Saturday, June 8, 2013

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Abe Administration Declares Removal of Corium Will Start in 7 Years from Now, One and a Half Year Ahead of Schedule

Remember the AP article about Fukushima I Nuke Plant struggling to find and retain good workers? In that article, "Happy" said his cumulative radiation exposure was 300 millisieverts (that's probably why he is not working at Fuku-I right now), and that many veteran workers like him who know the work and who can supervise are leaving.

He also said some of the new workers supplied by lower-tier subcontractors can barely read, but that's what TEPCO gets for the price it is willing to pay.

Clearly the Abe administration hasn't read inconvenient English articles like that. Instead, it has boldly declared that they will remove the fuel debris (corium) one and a half year AHEAD OF SCHEDULE.

Never, ever mind that they don't even know where the corium is, in each of the reactors at Fukushima that went kaput.

Never, ever mind either about WHY they are doing it. Probably they don't know themselves, other than "We're Japanese, we're different. We're not Americans (Three Mile Island), we're not Russians (Chernobyl)."

Just like "Abenomics" (which some in Japan call "Ahonomics"; "aho" in Japanese means "stupid idiot" in Osaka dialect), if you keep talking about it and enough people believe it, I'm sure miracles will happen.

TEPCO headquarters in Tokyo, who must be fully aware of the experienced worker shortage at Fukushima I Nuke Plant even if their spokesman says there is no problem, folds, again. They never stood up against the meddling Kan administration to shield the plant staff so that Yoshida and his men could do their work in the critical first few weeks of the accident. So it is simply a waste of breath to ask why they cannot say "no" to the Abe administration.

From Nikkei Shinbun (6/8/2013):

福島第1、燃料取り出し1年半前倒し 政府・東電

Removal of fuel debris at Fukushima I Nuke Plant to be carried out 1 and a half year ahead of schedule, the government and TEPCO say


The national government and TEPCO have decided to accelerate the current plan for decommissioning Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. Removal of fuel debris inside the reactors has been scheduled to start by the end of 2021, but the government and TEPCO will aim at June 2020 to start the removal.


The plan will be part of the revised medium-to-long-term "roadmap" to be announced on June 10 by the secretariat of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant Decommissioning Promotion Committee (Minister of Economy Toshimitsu Motegi as chairman). The revised "roadmap" will be discussed with the municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture, and formally adopted in June.


Removal of fuel debris has hardly any precedent in the world, and it is the most important task in the decommissioning of Fukushima I Nuke Plant. In the "roadmap" of 2011, the target was to start the removal within 10 years.


In the revised "roadmap", building the impervious wall with frozen soil will also be included, in order to prevent the groundwater from entering the reactor buildings and adding to the contaminated water.

Well, if in a rare chance that Tokyo gets to host the 2020 Olympics, they will get to play some of the events in Fukushima Prefecture just as the corium is being removed at Fukushima I Nuke Plant. Lovely.

But since when has removal of corium become the most important task in the decommissioning? I have a feeling that Nikkei Shinbun has no idea what's important and what is not. I don't think the national government or TEPCO knows either.

Even IAEA had to gently suggest to the Japanese government and TEPCO, "Why don't you think about what you want to achieve, what you want the site to look like when all the decommissioning work is done?" - like talking to a first grader.

That suggestion was completely ignored by just about everyone, and all that was reported about IAEA's most recent visit in April was that IAEA thought the contaminated water was a problem.

"Happy" was tweeting this Nikkei article in exasperation, saying:


Forget removal procedure. Where are the leaks and when will those leaks be plugged? How many man-rem will it be? That's what I want to know.

"Man-rem" is a unit of measurement of absorbed radiation that is equal to one rem absorbed by one individual. One rem is 10 millisieverts.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Support Structure for Reactor 4 Is Now Complete

The structure itself, made of heavy-duty steel beams, is complete. TEPCO will put the cover over the structure, and install the fuel handling machine and the crane to remove the fuel assemblies in the Spent Fuel Pool. It took workers 5 months to build the structure.

From TEPCO's Photos and Videos English page (5/29/2013):

(Click to enlarge)

Fast Breeder Reactor Monju's Coolant Heating System Accidentally Switched Off for 30 Minutes, No Effect on the Environment, Says JAEA

JAEA again, this time on the fast breeder reactor Monju that this agency "operates" (if it can be called "operating").

Coolant for Monju, sodium, is supposed to be kept at 200 degrees Celsius.

So what's the excuse this time?

Their manual was not well written!

Do you trust these people to run a nuclear reactor, not to mention fast breeder reactor that uses liquid metal that explodes on contact with water and ignites on contact with air?

Do you trust these people to export nuclear reactors all over the world, claiming the superior technology and know-hows, including know-hows from "lessons learned from the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident"?

Good luck, Czech Republic. Good luck, India, Vietnam, and Turkey.

From Kyodo News (6/8/2013):

もんじゅ、ヒーター停止 ナトリウム一時保温できず

Monju's heater stopped, sodium wasn't kept warm enough temporarily


Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) announced on June 7 that at Fast Breeder Reactor Monju (Tsuruga City, Fukui Prefecture) the heater to keep the secondary coolant, sodium, warm was switched off accidentally for about 30 minutes during the inspection of electric systems on June 2. The cause is attributed to human error due to poor instructions in the manual.


In certain part of the pipe, the temperature dropped 40 degrees Celsius from the normal 200 degrees Celsius, but there was no effect on the environment or the reactor, according to JAEA. Melting point of sodium is about 98 degrees Celsius.


JAEA reported to the Nuclear Regulatory Agency, Fukui Prefecture and Tsuruga City on June 3. The reason for the delay in reporting was, according to JAEA, because "it was the very minor incident that didn't require reporting, according to our internal [i.e. unofficial] rules".

So they blame the manual for the incident, but abide by the other, unofficial manual and decide they don't need to report it.

If they didn't notice the heater was off for another hour, they would have been in a big trouble (assuming the temperature drop is linear).

The footage of 1995 sodium leak accident is still there on the net, despite TV Asahi's copyright claim.

The Nuclear Regulatory Authority has already ordered JAEA to stop all the work for preparation for the restart, as 10,000 parts and equipments weren't maintained according to the schedule.

Again, good luck Czech Republic, India, Vietnam, Turkey. And many others, no doubt, now that Japan's Prime Minister Abe and President Francois Hollande of France have formed a formidable team to sell nuclear plants all over the world...

Friday, June 7, 2013

Southern California Edison to Close San Onofre Nuke Plant, Due to Uncertainty over NRC's Decision

Residents in southern California had better hope it will be cool summer.

From CBS News (6/7/2013):

Calif. utility to retire troubled San Onofre nuclear power plant

LOS ANGELES The troubled San Onofre nuclear power plant on the California coast is closing after an epic 16-month battle over whether the twin reactors could be safely restarted with millions of people living nearby, officials announced Friday.

Operator Southern California Edison said in a statement it will retire the twin reactors because of uncertainty about the future of the plant, which faced a tangle of regulatory hurdles, investigations and mounting political opposition. With the reactors idle, the company has spent more than $500 million on repairs and replacement power.

San Onofre could power 1.4 million homes. California officials have said they would be able to make it through the summer without the plant but warned that wildfires or another disruption in distribution could cause power shortages.

It wasn't clear how electrical production from the plant would be replaced permanently. The California Public Utilities Commission said it will work with governments to ensure Southern California has enough electricity, which will require increased energy efficiency and conservation during peak usage, as well as upgrades to transmission and generation resources.

The plant between San Diego and Los Angeles hasn't produced electricity since January 2012, after a small radiation leak led to the discovery of unusual damage to hundreds of tubes that carry radioactive water.

The plant "has served this region for over 40 years," Ted Craver, chairman of SCE parent Edison International said in a statement. "But we have concluded that the continuing uncertainty about when or if (the plant) might return to service was not good for our customers, our investors or the need to plan for our region's long-term electricity needs."

SCE had been seeking permission from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to restart the Unit 2 reactor and run it at reduced power, in hopes of stopping vibration that had damaged the tubing.

"The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is aware of Southern California Edison's plans to permanently shut down San Onofre, but we are waiting for formal notification of their decision," Victor Dricks, spokesman for NRC, told KNX1070.

Edison's stock price was up slightly in midday trading.

Friends of the Earth, an advocacy group critical of the nuclear power industry, praised the decision to close it.

"We have long said that these reactors are too dangerous to operate and now Edison has agreed. The people of California now have the opportunity to move away from the failed promise of dirty and dangerous nuclear power and replace it with the safe and clean energy provided by the sun and the wind," the group's president, Erich Pica, said in a statement.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, said she's also relieved.

"This nuclear plant had a defective redesign and could no longer operate as intended. Modifications to the San Onofre nuclear plant were unsafe and posed a danger to the eight million people living within 50 miles of the plant," she said in a statement.

"Now that the San Onofre nuclear plant will be permanently shut down, it is essential that this nuclear plant be safely decommissioned and does not become a continuing liability for the community."

The problems center on steam generators that were installed during a $670 million overhaul in 2009 and 2010. After the plant was shut down, tests found some generator tubes were so badly eroded that they could fail and possibly release radiation, a stunning finding inside the nearly new equipment.

The four generators at San Onofre — two per reactor, each with 9,727 alloy tubes — function something like a car radiator, which controls heat in the vehicle's engine. The generator tubes circulate hot, radioactive water from the reactors, which then heats a bath of non-radioactive water surrounding them. That makes steam, which is used to turn turbines to make electricity.

Edison has argued for months that the Unit 2 plant could be safely restarted, but Craver recently raised the possibility of closing the plant because of lingering uncertainty about the future. The company had said little about the future of the heavily damaged Unit 3 reactor.

Questions arose over changes to the replacement generators — they were different than the originals, 23.6 tons heavier and hundreds of additional tubes were added as part of design changes.

San Onofre is owned by SCE, San Diego Gas & Electric and the city of Riverside. The Unit 1 reactor operated from 1968 to 1992, when it was shut down and dismantled.

I don't think SCE has agreed in any way that the reactors are too dangerous to operate, as Friends of the Earth (who invited former prime minister Naoto Kan as guest of honor in the recent anti-nuclear event) alleges. The company simply hates the uncertainty, particularly for the investors, over how the NRC decides. It is a financial decision.

Asahi Shinbun reports that SCE will sue Mitsubishi Heavy Industries for damages, but I don't see any mention of that in the US news. SCE is in no position to sue MHI, who built the steam generator in question. The specs were by SCE, and it was SCE that accepted the final products.

Asahi also says 1100 workers will be laid off.

(UPDATE) Asahi probably didn't read the local news well enough. KPBS reports (6/7/2013):

Ted Craver, Chairman and CEO of Edison International, parent company of SCE, ...said the company is pursuing efforts to get cost recovery from Mitsubishi, the Nuclear Industry Insurance Program and California ratepayers. Shareholders will cover the rest.

For whatever reason or unreason, the Japanese media is all abuzz about Mitsubishi Heavy Industries being sued for damages.

Mr. Craver also says the decommissioning fund for San Onofre is about $2.7 billion, about 90% funded.

$1 billion per reactor...

#Nuclear Japan: Toshiba/Westinghouse to Sell AP1000 Nuclear Reactors to Czech Republic

Thanks to the top sell by Shinzo Abe, who must be visiting his loo every 10 minutes during the market hours in Tokyo.

From Nikkei Shinbun (6/8/2013; part, emphasis is mine):

東芝傘下WHがチェコ原発受注へ 福島事故後で初

Toshiba subsidiary Westinghouse to supply nuclear reactors to Czech Republic, first after the Fukushima accident


Westinghouse in the US, one of the largest companies in nuclear business and subsidiary of Toshiba, is set to receive orders for the nuclear power plant project in Czech Republic. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Czech President Miloš Zeman will exchange a memorandum of understanding of mutual assistance in nuclear technology during the summit meeting on June 16. The total project cost is projected to be 10 billion dollars (about 1 trillion yen). Japan's nuclear export, which was interrupted by the March 11, 2011 disaster, is set to accelerate.

Toshiba/Westinghouse is to supply two additional reactors to the existing two at Temelin Nuclear Power Station in South Bohemia in Czech Republic. Their AP1000, received the highest ranking among competing bidders in March this year.

Glenn Greenwald: US Is Committed to Destroying Privacy Worldwide

(UPDATE) "Investigate" they will. "Shoot The PRISM-Gate Messenger: Obama To Launch Criminal Probe Into NSA Leaks", says Zero Hedge headline, with eyes on details like (emphasis is original):

Reuters reports that "President Barack Obama's administration is likely to open a criminal investigation into the leaking of highly classified documents that revealed the secret surveillance of Americans' telephone and email traffic, U.S. officials said on Friday."

And how did Reuters learn this: from "law enforcement and security officials who were not authorized to speak publicly."


I forgot to mention who wrote that Guardian article on the top-secret NSA program called PRISM. It is Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill.

Greenwald, who used to write for, a progressive constitutional lawyer and strong advocate for civil liberty, appeared on the US news media and blasted the US government. He is also one of the few who continue to write about Bradley Manning and his treatment by the US government under the Obama administration.

From Politico (6/7/2013; part, emphasis is mine):

Glenn Greenwald: U.S. wants to destroy privacy worldwide

...“There is a massive apparatus within the United States government that with complete secrecy has been building this enormous structure that has only one goal, and that is to destroy privacy and anonymity, not just in the United States but around the world,” charged Glenn Greenwald, a reporter for the British newspaper “The Guardian,” speaking on CNN. “That is not hyperbole. That is their objective.”

“So whatever the Justice Department wants to do, they can beat their chests all they want,” he said. “People like Dianne Feinstein and Saxby Chambliss can have press conferences threatening people for bringing … light to what it is they’re doing, but the only people who are going to be investigated are them. It’s well past time that these threats start to be treated with the contempt that they deserve. That’s certainly how I intend to treat them moving forward, with more investigation and disclosures.”

“The Obama administration has been very aggressive about bullying and threatening anybody who thinks about exposing it or writing it or even doing journalism about it, and it’s well past time that come to an end,” he said.

“What the Obama administration is doing in interpreting the PATRIOT Act is so warped and distorted and it vests themselves with such extremist surveillance powers over the United States and American citizens that Americans, in their words, would be stunned to learn what the Obama administration is doing,” he said on CNN’s “The Lead.”

Speaking with MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell, Greenwald dared lawmakers to investigate how information about the Verizon phone records leaked, as Feinstein has said should happen.

“Let them go and investigate,” Greenwald said.

He added, “There is this massive surveillance state that the United States government has built up that has extraordinary implications for how we live as human beings on the earth and as Americans in our country, and we have the right to know what it is that that government and that agency is doing. I intend to continue to shine light on that, and Dianne Feinstein can beat her chest all she wants and call for investigations, and none of that is going to stop and none of it is going to change.”

(Full article at the link)

It looks Glenn Greenwald has declared his war.

Unlike other liberal/progressive commentators who almost completely stopped criticizing the federal government once their idol became the occupant of the White House, Greenwald has continued to criticize the government for what it does, regardless of who is at the (nominal) top.

Unlike Greenwald, New York Times folded in mere two and a half hours or so after they dare published an editorial condemning the Obama administration and President Obama. They "modified" it, they say.

The "communication companies" that have been aiding the NSA turn out to be (no surprise here) Verizon, AT&T, and Sprint. In addition, NSA has been obtaining the records from credit card companies. No surprise there either, particularly the issuing companies are big Wall Street banks who were bailed out by the federal government at the expense of small people who were made to foot the bill.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

US NSA's Top Secret PRISM Program Has Been Spying on Everything You Do on the Net Since 2007, Says UK's Guardian

Adding to the earlier news of National Security Agency under the Obama administration collecting telephone records of millions of Americans from Verizon, UK's Guardian says the NSA has also been collecting user data directly from the Internet companies including Microsoft, Google, Apple, Yahoo, Youtube, Skype, and Facebook.

Unlike Verizon, these Internet companies (so far) deny they had any knowledge of the government snooping.


NSA has been receiving assistance from "communications providers in the US", according to The Guardian. AT&T, Verizon, Comcast,

From The Guardian (6/6/2013; emphasis is mine):

NSA taps in to internet giants' systems to mine user data, secret files reveal

By Glenn Greenwald and Ewen MacAskill

• Top secret PRISM program claims direct access to servers of firms including Google, Facebook and Apple
• Companies deny any knowledge of program in operation since 2007

The National Security Agency has obtained direct access to the systems of Google, Facebook, Apple and other US internet giants, according to a top secret document obtained by the Guardian.

The NSA access is part of a previously undisclosed program called PRISM, which allows officials to collect material including search history, the content of emails, file transfers and live chats, the document says.

The Guardian has verified the authenticity of the document, a 41-slide PowerPoint presentation – classified as top secret with no distribution to foreign allies – which was apparently used to train intelligence operatives on the capabilities of the program. The document claims "collection directly from the servers" of major US service providers.

Although the presentation claims the program is run with the assistance of the companies, all those who responded to a Guardian request for comment on Thursday denied knowledge of any such program.

In a statement, Google said: "Google cares deeply about the security of our users' data. We disclose user data to government in accordance with the law, and we review all such requests carefully. From time to time, people allege that we have created a government 'back door' into our systems, but Google does not have a back door for the government to access private user data."

Several senior tech executives insisted that they had no knowledge of PRISM or of any similar scheme. They said they would never have been involved in such a program. "If they are doing this, they are doing it without our knowledge," one said.

An Apple spokesman said it had "never heard" of PRISM.

The NSA access was enabled by changes to US surveillance law introduced under President Bush and renewed under Obama in December 2012.

The program facilitates extensive, in-depth surveillance on live communications and stored information. The law allows for the targeting of any customers of participating firms who live outside the US, or those Americans whose communications include people outside the US.

It also opens the possibility of communications made entirely within the US being collected without warrants.

Disclosure of the PRISM program follows a leak to the Guardian on Wednesday of a top-secret court order compelling telecoms provider Verizon to turn over the telephone records of millions of US customers.

The participation of the internet companies in PRISM will add to the debate, ignited by the Verizon revelation, about the scale of surveillance by the intelligence services. Unlike the collection of those call records, this surveillance can include the content of communications and not just the metadata.

Some of the world's largest internet brands are claimed to be part of the information-sharing program since its introduction in 2007. Microsoft – which is currently running an advertising campaign with the slogan "Your privacy is our priority" – was the first, with collection beginning in December 2007.

It was followed by Yahoo in 2008; Google, Facebook and PalTalk in 2009; YouTube in 2010; Skype and AOL in 2011; and finally Apple, which joined the program in 2012. The program is continuing to expand, with other providers due to come online.

The extent and nature of the data collected from each company varies.

Companies are legally obliged to comply with requests for users' communications under US law, but the PRISM program allows the intelligence services direct access to the companies' servers. The NSA document notes the operations have "assistance of communications providers in the US".

(Full article at the link)

US's Washington Post has the article on the same subject. A joint operation by the two papers?

It was in 2006 when an AT&T whistleblower, Mark Klein, leaked internal AT&T documents that revealed the company had set up a secret room in its San Francisco office to give the National Security Agency access to its fiber optic internet cables.

No one cared then, and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act was amended in July 2008 to authorize the NSA program of warrantless wiretapping. Will anyone care now?

(So far Twitter seems to be safe. I wonder how long.)

"Bigger Shit Theory" at Work: Toru Hashimoto Proposes Osprey Training Over Osaka (and All Over Japan), Abe Administration to Consider

As his remarks on "comfort women" provoked the UN's strong word (here and here) to the Abe administration to refute such remarks, Boy-wonder mayor of Osaka City, with his party's favorable rating plunging far below that of unpopular Democratic Party of Japan, moves on, looking for a bigger shit he can inflict on people in Japan so that everyone forgets about his "comfort women" and "adult industry" remarks.

He's found one: the US military's Osprey training.

He has formally proposed to the Abe administration that he offers Yao Airport in Yao City, Osaka as a training ground for this controversial transport aircraft of the US military.

Ostensible reason? To alleviate the suffering of Okinawa.

No kidding, mayor.

From Mainichi English, quoting Kyodo English (6/6/2013; emphasis is mine):

Hashimoto proposes hosting Osprey training flights near Osaka

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto proposed Thursday to the government conducting some training exercises of the U.S. military's MV-22 Osprey aircraft near Osaka in a bid to reduce the burden on Okinawa Prefecture, home to the bulk of U.S. bases in Japan.

"It's important to study whether it is feasible" for some training to be conducted in Osaka Prefecture, Hashimoto told reporters after meeting with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga at the premier's office.

"We don't know whether it is really possible...but the important thing is to get started on a feasibility study," Hashimoto said, adding a final judgment should be made by the Japanese government and the U.S. military.

Hashimoto, who co-heads the Japan Restoration Party, suggested at the meeting that training exercises for the Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft deployed at a U.S. Marine base in Okinawa should be conducted outside of the prefecture for 120 days, and that Yao Airport, located southwest of Osaka city, could host some of them.

Ichiro Matsui, the party's secretary general who doubles as Osaka governor, said Abe told those at the meeting that sharing Okinawa's burden with people on the mainland of Japan would be "natural."

Other proposals include making revisions to the Japan-U.S. Status of Forces Agreement by enabling Japan to exert jurisdiction over U.S. military personnel when they commit a crime off duty, and to have the authority to keep them in custody together with the United States.

The proposals were made at a time when the party has been trying to contain the political repercussions of Hashimoto's recent remarks that Japan's wartime system of military brothels was necessary to maintain discipline, raising ire from South Korea and elsewhere.

The outlook for implementing the proposals remains uncertain as Yao Mayor Seita Tanaka has expressed his objection. In Okinawa, Nago Mayor Susumu Inamine criticized the move as "irresponsible," because local consent had yet to be obtained in Osaka Prefecture.

Japan's top spokesman Suga told a press conference after the meeting that Tokyo would "examine" the party's proposals and that it had a responsibility to the people in Okinawa.

"We genuinely welcome the proposals as both Japanese and U.S. authorities are now considering whether it is possible for Ospreys to conduct flight training outside of Okinawa, and Japan as a whole needs to think about reducing the burden on Okinawa of hosting the bases," Suga said.

Twelve Ospreys have been deployed at the U.S. Marine Corp's Futenma Air Station in Okinawa since last year despite strong local opposition and safety concerns after a series of accidents overseas. The U.S. military has already started low-altitude training on the mainland.

Asahi Shinbun (Japanese) has another piece of Boy-wonder's utterance on this bigger-shit exercise. According to Asahi, Hashimoto said:


"I don't know this proposal is feasible or not, but from now on all airports on mainland Japan should be considered for hosting the training."

Boy-wonder will no doubt use the same template as he and his boss Shintaro Ishihara used successfully to stifle opposition to bringing in and burning disaster debris contaminated with chemicals, heavy metals, and radioactive materials. It must go like this:

People in [disaster-affected areas / Okinawa] are suffering. It is our duty to support them by taking in [the disaster debris / Osprey] so that they can feel better that everyone is sharing the burden not just them. If you are against [bringing in and burning the disaster debris / bringing in Osprey to the airport near you], that means you are against the recovery of [disaster-affected areas / Okinawa] and you are racist!

I'm almost 100% certain that this will be the narrative.

Yao Airport is, by the way, is a small local airport in the middle of crowded residential area. Osprey is to practice flying as low as 150 meters from the ground, day and night.

Boy-wonder's sidekick, Governor of Osaka Ichiro Matsui, has said he is counting on the US military to come to the rescue when a huge earthquake hits Kansai, so he will gladly offer a training location for the US military in Osaka.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Japan's PM Abe Speaks about His "Abenomics Growth Strategy", Stock Market Tanks (and Tanks, and Tanks, and...Tanks)

(UPDATE 4) Nikkei ended the day with -518.89, to 13,014.87. Intraday swing of nearly 700.

(UPDATE 3) Nikkei now 393, with 20 minutes more to trade.

(UPDATE 2) Nikkei now down 369.

(UPDATE) New York Times' Hiroko Tabuchi was tweeting that the advance copy of Abe's speech was made available to the media both domestic and foreign (but not New York Times, apparently). How much dumber can they get? A whole lot, I'm afraid.


Nikkei was as high as 13,771, but as Prime Minister Abe spoke in the afternoon on June 5 detailing his "growth strategy", the index tanked, and it tanked fast and furious.

Nikkei is now 13,314, erasing about 460 points from the high and looks like it is digging down deeper. The red arrow is when the content of the speech started to get reported by the Japanese media (slightly before 1PM).

Whatever he said, the market didn't like that.

Of course, Nikkei blames it on higher yen first, and the hedge funds second, who, according to Nikkei, didn't think much at all of Abe's "strategy", dismissing it as "nothing new".

Well that's what Mizuho Securities' chief economist said the other day.

It's a price to pay when you let in foreign (macro) investors, who actually listen to what politicians and policy makers say and invest accordingly, to the once-boring and half-dead stock market.

Naoto Kan Was Guest of Honor at an Anti-Nuclear Event in San Diego, California, Said It Was He Who Stopped TEPCO from "Abandoning" #Fukushima I Nuke Plant

An environmental activist group called "Friends of the Earth" held an event on June 4, 2013 in San Diego, California, in which they featured former NRC chairman Gregory Jaczko and former Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan. The event seems to be part of the group's ongoing effort to shut down San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant that provides (if the two reactors are operating) 20% of electricity in San Diego County.

I suppose Mr. Naoto Kan to the people outside Japan ("hero" who "saved" the world from the bigger disaster) is like Mr. Toru Hashimoto to some people inside Japan ("hero" who speaks the uncomfortable truth).

So what did Mr. Kan tell the adoring US audience? It looks like the same stuff he's been selling for the past two years: TEPCO wanted to abandon the site, and he was the one who stopped them from doing so.

As far as I'm concerned, he was the prime minister of Japan who hid behind a middle-level manager at TEPCO when the water with low-level contamination had to be discharged into the ocean to make room for the highly contaminated water. Kan's cabinet didn't notify the neighboring countries, didn't have the guts to announce the discharge. Instead, a manager at TEPCO did the press conference, and then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said they sent a fax to IAEA about the discharge and that it should be sufficient.

From Friends of the Earth blog (6/4/2013):

Former Japanese Prime Minister Naota Kan warned today that restarting the damaged San Onofre nuclear reactor is driven by the same industrial and regulatory forces in the United States that are seeking the restart of Japanese nuclear reactors. He told a nuclear safety seminar that the worst-case nuclear accident at Fukushima-daiichi would have required evacuating a 190-mile radius from from the disaster, an area in which 50 million people live, threatening the entire future of his nation.

The major safety risks of restarting the San Onofre nuclear reactor located between Los Angeles and San Diego was put in the context of the devastating accident at Fukushima during an international seminar held at the San Diego County Government offices today.

Guest of Honour, former Prime Minister of Japan, Naoto Kan, described in detail the March 2011 accident at Fukushima-daiichi, the consequences of the earthquake and tsunami that led to the meltdown of three reactors, the threat from the hundreds of tons of high level nuclear waste spent fuel at the site, and the ongoing challenge to control the hazards at the site today.

...Naoto Kan described how the operator of the Fukushima-daiichi nuclear reactors, Tokyo Electric Power Company, wanted to abandon the site. Kan refused to accept this given Fukushima's six reactors and the hundreds of tons of spent fuel pools that would devastate central Japan.

Naoto Kan told the seminar that it would have been be such a terrible disaster, many times greater than Chernobyl, that it would be definitely necessary to evacuate Tokyo and wider region. Naoto Kan explained that he was confronted with having to consider a worst case scenario that would have required a radius of 190 miles from Fukushima to be evacuated affecting 50 million people.

Kan told of the 160,000 people that remain displaced from Fukushima, with families scattered across Japan.

“Until March 2011 I thought about how to safely operate nuclear power. After Fukushima, my whole mindset has changed … and that we must now not operate nuclear reactors,” said Naoto Kan.

(Full article at the link)

In Japan, if the "industrial forces" mean electric power companies, yes they want to restart. They are bleeding money. Regulatory forces? If that means the Nuclear Regulatory Authority, so far they haven't shown much eagerness to restart anything anytime soon, to the surprise of many in Japan. The ones who want the restart of nuclear power plants in Japan are in those municipalities where nuclear power plants are located. They want money (government subsidies, electric power companies' gifts and donations), they want jobs.

Even when there is no government subsidy, Mayor of Tokai-mura, where J-PARC (that leaked radioactive gold and mercury into the environment through ventilation fans without anyone realizing that the extra-strong proton beams had evaporated the gold plate in their Hadron Collider by accident) is located, wants the restart of J-PARC experiment as soon as possible. Why? Because it is such a prestige and honor to have an advanced technological facility like this in his village!

(Never mind they were using ventilation fans like any household or restaurant kitchen...)

Monday, June 3, 2013

Radiation Exposure from Eating Pacific Bluefin Tuna Affected by Fukushima Nuke Accident Miniscule, US Researchers Say

32 microsieverts per year or 0.032 millisievert per year, for the Japanese people in Japan, 0.9 microsievert per year or 0.0009 millisievert per year for people in the US.

Exposure from radioactive polonium in fish is much greater than radioactive cesium of Fukushima origin, says Professor Nicholas Fisher at Stony Brook University in New York. (See Table 1 at the bottom of the post.)

He also says the the amount of radioactive cesium in bluefin tuna caught off the coast of San Diego in 2012 dropped in half, compared to the bluefin tuna caught in 2011.

Unlike most of the Japanese media these days, the US media, including CNN below, still talks about radiation in terms of dental X-ray or transcontinental flight. Just give us the number, please.

From CNN (6/3/2013):

Fukushima tuna study finds miniscule health risks

Go ahead, order the sushi.

Levels of radioactivity found in Pacific bluefin tuna that spawned off Japan around the time of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident are far below anything that would pose a health risk and have dropped in fish caught the following year, U.S. researchers reported Monday.

The latest findings follow up on a 2012 study that found radioactive cesium, a nuclear reactor byproduct, in tuna caught off California in the months after the triple meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi. The attention that study received led scientists to take another look at the data, said Nicholas Fisher, a marine science professor at New York's Stony Brook University.

"People did not know how to translate that into a dose, or into what risk do I have from eating that tuna," Fisher said. "The paper that's coming out today addresses that."

They found that anyone who eats the bluefin -- highly prized for sushi and sashimi -- would get about 5% of the radiation they'd get from eating one typical banana, a fruit high in naturally radioactive potassium. The results were released Monday by the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Even subsistence fishermen, who eat far more fish than the typical American, would receive a dose of radiation from the cesium isotopes released in the meltdown equivalent to a single dental X-ray, Fisher and his colleagues reported. That translates to a "worst-case scenario" of two additional cancer deaths for every 10 million people in that category, he said.

The doses were calculated from fish caught off San Diego in August 2011. A follow-up study with fish caught in 2012 found the amount of cesium-134 and -137 dropped by about half in those tuna, Fisher said.

(Full article at the link)

Japan's Kyodo News says exposure from radioactive polonium in fish is much greater than radioactive cesium of Fukushima origin.

It also says the radiation exposure would be 0.032 millisievert in one year.

The paper abstract:

Pacific bluefin tuna transport Fukushima-derived radionuclides from Japan to California

Daniel J. Madigan, Zofia Baumann, and Nicholas S. Fisher


The Fukushima Dai-ichi release of radionuclides into ocean waters caused significant local and global concern regarding the spread of radioactive material. We report unequivocal evidence that Pacific bluefin tuna, Thunnus orientalis, transported Fukushima-derived radionuclides across the entire North Pacific Ocean. We measured γ-emitting radionuclides in California-caught tunas and found 134Cs (4.0 ± 1.4 Bq kg−1) and elevated 137Cs (6.3 ± 1.5 Bq kg−1) in 15 Pacific bluefin tuna sampled in August 2011. We found no 134Cs and background concentrations (∼1 Bq kg−1) of 137Cs in pre-Fukushima bluefin and post-Fukushima yellowfin tunas, ruling out elevated radiocesium uptake before 2011 or in California waters post-Fukushima. These findings indicate that Pacific bluefin tuna can rapidly transport radionuclides from a point source in Japan to distant ecoregions and demonstrate the importance of migratory animals as transport vectors of radionuclides. Other large, highly migratory marine animals make extensive use of waters around Japan, and these animals may also be transport vectors of Fukushima-derived radionuclides to distant regions of the North and South Pacific Oceans. These results reveal tools to trace migration origin (using the presence of 134Cs) and potentially migration timing (using 134Cs:137Cs ratios) in highly migratory marine species in the Pacific Ocean.

Full paper PDF:

Part about radiation exposure for Japan and for the US:

Table 1 showing the radiation dose:

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: TEPCO Admits Error in Measurement, Says 0.61Bq/Liter of Cesium in Groundwater They Plan to Release into Ocean

0.22 Bq/liter of cesium-134, and 0.39 Bq/liter of cesium-137 to be exact.

The amount is very small, less than 1/100 of the legal limit of radioactive cesium in the water allowed to be released from a nuclear power plant (90 Bq/liter).

But TEPCO has a credibility problem, as the company has been saying that there are no detectable radioactive materials in the groundwater that they've been pumping up (to prevent some of the water from entering the building basements) and are planning to release, with consent from interested parties, into the Pacific Ocean.

What kind of error that TEPCO admitted, you ask? It turns out that the company measured the sample groundwater with very low radioactivity at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant with very high radiation background, instead of at Fukushima II (Daini) with lower background or at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuke Plant in Niigata with no background to worry about.

Who pointed this problem out to TEPCO, who says they didn't have any procedure in place, actually, to measure low-radiation samples at a high-radiation location like Fukushima I?

Nuclear Safety Inspector from the Nuclear Regulatory Agency.

The Nuclear Regulatory Agency is the secretariat of the Nuclear Regulatory Authority, with many former NISA officials and inspectors. Finally doing some good by pointing out the obvious to an oblivious nuclear plant operator.

From TEPCO's handout for the press in Japanese (6/3/2013; summarized by me):

The germanium semiconductor detectors at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant have been used to detect gamma nuclides in samples with high radioactivity such as contaminated water in the building basements. For samples that require measurement at lower detection levels, the measurement has been done at Fukushima II Nuclear Power Plant and Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant.

However, we tested the groundwater stored in the temporary storage tank at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, as part of the procedure in the future in carrying out and managing the groundwater bypass scheme [pump the groundwater, store it in the tank, then release it into the ocean].

We explained the scheme to Nuclear Safety Inspector, and on May 30, Inspector pointed out to us that in measuring samples using germanium semiconductor detectors, background self-shielding effect cannot be ignored.

So, we tested the two germanium semiconductor detectors used at Fukushima I by measuring the background without any sample, then with purified water with no contamination in a 2-liter marinelli container.

After examining the test results, we found that the marinelli container's shielding effect against the background affected the results by several Bq/liter.

We then tested the groundwater sample from April 16, 2013 that had been tested at Fukushima I and had been found with no detectable cesium, at Fukushima II Nuclear Power Plant, and the result was below our target of 1 Bq/liter of radioactive cesium.

TEPCO's emphasis is, naturally, "below the company's target of 1 Bq/liter".

"Happy", the worker who tweeted from Fukushima I for much of the past two years, says:


Detection of contamination from the water in the storage tank for groundwater bypass system, where contamination should be below detection level. There is one problem that people don't necessarily notice, and that is the contamination of the groundwater bypass system itself. It would be a huge headache to decontaminate such huge storage tanks and all the pipes.


I think TEPCO may say there is no problem if it is less than 1 Bq/liter, but the problem is the detection of contamination itself when TEPCO initially insisted there was no contamination (or TEPCO's wishful thinking that it would be impossible that there was any contamination?). If they designed the system with the assumption that the groundwater may be contaminated, the tanks and pipes wouldn't have been contaminated.


There should have been a filter installed to remove radioactive materials from the groundwater after it was pumped up. The whole system should have been better considered. The bypass construction was a rush job. I think TEPCO wanted to obtain the consent from the fishery association as soon as possible and make release of groundwater a fait accompli.

His interview with AP's Yuri Kageyama has been pretty much ignored in Japan, by the way, mostly because it is an English article and partly because, I guess, it is about Fukushima I Nuke Plant which many in Japan simply ignore these days. Everything is sort of OK at the plant, isn't it? No major catastrophe has happened since after March 2011, so decommissioning work must be progressing fine, right?

(I have translated the article into Japanese. If your Japanese friends and acquaintances don't know about the interview, send them the link.)

The Economist on Toru Hashimoto: "The scent of blood was in the air at the Tokyo Foreign Correspondents’ Club last week..."

It was the blood of Toru Hashimoto.

It's been a week since Boy-wonder mayor of Osaka City gave a press conference at Foreign Correspondents' Club in Tokyo to lecture them on exploitation of women during wars in general and World War II in particular, only to fall flat on his face (without him realizing it) and did more damage than good (without him realizing that, either).

While most of the correspondents who attended didn't even bother to write about it and the US State Department said "No comment" to a mere local official (that's what Hashimoto is, Mayor of Osaka City), the UK's Financial Times wrote about it the next day.

Now, The Economist weighs in, one week later, and it is brutal. You could sense a sheer disdain in the second paragraph, which effectively summarizes what Hashimoto uttered at the Foreign Correspondents' Club spending three hours.

From The Economist (6/3/2013; emphasis is mine):

Japan's right-wing politicians: Making a hash of history

Jun 3rd 2013, 4:30 by D.M. | TOKYO

THE scent of blood was in the air at the Tokyo Foreign Correspondents’ Club last week. A rising political star tipped as a candidate for prime minister was facing a hostile crowd of reporters after having uttered a series of controversial bon mots [clever remarks; "good words" in French]. Most strikingly, Toru Hashimoto (pictured above), the mayor of Osaka and a leader of the right-wing Japan Restoration Party (JRP), said Japan’s organised rape of wartime sex slaves was a necessary evil. Turning to the present day, he also said that “hot-blooded” American soldiers should themselves be using prostitutes more often in Okinawa, which is today home to 75% of the American bases in Japan. In the great tradition of Japanese politics, Mr Hashimoto was expected to bow before his media inquisitors, apologise and move on. He did no such thing.

In that marathon presser, Mr Hashimoto repeated his claim that there is no evidence of the wartime Japanese state’s involvement in herding what some scholars estimate to have been 200,000 Asian women into military brothels. He was aware of the pain suffered by the so-called comfort women, he assured, but said other countries should look squarely at their past too. “Sexual violation in wartime was not unique to the Japanese army,” he said, citing Britain, America, France and Russia for indulging in what he called, rather jarringly, “sex on the battlefield”. His remarks on Okinawa were merely intended to draw attention to the misdeeds of a “heartless minority” of American soldiers, he insisted. And to strengthen Japan’s military alliance with America, naturally.

Mr Hashimoto survived a vote of no-confidence in the Osaka assembly, but the fully verdict on the whole performance has yet to emerge—many commentators suspect that Mr Hashimoto has torpedoed his political career. This would be especially extraordinary given his party’s having won a shocking 12m votes in the elections of December 2012, a share that put them ahead of the party of the previous government, the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) as the country’s second-largest. The lessons, whatever they may be, will be of great import to the government of Shinzo Abe, the prime minister, ahead of general elections on July 21st. Mr Abe has previously expressed views on the comfort women that were similar to Mr Hashimoto’s, and even more abrasive. A majority of his government agrees with him and press the point even further than Mr Hashimoto did. Mr Hashimoto was careful to say Japanese politicians should accept that the nation waged colonial wars of aggression in Asia, for instance, while 13 of the lawmakers in Mr Abe’s cabinet reject Japan’s “apology diplomacy” for the abuse of the comfort women and other war crimes.

Since leading the conservative Liberal Democrats (LDP) back to power in December, Mr Abe has been advised to avoid the terrain that ensnared Mr Hashimoto, but it never seemed likely that he could keep himself entirely free of it. In April, he queried the definition of “aggression” in relation to Japan’s colonial wars in Asia—in effect undermining the basis of Tokyo’s relations with its former victims. His semantic quibble had the effect of corroding Japan’s gold-standard apology for its imperial warmongering and atrocities, the 1995 Murayama statement. Indeed, Mr Abe has hinted that he may retract it.

On May 12th, the LDP’s policy chief, Sanae Takaichi, revealed to millions of television viewers that Mr Abe rejects the verdict of the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal, which blamed Japan for the war and sentenced its leaders to hang. Then a record number of LDP lawmakers visited the Yasukuni shrine last month, where those hanged leaders were enshrined clandestinely. A pilgrimage to the shrine is taken to imply a tacit endorsement of the wartime leaders and their aims. To reject the verdict of the war trials themselves would mean setting back to zero Japan’s modern relations with China, Korea and even America. The consequences would be profound.

For this reason, Mr Abe’s government has struggled to keep its actual positions opaque. As the prime minister twists and turns, pulled between his political id and the dreadful reality of making them plain, his spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, has spent the month putting out fires. For example: No, says Mr Suga, the prime minister does not deny war crimes; but, Yes, Japan stands by its war apologies. No, Mr Abe does not want to retract the 1993 Kono statement, in which Japan acknowledged its role in rounding up sex slaves.

Mr Hashimoto, who was wooed by Mr Abe earlier this year as a possible political partner, lamented at his press conference that Japan is once again getting bogged down in discussion about the past. “My generation should look ahead and create a better future for our people,” he said. He said this as if he were unaware that he had just spent almost three hours straight talking about the middle of the 20th century.


The bit about Ms. Sanae Takaichi declaring her boss, PM Shinzo Abe, rejects the verdict of the TOkyo War Crimes Tribunal in front of millions of TV viewers on May 12 was surprising, as I wasn't aware. So I looked for the reporting of the event, and found it at Sankei Shinbun (5/12/2013), a newspaper that's been very happy since the December win of LDP:


Sanae Takaichi, chairman of the LDP policy bureau, said in an NHK program on May 12 that understanding of history by the Abe administration was different from that by past administrations. When asked if the Abe administration accepts the verdict of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East (Tokyo Trials) just as the past administration did, Takaichi answered, "There are things that are different in the Abe administration when it comes to a concept of a nation or a historical perspective."

I suppose Ms. Takaichi or Mr. Abe could cry foul, like Boy-wonder did, and blame foreign media for telling lies.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

"Vent" Holes of JAL's 787 Dreamliner Batter Case Were Taped Shut, JAL Blames Boeing's Shoddy Work

Or I would say "Japan special". Venting not working - where have I seen before?

As the result, the air pressure sensor showed abnormal readings, and JAL swapped the plane.

If you recall, the lithium-ion batteries on board JAL and ANA's 787 Dreamliners caught fire while in operation, and after lengthy investigation and grounding of the entire fleet of 787 around the world, the solution was to put the containment vessel around the battery and install a vent. The real cause of meltdown, I mean, battery fire, is still not known, but the prevailing sentiment among industry participants (particularly those numerous Japanese suppliers to Boeing) seems to be, "Who cares?"

From The Telegraph (6/2/2013; emphasis is mine):

Japan Airlines finds fault on modified Dreamliner

More battery-related problems aboard a Boeing Dreamliner forced Japan Airlines (JAL) to use an alternative aircraft on Sunday, just one day after it resumed full service of the troubled 787 fleet.

JAL found a fault in an air pressure sensor that detects overheating in the aircraft's modified battery container, according to Japanese media reports.

The problem was put down to Boeing's faulty maintenance as two small holes on the container - necessary for air ventilation to prevent overheating - were mistakenly sealed when it repaired the battery system, said broadcaster Kyodo, citing JAL.

Although the issue was not believed to pose a safety risk, the Dreamliner in question was replaced with a Boeing 767 for a scheduled flight between Tokyo and Beijing.

JAL and its rival All Nippon Airways (ANA) both blamed the grounding of their Dreamliner fleets for hitting revenues to the tune of $200m, prompting Boeing to print full-page apologies in major Japanese newspapers. Japan is the single-biggest market for Boeing's newest aircraft.

Airlines across the world grounded their Dreamliner fleets earlier this year while Boeing and national regulators investigated the causes of a series of problems aboard the aircraft, including a small fire aboard a JAL passenger jet parked at Boston's Logan airport.

The Telegraph is quoting Kyodo News (6/2/2013), but neither The Telegraph nor Kyodo mentions the "container" and the "holes" weren't in the original design, that the battery did not have a container with two holes.

Someone working for Boeing (or more likely, one of the subcontractors) seems to have forgotten to remove the tapes over the holes before he/she installed the container.

What is surprising to me is that both JAL and ANA don't seem to have done their own inspection to at least make sure the battery system has been "repaired" according to the spec. They relied on Boeing (and/or its subcontractors) to do everything for them perfectly, even though the repair was all done in Japan.

Where have I seen something like this before? (Turnkey nuclear reactors from GE, perhaps?)

On a separate 787 Dreamliner incident from ANA, part of the switchboard was damaged by heat during the test flight in May. The incident happened on May 4. The captain made his decision that it was no big deal, and continued the flight. And true to form, ANA didn't bother informing anyone about the incident until May 16.

After all, ANA didn't bother to report battery problems in 2012 to anyone until after the battery caught fire in January this year.

For JAL, it was only yesterday (June 1) when the stewardesses, pilots, ground crew donned new uniform and gave away "message cards" with candies to passengers to celebrate the re-introduction of Dreamliner 787.

(Photo from Jiji)