Saturday, November 3, 2012

Hurricane Sandy Aftermath: FEMA Solicited Bids for 2.3 Million Gallons of Water on Friday

No words yet on how they plan to deliver them, supposedly on Monday, once they select the vendor.


After Hurricane Sandy, Hunting Bow, Baseball Bat, Machete to Ward Off Looters in Rockaways, NY

From NY Daily News (11/2/2012), "Keone Singlehurst, 42, who lives in a bungalow on Beach 87th Street in the Rockaways, says he wouldn't hesitate to use a bow on a looter."

Queens residents arm themselves in the post-storm blackout from looters
Residents feel isolated and some use guns, baseball bats, booby traps — even a bow and arrow — to defend themselves.

When night falls in the Rockaways, the hoods come out.

Ever since Sandy strafed the Queens peninsula and tore up the boardwalk, it’s become an often lawless place where cops are even scarcer than electrical power and food. Locals say they are arming themselves with guns, baseball bats, booby traps — even a bow and arrow — to defend against looters.

Thugs have been masquerading as Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) workers, knocking on doors in the dead of night. But locals say the real workers have been nowhere in sight, causing at least one elected official — who fears a descent into anarchy if help doesn’t arrive soon — to call for the city to investigate the utility.

Further exacerbating desperate conditions, it could take at least a month to repair the the bridge that connects the Rockaways to the city subway system, officials said.

“We booby-trapped our door and keep a baseball bat beside our bed,” said Danielle Harris, 34, rummaging through donated supplies as children rode scooters along half-block chunk of the boardwalk that had marooned into the middle of Beach 91st St.

“We heard gunshots for three nights in a row,” said Harris, who believed they came from the nearby housing projects.

Carly Ruggieri, 27, who lives in water-damaged house on the block, said she barricades her door with a bed frame. “There have been people in power department uniforms knocking on doors and asking if they’re okay, but at midnight.”

And another local surfer said he has knives, a machete and a bow and arrow on the ready. Gunshots and slow-rolling cars have become a common fixture of the night since Hurricane Sandy.

“I would take a looter with a boa. If I felt threatened I would definitely use it,” said Keone Singlehurst, 42. “Its like the Wild West. A borderline lawless situation.”

City Councilman James Sanders (D-Far Rockaway) said he fears the situation will devolve into anarchy.

“We have an explosive mix here,” said Sanders. “People will take matters into their own hands.”

Walter Meyer, 37, lives in Park Slope but often surfs in the Rockaways. He said it’s not the place it was before the storm.

"After sunset everyone locks their doors,” said Meyer, as he loaded up a solar panel from a factory in the Brooklyn Navy Yard to bring to local residents. "They're trying to find whatever weapons they can find. Some people are even using bows and arrows."

“If you are heeding into the Rockaway beach to assist, there is a request for firearms, hot food, and cold beer. These next 24 hours are critical for these folks, the government has really let them down,” Meyer posted on Facebook Thursday.

(Full article at the link)

It somewhat reminds me of the citizens of Cairo, Egypt in January, February 2011. With the open confrontation with the Mubarak regime breaking out, residents formed neighborhood watches throughout the city to protect themselves and the neighborhood against looters and thugs.

Friday, November 2, 2012

President Obama Enjoys 73.7-Point Lead Over Mr. Romney, in Japan

The chart below is from France 24, quoting AFP (11/2/2012):

It is amusing to see these numbers and occasional chatter on Japanese Twitter praising how wonderful Mr. Obama is for America and Japan, while the same people are opposing the US presence in Japan and East Asia and vehemently against the TPP trade pact and hate Monsanto and GE.

I suppose they are saying President Obama is not in charge of anything that displeases the Japanese - i.e. he is not in charge of anything (therefore he can do no wrong), but purely a symbolic figure of "hope" and "change".

They may not know either that GE's CEO is Mr. Obama's job czar, and the former Monsanto VP and lobbyist is his food safety czar. If they do know, probably they don't believe.

Just In: New York Marathon Canceled

Some sanity prevailed after all.

From NBC News (11/2/2012):

New York Marathon canceled, Bloomberg says

NEW YORK – The New York Marathon will not be held Sunday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Friday, backtracking just a few hours after he defended the decision to hold it despite heavy criticism as the city struggles back from Superstorm Sandy.

"The Marathon has been an integral part of New York City's life for 40 years and is an event tens of thousands of New Yorkers participate in and millions more watch," he said in a statement Friday evening. "While holding the race would not require diverting resources from the recovery effort, it is clear that it has become the source of controversy and division."

"We would not want a cloud to hang over the race or its participants, and so we have decided to cancel it," he added. "We cannot allow a controversy over an athletic event -- even one as meaningful as this -- to distract attention away from all the critically important work that is being done to recover from the storm and get our city back on track."

A few hours earlier, Bloomberg told a press conference that holding the marathon would be a morale and money boost for the city.

(Full article at the link)

(H/T reader NYUltraBuddha)

Hurricane Sandy's Victims Get Cookies and Hot Chocolates from Red Cross

New York's Staten Islanders are furious.

From CBS New York (11/2/2012):

Staten Islanders On Sandy Response: We’ve Been Left FAR Behind

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Staten Island residents are furious. They feel that in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy they’ve been ignored and left to fend for themselves.

CBS 2′s Jessica Schneider toured the borough on Thursday night and saw one home on Cedar Grove Avenue that looks like it was torn to shreds by a tornado.

However, it was surging ocean waters that tore the house apart, and filled others with more than 10 feet of water.

It’s that type of apparent neglect that has left residents saying they haven’t received the attention or help they so desperately need.

Red Cross is here with hot chocolate and cookies. We need blankets, we need pillows, we need clothing. We can get hot chocolate and cookies, we need help!” resident Jodi Hannula said.

It was almost too much for Hannula to bear. She said she had 30 years of memories washed away by flood waters.

And with no flood insurance, she said she’s been pleading for help, but finding little.

“You hope that the government does the right thing and steps in and helps us out. We have been looking for FEMA, [but] FEMA has not been here,” Hannula said.

People on Staten Island argued that they’ve been neglected while other parts of New York City, and the Jersey Shore, have been showered with attention.

“We are far from fine, and the fact that the mayor wants to have a marathon this weekend, when we’ve had people who have lost their lives or house, everything they’ve worked for their whole lives … I mean, its unbelievable to me,” Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis said.

Amid the damage there was also death. Of the 37 known fatalities from the storm in the city, 17 were killed on Staten Island.

...Residents were organizing a huge cleanup day on Saturday. They said if no one else is going to help them restore their community — Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano was to visit Staten Island Friday in response to the community’s complaints — they’re going to do it on their own.

(Full article at the link)

New York Marathon is on, this Sunday. It starts on Staten Island.

I'm sure it's Mayor Bloomberg's way to appeal the recovery and strength of New York City to the world, and cheer the local residents recovering from the disaster by hosting the annual international event with huge generators in Central Park for the media covering the event.

If you feel this sounds all too familiar, just substitute New York City with either Japan, Tokyo, or Fukushima. All of them work.

Luckily for the mayor, he doesn't have any radioactive cesium to deal with.

(In Japan, even that didn't stop the government from sticking to the schedule. Soon after March 11, 2011, the government decided to hold local election nationwide, as scheduled, partly to appeal to its citizens and people outside that in Japan, an accident, no matter how big, could not and would not derail a set schedule. People dutifully went outside, in the spring rain, to listen to candidates as radioactive materials quietly descended on them.)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg Endorses Obama for "Climate Change", NY Governor Cuomo Wants Everyone to Chip In to Make Up For Lost Revenues "in the World's Financial Hub"

The very predictable meme of "Hurricane Sandy was caused by global warming (now morphed into "climate change" for many, as in the case of Mayor Bloomberg)" has quickly spread, and now it's the reason for presidential endorsement. And everyone outside New York should pay for the lost economic revenue in New York.

First, NY Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Op Ed piece (11/1/2012):

A Vote for a President to Lead on Climate Change

The devastation that Hurricane Sandy brought to New York City and much of the Northeast -- in lost lives, lost homes and lost business -- brought the stakes of Tuesday’s presidential election into sharp relief.

The floods and fires that swept through our city left a path of destruction that will require years of recovery and rebuilding work. And in the short term, our subway system remains partially shut down, and many city residents and businesses still have no power. In just 14 months, two hurricanes have forced us to evacuate neighborhoods -- something our city government had never done before. If this is a trend, it is simply not sustainable.

Our climate is changing. And while the increase in extreme weather we have experienced in New York City and around the world may or may not be the result of it, the risk that it might be -- given this week’s devastation -- should compel all elected leaders to take immediate action.

Here in New York, our comprehensive sustainability plan -- PlaNYC -- has helped allow us to cut our carbon footprint by 16 percent in just five years, which is the equivalent of eliminating the carbon footprint of a city twice the size of Seattle. Through the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group -- a partnership among many of the world’s largest cities -- local governments are taking action where national governments are not.
Leadership Needed

But we can’t do it alone. We need leadership from the White House -- and over the past four years, President Barack Obama has taken major steps to reduce our carbon consumption, including setting higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks. His administration also has adopted tighter controls on mercury emissions, which will help to close the dirtiest coal power plants (an effort I have supported through my philanthropy), which are estimated to kill 13,000 Americans a year.

...One sees climate change as an urgent problem that threatens our planet; one does not. I want our president to place scientific evidence and risk management above electoral politics.

Of course, neither candidate has specified what hard decisions he will make to get our economy back on track while also balancing the budget. But in the end, what matters most isn’t the shape of any particular proposal; it’s the work that must be done to bring members of Congress together to achieve bipartisan solutions.

Presidents Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan both found success while their parties were out of power in Congress -- and President Obama can, too. If he listens to people on both sides of the aisle, and builds the trust of moderates, he can fulfill the hope he inspired four years ago and lead our country toward a better future for my children and yours. And that’s why I will be voting for him.

(Full article at the link)

Governor Andrew Cuomo wants the federal government to pay for the expected 6 billion dollar economic damage because of Hurricane Sandy. What damage?

From Yahoo News quoting Reuters (10/31/2012):

Governor Andrew Cuomo said he is asking fellow Democrat, President Barack Obama, to pay 100 percent of the estimated $6 billion bill, at a time that state and local government budgets remain constrained by a weak economic recovery.

... Cuomo said in a letter to Obama that "initial estimates project up to $6 billion in lost economic revenue in the greater metropolitan area and the state" due to disruption to business in the world's financial hub.

Yes, the world centers around New York, and Wall Street. Everyone should worry about the well-being of New York and Wall Street. Indeed, Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke successfully threatened the Congress to authorize $700 billion TARP money in 2008 fall to bailout the US and international financial institutions.

Meanwhile, some New Yorkers are busy dumpster-diving for scraps of food, as partisan pundits ridicule Romney for trying to collect and distribute relief goods instead of collecting money for Red Cross so that Red Cross can buy stuff. So, where's Red Cross, distributing food?

Worker Who Worked in Reactor 3 Turbine Building in March Last Year Has Filed a Complaint Against TEPCO's Subcontractor Kandenko

Remember an incident on March 24, 2011 at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, in which three workers got irradiated stepping into a highly contaminated "water puddle" in the Reactor 3 turbine building as they were laying power cables?

(Remember the water "puddle" in TEPCO's and now-defunct NISA's parlance turned out to be a flooded basement.)

One of the workers from the same group as these three has formally filed a complaint against the 1st-tier subcontractor who hired them (Kandenko) for violation of the Labor Safety and Health Law.

His beef: A group of TEPCO workers in the same work location withdrew, after measuring a very high radiation (400 millisieverts/hour on the water surface), but his contractor, TEPCO's major subcontractor Kandenko (whose share TEPCO holds), ordered his group to stay and do the work.

Now that's not what was reported in March last year.

According to Tokyo Shinbun (11/1/2012; part):

The 46-year-old man who worked for a subcontractor [of Kandenko] in Iwaki City was engaged in a work to lay power cables in the Reactor 3 turbine building on March 24, 2011, soon after the start of the nuclear accident.

According to the man, he had been told that the radiation levels were low enough not to endanger workers, but in reality there was a massive amount of highly contaminated water, and the radiation was high.

Another group of workers made of TEPCO employees measured 400 millisieverts/hour radiation in the Reactor 3 [turbine building] basement, and they withdrew. However, the group that this worker belonged to was ordered to continue the work.

Sensing danger, the worker refused the part of the work which would have him step into the contaminated water, but he still got exposed to over 11 millisieverts of radiation in 40 to 60 minutes. Of 6 workers in the group including this man, 3 workers stepped in the contaminated water, and their radiation exposures from this one-time work were 172 to 180 millisieverts. These are almost twice as high as the normal radiation exposure limit of "100 millisieverts in 5 years".

The attorneys of the man accuse Kandenko for violating the law by forcing the workers to continue to work when another group of workers in the same location withdrew to avoid the exposure to high radiation, and demand punishment.

I looked up my own posts from March last year (here, and here, and here) and other newspaper articles, and this is what I've gathered (again):

1. Before that particular work, TEPCO had said the radiation level was low, and there was NO PUDDLE.

Kyodo News on Thursday March 25, 2011 reported:

TEPCO said Wednesday there was no puddle at the site and the radiation level was just around a few millisieverts per hour.

However, on Wednesday March 24, 2011 when TEPCO was saying there was no puddle and radiation was low in Reactor 3 turbine building, Asahi reported:

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

The period between March 20 and 23, 2011 is when there was an event, probably at Reactor 3, that released a significant amount of radioactive materials from the plant which spread to wide areas in Tohoku and Kanto.

2. The "puddle" was 1.5 meter deep, and the water had 3.9 million becquerels/cubic centimeter of radioactive materials (cesium).

One day later on March 25, 2011 Yomiuri reported that the "puddle" in Reactor 3 turbine building was actually 1.5 meters (4.92 feet) deep at the deepest end. The location where the workers worked supposedly only had water 15 centimeter deep.

Asahi reported "puddle" had 3.9 million becquerels of radioactive cesium per cubic centimeter (Asahi, 3/26/2012).

3. 400 millisieverts/hour at water surface, 200 millisieverts/hour in air.

The radiation level on the water surface was 400 millisieverts/hour, and the air radiation level was 200 millisieverts/hour, according to Kyodo News English.

4. Blame was placed on the workers for not measuring the radiation, not wearing the boots.

The same Kyodo News reported:

The workers did not measure the radiation amount before starting the cable-laying work on Thursday, it said.

5. Irradiated workers were young, wearing only Tyvek suits.

Workers who were exposed to 172 - 180 millisieverts of radiation were in their 20s and 30s. The workers were wearing Tyvek suits. We all know now that nonwoven Tyvek suits do not shield radiation at all, but at that time, we didn't know better, and many were led to believe Tyvek suits mean safety from radiation.

6. The workers who stepped in the water were exposed to 2 to 6 SIEVERTS of radiation on their feet. 

But it was deemed "no danger to life" because the exposure was only on feet, not the whole body.

To put the "400 millisieverts/hour" radiation in perspective, the radiation level on the water surface inside the Reactor 1 Containment Vessel, measured on October 10 this year, was 0.5 sievert/hour, or 500 millisieverts/hour.

The air radiation level of 200 millisieverts/hour can be found on the operation floor of Reactor 2, which released the largest amount of radioactive materials. Quince 2 mapped the radiation levels on June 13 this year, measuring between 40 to 880 millisieverts/hour. TEPCO concluded that they couldn't send human workers for any work, as the radiation levels were simply too high.

In the early days, that was clearly never a problem.


Tokyo Shinbun's original article, 11/1/2012 (as archive, as their articles disappear very quickly):









Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Bulgaria to Hold Referendum on Nuclear Plant in January

But it's not what you think in the post-Fukushima world, not like the recent Lithuanian referendum. Bulgarian socialists are angry that the deal with Russia's Rosatom to build a nuke plant fell apart.

Bulgaria has one nuclear power plant (Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant) with two operating reactors. The plant covers about 40% of the country's energy demand, according to wiki.

I wonder if Hitachi or Toshiba is actively selling in Bulgaria.

From Bloomberg News (10/31/2012):

Bulgaria Will Hold Referendum on Nuclear Plant Jan. 27

Bulgaria will hold a referendum on whether to build a new nuclear plant on Jan. 27, President Rosen Plevneliev said in e-mailed statement today.

Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s Cabinet canceled on March 28 a 10 billion-euro ($12.25 billion) project to build a 2,000- megawatt nuclear power plant at Belene with Rosatom Corp., Russia’s state nuclear company, after failing to agree on its cost and find Western investors.

The move caused criticism from the opposition socialist party, which said the government deprived the country from an electricity source. Rosatom filed a 1 billion-euro claim on Sept. 11 with the International Court of Arbitration in Paris to cover construction work and production costs on the canceled project.

The socialist party collected about 770,000 signatures under a proposal to hold a referendum on whether to continue with the construction of the Belene plant, which was submitted to Parliament in July. The assembly voted on Oct. 24 to hold a referendum on a new nuclear plant, formulating the question without the mention of Belene.

The government also plans to build new reactor at the existing nuclear plant Kozloduy, in northern Bulgaria.

“The referendum will not address neither the problem with Belene, nor all the development and financing issues related to the new reactor in Kozloduy, because of the way it is formulated, asking a general question,” Ilian Vassilev, managing partner at Innovative Energy Solutions Ltd. in Sofia, said in an e-mail Oct. 24.

Oyster Creek Nuke Plant Update: NRC Lifts Alert

From Wall Street Journal quoting AP (10/31/2012):

Alert ends at Oyster Creek nuclear plant in NJ

ATLANTA — A nuclear power plant in New Jersey is no longer under an alert caused by superstorm Sandy.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said an alert at the Oyster Creek plant in Forked River, N.J., ended early Wednesday. An alert is the second-lowest designation in a four-tiered warning system.

The alert was triggered as water rose outside the plant, threatening cooling equipment. NRC officials said water levels had since fallen and were still dropping. The plant, which was offline before the storm, also regained offsite power after losing it.

Storm-related complications were blamed for forcing reactors off line at Nine Mile Point Unit 1 near Syracuse, N.Y., the Indian Point Unit 3 north of New York City and the Salem plant's Unit 1 on the Delaware River in New Jersey.

Financial Times: China Is Trying to Expel Japanese From China's Territorial Waters around Senkaku Islands

Apple's unique and unintended "solution" aside, China is taking a tougher line over the Senkaku (Diaoyu to Chinese) Islands. Whether because of the "head in the sand" mentality of the Japanese, or because of a translation problem, the Japanese don't seem to pay enough attention.

China Daily quoted the Chinese vice foreign minister saying:

China will have no alternative but to respond forcefully so as to remove disturbance and obstacles

China Daily's quote is from the official Chinese news agency Xinhua. So, regardless of the original language the minister used (probably Chinese), the English translation must have been carefully vetted. The word "forceful", however, was translated into Japanese by the Japanese media as "strong", as you see in this Yomiuri Shinbun article (10/27/2012):


There is no backing down, and we should respond strongly.

Forcefully or strongly, what's the difference? Some English sites that quoted the China Daily article seem to think "forcefully" means "by force". I thought so too. But clearly not people in Japan, not even those on Twitter (it's possible that I'm only following a peaceful bunch of people) about the vice minister's comment. I wouldn't pay much attention either, if all I read was Yomiuri's article.

Then, Financial Times (10/30/2012) says China is trying to expel Japanese ships from their "territorial water" around their "Diaoyu" Islands. According to FT,

  • Chinese surveillance ships approached the waters that Japan claims it controls, with a warning sign that says "You are in waters administered by the People’s Republic of China. You are already breaching the law. Move away immediately", warning the Japanese that they were operating "illegally" on Chinese waters.

  • An expert in the Chinese government says the situation changed when the Chinese created a legal basis for enforcing their claim by announcing the territorial baseline for the islands in September.

Apparently, the Chinese have been doing this for twelve days straight. Yomiuri Shinbun (10/31/2012) reports this incident as follows:

中国監視船5隻、尖閣接続水域に…12日連続... 海上保安庁の巡視船が領海に近づかないよう警告を続けている。

Five Chinese surveillance ships enter the adjacent area near Senkaku territorial waters, 12 days in a row... Japan Maritime Safety Agency's ship has been warning the surveillance ships not to come close to the territorial waters.

In the minds of Chinese, it is Japan who is invading the Chinese territorial waters, and that is what's reported in an English media.

Despite the professed concern by many in Japan over how they are portrayed and perceived by foreigners, most do not pay real attention to the substance of what's reported. Rightly or wrongly, Chinese is building a case for their claim's legitimacy by using the foreign media, and Japanese are asleep at the wheel, or at most only snickering at Chinese. "Look how stupid they are!"

A similar recent case was over Mr. Seiji Maehara's speech in the US. "Oh what a pathetic English pronunciation! What a disgrace in the eyes of the world! I'm ashamed as a Japanese!" was the most popular and common reaction among Japanese people on Twitter. I don't think anyone bothered to listen to the speech and understand what he said (he spoke like a real prime minister), how he delivered the speech (at ease), and how he was received (very warmly). The only comment I got from my followers about my tweets listening to his speech was "He's just a pro-US dog."

Hate to say it, but it's a cultural thing. Style and label over substance, and they do not comprehend the world around them, and the world doesn't comprehend them.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Goldman Sachs (Building) Shines Brightly Amid Hurricane Sandy Power Outage

A great shot of darkened Manhattan, from Zero Hedge. The building shining golden is the Goldman Sachs building. (They had power generators.)

OT: Apple (iPhone5)'s Solution to Senkaku Island Row

Much maligned Apple's map app on iPhone5 may have cost Mr. Forstall his shot at becoming the next CEO of the company, but it had a virtual solution to the row over some pieces of rock in the South China Sea between Japan and China.

Make a double. One set is named Senkaku, the other named Diaoyu.

From Mother Nature Network (9/24/2012):

In the Japanese version of the map, Haneda Airport on Tokyo Bay was the headquarters of a paper mill.

There was also a JR station named "Pachinco Gandum Station". According to Nico Nico Pedia:

"Pachinco Gandum Station" is a new station that suddenly materialized on September 21, 2012, supposedly on JR Oome-Line. Pachinco Gandum was the name of a pachinco parlor nearby, which has since changed the name.

There were also "Starbucks Station", "McDonald Station", and Suruga Bay became Philippine Sea. For more fun, see this link.

My favorite is this one - JR Shinjuku Station's West Exit is located on the east side of the station:

East? West? Such minor details! Even the USSR was resurrected by iPhone 5 map:

Hurricane Sandy Shut Down 3 Nuke Plants in NY, NJ

Nine Mile Point (Unit 1), Indian Point (Unit 3) in the State of New York were automatic shutdowns because of electrical grid problems. Salem (Unit 1) in New Jersey was manually shut down because of high river water levels and debris in the water.

Oyster Creek (NJ)'s alert due to the high water levels at the water intake remains.

From NRC press release (10/30/2012, 10AM; emphasis is mine):


The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission continues to maintain its heightened watch over nuclear power plants in the Northeastern U.S. impacted by Sandy. Three reactors experienced shutdowns during the storm while another plant, Oyster Creek in New Jersey, remains in an “Alert” due to high water levels in its water intake structure.

The three reactors to experience trips, or shutdowns, during the storm are Nine Mile Point 1 in Scriba, N.Y., Indian Point 3 in Buchanan, N.Y.; and Salem Unit 1 in Hancocks Bridge, N.J.

Nine Mile Point 1 underwent an automatic shutdown at about 9 p.m. Monday when an electrical fault occurred on power lines used to send power to the grid. It is likely a storm-related event, but the plant’s operators are still evaluating the cause. All plant safety systems responded as designed and the shutdown was safely carried out. Meanwhile, Nine Mile Point 2 experienced a loss of one of two incoming off-site power lines as a result of the fault. One of the plant’s emergency diesel generators started in response to generate power usually provided by the line. Nine Mile Point 2 remained at full power.

Indian Point 3 automatically shut down at about 10:40 p.m. Monday in response to electrical grid disturbances caused by the storm. All safety systems responded as designed and the unit was placed in a safe shutdown condition.

Salem Unit 1 was manually shut down by plant operators at about 1:10 a.m. Tuesday as a result of circulating-water pumps being affected by high river level and debris in the waterway. The circulating-water system is used to cool down steam generated by the reactor; it is a closed system that does not come into contact with any radioactivity.

At Oyster Creek, the Alert was declared at approximately 8:45 p.m. An alert is the second-lowest level of emergency classification used by the NRC. The Alert was preceded by an “Unusual Event” at about 7 p.m. when the water level first reached a minimum high water level criteria. The water level rose due to a combination of a rising tide, wind direction and storm surge. While the water level has dropped since peaking earlier today, the Alert will not be exited until the level is below the specific criteria for the intake structure, which is where water from an intake canal is pumped into the plant for cooling purposes. Oyster Creek was shut down for a refueling and maintenance outage prior to the storm and the reactor remains out of service.

Monday, October 29, 2012

(UPDATED) US NRC Puts Oyster Creek Nuke Plant in New Jersey on Alert, as Power Supply Disrupted

(10/30/2012 10AM Latest from NRC in the new post)

(UPDATE 3) From Reuters (2:53am 10/31/2012):

Exelon spokesman David Tillman said the plant has "multiple and redundant" sources of cooling for the spent fuel pool. He said he did not know whether the service water system was operational at the moment.

(UPDATE 2) From Reuters (10/30/2012):

(Reuters) - Exelon Corp declared an "alert" at its New Jersey Oyster Creek nuclear power plant due to a record storm surge, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said on Monday, warning that a further rise in water levels could force operators to use emergency water supplies from a fire hose to cool spent uranium fuel rods.

The alert -- the second lowest of four NRC action levels -- came after water levels at the plant rose by more than 6.5 feet, potentially affecting the pumps that circulate water through the plant, an NRC spokesman said.

Those pumps are not essential since the plant is shut for planned refueling at the moment. However a further rise to 7 feet could submerge the service water pump motor that is used to cool the water in the spent fuel pool.

The spokesman said the company could use water from a fire hose to cool the pool if necessary. The used uranium rods in the pool could cause the water to boil within 25 hours without additional coolant; in an extreme scenario the rods could overheat, risking the eventual release of radiation.

The NRC said in a statement that it expected water levels would begin to abate within the next several hours.

(UPDATE) NRC's statement on the alert:

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is continuing to monitor impacts from Hurricane Sandy on nuclear power plants in the Northeastern United States, including an Alert declared at the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant in New Jersey. The plant, currently in a regularly scheduled outage, declared the Alert at approximately 8:45 p.m. EDT due to water exceeding certain high water level criteria in the plant’s water intake structure.

Does that mean the plant's water intake is not functioning?


The Nuclear Regulatory Commission declared an "unusual event" at 7PM, then upgraded to an "alert" two hours later, probably because power was disrupted in the station's switchyard.

Not to worry. Backup diesel generators are providing stable power, says the operator Exelon.

From Yahoo News quoting AP (10/29/2012):

WASHINGTON (AP) — The nation's oldest nuclear power plant, already out of service for scheduled refueling, was put on alert late Monday after waters from Superstorm Sandy rose 6 feet above sea level.

Conditions were still safe at and around Oyster Creek, a plant in Lacey Township, N.J., and at all other U.S. nuclear plants, said the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which oversees plant safety. No plants that had been up and running before the storm were planning to shut down.

High water levels at Oyster Creek, which generates enough electricity to power 600,000 homes a year, prompted safety officials to declare an "unusual event" around 7 p.m. About two hours later, the situation was upgraded to an "alert," the second-lowest in a four-tiered warning system.

The plant's owner, Exelon Corp., said power was also disrupted in the station's switchyard, but backup diesel generators were providing stable power, with more than two weeks of fuel on hand.

A rising tide, the direction of the wind and the storm's surge combined to raise water levels in the plant's intake structure, the NRC said. The agency said that water levels are expected to recede within hours and that the plant, which went online in 1969 and is set to close in 2019, is watertight and capable of withstanding hurricane-force winds.

The heightened status at Oyster Creek aside, most nuclear plants in the Sandy's path were weathering the storm without incident.

Inspectors from the NRC, whose own headquarters and Northeast regional office was closed for the storm, were manning all plants around the clock. The agency dispatched extra inspectors or placed them on standby in five states, equipped with satellite phones to ensure uninterrupted contact.
(Full article at the link)

Hurricane Sandy on Course to Go Where New Jersey's Nuke Plants Are Located

For now, Oyster Creek may miss the eye but Salem and Hope Bay may be a direct hit when Hurricane Sandy makes landfall.

1. Oyster Creek

Hurricane Sandy seems to have shifted the path slightly to the south, so Oyster Creek plant on New Jersey Sound may escape the eye of the hurricane but is likely to be hit with heavy rain.

Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station is the oldest commercial nuclear power plant in the United States, commissioned in 1969 with GE's Mark-I reactor.

It is located in Lacey Township in New Jersey, operated by Excelon and serving 600,000 customers. The reactor has been offline since October 22 for regular maintenance and refueling. You know what it means.

At least part of the hot fuel core may be in the Spent Fuel Pool, as they were going to replace one third of the core with new fuel.

2. Salem (2 reactors), Hope Bay

Instead of Oyster Creek, the hurricane is heading directly at Delaware Bay where the three reactors are located in Salem County.

Salem Nuclear Power Plant has two pressurized water reactors by Westingshouse. The plant was commissioned in 1977 (unit 1) and 1981 (unit 2), is operated by PSEG, a publicly owned utility company in New Jersey.

PSEG also operates Hope Creek Nuclear Generating Station, which is located in the same site as Salem Nuclear Power Plant. It has one GE Mark-I boiling water reactor.

Maps of the nuclear plants locations:

Salem and Hope Bay (left), Oyster Creek (right)

Hurricane Sandy's projected path and rain forecast, as of 10:00AM EST Monday (image from Huffington Post 10/29/2012, part):

Now, if Sandy was a normal hurricane, it probably wouldn't matter very much. After a hurricane hits, the sky clears quickly and all will be good. However, this one is extraordinarily big and slow-moving, fed by the polar jet stream. Instead of several hours at most a day, heavy rain and wind may persist for DAYS. I don't know if the design specs for these nuclear power plants had allowed for this kind of "Frankenstorm" with storm surge further increased by the full moon (Wednesday).

Business Week just reported that the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission sent additional inspectors to 11 reactors from Maryland to Connecticut, and the inspectors are equipped with satellite phones.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

US New Jersey Nuke Plants Brace for Hurricane Sandy aka "Frankenstorm"

As the article below points out, stopping the nuclear fission by inserting the control rods is just one initial step. You have to keep cooling the reactor core.

If external power supply fails, New Jersey's four nuclear reactors will continue to be cooled by pumps powered by backup generators which are supposed to last for seven days.

To assure people further, article says:

Such containment structures are tough enough to withstand the impact of a 747 airliner crashing into it.

From (10/28/2012):

Hurricane Sandy and N.J. nuclear power plants: Keeping it cool in high winds

On Sunday, New Jersey’s four nuclear power stations, along with another dozen or so along the Eastern Seaboard,were prepped to deal with Hurricane Sandy as that massive storm crawls up the East Coast toward the Garden State.

Federal regulators require nuclear reactors to be in a safe shutdown condition at least two hours before hurricane force winds strike, according to Alec Marion, VP of nuclear operations at the Nuclear Energy Institute, an energy industry association.

Typically, plant operators begin shutting down reactors about 12 hours before winds exceeding 74 miles per hour arrive.

One of the most significant challenges in the shutting down process is keeping the reactor core cool. Stopping the fission, or atom-splitting, process can be accomplished simply by lowering control rods into the core. However, the heat-producing decay of nuclear materials continues long after fission is terminated – at high intensity for days and at progressively lower intensity for very long periods.

Because potentially dangerous heat levels persist, it is essential that cooling pumps continue to operate long after the reactor has been shut down.

When the reactor is operating, it produces abundant electricity, enough to power tens of thousands of homes and businesses and power its own cooling pumps. When it is shut down, the reactor requires electricity produced at other, distant generating plants to power its cooling pumps. If hurricane force winds, or some other phenomenon, damage the power lines connecting a shut-down nuclear station to the power grid, there are emergency generators located at each nuclear station that can supply power to the cooling pumps.

At the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan last year, the plants were cut off from the national power grid and the emergency generators were also knocked out of service by a powerful Tsunami, a gigantic wave of sea water created by a nearby earthquake.

Nuclear operators such as Exelon and PSE&G in New Jersey seek to locate and protect emergency generators and other key equipment so that they are unlikely to be affected by strong winds or unusually high tides. Federal regulations require that companies keep a minimum seven days of fuel on site to keep generators operating.

There are four nuclear generating stations in Jersey: Salem I, Salem II, and Hope Creek all situated next to one another in Salem County on Delaware Bay; and Oyster Creek located in Lacey Township near the Jersey Shore. Each of these reactors is enclosed in a containment building, a protective shell of four-foot-thick concrete designed to keep radioactive materials from escaping in case of emergency. Such containment structures are tough enough to withstand the impact of a 747 airliner crashing into it.

OT: New York Stock Exchange Trading Floor to Close, Starting Monday

(UPDATE) NYSE electronic market and NASDAQ will be closed on Monday, probably on Tuesday also. Sorry algos. The US stock index futures are slowly sinking, with Dow futures at minus 39.


because of Hurricane Sandy coming their way. As humans evacuate, all the trading will be done on its electronic exchange. (Have fun, algos.)

From Zero Hedge (10/28/2012):

The NYSE has just released a statement clarifying its hours tomorrow - due to the storm:


So, hold tight as all those low-lying humans will have left the building in the calm thoughtful hands of Johnny-5 and his friends.

Via Bloomberg:

Oct. 28 (Bloomberg) -- The New York Stock Exchange said it will shut its trading floor starting tomorrow and invoke contingency plans to move all trading to NYSE Arca, its electronic exchange, as Hurricane Sandy heads toward the city.

“The re-opening of physical trading floor operations is subject to city and state determinations and local conditions; updates will be forthcoming,” NYSE Euronext said in a statement today.

NYSE Amex Options will open electronically and NYSE MKT, formerly known as NYSE Amex, will be suspended, the exchange operator said.

But that doesn't stop him for catching some storm surge at Rockaway Beach... (from Bloomberg):

#Radioactive Cesium of Fukushima Origin (Cs-134) Found in Albacore Tuna Caught off Washington, Oregon

(Update) The albacore tested after Fukushima had 340 – 1024 millibequerels/kg of combined cesium, according to 0.34 to 1.024 becquerels/kg. One-tenth of the bluefin tuna that the Stanford researchers tested.

(H/T anon reader)


The Seattle Times article below doesn't report the number. It doesn't mention cesium-137 (half-life 30 years) either, which should have been detected alongside cesium-134 if it was of the Fukushima origin.

To avoid "baseless rumor", I suppose. But I still wish the reporter (or the researchers and government officials speaking to him) simply mentioned the number, instead of doing the "Edano" and saying "It's barely detectable, no effect on health, it's just so little ..."

The article says "it is allowing scientists to track the migratory patterns of tuna for the first time", which I take it to mean "the first time in Washington and Oregon". The researchers at Stanford University in California already announced the result of their study of bluefin tuna off southern California in May this year.

From The Seattle Times (10/27/2012; emphasis is mine):

Trace Fukushima radiation found in Northwest albacore tuna

Researchers have found tiny amounts of radioactive cesium in albacore caught off Washington and Oregon. The radiation, originating from the 2011 tsunami in Japan, is thought to pose no public-health risk, but it is allowing scientists to track the migratory patterns of tuna for the first time.

Since the early 1950s, scientists have argued about one of the West Coast's most popular fish — albacore tuna.

Are the silvery streaks that tempt thousands of anglers each year part of one family of highly migratory fish? Or are there really two groups of speedy tuna, each traveling a different route around the sea?

Now this half-century-old argument could be clarified by a disturbing new pollutant: radioactive isotopes from Tokyo's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Oregon State University researchers and federal scientists are finding exceedingly tiny amounts of radioactive cesium in albacore caught off the coast of Washington and Oregon. And it's clear the radionuclide originated with the nuclear accident that followed the deadly tsunami that hit Japan in March 2011.

While some forms of cesium persist in the environment for decades, one isotope scientists saw, cesium-134, has a half-life of a little more than two years and could only have come from that accident.

So far, the trace amounts that OSU scientists found in tuna are far less than anything that would pose a risk to humans; a fish eater would have to consume several thousand pounds of the most radioactive albacore they discovered just to increase by 1 percent the amount of radiation they're exposed to from everyday sources.

"The amounts they found were incredibly small," said Donn Moyer, spokesman for the Washington state Department of Health, which also tested the same samples and came up with the same results. "There's nothing really remarkable about the amounts."

But because cesium decays so quickly, the discovery makes clear that fish caught in Northwest waters picked up the radiation while feeding on smaller fish in or around Japan.

"We're talking about barely, barely detectable levels," said Jason Phillips, who led the work while a graduate student at OSU's College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences. "But because the radiation has to be derived from Fukushima, they had to pick it up within its vicinity or in the drift."

For most of the 1950s, researchers tagged North Pacific albacore and determined that the fish along the West Coast traveled between here, Japan and California and Mexico.

But in the 1970s researchers began to see signs that suggested some of the California fish might be part of a different population.

"It turns out there may be two different populations," said Richard Brodeur, with the National Marine Fisheries Service. "Ours up here might be completely different from those down off of California."

But the fast travel so far and fast — between 50 and 200 miles in a day — that tracking their movements is almost impossible, and no one has been able to confirm their theory.

After the Fukushima disaster, Phillips and Brodeur and another graduate student in radiation health had an idea: Why not map migration routes for West Coast tuna using the radioactive fish?

So far they've tested 18 Northwest fish, and the results are consistent: Fish caught before the tsunami are radiation free; fish caught afterward contain trace amounts of cesium.

But the real test is yet to come. The scientists have been collecting dozens of albacore from fishermen off the California coast. They plan to test those fish soon. If those don't show the same traces of cesium-134, it would suggest that they didn't travel to the same place as the Northwest fish.

Understanding when and where albacore travel can help scientists protect stocks of a West Coast fish worth tens of millions of dollars annually.

The researchers are presenting their findings to a conference in Italy this weekend.

The Stanford researchers found 4 Bq/kg of cesium-134 (and 6.3 Bq/kg of cesium-137) in bluefin tuna off California, which do migrate. Yellowfin tuna don't, and I'm not aware of any testing or study of the radiation in yellowfin tuna.

Oregon State University's press release on October 24, 2012 is more detailed, but still no number mentioned. The press release does say the researcher detected cesium-137 also, and the fish they tested were caught last year and frozen:

The researchers first identified two Fukushima-linked isotopes – Cesium-137 (Cs-137) and Cesium-134 (Cs-134) – this July, in samples of fish caught and frozen in 2011.

In the OSU press release, the researcher Delvan Neville says they tested about 70 pounds (about 32 kilograms) of tuna, or 18 samples:

“This is what we've seen after testing about 70 pounds of tuna,” Neville said. “When you've run one or two samples, you can't really say much about the population you're testing yet. When you've run five or six, you could make some guesses. When you're up to, at this time, 18 samples and everything has fallen fairly neatly into two groups of results, you can start to make some predictions about that population.

(H/T Kontan_Bigcat)