Saturday, August 11, 2012

#Radioactive Pacific: Murorua Atoll, the Site of French Nuclear Testing Is in Danger of Collapsing, Says The Nuclear Association in French Polynesia

According to Wikipedia, the French government conducted 41 atmospheric nuclear tests at Mururoa (Murorua, Moruroa, Mururua) between 1966 and 1974, and underground tests until 1996. Total number of tests, according to wiki, is 181.

(The photograph is from Encyclopedia Britannica, from the Licorne test, July 3, 1970.)

(What were the French thinking?)

From Australian ABC News (8/10/2012; emphasis is mine):

Nuclear fears over French Polynesia atoll collapse

The Nuclear Association in French Polynesia has raised concerns that Murorua Atoll, the site of French nuclear testing in the Pacific, is in danger of collapsing.

Murorua e Tatou says the issue was detailed in a leaked report from the Ministry of Defence to the French government dated March 2010.

The Nuclear Association's president, Roland Oldham, told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat program that radioactive material could be released into the Pacific Ocean if the atoll were to collapse.

"Just in that little area there is over maybe twelve underground tests in that area and we have to remember that France have done altogether 193 nuclear test explosions in Murorua," he said.

"In the soil of Muroroa, if something happens there is about 150 holes containing very dangerous radioactivity."

The association says if the atoll were to collapse it could also trigger a 15 metre tsunami.

'Hidden information'

Mr Oldham is concerned the government didn't make the report available to the public earlier.

"This information was very discrete, I mean we only got this information now," he said.

"I mean the report is from 2010, why wait so long?

"So the public is not very aware of this situation."

Mr Oldham says the report doesn't properly emphasise the serious threat posed by the buried radioactive material.

"In this report that we got not too long ago, they're not even talking about radioactivity," he said.

"The way they present it it's like it's not very dangerous."

Raising public awareness

Mr Oldham says the association has been trying to raise the issue with the government and public.

"We've been trying to raise the consciousness of the people - our own people and our government and all the rest about this really frightening thing that could happen if actually one part of Murorua would collapse," he said.

The association want independent experts to be allowed to conduct a study to provide more information about the danger of the atoll collapsing.

Mr Oldham says if the atoll collapses there could be international ramifications.

"We have to warn everybody because the problem will not only concern some of the atolls that are only 100 kilometres from Murorua," he said.

"But I think it will be a really big problem to the environment if this nuclear radioactivity is to be diluted in the ocean and from there we have no control over what would happen."

(H/T readers of this blog for the link)

Photograph of Reactor 4 Containment Vessel Lid Removal: Hitachi Banner Proudly Displayed

as it should. The workers who did the work were from Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy and from Hitachi Plant Engineering and/or their subcontractors, judging by the photographs.

In the video also released by TEPCO, the workers on the ground were blurred, supposedly to protect privacy, and half the banner was hidden as the workers go back and forth in front of the removed lid.

But in the photographs, the only modifications TEPCO did was to blur the names of the workers on their backs. No need to blur the faces of the workers in the video anyway, because they all wore full face masks.

The work required 36 workers in two groups (18 each). The workers were exposed to maximum 0.39 millisievert for the work that took 15 minutes on August 10, according to the information TEPCO released on August 10, 2012.

(Click on the photo to enlarge.)

Mitt Romney Selects Paul Ryan as VP Candidate

From AP (8/11/2012):

AP source: Romney picks Ryan for running mate

Associated Press

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) -- Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has picked Wisconsin congressman Paul Ryan to be his running mate, according to a Republican with knowledge of the development. They will appear together Saturday in Norfolk, Va., at the start of a four-state bus tour to introduce the newly minted GOP ticket to the nation.

The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because this person was not authorized to disclose the decision.

In a statement issued Friday night, Romney's campaign would say only that the running mate would be revealed at 9 a.m. EDT at the Nauticus Museum. Berthed at the museum is the USS Wisconsin - which offered a hint about Romney's choice.


Ryan, 42, is viewed by some in the Republican Party as a bridge between the buttoned-up GOP establishment and a riled-up tea party movement that has never warmed to Romney.

As the chairman of the House Budget Committee, Ryan could help Romney make the argument that only the GOP ticket knows how to turn around a nation in the midst of a sluggish economic recovery. As talk about Ryan swirled this week, Democrats have been castigating Romney for embracing the Ryan-sponsored budget proposal that critics say is painful to the poor and elderly. It was a sign of the line of attack to come.

The move also now links Romney directly with House Republicans, including no-compromise tea partyers who have pressed for deep spending cuts. Obama has been casting House Republicans as an impediment to progress in the often-gridlocked Washington.

At the same time, Ryan on the ticket could help Romney become more competitive in Wisconsin, a state Obama won handily four years ago but that could be much tighter this November.

(Full article at the link)

(Phew. Glad it was not General "Betray Us" Petraeus or Condi "Mushroom cloud" Rice...)

Friday Protest at Prime Minister Official Residence Losing Steam? Or Just the Summer Doldrums?

Not surprising, given the summer vacation and coming "obon".

More and more people have started to openly say how immature some of the organizers of the Friday protests are in attacking anyone who doesn't agree with them with vicious words. Some also say women from Fukushima Prefecture had been protesting in the Kantei (PM's Official Residence) area long before they showed up.

Attribution errors on the part of the organizers (i.e. they are the ones who have made it happen) may cost dearly.

Photographs that I found on Twitter seem to show there was a plenty of space and a plenty of policemen but not enough protesters to fill the space and keep the police busy. There is no mention of how many people participated, either from the semi-official police source or from the organizers. No one is even guessing (or not that I could find).

From Akahata (Japan Communist Party's paper):

From "ざまあみやがれい" blog, screen shot of IWJ's Channel 5 at the start of the protest:

Photos from Labor Net Japan at least show people carried all sorts of messages, and it was no longer the "single issue" protest. Some are calling for evacuating children from Fukushima, others are calling for the ousting of Noda, and yet others are against the new Nuclear Regulatory Commission or against sales tax hike:

The woman in the last photo with tattoos on both arms is one of the organizers.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Building a Fancy Website, Minister of the Environment Goshi Hosono Apologizes to Citizens and Says "We Will Do Better From Now On" (But Wide-Area Debris Disposal Will Continue)

On a site which looks like it cost a small fortune to design and built (probably by one of the major PR firms in Japan), Goshi Hosono as the Minister of the Environment (he is still the minister in charge of the nuclear accident) posted a letter to the citizens of Japan, apologizing for his past sins and promising a better future.

The site came online yesterday (August 10) in Japan.

Net citizens are laughing, or fuming with anger (either for the silly content or for Hosono wasting their money).

Poor Mr. Hosono. Can't win no matter what, because he won't do the only thing he can win - to stop the wide-area disaster debris disposal.

The site looks like this. The letter is written in a traditional Japanese format - from right to left, top to bottom. (Click to enlarge.):

Here's what Mr. Hosono says (my best effort to retain the poetic prose of the original):

Letter to everyone [he says in an honorific form of Japanese, "みなさま"] - No.1
To Every Citizen of Japan.

Hello. This is Goshi Hosono, Minister of the Environment.

I believe that the Ministry of the Environment's
way of communicating with you and
providing information to you hasn't been optimal, and I am sorry.

Great East Japan Earthquake generated disaster debris, and
there are issues of decontamination, particularly in Fukushima Prefecture;
but we have to take back our environment where our children and grandchildren can live in safety,
and that's our mission at the Ministry of the Environment.

However, to make you feel safe,
information has to be transmitted and explained to you in an easy-to-understand manner,
and we have failed, that's the way I feel.
That has led to your distrust in the government, causing everyone who wants recovery
to doubt the government unnecessarily,
I reflect on it deeply.
I am very sorry.

We will change our way.
Problems occurring right now,
what we're thinking, and what we're actually doing,
by showing data,
we will explain to you so that you understand.

(further to the left, not in the image above)
As part of our effort, my personal thinking, and
what I would like to share with you,
in a few installments
I will tell you about them in a letter like this.
Thank you, and I look forward to communicating with you.

August 10th, 2012 (Heisei Year 24)

Goshi Hosono
Minister of the Environment

One thing Mr. Hosono, as a politician, doesn't know how and doesn't do well: to shut up, to keep quiet.

The bottom half of the web page has a form with which you can send your opinions and ideas. I added the labels for your reference. For the "location" field, the bottom of the drop down menu is "overseas" for those of you outside Japan. (Click to enlarge.)

Apparently many net citizens of Japan have been expressing their opinions using this page, and the server was down for a while. But now it's back online.

#Fukushima Peaches to Be Exported to Thailand, Starting Late August

Buyers from Thailand say they are satisfied with the testing procedure that the Fukushima prefectural government has in place.

To recap that testing method (for more details about peaches in Fukushima, see my previous post about Fukushima peaches offered to the Imperial Family):

  • Take a small amount of sample from each peach farmer.

  • Test it using the NaI scintillation survey meter with high detection limit (probably 25 becquerels/kg).

  • If the sample registers more than 50 becquerels/kg, then test it with the germanium semiconductor detector that the prefectural government owns, again with relatively high detection limit (about 10 becquerels/kg).

  • If the sample tested using the germanium semiconductor detector has less than 100 becquerels/kg, all clear!

Looking at the pictures of how they test using the NaI scintillation survey meter (click to enlarge), the sample size looks no more than 100 milliliters. Testing laboratories run by the citizens' groups in Japan and by private companies require at least 1 liter (1,000 milliliters) of samples to be effective, and they use the same or better NaI scintillation survey meters.

The article below from Fukushima Minpo says one additional thing and that's troubling; rice from Fukushima has been exported overseas AFTER the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident. I wasn't aware of that news.

From Fukushima Minpo (8/10/2012):

県産モモ、今月下旬輸出 タイのバイヤーが県庁訪問

Peaches produced in Fukushima to be exported, starting late August; Buyers from Thailand visit the prefectural office


It was agreed in the meeting with the buyers from Thailand invited by JETRO (Japan External Trade Organization) that peaches grown and harvested in Fukushima Prefecture will be exported to Thailand starting late August. This will be the second case of Fukushima produce to be exported overseas, after the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident, following the rice; it will be the first for peaches.


The buyers for department stores and supermarkets in Thailand decided to import [the peaches]. Peaches harvested mostly in the orchards in the northern district of Fukushima will be exported till early October. The amount of export will be determined between the parties. The peaches will be tested for radioactive materials at a laboratory in Japan designated by the Thai government, and as soon as the safety is confirmed they will be delivered by air.


The group of Thai buyers visited the prefectural government office on August 9, and was briefed on the situation of testing for radioactive materials and on the characteristics of the taste [of the peaches]. One of the buyers was eager to sell the peaches in Thailand, saying "I'm convinced of the safety after seeing the testing process in Fukushima. People in Thailand trust goods made in Japan. Peaches are delicious, and I'm looking forward to promoting and selling a lot of them."


On August 8, the buyers had visited an orchard in Date City, a department store in Koriyama City, and the prefectural agricultural experiment station. They observed how [the peaches] were sold, and how the testing for radioactive materials was done.


After the Fukushima nuclear accident, East Asian countries including China, Korea and Taiwan have stopped importing the produce from Fukushima Prefecture. Before the March 11, 2011 disaster, Thailand had been importing the peaches from Fukushima.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant Reactor 4: Containment Vessel Lid Removed from Operating Floor

From Fuku-I live camera, August 10, 2012 between 11AM and 12PM, 3x speed:

The yellow lid had been removed from the Containment Vessel in Reactor 4 when the earthquake and tsunami hit, as Reactor 4 was in the middle of extended maintenance (to replace core shroud). It was on the opposite corner on the operating floor from the Spent Fuel Pool, as you can see in this photograph from May this year. (Now the SFP is covered with steel sheets and most of the trusses are gone.)

(H/T reader Patrick Nowlen)

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: SARRY's Kanaflex Hose Finally Replaced with Steel Pipe

Toshiba's SARRY is a system with tall metal towers filled with different types of zeolites to absorb radioactive cesium in the water contaminated after being injected into the Reactor Pressure Vessels of Reactors 1, 2 and 3. It has pretty much replaced the trouble-prone Kurion system that operates on basically the same principle. As AREVA's decontamination system has also been stopped since September last year (when AREVA's system was found to increase the radioactivity; too radioactive even to enter the building, according to workers who tweet from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant), SARRY has been doing all the decontamination of radioactive materials from the water before the desalination process.

TEPCO released the photographs of the improvement it did to the system that is housed in the Miscellaneous Solid Waste Volume Reduction Treatment Building. There have been several leaks in the different parts of the system since the beginning of this year. Here's one from this March, from a bad weld. Here's another in February, when they found 3 Sieverts/hour radiation from the sludge from the pipe.

I was dismayed and sad, looking at the photographs. What's all the clutter? It looks like a half-abandoned building, not tended by workers for a long time. Look at the crude brace with lumber around the replaced Kanaflex...

Then I remembered a tweet by the worker at Fuku-I; no one envisioned a system (not just SARRY) to last for more than one year. SARRY came online in August last year.

From TEPCO's Photos and Video Library (8/9/2012), "Reliability Improvement of the Second Cesium Absorption Apparatus" (click to enlarge):

Many of the readers say TEPCO is so incompetent, rightfully. But what could you do when you have no money (for the plant, plenty for the top management and HQ personnel) and a dwindling number of workers with enough radiation exposure "credit" left?

There were people in the past who said they would like to come and work at the plant. Former Prime Minister Naoto Kan is one. And those retired engineers who formed an organization to press the government and TEPCO to accept them at the plant as volunteers.

Well, they could sign up with one of the subcontractors of the subcontractors of the subcontractors of TEPCO for 8,000 yen per day. Age and experience are not asked in the job interviews, I hear.

OT: Olympic Women's Soccer Final - "German ref is the best in the world but she missed a handball by the US" says Welt Online

Oh well. If the referee, Ms. Bibiana Steinhaus had called a handball by a US player in the first half and awarded a penalty kick to Japan, the score may have been 2-2. She didn't, and Japan lost to the US 1 to 2 in the Olympic Final. C'est la vie.

From Welt Online (in German; 8/9/2012):

Bibiana Steinhaus patzt im Olympia-Finale

Die deutsche Schiedsrichterin Bibiana Steinhaus zeigte im Fußball-Finale zwischen Olympiasieger USA und Japan eine gute Leistung. Wäre da nicht dieses eine Handspiel im Strafraum gewesen.

Carli Lloyd hat die amerikanischen Fußballerinnen zu Gold geschossen. Die 30-Jährige erzielte beim 2:1 (1:0)-Sieg der USA im Endspiel des olympischen Turniers gegen Weltmeister Japan beide Tore (8./54.). Für die USA war es der vierte Olympiasieg und der dritte in Folge.

Vor der neuen olympischen Rekordkulisse von 80.203 Zuschauern im Londoner Wembley-Stadion, darunter FIFA-Präsident Sepp Blatter, kam Japan durch Yuki Ogimi (63.) vom deutschen Meister Turbine Potsdam noch einmal heran. Doch auch, weil Schiedsrichterin Bibiana Steinhaus (Hannover) Japan einen Handelfmeter verwehrte, reichte es nicht zu mehr als Silber.

"Sie ist die Beste der Welt”

Für die Hannoveranerin, die als einzige Frau in der Zweiten Liga der Männer pfeift, war das Finale ihr bislang größter Karriere-Auftritt. Und der einzige einer Deutschen bei diesem Fußballturnier, die Nationalmannschaft hatte sich nicht qualifiziert.

"Bibiana ist eine außergewöhnliche Schiedsrichterin, sie ist die beste der Welt", hatte DFB-Schiedsrichter-Boss Herbert Fandel vor dem Finale gesagt: "Ich freue mich riesig für sie, weil sie einen unglaublich hohen Aufwand dafür betreibt."

Der sich an diesem Abend nicht auszahlte. Steinhaus übersah nach einem Freistoß ein Handspiel der Amerikanerin Tobin Heath im Strafraum (26.).

Oh well. Diego Maradona called his handball the "hand of God" in 1986 World Cup.

Friday Protest at PM Official Residence On, Despite Declining Number of Protesters

The "single issue plus one" protest action organized by the Metropolitan Coalition Against Nukes is on yet again this Friday (8/10/2012) in Tokyo, after a rather disappointing attendance on the August 3 protest in which the police source said 4,000 attended and the organizers said 70,000 attended.

Here's information for those of you who want to go, from the organizer's webpage:


Withdraw the appointment of commissioners for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission! Stop Ooi Nuke Plant immediately, and stop the restart!
*Following the last week's protest, on the impending appointment of commissioners for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission which requires the approval from the National Diet, we will also protest against this appointment that will invite in the people from the "nuclear village" including Mr. Shunichi Tanaka.

【日時】8/10(金)18:00〜20:00 予定

Date and Time: Friday August 10, 6:00-8:00PM
Place: At the Prime Minister's Official Residence, and Nagatacho/Kasumigaseki areas [where the ministries are located]
(Please use Kasumigaseki Station, Toranomon Station, and Sakuradamon Station)
*Kokkaigijidomae Station on Chiyoda and Marunouchi Line is expected to be extremely crowded.
Organizer: Metropolitan Coalition Against Nukes

The organizers continue to insist there be no signs, banners, flags that have nothing to do with anti-nuclear or beyond-nuclear messages. Mr. Yasuo Tanaka (leader of the New Party Nippon) will again distribute white balloons (of which I still fail to see any connection to the anti-nuclear protest).

The organizers who have been active on Twitter trashing anyone who doesn't sing their praise seem to have managed to alienate many net citizens, who have taken these members' taunts literally ("If you think you can do it, go ahead and do it separately") and are organizing separate events on issues they think more pressing and/or important (ACTA, TPP, tax hike, etc.). For more about these organizers, see my previous post.

To me personally, any protest which does not address radiation contamination in food and soil, wide-area disaster debris disposal, and non-existent "recovery" in Tohoku is suspect.

In the meantime, the meeting between the organizers and the prime minister has been postponed (probably for good, many hope) due to the "pressing nature of the political scenes" as the media portrays. The vote of no confidence against the Noda administration has been defeated, thanks to LDP and Komei members of the Lower House who didn't attend the session. Ex-Prime Minister Hatoyama, a new darling of many who are against nuclear power, didn't attend either.

Hatoyama seems he needs more time to gain more popularity among voters, and early Lower House election is not in his interest either.

Anyhow... if any of you are going, please let us know how it goes.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant Reactor 1 Balloon Survey of 5th Floor Was Unsuccessful

I had to laugh and cry, looking at the photographs of the huge, red and white balloon with cameras attached using duct tape. This is sad.

According to TEPCO's press release on 8/8/2012, the balloon couldn't pop out onto the operating floor (5th floor) because it was stopped by a cable on the 4th floor. The balloon did take photographs of the 4th floor.

The purpose of the survey (not fulfilled by this project) was to see what the 5th floor was like, in order to prepare for the future removal of fuel assemblies from the Spent Fuel Pool. (See my post from July 23, 2012.)

5 TEPCO employees and 14 affiliate company workers did the work, for about 35 minutes, receiving maximum 1.54 millisievert for the shortened work.

From TEPCO's Photos and Videos Library, 8/8/2012:

1. Investigation Outline

The investigation was conducted to understand the current condition of Unit 1 operating floor (5th floor) and provide inputs to the consideration of fuel removal from the spent fuel pool.

Investigation items
Though the following items were planned to be investigated by utilizing a balloon equipped with a camera, the balloon was unable to reach the operation floor as it interfered with a obstacle which is assumed to be a cable.
- Current conditions of the roof debris, the overhead traveling crane and the fuel handling machine
- Accessibility from the large carry-in entrance to the equipment hatch and SFP
- Dose measurement at the equipment hatch opening on the operating floor

Members participated
TEPCO employees: 5
Members of cooperative companies: 14

Day and time of investigation
Wednesday, August 8
From 1:41 PM to 2:15 PM

Maximum radiation dose
1.54mSv (Planned dose: 5mSv)

Here's the balloon:

Balloon floating inside the hatch shaft (Photo taken from straight below the balloon):

4th floor of Reactor 1:

The tank-like structures are IC (Isolation Condenser). TEPCO workers went inside Reactor 1 building on October 18, 2011 to investigate them, braving the extremely high radiation:

Translation of TEPCO Video on March 14, 2011 When Reactor 3 Exploded: Steam Explosion, or Hydrogen Explosion? Or Both? (Or Just Confused?)

In the video, Plant Manager Yoshida seems to be saying it was "steam explosion" (水蒸気爆発) in Reactor 3. When a TEPCO senior executive (perhaps Mr. Komori, from the voice) talks to NISA, he is saying "possible hydrogen explosion". The official account is that it was a hydrogen explosion.

The video gets surreal halfway toward the end, when someone who sounds like then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano is heard talking about controlled rolling blackouts.

My translation of the sound as heard in the video:

"Video from March 14, 2012, around 11:01AM, explosion in the Reactor 3 building"

(at 0:05 -)
About the dose level, it is 39.406 microcurie/hour.

(at 0:20, the upper right screen for 1F (Fukushima I Nuke Plant) shakes.)

(at 0.58 -)
HQ?: Well, right now, 3-meter tsunami warning issued for Hamadori [coastal Fukushima], can you hear us, 1F? 3-meter tsunami warning has been just issued for Hamadori. Please pay attention.

(at 1:13 - )
Plant Manager Yoshida at 1F: HQ! HQ!

HQ: Yes, this is HQ.

Yoshida: HQ! HQ! It's bad! It's bad!

HQ: Yes!? Yes?

Yoshida: Reactor 3, probably steam explosion, it just happened!

HQ: (in a weak, almost disappearing voice) Alright... (someone else) O..OK.. Emergency communication...

Yoshida: (overlapping the HQ person) Happened at 11:01AM.

HQ: 11:01AM. (totally unexcited,) Roger. We will make emergency communication...

Yoshida: OK!

HQ: That, that is the same as Reactor 1 [explosion], isn't it?

Yoshida: Yes, in the building, inside the Anti-Seismic Building here, we can't tell, but a side-way shake, clearly different from an earthquake, came, and there was no after-shake like in an earthquake. So I think this is an explosion, just like what happened in Reactor 1.

HQ: OK. Roger.

In Yoshida's background at 1F: Parameters! Somebody look at the parameters of Reactor 3! Call the central control room for Reactor 3 and find out!

Yoshida: And the workers on the scene, will take shelter, take shelter!

HQ(?): We'll notify people immediately. Emergency communication...

(From 2:17 to 2:25, yelling and shouting in the background, probably at 1F. Someone at the Off-Site Center - upper left screen - sits with folded arms.)

Yoshida: Well, NISA [Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency] and Prime Minister's Office...

In Yoshida's background: The environment inside this room [the emergency response headquarters on the 2nd floor of the Anti-Seismic Building at Fukushima I], no change in gamma rays and neutrons. Report over.

Yoshida: ... keep them connected, real-time.

Yoshida's background: Hey! (beep)

(2:40, someone is heard making a speech. It sounds like Yukio Edano, then-Chief Cabinet Secretary and the administration spokesman)
"... causing troubles for you. However, the actual power suppl..." (cut off)

(HQ? 1F?): To Mr. Takeguro...., directly... [Takeguro, TEPCO's representative at PM Official Residence]

(3:10 Voice that sounds like Mr. Edano comes back)
" you prepare, to minimize your inconvenience..."

HQ (Probably Mr. Komori?, executive director, making a phone call to NISA): At 11:02AM, (was that 11:02?), at 11:02, in Reactor 3, there was a possibility of hydrogen explosion, we've been just informed by the plant. It's the first report...

At 1F (Yoshida, overlapping Komori): Please take shelter, make sure everyone is safe, take shelter. Then, measure the dose rate carefully and report. Now, everyone, please gather closer, and make sure everyone is OK.

Yoshida: And there's also a tsunami warning. As a precaution, please withdraw [to shelter] as soon as possible.


At 1F: Uh... as soon as you confirm, to the [worker] welfare unit, please report to the welfare unit once people take shelter. Please report to the welfare unit.

HQ (TEPCO's then-president Shimizu): This is Shimizu, head of the [HQ Response team]. Inform the related parties and report back right away...


On checking the news articles from March 14, 2011, it was indeed Yukio Edano, doing the press conference as Chief Cabinet Secretary, at 10:55AM, and right at that moment, speaking about the planned rolling blackouts (Asahi Shinbun, 3/14/2011).

180 Peaches from a Town in #Fukushima to Be Offered to the Imperial Household (Again)

Deja vu. Since they did exactly the same thing last year when the higher levels of radioactive cesium were being detected in peaches, why not this year, too?

As Yomiuri presents the story, the peach farmers in Koori-machi in Fukushima seems eager to use the Imperial Family as the endorsement of the safety of their peaches.

From Yomiuri Shinbun (8/8/2012):


Fukushima - 180 hand-picked peaches packed, to be offered to Imperial Family


A ceremony to pick the peaches to be offered to the Imperial Family was conducted in Koori-machi in Fukushima Prefecture on August 8. The peaches will be presented to the Imperial Family on August 9.


The work was done at the JA Date Mirai Koori Branch on August 8. 1020 peaches were selected first from all the peaches harvested in the town which cleared the standards for sweetness and size. From those 1020 peaches, 180 was carefully hand-picked that were of particularly high physical beauty in terms of shape and color, and packed in the boxes.


The town is well-known for its peaches. It is more than 60 kilometers away from TEPCO's Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, but it has suffered baseless rumors after the nuclear accident. According to the JA Date Mirai, the prices of this year's peaches are about 70 to 80% of the pre-disaster prices. Co-op president [of the branch] Nobuo Ohashi (age 64) says, "Farmers are proud to be offering to the Imperial Family. We will fight the baseless rumors and do our best."

Baseless rumors. Many farmers and government officials in Fukushima have said "baseless rumor" to any detection of radioactive materials less than the government safety standards (first it was 500 becquerels/kg provisional limit, then the current 100 becquerels/kg, for cesium), even though the testing was "monitoring" - i.e. sampling - and less than 1% of vegetables shipped were tested at least initially.

So how "baseless" (radioactive) are the peaches from this particular town (Koori-machi) this year? According to the Fukushima prefectural government site, a government-funded organization is measuring the radiation of the peaches grown in Fukushima. It is still a sample monitoring, taking peaches from all peach growers in Fukushima. The measurement is done using NaI scintillation survey meter, and as long as there is no detection above 50 becquerels/kg, the organization declares it "safe".

For peaches from Koori-machi,

  • No. of peaches tested: 739 (from 6/25 to 8/5/2012)

  • No. of peaches with less than 25 Bq/kg of cesium: 727 (98%)

  • No. of peaches 25 to 50 Bq/kg of cesium: 12 (2%)

(Screen capture of the test results for peaches in Koori-machi, from the Fukushima prefectural government webpage)

Koori-machi's percentage of peaches with cesium between 25 to 50 Bq/kg is the second highest among cities and towns whose peaches are being tested. (The highest percentage, 3%, is from Date City.)

They don't even know (or care to know) exactly how much below 25 Bq/kg.

There are a few tests of peaches from Koori-machi done by the prefectural government, using the germanium semiconductor detector. So far this year, two samples out of 6 tested positive for radioactive cesium, and the highest was 10.24 Bq/kg. Detection limits are rather high, between about 5 and 10 Bq/kg.

(Screen capture of the Fukushima Prefecture's "Fukushima Shin Hatsubai" search result of the sampling tests of peaches in Koori-machi, in English)

The tweet with the link to this Yomiuri article was tweeted by someone I follow, a university researcher who has been vigorously testing the everyday food items that are being sold in the marketplace and cautioning people. He tweeted the link, and and his comment was "With no comment".

I've read anecdotes of farmers in Fukushima, shyly offering visitors if they would like to try their pickled vegetables (or any other food items) that they grew and made, saying "Only if you want to try, we have it tested and there was no radioactive material". I think it's a sad, painful story. But the farmers in the above Yomiuri article don't seem to have any problem, pushing their produce to the Imperial Family which has small children.

Oh yes it's all because of TEPCO's accident, and the farmers are victims.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Yomiuri Shinbun on TEPCO's Video: "They Even Blurred the Face of President Shimizu"

I was amused to read that even Yomiuri Shinbun - pro-nuke and pro-government - is indignant at TEPCO's censoring of the video of the teleconferencing in the first 5 days of the accident.

I was further amused that Yomiuri, of all newspapers, accused TEPCO of its negative attitude toward information disclosure.

From Yomiuri Shinbun (8/7/2012):


Tense moments full of modifications... TEPCO even blurred the face of the president


On August 6, TEPCO finally released the video recording of the teleconference between the headquarters and the plant right after the start of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident.


However, the images and sounds were not clear, with many blurs. Only part of the recording was made public, indicating the negative attitude of the company toward information disclosure.


The recording is 150-hour long, and according to TEPCO 1,665 voices and 29 images have been modified. The company says it is to protect the privacy of individual employees and there is no other intention.


However, blurring is such that we can't even discern the face of then-President Masataka Shimizu, and we cannot see the facial expressions in others. Voices are often interrupted with beeping sound or muted.


The screen is divided into 6 smaller screens. It was a teleconference between the headquarters and Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant and other locations, so the image quality is not that great to begin with. However, an engineer at an audio-visual company suspects TEPCO may have modified the footage more than necessary. For an example, he says, "About the seawater injection, Plant Manager Masao Yoshio made a cross with his hands [indicating "no go"] in one scene. But only his hands are blurred [and look unnatural].


The press have demanded the public disclosure of the recordings of the teleconference since the start of the accident. TEPCO has declined the request due to "employees' privacy". The disclosure was finally decided by the new management who was installed on June 27 this year [at TEPCO's shareholders' meeting]. However, TEPCO's conditions for disclosure include (1) No recording of sound or images allowed; (2) No reporting of names of TEPCO's employees other than the top management, and the company says it will prohibit the violators from further viewing the recording and attending TEPCO's press conference.


On top of these stipulations, the company initially said the viewing would be only for 5 days, and that only one reporter per news organization would be allowed to view the raw footage. Thanks to the instruction from Mr. Edano, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, TEPCO extended the period to about one month.


Japan Newspaper Publishers & Editors Association requested that TEPCO disclose the entire footage without modification, but only 5-day worth of footage has been made public. TEPCO's negative attitude toward information disclosure is also reflected in the footage that has been publicly disclosed.


When [experts] were pointing to the possible hydrogen explosion of Reactor 3 [i.e. before Reactor 3 exploded], then-Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata is heard on the phone with TEPCO's senior management, "It is a judgement call whether it is OK to disturb citizens. If I'm asked about it (possibility of hydrogen explosion) in the next press conference, I will deny it, and say it is not possible."

Well, I don't quite agree with Yomiuri's assessment (Yomiuri, of all newspapers) that Mr. Katsumata's comment means TEPCO was trying to hide. At that time, it might have caused panic, although it may have been no big deal after the explosion of Reactor 1. What was more criminal was what the national government did after the explosion of Reactor 3 on March 14, and the explosion of Reactor 4 on March 15. They did nothing. They didn't warn residents in the surrounding areas beyond saying "it may be better to stay indoors just in case", they didn't warn residents at all in the wider areas in Tohoku and Kanto where the radioactive plume went.

Unlike officials in Contra Costa County in California who warned the residents on what to do to protect themselves from the toxic fume from the Chevron refinery accident, the Japanese government did nothing. It could have said exactly the same thing as the Contra Costa County officials said:

Don't be outside, go indoors, close doors and windows, shut down air conditioners, and seal doors and windows with tapes or wet towel.

Instead, the Prime Minister's Office (under Naoto Kan) issued a vague, cryptic announcement on March 20, 2011, telling citizens that it might be better not to get wet in the rain, but if you did get wet, no big deal. "There is no effect on health", the announcement says. The phrase sounds painfully familiar now.

If you're interested in viewing the video(s) publicly disclosed (about one hour and 30 minutes), here are the links:

TEPCO: (Oh wait, now they allow download... I will download it (665MB).)
Nikkei Shinbun:
Sankei Shinbun (Youtube channel):

Yahoo Japan Collaborating with Ministry of the Environment to Promote Wide-Area Disaster Debris Disposal

Yahoo has a much more significant presence in Japan. People go there for news, and its auction site (after the premature departure of eBay from Japan) competes with Rakuten.

Now, Yahoo Japan is collaborating with Goshi Hosono's ministry, along with two other media outlets, to spread the message of what wonderful things the wide-area disaster debris disposal can achieve.

According to the Ministry of the Environment press release on July 31, 2012, the other two are ソトコト (Sotokoto) magazine and J-WAVE (FM radio station).

Here's the screen shot of the site that Yahoo Japan hosts in collaboration with the Ministry of the Environment:

On the masthead, the message is:


Disaster Recovery Support Special
Everyone's thought gives power to recovery
Let's all participate in disaster debris disposal

In other words, "Think wide-area disaster debris disposal (burning and burying) and do it, then we will have the recovery of Tohoku." The same old message that Goshi Hosono has been repeating for nearly a year since his appointment as the Minister of the Environment.

Scrolling down, there are suggested activities which you can participate to help expedite the recovery:

Work as a volunteer!
Buy goods from disaster-affected areas!
Support municipalities accepting the disaster debris!

(Uh... you mean supporting people like Governor of Tokyo?)

The look and feel is not that of Yahoo Japan, as it says on the top right corner that the site is a "Yahoo Japan Promotional Event, from August 1 to September 30, 2012".

Looking at the site, a lot of taxpayers' money must have gone into building the site. Win-win for the parties involved, no doubt - Ministry of the Environment bureaucrats who want to spend as much money as possible to justify their bloated budget, nation's top PR agency (Hakuhodo or Dentsu; maybe Dentsu, as Hakuhodo has been busy carrying out surveys for the Cabinet Office) coming up with the contents for the site and the site design, company who actually assembles the site, and the portal like Yahoo Japan who will host the site.

What's crazy about all this is that the Ministry of the Environment has already instructed the municipalities who have expressed interest in receiving the debris not to proceed, as the amount of the debris has turned out to be much, much less and there is hardly any need after all to ship the debris outside the prefectures affected by the disaster (Miyagi, Iwate).

So, spending all this money in building a site to achieve exactly what? To persuade residents of Osaka City and Kitakyushu City, whose mayors are adamant as ever to bring the debris and burn it to help the recovery?

I wonder if Yahoo's new CEO (former Google engineer) knows about this project, but the last I read about Yahoo's own recovery effort, Yahoo wanted to divest its Asia operations including Yahoo Japan to raise cash. So it may be totally OK with her if the Japanese subsidiary openly collaborate with the government ministry pushing this totally unnecessary project of spreading the disaster debris contaminated with industrial pollutants from the tsunami and radioactive materials that fell on it after the nuclear accident, as long as the collaboration is highly profitable.

Monday, August 6, 2012

(UPDATE: Meeting Postponed) Prime Minister Noda to Meet with Friday Protest Organizers on August 8 Afternoon, for 20 Minutes

(UPDATE: As I was writing this post, the meeting was apparently postponed to a later, unknown date because of the vote in the Upper House on the welfare and tax "reform" bill, according to the organizers' official twitter.)


The vocal organizers of the Metropolitan Coalition Against Nukes say they are going to "make a direct request and recommendations to Prime Minister Noda" on August 8, 2012.

The Prime Minister's Official Residence says Prime Minister will meet the representatives of citizens' organizations that have been protesting in front of the PM's Official Residence since March this year for about 20 minutes so that Prime Minister can explain to the boys and girls about the national nuclear policy.

In other words, nothing more than a photo op for both sides.

One of the organizers (who have been attacking anyone who dare criticize them or who make suggestion to them on Twitter) says they have been spending long, thankless hours coordinating with the Prime Minister's Office to make this meeting happen, and thanks to her and her colleagues' negotiating skills, the Prime Minister's Office has now agreed to netcast the meeting on the official website at, and even allow in the reporters who are the members of the Japan Press Club.

According to the Metropolitan Coalition Against Nukes website, they have 4 recommendations for PM Noda (so they abandoned the "single issue" insistence for the occasion):


1. Stop the restart of Ooi Nuclear Power Plant.
2. Never restart the nuclear power plants currently stopped for maintenance.
3. Make it the national policy to decommission all nuclear power plants.
4. Withdraw the appointment of commissioners for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission

No mention of the exact time other than "August 8 afternoon, subject to change or cancellation".

Well, other than the last one which is the topic de jour more than Ooi Nuke Plant, it is still the "single issue" of stopping the nuke plants. Not a word on issues that many protesters want to express their views on, such as radiation contamination in Tohoku and Kanto, and plight of people in Fukushima.

Noda's intention is pretty much clear:

  • Be done with the Friday protesters once and all by treating these organizers as "representatives" of the protesters;

  • Carry out a formality of "meeting with the citizens" as part of "democracy", to deflect criticism from within the party and from the opposition; and

  • Knock off attempts by former PM Kan and Hatoyama to prolong the "coordination" phase with their help by meeting the organizers much earlier than expected by both Kan and the organizers when they met on July 31.

It's to the benefit of these young organizers too, because they will be able to claim they are the "representatives" of the movement (at least of Friday protests at the PM Official Residence), representing ordinary citizens and therefore having the legitimacy and right to tell them what to do and say.

There are citizens, both ordinary and not so ordinary, who are anti-nuclear but don't want these people to "represent" them, and there are friends and sympathizers of the organizers busy attacking these people. It is rather a sad sight to see on Twitter.

I haven't saved many of the tweets by the organizers because they were too disheartening and sometimes quite vile (they may ruin your day if you are not careful), but here's one in response to those people who don't want the organizers to "represent" them (one of the rare, better ones; my translation taking the meaning not necessarily the literal words):


Our organization submitted the request to Noda in April through the Cabinet Office once. We have been asking for a direct meeting with Noda for several weeks but have been turned down. The meeting will finally happen this week, but the meeting is about us talking directly with the prime minister. What's the matter with these people who are saying we're not their "representatives"? They're way off.

Well, as one person pointed out to her, the reason Messrs. Kan and Hatoyama wanted to have her and her group meet with the prime minister (for their own political calculations) is because so many people have started to come to the Friday protests. They don't come to the protests so that these organizers can meet with the prime minister. And if people hadn't come, Messrs. Kan and Hatoyama, and other party leaders like Mr. Yasuo Tanaka (the one distributing white balloons) wouldn't have bothered. So is there any appreciation for the "rest of us" who have effectively made the meeting happen for them? No.

Here's another member (or ex-member, as he claims), complaining about the protesters who don't follow their instructions, including a union member and a "low-class" middle-aged woman (my translation taking the meaning):


I think we can just completely ignore these idiots. The police can do whatever they want with them. What do you think when you see a drunk acting out in Kabuki-cho [famous entertainment district in Shinjuku, Tokyo]? None of your business, right? You just think, what a piece of sh_t. It's the same thing here.

If they talk trash, they should do it using DM function of Twitter so that it is among themselves. Instead, they do it out in the open, for anyone to read. I guess that's their choice. In your face. I guess that's what being young is about, for them.

Seeing these tweets and many, many more, people have started to object having these organizers represent them (no matter what these organizer say, it is being framed as such and understood as such) in the post-Fukushima anti-nuclear movement.

Independent journalist Yasumi Iwakami has said he will interview the organizers right before they are to meet with Prime Minister Noda. Mr. Iwakami seems to have his own reservations, though he and his organization have been tirelessly covering the Friday protests and protests all over the country, big or small. I've seen a USTREAM video that an IWJ volunteer was netcasting, and it was a 5-person protest on the street corner in Aomori Prefecture. If he hadn't been covering the Friday protest and putting the scenes on his USTREAM channels, I don't think the protest would have grown this big. Any word of appreciation from the organizers? No. They are not about to share the credit.

The organizers are in a stereotypical attribution error where a success is all because of them, and any failure is because of someone else.

We'll see if they can even put in a single word to Prime Minister Noda, who is known for his speech-making abilities.

They say there will be a protest outside the Prime Minister's Official Residence at the time of the meeting on August 8.

Chevron's Largest California Refinery "Immediate-Extreme-Health-Hazard" Fire Emergency

From Zero Hedge (8/6/2012):


Chevron's Richmond refinery, the largest refinery in California, is under a Level 3 Hazardous Material extreme immediate warning with local authorities advising local citizens to "to shelter in place, go inside, close all windows and doors, turn off all heaters, air conditioners and fans. If not using the fireplace, close fireplace dampers and vents, and cover cracks around doors and windows with tape or damped towels." As KTVU2 comments, it appears massive and out of control currently. Live KRON4 stream embedded.


Live Stream from KRON4...

Live Video app for Facebook by Ustream

Explosion happened at 6:15PM this evening (8/6/2012), one minor injury (minor burn to the wrist), according to the Chevron spokeswoman Melissa Richie. No information available as to what caused the explosion.

"Shelter in place" issued by the county (Contra Costa), but Chevron is not aware of the details yet.

Chevron spokeswoman cannot tell anything, doesn't know anything.

(I guess a spokesperson is like that anywhere in the world...)

31,000 Bq/Kg of #Radioactive Cesium in Wild Mushrooms in Nikko City, Tochigi Prefecture, Highest "Official" Measurement Ever

As one of the readers noted in the other post, the radiation contamination in Tochigi and Gunma Prefectures (northern Kanto) has been little noted.

The highest official measurement for wild mushrooms was last year, when 28,000 Bq/kg of radioactive cesium was found in wild mushrooms in Fukushima Prefecture.

The reason for the quotation marks for the word "official" in the blog post title is that there were unofficial measurements done last year by private entities with much higher numbers. One of them was done by NHK when the crew, including Dr. Shinzo Kimura, went to Fukushima soon after the accident and started measuring radiation levels and warning residents who still remained in the high-radiation areas. They found 420,000 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium in mushrooms harvested in Akougi District of Namie-machi on March 28, 2011. (For snapshots of the NHK Documentary aired on May 18, 2011, go here. In Japanese.)

From Nikkei Shinbun quoting Kyodo (8/6/2012):


Highest level of cesium detected in wild mushroom


Tochigi Prefecture announced on August 6 that 31,000 Bq/kg of radioactive cesium was detected in wild "Lactarius volemus" (tawny milkcap mushroom) harvested in Nikko City, far exceeding the national safety standard (100 Bq/kg). Shipment of wild mushrooms from the city have been already restricted, and the prefectural government is advising citizens not to harvest and eat the wild mushrooms.


According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, it is the highest level exceeding the amount detected in "Lactarius volemus" harvested in Tanakura-machi in Fukushima Prefecture in September last year, which measured 28,000 Bq/kg. The Tochigi prefectural government says, "We believe the cesium absorption was largely from the soil, but radioactive materials from the surrounding trees may also have affected it."

If you think by now, 17 months after the accident and at least one full year since it became widely known that certain food items were more contaminated than others (mushrooms are on the top of the list), people do not harvest, not to mention eat wild mushrooms or any mushrooms, you're very wrong.

On a separate piece of news at Asahi Shinbun medical news section, WBC (Whole Body Counter) testing revealed that a 70-year-old man in Fukushima Prefecture had 20,000 becquerels/body radioactive cesium as of July 2012. It turned out that he and his wife had been eating mushrooms, vegetables (including wild mountain vegetables) and fruits every day that they or people nearby grew or they harvested from the wild. They didn't even think that they were contaminated, and those food items were never tested. The medical doctor who wrote the article, Dr. Masaharu Tsubokura, says it is the highest that he has ever seen since he started helping people in Fukushima after the nuclear accident, and that it is the level often seen in Belarus.

As to the highly radioactive mushrooms in Nikko City, shipment is "restricted" (i.e. banned) but there is no one enforcing it. Besides, what the prefectural governments do is only to tell the producer not to ship outside the prefecture. There is nothing they do (or are willing to do) to stop these food items from being consumed or distributed inside the prefecture.

Nikko City is circled in red on the map by MEXT, from the revised 8/30/2011 map. The highest contamination of the soil, according to MEXT, is 100,000 to 300,000 becquerels/square meter for radioactive cesium (134+137):

Nikko by the way is a popular destination for summer schools for elementary schools and junior high schools in Kanto Region, as it always has been for decades.

OT: Japanese Women's Soccer Team Beat France to Advance to Final

Japan 2, France 1, at Wembley stadium. Japan will play either Canada or the United States on Thursday. (From AP.)

I hope the team get business class tickets on return, if not the first class.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

(UPDATED WITH EMBEDDED VIDEOS) TEPCO's Video of Teleconferencing in the Early Days of the #Fukushima Accident in March 2011

(UPDATE) From Sankei Shinbun's Youtube channel, when Reactor 3 exploded:

When they were trying to operate SR valve in Reactor 2 to reduce pressure:


Live now at Nico Nico Video, but it is set to be over in less than 10 minutes...

Link is here:

Screen shot:

I'm watching it, but there is no sound. Comments from people who have been watching this (2 hours 30 minutes into the video) are interesting. Some examples:

I now think better of Dr. Madarame. In the video, he was not what I thought he was.

TEPCO HQ is so incompetent.

There was a clip right now with sound:

"1F (Fukushima I), there is a tsunami warning in Hamadori right now, 3 meter high they say. Please pay attention and be careful."

That must have been from the afternoon of March 11, 2011... (CORRECTION: It was on March 14, 2011, after one of the aftershocks that happened between 10AM and 11AM. From Japan Meteorological Agency data, 3/14/2011.)

TEPCO should just disclose everything, with sound. Even NHK says so.

Here's the link to Nikkei Shinbun's article, which has a video when Reactor 3 blew up:

It was more like Plant Manager Yoshida was calling "mayday, mayday" when Reactor 3 blew up. The people at TEPCO HQ didn't seem to comprehend what Yoshida was saying for several seconds, and started to respond as if Yoshida had just said he was going out to lunch.

They started to say "hai", "hai" - OK, yes -, then "Uh... so it's the same as Reactor 1? OK it's an emergency. I will issue emergency communication then..."

In the background at Fukushima I Nuke Plant, you can hear frantic workers scrambling to figure out what happened and what to do.

OT: For the People Who Suffered On August 6, 1945 and After, from the Atomic Bomb Detonated in Hiroshima

Music sent by an anonymous reader of this blog. Thank you.

"Wander My Friends" by Bear McCreary:

Japan Marks 67th Anniversary of Atomic Bombing in Hiroshima

If you think that this year people pay more attention to the anniversary of the atomic bomb dropped in Hiroshima in 1945 because of the Fukushima accident and ongoing radiation contamination, you really have to look for the news.

Yomiuri Online headlines on August 6, 2012, from the top:

  • LDP to submit "reprimand of the prime minister" on August 7

  • Successor to Shuttle to be outsourced to 3 private companies, says NASA

  • Table Tennis women's team advance to final, guaranteed medal

  • Koji Murobushi won Bronze in Hammer Throw (the rest is all Olympics)

Asahi online headlines:
  • Murobushi won Bronze in Hammer Throw

  • Hiding radiation exposure has been done for long time

  • Men's 100-meter dash won by Bolt

  • Japan's men's fencing team won silver in team foil

  • (In the Social News section) Namie-machi mayor to attend the ceremony in Hiroshima

Mainichi online headlines:
  • Shooting in the US midwest at a Sikh temple, 6 dead 3 seriously injured

  • Typhoon No.11 causing heavy rain in Okinawa

  • Hiroshima Peace Ceremony, from Fukushima to Hiroshima

On Twitter, of people I follow (not many, I admit), only one person tweeted "silent prayers for the atomic bomb victims" (he is a nuclear researcher).

Japanese athletes are doing extremely well, I think, in London Olympics. Of the Olympic news not mentioned above,

Men's medley relay in swimming: Silver
Men's boxing (bantam class): advanced to semi-final
Women's soccer: advanced to semi-final
Men's soccer: advanced to semi-final

The fantastic rumor about the opening ceremony is still going strong by the way. There is a tangential twist to the story, as people express outrage against Governor of Tokyo Shintaro Ishihara who reportedly said "Westerners do judo like wild animals", calling it "reishizumu" (that's racism in Japanese-English or English-Japanese) against white people.

I would think there are westerners who are proud that their judo style is like wild animals.

TEPCO About to Release Video Footage of Teleconference in the Early Days of #Fukushima I Nuke Plant Accident

Plant Manager Masao Yoshida, who is now hospitalized for cerebral hemorrhage, is seen screaming to the TEPCO headquarter people "It's bad, it'd bad" when the Reactor 3 building exploded.

TEPCO will let the media view the video, but will not allow any recording (picture, voice). Images of some of the people in the video will be blurred to protect privacy if their names and faces have not already been in the news, and some sounds will be muted also to protect privacy. Even the organization made up of mainstream media is protesting, saying everything should be fully disclosed, now that TEPCO is a government ward.

For now, the only way for the ordinary people to get a glimpse will be through the reporting by the media.

Kyodo News has a few glimpses, in their article (8/4/2012):

原発所長「本店、大変、大変」 東電のテレビ会議映像

Fukushima Plant Manager "Honten, Taihen, Taihen" [HQ, its' bad, it's bad], in TEPCO's teleconferencing video


Plant manager and workers shaken by the explosions of reactor buildings, senior managers tired of trying to communicate and coordinate with the Prime Minister's Office. Part of the content of the internal teleconferencing video right after the start of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident was revealed by anonymous sources on August 4. TEPCO plans to disclose the video [to the media] starting August 6. The video captured Plant Manager Masao Yoshida as the Reactor 3 building exploded; he was screaming in great alarm, "Headquarters, it's bad, it's bad"


On March 12, 2011, the Reactor 1 building had a hydrogen explosion. The teleconferencing video shows the violent shaking in the Emergency Response Headquarters on the 2nd floor of the Anti-Seismic Building, with workers thinking it was an aftershock and looking up at the ceiling, and technical managers hurrying to collect information on what was going on.

Kyodo doesn't say what color Mr. Yoshida's face had turned when he was screaming. My first guess is that the blood had drained from his face, making it extreme pale. But since he had no choice but take action, any action, maybe his face was turning red.

Fantastic #Radioactive Rumors in Japan: Japanese Athletes Removed From Olympic Opening Ceremony by IOC Because of Fukushima Debris Badges They Wore, It Was Racial Discrimination!

That's the gist of a rumor circulating on Twitter in Japan for several days now. Just like the "fishing ban in California because of radioactive bluefin tuna" rumor, this one still going strong today with a fresh batch of retweets by people with large followings. Today I fished this tweet by someone with over 6,000 followers, saying "IOC rejected the badges made of Fukushima debris".

This Olympic fantasy can be summarized as follows:

  • The Japanese team was escorted out of the stadium during the opening ceremony of the London Olympics on July 29 (Fact).

  • Japan was the only country who was removed. (Not verified) Why?

  • It's because the Japanese athletes were wearing badges made of wooden debris from Fukushima, and even though they were allowed in at the Heathrow Airport IOC objected, and wanted to remove the athletes from the field for the fear of radiation contamination.

  • The Japanese media didn't say anything when that happened, but the UK's BBC explained the situation.

  • A group of Japanese supporters weren't allowed in at one of the Olympic venues, even though there were a plenty of empty seats (Fact). Why?

  • It's because Japanese are discriminated against, because of the Fukushima I Nuclear Accident and people outside Japan are fearful of radiation contamination.

It all seems to have started with a blog supposedly written by a Japanese woman who lives in the UK and supposedly went to the stadium to watch the ceremony. She said,

After they walked about a half of the track, Japanese athletes were blocked by the officials who guided them to the side exit. Why? I called my Japanese friends but no one seemed to notice anything.

The photographs that she took to prove the incident were posted on another blog:

Then came this tweet on August 1, which rapidly spread. This person came up with the reason why the Japanese athletes were led out of the stadium. The tweet claims:


It's because of the badges that Noda gave them. Badges were made of debris wood from Fukushima. They were allowed in at the Heathrow airport, but IOC took issues with that. BBC mentioned this incident live during the opening ceremony, but NHK didn't say a word. 300 Japanese athletes were escorted out of the stadium after going round the track once. JOC {Japan Olympic Committee) wouldn't admit, and says "Athletes made a mistake".

Then, the whole affair was repeated ad nauseum in many blogs including blogs written by influential people on Twitter in Japan (i.e. many followers). One of them said,

You have to have intelligence, instinct to discern truth from coverup, and in this case the truth came out right away on the internet...

As this incredible (in a literal sense), distressing "news" spread on Twitter, there was a site that translated the tweets and posts of this brouhaha into English.

And very predictably, like it has happened over and over again in the past 17 months - most notable incidents include black steam gushing all over the Fukushima I Nuke Plant compound (it didn't), americium discovery in Hachioji (someone removed the symbol that indicated detection limit), uranium and neutron beam discovery in Kashiwa, Chiba (that neutron sensor was sensitive to the gamma ray), 30% of Fukushima children having thyroid "cancer" (not "cancer" but cysts and nodules), Reactor 4 falling apart (when the operation floors were being systematically taken down) and radioactive iodine and cesium discovery in fresh snow (measurement by an amateur mistaking the peaks of natural radioactive materials) - the "news" was translated back into Japanese and spread as "authoritative, English-language" news (i.e. since it is in English it must be true).

Just like Russia Today's news, as one of my Twitter followers said to me, "But, but it was in Russia Today in English, it cannot be false, can it?"

Or worse: if you don't believe these reports, there's something wrong with your brain.

I looked for the supposed BBC coverage that "explained" the IOC's problem with the debris badges or why the Japanese athletes were led out of the stadium, but couldn't find any.

These badges were indeed made and given to the athletes by the Ministry of the Environment, to help spread the message of (of all things) wide area disposal of disaster debris to promote recovery in the disaster affected areas in Tohoku. But the wood debris came NOT FROM FUKUSHIMA but MIYAGI (Minamisanriku). Elementary school children in Miyagi wrote messages on the ribbons, and the Japanese Olympic athletes wore them proudly.

"Come back with Gold medal!" "You'll be great!" "Ganbatte!"

Yes it was a silly idea, but what's the point of making up stories? So that more people become aware of the contamination problem? Does the end justify the means?

Only a handful of bloggers and twitterers even bothered to note that the wood debris was not from Fukushima but from Miyagi. The rest either ignored it, or decided that the Ministry of the Environment lied. So what do they do? They attack Goshi Hosono's Facebook.

Even less people paid attention that it was not 200 athletes but only 40 who wanted to participate in the opening ceremony to begin with. It is not unusual at all for the modern-day Olympic athletes to skip the ceremony in preparation for the competition. The US women's gymnastics team skipped the ceremony to rest up at their hotel rooms, I heard. Those who did pay attention came to the conclusion that most Japanese athletes were not allowed to attend the ceremony.

It is not reported widely in Japan that the best seats (front rows) at the Olympic venues are empty because the corporate sponsors and government officials who were allocated the pricy seats don't bother showing up. The organizers are very slow in coming up with the remedy, other than having British soldiers sit through the gymnastics event. So, in the information vacuum, the Japanese assumed the Japanese spectators were denied the seats because they were from Japan, the land of the contaminated! as you can read in this blog.

And they tweet and tweet. Are we Japanese people discriminated against? Are we hated because of the radiation contamination? Maybe the entire country of Japan will be rejected by the Olympic!

Since I cannot prove or disprove (as I can't find BBC coverage), I will leave this saga as it is. If you have any information or fantasy to share, please post it in the comment section.

On the separate news on the topic of discrimination, a young, naturalized Japanese woman won the team Bronze medal in archery - first ever for Japan to win any medal in archery. Ms. Ren Hayakawa grew up in South Korea, and came to Japan in 2007 to live with her mother who had remarried a Japanese and had moved to Japan. She became a naturalized Japanese citizen. But right after she and her teammates won the Bronze medal, online message boards in South Korea were filled with hate messages calling her "traitor". Online message boards in Japan in turn were filled with hate messages telling her to go back to South Korea, and she was shocked. Or so Asahi Shinbun reported. In an individual match, Ms. Hayakawa just lost to a Korean player with extremely one-sided score. I think she lost heart.

And the net citizens of Japan cry discrimination on a fantasy (it's not proven either way) that people around the world avoid the Japanese like plague because of radiation contamination.

Things are getting too hilarious, even for me.

(Ms. Hayakawa, shoot them all down!)