Live net coverage by Yasumi Iwakami's IWJ right now, here.
200 policemen guard the entrance to Katsumata's mansion. Protesters and on-lookers on USTREAM are upset that their tax money is used to protect TEPCO's chairman, who in their eyes is a criminal.
Saturday, December 24, 2011
Live net coverage by Yasumi Iwakami's IWJ right now, here.
Canadian Medical Association Journal Blasts Japanese Government: "Culture of Coverup" Exposing Japanese Citizens to "Unconscionable" Radiation Risk
The official journal of the Canadian Medical Association (CMA), "Canadian Medical Association Journal" is a peer-reviewed scientific journal. On their website, there is an article dated December 21, 2011 which severely criticizes the Japanese government's response (or lack thereof) to the nuclear disaster which has just been declared "over" by the current Noda administration.
Written by Lauren Vogel of CMAJ quoting medical experts, the article states:
The Japanese government has been "lying through their teeth" ever since the March 11 accident;
The Japanese government hasn't disclosed enough information for the citizens to make informed decision, with “extreme lack of transparent, timely and comprehensive communication”;
The response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster by the Japanese government is far worse than the response to the Chernobyl accident by the Soviet Union government;
The annual radiation exposure limit for the general public of 20 millisieverts is "unconscionable", and there has been no government "in recent decades that's been willing to accept such a high level of radiation-related risk for its population"
The article is literally trashing the Japanese government. Quite a contrast to certain international organizations who praise the Japanese government at every opportunity. But in fact, the second point above is in violation of one of the ICRP's recommendations which says the residents should be made aware and understand the radiation risk fully before giving consent to the government policy.
Further, the article quotes Dr. Kozo Tatara of the Japan Public Health Association, who revealed a difficult position his government was in at a meeting in Washington DC in November, by saying:
“It’s very difficult to persuade people that the level [of exposure set by the government] is okay”
Still, one expert interviewed for the article seems to think it's still not too late to evacuate:
"the single most important public health measure to minimize the health harm over the longterm is much wider evacuation"
Quite a contrast to the Japan Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists that issued an official statement back on March 19, declaring "It is safe if you are 30 kilometers away from the plant, the information from the national government is accurate, there is no negative health effect on embryos, fetuses, babies and small children if the cumulative radiation is 100 millisieverts and below".
From Canadian Medial Association Journal (CMAJ) (12/21/2011; emphasis added):
Public health fallout from Japanese quake
Lauren Vogel, CMAJ, with files from Barbara Sibbald, CMAJ
December 21, 2011
A “culture of coverup” and inadequate cleanup efforts have combined to leave Japanese people exposed to “unconscionable” health risks nine months after last year’s meltdown of nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant, health experts say.
Although the Japanese government has declared the plant virtually stable, some experts are calling for evacuation of people from a wider area, which they say is contaminated with radioactive fallout.
They’re also calling for the Japanese government to reinstate internationally-approved radiation exposure limits for members of the public and are slagging government officials for “extreme lack of transparent, timely and comprehensive communication.”
But temperatures inside the Fukushima power station's three melted cores have achieved a “cold shutdown condition,” while the release of radioactive materials is “under control,” according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/2011/coldshutdown.html). That means government may soon allow some of the more than 100 000 evacuees from the area around the plant to return to their homes. They were evacuated from the region after it was struck with an 8.9 magnitude earthquake and a tsunami last March 11.
Although the potential for further explosions with substantial releases of radioactivity into the atmosphere is certainly reduced, the plant is still badly damaged and leaking radiation, says Tilman Ruff, chair of the Medical Association for Prevention of Nuclear War, who visited the Fukushima prefecture in August. “There are major issues of contamination on the site. Aftershocks have been continuing and are expected to continue for many months, and some of those are quite large, potentially causing further damage to structures that are already unstable and weakened. And we know that there’s about 120 000 tons of highly contaminated water in the base of the plant, and there’s been significant and ongoing leakage into the ocean.”
The full extent of contamination across the country is even less clear, says Ira Hefland, a member of the board of directors for Physicians for Social Responsibility. “We still don't know exactly what radiation doses people were exposed to [in the immediate aftermath of the disaster] or what ongoing doses people are being exposed to. Most of the information we're getting at this point is a series of contradictory statements where the government assures the people that everything's okay and private citizens doing their own radiation monitoring come up with higher readings than the government says they should be finding.”
Japanese officials in Tokyo have documented elevated levels of cesium — a radioactive material with a half-life of 30 years that can cause leukemia and other cancers — more than 200 kilometres away from the plant, equal to the levels in the 20 kilometre exclusion zone, says Robert Gould, another member of the board of directors for Physicians for Social Responsibility.
International authorities have urged Japan to expand the exclusion zone around the plant to 80 kilometres but the government has instead opted to “define the problem out of existence” by raising the permissible level of radiation exposure for members of the public to 20 millisieverts per year, considerably higher than the international standard of one millisievert per year, Gould adds.
This “arbitrary increase” in the maximum permissible dose of radiation is an “unconscionable” failure of government, contends Ruff. “Subject a class of 30 children to 20 millisieverts of radiation for five years and you're talking an increased risk of cancer to the order of about 1 in 30, which is completely unacceptable. I'm not aware of any other government in recent decades that's been willing to accept such a high level of radiation-related risk for its population.”
Following the 1986 nuclear disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the Ukraine, “clear targets were set so that anybody anticipated to receive more than five millisieverts in a year were evacuated, no question,” Ruff explains. In areas with levels between one and five millisieverts, measures were taken to mitigate the risk of ingesting radioactive materials, including bans on local food consumption, and residents were offered the option of relocating. Exposures below one millisievert were still considered worth monitoring.
In comparison, the Japanese government has implemented a campaign to encourage the public to buy produce from the Fukushima area, Ruff added. “That response [in Chernobyl] 25 years ago in that much less technically sophisticated, much less open or democratic context, was, from a public health point of view, much more responsible than what’s being done in modern Japan this year.”
Were Japan to impose similar strictures, officials would have to evacuate some 1800 square kilometres and impose restrictions on food produced in another 11 100 square kilometres, according to estimates of the contamination presented by Dr. Kozo Tatara for the Japan Public Health Association at the American Public Health Association's 139th annual meeting and exposition in November in Washington, District of Columbia.
“It’s very difficult to persuade people that the level [of exposure set by the government] is okay,” Tatara told delegates to the meeting. He declined requests for an interview.
The Japanese government is essentially contending that the higher dose is “not dangerous,” explains Hefland. “However, since the accident, it’s become clear the Japanese government was lying through its teeth, doing everything it possible could to minimize public concern, even when that meant denying the public information needed to make informed decisions, and probably still is.”
“It's now clear they knew within a day or so there had been a meltdown at the plant, yet they didn't disclose that for weeks, and only with great prodding from the outside,” Hefland adds. “And at the same moment he was assuring people there was no public health disaster, the Prime Minister now concedes that he thought Tokyo would have to be evacuated but was doing nothing to bring that about.”
Ruff similarly charges that the government has mismanaged the file and provided the public with misinformation. As an example, he cites early reports that stable iodine had been distributed to children and had worked effectively, when, “in fact, iodine wasn't given to anyone.”
Public distrust is at a level that communities have taken cleanup and monitoring efforts into their own hands as the government response to the crisis has been “woefully inadequate” and officials have been slow to respond to public reports of radioactive hotspots, Gould says. “That’s led to the cleanup of some affected areas, but there are also reports of people scattering contaminated soil willy-nilly in forests and areas surrounding those towns.”
“In some places, you can see mounds of contaminated soil that have just been aggregated under blue tarps,” he adds.
Even with government assistance, there are limits to the decontamination that can be achieved, explains Hefland. “What do you do with the stuff? Do you scrape entire topsoil? How far down you have to go? And if you wash down the buildings, what do you do with the waste water?”
As well, Ruff argues the government must examine the provision of compensation for voluntary evacuation from areas outside of the exclusion zone where there are high levels of radioactive contamination. Without such compensation, many families have no option but to stay, he says. “At this point, the single most important public health measure to minimize the health harm over the longterm is much wider evacuation.”
The Japanese government did not respond to inquiries.
Also in PDF file.
Regarding the iodine tablets, there was one town in Fukushima Prefecture (Miharu-machi) whose mayor distributed them and ordered the residents to swallow right away. He was severely ridiculed and criticized in Japan at that time for "fear-mongering".
Regarding withholding the information from the public, the Japanese government went one step further, and using the mass media went on a campaign to smear and discredit anyone who dare said inconvenient things like "Fukushima reactors had meltdowns", or "Don't go outside today because the rain may be radioactive", or "Theft and robbery on the increase in the evacuated areas". They all later proved to be true. The reactors had meltdowns, the rain was radioactive, and robbers, braving the radiation, plundered many homes of evacuees in the evacuation zones.
And the readers of this blog know what kind of "compensation" the Noda government is thinking about for Fukushima residents, thanks to Minister Yukio "there is no immediate health effect" Edano. Fukushima residents may get gift certificates usable only in Fukushima, so they can help revive the economy and industry inside Fukushima.
How much more cynical can you get? A whole lot more, looking at Japan's leaders.
Report from Fukushima (1) Minami Soma: 41.72 Microsieverts/Hr, γ+β+α Radiation Combined in a Municipal Apartment Complex
People live in that complex, including children. The city wants all residents to return to Minami Soma City now that the accident is officially "over".
Minami Soma City Mayor Katsunobu Sakurai became world-famous with his plea for help on Youtube in the early days of the crisis. At that time, not many people were even aware of the nuclear disaster that was progressing, but instead was focused only on the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
Even after the extent of the radiation contamination resulting from the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident became known, many cities inside Fukushima including Minami Soma continue to tell their residents that everything is under control, as if the nuke accident were a distant, inconvenient event. Minami Soma has been more realistic, or more aware, than others, as the city does provide more thorough testing of residents for radiation exposure and carries out "decontamination" of residences and public buildings from early on with the help from Professor Kodama of Tokyo University.
But something stopped adding up for me for Minami Soma, slowly over time. Why does the mayor and city officials insist on the residents to return? Why do they insist on "decontamination" even when they know it doesn't quite work (they have the measurement data of before and after)? Why do they punish the more unfortunate residents who lost their homes in the quake and tsunami by cutting off their public assistance and taxing the donation money they received?
With citizens' distrust of the government of all forms and sizes perhaps all-time high, as the Canadian Medical Association Journal article correctly points out, more people in Fukushima are starting to speak out openly about their situation, mostly in blogs. I have three of these I've just happened to read today, though I'm sure there are more others.
The first one is the blog titled "Night that never ends (消えない夜)", written by a man in Fukushima Prefecture. So he says, and looking through his posts I don't have a reason to doubt it.
In the post titled "Truth of Minami Soma City" on December 20, he reports the results of his radiation survey he conducted using his several personal survey meters at a public housing complex in part of Minami Soma City that was designated as "evacuation-ready zone", where the residents were supposed to evacuate at a moment's notice in case of a nuclear emergency, and where children and pregnant women "were not supposed to be there" (but they were, as there was no support from the city to evacuate).
From "Truth of Minami Soma City" post, at "Night that never ends" blog (12/20/2011):
Instead of words, photos are the best for people to see the fact.
The photos will be the irrefutable evidence.
Haramachi District of Minami Soma City in Fukushima Prefecture. It was once designated as "evacuation-ready zone" [since abolished, on September 30].
These are the photos taken today, December 20, 2011, at the municipal housing complex in Kita Nagano in Haramachi District.
I am asking the blogger if I can use his photos. While I wait for the answer (he has said no to other people), you can go to his post and view them. The information he gives in the post is the following:
Toward the end, he writes:
People have lived in the complex since March 11, as the "evacuation-ready zone" does not require evacuation unless it is an nuclear emergency. According to the blog, most of the children have evacuated but there are several who have remained.
Radiation on the pavement just outside one of the apartment building.
Gamma radiation: 10.83 microsieverts/hour
Beta and Gamma radiation: 14 microsieverts/hour
Alpha, beta and gamma radiation: 41.72 microsieverts/hour
The residents never expected to see these kind of numbers.
They thought the radiation levels could be high, but never suspected they were this high. When their children came back for the weekend, they told me they let the children play outside.
Everywhere I measured, the radiation was high.
This is the municipal housing run by Minami Soma City. This is the truth of Minami Soma City.
Is this Chernobyl?
He says he has informed the city government about the high radiation in the complex. Looking at the map, it is in the high radiation area in Minami Soma City where the city is going to reopen 2 elementary schools and one junior high school next February, now that the nuke plant has achieved "cold shutdown state" and "evacuation-ready zone" is no more.
What's even sadder, if it's true, is that these schools will reopen at the requests from the parents.
What's so important about sending their kids to school in an area that has over 40 microsieverts/hour total radiation?
"Night that never ends" - what a great title.
#Radiation in Japan: Ministry of the Environment Will Get 1 Trillion Yen Budget, 5 Times It Got This Year
Speaking of Christmas presents...
The Ministry of the Environment, once an utterly unimportant, powerless ministry in the Japanese government, is now one of the most powerful under Goshi Hosono, who still doubles as Minister in charge of the nuclear accident that has ended. The measure of power? Its budget size.
It is set to quintuple in the fiscal 2012 to more than 1 trillion yen (US$13 billion) because of the "decontamination" work in Fukushima Prefecture and other 7 Prefectures. However, as no one pretends to know how much it will actually cost to carry out "decontamination", by doling out the money to top-tier general contractor joint ventures who will then dole out jobs down the subcontracting pyramid, the sky's the limit for the Ministry's budget. It doesn't even include the construction cost for the "temporary" storage facilities for the contaminated waste.
From Asahi Shinbun, which will soon go the UK's Times way and charge fees for the online readers to read its articles (12/24/2011):
The budget of the Ministry of the Environment in the fiscal 2012 will quintuple to over 1 trillion yen. The Ministry is in charge of disaster debris disposal and decontamination of land contaminated by radiation. Of the 1 trillion yen, 825.8 billion yen is from the Recovery Special Budget, constituting the bulk of the increase.
451.3 billion yen will be earmarked for decontamination and contaminated waste disposal. Already, this year's 3rd Supplementary Budget allocated 245.9 billion yen to decontamination. The cost for decontamination is estimated to be 1 trillion and several hundred billion yen.
The national government will carry out the decontamination in the no-entry zone within the 20-kilometer radius from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, and in the planned evacuation zone where the annual cumulative radiation exposure [external only] is expected to exceed 20 millisieverts. In addition, there are location within [the planned evacuation zone] where the radiation exposure will exceed a certain level, and the government will give financial support to 102 municipalities in 8 prefectures in Tohoku and Kanto which have been designated recently as "contamination situation priority survey areas".
However, this budget does not include the construction cost to build temporary storage facilities for contaminated waste resulting from decontamination. It includes only 2 billion yen for the feasibility study for such facilities. The officials at the Ministry of the Environment says "The ultimate cost of decontamination is still unknown to us."
Uh huh. It is more like "The ultimate cost of decontamination is still unknown to us but we know it's going to be gigantic; in fact it is so gigantic we would rather not tell you lest we be held accountable. So we say we don't know, and when SHTF we will say "Who could have known?", and you will say "Oh well nothing could be done now so let's keep doing what hasn't worked, because if we do it enough it may finally work"". And so it goes.
You can be pretty sure that the government will pick the costliest, most complex and probably the most ineffective so-called "technology" do decontamination. The costlier the project, the profitable for all parties taking part. (Never like that coffee filter removal of radioactive cesium invented by a layman.)
Ben "Bernank" Bernanke of the US Federal Reserve would know what to do ("print" money), but not so Shirakawa of the Bank of Japan. Instead, the Noda administration is extra keen on raising taxes on the general public, removing the social benefits even further, and expanding the government so that "Fukushima recovers and the economy grows".
As more and more people in Japan become aware that they've been had, and that so-called "decontamination" is about giving lucrative contracts to the well-connected and entrapping the residents in the highly contaminated area, the governments of all levels - national, prefectural, municipal - go the other way, preaching the virtue of helping out fellow Japanese by eating contaminated food, burning contaminated debris, and paying for "decontamination" to revive Fukushima.
I guess the current batch of ministers is too young to have ever heard of what happened in Japan during the World War II - like practicing to down a B29 bomber that sprayed incendiary cluster bombs using bamboo spears.
like it has been doing since 1958.
Santa and his reindeer have just delivered gifts in Gori, Georgia in lightening speed, now on their way to Laki, Azerbaijan.
Track Santa at NORAD here.
Friday, December 23, 2011
#Radiation in Japan: Koriyama Resident Measures Radiation Levels in His City - 42.85 Microsieverts/Hr on the Drain Lid
Armed with his geiger counter, the Ministry of Education's radiation map and the Professor Hayakawa's radiation contour map, he went measuring radiation levels in Koriyama City on December 23, and they were high.
Air radiation level at chest height: maximum 1.51 microsievert/hour
On the sand on the side drain cover: 42.85 microsieverts/hour
If the surface radiation is that high, it would be several hundreds of thousands of becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium in that sand. No one does a thing, and life goes on, because all the national and municipal governments care about is air radiation at 1 meter off the ground.
But even if you stay outside in 1.51 microsievert/hr radiation all day all night for one year, it would only be 13 millisieverts of external radiation. Nothing to worry about, according to the new Japanese government guideline crafted by the panel of expert scientists picked by the government (in order to obtain precisely the guideline).
Never mind that until March 11, Koriyama City's air radiation was probably below 0.06 microsievert/hour like anywhere else in northern Japan, and that's how it has been for the residents for generations.
(H/T Aloha Analytics)
As Prime Minister Noda plans to ask China if he can borrow pandas for the disaster recovery in Miyagi, Minister of Economy Yukio Edano wants to give gift certificates to all people in Fukushima as compensation for the nuclear accident.
Gift certificates are to be used only within Fukushima Prefecture, in order to promote economic recovery of Fukushima.
Fukushima Minpo reported the news only in its print version (12/23/2011). Here's partial translation from the image of the article (the article image is posted on my Japanese blog):
Idea to distribute gift certificates to all Fukushima residents, as compensation for the residents who are not covered by the national government compensation scheme. 42 billion yen from the fund to be used?
Under the new guideline set by the council for the nuclear damage disputes under the Ministry of Education and Science, there are municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture being excluded from the government compensation scheme. Yukio Edano, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, disclosed the plan on December 22 to introduce a new support scheme in early January using the fund for emergency countermeasures for nuclear damages. Edano held a talk with Yuhei Sato, Governor of Fukushima, and his comment was in response to Sato's request. According to the government source, the national government is coordinating the ministries and agencies involved in order to put money in the emergency countermeasures fund that the Fukushima prefectural government hopes to set up, and [using the money in the fund] to distribute gift certificates to all Fukushima residents. However, there are still issues of how to reconcile this scheme with the compensation guideline, and the situation remains still fluid. The Fukushima prefectural government says "The scheme is one of the things being considered", and plans to press for compensation money [for all Fukushima residents].
According to the government source, the national government expects to pour 86 billion yen [US$1.1 billion] to the emergency countermeasures fund, and plans to use 42 billion yen [US$537 million] from the fund to issue gift certificates. The gift certificates can be used inside Fukushima Prefecture only, so that the local economy is revitalized by "local products, local consumption". The idea came up after the Ministry of Finance expressed reluctance to pay cash compensation to the residents who wouldn't be covered under the new guideline for compensation for voluntary evacuation. Instead of cash compensation, all Fukushima residents would get the gift certificates.
Let's see, Fukushima's population is (or was) slightly over 2 million. Under the scheme, each resident would get about 21,000 yen, or about US$270.
Meanwhile, the Japan's staunch ally United States's TSA confiscates a cupcake from a passenger because the frost on the cupcake was too "gel-like", posing a security risk.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
18.5 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium has been detected from tomatoes grown in Kashiwa City in Chiba Prefecture. The survey was done by one of the largest supermarket chain AEON.
From Savechild.net (12/23/2011):
The large supermarket chain AEON announced on November 8 that it would conduct a more thorough analysis of radioactive materials in food items, and it has been publishing the results on its homepage. There has been occasional detection of radioactive cesium in marine products, but never in vegetables. However, according to the result published on December 22, 18.5 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium was detected from tomatoes grown in a contract farm in Chiba Prefecture.
The tomatoes in question were tested on December 15, according to the AEON's webpage.
Savechild.net reports that a quick phone call to AEON revealed that the tomatoes came from a contract farm in Kashiwa City which is located in the high-radiation northwest corner of Chiba Prefecture.
Savechild.net also speculates that at this time of the year these tomatoes must be grown in a hot house.
So where could radioactive cesium have come from? Water? Soil? Fertilizer? (I hope they weren't using rice hay as soil cover...)
AEON's page that lists the results of vegetable surveys is here. It looks the detection limit for tomatoes (as well as other vegetables) were higher in the earlier surveys, so it is possible that radioactive cesium had been there in the earlier samples but not detected.
AEON's page that lists the results of the radiation survey is here.
On a separate piece of news, AEON's subsidiary AEON MALL has won the contract for a redevelopment project right behind the Onahama Port in Iwaki City in Fukushima Prefecture, according to Fukushima Minpo. Promoting Fukushima rice and produce has paid out well for AEON Group, it looks.
a la GM and AIG. Nothing new under the sun.
Chairman Katsumata and President Nishizawa will resign as the money from the government (to be collected ultimately from taxpayers of course) flows in to support TEPCO's operations to the tune of 2 trillion yen (US$25 billion).
From Fukushima Minpo (12/22/2011):
TEPCO and the Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund [set up by the national government] started discussion on December 22 to reshuffle the top management in order to receive the public fund. It is likely that all directors with representation right when the Fukushima I Nuclear Plant accident happened will resign, including President Toshio Nishizawa, who became the president in June, and Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata. The new chairman will be selected from outside the company, while the new president is likely to be promoted to the position from within.
TEPCO and the Fund, which was set up by the government, have decided that it is necessary to clarify accountability. In the new management, more outside directors will be elected to the board which has only one such director right now so that they keep a keen eye on the operation of the company.
Blah blah blah.
Fat retirement package and fat pension, and descend to affiliated companies or research institutes as executives or as consultants - that's my guess.
The Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund is funded by the government (7 billion yen) and the electric power companies that operate nuclear power plants in Japan (7 billion yen).
According to Asahi Shinbun (12/21/2011) and others, the national government will ask 70 financial institutions to lend the total of 1 trillion yen to TEPCO. The government will ask these institutions to lend another 1 trillion yen to the Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund with the national government's guarantee. The Fund will funnel that money to TEPCO, and in return will acquire more than two-thirds of the company by acquiring special class of stock to be issued, so that it will be easier for the Fund to later sell the shares in the future.
Why? Because it has become more apparent that the liabilities will exceed net assets at TEPCO soon.
This looks so familiar that I feel like I'm back in 2008.
Banks are happy, as the loans to TEPCO will be guaranteed by the national government - i.e. backstopped by the taxpayers. Bond holders are happy, as there will no headshave. Shareholders are happy because common stocks are not diluted, and the company will not go bankrupt if it is "nationalized".
TEPCO's corporate bonds are held widely by institutional investors as they have been considered safe, issued by a solid, profitable company, TEPCO. Not any more, but the large institutional investors, including Japan's Pension Fund, cannot suffer, can they?
TEPCO denies it is a "nationalization", but if it squawks like a duck and walks like a duck it is a duck. As if to celebrate the joyous occasion that it will be all paid by the Japan's current and future taxpayers, TEPCO has announced the increase in utility rates for both businesses and individuals.
So the Japanese people will be made to pay in multiple ways for TEPCO and the government: rate increase, increased cost of goods because of higher utility cost for the businesses, tax, and endless tax for decades to decommission the reactors and to decontaminate the highly contaminated Fukushima Prefecture.
TEPCO says "Please understand the difficult situation we're in" on their Japanese homepage. How about TEPCO understanding the difficult situation it has put the Japanese people in?
And just like the mortgage fraud and foreclosuregate, no one has gone to jail.
I was describing to an American friend about what's been happening at an accelerating pace in Japan after the now-infamous "cold shutdown state and end of Fukushima accident" declaration by the hapless Prime Minister Noda, who now wants to bring pandas to Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture to cheer children.
He said, "Dr. Demento Show!"
Things are indeed getting more hilarious by the hour.
This is one of the most hilarious from yesterday's news: Fuku-I accident "docu-drama"
Nippon Television, the close affiliate of Yomiuri Shinbun which has been pro-nuke ever since Matsutaro Shoriki bought the paper in xxxx, will air a "docu-drama" of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident on December 23 Friday from 6:45PM to 8:55PM Japan Time, titled "87 Hours when Japan was on the verge of destruction", using popular actors to play the part of PM Kan, Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano, TEPCO's Fuku-I plant manager Yoshida, etc.
Comments on the news from Japanese twitterers:
See how they take us for fools
The title of the drama cannot get more demented.
So the nuke accident is just one form of entertainment. Great.
Controversial dam construction (Yanba Dam) in Gunma Prefecture given green light, benefiting TEPCO, again:
Yanba Dam has been in the works ever since 1950s, but the project was suspended two years ago when the Democratic Party of Japan took power. It was in the DPJ's party "manifest" to stop the project. Now, under the same DPJ but led by PM Noda, it has been formally declared that it is good to go. The local politicians and interest parties in the small town of Naganohara are ecstatic. They greeted the Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport with three cheers (banzai) yesterday (Yomiuri Shinbun 12/23/2011).
Well, it turns out that TEPCO has been diverting water from upstream to run its hydroelectric power stations along the Agatsuma River. If the dam is built, TEPCO cannot draw as much water as it likes for these power stations and therefore has to be compensated. To the tune of 1.7 billion yen per year.
From what I've read, it doesn't make any sense geologically and economically, other than to benefit certain parties connected to construction work with taxpayers' money. I once drove through the area. It was deep in the mountains, rapid river. An excellent and ancient (first discovered in 1193) hot spring town along the river, which will be lost under water if the dam is built.
Money speaks, it always has been, and always will in the "dango" Japan. The government always wins by wearing the small citizens out.
Radioactive ash disposal in Chiba Prefecture in the middle of rice paddies:
Meanwhile in Chiba, where northwestern corner of the prefecture is highly contaminated with radioactive materials, the prefectural government wants to move those highly radioactive ashes from incinerators in Kashiwa City whose radioactive material density far exceeds the national provisional safety limit for ashes (8000 becquerels/kg) to a final waste disposal facility in Teganuma, west of Kashiwa City. (Mainichi Shinbun 12/22/2011)
Looking at the satellite photo of Google, the facility is right on the Tega River, which feeds water to the rice paddies surrounding the final waste disposal facility. The Tega River flows to the Tone River, which flows into the Pacific Ocean.
Smart move, Chiba.
And about the Panda loan from China to Sendai City:
Sendai City in Miyagi Prefecture wants to "borrow" pandas from China to cheer children in the city. So the vice mayor of Sendai visited PM Noda on December 22 with two TV celebrities to press Noda to ask for panda loan when he visits China on December 25. Sure, says Noda.
The celebrities, Masahiko Kondo and Tetsuko Kuroyanagi, vow they will support the city by providing money for panda housing and protection, which is estimated to be 1 billion yen over 5 years. Kondo says the money comes from donations that his office has collected from citizens for the people in disaster-affected areas. (Yomiuri Shinbun Miyagi local version 12/23/2011)
Kuroyanagi is one of the actors who scolded Japanese people who don't want to buy produce from Fukushima for fear of internal radiation exposure as selfish and unpatriotic.
1 billion yen would buy many, many dosimeters or stoves for people in temporary housing that lacks insulation for the cold winter. But building a brand-new, state-of-the-art panda house in the city's zoo will bring more business to building contractors favored by the city.
In the meantime, ex-PM Kan is blasting TEPCO's management as basically a "fool on the hill" (Yomiuri Shinbun 12/22/2011). The gall of him to say that.
News of radioactive cesium rice just keeps coming from Fukushima Prefecture. This time, it is from Watari District again, and the number is the highest found so far.
From Yomiuri Shinbun (12/22/2011):
Radioactive cesium exceeding the national provisional safety limit (500 becquerels/kg) has been found in rice harvested in Fukushima City and other cities in Fukushima Prefecture. On December 22, the Fukushima prefectural government announced that 1540 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium was found in rice grown by a farmer in Watari District in Fukushima Prefecture.
It is the highest level of radioactive cesium in rice detected so far. The rice is kept at the farmer's home, and not sold in the market.
Well, it is the "official" highest level, and it is approaching the "unofficial" high (2600 becquerels/kg) measured in rice grown in the soil taken from Iitate-mura by Professor Kazue Tazaki of Kanazawa University. A similar amount of radioactive cesium was detected in rice grown in Iitate-mura (unofficially by an irate farmer who was forced to relocate).
Farm soil in Watari District in Fukushima was never officially tested for radioactive materials. An NPO (FoE Japan) tested soil samples from Watari with the help of Professor Yamauchi of Kobe University, but they are not from rice paddies or fields. The Fukushima prefectural government still doesn't test it. I am very curious to know the radiation levels in the farm soil in Watari and elsewhere where radioactive cesium has been detected in rice exceeding the provisional limit.
As you can imagine, sales of Fukushima rice, which was shipped with great fanfare with the declaration of safety by the governor of Fukushima in early October, has ground to a halt. But I hear that a large food distributor Ion is determined to sell bento (lunch box) and onigiri (rice ball) proudly featuring the "safe" Fukushima rice to help Fukushima farmers, supposedly.
Someone was tweeting that radioactive cesium has been found in dried sheets of "nori" (seaweed) made in Chiba Prefecture and Kanagawa Prefecture, on Tokyo Bay. So I looked for the original information, which I figured must have come from the Fisheries Agency.
And so I found it there.
The Fisheries Agency publishes the result of the survey of radioactive materials (iodine, cesium only) in marine products including seaweeds. In the latest result published on December 21 for the items reported since October, radioactive cesium has been found in dried "nori" in:
Kanagawa Prefecture - 1 sample, at 11 becquerels/kg
Chiba Prefecture - 6 samples, 11, 27, 25, 16.5, 5.6, 17.7 becquerels/kg respectively
Nori grown and harvested in Tokyo Bay, called "Edomae nori", commands super premium. One sheet of Edomae nori usually fetches over 10 yen a sheet at wholesale (US 13 cents), and used mostly in gourmet sushi restaurants.
The levels are not supposed to be causing negative effect on health as per the Japanese government; the government's provisional safety limit for radioactive cesium is 500 becquerels/kg.
By the way, this level is set to be lowered to 100 becquerels/kg on the April Fool's Day next year which is the first day of fiscal 2012 in Japan. Serious.
I've never seen the news of radioactive cesium detection in nori in the mainstream media at all. Without Twitter, I wouldn't have known about it. I'm curious to know how radioactive cesium traveled from Fukushima to Tokyo Bay. The government has claimed that the Kuroshio Current would prevent the spread of radioactive materials south of Ibaraki.
Judging by the reaction to my Japanese tweet, there are many others like me who didn't know about the detection.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Germany's Deutsche Welle's take on PM Noda's declaration of the "cold shutdown state" at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant is more severe than New York Times.
Alexander Freund at Deutsche Welle Asia Desk says it is not the power plant that has been stabilized and controlled:
"The nuclear power lobbyists are the ones who can claim credit for stabilizing their own situation and getting the government under control. "
From Deutsche Welle (12/16/2011):
The Japanese government has claimed to have reached a cold shutdown in Fukushima. But experts are skeptical and believe it could take another 40 years to get the situation under control.
Headlines from Japan surely sound good: Fukushima is under control, the dilapidated nuclear power plant is stable. But these headlines are nothing more than a euphemism. The situation at Fukushima is nowhere near under control.
The Daiichi power plant operator Tepco and the Japanese government had announced at the end of summer to have the situation under control – or a cold shutdown – by the end of this year. For a “cold shutdown,” temperatures inside the reactor buildings need to be below 100 degrees Celsius. But it is just the beginning – the start of a point from which the plant can be disassembled.
Or so it goes in theory. But experts are saying it could take another 30 years before the plant can be levelled. Experts believe parts of the fuel rods burned through the floor of the reactor pressure vessel and are now lying on the ground and that they are far from "cold," but that they are still around at a temperature of 3,000 degrees Celcius.
Referring to the current situation at Fukushima as a cold shutdown is thus irresponsible. But what else are the government and Tepco to do? They are hoping to pacify the population by talking about a cold shutdown, but it won’t work. The Japanese people are infuriated – nine months after the earthquake and tsunami which led to the meltdown in the Daiichi plant – Tepco was speaking of nuclear fission in reactor 2 just a couple of weeks ago. Nuclear radiation is still extremely high in the Fukushima prefecture and contaminated water continues to flow into the sea. High levels of radiation continue to be found in rice, meat, vegetables, seafood, milk and tea in the region. And thousands of people have been displaced by the nuclear disaster and continue to live in evacuation shelters. They will receive a small amount in compensation – but it will be payed out of the pockets of Japanese tax payers and not out of Tepco’s.
Nothing is under control – an unavoidable fact known to many Japanese people. Their skepticism and distrust have got to a point reached that many take their own measurements using Geiger counters and dosimeters. A number of people have started posting their findings on the Internet. There, on a map of Japan, anyone can see the radiation measurements taken throughout the country. This is important because it is not only those from the Fukushima prefecture who are affected, as measurements have shown. This has shaken a population that traditionally places great importance on respecting authrtiy. And no positive headlines at the year’s end are going to make it better.
Beacause there is no real progress to report. The new Japanese government under Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, who has been in office since September, 2011, has not passed the “stress test,“ either. The last PM Naoto Kan had to resign, as his government, which failed in the hour of need, broke under the pressure of crossing swords with the country’s powerful lobbyists for nuclear power and instead made a move towards renewable energy. The nuclear power lobbyists are the ones who can claim credit for stabilizing their own situation and getting the government under control.
I've noticed that people in Germany seem to think better of ex-PM Kan than most Japanese, because Kan made overture to anti-nuke policy and alternative energy.
There are many in Japan who hold Kan personally responsible to have caused the explosion of Reactor 1 by insisting on going to Fukushima I Nuke Plant on the crucial day, March 12. He went in, shouting and scolding everyone, and left. The frantic work at the plant to contain the situation had to be stopped until after Kan left. Reactor 1 blew up that afternoon. (Mainichi Shinbun had an excellent series detailing the early days of the accident. I don't know if they still have it online. If I find it I will post the link here.)
No amount of promise for alternative energy or anti-nuclear policy would ever reconcile him to the Japanese public.
TEPCO/Japanese Government Released Mid to Long-Term "Roadmap" for Decommissioning Reactors 1 to 4 at Fukushima I Nuke Plant
where they hope they will have been long retired and gone before any of the serious stuff like removing the corium from somewhere deep in the reactor buildings (hopefully). Or taking out the spent fuel from Reactor 3 Spent Fuel Pool (if they can find any left).
The title of the Roadmap report does not say anything about Reactors 5 and 6. It says:
"Mid- to long-term roadmap toward decommissioning of Reactors 1 through 4 and other works at TEPCO Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant"
For now, it is only in Japanese, available at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) press release section, here.
Let's take a look at the 5-page summary with pretty pictures that TEPCO drew. As you may have guessed, the whole thing is a joke, or based on hope and wishful thinking, because many of the technologies that will be needed to do any of the jobs that TEPCO lists as necessary for decommissioning the plant are not even developed.
That much is immediately obvious on Page 5, where TEPCO outlines necessary work on-site (in beige color arrows) and R&D necessary (in green arrows), and planning necessary (in pale yellow arrows) for removing the "fuel debris" (corium) from reactors, and decommissioning the reactors. "HP" in the map "means decision-making point" (handan point - handan means decision making in Japanese):
On the other hand, TEPCO seems to think removing the spent fuel from the Spent Fuel Pools will be an easy task - 2 to 3 years of planning, and removing the fuel sometime after 2016. How? Here's what TEPCO envisions (from Page 2; I added the English labels):
TEPCO thinks the easiest will be Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool, followed by (believe it or not) Reactor 3 Spent Fuel Pool. They hope to start removing the spent fuel from Reactor 4 SFP within 2 years from now, and from Reactor 3 SFP within 3 years.
How about removing the "fuel debris"? The process entirely depends on developing technologies - remote-control decontamination, remote-control repair of the Containment Vessels, remote-control surveying of the inside of the CVs, and finally removing the fuel debris. One funny thing about the pretty pictures that TEPCO drew for the presentation is that the company still depicts the "fuel debris" (corium) sitting pretty on the concrete floor of the Containment Vessel. TEPCO has admitted to the possibility that the corium is at least 65 centimeters into the concrete, and other researchers have said it may be as deep as 2 meters into the concrete.
In the first two pictures, I just noticed a stick figure inside the reactor building. So TEPCO is planning to send carbon-based workers to do the decontamination and repair of the Containment Vessel in extremely high radiation. Furthermore, the company seems to want to believe that whatever the damage to the Containment Vessel may be it is at the location that can be accessed, not in the basement. The only work in the basement in these pictures is stopping the water going from the reactor building basement to the turbine building basement.
The high-ranking US government officials were at hand for the declaration of the "cold shutdown state" and "end of the accident" by Prime Minister Noda. They were probably accompanied by the nuclear industry people and nuclear consultants wanting the piece of this decommission work that is guaranteed to last 30 years at least.
Not just nuclear industry consultants, but at least one alternative energy big shot was in Tokyo; Amory Lovins of Rocky Mountain Institute was urging the Japanese government and Japanese people to spend big money on alternative energy while telling the Japanese people they don't conserve energy enough. He may be eyeing for a government project on non-nuclear alternative energy. He said Japan should invest big money on alternative energy and energy conservation, and make a great contribution to the rest of the world by sharing the result.
I'm afraid the Japanese people may have had enough of being an exemplary global citizen, particularly when they have so many things to take care of within their own country.
Level the ground, pour in concrete slab, pile up a lot of sandbags. Decidedly conventional tech. And this has to last for no one knows how long. According to TEPCO, as of December 20, the total number of used cesium towers (Kurion and Toshiba) was 316, with the storage capacity of 393 , and the number of used cesium towers increased by 4 from the previous week. Even at this slow rate, the storage would have been full in 19 weeks or about 5 months. Therefore this "kick the can" construction of more storage space.
One area for Kurion (544 towers capacity), another for Toshiba's SARRY (200 towers). From the looks of it, TEPCO will move the existing used towers from the existing temporary storage space to these new temporary storage facility. That means Kurion's storage will be already more than half full (currently 288 towers), and Toshiba's storage will be more than 10% full (currently 28 towers) already.
Why do they need two separate areas for Kurion and Toshiba in the same facility? Because the size of the cesium towers from these companies is too different, as you can see in the TEPCO's diagram below. Kurion's tower is about 2.4 meter tall (probably built to the spec in inches and feet), and Toshiba's tower is about 3.8 meter tall (probably built in centimeters and meters). It seems Toshiba's SARRY towers do not need concrete lids on top, so they are doubling the height of the rack for SARRY towers and using concrete panels to create secure containment for Kurion towers.
Ah the infinitely long road to "recovery" at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant.
From TEPCO's press release on December 21, you see this diagram of the facility:
30-centimeter thick concrete slab on top of some sort of substrate. That doesn't inspire much sense of security, considering the recent leak from the evaporative condensation apparatus (desalination), whose concrete perimeter cracked because the concrete wasn't cured long enough.
Here's the facility up-close (click for a bigger photo):
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Speaking of RERF - Radiation Effect Research Foundation - which succeeded the notorious ABCC - Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission - in 1975, RERF just came up with the area map of so-called "black rain" after the Hiroshima bombing. They had the survey data of 13,000 people all along, but sat on it for 66 years.
And surprise, surprise. The map shows the area where the "black rain" - radioactive fallout that fell with the rain - fell to be much, much bigger than what the government has admitted so far.
And not at all surprisingly, Toshiteru Okubo, chairman of RERF, says "Personally I do not think this data is important. It's hard to believe the black rain caused an acute radiation sickness anyway."
The chairman is right. People who have said they suffer the effect of radioactive fallout that they received by the black rain are not suffering an acute radiation sickness that would have caused them to die in a short period of time after the exposure.
From Yomiuri Shinbun, local Hiroshima version (12/21/2011):
On December 20, Radiation Effect Research Foundation, a cooperative Japan-US research organization (RERF, Minami-ku in Hiroshima City and in Nagasaki City) disclosed the distribution map of "black rain" that fell after the nuclear bomb exploded over Hiroshima. The map was created from the survey data of about 13,000 people who were exposed to the black rain. Citizens' groups calling for more assistance for the bomb victims are hopeful that this may result in more areas becoming eligible for assistance. On the other hand, RERF says "There is no new discovery", insisting [the map] would not help in understanding health damages. But it is likely that the data will be submitted to a study group of the national government, and discussions may ensue as to whether the support areas should be revised.
Masaaki Takano, chairman of the Council of "Black Rain" Atomic Bomb Victims, praised the disclosure of the data as significant. He is hopeful that it will be used to expand the support areas, as the data shows the black rain fell outside the current support areas.
In July 2010, Hiroshima Prefecture and Hiroshima City submitted a request to the Ministry of Health and Labor to expand the support areas based on the survey of 27,147 people including atomic bomb victims, as the rain fell in much wider areas than the designated support area. Commenting on today's disclosure of the distribution map, a Hiroshima City official said, "The map clearly shows the areas [where the rain fell] that are different from the existing support areas. It's valuable data, but we will wait to see how the national government will decide to use it."
RERF has already submitted the data to the Ministry of Health and Labor. The head of the section in the Ministry to support atomic bomb victims said, "We would like to consult with the chairman of the study group to decide whether the data (disclosed today) should be discussed in the stidy group."
On the other hand, Toshiteru Okubo, chairman of RERF, held a press conference at RERF [in Hiroshima City]. He pointed out that the timing of the precipitation and the amount could not be confirmed, and said "The survey was done on people who had a direct exposure to the atomic bomb near the hypocenter. To call this the data for black rain, the data is too simplistic and biased." He added, "Personally I don't think the data is that important. It's hard to believe the black rain caused an acute radiation illness anyway."
#Radiation in Japan: Ministry of the Environment to Do a Special JECS Study on Radiation Effect on Children in Fukushima
The JECS - Japan Environment and Children Study - is a study to be carried out by the Ministry of the Environment headed by Goshi "Let's share the pain of Fukushima" Hosono to study the effect of environmental pollutants on the health of children.
According to the Study's website:
The Japan Environment and Children's Study (JECS), a birth cohort study involving 100,000 parent-child pairs, was launched in 2011 in order to evaluate the impact of various environmental factors on children's health and development. The concept plan of JECS was published in March 2010 after three years of development within expert groups and public discussions about the research hypotheses and aims. Pilot studies started in 2008 in four universities, and samples from two preceding cohorts (Hokkaido and Tohoku) are also used for establishing exposure measurement protocols. Recruitment of participating pregnant women started in January 2011, and will continue until 2013. Health outcomes and exposure measurements will continue until the participating children become 13 years old.
By "environmental pollutants" the Ministry was thinking mostly about chemicals. But Hosono announced on December 20 that in Fukushima Prefecture an extra study will be done to gather data on the effect of radiation on 25,000 children born of mothers who were exposed to radiation from the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident during pregnancies for the next 13 years.
All the Ministry will do is to gather data and observe. Japan has learned well from the US-Japan joint radiation research after Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing - ABCC, which became RERF in 1975 and continues to this day.
NHK Japanese has an amusing headline. If you just read the headline, you don't know what "follow-up study" it is talking about.
NHK News Japanese (12/21/2011):
Follow-up study on children in Fukushima
To shed light on the effect of radioactive materials on the health of children, the Ministry of the Environment has decided to carry out a large-scale follow-up study on about 25,000 children born of mothers in Fukushima Prefecture until the children turn 13.
The Ministry of the Environment has been conducting the survey to study the negative effect of environmental chemicals on the health of children since January this year on 100,000 children throughout Japan [to be signed up gradually over the next 3 years, according to Sankei Shinbun]. The survey will track the concentration of chemicals in the blood, developmental status, etc of children from embryos [or fetuses; not clear] till they are 13 years old. The survey items do not include radioactive materials, but as the interest in the effect of radioactive materials on the health of children is heightened because of the nuclear accident the Ministry has decided to study the effect of radioactive materials on children in Fukushima Prefecture.
About 25,000 children born of mothers residing inside Fukushima Prefecture will be the subjects of the study, which will track the radiation exposure level of the mothers, congenital abnormalities in the children, relationship between [radioactive materials, or radiation exposure] and various illnesses including allergies and asthma, until the children turn 13 years old. The survey will also make use of the radiation exposure survey done by the Fukushima prefectural government for all the residents in Fukushima. The Ministry of the Environment will utilize the result of the survey for the health risk management and for countermeasures to reduce radiation exposure, if the relationship between radioactive materials and the children's health is confirmed.
100,000 children in Japan are to be registered, tested and tracked, of whom 25,000 will be from Fukushima, with extra survey on radioactive materials.
According to Asahi Shinbun, the Ministry had initially planned to select only 7,000 children and their mothers in 14 municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture but it changed its mind and expanded to 25,000 children and their mothers throughout Fukushima. I wonder why.
But I don't know why the Ministry will study the children in Fukushima only, when there are places outside Fukushima with even higher radiation levels and contamination than some of the cities inside Fukushima. I guess they don't want to spend much money.
NRC's Jaczko Gives Blessings to "Cold Shutdown State" and "Completion of Step 2" at #Fukushima I Nuke Plant, Says "Tremendous Milestone"
As reported in NHK Japanese (12/20/2011):
Chairman Jaczko of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission visited Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant for the first time since the accident started, and gave a press conference afterwards in Tokyo. He said the announcement of "a cold shutdown state" by the Japanese government was a proper decision and that it would be important to share the information regarding the accident with the international communities to prevent similar accidents from happening again.
Chairman Jaczko of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission visited Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant on December 19 for the fist time since the accident started, and held a press conference in the afternoon of December 20 at the US Embassy in Tokyo.
In the press conference, Chairman Jaczko pointed out to the various countermeasures against contingencies have been installed at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant after the accident, and said "The temperatures inside the reactors have gone down enough", indicating the declaration by the Japanese government of "a cold shutdown state" and the completion of the "Step 2" of the roadmap toward the restoration from the accident was a proper decision.
He then referred to the Japan-US cooperation regarding the safety countermeasures for nuclear power plants, and said "Because of the [Fukushima] accident, our relationship has gotten stronger". He also said "The international communities are very interested in how the accident information will be shared", indicating the importance of international information sharing of the accident.
And here's one from Bloomberg (12/20/2011):
The melted fuel in the reactors at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant has cooled enough to prevent any further releases of radiation beyond the station, Jaczko told reporters today in Tokyo after a visit to the station.
He spoke four days after Japanese officials declared that the reactors, which were damaged by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, have been brought to a state known as cold shutdown. Some nuclear scientists disputed that the term accurately described conditions at the plant. Jaczko called the declaration a “tremendous milestone.”
“I feel very comfortable that they have completed really the requirements that are necessary to move on to the next stage,” he said. “There’s really no energy left in the reactor to have an off-site release of radiation.”
14,000 U.S. Deaths Tied to Fukushima Reactor Disaster Fallout, Says Peer-Reviewed Medial Journal Article
And that's during the 14 weeks right after the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident that is "over" now.
From a PR Newswire press release that appeared on MarketWatch/Wall Street Journal (12/19/2011):
WASHINGTON, Dec. 19, 2011 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Impact Seen As Roughly Comparable to Radiation-Related Deaths After Chernobyl; Infants Are Hardest Hit, With Continuing Research Showing Even Higher Possible Death Count.
An estimated 14,000 excess deaths in the United States are linked to the radioactive fallout from the disaster at the Fukushima nuclear reactors in Japan, according to a major new article in the December 2011 edition of the International Journal of Health Services. This is the first peer-reviewed study published in a medical journal documenting the health hazards of Fukushima. Authors Joseph Mangano and Janette Sherman note that their estimate of 14,000 excess U.S. deaths in the 14 weeks after the Fukushima meltdowns is comparable to the 16,500 excess deaths in the 17 weeks after the Chernobyl meltdown in 1986. The rise in reported deaths after Fukushima was largest among U.S. infants under age one. The 2010-2011 increase for infant deaths in the spring was 1.8 percent, compared to a decrease of 8.37 percent in the preceding 14 weeks.The IJHS article will be published Tuesday and will be available online as of 11 a.m. EST at http://www.radiation.org . Just six days after the disastrous meltdowns struck four reactors at Fukushima on March 11, scientists detected the plume of toxic fallout had arrived over American shores. Subsequent measurements by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found levels of radiation in air, water, and milk hundreds of times above normal across the U.S. The highest detected levels of Iodine-131 in precipitation in the U.S. were as follows (normal is about 2 picocuries I-131 per liter of water): Boise, ID (390); Kansas City (200); Salt Lake City (190); Jacksonville, FL (150); Olympia, WA (125); and Boston, MA (92). Epidemiologist Joseph Mangano, MPH MBA, said: "This study of Fukushima health hazards is the first to be published in a scientific journal. It raises concerns, and strongly suggests that health studies continue, to understand the true impact of Fukushima in Japan and around the world. Findings are important to the current debate of whether to build new reactors, and how long to keep aging ones in operation."Mangano is executive director, Radiation and Public Health Project, and the author of 27 peer-reviewed medical journal articles and letters. Internist and toxicologist Janette Sherman, MD, said: "Based on our continuing research, the actual death count here may be as high as 18,000, with influenza and pneumonia, which were up five-fold in the period in question as a cause of death. Deaths are seen across all ages, but we continue to find that infants are hardest hit because their tissues are rapidly multiplying, they have undeveloped immune systems, and the doses of radioisotopes are proportionally greater than for adults."Dr. Sherman is an adjunct professor, Western Michigan University, and contributing editor of "Chernobyl - Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment" published by the NY Academy of Sciences in 2009, and author of "Chemical Exposure and Disease and Life's Delicate Balance - Causes and Prevention of Breast Cancer."The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issues weekly reports on numbers of deaths for 122 U.S. cities with a population over 100,000, or about 25-30 percent of the U.S. In the 14 weeks after Fukushima fallout arrived in the U.S. (March 20 to June 25), deaths reported to the CDC rose 4.46 percent from the same period in 2010, compared to just 2.34 percent in the 14 weeks prior. Estimated excess deaths during this period for the entire U.S. are about 14,000.
EDITOR'S NOTE: A streaming audio replay of a related news event will be available on the Web at http://www.radiation.org as of 4 p.m. EST/2100 GMT on December 19, 2011. Embargoed copies of the medical journal article are available by contacting Ailis Aaron Wolf, (703) 276-3265 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
SOURCE Joseph Mangano and Janette Sherman, International Journal of Health Services
Copyright (C) 2011 PR Newswire. All rights reserved
The paper is here (PDF file).
2 picocuries is 0.074 becquerels.
#Fukushima I Nuke Plant "Cold Shutdown" Effect (2): No More Joint Press Conference on the Fukushima Accident
where the reporters get to ask questions to TEPCO and the relevant government ministries and agencies that deal with the accident, all in one room. The joint press conference, which has at least helped keep some politicians and bureaucrats honest or hold them accountable, is not only over for the month of December but over for good.
Why? Because the accident is declared by the prime minister of Japan to have been over, and the members of the Press Club has had enough, according to Ryusaku Tanaka, an independent journalist who's been covering the Fukushima accident from the beginning.
From the blog of Ryusaku Tanaka (12/16/2011):
There was a remark from Minister Hosono which was more chilling than the declaration of cold shutdown. He said, "Today (December 16) is the last day of the government/TEPCO joint press conference."
The government and TEPCO were going to use the baseless "cold shutdown declaration" to mark the end of the accident, and discontinue the joint press conference to signal the end.
"To stop the joint press conference is to harm the right of the citizens to know. TEPCO is allowed to lie, is not held responsible. But the politicians, if they answer the questions from the reporters in an irresponsible way, they will damage their reputation and the success in the next election may be jeopedized. Is it possible for you to continue the joint press conference?" I asked.
Minister Hosono said something to the effect that "TEPCO has changed significantly (disclosing more information)". One common trait of many politicians is to defend TEPCO at all cost.
Minister Hosono cited the reason to discontinue the joint press conference as "people in the mass media have suggested to us that it may be time to discontinue". "Who are the people in the media? Newspapers? TV? Or are you talking about the Press Club?" Hosono replied, "I cannot say, because of the trust between the media and us." Talk about letting the cat out of the bag. The discontinuation of the joint press conference was proposed by the Press Club. There is no way that freelance journalists would suggest such a thing. Besides, you wouldn't call freelance journalists the mass media.
After I almost had a brain freeze on the announcement of the discontinuation of the joint press conference, an incident took place that got my blood boiling with anger. It was 1 hour 15 minutes into the press conference. Minister Hosono left the room in the middle of the conference. Then President Toshio Nishizawa [of TEPCO] immediately left the room.
"You [fill in the expletive of your choice, readers]". Anger swelled inside me. "Why is President Nishizawa is leaving?" I asked. The room was immediately filled with commotion, as freelance journalists started to press hard on the irresponsible Nishizawa. "Why is the highest ranking executive [of TEPCO] leaving before everyone?" President Nishizawa's action was the epitome of the attitude of TEPCO toward the nuclear accident.
It turned out Minister Hosono left the press conference in progress in order to appear on "NHK News 9". According to Takashi Uesugi, freelance journalist, to leave the press conference in order to appear on TV is "neglect of official duty" and is subject of censure.
An irresponsible government protects an irresponsible TEPCO, and newspapers and TV do not question TEPCO. The headline in the morning papers on December 17 will be "Cold Shutdown" in large fonts. Now, a good cause [cold shutdown] to "forcibly return" the residents has been given.
By the way, TEPCO wants to reduce the number of daily press conference to "one" (currently they are still holding two press conferences per day), and the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency wants to stop giving a daily press conference and only have it twice a week, now that the accident is "over".
Cold shutdown of information flow on the way, as the government embarks on an ever grander "Extend and Pretend" that everything is OK - decontaminating, returning the residents, making them grow crops again next year to feed the rest of Japan (some Fukushima farmers have already turned the soil in preparation for the next year's rice crop) while the NISA looks the other way even if TEPCO lets the treated water with full of strontium and tritium into the ocean.
You see, the radiation is a "kuro-ko" (person in black) in a Kabuki Theater. A "kuro-ko", dressed in black (thus the name), is present on the stage, assisting the actors or manipulating some tools for theatrical effects. He is there for all the audience to see. But it is an unspoken rule that the audience is not supposed to see, and ignore whatever he does on stage.
The whole country will continue to play Kabuki, until it can't, if that ever comes to pass.
Monday, December 19, 2011
TEPCO took the Kyodo News's line (see my post from yesterday) and announced that part of the highly contaminated, untreated water from the reactor basements stored in the nearby Process Main Building did leak into the trench, and got diluted by not-so-contaminated groundwater or dew condensation water dripping from an electrical duct.
Probably several tonnes of the highly contaminated water diluted with low contamination water resulting in 230 tonnes of water in the trench, hints TEPCO.
It sure looks like they waited until after the "cold shutdown/accident over" declaration on December 16 to tell you the bad news.
From Yomiuri Shinbun (12/19/2011):
TEPCO announced on December 9 that part of the highly contaminated water stored in the basement of the Process Main Building at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant may have leaked to the nearby trench (underground tunnel for the electrical wires).
About 230 tonnes of water was found in the trench on December 18. After analyzing the density of radioactive materials in the water, TEPCO concluded that the highly contaminated water had leaked into the trench, and got diluted by the groundwater and rainwater. According to the company's calculation, it is likely that several tonnes of contaminated water had leaked. Prime Minister Noda declared the end of the nuclear accident on December 16.
According to TEPCO, there is no danger of the water leaking outside the trench, as the groundwater level is higher than the trench. The connection between the Process Main Building and the trench had been sealed shut in April, and the last inspection was done in June. The company will monitor the level of water in the trench, and decide what to do.
From TEPCO's press release (12/19/2011)
The density of radioactive cesium turns out to be just what I reported yesterday
From TEPCO's information:
- Cesium-134: 4,200 becquerels/cubic centimeter
- Cesium-137: 5,400 becquerels/cubic centimeter
Water dripping from the duct:
- Cesium-134: 0.13 becquerel/cubic centimeter
- Cesium-137: 0.12 becquerel/cubic centimeter
Photo of the trench filled with water, from TEPCO's photo for the press, taken on December 18, 2011:
Photo of the duct for electrical cables:
#Fukushima I Nuke Plant "Cold Shutdown" Effect: "Let's All Visit Fukushima" Campaign by the National Government
It looks as if a total, complete cold shutdown has been achieved in the heads of some ministers and agency heads and career bureaucrats in the Japanese national government.
The Japan Tourism Agency under the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism launched a new campaign on the day of the declaration of the "cold shutdown/accident over" by Prime Minister Yoshikiko "Saved by Kim" Noda.
What's the campaign, you ask?
"Let's go visit Fukushima Prefecture, now that the Step 2 of the TEPCO/government Roadmap has been completed!" Rejoice, it's safe!
From the Japan Tourism Agency press release (12/16/2011):
Today [December 16], Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda announced the completion of the so-called Step 2 (achievement of a "cold shutdown state" of the reactors) of "the roadmap to winding down the TEPCO Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident".
The Japan Tourism Agency intends to inform people both inside and outside Japan of the fact that Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant has achieved a "cold shutdown state". Thanks to the 3rd supplementary budget for the fiscal 2011 year, the Agency will consider the entire Tohoku region as one big exhibition hall, and by coordinating the various regional and private efforts promote the domestic tourism with events like "Tohoku Tourism Exhibition". The Agency will also strive for a steady recovery of foreign tourists visiting Japan.
The Agency has heard from Fukushima Prefecture that the prefecture is looking forward to receiving visitors from all over Japan with "thank-you" campaign and free lift passes for the ski slopes targeted for young people.
Citizens of Japan, by all means please go visit Fukushima Prefecture. Unless Fukushima recovers, Tohoku, or for that matter the entire Japan will not recover. Be considerate how the people living in the affected areas of Fukushima feel, and let's do it together with the spirit that tourism will make Japan recover.
Upon request, the Director General would be happy to talk with the press, either in direct meetings or via telephone. Please contact us at the following numbers.
Here's Director General Hiroshi Mizohata, from the Agency's webpage.
And the numbers to call are:
03-5253-8111 （extension 27-115）
Direct: 03-5253-8322 (Ask for Fujita or Ohno)
"Cold shutdown state" is a fact, everyone got that? But "thank-you" campaign by Fukushima Prefecture? For what?
The last paragraph reads just as demented as Minister of the Environment Goshi Hosono's remark that he will make Fukushima Prefecture having the lowest cancer rate in the whole country.
Sunday, December 18, 2011
(Update-2) Here's the scenes at the square, in three parts, recorded live by Yasumi Iwakami's crew (here, here, here). It looks both the political left and the right were up against the Noda administration and shouting at the administration officials together. And old and young, somewhat reminiscent of the scenes that I watched earlier this year in Egypt.
The net media is laughing at Noda, who turned back on the way to the square, as "saved by Kim Jong Il".
(Update) PM Noda turned back to the Prime Minister's Official Residence on the news of the death of North Korea's Kim Jong Il, who died from working too hard for the people. Ostensibly (for both Noda and Kim).
Protesters say they were unjustly withheld by the police from coming into the square while the DPJ dignitaries were making speeches.
Oh boy. Some sight to behold. A swarming via the net is my guess.
Protesters arrived in great numbers to the square in Shinbashi where Prime Minister Noda is set to give a speech.
Check out USTREAM live, here.
"Cold shutdown is a lie"
"Noda is a liar"
"Which nuke plant's accident is over? You liar"
"Cold shutdown? Accident Over? Who are you to decide?"
"Democratic Party of Japan's policy sucks"
He is set to make a speech on the busy square in central Tokyo (SL Hiroba in front of JR Shinbashi Station).
Many angry net citizens in Japan are tweeting and urging people in Tokyo to go there with eggs and rotten tomatoes.
Rather unusual for a sitting prime minister to give a speech on the street, but he supposedly built his political career by making street speeches day in and day out in his younger days.
Right now, a shrill-sounding female minister of his administration is talking. Yasumi Iwakami's USTREAM channel is doing the live netcast right now.
I guess the entire administration is on the offensive to sell to the general public its wonderful idea of raising taxes and cutting benefits so that the government can spend more at will to help Fukushima, now that the nuclear accident is over.
"Without rebirth of Fukushima, there will be no rebirth of Japan", says the PM's Office. I see.
Someone in Japan tweeted that one of the effect of low-dose radiation is lower intelligence.