Saturday, May 26, 2012

#Fukushima Accident Investigation: Yukio "There Is No Immediate Effect" Edano Takes the Witness Stand in the Diet Commission

(UPDATE 5/27/2012) More on his actual testimony in my latest post.


The commission session starts at 1PM on May 27, 2012 (Japan Standard Time).

His testimony with simultaneous English interpretation can be seen on the USTREAM channel by the Japan's Diet Independent Commission on the Fukushima nuclear accident:

Japanese-only channel:

Yukio Edano, current Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, was the Chief Cabinet Secretary under Prime Minister Naoto Kan when the nuclear accident started in March 2011.

US NRC's Information on Spent Fuel Storage

Since there are many experts who urge removing the spent fuel assemblies from the Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant and into dry cask storage as soon as possible, I checked what the US regulatory agency of the nuclear power industry says about spent fuel storage to find out how soon is "as soon as possible".

The minimum the NRC has authorized is 3 years, 5 years normal, industry norm 10 years.

From NRC's webpage "Spent Fuel Storage in Pools and Dry Casks: Key Points and Questions & Answers" (part):

1. All U.S. nuclear power plants store spent nuclear fuel in “spent fuel pools.” These pools are robust constructions made of reinforced concrete several feet thick, with steel liners. The water is typically about 40 feet deep, and serves both to shield the radiation and cool the rods.

2. As the pools near capacity, utilities move some of the older spent fuel into “dry cask” storage. Fuel is typically cooled at least 5 years in the pool before transfer to cask. NRC has authorized transfer as early as 3 years; the industry norm is about 10 years.

3. The NRC believes spent fuel pools and dry casks both provide adequate protection of the public health and safety and the environment. Therefore there is no pressing safety or security reason to mandate earlier transfer of fuel from pool to cask.

The Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool contains fuel assemblies that were removed from the reactor core when the unit went into regular maintenance that included replacing the core shroud on November 30, 2010. The maintenance was to last until September 24, 2011 (299 days). There were 548 fuel assemblies in the reactor core at that time. (Information from TEPCO's press release, 11/29/2010)

Assuming that the fuel assemblies were removed from the core soon after the start of the maintenance and put into the SFP, say sometime in December 2010, they have been cooled in the SFP for about one and a half years by now. Another one and a half years to go, then, to reach the minimum that the NRC would authorize the removal from the SFP to dry casks.

TEPCO/Japanese government's current plan seems to be to move the older fuel assemblies in the Common Spent Fuel Pool into dry casks to make room for the Reactor 4 SFP fuel assemblies.

NY Times: "Spent Nuclear Fuel Drives Growing Fear Over Plant in Japan"

As you see, Goshi Hosono climbing up the narrow stairs to the operation floor of the Reactor 4 building at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant or TEPCO releasing data on the Reactor 4 building not tilting didn't impress anyone at all. (No surprise there.)

Here's an article on New York Times, written by its Japan-based reporter Hiroko Tabuchi and published on May 26, 2012, highlighting that the "public’s fears about the pool have grown in recent months as some scientists have warned that it has the most potential for setting off a new catastrophe".

The article quotes only Hiroaki Koide of Kyoto University as one of the scientists who have been raising concerns about Reactor 4 in recent months. It mentions the fear that has been circulating for several months about a catastrophe if the Spent Fuel Pool of Reactor 4 collapses, although for some reason the current version of the article linked below dropped the mention of "amplified over the Web" from the opening sentence of the 10th paragraph from the top, after "The fears over the pool at Reactor No. 4". The version that I read had the phrase. Minor details. (Part of the article that still contains that phrase can be seen at ENENEWS.)

From New York Times (5/26/2012):

Spent Nuclear Fuel Drives Growing Fear Over Plant in Japan

Published: May 26, 2012

TOKYO — What passes for normal at the Fukushima Daiichi plant today would have caused shudders among even the most sanguine of experts before an earthquake and tsunami set off the world’s second most serious nuclear crisis after Chernobyl.

Fourteen months after the accident, a pool brimming with used fuel rods and filled with vast quantities of radioactive cesium still sits on the top floor of a heavily damaged reactor building, covered only with plastic.

The public’s fears about the pool have grown in recent months as some scientists have warned that it has the most potential for setting off a new catastrophe, now that the three nuclear reactors that suffered meltdowns are in a more stable state, and as frequent quakes continue to rattle the region.

The worries picked up new traction in recent days after the operator of the plant, Tokyo Electric Power Company, or Tepco, said it had found a slight bulge in one of the walls of the reactor building, stoking fears over the building’s safety.

To try to quell such worries, the government sent the environment and nuclear minister to the plant on Saturday, where he climbed a makeshift staircase in protective garb to look at the structure supporting the pool, which he said appeared sound. The minister, Goshi Hosono, added that although the government accepted Tepco’s assurances that reinforcement work had shored up the building, it ordered the company to conduct further studies because of the bulge.

Some outside experts have also worked to allay fears, saying that the fuel in the pool is now so old that it cannot generate enough heat to start the kind of accident that would allow radioactive material to escape.

But many Japanese scoff at those assurances and point out that even if the building is strong enough, which they question, the jury-rigged cooling system for the pool has already malfunctioned several times, including a 24-hour failure in April. Had the outages continued, they would have left the rods at risk of dangerous overheating. Government critics are especially concerned, since Tepco has said the soonest it could begin emptying the pool is late 2013, dashing hopes for earlier action.

“The No. 4 reactor is visibly damaged and in a fragile state, down to the floor that holds the spent fuel pool,” said Hiroaki Koide, an assistant professor at Kyoto University’s Research Reactor Institute and one of the experts raising concerns. “Any radioactive release could be huge and go directly into the environment.”

Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon, expressed similar concerns during a trip to Japan last month.

The fears over the pool at Reactor No. 4 are helping to undermine assurances by Tepco and the Japanese government that the Fukushima plant has been stabilized, and are highlighting how complicated the cleanup of the site, expected to take decades, will be. The concerns are also raising questions about whether Japan’s all-out effort to convince its citizens that nuclear power is safe kept the authorities from exploring other — and some say safer — options for storing used fuel rods.

“It was taboo to raise questions about the spent fuel that was piling up,” said Hideo Kimura, who worked as a nuclear fuel engineer at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in the 1990s. “But it was clear that there was nowhere for the spent fuel to go.”

The worst-case situations for Reactor No. 4 would be for the pool to run dry if there is another problem with the cooling system and the rods catch fire, releasing enormous amounts of radioactive material, or for fission to restart if the metal panels that separate the rods are knocked over in a quake. That would be especially bad because the pool, unlike reactors, lacks containment vessels to hold in radioactive materials. (Even the roof that used to exist would be no match if the rods caught fire, for instance.)

There is considerable disagreement among scientists over whether such catastrophes are possible. But some argue that whether the chances are small or large, changes should be made quickly because of the magnitude of the potential calamity.

(Full article at the link)

By the way, "a slight bulge on one of the walls" that's "stoking fears over the building's safety" is 3.3 centimeters over the length of 13 meters (or 1,300 centimeters).

May 26 Press Tour: 4 Reporters Did Go Up to the Top Floor of Reactor 4 at #Fukushima I Nuke Plant, in 330 Microsievert/Hr Radiation

4 reporters including those from Yomiuri Shinbun and NHK (I read the names off TEPCO's video) went up to the operation floor of the Reactor 4 building with Minister Goshi Hosono as part of the third press tour of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant on May 26, 2012.

TEPCO released 5 videos of the top floor, mostly focusing on Hosono.

It looks the heavy equipment, probably for removing the debris, is sitting on top of the platform over the Reactor Well.

Nice view of the ocean on a sunny day.

NHK has the video showing the inside of the reactor building, as reporters and officials and TEPCO workers climbed up the narrow steep stairways to the top floor.

Screenshots from the NHK video:

Asahi Shinbun has an aerial photo of the Reactor 4 building from the helicopter on May 26. It shows the location of the Spent Fuel Pool (area covered with white plastic sheet). The building to the right is the turbine building, and the Pacific Ocean is beyond the turbine building (not seen in the photo):

No question the building is in bad shape, but at least they (human workers) can work on this building, as they have been doing since last year. The worker who tweets from Fuku-I sounded rather proud when he tweeted about the TV coverage of the Reactor 4 operation floor. He said, "Finally people get to see what I've been working on all along."

Still, the radiation level on the operation floor was 330 microsieverts/hour according to Kyodo News. Hosono and the reporters stayed there for about 30 minutes. In other reactors, the radiation levels are measured in millisievert. The reporters who participated in the tour got between 60 to 90 microsieverts of external radiation exposure for the 4 and a half hour tour, says Kyodo News.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant Press Tour 5/26/2012 by IWJ USTREAM

Yasumi Iwakami's IWJ has started the USTREAM channel of the tour earlier today, ahead of Nico Nico.

A reporter from Al-Jazeera and a cameraman from Germany's ZDF are there.

Live Video app for Facebook by Ustream

Nico Nico will start shortly, at this link:

Telephone Game for Nth Time: How "Fukushima's cesium contamination amounts to four Chernobyls" Came About (It's False, BTW)

I've lost track of how many telephone games there have been since March last year (here's one, I wrote more in Japanese blog), but here's the latest, and again it happened thanks to an English article written by a writer working for an English paper published by a Japanese newspaper. This time, it's Yomiuri's turn.

Here's Yomiuri Japanese on TEPCO's report of 900,000 terabequerels released from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant (part; 5/24/2012):


The total amount of radioactive materials released into the environment from Reactors 1 through 3 (iodine equivalence) is estimated to be 900,000 terabequerels (1 terabecquerel is 1 trillion becquerels), 1.2 to 1.9 times as much as the government's estimates.

The Japanese reporter correctly notes the number is iodine equivalence.

Here's Daily Yomiuri, Yomiuri's English paper, reporting on the same TEPCO report, but with a different focus (part below; 5/24/2012). It is not the translation of the Japanese article but its original article, focusing more on the difference between TEPCO's estimate and NISA's estimate. It also focuses only on iodine and cesium-137:

TEPCO combined the two methods and repeated its calculations under different conditions. It reached a final estimate of 400,000 terabecquerels of iodine-131 and 360,000 terabecquerels of cesium-137.

The amount of radioactive substances discharged in the Chernobyl accident in 1986 was 5.2 million terabecquerels.

Not just in the above quote but nowhere in the Daily Yomiuri article does the writer says the number for cesium-137 is iodine equivalence. Either the writer assumes the readers would know the numbers are iodine equivalence, or he/she didn't know how these numbers were calculated. I suppose you can infer that by looking at the number for the Chernobyl accident, but without the breakdown of the Chernobyl numbers you wouldn't necessarily realize that Chernobyl number is also iodine equivalence (which it is).

The number for cesium-137 itself, 360,000, is not what TEPCO reported either. TEPCO said "10,000 terabecquerels of cesium-137 times 40 to get the iodine equivalence of 400,000 terabecquerels" for INES evaluation.

But the English sites that read Daily Yomiuri's article (but not necessarily TEPCO's press release) naturally compared the numbers this way:

Cesium-137 released from Fukushima: 360,000 terabecquerels
Cesium-137 released from Chernobyl: 85,000 terabecquerels

without realizing the Fukushima number is iodine equivalence, and the Chernobyl number isn't. Thus the headlines like "Cesium-137 contamination: Fukushima amounts to four Chernobyls" at RT, for example.

But without the 40x multiplier on Fukushima, the numbers are (I use the correct number, 10,000 which would be 400,000 with 40x multiplier):

Cesium-137 released from Fukushima: 10,000 terabecquerels
Cesium-137 released from Chernobyl: 85,000 terabecquerels

Or with the 40x multiplier on Chernobyl to get iodine equivalence, the numbers are:

Cesium-137 released from Fukushima: 400,000 terabecquerels
Cesium-137 released from Chernobyl: 3,400,000 terabecquerels

As one of the readers of the blog commented, the meme, however false, that Fukushima contamination is 4 times worse than Chernobyl seems to have taken a life of its own and is spreading. It's doubly ironic that it is all thanks to Yomiuri Shinbun, pro-nuke establishment newspaper whose owner Matsutaro Shoriki did all he could to bring about a nuclear Japan and succeeded.

Friday, May 25, 2012

3rd Tour of #Fukushima I Nuke Plant for the Media on May 26, 2012

Nico Nico and IWJ are representing the independent media (i.e. not members of the Japan Press Club or the Foreign Press Club), and two additional independent journalists including Ryuichi Kino (who won the lottery at TEPCO headquarters) are there also.

The two independent journalists were not allowed to take their own cameras, but I don't think the Press Club member journalists were allowed individual cameras either.

They are supposed to get off the bus at the Reactor 4 building. I don't know if any of them go up to the operation floor of the building.

Nico Nico will netcast the uncut footage of the tour at this link (you need to have an account with them; if your account is a free account, you may get bumped when too many premium customers show up to view it):

Germany's ZDF Poll: "Solt Griechenland Weiter Am Euro Beteiligt Bleiben?"

November 2011:
Ja: 41%
Nein: 49%

Ja: 31%
Nein: 60%

(ZDF, via Zero Hedge)

UK Home Secretary: "We'll stop migrants if euro collapses"

From UK's Telegraph (5/25/2012):

Theresa May: we'll stop migrants if euro collapses

The Government is drawing up plans for emergency immigration controls to curb an influx of Greeks and other European Union residents if the euro collapses, the Home Secretary discloses today.

In an interview in The Daily Telegraph, Theresa May says “work is ongoing” to restrict European immigration in the event of a financial collapse.

People from throughout the EU, with the exception of new member countries such as Romania and Bulgaria, are able to work anywhere in the single market.

However, there are growing concerns that if Greece was forced to leave the euro, it would effectively go bankrupt and millions could lose their jobs and consider looking for work abroad.

The crisis could spread quickly to other vulnerable countries such as Spain, Ireland and Portugal, although Britain is regarded as a safe haven because it is outside the single currency.

Details of the contingency plan emerged as the euro crisis deepened further yesterday.

Catalonia was forced to turn to the Spanish government for a bail-out and speculation mounted that Bankia, the troubled Spanish bank, would need £15  billion in state support. European markets fell again as the euro dropped in value against other major currencies.

The Home Secretary says that the Government is already “looking at the trends” to determine whether immigration from beleaguered European countries is increasing. While there is no evidence of increased migration at present, she adds that it is “difficult to say how it is going to develop in coming weeks”.

On the subject of whether emergency immigration controls are under consideration, Mrs May says: “It is right that we do some contingency planning on this [and] that is work that is ongoing.”

The introduction of immigration controls within the EU would undermine a key part of the single market. However, it is allowed in “exceptional” circumstances under European law.

Controls are most likely to include restrictions on people seeking to work in Britain, who could be made to apply for visas.

Several European governments introduced temporary immigration controls when countries such as Poland and the Czech Republic joined the EU, to stop an influx of workers. France also threatened to reintroduce passport controls at the Italian border following an influx of Libyan and Tunisian refugees during the Arab Spring.

David Cameron has already said that Britain has made contingency plans to deal with the break-up of the single currency.

They involve preparations to evacuate Britons from Greece if civil disobedience spirals out of control, and for banks to take steps to protect

The last paragraph looks incomplete, but that's what is there at The Telegraph.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant Reactor 4 Bldg Is Not Tilting, Says TEPCO with Data

TEPCO released the 17-page summary of its survey of the Reactor 4 building, as if to respond to the allegations by the experts foreign and domestic that the reactor building is "tilting" and on the verge of collapse. It is only in Japanese right now. (Well that was when I was writing the post. Now they have an unofficial English version. But since it took me long time to put English labels, I'll present the Japanese version with my labels anyway.)

According to the summary, TEPCO did both the horizontal and vertical measurements, looked for cracks larger than 1 millimeter-wide, and did the non-destructive inspection using Schmidt hammer.

The result of the horizontal measurements have already been published.

The company says one location on the west wall near the elevator shaft has a bulge (33 millimeters), but all the measurement points were well within the spec of the Building Standards Act.

Problem of course is that there is no independent confirmation of the data.

From TEPCO's handout for the press (5/25/2012):




Concrete strength using Schmidt hammer:

The most interesting to me personally was this slide showing the location of the Spent Fuel Pool and the locations of damages on the walls. The hole in the south wall that many people including Kyoto University's Koide have pointed to as the location for the SFP and said "If this wall collapses...". It looks like the Spent Fuel Pool is not there.

OT: Japanese man cooks, serves own genitals to 5 paying diners

"The meal came complete with mushrooms and a parsley garnish", according to the article on France24.

Japan is a bizarre place. No question about it.

From France24, quoting AFP (5/25/2012):

AFP - A Japanese artist cooked his own genitals and served them to five paying diners in Tokyo to cover the medical costs, in a bizarre act to raise awareness about sexual minorities.

Mao Sugiyama had his penis and testicles surgically removed in March and kept them frozen for two months before dishing them out -- seasoned and braised -- to customers at an event hall on May 13, according to postings on his Twitter account and local police.

Diners paid 20,000 yen ($250) for the plate with a portion of genitals. Pictures published on a website appeared to show the meal came complete with mushrooms and a parsley garnish.

The painter, who is reportedly 22, said on Twitter the organ had been removed by a physician and certified to be free of infections.

The meal was prepared under the supervision of a certified cook and diners were required to sign a waiver indemnifying Sugiyama and event organisers.

In May 18 tweets, the artist said steps were taken so the act met all relevant laws, including a ban on organ sales, processing of medical waste and even food sanitation requirements.

"I receive questions from some women and men... asking 'Will there be a next time? Please host it again.' But there is only one set of male organ," he tweeted on May 16.

"Unfortunately, I have no plan for the next time."

Sugiyama, who considers himself "asexual", that is without gender, initially thought about eating the genitals himself, but decided to solicit paying customers to help pay his hospital bills for the surgery.

In an email to AFP, he confirmed the event had taken place and said it was organised to raise awareness about "sexual minorities, x-gender, asexual people". He said he was readying to publish an official account of the day.

Police in Tokyo said they knew of the episode, but added that it had not broken the law as cannibalism was not illegal in Japan.

"We are aware of the case. There was nothing (criminal) to it. It does not violate any detailed rules. There is nothing to take action about," an officer at Suginami police station told AFP.

(The image of Colonel Kurtz running through my mind...)

Formaldehyde Update (3): DOWA Hightech Didn't Disclose the Existence of Hexamethylenetetramine in Waste Liquid to the Contractor

Contrary to what it just said yesterday to Tokyo Shinbun, DOWA Hightech apparently admitted to NHK that there was no mention of xxx in the information it had given to the industrial waste processing company that stands accused of dumping the substance in the Tone River tributary, contaminating the drinking water in wide areas along the river system in Kanto.

From NHK Tokyo Metropolitan News's tweet (5/25/2012):


Speaking to NHK, DOWA Hightech, the chemical company based in Honjo City in Saitama that contracted the company [to process waste liquid that contained hexamethylenetetramine], admitted that the composition table of the waste liquid given to the industrial waste processing company did not include hexamethylenetetramine. DOWA Hightech further said, "The internal investigation is on-going to find out if the information was verbally given to the contractor."

If that is true, DOWA Hightech is in violation of the law that regulates waste management. According to NHK, the police will start investigation of the company.

When radioactive materials are not involved, the Japanese police does move very quickly. The police was there one day after the huge fire at the Mitsui Chemicals petrochemical complex in Yamaguchi Prefecture in April.

More than 14 months since the start of the nuclear accident, there is no police investigation of TEPCO, the plant operator of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. Instead, the police has been busy guarding the huge residence of Chairman Katsumata in the central Tokyo, and most recently protecting the huge trucks carrying disaster debris in Kitakyushu City against the residents.

Formaldehyde Update (2): Hexamethylenetetramine Leak from Industrial Waste Processing Co. in Takasaki City, Gunma

The company got the job of disposing the waste that contained hexamethylenetetramine from DOWA Hightech, a major chemical company located in Saitama Prefecture. The industrial waste processing company claims DOWA didn't tell them that there was hexamethylenetetramine in the waste. DOWA says yes they did.

From Tokyo Shinbun (part; 5/25/2012):


Concerning the detection of formaldehyde in drinking water the water purification plants in the Tokyo Metropolitan areas along the Tone River and its tributaries, Saitama Prefecture has identified the industrial waste processing facilities in Takasaki City, Gunma Prefecture as the likely culprit that leaked hexamethylenetetramine into the Karasugawa River, a tributary of the Tone River.


According to Saitama Prefecture, the company DOWA Hightech in Honjo City in Saitama contracted two industrial waste processing companies along the Karasugawa River in Takasaki City to process waste liquid that contained hexamethylenetetramine on May 10. One of the companies processed about 60 tonnes of waste liquid by May 18, but the company's facility was not able to adequately break up hexamethylenetetramine, and it was discharged into the river.


Saitama Prefecture did the on-site inspection of this company on May 19. The company's explanation was that DOWA Hightech didn't tell them the waste liquid contained hexamethylenetetramine.


DOWA Hightech told this newspaper, "We showed them the analysis of the waste liquid. If the company had done the proper processing, hexamethylenetetramine would have been removed. There has been no problem when we contracted other companies. We don't think we've done anything wrong, and we will cooperate with the investigation by the prefecture."


The other waste processing company told Takasaki City that they had subcontracted an industrial waste processing company outside Gunma Prefecture.

Well, Japan cannot even manage chemical substances, let alone nuclear materials. And the prefectural governments withheld the information of their investigation for six days. Life as usual in Japan, nuclear accident or not.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

TEPCO: 900,000 Terabecquerels (Iodine Equivalence) Released into the Air from #Fukushima I Nuke Plant in March 2011

TEPCO has come up with the latest estimate of the radioactive materials released from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, and it is higher than everyone else's, at 900,000 terabequerels (iodine-131 equivalence) for the month of March, 2011.

Iodine 131: 500,000 terabequerels
Cesium 134: 10,000 terabecquerels
Cesium 137: 10,000 terabequerels

To conform to the INES, TEPCO multiplied the amount of cesium 137 by 40 to get the iodine equivalence (10,000 x 40 = 400,000). However, TEPCO did not use cesium-134 so that the total number could be compared with the numbers from other institutions.

Iodine equivalence of cesium 134 can be obtained by multiplying by 3. In the big scheme of things, the amount is negligible, as it would increase the total 900,000 terabequerels by only 30,000 becquerels.

From TEPCO's English press release (5/24/2012):

The Estimated Amount of Radioactive Materials Released into the Air and the Ocean Caused by Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station Accident Due to the Tohoku-Chihou-Taiheiyou-Oki Earthquake (As of May 2012)

Due to the Tohoku-Chihou-Taiheiyou-Oki Earthquake which occurred on March 11, 2011, TEPCO's facilities including our nuclear power stations have been severely damaged. We deeply apologize for the anxiety and inconvenience caused.

With regard to the accident at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, on April 17, 2011, we have compiled the roadmap towards restoration from the accident and on July 19 we accomplished the Step1 target "Radiation dose is in steady decline". Then on December 16 we confirmed the accomplishment of the Step 2 target "Release of radioactive materials is under control and radiation doses are being significantly held down". In addition, on December 21, 2011, we have compiled the "Mid-to-long-Term Roadmap toward the Decommissioning of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Units 1-4, TEPCO", for which we're currently working towards.

Along with the roadmaps mentioned above, we have been evaluating the amount of radioactive materials released into the air and the ocean as a result of the accident. The evaluation result (as of May 2012) is provided below.

As for the amount of radioactive materials released into the air, the evaluation was done from March 12 to 31, 2011. The estimated release amounts are as follows.
Noble gas: Approx. 5x10^17 Bq
Iodine 131: Approx. 5x10^17 Bq
Cesium 134: Approx. 1x10^16 Bq
Cesium 137: Approx. 1x10^16 Bq

The amounts of radioactive materials released in April and later in 2011 are not taken into account in this evaluation result as the released amounts were less than 1% of that in March 2011, which are considered to be insignificant.

As for the amount of radioactive materials released into the ocean, the evaluation was done from March 26 to September 30, 2011. The estimated release amounts are as follows.
Iodine 131: Approx. 1.1x10^16 Bq
Cesium 134: Approx. 3.5x10^15 Bq
Cesium 137: Approx. 3.6x10^15 Bq

As the equipments to directly measure the density of radioactive materials (such as the exhaust stack monitor) were unavailable due to the accident, the amount of radioactive materials released into the air was estimated by entering the measurement data (air dose rate, wind direction and wind speed) acquired by the monitoring cars in the power station and the observed values provided by the Japan Meteorological Agency into a program which calculates the amount of radioactive materials diffused into the air, with an assumption that the release rate of radioactive nuclides remains consistent. The evaluation result was then compared with the contamination density measurement result of soil provided by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, and our evaluation result has been validated.

However, further data still needs to be collected to review the validity of our evaluation result, considering that the data was acquired only in a limited area (in the power station site) and that the evaluation was done under the assumption that the release rate of radioactive nuclides is consistent though it should actually vary for each nuclide and depending on the status of reactors (the release rate was estimated based solely on the small amount of data obtained during the evaluation period).

The amount of radioactive materials released into the ocean was estimated based on the monitoring data of radioactivity density of materials included in the seawater near the north/south water discharge channels at the power station. The evaluation was done at the Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry by utilizing a program which calculates the diffusion of radioactive materials into the ocean.

However, further data still needs to be collected to review the validity of our evaluation result, considering that the evaluation was done based on a small amount of data acquired in a limited area (monitoring data of radioactivity density of materials included in the seawater near the north/south water discharge channels at the power station), and that individual evaluation was not done for each release factor (radioactive materials directly released from the power station, fallouts from the air, rainwater inflow, etc.).

We will continue our utmost efforts in maintaining the stable condition of our nuclear power stations and implementing the measures to decommission Units 1-4.

Attachments and reference information are available only in Japanese for now. TEPCO says they are being translated. However, the report itself is only available in Japanese. (It is likely to be "instruction" from the NISA, as before.)

I am reading the report, which has a specific mention of radiation contamination in the north-west corridor from the plant (Namie-machi, Iitate-mura) on March 15, 2011. (That will be a separate post later.)

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant Reactor 3 TIP Room Survey Shows Door Damage, High Radiation Levels

The robot Quince 2 and human co-workers surveyed the TIP Room of Reactor 3. Unlike in the TIP Room of Reactor 2 (survey result announced on March 22, 2012), the radiation inside the Reactor 3 TIP Room was much higher. The door to the Reactor 3's TIP Room was blown out, making it impossible for Quince 2 to enter the room.

So, instead of Quince 2, human workers entered the room to measure the radiation level just beyond the broken door. No further measurement was done inside the room, probably because the level beyond the broken door was rather high (45 millisieverts/hour).

However, the visual inspection beyond the door by the human workers shows no notable damage to the equipment inside the room, according to the TEPCO's press release.

TIP stands for Traversing Incore Probe. There are gamma-sensitive and neutron-sensitive TIP sensors available. TEPCO's diagram shows the Room houses neutron-sensitive TIP sensors.

From TEPCO's press release, Japanese only for now (5/24/2012), on the survey done on May 23, 2012 (I put the English labels):

Needless to say, the radiation levels outside the TIP Room in Reactor 3 building are much higher than in Reactor 2. The equipment hatch shield plug area shows very high radiation levels, with the highest at 870 millisieverts/hour. However, in several locations along the guide rails in front of the plug, Packbot was measuring 1.6 sievert/hour radiation at 10 to 20 centimeters from the floor level last November.

Also note the very high humidity on the first page above. The equipment hatch shield plug, now we know, has been open.

For reference, here's the summary of the Reactor 2 TIP Room radiation levels, from TEPCO's press release on 3/22/2012:

Formaldehyde Update: It Was Hexamethylenetetramine in the River Water

so the government ministries (Ministry of Health and Welfare, Ministry of the Environment) say.

Somewhere along the Tone River in Saitama Prefecture or Gunma Prefecture, 0.6 to 4 tonnes of hexamethylenetetramine had been dumped, and it reacted with the chlorine used for the sampling tests at the water purification plants, resulting in formaldehyde.

The popular speculation on the net was that some substance was being irradiated by radioactive materials in the water (plutonium, cesium, strontium were the popular candidates) and turning into formaldehyde. (For more, see my previous post.) I think it is still popular among many people, because "the government lies" as far as they are concerned.

From NHK News (5/24/2012):


Concerning the detection of formaldehyde in drinking water from the Tone River and its tributaries exceeding the national safety limit, it has been determined that a chemical substance called "hexamethylenetetramine" that was discharged into the river caused the problem.


There are 5 factories that use this substance in Saitama and Gunma Prefectures. The Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Ministry of the Environment have requested the prefectural governments to conduct on-site investigation as early as May 25.


Formaldehyde exceeding the national safety standard was found from the drinking water at the water purification plants in Chiba, Saitama, Tokyo, and Gunma along the Tone River system. The water supply was temporarily cut off, affecting many residents in municipalities that receive water from these plants.


Formaldehyde was not detected from the river water itself. The Ministry of Health concluded that some substance in the water reacted with chlorine at the purification plants, generating formaldehyde, and proceeded to identify the substance.


The chemical substance called "hexamethylenetetramine" was detected from the water samples taken at the water purification plants along the river system, and when chlorine was added to the water samples formaldehyde was formed.


The Ministry of Health concluded that hexamethylenetetramine was the cause.


Also, judging from the concentration, the total amount of hexamethylenetetramine discharged into the Tone River system is estimated to be between 0.6 to 4 tonnes.


There are factories that use this substance more than 1 tonne per year, with 2 in Saitama and 3 in Gunma. The Ministry of Health and the Ministry of the Environment have requested the prefectural governments to conduct on-site investigation as early as May 25.

Fire on Nuclear Submarine at a Navy Shipyard in Maine

6 people have been injured. The fire seems still burning. The reactor on board was not in danger at any time, according to Captain Bryant Fuller, Shipyard Commander for Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery.

From CNN (5/24/2012):

(CNN) -- Firefighters were still battling a blaze in a nuclear submarine late Wednesday at a U.S. Navy shipyard in Maine - six hours after their initial response to it, a shipyard spokesman said.

Six people sustained injuries and subsequently received treatment either on the scene or at "a local medical facility", said Captain Bryant Fuller, Shipyard Commander for Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery. Among them was a firefighter evacuated due to heat exhaustion. Fuller described the man as "conscious and alert," in a statement read aloud to journalists.

"While the fire is not out, the situation is improving," he said at 11:45 p.m. Eastern time. "Due to the heat created by the fire, steam continues to emit from the ship from the firefighting efforts."

The USS Miami's reactor was not operating at any time the fire broke out and has remained unaffected and stable throughout, he said. The sub was in dock at the shipyard, when the blaze began, where it has been "since early March for an overhaul."

The fire started in a forward part of the ship away from the reactor, affecting "primarily living areas and command and control spaces," Fuller said.

The USS Miami is capable of carrying Tomahawk cruise missiles and Mark 48 torpedoes, but no weapons were on board, said Navy spokesman Lt. Myers Vasquez.

Local firefighters assisted the Navy's fire crew, who initially responded to the blaze at 5:41 p.m., Fuller said. State, local, and federal authorities were notified of the incident.

"The cause of the fire is not known at this time," Fuller said. " A full investigation will be conducted."

The Miami is a fast-attack submarine of the Los Angeles class, Vasquez said.

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard was established on June 12, 1800 and is the oldest continuously operating shipyard operated by the Navy, according to Gary Hildreth, a public affairs officer for the facility.

UN Committee: "6 Deaths at #Fukushima I Nuke Plant Have Nothing to Do with Radiation"

That's the conclusion of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR). TEPCO and the Japanese government have said as much already.

Yomiuri Shinbun reports (5/24/2012):


The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (Secretariat in Vienna) has been studying the effect of radiation from the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident on the environment and humans. The Committee announced its initial evaluation on May 23 that even though 6 workers have died since the start of the accident, the deaths have nothing to do with radiation exposure".


The initial assessment was announced as the statement from Committee Chairman Wolfgang Weiss. As to the worker from a TEPCO affiliate company in his 40s who died of acute leukemia in August last year, UNSCEAR said, "The time was too short between the start of the work and his death, so there was no causal relationship between the death and radiation exposure."


The Committee will conduct further analysis, and will submit its report to the United Nations General Assembly by the end of next year.

UNSCEAR's statements are as follows:

Press release (5/23/2012) "Interim Findings of Fukushima-Daiichi Assessment presented at the Annual Meeting of UNSCEAR"

Background information for journalists (PDF; 5/23/2012)

UNSCEAR's annual meeting started on May 21 in Vienna, and will last till May 25.

Committee Chairman Weiss says in the press release:

"We have been given information about measurements made on the thyroids of over 1,000 children in Iitate village, Kawamata town and Iwaki city," said Weiss. "Also, a survey in Fukushima prefecture is aiming to evaluate irradiation levels for some 2 million people living in the prefecture at the time of the accident. The results of the UNSCEAR assessment for these areas will be compared with the Japanese measurements and analysis, and any differences will be highlighted and addressed," said Weiss.

The backgrounder for the press makes it clear that UNSCEAR will have to rely on the data to be further submitted by the Japanese government, particularly regarding the radiation dose assessment of the general public in Fukushima. To further assess the dose for the Fukushima I Nuke Plant workers, it will have to rely on the data from TEPCO. To assess the impact of radiation on the environment, all it has had so far is only a small number of published studies.

For the past year, the Japanese government has been busy telling the world everything is fine, nothing to worry about, Japan has recovered from the disaster (by which they mostly mean the earthquake and tsunami, and it is not really true). They seem to have taken their own words too literally and it seems they have neglected to collect data on radiation. Oh well. Until next time, I suppose.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

NRC's Jaczko: "right now I intend to continue to serve out my term"

??? Didn't he just announce his resignation?

From The Hill (5/23/2012):

Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko acknowledged Wednesday that it could be a while before he steps down as head of the agency, despite announcing plans to resign this week.

And he declined to outright dismiss the possibility that he could be re-nominated to a second term as chairman if his successor is not confirmed by next year.

“Right now my focus is on nuclear safety and I have been privileged and honored to serve in this position, and right now I intend to continue to serve out my term,” Jaczko said at a press conference in Charlotte, N.C., the chairman’s first public appearance since announcing his plan to step down.

“If by that time, a successor has not been found, then I’ll deal with those issues at that time.”

The comments came a day after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) suggested that Jaczko could be re-nominated if his successor is not confirmed by June 30, 2013, when the chairman’s first term ends.

“We hope to have a replacement before that. But if we don’t, Greg will be there for the duration,” Reid told reporters in the Capitol Tuesday. “And if something doesn't work out, he can always be re-nominated.”

Pressed by reporters Wednesday for clarification of his remarks, Jaczko added: “I announced my resignation contingent on a successor being nominated and confirmed. And until that time I intend to continue to serve as chairman.”

Asked if he intends to serve out his term, Jaczko said, “It depends on the process whether a successor is nominated and confirmed. So if that happens before the end of my term, then I would leave at that time.”

The White House has said President Obama hopes to nominate Jaczko’s replacement “soon.” But Reid’s comments Tuesday cast doubt on how quickly the nomination will move through the Senate.

The Senate is also grappling with the re-nomination of Republican NRC Commissioner Kristine Svinicki, who faces opposition from Reid and other top Democrats.

Reid has been a vocal defender of Jaczko, his former aide, amid allegations that he bullied NRC staff.

Republicans have added the allegations to the long list of reasons they dislike Jaczko’s leadership on the commission. Other reasons include Jaczko’s decision to close out a review of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository and the chairman’s opposition to recent approvals of new nuclear reactors.

Jaczko again defended his tenure at the NRC Wednesday and denied that his resignation had anything to do with a pending inspector general report examining his leadership on the panel.

“Any inspector general report had nothing to do with this decision,” he said.

The chairman repeated the assertion that he made his decision in order to give the president and the Senate time to name a successor.

“The timing I thought was appropriate for the president and the Senate to find a replacement for me,” he said.

Jaczko declined to offer suggestions for his replacement.

“I’m not involved in the process of identifying a replacement,” he said.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Kitakyushu City Hall on May 23: Mothers vs City Officials

First, young mothers with small children (photo from @mama_jp):

The sign says, "Adults should protect the future of children. We're against disaster debris burning. Protect Kyushu for Japan."

Professor Yukio Hayakawa's tweet was: "Mothers in Kitakyushu, have they all gone nuts?"

On his May 23 blog, he proclaimed, "This day will be long recorded as the day when the discrimination against Tohoku has started."

He probably has not seen this picture of Kitakyushu City officials blocking the passage (photo from @Saikeman):

If he did, he may highly approve of the high-handed way the Kitakyushu City officials have treated the whole issue - from not bothering to tell anyone (residents, neighboring cities) to laughing at the protesters to calling the police to disperse the protesters yesterday. The professor is recommending that Kitakyushu City declare independence from the rest of Japan if the residents want to keep out the disaster debris.

The city is test-burning the debris from Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture right now at an incineration plant for regular household garbage. In the test burn, 1 part of disaster debris is supposed to be mixed with 9 parts of household garbage and burned. Protests apparently have no impact to the city officials or the mayor, and the residents of Kitakyushu City are indifferent for the most part, I hear.

NHK reports that about 70 people are protesting near the incineration plant, but there are more than 150 policemen blocking the road to protect the debris-carrying trucks.

Kyushu have been mostly spared from the fallout from the Fukushima accident, so the residents' sensitivity to radiation contamination is probably not the same as that in Kanto or Tohoku. Professor Hayakawa's later tweet says "176 becquerels per kilo? That's just normal."

Measurement of soil for cesium-137 in the nearby Fukuoka City in 2010 was 2.3 becquerels/kg. The highest I could find was 155 becquerels/kg in 1964. (Data from Japan Chemical Analysis Center)

Radioactivity of disaster debris from Ishinomaki City, Miyagi, from the Ministry of the Environment:

Report from Australia: "Japan farmer harvests hope in our soil"

The Australian has the following report of Mr. Takemi Shirado, Iwaki-City rice farmer who went to Australia after the Fukushima I Nuclear Plant Accident to start again from scratch.

Farmer Shirado just harvested 10 kilograms of rice from 100 grams of seed rice. Now he will plant 10 kilograms of seed rice to harvest 1 tonne of rice by summer.

From The Australian (5/23/2012):

JAPANESE farmer Takemi Shirado still sounds grief-stricken and shell-shocked when talking about last year's Fukushima nuclear disaster that so devastated his rural community.

Catastrophic radiation contamination of the soil means his family won't be able to sow rice on their Iwaki rice paddies, about 60km from the crippled defunct power plant, for at least 300 years.

Other local farmers are starting to grow leafy vegetables on less-contaminated fields, but are finding consumers too scared to buy their risky produce.

But Mr Shirado is clearly not a man to moan and mope.

Instead he has come to Australia as head of a consortium of Fukushima farmers to see if north Queensland's fertile Burdekin valley might hold the solution to his prefecture's long-term fallout-affected food problems.

Mr Shirado's dream now is to turn the sugarcane fields around Ayr into fertile flooded rice paddies growing Japanese rice varieties in traditional organic ways, to supply the people of his ruined home prefecture once again with their staple food.

Yesterday Mr Shirado, official representative of the Fukushima farmers co-operative, was celebrating.

More than 15 months after the tsunami and nuclear explosion destroyed his community's quiet way of life, the proud Japanese rice grower could be found standing knee deep in green rice stalks, small Japanese sickle in hand, harvesting his first Kochi rice trial in tropical north Queensland.

"It is looking good; even though it is still early days," said a satisfied Mr Shirado.

"So far this looks like being a very good area for growing rice; I think we can grow four crops a year here and the water is very pure too."

With strict quarantine restrictions on importing Japanese varieties of rice into Australia, Mr Shirado's Burdekin rice scheme has had to start from scratch.

Three months ago he had just a handful of the required kochi rice seeds -- only 100g -- to plant in three small test plots at the Ayr agricultural research station.

After yesterday's hand harvest, he now has 10kg of rice grain to grow his next Ayr crop on more irrigated land. By August, Mr Shirado hopes to have turned that 10kg of rice into one tonne of seed, before expanding exponentially.

Local Queensland agricultural regional development manager Gareth Jones admits the plans of the Fukushima Farmers co-operative are ambitious; particularly their certainty of harvesting a rapid four crops of rice a year, each taking just three months to grow.

But he says the Burdekin needs diversity, and that new varieties of sushi or short-grain rice grown using flood irrigation, might fit well into fallow rotations of local canegrowers.

"It's no exaggeration to say that when this project started, the Japanese delegation felt they were planting seeds of hope for the future," Mr Jones says.

Mr. Shirado has the same smile of a farmer who loves farming, growing what he wants without worries of radiation contamination, like Mr. Tanno, who gave up farming in Fukushima and moved to Nagano to grow his organic carrots.

(H/T John Noah)

#Radioactive Japan: 107.2 Bq/kg of Cesium from Pork from Koriyama City, First Pork to Exceed Safety Limit

Radioactive cesium exceeding the safety limit of 100 becquerels/kg was detected from one of 6 pigs shipped from a pig farm in Koriyama City, Fukushima Prefecture. The other 5 were also found with radioactive cesium, ranging from 11 Bq/kg to 78 Bq/kg.

First, from Yomiuri Shinbun (5/22/2012):


Radioactive cesium from pork produced in Koriyama City, Fukushima, voluntary shipment halt


Koriyama City in Fukushima Prefecture announced on May 22 that the meat from one of the pigs shipped by a pig farmer in the city was found with 107.2 Bq/kg of radioactive cesium, exceeding the national safety limit (100 Bq/kg).


According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, it is the first case of cesium detection from pork that exceeded the new safety limit introduced in April.


According to the city, the meat from 6 pigs that was shipped on May 21 was tested using the simplified method [NaI scintillation, most likely]. From the meat from one of the pigs, more than 50 Bq/kg of cesium was detected. After more detailed inspection [likely using germanium semiconductor detector], radioactive cesium exceeding the new safety limit was detected. The city has requested the voluntary halt of shipment of the meat from 5 pigs that passed the simplified test, so none of the meat is being sold in the market.


The city send an official to the pig farm on May 22 and interviewed, but the cause [for radioactive cesium in the meat] is not known yet. The city will test the formula feed and other feed for the pigs to try to identify the cause.

Koriyama City's press release on May 22, 2012 says the pork that was found with 107.2 Bq/kg of cesium will be destroyed, but the rest of the pork that tested lower than the safety limit (100 Bq/kg) is "supposed to be destroyed by the producer". That doesn't engender much confidence these days.


One Day After the Disaster Debris Standoff in Kitakyushu: 2 Protesters Arrested

for ostensibly "attacking the police", according to Yomiuri Shinbun (5/22/2012). If the past incidents are any indication, that would mean these two men got in physical contact with policemen, and that's called "attacking".

Yomiuri also reports 20 of the 22 trucks carrying 80 tonnes of disaster debris got inside, after 8-hour delays. The debris will be burned on May 23.

There were about 40 policemen against 30 or so protesters, according to Yomiuri.

By the way, Yasumi Iwakami's IWJ did the live netcast from early morning of May 22 for about 15 hours.

Portirland blog has the screen shots of the survey meter, with the highest radiation level at 0.612 microsievert/hour. The embedded video shows the measurement was done after the truck left the site. The survey meter went from 0.06 microsievert/hour or so to 0.612 microsievert/hour in about 2 and a half minutes.

Monday, May 21, 2012

(UPDATED) Disaster Debris Standoff in Kitakyushu: City Officials Threatening Police Action

so that the trucks can enter the depot. The police are trying to remove the protesters including a pregnant woman.

Someone's under the truck, trying to prevent it from entering the gate.

City official was heard laughing as he said protesters were pulled from under the truck. (Photo from @asat8)

Policemen were seen locking arms to protect the huge, brand-new truck that carries disaster debris.

Two people have been arrested, according to the tweets by people who have been watching the scene.

You can see it live:

Live streaming by Ustream

ECB Has Been Secretly Propping Up Greek Banks

From Financial Times, via CNBC (5/21/2012):

There has been no official announcement. No terms or conditions have been disclosed. But Greece’s banking system is being propped up by an estimated €100 billion or so of emergency liquidity provided by the country’s central bank — approved secretly by the European Central Bank in Frankfurt. If Greece were to leave the eurozone, the immediate cause might be an ECB decision to pull the plug.

Extensive use of “emergency liquidity assistance” (ELA) to help banks in the weakest economies has been one of the less-noticed features of the eurozone crisis. Separate from normal supplies of liquidity and meant originally as a temporary facility for national authorities to use when banks hit problems, ELA proved a lifesaver for the financial system Ireland and is now even more so in Greece. As such, it has given the ECB — which has ultimate control over the facility — considerable power to determine countries’ fates.

Whether that power would ever be exercised is unclear. ELA is a subject on which the ECB is deeply reluctant to provide information — even on where or when it is provided.

“You don’t say when you are in an emergency situation, because then you make the situation worse. So I really don’t see the usefulness of being more transparent,” Luc Coene, Belgium’s central bank governor, explained in a Financial Times interview this month.

The ECB’s guard slipped a little late last month. Its weekly financial statement published on April 24, showed an unexpected €121 billion increase in the innocently titled heading “other claims on euro area credit institutions,” the result of putting all ELA under the same item. By definition, €121 billion was the minimum amount of ELA being provided by the “eurosystem” — the network of eurozone central banks.

By scouring ECB and national central bank statements analysts, have since pieced together more details. Analysts at Barclays, for instance, reckon Greece is now using €96 billion in ELA, with Ireland accounting for another €41 billion and Cyprus €4 billion. If correct, total ELA in use has exceeded €140 billion — more than 10 per cent of the amount lent to eurozone banks in standard monetary policy operations.

Because of the risks of extra liquidity creating inflation, ELA in excess of €500 million requires approval by the ECB’s 23-strong governing council: its use can be stopped if two-thirds of the council oppose an application.

(Full article at the link)

On this reassuring news, the stock futures for the major European bourses are up right now. Stock markets in Asia are all up, with Korea's KOSPI up more than 1.7%.

In an separate, related article at CNBC, Mr. Alexis Tsipras is quoted:

In Greece itself, the head of the county’s radical left party traveled to Paris on Monday to try to consolidate support from political allies for rejecting the terms of the country's bailout package, ahead of general elections that could decide the destiny of Greece in the euro zone.

"I don't know if we have scared Europe, but judging by your presence here today, we have surprised it," Alexis Tsipras, the 37-year-old leader of Syriza, told journalists at the French National Assembly.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant Reactor 1 Containment Vessel May Have Only 40 Centimeters of Water, Government Researchers at JNES Say

Move over, Reactor 2 (which has 60 centimeters of water)...

Tokyo Shinbun reports that the Japan Nuclear Energy Safety Organization under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry analyzed the parameters of Reactor 1 at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, and concluded that there may be only 40 centimeters of water retained inside the Containment Vessel.

Tokyo Shinbun's graphics shows the cooling water leaking from a downcomer.

The fuel debris (corium) is estimated to have eaten into the concrete floor of the Containment Vessel in Reactor 1, as announced in November last year. TEPCO's estimate is about 65 centimeters, and the estimate by the Institute of Applied Energy is as much as 2 meters.

From Tokyo Shinbun (5/22/2012):


Analysis by the Japan Nuclear Energy Safety Organization (JNES) has revealed the possibility that the water inside the Containment Vessel of Reactor 1 may be only 40-centimeter deep, despite 6 tonnes/hour water being injected [into the Reactor Pressure Vessel]. The water level inside the Reactor 2 Containment Vessel has been measured by an actual survey to be about 60-centimeter deep. It shows how severe the damages to the Containment Vessels have really been.


In the analysis, JNES studied the relationship between the amount of water injected, the amount of nitrogen gas injected into the Containment Vessel and change in pressure levels inside the Containment Vessel to come up with the locations and the extent of damage that would explain the change in pressure levels well.


JNES has concluded that:

  • There is a hole several centimeters in diameter on the pipe that connects the Containment Vessel and the Suppression Chamber;

  • The location of the hole is about 40 centimeters from the concrete floor of the Containment Vessel.

  • The injected water is leaking from the hole in great quantities.

  • There is no water [in the Containment Vessel] above the hole.


The leaked water is considered to be flowing down to the basement of the Reactor building, and then into the adjacent turbine building through the pipes and cable ducts. TEPCO has estimated the water level of the Reactor 1 Containment Vessel to be about 1.8 meters, but the JNES analysis shows it is far less.


The Containment Vessel is about 3 centimeters thick. However, the thickness of the 1.75-meter diameter pipe that may have a hole is only 7.5 millimeters thick, or only a quarter of the thickness of the Containment Vessel. Experts have pointed out that the pipe is structurally weak.


There is also a fear that the fuel debris [corium] may not be completely submerged in water. But the JNES researchers say, "The temperature inside the Containment Vessel is not that high, at 30 degrees Celsius. The fuel debris is considered to be submerged and cooled."


In order to decommission the reactors, it is necessary to repair the damage(s) on the Containment Vessels so that the Reactor Pressure Vessel can be entombed with water. The researchers say, "The result of the analysis is useful in identifying the damage. We should also consider the actual survey using a camera."

As I reported here in December last year, Professor Takashi Tsuruda of Akita Prefectural University, a combustion expert, thinks the Reactor 1 Suppression Chamber was damaged in the explosion.

(UPDATED) Just In: Kitakyushu Residents Physically Block the Delivery of Disaster Debris to the Waste Collection Depot

Headline only in Oita Press (5/22/2012):


Residents who oppose the acceptance of disaster debris to Kitakyushu City blocked the trucks that carry the debris from Ishinomaki City in Miyagi Prefecture to the Waste Collection Depot in the city.

Apparently, all it took was about 30 residents.

And the police to the rescue of the trucks. (Photo from Mr. Kenichi Hirose, who seems to be right there at the location.)

Yasumi Iwakami's IWJ has a mobile live feed:

Live streaming by Ustream

They are saying 20-plus trucks are still waiting across the channel.

Snippets from the live video:

A reporter from Kahoku Shinpo (local newspaper in Fukushima): "As long as the air radiation levels are the same, it will be OK." (He is immediately lectured by the IWJ staff.)

A middle-aged woman to a city employee: "It is the matter of how you live as a human being. I want you to think as a parent, as a human being. Are you going to be on the side of human beings, or on the side of your position in the government?"

It looks the city employees, guards, and the media people are inside the gate. Protesters and the truck are outside the gate.

#Radioactive Japan: Cherries from Fukushima City with 61.66 Bq/Kg of Radioactive Cesium

That's not much reduction from last year, particularly when the extensive "decontamination" of fruit trees in Fukushima was carried out last year and earlier this year.

Supermarket chain Ichii, based in Fukushima City, measures radiation in food items that the chain sells to customers. In the result for May 21, 2012, the supermarket chain reports that 61.66 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium was detected from cherries grown in Fukushima City.

According to Ichii, the cherries were not for sale but they were from a fruit farmer who wanted them tested prior to the shipment.

Last year, cherries from Fukushima City tested 70 to 96 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium, according to the Fukushima prefectural government webpage for Fukushima produce.

Fukushima Prefecture encouraged fruit farmers in Fukushima to "decontaminate" their fruit trees so that this year's crop would have low cesium (if not no cesium). The methods of decontaminating the fruit trees were:

  • Blasting the trees with high-pressure washers

  • Scraping off the tree barks with a sickle

In Fukushima City, the latter was the strongly preferred method forced upon the fruit farmers by the local JA, according to Mr. Shuji Akagi, who has been tweeting the scenes from his city with photographs.

Well clearly that didn't prevent cesium from entering the fruit this year. Surprise, surprise.

NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko to Resign as Obama Nominates Successor

Washington Post hints at Jacko having lost support from Senator Harry Reid.

From Washington Post (5/21/2012):

Nuclear Regulatory Commission chief Jaczko resigns

The nation’s chief of nuclear safety announced his resignation Monday after a turbulent three-year tenure that included allegations of bullying and misogyny in the workplace and of providing potentially false testimony at a congressional hearing last year.

The departure of Gregory B. Jaczko, an advocate of tough safety standards at nuclear reactor sites during eight years on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, caps almost a year of concerns about his leadership of the NRC, which he has chaired since 2009.

It also signals that he had lost the support of his former boss, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), a fierce opponent of efforts to store nuclear waste at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain, a key concern of the nuclear agency. In a statement Monday, Reid thanked Jaczko for his service, noting his leadership of the agency in the aftermath of the Japanese tsunami and partial meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant.

“I am confident whomever replaces Chairman Jaczko will share his commitment to protecting the safety of the American people over the interests of a single industry,” Reid said.

Several congressional aides had said that Jaczko would resign only if Reid signaled that he could no longer give him political support. Aides reached Monday confirmed that diminishing support for Jaczko on Capitol Hill was a factor, but they also cited Jaczko’s desire to move on amid the allegations.

The White House can now nominate a replacement who could be paired with a Republican NRC member who requires confirmation for a new term as commissioner.

While Jaczko’s own flaws might have been a key factor behind his resignation, some supporters said he also fell victim to the nuclear power industry and its allies in Congress who were happy to seize upon a reason to question his leadership. A voice for tighter safety standards, Jaczko frequently found himself voting as the sole dissenter in key commission votes.

Jaczko’s tenure included the awarding of the first new nuclear construction permit in three decades and the U.S. response to the Japanese tsunami and nuclear reactor crisis.

“This is the right time to pass along the public safety torch to a new chairman who will keep a strong focus on carrying out the vital mission of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission,” Jaczko said.

(Full article at the link)

French Researchers: Lower Bound Estimates of Atmospheric Release of Iodine, Cesium from Fukushima "about 5 to 10 times less than the Chernobyl atmospheric releases"

JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH, VOL. 117, D05122, 16 PP., 2012 (Received 27 September 2011; accepted 23 January 2012; published 9 March 2012)

Estimation of errors in the inverse modeling of accidental release of atmospheric pollutant: Application to the reconstruction of the cesium-137 and iodine-131 source terms from the Fukushima Daiichi power plant

Victor Winiarek

CEREA, École des Ponts ParisTech–EDF R&D, Université Paris-Est, Marne la Vallée, France

INRIA Rocquencourt Research Centre, Paris, France

Marc Bocquet

CEREA, École des Ponts ParisTech–EDF R&D, Université Paris-Est, Marne la Vallée, France

INRIA Rocquencourt Research Centre, Paris, France

Olivier Saunier

Institute of Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety, Fontenay-aux-Roses, France

Anne Mathieu

Institute of Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety, Fontenay-aux-Roses, France

A major difficulty when inverting the source term of an atmospheric tracer dispersion problem is the estimation of the prior errors: those of the atmospheric transport model, those ascribed to the representativity of the measurements, those that are instrumental, and those attached to the prior knowledge on the variables one seeks to retrieve. In the case of an accidental release of pollutant, the reconstructed source is sensitive to these assumptions. This sensitivity makes the quality of the retrieval dependent on the methods used to model and estimate the prior errors of the inverse modeling scheme. We propose to use an estimation method for the errors' amplitude based on the maximum likelihood principle. Under semi-Gaussian assumptions, it takes into account, without approximation, the positivity assumption on the source. We apply the method to the estimation of the Fukushima Daiichi source term using activity concentrations in the air. The results are compared to an L-curve estimation technique and to Desroziers's scheme. The total reconstructed activities significantly depend on the chosen method. Because of the poor observability of the Fukushima Daiichi emissions, these methods provide lower bounds for cesium-137 and iodine-131 reconstructed activities. These lower bound estimates, 1.2 × 10^16 Bq for cesium-137, with an estimated standard deviation range of 15%–20%, and 1.9 − 3.8 × 10^17 Bq for iodine-131, with an estimated standard deviation range of 5%–10%, are of the same order of magnitude as those provided by the Japanese Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency and about 5 to 10 times less than the Chernobyl atmospheric releases.


Researchers at CEREA created the simulation map of cesium-137 deposition across the Pacific Ocean last year.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

OT: Photos of Annular Eclipse of the Sun in Japan

by Tokyo Brown Tabby, who at the last moment grudgingly joined the crowd in the nearby park. Tabby took the photos of the sunlight (from the sun in annular eclipse) filtering through trees as it reflect on the surface of the nearby building.

Source of Formaldehyde in Water Supply in Kanto Still Not Identified, as Water Department Officials Party and "Baseless Rumors" Start to Spread

As the authorities taking ample time acknowledging and identifying the problem of formaldehyde detected at water purification plants along the Tone River that runs through Gunma, Saitama, and Chiba Prefectures, people have started to form their own hypothesis.

First, the timeline of the events: The first detection of formaldehyde may have been on May 15, 4 days before the authorities stopped the water intake. The following timeline is from a popular message board (as quoted by the Portirland blog), so this could also be part of the "baseless rumors". But it has been verified (see Mainichi Shinbun article on 5/19/2012; in Japanese) that the first detection of formaldehyde was on May 15 in Kasukabe City, as this timeline suggests.

  • Formaldehyde leaked from a factory sometime, somewhere along the Tone River

  • May 15: Formaldehyde detected at the water plant in Kasukabe City in Saitama Prefecture

  • May 17: Saitama Prefecture notified the Water Department of Gunma Prefecture of the detection

  • May 17 evening: Gunma Water Department had a party (newspaper article copy also at Portirland blog)

  • May 18: The news of formaldehyde detection was leaked to the press

  • May 19: Some water purification plants stopped water intake, affecting residents and businesses

  • May 19 afternoon: Gunma Water Department started investigation

  • May 20: Gunma Water Department's partying on May 17 was reported in the press

  • May 20: Misato Water Purification Plant in Saitama Prefecture stopped water intake. Gunma Prefecture still cannot identify the source of formaldehyde.

Nature abhors a vacuum, and this information vacuum is being filled by some fantastic stories that circulate on the net in Japan. Here are some I noticed:

  • It is an act of sabotage by a foreign element.

  • It is not formaldehyde, but it is plutonium.

  • It is not formaldehyde, but it is cesium.

  • It is not formaldehyde but it is strontium.

  • They were using some resin that contains formaldehyde to remove cesium.

  • It is not formaldehyde, but something in the water reacted with the reagent (to test the water quality) and turned into formaldehyde.

The last one is supposedly a quote from an unnamed official in a water department of an unnamed city along the Tone River. It looks plausible, but then the blog that quoted this information and people who read the information concluded this "something in the water" must be a radioactive material (plutonium, cesium, strontium, or any other radioactive material of choice).

Sankei Shinbun (5/20/2012) says it will be impossible to identify the source (and therefore it won't be done) because there are hundreds of chemical substances that react and generate formaldehyde. Sankei Shinbun also quotes the partying Gunma Water Department, who says:


"It is possible that the flow of the substance that caused contamination has stopped already. At this point, we don't know exactly where the contamination first started."

which is not really true. According the same Sankei article, Saitama Prefecture has narrowed down the source of contamination along the Karasugawa River, a tributary of the Tone River, near Takasaki City in Gunma Prefecture. Instead of partying and hiding the contamination, the Gunma Water Department could have started visiting the factories along the river.