Friday, April 12, 2013

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant Pond Leak of April 2013: All 7 In-the-Ground Water Storage Ponds Are Leaking Radioactive (Beta) Water

Jiji Tsushin (4/13/2013) says TEPCO has reported to the Nuclear Regulatory Authority that the in-the-ground water storage pond No.1 is indeed leaking into the surrounding soil.

TEPCO's handout for the press on April 13, 2013 shows that beta nuclides are being detected in the water taken from either the drains or the leak detection pipes or both in not only the ponds Nos 1, 2, 3 but all seven of these in-the-ground storage ponds:

(Click to enlarge)

The top table is for the sampled water from the drain holes, which are placed outside the bottom bentonite layer.

From the presentation material by TEPCO's President (4/10/2013), Page 7:

Confusing information about which pond had the highly contaminated waste water after the Reverse Osmosis (RO) treatment. Ponds Nos 1, 2, 3 have them for certain, and Pond No.6, I think. According to the TEPCO president presentation, Pond No.5 (capacity 2,000 tonnes) and Pond No.7 (capacity 4,000 tonnes) were empty.

North Korea's Official News Agency: "DPRK Warns Japan of Dreaming of "Shower of Gold" in New Korean War"

And "Those who dream of getting a "shower of gold" on the Korean Peninsula are bound to perish in the nuclear disaster."

No news outlet in Japan seems to be worried.

From Korean Central News Agency, in their English translation (4/12/2013):

DPRK Warns Japan of Dreaming of "Shower of Gold" in New Korean War: KCNA Commentary

Pyongyang, April 12 (KCNA) -- There is an ill-boding movement of Japan.

Government authorities of Japan including the prime minister, foreign minister, defence minister, minister of National Land and Communications and chief Cabinet secretary are openly crying out for taking military steps against the DPRK every day.

They issued orders for prompt counteraction and "measures for destroying missiles", terming the military countermeasures taken by the DPRK to cope with the U.S. actions "provocations."

Orders have been issued to the Coast Guard Agency for taking prompt counteraction and navigation alert posture for guard and watch.

It was announced that PAC-3 of its air "Self-Defence Force" would be deployed in Okinawa Prefecture from late in April on a permanent basis.

Lurking behind Japan's behavior of escalating the tension on the Korean Peninsula is a dangerous aim.

It is the scenario of Japan to seek an opportunity of beefing up its armed forces and reinvading other countries by toeing the U.S. hostile policy toward the DPRK and thus fish in the troubled waters as it did in the past Korean War.

As a matter of fact, it is resorting to a military adventure, offering its archipelago to the U.S. as an advanced base for aggression. This reminds one of what happened on the eve of the past Korean War.

After World War II was over, Japan expressed its intention to join in the U.S. war against the DPRK, stepping up rearmament under the protection of the U.S. It was actually involved in the war. Everything of Japan was mobilized for this war. Its air and naval "Self-Defense Forces" took an active part in the war.

It offered its territory to the U.S. as bases for attack, logistics and repair and participated and rendered cooperation in its operations for razing various parts of the DPRK to the ground. For this Japan came under "shower of gold."

It is now busy making preparations for a new Korean war.

It has already decided to provide not only U.S. military bases in it and bases of its SDF but also civilian ports and airports to the U.S. in case a new Korean war breaks out.

Formations of F-22 which took off from the U.S. military bases in Okinawa and Japan proper have been deployed in the Osan air force base in south Korea and are waiting for a chance to make a surprise strike at the DPRK.

The conversion of Japan proper into a base for a war clearly proves how hypocritical the Japanese reactionaries' motto of "protecting life and security of its people" is.

Japan had better stop recklessly working for staging a comeback to Korea, depending on its American master.

The DPRK always remembers that Japan was an accomplice in the Korean War ignited by the U.S.

Japan always remains a target of the DPRK's revolutionary armed forces. Once Japan makes even a slight provocation against the DPRK, the former will be hard hit before any others.

Those who dream of getting a "shower of gold" on the Korean Peninsula are bound to perish in the nuclear disaster.

Japan would be well advised to face up to the situation and behave itself.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

ObamaCare Is Coming to Town, and Democrats Are Busy Looking for Someone to Blame for the Disaster to Come

That someone seems to be the Republicans in the Congress.

Never mind that no Republicans voted for the 1,000-page bill crafted by the industry lobby that no lawmaker bothered to read before voting.

Ms. Kathleen Sebelius claims it is beyond her expectation how complicated this legislature really is.

That sounds so familiar and so bogus.

Thanks to the US Supreme Court Chief Justice Roberts who inexplicably flipped at the last moment and voted with the "minority" who therefore became the majority in affirming the US health care (insurance) reform ridiculed as "ObamaCare" is constitutional, this monstrosity will be foisted on the nation later this year.

Just as a reminder, none of these people, Dems, Republicans, Supreme Court judges, Obama administration officials, and Mr. Obama himself, will not need to suffer ObamaCare. They have their own healthcare plan for life, generously funded by tax-payers.

None of the Hollywood celebrities who pushed ObamaCare will have to suffer either. They have money to buy whatever care they want.

From Investors Business Daily (4/11/2013):

Sebelius Tries To Blame GOP For Coming ObamaCare Failures

Health Care: As Democrats grow increasingly worried that ObamaCare will explode on the launch pad just as midterm elections get going, the Obama administration seeks to pin blame on Republicans. Good luck with that.

Earlier this week, Health and Human Services head Kathleen Sebelius admitted that she didn't realize how complicated getting ObamaCare off the ground would be.

Sebelius complained that "no one fully anticipated" the difficulties involved in implementing ObamaCare, or how confusing it would be with the public.

She wasn't talking about the massive and impossible task of imposing central planning on one-sixth of the nation's economy.

Instead, she was trying to find a way to blame Republicans for ObamaCare's failures when the inevitable problems start emerging.

Rather than say "let's get on board, let's make this work," recalcitrant Republicans have forced her to engage in "state-by-state political battles," Sebelius said at a Harvard School of Public Health forum. "The politics has been relentless."

So let's see if we get this. Democrats shoved an unpopular, expensive, ill-conceived and poorly written law down the country's throat with no Republican support, and without bothering to see whether states would want to take on the thankless and costly task of helping the feds implement it.

And now that many of these states are rebelling, it's the Republicans' fault?

Sebelius' fellow Democrat, West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller, had a more accurate take on the problem the administration faces: the law is "probably the most complicated piece of legislation ever passed by the United States Congress" and "if it isn't done right the first time, it will just simply get worse."

Rockefeller, like a growing number of Democrats, realizes that ObamaCare is shaping up to be a political disaster for the party next November.

The influential Cook Political Report noted earlier this month that almost all of the Democratic insiders they talked to "voiced concern about the potential for the issue to hurt Democrats in 2014."

And just what could explain these concerns?

Maybe it's because even Sebelius now admits that ObamaCare will force insurance claims up 32%.

Or possibly it's because, despite endless assurances that the insurance exchanges would be ready on time, the administration had to delay for a year a key feature meant to give small business a choice of health plans.

Or because neither Sebelius nor the states have provided evidence they can get the rest of the exchanges ready by Oct. 1, when ObamaCare's open enrollment begins.

Or perhaps Democrats' fears stem from state insurance commissioners warning of a rate shock once ObamaCare's "community rating" rules and benefit mandates start. Or from rising evidence the law is hurting job growth as small businesses try to avoid its costs.

None of this, mind you, has anything to do with Republicans. And if the GOP were smart, it'd be focused on making sure that, come next November, the public knows that, too.

(UPDATED) Latest on #Fukushima I Nuke Plant Waste Water Pond Leaks: Pump Is Also Leaking, 22 Liters With 6.38 Billion Bq of All Beta

And the latest from TEPCO on April 11, 2013 in the email notice to the press No.35:


Transfer of waste water from the in-the-ground water storage pond No.3 to the pond No.6 started at 2PM on April 11, but a leak was found at the flange of the pipe of the transfer pump at 2:03PM, so we stopped the pump.


The leak stopped when the pump was stopped. The leaked water was soaked into the soil.

And No.37:


We will disassemble the flange to investigate the leak that occurred during the transfer of waste water from the pond No.3 to the pond No.6.


We will also start removing the soil that covers the top part of the water storage pond where the leaked water may have dripped.

The water contains 290,000 Bq/cm3 of all beta (mostly strontium), and 22 liters of this water leaked, as TEPCO's email notice No.36 confirms. That would be 6.38 billion becquerels of all beta (290,000 x 1000 x 22). Who is going to disassemble the flange and remove the dirt? TEPCO's president? One of Mr. Abe's ministers who frequent the plant for photo-ops?

They are having another press conference starting at any moment now (scheduled to start at 6PM local time).

Flange that leaked, from TEPCO's photos and videos library 4/11/2013:

TEPCO's Ono says the pump was never tested with running water. (UPDATE 4/14/2013) Ono in fact said during the press conference that the company sort of tested, by making sure the bolts were tightened to the specification, and that, by definition, was safety testing.

4/11/2011 Update on In-the-Ground Storage Pond Leaks at #Fukushima I Nuke Plant: How The Ponds Were Constructed the Same Way as Solid Waste Disposal Sites

In the TEPCO's handout detailing the in-the-ground water storage ponds at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant that the company started to use to store extremely radioactive (beta, potentially 2 sieverts/hour) and saline waste water after the Reverse Osmosis (desalination) treatment, there was this diagram (click to enlarge):

Independent journalist Ryuichi Kino often asks questions that visibly irk the TEPCO spokesman, and he asked one such question in the press conference on April 10, 2013 as I watched live:

"So these ponds are constructed in the same way as a controlled final landfill site. Why? A controlled final landfill site is not meant to be waterproof. Why didn't you choose a covered final landfill site with concrete foundation, at least?"

There was no answer from the TEPCO spokesman other than to mumble they had their own reasons. I didn't hear any other reporter ask questions about the construction of the ponds.

Kino also reports that the company who supplied the polyethylene sheets says they are not responsible for the degradation due to radiation.

Here's Asahi Shinbun Fukushima local version (4/11/2013; part), inspired perhaps by Kino's questions:

第一原発地下貯水槽 ごみ処分場と構造同じ

In-the-ground water storage ponds at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant are constructed like a garbage disposal site. Experts say "They cannot prevent leaks."


It has been revealed by the explanation given by TEPCO that the basic structure of the in-the-ground water storage ponds which leaked one after another at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant is the same as a type of waste disposal site called "controlled landfill site" using waterproof sheets. Experts heavily criticize the structure, as "badly made even from the standard of a waste disposal site".


According to TEPCO, these ponds were made by first digging holes in the ground, laying the bentonite sheet first and then two layers of waterproof sheets. TEPCO emphasizes they were doing the strict quality control.


Commenting on this structure, Akio Hata, former chairman of the Japan Association on the Environmental Studies and former professor at Osaka City University, says, "It is as if you lay sheets in a pond to store contaminated water. It is impossibly pathetic considering the recent standard of disposal sites. It's wrong to even think about [using such a structure]." He suggests, "You cannot prevent all leaks. So you build a structure on the assumption that it will leak. It should be the above-ground, stainless-steel tank so that a leak can be detected easily."


The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, the regulatory agency overseeing TEPCO before the Nuclear Regulatory Authority was set up, approved the plan in August 2012 to store the highly contaminated water that contained radioactive strontium and other nuclides in the in-the-ground water storage ponds. However, there is no clear legal standard for examining what type of structure would secure the safety.

Needless to say, there was no expert at NISA who knew anything about waste management. NISA took TEPCO at their word and approved the plan.

The ponds were designed and speced by TEPCO and built by Maeda Construction, who has already said such a structure is used for solid waste storage not liquid.

During the April 9, 2013 press conference, TEPCO's spokesman Mr. Ono uttered a convoluted sentence regarding the delay in announcing the leaks:


"We don't think it is not leaking, but we cannot deny the doubt that it may be leaking."

Got that? In other words, TEPCO tried very hard to find other reasons first that may be contributing to higher chloride concentration or radioactive materials in the sampled water.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

4/10/2013 Update on Never-Ending Pond Leak Story out of #Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Radioactive Materials Found Outside the Liners

(The post will be updated as the day/night progresses...)

Let's start from the latest... 

(UPDATE) TEPCO says they will hold a press conference in J-Village from 3:30PM today (April 10) with TEPCO's president, who will explain the situation of the leak. The regular TEPCO press conference will start one hour earlier, at 4:30PM.

(UPDATE) NHK just reported that radioactive materials detected outside the liners for the pond No.1 was 0.11 Bq/cc (cm3) (or 110 Bq/liter) of radioactive strontium (and others, of course).

Just a headline from Kyodo News (11:27AM 4/10/2013):


TEPCO announced that a very small amount of radioactive materials has been detected outside the liners for the in-the-ground water storage.

No info on which pond, how much.

TEPCO so far has hoped that the leaks in the pond No.3 and the pond No.1 are at the locations where the leak detection pipes stick out, piercing through the HDPE layers. Unfortunately, that is not the case for the pond No.1.

Asahi Shinbun reports (4/10/2013; part):


A new leak was found in the storage No.1. Leaks had been found in the storage No.2 and No.3, and 9,200 tonnes of waste water in the storage No.2 was being transported to the storage No.1 starting April 6.


According to TEPCO, the water between the 3-layer waterproof sheets was tested in the morning of April 9, and found 10,000 becquerels/cm3 of radioactive materials which confirmed the leak of the waste water.


So far, TEPCO had assumed that the leak was from the upper part of the storage, and insisted that they could use the storage as long as the storage was not filled to the top. However, the storage No.1 where the new leak was found was only 50% full. It is now certain that the location of the leak is near the bottom, probably from one of the joints of the liners.

Meanwhile, the Nuclear Regulatory Authority met in the morning of April 10 to discuss the leak problem, but the meeting lasted for only 30 minutes, as there is no effective way to deal with the leak.

Jiji Tsushin reports (4/10/2013; part):


At the meeting, they raised the issues such as demanding TEPCO to build additional storage tanks for the waste water ahead of schedule and pushing for the start of the multi-nuclide removal system [ALPS]. However, there was no effective measure [for the leak], and the meeting was over in less than 30 minutes.


Commissioner Toyoshi Fuketa, who is in charge of the accident response, said "The work is being carried out in an extremely harsh environment", and regretted that he could not give enough warning in consideration for the workers there.

(OT) North Korea May Launch Missile Any Day Now But The Situation Cannot Be Serious.....(UPDATED)

(UPDATE) The Obama family is partying, so it cannot be a serious threat...


(UPDATE about the missile, not the ambassador) Asahi reports that there may be more than one missile launch planned. In addition to Musudan (range 3,000 to 4,000 kilometers), they have Scud (700 km), and Rodong (900-1,300km) (missile range from wiki, "Active Missiles in North Korea").


... when the US ambassador to Korea, Sung Kim, can go on vacation with his daughters and post a long post on his blog, asking readers to tell him about their favorite vacation spots...

As the tension rose, he wrote, he had to take calls from the US government officials, South Korean officials, and the US military in South Korea, during the vacation. So he took some of them at a stairwell of Busan Aquarium on his Blackberry, and he lamented:

"...what I hoped would be a 10-minute conference call. Unfortunately, the call lasted 40 minutes"

From Weekly Standard (4/8/2013):

U.S. Ambassador to SKorea Blogs About Vacation Amid Tension with NKorea

As tension rises between North Korea and America, the U.S. ambassador to South Korea, Sung Kim, went on a family vacation. The ambassador today shared his experience in a lengthy blog post.

"My daughters recently had off from school for spring break, and I planned to take a week off for a nice family vacation.  But as is often the case here on the Peninsula, my break was interrupted by important developments and urgent issues, so my week off turned into just one day," writes Kim.

"But finally, we decided to take a three-day weekend and drive down to Korea’s second largest city, Busan.  On the way, we stopped in Jinhae to see the cherry blossoms.  I was told that the official opening date for Jinhae’s famous Cherry Blossom Festival was actually this past Monday (April 1), so we were very excited to get a sneak preview.  The blossoms were stunning.  If you have never been down, I suggest you go.  It is like driving through a tunnel completely made of cherry blossoms."

Kim includes pictures of what appears to be his daughters, and writes, "So the vacation started just fine.  The girls didn’t complain about the long car ride, and Jinhae was great.  And we arrived in Busan ready for fun sightseeing and good food. The first night in Busan, we ate very fresh hwe, or raw fish, at a famous local restaurant.  My daughters would not let me eat anything that was still moving, but everything we did have was delicious."

But work got in the way of all the fun. "However, starting early that Saturday morning, as new threats started coming from North Korea, I got busy with work.  I had many calls and emails with Washington policymakers, senior South Korean officials, and U.S. Forces Korea.  My BlackBerry was very busy," he writes.

"Several of these calls happened when we were at Busan Aquarium.  Since it was a beautiful weekend morning, the aquarium was packed with happy (and loud) visitors, and it was very difficult to find a quiet place to talk.  At one point, I had to send my daughters to the aquarium gift shop and then find a somewhat secluded stairwell to take part in what I hoped would be a 10-minute conference call. Unfortunately, the call lasted 40 minutes."

He goes on to include pictures from the aquarium, of the food he ate, and of the family members who joined him.

He ends by asking readers to share with him their "favorite vaction spots."

"What are your favorite vacation spots in Korea?," writes Kim. "Please let me know in the comments, and I will be sure to read them."

The Abe administration in Japan has deployed Patriot Missles to protect Tokyo.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Latest on Ever-Changing #Fukushima I Nuke Plant In-The-Ground Water Storage Leak: Now the Pond No.1 Is Also Leaking

(For the latest on April 10, 2013, see my latest post with continuous update.)

(For more information, see the previous post on the leak, including photos of the "pond" construction.)

While the Nuclear Regulatory Authority has said there is no other choice but to continue using the in-the-ground water storage (as they themselves are partly responsible for the current mess because of their insistence on ALPS vessel safety, which has significantly delayed the deployment of the system), a blame game is starting between TEPCO and the construction company who built these storage facilities in the ground.

TEPCO, after having speced out the in-the-ground water storage for Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, contracted Maeda Construction, a second-tier general construction firm. TEPCO is blaming Maeda Construction for the faulty construction, and Maeda Construction is blaming TEPCO for sloppy specs.

Or both, is my guess. And some more.

Latest information from Mainichi Shinbun (4/9/2013):

Liners used for the in-the-ground storage construction:

  • 1st and 2nd layers: Polyethylene (HDPE) sheet, 1.5 millimeter thick

  • 3rd and the bottom layer: Bentonite sheet, 6.4 millimeter thick

Leak detection pipes were installed through the 1st and 2nd layers

TEPCO's claim:

"Similar specifications have been used for constructing agricultural ponds. There is no problem if the leak detection pipes pierce through the layers, as long as the location is above the water."

Maeda Construction's claim:

"In water storage ponds, if such pipes are used that pierce through the liner sheets, the sheets may get pulled by the weight of the water, creating the gap through which the water could leak. Therefore, you don't spec these pipes to pierce through the sheets. As to the sheets themselves, we have used them for the storage facilities for solid objects, but never water."

TEPCO's spokesman Mr. Ono claimed in the press conference that the bentonite sheet must have absorbed a large chunk of radioactive strontium, and that justified TEPCO's announcing 710 billion becquerels of all beta in the leaked 120 tonnes of waste water.

But wait... This is no ordinary waste water. It is extremely saline.

Another Mainichi article (4/7/2013) quotes Professor Hideo Komine of Ibaraki University (civil engineering and geotechnology), who says:


[There is a possibility that] because of the high salt content in the waste water, bentonite did not expand, and didn't function as waterproof material.


The thicker the bentonite sheet, the more waterproof. The sheet used at Fukushima I Nuke Plant may not be thick enough.

Oops. But wait, there's yet some more. It's not just salt in the water. There are also cation (or positive ion). There are people who thinks the effect of radioactive materials, salt, and cation in the waste water on the bentonite sheet must be studied.

On a comical note, TEPCO has sent out the email notice No.20 to the press (which these days they post on their websites, a slight improvement) saying the company has resumed transportation of waste water from the pond No.2 (the one found with 120-tonne leak) to the pond No.1.

Resumed? Yes, resumed. It was stopped. Why was it stopped? Well, it was stopped when they noticed that some of the water they had transported to the pond No.1 was coming back into the pond No.2.

Why? you ask? TEPCO says it must have been a siphon effect.

OH WAIT... TEPCO just published the email notice No.21, and it says:


We conducted the analysis of water taken this morning from the in-the-ground water storage No.1 drains (2 locations) and from the leak detection pipes (2 locations).


According to the result, chloride concentration of the water taken from the leak detection pipe (northeast) rose to 910ppm from 4ppm yesterday.


Transfer of water from the in-the-ground water storage No.2 to No.1 using the temporary pumps was halted at 12:47PM.

So the pond No.1 is leaking. First it was just No.2, then No.3. If they cannot use No.1 and No.3 (they continue to use No.3 despite the leak, which they claim very minor), 27,000-tonne capacity is removed from the total 58,000 tonnes from 7 ponds.

When I saw him yesterday via the vid, Mr. Ono, TEPCO's spokesman, was rather confident that the water leak may not be that bad, because the layers may have effectively absorbed the water.

And the biggest problem: radiation levels. Even though most of gamma nuclides have been removed, the water contains 290,000 becquerels/cubic centimeter of all betas (mostly strontium). The radiation level on the surface of the waste water may be as high as 2 sievert/hour (beta radiation only), says independent journalist Kino, citing the leak from a tank storing the same waste water that happened on February 3, 2012. (Here's TEPCO's document, in Japanese; see pages 2 and 3.)

Let's check in to their latest presser (2:30PM local time) and hear what he has to say.

(Independent journalist Ryuichi Kino just tweeted that he is hurrying to the press conference, but says he got the email notice at 1:35PM, and sighs, "This is so like two years ago...")


(UPDATE) TEPCO press conference is still going on, nearly two hours after the start. My take is that TEPCO are in big trouble, trying to find any empty storage that can take 400 tonnes/day of the waste water after RO... Mr. Ono is very subdued today. A lot of reporters, and the room is almost full.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

(OT) Slight Problem with Mangano, Sherman Paper on Congenital Hypothyroidism in the US and Radiation from #Fukushima

From "Elevated airborne beta levels in Pacific/West Coast US States and trends in hypothyroidism among newborns after the Fukushima nuclear meltdown", by Joseph J. Mangano, Janette D. Sherman, page 3 (link):

A national study conducted by the National Geological Survey examined concentrations of wet depositions of fission-produced isotopes in soil at sites across the US, for several radioisotopes, between March 15 and April 5, 2011. Results showed that for I-131, the highest depositions, in becquerels per cubic meter, occurred in northwest Oregon (5100), central California (1610), northern Colorado (833), coastal California (211), and western Washington (60.4). No other station recorded concentrations above 13. Similar results were observed for Cesium-134 and Cesium-137 [42]. All the cited locations are on or near the Pacific coast, with the exception of Colorado, in the western US.

Cubic meter??? That would be indeed catastrophic.

However, from "Wet Deposition of Fission-Product Isotopes to North America from the Fukushima Dai-ichi Incident, March 2011" by USGS, as cited by the authors (link):

Variable amounts of 131I, 134Cs, or 137Cs were measured at approximately 21% of sampled NADP sites distributed widely across the contiguous United States and Alaska. Calculated 1- to 2-week individual radionuclide deposition fluxes ranged from 0.47 to 5100 Becquerels per square meter during the sampling period.

It was "square meter".

Open file report by USGS:

Table 2 on pages 17 and 18 of the USGS report shows I-131, Cs-134, Cs-137 deposition. Many places have only Cs-137 detected, some places with I-131 and Cs-137, some with I-131 and Cs-134. For locations that have both Cs-134 and Cs-137, the ratio is mostly not in line with those of Fukushima-origin (Cs-134:Cs-137=1:1 to =1:1.2).

(Click to enlarge.)

1,090 picocurie is 40.33 becquerels. 40.33 becquerels/liter was calculated into 5,100 becquerels/square meter, with the conversion factor of about 126.