Saturday, September 15, 2012

France's Hollande Promises Fessenheim Nuke Plant Will Be Shut Down in 2016, and No Shale Gas Exploration in France

Fessenheim Nuclear Power Plant, which had steam leak earlier this month, will be shut down in 2016. Caveat? Hollande's conditions are adequacy of energy supply and job security in the region without the plant. (Hmmm)

Before the elections, Hollande promised that France's reliance on nuclear energy would drop from the current 75% to 50% by 2025 by shutting 24 reactors.

Uh... How is he going to make up for the gap? Answer: biofuels.

And no, France will never do the shale gas exploration. (Congrats, Russia. Gasprom's propaganda worked, with the help from the French nuclear industry.)

From France 24, citing AFP (9/14/2012; emphasis is mine):

France's Hollande outlines 'green' energy policy

AFP - President Francois Hollande Friday pledged to close France's oldest operational nuclear plant in 2016 and rejected seven proposals for shale gas exploration on health and environment concerns.

"The Fessenheim plant which is the oldest in our country, will be closed at the end of 2016 in conditions that will guarantee the supply needs of the region... and safeguard all jobs," he said at the start of a two-day energy conference.

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

But in a deal with the Greens before this year's parliamentary and presidential elections, Hollande's Socialist party promised to cut reliance on nuclear energy from more than 75 percent to 50 percent by shutting 24 reactors by 2025.

Addressing 14 ministers and about representatives from environmental bodies and business, Hollande said the nuclear plant at Fessenheim -- commissioned in 1977 and the object of a recent safety scare -- would be closed.

The plant, located on the banks of the Rhine, is close to the Swiss and German borders and is considered vulnerable to seismic activity and flooding.

Hollande also said seven applications for permission for hydraulic drilling to explore shale gas had rejected by his government, although he did not specify which ones.

"In the current form, no one can say that gas and shale exploration through hydraulic drilling, the only technique known today, is not exempt from posing great health and environment risks," he said.

Hollande affirmed his commitment to developing renewable energy and pledged every year to improve the energy efficiency of one million homes that are badly insulated.

France plans to reach the 10-percent European Union target of renewable energy in fuel by boosting the use of second-generation biofuels, which are made from crop residues, waste, algae or woody material, according to the action plan.

The president also announced the creation of a national biodiversity agency as demanded by several green organisations.

With his plan of punitively high tax rate for the "rich" (75% over 1 million euro), maybe there will be less to power in France anyway.

(Turn out the light, turn out the light...)

Chinese Protest Against Japan Over Senkaku Island (Supposedly)

From a togetter compiling tweets by a Japanese person supposedly living in China, with links to photographs of the Chinese people in their protests against anything Japanese. No reason to believe they are genuine, no reason to believe they are not. Use your own judgment:

(Toyota dealership, top, and Nissan dealership, bottom)

(Mitsumi Electric)

(Department store)

It looks like the Chinese authorities are letting the air out of citizens, by directing their anger (or whatever it is) to things Japanese. I hope the authorities know what they are doing.

Yukio Edano OKs Restart of Construction of New Reactors in Aomori, Shimane

Yukio "There is no immediate effect on health" Edano, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry who will have technically lost his portfolio on nuclear issues come September 19 (when the new Nuclear Regulatory Commission under Goshi Hosono's ministry takes over the nuclear regulatory oversight from NISA), approved the resumption of construction of two new reactors.

So much for the Noda administration's "pledge" to have zero nuclear power plant operating in 2030. (We're just shocked. Shocked, aren't we?)

From Yomiuri Shinbun (9/15/2012):


Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry allows the construction of Ooma Nuke Plant, Reactor 3 at Shimane


On September 15, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Yukio Edano held a meeting in Aomori City with Governor of Aomori Prefecture Shingo Mimura and the mayors of municipalities where nuclear facilities are located, and told them that he would allow the resumption of construction and operation of Ooma Nucleaer Power Plant by Electric Power Development Co.,Ltd. (in Ooma-cho, Aomori Prefecture) and Reactor 3 of Shimane Nucleaer Power Plant by Chugoku Electric Power Company (in Matsue City, Shimane Prefecture).


It would be the first construction of nuclear reactors after the March 11, 2011 disaster.


In the "Revolutionary strategy for energy and environment" that was agreed upon on September 14, the national government clearly set the target to have zero nuclear reactors operating in 2030. If the government rule of 40 years of operation is applied, these nuclear reactors would be allowed to operate into 2050, which would be a contradiction to the new energy strategy.


Mr. Edano said in the meeting, "As to the nuclear power plants with permits for installing a reactor and for construction plan, we as Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry are not thinking of any change", indicating the intention to allow the resumption of construction and operation once the Nuclear Regulatory Commission confirms safety. The Commission will be installed on September 19.


In addition to Ooma Nuclear Power Plant and Reactor 3 of Shimane Nuclear Power Plant, Reactor 1 of Higashidori Nuclear Power Plant is also under construction by TEPCO (in Higashidori-mura, Aomori Prefecture). However, Mr. Edano said of Higashidori's Reactor 1, "TEPCO is not in a position yet to discuss nuclear energy", indicating that the resumption of construction of Higashidori Reactor 1 would be unlikely at this time.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Chinese Authorities Approve of Popular Anger Against Japan Expressed Over Senkaku Islands

Pandemonium is encircling the world. In China, the government authorities have clearly sanctioned the venting of anger by citizens against Japan and Japanese and Japanese goods over the small piece of real estate in the middle of the ocean called Senkaku Islands. Wag the dog.

From Japan Times quoting Kyodo News (9/13/2012):

China lets press splash Japan protests

BEIJING — China's state media Wednesday published front page photos depicting anti-Japan demonstrations in China, a clear signal that authorities are giving the green light for the public to vent their anger over the bilateral territorial dispute in the East China Sea.

Anti-Japan demonstrations have erupted in China in the past month after Japanese authorities arrested and deported Chinese activists who landed in the Japanese-controlled Senkaku Islands on Aug. 15. China claims them and calls them Diaoyu. These protests are rarely reported in China's state-controlled media.

The Chinese media broke precedent a day after the Foreign Ministry in Beijing angrily protested Japan's formal decision to nationalize the Senkaku Islands and demanded that Tokyo retract the decision.

On Wednesday, for a second straight day, a small crowd gathered outside the Japanese Embassy in Beijing to protest Japan's nationalization of the Senkakus.

Small-scale anti-Japan rallies were also reported in Shanghai and Taipei on Wednesday.

In Shanghai, about 20 people demonstrated outside the Japanese Consulate General, while in Taipei, about 60 people rallied outside Japan's Interchange Association, Japan's de facto embassy in Taipei, to protest the nationalization move.

The Chinese government has vowed to "take measures" to protect its territorial sovereignty, with Premier Wen Jiabao declaring that China will not yield "half a step" in its territorial claim.

Yes, Mr. Wen. Your country has been like that for the past several thousand years, as the rest of Asia remember.

Numerous anti-Japanese demonstrations and riots took place across China in August, too. There was one young woman, eagerly participated in one anti-Japanese rally, only to come back to her Nissan and found it totaled by the mob. There was a Japanese restaurant trashed by the mob in another city, and it turned out that the owner and the cook of the restaurant were both Chinese. Oops. Collateral damage, I suppose. A Chinese cameraman was seen covering the protests using his Canon.

Adding to the dismay of net citizens in Japan, that ultra-statist-fascist boy-wonder mayor of Osaka City (and one of the "young global leaders" selected at Davos confab) is being strongly promoted by the media to be the next prime minister of Japan, even before the general election is even considered. Destroying Osaka is not enough for him. In one survey by a major national newspaper, he is favored by 30% of the respondents (top of the list) to be the next prime minister.

Good luck Japan, good luck world. (Now, has Virgin Galactic started service to Alpha Centauri yet?)

Friday Pandemonium (October Surprise?)

From the headlines at Drudge Report on Friday September 14, 2012:

Thursday, September 13, 2012

#Radioactive Japan: Japanese Government to Give Anti-Baseless Rumor Seminars to "Educate" Mothers of Young Children

Oh yes, and bamboo spears could down a B-29 bomber, because it's all in your mind, it's all how you think.

From NHK News (part, link won't last since it's NHK; 9/14/2012):


The national government has come up with the two important consumer issues to focus on: damage on food industries due to baseless rumors because of the nuclear accident, and businesses that aim to defraud senior citizens. Countermeasures will include hosting meetings to prevent baseless rumors and making phone calls to senior citizens to be careful.


In the meeting on September 14, the national government compiled the base plan for "Consumer Feeling Safe Action Plan" which identified baseless rumor damage on food due to the nuclear accident and harm to senior citizens from fraudulent business practices as priority issues.


The plan calls for inter-ministry cooperation in implementing the countermeasures. As one of such measures to counter baseless rumors, the government will hold small meetings at 2,000 kindergartens and nursery schools throughout Japan for mothers to come and correctly understand the effect of radioactive materials on food.


To train the instructors for such meetings, the government will host seminars throughout Japan for the public health nurses and dieticians to attend.

As part of this new government initiative, no doubt, there is a newly printed pamphlet from the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Health and Welfare, Food Safety Commission of the Cabinet Office, and Consumer Affairs Agency, declaring (in the left column in the image below):

If you keep eating food that test below the safety limit, it is safe.

The opening word of this pamphlet has the hallmark of having been created by one of the two largest ad agencies that routinely get government contracts. All in hiragana, it says (in the right column, in red circle I added):

Please let us talk to you, again. あらためておはなしさせてください

Ugggh. This I suspect is the "inter-ministry cooperation" and this will be used as handouts at the meetings to be held in kindergartens and nursery schools throughout Japan.

Ben's QE-4Ever: Job Creation (and Money, of course) for Wall Street, Happy, Bubbly Feeling for the Rest

So, this is a Harvard- and MIT-trained economist, declaring his QE-for-a-foreseeable-future is to make people feel happy from rising asset price (stock market and housing price) so that they are inclined to spend more, and to create jobs for Wall Street.

From the press conference Q&A, between Ben Bernanke and Reuters' Pedro da Costa, as related by Zero Hedge (9/13/2012):

"It explains, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the only goal the Fed now has is to reflate the stock market bubble to previously unseen levels, to focus on generating jobs although not for everyone but only for Wall Street, consequences be damned, because by the time the consequences arrive, and they will (just recall that subprime is contained) they will be some other Fed chairman's problem. ..."

From the official transcript:

QUESTION: My question is -- I want to go back to the  transmission mechanism, because speaking to people on the sidelines of the Jackson Hole conference, that seemed to be the concern about the remarks that you made, is that they could clearly see the effect on rates and they could see the effect on the stock market, but they couldn't see how that had helped the economy.

So I think there's a fear that over time this has been a policy that's helping Wall Street, but not doing that much for Main Street. So could you describe in some detail, how does it really different -- differ from trickle-down economics, where you just pump money into the banks and hope that they lend?

BERNANKE: Well, we are -- this is a Main Street policy, because what we're about here is trying to get jobs going. We're trying to create more employment. We're trying to meet our maximum employment mandate, so that's the objective. Our tools involve -- I mean, the tools we have involve affecting financial asset prices, and that's -- those are the tools of monetary policy.

There are a number of different channels -- mortgage rates, I mentioned other interest rates, corporate bond rates, but also the prices of various assets, like, for example, the prices of homes. To the extent that home prices begin to rise, consumers will feel wealthier, they'll feel more -- more disposed to spend. If house prices are rising, people may be more willing to buy homes because they think that they'll, you know, make a better return on that purchase. So house prices is one vehicle.

Stock prices -- many people own stocks directly or indirectly. The issue here is whether or not improving asset prices generally will make people more willing to spend.

One of the main concerns that firms have is there's not enough demand. There are not enough people coming and demanding their products. And if people feel that their financial situation is better because their 401(k) looks better or for whatever reason -- their house is worth more -- they're more willing to go out and spend, and that's going to provide the demand that firms need in order to be willing  to hire and to invest.

Chairman Bernanke Strikes, QE3 Is On, Just in Time for November Presidential Election

So much for the "independence" of the Federal Reserve.

Helicopter Bazooka Ben (aka Chairsatan at Zero Hedge) thinks buying up MBS (mortgage-backed securities, which by the way are probably made the same way as before - i.e. without properly (legally) transferring mortgages into trusts in order to securitize) at a furious pace will improve the employment situation in the US.


From Bloomberg News (9/13/2012):

Fed Undertakes QE3 With $40 Billion MBS Purchases Per Month

The Federal Reserve said it will expand its holdings of long-term securities with open-ended purchases of $40 billion of mortgage debt a month in a third round of quantitative easing as it seeks to boost growth and reduce unemployment.

“If the outlook for the labor market does not improve substantially, the committee will continue its purchases of agency mortgage-backed securities, undertake additional asset purchases and employ its other policy tools as appropriate,” the Federal Open Market Committee said today in a statement at the end of a two-day meeting in Washington.

The FOMC said it would probably hold the federal funds rate near zero “at least through mid-2015.” Since January, the Fed had said the rate was likely to stay low at least through late 2014. The Fed said “a highly accommodative stance of monetary policy will remain appropriate for a considerable time after the economic recovery strengthens.”

Chairman Ben S. Bernanke is enlarging his supply of unconventional tools to attack unemployment stuck above 8 percent since February 2009, a situation he has called a “grave concern.” The decision provoked a renewed backlash from Republicans, including Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, who said Bernanke’s policies damage the Fed’s credibility while doing little to spur the economy.

Stocks soared after the Fed’s statement. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index jumped 1.6 percent to 1,459.92 at 2:24 p.m. in New York. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note rose to 1.78 percent from as low as 1.71 percent.

“This is definitely a significant shift in FOMC policy,” said Julia Coronado, chief economist for North America at BNP Paribas in New York and a former Fed economist. “This is a very aggressive commitment to success on its mandates.”

The central bank released its economic forecasts for growth, inflation, unemployment and interest rates over the next three years. Twelve of the Fed’s 19 policy makers said interest rates should rise for the first time in 2015.

The Fed now expects the job-market outlook to improve more swiftly by 2014, with unemployment forecast to fall to 6.7 percent to 7.3 percent, compared with 7 percent to 7.7 percent in their June projections. In 2015, unemployment will fall to 6 percent to 6.8 percent.

Growth will improve to as much as 3 percent next year and as much as 3.8 percent in 2014, up from upper estimates of 2.8 percent and 3.5 percent in their previous forecasts. The so- called central tendency forecasts exclude the three highest and three lowest of 19 estimates.

(Full article at the link)

In the press conference, Mr. Bernanke emphasized the importance of keeping the mortgage rate low so that people can buy houses or refinance. Never mind that people need good-paying job to afford a house, regardless of the mortgage rate. By endlessly pumping money into the financial market by purchasing mortgage securities and selling short-term Treasuries and buying up long-term Treasuries (Operation Twist), what is he going to achieve, other than an extremely artificially inflated stock (risk) market?

Oh I forgot. For Mr. Bernanke, the stock market is the economy.

One funny thing about the US Fed - it wins admiration from the Japanese who firmly believe it's the duty of the central bank to print and inflate at all costs, and that Japan's 2 decades of doldrums are the result of Bank of Japan doing hardly anything. Never mind that just about the only thing BOJ is not buying at this point is gold.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Photo Right Before the Tsunami on March 11, 2011

By the way, TEPCO released 600 photographs taken by its employees and workers from affiliate companies at the plant in the early days of the nuclear accident (starting March 11, 2011). They are only available at TEPCO's Photos and Videos site in Japanese. Look for entries that have September 11, 2012 date (2012年9月11日).

Here's the summary document (PDF) which lists the photos with brief descriptions, as well as thumbnails of photos of particular locations (from page 15).

Page 16: Landing dock right before the tsunami, water withdrawing and exposing the dock structure. (Click to enlarge)

Then, on the horizon, you see it coming.

I would certainly not want to see the scene in the second photo in person.

Photo of the White Pipe Shavings That Are Still Clogging Up the Water Injection System at #Fukushima I Nuke Plant

TEPCO claims these bits and pieces are clogging up the valves and pipes that carry the treated water back into the reactors. Shavings and metal bits.

From the 9/11/2012 Photo:

The company also has a very short video that supposedly shows the cleaning operation of the water inside the buffer tank, by catching these shavings and bits. But as you see toward the end of the brief video, you still see tons of white things still flowing around.

The photo was taken on September 10, the video on September 8.

One Case of Thyroid Cancer Found Among 80,000 Fukushima Children Tested So Far

The researchers say it has nothing to do with the nuclear accident, and the child must have developed the thyroid cancer before the accident.

From Kyodo News (9/11/2012):

18歳以下1人が甲状腺がん 福島健康調査8万人分析

One case of thyroid cancer, under 18, according to the health survey of 80,000


The committee for "Fukushima Health Management Survey" to study the effect of radiation from the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident (headed by Shunichi Yamashita, Vice President of Fukushima Medical University) held a meeting on September 11, and it was reported that one case of thyroid cancer had been found among the subjects of the thyroid testing who were 18 years old and younger at the time of the accident.


About 360,000 [children] are scheduled to have thyroid examinations. So far, 80,000 children have been examined and the results are in.


Professor Shinichi Suzuki of Fukushima Medical University, which is in charge of the examinations, denied the effect of radiation exposure, saying in the committee meeting, "It took the minimum 4 years after the Chernobyl nuclear accident that a first case of thyroid cancer was reported. In Fukushima, there has been no external radiation exposure like in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and no internal radiation exposure like in Chernobyl."

It's either Kyodo News misquoted Professor Suzuki or Professor Suzuki misrepresented the fact that 4 years after the Chernobyl accident the cases of thyroid cancer started to increase.

As to the supposed absence of internal radiation exposure, Professor Suzuki had better ask people like Mayor Abe of Kawasaki City (who's intent on force-feeding children with cesium oranges) or the Board of Education of Koriyama City (who wants to teach children about global warming by making them suffer through summer heat and radiation).

According to the latest data from Fukushima Prefecture, the examinations done in the fiscal 2012 (that started on April 1, 2012) so far are for children in Fukushima City (from May to August). Other major cities in Nakadori (middle third) are scheduled for later in the year, starting with Nihonmatsu City and Motomiya City in September. Testing in Koriyama City starts in October.

Compared to the results in the fiscal 2011 (that ended on March 31, 2012), the percentage of children with nodules or cysts of any size are larger in Fukushima City at 43.7%, compared to 35.8% in the fiscal 2011 results. Whether that means anything seems to depend on who you ask.

(Label translation is mine. The original document by Fukushima Prefecture is in Japanese only.)

All I know so far is that before the Fukushima nuclear accident, there were no routine thyroid checks for children; for that matter, there were none for adults either, unless thyroid problems were suspected by the doctors from other symptoms. In other words, there is no baseline data.

In the absence of the baseline data, there are some fantastic stories circulating on Twitter and blogs in Japan. Here's a togetter talking about: "According to my doctor, 40% of children tested in Kanagawa Prefecture were found with cysts on their thyroids!" and "I heard 40% of children tested in Kagoshima Prefecture had cysts!" The natural conclusion among people who were tweeting this horrible news is that the entire Japan is so contaminated that children are developing thyroid "abnormalities" everywhere in Japan.

A more logical conclusion (since Kagoshima is not contaminated with radioactive materials of Fukushima origin) is that maybe it is quite normal for about 40% of children at any location at any time to have small growths on their thyroids. But Japan has long ceased to be logical.

Someone even created an official-looking document saying "We were told that only Fukushima Medical University is allowed to conduct the thyroid test", and it was widely disseminated on the net. A day later, the document was yanked by the person who had posted it originally. Oh well. What can you believe these days?

Monday, September 10, 2012

#Radioactive Japan: Radiation Exposure Offers Many "Educational" Opportunities for Children

Exactly one and a half year since the start of the nuclear accident on March 11, 2011, this is where Japan stands. All the lip service to "protecting children" or "children are our future" is, well, lip service.

The mayor of a big city in Kanagawa Prefecture declares eating food containing radioactive cesium in the school lunches is part of children's education. A large city in Fukushima Prefecture in the highly contaminated Nakadori (middle third) refuses to install air conditioning systems in the city's public schools because children should not miss the opportunity to learn about global warming. A city in Tokyo has just started feeding children with milk from Fukushima for their school lunch program. A professor in a college in Shizuoka Prefecture with the PhD in tourism sends her students to Fukushima to buy Fukushima produce and goods to dispel "baseless rumors".

It is worse than the worst that Professor Kunihiko Takeda of Chubu University feared exactly a year ago, with his short poetic prose titled "A girl doesn't talk"; he pleaded with teachers and educators to do all they could to protect children. His plea has fallen on totally deaf ears, and here we are. This has got to be the end.

First, for Takao Abe, Mayor of Kawasaki City in Kanagawa Prefecture, making children eat food that has been proven to contain radioactive cesium of Fukushima origin is nothing but highly educational, and the parents should just shut up (Tokyo Shinbun 9/5/2012):

Mayor Takao Abe said during the regular press conference on September 4 that it was important for children to learn that they were living in dangers, and that he would continue to use the frozen oranges from Kanagawa and canned apples from Yamagata that were found with radioactive cesium in the school lunches in the elementary schools in Kawasaki City, emphasizing the educational aspect of using food [known to be contaminated with radioactive cesium].

According to the city's inspection, 9.1 Bq/kg of radioactive cesium was found in the frozen oranges [from Kanagawa], and 1.6 Bq/kg in the canned apple [from Aomori]. However, since the levels are below the national safety limit (100 Bq/kg) the city has been serving the frozen oranges in the school lunches since April this year. The city will start using the canned apple in September.

When asked about Yokohama City and Kamakura City not using the frozen oranges, Mayor Abe responded, "It is a mistake to teach children to be afraid of such a trivial level [of radioactive cesium]." He further commented, "On the road, there is a danger of being hit by a car. A total stranger may stab you. Do you teach children not to walk past a stranger?"

There are parents who are not convinced, but to them, the mayor said, "Don't be a chicken."

Mayor Abe was born and raised in Fukushima, by the way. But that has nothing to do with anything, right?

Koriyama City in high-radiation Nakadori of Fukushima Prefecture refused to install air conditioning systems in the city's schools because it was important for children to suffer to learn about "ecology" (tweet from one of my followers, about an NHK program on the topic):


They don't allow installation of air conditioning systems in schools in Koriyama City. It was talked about in the meeting with TEPCO in June. The city's Board of Education also said [to the parents], "We want children to learn ecology." From the video. The Koriyama City Assembly, TEPCO, and Board of Education all turned down the petition from the parents who worried about their children in the radiation contamination and the severe heat of the summer.

When the Japanese say "ecology", all they mean is "energy-saving to prevent global warming". Global warming.

Then, it is more important for Fuchu City in western Tokyo to help Fukushima recover from the "baseless rumors" than protecting children from potentially contaminated food; or good deal with a major milk supplier (Snow Brand Megmilk) cannot be ditched (the link goes to a page with the handout from the Board of Education). The latter, more likely. So, starting September 10, Fuchu City's milk from Snow Brand Megmilk will contain milk from Fukushima, in addition to Kanagawa, Chiba, Tochigi, Gunma, Iwate, Miyagi, Yamagata, Aomori. In for a penny, in for a pound, or literally, "Eat poison, lick the platter that serves the poison".

And lastly, Professor Akane Okubo got her PhD in tourism (I never heard of such a thing until I checked her bio), and teaches at Fuji Tokoha University in Shizuoka Prefecture while she continue to work for the research institute of Japan Travel Bureau (JTB), one of the largest tour operators in Japan. In the past, she worked for another tourism outfit (Jalan). How does she educate her students? By sending them off to Fukushima to buy up produce and goods in Fukushima to counter "baseless rumors". She must have gotten a lucrative grant from the national government for her "research". From Yomiuri Shinbun (9/10/2012):


Professor Okubo said, "It is important for the student to listen to the local people and to think about what they can do. We would like to do any small thing to help dispel baseless rumors."

Now that's unintentionally funny. "Japanese university students" and "think" clearly don't go together.

The pace of descending into deeper and deeper lunacy seems to be accelerating in Japan. Maybe this is what people must have felt like in the 1930s, right before the last world war.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Pipe Shavings Causing the Decrease in Water Flow, TEPCO Thinks

Incurious TEPCO's conclusion for now is that the white pieces floating in the buffer tank and caught by the strainer are the shavings of plastic pipes and they are the cause of the decreased water flow into the reactors.

From Yomiuri Shinbun (9/6/2012):


Decrease in the amount of water injected [into the reactor] caused by shavings from the pipes?


TEPCO announced on September 6 that it was likely that the shavings from the polyethylene pipes were clogging up the valves and pipes and causing the amounts of water injected into the reactors at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant to fall below the necessary amounts for cooling.


TEPCO had hinted at the possibility of metal rust clogging the pipes. However, the company thought it important that the problem started to happen after August 30, when the 2.7-kilometer pipes that transport the treated water to the cooling tanks were switched from polyvinyl chloride pipes [probably Kanaflex] to polyethylene pipes (15 centimeter in diameter). The shavings are considered to have been generated when the pipes were being cut. White substances that looks like the shavings have been found inside the [buffer] tank and on the filter of the cooling equipment.

If it is true, I don't know what to say, other than that TEPCO is fast running out of money and quality subcontractors. This is decidedly not the "nuclear plant" spec.

#Fukushima Health Management Survey Protocol, in Researchers' Own Words

Not much, unfortunately, due to the nature of the paper whose focus is on the protocol, not data analysis.

The Japan Epidemiological Association's official magazine "Journal of Epidemiology" has the paper titled "Study Protocol for the Fukushima Health Management Survey", by Seiji Yasumura et al (including Dr. Shunichi Yamashita).

It is about the health survey on Fukushima residents including children, from which some fantastic stories have been woven and disseminated, including "CONFIRMED: 36 Percent Of Fukushima Kids Have Abnormal Thyroid Growths".

Thyroid examination of children in Fukushima is discussed in some detail in the paper, as, the authors admit, the basic survey response rate is too low to form and present a credible opinion on the health issues. However, the paper does not have the children's thyroid test data, as the paper is clearly about test protocol and methodology.

From the paper's abstract:

Background: The accidents that occurred at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant after the Great East Japan Earthquake on 11 March 2011 have resulted in long-term, ongoing anxiety among the residents of Fukushima, Japan. Soon after the disaster, Fukushima Prefecture launched the Fukushima Health Management Survey to investigate long-term low-dose radiation exposure caused by the accident. Fukushima Medical University took the lead in planning and implementing this survey. The primary purposes of this survey are to monitor the long-term health of residents, promote their future well-being, and confirm whether long-term low-dose radiation exposure has health effects. This report describes the rationale and implementation of the Fukushima Health Management Survey.

: This cohort study enrolled all people living in Fukushima Prefecture after the earthquake and comprises a basic survey and 4 detailed surveys. The basic survey is to estimate levels of external radiation exposure among all 2.05 million residents. It should be noted that internal radiation levels were estimated by Fukushima Prefecture using whole-body counters. The detailed surveys comprise a thyroid ultrasound examination for all Fukushima children aged 18 years or younger, a comprehensive health check for all residents from the evacuation zones, an assessment of mental health and lifestyles of all residents from the evacuation zones, and recording of all pregnancies and births among all women in the prefecture who were pregnant on 11 March. All data have been entered into a database and will be used to support the residents and analyze the health effects of radiation.

Conclusions: The low response rate (<30%) to the basic survey complicates the estimation of health effects. There have been no cases of malignancy to date among 38 114 children who received thyroid ultrasound examinations. The importance of mental health care was revealed by the mental health and lifestyle survey and the pregnancy and birth survey. This long-term large-scale epidemiologic study is expected to provide valuable data in the investigation of the health effects of low-dose radiation and disaster-related stress.

The entire paper is free to download (in PDF) from the Journal of Epidemiology site:

Full Text PDF [3173K]

I may finally finish writing about the "36% of Fukushima children with thyroid abnormalities". For now, I'll just say that the owner of the blog who started the story openly admitted that he/she had chosen not to mention certain facts about the past survey of children in the areas affected by the Chernobyl accident by Dr. Shunichi Yamashita. That deliberate omission ended up casting Dr. Yamashita in even worse light (if that's still possible), but that is of concern to hardly anyone at this point.