Saturday, November 9, 2013

(OT) ... and for Cat Lovers

From this blog, which has 23 other great shots:

(OT) Saturday Humor for Dog Lovers

I saw this on my Twitter this morning, originally from this tweet from December 2012.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Dr. Shunichi Yamashita: I thought, "Oops..." After Seeing the SPEEDI Simulation Map on March 23, 2011

Right after the start of the nuclear accident on March 11, 2011, the Japanese national government, then under the Democratic Party of Japan headed by Naoto Kan, initially said they didn't know about SPEEDI. What was SPEEDI? Then they said SPEEDI failed to work. Then on March 23, 2011, Nuclear Safety Commission reluctantly made several SPEEDI simulation maps available to the public. Full disclosure didn't come until early May, 2011. (WSPEEDI disclosure was even later, in mid May 2011.)

By that time, it was too late for the residents in Fukushima Prefecture and areas in Miyagi Prefecture and northern Kanto, and it was apparently too late for Dr. Shunichi Yamashita, thyroid expert and special advisor to Fukushima Prefecture at that time.

According to Asahi Shinbun's still on-going "Trap of Prometheus", Dr. Yamashita was caught off guard when the SPEEDI simulation maps were finally made public. He had confidently persuaded the officials of Fukushima Medical University in the preceding days that there was absolutely no need to distribute potassium iodide pills because the spread of radioactive materials from the accident, compared to the Chernobyl accident, would be so miniscule.

But the SPEEDI simulation maps showed the areas with 100 millisieverts or more equivalent dose at thyroid (effective dose for the whole body is 100x0.04=4 millisieverts) extended far beyond the 30-kilometer radius evacuation zone.

I guess Dr. Yamashita was basing his assertion on his hope. Or he truly believed there was no SPEEDI simulation. Or he was a medical doctor not nuclear scientist. Or all of the above.


From "Trap of Prometheus" on November 7, 2013, on Dr. Yamashita prevailing on potassium iodide pills and speaking about the "fate" of Japan as an earthquake-prone country with many nuclear power plants:


Yamashita arrived in Fukushima in the afternoon of [March] 18, via Osaka Airport. He appeared in the lecture for the staff at Fukushima Medical University on the same day at 6PM. He was accompanied by the fellow professors [at Nagasaki University], Naoki Matsuda (age 56) and Noboru Takamura (age 45).


There were 300 people who attended the lecture held in the large conference room. Many were wearing masks to block radioactive materials.


Yamashita spoke last.


The talk was about whether potassium iodide pills were necessary. Citing the Chernobyl accident, Yamashita said there was no need:


(1) Many believe that potassium iodide pills will prevent thyroid cancer, but it is nothing but "iodine religion". For the Japanese, the intake of radioactive iodine would be 15 to 25%, unlike 40 to 50% for people in Belarus.


(2) The amount of radiation exposure west of the twenty, thirty kilometer radius [from the plant] will probably be less than 1 millisievert. [Not clear whether he meant effective dose for the whole body or thyroid equivalent dose.] Compared to Chernobyl, the amount of radiation exposure will be so small that the Japanese government will not issue instruction to take potassium iodide pills.


(3) The dosing manual has many defects. I hope it won't be used.


In conclusion, Yamashita tried to raise the morale of the staff:


"I beg that you do not escape [desert your post]. Radiation exposure due to a nuclear accident is a fate of the quake-prone Japan that has nonetheless been promoting nuclear power plants."

Well, his last remark is, sadly, spot on. People in Japan had failed to see it, or refused to see it, until the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident.

From "Trap of Prometheus" on November 8, 2013, on "Oops...":


After discussion, they [Fukushima Medical University staff] decided to adopt the plan they had been fleshing out, which was to use the neighborhood pharmacies. (1) People receive potassium iodide at the neighborhood pharmacies; (2) pills for adults, power for small children; (3) for small children, powder was to be dissolved in juice, since the powder was bitter.


If Yamashita OKed, this plan was to be suggested to the prefectural government. The Fukushima prefectural government had ample stock [of potassium iodide] and had the authority to instruct people to take it. This was an opportunity to distribute potassium iodide pills to the residents.


However, Yamashita rejected the plan, for the following reasons:


(1) The procedure was not in the manual by the Nuclear Safety Commission; (2) There was a danger that people would take a wrong dosage, and it would be hard to respond to the side effect; (3) there was no knowing if it was effective if mixed with drink.


As the president of Japan Thyroid Association, Yamashita's opinion carried weight. The plan to distribute potassium iodide that had been discussed at Fukushima Medical University since March 12 tapered off.




Yamashita reveals he was surprised by the fact that was beyond his imagination. The following is from our interview with Yamashita in June this year.


What surprised Yamashita was the SPEEDI simulation maps that the national government disclosed on March 23, 2011. At that time, the standard for taking potassium iodide pills was when the equivalent dose at thyroid was expected to reach 100 millisieverts. In the simulation maps, the areas where the equivalent dose would exceed 100 millisieverts extended far outside the 30-kilometer radius from the plant.


"I thought, 'Oops...'"


Radiation contamination far exceeded Yamashita's expectation.


"I had thought a nuclear power plant in Japan was properly equipped with filter or something to remove iodine and other nuclides. I never imagined such wide areas were contaminated."

This particular segment of "Trap of Prometheus" reads like a hit piece to put all blame on Dr. Yamashita regarding the debacle over potassium iodide pills that were never distributed.

Distributing potassium iodide pills on March 19, 2011 may have helped somewhat to protect the residents in Fukushima (at least) from the fresh release of radioactive materials from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant from March 20 to 23, 2011. But what would have mattered much, much more is if the residents were able to take potassium iodide before the reactors exploded and dry vents were carried out, with the latter apparently releasing much more radioactive materials than the explosions.

And that was all before March 15, 2011, and Dr. Yamashita didn't even arrive in Fukushima until March 18.

Who was responsible for ordering the distribution of the pills? The national government, and the Fukushima prefectural government. Instead of distributing the pills, what did they do? They accused the town of Miharu that distributed the pills and ordered the residents to take them of acting on its own without the government order. They also used the media to educate the viewers on the "danger" of potassium iodide pills, instead of danger of radioactive iodine uptake. (They continue to do this even today, and enough people are so convinced of the danger of potassium iodide pills that they furiously try to refute anyone who touts the benefit of taking them in a nuclear accident.)

Unlike Dr. Yamashita who didn't see the SPEEDI maps until March 23, 2011 like the rest of us, the ministers of the Kan administration, bureaucrats at METI and Ministry of Education, the governor of Fukushima Prefecture and officials at the Fukushima prefectural government, and even the municipal government heads in Futaba, Okuma, and Tomioka in Fukushima had either SPEEDI simulation maps or TEPCO's simulation maps or both from the beginning of the accident. They all sat on the data. Or worse. In case of the Fukushima prefectural government, they deliberately deleted the emails that contained SPEEDI simulation maps.

There is one good thing I would say about Dr. Yamashita. He is honest. As Asahi reports, he readily admitted he had made a potentially grave mistake when he saw the SPEEDI simulation maps. No self-conscious and politically savvy scientist would say things like "Oops..." in an interview for a national paper. When he gave lectures to the residents in Fukushima Prefecture in the populous middle-third Nakadori region starting March 21, 2011, telling them the effect of radiation won't come to people who are smiling, his face and mannerism as he delivered the speech revealed he was at least uncomfortable, probably very worried.

That lecture series started right when there was something happening in Reactor 3 causing the release of a significant amount of radioactive materials, and spikes in radiation were observed in wide areas in Tohoku and Kanto (March 20 - 23, 2013). Dr. Yamashita continued telling the Fukushima residents there was nothing to worry about, after he saw the SPEEDI maps and realized his assumption was very wrong.

Dr. Yamashita has since returned to Nagasaki University, though he still is the special advisor on radiation risk management for Fukushima Prefecture.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Video: This Is How Removal of Fuel Assemblies from Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool Is to Be Carried Out, According to TEPCO

No concrete date set yet to begin the removal, although it is expected sometime this month.

From TEPCO (10/30/2013):

Addition to the Reactor 4 operating floor that houses the crane and fuel handling machine, from TEPCO (9/25/2013), :

Container to transfer fuel assemblies to the Common Pool, from TEPCO (11/1/2013):

Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool, from Jiji Tsushin (11/6/2013):

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Top Climate Scientists Say Alternative Energy Does Not Reduce Carbon, Urge Followers Back to Nuclear Power

Ah. It is as if the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident didn't happen. Or as some people say, it was never a nuclear accident because no one died from acute radiation exposure (see the past posts, here and here).

Not that I personally think much of so-called alternative energy, but using "global warming" to push for nuclear power, isn't it getting too long in the tooth?

From Real Science blog, quoting The Guardian article (11/3/2013; emphasis in The Guardian article is mine):


Open letter to environmentalists and world leaders says wind and solar power are not enough to diminish carbon emissions

Some of the world’s top climate scientists say wind and solar energy won’t be enough to head off extreme global warming, and they’re asking environmentalists to support the development of safer nuclear power as one way to cut fossil fuel pollution.

Four scientists who have played a key role in alerting the public to the dangers of climate change sent letters Sunday to leading environmental groups and politicians around the world. The letter, an advance copy of which was given to the Associated Press, urges a crucial discussion on the role of nuclear power in fighting climate change.

The letter signers are James Hansen, a former top NASA scientist; Ken Caldeira, of the Carnegie Institution; Kerry Emanuel, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Tom Wigley, of the University of Adelaide in Australia.

Top US climate scientists support development of safe nuclear power | Environment |

Environmentalists are terrified of nuclear power and fossil fuels, and now their heroes tell them that their only remaining hope is also useless. Time for Kool-Aid?

Why didn’t Hansen tell Obama about this before he invested billions in useless failed green energy companies scams?

The complete list of faltering or bankrupt green-energy companies:
  1. Evergreen Solar ($25 million)*
  2. SpectraWatt ($500,000)*
  3. Solyndra ($535 million)*
  4. Beacon Power ($43 million)*
  5. Nevada Geothermal ($98.5 million)
  6. SunPower ($1.2 billion)
  7. First Solar ($1.46 billion)
  8. Babcock and Brown ($178 million)
  9. EnerDel’s subsidiary Ener1 ($118.5 million)*
  10. Amonix ($5.9 million)
  11. Fisker Automotive ($529 million)
  12. Abound Solar ($400 million)*
  13. A123 Systems ($279 million)*
  14. Willard and Kelsey Solar Group ($700,981)*
  15. Johnson Controls ($299 million)
  16. Brightsource ($1.6 billion)
  17. ECOtality ($126.2 million)
  18. Raser Technologies ($33 million)*
  19. Energy Conversion Devices ($13.3 million)*
  20. Mountain Plaza, Inc. ($2 million)*
  21. Olsen’s Crop Service and Olsen’s Mills Acquisition Company ($10 million)*
  22. Range Fuels ($80 million)*
  23. Thompson River Power ($6.5 million)*
  24. Stirling Energy Systems ($7 million)*
  25. Azure Dynamics ($5.4 million)*
  26. GreenVolts ($500,000)
  27. Vestas ($50 million)
  28. LG Chem’s subsidiary Compact Power ($151 million)
  29. Nordic Windpower ($16 million)*
  30. Navistar ($39 million)
  31. Satcon ($3 million)*
  32. Konarka Technologies Inc. ($20 million)*
  33. Mascoma Corp. ($100 million)
President Obama’s Taxpayer-Backed Green Energy Failures

2008 Paper by French Researchers Says There Is No Histological/Morphological Change in Rats' Hearts after Chronic Ingestion of Cesium-137

French researchers concluded in their paper published in 2008 that there was no histological and morphological change and no arrhythmia in rats' hearts after chronic ingestion of low levels of cesium-137, though they did observe cardiovascular system impairments.

The researchers were trying to determine whether chronic ingestion of cesium-137 caused cardiovascular system impairment observed in children and liquidators after the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident.

The researchers' conclusion runs counter to the assertion by several researchers like Dr. Yury Bandazhevsky, former director of the Medical Institute in Gomel, Belarus, that cesium accumulates in hearts, causes heart arrhythmia and results in histological and morphological change. In fact, after Dr. Bandazhevsky made lecture tours in Japan earlier this year, it is widely believed as truism, at least among lay people (non-researcher).

From Cardiovascular Toxicology March 2008, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 33-40, via Springer Link (emphasis is mine):

Chronic Contamination of Rats with 137Cesium Radionuclide: Impact on the Cardiovascular System (Yann Guéguen,Philippe Lestaevel,Line Grandcolas,Cédric Baudelin,Stéphane Grison, Jean-René Jourdain,Patrick Gourmelon,Maâmar Souidi)


Cardiovascular system impairment has been observed in children and in liquidators exposed to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident. No experimental studies of animals have analyzed whether these disorders might be attributed to chronic ingestion of low levels of cesium 137 (137Cs). Biochemical, physiological, and molecular markers of the cardiovascular system were analyzed in rats exposed through drinking water to 137Cs at a dose of 500 Bq kg−1 (6500 Bq l−1). Plasma concentrations of CK and CK-MB were higher (+52%, P < 0.05) in contaminated rats. No histological alteration of the heart was observed, but gene expression was modified in the atria. Specifically, levels of ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme) and BNP (brain natriuretic peptide) gene expression increased significantly (P < 0.05). ECG analysis did not disclose any arrhythmia except ST- and RT-segment shortening (−9% and −11%, respectively, P < 0.05) in rats exposed to 137Cs. Mean blood pressure decreased (−10%, P < 0.05), and its circadian rhythm disappeared. Overall, chronic contamination by an extreme environmental dose of 137Cs for 3 months did not result in cardiac morphological changes, but the cardiovascular system impairments we observed could develop into more significant changes in sensitive animals or after longer contamination.

(H/T Dr. Masahiro Kami)

Monday, November 4, 2013

#Fukushima I NPP: TEPCO to Delay Start of Fuel Assembly Removal from Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool by 1 to 2 Weeks

The company says it now needs time to conduct a test run.

(So......, test runs were not originally scheduled ......)

From Kyodo News (11/5/2013):

福島原発4号機、実証試験を追加 燃料取り出し延期へ

Removal of fuel to be delayed at Fukushima I Nuke Plant Reactor 4, to add a test run


Kyodo News found out on November 3 by talking to people involved that TEPCO will conduct a test to verify the safety of the work using the actual container to transport the fuel [assemblies] before they start removing the fuel [assemblies] from the Spent Fuel Pool of Reactor 4 at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. The test will take several days including preparation, and the removal of fuel which was slated to start as early as November 8 will be delayed by one to two weeks.


The building cover for Reactor 4 with the crane for removing the fuel has been completed, but no test run has been done.

I can't really blame TEPCO other than to say they should grow some backbone to say no to the meddling by the national government and LDP.

LDP politicians including Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Minister of Economy Toshimitsu Motegi have made a lot of noise demanding TEPCO do everything "ahead of schedule" and "accelerate".

Removal of fuel assemblies, first unused (new) fuel assemblies then used fuel assemblies, was not scheduled to start until 2014. The LDP government, installed after the Lower House election in December 2012, has been eager to give the impression to the gullible portion of the populace and to the world outside Japan that it is totally in charge, that things are going so well under their leadership. One of the ways they used to give that impression was to unilaterally declare, out of the blue, that the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident would be now dealt with at an accelerated pace, with everything being done ahead of schedule, including removing the corium from the broken reactors.

Despite huge misgivings of the workers at the plant and people who have followed the accident, TEPCO headquarters dutifully obliged. Plant safety and worker safety be damned.

But it is not just test runs that were missing. Independent journalist Ryuichi Kino tweeted a horror two days ago:


Removal of debris will be done through the night, from the evening till the morning of the next day. What an enormous task it will be.

That means TEPCO hasn't removed debris that fell inside the Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool, even though they have created a detailed SFP debris map. Compared to Reactor 3's SFP, Reactor 4's SFP looks relatively clean, and not a whole lot of huge, awkward pieces of debris are in the pool. But if what Kino says is true, TEPCO will have the workers clear the debris from the pool all night, enough to carry out the removal of fuel assemblies next morning. And repeat this day in and day out.

In other words, TEPCO continues the accident cleanup haphazardly, as it has been doing since the day 1 of the accident.

But TEPCO cannot say no to the authorities stronger than them. They could have said to the government, "No we are not going to accelerate the removal of fuel assemblies. We will first remove the debris completely from the pool, then we will carry out dry runs to make sure things will go smoothly. Only then we will start removing the fuel assemblies."

But back in March 2011, TEPCO couldn't even take much-needed car batteries from the stores, and they couldn't bring the batteries made for the plant because they didn't have a government permit to travel on the highway (see my post from October 2012). So it is too much to ask, I know.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz to Japanese Government: "Ratify the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage, and We Will Send Kurion to Help TEPCO"


So what's the trick?

Reading the Bloomberg article linked below, the trick seems to be that Kurion wouldn't be liable under the ratified treaty even if Kurion's patented system to remove TRITIUM (really?) doesn't work or fails to deliver or causes damage. Only the plant operator, in this case TEPCO, would be held liable.

Kurion's cesium absorption system was sold by then-US Energy Secretary and Nobel Prize winner Steven Chu in 2011, right after the start of the Fukushima nuclear accident. As with any system installed at the plant after the accident, Kurion's cesium absorption system was plagued with problems from the beginning (too many to list here, but browse through these posts) and sub-par performance. TEPCO stopped using it when Toshiba's SARRY came online in October 2011.

A quick check on Kurion's website shows the current CEO of the company from France's AREVA with close ties with the US Department of Energy, and two people whose career was with the Department of Energy, and one former researcher at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The company was founded by a venture capital in 2008.

Now the new Secretary of Energy is trying to peddle a new system from the same company - tritium removal system. Just like the cesium absorption system, Kurion and the US Department of Energy probably want to use Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant as a test site for unproven or prototype technology, with liability safely on TEPCO, a clueless, technologically-blind plant operator.

From Bloomberg News (11/3/2013; emphasis is mine):

U.S. Says Japan Signing Liability Pact Would Aid Nuclear Cleanup

Japan will receive international help with the cleanup at the Fukushima atomic station once it joins an existing treaty that defines liability for accidents at nuclear plants, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said.

The treaty, known as the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage, assigns accident liability to plant operators rather than equipment and technology vendors, Moniz said in a Nov. 2 interview in Tokyo. The treaty includes setting up a fund for victims of nuclear accidents and a standard for compensation claims.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trade Minister Toshimitsu Motegi and other officials showed an “eagerness” during meetings last week for expertise from abroad to decommission the Fukushima plant, Moniz said. Such help will be easier to secure once Japan ratifies the treaty, he said.

“As one gets into the real work, then these liability conventions become quite important,” Moniz said. “Certainly Prime Minster Abe and Minster Motegi both emphasize that the importance of moving on this in 2014 is to a large extent driven by their openness and their desire to get as much international help as they can.”


The Compensation for Nuclear Damage treaty was adopted in 1997 under the International Atomic Energy Agency and had 16 signatories as of June 24 this year, including the U.S., India and Italy.

At least five signatories must ratify the treaty to enact it. So far, the U.S., Romania, Morocco and Argentina have ratified. So Japan joining would bring it into force, Moniz said.

Legislation ratifying the convention could be introduced to parliament early next year, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters on Nov. 1, Kyodo news reported.

Under the pact, a company such a Irvine, California-based Kurion Inc., which possesses technology for removing the radioactive isotope tritium from contaminated water, could deploy its technology at the Fukushima plant, Moniz said.

Liability would rest with Tepco, as the plant’s operator is known, he said.

(Full article at the link)

If the Abe administration is indeed "eager" for the international (read United States here) expertise that will come by ratifying the treaty, it will probably be not particularly for the expertise, as far as I see it.

It will be for the fund to be set up for the victims and a set standard for compensation, I think, which must be more advantageous to the government than what (sort of) exists currently (i.e. saving tons of money for the government).

It would be amazing, to me, if the countries who have already ratified the treaty actually allows Japan to join them, after the fact (=nuclear accident).

Kurion's press release on their tritium-removing technology is copied below. (Please let me know if there is more to it than meets the eye, as I cannot picture a system from the press release that will treat over 100,000 tonnes of water that are in the storage tanks and turbine building basements at Fukushima I Nuke Plant...)

Press Releases
Kurion Introduces Tritium Removal Technology to Limit Release of Radionuclides into Environment

Originally Published on 09/30/2013

Patent-pending Modular Detritiation System™ Strengthens Clean, Safe Value of Nuclear Power

Kurion, Inc., an innovator in nuclear and hazardous waste management, announced a breakthrough in the treatment of the historically difficult to capture isotope with the introduction of its patent-pending Modular Detritiation System™ (MDS™) to decontaminate tritiated water. The ability to perform light water detritiation (i.e., the removal of tritium from water) enables the safe release of purified water into the environment or recycling of reactor cooling water. The technology has applications for light water reactors, which are the dominant nuclear plant designs worldwide.

The decontamination of tritium (T) is particularly problematic: it is a special form of hydrogen that forms tritiated water (HTO vs. H2O), which does not lend itself to removal by conventional technologies. This is because instead of the contaminant being carried along in water in suspended or dissolved form, the water molecule itself is modified. As a result, tritiated water is particularly difficult to treat and can spread easily if it escapes into the environment.

“Preventing the release of tritium into the environment represents one of the last remaining environmental challenges for nuclear energy,” said Bill Gallo, chief executive officer of Kurion. “The key value of Kurion’s patent-pending detritiation technology is that it offers an economical alternative to releasing tritium into the environment and bolsters the appeal of nuclear power as a clean, safe energy source.”

John Raymont, Kurion founder and president of international operations, added, “Historically, nuclear power plants were forced to release tritium into the environment because there was no method to remove it economically. Kurion’s new detritiation system now offers a technology-based alternative with the benefit of addressing the public's concern over environmental release.”

The industrial process of removing tritium from water has historically focused on cleaning highly contaminated “heavy water” for recycling back into nuclear reactors, such as for the CANDU design. However, this technology is prohibitively expensive for use with light water reactors. The Kurion MDS™ builds upon proven heavy water solutions and makes advances in throughput and efficiency where the tritium removal occurs. Kurion has developed an economical solution that – for the first time – would allow for recycling or clean release of reactor cooling water for light pressurized water reactors.