Saturday, February 2, 2013

(Anything Goes Series 4) #Fukushima City's Tap Water "Safe and Delicious", To Be Served at Events in Fukushima to Eradicate Baseless Rumors

A 500-milliliter bottle sells for 100 yen.

This is the latest in the non-stop effort by people in Fukushima since March 11, 2011 to insist it's nothing but baseless rumors, not radioactive materials, and people in Fukushima are hurt by such rumors. To prove it is baseless rumors, they bottle the tap water in Fukushima City and sell it to you.

Nearly 2 years after the accident, that their land has been radioactively contaminated by the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident clearly hasn't sunk in to most of the residents who continue to live in the prefecture. And at this point, it doesn't look like it will ever sink in, even a millimeter.

From Fukushima Minyu, local Fukushima paper (2/1/2013):

「安全でおいしい」 福島市の水道水ペットボトルをPR

"Safe and delicious", bottled tap water in Fukushima City being promoted


The municipal water department of Fukushima City has embarked on a PR campaign to appeal safety using "Fukushima no Mizu [Fukushima water]", the city's tap water in plastic bottles. They are asking the organizers planning conferences and events in the city to use the bottled water so that many people can drink safe water in Fukushima. They hope to eradicate the baseless rumors from the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident.


"Fukushima no Mizu" is bottled water filled with the city's tap water. It went on sale in 2008 for tourism promotion. The bottle label was updated last year with the design featuring Hanami-yama, city's popular tourist destination. Radioactive materials are tested, and the bottles have stickers that says "ND", indicating there was no radioactive material detected, to emphasize safety.


After the March 11, 2011 disaster, there have been conferences [held in Fukushima City] with many people from outside the prefecture. "If we could have these people drink our water, we would be able to eradicate baseless rumors." The city's water department started to ask corporations and groups that held these conferences and events if they wanted to use the bottles with the city's water. [The water department] says they are getting excellent reviews.


Officials at the city's water department say, "Tap water in Fukushima City is from Surikamigawa River and it is delicious. Safety is amply secured, so please use it." A 500-milliliter bottle of Fukushima City tap water sells for 100 yen (including sales tax). Pre-order is required.

The detection limit is 1 becquerel/kg in Fukushima City's testing. Before the Fukushima nuclear accident, the Japanese government routinely monitored the radioactive materials in the environment. For tap water, the detection limit ranged from 0.074 to 0.185 millibecquerel/liter in case of Fukushima Prefecture (according to Japan Chemical Analysis Center's database). Note the unit: millibecquerel, one-thousands of a becquerel.

I fondly recall Goshi Hosono's sidekick who drank treated water at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant to demonstrate how safe the water is after the elaborate treatment. Iodine and cesium were ND, but the water was full of tritium.

(OT) Wise Tweet from "GS Elevator Gossip"

(Ain't it the truth? Learn from the best.)

(On second thought, that's how Goldman's competitors see Goldman, probably.)

(Anything Goes Series -3) "Danger of Active Faults Is Baseless Rumor", Says Tokyo University Geologist

The others chime in, and say, basically, "Let's coexist with nuclear power plants that sit on top of active faults."

Very interestingly, the pro-nuclear Sankei Shinbun's article echoes the open letter by the US Energy and Commerce Commission to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, with its curious emphasis on "performance-based" policy.

The article by Sankei Shinbun quotes a physicist, a nuclear engineer, and an marine geologist among others who say the Nuclear Regulatory Authority's new safety regulation proposal is not based on science but is pure fiction.

I'm afraid the entire country of Japan is pure fiction at this point.

Sankei's article starts with a very tricky headline as if it were the NRA who says it is possible (for nuclear power plants) to coexist with active faults. It is not, but unless you actually read the article, Sankei readers wouldn't know that.

From Sankei Shinbun via Yahoo Japan (1/30/2013; part; my comments in square brackets in blue italic):

地震・津波原発の新安全基準骨子案 「活断層との共生可能」

Proposed new safety standard outline for nuclear power plants in the event of earthquake/tsunami "It is possible to coexist with active faults"


Fearful of regulation without scientific basis


On January 29, the Nuclear Regulatory Authority announced its outline proposal for new safety standard for nuclear power plants in the event of earthquake and/or tsunami. The new standard would prohibit the installation of important facilities on top of active faults, but there are people who think it is possible to coexist with active fault with anti-seismic design in the country where there are about 2,000 active faults. Scientists are trying to restore the trust in science and technology which was lost [in the wake of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident], but at the same time they are worried that with too much emphasis on safety the regulations without scientific basis will go unchallenged.

[Go unchallenged? OK, who are those scientists?]


In a symposium held in Tokyo on January 25, former Minister of Education and [nuclear] physicist Akito Arima cited Tohoku Electric Power's Onagawa Nuclear Power Plant (in Miyagi Prefecture) and TEPCO's Fukushima II (Daini) Nuclear Power Plant (in Fukushima Prefecture) as having survived the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami, and said, "Even if there is an active fault, all we need to do is do R&D to maintain safety."

[Well said, Dr. Arima, but nuclear physics doesn't address how to construct buildings on top of an active fault, does it?]


Professor Koji Okamoto of Tokyo University (nuclear reactor engineering) says, "What's more important is not whether it is an active fault, but whether there is a risk of radioactive leak. But there is no discussion [of the latter]." He concluded, "The discussion at the NRA is not science. It is a world of fiction."

[So, a nuclear reactor engineer calling the discussion by the top seismologists and geologists a fiction. That makes sense. Not.]


Professor Haruo Yamazaki of Tokyo Metropolitan University (seismogeology) points out, "Danger of active fault is a baseless rumor, and it is used as a pretext in opposing nuclear power plants."

[Baseless rumor.]

This newspaper is incredible for its choice of words like "go unchallenged", as if the NRA trying to be on the conservative side of science were the bullies punishing the industry for no good scientific reason.

The article continues, saying that the definition of active faults has changed over time - from 50,000 year-old faults to 120,000 to 130,000, and now to 400,000-year-old faults - and the new benchmark of "400,000 years" is "meaningless", quoting a marine geologist. (A marine geologist should know very well about land geology, shouldn't he?)

Right on cue, a faction of the ruling Liberal Democratic Parties has started to make noise about the commissioners of Nuclear Regulatory Authority, who have been installed without the consent from the National Diet by then-Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. They say they have doubts about these commissioners because of their extremely strict conditions for the restart of a nuclear power plant, and particularly because of their opinion that Tsuruga Nuclear Power Plant (that sits on active faults) has to be decommissioned.

LDP has already bullied Bank of Japan into submission (whatever Governor Shirakawa says now to defend himself as "independent" is ludicrous). Nuclear Regulatory Authority next?

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Parts Suppliers in Japan: "Half the Expected Production of iPhone 5"

As Japanese companies report their 2012 4th quarter earnings in a short span of few days, parts suppliers of Apple's iPhone 5 are indicating less than expected shipment of iPhone 5 is hurting their bottom lines, without naming Apple.

How polite of them.

Not so long ago when iPhone 5 was launched, pundits said the phone was going to push the US 4th quarter GDP up by 0.5% on an annualized basis. Instead, the 4th quarter GDP came in at minus 0.1%, which was celebrated by the financial media as "best-looking contraction of US GDP ever" in this bizarro world.

From Asahi Shinbun (2/1/2013):

iPhone5、予想より減産? 部品提供の日本側指摘

iPhone 5 being produced less than expected? Japanese part suppliers point out


Japanese manufacturers who supply parts to Apple have start to voice concern over Apple's growth.


Takehiro Kamigama, President of TDK said in the press conference on January 31, "The number of smart phones by a US maker is half of what was expected." He said he "cannot reveal the name, but one of the two largest in the world", indicating iPhone 5.


Yoshitaka Fujita, Vice President of Murata Manufacturing, was asked about the effect of reduced production of iPhone 5 during the earnings conference on January 31. He admitted that the production was less than planned, and said, "I shouldn't comment on individual customers [of our company], but it is just as what's being said in the world." Nobuhiko Yonetani, executive director of Alps Electric, said "Parts for smart phones haven't sold as well as we hoped", citing it as one of the causes that will push the 2013 1st quarter results lower.

Japanese electronics companies may be suffering from not-so-brisk sales of iPhone 5, but if Canon is any indication they may still have a fat profit thanks to much cheaper yen since Shinzo "pork cutlet on curry rice" Abe became the prime minister again.

(OT) Stratfor: The Consequences of Intervening in Syria

"Unintended" consequences of indirect intervention in Syria, as per Stratfor, with a short summary of the situation in Africa as introduction.

From Stratfor, by Scott Stewart (1/31/2013; part, emphasis is mine):

The Consequences of Intervening in Syria

The French military's current campaign to dislodge jihadist militants from northern Mali and the recent high-profile attack against a natural gas facility in Algeria are both directly linked to the foreign intervention in Libya that overthrew the Gadhafi regime. There is also a strong connection between these events and foreign powers' decision not to intervene in Mali when the military conducted a coup in March 2012. The coup occurred as thousands of heavily armed Tuareg tribesmen were returning home to northern Mali after serving in Moammar Gadhafi's military, and the confluence of these events resulted in an implosion of the Malian military and a power vacuum in the north. Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and other jihadists were able to take advantage of this situation to seize power in the northern part of the African nation.

As all these events transpire in northern Africa, another type of foreign intervention is occurring in Syria. Instead of direct foreign military intervention, like that taken against the Gadhafi regime in Libya in 2011, or the lack of intervention seen in Mali in March 2012, the West -- and its Middle Eastern partners -- have pursued a middle-ground approach in Syria. That is, these powers are providing logistical aid to the various Syrian rebel factions but are not intervening directly.

Just as there were repercussions for the decisions to conduct a direct intervention in Libya and not to intervene in Mali, there will be repercussions for the partial intervention approach in Syria. Those consequences are becoming more apparent as the crisis drags on.

Intervention in Syria

For more than a year now, countries such as the United States, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and European states have been providing aid to the Syrian rebels. Much of this aid has been in the form of humanitarian assistance, providing things such as shelter, food and medical care for refugees. Other aid has helped provide the rebels with non-lethal military supplies such as radios and ballistic vests. But a review of the weapons spotted on the battlefield reveals that the rebels are also receiving an increasing number of lethal supplies.

For example, there have been numerous videos released showing Syrian rebels using weapons such as the M79 Osa rocket launcher, the RPG-22, the M-60 recoilless rifle and the RBG-6 multiple grenade launcher. The Syrian government has also released videos of these weapons after seizing them in arms caches. What is so interesting about these weapons is that they were not in the Syrian military's inventory prior to the crisis, and they all likely were purchased from Croatia. We have also seen many reports and photos of Syrian rebels carrying Austrian Steyr Aug rifles, and the Swiss government has complained that Swiss-made hand grenades sold to the United Arab Emirates are making their way to the Syrian rebels.

With the Syrian rebel groups using predominantly second-hand weapons from the region, weapons captured from the regime, or an assortment of odd ordnance they have manufactured themselves, the appearance and spread of these exogenous weapons in rebel arsenals over the past several months is at first glance evidence of external arms supply. The appearance of a single Steyr Aug or RBG-6 on the battlefield could be an interesting anomaly, but the variety and concentration of these weapons seen in Syria are well beyond the point where they could be considered coincidental.

This means that the current level of external intervention in Syria is similar to the level exercised against the Soviet Union and its communist proxies following the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. The external supporters are providing not only training, intelligence and assistance, but also weapons -- exogenous weapons that make the external provision of weapons obvious to the world. It is also interesting that in Syria, like Afghanistan, two of the major external supporters are Washington and Riyadh -- though in Syria they are joined by regional powers such as Turkey, Jordan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, rather than Pakistan.

In Afghanistan, the Saudis and the Americans allowed their partners in Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency to determine which of the myriad militant groups in Afghanistan received the bulk of the funds and weapons they were providing. This resulted in two things. First, the Pakistanis funded and armed groups that they thought they could best use as surrogates in Afghanistan after the Soviet withdrawal. Second, they pragmatically tended to funnel cash and weapons to the groups that were the most successful on the battlefield -- groups such as those led by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar and Jalaluddin Haqqani, whose effectiveness on the battlefield was tied directly to their zealous theology that made waging jihad against the infidels a religious duty and death during such a struggle the ultimate accomplishment.

A similar process has been taking place for nearly two years in Syria. The opposition groups that have been the most effective on the battlefield have tended to be the jihadist-oriented groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra. Not surprisingly, one reason for their effectiveness was the skills and tactics they learned fighting the coalition forces in Iraq. Yet despite this, the Saudis -- along with the Qataris and the Emiratis -- have been arming and funding the jihadist groups in large part because of their success on the battlefield. As my colleague Kamran Bokhari noted in February 2012, the situation in Syria was providing an opportunity for jihadists, even without external support. In the fractured landscape of the Syrian opposition, the unity of purpose and battlefield effectiveness of the jihadists was in itself enough to ensure that these groups attracted a large number of new recruits.

But that is not the only factor conducive to the radicalization of Syrian rebels. First, war -- and particularly a brutal, drawn-out war -- tends to make extremists out of the fighters involved in it. Think Stalingrad, the Cold War struggles in Central America or the ethnic cleansing in the Balkans following the dissolution of Yugoslavia; this degree of struggle and suffering tends to make even non-ideological people ideological. In Syria, we have seen many secular Muslims become stringent jihadists. Second, the lack of hope for an intervention by the West removed any impetus for maintaining a secular narrative. Many fighters who had pinned their hopes on NATO were greatly disappointed and angered that their suffering was ignored. It is not unusual for Syrian fighters to say something akin to, "What has the West done for us? We now have only God."

When these ideological factors were combined with the infusion of money and arms that has been channeled to jihadist groups in Syria over the past year, the growth of Syrian jihadist groups accelerated dramatically. Not only are they a factor on the battlefield today, but they also will be a force to be reckoned with in the future.

(The Consequences of Intervening in Syria is republished with permission of Stratfor.)

I have heard other stories (here, here, and here for example) about Syrian jihadist "rebels", but not from Stratfor.

Now comes Israel.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

(Anything Goes Series-2) Highly Contaminated Fukushima Hills to Be Fully Open for Cherry Blossom Viewers, Harbinger of Explosive Recovery in Fukushima

Or so it is hoped in Fukushima City.

The country was incomprehensible to the outside world for a long time. It has become incomprehensible even to some of its citizens after the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident.

The hills in question, Hanami-yama, are famous for cherry blossom trees, but they are also located in Watari District, the most contaminated district in Fukushima City. Professor Mori of Tokyo University picked up an earthworm in that district whose castings had 1.37 million becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium. That's also where the rice was harvested whose radioactive cesium exceeded 1,500 becquerels/kg.

According to Ministry of Education, as of now, the radiation level in the parking lot at the trail head is 0.528 microsievert/hour at 1 meter from the ground, a drop from about 0.7 microsievert/hour after decontamination done on what looks like January 13 and 14, 2013. However, the level has been creeping up again since.

Anyway, this is what the Fukushima local newspaper Fukushima Minpo (1/30/2013) reports:

花見山、全面開放再開へ 復興の起爆剤に

Hanami-yama to be fully open, hope is that it will trigger explosive recovery


Hanami-yama in Fukushima City is dubbed as "hidden paradise". Starting February, it will be fully open to visitors, as per the decision by the Hanami-yama tourism promotion association at its general meeting held in Fukushima City on January 29. The entry was restricted last year so that the trees could recuperate, but this year the local residents including the owner of the land Mr. Ichiro Abe (age 93) responded to a strong demand from the [cherry blossom tree viewing] enthusiasts. People in the tourism industry which has suffered from the baseless rumors after the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident hope that [opening the hills to the visitors] will trigger an explosive recovery of the local tourism.


Hanami-yama is a popular destination in springtime. In 2010, there were 320,000 visitors. However, after the March 11, 2011 disaster and nuclear accident, only 94,000 visited. In 2012, 101,000 people came. As the number of visitors increased, the trees grew weakened. Last year, the entry was restricted, and walking only around the periphery was allowed.


The trees would need about three years to properly recuperate, but the local farmers including Mr. Abe decided to reopen as many people wrote to the city asking for the reopening, and to achieve recovery from the disaster and the nuclear accident.


The park will be open on February 1. From April 5 to 29, the traffic control will be in place and shuttle buses will be operated. The tourism promotion association will provide radiation information on its homepage. The parking lot will be decontaminated by the busiest season in April to dispel fear.


Mr. Mitsuru [?] Tsuchida (age 80) is hopeful. He said, "We have received encouragement from people all over the country. We would like to welcome as many people as we can." Fukushima City Mayor Takanori Seto said, "Lively spring will be back, cheering the city residents. I would also like to thank the local residents [in Watari District]." Mr. Kazuhiro Watanabe (age 62), chairman of the city's tourism convention association, said expectantly, "Damage to tourism has been severe since the disaster. We are looking forward to collaborate with other areas [with famous cherry blossom trees] such as Minaru's cheery trees and Aizu, now popularized by [NHK's year-long drama titled] "Yae no Sakura (double cherry blossoms)."

So, according to the paper (I'm sure that's the popular and only acceptable meme in Fukushima) the reason why the hills were closed off to visitors last year was to give cherry trees a rest, as the trees suffered stress from too many visitors that went from 320,000 in 2010 to 94,000 in 2011. That makes sense, doesn't it?

I wonder if Mr. Abe, 93, and Mr. Tsuchida, 80 really know how contaminated their hills are.

Again, the meme of "visitors from afar will give cheers to the local residents" is there. Just like elementary school kids in Osaka Prefecture were to cheer the residents in another highly contaminated city in Fukushima (Date City), and just like the Tokyo Municipal government wanting to host the 2020 Olympics so that Tokyo residents and people in Japan can receive cheer and vigor from people around the world visiting Tokyo for the occasion.

Explode away, I say.

Hanami-yama before the nuclear accident (2010), from this blog:

Boeing 787 Battery Fire: Both ANA and JAL Had Replaced Batteries Last Year, on Multiple Occasions

ANA replaced 10 batteries, JAL replaced on several occasions.

ANA also says the problem started in May last year. ANA's first 787 Dreamliner (it was actually the world's first commercial flight) flew in October 2011.

From Reuters (1/30/2013; emphasis is mine):

Japanese airlines had 787 battery issues before recent incidents

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan's two biggest airlines replaced lithium-ion batteries on their Boeing Co (BA) 787 Dreamliners in the months before separate incidents led to the technologically advanced aircraft being grounded worldwide due to battery problems.

Comments from both All Nippon Airways <9202.T>, the new Boeing jetliner's biggest customer to date, and Japan Airlines Co Ltd <9201.T> point to reliability issues with the batteries long before a battery caught fire on a JAL 787 at Boston's airport and a second battery was badly charred and melted on an ANA domestic flight that was forced into an emergency landing.

ANA said it changed 10 batteries on its 787s last year, but did not inform accident investigators in the United States because the incidents, including five batteries that had unusually low charges, did not compromise the plane's safety, spokesman Ryosei Nomura said on Wednesday.

JAL also replaced batteries on the 787 "on a few occasions", said spokeswoman Sze Hunn Yap, declining to be more specific on when units were replaced or whether these were reported to authorities.

ANA did, however, inform Boeing of the faults that began in May, and returned the batteries to their manufacturer, GS Yuasa Corp <6674.T>. A spokesman for the battery maker declined to comment on Wednesday. Shares of the company fell 1.2 percent.

Boeing, in a statement, said battery replacements are not unusual for airplanes.

"We have not seen 787 battery replacements occurring as a result of safety concerns," the company said.

An NTSB spokesman said the board was aware of the reports of the prior battery problems and would review the data to see if it was relevant to the broader 787 probe.


Under aviation inspection rules, airlines are required to perform detailed battery inspections once every two years.

Officials are carrying out detailed tests on the batteries, chargers and monitoring units in Japan and the United States, but have so far made little headway in finding out what caused the battery failures.

Japan's transport ministry said the manufacturing process at the company which makes the 787 battery's monitoring unit did not appear to be linked to the problem on the ANA Dreamliner that made the emergency landing.

The NTSB said on Tuesday it was carrying out a microscopic investigation of the JAL 787 battery. Neither it nor the Japan Transport Safety Board has been able to say when they are likely to complete their work.

The global fleet of 50 Dreamliners - 17 of which are operated by ANA - remain grounded, increasing the likely financial impact to Boeing, which is still producing the aircraft but has stopped delivering them, and the airlines that fly the Dreamliner.

Boeing said on Wednesday that its 2013 financial forecast assumes no significant impact from the grounding. Boeing shares rose slightly in early trading and are down just 0.5 percent since the 787 was grounded.

ANA posts its earnings on Thursday. ANA shares rose 0.56 percent on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Tim Kelly, Dominic Lau, James Topham, Alwyn Scott and Andrea Shalal-Esa; Editing by Ian Geoghegan)

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Anything Goes in #Radioactive Japan under LDP: Government to Allow Rice Growing in Former Evacuation Zones, Areas That Exceeded 500 Bq/kg in 2011

It's not just the stock market (superbly bid up by Goldman Sachs so that they can sell to the suckers) that's gone wild in Japan. Everything and anything, including allowing rice to be grown in the most contaminated areas in Fukushima.

Here's the latest from the publicly funded news station NHK News (1/29/2013):

福島県内 コメ作付け制限緩和

Within Fukushima Prefecture, the restriction on rice growing will be loosened


Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries have announced its policy to loosen the restriction on rice cultivation in areas in Fukushima Prefecture, and allow farmers to grow rice even in the areas whose rice tested with radioactive cesium exceeding 500 Bq/kg in 2011, as long as all the rice bags are tested before they are shipped.


According to the policy announced on January 29 by the ministry, the areas in Fukushima that grew rice last year will be allowed to grow rice this year as long as they continue to do the tests including testing all the bags of rice.


Also, the areas that were restricted from growing rice, such as emergency evacuation preparation zone and the areas where radioactive materials [cesium] exceeding 500 Bq/kg were detected in the tests done in 2011, will be allowed to grow rice as long as there are management plans for the rice paddies in place and all bags of rice are tested before shipping.


In the [former 20-kilometer] evacuation zone, planned evacuation zone, and areas designated as limited habitation, rice will be grown this year as an experiment for the restart of growing rice [in the future]. Minister of Agriculture Hayashi said in the press conference, "Based on the intention of the locals, we have been preparing to help support the efforts to restart the growing of rice. We would like to see the agriculture in the disaster affected areas get rebuilt as soon as possible."

Intention of the locals??? What about the intention of the consumers?

Consumers have been too considerate and reasonable, I'm afraid. The most people on Twitter say about food contaminated with radioactive cesium is that they do not support or participate in the government campaign of "Eat and Support". Most of them (with few exceptions here and there) don't want to hurt the feelings of farmers in the contaminated areas in Fukushima, Miyagi, Iwate, and northern Kanto. Saying they don't support the government campaign has done nothing to stop the distribution of contaminated food throughout Japan and beyond (in Thailand, for example).

It is not true that "all of Japan has been contaminated, and therefore food grown everywhere is contaminated", as people often quote Kyoto University's Koide as saying. From what I've read, what Dr. Koide is talking about is the contamination from the atmospheric testing, not necessarily from the Fukushima accident. But he doesn't make it clear, and people do not bother to make it clear.

There are clean(er) food items available from west Japan and Hokkaido where the fallout from Fukushima was negligible. And yet, the Japanese are told to eat food grown in the contaminated areas, so that the farmers there can make money and recover (so that the national government does not need to compensate them). Those who can afford quietly buy from western Japan. Those who cannot simply give up.

I've always disliked Professor Hayakawa's attacks on consumers who do not protest against contaminated food but who do against wide-area disposal of disaster debris which happens to be also contaminated with radioactive materials. I still disagree with Professor Hayakawa on disaster debris, but I have to agree with him on food.

If, for example, people who used to gather in great numbers in front of the Prime Minister's Official Residence in Tokyo every Friday last year had shouted "We don't want to eat contaminated food!" instead of single-issue chanting of "No restart of nuke plants!", I wonder what difference it might have made. I know it wouldn't have happened, as the organizers of the event was for "eat and support", and contamination in Tohoku and Kanto was non-issue for them.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Pipes That Should Not Be There Are Blocking the Way in Reactor 2 Torus Room

TEPCO send the workers to Reactor 2 building on January 27 to drill a hole through the 1st floor to the torus room. The location was carefully chosen so that they would have a clear shot at the water accumulated in the torus room. Through the hole, the workers were to feed the camera, dosimeter, and thermometer.

Surprise! When the workers managed to carefully drill a hole and looked in, huge pipes and gratings were in the way, and there was no way for the workers to do the planned work at that hole.

From TEPCO's Photos and Videos, 1/28/2013, "Drilling Holes for the Investigation of Unit 2 Torus Room at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station":

From the handout, this was what TEPCO had planned:

How did this happen? TEPCO chose the location because there wasn't supposed to be anything, according to the original drawings. However, as repairs and renovations were done over the years, the original drawings from the time the reactor was built became obsolete.

Don't they have the drawings of those repairs and renovations? Yes they do. But those drawings were stored in one of the buildings that was devastated by the March 11, 2011 earthquake and declared too dangerous to enter. There is no information as to whether anyone has gone back in to retrieve any document or data from the main building. Probably not, because, as we know well by now, TEPCO carefully abides by the rules and regulations from the authorities:

(Photo of the 2nd floor of the main building, Fukushima I Nuke Plant)

Independent journalist Ryuichi Kino tweeted:


It has been known that it is difficult to completely grasp the condition of Fukushima I Nuke Plant. The basic structures of reactors have been the same since the plans were drawn up, but pipes and other small facilities were added and modified later, making the current condition vastly different from the original condition. Therefore, any work that has to do with the structures have been carried out very carefully.


One such example: TEPCO had a difficult time in confirming which pipe to use for nitrogen gas injection and for cooling water injection, because the pipes had been switched around after repairs and renovations. Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency knew this, and was aware that it was not easy. I once asked NISA, where, then, are the drawings that will allow us to grasp the current condition?


They answered, all the drawings and documents from construction work are stored in the main building at Fukushima I Nuke Plant, and therefore they couldn't go in and retrieve them. The main building was devastated by the earthquake, and declared off-limits.


That was about one year ago. I have to ask again if someone did go to the main building to retrieve the documents. However, the most recent work [drilling a hole through the floor of Reactor 2] revealed unexpected pipes right there in the middle of where they were not supposed to be. So I wonder.


If they cannot grasp the current condition, the best they can do is to do the work in the areas that they are able to see. That wold affect the work not just in Reactor 2 torus room but everywhere where human workers cannot enter. Robots may be able to enter, but [since no one knows the actual condition of the place] no one can give directions to the robots. It is as if they feel their way in the dark, as they continue the work to end the accident.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

#Fukushima I Nuke Accident: TEPCO to Limit the Right to Claim Compensation to 3 Years After All

It's not quite a 180-degree turn from the position taken by the TEPCO president only days before the change, but still an unpleasant and frustrating turn for people affected by the nuclear disaster.

On January 10, 2013, this is what Naomi Hirose, president of TEPCO, said to Yuhei Sato, governor of Fukushima Prefecture, according to Mainichi Shinbun (1/10/2013; part):


Naomi Hirose, President of TEPCO definitely said on January 10 for the first time that TEPCO had "no intention of claiming its right to legal statute of limitations (3 years)" regarding the compensation to damages arising from the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident.


President Hirose and Chairman Kazuhiko Shimokobe visited with Governor Yuhei Sato at the Fukushima Prefectural government office on January 10. Mr. Hirose made specific remarks for the first time regarding the issue, saying "We have no intention at all (to claim our right to statute of limitations). It is a legal problem, but we would like to come up with something concrete." Governor Sato demanded that TEPCO fully compensate the victims.


According to the Article 724 of the Civil Code, one loses the right to compensation unless one files a claim for damages within 3 years of first becoming aware of the damages from offense by others. The purpose of this article is to quickly establish relations of right. Governor Sato had asked TEPCO not to assert its claim to statute of limitations.


After the meeting, Mr. Hirose said to the press, "We're discussing the measures, and I hope to announce them soon. We are not going to assert our claim to statute of limitations in lawsuits."

There are many who haven't even received the applications yet. For those who have received the applications, the application is such a legal mumbo jumbo that many have simply given up.

Then on January 16, six days later, TEPCO revealed their plan. Instead of statute of limitations as stipulated by the Civil Code, the company will use a modified statute of limitations - 3 years from the time when the application forms are received by people affected by the accident.

As Nikkei Shinbun reported (1/16/2013; part):


TEPCO and Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund has decided that the period to claim damages from the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident will be three years from the date when people affected by the accident receive their application documents. It has been pointed out that the three-year statute of limitations from the start of the accident may happen, but the new plan will move the date further back from which to count three years so that people affected by the accident are able to receive compensations.


The plan is part of the change request for the "Comprehensive Special Business Plan" that TEPCO submitted to Toshimitsu Motegi, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, on January 15.

So it's a done deal. The plan is submitted, not because the plan will be analyzed or discussed by the government but as the last formality after everything in the plan has been already informally discussed and agreed upon by all the parties involved, in this case the national government and TEPCO (which are one and the same).

Very clever of them. The management of Chisso should have used the same ruse.

TEPCO's Hirose by the way holds an MBA from Yale University. Minister Motegi is a former McKinsey consultant. They probably understand each other very well.