Saturday, November 26, 2011

"Trap of Prometheus" Series Part 2 - Resignation of a Researcher: NISA Was About to Set Evacuation Zone Based on SPEEDI on March 11 Evening (1/4)

Asahi Shinbun's "Trap of Prometheus" series is still on-going, and right now it's Part 3 about suppressing the scientific data. It continues to be an excellent article, and it continues to be printed on the "third page" (see my post on the Part 1 of the series).

I just finished reading the Part 2 "Resignation of a Researcher", which has 21 installments. Even though Asahi Shinbun is busy taking down the blog sites that compile all the series articles for convenient reading, they cannot suppress them all, and I read it on this blog.

In it, there is a very curious piece of information about SPEEDI simulation, the NISA and the PM's Office's decision to set the evacuation zone in concentric circles. In short,

  • The Ministry of Education had ordered the SPEEDI simulations from the beginning and knew exactly where to send the official to do the actual measurements in Namie-machi, Fukushima;

  • Not only the Ministry of Education ordered SPEEDI simulation calculations but also the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency ordered its own SPEEDI simulation calculations with much more accuracy;

  • NISA was setting the evacuation zone on March 11 evening based on the simulation;

  • NISA stopped their work as soon as the PM's Office, based on no credible information or agreed-on procedure, announced the concentric circle evacuation zones.

Reading the Part 2 of the series, it sure looks as if almost everything bad that happened afterwards could have been prevented if the politicians and bureaucrats on the initial (and crucial) 1st and 2nd days of the nuclear accident had acted to protect the public, which I think is their constitutional duty. Instead, they played games, a turf war as if this was just another ordinary day in Kasumigaseki.

This post is my quick translation of the Installment 11. Installments 12, 13, and 14 will be in the next 3 posts.


"Resignation of a Researcher" (11) Instruction with pinpoint precision


Shinzo Kimura and others entered Fukushima on March 15. That day, Reactor 2 at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant was damaged at around 6AM and a large amount of radioactive materials were being released.


At a location 5 kilometers from the plant, the headquarters for nuclear disaster countermeasures was set up by the national government in the evening of March 11. However, in the evening of March 14, they decided to retreat out of fear of the condition of Reactor 2. The retreat started that night, and the headquarters was moved inside the Fukushima prefectural government building, 60 kilometers from the plant, by March 15 afternoon.


Makio Watanabe, one of the officials at the headquarters, received the instruction on March 15 evening at the Fukushima prefectural government building. "The situation is extremely serious. Go measure the radiation."

渡辺は文部科学省茨城原子力安全管理事務所から応援に来ていた。指示された場所は浪江町山間部の3カ所。ピンポイントだった。神奈川北原子力事務所の車 で現地に行き、午後9時ごろ放射線量を測る。数値を見て驚いた。3カ所とも高く、特に赤宇木(あこうぎ)は毎時330マイクロシーベルト。

Watanabe had been sent to the headquarters from the Ministry of Education's office for nuclear safety management in Ibaraki. He was instructed to go and measure at 3 locations in the mountainous area in Namie-machi. The instruction was pinpoint, very precise. He drove there, and start measuring the radiation at about 9PM. He was alarmed to see the numbers. All three locations had very high radiation, and Akogi District in Namie-machi measured 330 microsieverts/hour.


Looking back, Watanabe says "I just couldn't believe it." He wanted to report right away, but his cellphone didn't connect. He couldn't use his satelite phone because it was raining. He hastily drove back to Kawamata-machi, and used the public phone there to report. On the way back to Kawamata-machi, he saw lights in people's houses. There were still many people remaining [in Namie-machi].


"I just didn't want the residents to get irradiated. I reported that the radiation levels were extremely high, and asked the headquarters please to make the radiation measurements public as soon as possible."


Watanabe wasn't even wearing the protective clothing. Since the retreat to the Fukushima prefectural government building was done so hastily that they left protective gear.


"I didn't think about my safety at that time. I felt I had to do it."

必死の思いで渡辺が伝えた数値は、しかし住民避難に使われはしなかった。文科省は16日にその数値を発表したが、地区名は伏せたまま。浪江町に知らせる こともなかった。町は危険を認識せず、一帯に残る住民に伝えることもなかった。なにより官房長官は「直ちに人体に影響を与えるような数値ではない」と会見 で述べていた。

However, the numbers that Watanabe had measured at grave danger and reported were never used for evacuation of the residents. The Ministry of Education announced the numbers on March 16 but it didn't say exactly where. The Ministry never notified Namie-machi. Namie-machi didn't know the danger, and so it didn't inform the residents about the danger. More than anything else, the Chief Cabinet Secretary [Edano] kept saying in the press conference, "They are not the levels that would affect the body immediately."


Still, how come the headquarters knew the locations of high radiation with such precision? Watanabe says, "Who decided which point to measure and instructed me? I do not know even this day."


The reporter tracked down the source, and it was from the Ministry of Education in Tokyo. The instruction was based on SPEEDI, and the Ministry knew the extend of radiation contamination.

I remember the face of Yukio Edano in the press conferences in the early days of the accident. He was saying "No immediate effect". People were relieved. People even worried for his health, and told him to get some sleep. Then one day in mid April, there was a news clip of him visiting Fukushima (Minami Soma City), with protective clothing and a face mask. People ridiculed him at first, for it seemed to contradict his statement of "no immediate risk".

He knew. And he lied. And people know that now, albeit too late.

From 9/19 Anti-Nuke Rally: "Don't Take Away Our Lives"

said Ms. Ruiko Muto at the No-Nuke Rally in Tokyo on September 19, 2011. Ms. Muto is a member of "Action Committee for Decommissioning 40-year-old Fukushima Nuke Plant." This committee was established in November 2010, before the accident.

According to Tokyo Brown Tabby's description on the youtube video, Ms. Muto runs a coffee shop in Miharu-machi in Fukushima, using natural energy. Miharu-machi is the only town in Fukushima Prefecture whose mayor distributed potassium iodide pills to the residents and told them to take the pills.

The speech is not exactly my cup of tea, but I just wanted my readers to know that there are people like her in Japan who try calmly and patiently to educate, inform, and call for actions.

If only she, and people like her stopped thinking "Don't take away our lives". Stop pleading the government not to take your lives. Just tell them that you won't let them.

Translation by Emma Parker (full transcript at the link) and captioning by Tokyo Brown Tabby.

UK's Telegraph: Prepare for riots in euro collapse, Foreign Office warns

Brits are preparing for "when", not "if", euro collapses.

From The Telegraph (11/26/2011):

British embassies in the eurozone have been told to draw up plans to help British expats through the collapse of the single currency, amid new fears for Italy and Spain.

As the Italian government struggled to borrow and Spain considered seeking an international bail-out, British ministers privately warned that the break-up of the euro, once almost unthinkable, is now increasingly plausible.

Diplomats are preparing to help Britons abroad through a banking collapse and even riots arising from the debt crisis.

The Treasury confirmed earlier this month that contingency planning for a collapse is now under way.

A senior minister has now revealed the extent of the Government’s concern, saying that Britain is now planning on the basis that a euro collapse is now just a matter of time.

“It’s in our interests that they keep playing for time because that gives us more time to prepare,” the minister told the Daily Telegraph.


The EU treaties that created the euro and set its membership rules contain no provision for members to leave, meaning any break-up would be disorderly and potentially chaotic.

If eurozone governments defaulted on their debts, the European banks that hold many of their bonds would risk collapse.

Some analysts say the shock waves of such an event would risk the collapse of the entire financial system, leaving banks unable to return money to retail depositors and destroying companies dependent on bank credit.

The Financial Services Authority this week issued a public warning to British banks to bolster their contingency plans for the break-up of the single currency.

Some economists believe that at worst, the outright collapse of the euro could reduce GDP in its member-states by up to half and trigger mass unemployment.

Analysts at UBS, an investment bank earlier this year warned that the most extreme consequences of a break-up include risks to basic property rights and the threat of civil disorder.

“When the unemployment consequences are factored in, it is virtually impossible to consider a break-up scenario without some serious social consequences,” UBS said.

(Full article at the link.)

There are prominent fund managers who have been counting on the premise that TPTB would never let the euro collapse in a disorderly way, and have invested rather heavily in the sovereign debts in the euro zone. One of them, MF Global, decided to gobble up the Italian debt, and ended up blowing itself up along with retail investors including US farmers who were using MF Global for their commodity hedging.

It is surely an interesting time. The currency blowing up in Europe, reactors blew up in Japan, the US attacking an uneasy ally (Pakistan) while a Black Friday shopper uses pepper spray to gain advantage over the other shoppers.

(Version Française) Kyoto University Students: "Stop Calling Murder a Science!"

Protestation étudiants univ. de Kyoto ''Cessez d'appeler science un meurtre !''

Share it with your French-speaking friends.

(H/T Helios for translation)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Bloomberg: Vindicated Seismologist Says Japan Still Underestimates Threat to Reactors

From Bloomberg News (11/21/2011):

Dismissed as a “nobody” by Japan’s nuclear industry, seismologist Katsuhiko Ishibashi spent two decades watching his predictions of disaster come true: First in the 1995 Kobe earthquake and then at Fukushima. He says the government still doesn’t get it.

The 67-year-old scientist recalled in an interview how his boss marched him to the Construction Ministry to apologize for writing a 1994 book suggesting Japan’s building codes put its cities at risk. Five months later, thousands were killed when a quake devastated Kobe city. The book, “A Seismologist Warns,” became a bestseller.

That didn’t stop Haruki Madarame, now head of Japan’s Nuclear Safety Commission, from dismissing Ishibashi as an amateur when he warned of a “nuclear earthquake disaster,” a phrase the Kobe University professor coined in 1997. Ishibashi says Japan still underestimates the risk of operating reactors in a country that has about 10 percent of the world’s quakes.

“What was missing -- and is still missing -- is a recognition of the danger,” Ishibashi said, seated in a dining room stacked with books in his house in a Kobe suburb. “I understand we’re not going to shut all of the nuclear plants, but we should rank them by risk and phase out the worst.”

Among Japan’s most vulnerable reactors are some of its oldest, built without the insights of modern earthquake science, Ishibashi said. It was only in the last four years that Japan Atomic Power Co. recognized an active fault line running under its reactor in Tsuruga, which opened in 1970 about 120 kilometers (75 miles) northeast of Osaka and close to a lake that supplies water to millions of people in the region.

New Fault Lines

Japan Atomic is reinforcing the plant to improve quake tolerance and believes it’s safe despite the discovery of new active faults lines in 2008, Masao Urakami, a Tokyo-based spokesman for the utility, said.

“We can’t respond to every claim by every scientist,” he said. “Standards for seismic ground motion are not decided arbitrarily, but are based on findings by experts assigned by the government.”

Reactor 1 at the Tsuruga plant, which had its license extended for 10 years in 2009, is one of 13 on Wakasa bay, a stretch of Sea of Japan coast that is home to the world’s heaviest concentration of nuclear reactors. The area is riddled with fault lines found in the last three or four years, according to Ishibashi.


Fukushima Foretold

His view changed after a magnitude-6.9 quake killed more than 5,500 people on Jan. 17, 1995, and toppled sections of elevated expressway.

After a disaster that Japanese engineers had said couldn’t happen, the nuclear regulator didn’t immediately re-evaluate its construction standards. It said the plants were “safe from the ground up,” as the title of a 1995 Science Ministry pamphlet put it. Ishibashi decided to investigate.

The result was an article on Hamaoka published in the October 1997 issue of Japan’s Science Journal that reads like a post-mortem of the Fukushima disaster: A major quake could knock out external power to the plant’s reactors and unleash a tsunami that could overrun its 6-meter defenses, swamping backup diesel generators and leading to loss of cooling and meltdowns.

When the local prefecture questioned industry experts about Ishibashi’s paper, the response was that he didn’t need to be taken seriously.

Ishibashi a ‘Nobody’

“In the field of nuclear engineering, Mr. Ishibashi is a nobody,” Madarame said in a 1997 letter to the Shizuoka Legislature. Madarame, then a professor at the University of Tokyo school of engineering, is now in charge of nuclear safety in the country.

Requests made to Madarame’s office in October for an interview on his current views of Ishibashi’s work were declined.

On Oct. 24, Madarame was asked after a regular press briefing for the commission if he’d changed his opinion about Ishibashi.

“Because of the accident there’s a need to take another look at things, including the earthquake engineering guidelines, and we’re doing that,” he said. “Ishibashi contributed a lot to the revisions to the earthquake guidelines and his comments there are important.” He declined to comment further.

Hamaoka’s reactors, the subject of Ishibashi’s 1997 report, were shut in May after then-Prime Minister Naoto Kan went on television to publicly plead with Chubu Electric to close the plant. The utility estimates it will cost 100 billion yen and 18 months to build a seawall around the reactors.

(Full article at the link.)

Professor Ishibashi was the one who published the paper on Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant in Shizuoka, saying the plant sits on top of several active faults.

In May this year, he was called to testify in the Japan's Lower House committee to give his opinion on the government response to the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident. He basically said, "I told you so."

What struck me when I watched the netcast of that committee hearing was that he was quite adamant on doing everything Japanese - Japanese researchers, Japanese technology, Japanese companies to bring an end to the nuclear accident. At that time, it sounded odd, as none of the Japanese researchers, companies, and the government officials seemed to have a clue on what to do.

Well, some Japanese researchers were busy writing papers to submit to foreign journals that would advance their careers, companies were submitting plans to TEPCO but TEPCO was told (or strongly advised) by the national government to use AREVA and Kurion, and the government officials knew it was total meltdown.

(H/T to several readers of this blog for Bloomberg link.)

#Radiation in Japan: Southern Miyagi's Disaster Debris May Be Too Radioactive

After the Tokyo Metropolitan government merrily signed the agreement with Miyagi Prefecture to accept radioactive disaster debris and burn it in regular incinerators operated by municipal governments all over Tokyo (see my post yesterday), Miyagi Prefecture announces that some of the Miyagi disaster debris may be too radioactive when burned.

So? Mix and burn. Or just send it to Governor Ishihara. He won't care, even if the residents may. He will be happy to receive the highly radioactive ashes from Miyagi and bury them anyway in Tokyo Bay. Mix and bury.

From Jiji Tsushin (11/25/2011; the link won't last):


Miyagi Prefecture wants to have the disaster debris from the March 11 earthquake/tsunami processed outside the prefecture, but on November 25 the prefectural government announced that the flammable debris in two towns in the southern part of Miyagi, Watari-cho and Yamamoto-cho, has reached the concentration of radioactive cesium that may warrant caution. The prefecture conducted the survey of radioactive cesium in the debris in 11 municipalities along the coast. Still, the Miyagi government says the debris will be thoroughly cleansed in the temporary storage areas to make sure it is safe, and then shipped outside the prefecture to be buried.


According to the survey, the radiation levels in the debris in the southern part of Miyagi are high. By the types, the debris that contains fabric that is prone to attracting minute dusts has high radiation concentration. The flammable debris in Watari and Yamamoto is estimated to have 350 Bq/kg and 769 Bq/kg of radioactive cesium, respectively.


The flammable debris will be moved to the secondary temporary storage areas and be burned. However, the prefectures that have been hit by the disaster, including Miyagi, has requested that part of the ashes be transported outside the prefectures and processed [buried, recycled]. According to the national guideline, radioactive cesium would be concentrated up to 33 times after burning the debris. If the flammable debris from Watari and Yamamoto were burned on its own, it might exceed the national guideline of 8000 becquerels/kg [of radioactive cesium] and couldn't be buried.

Why do they pretend as if 8000 becquerels/kg from the debris were a big deal, when the Ministry of the Environment has long issued the guideline saying the radioactive debris/garbage may be mixed with debris/garbage not contaminated with radioactive materials (if any in Tohoku and Kanto) so that the radiation gets lowered in the ashes?

Why does Miyagi insist that part of the debris ashes be buried outside Miyagi, anyway?

Well that aside, applying the multiplier (33),

  • Yamamoto-cho's debris: 769 x 33 = 25,377 becquerels/kg

  • raWatari-cho's debris: 350 x 33 = 11,500 becquerels/kg

Radioactive Rice: 1270 Bq/kg of Cesium from Rice in Onami District, Fukushima City

630 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium discovered in the same district on November 16 was treated as "exception", with researchers from an august university (Tokyo University) weighing in with their theory on how "exceptional" the topography of that rice paddy was.

So much for that.

Now the maximum radioactive cesium from the rice in the district is 1270 becquerels/kg. From a different rice paddy.

Yomiuri Shinbun (11/26/2011) reports that radioactive cesium exceeding the national provisional limit was found in rice grown and harvested at 5 more farms in Onami District, Fukushima City in Fukushima Prefecture. But rest assured, as we are supposed to believe they haven't been sold in the market.


As radioactive cesium exceeding the national provisional safety limit (500 becquerels/kg) had been detected in the rice harvested in Onami District in Fukushima City, Fukushima Prefecture announced on November 25 that the rice harvested in 5 additional farms in the same district was found with radioactive cesium exceeding the provisional safety limit. The maximum was 1270 becquerels/kg.


The rice is either stored in the warehouses at JA or at the farms, or has been given to the farmers' relatives. It is not being sold in the marketplace, according to the prefectural government.


The Fukushima prefectural government has been testing the rice (4752 bags) from all 154 rice farms in the district. So far, 864 bags from 34 farms have been tested. Of those, 103 bags from 5 farms exceeded the provisional safety limit. At the farm that had the rice with 1270 becquerels/kg cesium, all 24 bags were found with cesium exceeding the provisional safety limit, and the minimum was also high at 970 becquerels/kg. At another farm, the rice tested between 540 to 1110 becquerels/kg.

Professor Kosako's "chaos in the harvest season" did not come, simply because the Fukushima prefectural government carefully avoided testing the soil or the rice from what they may have known as high contamination areas. (More in the next post.)

Now the harvest season is over, the new crop of rice from Fukushima is being sold and served all over Japan, and PR campaigns by TV celebrities and politicians are being mounted, again equating "good tasting" as "being safe". School children in Koriyama City in Fukushima Prefecture are being served with the rice harvested in Koriyama City (see my post); part of the city is just as badly contaminated as part of Fukushima City.

Chaos did not come, thanks to the selective measuring; instead, a resignation prevails.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Kyoto University Students: "Stop Calling Murder a Science!"

I never thought I'd be cheering for what I used to know as a radical, Marxist student organization like Zengakuren (All-Japan Federation of Students' Self-Governing Associations, some info from wiki), but I am now.

Here's the video of the Kyoto University students who are the members of the Zengakuren, confronting Dr. Sentaro Takahashi, deputy director of the Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute and protesting the public lecture that the Institute was hosting on October 1, 2011.

Dr. Takahashi was in charge of organizing the public lecture by Dr. Yoshiya Shimada of National Institute of Radiological Sciences, who is known for his claim that radiation exposure up to 100mSv/yr is safe. The students had been opposing the lecture, but Dr. Takahashi decided to go ahead and refused to let the students in.

The Kyoto University Zengakuren students are telling, in no uncertain terms, that holding the lecture in the name of Kyoto University is totally unacceptable, and they tell the deputy director why. They speak in a dialect of Osaka area (Kawachi dialect), which is as harsh as you can get in Japanese. Th dialect itself sounds angry to many people in Japan even in peace time, and the students are actually really very angry. But then they are the students attending Kyoto University, one of the most prestigious universities in Japan and known for academic rigor. They are angry, speak in rapid fire, and they remain logical, using precise terms when they talk about radiation exposure.

I posted this video on my Japanese blog sometime ago, and it became one of the most popular posts in my blog. Many who knew what Zengakuren used to be were pleasantly surprised. Those who didn't know were still surprised. Many living in Fukushima commented, thanking the students for standing up for them. One or two said they didn't approve of the rough words that they used against a senior figure.

Rough translation by me, captioning and a minor editing by Tokyo Brown Tabby (who eliminated the s--t word, as Tabby's youtube channel is "known for decorum", says Tabby). I just cannot do enough justice to the particular Japanese dialect that the students are using.

Some people are rather impressed with Dr. Takahashi also, who listened to the students and tried to speak with them in a polite language. It is also possible that he was shell-shocked.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: TEPCO to RAISE Temperature of RPVs

After 8 and a half months of trying to lower the temperature of the Reactor Pressure Vessels (RPV), which by the way are broken and probably devoid of melted fuel, TEPCO announced they would now try to raise the temperature to avoid hydrogen explosion.

It seems like another non-reason why they do and do not want to reduce the amount of water in the building basements. (If they reduce the water level too much too soon, the ground water will seep in more - something like that. The ground water keeps coming in anyway.)

From Yomiuri Shinbun (11/24/2011):


TEPCO announced on November 24 that the work had started on reducing the amount of water being injected to Reactors 1 - 3 at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant in order to raise the temperature inside the Reactor Pressure Vessels.


The RPVs are thought to contain hydrogen. If the RPVs are cooled too much, the steam inside the RPVs will become water, making the atmosphere inside the RPV too dry and increasing the danger of igniting hydrogen. At the same time, TEPCO has started the preparation for injecting nitrogen into the RPVs to expel hydrogen inside the RPVs.


The amount of water injected to Reactor 1 will be reduced by 0.5 cubic meter per hour (currently 5.5 cubic meters/hr water is being injected), and the amount of water injected to Reactors 2 and 3 will be reduced by 1.5 cubic meter per hour (current amount is 10 cubic meters/hr). Right now, the temperatures at the bottom of the RPVs of Reactors 1, 2 and 3 are below 70 degrees Celsius. TEPCO wants to raise them to slightly above 80 degrees Celsius to maintain the amount of steam. As soon as nitrogen is injected inside the RPVs, the amounts of water injection will be restored to the existing level, the company says.

So far, nitrogen injection has been to the Containment Vessels.

Well let's see. According to the latest plant status by TEPCO (11/24/2011), the temperatures at the bottom of the RPVs are:

  • Reactor 1: 40.4 degrees Celsius
  • Reactor 2: 68.3 degrees Celsius
  • Reactor 3: 66.6 degrees Celsius

And here's TEPCO's diagram of the effect of the gas management system on Reactor 2's CV. It doesn't make sense whatsoever, as it depicts a reactor that was leaking gas from all over the place but now has stopped leaking, thanks to the gas management system that sucks out the gas from the CV. But isn't it cute that the melted fuel is depicted still nside the RPV?

#Radiation in Japan: Tokyo Will Burn Miyagi's Disaster (and Radioactive) Debris in Incineration Plants in 23 Special Wards

The Tokyo Metropolitan government simply announced on November 24, 2011 that it will be accepting the disaster debris from Onagawa-machi in Miyagi Prefecture starting early December and lasting till March 2013, and the debris (which is radioactive, by the way) will be burned in the waste incineration plants operated by the 23 Special Wards and by municipalities in Tama District (western Tokyo). The agreement has already been signed.

In my November 15 post, I wrote about this deal. But I apparently forgot to write about my speculation at that time (I did in my Japanese blog) that the only reason I could think of as to why the Assembly of the Special Ward Mayors was being consulted in accepting the Miyagi debris was that the debris would be burned in the regular incineration plants in the 23 Wards. I was exactly right, and I don't enjoy having been right on this.

From NHK Kabun tweet:


Debris from Onagawa-machi, Miyagi Prefecture will be brought to Tokyo by the Tokyo 23 Special Wards and municipalities in Tama District of Tokyo starting early next month till March of 2013. 100,000 tonnes of debris will be processed. It will be burned in the waste incineration plants operated by the municipalities, and the ashes will be buried in the landfill on the Tokyo Bay. (November 24)

All over.

They are confident that bag filters will reduce or eliminate the radioactive materials on the debris, which will be flammable wood debris, according to the Tokyo Metropolitan Bureau of Environment.

How radioactive it can be? The Bureau of Environment's announcement has a link to the test result of burning the debris and measuring the radiation in Ishinomaki City in Miyagi Prefecture. The number is 2300 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium in the ashes. Since it is so far below the 8000 becquerels/kg safety standard set by the Ministry of the Environment, there is no problem burning and burying, in the minds of the Tokyo Metropolitan governor and politicians and bureaucrats (and their celebrity supporters...).

By the way, the document from Onagawa-machi makes it clear that the debris may be burned in the private incineration plants in addition to the municipal incineration plants, and that the ashes may be used in "eco-cement".

Again, the only private incineration plant that would meet the spec (more than 100 tonnes per day capacity) is that TEPCO subsidiary, Tokyo Rinkai Recycle Power.

TEPCO Had the Dust Sampling Data from March 11, and Didn't Tell the Rest of Us Until November 24

From the tweets (here, here and here; in Japanese) of independent journalist Ryuichi Kino, from the TEPCO/government joint press conference on November 24, 2011:


Specs of the monitoring car that I asked about in the last press conference: dust sampling, air radiation level, neutron detection, wind speed and strength, etc., according to TEPCO's Matsumoto. So I asked, "Weren't you then doing the dust sampling from March 11?" Matsumoto answered as a matter of fact, "Yes." At that time in March, TEPCO said they weren't.


I think it was March 21 when TEPCO announced the result of the dust sampling for the first time. The explanation was that the samples were collected on March 18 and 19, and they were brought to Fukushima II and analyzed. Since the analyzer at Fuku-I was unusable, they weren't doing any dust sampling, there was no need - that was the explanation.


Matsumoto said he confirmed that the data was uploaded at the NISA's home page, and he will find out why it is not on TEPCO's home page. This TEPCO's attitude toward disclosure of March information is very problematic... If the result of dust sampling analysis was disclosed at that time, it might have proven the core meltdown. Did they hide?

I wonder. If you believe TEPCO (and the government), you will ______ (fill in the blank as you like).

I'll try to find that data on the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency's website tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant Reactor 3: Videos of Packbots Cleaning the Guide Rail and Finding 1.6 Sievert/Hr Spots

First, the video of Packbots' cleaning operation on November 18 of the guide rails to the Containment Vessel hatch in Reactor 3 reactor building 1st floor. As one Packbot wipes the rail and holds the towel up in the air, you see the water is dripping. The droplets look clear, and not sludge-like.

By the way, it is false information that the video was taken by a human worker on the scene. No way even TEPCO would knowingly send a carbon-based worker to videotape in 1.3 sievert/hr (as of November 14) environment. (Human workers entering and finding high-radiation spots is another matter.) One Packbot did the cleaning, while the other videotaped the effort by its colleague. Both were remotely operated by carbon-based colleagues from the PCs.

And here's the video where Packbots went back the next day (November 19) to the guide rails to inspect the cleaning job and measure the radiation again. We know that they found out their cleaning operation didn't reduce the radiation levels along the rails; the levels went up (see yesterday's post). The guide rails, despite the cleaning operation, look wet:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant Reactor 3: Radiation Went UP After Packbots Cleaned the Guide Rail to CV

After 2 Packbots wiped the guide rail to the Containment Vessel hatch on the 1st floor of Reactor 3, they were sent back in to measure the result of their operation in terms of radiation levels.

Well, the levels may have gone up. As you can see in the handout for the press on November 22, 2011, after the cleaning operation the measurement by the survey meter fluctuated so much that TEPCO couldn't put down the single number for each location.

What had been 800 millisieverts/hour on November 14 was anywhere between 570 to 1,600 millisieverts/hour on November 19.

From TEPCO's handout for the press on November 22, 2011:

TEPCO to Recalculate the Amount of Radioactive Materials Leaked into the Ocean

Not only foreign researchers but also Japanese researchers have raised issues with TEPCO's estimate on the amount of radioactive materials that leaked (on its own, or intentionally) into the Pacific Ocean, TEPCO has said it will recalculate the number. The company hopes to announce the result of the recalculation by the end of this month.

So far, TEPCO's number is 4,700 terabequerels (iodine, cesium).

From Chunichi Shinbun (11/23/2011; don't expect the link to last long on this paper):


Researchers in Japan and abroad have been disputing the number that TEPCO had announced regarding the amount of radioactive materials in the highly contaminated water at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant that leaked into the ocean. The leak was discovered in April. TEPCO's number does not include the amount that leaked in March. If the March number were to be added, it could be the worst marine contamination ever. In response to the criticism, TEPCO has started the recalculation, and hopes to announce the result by the end of this month.


In May, TEPCO announced that the amount of radioactive materials that leaked from the water intake of Reactor 2 was 4,700 terabecquerels, total of 3 nuclides including iodine and cesium. It was claimed at that time that the amount was less than 5,200 terabequerels of cesium-137 that leaked from UK's Sellafield nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in 1975.


However, in September, researchers at the Japan Atomic Energy Agency and the Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry (a TEPCO insider, in a way) published the results of their calculations in academic society meetings, showing the actual amount of the leak could be 3 times as much as what TEPCO had announced, creating a stir.


Then in October, IRSN of France announced their result of calculation which was 27,000 terabecquerels for cesium-137 alone, 28 times as much as what TEPCO had announced.


There are researchers in Japan who cast doubt over the IRSN number as not taking into consideration the dispersion of radioactive cesium in the ocean water.

TEPCO's calculation only counts radioactive materials from April 1 to April 6. The French IRSN thinks the leak started around March 21, when an elevated level of radioactive materials was first observed near the water drain, and lasted till the end of July, though they say the bulk of the leak happened before April 8 (see my post on October 27, 2011).

From my post on April 21, 2011, here are TEPCO's numbers for 6 days of leak:

  • Iodine-131: 2.8 x 10^15 becquerels (2,800 terabecquerels)

  • Cesium-134: 9.4 x 10^14 becquerels (940 terabecquerels)

  • Cesium-137: 9.4 x 10^14 becquerels (940 terabecquerels)

  • Total: 4.7 x 10^15 becquerels (4,700 terabecquerels)

JAEA said the amount of cesium-137 was 4 times as much as what TEPCO had announced. (See JAEA's paper, here.)

Whatever criticism that the Japanese researchers may have, the IRSN was the first in the world (as far as I know) to quickly publish the marine contamination simulation. They published the paper that included this simulation in early April, even before the leak of highly contaminated water was taken into account:

I guess the French researchers weren't thinking much about peer-reviewed science magazines, unlike the Japanese counterparts.

Now They Tell Us: Fukushima Rice Was Tested at 2 Locations Per Town, Says Yomiuri

Nothing new, I hope, for the readers of this blog. Now that radioactive cesium exceeding the national provisional limit has been detected from the rice in the area that passed the test with flying colors, the Fukushima prefectural government will test rice in select locations in 4 cities with relatively high radiation.

In reporting that news, Yomiuri Shinbun finally writes:


The Fukushima prefectural government conducted the survey at 1174 locations in 48 cities, towns and villages [in Fukushima] in September and October before the shipment of rice. However, the survey was done on 2 samples per old cities, towns, and villages before the merger.

That information had been posted on Fukushima Prefecture's official website all along, and Yomiuri is kind enough to tell the readers now. There are many Japanese readers who are now saying "Wait a minute, I thought they tested all the rice, and I thought it was safe".

Caveat emptor.

Yomiuri Shinbun (11/22/2011):


After radioactive cesium that exceeded the national provisional limit (500 becquerels/kg) was detected from the rice harvested in Onami District of Fukushima City, the Fukushima prefectural government announced on November 22 that select locations in 4 cities would be tested for radioactive materials in rice again. The cities are Date City, which has local hot spots designated as "evacuation recommendation spot", Fukushima City, Soma City and Iwaki City, which have locations with relatively high radiation.


The survey will be done again on the rice grown by 1,941 farms in the location selected within the 4 cities. One bag per farm will be tested, and if there are more than 50 bags of rice [typically 30 kilograms] at a farm, one bag will be selected from every 50 bags. If radioactive cesium exceeding 200 becquerels/kg is detected in the simplified testing, the prefectural agriculture center will test the rice in detail. The simplified survey will start within this week, and the result will become available in mid December, according to the prefectural government.


The Fukushima prefectural government conducted the survey at 1174 locations in 48 cities, towns and villages [in Fukushima] in September and October before the shipment of rice. However, the survey was done on 2 samples per old cities, towns, and villages before the merger.

How does the simplified testing work? 200 grams of rice is put in a plastic bag, and a government official waves a scintillation survey meter over the rice for a few seconds.

The prefecture's survey that tested 1174 samples in Fukushima was much praised in the media, and Fukushima rice was shipped with great fanfare. Big department stores specially feature Fukushima rice as the year-end gifts.

Now, Fukushima Prefecture and the Japanese MSM admit that locations within only 4 cities in Fukushima has nearly 2000 farms.

According to the Fukushima prefectural government's announcement on November 16, 2011, Onami District of Fukushima City, where 630 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium was found in one farm, has:

  • 154 farms;

  • 42 hectares of rice fields;

  • 192 tonnes of rice grown;

  • 6,400 bags of rice (30 kg/bag)

In the original survey, they tested two 200-gram bags out of 6,400 bags of rice from the district. Some safety and security.

The same announcement says that in Fukushima City alone, there are:
  • 5,545 farms;

  • 2,312 hectares of rice fields.

Assuming the yield is the same as in Onami District, that should have yielded:
  • 10,570 tonnes of rice grown;

  • 352,000 bags of rice (30 kg/bag)

Even within the same farm, depending on the location of the rice paddies, radioactive cesium concentration may differ significantly. For that matter, even within the same paddy. In municipalities other than these four cities, there may be even more contaminated locations that people don't know of, because no survey has been done.

There is no way to test, and there is no use in testing. Damage was done when the national government strongly urged the farmers in Fukushima to farm as usual this year (other than in the evacuation zones), and the farmers obliged, for one reason or another.

Now, in the municipalities in the former evacuation-ready zone (which was abolished on September 30, 2011), some rice farmers have already turned up the contaminated soil in their rice fields, mixing the contaminated top soil with the less contaminated lower soil. They say they just couldn't wait for the government's "decontamination". So these farmers fully intend to grow rice next year, knowing, as they should by now, the soil is contaminated.

(Oh wait... Soma City has locations with relatively high radiation? That's where the Japanese government sent the young king and the queen of Bhutan...)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Contaminated Water from Fukushima I Nuke Plant Crossing the International Date Line

(by Asahi Shinbun, from JAMSTEC information. Unit: becquerel/liter)

The Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC), which only yesterday announced the cesium contamination of Pacific Ocean at 5000 meters deep, disclosed the result of their simulation of dispersion of radioactive cesium on the surface of Pacific Ocean.

Now they tell us that the contaminated water from the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident may have reached the international date line in 4 to 5 months after the accident.

That would be in July-August time frame.

The map is cut off right at the international date line, as if that's all the researchers cared about. (After all, they are the government researchers at this government Agency.) But rest assured as the researchers and the reporters all say there will be no effect on health. (Whose health?)

From Asahi Shinbun (11/21/2011):


The water contaminated with radioactive materials from the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant has spread to the international date line, about 4000 kilomters east of Japan -- that is the simulation result announced by the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) announced. The simulation uses cesium-137 density. It is less than one-2000th of the safety standard for drinking water [200 becquerels/liter, post-Fukushima], but it is more than 10 times as much as that before the accident.


The researchers at JAMSTEC led by Y. Masumoto used the densities of radioactive materials measured in the ocean near Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant to simulate the dispersion considering various factors including ocean convection.


Highly contaminated water leaked from the pit near the water intake canal at Fukushima I Nuke Plant after the accident. According to the simulation, the contaminated water first spread along the coast, and gradually spread offshore. It was further dispersed in the complex movement of the Kuroshio (Japan) Current and the Oyashio (Kurile) Current, and it reached the international date line in 4 to 5 months after the accident [, according to the simulation].


The researchers say there would not have been much difference in dispersion if they had assumed the radioactive materials dispersed in the atmosphere had fallen on the ocean.


As of the end of November, the density of radioactive cesium-137 would be 0.1 to 0.01 becquerel per liter, or one-2000th to one-20000th of the standard for drinking water that the Ministry of Health set.


The survey by the Ministry of Education shows several becquerels per liter of radioactive cesium in the sea water near Fukushima I Nuke Plant. The numbers [from the JAMSTEC simulation] are lower, but they are still 10 to 100 times as much as the pre-accident levels. Effects on marine life should be monitored carefully.

What does the drinking water standard for humans have to do with the cesium-137 density in the middle of Pacific Ocean? (What about for plankton and fish?)

Yomiuri Shinbun has the numbers much higher than Asahi. The paper says there are locations with 1 to 5 becquerels/liter cesium-137 in the simulation, though most fall between 0.01 to 0.5 becquerels/liter. That's 10 (0.01 becquerel/liter locations) to 5000 (in 5 becquerels/liter locations) times the pre-accident, as Yomiuri says the pre-accident level is 0.001 becquerel/liter.

But then, the chart Yomiuri puts up does not have the legend to figure out the density.

Ah. The reporters... I'm looking for this particular paper, but so far unsuccessful.

France's Sarkozy Chimes in on Iran Nuke

Wag the dog, till the tail comes off...

From Zero Hedge (11/21/2011):

Luckily the market is all stable and stuff and can handle the prospect of a potential Iran war.


Now where is that weekly US naval update...

Radioactive Strontium Found in Central Tokyo

(UPDATE-2) Asahi Shinbun carried the news:

朝日新聞11/22東京版  on Twitpic

(UPDATE) So far, it is dead silence from the Japanese MSMs; even the critical papers like Tokyo Shinbun is mum on strontium in Tokyo.


A citizen group did the soil survey of three locations in central Tokyo, and had the soil samples tested for radioactive cesium and strontium. All three had both.

Summary of reporting by Yasumi Iwakami, independent journalist:

Locations and amounts of radioactive materials:

Kiyosumi Shirakawa Station, Koto-ku:
Radioactive cesium (134 and 137 combined): 19,126 Bq/kg
Radioactive strontium (89 and 90 combined): 44 Bq/kg

Yurakucho Station, Chiyoda-ku:
Radioactive cesium (134 and 137 combined): 20,955 Bq/kg
Radioactive strontium (89 and 90 combined): 51 Bq/kg

Front of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, Chiyoda-ku:
Radioactive cesium (134 and 137 combined): 48,176 Bq/kg
Radioactive strontium (89 and 90 combined): 48 Bq/kg

It's a poetic justice that the amount of radioactive cesium is the highest at METI. I hear TEPCO's headquarter building in Tokyo also enjoys rather high radiation.

Iwakami cautions that radioactive strontium may be confirmed to have come from Fukushima only after the detailed analysis at a laboratory that can separately measure strontium-89 and strontium-90. The presence of cesium-134 seems to prove that at least radioactive cesium found in the soil samples is of Fukushima origin.

I believe there is only one or two laboratories in Japan that does that; one of them is the laboratory that TEPCO uses for the radionuclide analysis (Japan Chemical Analysis Center).

It looks like the national government may make a comment or two on this discovery later, some people are hoping that the government does. What would the government say? Let me guess... How about "No immediate effect on health", and "We should only worry about cesium, forget the rest".

By the way, you may recall the discovery of radioactive strontium on the rooftop of an apartment building in Kohoku-ku in Yokohama City in October. There has been no response from the city to the citizen who measured it, and no action from the city whatsoever on removing the highly radioactive sediment from the rooftop or decontaminating.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

AFP: 'Time has come' to act on Iran, Israel says

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak cites the report by IAEA, headed by Japanese bureaucrat Yukiya Amano.

From AFP via Yahoo News (11/20/2011):

The "time has come" to deal with Iran, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Sunday, refusing to rule out military action to curb the Islamic republic's nuclear ambitions.

Barak, speaking on CNN's Fareed Zakaria GPS program, indicated that Israel's patience was wearing thin -- and provided an ominous response when asked about the growing speculation of an Israeli military strike.

"I don't think that that is a subject for public discussion," he said. "But I can tell you that the IAEA report has a sobering impact on many in the world, leaders as well as the publics, and people understand that the time has come."

The International Atomic Energy Agency published a report on November 8 saying there was "credible" information that Iran was carrying out "activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device."

On Friday the IAEA's board passed a resolution condemning Iran's nuclear activities, but stopped short of reporting Tehran to the United Nations and issuing no deadline for compliance.

...The IAEA report -- based on "broadly, credible" intelligence, its own information and some input from Iran itself -- said that Iran had examined how to fit out a Shahab 3 missile, with a range capable of reaching Israel, with a nuclear warhead.

Tehran rejected the report "baseless," denies it is seeking nuclear weapons and maintains its nuclear activities are for civilian energy purposes.

Washington, Paris and London however jumped on the report as justification to increase pressure on Iran, already under four rounds of Security Council sanctions and additional US and European Union restrictions.

The UK military is already getting ready for the US action (whatever it will be, will be...), by the way.

From Guardian (11/2/2011):

Britain's armed forces are stepping up their contingency planning for potential military action against Iran amid mounting concern about Tehran's nuclear enrichment programme, the Guardian has learned.

The Ministry of Defence believes the US may decide to fast-forward plans for targeted missile strikes at some key Iranian facilities. British officials say that if Washington presses ahead it will seek, and receive, UK military help for any mission, despite some deep reservations within the coalition government.

In anticipation of a potential attack, British military planners are examining where best to deploy Royal Navy ships and submarines equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles over the coming months as part of what would be an air and sea campaign.

(The article continues at the link.)

The IAEA report on Iran nukes is here.

Let's see, who is downwind from Iran's nuke facilities?

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant Reactor 3: Packbot Finds 1.6 Sievert/Hr Spot

(UPDATE: There seems to be transcription error in the soil contamination numbers at the Okuma-machi official website, so I corrected them: 4.5 million --> 450K, 295 million --> 29.5 million. I've alerted the Okuma-machi HP.)


It was in the vicinity of the 1.3 sievert/hr spot it found on November 14. Mainichi Shinbun reports that the cleanup operation by the Packbot is not going well.

Mainichi Shinbun (11/20/2011):


TEPCO announced on November 20 that 1600 millisieverts/hour radiation was measured on the 1st floor of Reactor 3 reactor building at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. It is the highest measurement [so far] in Reactor 3 building. On November 14, 1300 millisieverts/hour radiation was detected nearby. The measurement was conducted as [the robot] tried to wipe off the small amount of water which may have leaked from the Containment Vessel. According to TEPCO, the cleaning operation by the robot is not going well.

On a separate note, Quince, who got lost in October somewhere in the high radiation upper floors of Reactor 2, remains lost. As if as an obituary, NHK had a special program detailing the development of Quince.

On yet another note, Okuma-machi, where part of Fukushima I Nuke Plant is located, just re-elected the mayor who ran on the platform of "Let's all return to our home town", demanding thorough decontamination and rehabilitation of the infrastructure so that people can return as soon as possible.

Okuma-machi's highest air radiation level at 1 meter off the ground exceeds 100 microsieverts/hour. Soil contamination? About 454K becquerels/kg, or 29.5 million becquerels/square meter (numbers corrected; wrong number given at the official HP of the town). Nothing compared to the Fuku-I compound, I'm sure.

"Now They Tell Us" Continues: Government Research Institute Says Radioactive Cesium in Marine Snow 5K Meters Deep

in the ocean, as far as 2,000 kilometers from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant.

The Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) did the survey back in April. They decided to tell us now, after 7 months, and they did on November 20 in a symposium titled:

「東日本大震災 緊急調査報告会 ~緊急調査の成果と今後の展望~」

"Emergency [or urgent] Survey on Big Higashi Nihon Earthquake and Disaster - Reporting the result of the emergency survey and the future prospect"

The symposium announcement was made on October 28,2011. Some "emergency" with urgency.

About what they had to say in the symposium, here's Asahi Shinbun (11/20/2011):


The survey by the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC) reveals that radioactive cesium released from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant reached the ocean 2000 kilometers from the plant and 5000 meters deep one month after the accident. It is considered that airborne cesium particles fell on the ocean surface, and sank as they were attached to the bodies of dead plankton. The survey result was announced in a symposium held on November 20 in Tokyo.


From April 18 to 30, JAMSTEC collected "marine snow", sub-millimeter particles made mostly of dead plankton and sand, off the coast of Kamchatka Peninsula, 2000 kilometers away from Fukushima, and off the coast of Ogasawara Islands, 1000 kilometers away, at 5000 meters below the ocean surface. The Agency detected radioactive cesium in both locations, and from the ratio of cesium-137 and cesium-134 and other observations it was determined that it was from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. The density of radioactive cesium is still being analyzed, according to the Agency. It has been thus confirmed that radioactive materials in the ocean are moving and spreading not just by ocean currents but by various other means.