Saturday, December 31, 2011

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Reactor Bldgs of Reactors 1, 3, 4 Blew Up Because Blowout Panels Were Welded Shut, Fuku-I Workers Say

This information is not confirmed, meaning it is not officially admitted by the national government's agencies and commissions or by TEPCO.

The worker who's been tweeting from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, after watching the late night/early morning TV program on New Year's Day (that I mentioned in my post here) about the plant accident, tweets, as a matter of fact, that:

If the blowout panels in the reactor buildings at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant had opened as designed, there would have been no hydrogen explosion, as one expert on the TV program said.

But at Fukushima, they didn't open except for the one on Reactor 2. Why?

Because all the other blowout panels in other reactor buildings had been welded shut by the order of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency after the earthquake in Niigata Prefecture in 2007, when the blowout panels of the reactor at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant opened.

What's wrong with the blowout panels opening?

From a blogpost and the comment to the post in August, I learn that:

In the Niigata earthquake in 2007, the blowout panels for the Kashiwazaki reactor opened, and that was unacceptable to the government's nuclear regulatory agency NISA. So NISA ordered TEPCO to alter the blowout panels so that they would not open. After the earthquake of 2007 (Chuetsu earthquake), all the blowout panels at nuclear power plants that TEPCO operated were welded shut.

After the March 11 accident, the workers at the plant tried to open the holes to serve as blowout panes that didn't open any more, taking on great risks, but their effort was too late, and the reactors exploded.

The comment to the post was supposedly written by a TEPCO employee who remained at Fuku-I plant after the March 11 earthquake (one of "Fukushima 50"). He also said he feared for his safety and couldn't speak up. The post was written on March 14, 2011, and the comment was written on August 4.

He is saying the same thing as the worker who tweets from Fuku-I. (Maybe they are one and the same? But their writing styles are completely different.)

I still didn't get why it was bad that blowout panels opened, so I asked someone who used to work at a nuclear power plant. He said he didn't know either, except that "if a blowout panel is open, it may look unsightly, giving the wrong impression that radioactive materials may be leaking". If that's the case, it is a pure cosmetic and political reason.

(UPDATE) from the report by NISA (12/19/2007):

The blowout panel was dislocated by the earthquake when the metal hinge that was holding the panel was bent by the quake. The negative pressure necessary to contain radioactive materials from escaping couldn't be maintained because of that, and Reactor 3 of Kashiwazaki-Kariwa was shut down. A cold shutdown was achieved within 13 hours.

Any way to verify this? I am looking to see if I can find any press release from TEPCO or NISA to that effect.

According to TEPCO, on July 16, 2007, the blowout panel of Reactor 3 at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuke Plant was "dislocated" (opened), about 5 hours after the earthquake that day.

Regarding the blowout panels at Fukushima I Nuke Plant, TEPCO's explanation has been:

There were blowout panels installed in Reactors 1, 2 and 3, but the reactor buildings were getting filled with hydrogen without raising the pressure enough to open the panel. The earthquake didn't open the panel either, and hydrogen explosions took place. As for Reactor 2, a shockwave from Reactor 3 explosion blew open the blowout panel of Reactor 2, according to TEPCO. (From Shukan Friday 5/27/2011 issue, taken from this blog.)

If what the anonymous workers at the plant say is true, TEPCO was lying through the teeth.

This is a man-made disaster made worse by the incompetence and ignorance of the government regulators and the timid acquiescence of the plant operator who should have known better, at least better than the government regulators. Still, it is to be totally expected from the plant operator who couldn't say no to then-Prime Minister Kan's performance of visiting the plant on the very next morning after the March 11 earthquake, as the reactor cores were melting down and people were scrambling to contain the accident. Following the authority has been quite profitable, so why change, even in the face of the biggest nuclear accident in the Japanese history?

Still, the mystery still remains why Reactor 2, whose blowout panel worked as designed and didn't blow up, released the most amount of radioactive materials.

Or did it? If it's true that Reactor 3 blew up twice in two days and TEPCO/NISA have been hiding it, there may be more radioactive materials escaped from Reactor 3.

Or if Professor Takashi Tsuruda of Akita Prefectural University is correct and the suppression chambers of both Reactor 1 and Reactor 3 were damaged by the explosions, there may be a gross underestimation of the total amount of radioactive materials released from the plant.

Some happy new year... And Japan is being rocked by the first earthquake of the year.

Happy New Year 2012

I chuckled at the Drudge Report's main headline: HOPE MAYANS WERE WRONG!

Oh yes, 2012 it is, as one region after region greets the first day of the year the ancient Mayans calculated to be the end of the world as we know it.

I'm not so sure. It may be a good idea after all.

Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you every one from all over the world who has come to my blog since March 11 to read about horrible news after jaw-droppingly stupid news regarding the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident and radiation contamination being willfully spread throughout Japan and the northern hemisphere. I never thought I would be writing about it this long, and I didn't think anyone cared. (Not that I cared that no one would care.) I was wrong on both.

Wishing all of you a happier, healthier new year, here's one of my favorite music for the winter, visualized. It is played by the chamber orchestra of the US Air Force, brisk, clean and precise, and visualized by Stephen Malinowski.

New Year's Headlines from Japan: As If Hardly Anything Happened in 2011

It's already January 1, 2012 in Japan, and the headlines from the Japanese MSM (online) are here for your perusal.

First and foremost pro-nuke, Yomiuri Shinbun, with zero headline on the nuclear accident:

  • Aum Shinrikyo's Hirata turns himself in

  • Department of Defense develops weapon against cyber-attack

  • Population decrease largest ever, at 204,000

  • City employees cautioned for appropriating the large-size garbage [WTF...]

  • Traffic accident deaths worst in Aichi Prefecture, followed by Tokyo

  • Government to consider an imperial household headed by a female

Next, Asahi, which has one report on the nuke industry regulatory capture:

  • Aum shinrikyo's Hirata turns himself in

  • Japan's nuclear industry gave total 85 million yen to the members of the Nuclear Safety Commission

  • Emperor's thoughts on the new year: "Together with people affected by the disaster"

  • Shuto-ko highway to charge by the distance

Mainichi, which, other than SPEEDI's news, lists inane happy new year articles with a focus on people in disaster-affected Tohoku:

  • SPEEDI system temporarily stopped

  • A boat lost in Iwate found in Hyogo

  • Villagers return to Iitate-mura for the new year

But the second news is notable. A boat lost in the March 11 tsunami in Iwate Prefecture on the Pacific Ocean was found on the Japan Sea side of the Hyogo Prefecture, 770 kilometers southwest of Iwate. If a boat could travel there...

Scanning Japanese tweets, many net citizens didn't bother watching the usual New Year programs but instead tuned in to a several-hour-long live talk show with journalists and nuclear experts debating the Fukushima accident and its "aftermath" now that the accident is "over". They were appalled by Professor Narabayashi, one of the "Three Plutonium Brothers" and former Toshiba employee, who said "We will build a nuclear power plant of the highest quality in the world". Apparently the studio audience booed him. That's highly unusual.

Friday, December 30, 2011

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant Reactor 3 Spent Fuel Pool Cooling Will Stop Till Jan 4, 2012

Holiday break for Reactor 3's Spent Fuel Pool. (Or rather, for workers who have to tend to the cooling system.)

From Mainichi Shinbun (12/30/2011):


TEPCO announced on December 30 that the cooling of the Spent Fuel Pool in Reactor 3 will stop until January 4 because of the clogged filter. According to TEPCO, the temperature of the pool is about 13 degrees Celsius, and there is no immediate need to call in workers [to clean the filter]. The cleaning of the filter will be carried out after January 4.


As of 1:42PM on December 30, the temperature of the pool is 13.1 degrees Celsius. If the cooling stops, the temperature rises by 5 to 6 degrees Celsius per day. The safety regulation specifies that the pool is kept at 65 degrees Celsius and below. TEPCO expects the temperature to rise to about 40 degrees Celsius, but the cooling will be resumed at any time if necessary.

The first week of a new year is always filled with mind-numbingly silly shows on TV in Japan. I wonder how it will be in 2012.

#Radioactive Car Emitting 279 Microsieverts/Hr, Reports Asahi Shinbun

I don't know why Asahi is putting out this lame article right now, as it sure looks like the information was there already back in June.

(What surprised me more about the article was that there were over 6,400 workers at the plant at the time of the earthquake/tsunami on March 11.)

All through the summer, as I wrote in my previous post on another radioactive car, there were rumors of cars inside the 20-kilometer "no-entry zone" being shipped outside the zone without any testing, either to the owners or to the used car dealers who sold the cars inside Japan. There is no standard for radiation for used cars sold inside Japan. Back in those days, people who raised the issue of radioactive cars and trucks out of Fukushima were often branded as "racist" discriminating against people in and from Fukushima in both the alternative media and in the MSM.

This blog already reported on the truck in Iwaki City that was emitting 1 millisieverts/hour (1,000 microsieverts/hour) radiation back in August.

From Asahi Shinbun digital version (12/31/2011):


TEPCO didn't do a proper management of cars belonging to TEPCO employees parked inside Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant at the time of the accident and heavily contaminated with radiation. Some of the cars have been sold in the used car market, others causing problems with the neighbors where the cars are parked. Experts say "Highly radioactive cars should be treated in the same manner as the debris inside the plant compound".


According to the public relations department at TEPCO, the company started the radiation inspection and decontamination at J-Village (located in Naraha-machi and Hirono-machi in Fukushima Prefecture) starting March 23, 12 days after the earthquake/tsunami. From that date, cars that exceeded a certain standard [which changed over time] weren't allowed outside [the no-entry zone]. However, prior to that date, it was possible to bring the cars out of the nuke plant compound without any inspection. At the time of the earthquake/tsunami, there were 755 TEPCO employees and 5660 employees of affiliated companies. TEPCO didn't keep track of the number of cars that were parked inside the plant compound at that time, or the number of cars that were taken outside the plant after the accident.


A garage mechanic in Fukushima Prefecture who says he was asked by a TEPCO employee to repair his car in June this year is angry. "279 microsieverts/hour radiation was measured near the windshield wiper. How can they allow a car like this to get ouside the plant?" he said, and showed [the reporter] a photograph he took when he measured the radiation. If one is exposed to that radiation for 12 minutes every day, the annual cumulative radiation exposure would exceed 20 millisieverts which is a standard that the national government uses to prompt residents to evacuate.

12 minutes every day? Realistically if the car was driven to the workplace (Fuku-I plant) and home (say, J-Village, which sits on the edge of the 20-kilometer radius), it is more like 1 hour per day. Instead of over 20 millisieverts, the worker would get 100 millisieverts in one year just by driving his car.

#Radioactive Car Emitting Over 30 Microsieverts/Hr in Musashino City in Tokyo Was Returned to Fukushima

The owner of the car got it from his friend in July and the car was from (guess where) the 20-kilometer radius "no entry zone" in Fukushima Prefecture.

The 20-kilometer "no-entry zone" was officially off-limit until June and the residents weren't allowed to use their own cars until September. Unofficially, there were "rumors" (i.e. not reported in the media) during the summer that people were hired to go and retrieve vehicles inside the 20-kilometer zone. There were also "rumors" of sudden deaths among people who were doing exactly that. The existence of this car in Musashino City, Tokyo is a proof that these reports may have been true.

The car was found emitting over 30 microsieverts/hour radiation at the front grill and inside the engine room. At the perimeter of the parking lot at 1 meter high, the air radiation was 3 microsieverts/hour. Judging by the way the city crafted the announcement, their survey meter went overscale at 30 microsieverts/hour, and the actual radiation level could be much higher.

It was only on December 21 that a citizen finally alerted the city about this radioactivity on wheels.

From the announcement at the Musashino City website:


Regarding the automobile in a parking garage in Nakacho 2-chome, we were notified by a resident on December 21 of the high radioactivity. We measured the radiation level and confirmed it to be high. Therefore we did the following in response:


We confirmed the radiation, and with the help of the Musashino City Police closed off the area after securing safety.


Then we asked for guidance from the Tokyo Metropolitan government and the national government. While we waited for the answer we moved the car to the underground parking at the City Hall, and kept it there limiting the access.


We asked for assistance in decontamination from the Nuclear Disaster Response Headquarters of the Prime Minister's Office. Since the radiation from the car exceeded 30 microsieverts/hour, it was decided that it would be appropriate to return the car inside the "no entry zone" in Fukushima Prefecture.


On December 22 morning, the Prime Minister's Office and TEPCO would transport the car to Fukushima Prefecture, and conduct decontamination and radiation measurement. If the radiation would not drop below a certain level, the car would not be able to leave the "no entry zone".


The owner of the car is a city resident who says he received the car from his acquaintance in July. It has been revealed that the car was used inside the "no-entry zone" before and after the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident.


After the car was moved, the radiation levels in the vicinity were confirmed to be below the limit that the city sets (0.23 microsievert/hour).

Radiation levels (from the chart at Musashino City's website, above):

  • Perimeter of the parking lot at 5 centimeters off the ground: 2.60 microsieverts/hour

  • Perimeter of the parking lot at 1 meter off the ground: 3.08 microsieverts/hour

  • Car, front grill: more than 30 microsieverts/hour

  • Car, inside the engine room: more than 30 microsieverts/hour

  • 7 meters from the car in both north and south directions at 1 meter off the ground: 0.19 to 0.23 microsievert/hour

After the car was removed, the radiation levels on the parking lot dropped to 0.11 microsievert/hour, post-Fukushima normal, so to speak.

It looks like there is a kindergarten within 3 minutes of walk from this particular parking lot, which costs about US$320 a month to rent a parking space. This car has been in this parking lot, and running around in town and maybe beyond, for 6 months. It would have continued to do so without the report from a citizen armed with his/her survey meter.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

World Meteorological Organization Report Says 2nd Explosion of Reactor 3 on March 15

The report was written by RSMC Beijing.

RSMC stands for "Regional Specialized Meteorological Center", and there are 8 of them around the globe. The RSMCs operate under the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), and are "prepared at all times to provide highly specialized computer-based simulations that predict the long-range movement of air-borne radioactivity". (For more, see the page on RSMCs at WMO.)

The particular report, titled "Summary Report of RSMC Beijing on Fukushima Nuclear Accident Emergency Response" (CBS/CG-NERA/Doc. 5.4 ), which you can download here (Word file), was presented at CBS Expert Team on Nuclear Emergency Response Activities in Vienna, Austria, held from October 31 to November 4, 2011. In it, on page 8, RSMC Beijing says:

On 15 March, an explosion was heard in Unit 2 and damaged the pressure-suppression system, causing the leaks of radioactive cooling water. Shortly afterward, Unit 4 was damaged by an explosion and a large amount of radioactive materials was released into the atmosphere. At 11:00 (Japan Standard Time) JST on 15 March, Unit 3 explored again. At that time, due to the easterly winds and precipitation in and around Fukushima, the surrounding areas including Tokyo, Nagano, Sendai and other places detected high radiation, which matched well with the simulation results.

In the text, "explored" is clearly "exploded". TEPCO lists only one explosive event for Reactor 3, and that's on March 14 at 11:01AM. Where did RSMC Beijing get that data that Reactor 3 exploded twice? Looking at the pages 2 and 10 of the report, the request from IAEA for data on the Fukushima accident went out to RSMC Obninsk (Russia), RSMC Tokyo (Japan) and RSMC in other Asian Countries but RSMC Beijing has been in charge of compiling joint statements.

From Page 2:

In 2011, RSMC Beijing for EER is the chief RSMC in RAII, which is in charge of organizing the emergency response activities among RSMC Beijing, RSMC Tokyo and RSMC Obninsk and composition of the joint statements of RAII.

In other words, the mention of the 2nd explosion in Reactor 3 on March 15 must have been made after consulting with RSMC Tokyo. (EER stands for "Environmental Emergency Response"; RAII refers to Asia.)

It sure looks there are a whole lot of things that the Japanese government and TEPCO haven't been telling the rest of us lesser folks.

(H/T enenews)

OT: Sciatic Nerve Pain Remedy Anyone?

It's been the worst days of my entire life, the past 5 days. I'm still very gingerly moving, and my back is getting extremely stiff again.

Does anyone have good remedy - exercise, herbal, traditional, conventional, anything - that works to reduce the pain and prevent the pain from occurring again?

The best cure would be that I stop sitting in front of the PC for so many hours every single day for over 9 straight months trying to write bilingual blogs on Fukushima, but I'd take the second best.

Thank you for your readership and support since March!

Another Leak at #Fukushima I Nuke Plant, Saved by (Probably) Duct Tape

Now that the accident is officially "over", Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant takes on an atmosphere of a deserted, abandoned place where occasional maintenance is done with all-mighty duct tape. (Nothing against duct tape.)

A TEPCO worker found a leak from a Kanaflex hose near the Reverse Osmosis facility (part of desalination process) during a routine inspection round. The water was not radioactive, as it was the filtered water from the nearby river that TEPCO has been using to mix with the treated water before the water is injected back into the reactors for cooling. The leak was plugged by a tape, but the leak hasn't completely stopped (one drip per 2 minutes, according to TEPCO's handout for the press, 12/29/2011). TEPCO plans to replace the hose. (I hope so.)

From TEPCO's press release on December 29, 2011:

It looks like a puncture. By the way, there are apparently a number of similar punctures throughout the length of the hoses that make up the water injection system. Some of them due to quality problem, but many of them are caused by a weed (Imperata cylindrica L.). The weed pierced through the Kanaflex pipes all over the plant as it grew during the summer; now it is winter and the plants shrivel and die off, unplugging the holes they had made and causing small leaks all over the place. One tough weed.

I suppose this is not what NISA and TEPCO had expected. Totally "so-tei-gai" (想定外).

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Radiation in Japan: No Money to Evacuate Fukushima Children, Says DPJ Politician

Heard it on Twitter. So please take them as jokes. I hope they are jokes, though I don't have any reason to hope so.

From someone who says he heard it live on the radio program on December 29 in Japan:

岡田克也 議員・・・生放送のラジオ番組に出演。リスナーからの質問「福島の子供を、なぜ避難させないのですか?」 岡田議員「お金が掛かるから...」 噂では聴いて いたけど、リアルに聴くことになるとは...

Representative Katsuya Okada appeared on a live radio program. A listener asked him, "Why don't you evacuate children in Fukushima?" Okada answered, "Because it costs money..." I heard it in rumors before but never expected to hear it myself.

Okada is a high-ranking official in the Democratic Party of Japan. The radio program in which Okada was supposed to utter these words is this.

No money to evacuate children but plenty of money (2 trillion yen) to TEPCO.

Well at least Okada was, if he did say this, honest about it. No money. The Japanese government does not have money (public debt to GDP ratio over 200%), as people outside Japan may know but people inside don't.

But another "heard it on Twitter", the alleged word by the mayor of Tomakomai City in Hokkaido who is extremely eager to accept disaster debris from Miyagi and Iwate to burn in his city takes the cake for sheer rudeness and bad taste:

From someone who evacuated from Sendai, Miyagi to Tomakomai City:


Mayor of Tomakomai City is really ignorant and rude. When mothers who evacuated [from disaster-affected areas to Tomakomai] went to petition him not to burn the disaster debris for the sake of children's health in the future, he had the gall to say "I've heard that the excrement from the irradiated evacuees like yourselves contaminates the environment more with radiation". And he is the mayor.

Well, life is cheap, particularly that of children in Japan. The country is finished as a nation.

Alaska's Ring Seals May Be Suffering from #Fukushima Radiation

From Reuters via msnbc (12/27/2011):

SEATTLE — Scientists in Alaska are investigating whether local seals are being sickened by radiation from Japan's crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.

Scores of ring seals have washed up on Alaska's Arctic coastline since July, suffering or killed by a mysterious disease marked by bleeding lesions on the hind flippers, irritated skin around the nose and eyes and patchy hair loss on the animals' fur coats.

Biologists at first thought the seals were suffering from a virus, but they have so far been unable to identify one, and tests are now underway to find out if radiation is a factor.

"We recently received samples of seal tissue from diseased animals captured near St. Lawrence Island with a request to examine the material for radioactivity," said John Kelley, Professor Emeritus at the Institute of Marine Science at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

"There is concern expressed by some members of the local communities that there may be some relationship to the Fukushima nuclear reactor's damage," he said.

The results of the tests would not be available for "several weeks," Kelley said.

Water tests have not picked up any evidence of elevated radiation in U.S. Pacific waters since the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan, which caused multiple fuel meltdowns at the Fukushima plant and forced tens of thousands of people to evacuate the surrounding area.

Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have been seeking the cause of the diseased seals for weeks, but have so far found no answers.

A ringed seal displays significant hair loss on the Artic Ocean coast near Barrow, Alaska. An unknown disease is killing or weakening ringed seals along Alaska’s north coast. Ringed seals, the main prey of polar bears, and a species that rarely comes ashore, in late July began showing up on the Beaufort Sea coast outside Barrow with lesions on hind flippers and inside their mouths, along with patchy hair loss and skin irritation around the nose and eyes.

"Now They Tell Us" Series: NISA Says Reactors 1 and 3 Explosions May Have Been Caused by Vent

(In case you haven't read about it during my absence...)

Nikkei Shinbun reports that NISA admitted the hydrogen explosions that took place in Reactor 1 and Reactor 3 at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant in March may have been caused by hydrogen flowing back from the exhaust stack. In other words, vent may have caused the explosions.

From Nikkei Shinbun (12/27/2011):


The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry disclosed during the experts hearing on December 27 on the cause of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident that a possible cause of the hydrogen explosions in Reactors 1 and 3 may have been that the hydrogen that was vented from the Containment Vessel [to the exhaust stack] flowed back into the reactor building through a different pipe. As the power was lost due to tsunami, the valve of this different pipe remained open, and unable to prevent the reverse flow of hydrogen, according to the NISA.


In Reactors 1 and 3, hydrogen accumulated in the Containment Vessels after the core meltdowns, and TEPCO carried out the vent in order to remove hydrogen. The exhaust pipe for the vent connects to the exhaust pipe for the "standby gas treatment system" for the air ventilation of the reactor building, and then to the exhaust stack.


The valve of the exhaust pipe for the standby gas treatment system opened when the power was lost, so that the air ventilation of the reactor building would continue. In fact, the investigation of Reactor 3 after the accident showed the valve was open. When TEPCO did the vent, hydrogen may have flowed back to the reactor building through the open valve, and with the hydrogen leaked from the top lid of the Containment Vessel caused the hydrogen explosion.


All the other nuclear reactors in Japan has the same system whereby the valve opens when the power is lost. As a countermeasure, the NISA suggests two separate exhaust pipes and installing a valve to prevent backflow. Professor Tadashi Narabayashi of Hokkaido University points out that the vent process needs to be improved fundamentally.

Narabayashi, one of the "Three Plutonium Brothers" who said the toxicity of plutonium was the same as salt, used to work for Toshiba.

So after more than 9 months since the accident NISA feels like telling the truth for some reason, now that the accident is officially "over".

The very act of venting probably caused the explosions, says NISA. How about that, GE?

Product liability lawsuits anyone?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

#Radioactive Concrete Debris (3000 Bq/Kg) OK and Safe to Use in Fukushima Prefecture

What a wonderful present from the Japanese national government to its subjects, particularly those in Fukushima. Instead of coals it gives radioactive concrete bits.

Asahi Shinbun and others report that the Ministry of the Environment, getting bolder by the hour with its 1 trillion yen budget, has decided unilaterally that it is "safe" to use radioactive concrete bits from the March 11 quake/tsunami disaster in Fukushima as substrates under the pavement of the roads and breakwaters in Fukushima.

There will be no effect on the health of residents living nearby, assures the Ministry.

Why are they doing this? Why because they enacted the law that says the radioactive concrete debris in Fukushima to be "recycled".

Why do they have to recycle radioactive debris? Why it's green! Reduces CO2! Kyoto Protocol!

From (still free-of-charge) Asahi Shinbun (12/25/2011):

3千ベクレル以下で再利用可 福島のコンクリートくず

Concrete Debris in Fukushima OK to recycle if the radiation is 3000 becquerels/kg and below


Regarding the disposal of concrete debris within Fukushima Prefecture generated by the March 11 earthquake/tsunami, the Ministry of the Environment decided on December 25 that the safety standard for the debris to be recycled and reused in Fukushima Prefecture was to be 3000 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium and below. As long as the concrete debris tests within the standard, the Ministry says it can be safely reused by pouring asphalt, sand or gravel 30 centimeters thick on top of it.


The Ministry of the Environment is envisioning the concrete debris to be used for roads and breakwaters. If used for roads, the debris can be used if more than 30 centimeters deep from the surface. In that case, the additional annual radiation exposure for the residents living nearby will be 0.01 millisievert and less, and therefore "There will be no effect on health".


The disaster debris inside Fukushima is not to be the subject of wide area disposal [unlike Miyagi and Iwate debris] and be processed inside the prefecture. As for the concrete debris, the Special Measures for Dealing with Radioactive Materials Contamination, effective as of January next year, calls for the recycling of the concrete debris. However, there was no safety standard as set by the government, and the processing couldn't move forward.


The Ministry also decided to tighten the regulation on how to bury the ashes containing radioactive cesium at 8000 becquerels/kg and below. The Ministry will call for measures to prevent the leak of radioactive materials by covering the ashes with soil at every 3 meters of the radioactive ashes.

For now, it seems this 3000 becquerels/kg cesium concrete is only for Fukushima Prefecture. But then, the so-called safety standard for the ashes from waste/sludge disposal was only for Fukushima Prefecture in the beginning. It was used as de facto standard for everywhere else, as the Ministry, probably on purpose, did not decide on the safety standard elsewhere. Then after several months of this unofficial standard, it became official for everywhere.

Let's see, what could the citizens of Japan do? They've been protesting, they've been writing, calling, emailing the officials. The government couldn't care less, it simply ignores the subjects whose only worth to the government is that they pay taxes.

Oh, another one. They are enrolled in the national pension scheme (one of the world's largest) from which the government can plunder a huge amount of money. The government has indeed announced it is going to.

Merry Christmas

I was looking for "Regina Coeli" by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart for joyous burst of C-chord inversion series opening on Youtube, but decided on another of my favorites.

It's not a Christmas song. The words are nothing joyous or celebratory. But I felt the music texture might soothe a tumultuous year with many sufferings.

With an exquisite chord progression in the middle (A-Major to F-Major to d-minor and back to the original key of D-Major).

"Ave Verum Corpus, K618", by Stockholm Chamber Choir with Berliner Philharmoniker by Riccard Muti:

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Protesters Trying to Deliver Statement to TEPCO's Chairman Katsumata Blocked by the Police

Live net coverage by Yasumi Iwakami's IWJ right now, here.

200 policemen guard the entrance to Katsumata's mansion. Protesters and on-lookers on USTREAM are upset that their tax money is used to protect TEPCO's chairman, who in their eyes is a criminal.

Canadian Medical Association Journal Blasts Japanese Government: "Culture of Coverup" Exposing Japanese Citizens to "Unconscionable" Radiation Risk

The official journal of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), "Canadian Medical Association Journal" is a peer-reviewed scientific journal. On their website, there is an article dated December 21, 2011 which severely criticizes the Japanese government's response (or lack thereof) to the nuclear disaster which has just been declared "over" by the current Noda administration.

Written by Lauren Vogel of CMAJ quoting medical experts, the article states:

  • The Japanese government has been "lying through their teeth" ever since the March 11 accident;

  • The Japanese government hasn't disclosed enough information for the citizens to make informed decision, with “extreme lack of transparent, timely and comprehensive communication”;

  • The response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster by the Japanese government is far worse than the response to the Chernobyl accident by the Soviet Union government;

  • The annual radiation exposure limit for the general public of 20 millisieverts is "unconscionable", and there has been no government "in recent decades that's been willing to accept such a high level of radiation-related risk for its population"

The article is literally trashing the Japanese government. Quite a contrast to certain international organizations who praise the Japanese government at every opportunity. But in fact, the second point above is in violation of one of the ICRP's recommendations which says the residents should be made aware and understand the radiation risk fully before giving consent to the government policy.

Further, the article quotes Dr. Kozo Tatara of the Japan Public Health Association, who revealed a difficult position his government was in at a meeting in Washington DC in November, by saying:

“It’s very difficult to persuade people that the level [of exposure set by the government] is okay”

Still, one expert interviewed for the article seems to think it's still not too late to evacuate:

"the single most important public health measure to minimize the health harm over the longterm is much wider evacuation"

Quite a contrast to the Japan Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists that issued an official statement back on March 19, declaring "It is safe if you are 30 kilometers away from the plant, the information from the national government is accurate, there is no negative health effect on embryos, fetuses, babies and small children if the cumulative radiation is 100 millisieverts and below".

From Canadian Medial Association Journal (CMAJ) (12/21/2011; emphasis added):

Public health fallout from Japanese quake
Lauren Vogel, CMAJ, with files from Barbara Sibbald, CMAJ
December 21, 2011

A “culture of coverup” and inadequate cleanup efforts have combined to leave Japanese people exposed to “unconscionable” health risks nine months after last year’s meltdown of nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant, health experts say.

Although the Japanese government has declared the plant virtually stable, some experts are calling for evacuation of people from a wider area, which they say is contaminated with radioactive fallout.

They’re also calling for the Japanese government to reinstate internationally-approved radiation exposure limits for members of the public and are slagging government officials for “extreme lack of transparent, timely and comprehensive communication.”

But temperatures inside the Fukushima power station's three melted cores have achieved a “cold shutdown condition,” while the release of radioactive materials is “under control,” according to the International Atomic Energy Agency ( That means government may soon allow some of the more than 100 000 evacuees from the area around the plant to return to their homes. They were evacuated from the region after it was struck with an 8.9 magnitude earthquake and a tsunami last March 11.

Although the potential for further explosions with substantial releases of radioactivity into the atmosphere is certainly reduced, the plant is still badly damaged and leaking radiation, says Tilman Ruff, chair of the Medical Association for Prevention of Nuclear War, who visited the Fukushima prefecture in August. “There are major issues of contamination on the site. Aftershocks have been continuing and are expected to continue for many months, and some of those are quite large, potentially causing further damage to structures that are already unstable and weakened. And we know that there’s about 120 000 tons of highly contaminated water in the base of the plant, and there’s been significant and ongoing leakage into the ocean.”

The full extent of contamination across the country is even less clear, says Ira Hefland, a member of the board of directors for Physicians for Social Responsibility. “We still don't know exactly what radiation doses people were exposed to [in the immediate aftermath of the disaster] or what ongoing doses people are being exposed to. Most of the information we're getting at this point is a series of contradictory statements where the government assures the people that everything's okay and private citizens doing their own radiation monitoring come up with higher readings than the government says they should be finding.”

Japanese officials in Tokyo have documented elevated levels of cesium — a radioactive material with a half-life of 30 years that can cause leukemia and other cancers — more than 200 kilometres away from the plant, equal to the levels in the 20 kilometre exclusion zone, says Robert Gould, another member of the board of directors for Physicians for Social Responsibility.

International authorities have urged Japan to expand the exclusion zone around the plant to 80 kilometres but the government has instead opted to “define the problem out of existence” by raising the permissible level of radiation exposure for members of the public to 20 millisieverts per year, considerably higher than the international standard of one millisievert per year, Gould adds.

This “arbitrary increase” in the maximum permissible dose of radiation is an “unconscionable” failure of government, contends Ruff. “Subject a class of 30 children to 20 millisieverts of radiation for five years and you're talking an increased risk of cancer to the order of about 1 in 30, which is completely unacceptable. I'm not aware of any other government in recent decades that's been willing to accept such a high level of radiation-related risk for its population.”

Following the 1986 nuclear disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the Ukraine, “clear targets were set so that anybody anticipated to receive more than five millisieverts in a year were evacuated, no question,” Ruff explains. In areas with levels between one and five millisieverts, measures were taken to mitigate the risk of ingesting radioactive materials, including bans on local food consumption, and residents were offered the option of relocating. Exposures below one millisievert were still considered worth monitoring.

In comparison, the Japanese government has implemented a campaign to encourage the public to buy produce from the Fukushima area, Ruff added. “That response [in Chernobyl] 25 years ago in that much less technically sophisticated, much less open or democratic context, was, from a public health point of view, much more responsible than what’s being done in modern Japan this year.”

Were Japan to impose similar strictures, officials would have to evacuate some 1800 square kilometres and impose restrictions on food produced in another 11 100 square kilometres, according to estimates of the contamination presented by Dr. Kozo Tatara for the Japan Public Health Association at the American Public Health Association's 139th annual meeting and exposition in November in Washington, District of Columbia.

It’s very difficult to persuade people that the level [of exposure set by the government] is okay,” Tatara told delegates to the meeting. He declined requests for an interview.

The Japanese government is essentially contending that the higher dose is “not dangerous,” explains Hefland. “However, since the accident, it’s become clear the Japanese government was lying through its teeth, doing everything it possible could to minimize public concern, even when that meant denying the public information needed to make informed decisions, and probably still is.”

It's now clear they knew within a day or so there had been a meltdown at the plant, yet they didn't disclose that for weeks, and only with great prodding from the outside,” Hefland adds. “And at the same moment he was assuring people there was no public health disaster, the Prime Minister now concedes that he thought Tokyo would have to be evacuated but was doing nothing to bring that about.

Ruff similarly charges that the government has mismanaged the file and provided the public with misinformation. As an example, he cites early reports that stable iodine had been distributed to children and had worked effectively, when, “in fact, iodine wasn't given to anyone.”

Public distrust is at a level that communities have taken cleanup and monitoring efforts into their own hands as the government response to the crisis has been “woefully inadequate” and officials have been slow to respond to public reports of radioactive hotspots, Gould says. “That’s led to the cleanup of some affected areas, but there are also reports of people scattering contaminated soil willy-nilly in forests and areas surrounding those towns.”

“In some places, you can see mounds of contaminated soil that have just been aggregated under blue tarps,” he adds.

Even with government assistance, there are limits to the decontamination that can be achieved, explains Hefland. “What do you do with the stuff? Do you scrape entire topsoil? How far down you have to go? And if you wash down the buildings, what do you do with the waste water?”

As well, Ruff argues the government must examine the provision of compensation for voluntary evacuation from areas outside of the exclusion zone where there are high levels of radioactive contamination. Without such compensation, many families have no option but to stay, he says. “At this point, the single most important public health measure to minimize the health harm over the longterm is much wider evacuation.”

The Japanese government did not respond to inquiries.


Also in PDF file.

Regarding the iodine tablets, there was one town in Fukushima Prefecture (Miharu-machi) whose mayor distributed them and ordered the residents to swallow right away. He was severely ridiculed and criticized in Japan at that time for "fear-mongering".

Regarding withholding the information from the public, the Japanese government went one step further, and using the mass media went on a campaign to smear and discredit anyone who dare said inconvenient things like "Fukushima reactors had meltdowns", or "Don't go outside today because the rain may be radioactive", or "Theft and robbery on the increase in the evacuated areas". They all later proved to be true. The reactors had meltdowns, the rain was radioactive, and robbers, braving the radiation, plundered many homes of evacuees in the evacuation zones.

And the readers of this blog know what kind of "compensation" the Noda government is thinking about for Fukushima residents, thanks to Minister Yukio "there is no immediate health effect" Edano. Fukushima residents may get gift certificates usable only in Fukushima, so they can help revive the economy and industry inside Fukushima.

How much more cynical can you get? A whole lot more, looking at Japan's leaders.

Report from Fukushima (1) Minami Soma: 41.72 Microsieverts/Hr, γ+β+α Radiation Combined in a Municipal Apartment Complex

People live in that complex, including children. The city wants all residents to return to Minami Soma City now that the accident is officially "over".

Minami Soma City Mayor Katsunobu Sakurai became world-famous with his plea for help on Youtube in the early days of the crisis. At that time, not many people were even aware of the nuclear disaster that was progressing, but instead was focused only on the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Even after the extent of the radiation contamination resulting from the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident became known, many cities inside Fukushima including Minami Soma continue to tell their residents that everything is under control, as if the nuke accident were a distant, inconvenient event. Minami Soma has been more realistic, or more aware, than others, as the city does provide more thorough testing of residents for radiation exposure and carries out "decontamination" of residences and public buildings from early on with the help from Professor Kodama of Tokyo University.

But something stopped adding up for me for Minami Soma, slowly over time. Why does the mayor and city officials insist on the residents to return? Why do they insist on "decontamination" even when they know it doesn't quite work (they have the measurement data of before and after)? Why do they punish the more unfortunate residents who lost their homes in the quake and tsunami by cutting off their public assistance and taxing the donation money they received?

With citizens' distrust of the government of all forms and sizes perhaps all-time high, as the Canadian Medical Association Journal article correctly points out, more people in Fukushima are starting to speak out openly about their situation, mostly in blogs. I have three of these I've just happened to read today, though I'm sure there are more others.

The first one is the blog titled "Night that never ends (消えない夜)", written by a man in Fukushima Prefecture. So he says, and looking through his posts I don't have a reason to doubt it.

In the post titled "Truth of Minami Soma City" on December 20, he reports the results of his radiation survey he conducted using his several personal survey meters at a public housing complex in part of Minami Soma City that was designated as "evacuation-ready zone", where the residents were supposed to evacuate at a moment's notice in case of a nuclear emergency, and where children and pregnant women "were not supposed to be there" (but they were, as there was no support from the city to evacuate).

From "Truth of Minami Soma City" post, at "Night that never ends" blog (12/20/2011):

Instead of words, photos are the best for people to see the fact.

The photos will be the irrefutable evidence.
Haramachi District of Minami Soma City in Fukushima Prefecture. It was once designated as "evacuation-ready zone" [since abolished, on September 30].

These are the photos taken today, December 20, 2011, at the municipal housing complex in Kita Nagano in Haramachi District.

I am asking the blogger if I can use his photos. While I wait for the answer (he has said no to other people), you can go to his post and view them. The information he gives in the post is the following:

People have lived in the complex since March 11, as the "evacuation-ready zone" does not require evacuation unless it is an nuclear emergency. According to the blog, most of the children have evacuated but there are several who have remained.

Radiation on the pavement just outside one of the apartment building.

  • Gamma radiation: 10.83 microsieverts/hour

  • Beta and Gamma radiation: 14 microsieverts/hour

  • Alpha, beta and gamma radiation: 41.72 microsieverts/hour

Toward the end, he writes:


The residents never expected to see these kind of numbers.
They thought the radiation levels could be high, but never suspected they were this high. When their children came back for the weekend, they told me they let the children play outside.
Everywhere I measured, the radiation was high.


This is the municipal housing run by Minami Soma City. This is the truth of Minami Soma City.


Is this Chernobyl?
I wonder.

He says he has informed the city government about the high radiation in the complex. Looking at the map, it is in the high radiation area in Minami Soma City where the city is going to reopen 2 elementary schools and one junior high school next February, now that the nuke plant has achieved "cold shutdown state" and "evacuation-ready zone" is no more.

What's even sadder, if it's true, is that these schools will reopen at the requests from the parents.

What's so important about sending their kids to school in an area that has over 40 microsieverts/hour total radiation?

"Night that never ends" - what a great title.

#Radiation in Japan: Ministry of the Environment Will Get 1 Trillion Yen Budget, 5 Times It Got This Year

Speaking of Christmas presents...

The Ministry of the Environment, once an utterly unimportant, powerless ministry in the Japanese government, is now one of the most powerful under Goshi Hosono, who still doubles as Minister in charge of the nuclear accident that has ended. The measure of power? Its budget size.

It is set to quintuple in the fiscal 2012 to more than 1 trillion yen (US$13 billion) because of the "decontamination" work in Fukushima Prefecture and other 7 Prefectures. However, as no one pretends to know how much it will actually cost to carry out "decontamination", by doling out the money to top-tier general contractor joint ventures who will then dole out jobs down the subcontracting pyramid, the sky's the limit for the Ministry's budget. It doesn't even include the construction cost for the "temporary" storage facilities for the contaminated waste.

From Asahi Shinbun, which will soon go the UK's Times way and charge fees for the online readers to read its articles (12/24/2011):


The budget of the Ministry of the Environment in the fiscal 2012 will quintuple to over 1 trillion yen. The Ministry is in charge of disaster debris disposal and decontamination of land contaminated by radiation. Of the 1 trillion yen, 825.8 billion yen is from the Recovery Special Budget, constituting the bulk of the increase.


451.3 billion yen will be earmarked for decontamination and contaminated waste disposal. Already, this year's 3rd Supplementary Budget allocated 245.9 billion yen to decontamination. The cost for decontamination is estimated to be 1 trillion and several hundred billion yen.


The national government will carry out the decontamination in the no-entry zone within the 20-kilometer radius from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, and in the planned evacuation zone where the annual cumulative radiation exposure [external only] is expected to exceed 20 millisieverts. In addition, there are location within [the planned evacuation zone] where the radiation exposure will exceed a certain level, and the government will give financial support to 102 municipalities in 8 prefectures in Tohoku and Kanto which have been designated recently as "contamination situation priority survey areas".


However, this budget does not include the construction cost to build temporary storage facilities for contaminated waste resulting from decontamination. It includes only 2 billion yen for the feasibility study for such facilities. The officials at the Ministry of the Environment says "The ultimate cost of decontamination is still unknown to us."

Uh huh. It is more like "The ultimate cost of decontamination is still unknown to us but we know it's going to be gigantic; in fact it is so gigantic we would rather not tell you lest we be held accountable. So we say we don't know, and when SHTF we will say "Who could have known?", and you will say "Oh well nothing could be done now so let's keep doing what hasn't worked, because if we do it enough it may finally work"". And so it goes.

You can be pretty sure that the government will pick the costliest, most complex and probably the most ineffective so-called "technology" do decontamination. The costlier the project, the profitable for all parties taking part. (Never like that coffee filter removal of radioactive cesium invented by a layman.)

Ben "Bernank" Bernanke of the US Federal Reserve would know what to do ("print" money), but not so Shirakawa of the Bank of Japan. Instead, the Noda administration is extra keen on raising taxes on the general public, removing the social benefits even further, and expanding the government so that "Fukushima recovers and the economy grows".

As more and more people in Japan become aware that they've been had, and that so-called "decontamination" is about giving lucrative contracts to the well-connected and entrapping the residents in the highly contaminated area, the governments of all levels - national, prefectural, municipal - go the other way, preaching the virtue of helping out fellow Japanese by eating contaminated food, burning contaminated debris, and paying for "decontamination" to revive Fukushima.

I guess the current batch of ministers is too young to have ever heard of what happened in Japan during the World War II - like practicing to down a B29 bomber that sprayed incendiary cluster bombs using bamboo spears.

OT: NORAD Tracks Santa

like it has been doing since 1958.

Santa and his reindeer have just delivered gifts in Gori, Georgia in lightening speed, now on their way to Laki, Azerbaijan.

Track Santa at NORAD here.

Friday, December 23, 2011

#Radiation in Japan: Koriyama Resident Measures Radiation Levels in His City - 42.85 Microsieverts/Hr on the Drain Lid

Armed with his geiger counter, the Ministry of Education's radiation map and the Professor Hayakawa's radiation contour map, he went measuring radiation levels in Koriyama City on December 23, and they were high.

Air radiation level at chest height: maximum 1.51 microsievert/hour

On the sand on the side drain cover: 42.85 microsieverts/hour

If the surface radiation is that high, it would be several hundreds of thousands of becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium in that sand. No one does a thing, and life goes on, because all the national and municipal governments care about is air radiation at 1 meter off the ground.

But even if you stay outside in 1.51 microsievert/hr radiation all day all night for one year, it would only be 13 millisieverts of external radiation. Nothing to worry about, according to the new Japanese government guideline crafted by the panel of expert scientists picked by the government (in order to obtain precisely the guideline).

Never mind that until March 11, Koriyama City's air radiation was probably below 0.06 microsievert/hour like anywhere else in northern Japan, and that's how it has been for the residents for generations.

(H/T Aloha Analytics)

Compensation for Fukushima Residents: Gift Certificates?

As Prime Minister Noda plans to ask China if he can borrow pandas for the disaster recovery in Miyagi, Minister of Economy Yukio Edano wants to give gift certificates to all people in Fukushima as compensation for the nuclear accident.

Gift certificates are to be used only within Fukushima Prefecture, in order to promote economic recovery of Fukushima.

Fukushima Minpo reported the news only in its print version (12/23/2011). Here's partial translation from the image of the article (the article image is posted on my Japanese blog):


Idea to distribute gift certificates to all Fukushima residents, as compensation for the residents who are not covered by the national government compensation scheme. 42 billion yen from the fund to be used?

東京電力福島第一原発事故に伴う文部科学省の原子力損害賠償紛争審議会の新たな指針で賠償の対象外となった市町村が出ている問題で、枝野幸男経済産業相は 22日、原子力被害応急対策基金の活用を含めた新たな支援措置を年明けの早い段階に示す考えを表明した。佐藤雄平知事との会談で、要請に応えた。政府関係者によると、県が設置を目指す同基金に予算を充当し、商品券を全県民に給付する方向で省庁間協議している。ただ、賠償指針との整合性をどう図るかなどの課題もあり、流動的な面もある。県は「検討材料の一つ」としながらも、あくまで賠償金の支払いを求める方針だ。

Under the new guideline set by the council for the nuclear damage disputes under the Ministry of Education and Science, there are municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture being excluded from the government compensation scheme. Yukio Edano, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, disclosed the plan on December 22 to introduce a new support scheme in early January using the fund for emergency countermeasures for nuclear damages. Edano held a talk with Yuhei Sato, Governor of Fukushima, and his comment was in response to Sato's request. According to the government source, the national government is coordinating the ministries and agencies involved in order to put money in the emergency countermeasures fund that the Fukushima prefectural government hopes to set up, and [using the money in the fund] to distribute gift certificates to all Fukushima residents. However, there are still issues of how to reconcile this scheme with the compensation guideline, and the situation remains still fluid. The Fukushima prefectural government says "The scheme is one of the things being considered", and plans to press for compensation money [for all Fukushima residents].



According to the government source, the national government expects to pour 86 billion yen [US$1.1 billion] to the emergency countermeasures fund, and plans to use 42 billion yen [US$537 million] from the fund to issue gift certificates. The gift certificates can be used inside Fukushima Prefecture only, so that the local economy is revitalized by "local products, local consumption". The idea came up after the Ministry of Finance expressed reluctance to pay cash compensation to the residents who wouldn't be covered under the new guideline for compensation for voluntary evacuation. Instead of cash compensation, all Fukushima residents would get the gift certificates.

Let's see, Fukushima's population is (or was) slightly over 2 million. Under the scheme, each resident would get about 21,000 yen, or about US$270.

Meanwhile, the Japan's staunch ally United States's TSA confiscates a cupcake from a passenger because the frost on the cupcake was too "gel-like", posing a security risk.

Idiocracy everywhere.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

#Radioactive Tomato in Kashiwa City, Chiba Prefecture

18.5 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium has been detected from tomatoes grown in Kashiwa City in Chiba Prefecture. The survey was done by one of the largest supermarket chain AEON.

From (12/23/2011):


The large supermarket chain AEON announced on November 8 that it would conduct a more thorough analysis of radioactive materials in food items, and it has been publishing the results on its homepage. There has been occasional detection of radioactive cesium in marine products, but never in vegetables. However, according to the result published on December 22, 18.5 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium was detected from tomatoes grown in a contract farm in Chiba Prefecture.

The tomatoes in question were tested on December 15, according to the AEON's webpage. reports that a quick phone call to AEON revealed that the tomatoes came from a contract farm in Kashiwa City which is located in the high-radiation northwest corner of Chiba Prefecture. also speculates that at this time of the year these tomatoes must be grown in a hot house.

So where could radioactive cesium have come from? Water? Soil? Fertilizer? (I hope they weren't using rice hay as soil cover...)

AEON's page that lists the results of vegetable surveys is here. It looks the detection limit for tomatoes (as well as other vegetables) were higher in the earlier surveys, so it is possible that radioactive cesium had been there in the earlier samples but not detected.

AEON's page that lists the results of the radiation survey is here.

On a separate piece of news, AEON's subsidiary AEON MALL has won the contract for a redevelopment project right behind the Onahama Port in Iwaki City in Fukushima Prefecture, according to Fukushima Minpo. Promoting Fukushima rice and produce has paid out well for AEON Group, it looks.

TEPCO's Chairman and President to Resign As TEPCO Is Being Effectively "Nationalized"

a la GM and AIG. Nothing new under the sun.

Chairman Katsumata and President Nishizawa will resign as the money from the government (to be collected ultimately from taxpayers of course) flows in to support TEPCO's operations to the tune of 2 trillion yen (US$25 billion).

From Fukushima Minpo (12/22/2011):


TEPCO and the Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund [set up by the national government] started discussion on December 22 to reshuffle the top management in order to receive the public fund. It is likely that all directors with representation right when the Fukushima I Nuclear Plant accident happened will resign, including President Toshio Nishizawa, who became the president in June, and Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata. The new chairman will be selected from outside the company, while the new president is likely to be promoted to the position from within.


TEPCO and the Fund, which was set up by the government, have decided that it is necessary to clarify accountability. In the new management, more outside directors will be elected to the board which has only one such director right now so that they keep a keen eye on the operation of the company.

Blah blah blah.

Fat retirement package and fat pension, and descend to affiliated companies or research institutes as executives or as consultants - that's my guess.

The Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund is funded by the government (7 billion yen) and the electric power companies that operate nuclear power plants in Japan (7 billion yen).

According to Asahi Shinbun (12/21/2011) and others, the national government will ask 70 financial institutions to lend the total of 1 trillion yen to TEPCO. The government will ask these institutions to lend another 1 trillion yen to the Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund with the national government's guarantee. The Fund will funnel that money to TEPCO, and in return will acquire more than two-thirds of the company by acquiring special class of stock to be issued, so that it will be easier for the Fund to later sell the shares in the future.

Why? Because it has become more apparent that the liabilities will exceed net assets at TEPCO soon.

This looks so familiar that I feel like I'm back in 2008.

Banks are happy, as the loans to TEPCO will be guaranteed by the national government - i.e. backstopped by the taxpayers. Bond holders are happy, as there will no headshave. Shareholders are happy because common stocks are not diluted, and the company will not go bankrupt if it is "nationalized".

TEPCO's corporate bonds are held widely by institutional investors as they have been considered safe, issued by a solid, profitable company, TEPCO. Not any more, but the large institutional investors, including Japan's Pension Fund, cannot suffer, can they?

TEPCO denies it is a "nationalization", but if it squawks like a duck and walks like a duck it is a duck. As if to celebrate the joyous occasion that it will be all paid by the Japan's current and future taxpayers, TEPCO has announced the increase in utility rates for both businesses and individuals.

So the Japanese people will be made to pay in multiple ways for TEPCO and the government: rate increase, increased cost of goods because of higher utility cost for the businesses, tax, and endless tax for decades to decommission the reactors and to decontaminate the highly contaminated Fukushima Prefecture.

TEPCO says "Please understand the difficult situation we're in" on their Japanese homepage. How about TEPCO understanding the difficult situation it has put the Japanese people in?

And just like the mortgage fraud and foreclosuregate, no one has gone to jail.

#Radioactive Japan: "Dr. Demento Show"

I was describing to an American friend about what's been happening at an accelerating pace in Japan after the now-infamous "cold shutdown state and end of Fukushima accident" declaration by the hapless Prime Minister Noda, who now wants to bring pandas to Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture to cheer children.

He said, "Dr. Demento Show!"

Things are indeed getting more hilarious by the hour.

This is one of the most hilarious from yesterday's news: Fuku-I accident "docu-drama"

Nippon Television, the close affiliate of Yomiuri Shinbun which has been pro-nuke ever since Matsutaro Shoriki bought the paper in xxxx, will air a "docu-drama" of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident on December 23 Friday from 6:45PM to 8:55PM Japan Time, titled "87 Hours when Japan was on the verge of destruction", using popular actors to play the part of PM Kan, Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano, TEPCO's Fuku-I plant manager Yoshida, etc.

Comments on the news from Japanese twitterers:

  • See how they take us for fools

  • The title of the drama cannot get more demented.

  • So the nuke accident is just one form of entertainment. Great.

Controversial dam construction (Yanba Dam) in Gunma Prefecture given green light, benefiting TEPCO, again:

Yanba Dam has been in the works ever since 1950s, but the project was suspended two years ago when the Democratic Party of Japan took power. It was in the DPJ's party "manifest" to stop the project. Now, under the same DPJ but led by PM Noda, it has been formally declared that it is good to go. The local politicians and interest parties in the small town of Naganohara are ecstatic. They greeted the Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport with three cheers (banzai) yesterday (Yomiuri Shinbun 12/23/2011).

Well, it turns out that TEPCO has been diverting water from upstream to run its hydroelectric power stations along the Agatsuma River. If the dam is built, TEPCO cannot draw as much water as it likes for these power stations and therefore has to be compensated. To the tune of 1.7 billion yen per year.

From what I've read, it doesn't make any sense geologically and economically, other than to benefit certain parties connected to construction work with taxpayers' money. I once drove through the area. It was deep in the mountains, rapid river. An excellent and ancient (first discovered in 1193) hot spring town along the river, which will be lost under water if the dam is built.

Money speaks, it always has been, and always will in the "dango" Japan. The government always wins by wearing the small citizens out.

Radioactive ash disposal in Chiba Prefecture in the middle of rice paddies:

Meanwhile in Chiba, where northwestern corner of the prefecture is highly contaminated with radioactive materials, the prefectural government wants to move those highly radioactive ashes from incinerators in Kashiwa City whose radioactive material density far exceeds the national provisional safety limit for ashes (8000 becquerels/kg) to a final waste disposal facility in Teganuma, west of Kashiwa City. (Mainichi Shinbun 12/22/2011)

Looking at the satellite photo of Google, the facility is right on the Tega River, which feeds water to the rice paddies surrounding the final waste disposal facility. The Tega River flows to the Tone River, which flows into the Pacific Ocean.

Smart move, Chiba.

And about the Panda loan from China to Sendai City:

Sendai City in Miyagi Prefecture wants to "borrow" pandas from China to cheer children in the city. So the vice mayor of Sendai visited PM Noda on December 22 with two TV celebrities to press Noda to ask for panda loan when he visits China on December 25. Sure, says Noda.

The celebrities, Masahiko Kondo and Tetsuko Kuroyanagi, vow they will support the city by providing money for panda housing and protection, which is estimated to be 1 billion yen over 5 years. Kondo says the money comes from donations that his office has collected from citizens for the people in disaster-affected areas. (Yomiuri Shinbun Miyagi local version 12/23/2011)

Kuroyanagi is one of the actors who scolded Japanese people who don't want to buy produce from Fukushima for fear of internal radiation exposure as selfish and unpatriotic.

1 billion yen would buy many, many dosimeters or stoves for people in temporary housing that lacks insulation for the cold winter. But building a brand-new, state-of-the-art panda house in the city's zoo will bring more business to building contractors favored by the city.

In the meantime, ex-PM Kan is blasting TEPCO's management as basically a "fool on the hill" (Yomiuri Shinbun 12/22/2011). The gall of him to say that.

#Radioactive Rice from Watari District, Fukushima City: 1540 Bq/Kg

News of radioactive cesium rice just keeps coming from Fukushima Prefecture. This time, it is from Watari District again, and the number is the highest found so far.

From Yomiuri Shinbun (12/22/2011):


Radioactive cesium exceeding the national provisional safety limit (500 becquerels/kg) has been found in rice harvested in Fukushima City and other cities in Fukushima Prefecture. On December 22, the Fukushima prefectural government announced that 1540 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium was found in rice grown by a farmer in Watari District in Fukushima Prefecture.


It is the highest level of radioactive cesium in rice detected so far. The rice is kept at the farmer's home, and not sold in the market.

Well, it is the "official" highest level, and it is approaching the "unofficial" high (2600 becquerels/kg) measured in rice grown in the soil taken from Iitate-mura by Professor Kazue Tazaki of Kanazawa University. A similar amount of radioactive cesium was detected in rice grown in Iitate-mura (unofficially by an irate farmer who was forced to relocate).

Farm soil in Watari District in Fukushima was never officially tested for radioactive materials. An NPO (FoE Japan) tested soil samples from Watari with the help of Professor Yamauchi of Kobe University, but they are not from rice paddies or fields. The Fukushima prefectural government still doesn't test it. I am very curious to know the radiation levels in the farm soil in Watari and elsewhere where radioactive cesium has been detected in rice exceeding the provisional limit.

As you can imagine, sales of Fukushima rice, which was shipped with great fanfare with the declaration of safety by the governor of Fukushima in early October, has ground to a halt. But I hear that a large food distributor Ion is determined to sell bento (lunch box) and onigiri (rice ball) proudly featuring the "safe" Fukushima rice to help Fukushima farmers, supposedly.

#Radioactive Nori in Tokyo Bay

Someone was tweeting that radioactive cesium has been found in dried sheets of "nori" (seaweed) made in Chiba Prefecture and Kanagawa Prefecture, on Tokyo Bay. So I looked for the original information, which I figured must have come from the Fisheries Agency.

And so I found it there.

The Fisheries Agency publishes the result of the survey of radioactive materials (iodine, cesium only) in marine products including seaweeds. In the latest result published on December 21 for the items reported since October, radioactive cesium has been found in dried "nori" in:

Kanagawa Prefecture - 1 sample, at 11 becquerels/kg

Chiba Prefecture - 6 samples, 11, 27, 25, 16.5, 5.6, 17.7 becquerels/kg respectively

Nori grown and harvested in Tokyo Bay, called "Edomae nori", commands super premium. One sheet of Edomae nori usually fetches over 10 yen a sheet at wholesale (US 13 cents), and used mostly in gourmet sushi restaurants.

The levels are not supposed to be causing negative effect on health as per the Japanese government; the government's provisional safety limit for radioactive cesium is 500 becquerels/kg.

By the way, this level is set to be lowered to 100 becquerels/kg on the April Fool's Day next year which is the first day of fiscal 2012 in Japan. Serious.

I've never seen the news of radioactive cesium detection in nori in the mainstream media at all. Without Twitter, I wouldn't have known about it. I'm curious to know how radioactive cesium traveled from Fukushima to Tokyo Bay. The government has claimed that the Kuroshio Current would prevent the spread of radioactive materials south of Ibaraki.

Judging by the reaction to my Japanese tweet, there are many others like me who didn't know about the detection.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Deutsche Welle: "Fukushima power plant is far from 'cold' "

Germany's Deutsche Welle's take on PM Noda's declaration of the "cold shutdown state" at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant is more severe than New York Times.

Alexander Freund at Deutsche Welle Asia Desk says it is not the power plant that has been stabilized and controlled:

"The nuclear power lobbyists are the ones who can claim credit for stabilizing their own situation and getting the government under control. "

Enough said.

From Deutsche Welle (12/16/2011):

The Japanese government has claimed to have reached a cold shutdown in Fukushima. But experts are skeptical and believe it could take another 40 years to get the situation under control.

Headlines from Japan surely sound good: Fukushima is under control, the dilapidated nuclear power plant is stable. But these headlines are nothing more than a euphemism. The situation at Fukushima is nowhere near under control.

The Daiichi power plant operator Tepco and the Japanese government had announced at the end of summer to have the situation under control – or a cold shutdown – by the end of this year. For a “cold shutdown,” temperatures inside the reactor buildings need to be below 100 degrees Celsius. But it is just the beginning – the start of a point from which the plant can be disassembled.

Or so it goes in theory. But experts are saying it could take another 30 years before the plant can be levelled. Experts believe parts of the fuel rods burned through the floor of the reactor pressure vessel and are now lying on the ground and that they are far from "cold," but that they are still around at a temperature of 3,000 degrees Celcius.

Referring to the current situation at Fukushima as a cold shutdown is thus irresponsible. But what else are the government and Tepco to do? They are hoping to pacify the population by talking about a cold shutdown, but it won’t work. The Japanese people are infuriated – nine months after the earthquake and tsunami which led to the meltdown in the Daiichi plant – Tepco was speaking of nuclear fission in reactor 2 just a couple of weeks ago. Nuclear radiation is still extremely high in the Fukushima prefecture and contaminated water continues to flow into the sea. High levels of radiation continue to be found in rice, meat, vegetables, seafood, milk and tea in the region. And thousands of people have been displaced by the nuclear disaster and continue to live in evacuation shelters. They will receive a small amount in compensation – but it will be payed out of the pockets of Japanese tax payers and not out of Tepco’s.

Nothing is under control – an unavoidable fact known to many Japanese people. Their skepticism and distrust have got to a point reached that many take their own measurements using Geiger counters and dosimeters. A number of people have started posting their findings on the Internet. There, on a map of Japan, anyone can see the radiation measurements taken throughout the country. This is important because it is not only those from the Fukushima prefecture who are affected, as measurements have shown. This has shaken a population that traditionally places great importance on respecting authrtiy. And no positive headlines at the year’s end are going to make it better.

Beacause there is no real progress to report. The new Japanese government under Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, who has been in office since September, 2011, has not passed the “stress test,“ either. The last PM Naoto Kan had to resign, as his government, which failed in the hour of need, broke under the pressure of crossing swords with the country’s powerful lobbyists for nuclear power and instead made a move towards renewable energy. The nuclear power lobbyists are the ones who can claim credit for stabilizing their own situation and getting the government under control.

I've noticed that people in Germany seem to think better of ex-PM Kan than most Japanese, because Kan made overture to anti-nuke policy and alternative energy.

There are many in Japan who hold Kan personally responsible to have caused the explosion of Reactor 1 by insisting on going to Fukushima I Nuke Plant on the crucial day, March 12. He went in, shouting and scolding everyone, and left. The frantic work at the plant to contain the situation had to be stopped until after Kan left. Reactor 1 blew up that afternoon. (Mainichi Shinbun had an excellent series detailing the early days of the accident. I don't know if they still have it online. If I find it I will post the link here.)

No amount of promise for alternative energy or anti-nuclear policy would ever reconcile him to the Japanese public.

TEPCO/Japanese Government Released Mid to Long-Term "Roadmap" for Decommissioning Reactors 1 to 4 at Fukushima I Nuke Plant

where they hope they will have been long retired and gone before any of the serious stuff like removing the corium from somewhere deep in the reactor buildings (hopefully). Or taking out the spent fuel from Reactor 3 Spent Fuel Pool (if they can find any left).

The title of the Roadmap report does not say anything about Reactors 5 and 6. It says:


"Mid- to long-term roadmap toward decommissioning of Reactors 1 through 4 and other works at TEPCO Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant"

For now, it is only in Japanese, available at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) press release section, here.

Let's take a look at the 5-page summary with pretty pictures that TEPCO drew. As you may have guessed, the whole thing is a joke, or based on hope and wishful thinking, because many of the technologies that will be needed to do any of the jobs that TEPCO lists as necessary for decommissioning the plant are not even developed.

That much is immediately obvious on Page 5, where TEPCO outlines necessary work on-site (in beige color arrows) and R&D necessary (in green arrows), and planning necessary (in pale yellow arrows) for removing the "fuel debris" (corium) from reactors, and decommissioning the reactors. "HP" in the map "means decision-making point" (handan point - handan means decision making in Japanese):

On the other hand, TEPCO seems to think removing the spent fuel from the Spent Fuel Pools will be an easy task - 2 to 3 years of planning, and removing the fuel sometime after 2016. How? Here's what TEPCO envisions (from Page 2; I added the English labels):

TEPCO thinks the easiest will be Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool, followed by (believe it or not) Reactor 3 Spent Fuel Pool. They hope to start removing the spent fuel from Reactor 4 SFP within 2 years from now, and from Reactor 3 SFP within 3 years.

How about removing the "fuel debris"? The process entirely depends on developing technologies - remote-control decontamination, remote-control repair of the Containment Vessels, remote-control surveying of the inside of the CVs, and finally removing the fuel debris. One funny thing about the pretty pictures that TEPCO drew for the presentation is that the company still depicts the "fuel debris" (corium) sitting pretty on the concrete floor of the Containment Vessel. TEPCO has admitted to the possibility that the corium is at least 65 centimeters into the concrete, and other researchers have said it may be as deep as 2 meters into the concrete.

In the first two pictures, I just noticed a stick figure inside the reactor building. So TEPCO is planning to send carbon-based workers to do the decontamination and repair of the Containment Vessel in extremely high radiation. Furthermore, the company seems to want to believe that whatever the damage to the Containment Vessel may be it is at the location that can be accessed, not in the basement. The only work in the basement in these pictures is stopping the water going from the reactor building basement to the turbine building basement.

The high-ranking US government officials were at hand for the declaration of the "cold shutdown state" and "end of the accident" by Prime Minister Noda. They were probably accompanied by the nuclear industry people and nuclear consultants wanting the piece of this decommission work that is guaranteed to last 30 years at least.

Not just nuclear industry consultants, but at least one alternative energy big shot was in Tokyo; Amory Lovins of Rocky Mountain Institute was urging the Japanese government and Japanese people to spend big money on alternative energy while telling the Japanese people they don't conserve energy enough. He may be eyeing for a government project on non-nuclear alternative energy. He said Japan should invest big money on alternative energy and energy conservation, and make a great contribution to the rest of the world by sharing the result.

I'm afraid the Japanese people may have had enough of being an exemplary global citizen, particularly when they have so many things to take care of within their own country.