Saturday, November 5, 2011

#Radiation in Japan: NHK Calls 20 Millisieverts/Year Radiation "Low Level", and Hosono Lies

NHK has been quite busy recently spreading the good news that radiation exposure is somehow not what you've been led to believe by silly bloggers and tweets, if you only listen to the government experts and politicians.

In October, NHK did a program where the meals prepared in different households in different locations in Japan, including two in Fukushima Prefecture were analyzed for radiation. Surprise, surprise, the meals in a family in Koriyama City, Fukushima contained zero radioactive materials while other families in other locations had a small amount of radioactive materials in their meals. (NHK actually said "zero", instead of "below detection limit".) Well, the caveat was that the researcher's equipment (germanium semiconductor detector) to analyze the radiation turned out to be broken, and NHK had to take down the test result page from the website. (If you read Japanese, the sorry story is related here, for example.)

But the program had been aired already, and probably it has convinced quite a few mothers not to worry about radiation any more when they go shopping for food for the families. NHK says so, it's safe! I feel so bad for having avoided Fukushima produce!

NHK just did it again, a bit more subtle way this time, in the news on November 5 regarding the new government initiative to study the effect of "low-level" radiation. For NHK, a public broadcaster, "low-level" radiation means 20 millisieverts per year for non-radiation workers because the politician said so. To say it in a different way, NHK is saying the annual radiation exposure limit for radiation workers before the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident is now the "low-level" for the general public.

From NHK News Japanese (11/5/2011):


Goshi Hosono, Minister in charge of nuclear accident, gave a lecture in Hamamatsu City [in Shizuoka Prefecture] and indicated that he would create a working group of experts to study the effect of low-level radiation of about 20 millisieverts per year on health, in the aftermath of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident.


Minister Hosono said, "If the annual cumulative radiation level is 100 millisieverts and above, we know from the past nuclear plant accidents that there will be some effect on health. But other than that, nothing is confirmed."


He continued, "We need to investigate further on how to think about low-level radiation exposure from the radioactive materials already dispersed. We will draw a line at 20 millisieverts, and come up with the response as the national government." He then indicated that a working group of experts would be formed to study the effect of low-level radiation, about 20 millisieverts per year, on health.


Minister Hosono also made a comment on the wide-area disposal of disaster debris from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami outside the disaster-affected areas. "The debris in Iwate Prefecture and Miyagi Prefecture is not radioactive waste. There is no danger when it is burned, and the ashes can be safely disposed of. We will guarantee the safety and be responsible for the safety, so we want the municipalities to cooperate", he said.

The last bit that Hosono blurted about the disaster debris is his pure fabrication. The disaster debris in Iwate and Miyagi IS radioactive, according to the actual measurement of the Ministry of the Environment, of which Hosono is the minister.

From Miyako City's incinerator, 133 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium was detected when the Ministry did the test burn in preparation for shipping the debris to Tokyo. Miyako City is by no means the highest in terms of radiation levels in Iwate Prefecture. The Tokyo government has pledged to burn 500,000 tonnes, or 500,000,000 kilograms of debris from Iwate alone.

Hosono says the national government will guarantee the safety, and I have to ask him to define "safety". Judging from what this administration and the previous one and TEPCO (and their supporters) have said, unless one dies of acute radiation poisoning by being zapped with several sieverts of radiation in one shot, it is "safe".

Soon, 100 millisieverts per year may indeed become "safe", as per NHK, as per Dr. Shunichi Yamashita. It will be still ways to go to reach Dr. Wade Allison's 1.2 sievert per year limit recommendation, though.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Video of Packbot Cleaning Reactor 3's 1st Floor in Extremely High Radiation

Why? Because TEPCO is going to send carbon-based workers to install the gas management system to purify the gas coming from inside the Containment Vessel.

Utterly meaningless endeavor as far as I am concerned. What good would cleaning the gas in the Containment Vessel do, when just outside the CV you measure 620 millisieverts/hr radiation? Something more deadlier than xenon and krypton is outside the CV, and the company is willing to risk both non-carbon based worker (Packbot) and carbon-based co-workers in order to keep up the appearance that everything is under control at the plant.

Nonetheless, here's the effort by Packbot on November 2, when it removed the junk out of the way, as released by TEPCO on November 5. Actually, TEPCO used 3 Packbots on November 2 and 3 for the work, according to Jiji Tsushin (11/5/2011):

You can also see the "before and after" photos in TEPCO's handout for the press on November 5. From that handout, here's the radiation on the 1st floor where Packbot had to work to prepare for the gas management system (north-east corner of the 1st floor):

For human co-workers of Packbot, working near that 620 millisieverts/hour location (which is unavoidable) for one minute would get them over 10 millisieverts radiation, or every one second 172 microsieverts.

Any volunteers? (Dr. Allison of Oxford University, maybe?)

Friday, November 4, 2011

Koriyama City in Fukushima to Feed School Kids with Local Rice Harvested This Year

Did anyone say in the comment section that it was a duty of adults to protect children? I guess not in Koriyama City, which is located in high-radiation "Nakadori" (middle third) of Fukushima Prefecture and where 500,000 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium was found in the rice hay.

The city will start using this year's rice harvested in the city in the school lunches, starting next Tuesday. Since the new rice harvested in Fukushima is all cleared for shipping as the sampling test has proven it is "safe", it is just a matter of time till it's fed to the most vulnerable and without voice - children. Just as the Fukushima government, headed by THAT governor, has been pushing ever since declaring "safety" on October 12.

Fukushima Chuo TV news (11/4/2011) via Nippon TV:


Koriyama City has decided to use the new rice harvested in the city for school lunches starting next week. Today, the city explained the radiation detection system to the parents.


Koriyama City will require JA Koriyama, who will ship the rice, to conduct voluntary testing of radioactive materials, and will start using the city's newly harvested rice in school lunches starting Tuesday November 8.


Today, about 50 parents and the city officials visited the local JA, where the JA officials explained the testing procedures.


JA will test both brown rice and polished rice before shipping, for radioactive materials.


Also, other municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture will switch to the new crop of rice starting next month. They are currently deciding on whose rice to use.

Pressure is of course on to use the rice harvested in Fukushima, which even some rice farmers wouldn't feed their family members with (see my post here, bottom third).

For consumers outside Fukushima Prefecture, there is no way of telling whether a bag of new rice contains Fukushima rice, if it is a bag of "blended" rice. There is no requirement to list the places of origin if the rice from different locations are blended. All the label will say is "made in Japan".

Convenience store "bento" and "onigiri" is very likely to feature rice from Fukushima. Some stores at least prominently declare that they use Fukushima rice.

While consumers can still avoid, if they want to, Fukushima rice by avoiding "blended" rice and avoiding buying bento at convenience stores, school children cannot.

A nation is utterly broken when the leaders think nothing of using children as propaganda tools, and excoriate those citizens who dare raise their voices. It's not just Fukushima Prefecture either.

No end in sight of Japanese nuclear horror.

Governor of Fukushima: "Look, I'm Now World-Famous Thanks to Fukushima Disaster!"

Who needs these governors (like the one in Tokyo)?

Surrounded by the young beauties from Asian countries, Yuhei Sato, governor of Fukushima Prefecture, apparently said the following, according to Nikkan Gendai magazine (11/1/2011):


Governor Sato was all smiles in front of 12 Asian beauties from Japan, Korea, Singapore, etc. He emphasized that "Fukushima" became world-famous because of the nuclear accident, and said, "To have done [the show] in Fukushima, I think, will launch your career as world-famous fashion models." He went further, saying "I've been appearing on TV and covered by other media almost every day since March 11. Thanks to this media coverage, I think I may now be the most famous head of the state, or governor, in the world."

The occasion was the modeling contest held in the outskirts of Fukushima City (of all place); this year's winner was Ms. Tan Yin Yin from Singapore.

Fukushima City is now prepping itself for the 27th Annual Ekiden Race featuring women runners from all over eastern Japan, most of them in their mid to late teens, some of them as young as 13. The race will be on November 13 in over 1 microsievert/hour radiation.

Tokyo Governor to Tokyo Residents Who Protest Against Disaster Debris from Iwate: "Shut Up"

Now that the radioactive disaster debris from Iwate Prefecture is a fait accompli and ready to be crushed and burned and buried, Shintaro Ishihara, irascible 79-year-old governor of Tokyo who almost single-handedly decided to do this mind-boggling project to "assist the recovery" of Iwate, mentioned the complaints that his government has received over the issue in the press conference on November 4 afternoon.

According to Fuji TV news clip on November 4, the governor said,


"Shut up" is all we need to say to these complaints.

誰がそれでどうするの? 力のあるところが手伝わなくちゃ、しょうがないじゃないですか

What could one do? A powerful municipality [like Tokyo] must help [Iwate and other disaster-affected areas] because no one else can.

Fuji TV news also says that 3,000 complaints have been sent to the Tokyo Metropolitan government, over 90% of them protesting against the debris from disaster-affected areas to be transported, processed, crushed and burned and buried in Tokyo Bay.

Well, residents of Tokyo who voted for him in the spring election, isn't it time for his recall?

If the Fuji TV news link disappears (quite likely, since it is hosted at Yahoo Japan), there's a youtube clip, here. The comment section is filled with comments from Japanese people who praise the governor's decision and strong words. (Well they have their job to do, I guess.)

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Xenon Detection in Reactor 2: Different Detection Limits on Different Days at Different Sampling Locations

Spontaneous fission, says TEPCO, the NISA says they cannot rule out criticality, and no one cares as no one believes either of them.

Here's another reason not to believe them, or take their words at face value: TEPCO tested at different locations and for different durations for the nuclides in the gas that was sucked out of the CV of Reactor 2.

Take a look at the table below, which I compiled from TEPCO's handout for the press on November 2, 2011. For each nuclide, the detected amount and the detection limit are listed for October 28, November 1, and November 2.

I was fooled when I first looked at the result of October 28, when TEPCO started the gas management system in Reactor 2. Krypton and xenon were all below detection limit. Then on November 1, they were all detected, and on November 2 xenon-133 (half life 5 days) seemingly dropped out, but other nuclides increased slightly. I thought "Something must have happened between October 28 and November 1."

That was what some reporters at the press conference on November 2 were wondering, and TEPCO's Matsumoto went along with them, not saying anything definite but hinting that the fission event was recent.

WRONG. These reporters didn't look at the fine print. (Well, neither did I...)

On October 28, the detection limits were HIGH, including those for radioactive iodine and cesium (not in the table above), indicating TEPCO didn't test long enough. That can also be inferred from the "date of sampling" information, because for October 28, no duration is indicated in the TEPCO's press handout. The nuclides may well have been in the gas on October 28 but weren't detected.

Then I also noticed that the samples were taken at different locations. On October 28, the sampling location was "gas sampling system intake"; on November 1 and 2, it was "gas sampling system dust radiation monitor".

For some unknown reason, between October 28 and November 1, someone somewhere in TEPCO seems to have decided to test longer, and at a different location. It is also possible that the dust radiation monitor was simply not ready on October 28, although I doubt that even TEPCO would start running the system before the system components were put in place and functional.

And do not be fooled that xenon-133 stopped being detected on November 2. Look at the detection limit for xenon-133 on November 1 and compare it to November 2: 10^-6 vs 10^-5. Since the amount of xenon-133 found on November 1 was in the order of 10^-6, it may well have been present in the sample on November 2, but not detected.

Here's TEPCO's handout for the press (11/2/2011):

October 28, 2011 (2nd measurement):

November 1, 2011:

November 2, 2011:

Here's the Reactor 2's gas management system overview, as released by TEPCO on October 27, 2011:

TEPCO and the Japanese government don't even know where the corium is or whether the Containment Vessel has been breached (most likely). Sucking the gas out of the Containment Vessel, which may or may not have the corium, to "reduce the amount of radioactive materials" is like trying to scoop water with a sieve.

(H/T anon reader)

OT: Close Encounter with Humpback Whales in Santa Cruz, California

Mmmmm anchovies!

The US Coast Guard of course has to spoil the party, and says people will face fines for whale harassment of at least $2,500 if they do not stay least 100 yards away from the encroaching whales. Uh... whale harassment?

Radioactive Disaster Debris Arrives in Tokyo from Iwate Prefecture

to be crushed and burned and buried in the landfill in Tokyo Bay.


I've told you already that the one and only contractor who can burn according to the Tokyo Metropolitan government specs (which was clearly designed so that there would be nobody else) is a TEPCO's subsidiary.

NHK reports that the first container from Miyako City in Iwate Prefecture arrived by rail in JR Tokyo container terminal in Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo at 7AM on November 3. It was promptly transported to one of the contractors selected by the Metropolitan government, and the debris was sorted, and crushed into smaller pieces. Flammable debris will go to the TEPCO's subsidiary (Tokyo Rinkai Recycle Power) located on the landfill and be burned after November 6, and non-flammable debris will be simply buried in the same landfill.

According to NHK, they did measure radiation at the contractor's site, by putting a bit of the debris in a lead box and measuring the radiation. If you say to yourself "WTF.." you are not alone.

(Photo was taken by Hirofumi Yanagase, Tokyo Metropolitan Assemblyman.)

Now, I found three interesting pieces of information on Twitter, though not independently verifiable.

First, Hirofumi Yanagase, Tokyo Metropolitan Assemblyman from Ota-ku, who was on the scene when the container arrived and accompanied the container to the contractor's site, tweeted:

At the terminal station, there was no measurement of radiation by the Tokyo Metropolitan government.

But then, there was apparently a citizen who went there and measured radiation around the container, and tweeted:

Debris from disaster area arrived. Radiation around the truck and the container is already exceeding 35 microsievert/hour. The location is JR Tokyo freight terminal.

Furthermore, someone else tweeted that the Tokyo Metropolitan government prohibited the reporters from measuring the radiation level using their own geiger counters. (UPDATE: That someone was from OurPlanet TV covering the event. H/T

This acceptance of disaster (radioactive) debris from Iwate Prefecture, soon to be followed by that from Miyagi Prefecture, was done with hardly any consultation with the Metropolitan Assembly or the Tokyo residents. It was the decision by the governor of Tokyo Shintaro Ishihara and his bureaucrats.

As more and more municipalities are saying "No" to accepting the disaster debris pushed by the Ministry of the Environment, Tokyo, and perhaps Osaka, may be the only municipalities willingly burn and bury the radioactive debris.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Xenon in Reactor 2: TEPCO Now Says "Spontaneous Fission" of Curium

After confidently saying it may have been criticality in the press conference on November 2, TEPCO's Matsumoto now says it is spontaneous fission of curium in the reactor.

On the other hand, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, who was skeptical of criticality yesterday, now says, "We cannot rule out the possibility of localized criticality."

OK it's a "good cop, bad cop" routine, or a "covering all the bases" approach. If both "spontaneous fission" and "criticality" are mentioned in the same news, the Japanese government/TEPCO can say "See, we told you, either way."

From NHK News (11/3/2011):


Regarding the radioactive xenon detected from the gas inside Reactor 2 of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, TEPCO revealed that the analysis of the amount of xenon detected led the company to conclude that it was a natural fission of a radioactive material, not criticality where nuclear fission takes place continuously.


The gas from inside the Containment Vessel of Reactor 2 was sampled and analyzed on November 1 and 2. A minute amount of xenon-135 was detected, and TEPCO said it was possible that there had been a recent nuclear fission, and that the localized criticality took place temporarily.


Since curium-242 and curium-244, the radioactive materials which exist in nuclear fuel, undergo natural fission and generate xenon, TEPCO calculated the density of xenon based on the amount of these nuclides. The calculation mostly matched the density detected from the samples.


According to TEPCO, the density of xenon would be much greater if there was a criticality. Xenon this time therefore is from spontaneous fission, not from criticality, says TEPCO. "Spontaneous fission" is a phenomenon in which radioactive materials other than uranium fissions naturally, and it does not cause criticality. TEPCO says it will submit the report of the findings to the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, who will evaluate whether the conclusion is appropriate.


The NISA spokesman Yoshinori Moriyama says about TEPCO's analysis, "We think it is highly possible that it is a spontaneous fission, but we cannot rule out completely the possibility of localized criticality. We would like to evaluate TEPCO's analysis as well as analysis by experts. We will assess various risks and make sure TEPCO has emergency measures ready, including injecting water with boric acid."

Uh... what about krypton-85? Is this produced in spontaneous fission of curium? If it is spontaneous fission, why was not happening on October 28?

Reactor 2 CV Gas Analysis on November 2: Slight Increase in Xe-131m, Xe-135, 100-Fold Increase in Krypton-85 from November 1

TEPCO disclosed the latest result of the analysis of the gas coming from the Containment Vessel of Reactor 2 at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, along with the result of the analysis done on October 28, 2011 when the gas management system started operating in Reactor 2.

There was no xenon or krypton detected on October 28. Then they were there in the analysis on November 1.

From TEPCO's handout for the press (11/2/2011), from November 1 to November 2,

  • Krypton-85 (half life 10.8 years) went from 3.6 x 10^-3 to 5.3 x 10^-1, 100-fold increase

  • Xenon-131m (half life 12 days) went from to 5.3 x 10^-4 to 6.1 x 10^-4

  • Xenon-133 (half life 5 days) went from 6.5 x 10^-6 to below detection limit

  • Xenon-135 (half life 9 hours) went from 1.3 x 10^-5 to 1.7 x 10^-5.

The unit is Bq/cubic centimeter. According to wiki, "About three atoms of krypton-85 are produced for every 1000 fissions (i.e. it has a fission yield of 0.3%)". It sure looks like a nuclear chain reaction happening, i.e. re-criticality, the possibility of which TEPCO's Matsumoto has already admitted.

The numbers for krypton and xenon are still under evaluation.

Result of November 1, 2011:

Result of November 2, 2011:

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Video of Fuku-I Nuke Plant on October 21, 2011

TEPCO released a video of almost tranquil-looking Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. You mostly see the facilities related to the contaminated water treatment system, as the video is an accompaniment to the presentation that TEPCO did on the overview of the water treatment system.

The site looks clean enough, though it does have a look of a ghost town. You get to see some buildings and facilities up-close, including reactor buildings. Quite a desolation, on a bright sunny day.

After watching the video and thinking about a "localized" re-criticality (or nuclear fission sustained over certain period of time, as some "experts" insist on calling) that even TEPCO has admitted may have happened, and reading tweets and news articles to notice how the government experts are doing their utmost best to downplay the re-criticality event in Reactor 2, I have a sense of quiet, almost resigned, crisis coming.

Anyway, here's the presentation of the water treatment system by TEPCO. It is actually a pretty good overview of the entire process, though it took TEPCO 4 months to explain the system to the general public. (Wow it even has a voice over.)

More on Xenon Detection in Reactor 2 (TEPCO's Press Conference)

Xenon was detected in the order of 10^-5 (ten to the power of minus 5) per cubic centimeter, says TEPCO's Matsumoto in the press conference that is on-going right now in Japan. It is significant enough to conclude it is not from March. (TEPCO by the way started to netcast its press conference live, here.)

Matsumoto does think a localized, small-scale, and/or temporary nuclear fission may have occurred in Reactor 2. But not a large, sustained re-criticality, judging by the parameters (temperature, pressure, etc.).

Xenon-133's half life is 5 days, and xenon-135's half life is 9.2 hours. As to whether the amount of xenon is large or not, the company is evaluating with the help of experts.


  • Neutrons that exist inside the reactor hitting uranium or plutonium

  • Curium-244, -242, causing "spontaneous fission"

  • (I missed the third possibility that Matsumoto mentioned.)

It would be difficult to deny that the same thing is not happening in Reactors 1 and 3, says Matsumoto.

He thinks the possibility of re-criticality is low with the damaged fuel melted together with control rods and other things. Even if it does happen as the reactor is cooled further and the amount of water increases, TEPCO thinks it can be controlled by carefully monitoring the temperature and pressure.

(Reporters seem to want to reassure themselves by saying "In a nutshell, even if it is in re-criticality, TEPCO can control it, right?")

TEPCO's handout for the press on November 2, the result of gas analysis in Reactor 2 is reproduced below. The numbers are still being evaluated, says Matsumoto:

Fuku-I Nuke Plant: Nuclear Fission in Reactor 2? Xenon-133, -135 Detected

(UPDATE: Additional information from TEPCO's press conference on November 2 in a new post.)

TEPCO poured the water with boric acid into the reactor to prevent re-criticality.

From NHK News (6:38AM JST 11/2/2011):


Xenon has been detected in the Containment Vessel of Reactor 2 at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. Xenon is created when there is nuclear fission.


The gas management system has been operating since October 28 in Reactor 2 to suck out the gas from the Containment Vessel and filter out radioactive materials. TEPCO has been analyzing the gas to identify the nuclides and density. The analysis done on November 1 found xenon-133 and xenon-135, which are created when uranium-235 undergoes nuclear fission.


Xenon-133's half life is 5 days. TEPCO says it could not rule out the possibility of nuclear chain reaction happening again, so the company poured water with boric acid into the reactor to suppress the nuclear chain reaction for one hour starting 3AM [on November 2].


According to TEPCO, there is not much change in the reactor temperature or pressure, or at the monitoring posts that measure radiation levels in and around the plant compound. Therefore, if the nuclear chain reaction is happening, it is small-scale, says the company. The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says since the density of xenon detected is low and there is no change in the reactor temperature and other parameters, it is hard to imagine the fuel is melting again. But the Agency says it will monitor the situation to see if xenon continues to be detected after pouring in the water with boric acid.

Reactor 2 is where hydrogen gas concentration was rising the other day.

1.7 Millisievert External Radiation in One Month for 3rd Grader in Fukushima City: "Will Not Affect Health" Says City Official

Japan's new normal in radiation exposure is getting ridiculous almost every day, particularly in Fukushima Prefecture.

Fukushima City announced the result of the readings of the glass badges worn by children and pregnant women in the city for the month of September, and the highest reading was 1.7 millisievert external radiation exposure in one month for a 3rd-grader in an elementary school. Her two brothers were also found with high radiation reading off their badges.

The city says, "That level of radiation does not affect health".

1.7 millisievert per month x 12 months = 20.4 millisieverts per year of EXTRA external radiation on top of the natural (pre-Fukushima) external radiation (Japan average) of 0.59 millisievert per year, and EXTRA internal radiation from inhaling and ingesting Fukushima-origin radioactive materials on top of natural internal radiation exposure of 0.86 millisievert per year.

The current (soon to be revised, supposedly) provisional safety limits for food for various radionuclides are designed to add up to 17 millisieverts per year radiation if one eats food that tests at the maximum upper limit of the provisional safety limits.

Well, by now we know that the Japanese officials truly think that "it does not affect health" as long as one dies of acute radiation poisoning.

From Mainichi Shinbun (11/1/2011):


On November 1, Fukushima City disclosed the result of the readings for the month of September from the glass badges distributed to 36,989 children and pregnant women in the city. The maximum reading was 1.7 millisievert from a girl in the 3rd grade of an elementary school. Her three brothers also tested between 1.4 and 1.6 millisievert. There is a high radiation "hot spot" near their house, and they have since moved out of Fukushima. The city official says "It is not the level that affects health."

 市は3万6478人から個人線量計を回収して分析。他に1ミリシーベルトを超えた人はなく、0.1ミリシーベルト未満16%▽0.1ミリシーベルト64%▽0.2ミリシーベルト17%▽0.3ミリシーベルト2%--で0.3ミリシーベルト以下が99%を占めた。0.4ミリシーベルト105人 ▽0.5ミリシーベルト25人▽0.6ミリシーベルト6人▽0.9ミリシーベルト1人--だった。

The city had the glass badges collected from 36,478 people and had them analyzed. [Aside from the girl and her brothers] there was no one whose radiation exposure exceeded 1 millisievert. The result [excluding the 4 children] was:

Less than 0.1 millisievert: 16%
0.1 millisievert: 64%
0.2 millisievert: 17%
0.3 millisievert: 2%
0.4 millisievert: 105 people [0.29%]
0.5 millisievert: 25 people
0.6 millisievert: 6 people
0.9 millisievert: 1 person


The city continues the monitoring in October and November, and will evaluate the radiation effect after 3 months worth of data are collected.

Why bother "evaluate"? It sure looks like a foregone conclusion that "there is no effect on health", probably up to 100 millisieverts per year...

Setagaya, Tokyo's High Radiation Supermarket: It's Radium Again, Emitting 40 Millisieverts/Hr Radiation

According to the Ministry of Education and Science, a glass bottle was found 40 centimeters below the surface, which was emitting 40 millisievert/hour radiation. Radium-226 is suspected.

(How many more radium-226 bottles are there buried in Setagaya-ku?)

From Yomiuri Shinbun (11/1/2011):


Regarding the high radiation detected inside the supermarket compound and in the vicinity in Hachimanyama in Setagaya-ku, Tokyo, the Ministry of Education and Science announced on November 1 that the cause of the high radiation was likely to be "radium-226" buried in the soil.


At 40 centimeters below the ground surface, 40 millisieverts (or 40,000 microsievert) per hour radiation was measured, according to the Ministry. 40 millisievert is 40 times the annual radiation exposure limit [still 1 millisievert, though it is likely to change very soon] for the general public [not engaged in radiation work].


According to the Ministry of Education, there was a glass bottle at 40 centimeter below the surface, and the radiation on the spot was 40 millisieverts/hour. The radiation on the ground surface there was 1 millisievert/hour. The work is proceeding very cautiously because the radiation level is extremely high. The bottle will be removed on November 2 or after.

The Ministry and the Setagaya government have been saying "There is no effect on health". Really. (1 millisievert/hour, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and we would be talking the radiation exposure in sievert.)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Ministry of Education Map on Tellurium-129m, Silver-110m in Soil in Fukushima

The Ministry of Education and Science announced on October 31 the "result" of the survey they did in June. Much like announcing the result in July (2PM on July 29, to be exact) of the survey they did in March about radioactive fallout in Tohoku and Kanto, where radioactive iodine, cesium tellurium and silver were found in abundance in Tokyo (see my post on August 1).

So, if tellurium and silver fell in Tokyo, it is very small wonder that they were in Fukushima soil within the 100-kilometer radius of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant.

Maps from the Ministry's announcement on October 31 are as follows. The amounts of tellurium and silver have been adjusted to the amounts as of June 14. I re-oriented and enlarged the maps for easier viewing but the resolution is not that great.

Tellurium-129m, half life about 34 days (the unit is becquerels/square meter):

Silver-110m, half life about 250 days (becquerels/square meter):

Silver-110m probably came from melted control rods, and went all the way to Tokyo.

The announcement is NOT accompanied by the table that has actual measurements at these locations. But Mainichi Shinbun (10/31/2011) reports that the highest amount of tellurium-129m was found in Okuma-machi at 2.66 million becquerels/square meter.

The Ministry's fallback position of course is "they won't affect the health very much because the radiation from these nuclides is "small" compared to those from radioactive cesium.

Sure. They are shorter-life nuclides, which means radioactivity is stronger. Even if they simply pass through the body without accumulation, I would think they zap the body with radiation as they pass through. External exposure is another matter. I fearfully recall that many kindergarteners and elementary school pupils all over Tohoku and Kanto were made to plant rice with bare feet and hands back in April and May. (And they are made to dig up the sweet potatoes with bare hands now.)

What's interesting is the third map which plots the ratio of tellurium-129m to cesium-137. The tellurium-129m ratio is very pronounced south of Fuku-I nuke plant, toward Iwaki City and southern Ibaraki Prefecture:

Government Official's Ultimate "Performance": Drink Up Fuku-I Water

Yasuhiro Sonoda, 44-year-old official in the Cabinet Office, made good on his promise and drank the treated water from Reactors 5 and 6 basements. Iodine-131 and radioactive cesium were ND (not detected). If TEPCO's analysis of the water the other day is correct, there is no alpha nuclide, but with a good dose of tritium (H-3).

The photo is from Sankei Shinbun (10/31/2011). It was top news at NHK.

The Japanese government is good at proceeding fast with totally meaningless performance, and the Japanese media is good at reporting it.

According to Sankei, the water was taken from the storage tank of treated water on October 22, and it was boiled to remove any bacteria.

Someone asked Sonoda in this press conference, "Is there anything that you do that has made progress?" (as tweeted by Ryuichi Kino, independent journalist)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Farmer in Evacuation-Ready Zone in Fukushima Insists He Will Sell His Rice

In this rare case, I am actually with the farmer who is standing up to the authorities.

The evacuation-ready zone was abolished on September 30 and the residents who evacuated are supposed to go back. However, the authorities (the national government and the Fukushima prefectural government) prohibited farmers in the evacuation zones (evacuation-ready, planned evacuation, and no-entry) from growing rice this year. It was a blanket ban on growing rice in these zones regardless of the density of radioactive materials in the soil, while areas outside the evacuation zones but with potentially high levels of radioactive materials in the soil were allowed to be cultivated for rice with only a cursory soil monitoring test.

This farmer defied the arbitrary government order, grew rice and harvested. He has declared he wants sell it.

From Yomiuri Shinbun (10/30/2011):


On October 28, the Fukushima prefectural government advised a farmer (age 58) in Miyakoji-machi in Tamura City to discard the rice he harvested, based on the Food Control Law, because the farmer had grown and harvested the rice in the area designated as "emergency evacuation-ready zone" after the nuclear plant accident.


The farmer has said no.


The national government restricted the cultivation of rice in the no-entry zone, planned evacuation zone, and evacuation-ready zone (which was abolished on September 30) based on the Special Measure for Nuclear Disaster Act.


The farmer planted "Koshihikari" rice in his 120-are rice paddies within the evacuation-ready zone, and he has already harvested 1.8 tonnes of rice.


According to the Food Control Law, the rice harvested in the restricted areas must be discarded. In response to the prefectural government's advice, the farmer answered, "I grow as I please. I want to sell the rice that I grow."


According to Fukushima Prefecture, there are 12 farmers who grew rice in the restricted areas. 11 farmers have followed the advice and discarded the harvested rice or given it up for research.


The prefectural government says, "If the consumers know that there is rice grown in the restricted areas, it may cause anxiety and confusion. We would like [the farmer] to consider such consequences."

Ha. For this particular prefectural government to say that is too rich for me. Outside the restricted areas, they simply sample-tested the soil, ditto for the harvested rice. Locations that were found with highly contaminated rice hay were all allowed to grow rice. (Planting the rice came before the discovery of contaminated rice hay.) The rice from one particular location tested 500 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium, and the rice was grown in the soil with only 3,000 becquerels/kg of cesium. There are other locations whose rice exceeded 100 becquerels/kg. They were all good to sell (though the prefectural government ended up buying all of 500 becquerels/kg cesium rice).

They should measure the cesium content of the rice that this farmer grew. If it is no different from the rest of Fukushima rice that are being sold, they should allow it to be sold.

Bank of Japan Intervenes, Yen Goes from 75.32 to 79 Yen per US Dollar

Bank of Japan has successfully cheapened the currency for over two hours now. According to the reports BOJ continues to intervene throughout the day. It hit the highest ever of 75.32 yen to the US dollar earlier. BOJ's intervention reversed the move, and yen dropped 3 yen in 30 minutes.

Setagaya, Tokyo's 170 Microsieverts/Hr Supermarket: Europium-152??

While we wait for the digging to start (October 31 Japan Time) in the supermarket compound in Setagaya-ku, Tokyo where extremely high radiation has been detected, nuclear experts and lay people chime in with the theories as to why the radiation is so high.

One theory, offered by Professor Masahiro Fukushi of Tokyo Metropolitan University, is that a radioactive material called "europium" must be buried in the soil, according to TV Asahi (10/30/2011). He has been appearing on TV since March 11 to offer his expert opinions on radiation matters.

Professor Fukushi's theory is based on the fact that there used to be a agricultural junior college on the same land where the supermarket is now, up till 38 years ago. He says europium-152 (half life 13 years) may have been used to analyze how the fertilizer was mixed in the soil.

A big flaw in his theory: TV Asahi interviewed a graduate of this agricultural college who said, "It was the economics division of the college. We didn't do any experiment at all." Oops.

We'll find out soon enough. The Ministry of Education and Science is going to dig up the high radiation spots in the supermarket compound in the afternoon of October 31 (Japan Time).

Radium, europium, anything would be welcome except for radioactive materials of Fukushima origin for Setagaya residents. (After all, you do not want to have your home value to decline because of invisible radiation.)

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Hydrogen Gas Level Increased in Reactor 2

From Asahi Shinbun (10/30/2011):


TEPCO announced on October 30 that the hydrogen concentration in the gas being sucked out from inside the Containment Vessel of Reactor 2 at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant rose to 2.7%. Nitrogen gas is continuously pumped to eliminate oxygen gas, and the company says "It is not the level where we need to worry about explosion."


The gas management system started to operate on October 28 in Reactor 2. The system sucks the gas out of the Containment system, run it through filters and release it outside [the building]. When the system started running, the hydrogen concentration was about 1%. However, at 5PM on October 30, the concentration rose to 2.7%. TEPCO has increased the amount of nitrogen gas [into the Containment Vessel] to prevent the hydrogen concentration from rising further.


TEPCO's Kawamata says, "The gas [inside the CV] has been disturbed [because of the gas management system] and that is stirring up hydrogen."

What a non-answer.

The hydrogen concentration level at which a danger of explosion increases is 4%.

OurPlanet TV: What's Happening to Children Now? (7/14/2011)

Our Planet TV is an Internet-based station "with no religious or political affiliations. It was founded by a small group of producers, video journalists and other media professionals who questioned the way mainstream media covered 9.11 and the events that followed." (from their website)

One of the programs, ContAct, did an interview with Mika Noro, which was webcasted on July 14, 2011. Ms. Noro has been active in helping children in areas affected by the Chernobyl nuke plant accident, and after the Fukushima accident her organization has been setting up free medical consultations for mothers and children in Fukushima.

Noro and the host of the program discussed health issues that were starting to get reported more widely around that time, and compared them to what Noro observed in Chernobyl. Her conclusion: weakened immune system due to exposure to radiation. She is no medical doctor or radiation expert, but considering what the medical doctors and radiation experts have been saying and doing since March 11 (remember Dr. Yamashita?), that doesn't necessarily disqualify her from commenting on health and radiation.

Rather, as Dr. Nishio of Hokkaido Cancer Research Center says in the video, if this many people report almost identical symptoms (throat problems, nosebleed, diarrhea, fatigue, etc.) after being exposed to radiation from the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident, "the doctors need to recognize them as new clinical symptoms of low-dose radiation exposure", instead of outright dismissing them (which is what almost all of them do).

Tokyo Brown Tabby translated the video into English and captioned it. (If you do not see the caption, click on "cc".)