay.

This is an institutionalized abuse of the mionors who are in a vulnerable position, and the Nagano police is proud that it is the first one in the nation to come up with this wonderful "rehabilitation" project.

I'm afraid this is just the beginning. Already, so-called "experts" and "celebrities" that inhabit the MSM in Japan are calling for "citizen volunteer decontamination corps" to be sent to Fukushima's highly contaminated cities.


#Radioactive Mushroom: 1,033 Bq/Kg of Radioactive Cesium from Dried Shiitake in Shizuoka Prefecture

There's always "the first"..

From Jiji Tsushin (10/7/2011):


Shizuoka Prefecture announced on October 7 that 1,033 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium exceeding the provisional safety limit of 500 becquerels/kg was found in the dried shiitake mushrooms produced and processed in Izu City in Shizuoka. It was found by a voluntary testing by a retailer. The prefectural government plans to conduct its own testing of the remaining products kept at the producer on October 8.


According to the prefectural government, the shiitake mushrooms in question were harvested in Izu City in March and April, and processed in the city by the middle of April. The producer sold to 5 retailers in and out of Shizuoka. Some are considered to have been already consumed, but the retailers have voluntarily removed the mushrooms from their stores.

If the mushrooms were harvested in that time period, radioactive cesium must be from the fallout on the surface of the mushrooms. The Ministry of Education is yet to conduct the aerial survey of Shizuoka Prefecture, and the Hayakawa radiation contour map only shows the east side of the Izu Peninsula with some radiation. Izu City is located in the center of the peninsula.

(The map showing the location of Izu City is from this blog. Thank you.)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Bank of England Restarts QE and Injects £75 billion into Economy, Calls the Current Financial Crisis "Worst In History"

Collateral damage: UK households, with increasing inflation. It's worth it, says the governor, Sir Mervyn.

Last time the Bank of England did the QE - quantitative easing - was in 2009, when it digitally printed £200 billion. This time around, it is expected, according to the Telegraph article linked, to exceed that amount by next year.

From UK's The Telegraph (10/6/2011):

Sir Mervyn King was speaking after the decision by the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee to put £75billion of newly created money into the economy in a desperate effort to stave off a new credit crisis and a UK recession.

Economists said the Bank’s decision to resume its quantitative easing [QE], or asset purchase programme, showed it was increasingly fearful for the economy, and predicted more such moves ahead.

Sir Mervyn said the Bank had been driven by growing signs of a global economic disaster.

This is the most serious financial crisis we’ve seen, at least since the 1930s, if not ever. We’re having to deal with very unusual circumstances, but to act calmly to this and to do the right thing.”

Announcing its decision, the Bank said that the eurozone debt crisis was creating “severe strains in bank funding markets and financial markets”

The Monetary Policy Committee [MPC] also said that the inflation-driven “squeeze on households’ real incomes” and the Government’s programme of spending cuts will “continue to weigh on domestic spending” for some time to come.

The “deterioration in the outlook” meant more QE was justified, the Bank said.

Financial experts said the committee’s actions would be a “Titanic” disaster for pensioners, savers and workers approaching retirement. Sir Mervyn suggested that was a price worth paying to save the economy from recession.

(The article continues at the link.)

Just like the US Fed counterpart, Sir Mervyn must be thinking the stock market is the real indicator of the economy. Print money, give it to bankers so that they can bid up paper assets like stocks.

QE, or quantitative easing, is supposed to work this way:

  1. Central bank digitally prints money and buy government debts (treasuries, gilt, agency bonds) from the banks (in case of the US, primary dealers including many foreign banks);

  2. Bank lends the money to individuals and businesses, who will then use that money;

  3. Economy grows; if it doesn't grow, just keep doing the step 1 and see what happens. It takes a whole lot of money to achieve the result, they say, without quantifying "a whole lot".

How it worked in the US:

  1. Central bank digitally prints money and buy government debts (treasuries, agency, agency MBS);

  2. Banks get the cash, park it at the central bank receiving a decent interest; the portion they do not park at the central bank, they use it to bid up the so-called "risky assets" - mostly paper assets like stocks and futures, or bonds that they think the central bank will buy next;

  3. Banks don't lend to individuals and businesses who could use cheap money, but only lend to credit-worthy people and big businesses who don't need or want money;

  4. Stock market levitates on low volume, and the economy stagnates and shrinks.

  5. Go back to step 1, repeat ad infinitum.

Ministry of Education's Radiation Map for Tokyo and Kanagawa

"Radiation? What radiation?" must be the message from the Ministry which has been doing the aerial survey of radiation in Tohoku and Kanto.

They did Tokyo and Kanagawa from September 14 to 18, using one helicopter that flew 10 times over the area. The radiation detection device on board the helicopter measured gamma radiation from the radioactive materials deposited on the ground from 150 to 300 meters off the ground. The measurement of about 300 to 600 meters radius below the helicopter is then averaged out. Here's the report by the Ministry (PDF).

As far as I know, there is no plan for the national government to conduct the ground-level measurement outside Fukushima Prefecture.

First, let's take a look at Tokyo.

Air radiation level at 1 meter off the ground:

Many residents have been measuring the radiation on the ground level in Tokyo, so have many organizations. Their measurement suggests much lighter blue colors for the eastern most one-quarter of Tokyo.

Cesium-134 and-137 deposition:

And Kanagawa.

Air radiation level at 1 meter off the ground:

Cesium-134 and -137 deposition:

Yokohama residents must be laughing at the Ministry's map, after over 100,000 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium was detected on top of an apartment building.

What matters more in places like Tokyo and Kanagawa is the identification of hot spots and ultra-hot spots, which can only be done on the ground level. Measuring from the air and averaging out doesn't make sense, but then, that's how the government wants it done. It is not interested in details. The Tokyo Metropolitan government isn't interested in knowing the details either. Residents there are on their own.

The areas that have been mapped by the Ministry of Education so far:

Air radiation level at 1 meter off the ground:

Cesium-134 and -137 deposition:

Again, here's Professor Hayakawa's map:

Ex-Fuku I Worker Talks: "TEPCO Is a Terrible Company"

Toshio Kimura gave a talk at a rally in Kochi Prefecture on April 29. (That happened to be the day when the pro-nuke scientist rather cheerfully proclaimed that the Fukushima reactors had had meltdowns on a national TV.) He had long left TEPCO at the time of March 11 accident, but he used to work at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant.

He evacuated with his family to Kochi Prefecture right after the accident.

(Translated and captioned by Tokyo Brown Tabby)

His talk continued but Tabby couldn't find the video for that part. So, this is what he said after the video above ended:

As to the situation of the plant, 70% of the fuel in Unit 1 have melted. I haven't looked at the most recent data, but the reactor pressure is increasing, the radiation dose inside the containment vessel is increasing, and iodine-131 is not decreasing. It has started to decrease a bit recently, though. All this means is there definitely has been re-criticality until recently. Because, as you know, the half life of iodine-131 is only 8 days. And yet, after more than a month from the accident, we still see an increase in the level of iodine-131. That itself proves there has been re-criticality, because otherwise iodine shouldn't have been produced. A neutron hits the atom of uranium-235, the atom splits, and iodine-131 is produced. That's how the nuclear fission occurs. And through the mechanism that can be explained by Einstein's theory of relativity, heat is produced. The heat boils water to create steam, and the steam spins the turbin. The turbines are connected in series and drive the electrical generator to produce electricity. This is the mechanism of electricity generation.

Iodine-131 is not produced unless neutrons cause nuclear fission. That's why I'm saying there has been re-criticality. Nuclear Safety Commission won't admit it. TEPCO won't admit it. The government won't admit it. But really there has been re-criticality until very recently. This is the fact. Any professional with the knowledge of physics of nuclear reactor can tell. This re-criticality issue is one of the things they are hiding from you.

Another lie is that 0.24 microsievert/h is safe. This is wrong.

These are the things I wanted to tell you today. Here in Kochi, you don't have to worry too much because Kochi is quite far from Fukushima. But please look at the radiation dispersion forecast by the German Weather Service. If you notice the north-east wind is blowing throughout Japan, don't ever let children get wet in the rain. And women who want to have children in the future. Don't let them go outside on such days. We, middle-aged men are okay, including me.

It's because cesium-137 is dangerous. Its half life is 30 years. It's dangerous because it tends to accumulate in muscles. Men have relatively more muscle. Even if cesium-137 gets absorbed inside their bodies, it spreads thinly throughout their muscles. On the other hand, women don't have much muscle, and the absorbed cesium tends to concentrate in the organs like mammary gland and uterus. It may increase the incidence of breast cancer. But this is something you can prevent if you have the knowledge. If you have to go outside on such days, please wet the gauze inside the mask first and put on the mask before you go out.

Also, you have to be careful with iodine, too, while it is still released. Iodine accumulates in seaweed and it is easily absorbed from your hair. So, one way to prevent iodine absorption is to put on a hat so that your hair won't get wet from the rain.

You haven't heard about such things, have you? Nobody tells you that. The government doesn't tell, either. But I wanted to let you know. That's why I came here today.

I don't want to talk too long, but one last thing.

I hear some wise old men protected a very beautiful fountain located within the radius of 30km from Chernobyl plant. How they protected it is mysterious. I studied nuclear energy intensively and I studied physics to some extent. But still I believe in an invisible power. Those wise old men didn't evacuate after the accident. How did they protect the fountain? By prayer. I'm not sure how many of you believe in the power of prayer. But if you can believe in it, even if just a little, then please pray in the morning that the Fukushima-1 nuke plant may rest in peace. And remember, we've benefited from radioactivity because it produces electricity. So, please pray that the radiation will be neutralized and vanished by our sense of gratitude and our love. I hope we'll pull together and pass that prayer over to the next generation.

That's all I had to say. Thank you.

Ichiro Ozawa in Hospital, Intensive Care Unit

He fell ill around 11PM JST on October 6 and was rushed to a private hospital's ICU in Tokyo.

Ozawa's group has been put on a trial even after the Public Prosecutors Office could not prove any wrong-doing. Without valid proof, the Office simply used its Committee for the Inquest of Prosecution to indict him.

The mainstream media, which successfully took down then-Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Hachiro for making up a bogus story about "rubbing radiation" on the reporter (it has been proven bogus as one reporter happened to record the whole incident), is quite happy to gang up on the Democratic Party of Japan's erstwhile "king maker".

The MSMs are gleefully reporting the news of Ozawa's sudden illness which seems very grave (if he was taken to the ICU).

I am not his supporter, but he is one of the very few political figures who seems to genuinely believe that the Fukushima nuclear accident is a catastrophe that could destroy Japan, and the government should be in charge to do whatever it takes to control the plant and stop the emission of radioactive materials at all cost.

He's an old-style politician, not those glib talkers in their 40s and 50s that inhabit the current and previous administrations.

3rd Worker Died at Fukushima I Nuke Plant, Cause Unknown

and there is no warm underwear for the workers.

But first, about the 3rd death.

Jiji Tsushin (10/6/2011) relates the news almost in passing. The main part of the news is that TEPCO will try activating the neutron sensors inside the Reactor Pressure Vessel of Reactor 2 (there are 124 of them) and do the same in Reactor 3, and other reactor-related topics.

Then, at the end,

一方東電は、同原発で放射能汚染水の貯蔵タンク関連の作業をしていた50代の男性作業員が5日に体調不良を訴え、6日に死亡したと発表した。男性は8月から働いており、累積被ばく量は約2ミリシーベルト。東電は、被ばくと死因との因果関係は考えにくいが、死亡診断書で確認するとしている。作業員の死者は計 3人となった。 

TEPCO also announced that a worker in his 50s fell ill on October 5 and died on October 6. The worker was doing the work around the storage tanks for the contaminated water at the plant. He had been working since August, and his cumulative radiation exposure was about 2 millisieverts. TEPCO said it was hard to believe his radiation exposure had something to do with his death, but the company would confirm in the death certificate. The total number of deaths among the plant workers are now three.

The first worker died of a heart attack in May, while he was carrying heavy equipment on foot to build the contaminated water processing facilities. The second one died of acute leukemia in August after working for one week doing radiation control for the workers in the headquarter building on the plant. They were both hired by the subcontractors several degrees removed from TEPCO. I wonder if they had any written employment contract. Probably not.

The worker who tweets from Fuku I says it's been very cold at the plant, and the workers are trying to stay warm by doubling the tyvek suits or wearing parkas. TEPCO is telling them not to do it because TEPCO is running out of money. He is wondering if TEPCO will provide warm underwear for the workers, but in case it doesn't, he says he will buy for himself a warm jacket.

Fukushima Prefecture will get 50 billion yen from the national government for the "recovery" projects including a world-class cancer hospital, but not a yen to spare for the lowly plant workers.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Japan's Ministry of Education Ready to Formally Loosen the Annual Radiation Exposure Limit

A mere formality probably at this point, but it is upsetting some people in Japan right now.

From Yomiuri Shinbun (10/6/2011):


The Radiation Council at the Ministry of Education and Science submitted its opinion on the domestic standard on radiation exposure on October 6. Considering the current situation of radioactive materials widely spread after the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident, the Council's opinion is to set the lowest possible standard in stages between 1 to 20 millisieverts per year for the residents in Japan [who are not engaged in occupations that deal with radiation].


It is the recommendation of the ICRP in 2007, and the Council has adopted that recommendation for the domestic standard.


The peacetime radiation exposure limit for the residents in Japan is 1 millisievert per year. However, the Council determined the current situation in Japan of ever spreading radioactive contamination to be that of "existing radiation exposure" [I do not know the formal ICRP's term] where the source of radiation is not systematically controlled. It had been discussing whether to loosen the existing standard and introduce the ICRP's recommendation of "between 1 and 20 millisieverts per year" as the new domestic standard.

It is very interesting that this government council considers the current situation as "not systematically controlled" and that the radiation contamination continues to spread after nearly 7 months, no matter what the talking heads on TV and the DPJ politicians say (that the plant is stable) and do (abolish "evacuation-ready zone" and make the residents return).

When an adjunct council like this submits its opinion, it is a mere formality in Japan and will be quickly adopted by the government and made it into a law.

Just to remind you, in pre-Fukushima Japan, the radiation exposure from natural sources, counting both internal radiation (radon inhalation, food ingestion) and external radiation (cosmic rays, ground), was 1.5 millisievert per year average. In Kanto and Tohoku, the number was lower than the average, whereas in the western part of Japan it was generally higher.

The 1 millisievert per year limit set by law is for the artificial radiation exposure which is deemed necessary and/or whose benefit outweighs the adverse effect (medical treatment, travel by airplane). Now, this limit may be set at maximum 20 millisieverts (they may pick a lower number not to upset many people) only to be lowered in stages if the situation improves. And the new limit will have nothing to do with medical necessity or convenience; it will be because there will be no choice for people but to live with the high level of radiation for indeterminable amount of time, which the government is ever eager to raise even higher.

Fukushima JA, no matter what they said the other day about radiation contaminated produce, has been pushing Fukushima-made produce all over Japan. The Ministry of the Environment is strongly urging the rest of Japan to accept radioactive debris. New crop of rice with radioactive cesium (and they do not test even for strontium, not to mention plutonium) is being shipped because they are below the provisional safety limit.

The new limit may be set so that the radiation exposure in the current high radiation hot spots in Kanto and Tokyo Metropolitan area will be all under the new "safe limit". Saves money for the government and TEPCO.

Let's see if the response from people in Japan is (A) "Oh OK, whatever, it's too late anyway and no big deal" or (B) " " (is there a B?)

Apple's Steve Jobs Passed Away

Apple's home page right now:

Fuku I Worker Who Pointed Finger at Livecam: Why He Did It, In His Own Words

Remember the guy who pointed his finger at the Fuku I Livecam and later announced his intentions in not-so-comprehensible English?

Here's a rough translation of his reasons why he did what he did from the original Japanese, which I hope is a bit more clear. His concerns are very legitimate, but to this day I haven't seen any news of TEPCO or the government looking into them other than superficial lip service that they will do so.

He says he pointed his finger not only at TEPCO and the government, but also to the viewers who would watch the video, live or recorded, on the Internet, and to himself who would watch it on his smartphone.

(H/T Tokyo Brown Tabby)


My Requests and The Reasons Why I Pointed My Finger at TEPCO and the Government

I would like to request that TEPCO and the government improve in a tangible way how they contract work to subcontractors and how they monitor the employment situation.

As has been much reported, some workers have been forced to work here by the outlaw element [i.e. "yakuza" or the Japanese mafia]. Such workers are disguised as being employed by legitimate contractors but have to accept an unfair or severe employment conditions. Sometimes even the legitimate contractors who post recruitment information at employment Offices don't know who their workers' true contractors are. The excessive multi-layered subcontracting leads to various problems such as lower wages, no insurance, and no contract document, as has been reported.

In addition, I would like to share a few stories from my own experience.

At the inn where I stayed, there were days when I could not sleep during the daytime before my nighttime shift, because my roommates' work shifts are different. Before work, the workers had to fill in the form to declare their health condition. On one of such sleep-starved days, I honestly declared that I had slept for 4 hours. But while I was looking away, one of my seniors rewrote it to 6 hours. I assume it was because workers who were not capable of managing their own health would put a bad face on the company.

There is another problem. Even if we only worked for the prescribed hours, we had to spend huge amount of extra time taking care of the newcomers and registering them. Therefore, we sometimes ended up working or driving a car with only 1 or 2 hours of sleep.

The subcontractors are competing with each other for more work and trying to show how much they could do even if they have to strain their workers a little. The contractors would benefit from the low-cost, high-efficiency work. However, by the very nature of the whole setup, minor troubles or problems will not be reported to the higher hierarchy. They are causing negative effects everywhere, and I am worried that they might eventually lead to a serious accident.

Even if the TEPCO people were asked about subcontractors and workers at the press conference, all they could answer might be "we will investigate the matter" or "we will ask our affiliate companies not to do such things." And they probably would not receive any meaningful reports anyway.

The more mult-layered the subcontracting structure becomes, inconvenient facts get filtered out as the report goes from one layer to the layer above. It is not just the matter of subcontractors not reporting the situation. I don't think this problem will be solved if they hold individual workers or individual affiliate companies accountable. Threatening the subcontractors will not result in safety. This is the lesson we must learn from the JR Fukuchiyama-Line's derailment accident in 2005.

The plant workers are in a weak position. They should be liberated from the severe situation where they have to hide their overwork.

They are already overwhelmed by their sense of mission to put an end to this catastrophe for the sake of many people. They should not be burdened with additional pressure in the forms of bad working conditions and employment insecurity.

I believe this problem should be addressed comprehensively as a problem of the employment system at the plant as a whole.

I wish TEPCO would employ all workers directly, but if that is impossible, how about at least keeping complete track of all the workers' contract conditions by making all the subcontractors issue written contract documents? (I myself did not get any contract document.)

How about examining such contract documents and checking whether proper wages and insurance coverage are guaranteed, whether enough number of stand-by workers are reserved, and how work shifts, number of workers, and holidays are scheduled?

The original purpose of subcontracting is to have the subcontractors carry out the specialized tasks that the parent company doesn't have expertise on; the subcontracting should not be about skirting responsibility by dumping the normal management work on the subcontractors.

There's no predicting the final outcome, but I consider the current situation at the plant as one that has somehow managed to escape the worst possible scenario. I think it is important at the site of such an accident to prevent human errors caused by insufficient care about management work and workers.

At the plant site, many cheering messages from children, posters, banners, faxes, photocopies of emails, strings of "thousand origami cranes" from all over the country are displayed on the walls. Please make sure those voices will not turn into the voices that impose harsh self-sacrifice on the workers. Also, the fact that I was able to carry out my action without being stopped shows anyone who is dissatisfied with the current situation can go inside and do whatever he wants.

I don't think this can be prevented by strengthening security or strictly controlling the workers. I believe a much better way is to improve employment conditions to a decent level so that no worker gets frustrated.

I personally would like the press to continue to gather information on the working conditions at the nuclear plant and ask about it at the press conference.


That some workers were "recruited" forcibly by a yakuza outfit was reported in an NHK documentary. In a softer approach, they would tell a hapless man with lots of debt, "Well, how about earning a ton of money working for the plant for a month? That would wipe out your debt, and some extra money for your wife..." In a harsher approach, they would raid a homeless camp under the highway overpass and simply push them in a van and drive them to the plant.

NHK interviewed a man in charge of recruiting the workers for the plant. He was a pudgy little man in a pink shirt with a fat gold-chain necklace (it could have been a bracelet). He said he used to get 1 million yen per worker by sending them to the 6th or 7th-layer subcontractor. He said "life is good".

The workers sent by people like him are working at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant in order to contain the worst nuclear disaster at least in 25 years, if not ever.

Japan's Ministry of the Environment Determined More Than Ever to Spread Radioactive Disaster Debris All Over Japan

Minister of the Environment and Minister of the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Goshi Hosono called representatives from 43 Prefectures to the Ministry of the Environment and requested again that they accept disaster debris from Miyagi and Iwate Prefectures.

From Fuji News Network (FNN) via Yahoo Japan (10/5/2011; don't expect this link to last for more than a few days):


Processing the disaster debris from the March 11 earthquake/tsunami has been a big problem. The Ministry of the Environment held a conference attended by the municipalities from all over Japan, and requested that they accept the disaster debris.


Minister of the Environment Hosono said, "The obstacle to recovery and reconstruction is the processing of the disaster debris. I'd like to ask you to cooperate with us".


The conference was set up by the Ministry of the Environment to expedite the acceptance of disaster debris in Iwate and Miyagi Prefectures. People in charge of waste disposal and cleaning in 43 prefectures and 74 municipalities participated.


It is considered that the March 11 disaster resulted in about 23 million tonnes of debris. However, there are many people voicing concern for radiation contamination, and the acceptance of the disaster debris is not happening except for Yamagata Prefecture which has already been accepting the debris and Tokyo which will start accepting starting the second half of October.


The Ministry of the Environment will ask the municipalities once again about their intentions and waste processing capacities, and will coordinate between the disaster-affected areas and the municipalities that will accept the debris.

As for the Tokyo Metropolitan government, it signed the agreement with Iwate Prefecture on September 30 with hardly any consultation with the Metropolitan Assembly and zero consultation with the residents to accept about 500,000 tonnes of disaster debris. The government says it tested the ashes of the disaster debris from Miyako City in Iwate Prefecture and it was only 133 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium.

What the Metropolitan government didn't bother to tell anyone was that the radioactive debris were mixed with non-radioactive regular garbage and burned. The radioactive debris were supposedly 30%. However, the Ministry of the Environment itself did the testing of the disaster debris ashes in the same city back in July, and the Ministry's number was 4895 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium. (Information from Tokyo Shinbun on 10/5/2011, in Japanese)

That leads me to suspect that Tokyo cherry-picked the cleanest possible debris to justify their decision. Why Governor Shintaro Ishihara is so eager to add radiation to his already irradiated Tokyo is a mystery to me, except there's a saying in Japan - "If you eat poison, lick the plate, too."

In for a penny, in for a pound.

Soil Survey of Watari District, Fukushima City Shows 5 Times Cesium Concentration in One Location

compared to the survey done in June.

From Professor Tomoya Yamauchi's survey result dated October 5, 2011, as published by the "FoE Japan":

Survey results 計測結果

(1) Ogura-ji Inariyama 小倉寺稲荷山
Cs-134: 604.66 eV; 108,450 +/- 247 Bq/kg
Cs-137: 661.64 eV; 131,250 +/- 282 Bq/kg
Total 総計:239,700 +/- 375 Bq/kg

(2) Hachiman Jinja 八幡神社
Cs-134: 604.66 eV; 71,293 +/- 171 Bq/kg
Cs-137: 661.64 eV; 85,981 +/- 198 Bq/kg
Total 総計:157,274 +/- 262 Bq/kg

(3) Storm drain on the school route 通学路西側住宅雨水枡
Cs-134: 604.66 eV; 44,294 +/- 135 Bq/kg
Cs-137: 661.64 eV; 54,010 +/- 156 Bq/kg
Total 総計:98,304 +/- 206 Bq/kg

(4) drain in Yakushi-cho 薬師町内の溝
Cs-134 604.66 eV; 137,490 +/- 236 Bq/kg
Cs-137 661.64 eV; 170,075 +/- 274 Bq/kg
Total 総計:307,565 +/- 361 Bq/kg

(5) backyard of a residence in Yakushi-cho 薬師町内民家の庭
Cs-134: 604.66 eV; 17,532 +/- 91 Bq/kg
Cs-137: 661.64 eV; 20,932 +/- 104 Bq/kg
Total 総計:38,464 +/- 138 Bq/kg

The location (1) is the one whose cesium concentration in the soil quintupled from the measurement in June of 46,540 Bq/kg of radioactive cesium.

The location (2) is right next to a nursery school with small children.

Professor Yamauchi's conclusion:


The entire district is highly contaminated. The radiation level will not go down with decontamination that only involves removing the sludge from the drains. In addition to removing the top soil at houses and empty lots, asphalt, concrete, concrete fences and roofs would have to be removed in order to lower the radiation level.

The national government did survey the district, but managed to miss high radiation locations. It did only the air radiation survey, which does not necessarily reflect the contamination level of the ground.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

#Radiation in Japan: 300,000 Bq/Kg of Radioactive Cesium from Soil in Fukushima City

NGO "FoE Japan (Friends of Earth Japan) did its own survey of radiation contamination in Watari District in Fukushima City with the help from Professor Tomoya Yamauchi of Kobe University. Watari District has high radiation levels throughout the district, but the national government has so far refused to designate anywhere in the district as "evacuation recommended" area.

If the government designate an area as such, the government has to pay for the relocation cost. As the result, the designation in other cities like Date City has been very arbitrary and spotty, rendering the whole exercise worthless. Often, the residents are simply moved to the other parts of the same city with slightly lower radiation.

Professor Yamauchi already released the result of the air radiation survey of Watari District, but today (October 5, 2011) FoE Japan held a press conference and announced the result of the soil contamination survey.

The links at the NGO's site are broken unfortunately, but the newspapers reporting the press conference, the highest contamination was 300,000 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium. Here's one from Asahi Shinbun (10/5/2011), which is one of the better Japanese newspapers that tend to keep the links alive longer.

Judging from Professor Yamauchi's air radiation survey (in Japanese), this particular location looks like the one that had 23 microsieverts/hour radiation at 1 centimeter off the surface of the dirt in the roadside drain. Professor Yamauchi hypothesized that radioactive cesium from surrounding mountains and forests washes down the drain after the rain, and naturally gets concentrated in the dirt.

In my communication with Professor Yamauchi, I asked if the decontamination as currently practiced in Fukushima works at all, given the non-result in Watari District which he surveyed. He said the spot decontamination like removing the dirt and sludge is useless as radioactive materials simply come from somewhere else, so the district-wide decontamination including the surrounding mountains would be necessary to "decontaminate" in the true sense of the word - to remove radioactive materials, not reduce.

He also said that spraying water with high-pressure washers hardly work at all on concrete and asphalt surfaces, as radioactive cesium is now deeply embedded in the concretes and asphalt. The only way to decontaminate concrete and asphalt, the professor said, was to physically remove all concrete structures - houses, fences, pavement, etc., which he said would destroy the neighborhood. He is of the opinion that all the residents in the district should be evacuated first, with the government paying for the cost, and the experts should get to work to truly "decontaminate".

Professor Yamauchi also wryly observed the the word for "decontamination" in Japanese, 除染 (jo-sen), is misleading. Looking at the characters for the word, it does mean "removing the contamination". So by doing the "jo-sen" work people think they are removing the contamination, when all they may achieve is to reduce the level of contamination somewhat (not much, if Watari District is any indication). He even said it was as if the government was encouraging "decontamination" so as not to evacuate people.

Or in the case of Minami Soma City, it is as if the residents in contaminated areas could feel comfortable enough to remain there by doing the "decontamination" work, as one volunteer related in the US ABC News interview in August. "If this radiation is going to stick around here for five to 10 years, we have to learn to live with it,"she said, instead of moving away from the high radiation area. For her, shoveling dirt from the kindergarten playground was a way to live with "it".

17,000 people live in Watari District, with beautiful mountains and water. It is dubbed "hidden paradise" in Fukushima City for the scenery like this:

(Photo credit:, with permission)

TEPCO's "Report from Fuku I" to Show That They Are Doing Something

Beyond that, I'm not really sure what the purpose of the video is.

The video was taken in August and September, and released on September 20 by TEPCO.

Result of "Decontamination" at a Kindergarten in Minami Soma City - Not Much of a Result

Minami Soma City in Fukushima Prefecture is one of the cities whose designation as "evacuation-ready zone" have been lifted and where the residents are supposed to return. The city had been urging the residents to return well before the designation was lifted, and as part of the efforts to encourage the residents to return and live in the city as before, the city has been busy "decontaminating" kindergartens and schools and other public places with advice from Professor Tatsuhiko Kodama of Tokyo University Radioisotope Center.

However, if you look at one and only result that the city has published, the decontamination didn't quite decontaminate, i.e. remove the contamination. If the city has better results elsewhere, it is not showing.

That one result is that of Ishigami Daini Kindergarten decontamination, done on July 30 as the kickoff event for Minami Soma's "decontamination month" (which was the month of August).

According to the "Decontamination Work Evaluation Sheet", the city found:

  • Drainage on the rooftop measured 33 microsieverts/hour (already decontaminated at the time of July 30 work);

  • As for indoor radiation level, the radiation 2 meters off the floor was higher than the radiation 1 centimeter off the floor;

  • Locations whose radiation levels got lower after the work: drainage on the rooftop, under the slide in the playground;

  • Washing the building didn't result in lower radiation;

  • Washing the asphalt [parking lot] with high-power washer didn't result in lower radiation;

  • Nearby residents complained of water from the decontamination work splashing on their properties; not enough notification prior to the work [it looks like the city didn't notify the residents at all].

Here's their before and after map of the radiation levels in various locations in the kindergarten:
  • Noticeable difference observed in before and after radiation levels: under the rain gutters, drainage, under the slide

  • Location where the radiation levels went up after the decontamination: center of the kindergarten playground, parking lot

  • Locations where the difference was not noticeably big: playground locations, indoors

The survey meter that they used was "POLIMASTER PM1703M" personal survey meter which measures gamma ray with the accuracy of 30%.

But not to worry. The IAEA Decontamination Mission is coming to Japan. They must surely know what they are doing and advise the Japanese government accordingly.

Does anyone care at this point if the "decontamination" actually decontaminate? It sure seems to be making people feel better that they did the work, and it brings money and job to the area's yard cleaning contractors and heavy equipment operators who will do the soil scraping.

IAEA Team of Decontamination Experts to Visit Japan

This must be part of that 1 billion yen that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs demanded in the 3rd supplementary budget.

12 IAEA experts for 9 days in Japan including travel days.

From Yomiuri Shinbun (10/4/2011):


On the October 4 press conference Chief Cabinet Secretary Fujimura announced that the government will accept "International Decontamination Mission" from IAEA from October 7 to 15 to assist in decontamination of the radioactive materials from the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident.


The Japanese government has invited the Mission consisting of 12 experts. The Mission will support the decontamination efforts in Japan, evaluate the efforts and share information. It is expected to report on the findings.

The last time the IAEA experts visited Japan was to "investigate" the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident back in May. They duly issued the report, finding the Japanese government's response to the disaster "well-organized". IAEA chief Amano did his personal tour of the plant on July 25.

Monday, October 3, 2011

#Radiation in Japan: Those Who Fled Fukushima in Panic Made a "Rational Decision", Says Government

The Ministry of Education's committee to discuss the compensation for Fukushima residents who evacuated from Fukushima on their own has decided to compensate those who fled Fukushima right after the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident because "to flee in a panic is rational". The committee has postponed the decision on the compensation for those who evacuated much later.

Never mind that it was the national government and the Fukushima prefectural government who were spreading baseless rumors of safety right after the accident. Too bad for the residents who were lulled by the soothing words of Dr. "Damashita" (deceitful) Yamashita and did not get the hell out. Or those who thought they were acting rationally by not panicking.

Well, as I say in my blog graphics above, never trust the government, never rely on the government.

From Mainichi Shinbun (10/4/2011):


People who voluntarily evacuated from Fukushima are confused with the government's compensation scheme. Last month, the Ministry of Education's committee on nuclear accident damage arbitration decided to compensate people who evacuated within a month of the accident but delayed the decision on compensating people who evacuated afterward. "So are you now telling us we should have evacuated as soon as possible?" "It is only recently that we knew how bad the contamination was." About 120 people gathered in a meeting held in Tokyo on October 3, and appealed for the equal treatment.


"I was worried right from the beginning. But the national government and TEPCO kept saying "It's alright" and I believed them." Chikage Sugano, 46-year-old housewife from Fukushima City regrets. It was only at the end of August that she took two daughters, aged 13 and 7 to Kyoto City.


Her home was about 60 kilometers from the plant. She thought of evacuating right away, but was hesitant because of the home loan and the uncertainty of being separated from her husband. She also did not want to hurt the feelings of her older daughter who was starting her junior high school. She had a strong attachment to Fukushima, where she was born and grew up.


In June, she learned that the district that she lived had a relatively high radiation level. She attended the lectures and gatherings by the citizens' groups. The radiation level and the evaluation of that level were different from what she had heard.


She measured the radiation level of her own home. The children's room on the second floor measured 0.95 microsievert/hour. It was 20 times as high as the normal [before the accident] outdoor radiation level. She cleaned the house with moistened cloth but the radiation level didn't go down. She made her daughters wear long-sleeved shirts and masks to go to school. They decided to evacuate before the 2nd semester at school.


On September 21, the committee decided to categorize the voluntary evacuees into two groups - those who evacuated "right after the accident", and those who evacuated "after certain period of time". The committee was unanimous in deciding to compensate those who evacuate "right after the accident" because "it was rational [or it made sense] to evacuate out of fear". As to what time period would be considered "right after the accident", the committee is considering either up till April 11 when the national government announced the planned evacuation zone, or April 22 when the planned evacuation zone was implemented.


Mrs. Sugano feels disconsolate. "We thought we were acting rationally right after the accident, and stayed. We are sorry for our children who may be affected by the radiation. And no compensation on top of that". It cost a lot of money to move, and still does as they have to maintain two households. [Her husband apparently remains in Fukushima City.]

(The article continues with another such example.)

Regardless, some sort of a new propaganda using Twitter seems to be on. Tweets are supposedly written by a concerned housewife and mother who lives in Fukushima, and through her interactions with "scientists" and "experts" on Twitter she has been transformed from someone who was afraid of radiation contamination in Fukushima and wanted to leave into someone who has decided to stay and not to worry about radiation any more. (If it is not a propaganda then I lose hope for the country.) If you read Japanese you can read the whole exchange at Togetter.

Yukio Edano to Become the New Minister in Charge of Organization for Nuclear Disaster Compensation

You cannot get more cynical, for at least a few minutes until the next horror is revealed in Japan.

But for now, Yomiuri Shinbun (10/3/2011) says that Yukio Edano, former Chief Cabinet Secretary and the current Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry (who is seen trying to suppress a laugh in the video I posted) will also become the Minister in charge of the nuclear disaster compensation scheme set up by the government and the nation's electric power companies that operates nuclear power plants to socialize the cost of the accident.

The position has been held by Goshi Hosono, who as the Minister of the Environment has submitted the Ministry's budget that is more than 5 times the size of the last year's, riding high on the decontamination bubble.

Fukushima Children Humiliated by Their Teacher for Not Drinking Fukushima Milk, and Cabinet Secretary Sneers

A couple of readers of this blog have sent me the link to this video, but I haven't created a post about it just because it just makes me sick, really sick. Well here it is, I've warned you. Watch it at your own risk.

It's part of the questioning in the Upper House Budget Committee on September 29 by Akira Matsu, as she related the story of a mother in Fukushima whose children, and others who refuse to drink milk in school lunches were called to the front of the classroom by their teacher and told they were not Fukushima residents if they dared refuse drinking milk from Fukushima. Towards the end, the new Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura is seen sneering, as former Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano tries his best to suppress his own sneer.

Tochigi's Tactics to Sell Its Beef: Make Children Eat to "Prove" It's Safe

One of the very popular propaganda campaigns by the governments is to use children to appeal safety. Since the national government, prefectural governments, municipal governments all do it, producers and wholesalers must feel they are not just allowed but encouraged to do the same, and they join in with the governments to exploit small children so that they (think they) can sell their stuff, whatever they are peddling.

Here's the latest from Tochigi Prefecture, where radioactive cesium in the beef exceeded the national provisional safety limit by wide margin and the shipment of the meat had been halted in August, as reported cheerfully by NHK News Japanese (Tokyo Metropolitan version) on October 3, 2011. The link has since been deleted, but the article has been copied at Tokyo Brown Tabby's site, from which I quote in full:


PR of Tochigi Beef using school lunch


To encourage consumers to buy and eat beef made in Tochigi Prefecture, where the shipment ban has been lifted, Kanuma City in Tochigi Prefecture served "hashed beef over rice" as school lunches in the city's elementary schools.


Radioactive cesium exceeding the national provisional safety limit was detected in the beef from cows raised in Tochigi Prefecture, and the shipment of the cows was halted for 3 weeks in August.


This school lunch using the local beef was a PR campaign by Kanuma City and the local JA (agricultural producer co-op) to appeal the safety of the Tochigi beef. Total 5,000 "hashed beef over rice" dishes were served in 8 elementary schools, featuring the local beef.


In the classroom of 1st graders at Higashi Elementary School, Kanuma's Mayor Shin Sato and local cattle farmers joined the 39 pupils for the lunch.


Children looked happy to eat the dish with beef, which hasn't been used in lunch [since radioactive cesium was detected].


One girl said, "The meat was so tender and delicious. I'd like to eat more".


Yoshio Kawarai, cattle farmer, said "I am glad that children were looking forward to eating the beef. We will continue to raise safe cows, so we want them to feel safe eating the beef".

Needless to say, Tabby is incensed. I feel dizzy with high blood pressure translating the text of the news. They served 1st graders with possibly radioactive beef, and the mayor of the city and cattle farmers were there with the small children to make sure they all ate lunch.

Well, was it radioactive or not? No one will ever know, because Tochigi Prefecture has clearly decided to go Miyagi Prefecture's way - that is, if the measurement is below the provisional safety limit of 500 becquerels/kg for radioactive cesium, the government does not bother to tell you how many becquerels.

Here's Tochigi's latest "test" of its beef, on October 3, 2011. Note the right-most column, which shows the amount of radioactive cesium detected. It's all "暫定規制値以下" - "Below the provisional safety limit". It could be ND, it could be 499, but no one's supposed to know and they don't bother to tell.

The same arrogance has been shown by the Miyagi governor who declared that no one needs to know the detailed number as long as it is below 500 becquerels/kg for radioactive cesium.

As Professor Kunihiko Takeda said in his October 3 post, the governments of all levels are in it, the producers and sellers are in it in exploiting small children so that they can "sell" radioactive foods, they shout down the mothers who want to feed their children with radiation-free food, while the fathers strangely look the other way. Professor Takeda pleads with the fathers to join the fight and join the mothers, but the prospect looks bleak so far. Pro-nuke propaganda since 1991 has been a resounding success with the fathers. (Links are in Japanese.)

Sunday, October 2, 2011

"Dilute and Sell" - #Radioactive Tea Blended with Non-Radioactive Tea

A tea producer blended the tea with radioactive cesium with the tea without radioactive cesium so that he could sell off his radioactive tea. An operator of a sewer sludge plant knowingly sold radioactive sludge to a manufacturer of garden soil because there was no national government standard when he sold it. Their reason: "It's safer that way, as radioactive cesium will be diluted".

Many Japanese consumers seem dismayed to find out that there are people among them who would do such a thing, but there are people like that, unfortunately. And as the article cites one government agency, it is clearly none of the government's business to do anything about it anytime soon.

From Tokyo Shinbun paper version (not online; 10/3/2011), extremely quick translation subject to revision later if necessary:

Dilute cesium and sell - blend tea, garden soil - so that the cesium level is below the limit

After the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident spread radioactive materials, the provisional safety limit was set for variety of foods and goods. If an item tests less than the provisional limit it is considered "guaranteed safe". As the result, there are businesses that mix [radioactive goods] with those made in places far away from Fukushima Prefecture to dilute radioactive materials and sell them. Currently it is not against the law to do so, but the consumers who doubt the safety of the products and the producers who fear further "baseless rumor" damages are voicing concern.


According to our research, we have been able to confirm instances of goods being sold after diluting the radioactive cesium content - garden soil and green teas.

In case of garden soil, sludge from water purification plants and sewage treatment plants had been used as an ingredient of the garden soil before the provisional safety limit for sludge was set. Sludge contains vital ingredients like phosphorus and potassium, and it is mixed with the soil at 10 to 20% ratio to make the garden soil.

The safety standard for radioactive materials in sludge was established on June 16, but some water purification plants in Kanagawa Prefecture had sold the total of 4,538 tonnes of sludge to the garden soil manufacturers from April up till June 16.

As for green tea, the tea producer was mixing the tea that passed the provisional safety limit but which still contained radioactive cesium with the tea made in Kyushu, far away from Fukushima I Nuke Plant. The blend was the radioactive tea 20%, the Kyushu tea 80%.

Most water purification plants had voluntarily stopped shipping the radioactive sludge until the provisional safety limit was decided. However, the company who runs this particular water purification plant that continued to ship says, "The detection level was low. If the sludge was made into the garden soil it would be diluted further". The company blames the manufacturers who bought the radioactive sludge, saying "The ultimate responsibility rests with those who make [the sludge] into final products and sell them". The company is currently selling the radioactive sludge to the businesses that supply dirt for construction projects, as the national government has sent out an instruction that "the use of radioactive sludge in the garden soil had better be suspended".

According to the green tea producer, there weren't enough of the tea leaves that passed the safety limit [but still contained radioactive cesium] to make it worthwhile to sell, so the company decided to mix it to make a "blend tea". The person in charge of the "blend tea" says "We made it clear in the package that it was a "blend tea", so there should be no problem. We just wanted to make the tea safer for the consumers".


These practices are not illegal, and when the contaminated products are mixed with non-contaminated products there should be less ill-effect on humans. However, if this "dilute and sell" model takes hold, it will only add to doubt and confusion for the consumers. Damage from "baseless rumors" may spread to milk and rice. It has been a standard practice to mix milk from different locations. The same goes for rice.

The national consumer association federation chief proposes the detailed labeling of the place of manufacture on a prefectural level so that the consumers can choose safely.

However, there is no law requiring the place of manufacture for the garden soil, and there is no voluntary guideline by the industry either. The national standard for food labeling only requires the label "Made in Japan" in the case of "blended" produce like rice and tea and processed foods; there is no requirement to show the name of prefecture where the product is made. The Consumer Affairs Agency of Japan [which is supposed to regulate the industries with the welfare of consumers in mind] is not going to do anything at this point, saying "Places of manufacture for the blended goods may change, so it is not practical to require detailed labels".

On the other hand, the head of the Worldwide Agricultural Policy Information Center is critical. He says "The role of the national government is to stop the spread of radioactive materials. To allow goods with radioactive materials to be diluted and and sold widely would be considered as approval by the national government to spread the contamination [all over Japan]". JA agricultural co-op Fukushima is also distrustful of the government policy [or lack thereof], saying "There will be no "baseless rumors" if the produce that is found with radioactive materials is not sold".

However, for now, we can only count on the voluntary effort by the industries. A new national policy would be necessary, just like when there was a problem of labeling "made in Japan" and "imported" goods.

It's funny and ironic that JA Fukushima says that, when it has been pushing radioactive produce to the rest of Japan, calling anyone who doesn't want to eat Fukushima produce as "discriminating against Fukushima people" and therefore "racist".

Japanese Government to Give 500 Billion Yen to Fukushima Prefecture Alone

and almost all of the money looks set to go to anywhere and everywhere but individual Fukushima residents.

Yomiuri Shinbun (10/2/2011) reports:


Minister of Recovery and Reconstruction Hirano met with Governor Yuhei Sato on October 2 at the Fukushima prefectural government and told the governor that the national government will allocate 500 billion yen (US$6.5 billion) to the recovery effort in Fukushima Prefecture in the 3rd supplementary budget of the national government for the 2011 fiscal year. Of 500 billion yen, 350 billion yen will go to the special fund that the Fukushima prefectural government will set up in order to revive the local economy.


However, Minister Hirano said "This (amount of the special fund) is just a start. We will continue our effort", meaning the national government may add to the fund as necessary.


The fund can be used regardless of fiscal years. Fukushima Prefecture had strongly demanded the financial support from the national government for its "special fund for dealing with the nuclear accident and for the recovery". The national government and the Fukushima prefectural government will use this fund to build medical centers and R&D centers for medical equipments that are of international standard.


The remaining 150 billion yen will be used by the national government to financially help small businesses and agricultural, forestry and fishery businesses, to build R&D centers for renewable energy, and to deal with the "baseless rumor" damages [suffered by businesses in Fukushima Prefecture].

Financial help will be in the form of loans to businesses.

Fukushima Medical University, where Dr. Shunichi "It's so safe that children can play outside in nuclear fallout" Yamashita resides, wants 100 billion yen (link is in Japanese) to build a world-class hospital to treat cancer.

And Iitate-mura, where the Ministry of Education belatedly admitted to the existence of plutonium (and others to come), wants over 300 billion yen just for the village for the "decontamination" work.

The fiscal 2011 budget of the Fukushima prefectural government is about 903billion yen. Adding the supplementary budgets, the total tally for this fiscal year so far is about 1.43 trillion yen. This injection of 500 billion yen from the national government, which is likely to be open-ended, represents more than one-third of the entire budget for Fukushima.

Governor Sato must be very pleased. Who needs nuke plants when free money to the tune of 500 billion yen and counting is heading his way?

(It sure looks to me like the best opportunity for the Japanese government to finally create "inflation" that it has been so ardently craving for the past 20 years, by simply printing money.)