Saturday, April 7, 2012

Radiation in Namie-machi, Fukushima Almost Exceeded OSHA 90-Day Limit for Radiation Worker in 14 Days Last Year

The cumulative radiation dose at MP (monitoring post) 32 in Fukushima Prefecture from March 23 to April 4, 2011 was 11,630 microsieverts (or 11.63 millisieverts), almost exceeding the OSHA 90-day limit for radiation worker of 12,500 microsieverts in 14 days.

My guess is if the radiation had been measured from March 11, 2011, it would have surpassed that limit long before March 23, 2011.

From Enformable's digging of the NRC FOIA documents, 3-page email dated April 9, 2011 says on page 3:


The U.S. 50-mile radius adequately protects public health, but the Japanese 20-kilometer (12 mile) radius may not protect the health of the general public, pregnant female radiation workers, or radiation workers who remain longer than 2 weeks near MP32.

MP32 remained MP32 in the Ministry of Education and Science (MEXT) monitoring data, until April 11, 2011 when the location was finally named. It was Akougi District of Namie-machi in Fukushima. Why was the location finally named that day? Because that was the day the government announced the planned evacuation zone that included Akougi and most of Namie-machi that was not already inside the 20-kilometer no-entry zone.

Akougi is located at 31 kilometers northwest of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, outside the no-entry zone. The district was finally declared planned evacuation zone on April 11, 2011, because the annual cumulative radiation dose was expected to exceed 20 millisieverts.

There was a evacuation shelter in Akougi, with people living there until March 30, 2011.

According to the MEXT data, as of March 26, 2012, the cumulative dose at MP32 since March 24, 2011 is 125,760 microsieverts, or 125.76 millisieverts.

Chuck Casto E-Mail - Pages From C141933-02BX-24

Here's the same information released by the Ministry of Education on April 6, 2011.

#Radioactive Japan: Commercial-Use Skim Milk Powder Found with 23 Bq/kg of Radioactive Cesium

The data, photos and the graph are from Security Tokyo, with express permission to reprint.

Item: skim milk power in 1kg bag, commercial use
Manufacturer: Zenrakuren (all-Japan federation of dairy industry)
Manufactured in: Kita Fukuoka Factory in Iwate Prefecture

Iodine-131: ND
Cesium-134: 10 Bq/kg
Cesium-137: 13 Bq/kg
Total cesium: 23 Bq/kg
17,500 seconds precise measurement
Measurement error ±0.3Bq/kg (Cs-137)
Measurement using germanium semiconductor detector with proper calibration

Radioactive cesium has been constantly detected since the nuclear accident last year, albeit in small amounts (usually less than 20 becquerels/kg), from milk and milk products produced in Tohoku and northern Kanto. The cause may be the feed that milk cows eat. Until April 1, 2012, the safety limit for animal feed was 400 becquerels/kg (lower than for humans, which was 500 becquerels/kg). With the new safety limit of 100 becquerels/kg of cesium for humans, the safety limit for animal feed has also been revised down to 100 becquerels/kg.

Skim milk powder is used commercially for baked goods (bread, cookies, etc). It is also used for health supplements.

Japanese Government to Start Clearing Disaster Debris Inside 20-Km No-Entry Zone in Fukushima, Burn Debris If Cesium Is Less Than 100,000 Bq/kg

Kahoku Shinpo, a local paper in Fukushima, reports that the national government will build the first debris storage areas in Naraha-machi, which lies inside the 20-kilometer radius no-entry zone around Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, to store the disaster debris to be collected from inside the no-entry zone as the zone gets reorganized into three new zones.

All of Naraha-machi's no-entry zone will be newly designated as "zone preparing for the lifting of the evacuation order (避難指示解除準備区域)" which allows the residents to come back freely.

The government will (or hopes to, I should say) build an incinerator to burn the burnable debris in a nearby town of Hirono-machi, as long as the density of radioactive cesium on/in the debris is 100,000 becquerels/kg or less.

100,000 Bq/kg of cesium on the debris will be concentrated in the ashes, up to 33 times according to the Ministry of the Environment. I wonder if the Ministry has a plan for the disposal of bag filters, decommissioning the incinerator, and safety of the workers. (Just saying.)

Well we know the game. All that's needed is to dilute the highly contaminated debris by mixing with less contaminated debris or garbage from elsewhere. Or, since Naraha-machi is less contaminated inside the no-entry zone than some of the other municipalities, it will be ideal place to bring in the debris from other municipalities inside the no-entry zone and mix and match with that in Naraha-machi. And burn.

Goshi Hosono, Minister of the Environment, was seen speaking with the representatives of Naraha-machi yesterday. Naraha-machi is holding an election right now. Hosono is seen having done a hit job on Naraha-machi while the town's leadership is in transition. Same old, same old.

Consider this news as part of the Ministry's plan to let private businesses do the debris disposal inside the no-entry zone unless the debris is from the urgent infra-building projects, as this debris storage project will probably be up for bidding. Most likely, the big general construction companies already doing the government decontamination projects will win, who will then parcel out projects to subcontractors. Accountability will be clear as mud.

From Kahoku Shinpo (4/8/2012):

国、楢葉にがれき集積場 来月にも着工 警戒区域で初

National government to build debris storage areas in Naraha-machi, the first inside the no-entry zone; construction to begin next month


It was revealed on April 7 that the national government will start building storage areas for the debris from March 11, 2011 disaster in May in two coastal locations in Naraha-machi, Fukushima Prefecture. Most of Naraha-machi is inside the no-entry zone. More than one year after the disaster, the disaster debris inside the no-entry zone hasn't been dealt with. It will be the first construction of large-scale debris storage areas inside the no-entry zone.


According to the Ministry of the Environment and Naraha-machi, total 2.5-hectare land has already been selected at 2 locations. Final negotiations are under way to sign the contracts with the land owners. The construction will start next month, and about 25,000 tonnes of debris in Naraha-machi will be brought to the storage areas starting summer. As the no-entry zone gets reorganized, the debris storage areas are expected to help expedite the projects for the recovery and rebuilding of the town.


The debris collected at the storage areas will be separated into flammable and non-flammable debris. If the density of radioactive cesium on the debris exceeds 100,000 becquerels/kg, the debris will be transported to the intermediate storage facility that the national government plans to build [somewhere] to store the waste from decontamination.


If the density of radioactive cesium is 100,000 becquerels/kg or less and the debris is flammable, it will be burned at the temporary incineration plant that the government hopes to build in Hirono-machi and other locations. The non-flammable debris will be buried in the controlled landfill site.


The debris storage areas will be installed with fences to prevent the spread of dust. The government is also considering putting the sandbags around the debris to lower the air radiation levels.


All of the no-entry zone inside Naraha-machi will be reorganized into "zone preparing for the lifting of the evacuation order", which allows free access to the area by the residents. Work such as rebuilding the infrastructure and demolition of houses will start in full swing. The town officials are looking forward to the debris storage area. If the disaster debris gets cleared away, restoration of the farmland will be possible, they say.


In the no-entry zone that covers 6 municipalities along the coast in Fukushima, including Naraha-machi, there are about 474,000 tonnes of debris from the earthquake and tsunami. Most of the debris are left untouched.


The Ministry of the Environment is selecting the locations in other municipalities along the coast with the no-entry zones for disaster debris storage.

I wonder who those landowners are.

Hirono-machi, where the national government wants to build an incinerator plant, is located south of Naraha-machi.

I find it amusing that the level of sophistication of the Ministry of the Environment is about the same as that of TEPCO at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant: fences and sandbags as safeguard.

Naraha-machi wants to boot out Fuku-I workers from J-Village which serves as the staging area for the work in Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant so that J-Village is restored as the training facility for soccer teams. Naraha-machi Mayor wants Fukushima II Nuclear Power Plant to restart, so that his town could help the recovery of other municipalities in the no-entry zone. Mayor Kusano also wanted to build the final disposal site for highly radioactive waste from the nuclear fuel reprocessing in Rokkasho.

Municipalities that has the no-entry zone inside their cities and towns are: Minami Soma City, Namie-machi, Okuma-machi, Futaba-machi, Tomioka-machi, Naraha-machi, Kawauchi-mura, Hirono-machi, Katsuragi-mura, Tamura City.

While the concentric circles on which the Kan administration based their evacuation decision didn't make sense, it is also true that the most severe contamination fell on the area inside the 20-kilometer radius no-entry zone and the planned evacuation zone in Iitate-mura and Namie-machi. Naraha-machi fared better than most, if the MEXT map is to be believed.

From the Ministry of Education and Science (MEXT) map on May 6, 2011, cesium deposition (in Bq/square meters):

Japan's Prime Minister's Office Website - How Can This Cost 120 Million Yen (US$1.5 Million)?

The "Prime Minister of Japan and His Cabinet" website did the site renovation and added some new features to its English and Chinese sites to appeal Japan's recovery and a special site just for kids, for 120 million yen (US$1.5 million). That's without the maintenance fee.

Who got to do this project? A company called Internet Initiative Japan (IIJ), 30% owned by the telecom giant NTT. It got the contract without bidding because "there was no viable competitor".

(For more, see here and here. Sorry they are both in Japanese.)

Front page, now with extremely small fonts:

"Kantei" (PM's Office) for Kids, where kids get to play games to learn all about the administration does:

"Let's study social science", "Get to know more about Prime Minister", "Virtual Prime Minister's Official Residence!", "Get to know more about what the administration is doing!"

If you go to "Kantei for Kids" site by the way, you will notice there is no link back to the original (adult-version) "Kantei".

Friday, April 6, 2012

What Is the Radiation Safety Limit for Regular Garbage Disposal in the US and in Europe?

Readers in the US and Europe, do you know whether your country has a safety limit for radioactive cesium in regular garbage disposal for burning, burying, or recycling? Does your country allow the mixing of regular garbage with materials contaminated with radioactive cesium? If so, what amount of radioactive cesium is allowed?

Japan's Chunichi Shinbun (based in Aichi Prefecture where the governor wants to accept and burn 1 million tonnes of disaster debris) has been quite supportive of wide-area disposal of disaster debris even as they admit they are contaminated with radioactive materials. But they say in their article on April 7, 2012:

"Why don't we just accept the debris to help people in the disaster area? As long as the radiation level of the debris is low, such as 100 becquerels/kg or less (which is half of what the Ministry of the Environment has set as standard), and there is no effect on health at that level, it's the right thing to do."

As if cesium density remains 100 becquerels/kg after incineration. They continue,

"That standard (100 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium) is much stricter than the standards in the US and Europe."

Please comment if you know there's a standard for radioactive cesium in the regular garbage disposal in your country.

Trashing people who oppose the wide-area disposal of disaster debris is getting more shrill and illogical (to the people who oppose) by the day. Right on cue, Governor of Tokyo Shintaro Ishihara says "Those people opposing the debris, even when the national government says there is no radioactive material on it, are not Japanese."

Professor Hayakawa continues trashing anyone who oppose the wide-area debris disposal on Twitter, calling them "racists". Here we go. Professor Hayakawa immensely dislikes people who oppose the wide-area debris disposal, because in his mind these same people never speak up against contaminated food coming out of Fukushima because they want to be nice to the farmers. But they oppose disaster debris because it is easier to do so, as no human beings like farmers are involved. It never enters his mind, it seems, that there are people against both contaminated food and contaminated debris. When someone points that out to him, he says the number is so small that he's not aware of them at all.

At least someone threw a packet of tissue paper at Goshi Hosono at the PR campaign at the JR Kyoto station the other day.

3D Animation Explaining Japan's New Food Safety Standards for Radioactive Materials

(From Toby Daw)

The video is making fun of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs program to invite foreign social media writers to Japan as it explains the new safety standards for food and drinks in Japan.

FYI, Japan's new food safety standards:

  • 10 becquerels/kg for drinking water, not 100.

  • 50 becquerels/kg for baby food

  • 50 becquerels/kg for milk

  • 100 becquerels/kg for general food

  • assuming 50% of food is contaminated

  • numbers are only for radioactive cesium

Disaster Debris INSIDE NO ENTRY ZONE IN FUKUSHMA May Spread Far and Wide

because the Ministry of the Environment cares about free competition.

The Ministry of the Environment put out a notice asking for public comments, for 6 days instead of the normal 30 days, on the proposed revisions of the Special Law to deal with the contamination from radioactive materials.

What are the revisions proposed? The Ministry wants to allow waste disposal companies to dispose debris that is inside the 20-kilometer radius no-entry zone and planned evacuation zone (in Namie-machi, Iitate-mura for example) around Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, instead of the national government doing it.

Their reasoning? Reading the Ministry's press release (translated below), they must be thinking like this:

  1. 20-kilometer radius no-entry zone and planned evacuation zone around Fukushima I Nuke Plant are being reorganized.

  2. In many areas inside these zones, the government is about to allow people and/or businesses back in. The huge debris cleanup operations need to be done.

  3. However, if the government does all these cleanup operations, it's just not fair to the private businesses outside the areas who would otherwise get the business of cleanup.

  4. Since the Ministry cares deeply about free competition, it will allow the private waste disposal companies to clean up the debris inside the no-entry zone and the planned evacuation zone.

What's the problem here, you ask?
  • Industrial waste disposal companies have been regularly sending industrial wastes all over Japan for disposal for years.

  • Moving the non-industrial waste outside the area where the waste is generated needs a consent from a municipality on the receiving end, but with the Miyagi/Iwate disaster debris wide-area disposal scheme - the disaster debris is treated as "non-industrial waste" - now there are ways for the non-industrial debris inside the zones in Fukushima to reach the municipalities who have agreed to receiving the Miyagi/Iwate debris.

From the Ministry of the Environment press release on April 3, 2012 (h/t @tsunamiwaste for finding it):

環境省では、放射性物質汚染対処特措法施行規則改正案について、平成24年4月3日(火)~4月9日(月)までの間、広く国民の皆様の御意見をお聴きするパブリックコメントを実施します。 本件は、行政手続法に基づく手続です。

The Ministry of the Environment is soliciting comments from the Japanese citizens on the revisions of the special law to deal with the contamination from radioactive materials, between Tuesday April 3 to Monday April 9, 2012. This is a procedure based on the Administrative Procedure Act.


1. About the revision of the speical law to deal with the contamination from radioactive materials


Based on the decision by the Nuclear Disaster Response Headquarters on December 26, 2011, the no-entry zone and the planned evacuation zone (hereafter called "no-entry zone etc.") will be re-classified. Business activities are expected to commence in the areas with low air radiation levels inside the no-entry zone etc. even before the lifting of the designations of the no-entry zone etc., and a significant amount of waste may be generated.


If the national government disposes the waste resulting from the business activities, it may result in competitive disadvantage for the waste disposal businesses outside the area where the government is responsible for disposal of contaminated waste. Therefore, a measure is necessary to avoid such disadvantage.


Specific revisions are as follows:


The waste generated by business activities will be excluded from the waste that the government is responsible for disposing; instead, the businesses that generate such waste will dispose as regular [non-industrial] waste or industrial waste.


However, the disaster recovery projects (such as road repairs) by the national or local governments need to be carried out as quickly as possible. Therefore the waste generated by such disaster recovery projects will be disposed by the national government.

If you have something to say to Hosono and his gang, and if you write Japanese (it has to be in Japanese), here's the email address:

In your email, you need to include the following information:

  • Subject: 放射性物質汚染対処特措法施行規則改正案に対する意見

  • Your name, address, telephone or email address

  • Your opinion, and the basis for your opinion (cite the sources as necessary)

Mayor of Kyoto's Incomprehensible Remark on His Own City

It's only fair to show that it is not only Goshi Hosono who is utterly clueless on the topic he's talking about (see his remark on radioactivity of the disaster debris in my previous post).

Daisaku Kadokawa, Mayor of Kyoto City who is going to test burn the disaster debris in the incineration plants surrounding the city, has the English message "Welcome to Kyoto" on the Kyoto City English website. The mayor seems scatter-brained about his own city:

Hello. I am Daisaku Kadokawa, the 26th Mayor of Kyoto.

I think Kyoto is a beautiful city which is unique in many ways. Kyoto also exists in harmony with its beautiful natural surroundings. What is more, Kyoto is home to a long tradition of municipal action, as well as creative, advanced ways of thinking. Kyoto is a wonderful city. I love Kyoto.

I am going to make it my priority to create a new Kyoto by bringing together the city's municipal, cultural and creative powers with the hope of creating “Kyoto Power”. The new Kyoto I envision will be an ideal city where children always smile, young people have great dreams for the future, and where old people can live securely and comfortably.

I promise to create a better Kyoto with innovative projects based on the key words: “speed”, “power”, and “heart.” At the same time I will carefully pay attention to what is happening in real, local society. I want to share my deep feelings and hopes with Kyoto citizens so that we can cooperate as much as possible to improve the city in all kinds of ways.

Kyoto is an important city as a model, modern city of citizen autonomy. I would like to make Kyoto as attractive and unique as possible. I hope everyone will cooperate with my vision. Thank you very much.

I'm not sure what he wanted to convey. It's clearly addressed to the Kyoto City residents, but then why is that a "Welcome to Kyoto"? The residents are already in Kyoto. I showed it to people in Japan who understand English, and they all laughed. "Kyoto power" apparently is his favorite phrase that no one knows what it means.

To me, the funniest part is when he talks about "citizen autonomy" in the last paragraph. That's quite a joke, particularly when he simply ignores the citizens' protest against debris burning.

It reads to me like an English composition (actually, nothing but translation) in the middle school. Sure enough, Mr. Kadokawa was the head of the Board of Education in Kyoto City before he became the mayor. No idea who translated the sentences into English though.

Whoever did the translation, he/she at least used the spell checker.

Ministry of the Environment: "Tsunami Debris May Have Already Reached North America, Back in February..."

Oops. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution just recently released a paper saying the debris may reach North America in 1 to 2 years (see Huffington Post, 4/3/2012).

From Jiji Tsushin (4/6/2012):


Ministry of the Environment's Forecast of disaster debris in the ocean: it may have already reached North America


The Ministry of the Environment announced its forecast of the movement of the disaster debris in the [Pacific] ocean after the March 11, 2011 tsunami. According to the forecast, part of the debris floating on the surface of the ocean that is more easily affected by winds may have traveled across the Pacific Ocean and reached the west coast of Canada in February this year.


The Ministry's forecast of 1.33 million tonnes of debris from houses that got swept away, which consists the majority of the debris, shows about 3% of this type of debris, or about 41,300 tonnes, may reach within 10 kilometers off the west coast of North America by February 2013.

I can't find a press release on the subject at the Ministry's website. If the Ministry is to be believed, the first debris took only 11 months, instead of 1 to 2 years (I remember they were counting on two years).

Even the NOAA seems to have changed the story a little bit, and now says "NOAA researchers are currently relying on computer models to predict the debris items’ path and drift rate, but it's possible that some buoyant materials are reaching U.S. shorelines right now."

By the way, the Huffington Post article is more about the radioactivity of seawater, but here are some clarifications for readers who will go read it and get confused. The writer says:

Even so, Buesseler said, the radioactivity levels are still below what is allowed in food in Japan, which is 500 Bq per kilogram of "wet" weight.

Not any more. As of April 1, 2012, that level is 100 Bq/kg, and it's only for radioactive cesium.

The writer also says:

And while cesium was present in the fish, it doesn't accumulate up the food chain the way polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) or mercury do.

That's what Japan's Fisheries Agency claimed last year, right after the accident occurred. It does accumulate up the food chain, particularly when there is a constant supply of radioactive cesium in the environment.


The researchers also found silver-110, but it wasn't clear that was from the Fukushima plant.

Most likely, they detected Ag-110m, which has a half life of 250 days. It would be definitely from the Fukushima plant.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant Waste Water Leak: TEPCO Insists It Was Only 150 Milliliters That Leaked into the Ocean

12 tonnes of waste water after the reverse osmosis leaked when the Kanaflex hose decoupled, but TEPCO says hardly any of that water reached the ocean. Rejoice.

150 milliliters is 150 cubic centimeters. One liter is 1,000 milliliters, or 1,000 cubic centimeters. 1 tonne is 1,000 liters.

So, TEPCO is telling us only 0.00125% of the waste water leaked into the ocean. OK, then. Where did the water go?

From Jiji Tsushin (4/6/2012):


TEPCO calculated the amount of the leak into the ocean as "150 milliliters", out of 12 tonnes of waste water that leaked at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant


TEPCO announced on April 6 that only about 150 milliliters of the 12-tonne waste water that leaked from the pipe in early hours on April 5 from the contaminated water treatment system at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant made it to the ocean.


TEPCO collected samples of seawater at the south water discharge outlet for Reactors 1 through 4 in the morning of April 6 and measured the radioactivity. The result showed the density of beta nuclides was below the detection level (0.018 becquerels/1 milliliter [cubic centimeter]).


In the sampling test done in the afternoon of April 5, it was 0.024 becquerels [per 1 millimeter], only slightly above the no-detection level. TEPCO's Matsumoto said the density would be much higher if the leak was in tonnes, and put the amount of the waste water that leaked into the ocean at about 150 milliliters.

Well, considering TEPCO is pouring 23 tonnes of water PER HOUR total into the broken reactors, 12 tonnes may not be much at all, except for concentrated beta nuclides.

#Radioactive Japan: Kyoto City to Test Burn Disaster Debris Anyway

Despite the angry residents shouting down the national minister and local politicians at the JR Kyoto Station the other day, Mayor of Kyoto City Daisaku Kadokawa has already made up his mind. He has sent his official letter to the Ministry of the Environment, saying the city is ready to accept the disaster debris after conducting the burn tests at the city's 3 incineration plants.

The mayor seems quite willing to throw the 650 billion yen per year tourism industry in Kyoto City down the drain in exchange for a few billion yen subsidy from the national government. I do hear that Kyoto City is in a dire financial condition, despite all the money tourists from all over the world drop in the city.

The governor of Kyoto was quite satisfied with the government answer that the government would compensate Kyoto for damages from "baseless rumors". I guess the mayor is also quite satisfied with the answer.

Fukushima-origin cesium-134 has been detected in the fly ashes of the incineration plants in Kyoto City, and people like Professor Hayakawa of Gunma University (who is all for wide-area disposal and burning of disaster debris) are using the data to tell people who oppose wide-area debris disposal, "See, Kyoto is already contaminated". This is so disingenuous. Yes, cesium-134 is highly likely from Fukushima. But radioactive cesium get concentrated once burned, and the Ministry of the Environment says the concentration is 33 times in fly ashes. So, in the case of Kyoto City, with maximum cesium-134 at 9 becquerels/kg and cesium-137 at 14 becquerels/kg in the fly ashes (total cesium 23 becquerels/kg), the amount of cesium in a kilogram of garbage would be 0.7 becquerel.

Besides, since it is from the garbage, the contamination may be from the contaminated food items from Tohoku and Kanto. In 2010, the level of cesium-137 of the grass land soil in Fushimi-ku, Kyoto City was 1.8 becquerel/kg.

And what levels of radioactivity are we talking about on the disaster debris? Depending on the locations, they are anything from ND to over 1000 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium according to the Ministry of the Environment, not even considering other nuclides, and that's before burning. The Ministry of the Environment says the max levels of contamination of the debris for wide-area disposal is 480 becquerels/kg before burning. Even if Kyoto City gets 100 becquerels/kg debris, that's more than 100 times the contamination that Kyoto has.

From Kyoto Shinbun (4/5/2012):

京都市、震災がれき 3施設で試験焼却 検証後判断

Kyoto City to test burn the disaster debris at 3 of its incineration facilities, and decide [whether to accept the debris] after the review of the test result


In order to accept the disaster debris from Iwate and Miyagi Prefectures from the March 11, 2011 earthquake/tsunami, Kyoto City responded to the Ministry of the Environment in writing that it will conduct the test burn of the debris at its incineration facilities (Clean Centers) in the northeast (Shizuichi, Sakyo-ku), north (Umegahata, Ukyo-ku), and south (Yoko Oji, Fushimi-ku), and will accept the debris after reviewing the test result. The East Clean Center in Fushimi-ku will be closed by the end of this fiscal year, and it won't be used for test burn.


According to the city's plan, a committee of experts in radiation medicine and radiation safety management will be set up. The committee will examine the appropriateness of the standard set by the Kansai Wide Area Association (made of prefectures in Kansai Area) of 100 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium in the debris before burning, 2,000 becquerels/kg in the ashes, and study the protective measures during transportation of the debris for the test burning and the effect on the surrounding areas.


The debris will then be burned at the three Clean Centers, and the air radiation levels will be measured to make sure the levels are safe. The ashes will be buried in the huge landfill on Osaka Bay ("Phoenix"). The city will also evaluate the effect of transporting the ashes.


The city will conduct meetings for the residents around the Clean Centers, and the test result will be made public. The official in charge in the city says, "Many Kyoto residents support early recovery [of Tohoku]. We will do our best to persuade them."

It sounds all too familiar. Oh yes, the repeat of Shimada City. The city will do whatever it wants, no matter how the residents are against it. Meetings are for the formality, a facade, and the city will simply tell the residents what's already decided, which is to accept the debris and burn in their neighborhoods.

Kyoto City is in the basin, and the incineration plants surrounds the city. Smart move, mayor, for few bucks.

I wonder Mr. Iyer, who wrote for NY Times telling the readers "Now's the season!" to visit Kyoto, knows about this. I guess he does, and he will probably excoriate those foreign tourists who will stay away from Kyoto for such a trivial nuisance like potential radiation contamination.

Many tourist destinations and residential areas are close to these Clean Centers. Kyoto International Convention Center is located 3 km southeast of the North Clean Center. The South Clean Center is located in Fushimi, one of the most famous places for sake brewing in Japan. Brewers are located about 2 kilometers northeast of the South Clean Center. (Information from one of my Japanese readers who is very upset about the whole issue).

Here's the map showing the Clean Centers in Kyoto City. They're going to do the test burn in the Centers in red circles:

What kind of country is this, willing to defile its ancient city steeped in history and culture that dates back more than 1,200 years that even the US decided not to bomb (although it did consider nuking the city...)?

Even if Kyoto City's mayor wants to burn, why would the national government even ask Kyoto City to burn the disaster debris that got contaminated with radioactive materials, arsenic, petrochemicals, and other toxins?

Kyoto is one of my favorite cities. I've visited countless times. This is just mind-boggling.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

#Radioactive Japan: Food Items Exceeding New Safety Limit (100Bq/Kg)

Farmers in contaminated areas in Fukushima, Miyagi, Iwate, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Gunma, and Chiba continue to farm, and the government is busy setting up one PR campaign after another to appeal safety of things produced in Japan. The media do report, but unless your information comes from the net only, the news gets buried in the cacophony of mind-numbing small news of no significance on TV and print media.

Here's the list of food items that I found which exceeded the new safety limit of 100 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium:

  1. Shiitake mushrooms: 350 becquerels/kg from Murata-cho, Miyagi Prefecture

  2. Bamboo shoots: 120 becquerels/kg from Kisarazu City, Chiba Prefecture; 110 becquerels/kg from Ichihara City, Chiba Prefecture

  3. Bamboo shoots: 130 becquerels/kg from Sakae-cho, Chiba Prefecture; 170 becquerels/kg from Abiko City, Chiba Prefecture

  4. "Komon Kasube" (common skete): 640 becquerels/kg, test fishing off the coast of Iwaki City, Fukushima

  5. Beef: 106 becquerels/kg from Shibukawa City, Gunma Prefecture (the cattle had to eat the feed (rye) with 772 becquerels/kg of cesium...)

  6. "Suzuki" (sea bass): 104 becquerels/kg in Sendai Bay, Miyagi Prefecture

  7. Shiitake mushrooms: 146 becquerels/kg from Shirosato-machi, Ibaraki Prefecture; 131 becquerels/kg from Sakuragawa City, Ibaraki Prefecture

  8. "Wakasagi" (pond smelt): 426 becquerels/kg from Akagi Onuma in Gunma Prefecture

1, 2, 4: Nikkei Shinbun (4/4/2012)
3: Chiba Prefecture press release (4/5/2012)
5: Yomiuri Shinbun (4/5/2012), Gunma Prefecture press release (4/5/2012) for meat, and for feed
6: Miyagi Prefecture press release (4/4/2012)
7: Ibaraki Prefecture press release (4/2/2012)
8: Kyodo News (4/3/2012)

All these food items (except for No. 4) would have been freely sold and bought, as "safe", under the old, provisional safety limit that was in effect up till April 1, 2012. Checking the prefectures' press releases, there are many other whose cesium levels are barely under 100 becquerels/kg.

In case of Gunma Prefecture, they use NaI scintillation survey meter with detection limit of about 30 becquerels/kg. Only when the meat is found with cesium exceeding the rather high detection limit, they use their germanium semiconductor detector.

This happened last month in March, but a kindergarten in Okazaki City in Aichi Prefecture (whose governor is pushing Toyota to become the final disposal site for disaster debris ashes) served lunch to kindergarteners using dried shiitake with 1,400 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium from Ibaraki Prefecture. 30 kilograms of these shiitake are either in the markets or have already been purchased by customers in Okazaki City. (NHK News, 4/5/2012)

AFP: Radioactive fluid leaks at French nuclear reactor, INES Level 1 Event

Penly Nuclear Power Plant has two Pressure Water Reactors made by Framatome (today's Areva NP).

From AFP (4/5/2012):

Radioactive cooling fluid leaked at a French nuclear reactor Thursday following two small fires, but the spillage was safely collected in special tanks, officials said.

A reactor at the power plant in Penly on the English Channel near the port of Dieppe shut down automatically after two small fires broke out Thursday, the plant's operator EDF said.

Firefighters easily extinguished the blazes but a cooling pump was damaged, in turn causing a joint to leak radioactive water into collection tanks located inside the reactor building, EDF said.

The reactor continued to be cooled properly and teams were working to lower the water pressure, the company said.

EDF said the installation was secure, no one was injured, and there were "no consequences for the environment".

It was not clear what caused the fires but the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) said firefighters had found small pools of burning oil but quickly extinguished the flames.

"These were pools of a few dozen square centimetres," said agency spokeswoman Evangelia Petit, adding the authority would make an inspection of the site Friday.

The ASN said in a statement that it had provisionally put the event at level 1 on the international INES scale, which classifies nuclear accidents at between 1 ("irregularity") and 7 ("major incident").

The agency said it was lifting the crisis situation that had been put in place on Thursday evening.

France generates 75 percent of its electricity from nuclear power and the future of the industry has become an issue in campaigns for the presidential election to be held in April and May.

France, the world's most nuclear-dependent country, operates 58 reactors and has been a leading international proponent of atomic energy.

But the country's reliance on nuclear power has been called into question since the Fukushima disaster in Japan, which prompted Germany to announce plans to shut all of its reactors by the end of 2022.

Japan's Ministry of Economy Subsidizes E-Commerce for Businesses in Disaster Affected Areas

so that the small to medium size companies based in all of Tohoku including Fukushima and northern Kanto Prefectures and Chiba can sell their goods produced in these areas via eBay, J-Shoppers (for Europe, the US), Taobao, Buy-J (China), Yahoo Taiwan, PCHome Store (Taiwan).

Information from the press release from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) (2/29/2012):

Program target:

  • Businesses located in the disaster-affected areas;

  • Businesses that sell goods made in the disaster-affected areas

Disaster-affected areas defined as:

  • Tohoku - Aomori, Akita, Iwate, Yamagata, Miyagi, Fukushima

  • Kanto - Gunma, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Chiba

Types of subsidies:

  • 1/2 of E-Commerse setup cost including translation

  • 1/2 of monthly running cost (for businesses located in the disaster-affected areas only)

  • PR and marketing campaigns by the two companies who have been selected to assist these businesses

Companies selected to assist these businesses [probably the recipients of fat fees from the Ministry]:

  • ECAA (E-Commerce Asia Association) to assist in selling to the US, Europe, and China;

  • Nippon Express [one of the largest logistics companies in Japan] to assist in selling to Taiwan

Number of businesses to be assisted:

  • Businesses targeting the US, Europe: 70

  • Businesses targeting China: 70

  • Businesses targeting Taiwan: 60

The press release does not say anything about what kind of goods are to be sold.

ECAA seems to have been set up in 2009 by a person named Takashi Okita, president of a credit card transaction processing company called SBI VeriTrans. ECAA is being operated from inside SBI VeriTrans.

SBI VeriTrans has a service to support client companies sell goods by setting up sites in virtual shopping malls for them and managing the operation for them. The webpage does not say how much they charge for the service.

Looking around, I found this site that has the rough cost estimate to set up a website with different features. The simplest would cost 500,000 yen (US$6,000), the most sophisticated 5 million yen (US$60,000), with E-Commerce features 2.5 million yen (US$30,000) (as of 2008). Site management fee is on top of these setup costs.

By helping 140 businesses set up E-Commerce sites and operating the sites for them, it looks like the company behind ECAA is set to make a small fortune, courtesy of the Japanese tax payers.

Regulatory capture is the way to do business in Japan even among the younger generation of businesspeople like Mr. Okita. It has become more so in post-Fukushima Japan, with new NPOs cropping up to capture the government handouts for the supposed "recovery and reconstruction of Tohoku", and somehow they are well-accepted by people because, as a non-profit, "they are not there to make money like for-profit companies".

One such NPO operating out of a business address service company in Shinjuku, Tokyo managed to get the government money to host a marathon road race featuring elementary school children in Minami Soma City the other day, in the same district where the "black dust" containing 3.43 million becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium was found (Kashima).

(H/T Enformable for METI press release)

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Photos of 4/5/2012 Leak of Waste Water from Reverse Osmosis

Bleak conditions persist more than one year after the start of the nuclear accident. Take a look at the photos released by TEPCO on April 5, 2012 of the latest leak. Kanaflex hoses bundled and wrapped with black insulation material.

I do not know if the insulation material was ripped by the workers to find the leak, or it had been ripped before.

From TEPCO's "Photos for Press" (4/5/2012):

The water was rich in beta nuclides according to TEPCO, who released the data without specifying the locations where they took the samples ("upstream dam No.1, downstream dams No.2 and 3..."). The unit is per cubic centimeter, and no breakdown of which beta nuclides they detected.

Young Mayor of Chiba City Dismisses Citizen's Concern Over Plutonium on the Disaster Debris

Toshihito Kumagai is a 34-year-old mayor of Chiba City who wants to accept and burn disaster debris from Iwate and Miyagi to "help the recovery" of the disaster-affected region. On his twitter on April 5, he answers a question from a citizen as follows:


(Citizen) Is there plutonium on the debris that Chiba City may accept?


(Mayor Kumagai) I don't understand why you like plutonium so much [or "Oh that plutonium again"]. I can understand the concern over cesium, but I don't understand why anyone worries about plutonium in Iwate and Miyagi.

The national government did the survey last year for plutonium in cities and towns in southern Miyagi. No survey for plutonium has been done in Iwate.

Since it is not the job of the Ministry of Education (who did the survey) to interpret the data, there is no word as to whether the amount detected was considered "background". The interpretation, the Ministry decided early on in the nuclear crisis last year, should be the job of the administration (prime minister).

Mayor Kumagai is a graduate of the NPO private school called "Isshin-juku" set up by Kenichi Ohmae, former senior partner of McKinsey & Co. The school's home page declares:


Prep school to educate the next leaders who will create a new Japan

"Nekusuto lih-dah (next leader)". Only those who understand the Japanized English need to apply.

Future is bright.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Goshi Hosono's Incomprehensible Remark About Radioactivity of Disaster Debris

This philandering minister is in charge of the Fukushima nuclear accident and in charge of decontamination and disaster debris spreading.

From his April 3 press conference, by the reporter named Suwa and appeared in the blog by Ryusaku Tanaka, independent journalist:



Suwa: You believe measuring cesium-134 and cesium-137 is enough. Why?

Hosono: What can be measured by measuring cesium-134 and cesium-137, of all the measurements we have done so far, if we measure using cesium, then the rest of the nuclides, more than that to a great degree, in so-called radioactive materials, or in becquerels, on the level of radioactivity, there is no concern.

Did you get it?

Hosono did his utmost best by using all the words he had heard, clearly without understanding any of them, since March 11, 2011 - cesium, nuclide, radioactive materials, becquerels, radioactivity. He could have spared the embarrassment by simply saying "I don't know."

He is one of those politicians in their early 40s whom the mass media want to portray as the next prime minister, although he is being eclipsed these days by the mayor of Osaka who behaves like a kindergarten bully in a sand box. A great future either way for Japan and the Japanese.

A fish rots from the head down.

Disaster Debris Wide-Area Disposal: Toyota Eager to Help at Its Factory Site in Aichi Prefecture on a Landfill

Toyota's Tahara Factory in Tahara City, Aichi Prefecture makes Lexus. The factory is on a landfill on Mikawa Bay, and the company says there is a plenty of space for Tohoku disaster debris.

Mainichi Shinbun (4/5/2012) reports:


It has been revealed that Toyota has started the internal discussion to agree to the request from the Aichi prefectural government to build a final disposal site on its factory compound in Tahara City. The company will study the effect on the nearby residents and the factory workers, and once the consent from the residents and the local municipality (Tahara City) is obtained Toyota will start discussing the details with the Aichi prefectural government.


Toyota says, "If there is a formal request, we will be glad to consider."


Toyota's Tahara Factory is located on the landfill. It is about 3.7 million square meters, or about 80 Tokyo Domes. The factory assembles cars including its luxury car "Lexus". For Toyota, the Tohoku region is the manufacturing base for its small, compact cars. The company says, "We would like to help as much as possible", to support the recovery of Tohoku.

According to Chunichi Shinbun (4/5/2012) which has been very gun-ho about disaster debris incineration, the governor of Aichi, Hideaki Omura (see photo), has decided to spend 600 million yen to plan for the incineration plant, temporary storage and a final disposal site, without deliberation in or approval from the Assembly. The prefectural government will use a special procedure called "Senketsu" - acting on its own.

Chunichi indicates that Toyota's factory will have the final disposal site where the ashes will be buried, and Chubu Electric's thermal power plant will get to burn the debris. Aichi Prefecture want to burn 1 million tonnes of disaster debris to help the recovery.

The Ministry of the Environment will reimburse the cost for new facilities that will process disaster debris from Tohoku.

Governor Omura is another Tokyo University graduate (law) and a former bureaucrat at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries before he turned to politics.

Toyota's Tahara Factory location:


I guess Toyota and the Japanese government are counting on the WTO if global "baseless rumors" hurt Toyota's sales.

(UPDATE: 12 Tonnes May Have Leaked into the Ocean) Water Leak Again at #Fukushima I Nuke Plant, Waste Water After Reverse Osmosis, Again

TEPCO will hold an ad hoc press conference at 11AM, April 5, 2012.

Information from Jiji Tsushin (4/5/2012):

  • Waste water after the treatment by the desalination apparatus (reverse osmosis) was found leaking.

  • Part of the water may have flowed into the ocean via the drain.

  • At 1:05AM on April 5, a sudden increase of water from the desalination apparatus to the waste water tank was noted, and the apparatus was manually shut down 5 minutes later.

  • A TEPCO worker found the waste water leaking from the pipe at 1:50AM.
  • 30 minutes later, the leak stopped.
  • The water probably contains a large amount of beta nuclides including strontium-90. The analysis of the water is being conducted.

I'll add if I hear anything else in the press conference.


TEPCO press conference, 11AM 4/5/2012:

12 tonnes of the waste water (with large concentration of beta nuclides) may have leaked into the ocean.

Kanaflex hose decoupled.

What Jiji reported was about TEPCO's last attempt (total 3) to restart the system. The system first stopped one hour earlier.

Coincidence: SARRY (cesium absorption tower by Toshiba) stopped at 1:05AM.


0:00AM The desalination apparatus (reverse osmosis) started operation, the waste water being transported from the apparatus to the storage tank at 50 cubic meters/hour.

0:06AM The flow rate suddenly jumped to 70 cubic meters/hour. This must have been when the Kanaflex hose decoupled, but TEPCO didn't realize.

0:13AM The system automatically shut down.

Between 0:50 to 1:10 TEPCO attempted to re-start manually, three times. Each time, the system shut down automatically. Total operating time 10 minutes.

So, 70 cubic meters/hour x 1/6 = 11.67

TEPCO thinks most of the water went down the drain, and into the ocean.

Nuclide analysis is being done at Fukushima II Nuke Plant.

WSJ: "There's no evidence that low doses of radiation are harmful"

Or so Mr. William Tucker writing for Wall Street Journal on March 6, 2012 assures us.

The last I checked, there is no evidence that low doses of radiation aren't harmful. But what am I to say anything against "experts", pro- or anti-nuke? Mr. Tucker had assured the world very early on in the nuclear crisis (March 14, 2011 to be exact) that Fukushima was no Chernobyl.

Mr. Tucker starts his piece by citing the famous cobalt-60 contamination of an apartment building in Taiwan in the early 1980s. See, they were better off with added radiation!

Other familiar refrains include:

  • No one has died in the Fukushima accident;

  • There are other locations in the world with much higher natural background;

  • All the health damage from radiation is in the "head";

  • Low-level radiation is good for health.

There is no banana though. Thank goodness.

From Wall Street Journal (3/6/2012; emphasis is mine):

Fukushima and the Future of Nuclear Power

There's no evidence that low doses of radiation are harmful and no reason to paralyze our economy out of fear of nuclear power.


In the early 1980s, a Taiwan steel company accidentally mixed some highly radioactive cobalt-60 into a batch of steel rebar. The radioactive rods were then used in the construction of 1,700 apartments. As a result, people living in these buildings were subject to radiation up to 30 times the normal amount received from the natural background.

When dismayed officials discovered this enormous error 15 years later, they surveyed past and present apartment dwellers expecting to find an epidemic of cancer. Normal incidence would have predicted 160 cancers among the 10,000 residents. To their astonishment, the researchers discovered only five cases of cancer—97% lower than the anticipated amount. Birth defects were also 94% below the anticipated rate. These findings were published in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons in 2004. As one researcher phrased it, exposure to high levels of background radiation had apparently bestowed upon residents "an effective immunity from cancer."

The incident illustrates the enormous gap that has grown between radiation science and the popular perception of the dangers of nuclear power. One year after Japan's Fukushima accident, much of the world is running away from nuclear energy on the grounds that its risks are too great for a modern society to bear.

Germany has reinstituted plans to close down all its reactors by 2022, even if it means importing huge quantities of natural gas from Russia and nuclear-generated electricity from France and the Czech Republic. Japan has taken all of its 54 reactors out of service with the possibility that they may never run again. The result has been a complete reversal of Japan's trade balance from 20 years of surpluses to a record $18 billion deficit. Oil and liquid natural gas imports have increased dramatically while factories have slowed because of power shortages.

In the United States, the reaction so far has been less severe. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has increased its vigilance and is under tremendous pressure to close down aging reactors such as Vermont Yankee in southeastern Vermont and Indian Point north of New York City. But the NRC did issue its first new license in 30 years for two Westinghouse AP1000 reactors at the Vogtle plant in eastern Georgia. Construction is expected to begin soon. Still, it's a far cry from the 30 to 100 new reactors that were being touted a year ago as part of America's "nuclear renaissance."

Meanwhile, 100 coal plants have been shut down in the U.S. over concerns about mercury and carbon emissions while the "renewables," solar and wind, that are supposed to take their place are proving to be much more intractable and land-consuming than previously imagined. With so much economic damage in the wake of Fukushima, it might behoove the world to ponder what the dangers of nuclear energy really are.

All 54 of Japan's reactors absorbed an earthquake of 9.0 on the Richter scale—the biggest in Japan's recorded history. Though the shock exceeded design specifications, the steel reactor vessels and concrete containment structures remained intact. The problem occurred when the subsequent 50-foot tsunami wiped out the backup generators at Fukushima, crippling the cooling system and causing the four operating reactors to overheat.

The core of three reactors melted down, but that in itself is not a public catastrophe as long as the reactor vessel and containment structure hold. All the radiation releases have come from contaminated cooling water and steam vented or escaping into the environment. Other releases came from the spent fuel pools, which also lost some of their coolant and proved to be a greater danger.

Nuclear engineers have long recognized these vulnerabilities. The AP1000 being built in Georgia is specifically designed with a "passive" cooling system that relies on natural convection currents rather than electric pumps so the reactors can cool themselves for several days while waiting for power to be restored. Spent fuel rods at existing reactors will be moved inside the containment structure wherever possible or into dry casks where they do not require cooling. All this takes time and expense but will be a necessary step toward improving nuclear safety.

The real problem, however, may be in the public's overestimation of the danger posed by small exposures to radiation. In order to avoid any possible charge of negligence, regulatory bodies around the world have adopted what is called a "linear-no-threshold" or "no safe dose" standard for radiation safety.

This says, quite simply, that because huge doses of radiation—the kind you might get from standing in the same room with a spent fuel rod—can cause illness or cancer, we must assume that even the smallest doses will have the same effect on a smaller scale. It's exactly the same as saying that because jumping off a 10-story building will break every bone in your body, stepping off a one-foot curb will also cause some minor damage.

So far there have been zero fatalities or adverse health effects from radiation exposure at Fukushima. All the damage has been from depression, despair and even suicide among the 100,000 people who have been evacuated from their homes within a 12-mile radius.

Some of these people are even being shunned in their new locales under the bizarre supposition that they constitute a radioactive danger. Yet as Ted Rockwell, one of the most notable veterans of the Manhattan Project, points out, people around the world live with radiation levels much higher than is present in the evacuation zone without showing any ill effects. The residents of the Taiwan apartments experienced 10 times the level of radiation as is prevalent in the evacuation zone.

The etiology of radiation-related disease is well-known. Radiation can cause DNA damage but the body has repair mechanisms to deal with it. Last December scientists at Berkeley made microscopic videotapes of these cellular repair sites in action. "Our data show that at lower doses of ionizing radiation, DNA repair mechanisms work much better than at higher doses," wrote Mina Bissell, a world-renowned breast cancer researcher who co-authored the report. "This non-linear DNA damage response casts doubt on the general assumption that any amount of ionizing radiation is harmful and additive."

Other researchers speculate that low radiation doses may immunize the body against cancer and birth defects by stimulating these repair mechanisms into greater responsiveness, just as vaccines stimulate the immune system. That would explain the low cancer rates in Taiwan.

As long as government agencies around the world continue to operate under the premise that even the smallest exposures to ionizing radiation can be harmful, Germany and Japan will go on dismembering their economies while countries such as the U.S. attempt to straddle the widening gap between outlawed coal and a renewables future whose promise now appears greatly exaggerated.

Taking a clear-eyed look at the actual dangers of nuclear energy seems like a much more sensible course.

Mr. Tucker is author of "Terrestrial Energy: How Nuclear Power Will Lead the Green Revolution and End America's Energy Odyssey" (Bartleby Press, 2010).

"Power shortage"? What power shortage? There was an unnecessary rolling blackout to scare people into asking for more nuke plants.

"The steel reactor vessels and concrete containment structures remained intact" after the quake? How did I miss that good news?

"People around the world live with radiation levels much higher than is present in the evacuation zone without showing any ill effects"? The radiation level in Ottozawa in Okuma-machi inside the evacuation zone is 70 microsieverts/hour or higher. I'd love to know which people on this planet live in such a place.

"Other researchers speculate". Exactly. Speculate. Is a government supposed to form its nuclear safety policies on speculation that radiation is good for the residents?

Radiation hormesis. That's one grand experiment going on in Japan right now, probably unintended, and resulting from the sheer incompetence of the governments of all levels. (Or so I hope.) There are even some experts who suggest that the radioactive debris, food, and building materials mixed with incinerated ashes and slag, etc. be evenly distributed throughout Japan to see if there is any effect over time on the residents.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Tritium Detected for the First Time in Deep Well

From the 6PM press conference by TEPCO on April 4, 2012 (archived on TEPCO's website):

  • 1.6 x 10^0 becquerels/cubic centimeter of tritium was detected for the first time in the water of the deep well.

  • The level is about the same as that of tritium being detected in the subdrain pits.

  • The well is located at about 500 meters west of the reactors, elevation 30 meters from the sea level, and 20 meters higher than the reactor buildings.

  • Groundwater flows from west to east, so it is unlikely that tritium was from the contaminated water in the reactor/turbine buildings.

I haven't found the data from TEPCO on their site yet, though Matsumoto said it had been published.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

(UPDATED) #Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Nitrogen Injection System for Reactors 1, 2, 3 Stopped, TEPCO Trying to Restart

(UPDATE: TEPCO started the backup system at 12:30PM, and nitrogen injection has started. Still no word about why the system stopped in the first place. Since TEPCO is incurious, don't hold your breath for the answer.)

(2nd UPDATE 4/4/2012: TEPCO monitors the system every 6 hours. A worker just happened to look at the monitor screen and noticed the amount of nitrogen injected showed zero. No one seems to know how long the system had stopped, and no one seem eager to find out.)


From Jiji Tsushin (4/4/2012, 12:24PM):


Nitrogen injection system for Reactors 1, 2, 3 at Fukushima I Nuke Plant stopped, TEPCO trying to restore the system to keep the hydrogen concentration low.


TEPCO announced on April 4 that the system that injects nitrogen gas into the Containment Vessels of Reactors 1, 2 and 3 had stopped. Nitrogen is being injected into the Containment Vessels to suppress the rise of hydrogen gas concentration , which could cause hydrogen explosions. According to TEPCO, it takes 30 hours before the hydrogen concentration reaches a dangerous level. The company is currently trying to restore the system.


According to TEPCO, before 11AM on April 4, a worker found the nitrogen injection system had stopped. The company is restoring the system, and trying to identify the cause.

Yomiuri Daily: TEPCO declines Fukushima wood chips as fuel for thermal power generation

Not even TEPCO is willing to accept radiation-contaminated wood chips, because of the concern for radioactive ashes from burning the chips.

My bigger question is: Why are the lumber companies operating their mills at all in Fukushima, when they should know very well by now that the mountains and forests in Fukushima have been doused with radioactive materials?

Yomiuri Daily (English) has a more detailed story than the Japanese version.

From Yomiuri Daily (English) (4/4/2012; the segments in blue indicate the segments that exist only in the English version of the same news):

TEPCO declines wood chips as fuel for thermal power generation

Tokyo Electric Power Co. has declined requests of the timber industry to use wood chips from Fukushima Prefecture and surrounding areas as fuel for thermal power plants out of fears of cesium contamination, leaving local businesses stuck with about 25,000 tons of wood waste.

High levels of cesium were detected in part of wood chips after the crisis broke out at TEPCO's Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. But the radiation level of the wood waste is below the safety standards now. Nonetheless, a huge amount of wood chips are sitting in Fukushima and Tochigi prefectures with no plans for removal.

A local timber industry group repeatedly asked TEPCO to accept the wood chips, but the utility has turned down the requests.

Worried that TEPCO's action could fuel harmful rumors, concerned government offices are planning to ask TEPCO to accept the request.

"If the situation remains unchanged, [timber] factory operations may have to be suspended, forcing some operators to close their businesses," said Yoshiaki Munakata, an executive of the Fukushima prefectural timber cooperative association, which governs about 200 timber and related companies.

The firms are struggling particularly over bark generated during lumber processing. Usually, one ton of bark is sold for about 1,000 yen and is usually used as compost or bedding for livestock.

However, an August survey conducted by the Forestry Agency after the March 11 disaster showed a maximum of about 2,700 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive cesium in some of the bark. Although a follow-up survey found the figures dropped to 200 to 300 becquerels per kilogram--below the government-set limit of 400 becquerels for compost. But only one-fourth of 4,000 tons of bark the prefecture generates each month has been sold or taken in by other entities.

According to the association, 20,000 tons of bark is currently sitting on timber company lots. The bark has been compressed and is piled four to five meters high. The association is worried the bark may combust after fermenting, association officials said.

Neighboring Tochigi Prefecture faces similar problems. As of March, a dozen companies in the prefecture had about 5,000 tons of bark.

The association came up with the idea of using the wood chips as fuel to generate thermal power. Chugoku Electric Power Co. began power generation by burning coal and wood biomass such as bark simultaneously in 2005. Since then, other utilities have followed suit and TEPCO had also planned to start from this fiscal year.

The association said it asked TEPCO to take the wood chips on four occasions between October and February, but the requests were declined.

TEPCO initially told the association that using the wood chips to generate thermal power is technically difficult. But the utility later changed its rationale, saying such a measure is difficult to be taken at the moment because burying ash that contains radioactive cesium requires consent from local residents.

According to the Forestry Agency, the density of radioactive cesium in ash from burned bark is about 30 times higher than that of bark before incineration. But the radiation level for the bark ash is expected to be less than 8,000 becquerels per kilo-gram--an allowable level for landfill.

Officials of the Forestry Agency and the Natural Resources and Energy Agency view TEPCO's refusal as an act that goes against the purpose of the special law requiring the utility to cooperate in antiradiation measures. The agencies therefore plan to ask TEPCO to take in the bark, the sources said.

Meanwhile, a TEPCO spokesperson said the refusal is due to concern over a stable power supply.

"If we don't have clear prospects for disposal of the [bark] ash, that would affect operations of our power stations," the spokesperson said.

Teleconferencing System Update: "It Didn't Occur to Us to Turn On the System"

Oh boy. The reason for the teleconferencing system at the Prime Minister's Official Residence not being used (see my previous post) when the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident happened was that people in charge of maintaining the system didn't even think about turning it on. From what Sankei Shinbun describes, they didn't even seem to remember there was such a thing as the teleconferencing system.

Much like Goshi Hosono (then the assistant to PM Kan) saying "We just didn't feel like telling about the meltdown".

What were they using instead? Good old telephones and fax machines.

From Sankei Shinbun (part; 4/4/2012):


The system is installed in a conference room on the 4th floor, not in the crisis response center in the basement. Japan Nuclear Energy Safety Organization (JNES) and the Cabinet Secretariat are responsible for plugging the system. The person in charge at JNES says, "I didn't even think of turning the system on [I totally forgot about the system], as I was very busy supporting the Off-Site Center. There was no request from the Prime Minister's Residence or Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency either." The Cabinet Secretariat says, "NISA's officials were at the Prime Minister's Residence, communicating with telephones and faxes. Whether there was no need [for the teleconferencing system] or we didn't think about it, we don't know the answer." They say they will make sure the system is connected at all time, from now on.

I think the answer is that they forgot. The system, as far as they knew, was there to be turned on when they conducted the annual nuclear emergency drills and to be turned off once the drills were over. It was not something that they associated with a real event, like a nuclear power plant having multiple explosions and meltdowns.

Then-Prime Minister Kan hopped on a helicopter in the early morning of March 12, 2011 to bark orders at TEPCO's Fukushima plant management, ostensibly because he couldn't get the first-hand information about the situation. In addition to his inability to ask the bureaucrats in front of him for information and the bureaucrats' pettiness of not doing what was not asked for, maybe the lack of teleconferencing capability had something to do with the lack of fresh information about the situation in Fukushima.

Kyodo: Teleconferencing System at Prime Minister's Residence Was Not Connected When #Fukushima I Nuke Plant Accident Happened

Nearly 13 months after the start of the worst nuclear accident in Japan, Kyodo News reveals that the teleconferencing system at the Prime Minister's Official Residence, which served as the government headquarters to deal with the nuclear crisis, was unplugged and offline at the time of the accident.

The reason? Nobody knows. The SPEEDI/WSPEEDI simulations were never used for anything at all (other than probably scaring the government officials), and nobody knows why.

From Kyodo News (4/3/2012):

官邸のテレビ会議未接続 保安院などと、福島原発事故時

Teleconferencing system at Prime Minister's Official Residence was not connected when the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident happened, couldn't connect to NISA, etc.


It was revealed on April 3 that the teleconferencing system at the Prime Minister's Official Residence was not connected when the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident happened in March last year. It was supposed to be plugged in to the dedicated line set up by the national government that connects the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, the Off-Site Center in Fukushima, and the affected municipalities.


The teleconferencing system is installed in a conference room on the 4th floor of the Residence, not in the crisis management center in the basement. Normally, the system was not connected, and only temporarily got plugged in during the nuclear emergency drills. The system was provided after the recriticality accident at Tokai-mura in 1999. It costs 500 to 600 million yen [US$6 to 7 million] per year to maintain the line. Yet another case of not utilizing the disaster prevention system during the Fukushima accident.

I wonder who the vendor was for the teleconferencing system. I suspect it may have been unplugged for good reasons.

Top makers of teleconferencing systems in Japan are (according to this site):

Polycom Japan (subsidiary of California-based Polycom)
Tandberg (a Cisco company)
LifeSize (a Hitachi company)

My guess is either Sony or the Hitachi subsidiary, if the system was put into place in 1999. Proprietary system, probably, hard to maintain and prone to malfunctioning.

Video of Final Disposal Site in Shimada City, Shizuoka on a Rainy Day in February This Year

Or so the video description says. I have no way to verify. The mayor of Shimada City has become a darling of the Ministry of the Environment for having decided to bring in, burn and bury the disaster debris from Iwate Prefecture in his city despite opposition from the residents.

The video was taken on February 23, 2012 and uploaded on March 29.

The author of the video keeps referring the brownish lump at at the site as "fly ash", but I think the lump may be "bottom ash".

Toward the end, the author says he (or someone else) took the sediment from what looks like a settling tank to measure radioactivity, and the result was 300 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium. In the comment section, the author tells a skeptic that soil samples of the surrounding area and the settling tank have been tested, and the result has been shared with the city government.

The water from the tank goes to the River Ooi, which flows through the agricultural and industrial lands to the Pacific Ocean. Yaizu Port at the river mouth is one of the largest fishing ports in Japan. The area near the port is also famous for "unagi" (eel) farming.

It looks like a mess of a final disposal site where the ashes from the disaster debris incineration will go. I don't think this is an exception only in Shimada City.

Disaster Debris Wide-Area Disposal: US Military in Okinawa Uneasy Over Okinawa's Willingness to Accept and Burn?

From Stars and Stripes (3/27/2012; emphasis is mine):

Opposition grows on Okinawa to burning debris from quake
By Travis J. Tritten

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Radiation fears are raising public opposition to Okinawa’s plan to help burn tsunami and earthquake debris from disaster zones in northeastern Japan.

Despite government assurances, hundreds of residents — including some in the U.S. military community — signed a petition to stop Japan from shipping the debris here, claiming that disposing of the waste could spread radiation and diseases across the island.

The Tohoku region has been struggling with about 25 million tons of debris left after massive tsunamis ground up coastal communities in March 2011 and without help from other areas of Japan, it could take nearly 20 years for some disaster-stricken areas to complete the cleanup, according to the Japan Ministry of Environment. The Japanese government wants to ship 4 million tons, about 16 percent, of the debris in Miyagi and Iwate prefectures to other areas of the country for disposal, an effort scheduled for completion in 2014.

The ministry has said the waste that would be shipped in Okinawa would not come from Fukushima prefecture, home of the damaged nuclear plant, and could be burned in local incinerators that capture virtually 100 percent of any radioactive material.

“The debris to go outside the prefectures has either no [radioactive] cesium concentration detected or contains levels within the [government] safety standards,” said Noriyuki Matsui, spokesman for the ministry’s disaster waste task office. Matsui said high-performance incinerators can filter 99.9 percent of radioactive cesium from emissions and after the debris is incinerated and treated, the government estimates the amount of radiation in the condensed waste will be lower than that found naturally in the environment.

But Tracie Roberts, a Department of Defense teacher living on Okinawa, said she fears that burning the debris could pollute the island’s air and drinking water and cause cancer among the U.S. residents, who account for about 74 percent of military forces stationed in Japan.

“Our students and our children play outside,” Roberts said. “Sometimes we aren’t as informed as we should be about dangerous things until we are exposed. How will we know until it is too late what our level of concern should have been?”

A Facebook page has sprung up to support opponents and pass along information about Okinawa’s plans to dispose of the debris, and an online public petition to the prefecture government had drawn more than 600 signatures by Tuesday afternoon.

“It seems really, really risky to be sending this debris around to other parts of Japan that have not been affected” by the earthquake and the Fukushima nuclear disaster, said James Pankiewicz, an Okinawa bar owner who founded the Facebook page and started the petition drive.

Pankiewicz said many residents doubt the Japan government’s ability to safely monitor and contain radioactive waste that would be shipped out of the Tohoku region disaster zone, an area comprised of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures. The debris should instead be disposed within the prefectures where it was created, he said.

Over the weekend, the Air Force notified the U.S. consulate of the growing public concerns, according to the 18th Wing public affairs office at Kadena Air Base. The Marine Corps said Tuesday it is aware of the issue and referred questions to the Ministry of Environment.

U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Karen Kelley said Tuesday the United States has not discussed the issue with Japan but trusts the national and prefectural government will handle the debris safely under the country’s existing regulations.

The decision to burn the waste is now up to local governments on Okinawa.

Last week, the prefecture sent letters to 41 of its municipal governments asking if local incinerators could be used, according to a spokesman for the prefecture’s Waste Management Office.

Naha city and the municipality of Haebaru in southern Okinawa both said earlier this month they may be willing to burn the Tohoku debris if residents do not oppose the idea.

As of Monday, Naha had not made a final decision and was still grappling with some technical issues related to using the incinerators and growing public concerns over safety, said Seishu Ishikawa, chief of Naha city’s Waste Management Office.

Monday, April 2, 2012

WSPEEDI Simulation Showed 10 Terabecquerels/Hour Iodine-131 in Chiba on March 15 Last Year, Data Still Not Disclosed

10 terabequerels = 10,000,000,000,000 becquerels.

The system also calculated the amount of radioactive cesium to be 1 terabecquerels/hour each for cesium-134 and cesium 137. And the Japanese government is still sitting on the data.

WSPEEDI simulation system can predict the dispersion of radioactive materials in the hemisphere, in 3D.

From what Jiji Tsushin reports, the WSPEEDI simulation was done on March 15 upon request from the Ministry of Education and Science. For whatever reason, the Ministry decided to not announce it (for that matter, not let anyone know about it, till April 3, 2012).

On the very next day, on March 16, the Ministry announced that SPEEDI and WSPEEDI would now be the responsibilities of the Nuclear Safety Commission, and instructed the Japan Atomic Energy Agency to send the data to the Commission, who either sat on it or didn't even know they were now in charge of SPEEDI/WSPEEDI.

There is another interesting bit of information in the Jiji article below. The simulation was ordered by the Ministry of Education, and one of the parameters was that radioactive materials were released at about 9PM on March 14, 2011. That's about the time (9:18PM to be exact) when 2 safety relief valves were opened in Reactor 2, probably releasing a large amount of radioactive materials through a breach in the Suppression Chamber, according to the research paper by Fumiya Tanabe of Sociotechnical Systems Safety Research Institute.

If that's the case, the government must have known that the Reactor 2 Suppression Chamber had already failed, and opening the safety relief valves would release a large amount of radioactive materials from the breach. So they ordered the WSPEEDI simulation specifying the time of the release at 9PM on March 14.

Jiji Tsushin (4/3/2012):


WSPEEDI Simulation last March: 10 terabecquerels[/hour] of radioactive iodine in Chiba, data not disclosed yet


On March 15 last year after the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident started, the WSPEEDI simulation of the dispersion of radioactive materials predicted the very high density for radioactive iodine in Chiba City in Chiba, at 10 terabequerels per hour. However, there was no effective communication between the Ministry of Education and Science and the Nuclear Safety Commission, and the data has still not been disclosed.


According to the Ministry of Education and the Nuclear Safety Commission, the WSPEEDI system is capable of simulating the dispersion of radioactive materials emitted on a hemispheric scale. The Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) operates the system, and it was conducting the calculations upon request from the Ministry of Education in March last year.


According to the calculations, as the result of radioactive materials released from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant at about 9PM on March 14, 2011 and dispersed, Chiba City would have 10 terabequerels/hour radioactive iodine (I-131) between 6AM and 7AM, and 1 terabequerel/hour of cesium-134 and 1 terabequerel/hour of cesium-137.


The Ministry of Education then decided that the Nuclear Safety Commission should be in charge of evaluating this data, and instructed JAEA to send the data to the Nuclear Safety Commission on the next day, March 16. JAEA sent the data as email attachments to the Nuclear Safety Commission, but the Commission didn't see the data as important, and didn't do anything. The Ministry of Education, who had received the data, did not contact the Commission and tell them the data should be made public.

I think the Ministry of Education got scared, seeing the data.

They didn't want to be the one to handle such "hot" data. So they passed it on to the Nuclear Safety Commission under Dr. Haruki Madarame, who was apparently so overwhelmed by the nuclear disaster and missing sleep that he doesn't even remember what he was doing or saying in the first 1 week of the accident.

What a luck that Japan had, having these people in the government.