Saturday, April 23, 2011

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: "Radiation Contamination Map" of the Plant Exists, But TEPCO Hasn't Released It to Public

It is for the human workers who have to dodge highly contaminated debris (like the 900 milli-sievert/hr one that TEPCO found on April 20 but was not reported by Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency until April 23) strewn all over the plant, and it is posted at J-Village (in Hirono-machi, Fukushima Prefecture), a staging area for the operation for the Fukushima I Nuke Plant. It is regularly updated, and is submitted to the government authorities including NISA.

According to the Kyodo News article linked below, there are other highly radioactive places on the plant compound that measure 300 milli-sievert/hr, 100 milli-sievert/hr.

Remember the Packbots from iRobots that went inside the Reactor buildings (1, 2, and 3)? The Packbots didn't go in from the south door of the Reactor 1 building because the radiation at the south door had measured 270 milli-sievert/hr the previous day. So the bots cannot enter if the radiation is that high, but the workers are obliged to dodge the debris with even higher radiation and continue to work. One unlucky worker got to remove the 900 milli-sievert/hr concrete piece.

Unconvincingly, however, the Kyodo article claims the high radiation level on the compound will not derail the schedule of the roadmap that TEPCO has announced.

I've read on several Internet message boards in Japan about how the workers have been doing their best to avoid the debris and water puddles on the compound because of the very high radiation, and how the dosimeter starts beeping right away just by standing in front of the Reactor buildings. I guess they weren't the "baseless rumors" after all, and it seems the workers are more expendable than the bots.

I'm waiting for another wonderful leak by the independent, freelance journalists in Japan, who will post this map online soon. Or TEPCO can wisen up quickly and post the map on their site.

From Kyodo News Japanese (updated at 5:20AM JST 4/24/2011; the article appeared on 4/23/2011; translation is mine):

福島第1放射線汚染マップ判明 大量被ばくの恐れ続く

Radiation Contamination Map exists for Fukushima I Nuke Plant; Fear of Serious Radiation Exposure Continues


The details of the "Contamination (Survey) Map" was revealed on April 23, which TEPCO shares with the workers at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. The Map shows the result of the measurement of radiation levels at 150 locations around the buildings within the plant compound. It was the first time that detailed radiation levels on the plant were known.

 20日夜までのデータを記載したマップによると、3号機原子炉建屋付近に毎時900ミリシーベルトという極めて 高い放射線量のがれきがあるなど、高濃度の放射性物質を含む水の移送配管や敷地内に残るがれきからは依然として、各所で100ミリシーベルト前後の線量が 観測されていることがうかがえる。東電が事故の収束に向けて明らかにした工程表への影響はないとみられる。

According to the map that shows the data as of April 20 evening, there was a debris near the Reactor 3's reactor building with the extremely high radiation reading of 900 milli-sievert/hour. The map also indicates the high radiation readings of about 100 milli-sievert/hour for the pipes that transport the highly contaminated water and debris on the ground. [However, the high radiation levels] are not likely to affect the TEPCO's road map for winding down the accident.


The map is regularly updated by TEPCO in order to protect the workers from the danger of large radiation exposure. It is submitted to the related government agencies including METI's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA), and is posted at J-Village (Hirono-machi, Fukushima Prefecture) that serves as a staging area for the operation for the plant accident.

The article lists the radiation levels of several locations (so Kyodo reporters must have the map..):


900 milli-sievert/hour from a piece of concrete near the pipe for the fire extinguishing system on the west side of the Reactor 3 building. TEPCO announced on April 23 that the concrete piece was found on April 20, and was removed by a worker the next day; the worker suffered 3.17 milli-sievert exposure.


300 milli-sievert/hour from a debris on the side of the Reactor 3 building.

75 to 86 milli-sievert/hour on the surface of the pipe that transport the water with high concentration of radioactive materials from the Reactor 2's turbine building and the pit.

160 milli-sievert/hour on the pipe in the Central Waste Disposal Facility where the contaminated water is being transported.


The radiation measurements are done near the Reactors 1 through 4. The radiation level around the Reactor 4 was slightly lower than around the Reactors 1 through 3, at 0.4 to 1.1 milli-sievert/hr. At the water intake facility near the ocean (east of the plant), the radiation level was 15 milli-sievert/hr.


The debris are the walls and the reactor facilities/equipments that were blown off by the hydrogen explosions. The radiation measurements are done 5 days a week, 3 to 5 times a day from morning till night, 10 minutes each to measure the radiation levels on the ground and in the air at several locations.


Removal of the debris could spread the radioactive materials into the environment, and could cause serious radiation exposure for the workers. TEPCO is using the remote-controlled heavy equipment to remove the debris, but it is expected to take about 6 months to complete the removal. For the time being, the workers will have to dodge the high radiation area and continue their effort to stabilize the plant.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Control Over the Independent Press Getting Tighter

Now, with the "unified" press conference (Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, Nuclear Safety Commission, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and Tokyo Electric Power Company including Mr. Hosono, Secretary General of the Unification headquarters of measures for Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant accident) coming, you will have to belong to a press club approved by the Japanese government if you want to attend the press conference.

This is how a fascist government controls the press.

What about those that do not belong to the establishment press clubs? Internet-based journalists and freelance journalists are the ones who have been breaking news about the Fukushima accident ignored by the Japanese MSM.

Yes, there is a press club for Internet-based journalists called "Internet News Association of Japan" but there are only 5 corporate members of that Association who pay 120,000 yen for the annual corporate membership, and they are not accepting any individual members. It looks like a very flaky organization, but for some unknown reason the government has accepted them as a legit press club. (Maybe the founders of the Association are friends of the government officials.) It looks almost as if this Association was set up to exclude the truly independent, freelance journalists and net-based news organizations.

The only way the freelance journalists to qualify to attend the unified presser is to submit, among other information, more than two articles with their bylines that appeared in the major news outlets that are the members of accepted press clubs, and hope for the best. (For specific details on how to qualify and how to attend the conference - which entrance to use, how to exit the building, etc. - see here.)

One of the freelance journalists in Japan who has been tirelessly uncovering the information that the government and TEPCO have tried to suppress may be one of those who will be excluded from the unified press conference, as his company doesn't belong to any of the approved press clubs.

Yasumi Iwakami's USTREAM channels have been live-streaming every single press conference in its entirety given by TEPCO and Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency since the accident. When I watched the hour-long presser the other day when NISA's Nishiyama announced Level 7, 11,000 people were watching with me. But that's precisely why the government wants to exclude journalists like him. Unedited, full coverage of the press conference? Oh the horror! The masses don't need to know everything, do they? They should be fed a snippet here and a snippet there from the long-established friends of the government.

From TEPCO's press release (their English; 4/23/2011):

Unification headquarters of measures for Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant accident

From Monday, April 25, 2011, Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, Nuclear Safety Commission, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and Tokyo Electric Power Company including Mr. Hosono, Secretary General of the Unification headquarters of measures for Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant accident, decide to hold a joint press conference in the third (3rd) floor meeting room of the Tokyo Electric Power Company head office where there is put the headquarters, once in the afternoon (at around 5:00 PM).

In addition, the participation of the following people can attend this press conference.

1.Member of Japan Newspaper Publishers and Editors Association

2.Member of Japan Specialized Newspapers Association

3.Member of Japan Local Newspaper Association

4.Member of National Association of Commercial Broadcasters in Japan

5.Member of Japan Magazine Publishers Association

6.Member of Internet News Association of Japan

7.Member of Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan (FCCJ) and holder of
Foreign Press Registration Card

8.The person equivalent to the member or holder listed above 1 to 7,
reinterprets the issuance media based on objective, substance and

9.The person who provides articles to the medium above which the medium
publishes regularly (as it is called "freelance").

We would like to request the people of the media to make an arrangement following a predetermined procedure listed in an attached sheet, and pre-registration is required. (Referred to the HP of Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency)

In addition, we request the participant adheres closely to a news ethical standards and at the time of an entering a building procedure or movement, please follow the instructions of the staff. In case you do not to follow the instructions, we may ask you to go out of the building.

[Reference about the pre-registration]

Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency Emergency Response Center (ERC)
public relations squad:
*We do not accept any inquiry over the telephone.

A "news ethical standards". That's a good one, TEPCO and NISA.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Unintended "Water Entombment" of Reactor 1

They didn't mean to, but ended up doing what some experts had suggested as a way to cool the melted fuel in the Reactor 1's Pressure Vessel.

Mainichi Shinbun (10:01 PM JST 4/23/2011; emphasis added) reports that TEPCO is "entombing" the Reactor 1 with water by accident:

Fukushima I Nuke Plant: 6 meters of water inside the Reactor 1 Containment Vessel

TEPCO disclosed on April 23 that there is 6-meter deep water inside the Reactor 1 Containment Vessel at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. The "water entombment", whereby the Containment Vessel is to be filled with water above the level of the fuel rods [inside the Pressure Vessel] is one of the goals listed in TEPCO's "roadmap" within the next 3 months. What is happening seems to be the de facto "water entombment", not by design but by accident. It is not clear whether the water continues to rise above the level of the fuel rods.

According to TEPCO, about 70% of the fuel rods are damaged in the Reactor 1, and the total 7,000 tons of water have been poured into the Pressure Vessel in an effort to cool the Vessel. The steam from this cooling effort may have escaped into the Containment Vessel and condensed into water, or the pipes that connect the Pressure Vessel and the Containment Vessels may have been damaged in the earthquake, allowing the water to leak into the Containment Vessel.

The water level is an estimate by TEPCO from the change in pressure within the Containment Vessel as they injected the nitrogen gas to prevent a hydrogen explosion. TEPCO believes the Suppression Chamber near the bottom of the Containment Vessel is now completely filled with water, and the flask-shaped dry well (17.7 meter in diameter) is filled with 6-meter deep water.

Water is also being injected into the Pressure Vessels of Reactors 2 and 3. In Reactor 2, the Suppression Chamber is damaged and the highly radioactive water has been leaking from the Containment Vessel; it is not known whether any water remains inside the Containment Vessel.

The "water entombment" method is not without problems. In the Reactor 1's Containment Vessel, 10,700 cubic meters of nitrogen gas, twice the capacity of 6,000 cubic meters, have been injected but the pressure has stopped rising. It is possible that the Containment Vessel is damaged, and the water may leak from the damaged area if the water keeps rising. Also, the vulnerability of the Containment Vessel to an earthquake due to increased weight from the water is "under the final examination", according to Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency. In addition, it will be necessary to treat the highly contaminated water [inside the Containment Vessel] at some point.


 東京電力は23日、福島第1原発1号機の原子炉格納容器に深さ約6メートルの水がたまっていることを明らかにした。格納容器を燃料棒の上部まで水 で満たして原子炉を冷やす「水棺」作業は、事故収束に向けた工程表で最初の3カ月目標に掲げた対策の一つ。同社が意図しない形で事実上の水棺状態が進行し ているとみられるが、このまま燃料棒上部まで水位が上がるかどうかについては不確定要素もある。

 東電によると、1号機は燃料棒の損傷が推定70%と最も激しく、圧力容器にこれまで約7000トンを注水して冷却を続けてきた。ここで発生した蒸 気が格納容器に移って水になっている可能性や、圧力容器と直結する配管などが地震で損傷し、格納容器に水が漏れ出ている可能性が考えられるという。

 水位は、水素爆発を防ぐための窒素注入による格納容器の圧力変化から東電が推計した。その結果、格納容器下部にある圧力抑制プールは既に満水と なっており、「ドライウェル」と呼ばれるフラスコ状の球形部(直径17・7メートル)も深さ約6メートルの水がたまっていることが分かった。


 一方、水棺方式には課題もある。格納容器には既に容量(約6000立方メートル)の2倍近い窒素約1万700立方メートルを注入しているが、一定 以上に圧力が高まっていない。容器の損傷も考えられ、このまま水位が上がれば、損傷部からの水漏れが懸念される。また、水の重量の負荷に伴う耐震性は「最 終チェックしている段階」(経済産業省原子力安全・保安院)の上、長期的には高濃度に汚染された水の処理も必要となる。【八田浩輔、阿部周一】

Mainichi has a diagram that they created, based on the information from TEPCO. 11.8 meters to go for the water to rise above the level of the fuel rods.

At least TEPCO didn't claim this "entombment" was by design. Some honesty here. I have a feeling that TEPCO has grown so weary and worn out to make up stories any more.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: 154 Terabecquerels Per Day, Every Day

(Correction: The previous estimate was 1 terabequerel per hour, not per day. So, per day would be 24 terabequerels.)


of radioactive iodine and cesium still spewing out of the plant, Japan's Nuclear Safety Commission now admits.

On April 12 during the joint press conference with Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) where they jointly announced the Fukushima I Plant accident was INES Level 7, the Commission assured the world that said that the release of radioactive materials from the plant had decreased to less than 1 terabecquerel per hour, or 24 terabecquerels per day.

It took the Commission 11 days to go from 24 terabecquerels per day to 154 terabecquerels per day. They say they miscalculated. What else have they, all nuclear experts, miscalculated?

From Yomiuri Shinbun (9:15PM JST 4/23/2011):

The Nuclear Safety Commission under the Prime Minister's Office disclosed on April 23 that the amount of radioactive materials being released from the TEPCO Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant was 154 terabecquerels per day (1 tera is 1 trillion) as late as April 5 when the amount being released was considered stabilized.

On April 5, the estimated amount of radioactive materials released from Fukushima I Nuke Plant was 0.69 terabecquerels/hour for iodine-131 and 0.14 terabecquerels/hour for cesium-137. When the numbers were recalculated according to the INES method (converting cesium amount into iodine equivalent), the amount released turned out to be 6.4 terabecquerels/hour (which was 154 terabecquerels per day. Previously, the Nuclear Safety Commission had simply added the numbers for iodine-131 and cesium-137, and announced it was less than 1 terrabecquerel per hour.


 5日に福島第一原発から大気に放出された放射性物質の推定値は、ヨウ素131が毎時0・69テラ・ベクレル、セシウム 137が同0・14テラ・ベクレル。国際的な事故評価尺度(INES)で使われるヨウ素換算値で、ヨウ素とセシウムの合計量を計算し直すと、放出量は同 6・4テラ・ベクレル(24時間で154テラ・ベクレル)となることがわかった。同委員会はこれまで、5日ごろの放出量について、セシウムとヨウ素の量を 単純に合計し、「毎時約1テラ・ベクレル以下」と低く見積もっていた。

Hmmmm. The supposed nuclear power experts of the Committee didn't know how to calculate using the INES method? BS. Because on April 12 when they announced the total emission estimate of the radioactive materials from March 23 to April 5, they did say they converted the cesium amount into iodine equivalent.

Now, there's another interesting (but all too common by now) work of editing out some unpleasant information, no doubt practiced by the 4th column (the media) by themselves for the good of the community (no doubt). The earlier version of the same Yomiuri article (which I found on a Japanese message board) had the following sentence after where the current version ends:

If this amount [154 terabecquerels per day] continues to be released from the plant, it would be the equivalent of INES Level 6. [154 terabequerels per day for 90 days = 13,860 terabequerels.]


You can simply calculate it yourself to come to the same conclusion, but for the majority of people who wouldn't bother, if they weren't told they wouldn't connect.

The earlier version also had this plausible deniability comment from the Commission that it was nothing more than "guesstimate" and no cause for alarm:

The Commission said "The amount that was being released [as of April 5] is only an estimate; it could have wide variance and fluctuations. The radiation level in the air around the Nuke Plant is slowly falling, and it is not the level that would have immediate [negative] effect on health."


Sure. It is "safe" unless people immediately develop cancer and radiation burn.

But wait, there may be more! (Ah it never ends...and it's taking me a very long time to even write up this post...)

Here's the Nuclear Safety Commission's estimate of the total release of radioactive materials as of April 5. Looking at the chart (I added the English explanation), they did seem to think that after the surge on March 15 and 16 (after the Reactors 3 and 4 explosions) the daily release was hardly more than 24 terabequerels; the lines went flat after March 23 or so:

If it has been 154 terabequerels per day instead of 24 since March 23, that's already additional 4,160 terabequerels by now, which alone would translate into the INES Level 5.

An INES Level 5 "accident" every month, Level 6 every 3 months? Slow and steady wins the race to pass the Chernobyl accident...

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: NISA Thought It Was Level 3 "Incident"

保安院、最初はレベル3。Talk about bureaucratic understatement.

From Asahi Shinbun (3:01PM JST 4/23/2011; translation is mine):

[Asahi Shinbun has learned that ] METI's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency's initial provisional assessment of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident was INES Level 3. Level 3 is not an "accident" but an "incident" ["serious incident"]. It shows NISA's initial assessment was too optimistic.

NISA announced on the press conference on March 12 evening that the Fukushima I accident was an INES Level 4 "accident" ["accident with local consequence"]. Later, the level was raised to Level 7, the same as the Chernobyl accident in the former Soviet Union.

NISA's Level 3 assessment was made 10 hours after the earthquake, at 12:30AM on March 12. At that time, due to the earlier earthquake and tsunami, neither the external power nor the emergency power was available for Fukushima I's Reactors 1 through 3, and Fukushima II's Reactors 1, 2 and 4 and the cooling systems for the reactors were lost.

Two and a half hours later, venting of the steam that contained radioactive materials was announced for Fukushima I Nuke Plant. By then, radioactive materials must have been already leaking through pipes connected to the Reactor Pressure Vessel [of the Reactor 1?], and at 6:00AM on March 12 the radiation level inside the central control room shot up 1,000-fold.

NISA raised the level to Level 5 ["accident with wider consequences"] on March 18, the same level as the Three Mile Island accident, and on April 12 raised it again to Level 7 ["major accident"], the same level as the Chernobyl accident.

There are 8 INES Levels (0 to 7). The basic procedure is to make a provisional assessment within 24 hours of the accident and report to IAEA.

Kenji Sumita, professor emeritus at Osaka University thinks it is difficult to evaluate an on-going accident. As to NISA's initial assessment of Level 3, "In retrospect, it may show that [NISA] didn't quite understand the true situation," he says.

経済産業省原子力安全・保安院が、福島第一原子力発電所の事故について、事故やトラブルの深刻さを示す国際原子力事象評価尺度(INES)で当初は 「レベル3」と暫定評価していたことがわかった。レベル3は「事故」ではなく「事象」に分類される。保安院の初動の認識が甘かったことを示した。



 その2時間半後には福島第一原発で放射性物質を含む蒸気を外部へ放出する排気(ベント)の方針が発表された。このころ、すでに原子炉につながる配管の隙 間などから放射性物質が外部に漏れ出していたとみられ、12日午前6時には中央制御室の放射線量が通常の1千倍に上がったと公表された。




Friday, April 22, 2011

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: The Numbers Don't Add Up

Among many numbers that don't seem to add up that TEPCO and the national government have announced ever since the plant accident, I just noticed the most glaring one: the number of workers at the plant.

Currently, there are supposedly about 500 or so workers from TEPCO, TEPCO's affiliated companies (Toshiba, Hitachi who built reactors, Kandenko whose largest shareholder is TEPCO, etc.) and their subcontractors to the 3rd or 4th degree at Fukushima I Nuke Plant trying to somehow control the reactors, Spent Fuel Pools, contaminated water. The plant is still in crisis, nothing has materially changed.

But the plant, in peacetime, had 4,000 to 5,000 workers. There were 5,000 workers at Fukushima I, including affiliated company employees and subcontractors, when the earthquake hit on March 11.

Now, even in peacetime, it takes 5,000 workers to run the plant. And in crisis, you have only 500 workers?

One of the most glaring omissions in TEPCO's "roadmap" was any mention of manpower. Another one is the cost. Another one is the relationship of the dependent projects. At this point, TEPCO doesn't quite think about cost cutting.

I thought the critical thing is to somehow lower the radiation level so that the workers can go in, but maybe I was wrong. The most critical thing may be to secure the workers who can go in.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Contaminated Water Increased in Reactor 4 Turbine Building

So much for TEPCO's "roadmap". And remember, TEPCO thinks the Spent Fuel Pool of the Reactor 4 may collapse unless they put in a support structure.

From Yomiuri Shinbun (12:40PM JST 4/23/2011):

Contaminated water with radioactive materials in TEPCO's Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant Reactor 4 turbine building has risen 20 centimeters in 10 days. There's also 5-meter deep water in the reactor building, estimated to be 4,000 tons, as has been already disclosed by Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency; this is in addition to the amount of contaminated water from other reactors.

TEPCO has been transporting the contaminated water with high radioactive materials from Reactor 2 [turbine building] to the central waste disposal facility. But the amount that the facility can store safely is likely to be half of what was planned, and there is no clear plan to deal with the contaminated water from other reactors.

According to TEPCO, the water in the Reactor 4 turbine building basement was 0.9 meter (2.95 feet) deep on April 13, and 1.1 meters (3.61 feet) deep as of 6:00PM on April 22. It rose 20 centimeters in about 10 days. In the adjacent Reactor 3, water is being injected at 6.8 tons/hour to cool the Reactor Pressure Vessel (RPV). TEPCO suspects that the water leaked from the RPV is leaking through the cracks in the wall that separates the Reactor 3 turbine building and the Reactor 4 turbine building.

 東京電力福島第一原子力発電所4号機で、放射性物質を含む汚染水が増え続け、タービン建屋の水位が約10日間で20センチ上昇したことが明らかに なった。原子炉建屋地下にも水深約5メートル、水量4000トンの汚染水がたまっていることを経済産業省原子力安全・保安院が明らかにしており、その処理 が新たな課題として浮上している。


 東電によると、4号機のタービン建屋地下の水深は13日に0・9メートル、22日午後6時には1・1メートル。約10日間に20センチ上昇した。 隣接する3号機では原子炉冷却のため1時間当たり6・8トン注水されている。東電は炉から漏れた水が、3、4号機のタービン建屋を隔てる壁の亀裂などから 4号機側に漏れていると見ている。

Severe Weather Forecast for Northern Japan on April 23 and 24

Japan Meteorological Agency forecasts heavy rain with thunder along the Pacific Ocean side of Tohoku and Kanto.

From Mainichi Shinbun (4/22/2011), quoting the Agency:

  • In Tohoku and Kanto, heavy rain with thunder from April 23 noon till early hours of April 24.

  • 24-hour cumulative rainfall forecast up to April 23, 6:00PM is 150 millimeters (5.90 inches) for Kanto-Koshinetsu, and 80 millimeters (3.15 inches) for Tohoku, and the numbers are set to increase further on April 24.

  • 5-meter high waves expected on the Pacific Ocean side of Northern Japan due to strong wind.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Packbots in Action

If you want them for posterity, you can download the files (if you don't mind downloading 14 zip files for the Reactor 1 and 8 zip files for the Reactor 3) at TEPCO. The two iRobot's Packbots entered the Reactor 1 and Reactor 3 buildings on April 17. TEPCO decided not to show the fogged up image of the Reactor 2, though.

To download, here's the TEPCO link:

Alternatively, I've found that Mainichi Shinbun allows video embeds (that's very rare among major national newspapers; it deserves a special mention here), so here they are:

If you want to embed these on your site, go to the Mainichi's vid site here:

For the 1st vid:
2nd vid:
3rd vid:

Like a Broken Record: "Gold Rally Almost Over"

If you listen to the so-called experts and pundits, it was all over around $400, $600, $900, then $1,000, then $1,200, and $1,400, and everywhere anywhere in between those numbers, and $100, $200 correction is imminent.

Here's the latest broken record, from James Cordier, president and founder of Liberty Trading Group, courtesy of Yahoo Finance's "Breakout":

Gold has been shining brightly, but is the rally almost over?

James Cordier, president and founder of Liberty Trading Group, joined Breakout from Tampa, Florida to offer some contrarian thoughts on the screaming gold rally of the past year. The options trader sees the most precious of metals peaking in short order, saying this rally is in "the ninth inning." Cordier is using a classic options strategy to take advantage of other traders' aggressive bets on gold either collapsing or moving even higher.

While he doesn't see a gold rollover as today's business, Cordier is selling calls at the $2,100 and $2,200 levels above, and selling puts under $1,000. It's a play options traders call a "strangle," as it's a bet the price will be constricted between those two prices for the duration of Cordier's contracts. Here's how it works: Cordier gets to keep the premium he collected when selling the options short if gold stays within his range, meaning the puts and calls would both expire as worthless. If gold spikes above $2,200 or below $1,000, Cordier could theoretically get vaporized. He won't, because good options traders, like all good investors, have an exit plan. But the risk needs to be noted for those looking to go into the options-shorting business.

It's rather a big strangle. Mr. Cordier expects the price of gold to remain within that range ($1,000 to 2,200), and that's supposed to signal the "9th inning" and the end of gold rally.

Now you're warned. Yet again.

#Japan No-Entry Zone: "Mr Kan, You're Leaving Already?"

From the reports from the Japanese MSM (Yomiuri, Sankei, 4/21/2011).

Naoto Kan, who has insisted on breaking news to the Japanese people "personally and directly" which has delayed every response to the Fukushima I Nuke Plant crisis, went to the shelter in Fukushima Prefecture where the residents of the 20-radius evacuation zone (now the no-entry zone) have been living, in order to break the news of the no-entry zone personally.

It was his first visit to a shelter in Fukushima since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

The residents were frustrated as Kan simply repeated "Ganbatte kudasai (Please do your best/cheer up/keep up the good spirit)".

After talking with only a few residents, the prime minister was on the way out when an elderly couple called out to him.

"You're leaving already?"
"You're ignoring us?"

(Ordering the aides to take down the names of these pesky people, I suspect..) the prime minister turned back at the exit and went to talk to them. "We're doing our best for your children," said PM to the elderly couple with a 4-month old grandchild.

Sure. They are doing their best so that the toddlers and small children in Fukushima can be "safely" exposed to radiation by raising the annual exposure limit for children.

Government you can believe in.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: "Eintritt Verboten" for 20-Radius Residents

"Do Not Enter" signs erected, as the Fukushima Prefectural Police set up 65 roadblocks to control the entrance to the 20-kilometer radius evacuation zone which has now become the "no entry" zone.

(Don't use the regular roads, people.)

In addition, as reported here before, the select areas outside the 20-kilometer radius are now "planned evacuation zone" where the residents are "asked" to leave in about a month's time.

But wait, there's more. According to Yomiuri, the national government led by the increasingly unpopular Democratic Party of Japan coalition will announce the establishment of yet another zone which can be termed as "stay-indoor or evacuate on demand". In that zone, the residents will be required to be ready to comply with the government order - whether to stay indoors or evacuate - at a moment's notice.

Hmmm. Didn't they do this during the World War II? The US bombers are coming! (Air-raid sirens go off blaring.) Hide in the shelter!

An Ounce of Silver Passes One Share of J.P.Morgan Chase

Some poetic justice here. Right now,

An ounce of silver: $46.21 (, 10:15AM PST US)
One share of JPM: $44.64

From Zero Hedge:

Silver Takes A Sizable Lead Over JPM

And in exclusively silly, but oh so symbolic news, the race track crowd bursts into a frenzy following the ultimate comeback story, as One Ounce Of Silver has now taken a full length lead over One Share Of JPM Stock into the final stretch.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: 4,700 Terabecquerels of Radioactive Iodine and Cesium

in the contaminated water that leaked from underneath the pit near the Reactor 2 water intake.

Remember that one? TEPCO tried bath salt as a tracer to figure out where the water was coming from, until they finally figured out how to stop the leak.

Assuming the leak started on April 1 and lasted until April 6, TEPCO says 4,700 terabecquerels of radioactive materials were released from the crack into the ocean.

From TEPCO's press release (in Japanese):

  • 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)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Less Than 11 Hours Till the Evacuation Zone Becomes No-Entry Zone in #Fukushima

And some of the residents who had to flee their homes after the explosion at the Fukushima I Nuke Plant are scrambling to come back home before the clock strikes midnight and the evacuation zone becomes the no-entry zone with roadblocks manned by the Police.

TBS News reports (in Japanese, 12:12PM JST 4/21/2011) that unless they have the special permits issued by their cities and towns that allow them to enter the zone, the residents will be turned back at the roadblocks. If they persist, they could be arrested or fined, though the government says the Police will do their best to persuade them not to enter.

(OK, that TBS News disappeared very quickly, though they have the similar news here. I don't know how soon they will take this down.)

Yomiuri says the residents within 3-kilometer radius cannot come back at all.

Did you see the poor dog on the leash in Futaba-machi in the CNN video clip? The owner cannot come back to take him.

US Department of Energy #Fukushima 1st Year Dose Estimate

Much more detailed than what the Japanese government is willing to provide. (No surprise there.)

A wide area beyond the 30-kilometer radius evacuation zone may receive 100 millirem per year (which translates to 1 milli-sievert/year), according to the US Department of Energy assessment based on 334 flight hours of Aerial Measurement Systems (drones, reconnaissance), 150,000 measurements by Department of Energy, Department of Defense, and Japanese sources, and 504 samples taken in Japan and analyzed in the US.

The US Department of Energy says their dose estimate is conservative, not accounting for time spent indoors.

The 80-kilometer evacuation suggested by the US government for the US citizens in Japan, if you look at the 1st year radiation dose estimate on the 3rd slide, looks very much justified.

For this and the past assessments, go to "The Situation in Japan" at the US Department of Energy.

Extend and Pretend Greek Version: Greece says debt 'absolutely sustainable'

Not just in the US or Japan, but a truly global phenomenon. And always blame greedy foreign bankers for everything.

From AP (4/20/2011):

ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Greece's finance minister said the crisis-hit country can deal with its mountain of debt and insisted that renewed access to bond markets is still possible in 2012 despite spiraling borrowing costs.

"I believe that Greece's debt is absolutely sustainable ... But that is based on the implementation of the (2011-2015) adjustment program," George Papaconstantinou said Wednesday.

Papaconstantinou spoke as the country's borrowing costs remained high on speculation that Greece will have to restructure its debts. The difference between the interest rates on Greek and German 10-year bonds is over 11 percentage points, a staggering difference given the two countries use the same currency and operate in the same interest rate regime.

The Greek government has repeatedly denied it is considering such a move and has promised to forge ahead with an ambitious privatization program worth euro50 billion ($71.5 billion) through 2015 that has already run into strong union opposition.

Union are planning a general strike May 11, while a powerful electricity workers' union warned Wednesday it was considering rolling strikes ahead of that date.

Papaconstantinou again denied that restructuring is on the cards.

"It is a very interesting debate but we don't care to join in," he said. "(Restructuring) would carry great dangers for the economy, (pension) funds and households."

The spike in Greek borrowing rates, he argued, was due to a "cacophony" of conflicting statements by European finance officials on the restructuring issues. High borrowing costs have locked Greece out of bond markets.

The finance ministry later said it had asked prosecutors to investigate whether brokers for an unnamed foreign investment bank bear criminal liability in connection with market movements Wednesday at the Athens Stock Exchange -- which dropped 2.62 percent -- and the Greek bond market.

The article continues.

More on Greek debt from Zero Hedge:

Greek 2 Year Bonds Now Yielding Record 22%, Price On 10 Year Bonds 59 Of Par

Just a quick reminder that the world continues to burn: the yield on the Greek 2 Year bond has just climbed to 22%, an all time record. The actual price is 74.25%. And far more jarringly, the 10 Year is 59 cents on the euro. A 40% haircut is now effectively priced in by the market.

#Fukushima 20-Kilo Radius Evacuation Zone to Become No-Entry Zone at Midnight on April 22

Kyodo News English (4/21/2011) reports:

The government has decided to prohibit people from entering areas within a 20-kilometer radius of the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant, starting midnight Thursday, government sources said Wednesday.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan will announce the decision to designate the zone, already covered by an evacuation directive following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, as an off-limits area when he visits Fukushima Prefecture on Thursday, the sources said.

The government has already started conveying the decision to municipalities concerned, including Minamisoma and Futaba, they said.

(Full article by paid subscription)

It's not Thursday but Friday, but that's what Kyodo English wrote.

To clarify, as of 12:00AM on Friday April 22, the residents of the 20-kilometer radius "evacuation zone" won't be allowed to enter the zone from outside. Kyodo News Japanese says Prime Minister Kan will go to Fukushima on Thursday April 21 to explain the decision to the affected municipalities within the zone.

There are people who never left the area despite the order to evacuate, and more and more people have returned since. After the government formally declares the area as "warning zone" (i.e. no-entry zone), the residents could be punished for remaining in their homes or forcibly removed.

So, what was all that talk about how safe it was within the 20-kilometer radius? Professor Yamashita of Nagasaki University and the designated health advisor to Fukushima Prefecture, would you please kindly explain? The government is way overreacting, right?

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: More on the Japanese Government Considering Raising the Radiation Limit for Workers

Following up on the post yesterday about the Japanese government contemplating raising the radiation limit for Fukushima I Nuke Plant workers, here's a tweet on April 11 by Miku Kakizawa, a Representative of Japan's lower house (House of Representatives), clearly quoting an official of the Kan Administration (Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano, most likely, but it could be a NISA official):

Regarding raising the radiation exposure limit to 250 milli-sievert/year, "According to the ICRP's international standard, the limit can be raised to 500 milli-sievert/year for a temporary work. However, it was too drastic to raise the limit [from 100 milli-sievert/year] to 500 milli-sievert/year, so we picked 250 milli-sievert/year," [according to the government].


So, 250 milli-sievert/year was just an arbitrary number on the way to higher limit. How high? Maybe even higher than 500 milli-sievert/year.

Why? Because of this report that appeared on March 31 (Nihon Television News 24; translation is mine):

The International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) suggested on March 31 that Japan take a more realistic approach to the annual radiation exposure limit in light of the prolonged Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident.

The Japanese government raised the radiation exposure limit for the nuclear power plant workers from 100 milli-sievert/year to 250 milli-sievert/year. ICRP said this was too strict, and considering the severity of the accident the limit should be further raised to deal with the on-going situation at the plant. Specifically, according to ICRP, if the radiation exposure limit is set between 500 and 1,000 milli-sievert/year as ICRP recommends, there won't be immediate negative effect on health.

ICRP also suggested that the Japanese government consider raising the limit for the residents on an emergency basis, if the plant crisis continues longer.


  政府は、福島第一原発の事故を受けて、原子力関連施設での緊急作業従事者の被ばく線量限度をこれまでの100ミリシーベルトから250ミリシーベルトに引 き上げた。これに対して、ICRPは、国際的に見てもかなり厳しく設定した基準であるとして、現在の事故の重大性を考えると、緊急作業従事者については基 準を緩和してより現実的な対応をすべきとの提言を行った。具体的には、ICRPの勧告に沿って、緊急作業従事者の被ばく線量限度を500~1000ミリ シーベルトの範囲内で設定すれば、直ちに健康への影響はないとしている。


So the crisis may continue much longer, and ICRP recommends raising the limit for the ordinary people on this emergency situation which will last long? If an emergency lasts for long time, it's no longer an emergency, is it?

See, the Japanese government is conditioning the hapless residents of Japan. Slowly telling them 250 milli-sievert/year for the nuke plant workers is nothing, and even the 1,000 milli-sievert/year limit will have no immediate effect, because ICRP says so. As for the residents, well how about 100 milli-sievert/year? It would have no negative effect. (That's what ICRP says anyway.)

The government has already allowed school children in Fukushima Prefecture to be exposed up to 20 milli-sievert/year radiation anyway, so 100 milli-sievert/year for adults is nothing at this point.

Nihon Television is one of the major broadcasting companies in Japan, aligned with Yomiuri Shinbun.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: TEPCO Stating the Obvious After 5 Weeks - "Part of Fuel Rods May Have Melted"

Following the cue from Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, who finally admitted that the fuel pellets may have melted, TEPCO now says the fuel rods may have melted in the Reactor 1.

Even the inept Japanese government already admitted, through the Prime Minister's advisor, that they knew the core had melted but they didn't feel like announcing it.

But don't worry, says TEPCO, chlorine-38 wasn't detected after all (as we now interpret the data according to the advice of the experts under the government guidance), so there is no "re-criticality" as some have alleged happening.

(Expect the admission of re-criticality in about 3 weeks.)

From Yomiuri Shinbun (4/20/2011):

Junichi Matsumoto of TEPCO admitted on April 20 [in the press conference] that there was a possibility that the fuel rods have melted in the Reactor 1, where about 70% of the fuel rods may have been damaged". Matsumoto said "the melted fuels may be stuck in the middle of the Pressure Vessel and hasn't dropped to the bottom."

He cited the lower temperature at the bottom of the Pressure Vessel than at the top as the reason for his assumption. So far, TEPCO has described the damage of the fuel rods as probably "holes on the surface, or the cracked cladding", and has avoided commenting on the fuel melt.

 東京電力の松本純一・原子力立地本部長代理は20日、燃料の約70%が損傷しているとみられる福島第一原子力発電所1号機の原子炉について「燃料 が溶融している可能性がある」と認め、「圧力容器の中ほどに水あめのような状態で引っかかり、底までは落ちていないだろう」と述べた。



And this is the new and improved data on water in the Reactor 1 turbine room from March 24 that have been re-evaluated for accuracy, and the proof that there is no re-criticality (no chlorine-38; on the table it says "below detectable range"). The second column from the left is the new and improved interpretation, the third column from the left is the original announcement on March 25. The column on the right indicates reasons for change (if any), and in the case of chlorine-38, the reason was "Based on the guideline from NISA to avoid misinterpretation of the data, the nuclides were identified and the level of radiation determined by the main peaks."

To browse through the charts, go here and click on the PDF files at the bottom. They are in Japanese. No English version has been posted yet.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: MP Alleges It May Not Have Been a Hydrogen Explosion on March 12

(Correction: Tokuda is from Kagoshima, not from Fukushima.)

If what Takeshi Tokuda, Member of the Lower House (House of Representatives) in the Japanese Diet, says is true, the explosion that blew up the Reactor 1 building roof and side walls may not have been an hydrogen explosion as the government has insisted, but something decidedly more serious.

From his April 17 blog entry (original in Japanese):

[Tokuda is writing about his day on April 15, including a visit to Minami-Soma City, which has been designated as "planned evacuation zone". He visited the Minami Soma City General Hospital and spoke with Dr. Oikawa, and the following is what he heard from Dr. Oikawa.]


Then I heard a startling story from Dr. Oikawa.


On the first hydrogen explosion on March 12 [Reactor 1], broken pieces [of...??] and small stones [from the explosion] landed in Futaba-machi, 2 kilometers away from the Plant.


When the hospital checked the radiation level on the people who escaped from around the nuke plant after the explosion, there were more than 10 people whose radiation level exceeded 100,000 cpm [counts per minute], beyond what could be measured by the geiger counter the hospital had.

[100,000 cpm is the new level that the Japanese government set that requires decontamination. Before the Fukushima accident, the level was 6,000 cpm, and on March 12 it was still 6,000 cpm.]


It is the level that threatens the secondary radiation contamination.


However, it has never been disclosed by the government that it was such a serious situation.


Some people, without stopping by at the hospital and without knowing that they had been exposed to high radiation, may have gone home and hugged their children.


So I re-read the transcript of the press conference given by Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano two hours after the explosion.


He said that there was a hydrogen explosion, but it was confirmed that the Containment Vessel was not damaged.


It was not the explosion within the Containment Vessel, therefore no large amount of radioactive materials would be released, Edano said.


In his March 13 press conference, he announced that 9 people who had evacuated from Futaba-machi by bus may have been exposed to radiation.


4 of them had the low dose of 1,800 cpm, the highest dose was 40,000 cpm, he said.


Edano also said that according to the experts there would be no serious negative effect on health as long as such matters [radioactive materials] stay on the surface.


Did the government not know about this serious situation at Minami-Soma City General Hospital where more than 10 people were found to have been exposed to high radiation levels?


If the government didn't know, that would cast doubts on the capability of the Prime Minister's Office to gather information, and would be problematic from the point of crisis management; if they knew but decided to suppress the information, that would be the manipulation of information by the government, almost a criminal act.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Photos and Vids of the Crippled Plant

I've found them tucked away at TEPCO's site. I got there by accident.

It's here:

Strangely, I haven't managed to get to the page from their homepage.

Same thing with their Japanese page..

The Japanese page is here:

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Government Planning to Raise the Radiation Limit for Plant Workers to 500 Milli-Sievert/Year

(Update on the topic in my later post. 250 milli-sievert/year is just a stepping stone.)

from the current 250 milli-sievert/year, which was raised from 100 milli-sievert/year after the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident.

From Nihon Television News 24 (4/18/2011):

In order to stabilize the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, the government is planning to raise the radiation exposure limit for the workers from the current 250 milli-sievert/year.

The radiation exposure limit for workers at nuclear power plants is 100 milli-sievert/year, but the limit has been raised to 250 milli-sievert/year to deal with the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident. According to the government sources, the higher limit is being considered because it is getting increasingly difficult to have enough workers to work on the plant. Also, the radiation inside the Reactor buildings is high, and the annual limit of 250 milli-sieverts may not be high enough to achieve the goals laid out by the TEPCO road map.

The international standard allows 500 milli-sievert/year in an emergency work, but it hasn't been decided how high the new limit will be. The government will carefully assess the timing of announcement, keeping in consideration the health concerns of the workers and the public opinion.

The work at the [Fukuhsima I] nuclear power plant requires skills and experience under harsh conditions, and securing workers has been a problem.

  原子力発電所の作業員に認められる放射線量の限度は年間100ミリシーベルトだが、今回の事故に限り、250ミリシーベルトまで引き上げられている。政府 関係者によると、十分な作業員の数の確保が難しくなっていることや、原子炉建屋内の放射線量が高く、今回引き上げた250ミリシーベルトの上限では原子炉 の安定化に向けたロードマップの実現に追いつかないことから、上限の引き上げを検討しているという。

If I remember right, 500 milli-sievert/year is for an emergency work that lasts for a few days to a few weeks, and not for a few months to a year or more. Same thing for raising the radiation exposure limit for non-nuclear plant workers for an emergency; that emergency is not supposed to last for more than few weeks.

I also hear that the government is planning to raise the annual radiation exposure limit for pregnant women. Instead of evacuating the expecting mothers to safer, lower-radiation places, the government simply raises the exposure limit and tell them it's safe, don't worry. What a country.

It is a genocide. Not much different from Colonel Gaddafi killing the fellow Libyans.

#Radiation in Japan: Government "Notice" to Scrub Vegetables Before Testing for Radiation

Professor Kunihiko Takeda of Chubu University says in his April 19 blog post that:

after the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident the government suddenly changed the procedure to measure the radiation level in vegetables, and issued a notice that "the vegetables to be analyzed for radioactive materials should be taken out of the boxes, washed carefully under running water, and then analyzed."

Professor Takeda continues (my quick translation, not necessarily literal):

That caused the total loss of confidence in the safety of the vegetables.

The reason? It is easy to remove the radioactive materials on the vegetables when they are about to be shipped, soon after having been harvested. By the time they reach the consumers, it would be difficult to remove the radioactive materials as they stick fast on the surface or have penetrated inside the vegetables.

You can't trust the radiation level numbers on vegetables and other farm produce announced by the government.

There are people from Fukushima near the nuke plant coming to Tokyo and sell their vegetables saying "see how fresh they look!" That contributes to further loss of confidence.

Why? Because vegetables contaminated with radioactive materials can be very fresh, but being fresh doesn't mean being safe. In the case of mercury poisoning in Minamata, the contaminated fish were consumed as "fresh".

Municipalities are issuing a "declaration of safety" on certain farm produce like vegetables after they scrub them clean. Don't trust the farm produce from the municipalities that have issued such a "declaration".

I receive emails from conscientious farmers who have grown vegetables that people can consume without safety worries but are now at a loss how to find out whether their produce is safe.

It's a serious business for both producers and consumers.

It is the government who's creating and spreading the "baseless rumors" by issuing the guidance "to wash vegetables under running water before analyzing".

Professor Takeda's blog continues, and I will post as I finish translating.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Japanese MSM's Own "Evacuation" Zone

I have no way of verifying this. From a tweet by :

Japanese news media outlets set their own "evacuation zone" [from Fukushima I Nuke Plant]: Asahi Shinbun 50-kilometer radius; Jiji Tsushin 60 kilometers, TV networks (other than NHK) 50 kilometers, NHK 40 kilometers. They have escaped to the safe distance, and have been criticizing freelance journalists and foreign media who have been reporting the danger within the 30-kilometer radius as "demagogues who exaggerate the danger". What horse s--t.

朝日新聞50キロ圏外、時事通信60キロ、民放各局50キロ、NHK40キロ。報道機関が設定した「自主避難区域」である。彼らは早々と安全地帯に逃亡し ておいて30キロ圏内の危険性を報道するフリー記者や外国の報道を危険を煽るデマだと批判してきたのだ。馬のケツの穴のような連中だこいつらは。

I have read that the Japanese media only conducts telephone interviews with people within the 30-kilometer radius while the foreign media (like AP and Reuters) and freelance, Internet-based journalists actually go there. Weekly magazines (more like tabloids in the UK and in the US) in Japan seem to have better and more truthful coverage than the daily newspapers and send reporters to the affected areas in Fukushima.

All That Glitters...Gold Hits $1,500 Per Ounce

and gets beaten down to $1,495 or so. Next stop $1,550 or so, reverse head and shoulders on a longer-dated chart (6-month or one-year daily chart).

Thank you, Ben, for stoking the inflation in things we need, and the deflation in things we stored the wealth (like houses).

Congrats if you didn't listen to the MSM pundits proclaiming the imminent collapse of gold (and silver) prices.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Japan's Finance Ministers Say "US Treasuries Attractive, Top-Notch"

Don't worry Timmy, Ben and Barry. Japanese politicians still say the US debt is the best investment for them.

But then, the same Japanese politicians also said Fukushima I Nuke Plant was under control and safe.

From Asahi Shinbun (in Japanese; 4/19/2011):

Minister of Finance Yoshihiko Noda: "US Treasures continue to be an attractive investment for us. No particular effect [of downgrading] on Japan's holdings. President Obama has embarked on a deficit reduction."

Minister of State for Economic and Fiscal Policy Kaoru Yosano: "Everybody in the world wants to hold the US Treasuries. The US Treasures that Japan owns are particularly good ones."


"Japan holds about $1 trillion foreign bonds as part of the foreign reserves, most of which are considered to be the US Treasuries," says Asahi, complaining that the details of the foreign reserves are not disclosed. Well, Asahi can simply check the US Treasury Department's TIC, and find out that Japan owns $890 billion US Treasuries as of February 2011.

(And they talk about taxing the citizens to pay for "recovery and rebuilding" cost and Fukushima I nuke plant accident compensations.)

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Reactor 2 Bldg Was Too Steamy for iRobot

and the bot couldn't record the radiation level.

Yomiuri Shinbun (in Japanese; 12:37PM JST 4/19/2011) reports:

TEPCO couldn't get enough data on the radiation level in the Reactor 2 building. Two remote-controlled robots went through the door to the Reactor 2 building on April 2. But after measuring 4.1 milli-sievert/hr near the door, the camera lens quickly became foggy due to high humidity (94 to 99%) and couldn't record the radiation level.


But wait... Now if I think about it, even if one bot couldn't take a photograph of the reading by the other bot, the readings were stored in the bot, right?

Is TEPCO hiding the information (again), or is iRobot incapable of storing the readings?

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant Is Polluting the Entire Planet, Says the Preparatory Commission For CTBTO

No escape.

The Preparatory Commission for Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) announced on April 13, 2011 that the radioactive materials from the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant had reached the southern hemisphere:

- Update 13 April: radioactivity also measured in the southern hemisphere -

Since the double disaster of the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami that affected hundreds of thousands of people and seriously damaged the Fukushima Daichi power plant in Japan on 11 March 2011, minute traces of radioactive emissions from Fukushima have spread across the entire northern hemisphere. A monitoring network designed to detect signs of nuclear explosions picked up these traces from the stricken power plant.

To date, more than 35 radionuclide stations that are part of the International Monitoring System (IMS) have provided information on the spread of radioactive particles and noble gases from the Fukushima accident. The IMS is a global network that will comprise 337 facilities when complete. Sixty-three of the 80 planned IMS radionuclide stations are already operational and able to detect airborne radioactivity.

Initial findings

The first analysis results of the monitoring data became available a few days after the accident. A clear picture quickly emerged. Initial detections of radioactive materials were made on 12 March at the Takasaki monitoring station in Japan just 250 km away from the troubled power plant. The dispersion of the radioactive isotopes could then be followed to eastern Russia on 14 March and to the west coast of the United States two days later.

Spreading across the entire globe

Nine days after the accident, the radioactive cloud had crossed Northern America. Three days later when a station in Iceland picked up radioactive materials, it was clear that the cloud had reached Europe. By day 15, traces from the accident in Fukushima were detectable all across the northern hemisphere. For the first four weeks, the radioactive materials remained confined to the northern hemisphere, with the equator initially acting as a dividing line between the northern and southern air masses. As of 13 April, radioactivity had spread to the southern hemisphere of the Asia-Pacific region and had been detected at stations located for example in Australia, Fiji, Malaysia and Papua New Guinea.

(The full announcement at the link.)

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: NISA Stating the Obvious After 1 Month - "Fuel Pellets Melted"

(From Yomiuri Shinbun article of 10:47PM JST 4/18/2011)

Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) finally admits to what the rest of the world has pretty much known for the past 4 weeks, that the fuel pellets melted in the Reactor 1, 2, and 3, and that it has reported to the Nuclear Safety Commission.

NISA is yet to admit to a core meltdown.

NISA has insisted that "more than 3% of the fuel rods have been damaged", but never admitted that any melt of the fuel rods has taken place, until now.

According to Yomiuri, NISA has three levels to describe the fuel core damage:

  • "Core damage (炉心損傷)" refers to the situation where the cladding is damaged but the fuel rods keep their shapes. [This is what NISA and the Kan government have insisted on, up till now.]

  • "Pellet melt (燃料ペレットの溶融)" refers to the situation where part of the fuel pellets is melted.

  • "Core meltdown (炉心溶融)" refers to the situation where the melted fuel drops down.

The reason for NISA to now believe "the pellets have melted" is that "radioactive materials generated by the melted pellets have been found in high concentration" for the Reactors 2 and 3, and that "there was a hydrogen explosion" in the Reactor 1.

(I can't help laughing at The Australian writer who believes the Japanese authorities are on top of the "emergency" from the beginning.)

The Austrialian Is All For Nuke Plants Even After #Fukushima Disaster

saying "Fukushima looked ugly but the alternative is so much worse". Why? Well, global warming and CO2 increase, of course. Graham Lloyd of The Australian also claims the Japanese government has "responded with greater speed and precision to the Fukushima emergency than did their Soviet counterparts at Chernobyl, which was a much more serious accident."

Emergency? (Oh boy. That's like NISA calling the accident an "event"). The article was written before Japan upgraded the "emergency" event to a "Level 7" accident.

From The Australian's Graham Lloyd (4/9/2011):

THE Fukushima nuclear emergency has intensified the global climate change debate.

Japan's post-tsunami crisis has prompted an immediate reappraisal of ambitious nuclear energy plans in the booming markets of China and India and hastened the withdrawal of ageing plants in Western Europe, most notably Germany.

According to some calculations, if the world's nuclear ambitions are reduced because of Fukushima global carbon emissions could increase by an additional three billion tonnes by 2030.

Some believe this would be enough to push global temperature rises beyond 2 per cent and into a potentially calamitous upward spiral.

This has caused leading environmental campaigners, such as British author George Monbiot, to reappraise their attitude towards nuclear energy with some dramatic results.

Monbiot has not only changed from nuclear avoider to pro-nuclear campaigner he has taken on the long-standing figurehead of the anti-nuclear cause, Australia's Helen Caldicott.

"I'm very worried that the global response to what's happening in Fukushima will be to shut down nuclear power stations around the world and to cancel future nuclear power stations, and that what will happen is that they will be replaced by coal," Monbiot wrote this week.

And after years of campaigning against nuclear power, Monbiot now describes the exaggerated claims of the health impacts of radioactivity as akin to what he believes are the pseudo-scientific pleadings of climate change deniers.

"The anti-nuclear movement to which I once belonged has misled the world about the impacts of radiation on human health," Monbiot wrote.

Monbiot cites a UN Scientific Committee report into the Chernobyl accident, which found that of the workers who tried to contain the emergency at Chernobyl, 134 suffered acute radiation syndrome; 28 died soon afterwards. Nineteen others died later, but generally not from diseases associated with radiation. The remaining 87 have suffered other complications, including four cases of solid cancer and two of leukaemia.

In the rest of the Chernobyl population there have been 6848 cases of thyroid cancer among young children arising "almost entirely" from the Soviet Union's failure to prevent people from drinking milk contaminated with iodine 131.

Otherwise "there has been no persuasive evidence of any other health effect in the general population that can be attributed to radiation exposure".

Japanese authorities have responded with greater speed and precision to the Fukushima emergency than did their Soviet counterparts at Chernobyl, which was a much more serious accident.

(The article continues.)

The last paragraph quoted is a downright LIE. Amazing. There you go, Kan, here's your ally. Invite the reporters from this outfit to your presser and spread the good news that Fukushima is nothing.

The second to last paragraph is extremely questionable also, in light of the extensive studies to the contrary.

I suppose Australia is very safe from the radioactive plumes and contaminated water from Fukushima, being in the southern hemisphere, and has the luxury of still promoting the nuclear energy to save the world from the "global warming".

Never mind that millions of Japanese have had to breathe radioactive air and eat radioactive vegetables and fish. Small price to pay for saving the world from "global warming".

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Nuclear Safety Commission Sitting on Over 2,000 Radiation Dispersion Estimates

From Kyodo News English (4/18/2011):

The Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan has released only two computer-simulated estimates of radioactive substance dispersal since the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, although more than 2,000 of them were made, sources familiar with the matter said Monday.

The estimates were made using the Nuclear Safety Technology Center's networked computer system known as SPEEDI, or system sor prediction of environmental emergency dose information, developed and operated with a budget of about 12.8 billion yen.

The government commission released the two estimates on March 23 and April 11, including accumulated exposure to a radiation dose of more than 1 millisievert even outside a radius of 30 kilometers from the Fukushima plant that was crippled by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

The same news in Kyodo Japanese gives a bit more details:

The Nuclear Safety Technology Center in Tokyo, who runs SPEEDI, says it has been running the simulations taking into consideration the wind directions, rain, and amount of radioactive materials released. The Center has been making the 3-hour dispersion predictions ever since the accident happened. There are over 2,000 dispersion simulation charts drawn up so far.

The reason why the Nuclear Safety Commission hasn't disclosed the simulation results is that there's not enough data on the amount of radioactive materials released. "Simulations are different from the actual dispersions, and that would lead to misunderstanding," says the Commission. However, some of the simulation charts were similar to the actual dispersions.

風向、降雨といった気象や放射性物質の放出量など、さまざまな 仮定の条件に基づいた試算を繰り返している。ほかにも事故直後から1時間ごとに、その時点で放射性物質が1ベクレル放出されたと仮定して3時間後の拡散を 予測。これまでに作成した拡散試算図は、2千枚以上になるという。


Shoot these people. They are more keen on covering their behind and staying in good grace with their benefactor the government than warning their fellow citizens.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: 5-Meter Deep Water in Reactor 4 Building, Highly Radioactive Water in Reactor 2 Spent Fuel Pool

All is well at Fukushima I Nuke Plant. Nothing to worry about, TEPCO and NISA are on top of it.

From Yomiuri Shinbun (11:23PM JST 4/28/2011) (I'll go look for the original presser later):

TEPCO announced on April 18 that the radioactive materials were found in high concentration in the Spent Fuel Pool water of the Reactor 2 at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant.

TEPCO analyzed the water taken on April 16 from the overflow tank, and found:

  • Cesium-134 at 160,000 becquerels/cubic centimeter;
  • Cesium-137 at 150,000 becquerels/cubic centimeter;
  • Iodine-131 at 4,100 becquerels/cubic centimeter.

TEPCO believes that it is likely the radioactive materials in the water were leaked from the Containment Vessel [Reactor 2's Suppression Pool is damaged], but admits there's a possibility that the spent fuel rods in the Pool are damaged.

In the meantime, Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) announced on April 18 that the Reactor 4 building basement was found to be flooded with 5-meter (16.40 feet) deep water. No information yet on the radioactive materials in that water, but it would be another impediment to the repair work to be done on the Reactor 4. NISA had announced earlier on April 18 that the depth of water found in the Reactor 4 building was only 20 centimeters.


 プールからあふれた水を受けるタンクから16日に採取した水を分析した結果、放射性セシウム134が1立方センチ・ メートルあたり16万ベクレル、セシウム137が同15万ベクレル、ヨウ素131が同4100ベクレル検出された。東電は「圧力が高まった格納容器から漏 れ出た放射性物質が溶け込んだ可能性が高い」と見ているが、プールの燃料棒が破損している可能性も否定できないという。

 一方、経済産業省原子力安全・保安院は18日、4号機原子炉建屋地下1階で汚染水が約5メートルの深さでたまっているのが見つかったと発表した。 濃度は不明だが、4号機の復旧作業には汚染水をまず処理する必要があり、障害がまた増えたことになる。汚染水の水深について、保安院は同日午前中に「約 20センチ」と公表したが、その後訂正した。

(2011年4月18日23時23分 読売新聞)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

#Radiation in Japan: Mix and Match

Despite the media campaign to buy, consume, enjoy the Fukushima vegetables to support the farmers there, suppose you want to be selfish for yourself and your family and buy vegetables grown in areas as far away from the Fukushima I Nuke Plant as possible, and you want to avoid vegetables grown in areas under constant plumes of radioactive iodine and cesium (Ibaraki, Chiba for example). Can you do it?

No you can't.

One of my contacts in Tokyo says you can't always buy vegetables of a single origin. The sign says the vegetable was grown and harvested in "either Hokkaido or Chiba", or "either Kanagawa or Chiba". If you're lucky, you get the vegetables grown in the safe areas like Hokkaido. If you're sort of lucky, you get the vegetables grown in the relatively safe areas like Kanagawa. Otherwise, trust your government and be happy.

Scanning the tweets in Japanese, another trick that JA (Japan Agricultural Cooperative Association) apparently does is to label the vegetables as grown and harvested in "Hokkaido and other locations", "Kagoshima and other locations", etc. "Other locations" can be anywhere.

Vegetables grown west of Aichi Prefecture are still hard to buy in parts of Tokyo.

My contact is avoiding any leafy vegetables but she says there is no other choice but to buy root vegetables harvested in Chiba.

People in Japan, particularly in Tohoku and Kanto, weren't told of the huge release of radioactive materials on March 12 after the Reactor 1 building exploded. They weren't told of the even bigger release of radioactive materials with explosions on March 14 and 15. They were told about them after one month, when it was just way too late for any preventive action that they could have taken.

And now they're given hardly any choice in not consuming food that is potentially contaminated with radioactive materials. They are told that they are harming the farmers by listening to the baseless rumors and not buying the vegetables.

As if the radioactive materials were baseless rumors.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: iRobot Readings of Reactors 1 and 3

From TEPCO's press conference on April 18 morning (in Japanese). TEPCO says they are provisional data.

Reactor 1 building:

Date and time: 4:40PM to 5:30PM, April 17, 2011
Radiation (1st floor, through the north door): 10 to 49 milli-sievert/hr
Temperature: 28 to 29 degrees Celsius
Humidity: 49 to 56%
Oxygen level: 21%

Reactor 3 building:

Date and time: 11:30AM to 1:30PM, April 17, 2011
Radiation: 28 to 57 milli-sievert/hr
Temperature: 19 to 22 degrees Celsius
Humidity: 32 to 35%
Oxygen level: 21%

According to TEPCO, there were a lot of debris inside the Reactor 3 building, and the robots had a hard time moving forward and didn't go much beyond the door.

TEPCO also did the dust sampling.

Part of the reason why they had the robots enter through the north door was because of the high radiation level at the south door.

On April 16, the radiation level at the south door to the Reactor 1 building was measured at 270 milli-sievert/hr. The distance between the north door and the south door is about 30 meters, according to TEPCO. The radiation right outside the north door was also measured on April 16, and it was 20 milli-sievert/hr.

This was the first time the radiation level was measured inside the Reactor buildings (other than Reactor 4 building) since the March 11 earthquake.

The annual limit for radiation exposure for nuclear plant workers has been raised to 250 milli-sievert/year after the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident. Working in the Reactor 3 building for 5 hours would exceed that number.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool Needs Support

I'm reading the "roadmap" (in Japanese; English version is not up yet) that TEPCO released yesterday on how and when the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident winds down. As far as I can tell, TEPCO will continue to do what it's been doing for over a month now: muddling along, and hoping something may finally work.

What is interesting to me is not their "roadmap" (because it is no such thing) but the assessment of the current condition and plans to address the problems in the next few months.

I've already mentioned their assessment that the Containment Vessels of the Reactors 1 through 3 are highly likely to have a crack/gap/opening through which the radioactive steam is escaping.

Here's another one that's very curious:

The Spent Fuel Pool of the Reactor 4 may need a support structure from underneath.

That would mean, I assume, that without such a structure, the Reactor 4's Spent Fuel Pool is in danger of collapsing and falling.

Uh oh.

The building walls were blown out by powerful explosions in the Reactors 3 and 4, but TEPCO seems particularly worried about the Reactor 4 building walls. In the current assessment section regarding the Spent Fuel Pools,

Damage to the Reactor building walls that support the Spent Fuel Pools:
In particular, the Reactor 4 building's structural integrity needs to be checked.
(Action No.20) The Reactor 4 building's structural integrity to withstand earthquakes checked. [It doesn't say how it was checked.]
(Action No.21) Continue to monitor, and come up with a remedy as needed.

And that remedy is Action No.26, to be done in the next three months:

Put a structural support from beneath the Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool.

What do they mean by putting a structural support from beneath? Here's a diagram at the end of the "roadmap" (see the red circle I added):

Again, no information on how they could even enter the reactor building to do the work. It's just to make Prime Minister Kan and other Ministers happy that they have a "plan". Never mind that it's not really a plan but a wish list.

#Japan #Earthquake: They Published Handwritten Newspapers

Ishinomaki Hibi Shinbun is an old, local evening paper that circulates in Ishinomaki, Higashi Matsuyama, and Onagawa. After the March 11 earthquake, for 6 days to inform the earthquake/tsunami survivors of Ishinomaki and the surrounding areas, they literally "wrote" the newspaper. There was no power, and 6 reporters and 3 writers used the felt pens and newsreel that survived tsunami to write the stories using flashlights as a light source.

7 of these "newspapers" are going to Washington DC's Newseum as part of the permanent collection.

From Newseum announcement (4/12/2011):

When the worst earthquake in Japan's history and the subsequent tsunami knocked out all power in the city of Ishinomaki in Miyagi Prefecture, editors at the Ishinomaki Hibi Shimbun, the city's daily newspaper, printed news of the disaster the only way they could: by pen and paper.

For six consecutive days after the twin disasters, reporters used flashlights and marker pens to write their stories on poster-size paper and posted the "newspapers" at the entrances of relief centers around the city. Six staff members collected stories, while three spent an hour and a half each day writing the newspapers by hand.

The Newseum has acquired seven of the originals for its permanent collection of historic newspapers, some of which will be featured in a future exhibit in the Time Warner World News Gallery. The newspapers are a powerful testament to the timeless human need to know and to journalists' commitment to providing that information.

"Without the benefit of any of the 21st century conveniences or technological advancements, and in the face of significant personal hardships, these journalists were distinctly committed to providing their community with critical information, and they used simple pen and paper to do it," said Carrie Christoffersen, curator of collections.

And as usual, the first newspaper to break the news of this "handwritten" newapaper was not Japanese; it was The Washington Post.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: iRobots to the Rescue!

Well, not really, but they went inside the Reactor 3's building to measure the radiation inside the reactor building and take videos. TEPCO hasn't released the data or the video yet.

(The photo is from Yomiuri: Packbot opening the door to the Reactor 3 building.)

From PC World (4/17/2011):

A pair of remote controlled robots entered a reactor building at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on Sunday morning for the first time.

Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power is hoping the iRobot Packbots will be able to provide data on the current condition inside the buildings, parts of which contain high levels of radioactivity and are hazardous for workers to enter.

The robots entered the plant's number 3 reactor building and were due to take radiation and temperature readings. They are equipped with video cameras that can provide a live feed to operators.

Photos released by Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) showed one of the robots manipulating a handle on the second of a pair of double doors that lead into the reactor building.

TEPCO has yet to release any information about what the robots found inside the building. If the mission proves a success, the robots will also be used inside the adjacent reactor buildings 1 and 2 at the plant.

Yomiuri Shinbun reports that a worker at the plant measured the radiation level from outside the door to the Reactor 3 building on Saturday, and it was 270 milli-sievert/hour.

The data from the iRobots will be used by TEPCO to determine how long the workers would be able to stay inside the reactor buildings for repairs.