Saturday, August 18, 2012

Fuel Assembly Covers Found Cracked and Discolored in SFP of Tsuruga Nuke Plant Reactor 1

Reactor 1 of Tsuruga Nuclear Power Plant in Tsuruga City, Fukui Prefecture, operated by Japan Atomic Power Company, is the very first light-water reactor (by GE) built in Japan, and the 7th oldest commercial reactor in the world (as of January 2012).

(Fukushima I Nuke Plant's Reactor 1 is the second oldest, after Tsuruga's Reactor 1.)

Reactor 2 of Tsuruga Nuclear Power Plant (pressurized-water reactor by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries) may be sitting on top of an active fault.

Both reactors have been stopped due to scheduled maintenance.

From Yomiuri Shinbun (8/17/2012):


Metal covers of fuel assemblies have cracks, discoloration in Tsuruga Nuke Plant Reactor 1


Japan Atomic Power Company announced on August 17 that they found cracks and discoloration in 9 metal covers that cover fuel assemblies in Reactor 1 at Tsuruga Nuclear Power Plant (Tsuruga City, Fukui Prefecture) which has been stopped [for maintenance].


The [cracks and discoloration] are all minor, and there is no effect on the environment, according to the operator.


The metal covers are in the Spent Fuel Pool, and the cracks were found at the welded parts.


As damages were found in the metal covers at Tohoku Electric Power Company's Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry instructed Japan Atomic Power Company and other [nuclear power plant operators] to conduct investigation.

I think what Yomiuri is talking about ("metal covers") is a channel box that houses fuel assemblies. For Onagawa Nuke Plant's channel boxes, apparently damaged by the March 11, 2011 earthquake, read my post from July this year.

Japan Atomic Power Company has a lot to learn from TEPCO (believe it or not) when it comes to timely disclosure of information. At their website, the latest press release is from August 10. NISA or METI is no better; there is no press release on this incident on either of them.

Maybe this kind of news wasn't news at all in pre-Fukushima Japan.

Photos of Minor Leak at Reverse Osmosis (Desalination) Facility in #Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Defective Pipe Joint?

The Reverse Osmosis (RO) system at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant treats water already treated by Toshiba's SARRY (cesium absorption towers) in order to remove salt before the water is fed back to the Reactor Pressure Vessels in Reactors 1, 2 and 3.

I believe the RO system was also built by Toshiba, and it started operation in August in 2011.

Looking at the photographs of the leak that TEPCO released on August 17, now we know it doesn't matter whether the pipes are Kanaflex or metal. They fail no matter what, at Fukushima I Nuke Plant. In this case, one of the metal pipe joints cracked and fell off, and the water leaked from there.

Gamma radiation was low in the leaked water but since SARRY (or for that matter, Kurion or AREVA, both of which have not been used) does not remove any beta nuclides (including strontium), beta radiation was rather high at 3 millisieverts/hour on the water.

From TEPCO's Photos and Videos Library (8/17/2012):

The system still uses Kanaflex:

How bad is the leak? About 0.2 tonnes, or 200 liters.

(Defective cast, poor workmanship (installation) either from lack of training/apprenticeship or from lack of stake in the project, or all, was the comment from a person with experience in chemical plants, when I showed these photos.)

Friday, August 17, 2012

"Butterfly Mutations Caused by #Fukushima #Radiation" a Redux of the Sokal Affair?

Following the footsteps of "California has banned fishing because of highly radioactive tuna fish from Fukushima!" and "Japanese athletes were excluded from the London Olympics opening ceremony because they were from contaminated Japan and they were wearing badges made of radioactive debris from Fukushima!" (both of which seem to have died a deserved death but not before confusing and distressing many people in Japan and abroad), here comes the latest sensation on Twitter in Japan:

Butterflies mutated because of radiation from Fukushima accident!

This one was doing very well for a few days, being picked up not just by the mainstream media in Japan but also by the august foreign media including BBC, CNN, and Le Monde. Why? Because it was not a lowly blogger or a Russian news who started the "news" but it was the Japanese researchers from University of the Ryukyus in Okinawa, by having their paper published in a open-access, peer-reviewed magazine of Nature (the magazine was launched in June 2011).

Here's the abstract of what the University of the Ryukyus researchers (Joji Otaki et al) said in their paper titled "The biological impacts of the Fukushima nuclear accident on the pale grass blue butterfly", published in Scientific Reports on August 9, 2012:

The collapse of the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant caused a massive release of radioactive materials to the environment. A prompt and reliable system for evaluating the biological impacts of this accident on animals has not been available. Here we show that the accident caused physiological and genetic damage to the pale grass blue Zizeeria maha, a common lycaenid butterfly in Japan. We collected the first-voltine adults in the Fukushima area in May 2011, some of which showed relatively mild abnormalities. The F1 offspring from the first-voltine females showed more severe abnormalities, which were inherited by the F2 generation. Adult butterflies collected in September 2011 showed more severe abnormalities than those collected in May. Similar abnormalities were experimentally reproduced in individuals from a non-contaminated area by external and internal low-dose exposures. We conclude that artificial radionuclides from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant caused physiological and genetic damage to this species.

It sounds scary, but what the researcher failed to mention but others in Japan who immediately started dissecting the paper have been saying is this:

  • These particular butterflies' original, natural habitat is southern, warmer locales such as Okinawa, and Kyushu, Shikoku.

  • These butterflies have been known to have a lot of mutations as it migrates ever northward, far outside their natural habitat, LONG BEFORE the Fukushima accident, and it has been well studied and the results published

  • Why did these researchers pick this particular species prone to mutations if they really wanted to isolate the effect of radiation?

Here's one good "togetter" (string of tweets) in Japanese by people clearly with solid scientific background analyzing this paper.

Professor Joji Otaki himself has written a paper on the topic of mutation of this particular species, and has attributed the mutation to colder temperatures. But now, scanning through the paper, I see that he and his fellow researchers attribute physiological and genetic mutations of this butterfly species to exposure to artificial radiation from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, without proving that it is indeed the radiation from Fukushima that have caused genetic mutation. The researchers just say so in the paper, as if that's what everybody knows.

As controls, they used the butterflies in the southern, warmer natural habitat where the butterflies are more genetically stable, and compare them with the butterflies they caught in the northern regions, mostly in Fukushima Prefecture and Ibaraki Prefecture, where wide variations and mutations had already been observed prior to the nuclear accident.

Does that make sense? Particularly when Professor Otaki had already amassed the data of this species in northern regions as far north as Aomori Prefecture? Why didn't they compare the butterflies caught in Fukushima with the butterflies in Aomori, which hardly had radiation contamination from the Fukushima accident?

They talk as if it is a given that radiation from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant caused the mutations. But did they actually measure radiation in the butterflies? They seem to have tested the leaves that the butterflies eat, but not the butterflies themselves.

In addition, what made me pause was this graph from the paper, showing the percentage of butterflies with abnormality. Look at Motomiya City in Fukushima with 100% abnormality, from one sample. Or 50% abnormality in Iwaki City, from 2 samples.

Hmmm. What's all this? Is it maybe a kind of joke, or experiment? You know, much like the US Department of Homeland Security deliberately bringing in weapons to airport checkpoints to test the competency of the personnel and ability of the equipment to detect the weapons? DHS weapons often get through the security with flying colors.

It turns out that I'm not alone in thinking that way. Someone, who seems like a researcher in cell biology/engineering at Osaka University with a great sense of humor, wrote an article pointing out all the above and much more, and wonders, "Why did the authors write such a paper with so many obvious holes that even a middle school student can see?" His conclusion is, "Maybe this is a great fishing expedition..." This anonymous researcher says:

Maybe this is a redux of the Sokal Affair in 1996.

From Wikipedia:

The Sokal affair, also known as the Sokal hoax,[1] was a publishing hoax perpetrated by Alan Sokal, a physics professor at New York University. In 1996, Sokal submitted an article to Social Text, an academic journal of postmodern cultural studies. The submission was an experiment to test the journal's intellectual rigor and, specifically, to investigate whether such a journal would "publish an article liberally salted with nonsense if it (a) sounded good and (b) flattered the editors' ideological preconceptions."[2]

Hmmm... I think the anonymous researcher may be right. If this paper is a fishing expedition, it may have been designed to achieve the following, as the researcher explains in his website:

  1. It would reveal that the media doesn't understand what it is reporting.

  2. It would reveal the soundness (or lack thereof) of the scientific mindset in the Internet society.

  3. It would reveal the problem the scientific world faces - a paper gets published without being properly evaluated, and once published it is considered "the truth".

If it is the case, hats off to the researchers. But so far I haven't seen the announcement or press conference by them saying it is indeed the case.

This "news" has all but disappeared, and people who worry about radiation are left stranded, wondering. Many of them seem to believe the lack of news means it is true, it is the inconvenient fact that the government and TEPCO have decided to hide from them.

The government and the government experts have only themselves to blame, of course, for the lack of respect they get from citizens. What worries me though is the lack of scientific judgment on the part of citizens.

"Yes, In My Backyard!": A New Mexico Town Wants America's Atomic Waste

An article that appeared in Forbes in January this year introduces to us a town in New Mexico, Carlsbad, which has prospered by accepting plutonium-laden atomic waste from nuclear weapons production. The town wants more.

According to the article, Carlsbad's unique geological feature - the town sits atop the largest salt deposit in America (from 250 million years ago, 3,000-foot thick) - is much more superior to the Yucca Mountain with volcanic tuff, when it comes to storing highly radioactive nuclear waste and keep it there for eternity.

The town has benefited tremendously from accepting the nuclear waste. Business is thriving, unemployment rate is less than half the national average, thanks to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP), the nation's only permanent, deep geological repository for nuclear waste.

From Forbes (1/25/2012; emphasis is mine):

Nuke Us: The Town That Wants America's Worst Atomic Waste

by Christopher Helman

There’s a secure solution to America’s nuclear waste problem: bury it under Carlsbad, New Mexico. The locals are ready — if only Washington would get out of the way.

Bob Forrest is known for a lot of things in Carlsbad, a quiet city of 25,000 on the edge of New Mexico’s empty, endless Chihuahuan Desert. He was mayor here for 16 years. He’s chairman of the local bank and owns the spanking new Fairfield Inn, which sits next to the new Chili’s and the new Wal-Mart. And he helped bring 200,000 tons of deadly nuclear waste to town.

That’s not a bad thing—at least not here. Unlike thousands of other places in America, where the thought of trucking in barrels of radioactive garbage from atomic weapons plants would lead to marches, face paint and, invariably, pandering politicians (witness Nevada’s stalled Yucca Mountain project), Carlsbad has a different take. “It’s really a labor of love,” says Forrest. “We’ve proven that nuclear waste can be disposed of in a safe, reliable way.”

This attitude—“Yes in my backyard,” if you will—has brought near permanent prosperity to this isolated spot that until recently had no endemic economic engine. Unemployment sits at 3.8%, versus 6.5% statewide and 8.5% nationally. And thanks to this project—euphemistically known as the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, or WIPP—New Mexico has received more than $300 million in federal highway funds in the past decade, $100 million of which has gone into the roads around Carlsbad. WIPP is the nation’s only permanent, deep geologic repository for nuclear waste. The roads have to be good for the two dozen trucks a week hauling in radioactive drums brimming with the plutonium-laden detritus of America’s nuclear weapons production.

Before WIPP the area’s economy was mostly limited to potash mining, oil and gas drilling, and a passel of tourists stopping on the way to ­Carlsbad Caverns, an hour south. The Department of Energy’s $6 billion program created 1,300 permanent jobs, many of them high-paid engineering positions. Energy’s annual budget for WIPP is $215 million, much of which stays in the community as wages. The leaders of neighboring Lea and Eddy counties have doubled down on the nuke biz, establishing a 1,000-acre atomic industrial park. ­Already uranium fuel maker Uren­co Group has built a $3 billion fabrication plant there, employing 300. More amenities followed, too: In November Carlsbad ­inaugurated the Bob Forrest Youth Sports Complex. “We are not blinded by the jobs,” says John Waters, director of the department of economic development for Eddy County. “We know what we have. We know the risks. We have a very educated public.”

But if Carlsbad’s story showcases the upside of being willing to do the nation’s dirty work, it also demonstrates how difficult it can be to get the chance to do so. Since opening in 1999, WIPP has operated so smoothly and safely that Carlsbad is lobbying the feds to ­expand the project to take the nuclear mother lode: 160,000 more tons of the worst high-level nuclear waste in the country—things like the half-melted reactor core of Three Mile Island and old nuclear fuel rods—that are residing at aging nuke plants a short drive from wherever you’re sitting right now.

Yet thanks to politics even more radio­active than the material itself, it hasn’t happened yet and might not happen anytime soon. Though taxpayers have already spent some $12 billion mining out and engineering Yucca Mountain, 90 miles from Las Vegas, power brokers in Nevada fought the congressionally approved project from the get-go. Bowing to Nimby—and Nevada’s powerful Senator Harry Reid—two years ago President Barack Obama’s Administration declared Yucca DOA. Contractors have since laid off some 1,000 workers there.

To seek some common ground Obama then set up the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future. The BRC, as it’s known, is tasked with looking at all the options. It likes WIPP—a lot. According to its draft report last summer the BRC will insist that a “consent-based approach” be applied to any future site selection. WIPP, it wrote, is a model of how that can be done.

Cue the politics. New Mexico, in agreeing to WIPP, required that Congress enshrine in law a promise that the feds would not send high-level waste into the state. WIPP won’t be the next Yucca unless that issue is wrangled, and reversed, by Albuquerque, Washington or anyone else with skin in the game. If they pay any attention, that is. “I’m absolutely incredulous that so few opinion makers even know that WIPP exists,” says former New Mexico Senator Pete Domenici, who sits on the BRC and is a friend of Forrest.

Still, science appears to be on the boosters’ side. Carlsbad has a Goldilocks geology that is the best solution yet found for entombing nuclear waste safely. Yucca Mountain’s volcanic tuff is prone to cracks and faults from seismic activity, which might, over thousands of years, let water seep in. Salt, on the other hand, is nearly impervious to seismic activity, quickly healing any cracks or faults and remaining completely impermeable—with no way for any water to get in or for any radiation to escape. Carlsbad sits atop the biggest salt deposit in America, stretching from New Mexico clear to Kansas. It was deposited 250 million years ago in the Permian period, when the seas receded from the shore of the ancient continent Pangea. The salt has lain undisturbed ever since.

In the 1970s the Department of ­Energy floated the idea of mining out a nuclear repository in the salt under centrally located Lyons, Kans. The people didn’t want it; Three Mile Island didn’t help. Carlsbad made more sense; its 3,000-foot salt layer is the thickest in the country. And the state has a nuclear history as home to the Manhattan Project. The Los Alamos and Sandia national labs continue to do a lot of nuclear work. What’s more, the people of Carlsbad know salt; they’ve been mining it since 1930 to go after seams of potash—a mineral in high demand as fertilizer.

(Full article at the link)

Japan would be envious.

By the way, the new NRC chairwoman that President Obama appointed was a member of that Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future. As a geologist, she should see the great potential for Carlsbad's WIPP. Maybe the townspeople will soon get their wish.

(H/T reader Atomfritz)

New NRC Chairman Allison McFarlane: "Dry Casks Are Good Enough"

Sorry for old news, as I haven't been up-to-date on the US side. But the new NRC chairman has been installed, and she is a geologist who opposes the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository (which the Obama Administration defunded in 2010) but says it is OK to upgrade a nuclear power plant and continue operation when geological surveys point to some seismic danger, and dry cask storage is good enough.

She also says building the public confidence in her agency is a matter of improved communication, and no, the agency is not cozy with the nuclear industry.

Her first interview as the NRC chairman, from CNN (8/14/2012):

New NRC chair vouches for agency's independence, states goals

Is the Nuclear Regulatory Commission too cozy with the industry it regulates?

After five weeks on the job, the new chairwoman of the agency doesn't think so.

Allison Macfarlane said Tuesday she has confidence in the agency and its independence from the nation's 104 commercial nuclear power plants.

"I have some strong initial impressions of the agency, and one is that I've been very impressed with the staff and their dedication to safety, and their willingness to stand up to industry when they believe a situation is not safe," Macfarlane said in a wide-ranging discussion with reporters.

"So I'm actually quite assured that the agency is completing its mission of protecting public health and safety," she said. "They take safety issues very seriously. They take their role as regulators very seriously and the public should be assure that they have the public's best interests in mind."

Macfarlane said she hopes to build public confidence in the agency by improving communication, increasing transparency and making NRC documents understandable. "Some of them are rather opaque," she allowed.

Macfarlane, the first geologist to head the agency, repeatedly stressed the importance of geology in the placement of nuclear power plants, and said one of her top goals is to look "at the intersection of geology and nuclear technology."

"Geology clearly matters. If that wasn't one of the main lessons of Fukushima, I don't know what was," Macfarlane said of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster in Japan. "There was a massive earthquake -- an earthquake that was not predicted."


Pressed on whether geologic surveys could lead to the closing of some older nuclear power plants, Macfarlane said she believes plants could be upgraded if necessary. "The important thing is you need to understand what those risks are."

Macfarlane also stressed the need for the Congress and the administration to find a geologic site for the long-term storage of nuclear waste. The Obama administration scrapped a plan to store waste at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, and a blue ribbon commission, on which Macfarlane served, said the government must look for a community willing to accept the waste.

Finding a site for nuclear waste is possible, she said.

"I just want to provide people assurance that this can happen in the United States, because it has," she said, noting the Department of Energy's waste site east of Carlsbad, New Mexico, used to store waste from the production of nuclear weapons.

In the meantime, Macfarlane said, dry casks have proved effective for the temporary safe storage of nuclear waste.

"They seem to be operating very well," she said, noting that they are passively cooled, avoiding the need for water that has proved problematic with the damaged storage pools at Fukushima.

The NRC is looking at the issue of expediting the movement from storage waste pools to dry cask storage, she said.

(Full article at the link)

Expediting the movement? How? By telling the spent fuel assemblies to cool down faster? Fukushima I Nuke Plant's Spent Fuel Pools are actively cooling the spent fuel assemblies for good reasons, problematic or not.

Platform Now Covers the NW Side of Reactor 3 at #Fukushima I Nuke Plant

It's not just for Reactor 4 that TEPCO has been trying to build a support structure in preparation for the removal of fuel assemblies from the Spent Fuel Pool.

Workers (probably from general contractor Kajima and its subsonctractors) have been busy clearing the debris from the operating floor of Reactor 3 and building a platform (or frame, as Kajima calls it), which you see in the July 24 photo that TEPCO included in the monthly report for the Working Group for Decommissioning of Reactors 1 through 4 at Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant.

According to the report, the steel platform was fabricated at the on-site yard on the ocean side (east) and brought to the northwest side of the Reactor 3 building.

From TEPCO's monthly (July 2012) report (page 61):

Radiation levels on Reactor 3's operating floor are supposedly extremely high. Kajima is using remote-controlled (unmanned) cranes and other heavy equipments to remove the debris. The platforms (or frames) will be used to effectively remove the debris by remote control. According to the press release from April this year, Kajima also developed a system (patent pending) to remotely re-fuel the equipments on the platform.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

(Part 2 of 2) Video Interview Transcript of Former Plant Manager of #Fukushima I Nuke Plant Masao Yoshida: "We Put the Names of Workers on the Whiteboard, As a Grave Marker"

Following the part 1 , here's the part 2 of the video transcript of Mr. Masao Yoshida, former plant manager of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant.

Again, the occasion was a small symposium in Fukushima on August 11, 2012, and Mr. Yoshida's video interview was done in July, before he had cerebral hemorrhage.

The transcript is from Mainichi Shinbun article (8/11/2012), not from the video which only 140 or so people who attended the seminar got to watch.

Workers relied on you as their mental [emotional] support.


I didn't do anything. All I can say is that I have worked at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant on 4 different appointments. I know almost all [TEPCO] workers at the plant, and I know many in the affiliate companies. I know their names. "Mr. so-and-so, are you alright?" That was it. I asked them. That's all I did. I couldn't do anything. Everyone else did it. That's how I still feel.

You mean you took time to communicate with them?


Yes. We know each other. We've been working together for a long time, we're colleagues [we've been in this together]. I watched these colleagues of mine go to the horrendous scene of the accident at the plant, come back, and go back out again. All I could do was to bow my head [and thank them].

Did you think you would die when Reactor 3 blew up?


In addition to Reactor 1 ['s explosion], Reactor 3's explosion made the strongest impact [on me]. In retrospect it was a hydrogen explosion, but at that time we didn't know what was happening. I thought something catastrophic had happened. About the explosions. I could die, and all people in the Anti-Seismic Building could die, at any moment. It was particularly so after the explosion at Reactor 3. That much debris flying all over. When I first heard that several people were missing, safety of tens of people was not confirmed yet. I thought, maybe more than 10 people just died. Then, more information started to come in, confirming the safety of people, though there were some with minor injuries. And I feel very sorry for the Self Defense Force. The SDF troop came to supply water and they were caught in the explosion and were injured. I am very sorry. One consolation is that injuries were not life-threatening, and I feel as if it was some kind of divine providence.

You instructed your people to write down the names of the members who remained in the plant on the whiteboard. What were you thinking?


I hardly remember how it was, but probably I just wanted to show what kind of people remained and fought till the bitter end. In retrospect. I don't know myself, really.


You thought it would serve as a grave marker.




Any last thoughts, comments?


This event [Mr. Yoshida uses an industry term for this accident] has been discussed and written up by the investigation commissions by the Diet, Cabinet Office, and the private foundation. We [at TEPCO] have thoroughly discussed with the Cabinet Office investigation commission in particular. There are many inquiries from the mass media, but we have said all to these commissions [TEPCO wasn't interviewed by the private commission] so I think it is enough for the media to go from there. But it is hard to have our true voice heard. Our true voice does not come across through the [reports of the] investigation commissions. For that part, I think we should spread the message in various ways. Not just my experience, but the experience of my colleagues who worked at the plant together, I would like to tell properly.


How should Fukushima I Nuke Plant and Fukushima Prefecture be, from now on?


That's a high-level question, and I don't have a ready answer for that. But it comes down to how to make the plant stabilized in a proper way. We cannot have the residents [in the surrounding areas] come back home while this is not accomplished, so it is the largest (task). What's needed most, as I was also saying during the accident, is to make Fukushima I Nuke Plant more stabilized, using the knowledge and expertise not just in Japan but in the world. We should properly assign responsibility [for the accident] on people, but what's most important is to make the plant as stable as possible. We need people for that, we need technologies and new ideas. I think it is important to focus [on the stabilization of the plant]. Only then we can decide whether the local residents can return to their normal lives. In any way, the most important task is to calm down, stabilize the situation at the plant. I still don't have enough strength, but when I come back [from illness] I want to do all I can for the plant that way [i.e. making the plant more stable].

It seems it was this last paragraph that went on a "telephone game" in some foreign media:

  1. Yoshida says they need to stabilize the plant.

  2. That means the plant is not stable, as of now.

  3. Therefore, the plant is unstable, in danger.

  4. Run! It's dangerous.

All Mr. Yoshida said was the plant needs to be made more stable, in a proper way - replacing Kanaflex hoses would be one, removing the debris and clutter would be another - so that the plant's various operations can run in a smooth, predictable manner, with no accidents like small fires and water leaks, not to mention major accidents.

By the way, this "Yoshida said the plant is not stable" duly came back to Japan as a credible piece of news in English, but it quickly disappeared among more sensational headlines (like butterfly mutation due to Fukushima radiation, for one).

Fractured Friday Protest May Be Leaving the Original Organizers and Spread to Other Locations

The increasingly fractured Friday protest is on again this Friday at the Prime Minister's Official Residence, as more and more participants have had enough of following orders from the young organizers who talk trash (one literally calling older protesters "piece of garbage").

The Friday protest by the Metropolitan Coalition Against Nukes will be still at the PM's Official Residence, same time, same rules ("single issue" plus one, no other slogans, nothing about radiation contamination, etc.).

But here are other locations near the PM's Official Residence where people will gather to protest against a host of different issues, FREELY.

"Protect Fukushima children" protest

  • Time: 4:30PM -
  • Location: in front of the Ministry of Education and Science
  • Details (in Japanese) here
  • IWJ Channel: 7

Protest against the US on various issues (nuclear policy, TPP, Ospray, etc.)

  • Time: 6:00PM -
  • Location: in front of the US Embassy in Tokyo
  • Details (in Japanese) here
  • IWJ Channel: 6

Protest against Nuclear Regulatory Commission appointment, against Ooi restart

  • Time: 6:30PM -
  • Location: at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry Annex
  • Details (in Japanese) here
  • IWJ Channel: 7

Protest at the backside of the PM's Official Residence

  • Time: 6:45PM -
  • Location: backside of the PM's Official Residence
  • IWJ Channel: 6

Protest against Nuclear Regulatory Commission appointment, "Human Chain"

  • Time: 8:30PM -
  • Location: at the Ministry of the Environment
  • IWJ Channel: 6

IWJ does cover the original protest at the PM's Official Residence by Metropolitan Coalition Against Nukes on Channel 1, Channel 4, and Channel 5.

Mr. Yasuo Tanaka, who's been distributing his white balloons, tweeted he would need more volunteers for making and distributing the balloons.

Attendance seems to be dropping significantly, but the organizers continue to claim "100,000 people or more" every week.

#Radioactive Japan: Over 200 Evacuees from Futaba-machi (Where #Fukushima I Nuke Plant Is Located) Still Lives in Classrooms, Particioned with Cardboards, 17 Months After the Nuclear Accident

What's the point of holding a white balloon and chanting "Saikado Hantai!" to the tune of an organization with strange personalities and creed every Friday at Prime Minister's Official Residence, as if it's some kind of fashion statement to do so? Not much.

Particularly when just about everybody, from the top government officials on down and including you and me, continue to (or choose to) be ignorant of what has been happening to the people who had to evacuate their homes after the March 11, 2011 nuclear accident, with no prospect of going back any time soon.

An organization called "Enechen" ("energy change", in Japanese English) is asking for help so that they can at least provide hot meals to the 200 evacuees from Futaba-machi who continue to live in the classrooms in a closed high school building in Saitama Prefecture where the town's government has temporarily relocated. They are mostly elderly residents, and they have nowhere else to go.

After nearly 17 months since the accident, the country is quite happy having them live in classrooms with card board partitions.

From the organization's website (8/12/2012):


Project to provide Futaba-machi Shelter (at former Kisai High School in Saitama Prefecture) with hot meals


As of August 2012, about 200 elderly residents at Futaba-machi Shelter continue to live in the rooms partitioned with corrugated cardboards in a closed school building, with all their meals in bento (boxed lunch/dinner), 1 year and 4 months since they evacuated there.


Hardly any hot meals are served any more, except for hot miso soups once a week, we've learned.


We want to provide these people with hot meals, so we have launched this project.


Current condition of Futaba-machi Shelter (former Kisai High School in Saitama Prefecture)


People from Futaba-machi, who had evacuated to Saitama Super Arena right after the start of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident, moved to the building of former Kisai High School in Kazo City in Saitama Prefecture after March 30, 2011.


It's been about one year and 4 months since then. Initially there were more than 1,000 evacuees staying at the high school building, but most have moved out to temporary housing. However, as of August 2012, there are still 210 people living in the school building.


Most of them are elderly people, and it seems they have various reasons or problems that prevent them from living independently.


We went to visit them the other day. After a year and 4 months at this shelter, people still receive bento (meal in a box) for daily three meals. The rooms where they sleep seem to be fitted with air conditioning systems. People partition part of the gymnasium with cardboards, or use classrooms with other people, to spread their futons to sleep.


Meals are distributed at a certain location within the school building, and people take the meals [in bento box] to their rooms to eat. But depending on the location of their rooms, the location to receive meals is too far, and many elderly residents are finding it inconvenient.


Nothing has been decided what will happen to these more than 200 people at this shelter.


Time passes, with no prospect for the future.


What have the national government, and the municipal government, been doing?


There are many people who still suffer from the nuclear accident. Most haven't even received the compensation money.


But the government's priorities are the restart [of the nuclear power plants], decontamination that benefits big businesses, and appointment of commissioners [who are nuclear industry insiders] for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.


We are appalled, speechless. But let's try and help each other, and together we will do what we can, one thing at a time.

The site has the photographs of the shelter (former high school building), kindly avoiding photographing the elderly residents who still remain there:

"Kizuna" support messages (Uggghhh...):

Public space inside the building - TV room, telephone center, physical therapy clinic:

The organization is asking for donations at their website for this particular project, here.

Japan is still the third largest economy in the world, by the way, after the US and China, giving billions and trillions of yen to international organization or squandering equal amount of money trying to cheapen the currency.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Crude Oil Spikes on News That Saudi Arabia Tells Citizens to Leave Lebannon Immediately

Here's the intraday chart of crude oil (Yahoo Finance):

Here's the short snippet from Reuters (8/15/2012):

Saudi Arabia tells citizens to leave Lebanon immediately - SPA

(Reuters) - Saudi Arabia has ordered its citizens to leave Lebanon "immediately", the state news agency reported in an SMS alert on Wednesday.

"The Saudi Arabian embassy in Lebanon calls all Saudi citizens to leave Lebanon immediately," the alert said, without elaborating.

(Reporting by Asma Alsharif; Writing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Excessively Warm Water after Hot July Forces Connecticut Nuclear Plant to Shut Unit

Unit 2 of Millstone Power Station in Connecticut was shut down because the seawater used as coolant was not cool enough.

Washington Post quoting AP (8/13/2012):

HARTFORD, Conn. — Connecticut’s nuclear power plant shut one of two units on Sunday because seawater used to cool down the plant is too warm.

Unit 2 of Millstone Power Station has occasionally shut for maintenance or other issues, but in its 37-year history it has never gone down due to excessively warm water, spokesman Ken Holt said on Monday.

Water from Long Island Sound is used to cool key components of the plant and is discharged back into the sound. The water cannot be warmer than 75 degrees and following the hottest July on record has been averaging 1.7 degrees above the limit, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said.

The federal agency issued an “emergency license amendment” last week, allowing Millstone, a subsidiary of Dominion Resources Inc., to use an average temperature of several readings.

“It wasn’t enough to prevent us from shutting down,” Holt said.

In addition to the extreme heat last month, the mild winter didn’t help because it kept Long Island Sound water unusually mild, Holt said.

Robert Wilson, a professor at Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, said readings show temperatures in central Long Island Sound are nearly 80 degrees, much higher than the more typical 74 degrees.

He blamed weather patterns, beginning with the mild winter and little wind that allows heat to hang around.

“If you start from warm winters, then have sustained persistent surface heating without wind stirring you get very high temperatures,” Wilson said.

Millstone provides half of all power used in Connecticut and 12 percent in New England. Its two units produce 2,100 megawatts of electricity, which is reduced by 40 percent with Unit 2 down, Holt said.

Richmond, Va.-based Dominion, which operates Millstone, does not have an estimate of when the unit will restart, he said.

Marcia Blomberg, a spokeswoman for regional grid operator ISO-New England, said the loss of electricity will not be a major problem. The Holyoke, Mass.-based agency generally operates with a margin of reserve and plans for the possibility of lost resources, she said.

“Generators are big machines,” she said. “It happens frequently that resources are unable to start up or have to power down.”

Dave Lochbaum, director of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ nuclear safety project, said he believes the partial Millstone shutdown is the first involving a nuclear plant pulling water from an open body of water. A few nuclear plants that draw water from inland sources have powered down due to excessively warm water, he said.

Browns Ferry nuclear plant in Alabama, for example, reduced power for 50 days in the summer of 2010 and fewer than 10 days last year, said Ray Golden, spokesman for the Tennessee Valley Authority, which operates the plant.

No power reductions were needed this year because the plant cools the water, he said.

Lochbaum said the Union of Concerned Scientists believes climate change is the reason why rivers, lakes and Long Island Sound are hotter.

“It is evidence of global warming with problems both obvious and subtle,” he said.

But Krista Lopykinski, a spokeswoman for Exelon Corp., which operates six nuclear plants in Illinois, said seeking state authorization to operate at an unchanged or higher level in response to elevated lake and river temperatures is “pretty common.”

“It happens every summer,” she said.

Still, Exelon asked for federal approval — the first time in 12 years — to continue operating when water in its cooling pond at an Illinois nuclear plant topped 100 degrees last month.

Here we go. Global warming.

(Photo) Contaminated Water Leak at Reactor 4 Turbine Building at #Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Kanaflex Hoses and Duct Tape

This is a photograph that TEPCO released, showing the location of leak, in Reactor 4 turbine building, of the highly contaminated water from Reactor 3 turbine building basement. For more details of the leak, see my previous post.

From TEPCO's press release on August 14, 2012:

According to Asahi and other news sources, the amount of contaminated water leaked was 4.2 tonnes. TEPCO announced 77,000 becquerels/cubic centimeter of radioactive cesium was in the water.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Highly Contaminated Water From Reactor 3 Leaked in Reactor 4 Turbine Building

It's been about 14 months since the hastily rigged system of transporting and treating the contaminated water and circulating the treated water back into the Reactor Pressure Vessels (1, 2 and 3) to cool the melted fuel somehow. The pipes used were Kanaflex pipes, which TEPCO just started to replace with rigid pipes.

But the company didn't replace the Kanaflex pipe that goes from the Reactor 3 turbine building basement through the Reactor 4 turbine building first floor in front of the room with electrical power panels on the way to the building that stores the highly contaminated water before the water gets treated by SARRY. That's what leaked, and the water got inside the electrical power panel room.

The water, coming out of the basement of Reactor 3's turbine building, has 85,000 becquerels/cubic centimeter of radioactive cesium, as of August 9, 2012 at 3:20PM, according to the company's handout for the press on August 13, 2012. One order of magnitude more cesium than in the water in the Reactor 4 turbine building basement.

There is no information of air radiation levels inside the electrical power panel room. How are they going to clean this up, I have no idea. It is not like the past leaks where at least "treated" water leaked.

If they cannot clean up the room, and if anything happens to the power panel, they may have some serious problem.

From Jiji Tsushin (8/14/2012):


Fukushima I Nuke Plant: contaminated water leak in the turbine building of Reactor 4, water inside the electrical power panel room - damage to the water transfer pipe suspected


At 11:15AM on August 14, a TEPCO employee patrolling the site found a puddle of water on the floor of the electrical power panel room on the 1st floor of Reactor 4 turbine building at FUkushima I Nuclear Power Plant. The pipe that transfers the highly contaminated water from the basement of Reactor 3 turbine building runs along the corridor in front ot the room. TEPCO suspects the leak may be from the pipe, and is investigating.


The electric power panel is in the room to provide power to various equipment, but there was no effect on the panel from the leak.


According to TEPCO, the water was seeping in to the room from the corridor. When the company stopped the transfer of the contaminated water at 12:20PM, the seepage stopped at about 1PM. The room is about 350 square meters, and the water is about 1 centimeter deep. TEPCO says there is no leak from the room. The density of radioactive cesium in the water is estimated to be several tens of thousands of becquerels per cubic centimeter.


As the damage to the pipes used to transfer the contaminated water [Kanaflex] has been occurring frequently, TEPCO is replacing these pipes with polyethylene pipes which are more reliable. However, the pipe in front of the electrical power panel room hasn't been replaced yet. The company is trying to identify the location of the damage, and figure out how the water got inside the room.

It is "obon" in Japan, and TEPCO (Headquarters at least) is taking August 14 and 15 off. No press conference is scheduled, as far as I checked, until August 16.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Cracked Belgian nuclear reactor to remain closed, "Repairing the crack is practically impossible", says Belgium's nuclear safety agency chief

Doel Nuclear Power Station has 4 reactors, all pressurized-water reactors.

The company that made the vessels had gone out of business.

(I'm assuming the "steel tank containing a nuclear reactor" is the Reactor Pressure Vessel and not the Containment Vessel, but not quite sure from reading the article. If the readers in Europe know, please leave a comment in the comment section.)

(UPDATE: It is the Reactor Pressure Vessel. Thank you readers.)

From France 24 News citing AP (8/10/2012):

A crack discovered in a steel tank containing a nuclear reactor at a Belgian power plant will likely keep the station closed, the country’s nuclear safety agency said on Friday. Repairing the crack is "practically impossible," the agency said.

The head of Belgium's federal agency for nuclear safety AFCN said on Friday he was "sceptical" that an ageing reactor closed over fears of cracks could be restarted.

"I'm fairly sceptical for the moment," Willy de Roovere told RTBF public radio, even if "the possibility remains that I am wrong."

According to French-language daily Le Soir, a crack of between 15 and 20 millimetres (0.6 and 0.8 inches) was discovered during a test in June. There has been no denial of this report.

According to the agency, repairs are "practically impossible" and are "not an option" for fear of creating new tensions "which we must avoid at all costs."

Installing a replacement meanwhile has never been attempted anywhere because of the problem of high radiation levels.

The AFCN revealed on Wednesday that the Doel 3 reactor, located 25 kilometres (20 miles) north of Antwerp, would remain closed at least until August 31 after the discovery of possible cracks in the protective vessel surrounding the core during routine June testing.

The agency is also mulling the permanent closure "in the worst case" of a second reactor in the country's south near Liege.

The tests showed "faults in the steel base material" on which the reactor vessel is mounted, the AFCN said.

The Dutch firm, Rotterdam Drydocks, that made the vessels is out of business, which has amplified concerns about others it delivered in Europe and in the Americas.

Spain has indicated it has two reactors in the same bracket, Switzerland and Sweden one each.

The firm supplied one to the Netherlands, but had not manufactured it. The government in The Hague said it has still to decide whether to test its nuclear facilities.

The German government said reactors supplied by the defunct company were no longer in service.

Representatives of nuclear safety bodies from all the countries involved will meet in Brussels on August 16 to "exchange information," the AFCN said.

Jiji Tsushin: NISA Ordered TEPCO Not To Talk About Rising Pressure in Reactor 3 on March 14, 2011 Because NISA Official Couldn't Reach His Supervisor

That, according to Jiji Tsushin, is captured in the video TEPCO released and has been allowing the media to view at TEPCO's Headquarters in Tokyo. The company has made 1.5-hour video for the public consumption, but the media has been reporting new findings in the video only they are allowed to view, and this is one of the latest.

TEPCO was ready to hold a press conference immediately after it learned of the rising pressure in Reactor 3 in the early morning on March 14, 2011. But an elite bureaucrat at the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency at an elite ministry (Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) needed to find his boss to decide whether TEPCO could hold a press conference to tell the general public of such a terrible news. This bureaucrat told TEPCO, "Absolutely not", because he couldn't find his supervisor and he didn't want to be the one in charge at NISA when this bad news was disclosed.

Fit for an agency whose Director General, being a liberal arts major as he claimed as an excuse, went home from the Disaster Response Headquarters at Prime Minister's Official Residence in the evening of March 11, 2011 and never returned.

I suppose this official knew, as a matter of fact, what had happened to the NISA official who had talked about a possible core melt in Reactor 1 at the noon press conference on March 12, 2011. He was dismissed immediately after, by the Kan administration.

From Jiji Tsushin (8/13/2012; emphasis is mine):


Delay in disclosure because of NISA's order - rising pressure in Reactor 3 right before the hydrogen explosion because [NISA official] "couldn't locate my supervisor".


On the morning of March 14 last year right before the hydrogen explosion at Reactor 3 at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, TEPCO was about to give a press conference on the news that the parameters that monitored the pressure inside the Reactor 3 Containment Vessel indicated a sudden spike in pressure but the company was ordered to wait by the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, [we learned] on August 13 [after viewing] TEPCO's teleconference video.


According to the video, [TEPCO] learned of the abnormal rise in pressure inside the Containment Vessel of Reactor 3 at about 6AM on March 14, 2011. Plant Manager Masao Yoshida feared for a hydrogen explosion and instructed the workers at the scene [near Reactor 3?] to take shelter. However, it was not until after 9AM that day when NISA finally made the announcement of this information, about 2 hours before the hydrogen explosion at the Reactor 2 building.


TEPCO's press relation team at Fukushima I Nuke Plant had prepared the press release, but the person in charge at the plant said during the exchange with TEPCO Headquarters, "The national government has ordered us not to, and we are waiting, without giving any press conference." A person at TEPCO Headquarters was heard saying, "About this event, NISA has stopped all communication to the press, and we as the plant operator are told not to disclose anything."


Further, at TEPCO's Headquarters, someone was recorded saying "[Additional] information about the press release. I've confirmed it with NISA, and their opinion is "absolutely not", this press release must not be made, it's a strong demand and order."


On this delay in disclosure, NISA [official] explains, "[I] couldn't get hold of my supervisor, so I asked TEPCO to delay the release of information."


In the final report by the National Diet Fukushima Accident Independent Investigation Commission released in July, the Commission pointed out "(Until the announcement by NISA) citizens were not informed of this critical situation for (at least) more than 2 hours."

Reactor 3 building would still have blown up regardless of whether TEPCO or NISA held a press conference, but it might have made a tremendous difference in alerting the residents in the surrounding areas and evacuate them sooner. After all, from last year's articles and my own posts, Reactor 3's explosion was so downplayed by the government that residents were given conflicting information about whether there was an explosion at all, several hours after the explosion took place.

There were many people still remaining in Namie-machi, Minami Soma City, and people even in Futaba-machi and Okuma-machi (whose residents should have been evacuated by then), looking for survivors of the earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.

We would never know, but I always wonder. What would have happened if TEPCO had said "NO" to NISA's order and held a press conference? What could NISA do? Fire TEPCO? Fine the company for not following orders? Sue the company for fanning "baseless rumors" and create panic?

Goshi Hosono's Fancy New Webpage: Alt Code for the "Send" Button - "please fill out the form below and click "I will support the wide-area debris disposal" button"

I wrote about the fancy new website for Goshi Hosono to publish (ghost-written) letters to the citizens of Japan last week to apologize for his past sins, which, according to one of the blog's readers cannot be adequately viewed on the smartphones.

Then, over the weekend I started to see the tweets saying "See the source code!". So I did.

And this is what the tweets were talking about: the alt code for the "send button" to send your message from the site. The top is what it is now, and the bottom is from the cache of the same webpage (with relevant parts in green rectangles):

Now: "Please send us your opinions and requests."

Cache: "For those of you who supports "Disaster Debris Disposal by Everyone", please fill out the form below and click "I will support" button."

Oops... The highly paid ad agency who built the site simply reused the old template for the mail form for the wide-area disaster debris disposal site, copied and pasted the code.

What they didn't count on was that many net citizens in Japan would watch everything that this particular ministry and this particular minister do with deep suspicion, and it took them no time to look at the source code and spread this information on Twitter, saying "Look, if you click the button to send your opinion, they (Hosono's ministry) will count it as a vote of approval and support for wide-area debris disposal!" I got the news from one of the tweets of this blog, which was probably the first one to alert people.

Someone at the ad agency seems to have caught on quick enough and modified the particular alt code, but before the webpage was cached and the damage was done. Another one for Hosono, but he seems to be too thick-skinned to feel anything.

(Alt code specifies what text message or description is displayed when the image is not loaded for some reason - in this case, "send" button.)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Just In on Kyodo News: Over 80,000 Public Comments on Government Policy on Reliance on Nuclear Energy in 2030, Government Announced

It is just a headline at Kyodo News for now.

This is unprecedented in Japan. I've never seen such a high number of public comments on any issue. People are taking the system of public comments on government policies literally and seriously and flooded the government with more than 80,000 comments (letters, faxes, email messages, online forms) stating what they think of the three choices offered by the Noda administration on the future reliance on nuclear energy in 2030. The deadline to submit the comments were midnight on Sunday August 12, and as of August 11 the number was still 50,000.

The public comment system is meant to serve as a "token" democracy at best by soliciting comments from citizens on government policies.

The three choices of nuclear reliance were 30% (same as pre-Fukushima reliance on nuclear energy), 15%, or 0% of electricity to be generated by the nuclear power plants by 2030. It is pretty clear where the administration wanted to steer the opinions - 15%. Big mistake. Opinion polls indicate 0% is the most popular choice.

All those token (or sham) town hall meetings in select cities throughout Japan by the government (Goshi Hosono, as the minister in charge of nuclear accident, I think) but actually planned and carried out by one of the largest PR agencies in Japan (Hakuhodo) for the sum of 50,000,000 yen (US$640,000) did nothing to appease net citizens.

The government bureaucrats and experts with close ties to the government have said in the past that while the government may not pay any attention to the protests on the streets, it does care about the public comments which by law they cannot easily ignore. We'll see what the tenor of the comments are, soon enough.

Video Interview of Former Plant Manager of #Fukushima I Nuke Plant Masao Yoshida: "I Saw Divine Beings in Workers in Hellish Situation" (Part 1 of 2)

(UPDATE: Part 2 of the video interview transcript is here.)

Mainichi Shinbun has the slightly-paraphrased but full transcript of the video interview with Masao Yoshida, former Plant Manager of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. Since late July he has been hospitalized for cerebral hemorrhage, but the video interview, which was conducted on July 10, was shown at a small symposium in Fukushima on August 11, 2012.

I hope for the full recovery for Mr. Yoshida, so that he can continue to speak for the workers who have worked and who still work at the plant, trying to make the plant as stable as possible.

Mainichi's article reporting on the symposium has a screen capture of the video, which seems to be subtitled in English by the symposium organizer (a bookstore). But I don't have access to the video, so the following is my translation from the Mainichi transcript. It is most likely different from the official translation by the symposium organizer, and the mistakes contained in the translation below would be my mistakes, not the organizer's.

Here's Part 1 of the translation. The sentences are broken into paragraphs for easier reading. There are no paragraphs in the original Japanese text.

From Mainichi Shinbun (8/11/2012):

Tell us about what it was like at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant.



The last year's earthquake and tsunami, and the accident of our nuclear power plant, have caused a great deal of hardship to the local residents in Fukushima Prefecture. I would like to take this opportunity to apologize deeply. The situation is likely to continue for a while, but we are doing our best to restore the plant. Please understand.

I wanted to come to this symposium in person, but I've been hospitalized since the end of last year and my strength hasn't been restored. So please excuse me for talking to you through video like this. As long as the accident investigation commissions were conducting their investigations, I didn't think I should speak to the mass media about the real situation at the plant. I thought it would be a violation of the rules to speak out, until the accident investigation commissions concluded their investigation. So, I welcome (this opportunity) in which you kindly allow me to speak.

Some say you [or TEPCO] contemplated full withdrawal from the plant. Is that true?


I could go on forever on the topic, but basically all I was thinking at that time was how to stabilize the plant. In such a situation, leaving the scene of the accident should never happen. However, the life is extremely precious, and people who were not involved, people who were not directly involved in the accident needed to be evacuated. Those people who were engaged in cooling the reactors, I didn't think they could evacuate. I have never said a word about withdrawal to the TEPCO headquarters, and it didn't enter my mind at all. I am 100 percent sure that I never said a word about withdrawal, and that's what I told the accident investigation commission [of the Cabinet Office] so. I was puzzled later [about the issue], but the fuss over "withdrawal" happened between the TEPCO Headquarters and the Prime Minister's Office, but we at the plant never said a word about that [withdrawal]. I'm quite positive on that.

Were you prepared to die?




I don't know if I was prepared, but in the end, if we were to leave and water injection stopped, more radiation would leak. Then, Reactors 5 and 6, which were somehow stable, would melt, I mean the fuel would melt, once there was no one at the plant. If the plant was left all by itself, more radiation would leak. We managed to stabilize Fukushima II (Daini) Power plant, but we might not be able to be there [if Fukushima I was abandoned and more radiation leaked]. That would be a catastrophe. If you think that way, there is no way we could just run away.

In that situation, in the tremendous amount of radioactivity, my colleagues went to the scenes of the accident a number of times. It was them who did all they could, and all I did was to watch them do it. I didn't do anything. I really appreciate and thank every single one of my colleagues who went to the scenes of the accident. My job was to stay put in the Anti-Seismic Building, and I couldn't go to the accident scenes. I gave orders, and when I heard from the workers later, I knew it was a serious [terrible] situation. But [people who worked under me] went there without hesitation. There were many of them, who literally jumped into the scenes of the accident, trying to contain it.

In a Buddhism text that I've been reading for a long time, there is a mention of divine figures issuing from the ground. That was what I felt was happening in the hellish situation at the plant. Workers would go to the scenes of the accident, then come back upstairs (at the Anti-Seismic Building), they were dead tired, without sleep, with not enough food, reaching the limit of their physical strength. Then they would go out again, and come back, and go out again. There were many workers like them. When I saw these workers, I knew I had to do whatever I could for them. It's my belief that we have been able to restore the plant to the current level [of relative stability], because of these workers.

The precise word Mr. Yoshida uses for "divine figure" is "Bodhisattva" - one who vows to save all beings before becoming a buddha.

It was probably the first time that anyone from TEPCO spoke words of praise and appreciation for the workers at the plant in a personal way like Mr. Yoshida did. According to the local Fukushima newspapers, Yoshida's words were much appreciated by the families whose members worked or still works at the plant.