Saturday, March 3, 2012

Ministry of Educaiton on SPEEDI Simulation: "We Can't Make This Public...."

Kyodo News reports (3/3/2012), nearly one year later:

SPEEDI予測「公表できない」 文科省文書に記載

SPEEDI simulation "cannot be made public", according to a document by Ministry of Education and Science


It was revealed on March 2 by speaking with the people involved at the Ministry of Education and Science that an internal memo was created on March 15, 2011, 5th day of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident, which shows then-Minister Yoshiaki Takagi and top officials at the Ministry of Education and Science held a meeting that day and agreed that they "cannot make the SPEEDI simulation results public".


The Ministry of Education denies part of the story, saying "The memo was created by the secretariat but it is inaccurate. There was no clear decision on whether to make them public."


No minutes of the Ministry of Education's meetings have been made public over the SPEEDI results right after the accident.

You can be pretty sure that no minutes exist.

The Ministry of Education and Science was in charge of SPEEDI. What was made public at that time was that SPEEDI didn't work.

I remember Professor Kunihiko Takeda of Chubu University saying right around March 15 last year that the government (Ministry of Education) decided to hide the result of SPEEDI simulation because it was very, very bad, showing serious radioactive contamination over a wide area.

Well he was right.

OT: Change of Header Image

I've changed from "Ultraman" to something inane (it's a pile of debris at Fukushima I Nuke Plant).

Let me know what you think. I am also monitoring if there is any significant increase or drop of readership over the next few days...

Japan PM: No individual to blame for Fukushima

AFP's Huw Griffith quotes Japan's extremely unpopular Prime Minister Noda saying:

"Rather than blaming any individual person I believe everyone has to share the pain of responsibility and learn this lesson."

Hahahahahahaha. Share the pain. Hahahahahaha. Learn this lesson. Hahahahahaha.

From AFP (3/3/2012; emphasis is mine):

by Huw Griffith

TOKYO — No individual can be held responsible for the nuclear meltdowns at Fukushima, Japan's prime minister said Saturday, insisting everyone had to "share the pain".

Yoshihiko Noda told foreign journalists in Tokyo that the Japanese establishment had been taken in by the "myth of safety" around nuclear power and was unprepared for a disaster on the scale of last March's accident.

A week ahead of the anniversary of the disaster, the premier swatted away a question over criminal responsibility for meltdowns that forced tens of thousands of people from their homes and polluted the land and sea.

"Of course, the primary responsibility under Japanese law rests with the operator" of the stricken plant, Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO), Noda said.

"But the government as well as operators and academia were steeped too deeply in the safety myth and I think that is what we can conclude.

"Rather than blaming any individual person I believe everyone has to share the pain of responsibility and learn this lesson."

Noda's comments come just days after an independent investigation panel revealed the president of TEPCO had wanted to abandon the plant in the days after the tsunami swamped its reactor cooling systems.

A report compiled by private thinktank Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation said it was only threats by then prime minister Naoto Kan that had prevented TEPCO from leaving the plant to its fate as the accident spiralled out of control.

Noda told reporters lessons had been and were still being learned from Fukushima, including "don't install power sources outside which are likely to be hit by a tsunami".

All but two of Japan's 54 nuclear reactors are presently offline, with local communities unwilling to allow them to restart amid a public backlash over the safety of a once-trusted technology.

Noda said electricity-hungry Japan would diversify its power sources, but stopped short of pledging to abandon atomic energy.

"We have to grow out of our dependence on nuclear and we have to establish in the medium to longer term a society that does not have to rely on nuclear power generation," he said.

"We need to think about the best mix of energy that will give a sense of reassurance to the Japanese people. Some time in the middle of this year we would like to set the direction for this strategy."

The prime minister, who came to power almost exactly six months ago, said a year on from the tsunami that claimed 19,000 lives and left hundreds of thousands of people homeless, progress in righting Japan was being made.

But he acknowledged things were not moving as fast as they could.

"Unfortunately there is criticism that what we have done has been inadequate and we have been slow," he said. "We have to be receptive to such criticism."

He said recovery work was well under way, but that reconstruction would continue "intensively" for five years and should be complete in a decade.

"When it comes to reconstruction in areas seriously hit by the tsunami there is debate over whether they have to move to higher ground," he said.

"I think that local residents have to discuss and decide...and time is needed for that."

The establishment taken in by the "myth of safety"? So the prime minister is admitting the power that be in Japan believed in its own lies. That's hard to believe, but "the third generation rule" may well apply here. Those who propegated the "myth" in the early years of nuclear power in Japan, from early 1950s to early 1970s, knew it was a "myth" not reality. Those who came after them dutifully followed the 1st generation knowing full well that it was a "myth" not reality. Then comes the third generation, who grew up under the 1st and 2nd generation who actually started to believe the "myth", as that was the only "reality" for them - that nuclear power plants are safe.

As for his other lame remarks, I don't even want to comment, except for the lesson Noda apparently learned from the Fukushima disaster: Never install the power sources outside. If that's the lesson he learned, where has he been since March 11, 2011?

By the way, the head of Twitter Japan is one of the three directors of Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation that issued a timely "independent" report on the Fukushima disaster in time for the 1 year anniversary. He has close ties with the Japanese government, a former consultant at McKinsey and a Harvard MBA, GE's director, and one of the "young global leaders" at Davos. A total "insider" elite picked by Twitter to head its Japanese operation.

(H/T Yasushi Onuma for AFP article)

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant Reactor 2 RPV: 2 More Thermocouples Gone Bad

Now, there are only 15 thermocouples left on the Reactor Pressure Vessel of Reactor 2 that are more or less working. Before the accident, there were 31 thermocouples on the RPV monitoring the temperatures, according to Yomiuri Shinbun (3/3/2012).

The thermocouple at the RPV bottom at 0 degree, 69H1, has already been declared failed (after TEPCO tested it...), and now 69H2 at 135 degrees is considered failed, as DC resistance is too low for a properly functioning thermocouple. Now, the thermocouple at 270 degrees, 69H3 is the only one measuring the temperature at the RPV bottom.

The other thermocouple gone bad is 69F3 at the junction of skirt supporting the RPV at 270 degrees.

According to Yomiuri, TEPCO plans to install new thermocouples by the end of July. No information about how.

From TEPCO's handout for the press, 3/3/2012 (reference, in English):

Friday, March 2, 2012

Tokyo Starts to Burn Onagawa Debris in Earnest at Incineration Plants for Regular Household Garbage in 23 Special Wards

Residents of those 23 Special Wards ("ku") had zero say in the decision. The decision was unanimously reached by the Assembly of Mayors of the 23 Special Wards, and the decision was quickly welcomed by the Tokyo Metropolitan government and the project of burning the disaster (radioactive) debris from Onagawa-machi in Miyagi Prefecture immediately started in December with the test incineration.

After the so-called "explanation" to the residents was done in the Special Wards, now the formality has been over. It's time to burn the debris no matter what. The first containers arrived at Chuo Waste Management Plant in Chuo-ku on March 2.

The governor of Tokyo and the mayors of the 23 Special Wards of Tokyo are so eager to "help out" people in the disaster-affected areas in Tohoku (where the radioactive fallout also landed) that they are willing to burn the disaster debris with radioactive materials, toxic chemicals, arsenic, asbestos, and no one knows what else, in the incineration plants with no special facilities to treat radioactive materials. These plants are often located in the middle of crowded residential/commercial areas with single-family homes, apartments, shops, schools, hospitals, small factories. When they are located on the landfills on Tokyo Bay, they are often close to public facilities like parks, schools, hotels.

These plants are not even for industrial waste; they burn regular garbage from households.

From Google Maps, some of the incineration plants in Tokyo's 23 Wards. The first two are the lucky two to receive the first batch of tsunami-soaked wood chips from Onagawa for the month of March:








Date City in #Fukushima to Allow Rice Growing Everywhere, Even Where 500 Bq/kg Safety Limit Was Exceeded Last Year

The mayor of the city says "It's for the research purpose, and won't be sold". Sure.

If Fukushima City and Nihonmatsu City follow suit, the only municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture where rice won't be grown this year are the same as last year, inside the no-entry zone and in the planned evacuation zone.

Everywhere else, whether it produced rice with 500 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium or not, farmers will grow rice.

Officials in Nihonmatsu City have already said as long as it is the national government's responsibility to test the harvested rice, they don't see any problem growing rice.

From Jiji Tsushin (3/2/2012):


Shoji Nishida, Mayor of Date City in Fukushima Prefecture, held the regular press conference on March 2 and announced the policy to allow farmers to plant rice this year even in the areas where radioactive cesium exceeding the national provisional safety limit (500 becquerels/kg) was found in rice last year. The purpose is to identify the reasons for cesium detection in rice, and to study the effect of decontamination. The mayor said, "It is an experiment, and the rice won't be sold. After the harvest, it will be properly managed." The mayor will discuss the policy with the national and prefectural governments.

This is the same city that has sent more conscientious farmers who refrained from growing rice last year a notice that their land will be considered abandoned unless they farm and grow crops this year.

In the highly contaminated district of Date City, one worker hired by the JAEA died at the decontamination site.

Why do they continue to grow rice in the most contaminated prefecture in all of Japan? you ask? As I posted before, it is to encourage farmers to continue to farm, ostensibly. And to keep rice paddies in good condition, ostensibly. And to increase the food self-sufficiency, ostensibly. None of them make any sense to me, but here's a tweet from one of the supporters of rice growing Fukushima farmers sent to Professor Yukio Hayakawa:


In order to maintain the ecosystem and the quality of the soil, and to give farmers something to live for, it is better to grow rice every year without fail. Judging only by the economic merit is too one-sided, don't you think?

Professor Hayakawa's answer:


Can you sacrifice the health of your own child based on your thinking?

People like this person who wrote to Hayakawa are trapped in their PC. It probably doesn't even occur to them, as it didn't for this person, "quality of soil" is damaged at least for several decades because of radioactive cesium, strontium, silver and other radionuclides that fell on the farmland in Fukushima.

I can tell you the country was not like this before. Yes, the idea of "tatemae" (facade) and "honnne" (real) was always there, but at least people knew that it was "tatemae" when they heard it.

Now, more and more Japanese truly believe in their own "tatemae" and lies.

BBC Documentary: "Japan's Children of the Tsunami"

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant Reactor 2 Op Floor Photo by Quince No.2: Let's Spot a Double Image

Several readers of my blog were commenting on the photos taken by Quince No.2 and provided links to sites that discuss the possibility of alteration of the photos by TEPCO.

The discussion is particularly about the photo No.1 released by TEPCO. I looked, and at first it didn't register. Then, I did see it. The same image repeated, of what looks to be the peeling paint, in the lower left corner:

One of the sites that my readers linked, a French blog, is comparing this photo with the screen shot taken from the video No.6 by Quince No.2, which does not show this "double".

Did TEPCO alter the photo? But why would TEPCO want to alter the photo of what looks like a guard rail? I started watching the video No.6, and noticed that at about 3:08 the main screen goes blank and filled with 16 yellow panels, and over the next 4 to 5 seconds the screen comes back to life again. It looks like some kind of malfunction of Quince.

Then, yet another reader chimed in, urging a close look at the video No.6 at 3:12. So I watched again, and the screen shot from 3:12 is below.

Indeed, there seems to be a double image. It then quickly resolves into a normal image. I think the screen shot at the French blog was taken at 3:14. Here's the screen shot at 3:14.

It still doesn't 100% add up. Why would TEPCO use this image with a double, instead of an image from a few seconds earlier or later? Just plain sloppy?

For now, please excuse Quince No.2 for the double take. It was its first ever job in the high radiation environment.

Here's Video No.6, from which the "controversial" photo (aka Quince's first screwup) was taken:

Thursday, March 1, 2012

(Updated) Video of Reactor 2's Operation Floor (5th Floor) by Quince No.2

Quince No.2 took the video on February 27, 2012.

There are 5 other videos at TEPCO's "Photos for Press" page. This is the video No.2.

Here's the video No.6, following the allegations of TEPCO "photoshopping" one of the still photos (for more on this non-issue, see my post here):

Quince No.2 Makes a Survey Trip to the 5th Floor of Reactor 2

Quince No.2 took some sharp photos of the operation floor (5th floor) of Reactor 2 at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant on February 27, 2012.

The highest radiation it encountered was 220 millisieverts/hour measured at the Reactor Well, only slightly better than 250 millisieverts/hour also at the Reactor Well on the opposite side that had met Quince No.1 on its last trip to the operation floor on October 20, 2011.

Quince No.1 by the way was found on the third floor, bravely holding the position to "monitor the effect of radiation" on itself.

From TEPCO's "Photos for Press" page:

Note the very small white pixels in the photos. Quince uses the fish-eye lens, so the straight lines look curved.

1. Reactor Well direction (east). Neatly arranged rain boots... (Click here for bigger photo.)

2. Spent Fuel Pool direction (east), north side. (Click here for bigger photo.)

3. Spent Fuel Pool direction (east), south side. (Click here for bigger photo.)

4. Looking toward north side. (Click here for bigger photo.)

Orientation, from TEPCO's handout for the press (2/28/2012):

Radiation levels on the 5th floor, from the same handout:

BBC Video: "Fukushima child's playtime starts with a fallout check"

The girl, who evacuated from the no-entry zone in Fukushima, speaks in a plain language with a disarming smile.

She and her father play kicking a ball (she looks like a great kicker) on a parking lot, where the surface radiation of asphalt is 0.8 microsievert/hour. It is still much better than the wooded park nearby. Her young father has a pained look on his face as the girl reads her diary.

"It makes me angry", said a friend after watching the video, "that the girl has to stay there".

Go to this link to view the video:

Mayor of Shimada City on Burning Disaster Debris in His City: "I'll Do It Anyway Even If Local Residents Oppose"

Yomiuri Shinbun Shizuoka local version (3/1/2012):


Mayor of Shimada City in Shizuoka Prefecture Katsuro Sakurai revealed his plan on February 29 to formally declare the city's acceptance of disaster debris. The city conducted the test burning the debris in the melting furnace. As to the start date of the burning/melting, he only said that he would consult with the national and prefectural governments as the issue of transporting the debris remains.


During the regular press conference on February 29, Mayor Sakurai said the detailed test results from the test burning/melting including the radioactivity of the exhaust gas would be known on March 12 or 13, and that the results would be shared with the local district (where the melting furnace and the final disposal site are located) and with the City Assembly. However, he made it clear that he would not ask for permission from the local district [residents] when he decides to accept the debris.


The city plans to bury the fly ashes from the melting furnace in the city's final disposal site. The national government's guideline allows burying materials in the final disposal sites if the radioactivity is 8000 becquerels/kg or less. Mayor Sakurai said the city would have its own standard of 500 becquerels/kg for the fly ashes from the burning/melting of the mix (household garbage mixed with disaster debris). "If the radioactivity of the fly ashes exceeds 500 becquerels/kg, the ashes won't be buried in the final disposal site", the mayor said.


Mayor Sakurai referred to the announcement on February 28 by Shizuoka City that it would conduct test burning, and said, "Shimada City could accept only a small portion of the disaster debris. I am very happy that other municipalities are moving toward accepting it. I am satisfied that I was able to get the ball rolling."

When I tweeted this Yomiuri article yesterday to my Japanese twitter followers, they were incredulous that this mayor would say things like this in a "democracy". Many people were saying "This cannot be allowed in a democracy!" Then, one person started to muse, "Maybe the definition of 'democracy' has changed..."

When governors and mayors like Mr. Sakurai says "local residents or district", they most certainly do not mean each individual resident in the district. They simply mean the heads of the self-governing neighborhood associations. As long as those heads agree, that's all that matters. Often, these heads of the neighborhood associations are prominent residents with ties with the politicians and officials and business interests that would be greatly promoted with such close ties.

(UPDATED) High Radiation Level Near an Elementary School in Yokohama Caused by Adjacent Business Washing Air Filters?

NHK News reports that 6.85 microsieverts/hour radiation detected at one centimeter off the ground at what used to be a sewer right next to the school yard in an elementary school in Yokohama City last month may have been caused by the waste water from a facilities management company on the other side of the drain.

The soil in the sewer was found to contain 62,900 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium (according to Sankei Shinbun, 2/3/2012 in Japanese).

The company has been washing the air filters from air conditioning systems in buildings and factories in Kanagawa Prefecture, and apparently dumping the waste water into the drain.

NHK News (3/1/2012; if NHK link disappears, here's an alternative):


Regarding the high radiation levels detected at what used to be a sewer next to an elementary school in Seya District of Yokohama City, the Yokohama City government announced on March 1 that the high radiation may have been caused by the waste water from washing the air filters for air conditioning systems which had trapped radioactive materials from the Fukushima I Nuclear Plant accident.


On February 3, maximum 6.85 microsieverts/hour radiation was measured at where the sewer used to be, adjacent to the school yard of Futatsubashi Elementary School in Seya District Yokohama City.


The city's investigation revealed that a facilities management company located next to the sewer had been washing the air filters of the air conditioning systems at buildings and factories in Kanagawa Prefecture.


Yokohama City suspects radioactive materials from the Fukushima I Nuclear Plant accident were caught in the air filters, and they flowed into the sewer as the filters were washed with water.


The city has cautioned the company to wash the air filters at a location with a drainage facility, and is going to put the contaminated soil in a concrete container to shield radiation.


The facilities management company says, "It is regrettable that washing the filters from locations far away from Fukushima Prefecture has caused such a problem. We haven't washed the filters since November, and we measure the radiation levels of the filters by a survey meter to make sure we handle them properly."

"Regrettable". Amazing.

Screenshots from NHK News video shows a drain from the facilities company that leads to the side of the school yard. The contaminated soil is under the blue tarp:

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Der Spiegel: Fukushima Psychiatrist Says Fukushima I Nuke Plant Workers Are Traumatized But Determined to Stay On

Der Spiegel's Heike Sonnberger interviewed Jun Shigemura, a psychiatrist providing mental health care to TEPCO workers at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant.

Dr. Shigemura, of National Defence Medical College, leads a group of 7 psychiatrists treating the Fukushima I workers, and he does this as a volunteer. Speaking of one of his patients in his early 40s, he says:

"...He had a house on the coast close to Daiichi that was destroyed by the tsunami. That's when he lost his 7-year-old son. The man had to flee and he tried to rent an apartment somewhere else. But the landlord rejected him because he works for TEPCO. When he finally found a flat the neighbors posted a paper on his door: TEPCO workers get out."

Some ugly reality of Japan that you don't hear about often.

From Spiegel Online (2/28/2012; emphasis is mine):

The Fukushima Psychiatrist: 'It's Amazing How Traumatized They Are'

Since the Fukushima catastrophe almost one year ago, Jun Shigemura has been providing psychological care to workers from the stricken nuclear facility. In an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE, he tells of the immense challenges facing TEPCO employees -- and why most of them have elected not to quit their jobs.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Since May, you have been providing psychological assistance to workers in the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant. How did you end up with such a job?

Shigemura: Actually it is a bit sad that I am in charge of the workers' mental health. But TEPCO had lots to take care of and didn't have enough capacity to provide mental health services. Before the quake, a part-time psychiatrist looked after the workers in Daiichi and Daini. But he is from Minamisoma and it takes him too long to get to work now because of the exclusion zone. A few nurses in the health center for the two plants read my publications and contacted me. Then TEPCO sent for me. I am there as a volunteer.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: You don't get paid for your work?

Shigemura: Not by TEPCO, but I wouldn't want that. It would hurt my position. I don't want to be involved in the profit-making nuclear industry, even more so because workers' wages have been cut by 20 percent. That's why I made a government project out of this. TEPCO has yet to find a psychiatrist who wants to take over the job. Most of them are probably worried about radiation and their image. Furthermore there are not enough psychiatrists in Japan. After the Kobe earthquake in 1995, more people began to understand how important psychological assistance is. But many still think that those who go to a psychiatrist must be crazy. I hope that things will improve further after this catastrophe.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Aren't you worried about radioactivity yourself?

Shigemura: I am not afraid, but that doesn't mean I am not anxious. I haven't been in Fukushima Daiichi facility. The health center is at the Daini plant, about 10 kilometers away. Radioactivity levels are low there, but my wife isn't very happy about my new job. In the beginning she said: "Me or the nuclear plant." I have made several trips since then, so I hope my wife has accepted it to some extent.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: What have the workers gone through since the accident?

Shigemura: They thought that they would die when the reactors exploded in May [sic]. But they still had to continue their work, to save their country. Many come from the area around the plant, the tsunami washed away their homes, their families had to evacuate. The workers have lost their homes, their loved ones are far away and the public blames them, because they work for TEPCO. Many think that TEPCO is responsible for the catastrophe. The workers weren't seen as heroes as they were in Europe. One time, somebody donated fresh vegetables for the workers, because TEPCO at that point wasn't able to provide fresh food inside the evacuation zone. But the donation was made anonymously, because those who gave it didn't want to be caught helping TEPCO workers.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: How are the workers today?

Shigemura: It is amazing how traumatized they are. Two to three months after the quake, I carried out a survey among 1,800 TEPCO workers in Daiichi and Daini. When a catastrophe like the tsunami hits a community, about 1 to 5 percent of the general population suffers long-term traumatization. Among police, fire-fighters and other disaster workers, it is about 10 to 20 percent. Among TEPCO workers the percentage is much higher.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: What consequences does such a level of traumatization have?

Shigemura: I am currently treating a man in his early forties. He had a house on the coast close to Daiichi that was destroyed by the tsunami. That's when he lost his 7-year-old son. The man had to flee and he tried to rent an apartment somewhere else. But the landlord rejected him because he works for TEPCO. When he finally found a flat the neighbors posted a paper on his door: TEPCO workers get out. Because the man received quite a high dose of radiation, he had to change to another department. Now he's got a desk job that he doesn't enjoy and isn't trained for. He is afraid that he might get ill with cancer, he is in financial difficulties because his salary was cut and he lost his house. He also has problems with his family. His mother lost her husband to the tsunami and she feels guilty, because she couldn't save him and her grandson. She cries a lot. When my patient gets home after work, he doesn't feel comfortable there either.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Why don't these people simply quit their jobs with TEPCO?

Shigemura: There are many reasons for this. Those I have spoken to are loyal to their company and want to save it. Others do it for money. About 3,000 workers go to Daiichi every day. The complicated jobs are done by employees of TEPCO and other firms like Hitachi and Mitsubishi. The simple jobs are done by people hired by sub-subcontractors. My team of seven psychiatrists prioritizes workers with higher levels of responsibility, which alone amounts to more than 1,000 people. Within that group, we treat special risk cases, meaning people who have lost their colleagues, their families or who are in financial difficulties. Of course I would like to see all the workers, but that would be impossible. We had to make compromises.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: What do you say to those who can't go on?

Shigemura: The most important message is that of appreciation and support for what they have accomplished. Very rarely do we advise them to take a rest. It is better for the workers if they can stay at work. Otherwise their colleagues would think they are weak and they would be stigmatized as mentally ill. Also it motivates them to belong to a group. Staying away from work is a last resort.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: How afraid is the population of radioactivity?

Shigemura: People are confused and suspicious of the authorities. In such an environment, rumors and misinformation spread quickly. In a crisis, communication needs to be quick, transparent and accurate. If you want to prevent panic, you should release as much information as possible so the people can understand and assess the danger. But the government doesn't know much about this kind of risk communication. They kept silent about a meltdown, and people became even more anxious.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: What psychological consequences has the catastrophe had in the affected regions?

Shigemura: It will be years before all the psychological consequences become apparent. I am sure the suicide rate will increase in the northeast. Even before the catastrophe there were many suicides there: the winters are long and cold, there isn't much work and people are known for their perseverance, meaning they often don't speak about their problems. On top of this you have the fear of radiation, which cuts some communities in Fukushima in half. In Tamura one part wants to leave, one part wants to stay. This can also mean a crisis for families and friends. Maybe the wife wants to leave and the husband wants to stay. Social relationships can break apart over this question.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: How can such conflicts be overcome?

Shigemura: I don't have an answer for that. Of course I can't say: "It is okay for you to return to your village." In every case, people should be offered a broad choice on where and how they want to live. And jobs need to be created to give them a new perspective. Unemployment is a big problem among refugees. It is difficult for them to find permanent work, because nobody knows when they will return -- after a year, after 10 years. Or never.

Interview conducted by Heike Sonnberger

Japanese Ambassador to Italy to Italians: "Japan Has Recovered!"

I have no information as to how the word "recovery" is defined in the post-"cold shutdown state" declaration Japan.

From Jiji Tsushin (3/1/2012):


As one year anniversary of the March 11, 2011 disaster approaches, a symposium was held in Rome on February 29 where experts held discussions on the recovery of Japan's disaster affected areas and on the issues that Japan and Italy face. In his speech, Ambassador Masaharu Kono thanked Italy by saying "We were overwhelmed by the "kizuna" [tie that binds; it originally meant "a leash to tie down or restrain animals"] (in the form of support from various countries)". He declared "Japan has recovered", urging for the resumption of the tourism to Japan and investment in Japan

Many Japanese nauseate when they hear the word "kizuna".

Meanwhile, the EU's ban on Japanese food import remains, at least until October. Some recovery.

Disaster Debris Wide-Area Processing: "What's the Point?" Asks a Mayor in Disaster-Affected Iwate Prefecture

Goshi Hosono and his Ministry of the Environment have been dead set on spreading flammable (and some non-flammable) disaster debris from Miyagi and Iwate Prefectures all over Japan to "help the disaster-affected areas recover". Hosono's sales pitch has been: "People in the disaster-affected areas want the debris to go away as quickly as possible, and there is no capacity in the local municipalities there to burn and otherwise process the debris."

Now, some mayors of the disaster-affected Miyagi and Iwate are asking "What's the point of spreading the debris all over Japan at such a great cost, when we don't mind having the debris in our town?"

Here's one of them, Katsumi Date, mayor of Iwaizumi-machi in Iwate Prefecture.

From Asahi Shinbun local Iwate version (2/29/2012), Mayor Date's thoughts on the disaster debris disposal scheme of the national government:


There are many issues that we at the local level don't understand. One of them is the disaster debris processing. I hear that the national government may not be able to fulfill its promise of removing all disaster debris in 2 years. But why do we have to remove the debris in such a hurry? It can remain in piles, and can be processed over 10, 20 years. That way, money is kept locally, and it generates jobs.


We have large tracts of land not currently used. We have no problem if the disaster debris remains here, unprocessed. What is the point of using taxpayers' money as if the sky's the limit and send the debris all over Japan?

I've read a series of tweets by a small-scale industrial waste processor in Miyagi Prefecture basically saying the same thing, that people in the disaster-affected areas are not that keen to ship the disaster debris out of the prefecture. This particular industry insider says people don't care, but they'd rather do it locally for the same reasons as Mayor Date mentioned above.

He also says the only entities who have benefited so far from shipping the debris are the local governments (on both ends of the debris shipping), and large waste management companies with ties to the prefectural and national governments.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Ministry of Agriculture to Allow Rice to Be Grown in Almost All Areas in Fukushima This Year, Just Like Last Year

except for a few districts where rice with high level of radioactive cesium exceeding 500 becquerels/kg was found in last year's testing.

Well why not? The government didn't stop farmers in Fukushima from planting rice last year, right after three explosions (possibly 4, counting Reactor 2's Suppression Chamber) at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant released 650,000 terabecquerels (iodine equivalent) of radioactive materials. They apparently told some reluctant farmers if they didn't grow rice they wouldn't be compensated. So the farmers in Fukushima tilled the land, mixed up the contaminated soil and poured water in the rice paddies and grew rice. If they could do it last year, surely they can do it this year, and next year, and year after next year.

Farmers in the areas where rice with radioactive cesium between 100 becquerels/kg and 500 becquerels/kg was found last year will be allowed to grow rice this year, even though the new safety limit for radioactive cesium in food will be 100 becquerels/kg starting April 1, 2012.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries will allow rice cultivation on only one condition that all bags of rice (60-kilogram bag) be tested after harvest.

(Ostensible) reason? So that the farmers in Fukushima aren't discouraged from growing rice.

(Don't ask me.)

From Jiji Tsushin (2/28/2012):

Farmers can grow rice in Fukushima, even in the areas that had rice with radioactive cesium exceeding 100 Bq/kg, as long as all bags of rice are tested, says Ministry of Agriculture


In response to a series of detection last year of radioactive cesium exceeding the national provisional safety limit (500 becquerels/kg) in rice grown in Fukushima Prefecture, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries announced the policy on the 2012 rice on February 28. The areas where radioactive cesium exceeding 100 becquerels/kg but below 500 becquerels/kg was found last year will be allowed to grow rice as long as certain conditions are met, including testing of all bags of rice after harvesting.


The total amount of rice produced in these areas in 2011 was about 30,000 tonnes, or 10 percent of the total amount of rice produced in Fukushima Prefecture.


Agriculture Minister Michihiko Kano spoke to the press, "Securing the safety of food is our first priority", emphasizing the need to dispel consumers' anxiety. He explained that in establishing the policy further consideration was given to the strong desire of the farmers in Fukushima to grow rice.

We'll see if testing all bags of rice is even possible, given the lack of testing equipment even with the last year's sampling test. It doesn't look like they even pretend to "decontaminate" rice paddies in the high radiation middle third of Fukushima ("Nakadori").

Let's speculate on the real reasons for the decision by the Ministry of Agriculture:

  • They'd rather gamble, and if cesium is below the 100 Bq/kg limit the government will not have to do anything.

  • They want to give business to the companies that make radiation testing devices and equipment (like Fuji Electric who made the radiation monitoring device at a school in Minami Soma City).

After all, this was the Ministry whose officials thought waving the Nal scintillation survey meter over cows would measure the radiation of the meat accurately enough. They didn't know that rice hay was fed to the cows as part of the diet right before the cows were to be sold. We cannot, and shouldn't expect much sharp thinking from this (or any other) ministry.

Caveat emptor, but I sense that most Japanese are either just too weary or not caring any more at this point. Relentless drive by the Kan administration and then by the current Noda administration to spread radioactive vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, leaf compost, mushrooms and logs to grow mushrooms on, firewood, disaster debris, etc. so that Tohoku (Fukushima, Miyagi, Iwate) "can recover" is taking its toll.

AP: "Probe finds Japan withheld risks of nuke disaster"

Here's AP's Japanese reporter's take on the report by the private independent investigation commission set up by the Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation (RJIF).

One of the issues that AP focuses in the article below is whether TEPCO did want to abandon the plant on March 15. The private RJIF commission sides with the Kan administration that TEPCO did, and only PM Kan's strong word persuaded TEPCO to keep a small number of workers to continue to work on the plant.

TEPCO has said all President Shimizu wanted to do was to temporarily remove non-essential workers at the plant. Why? Probably because of the extremely high radiation level on the plant. The radiation spiked up to 1 sievert/hour in the morning of March 16, 2011 (JST), as AP reported on March 15, 2011 (US EST) and BBC mentioned in the documentary "Inside the Meltdown" aired on February 23, 2012.

I wonder if Mr. Kan, who had majored in applied physics (engineering) in his college and became a patent agent after graduation, knew about the radiation level of 1 sievert/hour and still insisted all workers to remain on the plant no matter what, even if there were nothing TEPCO alone could do at that point.

The RJIF has already run out of copies of the report which they printed only a small number of copies. The message on their website says they are thinking of ways to disseminate the report widely.

From AP via Yahoo (2/28/2012; emphasis is mine):

By Yuri Kageyama

TOKYO (AP) -- The Japanese government withheld information about the full danger of last year's nuclear disaster from its own people and from the United States, putting U.S.-Japan relations at risk in the first days after the accident, according to an independent report released Tuesday.

The report, compiled from interviews with more than 300 people, delivers a scathing view of how leaders played down the risks of the meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant that followed a massive March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

The report by the private Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation also paints a picture of confusion during the days immediately after the accident. It says the U.S. government was frustrated by the scattered information provided by Japan and was skeptical whether it was true.

The U.S. advised Americans to leave an area within 50 miles (80 kilometers) of the plant, far bigger than the 12-mile (20-kilometer) Japanese evacuation area, because of concerns that the accident was worse than Japan was reporting.

The misunderstandings were gradually cleared up after a bilateral committee was set up on March 22 and began regular meetings, according to the 400-page report.

The report, compiled by scholars, lawyers and other experts, credits then-Prime Minister Naoto Kan for ordering Tokyo Electric Power Co., the utility running the plant, not to withdraw its staff and to keep fighting to bring it under control.

TEPCO's president at the time, Masataka Shimizu, called Kan on March 15 and said he wanted to abandon the plant and have all 600 TEPCO staff flee, the report said. That would have allowed the situation to spiral out of control, resulting in a much larger release of radiation.

A group of about 50 workers was eventually able to bring the plant under control.

TEPCO, which declined to take part in the investigation, has denied it planned to abandon Fukushima Dai-ichi. The report notes the denial, but says Kan and other officials had the clear understanding that TEPCO had asked to leave.

But the report criticizes Kan for attempting to micromanage the disaster and for not releasing critical information on radiation leaks, thereby creating widespread distrust of the authorities among Japanese.

Kan's office did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the report.

Kan acknowledged in a recent interview with The Associated Press that the release of information was sometimes slow and at times wrong. He blamed a lack of reliable data at the time and denied the government hid such information from the public.

It will take decades to fully decommission Fukushima Dai-ichi. Although one of the damaged reactor buildings has been repaired, others remain in shambles. A group of journalists, including a reporter from The Associated Press, were given a tour of the plant on Tuesday.

Workers have used tape to mend cracks caused by freezing weather in plastic hoses on temporary equipment installed to cool the hobbled reactors.

"I have to acknowledge that they are still rather fragile," plant chief Takeshi Takahashi said of the safety measures.

The area is still contaminated with radiation, complicating the work. It already has involved hundreds of thousands of workers, who have to quit when they reach the maximum allowed radiation exposure of 100 millisieverts a year.

The report includes a document describing a worst-case scenario that Kan and the chief of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission secretly discussed two weeks after the disaster.

That scenario involved the possibility of more nuclear fuel rods burning, causing the release of more radiation and requiring the evacuation of a much wider region, including Tokyo.

The report also concludes that government oversight of nuclear plant safety had been inadequate, ignoring the risk of tsunami and the need for plant design renovations, and instead clinging to a "myth of safety."

"The idea of upgrading a plant was taboo," said Koichi Kitazawa, a scholar who heads the commission that prepared the report. "We were just lucky that Japan was able to avoid the worst-case scenario. But there is no guarantee this kind of luck will prevail next time."


Associated Press writer Mari Yamaguchi in Okuma, Japan, contributed to this report.

White House Budget Cut Will Affect NOAA's Tsunami Warning System

After seeing the devastation by the tsunami that hit the Pacific coast of eastern Japan on March 11, 2011, you would think that the US government would strengthen the tsunami warning systems to make sure the residents living in the coastal areas of the US (particularly on the Pacific Ocean) have good information.

But, ... no.

The Obama White House wants NOAA to cut the budget for the ocean buoys on the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans to save $4.6 million.

If President Obama and his family cut 2 vacation trips, that would just about fund the cut. Maybe one would be enough. Or stop hitting the golf course for a months or so.

From Santa Cruz Sentinel, quoting San Jose Mercury News (2/27/2012):

Less than a year after surging waves from a Japanese earthquake battered the California coast, causing $58 million in damage and wrecking the Santa Cruz and Crescent City harbors, the Obama administration is moving to reduce funding for the nation's tsunami warning and preparedness programs.

The White House's proposed 2013 budget would cut $4.6 million from NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, for tsunami programs that were expanded after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which killed at least 230,000 people.

Among the proposed cuts: a reduction of $1 million for the United States' network of 39 high-tech buoys in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian oceans. The buoys confirm if tsunamis are heading toward the U.S. and provide crucial details such as the height of the waves and when they'll hit land.

Some of the nation's top tsunami scientists say the proposed cuts are too risky.

"Given how little money it is, and the concerns about human life, this is a poor place to cut," said John Orcutt, a professor of geophysics at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla. "It's just like large earthquakes. The half-life of attention is measured in shorter and shorter periods of time. Our memory isn't very long."

The proposed budget also would cut by nearly half the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program, a NOAA initiative that has helped California and other coastal states coordinate tsunami warning systems, educate the public on evacuation routes and generate detailed computer models showing which coastal towns are most threatened.

NOAA officials say the cuts aren't sacrificing public safety. For one, they say the buoy system will still operate, despite chances it will take longer for NOAA crews to repair broken buoys at sea. And the outreach programs already have created computer risk maps, paid for thousands of coastal warning signs and funded materials for schools and civic groups, said Susan Buchanan, a NOAA spokeswoman.

"People are more aware of tsunamis and better prepared to respond to them," she said. "The program was successful."

Orcutt said NOAA should trim from other areas, such as its satellite programs that are behind schedule.

Congress expanded the buoy program, first created in 1996, after the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami from six buoys to 39. The buoys, which cost about $400,000 each, are tethered to the ocean floor. They measure water pressure changes and sea floor movement, and send instant details about tsunamis to satellites. The data is used by NOAA's tsunami warning centers in Honolulu and Alaska to fine tune tsunami alerts.

On March 11, following the 9.0 magnitude earthquake off Japan, the buoys helped provide precise predictions - to the centimeter - of the size of the waves, along with direction and arrival time on the West Coast.

Santa Cruz Port Director Lisa Ekers said that last March, the first alert from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center arrived eight hours before the tsunami. Though there was nothing harbor officials could do to prevent the sea surge and $17 million in damage, they were able to evacuate harbor residents.

"Between the initial warning and the arrival of the tsunami, I think I received about 30 text messages," Ekers said.

"The warning system is effective for those of us who have something you need to guard or protect," she added. "It does make a difference in your preparation."

And while she said the proposed cut is unfortunate, Ekers said it doesn't surprise her - only a small percentage of the country ever has to deal with tsunamis.

"Tsunami danger or tsunami potential only affects people living on the absolute coastline," Ekers said.

Today, 10 of the 39 buoys are inoperable, and that number could climb if $1 million is cut from the $11 million annual budget to operate the buoy system. NOAA says it will strive to keep no more than 11 out-of-service at any time.

Jane Hollingsworth, NOAA's tsunami program manager, said that because many of the buoys are in remote locations such as the South Pacific and rugged Alaskan coast, NOAA is looking to conserve resources by partnering with Australia, Russia and Japan to maintain and repair U.S. buoys.

She said seismic instruments first alert scientists to the risk of a tsunami.

"The initial warning is based on seismic data, which has nothing to do with these buoys," she said.

Yet, NOAA leaders have said the buoys, known as DART - for Deep-Ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunamis - are vital.

"The DART network serves as the cornerstone to the U.S. tsunami warning system," NOAA said in a March 10, 2008, press release.

A 2009 research paper by NOAA scientists said the buoys are NOAA's "primary source" of information for tsunami warning and forecast because, unlike seismic data or computer models, the buoys provide direct measurement and confirmation of tsunami waves.

After the 2004 tsunami that devastated Indonesia and other countries, Congress passed a law in 2006 to increase funding for tsunami buoys, research and preparedness. But that funding, $40 million a year for seven years, runs out Oct. 1. Although some reports say Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, may be working to reauthorize the law, no new bill has been introduced.

In recent years, California received about $1 million a year of the outreach money. The money paid for computer models showing how far inland waves could go, emergency drills, 3,200 warning signs from San Diego to Oregon and other materials. If Congress approves the Obama proposal, it would reduce the outreach program's current national budget from about $10 million to $6 million.

But more drills, evacuation plans and computer maps are needed, said Jim Goltz, the earthquake and tsunami manager for the California Emergency Management Agency from 2007 until December.

"Preparedness and public education is perishable," Goltz said. "People need to be reminded. It's just like earthquakes."

Sentinel staff reporter Jason Hoppin contributed to this report.

Not that I have much sympathy for the Santa Cruz Port Director who did nothing with the tsunami information she got. She could have started calling the boat owners and warn them about the tsunami, and suggested they might want to get the boat out from the harbor before the tsunami hit. Instead, she did nothing for 8 hours until the tsunami actually started hitting the harbor, wrecking the expensive boats.

Thanks to the budget cut and outsourcing and volunteerism that "fit the lifestyle", some EPA's RadNet stations in California weren't functioning when the radioactive materials from the Fukushima nuclear accident started to reach the west coast of the United States.

If you don't know, you don't panic. You don't need to take responsibility either. "It was beyond our expectation" will be the refrain when a disaster strikes.

Monday, February 27, 2012

BBC Documentary "Inside the Meltdown"

The documentary includes footage from early days of the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster that started on March 11, 2011 that I've never seen before - weather camera video when the tsunami hit the plant, a video shot by a plant worker as he tried to escape uphill. The fact I wasn't aware at that time - there were people in Okuma-machi (where the plant is located) on March 12 when they did the vent, looking for their family members lost in the earthquake/tsunami.

People interviewed include a current TEPCO employee at the plant, a former plant inspector, farmers and fishermen in Fukushima, and Naoto Kan, who has been very busy spinning the story ever since he finally quit so that he is portrayed as a "hero", foiled by the scheming bureaucracy.

BBC obliged. But it is still a very good documentary.

Independent Investigation Commission on Fukushima Accident: Confusion from Interference by PM Kan and His Ministers Made the Situation Much Worse

The Independent Investigation Commission set up by a private foundation called Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation has issued the report of its findings of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident.

Unlike the investigation commissions set up by the administration and the Diet, the RJIF Commission has collected and studied information from the general public as well as from the experts.

The Commission will hold a press conference at 3PM on February 28, 2012 and discuss the findings, but Jiji Tsushin has a preview of the topics.

From Jiji Tsushin (2/28/2012):


Confusion caused by the interference by the Prime Minister's Office, chain reaction of "doubts begot doubts", a private investigation commission on Fukushima Nuclear Plant accident says


The private "Independent Investigation Commission on Fukushima I Nuclear Plant Accident" (Chairman Koichi Kitazawa, former head of the Japan Science and Technology Agency) has compiled the report on the accident. In the report, the Commission points out that "the Prime Minister's Office meddling in the response at the scene of the accident caused confusion".


The private Commission was set up last September, and has heard from about 300 people including then-Prime Minister Naoto Kan and then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano and other top government officials. The Commission investigated the response at the Prime Minister's Official Residence and Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, information disclosure practice, and how the "safety myth" arose, which contributed to the accident.


The report points to the direct interference of the Prime Minister's Official Residence into the response at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, causing confusion. For example, the report says Prime Minister Kan personally checked the size of the batteries to be brought to the plant. On the other hand, the Commission gives some credit to Kan, as he didn't allow TEPCO to pull out completely from the plant and prevented the "worst-case scenario" where an uncontrolled nuclear accident would occur one after another at the plant.


The Commission says it asked the TEPCO officials including then-President Masataka Shimizu and then-Plant Manager Masao Yoshida to speak in front of the Commission but the request was declined by TEPCO.

In my rare defense of TEPCO, it is a lie propagated by Naoto Kan himself that TEPCO wanted to completely withdraw from the plant. TEPCO's president wanted to protect workers who were not directly involved in nuclear emergency response by evacuating them from the plant, when the radiation level at the plant spiked to extremely dangerous levels. In the early days of the crisis, the radiation levels at the plant were sometimes hundreds of millisieverts per hour in certain locations.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan said he knew all about nuclear power plants because he got his BS degree in applied physics (more like engineering). According to the investigation committee set up by the Diet, Kan insisted he be the one to tell TEPCO when to conduct the vent of Reactor 1.

He insisted he visit the plant on the morning of March 12 when everyone at the plant was scrambling to figure out what was happening (or figure out what to do about the meltdown that was happening). When he arrived, he went shouting and screaming at the plant management and workers.

I hear that the BBC documentary on Fukushima paints Kan as "decisive leader who made tough decisions". Unbelievable.

He, Edano, and Kaieda should have been the ones who carried hoses in the darkness in 100 millisieverts/hour radiation on the plant, not the Tokyo Metropolitan firefighters, as you see in the clip from the BBC documentary "Inside the Meltdown":

Schools Reopen in Former "Evacuation-Ready" Zone in Minami Soma City

This photo from Asahi Shinbun (2/28/2012) shows a giant radiation monitoring and display device on the school yard which looks like it has been "decontaminated". 0.227 microsievert/hour (most likely measuring only gamma rays), children, feel free to run around and kick up dust in the new and improved school yard...

(To recap, this is how they "decontaminate" in Minami Soma.)

This monitoring and display device was made by Fuji Electric. Alpha Tsushin (telecom), the company who was initially contracted by the government to build and install radiation monitoring and display devices throughout Fukushima Prefecture, was suddenly dropped from the contract in November last year because the reading of their device was "inaccurate" - meaning it was "too high" for the government.

The schools that re-opened in Minami Soma City are located in Haramachi District of Minami Soma City where the "black dust" on the road surfaces was found with 1 million becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium.

There are some very strange things going on over the "black dust" in Minami Soma, and I can't really quite get the whole picture yet. I'll report when I have a better understanding.

5th Hearing of the NAIIC Investigation of Fukushima I Nuke Plant Accident

The 2-hour hearing just ended. The former NRC Chairman Richard A. Meserve appeared in front of the panel.

NAIIC stands for Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission set up by the National Diet of Japan.

Video streaming by Ustream

English simultaneous interpretation is not great. "Japanese scientific situation"?? Oh boy...

Sunday, February 26, 2012

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: High-Radiation Leak from the Welded Pipe in SARRY

A small leak was found in one of the two lines of Toshiba/IHI/Shaw's cesium absorption system "SARRY" on February 25, 2012. SARRY is housed inside the Miscellaneous Solid Waste Volume Reduction Treatment Building (so you don't need to scream "another frozen pipe!). TEPCO says the leak was about 10 liters.

TEPCO says the leak was at the welded part of the pipe, but looking at the second photograph it is from below the weld. The water is shooting out as if from a pinhole:

As TEPCO put it on their unofficial English handout for the press (2/25/2012):

[2nd Cesium adsorption apparatus (SARRY)]
・At 8:30 am Today (Feb. 25), TEPCO worker and partner companies’ worker found water leakage at welded part of piping at B line of 2nd Cesium adsorption apparatus (SARRY) placed on the 1st floor in Miscellaneous Solid Waste Volume Reduction Treatment Building (High Temperature Incinerator Building) of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. The leakage is just a drop per second and the amount of water leaked is approx. 10 litters [sic] (2m X 5m X 1mm). Those leaked water are stayed in barrier in the building and it did not leaked to out of the building. At 10:44 am, we stopped operation of SARRY and closed valve positioned in the upstream of leaked point to prevent further leakage of the water. We confirmed that the leakage was stopped at 11:10 am. Surface radiation is approx. 4-5mSv/h (2mSv/h in the back ground). We sampled the leaked water and analyzed the radioactivity concentration. The result is that I-131 was lower than the detectible limit, Ce-134 was 1.3×10^5 Bq/cm3 and Ce-137 was 1.8×10^5 Bq/cm310. The treatment of accumulated water is not affected by suspending the SARRY and there is no effect to the water injection to the reactor since there is a lot of purified water in the buffer tank.

("litters" is very cute.)

Luckily, since the once-highly contaminated water from the turbine buildings is not so highly contaminated like it used to, as it gets diluted by 500 tonnes/day groundwater that keeps coming every day into the basements of the reactor buildings and the turbine buildings. Still, the radioactivity of the leaked water was:

  • I-131: ND

  • Ce-134: 1.3 x 10^5 Bq/cubic centimeter

  • Ce-137: 1.8 x 10^5 Bq/cubic centimeter

  • Surface radiation: 4 to 5 millisieverts/hr in the 2 millisievert/hr background

When the water treatment started in June last year, the radioactivity was in the order of 10 to the power of 6 per cubic centimeter. The radioactivity is now low enough so that TEPCO doesn't need to use AREVA's co-precipitation and condensation system any more for daily operation.

TEPCO is doing what it is good at, which is small maintenance here and there for the smooth operation of a plant. The difference now is that the plant is totally broken as you see in the photos in my previous post. But tending to a bad weld that is leaking is totally within TEPCO's comfort zone, minus radiation. Strange, desolate calmness about the whole thing.

(Updated with Additional Photos) Photo of Fukushima I Nuke Plant in Bleak Winter

From Enformable.

Kyodo Tsushin News took the video on February 26, 2012 from a helicopter. To view the video, go here.

Other than the tarp-covered Reactor 1 building and cranes to remove large debris, it looks the same as, say 6 months ago. From this angle, the Reactor 4 building looks just like it was on the day "a fire broke out" on March 15, 2011. In that sense, the plant is very "stable" - hardly anything changed after nearly a year.

Click to enlarge.

Screenshots from the Kyodo video:

From the last photo, it looks like TEPCO will soon run out of space to put those storage tanks for the treated water and the highly radioactive waste water.

NHK has their video here.