Saturday, December 17, 2011

Reality Inside #Fukushima I Nuke Plant (1): How to Fake Radiation Dose

"You flip the dosimeter, wear it on the shoulder, wear it inside the sock, whatever it takes to lower the dosage displayed and work longer in high radiation areas. TEPCO doesn't specifically order the workers to do this, but to complete the work within the manpower, budget and the work specification given by TEPCO there is no other choice. So the workers are supposed to be doing this voluntarily, and when a problem arises they can say the workers did it on their own."

Tomohiko Suzuki is a journalist who managed to sneak into Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant as a temporary worker from July 13 to August 22 this summer to find out what it was really like. He fitted himself with a 007-like pin-hole wristwatch camera and took photos. He was finally caught and dismissed when the plant management got suspicious of him, because he was always on the front-row seat taking copious notes during the lectures given at the plant, he said.

The Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan invited him to give a talk on December 15 about his experience and his observations, as his new book "ヤクザと原発 福島第一潜入記 (Nuke Plant and Yakuza - Infiltrating Fukushima I Nuke Plant)" is published.

The picture he paints is decidedly not as innocent-looking like that of the other plant workers who regularly tweets about their work and life inside the plant.

The following is my partial translation of Suzuki's talk, as it was summarized on BLOGOS. If you understand Japanese, the entire talk (nearly 2 hours) is available on Youtube, here. It looks worth watching, and it has the video Suzuki took inside the plant.


Situation in Fukushima: No hope

原子力発電の是非はともかく、福島第一原発の現状は、はっきり言ってアウトの状態です。アメリカ軍が当初避難区域を80キロに設定しましたが、それが正し かったと思っています。数値を実測すると福島の中通りあたりは線量も高く、汚染もひどく、完全に管理区域です。一般人の立ち入りを禁止すべき場所です。に も関わらず、日本の基準はいわき市、福島市、郡山市の大都市を避難させないという前提の下で20キロに引かれたものであろうと思います。僕の取材した、全 ての原子力関係の技術者は、「本来は住んではいけない場所に住んでいる」「原発の中で生活しているのと同じ」と言っています。

Setting aside the issue of whether nuclear power generation should continue, the situation of Fukushima I Nuclear Power plant is, bluntly speaking, out [as in baseball]. The US military initially set the evacuation zone at 80 kilometer radius, and I think that was the right decision. When you measure the radiation levels, Nakadori of Fukushima Prefecture [middle third] has high radiation and bad contamination, totally the level of a radiation control zone where the entry of the general public should be banned. But I believe the Japanese evacuation zone was set at 20 kilometer radius, in order not to evacuate [people living in] big cities like Iwaki City, Fukushima City and Koriyama City. All the nuclear engineers that I have interviewed say "People are living in the areas that they shouldn't be living in", and "It is the same as living inside a nuclear power plant".

Much-touted "all-Japan" cooperation inside the plant: Where is it?


Hitachi and Toshiba are both working inside Fukushima I Nuke Plant. But what Hitachi is doing is not disclosed to Toshiba, and what Toshiba is doing is not disclosed to Hitachi. They deal with issues on their own. They would make more progress if they cooperated.

Makeshift work to cool the reactors:


This is the latest information. The government did the makeshift construction trying to hasten a cold shutdown. For example, many of the pipes for the contaminated water are plastic, with temporary connections. They have short life, and there is a danger of freezing. Right now, they are doing their best to clean up the mess resulting from the makeshift jobs.

原子炉が福島第一原発には6基あって、建屋が4つありますが、全てにおいて、正確なデータが取れておりません。今回IHIがようやく、2号機の確認に入る らしいですが、それでも原子炉内のペレットがどうなってるかわからないでしょう。とりあえず道路を直して、水で冷やしているのが実態。今後のメンテを考え ると、とても不安。

There are 6 reactors and 4 reactor buildings [that are damaged?] at Fukushima I Nuke Plant, and they don't have accurate data on any of them. I hear that IHI will finally enter the Reactor 2 building, but there is no knowing of what has happened to the fuel pellets inside the reactor. The reality is, all they could do is to repair the roads and cool the reactors. I am very fearful of what may happen, when I think about the future maintenance work.

About information coming from TEPCO: Reporters have to know what to ask

海外メディアの皆さんは日本政府や東電に不信感をもっていると思います。ですが、東電の情報が全てウソということでもありません。東電は質問者の知識に合 わせて答えるだけなので、ジャーナリストの皆さんは原子力の事を勉強し、理論武装して、東電から情報を引き出してください。

You, as foreign media correspondents, may have mistrust against the Japanese government and TEPCO. But not all the information from TEPCO is a lie. TEPCO answers the questions tailored to the level of knowledge of the questioner. So please, as journalists, study nuclear energy and be armed with knowledge and draw information out of TEPCO.

I agree with his assessment of TEPCO. I was watching TEPCO's press conference in March, and at that time then-Vice President Muto was on hand to answer questions. I had a distinct feeling that he was extremely bright, and was not answering the questions unless the questions were intelligent enough for him to offer new information. It was not that he was evading or lying; he was simply not offering information to people who he deemed wouldn't understand anyway. Not so about the current spokesman, who can lie through his teeth without thinking anything of it.

About how to "fake" radiation exposure:


This may be an extreme argument, but the Japanese nuclear industry is built on injustice [or illegality]. It is built on workers forced to get exposed to radiation. Officially they are not exposed to radiation, but for example, workers put on dosimeters on their breasts when the enter high radiation areas.


There is a front side and back side to a dosimeter. Just by flipping the dosimeter inside the breast pocket, a worker can work 10 more minutes. When the high radiation area is above him, a worker puts his dosimeter in one of his socks. Then he can work 30 more minutes. If the work is on the reactor and the high radiation area is below him, a worker wears his dosimeter on the shoulder.


TEPCO doesn't specifically order the workers to do this, but to complete the work within the manpower, budget and the work specification given by TEPCO there is no other choice. So the workers are supposed to be doing this voluntarily, and when a problem arises they can say the workers did it on their own.

Plausible deniability. Traditional Japanese way. Flipping the dosimeter to lower the radiation dosage may be in the second set of work manuals. It may not be written but everybody knows. The management (TEPCO) knows but doesn't say a word as it is not supposed to know.

"I know that you know that I know. But let's not talk about it."

(One more post to follow on Suzuki's talk.)

Vanity Fair: US Medical Researcher Robert Peter Gale Reassures Fuku-I Workers "Nothing to Worry About"

Following Dr. Wade Allison (1 sievert/year is safe) and Dr. Theodore Rockwell ("Let people of Fukushima return!") here's Dr. Robert Peter Gale, who actually went to Fukushima Prefecture at least and told the workers at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant not to worry too much and not be caught in a radiation "hysteria".

Dr. Gale tells a worker who's getting 1.67 millisievert every 2 hours that it's OK up to 250 millisieverts under the circumstances.

The Vanity Fair magazine article doesn't say under what circumstance Dr. Gale went to Fukushima. I can't figure out the reason why Vanity Fair wrote this article either.

From Vanity Fair January issue "Heroes of the Hot Zone" by Pico Iyer:

Ever since the tsunami triggered a meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant last March, Japanese workers—some 18,000 to date—have been heading into the radioactive exclusion zone to work on the cleanup. Pico Iyer trails radiation expert Dr. Robert Gale, a veteran of Chernobyl and nearly every major nuclear disaster since, to learn who these anonymous heroes in HAZMAT suits are, what motivates them, and the danger they calmly accept. In addition, photographer James Nachtwey gets rare portraits of some of these brave workers.

he three men, all in their 30s, might be any construction workers knocking back Sapporos at a tiny izakaya, or neighborhood bar. Around them is the friendly clutter of any small, working-class drinking place in Japan. Fading calendar portraits of a favorite singer fill every last inch of wall space not given over to bright posters for ocean resorts, photos of kimonoed actresses striking classical poses, or plaques on which celebrities have inscribed their autographs. There’s even a framed snapshot of the old-broad proprietress next to the celebrated tough-guy director and TV star Beat Takeshi.

One patron is missing many of his teeth and has the intense, staring eyes of the slightly too ferocious guerrilla in a samurai movie. Clad in a blue tracksuit and tennis shoes, 34-year-old Hideyaki Kusumoto leans forward and addresses practically the only foreigner to be seen in the town—a small, trim man, dressed in a summery pink sweater and Stabilicore running shoes, with a deep tan and gray appearing along the sides of his thin reddish hair.

“Doctor, I know about the workers in Chernobyl who’ve suffered. Am I at risk?”

“It takes about 30 or 40 years to get cancer from radiation, except among children,” the visiting American says in the calm, clarifying tones of a seasoned physician. “So if workers from Chernobyl have cancer now, it’s probably not because of radiation.”

“But I’m working in a place where the radiation is really high,” says a colleague in thick black glasses, 30-year-old Masaya Ishikawa. “I work two hours a day. I get 1.67 millisieverts every two hours.”

He pulls from his wallet a sheaf of tiny white receipts on which his daily radiation dose at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, crippled by the earthquake and tsunami of last March, is given to him every day. “I know that cancer will appear only 30 or 40 years later, but what about other diseases? What’s the maximum exposure I should get? At what levels of radiation do the white blood cells start decreasing?”

“About 1,000 millisieverts,” says Robert Gale, a hematologist, oncologist, and expert on bone-marrow transplants who has become one of the strongest voices for the controversial position that fear about radiation at Fukushima is overblown.

“So, 250 millisieverts is O.K.?”

“It’s O.K. under these circumstances. But it’s best not to go over that.”

The doors slide open, admitting the warmth of a late-October evening, and two older men dressed all in black, with white shirts and black ties—the kind of dress the Japanese usually favor only for funerals—come in, take the last two seats at the bar, and order Kirins.

Kusumoto leans forward again, well into his third or fourth beer, and says to his new friend, “When you were at Chernobyl, were they wearing protective suits? Should we?”

“You need a balance,” replies the doctor, who has come today for the first time to the hot-springs resort of Iwaki Yumoto, just outside the “exclusion zone” that encircles the nuclear plant with a radius of 12 miles now. “We started out wearing the radiation-protective suits in Chernobyl, but it made us move very slowly, because they’re so heavy. So people ended up getting more radiation because they were wearing these heavy clothes. It was better to work very fast, without protection, than very slowly with protection. In the end, we didn’t wear any protective clothing.”

Ishikawa has already said that he’s come up to work here, helping to clean up the stricken plant, in part because he remembers the earthquake that hit his hometown of Kobe in 1995, killing more than 6,000 people. “Of course the salary is good,” he says, “but I also felt, as a former victim of an earthquake, I should help.”

Now he eyes the doctor again.

“Can my work here affect my family members and friends?”

“A good question. The answer is no.”

“Good. I have four children.”

“The radiation goes through you,” Gale explains. “So when you go home, none of this will affect them. They’re completely safe.”

He pauses for a moment. “We have to think of two kinds of radiation,” he goes on. “This mug of beer is radioactive. Radiation is coming from me. That’s one kind, the most important kind, which is internal. There’s another kind that gets on our skin and is only external. That’s not so important, though it looks as if it should be.”

“It’s like these clothes, right?”


“Great! I’m sorry to ask you this. But some friends of mine from Osaka are coming up here to work, and I feel responsible for them.”

(The article continues at the link.)

Latest #Fukushima I Nuke Plant Video (12/14, 15/2011)

for your weekend viewing pleasure. A bleak scene after another against some dramatic wintry sky.

The video was shot on December 14 and 15, in preparation for the big day on December 16, the declaration of the end of the plant accident.

From the beginning, the Japanese captions as they appear:

(Initial screen) Current condition of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, work progress. Video taken on December 14 and 15.

Reactor 1 building

Reactor 2 building, from the backside

Backside of Reactor 4 building, looking toward the central waste processing facility

Watertight bulkhead, ocean side (near Reactor 3, in preparation)

Water injection pump to the reactors

(Isn't that nice, the pump is on a truck...)

Central control room for the contaminated water treatment system

(Oh no, some kind of alarm setting off...)

Area G sludge storage facility (for sludge from AREVA's system)

(By the way, over 50 workers building the additional storage for the sludge have come down with what looks like a severe food poisoning, and the work is on hold.)

Area H storage tank location

Area C putting insulation on the hoses for the winter

Putting insulation on the pipes, near the central waste processing facility

Worker carrying insulation materials at the backside of the process main building

Debris removal from the upper floors of Reactor 4

(Now you can see the work. It was a planned dismantling.)

Bringing debris inside the tent, by remote control vehicles (carried out at night)

Construction of a new power transmission tower

The workers are putting insulation materials around the flexible PVC hoses (Kanaflex) in preparation of a cold winter.

(Then for some unknown reason, the video repeats, this time without captions.)

Just like the Self Defense Force soldiers scooping probably highly radioactive dead leaves from the gutter in Namie-machi, the Fuku-I workers are using their own hands (I guess there is no other choice) to put the insulation around the hoses. No information whether the water was running through the hoses as the workers put insulation.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Former Japanese PM Hatoyama: #Fukushima Reactor 3 Nuclear Explosion Likely

It turns out that former Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama had more than just the recriticality back in March and April to talk about in his Nature article that was published on December 15, a rather awkward day it must have been for the Noda administration who was going to declare the end of the Fuku I Nuke Plant accident.

Even though the original English version of the Nature article is only available to the subscribers, Nature Asia has the full translation made available to anyone.

In the article, he and his co-writer Tomoyuki Taira talks about the possibilities of recriticality (chlorine-38 detection), nuclear explosion of Reactor 3, and melt-through of the corium contaminating the groundwater.

No wonder Yomiuri Shinbun, when writing about Hatoyama's article in Nature magazine, decided to only mention TEPCO nationalization and recriticality in March/April - a subject safe enough to talk about now.

In concluding that it may have been a nuclear explosion at Reactor 3, Hatoyama forgoes the mechanism of how a nuclear explosion could have happened and focuses on the evidence of transuranic elements scattered far outside the plant, saying a hydrogen explosion wouldn't be powerful enough.

The original was English, and the translation (by Nature Asia?) was edited by Mr. Taira, according to Nature Asia website. The following is my quick translation back into English from the Japanese translation of the portion about Reactor 3 nuclear explosion. As such, it will be probably nowhere near the original English in terms of expression.

From "Nuclear energy: Nationalize the Fukushima Daiichi atomic plant" by Tomoyuki Taira & Yukio Hatoyama (translation into English from the Japanese translation of the original English):


Possibility of Nuclear Explosion


We need to answer the question of what caused the series of explosions at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. Initially, they were reported as hydrogen explosions, i.e. explosions as the result of chemical reaction at a high temperature between the alloy in the cladding and the water vapor in the reactor core. However, this is not conclusive. Other possibilities exist, and they are nuclear explosions and gas explosions other than hydrogen gas.


How much, and what kind of radioactive materials were dispersed by the explosions, and how far did they spread? What is the condition of spent nuclear fuel stored in the Spent Fuel Pool of Reactor 3? To answer these questions, it is imperative that we know one way or the other if a nuclear explosion took place. From two observed facts, we believe a nuclear explosion is more likely. First, several transuranic elements have been detected several tens of kilometers away from the plant. Second, the steel trusses in the upper part of the reactor building of Reactor 3 are twisted as if they had been melted.


According to the reports by the Ministry of Education and Science, curium-242 (242Cm) has been detected at a location 3 kilometers from the plant, and plutonium-238 (238Pu) has been detected at a location 45 kilometers from the plant. These are extremely toxic, and if ingested they will cause internal radiation. 242Cm's half life is short (about 163 days), and the deposition of 238Pu around the plant is far greater than normal, leading the Ministry of Education and Science to conclude these are not the radioactive fallout from the past atmospheric nuclear testing but that they were emitted from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. If that's the case, pieces of broken spent nuclear fuel rods may have been scattered around the plant, and it is extremely dangerous.


These transuranic elements are not carried by the radioactive plume like much lighter cesium or iodine. Therefore, they must have been blown out by an extremely large force. It is not known to us whether a hydrogen explosion is powerful enough to disperse transuranic elements this far. It is unlikely that a hydrogen explosion generated a high enough temperature that would melt steel. TEPCO initially announced that there was a white smoke from Reactor 3 explosion. However, the later investigation has revealed that the smoke was black, and a hydrogen explosion is not considered to generate such a black smoke. Our conclusion therefore is that it [explosion of Reactor 3] may have been a nuclear explosion. It is equally important to investigate whether a different explosive gas [other than hydrogen gas] was being generated at that time.

Hatoyama, as a former prime minister and a high-ranking official of the Democratic Party of Japan, has had access to more detailed information about the accident from both the government source and TEPCO, in addition to the data from nuclear experts that he invited to his study group on the Fukushima accident, though he complains in the Nature article how he was frustrated with the slow response from TEPCO. (He is referring to the 99% blacked out operation manual from TEPCO.)

(Updated) #Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Former PM Hatoyama Says Chlorine-38 WAS Detected, Despite TEPCO's Retraction

(Update) Hatoyama says in his Nature article that his team had the TEPCO data on chlorine-38 re-analyzed, and came to the conclusion that chlorine-38 was in the water in the basement of Reactor 1, and the density was 1.6 million becquerels/milliliter, just as TEPCO had originally reported. (reading the Japanese translation by Nature Asia.) About his thinking on Reactor 3 nuclear explosion, go to my new post.


Back in March and April, there was a little fuss about recriticality happening in one or more of the reactors at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant because of the announcement by TEPCO of the detection of chlorine-38 in the water in the turbine building. Based on that announcement, Hiroaki Koide of Kyoto University was the first researcher (I think) in Japan who said recriticality may have happened.

Chlorine-37, stable isotope in seawater may acquire neutron and become unstable chlorine-38. The source of neutron? Fissioning uranium somewhere nearby.

Then, TEPCO denied it later, as one of many "mistakes" they supposedly made in identifying the radionuclides.

But now, apparently in the Nature magazine article that he wrote with a DPJ politician in Japan's Lower House, he says the following, according to Yomiuri Daily (English) (12/16/2011):

In the article, Hatoyama criticizes Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the crippled plant, for disclosing only limited information to Diet committees. He also hints at the possibility of recriticality at the plant and says there is still much about the crisis that needs clarification, including the state of the molten fuel within the nuclear reactors.

Hatoyama also says that he and Taira obtained data on samples of contaminated water TEPCO obtained from the basement of the plant's No. 1 reactor and asked an outside research institute to reanalyze them.

Results showed that radionuclide chlorine 38, one of the isotopes released during recriticality, "was indeed present," he claims.

TEPCO reported at one point that it found chlorine 38 in the sampled water, but the utility later retracted that statement, saying there was a mistake in the analysis.

The Japanese version of this article says exactly the same. And the very interesting thing is that hardly anyone paid attention when the article came out on December 15 in Japanese. The number of tweets for the article is only 12. I saw the headline of the article at Yomiuri, but I didn't think much of it at all and skipped it, partly because I don't care to read anything this former PM of Japan, whose nickname is "space alien", writes.

But to give him some credit, he held a weekly study group in the early weeks and months of the nuclear crisis, inviting researchers who were then ridiculed by the mainstream media and politicians as "extreme" - those who said the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident and the resultant radiation contamination were far more serious than admitted by the government and the MSM.

Judging by the number of Japanese readers retweeting the Japanese version of Yomiuri article that I just tweeted, it is news to them, too.

The title of the article is "Hatoyama: Nationalize Fukushima N-plant". A boring title, on purpose, probably, so that no one reads it. TPTB couldn't afford to attract attention to "recriticality" when they were about to announce a cold shutdown of the plant. Yomiuri did its patriotic duty.

(H/T to enenews for noticing the details beyond the headline.)

Latest Decon Technology Out of Japan: Hands

Jiji Tsushin's site has several photos of the Self Defense Force soldiers carrying out decontamination work.

I wrote a post on Monday about them doing decontamination at the Iitate-mura village office using screwdrivers. Here in Jiji's photo, they are decontaminating the town office in Namie-machi.

The tools: their hands.

There is no information whether the SDF were ever told of the radiation levels - air radiation, density of radioactive materials from the sludge and dead leaves they were made to remove, or they were fitted with personal survey meters to control radiation exposure.

Probably not. They are the soldiers stationed either in Fukushima City or Koriyama City in Fukushima Prefecture. One is 44th Infantry Regiment (Fukushima) and the other is 6th Artillery Regiment (Koriyama), according to the tweet by the Japan Ground Self Defense Force. You can be pretty sure that they are not trained in decontamination, not necessarily of radioactive materials but of more ordinary chemical spills, etc.

From Jiji Tsushin; the photo was taken on December 8 at the town hall in Namie-machi, 8 kilometers north of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. It was raining slightly, the photo caption says.

Cold Shutdown State at #Fukushima: IAEA's Amano Congratulates

If the rulers decide it's a cold shutdown, it is a cold shutdown. If enough august entities say it enough times, it must be true.

IAEA's Director General is a former Japanese bureaucrat (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) Yukiya Amano, who duly congratulates the Japanese administration for the exemplary job it has done and "significant progress" it has made, as follows:

16 December 2011 | IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano issued the following statement today:

The IAEA welcomes the announcement by the Government of Japan that the reactors at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station have achieved a "cold shutdown condition" and are in a stable state, and that the release of radioactive materials is under control.

Overall TEPCO and the Japanese government have made significant progress and have completed the second step of the TEPCO's roadmap by the end of the year as they had planned.

The IAEA is continuing to monitor the status of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station and the radiological situation in Japan following the earthquake and tsunami of March 11. The IAEA receives information updates from a variety of official Japanese sources, through the national competent authorities. The Agency continues to stand ready to provide necessary assistance to Japan as requested.

".. national competent authorities", that's too rich.

Just In: 348 Bq/Kg of Strontium Discovery in Tokorozawa City in Saitama?

For now, the information is via the tweets of people who watched the press conference online.

It was during the question by Yasumi Iwakami, independent journalist, during the press conference at the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, who has declared there was/is/will be no water leak from Fukushima I Nuke Plant.

348 becquerels/kg of radioactive strontium was discovered in Tokorozawa City in Saitama Prefecture, according to Iwakami.

State of Cold Shutdown in #Fukushima: US Deputy Secretary of Energy Was Also At Hand

As I posted yesterday, NHK quoted the US Deputy Secretary of State expressing a strong interest from the US companies to participate in Japan's decontamination (bubble), after he congratulated the administration on this important milestone.

Well, he was not alone. It looks like a whole delegation of the US government has been quietly in Japan, negotiating with the extremely pro-US Noda administration for a big piece of "post"-accident bubble in decommission and decontamination, to be paid for by the hapless Japanese taxpayers.

Businessweek/Bloomberg news on the "state" of cold shutdown at Fukushima (12/16/2011) quotes the US Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman:

Cold War weapons production in the U.S. left the country with “a significant nuclear cleanup legacy, including high- level waste, contaminated soil and groundwater,” Daniel Poneman, the U.S. Deputy Secretary at the Department of Energy, said in Tokyo yesterday.

The Hanford Site in Washington State and the Savannah River Site in South Carolina have more than 90 million gallons of liquid waste in tanks the government is working to convert into more stable forms that do not threaten the environment, he said.

Japan's government has requested support from the U.S. to decommission the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant as well as managing the site from an environmental perspective, he said.

Sovereign capture is so complete. Or it always has been.

State of Cold Shutdown: Hosono Says "No One Knows Where the Fuel Is, But I'm Confident It is Cooled"

In a typical display of utter disregard for the general public, the Noda administration announced last night that there would be no more joint press conference where reporters could meet with TEPCO people and the government officials from the Cabinet Office and other relevant ministries and agencies, receive updates and ask questions.

The last night's joint press conference is to be the last one, now that Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant is officially in a "state of a cold shutdown" and the accident has been decreed by the government to be "over".

Here's what Minister in charge of the accident and Minister of the Environment Goshi Hosono had to say last night in the last joint press conference, as reported by Nifty News (12/16/2011):

...細野環境相は「どこに燃料があるのか、原子炉をあけてみなければ誰もわからない」と不安な部分ものぞかせたものの 野田首相に続いて、冷温停止という認識を再確認。「燃料の場所がどこにあるにしても、冷却されているという状態」と述べた。

Minister of the Environment Hosono expressed some concern that "No one knows where the fuel is until we open the reactors", but he reaffirmed the cold shutdown, following the lead of his prime minister. He said, "No matter where the fuel is, it is being cooled".

Trust us, take our word for it, he says.

As Noda Declares Fukushima Accident Over, US Deputy Secretary of State Congratulates, Offers Support in Decontamination

Thomas Nides, who happens to be in Japan, congratulates the Noda administration on the end of the nuclear accident marked by a cold shut down "state".

He said in the press conference that he had heard it one day in advance from Japan's Foreign Minister that the Fukushima plant had achieved the state of cold shutdown. Hahahahaha.

Is NRC Chairman Greg Jaczko still coming to Japan to join the farce?

From NHK News (12/16/2011):


US Deputy Secretary of State Thomas Nides, who is in Japan, held a press conference on December 16 and disclosed that he had been informed by Foreign Minister Genba on December 15 that Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant had achieved a cold shutdown state. "We at the US government are very happy to hear the news. We believe the Japanese government has made the right choice toward recovery." Regarding the massive decontamination work that will be needed, he said "Many US companies are interested in taking part, and our government has offered assistance", indicating the continued support for the recovery from the nuclear accident.

Recovery from the nuclear accident, NHK? The accident is ongoing and you know it.

So here you go. Nothing the US companies like better than a bubble, and they are eager to join in Japan's decon bubble, at the Japan's taxpayers' expense.

Japan's PM Noda Declares a Cold Shutdown "State" and the End of Nuke Accident

Declaring a cold shutdown, even with "state", is a joke, but Noda went further and declared the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident to be over.

Why did he do that? Asahi Shinbun (12/16/2011) reports that:


By using the word "the accident is over", the government wants to dispel fears of the nuclear plant accident that are still strong both inside and outside Japan, resulting in baseless rumors. The administration will proceed with decontamination and shrinking the evacuation zone to have the residents return.

Why does the Japanese government want the residents to return? Why, to save on compensation money of course. Or so the Wall Street Journal's Japanese reporters say, as they can say what Japanese reporters for the Japanese MSMs cannot say:

As many as 140,000 people were asked to either evacuate or remain indoors for an extended period of time during the peak period of the crisis. By cleaning up the contaminated areas, the government hopes to rebuild the local economy and rein in compensation payments.

And remember, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency has declared there has been no leak of contaminated water from Fukushima I Nuke Plant, and will never be.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Man Committed Suicide in His Home in Namie-Machi, Fukushima

His home was in Tsushima District of Namie-machi, northwest of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant.

If you haven't read it, Asahi Shinbun's "Trap of Prometheus" Series 1 was about Tsushima District. That's where people from other parts of Namie-machi that are closer to the plant as well as from other towns and cities escaped to, not knowing the radiation was extremely high in Tsushima, exceeding 100 microsieverts/hour. The government knew, because it had SPEEDI simulation results and it actually sent an official there to measure the radiation levels. But it decided to keep quiet. (You can read the whole series here, as per my translation.)

Fukushima Minyu (12/16/2011) reports:


It has been disclosed that a man in his fifties were found dead earlier this month in his home in Tsushima District in Namie-machi, which is designated as "planned evacuation zone" after the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident. The man had come back from his temporary stay in Fukushima City where he had evacuated. According to the Futaba Police Department, the death is considered suicide.

同署によると、自宅にあった包丁を使い、腹を刺して自殺を図ったとみられる。遺書などはなかったという。男性は、福島市の親類宅に避難していたが、「自 宅に行ってくる」と言って出掛けた。帰りが遅いため不審に思った親類が自宅を訪ねると、男性が倒れていたという。

According to the Police, he must have used a kitchen knife at home and stabbed himself in the stomach. There was no suicide note left. The man was staying at his relative's house in Fukushima City, but he left, saying he was going to take a look at his home. When he didn't come back, the relative visited his home in Tsushima, and found him dead.

Japan Gone Nuts: NISA Declares No Contaminated Water Leak From Fuku-I, in the Past, Now, and the Future

At this point, I can only laugh. Totally predictable.

As the national government under Prime Minister Noda (who looks like a popular manga character Patalliro, except Pata is extremely smart) prepares to declare a cold shutdown "state" and is about to become the laughing stock of the world, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency is busy rewriting the definition of "leak".

Tokyo Shinbun reports that NISA has decided to basically "nullify" the leaks of contaminated water from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant in the past, and declare that there will be no leak in the future either, even if there is actually a leak or deliberate discharge. Why? Because NISA says so.

From Tokyo Shinbun (via Asyura, so that the link doesn't disappear; 12/16/2011):

保安院 海への汚染水 ゼロ扱い

NISA considers the amount of contaminated water into the ocean to be zero


There have been several leaks of water contaminated with radioactive materials from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. Tokyo Shinbun has found out through own investigation that the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has treated the amount of the leaks as "zero" from a legal [or regulatory] point of view, because it was a "state of emergency". The Agency has said it will treat the future leaks and deliberate discharges into the ocean the same way. The national government is scheduled to declare a "cold shutdown state" on December 16, but we are suspicious of the government's position that seems to ignore the suppression of the radioactive materials released from the plant, which is one of the important conditions [of the cold shutdown "state"].


The Nuclear Reactor Regulation Law specifies that the operator needs to set the maximum amount of radioactive materials released into the ocean for each nuclear power plant (total emission control). In the case of Fukushima I Nuke Plant, the maximum amount allowed is 220 billion becquerels per year for radioactive cesium. The amount is set to zero again at the beginning of a new fiscal year.


However, a leak of highly contaminated water was found on April 2 near the Reactor 2 water intake, and TEPCO conducted a discharge of low contamination water that was stored in a tank inside the plant buildings to make space to store the highly contaminated water.


This leak and the discharge alone released radioactive materials outside the plant to the tune of 4,700 terabecquerels (according to TEPCO's estimate), already more than 20,000 times as much as the maximum amount allowed.


Both domestic and foreign research institutions have disputed TEPCO's estimate as "too low".


On December 4, the water that contained 26 billion becquerels of radioactive strontium was found leaking into the ocean from the apparatus that evaporates and condenses the treated water.


Furthermore, the storage tanks that are set up inside the compound are expected to become full in the first half of the next year. The water in these storage tanks also contains radioactive strontium. TEPCO is contemplating the discharge of the water into the ocean after further decontaminating it, but facing the protest from the fisheries associations the company has said it will postpone the discharge for now.


Responding to the questions from Tokyo Shinbun, NISA emphasized that responding to the accident came first, and Fukushima I Nuke Plant was in a "state of emergency" where it was not possible to stop the leak, due to the damage the plant had sustained, and that was the reason for not applying the rule of "total emission control" and treating the 4,700-terabequerel leak as zero leak.


The special treatment under the "state of emergency" will last until the accident winds down, according to the Agency; but it was vague as to how long the special treatment will last, saying "it will be decided in the future discussions".


The Agency said even if the treated water that contains radioactive materials is released into the ocean, the Agency will continue to treat it as zero release.

Well, why should NISA stop at the water leak? They should simply declare that there was no emission of radioactive materials in the air, because the plant was in a state of emergency and in no shape to prevent the emission.

The national government declaring a cold shutdown "state" on broken reactors without even knowing where the corium has gone; government experts declaring 20 millisievert radiation is totally OK after one-month deliberation; the government agency declaring there was, is, will be no contaminated water leak or discharge from Fuku-I even if there was, is, will be a leak or discharge.

Gone nuts.

Japanese Government Decides 20 Millisieverts Annual Radiation Exposure Poses Little Cancer Threat to General Public

While the entire nation and the entire world wait with bated breath for the declaration by the Japanese national government of a cold shutdown of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant (to be exact, as NY Times correctly reported on December 14, "state of a cold shutdown") later in the evening of December 16 Japan Standard Time, the working group of government radiation experts has declared that:

  • Annual radiation exposure of more than 100 millisieverts is known to raise risks for developing cancers, but nothing is known about annual radiation exposure of less than 100 millisieverts;

  • Annual cumulative radiation exposure (external only, it seems) of 20 millisieverts for the general public poses hardly any danger of developing cancer;

  • There is no difference between internal and external radiation exposure;

  • Low-dose radiation exposure over a long period of time is less risky than one-time episodic exposure to large-dose radiation;

  • The relationship between low-dose internal radiation exposure and bladder cancer cannot be proven.

Above points are from the article in Mainichi Shinbun 12/15/2011, the only paper that had any critical thinking on this issue. All the other large-circulation newspapers and NHK simply parroted what was said by the experts and the government officials.

Speaking of government officials, Asahi Shinbun reports (12/15/2011) that Minister in charge of the nuclear accident and Minister of the Environment Goshi Hosono explained the government's thinking in the press conference after the group meeting, saying:


"So, 20 millisieverts per year radiation means people can live there."

This working group of so-called experts met for about a month to discuss the risk of "low-level" radiation exposure (meaning less than 20 millisieverts per year) and make a decision. Now they have made the decision and submitted the report to the government, the government duly accepts the independent experts' opinion, declares 20 millisieverts radiation to be an acceptable guideline, and plan accordingly.

What's the plan, you ask?

The government is set to convene a cabinet meeting in the evening and declare a "cold shutdown state" and will soon declare certain municipalities within the 20-kilometer radius "no entry" zone to be now "safe" to return (see my previous post).

In that country, if the government declares "one plus one equals four", or "tomorrow the sun rises from the west", people are expected to say "of course", and the calculators would start showing one plus one equals 4 and the sun would rise from the west. Or at least they would try. The land of miracles.

20 millisieverts per year of radiation exposure for the general public. There is no mention of different standard for children, except for the "effort" that the government is supposed to exert to lower the radiation for children.

Radiation control zone is 1.3 millisieverts per 3 months (5.2 millisieverts per year).

Japanese Government to Abolish Evacuation Zone for Fukushima II (not I) by Year-End

The area within the 8-kilometer radius from Fukushima II (Daini) Nuclear Power Plant has been designated as "evacuation" zone following March 11 earthquake/tsunami and the residents have been evacuated. The Japanese government has decided to abolish that zone by the year-end, paving the way for the residents of Okuma-machi, Naraha-machi, Tomioka-machi, and Hirono-machi to return.

Never mind that Okuma, Naraha, Tomioka also happen to fall within the 20 kilometer-radius "no entry" zone for Fukushima I (Daiichi) Nuclear Power Plant.

From Fukushima Minyu, a local newspaper in Fukushima (12/14/2011):


The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry told the municipalities within the 8-kilometer radius "evacuation" zone around Fukushima II (Daini) Nuclear Power Plant on December 13 that the evacuation order would be lifted shortly.


According to the people involved, the national government is to indicate its thinking about how to redesign the "no-entry" zone within the 20-kilometer radius from Fukushima I Nuke Plant and the "planned evacuation" zone [between 20 and 30-kilometer radius] before the year-end. The "no-entry" zone for Fukushima I includes the evacuation zone for Fukushima II. By lifting the evacuation order for Fukushima II first, the government may be trying to create a favorable environment in which to revise the "no entry" zone for Fukushima I.


Revision of the evacuation zones is to be carried out by the national government on the completion of the "step 2" of the roadmap to recovery of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. The plan seems to be that the no-entry zone will be reorganized into three different zones depending on the cumulative [external] radiation exposure levels per year. If the annual cumulative radiation exposure is to be 50 millisieverts and above, the areas will be designated as "difficult to return for a long time"; the areas between 20 and 50 millisieverts as "restricted residence", and the areas below 20 millisieverts as "preparing for return". The national government is said to have been discussing with the municipalities affected, and to disclose its thinking before the year-end.

To be more precise, in practical terms, on the "declaration" of the completion of the step 2, whether the so-called "step 2" has been achieved or not. As long as you declare.

According to Yomiuri Shinbun (12/15/2011) on the subject, a NISA official told the mayor of Tomioka-machi the reason for lifting the evacuation order as Fukushima II fully prepared for disaster with "external power source secured and emergency generators equipped".

The mayor of Naraha-machi has been itching to restart Fukushima II Nuclear Power Plant and get "genpatsu (nuke plant)" money flowing again. He may get his wish soon.

When the national government talks about "radiation" in these areas, it is talking about external radiation only, and at 1 meter off the ground. The latest survey result (12/13/2011) by the Ministry of Education and Science is here.

France's ACRO Finds Radioactive Cesium in Vacuum Cleaner Filters in Fukushima, Iwate

The highest is Watari District in Fukushima City, close to 20,000 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium. Kashiwa City in Chiba and Ichinoseki City in Iwate, about 200 kilometers south and north of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant respectively, also tested rather high, with close to 6,000 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium.

ACRO used Osaka as control.

No mention of whether other nuclides were tested or found.

From ACRO press release on December 15, 2011:

House dust

ACRO has analysed dust of vacuum cleaners from 13 dwellings. Excepted Osaka, chosen as a reference because it is located 600 km from the plant, all dust samples are contaminated with cesium 137 and 134 following the catastrophe of Fukushima.

It is in the district of Watari of Fukushima-city that the contamination is highest with almost 20,000 becquerels per kilogram for both cesium. This district, located about fifty kilometres from the plant, is known to be particularly contaminated and the sale of rice is prohibited.

Homes are also significantly contaminated in Ichinoseki in Iwate province to the north and in Kashiwa in Chiba to the south, situated in the northern suburbs of Tokyo. In both cities, located about 200 km of the plant, contaminated dust is nearly 6,000 becquerels per kilogram.

We don’t know from when the dust was collected by the vacuum cleaners. In Japan, one removes shoes before entering home.

(H/T anon reader)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

#Radiation in Japan: Osaka Decided on the Standard to Accept Disaster (Radioactive) Debris (Goodbye Kansai)

I have written about the dynamic duo of Osaka who are very eager to help those poor people in Tohoku buried under the mountains of disaster debris which happens to be radioactive.

Now, apparently without further interference from pesky citizens who try to stop them from bring the debris all the way to Osaka to be burned and buried, the committee of select experts have agreed on the safety standard to be used in accepting and processing the debris throughout Osaka, and the governor is to come up with the detailed guidelines by the year-end.

From Yomiuri Shinbun Kansai Version (12/15/2011):


Osaka Prefecture Expert Committee decided on the safety standard to accept disaster debris


The expert committee of Osaka Prefecture decided on the safety standard to accept the disaster debris and waste from the March 11 earthquake/tsunami. Governor Ichiro Matsui is positive about accepting the debris, saying "As long as it is safe, the entire nation should cooperate so that the disaster-affected area will recover." The governor plans to establish the prefectural guidelines for processing the debris based on the safety standard [decided upon on December 14]. It is expected that the municipalities in Osaka will be asked to cooperate.


The expert committee made up of radiation expert agreed as appropriate on the level of radioactive cesium in the debris at 100 becquerels/kg and less to accept the debris, and the level of radioactive cesium in the ashes after the debris is burned at 2000 becquerels/kg and less, stricter than the national standard of 8000 becquerels/kg and less.


However, even if Osaka Prefecture decides to accept the debris, it is not clear whether the municipalities with incineration facilities will cooperate. The Osaka prefectural government has so far received about 12,000 messages from Osaka residents who are against accepting the debris, and it is possible that the debris acceptance may encounter complications.

Complications? I don't think so. There's nothing that these politicians cannot overcome with patience, when they see either fame or money. Just listen to the mayor of Daisen City in Akita Prefecture, who has decided to accept disaster radioactive debris. He said,


I will persuade the residents until they give up and say "OK, no other choice".

There you have it. They will keep at it until the residents become so weary that they simply give up. Worked every time in the past.

And never mind that their math is wrong; debris with 100 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium in the debris will become ashes with 3300 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium, exceeding the just-established Osaka limit of 2000 becquerels/kg. I guess they are not too worried about details.

Latest Decon Technology from Japan: Coffee Filter

This one may actually work, if they can do it on a large scale. But I just can't visualize how.

A university researcher and his friend have come up with a cesium removal system from fallen leaves using a coffee filter.

From Mainichi Shinbun (12/15/2011):

落ち葉のセシウム 完全除去法を開発

A system to completely remove radioactive cesium from fallen leaves developed


Eisaku Katayama, 62-year-old researcher at the Engineering Department of Chiba University and former Professor of Tokyo University Medical Research Institute, and Isamu Kawakami, 63-year-old executive at a building firm in Shibukawa City in Gunma Prefecture have come up with a system to completely remove radioactive cesium from fallen leaves and weeds. They discovered that cesium binds to "plant opals" in leaves and stems of plants, and succeeded in removing cesium by removing the plant opals. Katayama is hopeful that their system "can be used in a variety of decontamination work".


The two focused on the characteristics of radioactive cesium which strongly binds with minerals whose main ingredient is silicon compound such as mica. Since plant opals contain the silicon compound, they hypothesized that the similar phenomenon may happen with the plant opals and conducted the experiment.


First, they put 570 grams of weeds from Minami Soma City, Fukushima Prefecture in a sealed container in mid November. After letting it rot until liquefied, they measured the density of radioactive cesium on December 10. The result was 28,924 becquerels/kg. They added water to this weed sludge, and filtered it using a coffee filter. They found that radioactive cesium was not detected from the filtered water. Upon close inspection of what remained on the coffee filter using a microscope, they identified numerous plant opals. They concluded that radioactive cesium had chemically bound with plant opals, and didn't go through the filter.


The dreg left on the filter was about one-tenths of the weeds. It contains concentrated level of radioactive cesium, but they want to develop a system to process a large amount of fallen leaves and weeds, as the system may be able to reduce the bulk of the leaves and weeds that takes up storage space.


A plant opal is a particle between several and 100 micrometer in diameter. It gets detached from fallen leaves and scatter. Katayama points out that it is necessary to store fallen leaves and weeds in an enclosed area and not in the open, and to wear masks in the contaminated areas with many plants.


Katayama and Kawakami became friends through their common hobby, astronomical observation. After being consulted by his friend in Fukushima Prefecture on decontamination, Kawakami did the research, with the help of Katayama. Katayama says, "It should have been written up and published as a research paper, but for the sake of the disaster-affected areas we'll put developing the practical application first."

If only radioactive cesium were the only nuclide that fell.

Bloomberg News: Iran to Hold Military Drill for Closing Hormuz Strait, Fars Says

From Bloomberg via The San Francisco Chronicle (12/13/2011):

Dec. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Iran's military is set to conduct drills for closing the Strait of Hormuz, a bottleneck for oil exports from the Persian Gulf, the state-run Fars news agency reported, citing parliamentarian member Parviz Sorouri.

"Soon we will hold a military maneuver on how to close the Strait of Hormuz," said Sorouri, a member of the national security and foreign policy committee, according to Fars. "If the world wants to make the region insecure, we will make the world insecure." His comments first appeared yesterday on the website of the state-run Iranian Students News Agency before the report was withdrawn without an explanation.

About 15.5 million barrels of oil a day, about a sixth of global consumption, flows through the Strait of Hormuz between Iran and Oman, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Still, crude oil went from $100 pre-US market to $95, as the global de-risking continued today, hitting commodities extra-hard.

I hope whatever drill that they plans to do will start and end without incident.

"Now They Tell Us" Series: Radioactive Cesium Fallout in Fukushima from March to June Was 6.83 Million Becquerels

(UPDATE) The Ministry's other release says the measurement in Fukushima was done in July, therefore no detection of iodine-131 or any other short-lived nuclides. The Ministry sat on the data for only 5 months then.


or 47 times as much as all the 45 prefectures (excluding Fukushima and Miyagi) combined.

Or 145 million times as much as the pre-accident annual number for Fukushima, in half a month.

It took only 9 months for the Ministry of Education and Science to finally disclose the number for Fukushima Prefecture. The Ministry is yet to say anything about Miyagi Prefecture.

The ostensible reason for not disclosing the numbers for Fukushima and Miyagi has been that the measuring stations got damaged by the earthquake. Well, by releasing the data, albeit very late, the Ministry makes it rather clear that the measuring station in Fukushima was just fine, and it had the data.

Still, the number is only for radioactive cesium (134 and 137). No word about radioactive iodine, or about any other nuclide.

From Asahi Shinbun (12/14/2011):


Regarding the radioactive cesium that has been released into the atmosphere as the result of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident, the Ministry of Education and Science announced on December 14 that the cumulative amount of radioactive cesium fallout in 4 months after the accident in Fukushima Prefecture was 6.83 million becquerels/square meter. The Ministry announced the cumulative amounts of radioactive cesium fallout for the 45 prefectures last month, excluding Fukushima and Miyagi. The amount in Fukushima is 168 times as much as that in Ibaraki Prefecture (40,801 becquerels) which had the highest amount among the 45 prefectures, and 47 times as much as the amount for the 45 prefectures combined (144,446 becquerels).


The numbers are the cumulative numbers, measuring cesium-134 and cesium-137 from the dusts collected in containers at institutes of public health throughout Japan from March to June. The analysis for Fukushima Prefecture was delayed because of the March 11 earthquake/tsunami. The measuring location was in Okuma-machi where Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant is located. Of the 6,836,050 becquerels that fell [between March and June], 94% fell during March, attesting to the severity of the situation right after the accident. There was nuclear fallout from the past atmospheric nuclear testing before the Fukushima accident, but the cumulative fallout for Fukushima for the year 2009 was 0.044 becquerel.

For the entire year of 2009, Fukushima had 0.044 becquerel of radioactive cesium fallout.

In March of 2011, it had over 6.4 million becquerels. That's 145 million times more than the pre-accident level for a year, in half a month.

The Ministry of Education and Science's press release on December 14 (Japanese only) simply states the reason for the disclosure now as "The results just came in", on top of page 2.

Aside from cesium-134 and cesium-137, the press release also states the numbers for tellurium-129, tellurium-129m, and cesium-136. For the 4 months period in Fukushima, they are:

  • tellurium-129: 528,936 becquerels/square meter

  • tellurium-129m: 2,042,500 becquerels/square meter

  • cesium-136: 247,000 becquerels/square meter (March only)

(The Ministry uses Mbecquerels/square kilometer.)

A smart move by the Ministry, I suppose, to disclose the worst number (in Fukushima) first before disclosing the number for Miyagi, which I suspect to be much higher than that of Ibaraki.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Reactor 4 Is NOT Falling Apart (Yet); It Was Cleanup/Demolition Work by TEPCO

Contrary to what you may have heard, the rumor of the collapse of Reactor 4 is, for now, just a rumor. What you have instead is the result of a planned cleanup/demolition by TEPCO.

Several readers of my blog sent me the link that shows photographs of Reactor 4 at different times in December and links to a post that claims Reactor 4 is falling apart.

Alarmed, I started looking for information. There was absolutely no news or rumor of that in Japan, not even in the Internet message boards on the Fuku-I disaster. I looked at the photos again. I noticed that part of the ceiling trusses were gone, and it looked they were removed systematically.

Then I remembered the tweets a few months ago by the worker who tweets from Fuku-I, saying the debris clearing in Reactor 3 and Reactor 4 upper floors were ongoing. On checking his recent tweets, sure enough, it was a planned take-down of part of walls and ceiling in Reactor 4:

From December 13 tweet:

3号機はオペフロの瓦礫をクレーンを使って撤去してるよ。まだまだ先は長いでし。4号機はオペフロ南側の落ちそうな梁と柱と天井トラスを撤去してスッ キリしたよ。オペフロ南側の東西の壁もはなくなったから東側最上階の壁にあった4号機の「4」と書いてあった壁もなくなっちゃった。

In Reactor 3, they are removing the debris on the operation floor using a crane. It will take a long time still. In Reactor 4, they removed the failing beams, columns and ceiling trusses from the south side of the operation floor. It looks cleaner now. They also removed the wall panels on the east and west side of the southern end of the operation floor, so there is no more wall panel that had the letter "4" for Reactor 4 on the top floor on the east side.

Then one of my readers just posted TEPCO's Progress Status report on November 17, 2011 in the comment section. On pages 26 and 27, TEPCO shows the cleanup/demolition work in Reactor 4 in details:

So the long story short, no it is not falling apart.

(H/T anon reader)

#Radiation in Japan: Toshiba to Sell Camera That Visualizes Hot Spot

Now that France's AREVA is in dire financial trouble, Toshiba may have one less competition in selling nuke plants all over the world. And when a nuke plant goes bust, like Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant did in a spectacular fashion, why it makes more money by first selling cesium towers (SARRY) which have so far delivered OK performance but not that great, then selling a desalination system (evaporative condensation apparatus) that keeps leaking water.

Now, Toshiba is set to make money in the "decon bubble" in wider communities outside the nuke plant by introducing a camera that can visualize radiation levels in different colors. According to the Asahi article below, it has been tested in the harshest environment - Fuku-I compound.

From Asahi Shinbun (12/14/2011):


Toshiba announced on December 13 that it has developed a camera that can show different radiation levels in different colors. The company says the camera will help identify so-called "hot spots" with localized high radiation and improve the effectiveness of decontamination work. The company plans to market the survey service using the camera to the Ministry of the Environment and local municipalities, starting next year.


The camera contains a sensor that measures radiation and a sensor that captures graphic images. By combining two signals from the two sensors and sending the signals to the computer screen, the system allows users to visualize radiation. The locations with high radiation levels will be displayed in red, making it easier to identify "hot spots" than the traditional display of radiation in digits.


The Toshiba-made camera with almost identical capabilities has been used inside the buildings at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. The company has improved that camera by raising the sensitivity and reducing the size and weight by half, making it easier for local municipalities to use. Toshiba will conduct a joint experiment with Fukushima City before the year end, and commercialize the camera. If there's a demand from municipalities, the company will consider the sales of the camera itself.

Shizuoka Prefecture Goes to New York with Green Tea, Again, to Educate US Consumers about Safety

This time, Heita Kawakatsu, the Oxford-grad governor of Shizuoka Prefecture, is using young Shizuoka people to push his radioactive tea to New Yorkers instead of going there himself.

From Yomiuri Shinbun (12/13/2011):


Wanting to completely dispel the baseless rumors after the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident, representatives from Shizuoka Prefecture, the largest producer of "ara-cha" (bulk tea) in Japan, served "fukamushi-cha" [tea made by steaming the leaves longer) at a Japanese confectionery store in the center of New York City on December 12 as part of the PR event to appeal safety.


After the nuclear accident, some of the teas produced in Shizuoka were found with radioactive cesium exceeding the provisional safety limit set by the national government. However, the event was to educate [the US] consumers that there would be no effect on health if they drank teas that were being sold in the marketplace.


Arianna Solomon, 17-year-old high school student, enjoyed the Shizuoka tea. "My grandmother drinks Japanese tea every day. I like it too."

"Some" Shizuoka teas were indeed found with radioactive materials exceeding the Japanese provisional safety limit (500 becquerels/kg). What the newspaper fails to mention is that radioactive cesium was found in almost all the Shizuoka teas tested.

The US peacetime limit for radioactive cesium in water and drinks is 3.0 picocuries, or 0.1 becquerel/liter. The same for food is 170 becquerels/kg.

The US FDA has the Derived Intervension Level (DIL) which is 1200 becquerels/kg, and the level of concern at 370 becquerels/kg to govern the domestic food in interstate commerce and the imported food as a non-enforceable "recommendation". But this is NOT a nuclear emergency for the United States, in which the citizens would suffer without food and drinks if the government did not raise the limits for radioactive materials in food and drinks in interstate commerce or from import.

Scanning the official webpage of Shizuoka Prefecture where the results of tea testing are published, you'll notice that testing seems to have been one bag at one tea plantation in one city. We know how well the similar testing of rice in Fukushima Prefecture has turned out to be.

  • Number of teas that tested with radioactive cesium: all of 102 samples tested

  • Number of teas that tested between 100 and 370 becquerels/kg): 46

  • Number of teas that tested above the "level of concern"(370 becquerels/kg) in the US: 21

  • Number of teas that tested above the provisional safety limit of Japan: 7

  • Number of teas that tested above the DIL in the US: 0

Shizuoka's webpage has a limited number of tests on brewed tea, using 10 grams of dried tea leaves and brewing for 60 seconds with 430 milliliters of water at 90 degrees Celsius. The results are between 1.6 and 14 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium in brewed tea.

I drink 3, 4 cups of green tea every day. That's about 500 milliliters per day. If I were drinking the Shizuoka tea that had 14 becquerels/kg of cesium after it was brewed, I would ingest 14 becquerels of radioactive cesium every two days. In one year, I would have 2555 becquerels of radioactive cesium total, more than half of which would be retained in the body, looking at the ICRP chart below (from ICRP Publication 111).

I think I'll stay away from teas grown in Shizuoka, or anywhere in Kanto region, but it's my personal decision based on the information that I have digested since March 11.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Japanese Engineer: "There Was a Nuclear Explosion in Reactor 3 in Addition to a Hydrogen Explosion"

There are foreign nuclear experts who have said the explosion in Reactor 3 on March 14 at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant was a nuclear explosion. But this Japanese engineer and whistleblower at JNES (Japan Nuclear Energy Safety Organization) Setsuo Fujiwara says there were two explosions at Reactor 3: a hydrogen explosion, and a nuclear explosion at the Spent Fuel Pool.

The following is my best-effort translation of the interview Fujiwara did with the SPA magazine, without detailed technical knowledge of nuclear physics, subject to revision.

From Zakzak (12/13/2011):


"The explosion in Reactor 3 at Fukushima I Nuke Plant on March 14 was nuclear!"


So says Mr. Setsuo Fujiwara, who worked at Japan Nuclear Energy Safety Organization (JNES) until the spring of 2010 as nuclear plant inspector. He is one of those experts who know the nuclear power plant facilities and operations in great details.


"In the Reactor 3 explosion, there was a flicker of fire, then a vertical, black smoke up the reactor building. A hydrogen explosion does not produce such a black smoke. And the mushroom cloud. It resembles a nuclear explosion."


But according to the government and TEPCO, the nuclear reactors are getting more stable, aren't they?


"A more important source of radioactive materials dispersed is the Spent Fuel Pools."


Fujiwara takes out an aerial photograph of the plant shot from the land side.


"The upper frames of the reactor building are blown off at the location of the Spent Fuel Pool. I believe there was an explosion inside the SFP, and the fuel rods inside were blown out."


If the spent fuel had melted and sank to the bottom of the pool, would that cause a nuclear explosion?


"The amount of cooling water decreased in the Reactor 3 SFP prior to the explosion, and hydrogen was generated from the zircaloy-water reaction. The upper part of the cladding melted, and the pellets fell out and piled [at the bottom of the pool?]. Inside the SFP, it was like a nuclear reactor becoming critical, and the water boiled. Then there was a hydrogen explosion above the surface of the water in the SFP, and due to the pressure from the explosion, voids (steam bubbles) in the boiling water were compressed. The void coefficient was negative, so the reactivity of nuclear fission was suddenly heightened, resulting in a nuclear explosion from the prompt criticality. When you see the slow-motion video of Reactor 3's explosion, you hear three explosive sounds. It is the evidence that the nuclear explosion occurred after the hydrogen explosion."


Next, he points to the pipe that connected the exhaust stack and Reactor 3. The big pipe is broken, and the short segment of the pipe is lying on the ground.


"TEPCO explained that the hydrogen gas generated in Reactor 3 passed through this pipe and entered the reactor building of Reactor 4, causing the hydrogen explosion in Reactor 4 which was in regular maintenance at that time. However, if you look at the photo, the pipe is broken. I think it was a hydrogen explosion in Reactor 4 also, caused by hydrogen generated inside the Spent Fuel Pool. If Reactors 3 and 4's hydrogen came from the Spent Fuel Pools, is it possible that the explosion of Reactor 1 was also caused by hydrogen from the Spent Fuel Pool? But no one is questioning [TEPCO] hard on these important points in reconstructing the accident."


Fujiwara says he tried to run his scenario of the accident with the engineers who are anti-nuclear, but that they withheld comments. "Japanese engineers are too reluctant to comment on things outside their specialties", says Fujiwara, irritated.

More on "void coefficient" here (wiki).

People like Arnie Gundersen talked about prompt criticality as a shockwave from a hydrogen explosion "moved and distorted" the fuel rods. I didn't quite understand the mechanism of distorted fuel rods resulting in prompt criticality. Fujiwara's explanation makes the mechanism much clearer for me, but it is also possible that I (non-expert) am imagining that I understand.

Canada Formally Withdrew from the Kyoto Protocol: "Kyoto Is an Impediment"

From AFP (12/12/2011):

OTTAWA — Canada became the first country to formally withdraw from the Kyoto Protocol, saying the pact on cutting carbon emissions was preventing the world from effectively tackling climate change.

"We are invoking Canada's legal right to formally withdraw from Kyoto," Environment Minister Peter Kent said following a marathon UN climate conference in South Africa, at which nations agreed to a new roadmap for worldwide action.

The landmark pact reached in 1997 is the only global treaty that sets down targeted curbs in global emissions.

But those curbs apply only to rich countries, excluding the United States, which has refused to ratify the accord.

"Kyoto is not the path forward for a global solution to climate change," Kent said. "If anything, it's an impediment.

"We believe that a new agreement with legally binding commitments for all major emitters that allows us as a country to continue to generate jobs and economic growth represents the path forward."

Canada agreed under the Kyoto Protocol to reduce CO2 emissions to 6.0 percent below 1990 levels by 2012, but its emissions of the gases blamed for damaging Earth's fragile climate system have instead increased sharply.

Saying the targets agreed to by a previous Liberal administration were unattainable, Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government last year unveiled its own measures aimed at curbing emissions, in line with US efforts.

Pulling out of Kyoto now allows Canada to avoid paying penalties of up to CAN$14 billion (US$13.6 billion) for missing its targets.

Kent also cited major impacts on Canada's economy that will be avoided by withdrawing from the treaty.

"Under Kyoto, Canada is facing radical and irresponsible choices if we're to avoid punishing multi-billion-dollar payments," Kent said, noting that Canada produces barely two percent of global emissions.

"To meet the targets under Kyoto for 2012 would be the equivalent of either removing every car, truck, ATV, tractor, ambulance, police car, and vehicle of every kind from Canadian roads or closing down the entire farming and agricultural sector and cutting heat to every home, office, hospital, factory, and building in Canada."

For Kyoto supporters, the anticipated Canadian pullout was expected to be a symbolic blow and badly damage a UN climate process already weakened by divisions.

Last week at the UN climate conference in Durban, South Africa, Kent had already said that Kyoto was "in the past" for Canada.

"It is an agreement that covers fewer than 30 percent of global emissions, by some estimates 15 percent or less," the Canadian minister said.

The conference on Sunday approved a roadmap towards an accord that for the first time will bring all major greenhouse-gas emitters under a single legal roof.

If approved as scheduled in 2015, the pact will be operational from 2020 and become the prime weapon in the fight against climate change.

But environmentalists have called it porous.

Kent said that in the meantime, Canada would continue to try to reduce its emissions under a domestic plan that calls for a 20 percent cut from 2006 levels by 2020, or as critics point out, a mere three percent from 1990 levels.

The latest data last year showed that Canadian carbon emissions were currently up more than 35 percent from 1990.

Huffington Post: " NRC 'Coup' Leader, Bill Magwood, Consulted For Fukushima Parent Company"

That's TEPCO. This is interesting.

Bio of Bill Magwood at the NRC site is here.

From Huffington Post (12/12/2011):

WASHINGTON -- Bill Magwood, the man at the center of an effort to overthrow the chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and his most likely successor if the move is successful, served as a consultant for Tepco, the Japanese company that owns the Fukushima nuclear power plant, according to information provided by Magwood as part of his nomination and confirmation process, which was obtained by The Huffington Post.

On Friday, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) released a letter signed by Magwood and three other commissioners attacking the panel's chairman, Gregory Jaczko, setting off a firestorm in the energy industry. Issa and the four commissioners framed the dispute as personal and managerial, but emails released by Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) show a political and ideological battle underway over post-Fukushima safety standards.

Issa and Markey appeared opposite one another on MSNBC on Monday, continuing to debate whether the issue is one of personality or the politics of nuclear safety. Magwood's previously unreported relationship to Japan's nuclear industry, via the firm he founded and ran, Advanced Energy Strategies, sheds new light on that debate.


When Magwood was nominated by President Obama in 2009 to become a commissioner, nearly a hundred environmental groups, along with the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), urged his defeat in the Senate, arguing that he was too close to the industry to be tasked with regulating it.

He was confirmed in March 2010 by unanimous consent.

Since joining the body, Magwood has coordinated with the two Republicans and the other Democrat on the panel to delay and water down new safety reforms pushed by Jaczko, according to the emails made public by Markey. Following the Fukushima disaster, Jaczko has made a major effort to increase safety standards, an effort that is being closely watched by international regulators and nuclear companies across the globe.

Magwood's recent client list makes up a who's who of Japanese power and nuclear companies, and included CLSA Japan Equities Division, the Federation of Electrical Power Companies in Japan (FEPC), IBT Corporation, Marubeni Corporation, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, RW Beck, Sumitomo Corporation and the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, which was roundly criticized for its response to the crisis.

(Full article at the link.)

Latest Decon Technology Out of Japan: Screwdriver

(No, not the cocktail, although it may be a good idea anyway.)

Soldiers of Japan's Self Defense Force are deployed to decontaminate the most contaminated areas within Fukushima Prefecture, cleaning up the municipal offices (quite tellingly). What's their weapon?

A minus screwdriver.

From Yomiuri Shinbun (12/12/2011):


Japan Ground Self Defense Force soldiers continue their decontamination work at Iitate-mura village office in Fukushima Prefecture.


About 300 soldiers wearing protective clothes and face masks were busy scraping the dirt in between the pavement stones using tools like minus screwdrivers and washing the asphalt surface in the village office compound using high-pressure washers.


The work, which started on December 7, is scheduled to last for about 2 weeks.

More on the Decon Worker Who Died on Site: "Nothing to Do with Radiation/Decon", Says Government

According to the latest in the NHK News, the worker was cleaning out the side drains at the district assembly hall in the morning. (For my report from the press conference yesterday, see my post here.)

I just hate to think how radioactive the sludge was. There is no indication that the government (this project was government-planned and funded and directed) had measured the density of the soil or sludge that it was requesting the workers to remove.

The decontamination technology for that kind of operation in Japan is hand, shovel, trowel, and sandbag.

Beyond criminal, and all the spokesman said in the yesterday's press conference was "We don't know the details, but the death is definitely not caused by the radiation, and it has nothing to do with the decontamination work".

Just to remind you that their definition of a death by the radiation for this government and TEPCO is an acute radiation poisoning which knocks out a person in an instant of the exposure to the radiation source.

Furthermore, when he said the death had nothing to do with the decon work, he had to clarify upon being further questioned by a reporter. All he meant was that the worker didn't die while he was doing the decon work.

I watched the press conference yesterday. The unease of the government spokesman was exceptional. At times, he simply couldn't even speak, trying to find appropriate words to say.

With these in mind, here's NHK Japanese (11:18PM JST 12/12/2011):


A 60-year-old man was found collapsed in a car and confirmed dead. He was doing the decontamination work in Date City in Fukushima Prefecture. The Cabinet Office [which planned the work] says the death "has nothing to do with the decontamination work".


According to the Cabinet Office and the Police, a 60-year-old man was found collapsed in a car in Shimo-Oguni District of Date City in Fukushima Prefecture at around 1PM on December 12. The man worked for a construction company in Miyagi Prefecture. He was taken to a hospital, but was confirmed dead about an hour later. The man participated in the decontamination work assigned by the national government near the district assembly hall in the morning. He scooped the sludge in the side drains, and then he was eating lunch in the company car, it was reported. The Cabinet Office says "The cause of death has nothing to do with the decontamination work", without revealing the details.