Saturday, March 17, 2012

Australia Is "Ideal" for Contaminated Soil and Debris from #Fukushima

Dr. Haruki Madarame, who is resigning as the head of the Nuclear Safety Commission, is remembered by me as having spoke the universal truth when he said "It's all about money, isn't it?" when it comes to nuclear waste.

Here's an ex-minister in Australia, which has been spared with any contamination from Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident, wanting to bring in the contaminated soil and debris from Fukushima to Australia and stored it for the Japanese, in return for the future sales of uranium to Japan and more funding from Japan for the construction projects in western Australia.

The former sports minister now works for a law firm in Tokyo. He also happens to be the chairman of a junior miner. Talk about conflict of interest. And he is proposing to put the contaminated soil and debris on western and southern Australian deserts.

(On second thoughts... It may be better than having the debris burned all over Japan...)

From The Australian (3/15/2012):

Australia 'ideal' for Fukushima soil

Rick Wallace

A HOWARD government minister has entered the nuclear-waste debate by arguing that Australia should accept radioactive debris from the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

Former sports minister Andrew Thomson said the move would help break a deadlock in Japan that is jeopardising recovery efforts from last year's March 11 tsunami and nuclear meltdown.

His comments come after the Senate's approval of the Muckaty Station site in Northern Territory as a nuclear waste dump -- and new Foreign Minister Bob Carr's remarks backing atomic energy in Australia -- reignited debate on the issue.

Because of a last-minute Greens amendment, the Muckaty site cannot accept waste from abroad, but Mr Thomson said the vast deserts of Western Australia and South Australia were perfect spots for the Fukushima waste.

In Japan, no prefecture has agreed to house the hundreds of thousands of tonnes of waste from the world's second-worst nuclear tragedy and it is piling up in temporary storage sites obstructing reconstruction efforts.

Most of the waste consists of contaminated soil and debris removed during clean-up efforts from areas just outside the 20km exclusion zone around the plant and is only mildly radioactive.

Mr Thomson, who now works for law firm Minter Ellison in Tokyo, said Australia could offer "ideal places to dispose of this debris and store it safely".

"This stuff is only mildly radioactive, it's not going to harm anyone, but the last place you want to store it is Japan -- it's just too crowded," he said.

"Western Australia has benefited greatly from Japanese demand for iron ore and base metals and South Australia is launching a major uranium export industry. It's only fair and reasonable if we propose to sell more uranium to Japan in future that we should offer such help now when Japan really needs it."

Mr Thomson told The Australian his proposal related only to the debris, not the spent fuel or other nuclear waste from Fukushima or any other plant.

The former minister said that, in return for storing the Fukushima waste, Australia should receive more funding from Japan to ensure the construction of the troubled Oakajee port and rail project in WA, thereby unlocking the mid-west iron region.

The former minister and chairman of junior miner Athena Resources acknowledged he had a vested interest as Athena may one day use the port, which has hit problems with cost overruns but may be rescued by Mitsubishi.

"Most of the waste consists of contaminated soil and debris removed during clean-up efforts from areas just outside the 20km exclusion zone around the plant and is only mildly radioactive", writes Mr. Rick Wallace.

Well, since when has the soil with over 3 million becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium ("black dust" of Minami Soma), or even the soil in Watari District in Fukushima City with more than 200,000 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium become "only mildly radioactive"?

(H/T anon reader who's fleeing Japan to Australia)

Ministry of the Environment Ad on the Train Featuring Mountains of Disaster Debris

This is what the train commuters in Japan have to look at, paid for by the taxpayers whether they like it or not. Its aim is to appeal to the guilty conscience of the Japanese who dare refuse to help out.

What the Ministry and Goshi Hosono don't tell you is that there aren't many people living right next to these mountains of debris in the disaster affected areas in Miyagi and Iwate. There are a few temporary storage locations where there are schools right next to them (I don't know what they were thinking), but they seem to be the exceptions. They don't tell you either that many local municipalities want the debris to remain there.

But the Ministry of the Environment won't bother to tell you that.

Someone on Twitter made a good observation. In Japanese, the Ministry of the Environment is "環境省". The first two characters mean "environment", and the last character means "ministry". However, the last character also mean "to eliminate". So, the Ministry of the Environment is to eliminate the environment. Kind of fitting.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Moment of Truth from Goshi Hosono: "There Will Be No Baseless Rumor When Disaster Debris Spreads All Over Japan"

Minister of the Environment Goshi Hosono, aka radioactive tsunami/earthquake debris pusher, divulged his plan to eradicate "baseless rumors" aka radiation contamination. It's not appealing to WTO as his boss did, but as many have speculated already, his plan is to spread the debris and burning and burying all over Japan so that no one particular location is "rumored" to have radiation contamination.

I am fearful of a person like him, but I am equally fearful of the governor of Kyoto who was quite satisfied with Hosono's answer, as you can read in the NHK News article below.

From the NHK News already disappeared from the NHK website after less than a week but archived by this blog (3/9/2011):


Baseless rumors from the disaster debris will be dealt with "by the national government"


As the wide-area disposal of disaster debris from March 11, 2011 earthquake/tsunami is facing strong resistance outside the disaster affected areas, Minister of the Environment Hosono met with Governor Yamada of Kyoto, who is the head of the National Governors' Association. Hosono told the governor that the national government would be responsible for dealing with the "baseless rumors" as the result of accepting the debris, such as dropping sales of farm produce.


The March 9 meeting was held at the request of the National Council of Governors because there are many municipalities still hesitant to actually accept the debris due to the fear of radioactive materials, even though an increasing number of municipalities are considering accepting.


Governor Yamada of Kyoto, who is the head of the National Governors' Association, demanded that the national government be responsible for constantly monitoring the radioactive materials during the processing of the debris and for compensating for the loss in sales of farm produce because of the baseless rumors.


Minister Hosono replied, "To remove the fear, measurement of radioactive materials and information disclosure have to be done so that the residents can see for themselves."


As to the damage from the baseless rumors, Hosono said, "I believe if the debris is widely accepted all over Japan, we can overcome the baseless rumors. If there is a damage, the national government will be responsible for dealing with it", indicating the government will have a detailed response to counter the damage [or baseless rumors].


After the meeting, Governor Yamada said, "I got a forward-looking, positive response to the baseless rumors [from Minister Hosono]. I will tell the governors about what we talked about, and request them to take aggressive action [toward accepting the debris]."

As the readers of this blog have known from very early on, a baseless rumor since March 11, 2011 means anything that actually has radioactive materials of Fukushima I Nuke Plant origin. After one year of using the word, many producers in Japan, particularly those in Fukushima, don't seem to even know what it means any more. They use the word whenever the consumers don't choose products from certain regions (Fukushima, Miyagi, Iwate, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Chiba, among others), and call it a "discrimination" (like Ms. Lauper).

If the debris is spread all over Japan and burned and buried all over Japan, there will be no ground for "baseless rumors" (aka radioactive materials) because everywhere will then be contaminated. This is exactly what people who are against the wide-area disposal of disaster debris have been saying, and now it is confirmed by Hosono. Some parts will be far less contaminated than others, but become contaminated nonetheless which could be totally avoided by not bringing in the debris and disposing it.

The nuclear power power plants were peddled in the similar way by the Japanese government all over Japan. Don't worry, the government will take care of it if an accident should happen. But don't worry the accident will never happen because a nuke plant is safe. Here, take some subsidy, just for considering a nuke plant in your town. And don't worry, we will build so many reactors all over Japan so that the risk is equally shared by everyone in Japan. After all, we don't call this a national policy for nothing.

We know how that has turned out.

Only this time, instead of 54 nuclear reactors, there will be 1600 incinerators. Instead of risk sharing (that an accident may or may not happen), there will be radioactive materials introduced in the areas that have been largely spared of radiation contamination.

But PM Noda has already said, "There will be no individual responsible for the accident." It will be the same for the aftermath of the accident.

Professor Yukio Hayakawa Takes a Walk in Fukushima City, 3/16/2012

armed with 4 different radiation survey meters. One of the reasons he went to Fukushima was apparently to test the survey meters and compare the readings. The entire walk took 7 hours yesterday, says Hayakawa in his tweet, nothing compared to mountain climbing. (He's a volcanologist.)

4.164 microsieverts/hour on the "black dust" - roadside sediment of soil and organic materials. (It is not just in Minami Soma City, where the highest radioactive cesium density in the "black dust" so far is 3.43 million becquerels/kg.)

Over 10 microsieverts/hour (all his survey meters went overscale) at the rain gutter.

2.3 microsieverts/hour on the lawn in front of the City Hall, 1.5 microsievert/hour 1 meter off the lawn.

For detailed locations and measurements, see his blog post (in Japanese).

Fukushima City at EveryTrail

Video of #Fukushima I Nuke Plant Reactor 4 SFP

More debris than the previous video one month ago using the camera showed, and water is murkier.

TEPCO tried the camera on March 15, but the visibility was too low (that's what they said anyway). So they used the ROV on March 16 and tried again.

I wonder what those floating white particles are. They were certainly not there as much in February.

Jiji Tsushin reports (3/16/2012) that TEPCO plans to vacuum clean the small debris on top of the fuel bundle so that they can proceed with removing the fuel bundles from the SFP.

One Municipality After Another Says YES to Disaster Debris Contaminated with Radioactive Materials

The likes of Mr. Blustein must be so happy to see the "kizuna" (it's actually the rope that ties down the cattle or domestic animals) restored at least among petty politicians and bureaucrats in cities, towns, and villages as far away as Okinawa and Hokkaido, even as the "selfish" and "irrational" residents who will have to pay taxes to have the debris burn in their midst are against it.

In anywhere else in the world, these debris would be considered "low-level radioactive waste" and would be strictly controlled.

The municipalities that suddenly "capitulated" this week, particularly on March 16 when Prime Minister Noda formally issued the request to accept the debris to municipalities who haven't said yes to the debris, are too numerous to list. Even the last true "opposition" since the March 11, 2011 disaster, Japanese Communist Party, sided with the majority demanding the municipal governments of Niigata City in Niigata Prefecture and Kiryu City in Gunma Prefecture to accept the disaster debris from Miyagi and Iwate.

Money really does speak. Hop on the bandwagon. Local politicians have the local waste management industry lobby to please.

Here are some of the latest "yes" to radioactive tsunami/earthquake debris:

Okushiri-cho (island off the coast of southwestern Hokkaido, in Japan Sea)

Onna-son (in the middle of Okinawa Island, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Okinawa)

Niigata City (whose vice mayor is a career bureaucrat from the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications)
(Niigata already has 4 other cities eagerly waiting for the debris, even though the governor of Niigata Prefecture is dead set against receiving the debris in Niigata.)

Kiryu City

Ichikawa City (right outside Tokyo)

Kure City (famous for really good oysters and lemon)
Hiroshima City

Taki-cho (green tea, Matsuzaka beef)

Now what? I wonder what the residents of Japan are going to do now, if anything at all. They have protested, packed the "explanation" meetings which were nothing but a sham to keep up the appearance of "democracy", collected signatures to oppose acceptance and tried educating the fellow citizens and a few politicians who would listen. The politicians and bureaucrats and industry will just do it anyway.

Japan's PM Noda Demands WTO Do Something About "Baseless Rumors"

What would WTO do? Force countries to buy Japanese produce to "share the pain"?

From Jiji Tsushin (3/15/2012):


Prime Minister requests WTO to block "baseless rumors"


Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda met with Mr. Pascal Lamy, Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) at the Prime Minister's Official Residence. The prime minister pointed out that there were still many countries with import restriction on food items from Japan after the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident, and requested that WTO call for a fair treatment based on the rules.


Mr. Lamy said to the prime minister, "Please feel free to use WTO. If there are problems in the process I will intervene as Director-General. "

WTO is all but dead, with the contentious Doha Round going nowhere for 10 years.

And Expedition to #Fukushima Reactor 3 Torus Room, 3/14/2012

Expedition to #Fukushima Reactor 2 Torus Room, 3/14/2012

Blurry, dark video taken on March 14 and released by TEPCO on March 15, 2012.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Virtual Nuke Plant Tour of AKW Zwentendorf - the atomic power plant that never went into operation" in Austria

From the blog reader Atomfritz:

Look inside a Mark-I torus:

1. Go to
2. Click "Rundgang" in the upper bar on the page
3. Flash window pops up, click link "Zum virtuellen 360 Rundgang" in middle of window
4. Click at "Kondensationskammer" (=suppression chamber) in the right menu
5. Drag mouse to change view

This is an authentic S/C of the Fukushima type like in Reactor 2-4.

Images taken in the safest NPP of the world.
Zwentendorf NPP in Austria, never got critical due to a referendum.

Other panoramic views available via right menu.

Japan, the "Land of the Setting Sun"

Why? Because of the demographics.

From the article on March 13, 2012 by Patrick J. Buchanan:

Land of the setting sun

Sunday was the first anniversary of the 9.0 earthquake off the east coast of Japan that produced the 45-foot-high tidal wave that hit Fukushima Prefecture.

Twenty thousand perished. Hundreds of thousands were driven from their homes when a nuclear plant swept by the tsunami exploded, spewing radiation for miles.

Only two of Japan's 54 nuclear plants are now operating. The rest have shut down for inspections. Many may never start up again.

In loss of life, that earthquake-tsunami was seven times as lethal as 9/11. But recovery from that greatest disaster in decades is not the gravest problem facing Japan.

The gravest problem facing the Land of the Rising Sun is that it is dying. The sun that set on the Japanese Empire in 1945 has begun to set on the Japanese nation.

A week before the anniversary of 3/11, buried in a story about Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's effort to rally support for a doubling of the 5 percent consumption tax, to preserve Japan's social security system, was this startling statement:

"We're faced with an aging society and a declining birth rate unprecedented in the history of mankind."

What makes this admission remarkable is that the Japanese are not given to hyperbole, and the prime minister's statement is rooted in numbers that may fairly be called a demography of death.

Deep inside the story on the Noda tax proposal was this item: "By 2055, according to government data, 40 percent of the country's population will be 65 or older. Just 8 percent will be younger than 15."

If accurate, these numbers reveal a deepening of the crisis of demography facing Japan since the population projections of the United Nations came out in 2008.

According to those U.N. figures, where Japan's population would reach 127 million in 2010, the number of Japanese will shrink to just above 101 million by 2050. Every year between now and 2050, the number of deaths over births in Japan will average two-thirds of a million, with the population shrinkage accelerating each decade.

The median age of a Japanese, 22 years old in 1950, reached 45 in 2010 and will exceed 55 by midcentury. The oldest people on the planet are getting older.

What kind of future can there be for a nation, even one with the high quality human capital of Japan, when there are two Japanese 65 years old or older for every Japanese 24 years of age or younger?

When Japan became the world's No. 2 economy in 1960, seizing the crown from Germany to hold for 40 years, Japanese 24 years old and younger outnumbered the population 65 or older eight to one.

Japan's fertility rate, the number of births per woman, has been below zero population growth for 40 years and has plunged to where Japanese woman are having only two-thirds of the children needed to replace the present population.

Not only has the birth rate per woman fallen, the percentage of Japanese women aged 15-49 -- 56 percent in the 1960s -- is expected to plunge to 31 by midcentury.

Every new Japanese generation is one-third to one-half smaller than the one that came before. Japan's high school graduation class has fallen by more than one-third in just 30 years.

Nippon seems to be collectively committing national hara-kiri.

How did this come about? The means are not in dispute.

When millions of Japanese soldiers returned from their dead empire to start families, there was a population explosion. Under the U.S. occupation, Tokyo swiftly legalized abortion, and the nation embraced birth control. Japan did so before Europe, but Europe followed. Now all face demographic death, with Japan leading the way.

This has already begun to affect her national economy.

Japan's growth rate in the 1960s was 10 percent a year. In the 1970s, it was 5 percent a year. In the 1980s, it was 4 percent -- still a healthy growth rate for a mature economy.

But in the 1990s, the "lost decade," Japan's growth fell to 1.8 percent a year, and that anemic rate has continued into this century.

Japan's expenditures during the lost decade to reignite the fire sent the national debt soaring above 200 percent of gross domestic product, eclipsing the debt-to-GDP ratios of Greece and Italy today.

In 2011, for the first time in 30 years, Japan ran a trade deficit. January's figure, $19 billion for the month, was a record.

The abandonment of nuclear power has forced Japan to substitute imported coal and liquified natural gas to produce her energy.

During the decade of "Japan, Inc.," in 1988, Nippon boasted of being home to eight of the world's top 20 corporations in terms of capital investment. Now she is home to none, and only six of the top 100.

Yet when Prime Minister Noda said what was happening in Japan was "unprecedented in the history of mankind," he was mistaken.

This also happened to the greatest empire of them all long ago.

NHK reports that the average size of a household in Tokyo has dipped below 2. A "household" doesn't even consist of two people any more in Tokyo.

#Radioactive Wild Rabbit in Yamagata Prefecture

A wild rabbit caught in Yonezawa City in Yamagata Prefecture was found with 560 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium, exceeding the national provisional limit of 500 becquerels/kg (until April 1).

City officials think the rabbit migrated from Fukushima Prefecture.

From Yomiuri Shinbun medical section (3/15/2012):

野ウサギ 規制超すセシウム…山形 野生動物からは県内初

A wild rabbit found with cesium exceeding the safety limit in Yamagata, the first in the prefecture in wild animals


Yamagata Prefecture announced on March 14 that 560 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium was found in a wild rabbit caught in Yonezawa City. This is the first time that radioactive materials exceeding the safety limit (500 becquerels/kg) were found in wild animals in the prefecture. The prefectural government has notified the hunters' associations in the prefecture to voluntarily refrain from eating the meat of wild rabbits until further notice.


According to the prefectural government, the wild rabbit was caught near the border of Fukushima Prefecture on March 11, and the government conducted the test for radioactive materials. The officials explains that it is possible that the rabbit migrated from Fukushima Prefecture.


The prefectural government has conducted the tests for radioactive materials since last fall on 25 wild animals including pheasants and Japanese bears, but the density of radioactive cesium has been below the national provisional limit.

2 Other Reasons Why Municipalities in Japan Want Disaster Debris

The first and foremost is a fat subsidy they will get from the national government (which is beyond broke, so it will tax the citizens today and for the foreseeable future) for saying yes to having the disaster debris contaminated with radioactive materials and toxic chemicals shipped to their cities and towns to burn and bury the resulting ashes.

But it is slowly emerging that there are equally short-term, other reasons these local politicians and bureaucrats want the contaminated debris.

  1. The incinerators, if they are state-of-the-art, need more garbage even to operate, so the disaster debris is god-sent;

  2. The incinerators, if not state-of-the-art, badly need upgrading or even building new ones (or so they say), and by saying yes to the debris the municipalities will get the subsidy from the national government for the upgrade or building new ones.

1. State-of-the-art incinerators cannot operate without enough garbage

This has been known among people who has been following the disaster debris processing, but now even the major tabloid magazine picked up.

Here's from Shukan Post Seven (3/14/2012):


The government wants to do the "wide-area disposal" by bringing the disaster debris to municipalities all over Japan and burn it, but the opposition by the local residents has spread who tell their governments "Don't bring the radiation." Desperate, Prime Minister Noda is saying "We'll give you money if you take the debris" to the municipal governments.


Newspapers and TV report it as "forcing the debris" or "egotism of the residents", but the reality is totally different. Below the surface, disaster debris is money, and the parties involved are competing with each other to get the debris.


You may be surprised to hear, but Japan "lacks garbage". There are 1,600 garbage incineration facilities in Japan, which is home to 70% of incineration facilities in the world. A person in charge of municipal waste management says:


"Most of these incineration plants are state-of-the-art facilities that cost tens of billions of yen [hundreds of millions of US dollars] per plant. They do not let out toxic substances like dioxin and smoke. But there is a week point in these plants. In order to operate, the incinerators needs to burn at a certain temperature for 24 hours. So there is a lack of fuel, that is, garbage."


Then the March 11, 2011 generated a large amount of debris. Most of the debris is flammable, such as wood debris from the houses that collapsed.


"Waste management divisions of municipalities want disaster debris very badly. The cost to transport the debris will all be paid by the national government, and it will come with a subsidy. There is no better fuel than the disaster debris."


Last May, right after the disaster, the Ministry of the Environment set the budget for disaster debris disposal for 350 billion yen [US$4.16 billion] in the 1st supplementary budget, and decided on the wide-area disposal by shipping the debris all over Japan. 500 municipalities and businesses have said yes to the debris, including Okinawa Prefecture.


To transport the debris from Tohoku to Okinawa by sea would cost a fortune. The Ministry of the Environment's true aim is to build a network of concessions on garbage transportation by wide-area disposal of disaster debris. The industrial waste processing industry is booming with this special procurement.

For example, the state-of-the art incinerator (melting furnace) in Shimada City in Shizuoka Prefecture (where the mayor single-handedly decided he would just burn the debris against the strong opposition from the residents) cannot operate unless it is at least 60% filled with garbage and debris.

Why are there so many state-of-the-art incinerators in a country with fast-declining population? My guess is "the Lost Decade or Two" in Japan (going into the 3rd decade...) - economic stagnation after the real estate bubble made much, much worse by the government's incessant Keynesian intervention of creating useless public work projects. That money went to roads, bridges, river embankment, breakwater, big construction projects like half-empty Minato Mirai in Yokohama or small construction projects like municipal incineration plants.

2. Aging incinerators need upgrade or rebuild, and now is the chance to have it funded by the national government by accepting the debris

The case in point is Takeo City in Saga Prefecture on the island of Kyushu, as far away you can get (with the exception of Okinawa) from radioactive materials from Fukushima I Nuke Plant.

42-year-old Keisuke Hiwatashi, the mayor of the city and a former bureaucrat at the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, was all for accepting the debris last November, but the reaction from the residents when they knew about it (mostly via the Internet) was fast and furious, and the mayor had to table the idea.

But now, the City Assembly just passed the resolution demanding the city to accept the debris, with only the Communist Party assemblymen dissented. The ostensible reason is of course "to help the recovery of Tohoku", the "kizuna" spirit that Mr. Blustein laments sorely lacking in the selfish Japanese in the post-disaster Japan.

But I think I've found the more likely reason. I looked up what kind of facility the city has for incineration. After some digging, I found that the disaster debris would be burned at "Kito Clean Center". So I googled "Kito Clean Center", and up popped the newsletter from 2007 by the Kito Wide Area Municipalities Union in Takeo City. In it, the general manager of the union says:


The current Kito Clean Center started operation in April of 1988 with the incineration facility, oversize garbage processing facility, and a landfill. In 2001, the facility was upgraded with the installation of exhaust gas treatment facility in order to reduce the emission of dioxin. It's been 19 years since the center started operation, and the aging facilities needs constant repairs that cost a large amount of money. So we will need to build a new facility...

On checking the semi-annual newsletters, there is no mention of a new facility being build.

On March 4, Prime Minister Noda said his government would pay the municipalities for expanding or building the disposal sites. On March 5, Minister of the Environment Goshi Hosono promised that the national government will compensate for the "shortened" life of the incinerators and disposal sites because of processing the disaster debris starting the new fiscal 2012 (in April); compensation amount will be determined by the weight of the disaster debris that the municipalities take.

So here's the chance for Takeo City to do the much needed (or so they say) upgrade of their aging incinerator with the national government's money as long as they accept disaster debris contaminated with toxic substances and radioactive materials. Clearly, the bigger the amount of disaster debris they take in the better.

What a country.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

First Photos of the Torus of Reactor 2 at #Fukushima I Nuke Plant after the Accident, No Discernible Damage

from little they saw.

6 TEPCO workers entered the basements (mezzanine floor) of Reactors 2 and 3 buildings on March 14 to try to survey the damage in the Suppression Chambers. Max radiation exposure for the workers was 2.87 millisieverts. Expected dose was 10 millisieverts, but they seem to have gotten out of Reactor 3 rather quickly, spending only 8 minutes there as opposed to 20 minutes in Reactor 2.

From what Yomiuri reported (3/14/2012), about Reactor 2's basement:

  • No apparent damage as far as the workers could see;

  • Photos of the Suppression Chamber taken from a small adjacent room (window);

  • Radiation levels in the adjacent rooms were 20 to 35 millisieverts/hour;

  • Radiation levels near the Suppression Chamber were 130 to 160 millisieverts/hour;

  • Water in the 1st floor of the basement;

  • TEPCO will use robots for further survey, as the radiation levels [in the Suppression Chamber] were too high for humans.

Well wasn't that rather obvious that the radiation levels would be rather high? Why didn't TEPCO use Quince or Packbot? (TEPCO needs those swarming flying robots.)

Looking at the photos released by TEPCO, Reactor 2 Suppression Chamber looks more or less undamaged. The workers were supposed to take temperature and humidity measurements as well as radiation levels, but no information released regarding temperature and humidity.

Looking at the photos of Reactor 3 basement, they look highly humid. The workers apparently didn't, or couldn't measure the radiation levels at the door of the Suppression Chamber, like they did in Reactor 2.

From TEPCO's handout for the press in English (3/14/2012):

(Note: Date is wrong. It was March 14. The timeline is wrong. They entered Reactor 3 at 12:40 and exited from Reactor 3 at 12:48.)

The photos of Reactor 2 torus (red colored) taken from the adjacent rooms:

If the Suppression Chamber of Reactor 2 is not broken, where did all the radioactive materials from Reactor 2 come from?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Faces of Workers at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant

Kazuma Obara is a 26-year-old photo-jouralist who went inside Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant in August last year. His work has been featured in foreign media including UK's Guardian.

He's holding an exhibition in Osaka right now, on the one-year anniversary of the nuclear accident.

In the video clip below from "Super News Anchor" on March 12, 2012 by Kansai TV, Obara goes to Kawauchi-mura (past 4:50) to speaks with people at a small construction company whose employees are currently working at the plant, laying pipes for the contaminated water. The construction company is located in Kawauchi-mura, within the 30-kilometer radius from the plant. Part of the village is within the 20 kilometer no-entry zone, but that designation will be lifted as early as April.

They say they are doing it for money to feed their families, as all public works have dried up. It doesn't matter. As Obara says, without these people working at Fuku I, whether they do it for money or whether they have to do it to repay the debt, even the semblance of normal life in much of Japan wouldn't be possible.

There are teen-age workers at the plant.

The video is in Japanese, but I post here so that you can look at the faces of Fuku-I workers.

The title of the video says, "Somebody has to do it... True faces of Fukushima I Nuke Plant workers".

Obara's website is here.

Screen shots from the video:

"Why didn't I come here sooner?" he regrets.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Leak from the Pipe at SARRY Looks Like It Was Caused By a Bad Weld

Remember the leak from SARRY in February? TEPCO released the analysis of the pipe that leaked highly radioactive water from the Toshiba's cesium absorption system, and it sure looks like a bad weld, from the photos of inside the pipe.

It is particularly bad on the left side of the rust. The leak occurred BELOW the weld, but the bad weld may have contributed to the rust and corrosion of the pipe.

From TEPCO's Photos for Press, 3/12/2012 (click for bigger image):

Strangely, TEPCO does not blame the weld. The company blames sodium hypochlorite (bleach) which is injected in the water to "prevent the microbially caused clog" (from their document, page 3) to have caused corrosion.

If you're wondering "microbe??", it's because TEPCO mixes the treated water with the filtered river water and inject the water back into the reactor.

TEPCO Is Sending Its Own Employees to Survey the Basements of Reactors 2 and 3 at #Fukushima

Expected radiation exposure for the 30-minute work: 10 millisieverts per person.

The 4 workers (2 each for each reactor, I assume) will measure radiation levels, temperatures and humidity, water level, and take pictures.

The torus (Suppression Chamber) of Reactor 2 is considered to have sustained a damage on March 15, though TEPCO says it was not an explosion. TEPCO and NISA both agree that Reactor 2 has released the most radioactive materials, some of which though may have come from the dry vent.

From TEPCO's handout for the press in English, 3/13/2012:

Field Survey on the semi-basement floor of the reactor building
of Unit 2 and 3 at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station

◎Survey Purpose

In order to grasp the leakage route (damaged part) of the reactor cooling water in the torus room*, the inflow part of the groundwater into the torus room and working circumstances in the torus room, we are planning to conduct survey in the torus room in the future. This time we are planning to conduct field survey of the semi-basement floor of Unit 2 and 3 which connects to the torus room as the preliminary survey. (The reactor building of Unit 1 is exempt from this survey because the water level of the accumulated water is higher than semi-basement floor.)
*Torus room: The room that holds large torus-shape suppression chamber which store water for Emergency Core Cooling System. It is located at the bottom of the Primary Containment Vessel and around it.

◎Survey contents (Plan)

・Measurement of air dose, dust density, temperature and humidity and taking pictures on the semi-basement floor of the reactor building
・Confirmation of opening and closing condition of gate of the torus room and measurement of door surface dose
・Confirmation of water level at stairway which connect to the basement floor of the reactor building and any obstacles

◎Working Organization (Plan)

・Survey date: March 14, 2012 12:00~12:30
・Worker: Four TEPCO staffs
・Expected dose: 10 mSv/person
・Place: Northeastern and northwestern corner on the semi-underground floor of the reactor building of Unit 2, northeastern corner on the semi-underground floor of the reactor building of Unit 3

The expected dose of 10 millisieverts is high. TEPCO is using own employees for works at high radiation locations. Probably many of the employees of the affiliate companies have already maxed out on the annual dosage limit and waiting for a reset on April 1.

The worker who tweets from Fuku I said in his tweet from yesterday that there are workers wearing tungsten vests on the operation floor of Reactor 3 building, removing the debris.

Carbon-based workers acting as robots.

Radioactive Materials in Soil May Already Have Reached 30 Centimeters Below Surface, JAEA Says

Japan Atomic Energy Agency's researchers say radioactive materials that remained on the top 5 centimeters of the soil for the first 3 months of the nuclear accident may have already migrated down to as deep as 30 centimeters.

It may be difficult to decontaminate, says the agency who happens to be in charge of the government pilot project to decontaminate within the no-entry zone and planned evacuation zone in Fukushima, using joint ventures by the largest construction companies in Japan. (For more on the confused state of this pilot program, see my post on NY Times article.)

But on the other hand, it's been too late anyway in Fukushima, Miyagi, and areas in Kanto with significant amounts of radioactive fallout (except for Miyagi, whose data is still not disclosed, if it exist), where farmers tilled the land in spring last year to grow vegetables and rice upon encouragement from the government.

From Kyodo News (3/14/2012):

地中30センチにまで浸透か 放射性物質、除染に影響も

Radioactive materials may have migrated to 30 centimeter deep in the soil, may affect decontamination efforts


Radioactive materials deposited on the ground after the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident stayed within 5 centimeters from the soil surface in June last year, 3 months after the accident started, says a research team at Japan Atomic Energy Agency. However, the group says there is a possibility that radioactive materials have now migrated to between 10 and 30 centimeters from the surface, one year after the accident.


The team thinks rainwater carries radioactive materials down the soil. Haruo Sato, a researcher in the Horonobe Underground Research Center of JAEA (in Horonobe-cho in Hokkaido) warns, "The longer decontamination takes, the deeper radioactive materials migrate, making the decontamination effort more difficult."

Oops... The government and many researchers have said that radioactive materials remain on the shallow surface of the soil, citing the case of Chernobyl. I guess they didn't realize the warm, rainy climate of Japan was different from Chernobyl. The annual average rainfall in Fukushima is 1,300 to 1,600 millimeters, whereas in Chernobyl it is 300 millimeters.

Looking at blog posts and tweets from last summer, many in Japan were hoping the large amount of rain that Japan gets would wash away the radioactive materials to the rivers and to the sea quickly. Instead, it drove them down the soil, according to JAEA.

Asahi's One-Year Anniversary Interview with Dr. Shunichi Yamashita

The good doctor's good words were all over Fukushima Prefecture as fresh radioactive fallout from Fukushima descended on the cities and towns in Fukushima on March 20 and 21, 2011.

"No effect on health below 100 millisieverts radiation exposure."
"If you laugh, radiation won't get you."
"Children can play outdoors."
"You're the proud descendants of Byakko-tai (suicide squad made of young men and boys in the battle in the beginning of the Meiji era), aren't you?"

His associates at Nagasaki University went to Iitate-mura in Fukushima and told the villagers:

"Not a problem if you continue to live here. Just wash your vegetables, that's all."
"If the radiation level is below 10 microsieverts/hour, it's safe for children."

As the result of this wonderful news, villagers with children who had evacuated came back, to be told few days later that they were not supposed to eat vegetables and drink water from their land and that they had to evacuate for a long time.

One year after, Dr. Yamashita defends himself in the Asahi interview (local Nagasaki version, 3/12/2012) by blaming the radiation phobia of the general public, and urge all Japanese to "share the pain and burden". To be expected from a reporter in a Japanese paper, there is no critical question to the doctor:

痛み分かち合う行動を 山下俊一氏に聞く

Interview with Dr. Shunichi Yamashita: "Actions needed to share the pain"


From Nagasaki University to the Vice President of Fukushima Medical University


What's the role of Nagasaki in the disaster recovery? We asked Dr. Shunichi Yamashita (age 59) who has been in direct contact with the residents in Fukushima Prefecture as the vice president of Fukushima Medical University where he moved from Nagasaki University.


- What's the current situation in Fukushima?


"Initially, there was no information, and the radiation phobia was rampant. But now things have settled down. But there is a stress from environmental contamination and food safety, and the fear of people is not dispelled. It is still in the state of emergency."


- You were criticized as someone who ignored the risks from low-level radiation exposure and emphasized "safety" too much.


"My standard is, unless you are exposed to radiation at 100 millisieverts or more in a single episode, there is no increase in cancer risks. It is based on the experience of medical treatment of atomic bomb victims in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the data from the Chernobyl nuclear plant accident. There was no information initially [about the extent of radiation in Fukushima, I suppose], so I told them [residents in Fukushima] to scare them in a correct way."


"But the talk of the actual health risks was confused with the standard for radiation safety and protection. 1 millisievert/year radiation exposure limit for non-radiation workers took its own meaning and spread. It was considered the safety limit, and that it was dangerous above that limit. I am not saying it's OK to get radiation exposure up to 100 millisieverts. But out of the blue [researchers] were grouped into the "safety" faction and the "danger" faction.


- Medium- and long-term health surveys for all Fukushima residents has started


"Health surveys are the largest responsibility of us in the medical field. We have to watch out for people who continue to live in Fukushima out of their own choice. Today, nearly 2 million people struggle to live in Fukushima, suffering baseless rumors. It is irresponsible to tell these people to leave Fukushima by fanning the danger."


- What should be the recovery support from Nagasaki, as [one of the two] sites that suffered atomic bomb attacks?


"Interaction between people in Nagasaki and Fukushima is very encouraging. We should consider receiving workers to Nagasaki, not just sending workers from Nagasaki to Fukushima. Another contribution is to buy Fukushima rice, fruits, and sake at regular prices. There is no problem if the residual radioactive materials are below the government standards. We should separate the legal, regulatory issues and the actual health risks."


- What should we do now?


"Take disaster debris for example. It is natural to have an initial reaction like "no way". But that has to be overcome. Our ability to take action is being questioned - whether we make up our mind to share the pain and burden. That's what we should do in the 2nd year, 3rd year [of the accident]."

So Dr. Yamashita was talking about a single, episodic exposure of 100 millisieverts? That's not how I remember. So I went to the original Japanese transcript of the lecture he held on March 21 in Fukushima City, in which he said:

事実は1ミリシーベルト浴びると1個の遺伝子に傷が付く、100ミリシーベルト浴びると100個付く。1回にですよ。じゃあ、今問題になっている10マイ クロシーベルト、50マイクロシーベルトという値は、実は傷が付いたか付かないかわからん。付かんのです。ここがミソです。

The fact is that if you're exposed to 1 millisievert, one DNA is damaged. If you're exposed to 100 millisieverts, 100 DNA are damaged. At one time, mind you. 10 microsieverts or 50 microsieverts we're talking about now causes hardly any damage. Hardly any. That's the point.

So he did say "one time" exposure. It's not clear what 10 or 50 microsieverts exposure he was talking about, or whether he was saying that was all people in Fukushima was exposed to. At that time (March 21, 2011), people would not or could not differentiate between the episodic radiation exposure and the chronic radiation exposure. So people came away thinking unless they were exposed to 100 millisieverts total, there would be no problem. That's misleading to say the least, deceptive at worst.

Share the pain and burden. Spread the radioactive debris, spread the contaminated foods, firewood, fish, mushrooms, leaf compost, garbage ashes, used cars, let's all get sick so that people in Fukushima wouldn't feel so bad for staying (the decision they have supposedly have made). Is that it, Doctor?

There is something very sick about the Japanese psyche.

Univ. of Pennsylvania Researcher Has Flying Robots That Know How to Cooperate

Vijay Kumar at Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics at University of Pennsylvania has small autonomous flying robots that can sense each other and form a team to carry out tasks - surveying, searching, construction, and more - all while avoiding obstacles.

Going into reactor buildings and surveying the radiation levels is one of the things Dr. Kumar actually mentions in the video.

Fukushima I Nuke Plant could use a swarm of these tiny helicopter robots.

Monday, March 12, 2012

US Scholar Living in Japan Is Fed Up With Selfish and Irrational Japanese Who Refuse to Accept Disaster Debris

Brookings Intitute's nonresident fellow and former Washington Post writer Mr. Paul Blustein derides the Japanese for their irrational fear of radiation and joins Cyndi Lauper in scolding the Japanese for refusing to accept and burn the disaster debris in their neighborhood.

In the article commemorating the one-year anniversary of the disaster, the resident of Kamakura City writes in Washington Post (emphasis is mine),

... That spirit has faded, however, as divisions have erupted over nuclear power. The national discussion of the country’s reliance on atomic energy has degenerated into farce as many people have become increasingly — and irrationally — preoccupied with how radiation from the crippled Fukushima Daiichipower plant might affect them. Large segments of the population are so petrified, and so militant in their fear, that most local governments outside Tohoku are refusing to accept for burial some of the millions of tons of rubble left by the tsunami. (And I’m talking about the remnants of smashed buildings and vehicles in other prefectures, not junk from the nuclear plant’s vicinity.)

In a town near where I live, officials rejected the debris, saying that even if the radiation emissions were zero, local farmers and fishermen might suffer from huu hyou higai — financial losses due to baseless rumors — just as many Tohoku producers are already. So much for kizuna.

So much indeed. Most Japanese hate that word now. He doesn't seem to realize that people he criticizes as "irrational" know fully well that the remnants of smashed buildings and vehicles are not from the nuclear power plant but earthquake and tsunami debris in Miyagi and Iwate, and that as the debris lied along the coast of Miyagi and Iwate the nuclear power plant had several explosions that spewed out a large amount of radioactive materials that deposited on top of the debris. For most of the country outside southern Tohoku and Kanto, the radiation levels of the debris are much higher than their background.

He probably doesn't know (or care) that these debris may be contaminated with chemicals and oil, soaked in seawater, and that the municipal incinerators for household garbage may not be equipped to handle such debris. Or the fact that the debris with 100 becquerels/kg of cesium will result in ashes with 3300 becquerels/kg of cesium, which have to be buried in the disposal sites which often are located near the water source or the agricultural land with inadequate facilities to trap and clean the radioactive runoff.

He doesn't seem to listen to the heads of the municipalities in the disaster-affected Miyagi and Iwate who do not want the debris to be shipped outside their cities and towns.

Details too minor, I suppose.

Then he goes on to scold the citizens for not trusting their government and experts:

The hysteria about radiation reflects a breakdown in trust, as witnessed by endless media accounts quoting people who doubt the government’s monitoring of food and soil. This is lamentable; although officials disingenuously played down the possibility of a much worse accident at Fukushima Daiichi in the first days after the quake, reputable experts affirm the government’s major claim: that health risks are minuscule except in areas very close to the plant.

You can read the entire article at the Brookings site, here.

More Municipalities Say Yes to Disaster Debris as Government Sends Formal Request to Prefectures to Accept It

The push for disaster debris that has been contaminated with radioactive fallout from Fukushima I Nuke Plant has reached an almost hysterical level with TV commercials, huge ads in the paper, and newspaper editorials calling anyone who doesn't want the debris burned in their neighborhood as "unpatriotic". Even a foreigner living in Japan, former Washington Post reporter, chimes in, rebuking the Japanese for refusing to "help" people in the disaster affected area.

Several cities in Okinawa Prefecture arefor accepting the debris. Kitakyushu City, who was once known for heavy pollution and now wants to be the environmental capital of the world, wants to accept and burn the debris. Governor of Kyoto wants it, as long as the government compensates for the damage from "baseless rumors" (such as the number of foreign tourists dropping to zero...). Cities in Shizuoka and Niigata want it, even if Governor of Niigata is dead set against it. Mayor of Yokohama, who is personally responsible in my opinion for feeding Yokohama's school children with radioactive beef, and ex-TV personality Governor of Kanagawa want to join Governor of Tokyo in merrily burning the debris and dump it in the Tokyo Bay. Wakkanai City in Hokkaido, the northern most part of Hokkaido right across from Russia's Sakhalin Island, wants to burn it. (Links are in Japanese.)

Money speaks. But that's not enough for PM Noda and his ministers. They want ALL prefectures to burn the debris which is contaminated with radioactive materials.

So, the Noda administration has decided to use the clause in the newly established special law for disaster debris processing and issue a formal written request to all prefectures in Japan except for Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate, asking them to accept disaster debris.

At the same time, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has just started a program to convince private businesses to take on the disaster debris for recycle - a sneaky backdoor approach, as often these businesses are large corporations that employ people in municipalities where the residents are often against accepting the debris contaminated with radioactive materials.

First, about the formal written request from the Noda administration, from Jiji Tsushin (3/13/2012):


The Noda administration held the first meeting of ministers involved in the wide-area disposal of disaster debris from the March 11, 2011 disaster (Prime Minister Noda as chairman). Minister of the Environment Goshi Hosono reported that he will send a formal written request based on the "Disaster Debris Disposal Special Measures" to all 44 prefectures excluding the 3 prefectures affected by the disaster [Fukushima, Miyagi, Iwate] that they accept the disaster debris. In the meeting, they confirmed the government policy to recycle the debris and use it to tend the disaster prevention forest and parks.


In the opening statement, Prime Minister Noda said "I ask all of you to increase your effort so that the wide-area disposal of the debris and recycling will be accepted and expanded."

And here's the effort by the Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Yukio Edano of the "no immediate effect on health" fame, also from Jiji Tsushin (3/13/2012):


Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Yukio Edano announced the Ministry's policy at the press conference after the cabinet meeting on March 13 to issue a written request for cooperation to the industries to promote the wide-area disposal of the disaster debris. The document, dated March 13, 2012, will be sent to the industry groups such as cement, paper, steel, chemicals, and electric power. The purpose is to request cooperation through corporate activities.


The Ministry of Economy has made oral requests for cooperation to the local businesses in the disaster-affected areas since last year. Already, a cement company in Ofunato City in Iwate Prefecture uses the debris as part of the [cement] ingredients, and a paper company in Ishinomaki City in Miyagi Prefecture uses the debris as fuel for the boiler.

What a deceptive writing. If you get the feeling reading the last paragraph that the Ministry has been asking small local businesses affected by the disaster to use the debris for their small operations, like I did for a moment, you are conned. I immediately remembered who these companies are.

A cement company in Iwate Prefecture who's been mixing the radioactive ashes in the cement is the largest cement company in Japan, Taiheiyo Cement, who happens to have a factory in Iwate. A paper company who's been burning the debris in the boiler in its Miyagi factory is Nippon Paper Industries, the second largest paper company in Japan and the 10th largest in the world.

The same Taiheiyo Cement will burn the debris in its 2 factories in Saitama Prefecture, and use the ashes in the cement. Mitsubishi Materials will do the same.

Edano is lining up more big corporations, almost all of whom will be more than happy to oblige.

That silly commercial by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs says "Japan, a country of perseverance". The government seems determined to test the "perseverance" of the citizens.

Naoto Kan Writes for Foreign Affairs on March 11 Anniversary

Washington Post (Noda)? Nah. Former Prime Minister Kan will write for the limited, more sophisticated global readers who read Foreign Affairs magazine about the Fukushima nuclear accident.

Kan is smarter than Noda, and he opens the piece by talking about his father. Personalizing the accident. Clever ploy. His father told him about Prometheus, Kan says. Nice story. In addition to reading "Japan Sank (日本沈没)" by Sakyo Komatsu after the Fukushima accident started, he must be reading the Asahi Shinbun's "Trap of Prometheus" (which details his administration's horrendous response to the nuclear disaster).

From Foreign Affairs (3/8/2012), my comment in blue italic in square brackets:

Former Japanese PM Naoto Kan on the Fukushima Disaster
A Changing View of Nuclear Power

By Naoto Kan
March 8, 2012

My father was an engineer, and when I was a child, he told me the story of Prometheus, a famous Greek myth in which Zeus grows angry at Prometheus for giving humans the wisdom of fire, knowledge capable of bringing on disaster. As punishment, Zeus chains Prometheus to a rock, where an eagle pecks incessantly at his liver. Today, I cannot help but remember that story when I think about the development of nuclear technology, a modern-day incarnation of the wisdom of fire. [Alright, decent enough opening, you've got my interest. Now what?]

In college, I studied science and technology, and ever since, I have had a great admiration for the Pugwash conferences, a forum dedicated to the elimination of nuclear weapons (the group won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993). That is because nuclear weapons, which have the power to kill large numbers of people indiscriminately, are fundamentally at odds with the purpose of science, which is to contribute to people's well-being. To put it another way: Nuclear weapons contradict the very nature of humanity. In fact, this concern was the major reason why I aspired to be a political leader. [Uh... I don't see a connection.]

Long before the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, I knew there were serious unresolved issues regarding the safety of nuclear power and the disposal of radioactive waste. I took the position that these issues could be overcome by technology. With adequate safeguards, nuclear power plants could be operated safely and utilized wisely. Especially in recent years, in order to prevent global warming, nuclear power has been an effective replacement to power plants that feed on fossil fuels and pollute the atmosphere. In fact, before Fukushima, Japan had a plan to expand its network of nuclear plants. [The party line. No mention of nuke plants utilizing only one-third of heat generated and dumping the rest into the ocean, thus actually raising the temperature of seawater which may be contributing more to man-made global warming.]

Then, while I was serving as prime minister, the Tohoku earthquake occurred at 2:46 PM on March 11, 2011. Immediately, all reactors in operation at Fukushima Daiichi were shut down; nuclear activity there came to a halt. An hour after the earthquake, I received a report from Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) stating that several power generators at the Fukushima site were experiencing a total loss of power. An hour after that, there was an accident that suspended the cooling function. The earthquake had toppled the steel towers supporting power transmission lines. Saltwater damage rendered the emergency diesel generators inoperable. All power sources had been lost.

I was fully aware that total power loss and the suspension of cooling functions could then cause a meltdown and lead to further serious accidents such as the destruction of the reactor and the release of radioactive materials into the atmosphere. [Well you sure didn't act like you knew it was a meltdown.] We took every possible precaution, but our preparedness against total power loss proved insufficient. Over the next five days, Units 1, 2, and 3 melted down. Later, hydrogen explosions occurred inside the building of Units 1, 3, and 4. Fuel pools, used to store spent fuel, adjoin each reactor, and at one time, there was a possibility of the meltdown of this fuel pool, too. In the event of the meltdown of the fuel pools, a large amount of radioactive materials would have been discharged into the atmosphere, and if it continued, the evacuation of the entire metropolitan area, including Tokyo, might have been necessary.

If the reactors and spent fuel pools had gotten out of control, an enormous amount of radioactive material, possibly even several times more than the Chernobyl accident [Several times more? That's new info], would have been discharged into the atmosphere, impacting neighboring countries. To prevent this from happening was our responsibility as a nation. I was determined to fight to resolve the accident until the very end and at any cost, including the risk of my own life. [He could have volunteered to open the vent.]

The invisible menace of radioactivity would have seized Tokyo. The city is our nation's political and economic nerve center. Some 30 million people live in the metropolitan area. The impact of evacuating them all would have been immense. The impact on not only political matters but also the economy and human lives would have been immeasurable.

Fortunately, thanks to the life-risking efforts by TEPCO personnel, Japan's Self-Defense Forces, and local fire and police departments, injecting water into the reactors and fuel pools prevented further meltdowns and brought the entire accident under control. A very bad situation was narrowly prevented from becoming an accident of catastrophic proportions.

This accident was a war with an invisible enemy. [was? I thought it was still on-going.] The worst case scenario [which Kan declared "doesn't exist" and hid it until January this year] would have brought serious harm to the nation of Japan as well as a considerable inconvenience to its neighbors. [inconvenience?]

I have thought very hard about the types of safety measures necessary to prevent any such disaster from happening again. However, when one weighs these measures against the tremendous risks, it is clear that no amount of precautions will make a country completely safe from nuclear energy. I have reached the conclusion, therefore, that the only option is to promote a society free of nuclear power. My administration, as a result, changed its policy to reduce Japan's dependency on nuclear power, and the current administration is basically following the same policy. [No it doesn't. As to Kan's changing policy, it was considered a ploy to curry favor with the population who didn't want anything nuclear after the accident.]

Furthermore, the final disposal of high-level radioactive waste, which needs to be isolated from humans for more than 100,000 years before decaying to a safe level, is a serious issue. Far into the future, it is possible that current nations or boundaries could look very different. Therefore, we need to address whether responsibility for final disposal should rest solely with each nation. Although the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) currently states that the onus lies with each country, many nations, including Japan, do not have any clear solutions.

At the same time, this high-level radioactive waste problem presents a "generation ethics" issue: should we leave our burdens to future generations?

Despite the accident at Fukushima, plans abound for new nuclear power plants. Emerging nations such as China and India propose to meet their increased energy demands with new nuclear power. When it comes to nuclear weapons, the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty established clear rules. However, with regard to nuclear power, there are insufficient mandates when it comes to safety. In large part, so long as a country's nuclear program does not involve weapons production, its operation and control are considered to be the responsibility of that state alone. Likewise, the export of nuclear power plant technology is also often just a business issue, not one of international security. [Kan was the one pushing nuke plant to Vietnam and other developing countries in the world.]

At the current rate, by the year 2030, the world can anticipate at least 100 more nuclear power plants in addition to the 432 already in existence. With this expected increase, the problems of whether the safety of the world can be secured without establishing an international institution to guarantee protection against severe accidents and the safety of final disposal of high-level radioactive waste weigh heavy on my mind.

International rules regarding nuclear power plants should be discussed not only at the international organizational level on nuclear power such as the IAEA but also at the level of the United Nations.

While the Fukushima accident was caused by a total loss of power as a result of the earthquake and tsunami, other means -- such as terrorism, civil war, or war against other countries -- could bring about the same result. Taking advantage of the lessons we learned from the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident, Japan should become a model country that is able to supply all its energy needs without depending upon nuclear power or fossil fuels.

In conclusion, I would like to suggest that every nation seriously consider a new framework for international rules regarding the safety of nuclear power plans and the disposal of high-level of radioactive waste. The costs of not doing so could ultimately be far too much to bear. [Why would international rules be any better than the national ones, particularly when the government like Japan and the company like TEPCO don't even follow their own rules?]

Well, the only intriguing part was the opening paragraph.

In case you missed, here's Kan's hagiography at Wall Street Journal on January 25, 2012. Kan definitely has a better PR agent than Noda.

US Pop Star Joins the Chorus of "Buy Fukushima Products to Support Fukushima"

Cyndi Lauper is urging people and the governments outside Japan to buy products made in Fukushima to support the recovery of Fukushima.

She's been visiting Fukushima on charity events, and meeting children in Fukushima. Instead of speaking out for the safety of children in the contaminated area, she urges foreigners to buy Fukushima goods.

She even expresses her dismay that the disaster debris clearing hasn't progressed.

Perfect spokesperson for the Ministry of Health and Labor (food), Ministry of Foreign Affairs (appeal to foreigners), and the Ministry of the Environment (debris distribution).

NHK News reports (3/12/2012; the link won;'t last):


Ms. Cyndi Lauper, world-famous pop star who is in Japan for the one-year anniversary of the March 11, 2011 earthquake/tsunami disaster, held a press conference on March 12 to the foreign media. She said, "Please give economic support by aggressively buying things produced in Fukushima Prefecture and other disaster-affected areas."


Ms. Lauper arrived in Japan last year on the day of the earthquake/tsunami. She remained and gave concerts. She is in Japan again on the 1-year anniversary, and attended the press conference on March 12 for the foreign media stationed in Tokyo.


In the press conference, Ms. Lauper said she was surprised to see the large amount of disaster debris still there undisposed when she visited Ishinomaki City in Miyagi City, and shocked when her friend in Fukushima Prefecture gave her sweets by saying "Don't worry they are not contaminated with radiation".


Then, she appealed to the foreign media by saying "Fukushima and the disaster affected areas are isolated. It is important to revitalize the commerce and the economy of the affected areas. Please buy the products made in Fukushima and other disaster affected areas." She also said she will continue her activities always remembering the disaster affected areas.

I guess she's never heard of the nuclear accident or radioactive cesium. Nor seen the small children with glass badges.

You can still view the video clip of the NHK News segment at the link.

I personally have no idea if she's a world-famous pop star now. The last I heard was "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun", and that I think was in 1980s.

TEPCO to Conduct Full Survey of #Fukushima Reactor 4 SFP and Reactor Well

The company already released the video of the 1st preliminary survey of Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool on February 10 2012 (go to my post here for the video). Now, they will do a more extensive "preliminary" survey and the main survey of both the Spent Fuel Pool and the Reactor Well using the Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) made by Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy.

Relatively speaking, the radiation levels are the lowest in Reactor 4, or low enough to allow carbon-based workers to actually go in and do the survey. The workers have been cleaning up the debris on the operation floor of Reactor 4 since November last year.

From TEPCO's handout for the press, 3/12/2012:

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Japanese Government's Global Media Blitz to Pitch "Recovery" and Dispel Baseless Rumors

The Youtube video of the Emperor's speech at the memorial ceremony on March 11 now has over 7,000 views.

While the Emperor was the only one at the ceremony who mentioned radiation contamination and the plight of residents who had to flee the land contaminated with radioactive materials (he even mentioned the workers dealing with the nuclear accident), the Noda administration has been very busy peddling recovery by launching the media blitz around the world with infomercials to tell the world how the disaster areas in Tohoku, particularly Fukushima, have recovered and everything will be just fine from now on.

Nuclear accident? What nuclear accident? Radiation contamination? Oh it's just a baseless rumor.

I hate to think how much they spent to create the commercials, and how much they spent to buy the ad time.

The announcement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (3/8/2012) is as follows:

TV Commercials Transmitting the Attractions of Japan and Tohoku to the World

1. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan has produced four TV commercials transmitting the attractions of Japan and the Tohoku region to the world for the purpose of mitigating reputational damages generated by the Great East Japan Earthquake and recovering and improving the image of Japan, as follows:

(1) “JAPAN Power of harmony” introduces Japan’s superior technological capabilities in areas such as lacquerware, the research and development of iPS cells, space exploration, and the Shinkansen, through the use of the technique of origami. (60 seconds)

(2) “Colorful emotions TOHOKU” communicates the attractions of sightseeing in the Tohoku region such as the Nebuta Festival, the making of Akabeko (dolls of a red cow), playing in the snow, hot springs, strawberry picking, and the warlords of the Samurai , by showing the excitement and expectation of a family who travels Tohoku from abroad. (60 seconds)

(3) “We believe in FUKUSHIMA” shows the invincible resolve of the people in Fukushima toward the restoration of their daily lives before the Great East Japan Earthquake. It features the people of Fukushima working on strawberry farms, in Fukushima Railway Station, at the E-rosoku (pictured candle) Festival, and at Tsurugajo Castle. (60 seconds)

(4) “Message from Japan “ARIGATOU” (Thank you)” is a commercial to convey appreciation to the world. “Arigatou” is a word to express thanks for heartfelt words, sympathy, and supports sent from the world in the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake.

2. In particular, commercials (2) and (3) were produced thanks to cooperation received from local governments and institutions concerned such as Fukushima Prefecture, Sendai City, and the Tohoku Tourism Promotion Organization.

3. These commercials are currently on the air all across the world through CNN etc. From April onward, the commercials are to be broadcast on NHK World TV (JIB-TV broadcast) through close coordination with the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.

4. Moreover, these commercials are to be screened in receptions and events held abroad by the local governments and institutions concerned such as diplomatic missions abroad, the Japan Tourism Agency, Fukushima Prefecture, Sendai City, and Tohoku Tourism Promotion Organization, as well as at international conferences held in Japan.

The commercials are posted on the video channel of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan (MOFA channel)

Foreign Minister Genba, when he was the minister in charge of national strategy back in March last year, told the Japanese that they should all be cheering for TEPCO.

Here's one, titled "Colorful emotions, Tohoku" (I absolutely have no idea what that phrase even means), featuring a foreign family (Russian?) visiting Tohoku in winter. The Ministry disallows embed for this particular commercial.

The commercial titled "Japan Power of Harmony" is clearly targeted at the global business communities. The Ministry disallows this embed also. It goes:

Japan, a country of perseverance and spirit of harmony.
Spirit form, from the severe nature of our nation.
And that reality has formed Japan, through endless innovation and cooperation.
"These innovation from my country of Japan will ultimately contribute to the entire health of our society, to the entire advancement of the human race."
Now, more than ever, the world is facing challenge.
And Japan offers our unique experience for everyone.
We know, we learned, power is created from the cooperation of people.
It's the power of harmony.
Together for a better future.

Can anyone tell me what this means? I can see through the original Japanese or original muddled thinking in English, but does this make any sense in English?

Whoever created the original copy in Japanese and whoever translated it into English uncritically should be shot.

These commercials must be the work of either Dentsu or Hakuhodo, two largest PR firms in Japan who have been closely cooperating with the national government since March 11, 2011 on campaigns to sell Tohoku, whether it is a tourist destination or food from Fukushima.

The message I get from these commercials is this: "We're trying our utmost best to ignore the nuclear accident and radiation contamination, and so should you."

Japan's Emperor Spoke At the One-Year Anniversary Ceremony, TV News Ignored His Reference to Radiation Contamination

So say many angry tweets in Japan. They say the TV stations edited out his reference to radiation contamination.

I'm not convinced that the allegation is valid, but the TV stations did have a choice which part of the Emperor's speech they would highlight in the news segments and they didn't choose the reference.

The Emperor of Japan attended the ceremony held in the National Theater on March 11, 2012, even if he had undergone a heart surgery and was still recovering. He delivered the speech addressing all the three components of the disaster that struck Japan - earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear.

But except for those who attended the ceremony or watched it live, or those who read the speech in the paper, people in Japan wouldn't know by watching the TV news that the Emperor spoke about the radiation contamination as the result of the nuclear accident and that he recognized it as a difficult problem.

The Emperor spoke for about 6 minutes, so there is no way that the TV stations would report all of the speech in the short news segment (2 to 3 minutes at most). But they chose not to highlight the radiation contamination part.

Here's what the Emperor said in the ceremony (nuclear part), according to Asahi Shinbun (3/11/2012):


Further, this disaster [earthquake and tsunami] triggered a nuclear power plant accident. People had to evacuate from areas made dangerous by the nuclear accident, where they had lived and worked for many years. In order for them to go back and live safely there, we have a difficult problem of radiation contamination to overcome.

Several people were indignant that the TV stations edited the Emperor's words at all to fit into the short news segments. I tend to agree with them. It was a 6 minutes speech, in his own words (unlike PM Noda's cliches written by his speech writer), and you can see he was talking to the people who perished in the disaster (unlike Noda who simply read the prepared statement without looking up from the piece of paper, from what little I've seen that was reported). They should have aired it in its entirety, for those who couldn't see it live.

ANN (TV Asahi) has the entire speech on Youtube, with the viewer count at 4,371 as of now. Other videos of the event has only several hundred views.