Saturday, March 16, 2013

Germany, IMF Wanted 40% Haircut of Deposits in Cyprus, Settled for 9.9% Instead

(UPDATE) The vote is delayed till at least Monday March 18, as the government may not have enough votes to do the bidding of Euro overlords... The banks may remain closed on Tuesday.


It's an outright theft, but since it's official government entities doing this, it's not called theft but bailout. The Cypriot government even calls it "a new beginning". (1984, anyone?)

In exchange for the 10 billion euro bailout for the Cypriot banks and supposedly saving 8,000 jobs, the EU demanded that the Cypriot government confiscate 6.75 to 9.9% of deposits at the banks and exchange it with the bank "equity" (what kind of joke is this?), and that the interest on deposits be charged with 20 to 25% tax. These thefts are supposed to raise up to 7.5 billion euros.

They did it after the last financial markets in the world (US) closed for the weekend. People cannot withdraw money over the weekend, as ATMs have been stopped. (Zero Hedge has more information on the theft, including this post.)

According to reports, Germany and IMF initially wanted 40% of deposit money confiscated, not 9.9%.

I think it's a trial balloon to see if they can get away with the theft, and if they do then to replicate elsewhere in the EU periphery, for a start.

From (2/16/2013; emphasis is mine):

Shock in Cyprus as bailout brings bank account haircut

The Eurogroup reached on Friday night an unprecedented decision for bailing out Cyprus that dictates a haircut on all bank accounts on the island’s banks with immediate effect, while cash withdrawals are not allowed for the time being, generating unrest.

Along with loans adding up to 10 billion euros from the European Support Mechanism, Cyprus will have to find another 7-7.5 billion euros from privatizations and from a 6.75 percent one-off haircut on all bank accounts with a balance up to 100,000 euros, rising to 9.9 percent on accounts exceeding 100,000 euros.

Already bank customers are gathering outside major and cooperative banks, Skai television reported on Saturday morning, as angry depositors demand their money.

Depositors will get shares of the banks they are clients of in return for the capital lost, of the same value as the haircut their accounts have suffered.

This is estimated to fetch some 6 billion euros to the state, bridging most of the gap between the 10 billion euros the ESM is offering to Cyprus and Nicosia’s requirements of an estimated 17 billion.

This is the first time in the eurozone that a levy has been imposed not on the interest of bank accounts but on the capital itself. In addition to that there is a levy on interest, too, and an increase in the 10 percent corporate tax that has been one of the main driving forces behind Cyprus’s financial progress after the 1974 Turkish invasion, generating growth by attracting foreign direct investment.

Notably, the account haircut does not affect bank accounts in Cypriot bank branches based in Greece, according to sources from the Greek Finance Ministry.

Tax on interest will amount to between 20 and 25 percent.

Changes will have to be ratified by the House of Representatives, the republic’s parliament within the weekend, while an emergency cabinet meeting is taking place on Saturday morning in Nicosia to assess the situation.

Finance Minister Michalis Sarris has postponed his official visit by two days and will now go to Moscow on Wednesday.

Cyprus state broadcaster CyBC reported on Saturday that German Finance Minister actually entered the Eurogroup meeting on Friday proposing a 40 percent haircut on Cypriot bank accounts. Sarris stated on Saturday that this had also been the proposal of the International Monetary Fund.

Sarris stated in Brussels that in view of the threat from the European Central Bank for banks in Cyprus to shut down and chaos to ensue, the increase in interest taxation and the haircut to bank accounts became necessary. “A disorderly default, that was a genuine possibility, has been averted,” he said.

It allows our economy to proceed decisively to a new beginning.”

He also noted that after the dramatic meeting of the eurozone ministers a further slashing of salaries and pensions has been avoided and confidence in Cypriot economy is restored. He qualified the bailout funds loaned to Cyprus as sustainable and manageable and will not constitute an unbearable weight on the next generations. “It spreads the load on this and on the following generations,” he said.

IMF head Christine Lagarde said "the Fund has always said it would support a solution that is viable, and this agreement fulfills this condition, so my recommendation to our board will be for contributing in the funding of the package."

Opposition leader Antros Kyprianou, the General Secretary of leftist AKEL, accused the government of not consulting the other parties, saying that "the government bears full responsibility for developments in the economy as instead of choosing the road of consensus it has decided to go it alone."

Cyprus's parliament is set to vote on the measure on Sunday. The "threat" is the same old, same old, which was used by Ben Bernanke and Hank Paulson when they demanded $700 billion to save the US banks in fall 2008 (at that time, extraordinarily big amount of money): "It would be chaos and catastrophe otherwise."

The governments world over say the same thing, with slight variations. In case of the Japanese one, the line was "We didn't tell you about core melt, or extent of damage at Fukushima I Nuke Plant because if we had done so it would have been chaos and panic...blah blah blah..."

The banks in Cyprus won't open until Tuesday.

Friday, March 15, 2013

A Major Japanese Trading Company to Buy Non-GM Soybeans from Ukraine

Sojitz Corp. is the former Nissho Iwai and Nichimen merged, both of which were major trading companies. In search of non-GM soybeans, the company has decided on Ukraine, of all places. The company plans to import 5,000 tons within 3 years (which is about 0.66% of total soybean import in Japan) offer 10% discount to entice the Japanese buyers.

From Bloomberg News (3/7/2013):

Sojitz to Buy Soybeans From Ukraine as Japan Seeks Non-GM Crops

Japan’s Sojitz Corp. (2768) said it will import Ukrainian soybeans for the first time as Asia’s second- largest buyer looks outside North America for non-genetically modified produce.

Sojitz will deliver a trial “few hundred” metric tons this year and expand that to 5,000 tons within three years, Fukutaro Kobayashi, deputy chief of one of the food departments at the Tokyo-based trader, said in an interview yesterday.

U.S. and Canadian farmers are increasingly raising genetically modified crops, with GM soybeans accounting for 93 percent of the U.S. total last year, according the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Supply from the U.S. and Canada made up 92 percent of Japan’s imports in 2011, according to Finance Ministry data.

“If we ask ourselves: Will be we able to secure supply of non-GM soybeans in North America year-in year-out? The answer’s no,” Kobayashi said. “We need to diversify our geography of supply.”

While Japan doesn’t ban GM oilseeds, consumer preferences mean that these are only used in cooking oil and sweeteners, which aren’t required by law to notify buyers about their use.

Japan used more than 950,000 tons of soybeans last year for foods such as tofu, miso soup paste and natto, stringy beans eaten for breakfast. Of that, about 80 percent of demand was met with imports, according to the agriculture ministry.
Longer Wait

Sojitz may sell Ukrainian soybeans at a 10 percent discount to the North American equivalent as a way to attract buyers in Japan, Kobayashi said. The transport of soybeans from Ukraine’s Odessa port to Japan takes about three weeks, compared with a week from the U.S., he said.

Ukraine was forecast to produce as much as 2.33 million tons of soybeans last year, according to Kiev-based ProAgro. The U.S. and Brazil, the world’s largest producers, are forecast by the USDA to produce 83.5 million and 82.1 million tons in the marketing year that began Oct. 1.

In 2010, Sojitz joined with Soyko International Inc. and Grain Alliance, a Ukrainian farm operator and grain elevator, to secure local supplies, Kobayashi said. The Ukrainian firm owns 40,000 hectares of land, most of which is cultivated, and drying and storage facilities with a capacity of 80,000 tons, according to its website.

The venture with Grain Alliance in Ukraine, a newcomer to soybean cultivation, will produce about 3,000 tons of the oilseed for use in food this year, Kobayashi said.

“We’ve been sending trial samples to food producers and the reception has been favorable,” Kobayashi said. While producers prefer North American soybeans, cheaper supplies from Ukraine will win market share in Japan, he said.

Grain Alliance's website says "Restoring the Bread Basket of Europe". My cursory look didn't find any reference to Chernobyl on their site nor the information about the location of the farms.

(Photo from Grain Alliance's site)

Japanese trading companies were apparently one of the first to see the huge business potential in importing lumber from Europe right after the Chernobyl accident, as Professor Satoshi Mori of Tokyo University related back in 2011.

Historically, large Japanese trading companies have worked very closely with the national government. I wouldn't be surprised if both the lumber import in the 1990s and this soybean import are under the "administrative guidance" from the government.

Stating the Obvious: #Fukushima Reactor 2's Suppression Chamber May Be Leaking

TEPCO may have hoped that it was one of those vent pipes from the dry well to the suppression chamber in Reactor 2 that was leaking the water injected into the RPV, but the awkward 4-legged Robot by Toshiba couldn't find any leak. So the conclusion is that the suppression chamber is probably leaking.

I would think it will be much harder (near impossible) to plug, because the suppression chamber is submerged in highly contaminated water.

From Jiji Tsushin (3/15/2013; part):


TEPCO says leak may be from the Reactor 2 suppression chamber


TEPCO announced on March 15 that there was no leak after examining the "vent pipes" that connect to the suppression chamber of Reactor 2 containment vessel at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. The water leaked into the basement of the reactor building was likely to be coming from the suppression chamber.

In that press conference on March 15, TEPCO's spokesman (no longer Mr. Matsumoto, I don't know the name of this young person who croaks when he speaks) didn't explicitly admit that the leak was from the suppression chamber; instead, he said, in response to a question by the reporter from Tokyo Shinbun on how TEPCO felt about the discovery (after 27 minutes):

Since the leak is not from the PCV (primary containment vessel), it will be easier to plug the leak.

How could a repair job in an inaccessible part of the suppression chamber (lower half) be easier?

His reasoning was that the PCV was closer to higher contamination, so any repair work away from the PCV would be easier. He tried to spin it as a positive discovery. "The PCV is sound, and it's a good thing", he said. The only problem was how to find the leak in the lower half (submerged part) of the suppression chamber, or other locations, he said.

It didn't seem like an answer to me, but as usual, the reporter said "OK, I got it", and that was the end of his questions.

(I miss the previous spokesman Matsumoto, who looked like Doraemon. He didn't try to spin, like the current one does.)

One of the photos taken by Toshiba's robot, released on March 15, 2013. Lots of white noise (click to enlarge):

The radiation levels inside the Reactor 2 torus room is not known. TEPCO couldn't lower the camera and dosimeter through the hole drilled on the 1st floor when they found out there were unexpected pipes blocking the way.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

#Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant: Reactor 4 Steel Frame Taking Shape

The support structure for the Reactor 4 building is now just as high as the reactor building itself.

TEPCO, pressured by the government (particularly the current Abe administration officials), is making haste in building the structure so that they can start removing the fuel assemblies in the Spent Fuel Pool starting November this year.

I hate to say it but a hasty job often fails in an unexpected way. But if that happens, no government official will take responsibility anyway, TEPCO gets the blame, who in turn blames the lead subcontractor (probably Kajima), who then blames its subcontractor, who then.... (down to 7th level or so).

From TEPCO's Photos and Videos Library (3/13/2013):

(Click to enlarge)

Speaking about hasty job, all those tanks at Fukushima I Nuke Plant that contain water treated to remove radioactive cesium and other gamma nuclides but not beta (like strontium) and tritium will need extensive maintenance in about three years. Those tanks are made of steel sheets bolted together, not welded, with rubber packing. The rubber packing lasts 5 years.

Workers have been patrolling among these tanks, and tightening the bolts to prevent the leak.

TEPCO/government chose those materials and the construction method as they needed those tanks as soon as possible, back in the first several months of the accident. The plan was that the contaminated water would be all treated clean by Kurion's and AREVA's systems (which did claim to remove more than just cesium) by the end of the year (2011) and these tanks would not be needed.

With 400 tonnes of water still seeping from the ground into the turbine building basements every day, TEPCO continues to have a huge water problem.

But instead, let's worry about a potential earthquake and let's remove fuel assemblies in haste. That will show to the world how serious Japan is in dealing with the accident. (The world yawns.)

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant May Still Be Leaking 8 to 93 Billion Becquerels Per Day into Ocean, University Researchers Say

"See, just like I've always thought!" is a reaction from Japanese people on Twitter. "Finally they are saying it openly" is another.

Anyway, from NHK News (3/15/2013; part):


The density of radioactive cesium in the seawater inside the harbor at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant has stopped going down for some time. According to the estimate by a group of researchers at Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, it is possible that radioactive cesium in the amount 73 times as large as the discharge limit before the accident may have leaked into the water in one year since June 2011, when the leak of contaminated water is supposed to have stopped. The group says the detailed research is necessary.


The research group at Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology did its own calculation in order to figure out why the density of cesium-137 in the seawater inside the Fukushima I Nuke Plant harbor has remained at about 100 becquerels/liter since spring of 2012, higher than the government standard.


According to the calculation, 44% of seawater inside the harbor is replaced by the current and the tides in one day. In order for the cesium-137 density to be what is published, 8 to 93 billion becquerels [of cesium-137] per day must be flowing into the harbor.


As the result, in one year from June 2011 when the leak of contaminated water is supposed to have stopped, 16.1 terabecquerels [of radioactive cesium], or 73 times as much as the discharge limit set by the safety regulation before the accident, may have leaked into the harbor.

... これに対し東京電力は「さまざまな調査の結果から、発電所の敷地から放射性物質が海に流出しているとは考えていない。ただ、専用港の海水で放射性セシウムの濃度が下がらない原因は分かっていないので調査を続けたい」と話しています。

TEPCO says, "We don't think radioactive materials is leaking from the plant compound to the ocean, based on the various surveys done. However, we don't know the reason yet as to why the density of radioactive cesium in the seawater inside the harbor is not decreasing, so we want to continue the investigation."

To put these numbers in perspective in post-Fukushima Japan, Yomiuri Shinbun and other media reported in November 2011 that 52.5 billion becquerels of radioactive cesium were being discharged into the ocean every day by Abukuma River that flows through Fukushima Prefecture.

The estimated amount of radioactive cesium discharged/leaked from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant into the ocean from March 26 to September 30, 2011 (TEPCO's estimate):

  • Cesium 134: Approx. 3.5x10^15 Bq (or 3,500 terabequerels, or 3,500,000 billion becquerels)

  • Cesium 137: Approx. 3.6x10^15 Bq (or 3,600 terabequerels, or 3,600,000 billion becquerels)

A greenling caught inside the harbor of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant on February 17, 2013 was found with 510,000 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium, highest ever tested in fish since the start of the nuclear accident.

Aside from probable bioconcentration / bioaccumulation, strontium-90 in the water inside the plant harbor hasn't dropped down much either.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

NOAA's HYSPLIT Model on Fukushima Radioactive Aerosol Dispersion

as published by NOAA on March 1, 2012.

In the model below, the highest radioactivity (in red) starts to appear in Fukushima after about 0 UTC on March 14, 2011, and it continues until around March 21, 2011. Japan is nine hours ahead of UTC. On March 14, 2011, TEPCO was attempting the vent of Reactor 2 and Reactor 3. The explosion of Reactor 3 building happened at 11:01 AM that day.

From NOAA's Science on a Sphere page:

The Hybrid Single-Particle Lagrangian Integrated Trajectory (HYSPLIT) model was developed by NOAA to follow the transport and dispersion of pollutants in the atmosphere. In HYSPLIT, the computation is composed of four components: transport by the mean wind, turbulent dispersion, scavenging and decay. A large number of pollutant particles, which by convention are called "particles" but are just computational "points" (particles or gases), are released at the source location and passively follow the wind.

The 2011 Tohuku East Japan earthquake and resulting tsunami caused a variety of failures at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant which resulted in radioactive emissions to the atmosphere. The earthquake occurred on March 11th at 14:26 Japan Standard Time (JST), the tsunami about one hour later at 15:41, and by 16:36 a nuclear emergency was reported. By the early morning hours of March 12th, radioactive emissions were occurring from the plant.

In this dataset, the simulation from NOAA's HYSPLIT model shows a continuous release of tracer particles from 12-31 March at a rate of 100 per hour representing the Cesium-137 emitted from Fukushima Daiichi. Each change in particle color represents a decrease in radioactivity by a factor of 10. Radioactivity decreases due to removal by rainfall and gravitational settling. Decay is not a factor for Cesium in this short duration simulation compared to its 30 year long-half life. The air concentration would be computed from the particle density so it is only partially related to the color scale. The released particles are followed through the end of April using meteorological data from the 1-degree resolution NOAA global analyses.

Notable Features

  • Particles with the highest radioactivity were released around March 15th

  • Radioactivity is measured in units of Becquerel defined as the disintegration of one atom per second

  • Particles in counter-clockwise circulations are caught in low-pressure systems resulting in greater depletion of the radioactivity by rainfall

  • Particles caught in clockwise circulations are embedded in fair weather high pressure systems and their radioactivity will persist for longer periods

  • In general, radioactivity reaching the United States showed air concentrations over 1000 times smaller than areas near Japan

(UPDATED) Rasmussen Reports: "36% Think Radiation From Japanese Nuclear Disaster Hurt the U.S."

Jiji Tsushin (3/13/2013) headline reporting on the survey was even more dire: 36%が「米国に重大な被害」 - 36% think "grave damage in the US".

36%? Grave damage?

Here's Rasmussen page on the survey on the 2nd anniversary of the nuclear accident in Japan (3/11/2013):

36% Think Radiation From Japanese Nuclear Disaster Hurt the U.S.

Monday, March 11, 2013

It’s been two years since an earthquake and tsunami triggered an explosion at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, and more than a third of Americans think radiation from that accident is likely to have done significant harm to the United States. Still, most Americans believe nuclear power plants at home are safe.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey shows that 36% of American Adults believe it is at least somewhat likely that radiation from the Fukushima nuclear power plant did significant harm to the United States. However, that includes just nine percent (9%) who think that scenario is Very Likely. Fifty percent (50%) of adults say it’s not likely the radiation did any harm, including 17% who say it’s Not At All Likely. Sixteen percent (16%) are not sure. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

The survey of 1,000 Adults nationwide was conducted on March 9-10, 2013 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

The wording of the survey question:

1* It’s been two years since the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan. How likely is it that radiation from that plant did significant harm in the United States?

2* How safe are nuclear power plants in the United States – very safe, somewhat safe, not very safe, not at all safe?

3* Should more nuclear power plants be built in the United States?

Coverage of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident by the major media outside Japan, including the US, pretty much ended by the end of March 2011. I was writing many posts each day starting March 11, 2011, and distinctly remember the foreign coverage dropped off significantly around March 23, 2011. There was nothing more to explode, nothing exciting to see or hear. By the time April rolled around, there was hardly any coverage. That was my unscientific impression, anyway.

If I were to answer the first question, I would answer "not sure". NOA did publish the data on contamination from the rain after the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident, but the EPA in California didn't bother even measuring radioactive particles in the atmosphere. EPA in northern California relied on "volunteers" to collect air filters at the measuring stations, as it fit their "lifestyle", and the air filters were sent by mail to a laboratory in Alabama. I haven't seen any systematic, official measurement of agricultural produce except in the very early days (EPA stopped emergency monitoring on May 2011).

Dead Pigs in a Shanghai River: 5,916 and Counting (and Drinking Water Is Safe)

So says the Chinese officials. Pig farmers in the neighboring province have been dumping the dead pigs, supposedly died of cold weather.

The AP article below also mentions the "illicit trade of pork products harvested from diseased pigs", which the authorities are cracking down on.

From AP (3/12/2013):

China Pulls out 5,916 Pigs From Shanghai River

The number of dead pigs found floating in a river flowing into Shanghai has reached nearly 6,000.

The Shanghai municipal government said in an online announcement that 5,916 swine carcasses had been retrieved from Huangpu River by 3 p.m. Tuesday, but added that municipal water remains safe.

The surge in the dumping of dead pigs — believed to be from pig farms in the upstream Jiaxing area in the neighboring Zhejiang province — has followed police campaigns to curb the illicit trade of pork products harvested from diseased pigs.

Shanghai authorities said the city has taken proper measures to safely dispose of the pig carcasses and that the city's water plants are stepping up efforts to disinfect public water and testing for six common swine viruses.

The Shanghai government reported no major swine epidemic, widespread pig deaths or dumping of pigs within the city boundaries of Shanghai.

The state-run China News news agency said Monday that Zhejiang province had reported no swine epidemic but that a provincial agriculture official blamed cold weather for the deaths of the pigs.

The official, who was identified only by his family name Gu, told China News that the practice of dumping dead pigs into rivers lingers among some pig farmers in the city of Jiaxing. "We are still introducing the practice of collecting dead pigs," Gu was quoted as saying.

Shanghai authorities have been pulling out the swollen and rotting pigs, some with their internal organs visible, since Friday — and revolting images of the carcasses in news reports and online blogs have raised public ire against local officials.

Beijing-based writer Li Mingsheng expressed shock when he learned of the latest number of dead pigs in Shanghai.

"This is not only an environmental issue but also a public moral problem," Li wrote. "What's been polluted is not only Shanghai's river water but also the spirit of our country people."

Dumping something undesirable down the river seems to be a universal behavior, both physically and figuratively. So is selling something tainted with undesirable substances (disease virus, chemicals, radioactive cesium).

Monday, March 11, 2013

Bank of Japan Governor Candidate Kuroda May Want to Buy Interest Rate Swaps and Other Derivatives as Part of QE

Boldly go where even the Ben Bernank hasn't gone before. The Fed chairman bought CDS (credit-default swaps) and interest rate swaps of Bear Stearns in the emergency rescue of the company in 2008, but not as part of ongoing quantitative easing.

A couple of laps behind in the QE track, Mr. Kuroda and Bank of Japan will overcompensate. Mr. Kuroda, by mentioning the financial derivatives at all, is signaling his intention to use them, I believe.

Multibillionaire investor Warren Buffett once called the derivatives "weapons of mass financial destruction". But then, Buffett was later seen writing put options on his railroad company shares which went into money. Oops.

Big bang for the money is irresistible even to the wealthy investors, I suppose. For Mr. Kuroda, it's not even his money anyway. What's there to lose?

From Nikkei Quick News (3/11/2013; part):


Mr. Kuroda "will fully consider" the use of interest rate swaps


Haruhiko Kuroda, president of the Asian Development Bank and candidate for the Bank of Japan governor, said in the hearing in the Upper House Steering Committee in the morning of March 11 regarding the policy to induce lower interest rate using interest rate swaps, "There is much discussion about whether it is good to use swaps and other financial derivatives or not." He then added, "I would like you to let me fully consider the matter."

Interest rate swaps swap the cash flow of different interest rates - usually one is fixed and the other is floating-rate.

Several US municipalities have lost badly on the interest rate swap deals with Wall Street banks. The most famous case is Jefferson County, Alabama, which went bankrupt over the costly sewer plant project gone bad, partly thanks to the interest rate swaps that ended up costing the county much more when Lehman Brothers collapsed and the entire financial system almost collapsed in the fall of 2008.

Unlike Jefferson County, Bank of Japan, which is 55% owned by the national government, will not go bankrupt, as Mr. Kuroda would simply print money to replenish whatever he loses to the bankers.

Former Prime Minister Naoto Kan Still Selling His Version of #Fukushima Nuclear Accident After Two Years

He continues to insist that such a huge earthquake and tsunami had never been anticipated. He continues to take full credit for preventing TEPCO from "withdrawing" (撤退), which was in fact "taking shelter" (退避).

Mr. Kan says he was invited to speak at a symposium by Dr. Helen Caldicott on March 11, 2013 in New York City commemorating the Fukushima nuclear accident, but he couldn't come in person, thus the video.

Here's the link to the English transcript, for those of you who'd rather read.

My Experiences as Prime Minister during the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster from Cinema Forum Fukushima on Vimeo.

Mr. Kan remains a hero for many people for saving Japan and the world from a nuclear accident which could have been far worse, and a champion for renewable energy proponents. There are also many who hold him to be criminally liable for what happened.

"Countdown, Meltdown", the book by Mr. Yoichi Funabashi, president of the Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation that did the first large-scale investigation of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident, depicts how Mr. Kan and his cabinet ministers reacted to the accident in the early days. Mr. Kan and Mr. Goshi Hosono, then Mr. Kan's personal adviser, according to Mr. Funabashi, were in mortal fear that Japan would be taken over and occupied by a foreign power (the United States, most likely) if they accepted the foreign help in dealing with the unfolding nuclear disaster.

NHK: 55% of Water Injected into Reactor 3 Pressure Vessel at #Fukushima I Nuke Plant May Have Gone to Condenser Instead

NHK did a documentary special of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant for the second anniversary of the nuclear accident. It sent reporters to the plant, and also did its own analysis and simulation experiments with the help of experts.

NHK says it obtained the blueprints of Reactor 3, and carefully studied them with the experts. Now why wouldn't anyone have done it sooner?

The news below must be a segment from the documentary. NHK raises the possibility that Reactor 3's meltdown occurred because not enough water was reaching the Reactor Pressure Vessel, and more than half the water being injected by the fire engines went to the condenser instead.

The pump that circulates the water from the condenser had a line coming in from the main water line to the Reactor Pressure Vessel. In normal condition, the powerful pump (2,500 tonnes/hour) prevents any water coming in from the line as its blades spin at a very high speed. However, the pump stopped on March 11, 2011 when the power was totally lost. So the water injected into the main water line to the RPV reached the condenser pump and went to fill the condenser, instead of going to the RPV.

NHK also says if the loss was only 25% of water instead of 55%, the meltdown may not have happened.

TEPCO did mention in a press conference in the very early days of the nuclear accident that for some reason the condensers in Reactor 2 and Reactor 3 seemed to be full of water. In those days, reporters probably didn't even know what a condenser in a nuclear power plant was, and TEPCO's managers (they were engineers in the beginning of the accident) couldn't explain things well to the general public.

Screen captures from NHK News (3/10/2013):

Experts examine the blueprints for Reactor 3, and they notice the water line from the fire engine to the reactor is connected to a line that could divert the water to the condenser:

Fire engine pumping water into the water line that reaches the Reactor:


But this line has a small feeder line to the Condenser Unit:

The pump is installed there to regulate the flow of water:

The water from this feeder line does not flow to the Condenser Unit in the normal condition (i.e. the pump is powered by electricity):

But when the power was lost, the pump stopped, and the blades stopped spinning, and there was nothing to stop the water being injected by the fire engine from going into the Condenser Unit.

TEPCO did mention the Condenser Units of Reactor 2 and Reactor 3 to be full of water, in a press conference in 2011 right after the start of the accident:

So NHK and the experts NHK consulted do a simulation, using a small-scale model, and conclude that about 55% of water injected may have leaked into the Condenser Unit.

They further conclude that if the leak was up to 25% of the water injected, the meltdown may have been prevented:

Then, NHK turns to fire engines installed at nuclear power plants after the Fukushima accident, and says "Nobody knows whether a sufficient amount of water from a fire engine can reach the reactor in an emergency."

One of the experts comments, "It is a mistake to feel safe, or secure, just because you have fire engines on site."

I remember experts commenting that the pressure from heating fuel inside the Pressure Vessel prevented enough water from reaching the Pressure Vessel. I wonder if they knew about the line to the condenser pump, or if it occurred to them that the water intended for the Pressure Vessel got diverted to the condenser because of the loss of power to the pump.

Original Japanese NHK News, which has additional information that does not appear in the news video:



























Sunday, March 10, 2013

Boeing 787 Lithium-Ion Battery Fire: Miswiring Found on ANA Plane

Japan's Transport Safety Board announced on February 20 that the All Nippon Airway's Boeing 787 had a miswiring. The main battery and the auxiliary battery were connected but they shouldn't have been connected. Boeing's initial blueprint for 787 had these batteries connected. The blueprint was later revised so that the batteries were separate, but that revision wasn't reflected in the ANA plane.

When I first read the AP article (2/20/2013) reporting on the finding, I thought these batteries were supposed to be connected, but somehow connected "improperly"; if only they were connected "properly" there would have been no problem:

TOKYO (AP) — A probe into the overheating of a lithium ion battery in an All Nippon Airways Boeing 787 that made an emergency landing found it was improperly wired, Japan's Transport Ministry said Wednesday.

The Transport Safety Board said in a report that the battery for the aircraft's auxiliary power unit was incorrectly connected to the main battery that overheated, although a protective valve would have prevented power from the auxiliary unit from causing damage.

Flickering of the plane's tail and wing lights after it landed and the fact the main battery was switched off led the investigators to conclude there was an abnormal current traveling from the auxiliary power unit due to miswiring.

The agency said more analysis was needed to determine what caused the main battery to overheat and emit the smoke that prompted the Jan. 16 emergency landing of the ANA domestic flight and the worldwide grounding of Boeing 787 jets. They said they are consulting Boeing about the issue.

The Federal Aviation Administration and aviation authorities in other countries grounded 787 fleets because of the ANA incident, which followed a battery fire earlier in January in a 787 parked in Boston.

The 787, dubbed the Dreamliner by Boeing, is the first airliner to make extensive use of lithium ion batteries, which are lighter in weight, charge faster and contain more energy than conventional batteries similar in size. However, the batteries also are more prone to overheating and catching fire.

Then I found Asahi Shinbun article (2/20/2013) that corrected my misunderstanding:


The Transport Safety Board announced on February 20 that a design error in wiring was found in the ANA that made an emergency landing in Takamatsu Airport. The Board denied the error was related to the charred battery, but ANA's other two planes may have similar wiring errors.


In a Boeing 787 plane, the main battery is located in the front of the plane and the battery for the auxiliary power unit (APU) is in the back of the plane. In the ANA plane, the main battery was carbonized.


According to the Transport Safety Board, these two batteries are normally designed to be on separate circuits.


However, when the Board investigated the ANA plane, these two batteries were connected, and they were connected in Boeing's blueprint.


[According to the Transport Safety Board,] unintended current may run on the circuit if these two batteries are connected.


Three ANA planes including the one with the battery problem were some of the first 787 planes built by Boeing. Boeing revised the blueprint later to separate circuits for the two batteries. The Transport Safety Board is investigating why the revision was not reflected in the ANA plane.

Would the US FAA want to hear from ANA more on this? In addition to the blueprint revision not reflected, ANA changed the lithium-ion battery 10 times last year without reporting the incidents to the FAA.