Saturday, September 21, 2013

Weekend Fun and Farce: Telephone Game (or Flight of Imagination) Over #Fukushima I Nuke Plant Exhaust Stack

(UPDATE 9/22/2013) The person at least admits both exhaust stacks are still standing despite her belief, but still insists the situation is "equivalent to having been collapsed". It's beyond comprehension at this point.



"Part of the support structure of the exhaust stack for Reactors 1 and 2 was found to have been damaged" (TEPCO's announcement (in Japanese only) on September 18, 2013).

The radiation measurement near the bottom of the stack was over 10 Sieverts/hour when it was measured in August 2011 (here and here, for more info).

Japanese media quoted TEPCO as saying "There is no danger of the exhaust stack collapsing."

(From TEPCO's photos and videos library, 9/18/2013)


"Exhaust stack for Reactor 3 at Fukushima I Nuke Plant broke off and collapsed this morning, killing workers. Extremely high radiation of 10 Sieverts/hour is spreading rapidly, and no one can go near it. TEPCO has abandoned the plant. Radiation is spreading from the plant."


"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a secret order only to Tokyo University graduates to evacuate Kanto and escape to Kyushu and Okinawa"


"Aside from Tokyo University grads, only foreigners were told about it. Foreign embassies are in panic."

Ah the world is ending.

These all issued from someone who continues to insist the message she received from a Japanese living outside Japan and disseminated widely on Twitter is genuine and accurate (despite latching onto the wrong exhaust stack). After probably realizing (I hope) the exhaust stacks are still standing, she deleted her tweets, but she continues to claim it's only a matter of time before the world knows this dire truth.

She doesn't seem to know that 10 Sieverts/hour radiation was detected in 2011.

What was funny was her going back and forth with one of the workers who regularly tweet from Fukushima I Nuke Plant. She apparently did not know whom she was talking to. It went something like:

Worker ("Sunny"): That's demagogy.

Woman: No it is not, it is from reliable source!

"Sunny": If that (collapse of exhaust stack) actually happened, there would be a press conference immediately from TEPCO. The stacks are standing.

Woman: How do you know? Have you seen them in person?

Well, "Sunny" works there.

According to some who have been retweeting the "news" from this person, all major foreign media outlets are reporting it. Firm believers of this "news" say "Japanese media will never report the truth like this."

I think I can guess what will come next from the believers: "An exaggerated lie is totally acceptable to alert people on the danger of the plant."

If this kind of "news" had been released on Twitter in 2011, it might have caused a real panic.

Here's the latest screen shot from TEPCO's Fuku-I live cam:

Here's the screen shot from JNN live cam:

They are both still standing, even if "it's just a matter of time".

Idio(syncra)tic Japan: Maglev Linear Bullet Train to the Rescue of Nuclear Power Plants?

Abe's Liberal Democratic Party, which was the ruling party for most of the post-World War II period in Japan and promoted nuclear power plants as "national policy" and thus responsible for 54 nuclear reactors dotting the coasts of earthquake-prone Japan, is quite nonchalant about its culpability.

Au contraire, a gigantic, 9-trillion-yen (US$90 billion) project that will necessitate the operation of several nuclear power plants (or so the politicians claim) is getting a heavy, front-page coverage all of a sudden: Linear Shinkansen (Bullet Train) by JR Tokai that will operate on Maglev - super-conductive magnetic levitation.

Why would the Maglev bullet train help nuclear power plants? Because maglev Linear Shinkansen will require three to four times the electricity the current Shinkansen uses. There are already LDP politicians and local politicians along the proposed line (initial segment from Shinagawa to Nagoya, over 86% of it will be deep underground - 40 meters, or 130 feet) demanding the restart of nuclear power plants to secure the supply for the Linear Shinkansen which was originally scheduled to be operational in 2027.

Which nuclear plants? Hamaoka NPP (Chubu Electric) and Kashiwazaki-Kariwa NPP (TEPCO) are geographically close.

Unlike JR East which has its own power stations, JR Tokai doesn't have any, and will have to buy extra electricity needed for Linear Shinkansen from power companies.

The hope now is that the first segment of the Linear Sinkansen line will be built "ahead of schedule" - a recurring theme under the Abe administration - to be in time for 2020 Olympic.

Just like the original Shinkansen was built and became operational on October 1, 1964 to be just in time for 1964 Olympic that started on October 10.

Linear Shinkansen has been in the planning for over 30 years, but Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) under the Kan administration ordered JR Tokai to go ahead and build the line in late May 2011, two months after the start of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident.

From my post on June 2, 2011:

Japan's addiction to a huge, infrastructure business continues, despite the disaster at Fukushima I Nuke Plant. Now, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism has given the approval to start building the line for the "Linear Shinkansen (bullet train)" in the middle of Japan, through the pristine mountainous region dubbed in Japan as "Japan Alps", so that people in a nation with dwindling population can go from Tokyo to Osaka in 1 hour, instead of 2.5 hours.

The project has been on the table for more than 30 years, but it was the Kan administration who has finally given a go-sign on May 27, formally "instructing" JR Tokai (the railroad operator in charge of the area that the Linear Shinkansen will run) to build the rail line.

...The line will go through the Japan Alps by building the longest underground tunnel that Japan will have ever built. Not only it will be so counter to environmental protection, but the tunnel will have to go through one of the major tectonic lines in Japan, "Itoigawa-Shizuoka Tectonic Line".

Compared to the amount of groundwater that they will have to deal with in building this tunnel under Japan Alps, the current groundwater situation in Fukushima I Nuke Plant (1,000 tonnes per day) is a child's play.

You can rest assured that the environmental impact study will be done and rubber-stamped quickly. And effect of electromagnetic fields on humans and animals? What effect? It's all for economic growth, you know, in a country with declining population that is aging fast (32% of population over 60, expected to be 41% in 2050).

UK Guardian: US nearly detonated atomic bomb over North Carolina in 1961

It happened on January 23, 1961, three days after the inaugural address by President John F. Kennedy. Three out of four safety controls were off.

From The Guardian (9/20/2013; emphasis is mine):

US nearly detonated atomic bomb over North Carolina – secret document

Exclusive: Journalist uses Freedom of Information Act to disclose 1961 accident in which one switch averted catastrophe

Ed Pilkington in New York

A secret document, published in declassified form for the first time by the Guardian today, reveals that the US Air Force came dramatically close to detonating an atom bomb over North Carolina that would have been 260 times more powerful than the device that devastated Hiroshima.

The document, obtained by the investigative journalist Eric Schlosser under the Freedom of Information Act, gives the first conclusive evidence that the US was narrowly spared a disaster of monumental proportions when two Mark 39 hydrogen bombs were accidentally dropped over Goldsboro, North Carolina on 23 January 1961. The bombs fell to earth after a B-52 bomber broke up in mid-air, and one of the devices behaved precisely as a nuclear weapon was designed to behave in warfare: its parachute opened, its trigger mechanisms engaged, and only one low-voltage switch prevented untold carnage.

Each bomb carried a payload of 4 megatons – the equivalent of 4 million tons of TNT explosive. Had the device detonated, lethal fallout could have been deposited over Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia and as far north as New York city – putting millions of lives at risk.

Though there has been persistent speculation about how narrow the Goldsboro escape was, the US government has repeatedly publicly denied that its nuclear arsenal has ever put Americans' lives in jeopardy through safety flaws. But in the newly-published document, a senior engineer in the Sandia national laboratories responsible for the mechanical safety of nuclear weapons concludes that "one simple, dynamo-technology, low voltage switch stood between the United States and a major catastrophe".

Writing eight years after the accident, Parker F Jones found that the bombs that dropped over North Carolina, just three days after John F Kennedy made his inaugural address as president, were inadequate in their safety controls and that the final switch that prevented disaster could easily have been shorted by an electrical jolt, leading to a nuclear burst. "It would have been bad news – in spades," he wrote.

Jones dryly entitled his secret report "Goldsboro Revisited or: How I learned to Mistrust the H-Bomb" – a quip on Stanley Kubrick's 1964 satirical film about nuclear holocaust, Dr Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

The accident happened when a B-52 bomber got into trouble, having embarked from Seymour Johnson Air Force base in Goldsboro for a routine flight along the East Coast. As it went into a tailspin, the hydrogen bombs it was carrying became separated. One fell into a field near Faro, North Carolina, its parachute draped in the branches of a tree; the other plummeted into a meadow off Big Daddy's Road.

Jones found that of the four safety mechanisms in the Faro bomb, designed to prevent unintended detonation, three failed to operate properly. When the bomb hit the ground, a firing signal was sent to the nuclear core of the device, and it was only that final, highly vulnerable switch that averted calamity. "The MK 39 Mod 2 bomb did not possess adequate safety for the airborne alert role in the B-52," Jones concludes.

The document was uncovered by Schlosser as part of his research into his new book on the nuclear arms race, Command and Control. Using freedom of information, he discovered that at least 700 "significant" accidents and incidents involving 1,250 nuclear weapons were recorded between 1950 and 1968 alone.

"The US government has consistently tried to withhold information from the American people in order to prevent questions being asked about our nuclear weapons policy," he said. "We were told there was no possibility of these weapons accidentally detonating, yet here's one that very nearly did."

Friday, September 20, 2013

Friday Humor: "So Where Is This 0.3 Square Kilometer?" PM Abe Asks TEPCO on #Fukushima I Nuke Plant Visit

Prime Minister of Japan was talking about his own "0.3 square kilometer" of the harbor where the "effect" of contaminated water is supposedly completely contained, according to none other than himself. (Even TEPCO was baffled at his comment.)

That's what the national government "at the forefront" is, in reality.

From Kyodo News (9/20/2013):

汚染水の影響範囲知らず発言か 首相「0・3平方キロはどこ?」

So he didn't know the extent of the effect of contaminated water? "Where is the 0.3 square meter?" asks PM


It was revealed on September 20 that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had asked "(Where) is the 0.3 (square kilometer)?" to the TEPCO management at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant on September 19, as they explained to the prime minister how the effect of radioactive materials on the marine environment is contained.


At the General Meeting of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) which voted for Tokyo, Prime Minister Abe explained "The effect of contaminated water is completely blocked within the 0.3 square meters of the plant harbor." He may have been saying it without knowing the actual extent [of the effect of contaminated water].


Prime Minister Abe was briefed by TEPCO's Plant Manager Akira Ono on the countermeasures to prevent radioactive materials from leaking into the ocean and spreading in the ocean, when he asked "Where is 0.3?"

Speaking of a farce, PM Abe wore a protective suit with his name printed wrong ("安部" instead of "安倍", both of which reads "Abe"), and Abe's supporters are indignant (like the political commentator quoted in ultra pro-LDP Sankei Shinbun's magazine), accusing TEPCO of this egregious, disrespectful mistake.

According to the Sankei's magazine that carries the photo below, it was not just disrespectful but "it cast doubts over TEPCO's crisis management skills".

Big deal. Clearly Mr. Abe didn't make a fuss over the wrong character and wore the suit.

What's funnier to me is that Abe wore the name tag that declares he's the Prime Minister. As if that matters in dealing with the problems that have been constantly cropping up at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant since the day 1 of the accident.

At least, the name tag on the back of Abe's protective suit had the character correct (photo is from TEPCO):

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Just as Expected, "National Government at the Forefront" of #Fukushima I Nuke Plant Problems Is All Talk, Little Money, Relies Entirely on TEPCO

To win 2020 Olympic for Tokyo, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared to the world that his government will be "at the forefront" to deal with problems at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. Reading the article by Nikkei Shinbun about his most recent visit to the plant and comments from his ministers, it sure looks all talk, nothing but talk.

From Nikkei Shinbun (9/19/2013):


Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant on September 19 and requested TEPCO's President Naomi Hirose to decommission Reactors 5 and 6. By decommissioning the entire plant, not just Reactors 1 through 4, Prime Minister Abe hopes to accelerate the whole response to the accident, including the problems of contaminated water. President Hirose said he would decide within this year, but it is likely that he will agree to the request.


During the meeting with President Hirose, Prime Minister Abe demanded 1) decommissioning of Reactors 5 and 6; 2) allocating enough budget that can be used at the discretion of the plant management; 3) time limit on decontamination of contaminated water.


As to the budgeting, TEPCO has already secured 960 billion yen [967 million US dollars] for countermeasures for contaminated water and decommissioning. President Hirose said his company will secure additional 1 trillion yen [1 billion US dollars, over 10 years]. As to the deadline for the treatment of contaminated water, he promised it would be complete by the end of the fiscal 2014 [that ends in March 2015]. The national government has allocated 15 billion yen [15 million US dollars] out of 47 billion yen [47 million US dollars] that the government will pay for the contaminated water countermeasures to build additional water treatment facility.


Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said during the press conference on September 19 that there was no plan to revise the support scheme for TEPCO due to the request for decommissioning [by the prime minister]. Suga said the government would do its best within the existing scheme, which includes Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund.


Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Toshimitsu Motegi spoke to the press in Tokyo in the evening of September 19. He said, "We want TEPCO to make effort to secure the fund," indicating he is not going to allow additional monetary support this time.

The current support system via Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund is only for paying the victims of the nuclear accident, and no money goes from the fund to deal with the accident. All the cost of decommissioning Reactors 1, 2, 3, 4 is being borne by TEPCO alone.

By declaring the decommissioning of Reactors 5 and 6 at Fukushima I Nuke Plant, which are relatively new (operational since 1978 and 1979 respectively), TEPCO would have to immediately write them off on the asset side of the balance sheet, with the offsetting reduction in either the liabilities or shareholders' equity.

That would mean nothing to these politicians. While TEPCO somehow has to earn that money to deal with the accident and decommission, these politicians are fed by taxpayers' money. If Mr. Abe really thinks decommissioning the entire plant all at once will "accelerate the whole response to the accident", he's in a fantasy land.

An elite bureaucrat spokesman from now-abolished Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA), which was under Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, said in a press conference in March 2011:

(About the workers at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant not having enough food to eat, no blanket, no spare underwear) we feel sorry for the workers. But this nuclear accident, it is basically TEPCO's problem, not ours. So, no, we are not going to do anything about it as the government, like delivering necessities to the workers.

I was watching the press conference live. My jaw dropped. But judging by the reaction at that time among the ordinary Japanese in Japan, I was clearly alone in thinking this would be one of the rare times where the government could actually be useful.

Well, they couldn't even deliver decent food to the workers in March 2011. It's impossible for me to imagine they are capable of doing anything beyond food delivery, but they sure can talk.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Monju Fast Breeder Reactor's Emergency Response Support System Was Down for One Hour, Cause Unknown, Plant Site Not Accessible Due to Landslides

According to an emergency email from Nuclear Regulatory Authority that independent journalist Ryuichi Kino shares, the cause of the system stoppage is not likely to be known anytime soon as the maintenance staff cannot reach Monju because of landslides caused by Typhoon 18's heavy rain.

From Kino's tweets:


Today (September 16), we at Nuclear Regulatory Authority received correspondence from Japan Nuclear Energy Safety Organization (JNES) that data transfer from the plant parameter display system of the Emergency Response Support System (ERSS) for Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA)'s Monju Fast-Breeder stopped.


(The data transfer stopped at 2:56AM on September 16, and partially resumed after 3:46AM.) JNES and JAEA are currently investigating the cause of the data transfer stoppage. However, because of landslides from heavy rain from Typhoon No.18, maintenance and repair staff cannot get to the Monju Plant compound. Therefore, it may take a while to determine the cause of the stoppage.


We have already instructed JAEA to secure the collection and transfer of data via alternative means such as telephone, FAX, email if a problem arises at the nuclear facility before the ERSS data transfer system is fully restored.

According to Asahi Shinbun (9/16/2013), there were two landslides near Monju, with one of them at the entrance of a tunnel 1 kilometer from the plant.

There are several nuclear power plants in Japan which are only accessible by one road and/or a tunnel - Monju, Tsuruga Nuclear Power Plant, and Ooi Nuclear Power Plant.

Here's how Monju is situated: accessible via a tunnel, or a narrow road hugging the coastline:

Accessibility to the site in case of a problem is not included in the conditions for restarting the nuclear power plants in Japan.

By the way, in terms of accessibility, TEPCO's nuclear plants including Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plants are one of the best nuclear plants in Japan, and still the earthquake and tsunami led to the disaster we continue to face at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

(OT, UPDATED) Typhoon No.18 with Strong Wind and Rain Wrecking Havoc in Japan, Set for Direct Hit on Kanto Region

(UPDATE-3) It looks like Typhoon No.18 will miss Fukushima I Nuke Plant. It is expected to pass south of Koriyama City and continue its north-eastern path.

(UPDATE-2) 100 millimeters/hour rain in Shizuoka and Aichi Prefectures. Tornado warning in Kanagawa Prefecture. Heavy rain and wind to intensify in Kanto and Tohoku in the afternoon of 9/16/2013.

(UPDATE) According to NHK, Kyoto City issued an order to evacuate to 146,000 residents in the four Special Wards (Minami, Ukyo, Nishikyo, Fushimi) at 8AM, September 16, 2013.


Fukushima on course afterwards, it looks.

From Japan Meteorological Agency, as of 6AM, September 16, 2013:

(Click to enlarge)

NHK reports that Kyoto City government has issued "recommendation to evacuate" to more than 40,000 people in one Ward alone (Fushimi Ward) in Kyoto City.

This is Uji River in Kyoto, from a tweet about 45 minutes ago:

Even before the typhoon lands, Kanto Region and southern Tohoku have been experiencing heavy wind and rain since September 15.

At Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, the rainwater that had rapidly accumulated inside the 30-centimeter-high barrier around the RO waste water tanks went over the barrier in the afternoon of September 15. TEPCO is examining the water to see if it contains radioactive materials, according to Jiji Tsushin (9/15/2013).

#Radioactive Olympic in 2020? Try 1964

Cesium-137 in monthly fallout in Tokyo, from 1964 (the year of the first Tokyo Olympic) to 2013, using the data and graph function from Japan Chemical Analysis Center database:

The fallout levels in 1964 look slightly higher than in 2011-2013, except for the initial huge spike in March 2011 due to the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident. With luck, in 7 years, the fallout levels may come down to 1970s' levels. Even if Cs-134 is included, the order of magnitude doesn't look to increase. (The Y-axis is log.)

As of July 2013, Cs-137 in monthly fallout in Tokyo is 4.4MBq/km2, and Cs-134 is 2.2MBq/km2.

What about strontium, you ask? The maximum amount of strontium-90 in the monthly fallout after the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident was about half of the fallout after the Chernobyl accident, and close to 1/100 of the maximum 1964 level:

Atmospheric nuclear testing by the United States, the Soviet Union stopped after 1963 Limited Test Ban Treaty, but France, not being a signatory, continued until 1974, and China until 1980.

Some images from 1964 Tokyo Olympic:

Billy Mills (USA), winner of 10,000 long distance run, who overcame prejudice and discrimination (he was a Native American) to win a surprise win in the Olympic (according to Japanese wiki; no such information in English wiki).

Czech gymnast Věra Čáslavská, who enthralled the Japanese and the world viewers.

Ethiopian marathon runner Abebe Bikila, who had run bare-foot in 1960 Rome Olympic; in 1964 Tokyo Olympic, he wore Puma shoes. After the marathon, he said he could easily run another 10 kilometers.

1964 Olympic poster: