Saturday, May 5, 2012

1st Oil Crisis in 1973 and the Push for Nuclear in Japan

Chugoku Shinbun has the original article on the day when the last operating nuclear reactor at Tomari Nuclear Power Plant in Hokkaido went offline for scheduled maintenance.

In the article, the paper notes (5/6/2012):


It was 1966 that Tokai Nuclear Power Plant by Japan Atomic Power Company started commercial operation. The last time all nuclear reactors in Japan stopped was in 1970, and there were only two commercial nuclear reactors.


Through the oil crises in the 1970s, KEPCO [Kansai Electric] and TEPCO competed with each other to build nuclear power plants. With the support from the national government, other electric companies followed suit. In the 1990s, all 9 electric companies in Japan (except for Okinawa Electric) had nuclear power plants, and that has remained that way to this day.


In the fiscal 2010, nuclear power plants in Japan supplied 26.4% of total electricity. Right before the March 11, 2011 disaster, more than 30 reactors were in operation [out of 54 at that time].

The first oil crisis was in 1973-1974 due to the Arab oil embargo in response to the 4th Arab-Israeli War. The second oil crisis was in 1979 after the Iranian Revolution.

Japan was particularly hit hard by the first oil crisis. The inflation soared in 1974 to 23% annually, and to counter the inflation the government raised the short-term interest rate to nearly 10%. The post-war high growth era ended that year when the GDP growth went negative. Energy costs skyrocketed, as Japan depended on the oil from the Middle East.

Along came the nuclear power. Too good to be true, in retrospect, but it sure looked very attractive - energy source that was not hydrocarbon from the Middle East.

Here's the list of nuclear reactors that were built after the first oil crisis of 1973/4. The number in parenthesis indicates the year in which the construction of the reactor started. All over Japan, from Tohoku to Kyushu:

Fukushima II (Daini) Nuclear Power Plant: Reactor 1 (1975), Reactor 2 (1979) - Fukushima Prefecture

Tokai II Nuclear Power Plant (1973) - Ibaraki Prefecture

Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant: Reactor 1 (1978) - Niigata Prefecture

Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant: Reactor 2 (1974) - Shizuoka Prefecture

Mihama Nuclear Power Plant: Reactor 3 - Fukui Prefecture

Ooi Nuclear Power Plant: Reactor 1, Reactor 2 - Fukui Prefecture

Ikata Nuclear Power Plant: Reactor 1 (1973), Reactor 2 (1978) - Ehime Prefecture

Genkai Nuclear Power Plant: Reactor 2 (late 1970s) - Saga Prefecture

By the way, the very first reactor at Tokai Nuclear Power Plant was a graphite-moderated gas-cooled reactor from the United Kingdom, modified in Japan to enhance seismic safety.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Hiroaki Koide: "Adults in Japan Should Eat Contaminated Food" to Atone for the Sins of Having Allowed Nuke Power

During the press conference in New York after the lecture on the status of Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant accident and radiation contamination in Japan, Dr. Koide of Kyoto University repeated his mantra (or curse, to many Japanese) that the food contaminated with radioactive materials from Fukushima should be consumed by adults who have allowed the nuclear power plants.

From the Japanese transcript by Portirland blog (5/5/2012):


There is no clean food.


Sadly, the Fukushima accident happened, and has spread contamination throughout the world. So there is no food that is clean or safe.


But there is a continuous variety of food from extremely contaminated food to relatively safe food. The issue is how to accept [allocate] such food.


Extremely contaminated food should be eaten by people who have promoted nuclear power. TEPCO top management, and politicians and scholars who have promoted nuclear power. I would like to build such a system.


The rest of the contaminated food should be eaten by adults, who have allowed nuclear power to this extent, so that the non-contaminated food goes to children.


However, in order to achieve that, it is necessary to accurately measure the contamination levels. I've been telling TEPCO to provide that information.


To do that, it would be a huge task. But unless we inspect many samples of rice, vegetables, fish, we can't let children eat them.

Well, I wonder how he is going to enforce his system. Some people have suggested some type of ID cards that will be required when purchasing food. With that system, if you are above certain age, you won't be allowed to buy "clean" food.

Koide's supporters almost always defend his position by pointing to the episode that Koide ate contaminated pastas from Italy after the Chernobyl accident because he thought he was partly responsible for the accident for having been a nuclear researcher and unable to stop nuclear power.

In the real world, Japanese children are being fed with radioactive food items in school lunches even after radioactive cesium is detected from the particular food items and even when there are safe (radiation-free) alternatives. Why? Because it is below the government-mandated safety limit. What good is testing? In the real world, mothers and fathers who want to buy clean food for their families are laughed at and even criticized for being selfish.

In such a world, Koide's insistence that adults should eat contaminated food somehow fits well. And we'll all go down...

How #Fukushima's Spent Fuel Pool Cooling Works

(or is supposed to work, considering numerous leaks...)

Spent Fuel Pools of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, particularly that of Reactor 4, continue to be in the news inside and outside Japan.

Dr. Hiroaki Koide of Kyoto University spoke in New York on May 3 and held a press conference on the status of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant and radiation contamination in Japan as he sees it.

He said about the Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool (I'm reading off from the Japanese transcript),


So-called reinforcement work was done [on Reactor 4 SFP]. (My translation, not the translation at the press conference)

Then, one of my blog readers sent me a link to the post that has an audio clip of a radio program, in which nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen seems to be saying that TEPCO has been pumping water into the Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool from the top, the water drains to the basement, and TEPCO is pumping the water from the basement back into the SFP.

That's news to me, but then I haven't carefully checked how the cooling of the Spent Fuel Pools at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant has been done after TEPCO installed the temporary heat exchangers. So I decided to look for info, and here's what I've found.

Asahi Shinbun had an article on the temporary cooling systems for the SFPs back in June last year, and here's their simplified diagram of the system (missing the Skimmer Surge Tank):

Here's what TEPCO released on July 9, 2011 after they tested the pipes after installing the heat exchanger and the air cooling system (secondary cooling) for Reactor 4 SFP:

Here's TEPCO's diagram of the same system, released on April 16 this year after the Reactor 4 SFP cooling system stopped due to a leak (the information was released only in Japanese; I labeled "Heat Exchanger"):

As far as I can tell, it is basically a closed system though leaks have happened. The excess water from the Spent Fuel Pool goes to the Skimmer Surge Tank, which then is then goes through the heat exchanger to remove heat (0.9MW in the Reactor 4 SFP, as per TEPCO's press release above). The water is then pumped back into the SFP.

Back in February when the water level of the Reactor 4's Skimmer Surge Tank was dropping more than usual, TEPCO injected the water from the bottom of the Reactor Pressure Vessel (which is filled with water). That water went from the RPV to the Reactor Well to the SFP to the Skimmer Surge Tank.

Contaminated water in the turbine building basements in Reactors 1, 2, 3 and 4 gets treated through cesium absorption towers (Kurion or SARRY) and desalination systems, then pumped back into the Pressure Vessels but not to any of the Spent Fuel Pools.

But all my information is from publicly available sources (newspapers, TEPCO, etc.). Mr. Gundersen may have his own private sources of information that points to the collapsing Reactor 4 SFP or the SFP water boiling. (As far as I can gather, the temperature of the SFPs at Fukushima is below 30 degrees Celsius.)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

#Radioactive Holidays in Japan: Volunteers Clean Out Sludge in the Side Drain in Former "No-Entry Zone" in Minami Soma, #Fukushima

Deja vu. Groundhog Day. As if nothing nuclear happened last year. What am I doing here, writing a blog about the nuclear accident and radiation contamination? What accident? What contamination?

NHK reports many volunteers gathered in Minami Soma City's Odaka District for the Golden Week holidays for the cleanup work after the March 11, 2011 earthquake/tsunami. Wearing flimsy masks and regular clothes, the volunteers removed debris from inside the house and scooped out the sludge from the side drain.

Odaka District is within 15 kilometer from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, and until April 16, 2012 it was inside the "no-entry zone".

And now? NHK and the volunteers interviewed don't even mention "radiation" or "nuclear accident". All is well in Minami Soma. Stop worrying about these people. They say the cumulative annual radiation exposure (external) in most of Odaka District will be less than 20 millisieverts, and therefore not a problem.

From NHK News (5/4/2012):


Using the Golden Week holidays, many volunteer workers have entered a district of Minami Soma City in Fukushima Prefecture where the "no-entry zone" designation was lifted last month, and are clearing the debris that is still left more than one year after the March 11, 2011 disaster.


The "no-entry zone" designation was lifted from Odaka District of Minami Soma City, about 15 kilometers from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, on April 16. However, there is still disaster debris to be removed and the houses to be repaired. Even after more than 1 year since the disaster, the damaged houses and wrecked automobiles from the tsunami are left unattended.


There were about 80 volunteers from all over Japan for the GW holidays at this location. After being instructed by the homeowner whose house was damaged by the tsunami, they carried out household items and scooped out the sludge in the side drain.


The homeowner said, "There are some household items that we can still use. We really appreciate the volunteer work like this."


A man who came as a volunteer from Tokyo for the first time said, "I cannot come on weekdays, so I decided to participate using the GW holidays. Now that I've seen it myself, I feel the recovery is still far away."


According to a group that organized volunteers, there is a shortage of manpower to do the cleanup. The group will continue to recruit more volunteers.

No Nuke Reactor Operating in Japan on May 6, First in 42 Years

Reactor 3 at Tomari Nuclear Power Plant in Hokkaido will be shut down for the scheduled maintenance around midnight on May 5.

Tomari's Reactor 3 is a Pressurized Water Reactor that started operation in 2009. Tomari Nuclear Power Plant is one of the newer nuclear power plants in Japan; the first reactor started operation in 1989. Reactor 3 plans to start using MOX fuel, but a third-party investigation revealed that the plant operator Hokkaido Electric (HEPCO) had used "shills" in one of the "town hall meetings" for the local residents in July last year to speak favorably of and promote the use of MOX fuel (according to the company announcement in October last year).

Hokkaido's governor Harumi Takahashi is a former career bureaucrat in the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and she wants to restart the nuclear plant as soon as possible.

From Mainichi Shinbun (5/4/2012):

泊原発3号機:5日に停止で国内稼働ゼロに 42年ぶり

Reactor 3 at Tomari Nuke Plant stops on May 5, no nuke plant operating in Japan for the first time in 42 years


Reactor 3 at Tomari Nuclear Power Plant operated by Hokkaido Electric (located on Tomari-mura in Hokkaido, 912 MW), the only operating reactor among 50 reactors in Japan, will stop on May 5 night due to the scheduled maintenance. The last time all the nuclear reactors in Japan stopped was 42 years ago in 1970, when there were only two reactors and they stopped at the same time for inspection. The national government wants to re-start Reactors 3 and 4 at Ooi Nuclear Power Plant operated by Kansai Electric (located in Ooi-cho in Fukui Prefecture), but it is not certain whether the local municipalities agree to the restart. There is a possibility that Japan will enter summer with high electricity demand with "zero nuclear reactors operating".


According to HEPCO, Reactor 3 has been gradually lowering the output since April 28 in preparation for the inspection. At about 5PM on May 5, the control rods will be gradually inserted in the reactor to stop the nuclear fission, and power generation will stop at about 11PM. At about 2AM on May 6, the control rods will be fully inserted to stop the reactor. In the afternoon on May 7, the cold shutdown will be achieved whereby the temperature of water inside the reactor drops below 100 degrees Celsius.

The number of nuclear reactors in Japan is now 50, after four reactors (1, 2, 3 and 4) at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant have been formally declared for decommissioning.

Kansai Electric has been warning the planned blackouts if Ooi Nuclear Power Plant is not restarted by summer. Anti-nuclear net citizens are saying, "Bring it on!"

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant During "Golden Week" Holidays - Extremely Quiet

Not much happening as far as the handout for the press is concerned.

Here's from May 2, 2012:

Containment Vessels for Reactors 1, 2, 3 still maintain pressure larger than the atmospheric pressure.

Temperatures of the Spent Fuel Pools seem slightly up from about a month ago (by 4 to 6 degrees Celsius; see the plant status report from April 2, 2012), but then the atmospheric temperature in Hamadori (coastal 3rd) of Fukushima where the plant is located was 10 degrees Celsius lower a month ago. Nowhere near the boiling temperature though.

For water decontamination, only Toshiba's SARRY is used for cesium absorption.

It is foggy and raining at the plant today. The Fuku-1 worker who tweets says construction people are working as usual at the plant during the Golden Week holidays, so are the maintenance people.

Crowd-Funding Your Way Out of High-Radiation Area in Japan

Comment Section of this post is disabled after numerous anonymous comments attacking a particular individual.


One of the readers of this blog is trying a unique way out of the high-radiation area in Chiba Prefecture: Crowd funding.

When I wrote a post about it on my Japanese blog on Monday (and took the above screen capture), the amount donated was $3,100. Now it's nearly double that.

Good luck, Chibaguy.

For the radiation level measurements taken by Chibaguy in Inzai City, Chiba, see this and this posts.

Families with children in the areas most affected by radiation from the nuclear accident often cite "money" as one of their main reasons for not moving out of the areas. Well here's a way, thanks to the net.

Graffiti on the City Hall Bldg in Akita Prefecture: "I Will Kill Myself If You Accept Radioactive Debris"

Spray-painted in red on the wall of the City Hall building in Odate City in Akita Prefecture. The city is considering accepting the disaster debris from Iwate and Miyagi.

Ironically, the city had been accepting the incinerator ashes from Nagareyama City in Chiba, until the ashes were found with 28,100 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium in July last year.

More ironically, the ashes from the wood pellets that the city uses and recommends for wood stoves to "fight global warming by reducing CO2" (according to Hokuroku Shinbun, local newspaper 3/17/2012 article) have been found with radioactive cesium exceeding 1,000 becquerels/kg. The pellets were made from local wood. The pellets were made from scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) imported from Europe.

The city has its own problem of radioactive ashes before it can take care of someone else's problem.

The photo was apparently taken by a resident of Odate City, who is very critical of the person who spray-painted the message. "It's an insult to people in the village in Iwate" where the debris will come from, he says in another tweet.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Japan tsunami debris moves towards US and Canada, NOAA says the debris is "highly unlikely" to be radioactive

Sooner than the experts had predicted.

From UK's Guardian (5/1/2012):

Japan tsunami debris moves towards US and Canada

Wreckage including lumber, footballs, parts of roofs and factories, and even bikes will soon start coming ashore in North America

Debris from the Japan tsunami pictured floating in the Pacific. Experts say debris will start coming ashore in North America sooner than thought. Photograph: Ho New / Reuters/REUTERS

Wreckage from Japan's tsunami – fishing gear and furniture, footballs and ships – has swept across the Pacific far faster than expected, with thousands of tonnes projected to land on North American shores this year.

Scientists believe lighter objects such as buoys and oil drums began reaching land last November or December. The rest is spread over thousands of miles of ocean between the Midway atoll and the northern islands of Hawaii.

About 95% will probably never come ashore and is destined for that massive swirl of floating plastic known as the north Pacific garbage patch. The remaining fraction is due to reach the west coast of the US and Canada in October.

No one expects to wake up one morning to a tsunami of rubbish. "It is not like you are going to be standing on the beach looking at the horizon and see a wall of debris come in," said Nicholas Mallos, a marine debris expert at the Ocean Conservancy.


A more definitive picture of the debris is unlikely to emerge before June or July when two privately-funded expeditions are due to travel into the north Pacific. But the latest computer models from the Japanese government and Noaa suggest most of the wreckage that will make landfall will begin washing up this October and continue into late 2013.

Washington, Oregon, British Columbia and Alaska will get much of the debris, while most of California will be protected by currents pushing objects back out to sea. Hawaii, however, is in line for several deposits of tsunami trash.

"It's going to bounce off the western shore of North America, swing back south and come back towards Hawaii and enter that big circular area called the North Pacific Garbage Patch," said Bill Francis, board president of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation in Long Beach, California, which will be leading one expedition. "I heard someone say it's like a big toilet that never flushes. Anything that floats is going to stay out there and stay out there."

The US navy and coastguard will be tracking accumulations of debris which could pose a danger to shipping.

The tsunami swept as much debris into the ocean in one day as is usually dumped in a year, threatening wildlife and the Pacific's ecology, conservationists said. Coral is smothered by plastic, fish get trapped in drifting nets. Birds die from eating plastic.

"It is clearly already an ocean problem. We know that all of these hundreds of tonnes of debris are in the ocean. We know that actually all of the plastic debris contains a lot of toxins, and we know there are other types of toxins that would have got into the ocean from the tsunami and so all of this debris represents a hazard to navigation and a terrible distress to the ocean ecosystem," said Mary Crowley, founder of the Ocean Voyages Institute, which will also be leading an expedition.

(Full article at the link)

Is the debris radioactive? NOAA answers "highly unlikely" according to the consensus of scientists. Their talking points:

  • First, the tsunami created debris over a large stretch of coastal Japan, while the leak from the damaged Fukushima reactor occurred in one place. Therefore, the vast majority of the debris was many miles away from the reactor, precluding any contact with the radioactive leak.

  • Second, the leak of contaminated water from the reactor into the sea started days to weeks after the debris was washed out to sea. By the time the radioactive water leak developed, the debris was already in the ocean, miles away from the reactor, and moving farther offshore by currents and wind. Exposure to contaminated water, which also moves by currents, was unlikely to occur.

  • Finally, vessels coming into the United States from Japan were monitored for radiation, and readings were below the level of concern. In the one instance where debris from the Fukushima region was found – a small boat picked up by the research vessel STS Pallada – it was tested for radiation and the levels were normal.

80% of radioactive materials dispersed into the atmosphere from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant went to the Pacific Ocean, according to the experts. No one exactly knows when the leak of highly contaminated water from the plant (near Reactor 2 water intake) started, though it is most likely after March 21, 2011 when there was a sudden jump in radioactivity in seawater at the plant. NOAA seems to account for the latter in their talking points but not the former, which may turn out to be bigger than the latter in terms of the total amount of radioactive materials.

Reuters: Greenpeace activist paraglides into French nuclear plant

From Reuters (5/2/2012):

A Greenpeace activist dropped a smoke flare as he flew over a French nuclear reactor on a paraglider on Wednesday, seeking to draw attention to what green activists call gaps in nuclear security four days before a presidential election runoff.

The plant's owner, EDF, confirmed an engine-powered paraglider had landed within its Bugey nuclear site in southeastern France.

The pilot flew over the plant and threw a red-smoke flare on the roof of a building before landing, television images showed.

"At no moment was the safety of the installations at risk," EDF said in a statement, adding that the pilot was caught by the police in charge of protecting the site.

Separately, another man entered the Civaux nuclear site in southwestern France through the truck gate and remained hidden for an hour in a thicket in the "surveillance zone" before being arrested, EDF said.

France's dependence on nuclear energy has been much debated ahead of the vote. France is more dependent on nuclear energy than any other country, relying on it to produce 75 percent of its electricity.

"This over flight shows the vulnerability of the French nuclear site to an air attack," Sophia Majnoni d'Intignano, in charge of nuclear questions at Greenpeace, said in a statement.

"While Germany took account of a plane crash in its safety tests, France still refuses to analyze this risk for our reactors."

Similarly, in December, Greenpeace activists entered the Nogent-sur-Seine plant near Paris, climbing onto one of the domes that houses a reactor, while other activists entered other nuclear installations.

Socialist presidential candidate Francois Hollande has said he would shut France's oldest nuclear plant if elected.

After the Fukushima disaster in March 2011, France along with other European countries, pledged to carry out safety tests on its 58 nuclear reactors to test their capacity to resist flooding, earthquakes, power outages, failure of the cooling systems and operational management of accidents.

But those did not include terrorist attacks, or the possibility of a plane crash.

(Reporting by Thierry Leveque and Sybille de La Hamaide, additional reporting by Marion Douet, editing by Maria Golovnina)

No need to directly attack a nuke plant, as Fukushima shows. All they need is to cut off electricity supply of any kind.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Japanese Politicians' Logic on Why Recovery Is Slow: It's Because of the Constitution Imposed by the US!

A group of politicians headed by the very person (Yasuhiro Nakasone) who was instrumental in introducing the nuclear energy in the post-World-War-II Japan has declared that the slow recovery from the March 11, 2011 disaster is because of the Japan's Constitution.

The Japanese Constitution was drafted by the officers at GHQ under General Douglas MacArthur and translated into Japanese and enacted in 1947. Hawks like Nakasone have been itching to scrap the Constitution that has "the Article 9" (renunciation of war).

From Jiji Tsushin (5/1/2012):


Slow recovery stems from the Constitution, says a nonpartisan group of politicians


The Alliance for Enacting the New Constitution, a nonpartisan group of politicians headed by former Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone met in the Parliamentary Museum on May 1 to promote the enactment of the new constitution. The group sees the current Constitution as a hotbed of the vertically segmented administrative system. It passed the resolution declaring "The fundamental cause of delay in the recovery from the March 11, 2011 disaster is the current Constitution" and that the group would promote the national debate toward constitutional amendment.

The group like this, or the one headed by the boy-wonder mayor of Osaka City, do not want to amend the Constitution. They want to ditch it completely.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Ministry of the Environment's Logic on Disaster Debris: Radiation Exposure Would Still Be Less Than World Average


For reasons known only to themselves at this point, the Ministry of the Environment continues to push for the wide-area disposal of the disaster debris in Miyagi and Iwate which also happens to be radioactive. A ministry official, Mr. Hiroshi Nakamura, manager of the waste disposal and recycle section at the local Kyushu branch of the Ministry of the Environment, held a meeting in Kumamoto City in Kumamoto Prefecture in Kyushu, one of the furthest prefectures from Fukushima I Nuke Plant in Japan mainland.

Questions and (non-)answers from the meeting, and additional Q&A between Asahi and the Ministry after the meeting, as reported by Asahi Shinbun Kumamoto local version (4/27/2012; emphasis is mine, my comment in blue):

(In the meeting)

Q: がれきの焼却灰が埋め立て後、地下水に影響を与えることはないか After the ashes from burning the debris are buried, will there be any effect on the groundwater?

A: (Mr. Nakamura): 計算上は安全 According to our calculation, it is safe.

Q: がれきの運搬費用はいくらか How much does it cost to transport the debris to Kumamoto?

A: 資料がない We don't have any information.

To the 20 questions that the Kumamoto prefectural government had prepared for the meeting,

A: 被災地は早期のがれき処理を望んでいる。詳しくはホームページを見て The disaster-affected areas want quick disposal of disaster debris. For details, please visit the website of the Ministry of the Environment.

(Asahi (Kumamoto) questions to the Ministry of the Environment after the meeting; absolutely brilliant non-answer after another)

Q 国はがれきの処理を3年間で終わらせる計画。期間を延長すれば、被災地で全量を処理できるのでは? The national government plan is to dispose the debris in 3 years. If you extend the time-frame, wouldn't it be possible to process all the debris in the disaster area?

A 被災地では仮設焼却炉を約30カ所に整備しているが、処理が追いつかない。処理が長期間に及べば、企業誘致などの経済活動にも支障をきたし、復興の妨げにもなる。 There are 30 temporary incinerators being built in the disaster area, but still not enough capacity to process. If the debris processing takes longer, the economic activities such as inviting businesses to the disaster areas will be hampered, which will delay the recovery.

Q 被災地から遠く離れた九州で処理する必要があるのか? Why is it necessary to dispose the debris in Kyushu, far away from the disaster area?

A 岩手、宮城両県は計約400万トンについて広域処理を希望している。一方、受け入れのめどが立っているのは約100万トン。地元では仮設の焼却炉で対応しているうえ、隣県での受け入れにも限界がある。焼却炉の増設よりも既存施設を使わせてもらったほうがコストも安い。 Iwate and Miyagi Prefectures want 4 million tonnes to be disposed in wide-area disposal. Of that, only 1 million tonnes may be accepted. In the disaster areas they are building temporary incinerators, and there are limits to how much the neighboring prefectures can take. It will save money if the existing facilities are used, instead of building new incinerators. [Existing facilities are not made to handle low-level radioactive waste; they are made for burning household garbage.]

Q 熊本までがれきを運搬する費用は? How much does it cost to transport the debris to Kumamoto?

A 受け入れ量や距離、交通手段によって異なるので即答できない。 I cannot answer right away because it depends on the amount of the debris, distance, and method of transportation.

Q 焼却灰の放射線濃度は1キロあたり8千ベクレル以下であれば安全と言うが、受け入れ総量が多ければ放射線量が多くなるはず。総量の基準は? You say it is safe if the radioactivity density of the ashes is less than 8,000 becquerels/kg. But if the total amount of debris is larger, the total radioactivity will be higher. Is there any standard for the total amount of radioactive materials?

A そのような声はあるが、基準はない。日本人が日常生活で大気や宇宙から浴びる年間の放射線量は世界平均の2.4ミリシーベルトに対し、1.48ミリシーベルト。仮に最終処分場の作業員が1日8時間の労働時間のうち、半分を8千ベクレルの焼却灰のそばで作業したとしても被曝(ひ・ばく)線量は最高で年間0.78ミリシーベルトだ。これを足しても世界の自然放射線量の平均より低い。灰を50センチ以上の土で埋めれば放射線をほぼ100%遮蔽(しゃ・へい)でき、住民への影響もない。 People ask us that, but there is no standard. The annual radiation exposure in Japan in daily life from the environment and from cosmic rays is 1.48 millisievert, compared to the world average of 2.4 millisieverts. [No. These numbers include internal radiation.] If a worker in the final disposal site spent half of his 8 work-hours per day near the ashes with 8,000 becquerels/kg, the maximum annual radiation exposure would be 0.78 millisievert. If you add that [to the national average of 1.48 millisievert], the radiation exposure would be still lower than the world average. [And therefore it is OK?] If you cover the ashes with 50 centimeters or more of dirt, the radiation would be almost 100 percent blocked, and there would be no effect on the residents nearby.

Q 熊本は地下水が豊富。焼却灰が地下水などに漏れだすおそれは?Kumamoto has a lot of groundwater. Any possibility of the ashes contaminating the groundwater?

A 基準以下の焼却灰は通常の埋め立て処理ができる。処分場は汚染水が土中にしみ出さない構造だが、焼却灰が水と接触しないような埋め方をしてもらい、付近のモニタリングを徹底していけば問題はない。 If [the radioactivity of] the ashes is less than the safety standard, you can bury as normal waste. [That's what the Ministry has arbitrarily decided, with no scientific basis.] The disposal site is built so as to not allow the contaminated water to leak into the soil. As long as the ashes are buried to avoid contact with water, and monitoring is done properly, there will be no problem. [And what if they aren't, and it isn't?]

Q 仮に実害が出たら国はどう責任をとるのか? If a real damage occurs, how will the national government take responsibility?

A 広域処理をお願いするがれきの放射線量は微量か不検出。被害はないと説明している。当然、風評被害などを招かないように情報発信には力を入れたい。
The radiation of the debris for wide-area disposal is minute or not detected. We've been telling people there is no damage. Of course, we will do our best to inform people so that there is no baseless rumor. [Meaning the government won't take any responsibility other than disseminating information to prevent baseless rumors.]

Such trust-inspiring answers. Kumamoto is hardly contaminated from the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident at all. And the government wants to bring the debris whose burned ashes may contain 8,000 becquerels/kg of radioactive ashes.

So what is the true purpose of this exercise?

Blueberry Jam from Poland with 220 Bq/kg of Radioactive Cesium, 26 Years After Chernobyl

The food retailer Meiji-ya was about to import blueberry jam from Europe, but the sample test found radioactive cesium exceeding the new safety limit of 100 becquerels/kg. Blueberries were grown in Poland.

From Chunichi Shinbun (5/1/2012):


140 to 220 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium was detected in the three jars of blueberry jam that food retailer Maiji-ya (Chuo-ku, Tokyo) was about to import from an Austrian distributor in April. The Ministry of Health and Welfare ordered the company to send back the shipment.


It was revealed by the import inspection, and the products are not sold in the market. This was the first time that imported food exceeded the new safety limit.


The blueberries were grown in Poland. Meiji-ya will return all 1,000 jars that it planned to import.


The safety limit for radioactive cesium for imported food was 370 becquerels/kg until the end of March, but starting April it is 100 becquerels/kg. Since the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident, there has been no imported food that was found with more than 370 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium.

US, Japan to Set Up "Bilateral Commission on Civil Nuclear Cooperation"

The "Fact Sheet" attached to the Joint Statement by the US president and the visiting Japanese prime minister says the two country will set up a joint commission that "foster comprehensive strategic dialogue and joint activities related to the safe and secure implementation of civil nuclear energy and the response to the accident such as decommissioning and decontamination".

When the word "safe" and the word "secure" are written side by side, I tend to be suspicious these days. That's what the governments of all sizes in Japan have said in just about every communication about the radiation and contamination since the March 11, 2011 nuclear accident - ”安全・安心” safe and secure, or secure and safe.

"Atoms for peace". Certain things never change between the fast allies, nuclear accident or not.

From the White House press release (4/30/2012; emphasis is mine):

Bilateral Commission on Civil Nuclear Cooperation: Building on the close U.S.-Japan cooperation following Japan’s March 2011 nuclear accident, Japan and the United States will establish a high-level Bilateral Commission on Civil Nuclear Cooperation to further strengthen our work in this field. The Commission will foster comprehensive strategic dialogue and joint activities related to the safe and secure implementation of civil nuclear energy and the response to the accident such as decommissioning and decontamination. The Commission is to coordinate more robust research and development exchanges in areas which may include nuclear energy, safety, and security, environmental management, and nonproliferation. It builds upon our March 2012 agreement on cooperation in the field of nuclear energy R&D, and also supports the commitments made by both countries at the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit. It is anticipated that the Commission will hold its first meeting at the earliest mutually convenient date. Japan and the United States will work for the success of the Fukushima Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety held by Japan in co-sponsorship with the IAEA in December this year.

March 2012 agreement on cooperation in the field of nuclear energy R&D?

OT: London Olympics to Be Powered by "Low Carbon" Energy from EDF

80% nuclear and 20% renewables, courtesy of the official Olympic partner EDF Energy.

From EDF's press release (4/23/2012):

EDF Energy to provide low carbon electricity for London 2012

23 April 2012

80% of the low carbon electricity sourced to supply the Games will come from EDF Energy’s existing nuclear fleet

EDF Energy underlined its commitment to a low carbon future when it revealed today (Monday, April 23) that the electricity it will supply for the London 2012 Games will be matched by equivalent amounts of electricity backed by nuclear and renewable sources.

EDF Energy, Britain’s largest producer of low carbon electricity, will guarantee that for each unit of mains electricity used on the Olympic Park it will provide a unit generated from low carbon nuclear and renewable sources to the national grid.

80% of the low carbon electricity sourced to supply the Games will come from EDF Energy’s existing nuclear fleet, with the remaining 20% coming from renewable generation assets. EDF is an official partner of London 2012.

Vincent de Rivaz, chief executive of EDF Energy, said: “I’m very proud that we will be powering London 2012 with a supply package that is backed by nuclear and renewable electricity. We are planning major investments in the UK to develop new nuclear power stations and more renewables which will provide safe low carbon power for decades to come. We want to encourage people to think about where their electricity comes from, and the carbon emissions associated with it. With nearly two-thirds of people now saying that nuclear is needed as an important part of Britain’s energy mix1, it is the right time to highlight the opportunities for customers to choose low carbon energy supplies.”

EDF Energy has just launched a low carbon supply tariff, Blue +Price Promise, which is 100% nuclear backed2 and lets consumers fix their energy prices until September 2013. It comes with the ground-breaking promise to customers that it will let them know if any supplier offers a product which is £1 or more a week cheaper3. Any Blue +Price Promise customers choosing to switch to another electricity supplier will not be charged a termination fee.

The EDF Energy London Eye is already powered by ‘Blue’ and Tower Bridge is also supplied with electricity matched by units of low carbon electricity generated from the company’s existing nuclear fleet.

EDF Energy has partnered in projects to replace the lighting on Tower Bridge, which will lead to a reduction of around 40% in the energy used to illuminate the bridge, and to install 120 electric vehicle charging points which will support the London 2012 vehicle fleet before remaining as a legacy of the Games. In addition, the Pod, EDF Energy’s programme for greener schools and part of ‘Get Set’, the official London 2012 education programme, is estimated to have engaged six million young people in sustainability since it was launched in 2008.

EDF Energy’s safe and secure operation of its eight existing nuclear power stations at sites across the country makes it Britain’s largest generator of low carbon electricity, generating about one-sixth of the Britain’s electricity from low carbon sources. EDF Energy is also leading the UK's nuclear renaissance and has published plans to build four new nuclear plants. These new plants could generate enough clean, secure and affordable electricity for about 40% of Britain’s homes.

In addition, EDF Energy is investing in the development of new renewable generation. Between the time EDF was appointed as an official partner to the Games in 2007 and the time of the Olympics taking place, the company expects to have more than trebled its wind farm generation capacity, with an increase in output from 85 Megawatts to 264 Megawatts. EDF Energy Renewables currently operates wind farms at 20 sites across the UK.

Last year, EDF Energy invested £1bn in its nuclear fleet, gas storage and new generation capacity. In the coming years, the company plans to invest billions of pounds more in low carbon generation and energy efficiency, creating thousands of jobs and providing a major boost to the UK economy and to local communities.

(H/T anon reader)

Harley-Davidson With Miyagi License Plate Washed Up in British Columbia, Canada

From CBC (4/29/2012):

A beachcomber on British Columbia's Haida Gwaii islands has discovered what may be the first piece of debris from the Japanese tsunami to arrive in Canada.

Peter Mark was riding his ATV, exploring an isolated beach on Graham Island on April 18, when he made a spectacular find.

"You just never know what you're going to stumble upon when you go for a drive, and lo and behold you just come across something that's out of this world," he said.

Mark found a large white cube, like the back part of a moving truck, just below the high tide mark.

"The door was ripped off it and I could see a motorcycle tire sticking out," he said. "So I went closer and looked inside and saw a Harley-Davidson motorcycle."

The bike was rusty, particularly on the wheels and handlebars, but the logo on the fuel tank was unmistakable.

...The motorcycle's licence plate shows it was registered in Miyagi Prefecture, and writing on the container matches photos of a commonly used Japanese moving van.

Mark also found a few golf clubs, tools and camping equipment in the container.

(Full article at the link)

Buddhist Monks Sit-in, Calling Christians to Join Them; Ultra-Right Joined by Ultra-Left in Hunger Strike Against Nuclear Power Plants

Buddhist monks in Matsuyama City in Ehime Prefecture in Shikoku are staging the sit-ins to protest against the prospect of restarting Ikata Nuclear Power Plant, which sits just outside the largest active fault in Japan (Median Tectonic Line) and part of the plant is built on the landfill. The monks are calling out to Christian churches to join them in the protest.

From Ehime Shinbun (4/29/2012):

宗教関係者が「伊方反対」の座り込み 松山

Religious leaders staged sit-in against the restart of Itaka Nuke Plant in Matsuyama


Religious leaders in the prefecture [Ehime] against the restart of Ikata Nuclear Power Plant operated by Shikoku Electric (in Ikata-cho) started the sit-in in a town square in Matsuyama City on April 28. About 25 people including Buddhist monks and the followers across the different sects gathered there, and chanted the Buddhist scriptures for an hour with the banners that said "Stop nuclear power plants".


The sit-in was carried out by "Buddhists for protecting children in Fukushima and stopping nuclear power plants" that was formed in September 2011 by 7 people including the chief priests of Buddhist temples in the city. The group is calling to more than 300 Buddhist temples and Christian churches in the prefecture to join them in the effort to oppose nuclear plants.


One of the members of the group, chief priest of Kannon Temple, said "Restart of the nuclear plant is a matter of life, and I would like more people to know that."


Sit-ins will continue until May 4, from 5PM for one hour.

And independent journalist Ryusaku Tanaka reports that two men are doing the hunger strike to protest against the restart of Ooi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukui Prefecture in front of the Prime Minister's Official Residence. One is a 26-year-old ultra-right nationalist, the other is a 40-year old ultra-left Communist who was a card-carrying member of the Japan Communist Party until 4 days ago when he left the party to carry out the hunger strike.

Tanaka reports that 26-year-old Yujiro Yamaguchi wants to stop the restart of Ooi Nuke Plant:


"I can't allow the restart. The government says it is "safe", but that's impossible. The politicians change their stories too often. They should compensate the victims [of the Fukushima nuclear accident] first."

40-year-old  Yasushi Seshita (it could be one of 6 different reading of the same character sets), when asked by Tanaka if he had any compunction against doing the hunger strike with the ultra-right nationalist, said:


"There is no right or left to make this country better."

Tanaka reports that Seshita has received a tweet from the leader of a ultra-right group expressing worry about his health. Seshita is happy that they are united in the opposition.

(Photos by Ryusaku Tanaka)

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Radioactive Cesium in Seawater Inside Silt Screen Turns Up Slightly at #Fukushima I Nuke Plant

I thought I hadn't seen TEPCO's press releases on radioactive materials measurements at water intake canals and subdrains at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant for some time. It turns out the data has been moved to a separate page "Result of Radioactive Nuclide Analysis around Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station".

Here are couple of charts from the latest (4/28/2012) data. The cesium densities in the seawater inside the silt screen for Reactor 2 and Reactor 3 have been turning up slightly. For the seawater inside the Reactor 2 silt screen, it could be within the normal fluctuation. The rise in the cesium density in the seawater inside the Reactor 3 silt screen looks rather persistent and sharp, but that could also be within the normal fluctuation in the longer time frame. Note the unit is becquerel/liter.

Seawater inside Reactor 2 silt screen:

Seawater inside Reactor 3 silt screen:

Checking the sub-drain pits, only the Reactor 1 sub-drain and Reactor 2 sub-drain show significant numbers. Here, the unit is becquerel/cubic centimeter.

Reactor 1 sub-drain:

Reactor 2 sub-drain: