Saturday, March 26, 2011

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Plutonium Is Not Just in MOX Fuels in Reactor 3

My "Duh" moment.

Plutonium is not just in the MOX (Mixed Oxide) fuels that are used in the Reactor No.3. It is in the Reactor Pressure Vessels, and it is in the spent fuels stored (I hope) in the pools above (I hope) the Reactors No.1, 2, 3, 4.

Why? Because plutonium is a byproduct of uranium fission. Duh.

From World Nuclear Association's paper on Plutonium:

In practical terms, there are two different kinds of plutonium to be considered: reactor-grade and weapons-grade. The first is recovered as a by-product of typical used fuel from a nuclear reactor, after the fuel has been irradiated ('burned') for about three years. The second is made specially for the military purpose, and is recovered from uranium fuel that has been irradiated for only 2-3 months in a plutonium production reactor. The two kinds differ in their isotopic composition but must both be regarded as a potential proliferation risk, and managed accordingly.

Plutonium, both that routinely made in power reactors and that from dismantled nuclear weapons, is a valuable energy source when integrated into the nuclear fuel cycle. In a conventional nuclear reactor, one kilogram of Pu-239 can produce sufficient heat to generate nearly 10 million kilowatt-hours of electricity.

Plutonium and nuclear power

Plutonium is formed in nuclear power reactors from uranium. When operating, a typical 1000 MWe [megawatt electrical] nuclear power reactor contains within its uranium fuel load several hundred kilograms of plutonium.

So far, after more than 2 weeks since the first explosion (Reactor No.1) occurred, Fukushima I Nuclear Plant seems to have quieted down. Move on, nothing to see here.

It is possible that they are not telling us, but no, Japanese people are honest and hard-working, right? Right.

"Let Us All Cheer for TEPCO" Says Japan's Minister for National Strategy

Ryukyu Shinpo (newspaper in Okinawa, in Japanese; 3/26/2011) carries a comment by Koichiro Genba, a politician from the ruling party DPJ and the Minister with special portfolio in national strategic planning (or something like that - I don't know the formal translation). And that's hilarious if not insulting.

Mr. Genba, who is a graduate of Sophia University in Tokyo (Law), says the following, according to Ryuku Shinpo:

"What's most important right now is not to criticize TEPCO, but all of us Japanese to stand behind TEPCO and cheer for TEPCO."

Unbelievable as it is, I'm sure lots of Japanese will just do that, criticizing the critics. Extend and Pretend and Hope and Trust in authority.

Amateur hours continue in Japan, as the nuclear fuel rods further melt in Fukushima.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Disappeared Article from Chunichi Shinbun - Truth of "Fukushima 50" May Not Be As Pretty

The article is supposed to be about angry subcontractors of TEPCO, which I saw the brief description at Kyodo News Japanese. But the link no longer works, and the message at Chunichi Shinbun says "No such article".

Well, Google Cache to the rescue...

Here's the original Japanese (my English translation below):

ずさん管理「まさか」 作業員、東電に憤り

2011年3月26日 朝刊 (中日新聞)


 「東電が大丈夫と言ったんだろう」。1号機で配管の下請け工事をした男性(37)は怒りを隠さない。3号機のタービン建屋地下の床には、高濃度の 放射能に汚染された水がたまっていることが判明。男性は元請け企業の担当者から「いずれ復旧工事があるから、準備しておくように」と言われたが「こんなん じゃ、いくら金を積まれてもやりたくない」と憤る。







And here's my quick and dirty translation. Not very hard to figure out why the article may have been pulled, and not hard to figure out who ordered it:

Subcon Workers Angry at Lax Safety Management at TEPCO, "Wouldn't have guessed they are this bad"

(3/26/2011 Morning edition)

After three workers were exposed to high radiation as they were carrying out the repair work in the Reactor No.3 at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, workers at Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO)'s subcontractors are highly critical of TEPCO's safety management which failed to ascertain safety for the workers. Some workers are resigned to their status as subcontractors relying on TEPCO work, saying "There's nothing we can do, we have to do what we're told to do."

One worker (age 37) who laid pipes for the Reactor No.1 is visibly angry, and he thinks TEPCO probably assured the workers it was safe [to work in the Reactor 3 building]. He also says the contractor [who would subcontract his company] has told him [or his company] to be ready to deploy for repair work, but he wouldn't want to do it no matter how much money is offered.

One worker (age 62) who happened to be near the Reactor 5 building when the earthquake struck is surprised that there was no pre-work safety check.

He says when he had to work in the high radiation area near the Containment Vessels he always wore masks with filter, and protective clothes. "It was hot and cumbersome to be dressed like that. I thought TEPCO did the radiation safety management well." Another worker (age 51) who is in the business of laying pipes is a little more sympathetic. He suspects that the information got mixed up in this unprecedented accident, and they didn't pay enough attention.

One of the three workers who were exposed to high radiation was from a subcontractor of the subcontractor Kandenko, who got the job from TEPCO. There's a strong belief that, in the "Nuclear Power Pyramid" with electric power companies at the top, subcontractors near or at the bottom of the pyramid will be asked to do the dangerous work. The workers at these bottom-of-the-pyramid subcontractors are called "Nuclear Power Plant (Genpatsu) Gypsies", as they go from one nuclear plant to another whenever the regular inspection of a plant comes up.

A 74-year-old man worked for nearly 25 years as one of such "Gypsies". He says "I worked without a geiger counter in the area with high radiation near the reactor containment vessels. I didn't want to say no to the management. I got injured many times, but [I hid it because] I wouldn't get a job if they knew I was injured."

"We owe our job to the Nuke Plant," says a man (age 61), whose company contracts painting jobs from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. His company is a local company, in Futaba-cho in Fukushima Prefecture. "We're all prepared for the worst. Otherwise we cannot carry on with our lives," he says, as if to dispel the fear of radiation exposure.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Stating the Obvious - Radioactive Water in Reactor 2 Drained to the Regular Drainage Duct, Into the Ocean, Maybe, Maybe Not

Stating the obvious but refusing to connect the dots. That's career bureaucrats for you.

Latest from Kyodo News Japanese (I haven't found an equivalent in their English site)(1:24AM JST 3/27/2011, my comment red, emphasis added):

METI's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) disclosed on March 26 that there was a trace of water from the Reactor 2 building to the regular drainage duct, and 15 milli-sievert/hour radiation was detected. It is possible that highly radioactive water flowed out of the building. This drainage duct is supposed to be reaching the ocean.

["Possible"?? What do they mean "supposed to"? Don't they have a plant schematics by now??]

Radioactive iodine (1,250 times the limit) and high level of cesium have been detected from the sea water near the water drain from the Plant. The Agency says "The relationship [between the high radioactive materials in the sea water and the radioactive water found in the Reactor 2 building] is unknown."


Off with their heads.


#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: It was Reactor 2, Not 1, That Had High Radiation Puddle, Says TEPCO

Yesterday I posted that TEPCO admitted it had known about the water "puddle" in the Reactor 1 turbine building was highly radioactive (10,000 times the normal cooling water), 6 days before the hapless subcontractor workers stepped into the contaminated water in the Reactor 3 turbine building.

Well that was their morning press conference on March 26 their time. In the afternoon press conference, they changed their story, and now they say it was the Reactor 2 that had highly radioactive contaminated water "puddle" (which is actually 1 meter deep.)

TEPCO blames the mistake on a mix-up in communication between its Fukushima Office and the plant.

(Source: Asahi Shinbun (in Japanese, 10:38PM JST 3/26/2011)

The government's mouthpiece Edano is indignant that TEPCO didn't tell the Prime Minister's Office about it. In his press conference on March 26, he said (Yomiuri Shinbun, 3/26/2011 in Japanese):

"There was no report to the Prime Minister's Office [from TEPCO that it had known about the contaminated water in the turbine room]. In order to alleviate fear and mistrust from the citizens, we will further instruct [TEPCO] sternly to release information properly. Unless [TEPCO] reports all information [to the Prime Minister's Office] in an accurate and timely manner, the government cannot give appropriate directives [to deal with the problem]."

It's beyond funny. It's really, very sad. That he and his boss continue to think they can "sternly instruct" TEPCO and "give directives" as to what to do and how to do it.

They are just a bunch of pols, who need to be briefed extensively each time they go in front of the camera to pretend as if they know something. Who do they think they're kidding?

Sadly, I know the answer. They're kidding the Japanese people. They couldn't care less if they are the laughing stock outside Japan.

Fears Rise that Japan Could Sell Off US Debt Because of #Earthquake

Yup. Japan, sell away. Don't be such a good "global citizen" and continue to buy/roll over the US Treasury debt. You need money, tons of it. $1 trillion is what I would suspect it would take, or 20% of GDP, if that (depending on the Fukushima I Nuke Plant situation). Well well, you have the US Treasury notes and bonds to the tune of ... $885.9 billion! If you add US agency bonds, I'm sure you get $1 trillion right there at Bank of Japan.

Instead of issuing "recovery" bonds and having the Bank of Japan monetize them, and further going into the debt level that's just impossible to even comprehend, cash out your "savings" that you've accumulated over all these years and put it to good use.

From Washington Times (3/24/2011):

Some lawmakers and market analysts are expressing rising concerns that a demand for capital by earthquake-ravaged Japan could lead it to sell off some of its huge holdings of U.S.-issued debt, leaving the federal government in an even tighter financial pinch.

Others say a major debt sell-off by Tokyo is unlikely, but noted that the mere fact that questions are being raised speaks volumes about the risks involved in relying so heavily on foreign investors to fund U.S. debt.

“This natural disaster in Japan concerns me that it could speed up what’s coming, because they are the second leading buyer of our debt,” Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, told The Washington Times. “Small degrees of differences in how much they buy of our debt, I think, can make a big difference in interest rates that we have to pay people to buy our debt.”

Yes, Dr. Paul. Do you think the US can arm-twist Japan into continuing to by the US debt?

The answer is yes, of course. That's how Japan is. Japan will forever be a good "global citizen" and do what's good for the world, even if no one else cares.

I wonder what will happen to their pledge to buy euro debt from PIGS...

Friday, March 25, 2011

#TEPCO the Criminal Enterprise Didn't Bother to Share Radiation Information with Workers

(UPDATE) TEPCO has changed the story, and now says it was Reactor 2, not 1. See my update. At this point, does that matter any more? Probably not.


Asahi Shinbun (in Japanese, my comment in red; 12:49PM JST 3/26/2011) reports:

TEPCO had known about the high radiation level in the turbine building for the Reactor No.1 on March 18, six days before the three workers got exposed to high radiation in the turbine building for the Reactor No.3, but the company failed to warn these workers on before they started working in the Reactor No.3 turbine building on March 24. TEPCO admitted "If we had shared the information, the radiation exposure might have been prevented," and apologized.

[Apologized to whom? The workers, I hope? But probably more to the government for causing face-losing embarrassment.]

According to TEPCO's Fukushima Office, the radiation level was measured on March 18 during the work in the basement of the Reactor No.1 turbine building; it was 200 milli-sieverts, approaching the upper limit of radiation exposure for the workers at 250 milli-sievert.

The three workers started the work in the Reactor No.3 around 10:30AM on March 24. No one told them about the situation in the Reactor No.1.

[Excuse me, not just them. No one in the rest of the world wasn't told about it! According to my blog post from March 19, TEPCO said it was measuring 100 milli-sievert, not 200.]

In the Reactor No.3 turbine building, the water was 15 centimeters deep. There was no water the day before. The three workers worked in the water, knowing the radiation level had been low the day before and thinking that "the turbine building does not usually have a high radiation level. They ended up receiving the localized exposure to radiation. If the March 18 data [on the Reactor No.1] had been shared with the workers beforehand, it could have prevented them from presuming low radiation risk.

But wait, it gets better. TEPCO, after measuring high level of radiation in the Reactor No.1 water, they didn't bother to test it until March 24. They thought it was just sea water:

TEPCO thought it was the water from tsunami, and planned pumping the water out. As a preparation (or precaution), the company took a water sample on 9:30AM on March 24, and analyzed the sample: Radiation of 3.8 million becquerels per 1 cubit centimeter was detected, 10,000 times the amount detected in the cooling water of the reactor during normal operation.


For information on how deep the water is in each reactor, see my previous post.

TEPCO continues to pump water to cool the fuel rods in the Reactor Pressure Vessels, even though the pipes and valves connected to the Vessels may be leaking. TEPCO has no choice but do it, even if all it does may be to delay the eventuality (core meltdown).

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Reactors 2, 4 Also Have Water Puddles

So the Reactors 1, 2, 3 and 4 all have leaks from the pipes and/or valves that connect to the Containment Vessels/Reactor Pressure Vessels. Water from the Reactor 1, 2, 3 are proven highly radioactive, and it is probably the same for the Reactor 4.

Yomiuri Shinbun (in Japanese; 11:18AM JST 3/26/2011) reports:

TEPCO announced on March 26 that there was a water puddle in the Reactor No.2 [turbine building], and it was highly radioactive, just like in the Reactors 1 and 3. TEPCO also found water in the Reactor 4 [turbine building]. The locations where the water puddles were found are where the workers have been trying to lay power cables in order to restore the cooling systems.

In other words, the water puddles were found in the turbine building basements, right underneath the pipes and valves coming from the Reactor Containment Vessels.

This illustration is from Asahi Shinbun (3:01AM JST 3/26/2011). It is the illustration of the Reactor 3, but it is practically the same with other Reactors. The red dot at the center bottom is where the workers got irradiated. The left structure is the Reactor building, the lower, right structure is the turbine building.

A bit more details from Asahi Shinbun about the depth of the radioactive water. It's not "puddles" any more, though TEPCO and the government have been calling it "puddle". They should have called it for what it is, a flood:

Maximum depth of radioactive water in each reactor:

Reactor 1: 40 centimeters (1.3 feet)

Reactor 2: 1 meter (3.28 feet)

Reactor 3: 1.5 meters (4.92 feet)

Reactor 4: 80 centimeters (2.62 feet)

#Tsunami That Hit Asahi City, Chiba

It's not just Miyagi, Iwate, Fukushima that were hard hit by huge tsunami. Little known, but Chiba was also hit by large tsunami.

Here's a tsunami video in Asahi-Shi (city of rising sun), Chiba Prefecture, after 7-meter tsunami struck the city famous for surfing.

I laughed so hard watching the video.

The video is shot from the second story of a house.

A young man is incredulous that this is happening, "No joke...", but he and someone else are laughing and saying "This is the end! Everything's gone!"

His 5-year old brother is shouting in the background, "Vending machine, the vending machine! I was going to buy from that machine! Now I don't know what to do!" and "A refrigerator! A strange refrigerator!" (You never can tell what a small child gets fixated on...)

And the young man repeats "This is the end." The boy answers "I'll watch it on TV!"

Japan's Extend and Pretend: Let's Raise the Limit on Radiation in Foods and Drinks So That We Can Say They're Totally Safe And Not Pay the Farmers

Mainichi Shinbun (in Japanese; 10:42PM JST 3/25/2011) reports:

Food Safety Commission of the Cabinet decided to raise the current provisional limits of radioactive materials allowed in foods and drinks and has directed Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare to come up with the new safety numbers.

The current provisional limits were set on March 17 by Ministry of Health. They are based on the guidelines by Nuclear Safety Commission. The limit for radioactive iodine is 50 milli-sieverts per year from all foods and drinks, and the limit for cesium is 5 milli-sieverts per year.

Judging by the level of radioactive materials that has fallen on vegetables in Fukushima, the new provisional safety limit would be something like 1,500 milli-sieverts per year for radioactive iodine, and 300 milli-sieverts per year for cesium so that most of the vegetables would be "safely" consumed, and that the government wouldn't need to compensate the farmers as much.

I just can't wait to see the new numbers.

OH WAIT A MINUTE. Provisional? Decided on March 17? Does that mean the government didn't even have the level set for radioactive materials in foods and drinks before that date? Or they had had the level but they raised it on March 17?

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Reactor 3's Basement Water Likely from Pressure Vessel

"Let's Release the Bad News at Midnight" Series No. N (plug in any number you want).

In this case, it was the media that withheld the information during the day. (They must have hired PR people that the US government uses. Or highly paid consultants from big consulting firms, educated in the US, a bunch of MBAs.)

Yomiuri Shinbun reports at 3:03AM JST on March 26, 2011:

Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency and TEPCO said in press conferences on March 25 the water in the Reactor No.3 turbine building that irradiated two workers may probably have come from the Reactor Pressure Vessel itself, not from the Spent Fuel Pool overflow.

The water puddles on the floor of the turbine building for Reactor No.3 contained cesium-137 and other radioactive materials that usually exist inside the nuclear fuel but not in the cooling water.

Hidehiko Nishiyama of NISA said in the afternoon press conference on March 25 that "it is very likely that the water from the Pressure Vessel leaked", reversing his statement in the morning press conference that they didn't know where the water had come from.

The Reactor No.3's regular cooling system was broken, but TEPCO connected a temporary pump and has been pumping sea water into the Pressure Vessel. It is possible that the connection, as it was an emergency measure, may have been faulty, causing the water to leak.

Explosion on March 14 may also have damaged the pipe and other equipment.

It is also possible that the releasing of the steam inside the Container Vessel, which has been done 3 times since March 12, may have exerted too much pressure on the valve and the pipe, causing the steam to leak.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Reactor 3 Workers' Exposure in Sievert

At the onset of this nuclear crisis at Fukushima I Nuke Plant, we started talking about radiation in "micro-sievert". Then we were soon talking about it in "milli-sievert". Now, we're in the plain "sievert" territory.

The radiation level that these poor young workers at the Reactor No.3 were exposed is easier to count in "sievert", not "milli-sievert":

They were exposed to 2 to 6 sieverts of radiation.

Oh, and one more thing... The Reactor No.3 was using MOX fuel - uranium plus plutonium.

And one more thing... They always announce bad news in the last press conference for the night. Newspaper websites may carry the news, but by the time morning rolls in they may be buried several headlines down. Age-old trick.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: SDF Vid from March 23, Looks Bad, Bad, Bad, Bad

The Self Defense Force helicopter took aerial video of the Reactors on March 23 (JST), which they released on March 25, and they look very, very bad. The photos are from Asahi Shinbun (in Japanese; 2:11AM JST 3/26/2011). The link has the video (which I can't play, as Adobe's Flash crashed on my PC, POS...).

Reactor 1: The roof blew off, but the roof structure seems to cover the top entirely. I don't know how they've been claiming the water is reaching and filling the Spent Fuel Pool when you can't even see them.

Reactor 2: Asahi Shinbun says smoke is coming out from the several holes on the roof.

Reactor 3:

Reactor 4: SDF claims the arrow in the pic is pointing at the Spent Fuel Pool full of water.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Reactor 1 Turbine Room's Water Also Highly Radioactive, Follow-up on Reactor 3 Workers

TEPCO announced on 11:00PM March 25 that the water in the turbine building basement in the Reactor N.1 was just as radioactive as the muddy water puddles in the Reactor No.3 which irradiated two workers from a subcontractor of a subcontractor of TEPCO.

Yomiuri Shinbun (in Japanese, 11:48PM JST 3/25/2011) reports that TEPCO said it took the water sample from the Reactor No.1 turbine building in the morning of March 24.

A day and a half till you tell the world.

I don't believe it takes that long to analyze the sample, unless they are sending it overseas (even then it may be faster than a day and a half).

Checking my own blog post, I find that the workers (probably subcontractors of subcontractors of subcontractors of ... of....of TEPCO) were in the Reactor No.1 on March 24 (JST), at least in the control room fixing the instruments.

The radiation level of the water from No.1 Reactor's turbine building (which I believe is shared by the Reactor No.2, just like the turbine building for the Reactors No.3 and 4 are shared), was 3.8 million becquerels, 10,000 times the normal amount found in cooling water during the normal operation of the reactor.

And these bloody liars at TEPCO, and all these government officials lied yet again about the condition of the two workers who were exposed to this high radiation level in the Reactor No.3. These liars had said their exposure was not severe, only on skin surface not internal, they were not showing acute, severe radiation poisoning symptoms. Now they are saying, after the doctors at the National Institute of Radiological Sciences in Chiba examined them:

  • It was severe exposure, 2,000 to 6,000 milli-sieverts on the skin surface (on their legs);

  • Exposure was to their feet below ankles.

  • There was no injury (open wounds) on their feet;

  • Radioactive materials were found in their urine, meaning they had inhaled the radioactive air and they were internally exposed to radiation.

TEPCO and the government had been saying that they were exposed to 180 milli-sievert radiation, not 2,000 to 6,000. If it is 6,000 milli-sievert, that's 33 times as high as they originally tried to get away with.

They still say, "Don't worry, even if the radiation level is high, it is localized, only their feet not the whole body exposure. The effect to health is far less if it is a localized exposure."

And the next paragraph in the Yomiuri article (in Japanese; 11:44PM JST 3/25/2011) says:

But if the radiation is over 3,000 milli-sievert, even if it is a localized exposure, radiation burn can occur 5 days to 2 weeks after the exposure.

And guess what the article says at the end, after telling us these workers may develop a more severe radiation poisoning soon:

The workers are expected to leave the hospital early next week.

Just surreal. It probably matters to TEPCO and the Japanese government how they determine the severity of the radiation exposure of these workers: compensation is probably determined based on that severity.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Radiated Workers Are from Subcontractor of Subcontractor of TEPCO

So the rumors that I've been hearing on the Japanese message boards may have been true: that TEPCO asks (many on the message boards say "demands") the subcontractors to do the dirty and dangerous work for TEPCO at the Fukushima I Nuke Plant, with the veiled threat that they won't get future contracts if they refuse to offer workers (that's what these message board posters have been saying).

Yomiuri Shinbun reports that the two workers hospitalized for radiation exposure are from a subcontractor of Kandenko, whose largest shareholder is TEPCO who holds 46.12% of Kandenko. Kandenko is one of the largest electrical and communication equipment installation companies in Japan. Kandenko is a general contractor who uses subcontractors for individual works.

So these two were offered by a Kandenko's subcon at the request from Kandenko, who TEPCO, as the largest shareholder, asked (or demanded) to work on the troubled reactors at Fukushima. Never mind that Kandenko does not have expertise in nuclear power generation, other than, probably, wiring the control rooms. Kandenko's workers and workers at Kandenko's subcontractors probably are not aware of the procedure in the nuclear power plant even in normal time, not to mention the procedure with radiated water puddles and semi-darkness in a broken nuclear reactor building.

For their line of work - laying power cables on the dry ground - they wouldn't need long boots or full protective face masks.

One of the workers is in late 20s, the other in their early 30s. Kandenko's president and chairman should have gone instead.

I was amazed that Yomiuri actually named the TEPCO's affiliated company, particularly after I read a piece praising the sacrifice of one TEPCO worker.

(TEPCO is one of the biggest advertisers on TV in Japan.)

Chubu Electric Power Prez Petitions Shizuoka Governor for Restarting Nuke Reactor, Governor Agrees

I just can't believe these people. Corporate and government elites go about their lives as the rest of the country suffer. Government and utilities have always been very supportive of each other, to say the least.

Yomiuri Shinbun (in Japanese; 9:54AM JST 3/25/2011) reports:

Chubu Electric Power Company's president Akihisa Mizuno [a Tokyo University graduate, like TEPCO's VP Muto] visited the governor of Shizuoka Prefecture Heita Kawakatsu [an Oxford PhD in economic history] and explained the company's plan to restart the Reactor No.3 (currently in regular inspection) of its Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant as early as early April, after adequate safety measures are put in place, including emergency safety drill.

The governor of Shizuoka basically agreed to the plan, as long as necessary safety measures were taken.

Chubu Electric's Mizuno said after the meeting with the governor that he was "very encouraged by the strong endorsement of our plan by the governor. TEPCO is still conducting the rolling blackout. We will restart the Reactor No.3 soon, which will help stabilize the power supply in Chubu (central Japan) region as well as provide power to TEPCO."

Two small problems:

Chubu uses 60 Hertz. TEPCO uses 50 Hertz. They do have converters, but not in large enough capacity to make a difference.

Second, the mayors of the cities affected by the plant are dead set against the idea, in light of the Fukushima disaster. They say the central piece of "safety" promised by Chubu Electric, break, is not even built yet. (And look what happened to those breakwaters in Tohoku. They are either broken or gone.)

What good did "emergency safety drill" do for Fukushima I Plant?

Where are people storming Chubu Electric Company's headquarters in protest? Or storming the governor's office?

Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant has 5 reactors (6th planned), but the Reactors 1 and 2 were retired in 2009. The plant is built on a "soft rock" - mud and sand. It is located in the long-predicted Tokai Earthquake area, and one researcher has said that the plant sits right above not just one but two active faults, with 8 more active faults in the vicinity. Currently, the protection against tsunami is sand berm 10 to 15 meters high (it is supposed to withstand 8 meter tsunami). No joke. One of the "safety measures" was going to be the breakwater, but it hasn't been built. All the reactors are Boiling Water Reactor (BWR), the same as Fukushima.

The plant is considered by some to be the most dangerous nuclear plant on the planet. It is much closer to the densely populated areas than Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant.

I'm looking for information as to who designed the reactors and who built them, what type of fuel they use.

(Hmmm. France is shipping MOX in early April.)

On a lighter note, it was this power plant that Godzilla attacked and destroyed in the 1984 movie "Godzilla" (series No.16).

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Zirconium-95 Found in Sea Water Near Plant

TEPCO announced that zirconium-95 was found in sea water near the exhaust water outlet of Fukushima I Nuclear Plant.

Zirconium is used in cladding of the nuclear fuel rods. "It is possible that part of cladding melted when the used fuel rods were exposed, and dousing of the reactors washed it away into the ocean," according to Yomiuri Shinbun quoting an expert (in Japanese; 8:20AM JST 3/25/2011).

Zirconium-95 is a radioactive isotope of zirconium; half-life of 64 days with beta and gamma radiation. Gastrointestinal absorption rate is very low, at 0.01%.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: More on Reactor 3 Radiation

From Kyodo News English (emphasis added; 3/25/2011):

3 nuke workers exposed to high radiation, 2 sustain possible burns

Three workers were exposed to high-level radiation Thursday while laying cable at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, and two of them were taken to hospital due to possible radiation burns to their feet, the nuclear safety agency and the plant operator said.

The three men in their 20s and 30s were exposed to radiation amounting to 173 to 180 millisieverts while laying cable underground at the No. 3 reactor's turbine building. Exposure to 100 millisieverts is the limit for nuclear plant workers dealing with a crisis but the limit has been raised to 250 millisieverts for the ongoing crisis, the worst in Japan.

The two hospitalized are workers of plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s subcontractors and had their feet under water while carrying out the work from 10 a.m., according to the utility known as TEPCO and the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.

The two, who were diagnosed with possible beta ray burns at a Fukushima hospital, will be sent to the National Institute of Radiological Sciences in Chiba Prefecture by early Friday and will stay there for about four days, the agency said.

As the workers had stepped in a 15-centimeter-deep puddle, radioactive water may have seeped through their radiation protective gear, causing radioactive materials in the water to stick to their skin, TEPCO said, adding that the burns are caused by direct exposure to beta rays.

The technicians were wearing nonwoven protective suits of U.S. chemical firm DuPont Co.'s Tyvek brand, full-face masks and rubber gloves, but the two later hospitalized were not wearing boots, letting radioactive water in their shoes, according to the utility and the agency.

Radiation at the surface of the puddle stood at 400 millisieverts per hour, while the amount in the air reached 200 millisieverts per hour.

TEPCO said Wednesday there was no puddle at the site and the radiation level was just around a few millisieverts per hour. The workers did not measure the radiation amount before starting the cable-laying work on Thursday, it said.

But wait, there's more. Kyodo News Japanese must have had more information that they do not have in the English version, as reported by Tokyo Shinbun quoting Kyodo (in Japanese, emphasis added; 9:14AM JST 3/25/2011):

TEPCO analyzed the water in the basement of the turbine building, and found the concentration of radioactive materials was 3.9 million becquerels. Normally, the concentration of radioactive materials in the cooling water inside the reactor is a few hundred becquerels. In addition, iodine-131 and cesium-137 were also found in high concentration; they are rarely found in the cooling water inside the reactor [under normal operating condition].

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Reactor 3's Basement Water Highly Radioactive

(UPDATE: I've got the numbers. See my post above.)

Yesterday three workers working in the basement of the Reactor No.3 turbine building were exposed to radiation as they laid power cables in 18-centimeter high water.

It turns out that, not surprisingly, that water was highly radioactive.

Yomiuri Shinbun (in Japanese, emphasis added; 7:38AM JST 3/25/2011):

TEPCO announced on March 25 that the level of concentration of radioactive materials in the basement water was 10,000 times the normal level in the cooling water in the reactor during normal operation.

Radioactive materials, which are not detected in normal operation, were found the basement water in high concentration. According to TEPCO, the radioactive materials may have been leaked after the fuel rods in either the Pressure Vessel or the Spent Fuel Pool of the Reactor No.3 got damaged.

I am looking for the numbers, and will post when I find it.

Yesterday, I wrote TEPCO was insane when they ordered the work to be resumed in the Reactor No.3 after the black smoke. It was indeed almost clinically insane, because it didn't even test the radiation level in the basement before it sent the workers (two of them non-TEPCO, who were hospitalized).

#Japan #Earthquake: Radioactive Cesium Found in Leafy Vegetables Grown In Tokyo

Mainichi Shinbun (in Japanese; 11:20PM JST 3/24/2011) reports:

Tokyo municipal government announced on March 24 that radioactive cesium was detected in the leafy vegetables (Komatsuna) grown in a test farm in Edogawa-ku, Tokyo. 890 Becquerel cesium was detected, whereas the legal limit is 500 Becquerel per kilogram.

It was the first time radioactive cesium was detected in the vegetables grown in Tokyo. It was probably due to rain on March 20 and 21. No effect on health, assures the Tokyo government officials.

Even after the Tokyo municipal government withdrew the advisory on water from Kanamachi Water Purification Plant, the residents of Tokyo scrambled to buy bottled water. As of March 24, in many parts of Tokyo, purchase was limited to two bottles per person, if there was any bottle to buy.

Alas, my warning to friends in Japan fell on deaf ears when I told them to go and buy water, right after the earthquake. That was still when Japan was in Extend and Pretend phase, with Prime Minister Kan visiting the nuke plant and telling everyone that things were under control. So they didn't buy. And now they are surprised that there is no water bottle available.

I'm sure there are a plenty of bottled water donated by people in and out of Japan, sitting at the official depots set up by local governments.

#Japan #Earthquake: Japan Missed the Boat

Japan, you missed out, again. No one cares about the small nuclear problem of yours, or the lack of food, or the run on the bottled water in Tokyo. Just when you are finally coming to grips with the reality and some people in some government agencies or some outside experts have started to speak up (where the hell were they all this time?) and the residents are finally getting some relevant information and starting to take their own precautions by leaving for safer locations in Japan, the whole world yawns.

Just taking too long.

Initially, experts outside Japan were very eager to help, but their offers for help were turned down by the Japanese government. The US military started to share the data from the drones immediately after the earthquake with the Japanese government, but the Japanese government sat on it (still is sitting on it). The foreign media reported the grave situation at the Fukushima plant, which was hardly reported in Japan and which proved to be more accurate than the Japan's highly optimistic version.

Then about two or three days ago, the world got tired. OK, if you want to play the game of hope, or extend and pretend, go right ahead. There was a sudden proliferation of the supposed "experts" on Reuters live coverage of the Japan earthquake, for example, who say "Nothing to worry about, it will be all just fine", and they are not Japanese. A fund manager in the US demanded an apology from the US media for over-hyping the Japan's crisis. There are bloggers like him, whose information is clearly limited to some English language sources, who are calling the whole situation bogus and hyperbole.

Two to three days ago, that's when some people in some agencies in Japan started to speak up.

So now Japan and the rest of the world are switching places. If the situation in Japan gets worse, the world will move the opposite, and they won't care.

That's the price you pay for having been so utterly out-of-sync with the information - it's not something you can massage to fit your fantasy in the crisis like this. It always wants to be free and it will break free sooner or later, which may be finally, slowly happening in Japan. Unfortunately it was "later", and the ADD world has moved along. You're pretty much on your own, with only your inept government to "help" you, who has screwed up every step of the way and will probably screw up all the steps going forward, as it plans to be the central force for "recovery" by blowing tens of trillions of yen on "public works" and other central government "initiatives" that have served the country so well in the "lost decades".

For once, Bank of Japan seems to be outdoing the Federal Reserve in dumping so much money to prop up the financial markets. Nothing to worry about. It's gotta be good when the stock market keeps going up. The Fed will try to out-compete BOJ by doing QE3.

QE3 Here We Come? Really?

The letter delivered to Ben on QE3????

Posted on Zero Hedge (emphasis added; 3/24/2011):

Something rather disturbing from a European trading desk...


One big rigged casino, I guess always has been. As long as the music is on, you gotta dance, even if the world blows up.

Got gold and silver? They got slightly cheaper today, thanks to CME.

US Fed Chairman to Hold Press Conferences 4 Times A Year


I'd suggest he use the very first one to announce his resignation, the second to announce self-destruction of the Federal Reserve before the Supreme Court deems he and his Federal Reserve are "domestic terrorists" for counterfeiting.

From AP (3/24/2011):

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will begin holding news conferences four times a year to explain the Federal Reserve's interest rate decisions and its views on the economy.

The decision announced Thursday comes after the Fed held an unusual videoconference last fall in large part to discuss the need to improve its communications strategy. A Fed committee also had been studying whether to begin holding periodic news conferences.

Bernanke's first news conference will take place after the Fed's April 27 meeting. That will augment the current communications strategy: a brief statement released after each of the Fed's eight policy-making meetings with no officials available to answer questions.

Let's see.. The Federal Reserve hired a lobbyist who lobbied for Enron. Who does it have for PR spinmeister?

Oh look what I just found! The NY Fed is looking for a Senior Media Relations/Spokesperson!:
Desired Skills & Experience

  • A minimum of 10 years of experience in a high-profile role involving transformative, communications management
  • Demonstrated experience serving as a senior spokesperson in time-sensitive, critical situations
  • Established contacts and relationships in the media/press community
  • Deep knowledge of the financial services industry including the ability to write clear, concise communications on complex finance, market, and regulatory issues would be an advantage
  • Familiarity with the Federal Reserve’s activities and the impact on key stakeholders at the local, regional, and national levels
  • Proven ability to provide strategic, innovative leadership; extensive experience planning and executing broad communications efforts
  • Bachelor’s degree or higher in public relations, communications, business, economics, political science, or related field
  • Social media knowledge/experience a plus
  • Must thrive in fast-paced, rapid-turnaround environment and be able to successfully handle multiple tasks on complex topics
What a deal! You don't even need a PhD in economics!

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Greenpeace Says MOX Fuel Leaving for Japan in April from France; Same Type Used in Reactor 3

From (3/24/2011), citing Dow Jones Newswires citing Kyodo News English, who buries the news behind the subscription wall:


A ship carrying nuclear fuel processed in France is scheduled to leave for Japan in early April, Kyodo News reported Thursday, citing the French affiliate of environmental advocacy group Greenpeace.

The uranium-plutonium mixed-oxide fuel, known as MOX fuel, is the same type as the one being used in the No. 3 reactor at the earthquake-damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan, Greenpeace said.

The ship is expected to leave the port of Cherbourg in the week of April 4 but Areva SA (CEI.FR), France's state-controlled nuclear engineering firm, said it won't depart then, indicating a possible delay, according to Kyodo.

Areva and state power company Electricite de France SA (EDF.FR) have sent equipment to Japan to assist with the crisis at the Fukushima plant, Areva's chief executive said last week.

-Dow Jones Newswires; 212-416-2900

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

March 24, 2011 14:47 ET (18:47 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2011 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

More on MOX fuel in my previous post here.

Whack a Silver (and Gold, Too), Like a Clockwork

The reason for the sharp intraday reversal from post-Hunt brothers' high on silver? CME hiked the margins, nth time, effective on March 25.

Here's the intraday chart of SLV, an ETF that tracks physical silver (and supposed to be backed by physical silver - good luck with that).

Zero Hedge (emphasis added 3/24/2011):

In tried and true fashion, just as Silver was about to viciously destabilize the global capital markets as it surged to new 31 year highs, the CME stepped in and did its usual 3-6 half life intervention by hiking initial and maintenance margins on silver futures from $11,138 and $8,250 to $11,745 and $8,700 respectively. This is merely the latest margin hike in what appears to be a neverneding series designed to reduce speculative "fervor" courtesy of endless liquidity. What it will do is merely provide a better entry point for those who by now realize that silver's next stop in the fiat endgame is $40, then $50, and so forth. Naturally, the price drop in silver caused gold to sell off too. And now that the CME accepts gold as collateral, we can't even visualize the reflexive loops that develop once the metal that is also a collateral currency becomes more and less valuable at the same time.

And while they are at it, the CME decided to remove some of the Uranium volatility by hiking maintenance and initial margins in Uranium Futures (UX) by about 50%.


I'm sitting on my precious metal stocks positions. As Tyler Durden says, the "half-life" of CME intervention is rather short.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Brief History of "Evacuation Zone"

Did you know that the Japanese government started out with the evacuation zone of 3 kilometers radius?

We can't scare people, can we? We don't want to cause panic, do we?

Instead, they have caused panic because they withheld information, which is only now and only slowly coming out.

Chief Cabinet Secretary is still worried about giving the "wrong" message by expanding the zone to 30 kilometers radius. It's all about narrative. Japan, the US, no difference.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Government Considering 30-Kilometer-Radius Evacuation

instead of "stay indoors" instruction for the residents "trapped" between 20 and 30 kilometers and being starved of food and water, with radioactive particles falling down on their soil.

Yomiuri Shinbun (in Japanese; 8:43PM JST 3/24/2011) reports that the top officials of the ruling party (the Democratic Party of Japan) were in talks with the opposition leaders to re-designate the area between 20 and 30 kilometer radii as "evacuation" zone.

It seems like one or two politicians (or their faithful private secretaries) must have read the article on Asahi Shinbun (see my post, I translated the article in full), and thought "Hmmmm, the local election campaign just started, it would look bad on us if these people starve to death ...."

From the Yomiuri article, it seems to have been the opposition politicians who requested the DPJ top officials that the government re-consider the evacuation zone designation. The DPJ officials told the opposition that "their request would be duly transmitted to the government."

According to Yomiuri, the Naoto Kan's Cabinet Secretary Edano said, "Since it's been quite a while since the "stay indoors" evacuation started [between 20 and 30 kilometers from the plant], we have instructed [our officials] to review the situation in order for the government to decide whether it can continue." But he also said, "We should be careful not to send the "wrong" message that the danger has increased."

The danger HAS increased, Mr. Mouthpiece, and you know it. It's been 13 days after the accident, 12 days after the building top blew up on the Reactor No.1. And it's raining heavily in CA, in a very unusual winter storm, with jet stream coming all the way from Japan.

What was the point of using the "radius", to begin with? The land is not flat where the fallout or radiation spread out evenly. Wind doesn't blow from the nuke plant out to the surrounding areas in a concentric manner. There's prevailing wind in the upper atmosphere, which may be quite different from the surface wind direction.

This is the Nuclear Safety Committee simulation they released on March 23 on potential internal radiation exposure (cumulative, for 12 days) on thyroid gland (unit is milli-sievert); the dotted circle designates the area within 30-kilometer radius:

This is the actual data collected by the unmanned drones by the US military on radiation levels in the environment (unit is micro-sievert). It corresponds pretty well with the map above, with north-westerly direction from the plant getting higher exposure. US Department of Energy seems to have started to release the reconnaissance data, whether the Japanese government likes it or not, at

Hats Off to Japanese for "Extend and Pretend"

It's just surreal, one-thirty in the morning here, to look at a photo of people gathered to listen to a candidate's speech for the local elections.

In the middle of the greatest disaster that has ever struck the nation in its 2,000+ years of recorded history (depending on who you ask, it may be well over 10,000 years counting pre-historic times) with the emergency at Fukushima I Nuke Plant on-going, with radioactive materials falling on tap water and broccoli, what do people do?

Go listen to their candidate for their local election to elect mayors and governors, and representatives for city and and prefectural governments.

Why the hell are they holding the elections now? Because that was scheduled long time ago. Have to stick to the schedule, no matter what.

I'm shaking my head.

Urayasu City in Chiba had the guts to say "No, we are not going to hold the election in the time like this. We simply do not have time, facilities, and people to do it." The mayor of Urayasu is furious. "In the time like this, voters cannot make sound judgement, and candidates cannot conduct adequate campaigns." 19 voting stations out of city's total 31 are unusable because of liquefaction, and the mayor is threatening he will not issue the use permit for the voting stations. (Tokyo Shinbun, in Japanese, 3/24/2011)

Good for him. Why can't all the other mayors and governors be like him?

Go take a look at the faces of people gathered at Shinjuku Station in Tokyo, at Yomiuri Shinbun here. They look glum and worried. Why they bother to attend the speech is a total mystery to me.

(Almost makes me wonder if the newspaper or TV covering the event ask the passers-by to gather there for the photo-op.)

It is immensely sad, it almost makes me cry. They are hoping that their lives are going back to normal soon, so they do what they normally do every few years - go listen to their candidate speak in an election campaign.

I'm ready to give up, and just hope with them. In the small hours past midnight, it seems like the only thing that's left for Japan. Hope. Or pretend. Just pretend with them that everything will be OK.

An aftershock of Magnitude 6.1 just hit Miyagi and Iwate. The epicenter was off the coast of Iwate, 20 kilometers in depth.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Just How High Was Reactor 1's Pressure?

The Containment Vessel of the Reactor No.1 at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant had an abnormal rise in pressure which continued in the morning of March 24 in Japan. Then in the latest press conference (11:00AM), they said the pressure "stopped rising" at 7:00AM on March 24.

So how "dangerously" high was it, and how is it now?

According to Sankei Shinbun's coverage of the press conference, the pressure of the Reactor No.1's Containment Vessel [Sankei calls it "Pressure Vessel" but that is wrong, as the Pressure Vessel is designed to withstand 80 atmospheric pressure] was:

5.1 atmospheric pressure as of 5:00AM, March 24

4 atmospheric pressure as of 7:00AM, March 24

Inquiring minds want to know what the normal operating pressure is... And it is:

1 atmospheric pressure or less

Then what is the pressure that the Vessel is designed to withstand, in an emergency?

3.84 atmospheric pressure (if it is the same as the Reactor No.3)

So, 5.1 atmospheric pressure was a big deal. Even 4 is a big deal.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: 3 Workers Exposed to High Radiation in Reactor 3 Basement, 2 Rushed to Hospital

while they worked in water. Probably irradiated water.

Yomiuri Shinbun (in Japanese, emphasis added; 3:39 PM JST 3/24/2011):

Three workers who were working in the basement of the Reactor No.3 in Fukushima I Nuclear ower Plant were exposed to high radiation around 12:09 PM today (March 24). Two of them were rushed to the hospital.

The workers were laying cables for the fresh water cooling pump in the 1st basement of the turbine building for the Reactor No.3.

The radiation was between 170 and 180 milli-sievert. The basement was flooded with water from tsunami and from dousing of the Reactor, and the workers were working in the water.

Two workers who were irradiated in the foot (or leg) are from the affiliated companies [I'd say Toshiba or Hitachi]. They were rushed to the Fukushima Medical University. They are scheduled to be transferred to National Institute of Radiological Sciences in Chiba Prefecture later.

I knew it. I knew TEPCO was SO WRONG in resuming the work in the Reactor No.3 just because the black smoke stopped. They are INSANE.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Reactor 1 Pressure Has Stopped Rising, TEPCO Resumes Work on Reactor 3

says Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency. (Believe them at your own risk.)

From Asahi Shinbun (in Japanese; 11:46AM JST 3/24/2011) reports:

Concerning the Reactor No.1 whose core pressure was rising on March 23 and was described by Nuclear Safety Commission chairman Madarame as "most dangerous", the pressure stopped rising about 7:00AM on March 24 as the amount of sea water being poured into the Vessel was reduced from 187 liters per minute to 160 liters per minute. NISA doesn't feel it necessary at the moment to release the steam [from the Reactor Pressure Vessel] in order to lower the pressure.

The central control room for the Reactor no.1 now has power, as of 11:30 AM today. Repairs on instruments [in the control room] continue.

other reactors, according to Asahi:

  • Reactor No.3: Black smoke subsided by 4:30AM. TEPCO decided that it was safe to resume work, and has directing the workers to restore cooling pumps. [ARE THEY INSANE?]

  • Reactor No.2: the procedure is being discussed on how to identify the radiation source (high reading registered on March 18, 500 to 720 milli-sievert) and how to protect workers using lead plates. [ARE THEY INSANE?]

In the meantime, Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano says his government may ask the US military for help.

Help on what? Isn't it rather..... late?

Edano was one of the politicians who spoke against asking for the assistance from the US military, say many Japanese bloggers and posters on the Japanese message boards. Others include Prime Minister Kan, METI Minister Kaieda (and author of books on how to make money investing in bubbly assets). Edano officially denied that the Japanese government declined help offered, he didn't convince many Japanese.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Vid from NHK Heli Shows Smoke or Steam From Reactors 1, 2, 3, 4

From NHK World (9:31AM JST 3/24/2011):

An NHK helicopter crew has confirmed what appears to be steam rising from No. 1, 2, 3 and 4 reactor buildings at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

This is the first time that steam has been seen coming out of the No.1 reactor.

The helicopter crew was filming from a location more than 30 kilometers from the plant shortly before 7:00 AM on Thursday.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company says that black smoke seen rising from the No.3 reactor building on Wednesday was no longer visible as of 6:00 AM Thursday.

Video at the NHK link.

(But they've got such bad translators I can't stand them. Speaks volume on the English education in that country. Hire me.)

#Japan #Earthquake: SOMEONE DROP THE FOOD ON THESE POOR PEOPLE (Updated with Complete Translation of the Article)

in the 30-kilometer evacuation area. Food is running out, the local officials fear that people may actually be starved to death. These people live in a gray area between 20 and 30 kilometers radius from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. In that gray area, they are not required to leave the area but to stay indoors to be safe.

Well guess what? The Nuclear Safety Committee has finally come out and shared their cherished simulation result, which shows a potentially grave exposure to radioactive materials even outside the 30-kilometer zone, and people in the zone feel they are trapped.

Food and medicines are running out, and because of the radioactive fallout scare which has been fanned by the misinformation and disinformation from their government, trucks and ambulances don't even enter these cities and towns to make the delivery or pick up the sick people to the hospitals.

Self Defense Force, don't wait for the orders from the government. Fly the helicopters, go get the food from the official depots, fly to these areas, drop the food. If the petty bureaucrats refuse to give you boxes of food, you tell them "Too bad," and take them.

US Military, please do the same.

From Asahi Shinbun (in Japanese; 10:01PM JST 3/23/2011) is rather long, so I'll be putting out the article bit by bit. Here's the first page:

Minami Souma City, Fukushima Prefecture, north of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. Many people who fear radiation have left town. There are 20,000 people still left in the city of 70,000. The household's food is running out because of the delay in transporting goods, city officials say.

"We fear some will starve to death."

"Those who fled are afraid, and those of us who remain are afraid," says Hiroshi Suzuki, 65-year-old farmer in Kashima district of the City. Part of the Kashima district, population 11,000, is within the 20-30 kilometer radius from the Nuke Plant. There are still 1,300 people who remain in the district.

Neighborhood stores are all closed. People drive 20 to 30 minutes to neighboring Soma City to buy food. Average driving distance is 40 to 50 kilometers. Meals consist of rice that they grew, canned food, and sausages.

It will soon be the sowing time. Suzuki wonders, "What's the point of sowing if nobody's going to buy? How do I make the living?"

Minami-Soma City, with population of 70,000, has been divided into three areas - evacuation area within 20-kilometer radius, "stay infoor" advisory area between 20-30 kilometers, areas beyond 30 kilometer radius with no instruction or advice [from the government] on what to do.
The City officials have sent the residents, including those who live outside the evacuation area, to Niigata, Gunma, Nagano by bus.

"We wish the national government told us to evacuate within 30-kilometer radius," says Mayor Katsunobu Sakurai. "Stay indoors" advisory by the national government fanned the fear of radiation among the residents. "That has caused people to conclude that Minami-Soma City is in danger."

The drivers of gasoline tanks refused to come inside the city, so the city sent its employees and the residents who have driver's license for large trucks. Foods and other necessities have stopped coming, and super markets and convenience stores have closed doors, causing a severe shortage of goods in the city. City officials suspect that food in each household is almost gone. A transportation company has rented the Soma wholesale market in Soma City to provide food to Minami-Soma city 24/7. It is the city's lifeline, but the amount of food being delivered is dwindling.

(OK here's part 2)

Dr. Yukio Kanazawa, head of the Minami-Soma City General Hospital, fumes, "Even an ambulance refuse to enter the city. Right at the 30-kilometer radius, they transfer the patients from an ambulance to a Self Defense Force vehicle." People want to continue to live here, but it is getting harder. The city is on the verge of extinction.

Exodus continues in Iwaki City, where part of the city has been designated as "stay indoors" area. 50,000 people have already left, out of the city's population of 340,000.

In the morning of March 23 at the Iwaki Central Interchange on Joban Highway, there are many cars heading toward Kanto. 63-year old Masao Hashimoto, who lives hear the Interchange, says "The number of cars has jumped since March 21. Everyone is leaving."

There are vending machines that dispense drinks in front of Hashimoto's house. He has talked to drivers who stop by at the vending machines before they hit the highway. They all say they are leaving because they are afraid of radiation. "Particularly those with babies are worried," Hashimoto says.

Joban Highway has opened the segment from the Iwaki Central interchange to Kanto since March 11. Gasoline supplies started to arrive, and some gas stations re-opened on March 20. Everyone was waiting for the gasoline, but there are many who, as soon as they fill the tanks, they drive out of Fukushima. The long-distance buses to Kanto are full.

Most of Iwaki City is between 30 to 50 kilometer radius from the Fukushima Nuke Plant. The radiation level of the air in the city was high at one point, but since March 17 it has been relatively low. However, when the national government instructed the residents in 20-30 kilometer radius to stay indoors on March 15, the Iwaki City officials told citizens not to go out, using public announcement system.

Vice Mayor of the City, Eiji Suzuki, explains, "It was raining on March 15, and we did not know how the radiation would be [under the rain]. We thought the residents would get confused more if the instructions within the 30-kilometer radius and and outside are different."

However, that's not what the city's residents thought. "We're 'safe', according to the national government. But the City seems to be saying we're in danger. Which is it?" A 64-year-old corporate executive is angry. He lives about 40 kilometers away from the plant. "Because of that, the rumor has spread that the entire city is in danger. There is no one who delivers goods to a city where the residents are getting out."

Increasing number of transportation companies who deliver fuel and food from Kanto area stop short, and only deliver them to Koriyama City (Fukushima Prefecture). The city employees and fire fighters drove to Koriyama City to get the delivered fuel and food, but only a limited number of trips were possible due to gasoline shortage.

60% of the households in the City still have no water. "We saw the residents within 20-kilometer radius [not Iwaki City] escape. There is no food, no water in the city. No matter what we at the City say, very few listen."

[Well, duh. If they listen to you, they will all be dead.]

(Part 3, last part)

In the past few days, supplies began to arrive gradually. At a supermarket that reopened for a limited time, there was long line of people trying to buy bread and bento (lunch/dinner box). Vice Mayer Suzuki still blames the national government. "Maybe we erred on the side of caution in calling all residents not to go outside. But the national government instruction was half-hearted and unclear."

Iidate Village, Fukushima Prefecture. Part of the village falls under "stay indoors" area. There are about 3,200 people remaining in the village whose population is 6,100.

Since the Fukushima Nuclear Plant accident, an elevated level of radiation and high concentration of radioactive materials have been detected in the air and broccoli that the village produces. On March 23, Ministry of Education and Science announced that high concentration of cesium has been detected in the village soil.

Village chief Norio Sugano asks, "What happened? What are we supposed to do? There is no instruction from the national government. We don't know what to do."

There was a hightened anxiety on March 18. Radiation level in the air in the village was higher than the areas closer to the nuclear plant. The villagers were afraid.

"Now they're telling us." "I just want to get out." The village officials held a meeting that day to assist people who wished to leave.

314 people including the villagers who wish to leave and people who were taking shelters in the village arrived in buses in Kanuma City in Tochigi Prefecture. Additional 195 people left for Kanuma City on March 20. The village distributed gasoline tickets to people leaving by their own cars; the ticket would allow them to purchase 20 liters of gasoline. All 4 shelters in the village have been closed.

Kaoru Takahashi's family is divided - three of the family of 8 including her husband remain in the village. "We had a well so we didn't need to worry about water. But my husband told me to leave with our children, because there's no knowing how children will be affected. I wonder when we can go back. I'm worried about the three who remain in the village."

(That's all. What the Japanese government has been doing is a crime against humanity.)

(If people survive somehow in Japan, they'd better make sure they will never, ever, rely on any government.)

US Government, PLEASE Release the Data on #Fukushima Plant, Radiation, ASAP

The Japanese government is proven utterly incapable of dealing with this crisis, and as the result the citizens of the country are exposed to danger that they are not aware of.

Please UNILATERALLY release all the data that you've collected since the earthquake on the Fukushima Plant, on radiation and radioactive material fallout, which you say has been shared fully with the Japanese government with the permission for release. The Japanese government is still sitting on it. Only yesterday top officials at Nuclear Safety Agency started to admit they may have screwed up badly for not releasing THEIR own simulation data sooner.

Face. That's all they care about. And academic prestige, perhaps, as these officials are from Japan's top universities.

If the Commander in Chief is still groggy from his vacation in Latin America, go over him.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Black Smoke Rising from Reactor No.3

I posted about 12 hours ago that gray smoke was rising from the Reactor No.3, according to TEPCO.

Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says it's "black smoke". That doesn't sound good, does it?

Yomiuri Shinbun (in Japanese; 5:13PM JST 3/23/2011):

METI's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency held a press conference at 5:00PM on March 23, and said the smoke rising from TEPCO Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant Reactor No.3 "is black, and it is rising from the building that houses the reactor. The cause of the black smoke is unknown."


Gold at All-Time High, Silver 31-Year High

(Kitco News) - Comex gold futures prices ended higher and set a record-high close of $1,438.00 an ounce Wednesday. Meantime, May Comex silver futures set a fresh 31-year high of $37.29. Major world events of late are still underpinning the precious metals markets on safe-haven investment demand, even though the markets, overall, are calmer so far this week. Comex April gold last traded up $9.90 an ounce at $1,437.50. Spot gold last traded up $8.80 at $1,438.00.

Gold spot, which continues to trade, is currently at $1,440. Silver spot is at $37.38, according to Kitco.

As the utterly irrelevant US stock market continues to levitate, the world continues to burn or get irradiated. I guess you could say, on a relative term, the US is the best place to invest..

#Japan's Nuclear Safety Committee Chairman: #Radioactive Fallout May Be Severe Enough to Cause Internal Radiation Exposure in Some Locations

"Now they're telling us" Part II. (Part I is my previous post, about Reactor 1 potential meltdown.) Government kills, by not sharing information. I'm sure the Committee kept refining and refining their simulation without telling anyone outside their Committee so when they presented it was neat and perfect. That's how these bureaucrats are.

From Asahi Shinbun (in Japanese, ink added; 11:34PM JST 3/23/2011), reporting the same press conference that Yomiuri Shinbun was reporting on:

Japan's Nuclear Safety Committee announced for the first time its simulation based on the SPEEDI [System for Prediction of Environmental Emergency Dose Information, collected by Japan's Ministry of Education and Science] data as to the radiation level and the radioactive material fallout following the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident. According to the simulation, in the most extreme case where radioactive iodine spreads from the Plant toward northwest and south it is possible to have internal radiation exposure of the thyroid gland exceeding 100 milli-sievert in 12 days, even outside the 30-kilometer evacuation zone.

The Committee calculated the internal radiation exposure of the thyroid gland of a one year old child, considered the most vulnerable to radioactive iodine, under the extreme condition that the child has been outside from 6AM on March 12 till midnight on March 24. The Committee calculated the possible amount of radioactive iodine that has been released, based on the monitoring data from various cities and towns.

According to the calculation, the area where one (a 1-year-old child) would suffer 100 milli-sievert irradiation if stayed outdoors all day everyday for 12 days included Minami-Soma City, Iidate Village, Kawamata-cho (the last two produced vegetables with high radioactive iodine and cesium concentration) which are located northeast from the Plant, and Iwaki City, which is located south. 100 milli-sievert is the level where the decision is made whether potassium iodide should be administered. If indoors, the level would drop to 1/4 to 1/10.

Committee Chairman Haruki Madarame and his officials told the press that they assumed the extreme case in their simulation, and that there was no need for any immediate action.

The committee started to collect SPEEDI data on March 16, and started to do the simulation on March 20 when the wind turned inland.

The red dot in the middle is Fukushima I Nuke Plant. The red dot to the south of the first one is Fukushima II Nuke Plant. The dotted circle indicates the 30-kilometer evacuation zone (20-kilometer evacuation zone, and 20-30 kilometer "stay indoors" zone).

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Nuclear Safety Committee Chairman Suggests Possibility of Reactor 1 Core Meltdown and Desctruction of RPV

Now they're telling us...

Yomiuri Shinbun (in Japanese, link added; 1:21AM JST 3/24/2011):

Haruki Madarame, chairman of the Nuclear Safety Committee [link is in Japanese; their last update on their English site update was in February] which advises the Japanese government on the safety regulations for the nuclear power industry in Japan, spoke for the first time on March 23 evening since the earthquake that triggered the nuclear accident at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant.

Asked about the damage to the Reactors at Fukushima I Plant, the chairman said, "(After the hydrogen explosion), the fuel rods in the Reactor No.1 are assumed to have melted to a significant degree. Compared to the Reactors No.2 and 3, the situation in the Reactor No.1 is the most severe." The temperature and the pressure of the reactor core continue to rise abnormally, and the situation is getting very dangerous. He disclosed "We are considering releasing the valve to let the steam out of the Reactor Pressure Vessel (RPV) in order to prevent the destruction [of the RPV]."

The fuel rods in the Reactors No.1, 2, 3 have been exposed, and the operation to pour sea water into the reactor cores continues. On March 32, The Reactor No.1's core temperature rose to 400-degree Celsius, exceeding the design temperature (302-degree Celsius), but the successive pouring of water has since lowered the temperature. However, the pressure continues to build inside [the RPV]. Chairman Madarame said they will decide on March 24 whether to release the steam from the RPV.

Mr. Madarame is another graduate from the nation's elite Tokyo University. At least he majored in nuclear science.

#Japan #Earthquake: Prime Minister Kan Has Gone Quiet

Japan's Prime Minister Kan, who used to insist on briefing the Japanese people "directly" by holding his press conference on just about anything after the earthquake, has gone quiet, and the Japanese media is wondering what's going on.

Yomiuri Shinbun (in Japanese; 7:52PM JST 3/23/2011) wonders aloud:

Prime Minister Kan has all but disappeared from the public except when he appears in front of the press to make announcement [without taking questions from the press].

The ostensible reason is that the prime minister is focusing his efforts on resolving the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant crisis, but officials privately complain about the lack of leadership.

Prime Minister Kan's last public appeareance was on March 18, one week from the earthquake/tsunami, to deliver his message to the "Japanese people directly". Since then, there has been no press conference, and he doesn't answer questions in the Diet, saying he is busy.

He is supposedly busy dealing with the Fukushima I Nuke Plant problems. His aides says he's been issuing orders to the joint crisis committee made up of government officials and TEPCO, which has been set up to deal with the nuclear crisis.

It's good that he doesn't "lead" beyond his grandstanding, which however has probably caused unnecessary damage (see this post about how his "visit" to the Nuke Plant may have triggered the bigger disaster than would have happened).

Another one that's been hiding since the disaster struck is TEPCO's president.

#Libya: US Bombed Wreckage of F-15 Fighter Jet That Went Down

See what happens when the US goes in...

Daily Mail (3/22/2011):

US BOMBED U.S. rescue chopper shoots six Libyan villagers as they welcome pilots of downed Air Force jet

Six Libyan villagers are recovering in hospital after being shot by American soldiers coming in to rescue the U.S. pilots whose plane crash-landed in a field.

The helicopter strafed the ground as it landed in a field outside Benghazi beside the downed U.S. Air Force F-15E Eagle which ran into trouble during bombing raid last night.

And a handful of locals who had come to greet the pilots were hit - among them a young boy who may have to have a leg amputated because of injuries caused by a bullet wound.

Reuters Africa (3/23/2011):


And the US Defense Secretary admits he doesn't really know what the hell they are doing....

Bloomberg (3/22/2011):

“This command-and-control business is complicated, and we haven’t done something like this kind of on-the-fly before,” U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters in Moscow today. “It’s not surprising to me that it would take a few days to get it all sorted out.”

Hmmmm. Haven't your department been doing this kind of thing for 10 years now, Mr. Gates? It sure looks like that to me in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, "-stans" in Central Asia, now Libya.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Gray Smoke from Reactor No.3, Work Halted

Yomiuri Shinbun (in Japanese; 4:35PM JST 3/23/2011):

According to TEPCO, gray smoke is rising from the Reactor 3 since 4:20PM (JST). The workers have been evacuated from the area.

TEPCO says "The smoke looks grayish. We don't know whether it's from the turbine building or the reactor building."

Gray smoke was also seen on March 21 around 3:55PM, rising from where the Spent Fuel Pool is located in the Reactor 3.

Was located?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Radioactive Iodine in Water Plant in Tokyo, Twice the Limit for Use for Babies

From Yomiuri Shinbun (in Japanese; 2:57PM JST 3/23/2011):

Tokyo Municipal government announced that radioactive iodine twice the safety limit for the use for babies was detected at Kanamachi Water Purification Plant in Katsushika-ku in Tokyo.

The municipal government is asking citizens not to feed babies with tap water.

The affected areas are: all 23 wards ("ku") of Tokyo, Musashino City, Machida City, Tama City, Inagi City, and Mitaka City.

Water at Kanamachi Water Purification Plant was sampled at 9:00AM on March 22, and 210 Becquerel radioactive iodine was detected. The limit for the safe use for babies is 100 Becquerel.

The municipal government is advising citizens not to use tap water to make infant formula. However, the guideline is based on the continuous use, and if there is no other source for drinking water it is OK to feed babies with tap water, the government says.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Reactor No.1 Core's Temperature Over 400-Degree Celsius

Yomiuri Shinbun (in Japanese, 11:25AM JST 3/23/2011):

Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said in the press conference this morning that the temperature of the reactor core (inside the Containment Vessel) of the Reactor 1 is over 400-degree Celsius [over 752 Fahrenheit].

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Work Halted In Reactor No.2, Radiation Too High

Asahi Shinbun (in Japanese; 11:30AM JST 3/23/2011) reports:

Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency has announced that the work to restore power has been halted at the Reactor No.2. The radiation level inside the building is 500 milli-sievert per hour.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Reactor No.3 Core Was Hot, Too

I read the Reuters article earlier today that said (the article has been updated since, but it still says the same thing):

... He gave no more details, but a TEPCO executive vice president, Sakae Muto, said the core of reactor No.1 was now a worry with its temperature at 380-390 Celsius (715-735 Fahrenheit).

"We need to strive to bring that down a bit," Muto told a news conference, adding that the reactor was built to run at a temperature of 302 C (575 F).

Turns out that it's not just the Reactor No.1. The Reactor No.3 had the same problem.

I found a press conference on March 20 where TEPCO engineers discussed the temperature inside the Containment Vessel of the Reactor 3, which went as high as 390-degree Celsius before they managed to bring it back down below 200-degree Celsius.

During the TEPCO press conference that started at 10:00PM on March 20, TEPCO's engineer disclosed the temperature inside the Containment Vessel (or outside the Pressure Vessel, same thing) of the Reactor No.3 was high, though not abnormally high. (First reference 28:35 into the conference - video here, in Japanese; free subscription):

In the Reactor No.3, the temperature inside the Containment Vessel was 380 to 390-degree Celsius after 5PM on March 19, when we were finally able to measure the temperature. We poured in water to cool, and the temperature is currently below 200-degree Celsius.

(Second reference after 1:02:40):

The thermal sensor is attached to the outside of the Pressure Vessel. 380-390-degree Celsius is about 100-degree Celsius higher than the normal operating temperature. We didn't know why the temperature was so high. We have no experience in how to deal with the situation we're in. So we decided to pour more water in to see what would happen. Luckily, the temperature went down after the pour.

I wonder if that's the sensor by the Israeli company...

It was a maddeningly disorganized, long (over 2 hours) press conference. Reporters didn't seem to fully understand what they were hearing, and what they were asking. And TEPCO's engineers didn't know how to how to talk to laymen without any scientific background. Unlike the press conference on March 21 by TEPCO's VP Muto (which I also watched), though, these engineers sounded sincere enough in answering questions.