Saturday, April 21, 2012

Update on Petrochemical Complex Fire: 2nd Explosion in the Morning of April 22, Depleted Uranium Containers Safe

UPDATE: FNN News says there are about 3,400 containers of depleted uranium at the plant, but according to Mitsui Chemical there is no damage to the containers.


NHK has a fixed camera nearby (5 kilometers from the plant). The second explosion took place at 8AM on April 22. (My original post on the accident is here.)

You can go to NHK to view the video clip.

So far, 1 worker is dead, 11 workers including workers at the adjacent plant injured, with two severely injured. 5 residents living nearby were injured by broken glass.

8AM explosion captured by the NHK camera:

Firefighting continues at the plant, (which looks more like Fukushima I Nuke Plant...):

No definite word yet on the depleted uranium that was stored at the plant, or on the low-level radioactive waste.

Vietnam's Prime Minister: "I Trust Japan's Nuclear Technology"

It seems the news of the Fukushima nuclear accident never reached Vietnam.

Jiji Tsushin (4/21/2012):


Vietnam premier trusts the Japanese technology for nuclear power plants


Prime Minister of Vietnam Nguyễn Tấn Dũng held a press conference in Tokyo on April 21. On the Japanese support for the nuclear power plant construction in Vietnam, the prime minister welcomed it by saying "I trust the Japanese technology. I would like to see the cutting-edge technology used [in building the plant]."

In return, Japan will increase the number of healthcare workers from Vietnam. (Never mind that many young people are unemployed or underemployed in Japan these days.)

There is also a non-profit organization that will bring 6,000 young Vietnamese men to Japan and have them "trained" at the nuclear power plants in Japan. (That news was at Sankei Shinbun last July, but the link has since disappeared. If you read Japanese, here's my copy.)

Win-win for businesses and well-connected politicians.

(UPDATED) Ashes from Sewer Sludge with 16,670 Bq/kg Cesium Dumped in the Final Disposal Site in Kiryu City, Gunma Prefecture

Kiryu City's assemblyman Hidenori Nishimaki and Assemblywoman Yuki Niwayama visited the final disposal site for sewer sludge and took some pictures. The site is maintained by the city's water department.

First, this is how the ashes from burning the sewer sludge from May and June last year is stored safely. The ashes from May were found with 16,670 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium, and the ashes from June with 9,623 becquerels/kg, says Assemblyman Nishimaki. If you think they are not supposed to dump the ashes with more than 8,000 becquerels/kg in the final disposal site, you are right, but they do it anyway in Kiryu City. (Probably Kiryu is not alone.)

And these ashes have 2,000 to 3,000 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium. No protection, not even the blue tarp and sandbags.

Right next to the site is a high school. Beautiful cherry blossom trees.

UPDATE - From Assemblywoman Niwayama's blog, surreal dialog between the official at the site and Niwayama:

庭山:空間線量、高いですね。 Niwayama: Air radiation is high here, isn't it?

職員:ここは出ますよ(当然のように) Official: Yes it is (saying as a matter of fact).

庭山:近隣の人、聞いてみたけど、ここに放射性廃棄物捨ててるの知らないですよ。 N: I've asked the neighbors. They don't know that radioactive waste is being dumped here.

職員:回覧板で回しましたけどね。 O: We've notified them using the neighborhood circular notice.

庭山:怒っていますよ。 N: They are angry.

職員:佐藤光好議員に相談したら、近隣だけで十分ということで4丁目にだけ回覧版を回しました。 O: When we asked the assemblyman of the district, he said only the residents in the vicinity needed to be notified. So we notified only the 4-chome residents.

庭山:知らないって言ってますよ。それに、これ、放射性廃棄物でしょ。国の基準超えてるでしょ。倍以上。こういう状態で置いちゃダメでしょ。N: But they say they don't know about it. This is radioactive waste, isn't it? Exceeding the national safety standard by more than 100%. You cannot just leave it like this.

職員:国の指示に従って管理しています。 O: We are managing it according to the instruction from the national government.

庭山:管理じゃないでしょ。これ。 N: Do you call this a "management"?

職員:私たちも困っているんです。O: We are at a loss ourselves about what to do.

庭山:困って何してんですか? N: So what are you doing about it?

職員:県の方に言ったり、国に言ったり。O: We've asked the prefectural government, we've asked the national government...

庭山:国にどうしんですか? N: What did you do with the national government?

職員:電話をしました。 O: We called.

庭山:何回? N: How many times?

職員:1回。 O: Once.

庭山:それ、困っているうちに入らないですよ。こんなん、近隣の人、置かれちゃ困るっていいってるんだから、東電に返しなさいよ。 N: That doesn't count as you being at a loss. The neighbors don't want it here. Return to TEPCO.

職員:それはちょっと。 O: Uh, that would be a bit difficult...

庭山:ちょっとじゃないですよ。落し物は持ち主のところに返しないさい。勝俣さん家だって大きそうだし。返しなさいよ。 N: A bit difficult? Lost property should be returned to the owner. [TEPCO's Chairman] Katsumata seems to have a huge mansion. Return it.

職員:そうは言われても。 O: We don't know.

庭山:それと、8000ベクレルが安全だっていうなら、この8000ベクレル以下のものは安全だという人のところへもっていきないさい。例えば、あなたのところの境野水処理センターとか市役所とか、亀山市長の家とか、もって行っきなさいよ。安全なんでしょ。 N: If 8000 becquerels/kg is safe, take everything below 8,000 becquerels/kg to people who say it is safe. For example, your own water processing plant, City Hall, Mayor Kameyama's house. Take it there, if it's safe.

職員:はあ。 O: Ummm.

庭山:冗談じゃないよ。 N: I am not kidding.

You can see the video of their investigation, here. The officials are clearly clueless.

(UPDATED) Explosion at Petrochemical Complex in Yamaguchi Prefecture, Radioactive Waste Stored at the Complex

UPDATE-2: There was a second explosion at 8AM on April 22. And there are containers of depleted uranium. See my latest post.

UPDATE: One of the two missing workers was found dead. 9 workers injured, 3 residents in the area were also injured (cuts from broken glass). It looks like part of the complex is still burning. The prefectural government does say the depleted uranium is stored at the complex, but there has been no release of toxic materials from the fire, according to the prefectural government.


Mitsui Chemical's petroleum complex in Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture had an explosion and a fire at about 2:20 AM on April 22, 2012, according to Yomiuri Shinbun (4/22/2012). Several people were injured, and window glass broken in wide areas.

Someone on Twitter has dug up information from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) that lists companies that have radioactive waste on the premise. Mitsui Chemical's complex in Yamaguchi Prefecture is one of them. According to the MEXT data from 2009, the complex has 3,379 containers of nuclear waste.

There are people on Twitter saying these containers are full of depleted uranium, but I haven't found any documentation to substantiate the claim about depleted uranium yet. For now, I'd treat it as nothing but "rumor". It is possible, as in the case of Chisso's petroleum compound in Chiba that had a fire when the earthquake struck on March 11 last year. The storage unit for depleted uranium was on the premise. I'm looking for more information.

According to Mainichi, there were 7 workers working at that time in the chemical plant that manufactures "resorcin" which is used as tire adhesive. 5 workers suffered minor injuries, but 2 workers are missing. They were trying to stop the plant because of some problems but they couldn't. Explosions are still on-going, and the firefighters cannot come near the plant.

Soccer Ball and Volley Ball Reached Alaska, Probably from Disaster-Affected Areas of Japan

The soccer ball has the writing on it that indicates it may belong to someone in Rikuzen Takata City in Iwate Prefecture. The city was severely damaged by the March 11, 2011 tsunami.

From Ancourage Daily News (4/21/2012):

Balls on Alaska beach may be first of tsunami debris

Two balls found on an Alaska beach; writing on one traced back to Japan.

Anchorage Daily News

Two sports balls from Japan may be the first positively identified items from the Japan tsunami of last March to reach Alaska shores. According to an April 19 online notice from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Office of Response and Restoration, a soccer ball and volleyball were found on the beach of Middleton Island by David Baxter, a technician at the radar site on the remote island in the Gulf of Alaska.

Baxter noticed Japanese writing stenciled on the balls. His wife translated the writing on the soccer ball and traced it to the name of a school. NOAA confirmed that the school was in the tsunami zone, though located uphill and not seriously damaged by the disaster.

"We're partly getting things secondhand," said Doug Helton with NOAA offices in Seattle. "We're working with the State Department and the government of Japan."

NOAA thinks this could be one of the first times anything washed away during the tsunami has been sufficiently identified as to make it possible to return it to its owner. It's definitely the first such to be retrieved in Alaska, Helton said.

"There have been other items that were suspected, but this is the first one that we're aware of that has the credentials that may make it possible to positively identify it."


It's no surprise that the front edge of tsunami debris should arrive here first. Helton noted that in a new model of predicted debris distribution released earlier this month, "You can see that the Gulf of Alaska is going to get high windage items, floats, Styrofoam, soccer balls. Those things could be moving pretty quickly. Wood and construction materials will be a lot slower.


The volleyball doesn't have enough information on it for the Japanese consulate to establish a possible owner, NOAA said, but queries are continuing.

Persons who find an item they think may be related to the Japan tsunami are asked to take a picture, note the location and report it to

(Full article at the link)

Fire at California's San Onofre Nuke Plant Extinguished

(There was a fire?)

From Dow Jones Newswire (4/20/2012):

Fire At Troubled California Nuclear Plant Extinguished

By Cassandra Sweet


Edison International'S (EIX) southern California utility said Friday that a fire at the San Onofre nuclear power plant, which has been shut for months over equipment problems, was extinguished.

The fire ignited in an electrical panel in the "non-radiological side" of one of the plant's two units, said Edison, which operates the plant and co-owns it with Sempra Energy's (SRE) San Diego utility. The plant's fire department put out the blaze a few minutes before 1 p.m. local time, less than an hour before it started, the company said.

The plant, located on the coast between Los Angeles and San Diego, has been shut since Jan. 31 when a steam tube ruptured and released radioactive steam. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said the radiation levels weren't dangerous.

Since the incident, the NRC has ordered Southern California Edison to keep the plant shut until it determines the cause of premature wear found in several steam tubes, or pipes, and has figured a way to fix the problem.

The plant's other unit had been shut down for routine maintenance and refueling before the steam-tube rupture. Edison has kept that unit offline while it examines steam tubes in steam generators at both units.

At each unit, about 19,500 tubes carry hot, radioactive water and steam from pools of water that hold nuclear-fuel rods to two generators, which use the steam to produce electricity. The tubes are critical for keeping the plant's nuclear-fuel rods cool.

The steam tubes are contained in a chamber filled with cool water and must be strong enough to withstand pressure from the hot water inside and the cool water outside to ensure that radiation doesn't escape.

The tubes are components of four steam generators that Edison and Sempra bought from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. (7011.TO) and installed in 2009 and 2010 at a cost of $800 million.

The NRC said Friday in a status report that Mitsubishi was conducting its own examination of the steam tubes and generators and expected to complete the review by Aug. 31.

SoCal Edison could theoretically resolve the steam tube issue and restart the plant before then, as the schedule for Edison's review is completely separate from Mitsubishi's, said Jennifer Manfre, a spokeswoman for SoCal Edison. She noted that the company doesn't have a timeline for fixing the steam tube issue and restarting the plant.

For more on San Onofre's problem with the steam generators from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, read my post from February.

(H/T anon reader)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Ministry of Agriculture to Food Industry: Don't Use Own Radiation Standard, Use Government's

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries notified the food industry on April 20 that the industry should abide by the radiation safety standards set by the national government, and not use their own (i.e. lower) standards.

The reason? Actually there are two:

  • So that the testing is "scientific" (meaning if companies are going to test on their own they are strongly encouraged to do so at the testing laboratories registered with the Ministry - there are 40 of them in Japan according to the Ministry's information);

  • To avoid "excessive" regulation and to use the government standards in presenting the results.

From Asahi Shinbun (4/21/2012):

食品の放射能検査「独自基準やめて」 農水省が通知

Stop using radiation standards in food that is different from the national standards, Ministry of Agriculture notifies


The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) issued the notice to the 270 industry groups such as supermarkets, food manufacturers and restaurants on April 20 that they should abide by the safety standards for radioactive materials set by the national government. The purpose is to restrain the move by the food industries to set their own, stricter standards and conduct testing, and to sell only the food not contaminated with radioactive materials.


The national government adopted the new safety standards for food in April (100 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium in food in general, 50 becquerels/kg for milk and baby food, and 10 becquerels/kg for drinking water).


The notice was signed by the head of the Food Industry Bureau of MAFF, and written to warn on voluntary inspection of radiation in the private sector. The notice emphasizes that the new government standards are even stricter than the international indicators, and says "To prevent the excessive regulation and confusion at the time of food consumption, we would like you to make it well known that the results of voluntary inspections should be interpreted according to the standards set by the Food Sanitation Act.

Let's all get internal radiation exposure, the government seems to be saying. After all, this government doesn't think anything of feeding the imperial family with milk with radioactive cesium. Why should it care for lowly citizens? The DPJ government also plans to send Prince and Princess Akishino, parents of the future emperor (5-year-old Prince Hisahito), to Uganda, of all places.

Washington Post: Japan's PM Noda The "Most Sensible" Leader

"Cold shutdown state" notwithstanding, Washington Post's Fred Hiatt wonders if Noda can pull it all off - taxing the already burdened taxpayers, restarting the nuclear power plants with threats of blackouts, resolving the disputes over the military bases in Okinawa, and joining TPP that only the big businesses support. He is clearly hoping Noda can. Net citizens of Japan are hoping he will fail, but who counts them for anything?

From Washington Post (4/19/2012):

Can Japan make the tough decisions?

The question here is no different than in Europe or the United States: Can democracies still rouse themselves to do hard things? Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, the sixth Japanese leader in as many years and by many accounts the most sensible, is trying to provide a novel answer.

Much of Europe has spent itself into near-bankruptcy. In Washington, Simpson-Bowles has come and gone.

Here, it is prime ministers who come and go, while indebtedness rises (Japanese government debt is 230 percent of gross domestic product, compared with 103 percent in the United States, according to a new report from the International Monetary Fund) and other problems get kicked down the road.

Noda has picked up four of those cans at once.

“The greatest problem in Japanese politics over the last two decades is that we put off what needed to be done,” Noda told me and The Post’s Chico Harlan during an interview in his official residence Thursday. “We have to overcome that.”

Noda has vowed to double the consumption tax, a kind of national sales tax, from the current 5 percent. He wants to restart at least some of Japan’s 54 nuclear power plants, which used to supply nearly a third of the country’s electricity; in the wake of the 3/11 tsunami and nuclear accident last year, 53 of the 54 are dark. He is trying to resolve a long-festering dispute over U.S. military bases in Okinawa. And he wants Japan to join free-trade negotiations in the Pacific region that alarm this country’s coddled rice farmers.


There’s some ambivalence in Washington about how long a lifeline to throw. Administration officials appreciate that Noda has moved the U.S.-Japan alliance back to the center of Japanese strategy after his predecessors flirted with “balancing” between China and the United States. Noda said Thursday that his “unshakable conviction” that the alliance is “the foundation of Japanese security” was only fortified by U.S. help during the March 2011 disaster.

But U.S. officials are impatient with Japan’s leadership merry-go-round and its perceived inability to deliver on promises. They want Japan to pick up a big share of the cost of moving Marines from Okinawa to Guam and elsewhere in Asia and Australia (beyond the lengthening range of Chinese missiles, though that won’t be said aloud). Some officials, and members of Congress too, share unhappy memories of Japan’s blocking maneuvers in trade talks and want stiff terms for its entry into the regional negotiation.

... (Full article at the link)

Don't worry Mr. Hiatt. Prime Minister Noda is perceived in Japan as someone whose allegiance is more to the US than to his own country. He will do his utmost best to please whoever he thinks he's pleasing in the US.

Japan's Emperor Speaks About Disaster Debris, And the Media Edits

The emperor of Japan, during the annual Spring Garden Party that he hosts, talked to the governor of Miyagi Prefecture and asked him about the disaster debris. Depending on the newspaper you read, you would get a different idea on what the emperor may have said.

Not surprisingly, Tokyo Shinbun (4/19/2012) focused on the concern that the emperor expressed regarding the disaster debris disposal:


His Imperial Majesty talked about the disaster debris processing with Governor Murai [of Miyagi Prefecture], and said "There are dangerous substances in the debris, aren't there? Like asbestos? I hope you would take ample precaution in processing [the debris]", expressing his consideration for the health of the workers. 

Surprisingly, Sankei Shinbun is the close second:


His Majesty asked Governor Yoshihiro Murai of disaster-affected Miyagi Prefecture, "There are dangerous substances in the debris, aren't there?" He continued, "I hope you would take ample precaution in processing [the debris]", showing his consideration.

Nikkei Shinbun's focus is not his concern for the dangerous substances in the debris but the success of wide-area disposal of the disaster debris:


 His Majesty asked Governor Murai "How is the disaster debris?" The governor answered, "We are receiving the warm support from all over the country to accept the debris. We will try our best to process it quickly." 

If you understand Japanese, the above quotes are taken from this blog, which also has a video clip from the news.

People may remember the emperor's speech during the memorial ceremony of the March 11, 2011, in which he spoke to the people who perished in the disaster and addressed the concern of radioactive contamination.

Mind the Gap in #Fukushima Reactor 3 Containment Vessel Equipment Hatch

TEPCO now admits that there is a gap in the shield plug on the Containment Vessel of Reactor 3, and the water may have leaked from the equipment hatch flange into the reactor building.

What a surprise. Last November, TEPCO sent a Packbot inside the Reactor 3 building and had it survey the guide rails in front of the same equipment hatch. The robot detected the maximum 1.6 sievert/hour radiation, and the guide rails filled with water and sludge-like material. The robot was seen trying to wipe off the water with cloth. There was no further announcement from TEPCO on this, until today (April 19, 2012).

This time, TEPCO sent out two of its employees for a 4-minute work of inserting an image scope through the gap to get the image of the floor in front of the equipment hatch flange.

Now the company shows us the photograph that the Packbot took last November, showing the gap between the shield plug and the CV.

From TEPCO's Photos for Press page in English, 4/19/2012 (emphasis is mine):

Inspection of the equipment hatch of PCV in Unit 3 of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station

[Object]To check the situation of water leakage from the equipment hatch of PCV at the northeast on the first floor, as the water injected to the PCV has been leaked to the reactor building.

A crevice between the shield plug and the reactor building was confirmed in the past video
・Inspection of the situation of water leakage from the flange of the equipment hatch, by inserting an image scope into the crevice between the shield plug and the reactor building

[Result of the work]
・Time:1:27 pm – 1:48 pm on April 19, 2012 (Time stayed in the reactor building : Approx. 4 minutes)
・Workers :2 TEPCO employees (Maximum radiation exposure :8.01mSv Planned:15mSv)

[Situation of the equipment hatch of the PCV]
・We checked the situation around the equipment hatch flange of PCV, and we confirmed floor surface where the water leakage could have occurred.
・Hereafter, we will study the result of the inspection in detail.


Dry floor surface:

Floor surface where leak may have occurred:

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Only Two Thermocouples Remaining to Measure Reactor 2 Pressure Vessel Temperature?

TEPCO's "Status of TEPCO's Nuclear Power Stations after the Tohoku-Chihou-Taiheiyou-Oki Earthquake (Daily Report as of 3:00 pm, April 19)" states:

On April 18, we evaluated the reliability of the thermometer (RPV bottom head 135°) which was monitored for reference based on safety regulations 138 through direct current resistive measurement. We evaluated the thermometer broken down based on the increase in direct current resistance. No large swings confirmed at other thermometers, monitoring posts, and PCV gas management system indicators. We will continue monitoring PCV temperature by thermometers (RPV bottom upper head 270° and RPV upper skirt junction 135°)

The failure of the thermocouple "69H2" (at RPV bottom head at 135 degrees) was noted in the blog post on April 15. So now there are two thermocouples left on the RPV of Reactor 2 - 69H3 and 69F2 - to measure temperatures to make sure the reactor is in the "cold shutdown state".

(Pay attention to the word "state", which makes this "cold shutdown" uniquely Japanese.)

Videos of Reactor 2 Torus Room at #Fukushima I Nuke Plant

Below is the first installment of the 6 videos, showing the contaminated water underneath the grating.

There is no discernible damage along the catwalk or the upper part of the Torus Room.

This is the third video that shows the manhole in the northeast side with some paint peeling and discoloration (the video will be live in about 30 minutes):

For the other 4 videos, go to TEPCO's Photo for Press page for the April 18, 2012 videos, here.

Professor Yukio Hayakawa Takes a "Radioactive Walk" In Abiko City and Kashiwa City in Chiba

The Gunma University professor took a walk in part of Abiko City and Kashiwa City, in the so-called "Tokatsu area" in the northwest corner of Chiba Prefecture with elevated radiation levels.

He says there is a statistically significant difference between the radiation levels on the ground levels and the levels at 1 meter off the ground, with the levels at 1 meter off the ground 20 to 30% less than at the ground levels.

The radiation levels of "black dust" he found along the way (in microsievert/hour):


Professor Hayakawa's walk from Abiko City to Kashiwa-no-ha in Kashiwa City on April 16, 2012:


EveryTrail - Find hiking trails in California and beyond

More Photos and Videos of #Fukushima I Nuke Plant Reactor 2 Torus Room

TEPCO released more photos of the Reactor 2 Torus Room taken by the robot "Survey Runner" on April 18.

As I posted yesterday, about 90% of the circumference of the torus was covered by the robot, instead of about 1/3 to 1/2 that TEPCO had anticipated.

It looks dry for the most part, but the robot did see the water (the 7th photo).

From TEPCO's Photo for Press page, 4/19/2012:

Toward PCV (Primary Containment Vessel):

Above the southeast S/C (suppression chamber) manhole:

The southeast S/C manhole:

The north S/C manhole:

Northeast passage:

Above the northeast passage:

Lower part of the Torus Room:

Above the south passage:

I'm downloading the videos (there are 6 of them), but you can view them at TEPCO's page here.

The Birth Of Barter: How One Greek Town Dropped The Euro And Moved On

This BBC News segment was posted on Zero Hedge (4/18/2012), by Tyler:

Greece was the first country to defect from the non-default game theory regime of the European Union (a move which ultimately will be in its great benefit, as it is forced, very shortly, to default higher and higher into the 177% of GDP secured debt, until finally even the Troika's DIP loan is impaired). It has also become the first country to demonstrate that people can, contrary to apocalyptic claims otherwise by the global banker consortium which realizes oh too well it will be its death if people stop playing by the broken rules, exist under a barter regime. The video below shows how the Greek town of Volos develops its own bartering system without the aid of the euro. Yes - it can be done, especially since one is forced to produce in order to consume, and borrowing infinitely from the future becomes impossible.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

16 Becquerels/kg of Radioactive Cesium from Milk for Japan's Imperial Family

That's the headline of the latest issue of Shukan Shincho, a Japanese weekly magazine.

The imperial family has the 252-hectare Imperial Stock Farm managed by the Imperial Household Agency. It is located in Takanezawa-machi in Tochigi Prefecture, and it produces organic vegetables, eggs, meat, and milk for use in the imperial household.

Part of northan Kanto - Ibaraki, Tochigi, and Gunma - has had elevated levels of radiation since the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident last year. Vegetables, mushrooms, teas, and beef from the area have been found with levels of radioactive cesium exceeding the old provisional safety limit of 500 becquerels/kg. But the Imperial Household Agency has kept sending the produce from the Farm to the Imperial Household with young children as if nothing has happened.

The photo below is an ad banner of the magazine you see inside the trains in Japan. The first headline (the right most one) says Prince Hisahito is very fond of the milk from the Imperial Stock Farm, and that milk has been found with 16 becquerels/kg of cesium, even when the commercial milk has no cesium.

Prince Hisahito is 5 years old. Crown Prince and Princess have the young daughter, Princess Aiko (age 11). The emperor himself is still recovering from his heart surgery.

Many on Twitter are saying "They finally talk about it, now? After more than 1 year?"

Bicycle Baskets Imported from China Found with Cobalt-60, Bridgestone to Recall

It was first reported to Bridgestone by a buyer of the bicycle, alerting the company that the basket attached to the bicycle was emitting radiation. Bridgestone had the baskets tested, and found the source of radiation to be cobalt-60. The baskets were imported from China, according to Bridgestone.

From the press release by the Ministry of Education and Science (MEXT) on April 18, 2012:

  • Report from Bridgestone Cycle Company to MEXT at about 4:10PM on April 17 that radiation was detected from the baskets installed on the bicycles that the company sells.

  • The bicycles were assembled at the Ageo Factory [in Saitama Prefecture].

  • 7.5 to 10.6 microsieverts/hour radiation was detected on the surface of the baskets at 1 centimeter.

  • The baskets were imported from overseas.

  • 86 bicycles out of 1,145 in the inventory were also found with radiation. The bicycles were assembled between November 2011 and January 2012. 20,000 bicycles with the same baskets have already been sold. Of these 20,000, 3,200 were assembled during the same period.

  • The source of radiation was cobalt-60.

  • A customer who bought the bicycle alerted the company of radiation detection.

According to Bridgestone's website,

  • Stainless-steel baskets were made in China.

  • 9405 baskets may have the same cobalt-60.

  • Bicycles with the baskets were assembled between August 2011 and February 2012.

If you are in Japan and bought bicycles made by Bridgestone, go to the website to check the model numbers and lot numbers.

Cobalt-60 in the bicycle baskets did not come from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, the company says.

So the export dealers of Japanese used cars scrub the cars to make sure the radiation coming out of the cars is less than 0.3 microsievert/hour. And radioactive components like these baskets are freely imported without any radiation check at the port or by the importing company?

Photos of Reactor 2 Torus Room at #Fukushima I Nuke Plant, Highest Radiation 120 Millisieverts/Hr

The robot "Survey Runner" went down to the Reactor 2 Torus Room on April 18, and TEPCO released two photos of two manholes.

From the TEPCO's survey plan, the robot was to cover slightly over 1/3 of the Torus Room, but in the press conference TEPCO's Matsumoto said about 90% of the Room was covered.

Things look almost clean after seeing the mess in other reactors' upper floors. The robot must have taken more photos and probably videos, but for now TEPCO is willing to release only these photos.

From TEPCO's Photos for Press, 4/18/2012:

North S/C [suppression chamber] manhole:

Southeast S/C manhole:

Note the air radiation levels display at the bottom of the photos. At the north manhole, it is 47.4 millisieverts/hour, and at the southeast manhole 61.4 millisieverts/hour. The numbers next to the per-hour radiation level may be the cumulative radiation level sustained by the robot.

In about 30 minutes between when the robot was at the southeast manhole and when it was at the north manhole, the cumulative radiation (if that's what it is) went up from 57 millisieverts to 82.2 millisieverts.

From TEPCO's press conference on April 18,

  • The robot was in the Torus Room for 3 hours, from 10:52AM to 1:51PM.

  • 6 TEPCO workers accompanied the robot, receiving 0.28 millisievert radiation.

  • The robot got 186 millisieverts cumulative radiation in the 3-hour work.

  • 120 millisieverts/hour in the northwest corner.

  • 90% of the Torus Room covered.

  • No discernible leak, damage observed. Clean.

  • Video, audio recorded by the robot, will be released on April 19.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Governor of Tokyo Wants to Buy Senkaku Islands, and Vice Governor Says They Will Have Enough Donations from Citizens to Buy

What is this? What is the point, any point, for the Tokyo Metropolitan government to buy the tiny islands in Okinawa Prefecture?

No, it's not to relocate 40 million residents in the Tokyo metropolitan areas.

Shintaro Ishihara, irascible governor of Tokyo, says he's doing it because the Japanese national government is such a wimp against the foreign claims (form China and Taiwan).

From Daily Yomiuri (4/18/2012):

WASHINGTON--The Tokyo metropolitan government plans to buy three of the Senkaku Islands to "protect them," Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara said in Washington on Monday.

The Senkaku Islands, which are administered by Ishigaki, Okinawa Prefecture, are claimed by China and Taiwan.

Ishihara said in the speech the owner of three islands in the five-islet chain--a man living in Saitama Prefecture--has agreed to sell them to the metropolitan government.

In addition to the three islands--Uotsurijima, the largest in the group, Kita-kojima and Minami-kojima--Tokyo is interested in purchasing Kubajima, another island in the chain, the governor said.

Kubajima is owned by a relative of the man in Saitama Prefecture.

Ishihara is visiting the United States at the invitation of the organizer of the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington.

"The islands are the sovereign territory of Japan, and were returned at the time of Okinawa's reversion [to Japan from the United States in 1972]," he said. "[China] later began to claim them. This is outrageous."

Ishihara said the central government should have purchased the three islands.

"However, the central government is too scared to do anything," the governor said. "The Tokyo metropolitan government will protect the Senkaku Islands. How can anyone complain about the Japanese buying the islands to protect the nation's territory, regardless of which country opposes such a move?"

Following the speech, Ishihara told reporters the metropolitan government would propose that the Okinawa prefectural government or the Ishigaki municipal government jointly manage the three islands.

Asked how much the islands would cost, Ishihara declined to give a figure. "It's not that expensive," he said.

Located about 410 kilometers west of Okinawa Island, the main island in the prefecture, the Senkaku Islands consist of five uninhabited islets. Only one, the 0.06-square-kilometer Taishojima is state-owned.

The central government has been leasing the four other islets from their owners, mainly for maintenance and administration purposes. During fiscal 2010, it paid annual fees of about 21.1 million yen for the 3.82-square-kilometer Uotsurijima; about 1.5 million yen for Kita-kojima (0.31 square kilometers); and about 1.9 million yen for Minami-kojima (0.4 square kilometers).

The rent for 0.91-square-kilometer Kubajima has not been disclosed at the owner's request.

China and Taiwan claimed the Senkaku Islands after it was discovered in 1969 that the continental shelf around the islets is rich in oil reserves.

In September 2010, a Chinese trawler collided with two patrol boats of the Japan Coast Guard near the islands. Other Chinese boats have intruded into Japan's territorial waters.


Govt mystified by plan

The government has not been informed of the Tokyo metropolitan government's plan to purchase the three Senkaku Islands, Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said Tuesday.

"The government has maintained contact with the owners [of the Senkaku Islands]," Fujimura said during a morning press conference. "However, we aren't aware of [the Tokyo metropolitan government's plan]. Whether we'll discuss [the islands with the local government] is a matter to be considered later."

The governor has already secured the agreement from the owners of the islands after 6-month negotiation, according to Yomiuri Japanese news (4/18/2012).

Vice Governor of Tokyo and academic Naoki Inose says they will be inundated with donations from citizens to buy these three islands, no problem. Each island is estimated at 300 to 500 million yen, so the maximum 1.5 billion yen to buy all three. Not that much, Inose says.

And who is all praise for this "bold" move by Ishihara? The boy wonder of Osaka City whom the Japanese media from NHK on down have been busy hyping up as the next leader of Japan (right one in the photo).

Bright future.

Clearly they have nothing better to do with their time.

#Radioactive Japan: 3 Mayors of Aichi Prefecture Demand Disaster Debris Be Shared by Other Cities

"Why just us? Spread the debris thin and wide so that every city gets to burn some and bury some," said 3 mayors whose cities are set to receive the disaster debris if the governor has his wish fulfilled.

Aichi is the prefecture whose governor decided to use Toyota Motor's factory compound as the final disposal site for the ashes, and grabbed 600 million yen without the legislative authorization to "study" the matter.

From Tokyo Shinbun reporting Kyodo News (4/17/2012):

愛知県のがれき3カ所限定に不満 受け入れ先の市長ら

Mayors of three Aichi cities which are to accept disaster debris are unhappy that disaster debris will only come to their cities


In the meeting of the Conference of Mayors in Nagoya City on April 17 over the plan to process the disaster debris at 3 locations in the prefecture, the mayors of the three cities complained to the prefectural government that "the debris should be accepted at more locations in smaller quantities, and should not be confined to only three locations".


The prefectural government is planning to build new facilities at Chubu Electric Thermal Power Station in Hekinan City, the final disposal site of the Nagoya Port Authority in Chita City, and Toyota Motors Tahara Factory in Tahara City.


38 cities in Aichi Prefectures are the members of the Mayors Conference whose meetings are not open to public. [On April 17] 22 mayors attended the meeting. According to the person involved, the vice governor of Aichi asked for understanding regarding the debris disposal, but the mayor of Hekinan City asked why it would be necessary to build three final disposal sites.

Well, if I remember right, the Aichi governor wants to burn 1 million tonnes of disaster debris. Aichi may need three new final disposal sites.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: TEPCO to Send a New Robot to Reactor 2 Torus Room

The robot, "Survey Runner", is made by Topy Industries Co. in Tokyo, and looks like a smaller version of Quince. The robot is going into the Torus Room of Reactor 2 on April 18.

From TEPCO's handout for the press, English, on April 17, 2012:

Topy Industries Co. is a company located in Shinagawa-ku, Tokyo. It has been developing the robots for disaster response in collaboration with Professor Shigeo Hirose of Tokyo Institute of Technology Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering since 2003. For more on the free loan of the robot to TEPCO, see their English press release.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Videos of #Fukushima Reactor 3 Spent Fuel Pool

From TEPCO's Photos for Press page, 4/16/2012:

Two videos showing the fuel rack:

One of the two videos showing the fuel handling machine:

Unlike the Spent Fuel Pool of Reactor 4 which was nearly full with fuel assemblies, the SFP of Reactor 3 was only about 46% of the capacity (514 spent fuel assemblies, 52 new fuel assemblies in the pool that can hold 1220 fuel assemblies, according to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry document from March 2011).

Concerning the MOX fuel in the spent fuel pools at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, the November 2011 report by the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO) says (page 35):

"There are no mixed-oxide fuel assemblies in any of the spent fuel pools or in the dry cask storage facility."

You can download the report here.

70 Corporations Willing to Accept Disaster Debris, Says Minister of Economy Yukio Edano

From Jiji Tsushin (4/17/2012):


70 Corporations positive on accepting the disaster debris, Minister of Economy Edano reported at the ministerial meeting


At the ministerial meeting on April 17 on the wide-area disposal of disaster debris, Yukio Edano, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry reported that 70 corporations in the cement industry, the paper industry and others have responded positively to the request for cooperation in disposing the debris from the March 11, 2011 earthquake/tsunami.

This I think is the real deal that the national government has wanted all along. By going the corporate route - industries that use debris as fuel and raw material (ashes for the cement, for example) and the industrial waste management industry, the national government can bypass the municipalities who may have to deal with those pesky residents against accepting and burning the disaster debris at their municipal incineration facilities. The municipal governments will be relieved that it won't be their responsibility to ascertain safety.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Reactor 4 to Get a Cover and a Crane

From TEPCO's press release on 4/16/2012, English:

Press Release (Apr 16,2012)
General Plan and Start of Main Work of the Cover for Fuel Removal of Unit 4 in Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station

Based on "Mid-to-Long-Term Roadmap towards the Decommissioning of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station Unit 1-4" which was announced on Dec. 21, 2011, we started the preparation work for the installation of the cover for fuel removal of Unit 4 on Mar. 23, 2012.

We would like to inform that we will start the main work for the installation of the cover for fuel removal on Apr. 17.

As the first step of the main work, we will conduct the foundation improvement work in order to strengthen the foundation which supports the foundation of the frame for supporting the crane which is a part of the cover for fuel removal.

At the same time, we will conduct the countermeasure to prevent rainwater from penetrating into Unit 4 Reactor Building.

Attachment: General plan of the cover for fuel removal of Unit 4 in Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station (PDF 121KB)

Image of the cover for fuel removal of Unit 4 in Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station (This picture shows only a image of the general plan, therefore it can differ from the actual structure.)

From the TEPCO attachment:

Structure: The size of the cover for fuel removal is approximately 69m (South-North) x approximately 31m (East-West) x approximately 53m (height). Mainly it is a steel construction, the sidewall and roof are planned to be covered by the jacket
materials which block wind and rain. There are the slopes on the roof and the top
of the sidewall which prevents rainwater from penetrating.

Counterpunch: "The Perils of Technological Hubris-Nuclear Titanics"

From Counterpunch (4/16/2012), by Karl Grossman:

The Perils of Technological Hubris
Nuclear Titanics

On the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, The Japan Times yesterday ran an editorial titled “The Titanic and the Nuclear Fiasco” which stated: “Presenting technology as completely safe, trustworthy or miraculous may seem to be a thing of the past, but the parallels between the Titanic and Japan’s nuclear power industry could not be clearer.”

“Japan’s nuclear power plants were, like the Titanic, advertised as marvels of modern science that were completely safe. Certain technologies, whether they promise to float a luxury liner or provide clean energy, can never be made entirely safe,” it said.

It quoted from a piece by Joseph Conrad written after the Titanic sank in which he noted the “chastening influence it should have on the self-confidence of mankind.” The Japan Times urged: “That lesson should be applied to all ‘unsinkable’ undertakings that might profit a few by imperiling the majority of others.”

Yes, the same kind of baloney behind the claim that the Titanic was unsinkable is behind the puffery that nuclear power plants are safe. The nuclear power promoters are still saying that despite the sinking of atomic Titanics: Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and now the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plants.

In fact, underneath the PR offensive are government documents admitting that nuclear power plants are deadly dangerous.


The current issue of Popular Mechanics features an article “Why Titanic Still Matters” by Jim Meigs, the magazine’s editor and chief, which states: “In one respect, little has changed. As the recent loss of the Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia demonstrates, bad decision making can overcome even robust engineering. Virtually all man-made disasters—including the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, the space shuttle Challenger explosion, and the BP oil spill—can be traced to the same human failings that doomed Titanic. After 100 years, we must still remember—and, too often, relearn—the grim lessons of that night.”

Indeed, human error is a big part of what can go wrong at a nuclear power plant. However, even without human error, nuclear power is fraught with the potential for immense catastrophe. A mechanical malfunction simple or complex, an earthquake, a tornado, a tsunami, a hurricane, a flood, a terrorist attack, these and other threats can result in catastrophe. Nuclear power plants and the process of atomic fission in them are inherently dangerous—at a scale of technological disaster that is unparalleled. ...

(The entire article at the link.)

For the counter-argument, there is always George Monbiot of The Guardian, who expressed love for nuclear precisely because of Fukushima.

(h/t John Noah)

Japan's DPJ Politician: "No Nuke Plant Restart Would Mean Mass Suicide of Japan"

Did someone say this nuclear disaster is an excellent way to control the population of Japan down to a manageable size?

Well a powerful politician from the Democratic Party of Japan (the ruling party) agrees with you, although he's from the "other side".

From Yomiuri Shinbun (4/16/2012):


Yoshito Sengoku, acting chairman of the policy bureau of the Democratic Party of Japan, gave a lecture in Nagoya City on April 16, and said, "It is quite obvious from last year's planned blackout fiasco by TEPCO that we cannot live without electricity. If we do not re-start any of the nuclear plants that have been shut down, it would mean a mass suicide of Japan", sharing his understanding that the re-start of the nuclear power plant is indispensable to keep the lives of the citizenry stable.

Mr. Sengoku is said to be a force behind the re-start of nuclear power plants in Japan. He is said to have kept a tight leash on the four ministers who have finally decided to re-start Ooi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukui Prefecture. The plant is operated by Kansai Electric Power Company (KEPCO).

The four ministers who have made a political decision to re-start Ooi Nuke Plant are: Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, Minister of Economy Yukio Edano, Minister of the Environment/nuclear accident Goshi Hosono, and Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant Reactor 4's Slowly Changing Look: Photos from March 2011 to March 2012

It's so slow that nothing seems to have been happening.

March 15, 2011, the day Reactor 4 had an explosion. At that time, "fire" was emphasized not "explosion", and the condition was described as "a hole in the wall, and damage to the ceiling". More accurate would have been "8-meter hole in the wall that is crumbling, and no ceiling except for steel beams."

March 16, 2011:

March 22, 2011:

March 24, 2011:

April 10, 2011:

June 10, 2011:

June 29, 2011. Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool when it was still "warm", before the heat exchanger was installed:

June 30, 2011:

September 29, 2011:

September 22, 2011:

January 5, 2012. This photo caused some bloggers and sites to claim Reactor 4 is falling apart. For more about the demolition/cleanup work that was being done, see my post from December 2011:

February 24, 2012:

March 5, 2012:

Photos are from TEPCO's "Photos for Press" page for Reactor 4.

Long, long way to go.

Ironically, the cleanest photo of the recent Reactor 4 building was presented by Asahi TV's "Morning Bird" program on March 8, 2012 that seems to have introduced many Japanese (and non-Japanese) to the Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool danger for the first time after more than 1 year since the start of the accident, however erroneously. The aerial photo of Reactor 4 building was presented as "walls all gone, they were all blown off in the explosion". Well not really. That photo was after the clean-up of removing most of the crumbling wall panels and part of ceiling beams to remove the crane:

Japan's PM Noda in March 2011 as Finance Minister: "Don't Say Anything That Weakens TEPCO"

TEPCO's share price, to be more specific.

I posted on Friday about what Yukio Edano as Chief Cabinet Secretary was saying on March 12, 2011 ("We should start thinking about wide-area evacuation including Tokyo and Ibaraki"). It was revealed by the information disclosure request from Tokyo Shinbun.

Now it's Asahi Shinbun's turn. Asahi uncovered what the then-Finance Minister had said about TEPCO in the early days of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident. The then-Finance Minister is today's Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda.

Remember the mention of some ministers who were worried about the stock market in the meeting after Reactor 1 blew up on March 12, 2011? Noda looks like he was one of them.

From Asahi Shinbun (4/15/2012):

「東電弱める発言は控えて」 財務相時に野田氏が発言

"Refrain from saying things that may weaken TEPCO", said Mr. Noda as finance minister


It has been revealed that Yoshihiko Noda, then-Minister of Finance, worried about the rapid decline of TEPCO's share price, said "I want you to refrain from saying things that may weaken (TEPCO)" during the meeting of the nuclear disaster response headquarters on the night of March 31, 2011. The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry disclosed multiple memos of the meeting at the information disclosure request from Asahi Shinbun on April 13.


The meeting took place about 3 weeks after the start of the nuclear accident last year. Around that time, the share price of TEPCO dropped significantly on the prospect that the amount of accident compensations would be huge under the Atomic Energy Damage Compensation Law. On March 30, 2011, TEPCO's chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata was hinting that the existence of the company was in doubt.


Taking the disclosed memos together, Noda as the Minister of Finance told the meeting participants, "If the nationalization of TEPCO is in the news, the share price will hit the stop limit. Of 600,000 shareholders of TEPCO, 590,000 are individual investors and the impact on the economy will be large. I want you to refrain from saying things that may weaken TEPCO", restraining others from criticizing TEPCO.

I think Koichiro Genba, then-minister in charge of national strategy and current Minister of Foreign Affairs, may be the other minister who was worried about the stock market and particularly about TEPCO. He was the one who said "Let's all cheer for TEPCO" in late March last year.

No surprise, it all makes sense. Noda has already told the foreign press that no one is responsible for the accident, and everyone is responsible for the accident.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant Reactor 2: Another Thermocouple on Pressure Vessel Dies

Another thermocouple goes kaput on the Reactor 2 Pressure Vessel.

From Jiji Tsushin (4/15/2012):


Reactor 2 Pressure Vessel thermocouple deemed abnormal after jumping 6 degrees Celsius instantly, says TEPCO


TEPCO announced on April 15 that one of the thermocouples installed at the bottom of the Reactor 2 Pressure Vessel at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant jumped 6.1 degrees Celsius in an instant on April 14 night. TEPCO investigated, as the rise in temperature was abnormal. The resistance was found to be too high, and on early April 15 TEPCO decided to exclude the thermocouple from the list of instruments that are regularly monitored because there was a doubt on the reliability of the thermocouple.


According to TEPCO, the thermocouple in question is installed on the outer wall of the Reactor Pressure Vessel, about 2.9 meters from the bottom of the RPV. At 9PM on April 14, the temperature suddenly jumped from 53.8 degrees Celsius to 59.9 degrees Celsius. The other thermocouple at the same height but at a different position stayed at about 45 degrees Celsius, showing no marked difference.

So, at this location, there will be only one thermocouple monitoring the temperature. Originally there were three, at the measurement location called "vessel wall above bottom head", but the first one, 69H1, died back in February after shooting up above 250 degrees Celsius. Now the second one has died, which must be 69H2, looking at TEPCO's temperature data on Reactor 2: