Saturday, April 14, 2012

2004 Study: Two of Brazil's High Background Radiation Areas Have Higher Cancer Mortality

I have been told numerous times that "People in naturally high background radiation areas in the world suffer no ill effect from the high radiation." I just stumbled upon one study in 2004 on such areas in Brazil.

Conclusion of this particular study: Cancer mortality in "Poços de Caldas, and Guarapari is higher than would be expected for their respective reference population", whereas "cancer mortality for the Araxá population is lower than would be expected".

International Congress Series
Volume 1276, Pages 3-468 (February 2005)

High Levels of Natural Radiation and Radon Areas: Radiation Dose and Health Effects, Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on High Levels of Natural Radiation and Radon Areas, Osaka, Japan
6–10 September 2004

Edited by T. Sugahara, H. Morishima, M. Sohrabi, Y. Sasaki, I. Hayata and S. Akiba

Pattern of cancer mortality in some Brazilian HBRAs
Pages 110-113
Lene H.S. Veiga, Sérgio Koifman


Among residents of Brazilian High Background radiation Areas, there is great concern about radiation-related health effects and there is also a common certitude that cancer incidence is higher in those areas than in other Brazilian areas with normal background radiation. This paper aims to present an overview of Brazilian High Background Radiation Areas and evaluate whether cancer mortality among residents from Poços de Caldas, Araxá, and Guarapari is higher than would be expected when applying mortality rate of their respective States. Results show that cancer mortality from the Brazilian HBRAs, Poços de Caldas, and Guarapari is higher than would be expected for their respective reference population. On the other hand, cancer mortality for the Araxá population is lower than would be expected.

(UPDATED) Herbal Tea from Miyagi Had 20,290 Bq/Kg of Radioactive Cesium

(UPDATE 4/15/2012)

Additional information from Asahi Shinbun (4/12/2012):

  • The company planted the herb outdoors in MAY (not March) last year.

  • The president of the company said he tested the tea because TEPCO had told him he wouldn't get compensated unless he produced the result of the radiation test.

  • There is another company in southern Miyagi (bordering Fukushima) who makes and sells the similar product.

Browsing the popular online mall in Japan, I see the same powdered tea being sold, and one of the brands says it is made in Ibaraki Prefecture. I think they'd better test that one, too, in case.


Jiji Tsushin (4/14/2012):


Miyagi Prefecture: 20,000 Bq/kg from the herbal tea


Miyagi Prefecture announced on April 14 that 20,290 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium was detected from the herbal tea produced by a manufacturer in Zao-machi in Miyagi Prefecture, more than 200 times the national safety limit (100 becquerels/kg).


It was 17,200 becquerels/kg according to the manufacturer's own testing. By April 14, about 40 sets of 1,100 sets of the tea already shipped had been recalled.

The herbal tea is in the powder form. About 1.5 grams of the tea powder is used to make one cup of tea, making each drink with 30 becquerels of radioactive cesium. Nothing to worry about, the prefectural government says, as if all the radioactive cesium people ingest is from this tea alone.

I suppose the prefectural government doesn't test unless they are told by the national government to test, and the national government probably didn't know about this tea. Just like they (claim they) didn't know about rice hay fed to the cows. Or leaf compost. Or shiitake cultivation substrate. Or crushed stones. Or firewood to smoke bonito. Or ....

Friday, April 13, 2012

Anti Nuke Protesters Against the Restart of Ooi Nuke Plant in Front of Fukui Pref. Government Bldg, Police Trying to Block Them

Why? Because Yukio Edano is in the building, meeting with the Fukui governor and his officials for the re-start of the plant.

Yasumi Iwakami's IWJ USTREAM (live):

Tweets from Japan say they are even blocking the reporters from other parts of Japan, magazines, newspapers, from the press conference.

They also say Edano entered from the back entrance. People are shouting at the stone-faced officials.

Young policemen standing there, guarding the entrance look sad.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano on March 12, 2011: "We Should Consider Evacuation of Tokyo, Ibaraki"

Tokyo Shinbun reports that according to information they obtained through the Japanese equivalent of the FOIA, the Kan administration did talk about wide-area evacuation in the Tokyo Metropolitan areas even before the Atomic Energy Commission's chief handed the worst-case scenario to then-Prime Minister Kan on March 25, 2011.

It was Yukio Edano, then-Chief Cabinet Secretary (and current Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry), who mentioned the wide-area evacuation, while other unnamed ministers were worried about the stock market, in the evening of March 12, 2011 after Reactor 1 blew up.

... Stock market?

From Tokyo Shinbun evening edition (4/13/2012):

東京、茨城の避難検討 福島1号機 水素爆発直後に官邸

Prime Minister's Office was contemplating evacuation of Tokyo and Ibaraki, right after the hydrogen explosion of Fukushima Reactor 1


On March 12, 2011 when a hydrogen explosion took place in the Reactor 1 building at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, a meeting of the nuclear disaster response headquarters was held in the Prime Minister's Official Residence where a wide-area evacuation including Tokyo and Ibaraki Prefecture was being discussed, this newspaper learned on April 13 from the memo by the government officials obtained via the information disclosure request.


The memo is the summary of remarks during the 4th meeting that started at 10:07PM on March 12, 2011. That day, a hydrogen explosion occurred in the reactor building of Reactor 1, and the emergency cooling system of Reactor 3 was becoming unstable, and the crisis was deepening.


In the meeting, Koichiro Genba, then-minister in charge of national strategy [and current Minister of Foreign Affairs] wanted to have "the worst-case scenario", to which then-Prime Minister Naoto Kan responded with worries about whether it was possible to have radiation contamination like in the Chernobyl accident. Mr. Kan accepted the explanation that the reactors at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant were of totally different type [from the Chernobyl reactor], but emphasized the importance to secure the Containment Vessels at all cost.


Ministers expressed worries over blackouts, [availability of] foods, and negative effect on the stock market. Then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said, according to the memo, "We have to start thinking about wide-area evacuation. Including Tokyo, and Ibaraki."


It has been recently discovered that the minutes of the meetings related to the March 11, 2011 disaster, including those of the nuclear disaster response headquarters, haven't been created. Responding to the criticism, the government published the summaries of the meetings last month.


[Edano's] remark on the wide-area evacuation was not included in the meeting summary. It was probably because the intent of his remark couldn't be ascertained when the summary was created.

I wish Tokyo Shinbun published the actual memo in its entirety.

So these ministers were having the meeting on the upper floor of the Official Residence, while in the basement the real information was being transmitted: SPEEDI simulations that showed the potential wide-area contamination. Somehow they didn't reach the upper floor, and the ministers forgot to turn on the teleconferencing system on the dedicated line.

The Kan administration on the first few days of the nuclear accident did the full-on propaganda of "everything was under control", as if all people needed to worry about was the earthquake and tsunami devastated Tohoku. The administration even sent out the female minister in charge of consumer affairs to scold those selfish Tokyo residents who were trying to hoard bottled water and food. "Don't buy them, because they are more needed in the disaster areas!"

That was just after Reactor 3 blew up in a spectacular fashion. Then one day later Reactor 4 blew up. And something happened in Reactor 2. The government didn't warn residents in Tohoku and Kanto about the possible radioactive fallout from the explosions, and people were still very trusting of their government. Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano was being praised for his "hard work".

Radioactive plumes from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant reached Tokyo, and 210 becquerels/kg of radioactive iodine was detected from the tap water in Tokyo on March 22. The Tokyo Metropolitan government didn't have enough bottled water to give to the residents with babies and infants.

Ah. Those bad old days. Makes me mad.

SPEEDI Déjà Vu: J-Alert Failed to Alert on North Korean "Rocket" Launch

or missile or whatever it was that failed to launch as planned. The rocket/missile was launched at 7:40AM on April 13, and it was the event which the Noda administration and the Japanese government had made a big deal out of for the past several days. The event was supposed to showcase Japan's defense alert system.

But Japanese officials learned about the failure not from their expensive defense and disaster alert system called J-Alert but from TV. They couldn't confirm the launch until nearly 40 minutes after the actual launch.

(And they want to do what? Re-start Ooi Nuclear Power Plant?)

From Yomiuri Daily (4/14/2012):

Many upset over missile information delay

Despite thorough measures to prepare for a ballistic missile launch by North Korea, the central government's delay in communicating relevant information on Friday, compared with authorities in the United States and South Korea, has exasperated concerned parties.

In Okinawa Prefecture, which is located below the previously assumed flight path of the missile, people were angry with the central government's response, saying, "What would have happened to us if the missile had exploded over our prefecture?"


Missile launched?

In response to breaking news from South Korean media on the missile launch at around 7:55 a.m., reporters at the Defense Ministry in Tokyo rushed to confirm the information.

When asked by reporters, "Was the missile actually launched?" or "Is there a fallen object in the Yellow Sea?", ministry officials only repeated, "We haven't confirmed anything yet."

Meanwhile, CNN and other foreign media were reporting that North Korea had launched the missile but the launch had failed.

Forty-three minutes had already passed when Defense Minister Naoki Tanaka finally announced the missile launch at a press conference.

"[The launch] will have no impact on our country," exclaimed Tanaka. But when reporters tried to ask more questions, defense officials interrupted them, saying, "We're now analyzing the additional information."

To the amusement of reporters, Tanaka was practically yanked from the scene by fellow officials.

The government offices in charge of ensuring public safety looked increasingly frustrated.

A senior official at the National Police Agency said, "We haven't received any precise information."

Later the official said with a frown, "We finally received the [missile] launch information from the Prime Minister's Office shortly after 8:20 a.m."

The NPA was supposed to relay the missile launch information to police across the nation and issue a warning as soon as it received any updates.

Another senior NPA officer said, "Though preventive measures [for the missile launch] were thorough, it took time before an initial response was given."

In response to the media's communication of missile launch information, the Japan Coast Guard issued instructions to deploy airplanes and patrol vessels to determine any possible damage in the nation. But it withdrew the instructions soon after hearing the defense minister's announcement that the missile launch would not have any effect on the country.

A JCC senior official said, "If ocean vessels had been damaged, rescue activities might have been delayed due to the communication delay."


Why didn't the J-Alert sound?

At the Okinawa prefectural government office, the Em-Net, a system to convey emergency information from the central government to local governments, blared at 8:04 a.m.

Tension rose in the office at once. But the message from the central government said only "No information [on the missile launch] has been confirmed."

The prefectural government received the information confirming the missile launch at 8:37 a.m., about one hour after the missile launch was first observed.

While no information was provided from J-Alert, the nationwide system to relay emergency information, TV news programs reported that the missile launch had failed.

The prefecture's senior official said, "We're relieved because there was no damage in Okinawa Prefecture."

However, the official cast doubt on the central government's response, questioning, "Why didn't the J-Alert sound?"

Ishigaki Mayor Yoshitaka Nakayama complained, "We wanted to have an official announcement from the central government as soon as possible."

"We'd like to request that the central government review why it could not provide the information immediately, even after announcements were made in other countries," Nakayama added.

At the Ishigaki Airport, passengers checking in watched TV news reports on the missile launch shortly before 8 a.m. Noriko Matsubara, a 57-year-old insurance salesperson, said, "I feel a chill up my spine when I imagine the missile might have flown over Ishigaki and exploded over the island."

AFP (link is in Japanese) reports that the US military alerted the Japanese Ministry of Defense 2 minutes after the failed launch, but for whatever reason the Ministry of Defense didn't tell the rest of the government until nearly 40 minutes later.

My wild guess is that the Defense Ministry officials were scrambling to start J-Alert so that they could report the J-Alert result to the Prime Minister's Office, instead of what was told by the US military.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Fujimura said they would look into why J-Alert was not used. Maybe the system was not plugged in, just like the teleconferencing system at the Prime Minister's Office when the March 11, 2011 triple disaster happened.

J-Alert looks like this. If you think this is like the nuclear emergency response system with Off-Site Centers and SPEEDI, you are right. That didn't work. Any reason that J-Alert should work? Nope.

Reading the wiki entry on J-Alert, I think this system should have warned people of the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear accident last year. I don't think it did any of that, because not many municipalities have installed the system due to its high cost and malfunctioning.

It looks pretty in the diagram.

Japan's Reconstruction Agency Official at JETRO Seminar: "we can assure you no more spread of radioactive substance from the plant"

In a prepared statement, Mr. Yoshinori Suematsu, a member of the Parliament, working for the Reconstruction Agency as State Secretary for Reconstruction said to the attendants of the Seminar on Promotion of Foreign Direct Investment in the Area Damaged by the Great East Japan Earthquakes at the JETRO IBSC Hall on 23rd March 2012, said the following:

When it comes to the severe accident of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, you surely know that the nuclear reactors had been well treated and achieved cold shutdown condition at the end of last year. Thus we can assure you no more spread of radioactive substance from the plant.

Emphasis is mine. Did you know that? Surely you know.

(H/T Enformable)

#Radioactive Japan: Meat Dealer in Kansai Falsifies #Fukushima and Miyagi Beef as Kagoshima Beef; Already Sold and Consumed

There's always the first. Or I should say the first to get caught.

But before finally busted, the meat dealer already sold 1,424 kilograms of beef from Tohoku and northern Kanto, including 750 kilograms of beef from Fukushima.

From Yomiuri Shinbun (4/13/2012):


A dealer falsified Fukushima beef as "made in Kagoshima", as it is difficult to sell if labeled "made in Fukushima"


The Kinki Regional Agricultural Administration Office of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries directed the meat dealer "AMMS" (Itami City in Hyogo Prefecture) to improve labeling based on the JAS (Japanese Agricultural Standard) on April 13.


According to the Ministry, the dealer says [they falsified the origin because] it was difficult to sell with labels saying "made in Fukushima" and other prefectures. This is the first time since the start of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident that the beef from Fukushima was deliberately mislabeled.


According to the press release, the dealer's store 福田屋此花店 in Osaka City sold at least 1,424 kilograms of beef from Tohoku and Kanto regions as "made in Kagoshima" and other prefectures, including 750 kilograms of beef from Fukushima. The Ministry conducted a site check on an anonymous tip.


Almost all of the beef had been already consumed, but according to the Ministry it was not on the list by the Ministry of Health of beef from the cattle that ate rice hay contaminated with radioactive cesium last year. None of the beef has been found with radioactive cesium exceeding the national safety standard.

No penalty from the supervising Ministry, though, other than "directing the dealer to display proper labels". The press release from the Kinki Regional Agricultural Administration Office on April 13, 2012 basically tells the dealer:

  • Please find out why this happened;

  • Please label appropriately from now on;

  • Please set up a system so that this won't happen again;

  • Please educate your employees appropriately from now on;

  • Please send us the report of your finding by May 14, 2012.

Why did this happen? Isn't that obvious? The dealer made a killing by buying up beef from Tohoku and Kanto at a depressed price, labeled it as "made in Kagoshima" and sold it at probably a huge premium.

The Kinki Agricultural Admin Office also says the dealer sold 280 kilograms of beef from Miyagi. No further information on the beef that this dealer sold that was of Kanto origin. Probably northern Kanto - Tochigi, Gunma, Ibaraki.

TEPCO's Evening Press Conference 4/13/2012: Reactor 4 SFP Temperature: 37.6 Degrees Celsius, Reactor 3 SFP Photos

From TEPCO's regular press conference at 6PM, April 13, 2012.

The heat exchanger for the Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool restarted at 4:04PM.

Temperature as of 5PM was 37.6 degrees Celsius on the water surface.

TEPCO took the photos of Reactor 3's Spent Fuel Pool. One of the photos shows the fuel exchanger (upper right):

Photo No.1 (upper left) was taken from the surface of the water. Matsumoto says the fuel racks are underneath the debris. Photos No.2 (upper right), No.3-1 (lower left), No.3-2 (lower right) shows the pool at 7 meters from the surface. Photos No.2, No.3-1 and No.3-2 were taken from the cask space.

Photo No.3-1 shows the fuel rack, and the fuel handles. Photo No.3-2 is a blow-up of No.3-1.

Matsumoto says the pool didn't look damaged as far as the camera could see.

The video was taken, and TEPCO is currently reviewing the video. It will be made public next week.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

(UPDATED: It was Reactor 1 D/W Temp ) TEPCO Press Conference 4/13/2012 11AM: Reactor 4 SFP Temperature Was 49.9 Degrees Celsius as of 3AM, 4/13/2012

UPDATE 2: The heat exchanger of Reactor 4's Spent Fuel Pool restarted, pool temperature 37.6 degrees Celsius. See my latest post. (The post also has the photos of Reactor 3's Spent Fuel Pool, from inside the pool.)

: Matsumoto was speaking about the Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool, and mentioned the temperature. I took to mean the temperature of the SFP, but it is more likely that Matsumoto suddenly switched back to talking about the temperature of the Reactor 1 dry well. Sorry for the confusion. A lot of viewers apparently thought Matsumoto was talking about the Reactor SFP like I did.

So, it was the Reactor 1 dry well temperature that started to rise noticeably starting 4AM on April 13, 2012.

No word yet on exactly what the temperature is in the Reactor 4 SFP.


According to Matsumoto, the temperature of the Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool started to rise noticeably starting 4AM April 13, 2012.

From 8PM on April 12, 2012 to 3AM on April 13, 2012, the temperature remained 49.9 degrees Celsius, he said.

Matsumoto didn't say what the temperature was at the time of the press conference (11AM on April 13), and none of the reporters asked him about it, with the reporter from Asahi again pressing on the nitrogen injection system.

On checking the TEPCO's handout for the press on April 12, 2012,

  • Reactor 4 SFP temperature as of 11AM, 4/12/2012: 28 degrees Celsius

  • Reactor 4 SFP heat exchanger stopped at: 2:44PM, 4/12/2012

  • Expected rise in temperature: 0.5 degrees Celsius/hour

Oh wait... 21.9 degrees Celsius rise in temperature in 12 hours (from 3PM on April 12 at 28 degrees Celsius to 3AM on April 13 at 49.9 degrees Celsius) is more like 1.825 degrees Celsius per hour. But it is possible that the temperature doesn't rise in a linear fashion.

For some reason, TEPCO's Japanese page that has the handouts does not have the April 12, 2012 handout.

Unless TEPCO's photos and videos were fake the other day, the fuel rods inside the Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool are completely submerged under water (6.8 meters deep to the top of the fuel rods according to the diagram).

Asahi's Weekly Magazine Apologizes (Sort of) for Spreading "Baseless Rumors" on Water in Koriyama City, Fukushima

After one year of spreading the "radiation is no big deal" meme to the general public in Japan, one MSM in Japan (Asahi) is caught by another MSM (Yomiuri) for spreading the "drinking water is highly contaminated" meme which has mostly died down even in the alternative, "sensational" net media.

They are behind the curve.

From the triumphant Yomiuri Shinbun (4/12/2012):

福島県郡山市が、「週刊朝日臨時増刊 朝日ジャーナル」(3月9日発売)の記事について、「水道水から放射性セシウムが検出されたと誤解を与える恐れがある」などとして、週刊朝日を出版する朝日新聞出版(東京都)に文書で抗議していたことが12日わかった。

It was revealed on April 12 that Koriyama City in Fukushima Prefecture had sent a letter to Asahi Shinbun Publishing (Tokyo) protesting the article that appeared on the weekly magazine "Shukan Asahi Extra - Asahi Journal" March 9, 2012 issue as "misleading, as if radioactive materials had been detected from the drinking water [in the city]".


The article, based on the magazine's own investigation, says 95 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium was detected from the drinking water in Koriyama City, and 48 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium from the drinking water in Iwaki City. The Koriyama City government says no radioactive cesium has been detected since March 28, 2011 according to the city's tests. The city's water department sent the letter of protest on March 29, 2012 by certified mail, asking for clarification of the intent of the report and how the reporting was done, and demanding correction because the article "would cause fear among city's residents and people who evacuated outside Fukushima, and encourage baseless rumors".


Iwaki City also sent a letter on March 16, asking for the details such as the date the water was collected and the location. According to the tests by the city's water department, radioactive materials have been ND (not detected) since April 4, 2011. However, as Asahi later published the follow-up article saying there was no problem with the drinking water, the city decided not to protest, saying that the chance of city residents misunderstanding the Asahi article was slim.


The Shukan Asahi's editorial department says, "The article reported the result of our actual measurement using the simplified measurement kit. However, we would like to take the opinion from Koriyama City very seriously."

A simplified measurement kit can be attached to a scintillation survey meter to show becquerels of items tested, like this one from Horiba. Asahi used this Horiba's kit, as you can see here.

I don't know how Asahi did the test so I cannot comment. I do know, from the Horiba's pamphlet, that the detection limit is high (100 becquerels/kg for soil testing and 200 becquerels/kg for rice testing in the background of 0.1 microsievert/hour). The system like this may have worked under the provisional 500 Bq/kg limit to screen out the food contaminated with more than 200 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium.

However, the distrust for the official numbers and MSM in Japan is such that some people are totally willing to believe Asahi's numbers measured using the simple add-on kit and the scintillation survey meter from Horiba instead of the official numbers obtained from the germanium semiconductor detector, and they are accusing the cities for "lying".

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant Nitrogen Injection System: Compressor Failure, Backup Injection System Started

Details in the press conference at 9:30AM, April 13 in Fukushima (Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant?), and at 11:00AM at TEPCO's headquarters in Tokyo.

From the tweets by an independent journalist who's on the list to receive TEPCO's emails on the plant situation:

  • Drop in the amount of nitrogen gas being injected into Reactors 1, 2, 3 was noted by a TEPCO employee at 1AM, April 13 when he was checking the plant parameters.

  • The nitrogen injection system was inspected at 1:30AM. It turned out that the system alarm had gone off at 1:04AM for "compressor failure", and the system had stopped ("nitrogen gas separation system B").

  • At 3:10AM, the backup system ("nitrogen gas separation system" on the high ground) was started, and at 3:46AM the nitrogen gas injection restarted.

  • There has been no discernible change in the plant parameters, hydrogen density, or the monitoring post data.

(For Record) #Fukushima I Nuke Plant Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool Supporting Structure

From TEPCO's handout for the press on July 30, 2011:

The claim by some experts that only the steel posts are propping up the pool is not true.

Yasumi Iwakami Interviewing Dr. Shuntaro Hida, Who Says "There Is Nowhere to Escape in Japan"

Iwakami, who disclosed his health problems since his tour of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant on Twitter, was interviewing Dr. Shuntaro Hida a while ago (April 12, 2012) which was live on USTREAM.

The part I caught was when Iwakami was asking the doctor about his recent ill health. Iwakami said every time he went to Fukushima he would suffer a dry cough, which would last for a while even after he came back to Tokyo. He didn't think much of that until recently.

Iwakami looked bleary. He asked Dr. Hida what he could do to improve his health, and asked for the doctor's advice to people who remain in Fukushima.

Dr. Hida said something that Hiroaki Koide of Kyoto University has been saying from the beginning of the nuclear disaster. He said, "There is nowhere to escape in Japan, because Japan is too small. Not all people in Fukushima can relocate."

Fukushima's population is about 2 million, or 1.6% of Japanese population (128 million). Surely there is enough space in Japan with rapidly declining population to absorb 2 million residents.

But Dr. Hida meant relocation of residents in the meaningful units - the entire towns and villages, and said there was no space.

That is a rather depressing thought. I don't quite understand, as a city person, why anyone should relocate with the entire town.

Dr. Hida's advice to Iwakami and people in Fukushima, and anyone who feel he/she is affected by radiation, is to lead a healthy life - get up early, eat at regular time, sleep well, enjoying the company of family and friends.

Well, by trying to appear calm in the face of the largest disaster (natural and nuclear), Japanese people as aggregate lost the opportunity to finally wake up from more than two decades of stupor and stagnation. For that majority, all they hope to do is to live like nothing happened. Dr. Hida's advice is quite appropriate in that regard, although it does make sense to strengthen the immune system to fight the effect of radiation.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

#Radioactive Japan: Noda Administration to Encourage Use of Recycled Cement From Disaster Debris in Public Works, Pay For Trips to Miyagi and Iwate

What will they think of next? (Anything but accurately measuring radiation levels and doing something about Fukushima I Nuke Plant, probably.)

From reading the Kyodo News article below, I don't get the feeling that this recycled cement use will be confined to public works in the disaster-affected areas.

From Kyodo News (4/11/2012):

公共事業でがれき処理促進 政府、取り組み強化へ'

Public works to promote disaster debris processing, the administration to push harder


The government decided on a new plan on April 11 to give priority to using disaster debris including concrete bits when tsunami-control forests and parks are built and roads and ports are repaired [as part of the public works] in the areas affected by the March 11, 2011 earthquake/tsunami. The government will introduce a new competitive bidding scheme for public works that will give preference to companies who will promise the use of recycled cement. As the wide-area disposal of the debris outside the disaster-affected areas is proceeding with difficulties, the government wants to show its commitment [by introducing these plans]. The second meeting of the involved ministers, with Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda as the chairman, will be held shortly, and the policy will be confirmed.

So the elected politicians in the National Diet won't matter, not even a Diet committee. The administration simply decides, and starts doing it.

And it is not even the full cabinet meeting of this administration. I believe there are only 4 or 5 ministers, including Prime Minister Noda, who are involved in this meeting.

In case you're wondering what "recycle cement" is, it's the cement that contains ashes from burning the debris. As long as the density of radioactive cesium in the final product is less than 100 bq/kg, the cement is good to use anywhere in Japan. Recycled cement is already being produced, using the ashes from incineration plants. Mix and dilute, that's the strategy.

And to further encourage more municipalities in Japan to accept the disaster debris, Goshi Hosono's Ministry of the Environment will subsidize trips to Miyagi and Iwate for the municipal officials and residents.

Yomiuri Shinbun (4/11/2012) reports that the Ministry of the Environment will cover the cost of:

  • hiring buses

  • lodging

  • renting the halls for meetings with the residents

  • fees for the lecturers at the meetings

The money will come from the current and future taxpayers, many of whom do not want to have disaster debris brought to their cities and towns. Ultimate insult.

City in Tochigi Wants Disaster Debris, So It Can Upgrade Disposal Site on the Government Money

Kanuma City, located just west of Utsunomiya City (prefectural capital of Tochigi), wants to help people in the disaster-affected Miyagi and Iwate Prefectures by accepting the ashes resulting from the burning of the disaster debris elsewhere.

If you read the news by Shimotsuke Shinbun (local Tochigi newspaper), it seems the city is correctly seeing the wide-area disposal of the small amount of disaster debris (less than 20% of total) as an excellent opportunity to have the national government foot the bill for upgrading the waste management facilities and doing the badly needed deferred maintenance.

By no means Kanuma is unique among the cities who have expressed eagerness to accept disaster debris over the concerns of the local residents and residents downwind/downstream.

To the city's request for financial support, the Ministry of the Environment said "yes".

From Shimotsuke Shinbun (4/12/2012):


Kanuma City has expressed interest in accepting the ashes from burning the disaster debris in Iwate and Miyagi Prefectures that was generated by the March 11, 2011 earthquake/tsunami. The mayor of the city Shin Sato and his men visited the Ministry of the Environment on April 11 and requested the financial assistance from the national government for testing radioactive materials on the debris and repair the facilities at its final disposal site [where the ashes will be buried]. They were met by Satoshi Takayama, Parliamentary Secretary of the Environment [No.3 position]. According to the city, [Takayama] answered that the national government would pay for the additional cost incurred by more rigorous testing.


"Kanuma Phoenix" (Iso-machi, Kanuma City), the city's final disposal landfill for regular [non-industrial] waste where the ashes are to be buried, started operation 19 years ago in 1993. The facilities have deteriorated, and equipments break down often.


The city plans to increase the number of testing for radioactive materials and the number of locations to be tested on the landfill, and it estimates the cost to be 35 million yen [US$433K]. It also estimates the repair cost for the retaining walls and pumps at the landfill at 22 million yen [US$272K].

The total budget of Kanuma City for the fiscal 2011 was 39.7 billion yen (US$490 million). As with many cities in Japan, Kanuma City's tax revenue covers less than 40% of the city's spending. Upgrading and repairing the disposal site is part of the discretionary spending.

By the way, this is the same city that fed elementary school children with local beef last October as a PR stunt to prove how safe their beef was.

Fairewinds' Gundersen: "Reactor 3's Spent Fuel Pool Worse Off"

ENENEWS has the link to the podcast, for those who are interested.


520 Bq/kg of Cesium in Spinach in Fukushima City, Cesium Is From Polyethylene Covering

News like this may be part of the reason of Professor Hayakawa's hostility toward farmers in Fukushima.

Where did this cesium come from? Water? Air? Soil?

Answer: None of the above. It came from a polyethylene sheet covering to keep the crop warm.

What is wrong with the sheet? It is the same polyethylene sheet that was in use when the reactors blew up in Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant in March last year.

Why did the farmer continue to use the contaminated sheet? No one knows. Probably because no one told him not to use.

The spinach in question has already been sold, and probably consumed.

From Yomiuri Shinbun (4/11/2012):


Fukushima Prefecture announced on April 11 that radioactive cesium exceeding the national safety limit (100 becquerels/kg ) was detected from spinach grown in Fukushima City.


The spinach is sold at the direct sales depots in the city. The prefectural government is recalling it, and has asked Fukushima City to voluntarily halt shipment.


According to the prefectural government, 520 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium was detected from spinach harvested on April 6 at a farm in Fukushima City. The total 21 kilograms of the spinach from this farm were shipped to the farm produce sales depots between March 26 to April 6.


Spinach growers use polyethylene sheet to keep the crop warm. The farm had been using the same sheet ever since the nuclear accident in March last year. 310,000 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium was detected from the sheet. According to the prefectural government, it is highly likely that radioactive materials on the sheet were transferred to the spinach.

Last year, spinach from Fukushima in March and April regularly tested with thousands of becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium, in addition to radioactive iodine. A quick browse at Fukushima Prefecture's site on agricultural products found 34,000 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium in spinach.

NHK, on the same news, says the prefectural government is doing an emergency check on about 500 farms that produce spinach using the polyethylene sheet.

By now, you know this lack of thinking is not confined to farmers in Fukushima. Remember the subsidiary of Chiba JA (ag producer co-op) "recycling" the dirt attached to the plastic sheet used for greenhouses? The dirt was found with 58,000 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium, but the dirt had been already sold to a tree nursery. I wonder what happened to the dirt.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Yasumi Iwakami Tweets About His Recent Health Problems After His Visit to #Fukushima I Nuke Plant in February

(and boy he received some nasty tweets in response...)

Yasumi Iwakami is arguably one of the best known independent journalists in Japan covering the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident, particularly among net users. I happened on Iwakami's live netcast of TEPCO press conferences on his USTREAM channel very early on in the crisis, and have followed him and his reporting since.

He was one of the independent journalists allowed inside the plant compound in February this year on the second plant tour for the press (first one was in November last year). And ever since, he seems to have been plagued with one health discomfort after another. He tweeted about them on April 10, and someone compiled a "togetter" - a string of tweets.

First, the translation of Iwakami's 15 tweets as they appear on the togetter, with Iwakami's express permission to translate:

ご心配を皆さんにおかけしているので、中間報告をしておきます。これまでの経過をかいつまんで言いますと、2月20日、福一入構取材の翌々日から、腹痛と 下痢、その後、発熱にも見舞われ、虫垂炎との診断を受けました。5日間の絶食療法のあと、回復。虫垂炎は、一過性の病気かと思いましたが…

As I've been having you worried, I thought I'd give you a progress report. First, to tell you about what has happened so far: on February 20, two days after reporting from Fukushima I Nuke Plant, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Then I started to have fever, and was finally diagnosed as having appendicitis. After 5-day fasting treatment, I recovered. And I thought appendicitis was a transitory (one-time) illness. But then...


My diarrhea continued even though I continued to take medicine to control intestinal function, and I had occasional fever. This weekend, I was knocked down by the 4th fever in a month and a half. I consulted my doctor about my poor physical health in March, and we decided to test for tumor markers and do the colonoscopy. Yesterday evening, my doctor explained to me the result of the tests.

大腸ファイバーで発見されたポリープの生検の結果は、悪性ではなく良性。「腺腫」の第三段階。このポリープと下痢は別物で、医師の診断は過敏性腸症候群。 原因は「ストレス」との診たて。今日ものどが痛み、熱が出ているが、これは風邪。なぜこんなに頻繁にひくのか、と問うと…

The biopsy of the polyp found in the colonoscopy turned out be benign, not malignant. It was "adenoma", so it was the third stage [there are 5 stages]. This polyp and diarrhea were not related, according to my doctor, and his diagnosis was "irritable bowel syndrome". The cause was "stress". I had a sore throat and fever that day, but that was a common cold, according to the doctor. When I asked him why I was having a cold this often...

原因は「免疫力の低下」。そのそもそもの原因は、またまた「ストレス」との診断。何でもかんでもストレス、という説明は納得がいかない。ストレスフルな生 活はこれまでもずっと続けてきた。一時的に体調を崩すことがあっても、こんなに連続して崩れっぱなしという経験はない、と言うと…

His answer was "weakened immune system". What caused it? "Stress", he said. I wasn't convinced with his explanation that everything was caused by stress. I have had a stressful life all this time. So I told him that I had never had a string of ill health like this before, though I did fall ill occasionally.


My doctor said, "There is a threshold to stress tolerance. Once people cross that threshold they succumb to stress." It was the effect of radiation I had been exposed to by entering and reporting from Fukushima I Nuke Plant that concerned me. But my doctor had been totally negative on that.


He had said to me repeatedly, "Effect of radiation has nothing to do with your ill health. It's only the thyroid that is affected by radiation exposure, and that has been medically proven." Then, when he explained the test results to me yesterday, he said, "According to the result of the test for tumor markers, there is an abnormality in the thyroid. You need a more thorough examination."

甲状腺 意表を突かれて言葉が出ない。そこ 甲状腺以外の腫瘍マーカー検査項目はすべて正常値。甲状腺の検査項目、サイログロブリンだけが基準値を若干オーバー。「放射線の影響が出るのは甲状腺だけ」と断言していた主治医との間で、気まずい空気が。

Thyroid? I was speechless at this unexpected announcement. Other tumor markers were all normal. For markers for thyroid, thyroglobulin was slightly above the reference value. We felt awkward; he was the one who had declared to me that it was only the thyroid that would be affected by radiation exposure.

検査機関から返されてきた検査報告書にも、「甲状腺炎や甲状腺腫の可能性もありますので、甲状腺の画像検査をお受けください」と書かれている。つまり、こ れは被曝の影響ということだろうか? その問いには主治医は直接答えず、「数値も、若干のオーバーですから、深刻に考えずに」と。

The test report from the lab stated, "Since there is a possibility that it is thyroiditis or goiter, please have [ultrasonic echo] diagnostics done on the thyroid". Did this mean it was the result of radiation exposure? My doctor didn't answer my question directly, but said, "The number is only slightly above the reference range, so don't take it too seriously."

私としても、福一入構取材で浴びた放射線との因果関係を強調したいわけではない。むしろ影響などない、と考えたい。影響があっては困るし、だいたい、自分 だけが具合悪くなるなんてこと、あるものか、と心のどこかで思ってきた。福島へまたこれから何度も取材に行きたいと思ってきた。しかし…

It's not that I want to emphasize the causal relationship between [my ill health] and the radiation exposure from reporting from Fukushima I Nuke Plant. I'd rather think there is no effect. I don't want that effect. Somehow I'd always thought it would not be possible that I would get sick. I wanted to visit Fukushima again and again and report. But...

現時点では、私の体調不良の原因はストレスおよび免疫力の低下、放射線被曝との因果関係は「わからない」「不明」ということ。それが、医師の診断。「百人 百話」の取材を通じて、福島の方々から、鼻血、下痢、発熱、倦怠感、皮膚炎、動悸など、数々の体調不良を訴える声を聞いてきた。

For now, the reasons for my ill health are stress and weakened immune system. Whether that has anything to do with radiation exposure is "unknown", or "not clear", and that is the diagnosis of my doctor. Through my report of "100 stories from 100 people", I have heard about many instances of ill health from people in Fukushima: nosebleed, diarrhea, fever, fatigue, dermatitis, heart palpitation, etc.


I think I finally understand the helpless feeling these Fukushima people must have when they tell me about their ill health. What is the cause? What can we do to improve the condition?

断っておくが、私のかかりつけの主治医はよい方である。親切だし、説明も明晰である。放射線被曝の影響を小さく見積もるのも、それが現代医学の体系を学ん だ成果であって、個人的な偏見ではない(はず)。「50歳を過ぎたら、体力がガクッと落ちるもんですよ」というのも、真実に違いない。

To be fair, my doctor is a good doctor. He is kind, and he explains things clearly. He underestimates the effect of radiation exposure, but that is the result of having been trained in the modern medicine and not his personal prejudice (I think). It must be true when he says, "If you go past 50 years of age, your physical strength suddenly collapses".


Well then, what should I do? Whatever the cause (aging, fatigue, stress, radiation exposure all combined, maybe), it's not that I could remove the radiation that I've already been exposed to. (According to the dosimeter from TEPCO, my exposure was 74 microsieverts.)

結局、できることは、自身の免疫力を上げることしかない。ストレスを減らすこと、休養と睡眠を充分にとること、食養生をすること(これが難しい)。検査も 怠らないようにしよう。地道に養生することだ。主治医には「カラオケで歌でも歌ってください」と言われた。まあ、それもありだろう。

In the end, all I can do is to strengthen my immune system. Reduce stress, enough rest and sleep, and eat healthy food (this is difficult). I'll make sure I get tested regularly. Patiently nursing myself back to good health is what I should do. My doctor said to me, "Go to karaoke and sing." Well, that too.


It so happens that I will interview Mr. Matashichi Oishi at 2PM tomorrow. He is a former crew member of Daigo Fukuryu-Maru, who was irradiated [near Bikini Atoll]. And the day after tomorrow, I will interview Shuntaro Hida, on the completion of "Nuclear Scar" (核の傷, movie). As you know, he is a medical doctor who was exposed to radiation in Hiroshima.

To this togetter, there are many, many comments ridiculing and taunting Iwakami. Just one or two example would suffice to get the gist of them:

Oh I see. He hasn't gotten enough victims of radiation, so he's claiming he's one of them.

He brought it on himself. Looking at these comments here, it's so apparent how much Mr. Iwakami is hated, what sinful things he has done...

I don't know where this vitriol is coming from. As with other prominent journalists and researchers, experts on Fukushima, I don't agree with Iwakami 100% on many issues, but without doubt he is one of the most dedicated journalists tirelessly covering the plight of people in Fukushima, incompetent handling of the accident and the aftermath by TEPCO and the government.

I think Hayakawa got it right when he said this is a war, that there are two very distinctive groups of people in Japan whose take of the nuclear accident and outlook on life after the radiation contamination are so vastly different that there is no ground for compromise.

American Nuclear Society Report on Fukushima: "Human Error, Flaws in Governance and Oversight Contributed to the Severity of the Accident"

From the website of American Nuclear Society:

The American Nuclear Society Special Committee on Fukushima

On Friday, March 11, 2011, one of the largest earthquakes in the recorded history of the world occurred on the east coast of northern Japan. This earthquake also generated a major tsunami, causing nearly 20,000 deaths. Electricity, gas and water supplies, telecommunications, and railway service were all severely disrupted and in many cases completely shut down. These disruptions severely affected the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, causing a loss of all on-site and off-site power and a release of radioactive materials from the reactors.

The leadership of the American Nuclear Society commissioned the American Nuclear Society Special Committee on Fukushima to provide a clear and concise explanation of what happened during the Fukushima Daiichi accident, and offer recommendations based on lessons learned from their study of the event. The American Nuclear Society, a professional organization of 11,600 nuclear science and technology professionals, has a strong tradition of advancing nuclear safety, and the Special Committee on Fukushima was organized to further its members' interests in this important professional obligation.

The release of this report is the culmination of a nearly year-long effort by Special Committee members to analyze a range of factors related to what happened at the Fukushima Daiichi facility. The report was officially released at a press conference held on March 8 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. ANS Executive Director Robert Fine made opening remarks and introductions. Drs. Dale Klein and Mike Corradini, the Special Committee co-chairs, lead the discussion of the report and the Q&A session. Special Committee members Paul Dickman -- who also served as study director -- and Jacopo Buongiorno, lead for regulatory issues, also appeared on the discussion panel. The press conference is available via webcast at the following link: Press Conference Webcast

Here's the report:
From the Executive Summary:

The Committee found that no aspect of the Fukushima Daiichi accident indicates a priori that the level of safety of nuclear power plants (NPPs) in the United States is unacceptable. Indeed, the Committee agrees with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) that the current level of safety provides adequate protection to the health and safety of the U.S. public. However, the Committee believes that elements of the accident that relate to observed vulnerabilities in the ability of NPPs to respond to such an extreme natural event must be examined with care. As importantly, the Committee believes that in responding to the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi NPS, human error and flaws in governance and regulatory oversight contributed to the severity of the accident. These errors and human factors must be understood and addressed before substantively modifying technology.

Exactly. And they are exactly what the Japanese government is trying its best to ignore in deciding to re-start nuclear power plants in Japan.

In comparison, Japan's Atomic Energy Society was finally persuaded by the members who attended the annual spring conference in March this year to compile its report on the accident by June.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Is Now the Largest Shareholder of TEPCO

Yomiuri Shinbun (4/11/2012) reports:


It has been revealed that the Tokyo Metropolitan government, who was the third largest shareholder of TEPCO, is now the largest shareholder.


The largest shareholder Dai-ichi Life Insurance Company and the second largest shareholder Nippon Life Insurance Company both sold part of its TEPCO holdings by the end of March [end of the fiscal 2011]. The Tokyo Metropolitan government is not happy that TEPCO has raised electricity charges for large business customers, and has said it will exercise the shareholder's right to propose in the shareholders' meeting at the end of June, adding to increasingly confrontational situation between TEPCO and the Tokyo Metropolitan government.


At the end of September last year, the top three shareholders of TEPCO were: Dai-ichi Life Insurance (3.42%), Nippon Life Insurance (3.29%) and Tokyo Metropolitan government (2.66%).


Dai-ichi Life and Nippon Life proceeded to sell the shares as the share price of TEPCO significantly dropped.


Within the Tokyo Metropolitan government, Vice Governor Naoki Inose is particularly displeased with the rate hike for big businesses, and is demanding further cost cut from TEPCO. Mr. Inose said during the March Assembly, "We will exercise the shareholder's right to suggest, and express the opinion and make suggestions as the Tokyo Metropolitan government in the shareholders' meeting."

Well, confrontation goes only so far, I'm afraid. As the readers of this blog know, the Iwate disaster debris burning project of Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara benefits TEPCO's subsidiary Tokyo Rinkai Recycle Power Company as it has been "selected" as the only company able to burn the flammable debris in a quantity specified in the bidding document (100 tonnes/day minimum).

Tokyo burns Iwate's debris which is less contaminated than Miyagi's at a dedicated industrial waste incinerator at the TEPCO subsidiary, and burns more contaminated Miyagi's debris at incineration plants that usually only burn household garbage and are situated in the middle of the residential areas. Make sense, doesn't it?

For this government to criticize TEPCO is like "the pot calling kettle black" to say it in English; to say it in Japanese, in literal translation, "eye mucus laughing at snot".

The Tokyo Metropolitan government is also said to be loaded with TEPCO's corporate bonds. The bonds issued by power companies are the debt secured by the company assets. TEPCO has 5 trillion yen (US$62 billion) in debt outstanding. A tiny drop in a bucket, though, compared to what the Japanese national government owes (depending on the statistics, anything from 600 trillion yen just counting the long-dated national bonds to over 1,000 trillion (or 1 quadrillion) yen counting in the debt by prefectures and municipalities, short-dated notes and debt secured by the government).

Professor Yukio Hayakawa Takes a "Radioactive Walk" In a Park in Koriyama City, Fukushima, Finds 9 Microsieverts/Hr "Black Dust"

Professor Hayakawa went to Koriyama City in Fukushima Prefecture and walked in Kaiseizan Park right near the City Hall. Compared to his walk in Edogawa-ku, Tokyo on the previous day, the radiation levels in Koriyama City is markedly higher (no surprise).

This time, the professor is armed only with his personal survey meter that only measures gamma ray. He seems to have a protective case on the survey meter, so I don't think he is laying down the survey meter "naked" on the grass or dirt. (He's been doing this for one year now in various locations, after all.)

He took the measurement of "black dust" at 4 locations:

  • 3.533 microsieverts/hr

  • 9.103 microsieverts/hr

  • 7.291 microsieverts/hr

  • 6.331 microsieverts/hr (in the City Hall parking lot)


EveryTrail - Find trail maps for California and beyond

"Telephone Game" over #Fukushima Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool

It all started with the editorial that appeared on Japanese Mainichi Shinbun on April 2, 2012.

In the column titled "Spent Fuel Pool Up in the Air" (「風知草: 宙に浮く燃料プール), the columnist Takao Yamada wrote:

「福島原発事故独立検証委員会」(いわゆる民間事故調)報告書は、原発事故の「並行連鎖型危機」の中でも4号機プールが「もっとも『弱い環』であることを 露呈させた」と書く。政府がまとめた最悪シナリオ(同報告書に収録)も4号機プール崩壊を予測。さらに各号機の使用済み燃料も崩壊し、首都圏住民も避難を迫られるというのが最悪シナリオだ

Here's my translation, as carefully as I can:

The report by the "Independent Investigation Commission on the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident" (so-called "Minkan Jikocho" [private investigation commission]) says that the Spent Fuel Pool of Reactor 4 has turned out to be the "weakest link" in the "parallel chain-reaction crises" of the nuclear plant accident. The worst-case scenario compiled by the government [the administration] (which is included in the report by the private commission) assumed the collapse of the Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool. According to this scenario, the spent fuel [Spent Fuel Pools?] in other reactors would then collapse, and the residents in Tokyo Metropolitan areas would face evacuation [or be forced to evacuate].

Here's how Mainichi Daily translated this paragraph (from this site, as Mainichi Daily doesn't have the link to the article any more):

A report released in February by the Independent Investigation Commission on the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident stated that the storage pool of the plant’s No. 4 reactor has clearly been shown to be “the weakest link” in the parallel, chain-reaction crises of the nuclear disaster. The worse-case scenario drawn up by the government includes not only the collapse of the No. 4 reactor pool, but the disintegration of spent fuel rods from all the plant’s other reactors. If this were to happen, residents in the Tokyo metropolitan area would be forced to evacuate.

The problem is the last sentence. Up to the sentence, it seems a faithful translation of the original Japanese. But the last sentence can be construed as if it were the opinion of the columnist, while in the original Japanese it is clear that the columnist is citing the scenario that the Kan administration received from the head of the Atomic Energy Agency of Japan.

The overseas sites which relies on the English-language news coming out of Japan did seem to take the Mainichi Daily's sentence as the opinion of the columnist, and ran with it.

At the site that I took the Mainichi Daily's quote, the article title is "It's Not Over: Government Plans for the Worst: Forced Evacuation of Tokyo". The article says:

Even more alarming is that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and other agencies have warned that the nuclear storage pools (the containment units that are being used to cool the nuclear fuel) have been damaged and may collapse under their own weight.

Such an event would cause widespread nuclear fallout throughout the region and force the government to evacuate the nearly 10 million residents of Tokyo and surrounding areas, a scenario which government emergency planners are now taking into serious consideration.

From what I can tell, this claim is based only on the Mainichi Daily's article, on that particular sentence. On the assumption that if the government had the worst-case scenario it must be planning for the worst-case. Well. No, it wasn't planning for anything. But that was known only in Japan and to the readers of this blog.

Then, there is a site that links to the above site, and the title of the article is "Fukushima Forcing Tokyo To Evacuate!" The content of the article is even more escalated:

If the storage pool were to fracture, the nuclear fuel would immediately heat up and explode. Radioactive fallout would be dispersed over a wide and uncontainable area. At this time now, the Japanese government are creating blueprints for forcibly removing 39 million people from the Tokyo metro-area.

This site also has the information that I have no idea where he got from, right before the above paragraph:

They have been incarcerating residents in psychiatric hospitals when they voice concerns about their radiation contact.

The sad thing about all this is that the Japanese government does not have any plan. If it does, it's been extremely good hiding it for more than one year. On receiving the worst-case scenario from the head of the Atomic Energy Commission in late March, 2011, the Kan administration decided to keep it hidden, and banish from their memory so that they didn't need to plan for any such scenario. It remained hidden, off the official government document list, until January this year. If you read Japanese, here's the scenario.

Gresham's Law. Or Telephone Game. Either way, It's harder and harder to get the real information, not easier, after more than 1 year since the accident started.

(H/T Helios for the English articles)

US National Academy of Sciences to Set Up Fukushima Investigation Commission

So reports Mainichi Shinbun (4/10/2012):


It has just been revealed that the US National Academy of Sciences has set up its own commission to investigate the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident. In the next two years, the commission will investigate the cause of the accident and Japan's nuclear policies in order to improve the nuclear power plants in the US and the US nuclear policies.


According to the people involved, the commission has been set up by the request from the US Congress. About 20 experts in the US will be asked to join. Japanese nuclear researchers and engineers will be asked to participate as advisors. They will probably be the experts who are the members of the Atomic Energy Society of Japan.


Over the Fukushima nuclear accident, there are several investigation commissions set up in Japan by the cabinet, the Diet or by a private entity to uncover what happened. The US's commission will refer to the results of these Japanese commissions, analyze the lessons learned from the accident, and use them to solve the problems that are shared by both Japan and the US, including enhancing safety of nuclear power plants and storage of spent fuel.


The commission will be headed by Kevin Crowley, Director of Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board at the National Academy of Sciences. Dr. Crowley says, "We would like to send the commission members to Japan to hear from the Japanese government, TEPCO and experts. We would like to collect information from a wide range of people including those in the US government and the nuclear industry people around the world."

Ooi Nuclear Power Plant Restart Talk: Noda Administration Releases the Summary of the Cabinet Meeting Without Names of Attendees

The cabinet ministers joined Prime Minister Noda in a meeting on April 3, 2012 to discuss the conditions for restarting Ooi Nuclear Power Plant in Fukui Prefecture. The administration released the summary of the meeting today (not the minutes), and all the names except for the prime minister were deleted.

Talk about clarity and transparency.

From Mainichi Shinbun (4/9/2012):


On April 9, the Noda Administration released the summary of the first meeting of the cabinet ministers on April 3 over the restart of Ooi Nuclear Power Plant operated by Kansai Electric Power Company. The meeting was 70-minute long, but the summary is slightly over 2 pages on A4-size paper. Names of the ministers who spoke were not made public except for Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, who instructed the ministers to show him the standard to judge safety.


The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency explained the emergency safety measures at the plant and the result of the stress test. The attending ministers expressed positive opinions for the restart, saying "We should explain the multiple protections to prevent core meltdown better so that it is easier to understand", and "We should take additional measures to make it the safest plant in the world."


Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura indicated in the April 9 press conference that he would release the meeting summaries one week after the meetings.

Yes, let's. No.1 in the world.

The greatest threat to any nuclear power plant in Japan is the government and the plant operator.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Professor Yukio Hayakawa Takes a "Radioactive Walk" in Edogawa-ku, Tokyo (4/9/2012)

Edogawa-ku is one of the 23 Special Wards (ku) of Tokyo, situated in the eastern-most Tokyo right next to Chiba. The eastern Wards of Tokyo, including Edogawa, Katsushika, Adachi have elevated radiation levels compared to the western Tokyo.

Professor Hayakawa walked from the southern tip of Edogawa (Kasai Seaside Park) to Shinkoiwa JR Station. Along the way, he measured "black dust" (dark sediment) at two locations, and one of them (in Kasai Seaside Park) measured 1.385 microsievert/hour on his survey meter.

He also used a stick-type cheap survey meter called "Air Counter" (aka "Ea-bo" エア棒), which seems to measure pretty well if the radiation level is above 0.1 microsievert/hour.


EveryTrail - Find hiking trails in California and beyond

Right now, Professor Hayakawa is walking somewhere in Koriyama City, Fukushima Prefecture with his survey meter. Soon it will be on the Everytrail map he will create.

#Radioactive Japan: New Cesium Safety Limit - What New Cesium Safety Limit?

No matter how the government tweak the safety limits for radioactive cesium in food items, the public are left fending for themselves after all.

First, if you don't measure it, you won't know it.

Chiba Prefecture says it has just found out that fresh shiitake mushrooms sold at an unmanned farm stand had 740 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium. The mushrooms have already been consumed. The prefectural government assures us that the amount is small, and there will be "no immediate, direct" consequence on health.

As if all cesium people ingest is from this shiitake crop.

From Jiji Tsushin (4/9/2012):


740 becquerels from Shiitake sold at an unmanned farm stand in Chiba, already sold and consumed


Chiba Prefecture announced on April 9 that shiitake mushrooms cultivated outdoors in Shirai City were found with 740 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium, exceeding the safety limit of 100 becquerels/kg [notice it is not provisional anymore; it's permanent]. The farmer had already sold 4 kilograms of these mushrooms, and all had been consumed. The prefectural government requested the city to voluntarily halt shipment.


The prefectural government says, "The amount of consumption and the amount of radioactivity are not so great, so it is inconceivable that there will be an immediate, direct damage."

The old, provisional safety limit was 500 becquerels/kg, and the radioactivity of these mushrooms even exceeded the old level. And the same old "requesting voluntary halt" to save money. (Voluntary action is not compensated by the government.)

Second, if you change testing methodology, voila, it is below the safety limit.

Ibaraki Prefecture is one of the prefectures in northern Kanto region whose teas tested above the provisional safety limit of 500 becquerels/kg last year. But now, the national government has changed the rule for teas. Teas are to be tested after they are brewed. So unless the tea has over 1,000 bequerels/kg of cesium, the brewed tea (liquid) will be well below 10 becquerels/kg (new safety limit for water).

From Jiji Tsushin (4/9/2012):


Restriction lifted from the spring "bancha" tea from Daigo, Ibaraki Prefecture, as the amount of radioactive cesium is below the safety limit, says the national government


The national government lifted the restriction on shipment of the spring "bancha" tea from Daigo-machi in Ibaraki Prefecture on Spril 9, as the amount of radioactive cesium was below the safety limit (10 becquerels/kg in brewed tea) in three locations tested.


The shipment of tea from Daigo was halted when radioactive cesium exceeding the provisional safety limit (500 becquerels/kg) was found from fresh tea leaves in June last year.

I went to the Ibaraki Prefecture's website to look for the original data. The data does include the measurement of radioactive cesium the "old way" - measuring the dried tea leaves. If the old way of applying the safety limit on the dried leaves, there are many teas that easily exceed the new safety limit.

From Ibaraki Prefecture's test result, the top red bracket shows the measurement of cesium in "aracha" tea (bulk tea before blending) from Daigo-machi, and the bottom red bracket shows the measurement of cesium in the liquid after the tea is brewed:

Well, there are slight problems with the new way of only measuring brewed tea. There are people who "eat" tea leaves (although I doubt they still do it after the accident, but who knows). I drink "konacha", or powdered tea which is a strong, sushi-shop style green tea that is cheaper and stronger. My cup is left with green "sludge" at the bottom, which I ingest (my tea is from 2010). Many use green tea powders as health supplements.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Science Council of Japan: 250 Millisievert External Radiation Exposure in 30 Years Possible in #Fukushima Without Continued Decontamination

That seem like a lot, but come to think about it, 250 divided by 30 equals 8.33. At this point, average 8.33 millisieverts per year exposure in parts of Fukushima, particularly near Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, seems almost reasonable.

Anyway, here's Yomiuri reporting on one of several report issued on April 9, 2012 by the Science Council of Japan:


Risk of dying from cancer will increase unless decontamination continues after residents return


The Science Council of Japan's estimate shows that unless decontamination is carried out for a certain period of time after the residents return to the areas surrounding Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, the cumulative radiation exposure in 30 years may exceed 100 millisieverts. The estimate was published on April 9. The area surrounding the plant is highly contaminated with radioactive materials. When the cumulative radiation exposure reaches 100 millisieverts, the risk of dying from cancer goes up by 0.5%.


The Council calculated different scenarios for cumulative radiation exposure levels for 30 years, taking into account the amount of radiation exposure before the evacuation, annual radiation exposure levels on return, and decontamination after the return of the residents.


The result shows that if the residents return when the annual radiation exposure levels drop to 20 millisieverts and if no decontamination is done afterwards, the residents may be exposed to nearly 250 millisieverts in 30 years, even with the attenuation of radioactivity.

Oops. The Japanese national government's guideline to return the residents to the areas inside the no-entry zone and the planned evacuation zone is that the annual radiation exposure levels drop down to 20 millisieverts. Judging from the decontamination work that has been done inside the zones and outside, it doesn't look like there will be on-going decontamination.

The original 53-page report by the Science Council of Japan is titled (my translation) "To take a first new step toward dealing with radioactivity - take action based on the scientific probe of facts". The radiation exposure for the residents who return to their homes in the evacuation zones is discussed from page 15 to page 20 in the report.

The average background (natural) external radiation exposure in Japan before the Fukushima nuclear accident was about 0.6 millisievert per year. In 30 years, the cumulative external radiation would have been 18 millisieverts.

Former Japanese Ambassador to Switzerland: "Fate of Japan and the whole world depends on NO.4 reactor"

I don't know what to think of this but it may be one of the reasons why the meme of "Fukushima Reactor 4 is leaning (or listing, or collapsing, or falling apart)" and "Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool is in danger" has started to circulate widely again since March this year.

Mr. Mitsuhei Murata is a former Japanese Ambassador to Switzerland and Senegal and the current Executive Director of the Japan Society for Global System and Ethics (according to his website) who seems to have been very active in anti-nuclear movements. There are tweets and blogs citing his website as the source of his comments which appeared on the English site by a Japanese diplomat (I think) Akio Matsumura.

Assuming that it is indeed Mr. Murata's website, here's the letter that Mr. Murata sent to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on March 25, 2012, as it appears on his site:

The Honorable Ban Ki-Moon
Secretary–General of the United Nations Organization
New York City, NY.
Tokyo, March 25, 2012

Dear Secretary-General,
Honorable Ban Ki-moon,

I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude for your considerate letter dated 2 March, 2012. Your moral support for a United Nations Ethics Summit will remain a constant source of encouragement for my activities.

Please allow me to pay a tribute to your great contribution to strengthen nuclear safety and security. The current Nuclear Summit in Seoul is no doubt greatly benefiting from the high-level meeting you convened last September.

I was asked to make a statement at the public hearing of the Budgetary Committee of the House of Councilors on March 23. I raised the crucial problem. of N0.4 reactor of Fukushima containing1535 fuel rods. It could be fatally damaged by continuing aftershocks. Moreover, 50 meters away from it exists a common cooling pool for 6 reactors containing 6375 fuel rods !
It is no exaggeration to say that the fate of Japan and the whole world depends on NO.4 reactor. This is confirmed by most reliable experts like Dr.Arnie Gundersen or Dr.Fumiaki Koide.

Please allow me to inform you of an initiative being taken by a former UN official who is endeavoring to have the Nuclear Security Summit take up the crucial problem. of N0.4 reactor of Fukushima. He is pursuing the establishment of”an independent
assessment team. I think his efforts are very significant ,because it is indispensable to draw the attention of world leaders to this vital issue.
I am cooperating with him, writing to some of my Korean acquaintances that this issue deserves the personal attention of President Lee Myung-bak. I have written today to Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. I asked him to consider taking the initiative of mobilizing human wisdom on the widest scope to cope with the Fukushima reactor No.4 problem, fully taking into account the above-mentioned “independent assessment team".

The world has been made so fragile and vulnerable. The role of the United Nations is increasingly vital.

I wish you the best of luck in your noble mission.

Please accept, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the assurances of my highest consideration.

Mitsuhei Murata
Former Japanese Ambassador to Switzerland and Senegal
Executive Director, the Japan Society for Global System
and Ethics

I don't recall any prominent nuclear researcher named "Fumiaki Koide". I googled the name just in case but I think Mr. Murata is talking about Hiroaki Koide of Kyoto University.

I'm interested in knowing what prompted Mr. Murata to get very concerned about Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool. It is possible he has been concerned about it all along.

As far as I know, the situation of the Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool is not much different from what it was last summer after the wall underneath it was reinforced with metal support beams and concrete. Since my understanding is based on what TEPCO has been willing to disclose, it is quite possible that I've been missing something big.

There are a few Japanese experts, including Mr. Matsumura, who seem to have been advising many US nuclear experts on the situations in Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant since the March 11, 2011 accident. They all communicate in English only, and their information is usually not shared or known in Japan.

If you understand Japanese, here's the video of Mr. Murata testifying in the Upper House Budget Committee (foreign affairs and national security issues) in the Diet on March 22, 2012 (0:30:30, 2:13:54, 2:16:07, 2:53:00), warning about Fukushima Reactor 4.

In Cities in Fukushima, Abnormal Has Become Normal One Year After the Nuclear Accident

It is well-captured in a Mainichi Shinbun article and an Asahi Shinbun article that I found yesterday.

It may be puzzling to read about these, looking in. But for the residents inside Fukushima, this may be fast becoming the accepted way of life.

First, from the Mainichi article (4/7/2012, local Fukushima version; part) talking about school lunches in Fukushima City and school playground rules in Koriyama City and Minami Soma City: 


Fukushima City will test school lunches for the city's 73 public elementary schools and junior high schools for radioactive cesium every day, starting April 9. The city has installed more testing equipments, and is now able to test more frequently than in the fiscal 2011 when the test was done once a week or once in two weeks.


The school lunch centers will make one extra lunch each day and the lunch will be tested at 21 locations. Testing time will be between 11 to 30 minutes, and the detection limit is 20 becquerels/kg. The city's Board of Education says, "We cannot feel safe even it tests below the new safety limit for food (100 becquerels/kg or less)." If more than 20 becquerels/kg of cesium is detected, the lunch will be discarded, and the students will be served with rice and milk separately tested for safety. In the fiscal 2011, no lunch that was sample tested was found with 20 becquerels/kg of cesium.


Koriyama City lifted the 3-hour restriction for outdoor activities at the city's public elementary schools and junior high schools on April 6. The limit had been in place since May last year. Minami Soma City also lifted its restriction.


Koriyama City's own restriction limited the outdoor activities at public schools (58 elementary schools and 28 junior high schools) to 1 hour per day for PE classes and 2-hour per day for extracurricular activities. The city's Board of Education has decided that the decontamination including removing the top soil has effectively lowered the air radiation levels on the school grounds to the levels where the safety of the pupils and students can be secured.


A mother in her 40s with a child attending a junior high school in the city was puzzled. She said, "It is the same school ground as in the last fiscal year, but now they tell us it will be OK from now on. I've made my child promise to wear the mask during the extracurricular activities."

As of April 1, 2012, food is now "safe" as long as cesium is below 100 Bq/kg, instead of 500 Bq/kg only one day prior. As the new school semesters start, the school grounds are suddenly "safe" and no need to worry about radiation. ("Black dust" in Minami Soma? What black dust?) What a difference a day makes, indeed.

By the way, the detection limit of 20 Bq/kg is high compared to other cities in other prefectures that have been testing the school lunches. In Kamakura City in Kanagawa Prefecture, for example, the detection limit is 3 Bq/kg, and it is set to get lower with the introduction of the germanium semiconductor detector starting April 9.

The Asahi article was written by Shunsuke Kimura, an Asahi Shinbun reporter in Fukushima. On April 7, he participated as "decontamination" volunteer in a volunteer project to "decontaminate" one of the high-radiation hot spots in Watari District in Fukushima City. He says 387 "volunteers" including 82 from all over Japan participated.

Why do I put volunteers in the parenthesis? Well, reading the article I got the feeling that it may not have been so "voluntary" for some participants.

From Asahi Shinbun local Fukushima version (4/8/2012; part):


Everyone talks about decontamination. But what do we do in "decontamination"? So I participated in the decontamination work as a volunteer to decontaminate Benten-Yama (altitude 143 meters) in Watari District of Fukushima City on April 7 to find out. [The photo shows the reporter stuffing the bag with dead leaves.]

 ●落ち葉集め袋詰め 3時間で最大3割減

Stuffing dead leaves in bags, 3 hours, max 30% reduction [of radiation]


Rain jacket and rain pants, hat, mask, cotton work gloves and rain boots. People were divided into groups of 20 to 30 people, and the groups were assigned segments of the mountain slope. They raked in the dead leaves, and stuffed them, with the dirt, into plastic bags. I went up the slope with a bag in hand.


Soon, I was breathing hard. Lack of regular exercise. My eyeglasses got foggy from the breath escaping from my mask. I kept stuffing the bag with dead leaves in front of me. My back started to hurt after 10 minutes.


No matter how much I collected, there were more dead leaves. During the break, it started to snow. My sweats turned cold.


Because the radiation level here exceeded 1 microsievert/hour, we couldn't eat lunch where we worked. We were transported on the bus to a nearby location to have lunch. Local residents greeted us with warm miso-soup that they had prepared.


I talked with a man sitting nearby. Masayuki Shimosegawa (age 46) left his home in Gunma Prefecture at 5 in the morning. He said, "So many people from outside Fukushima. I think people who have come from far-away places are here for the children of Fukushima."


Back to the bus to the work. I thought I was able to pack the bag much faster now.


The work was done around 3PM. We couldn't decontaminate the entire 1.3 hectares that the city had planned, but there were 3,500 bags of dead leaves. 315 cubic meters. The area that I worked on had the radiation level at 1 centimeter off the ground dropped from 1.95 microsievert/hour to 1.525 microsievert/hour, 20% reduction. The maximum reduction was at most 30%.


82 people from Akita Prefecture to Kumamoto Prefecture [Kyushu] joined as volunteers. There were also participants from inside Fukushima Prefecture, the local residents, workers from the Fukushima prefectural government and Fukushima City government. In total, 387 people did the decontamination.


I worked for 3 hours total, in the morning and in the afternoon. The dosimeter that Fukushima City let us use showed 4 microsieverts. I went back to my office. I noticed that my body felt heavy. I really should have done more regular exercise.

4 microsieverts external radiation exposure from 3-hour work. Just smile, radiation is good for you, say many nuclear experts all around the world.

Benten-Yama Park is a known hot spot in the (already high-radiation) Watari District in Fukushima City. The Ministry of Education and Science (MEXT) has the website for real-time measurement of radiation levels in Fukushima, the MEXT page for Benten-Yama Park shows 1.362 microsievert/hour radiation at 50 centimeters off the ground, at 6:50AM on April 9, 2012.