Saturday, November 10, 2012

#Radioactive Japan: #Fukushima Girls Road Race Is On, Right Now, Again

How time flies. It seems like only yesterday that I reported on the "ekiden" road race held in high-radiation Fukushima City, with girls as young as 13 years old.

It's on this year again. They did it last year, when the contamination was more severe. So why not this year?

FNN News just reported that the team from Kanagawa Prefecture won, 2nd year in a row. The youngest runner in the team? 14 year old. 9 out of 13 members are below the age of 20, most of them mid teens. (See this blog if you read Japanese.)

Even the winner is the same as last year.

In fact, as fall passes into winter, the fun events in Japan are exactly the same as last year:

  • kindergarteners collecting fallen leaves in the park, to make a bonfire to cook sweet potatoes;

  • small children harvesting rice in small paddies in the park (like in Yokohama City);

  • mushroom extravaganza in school lunches.

And why not? They did the spring events just like last year too:
  • kindergarteners digging up bamboo shoots, planting rice;

  • school athletic meets in spring;

  • serving mandarin oranges that contain radioactive cesium, because it's a long-standing contract with the vendor (cities in Kanagawa Prefecture)

  • school children picking new tea leaves, cleaning the sludge in school swimming pools.

and on and on.

At some point, the Japanese will have only themselves to blame.

Election Time Near in Japan?

As if anyone cares. Japan is broken as a nation, probably has been for the past decade at least, and people continue to pretend as if they are in a nation called Japan.

This is after all a country which held a nation-wide local election right after the nuclear accident in March 2011, to keep up the appearance that everything was in order. People dutifully went outside to listen to the speeches by political candidates as the radioactive fallout from the broken reactors in Fukushima descended on half the country.

I will go out on a limb and say the Democratic Party of Japan and/or its coalition will win. Why? Because the opposition is a mess. I think it is a very good timing if Prime Minister Noda actually calls a general election toward the end of the year and the election in January - traditionally busiest time of the year in Japan in particular, and ordinary citizens have little time for politics.

And whichever party wins, it will further centralize power to the national government. That's what the citizens want anyway. After the March 11, 2011 disaster and the horrendous response to the disaster from all levels of the government, people continue to express hope and belief that "If only the right people are in the government, to take care of us!"

First will be the election of the governor of Tokyo in early December, the position Shintaro Ishihara recently vacated a year and a half after his re-election in 2011. Potential candidates?

  • Naoki Inose, current vice governor with strong endorsement from Mr. Ishihara. Mr. Inose wants to re-institute the draft so that he can send young workers to Fukushima I Nuke Plant for decontamination and decommission. Like Ishihara, he is all for burning the disaster debris, and was very disappointed when NY Mayor Bloomberg canceled New York Marathon.

  • Yoichi Masuzoe, a political science professor and well-known TV personality turned politician, is likely to be backed by DPJ and LPD, among others;

  • Kenji Utsunomiya, a progressive attorney who is supposedly anti-nuclear but has made donations to politicians like Yukio Edano and Yoshito Sengoku. Mr. Utsunomiya has formally declared he will run. Political parties on the left and Communist Party have expressed support, as well as Ichiro Ozawa's party.

If Mr. Masuzoe enters, he will probably win handily.

Then, the rumor has it that Noda has decided to dissolve the Diet and call for the general election in late December, after he passes the bill to issue more Japanese government bonds (JGB) to fund the government operation (Japan does not have the "debt ceiling" like the US, because, well what's the point?) and declares the official start of negotiations to join TPP, a NAFTA-like trade pact for the Pacific Rim nations pushed by the Obama administration.

For a prime minister who compared himself as a point-guard and Obama as "power forward", mimicking the US president comes extremely natural. In Japan however, anything that is going to please the US is considered the "right wing" thingy, and Mr. Noda has been accused of being the lapdog of the imperial US.

Liberal Democratic Party is neither "liberal" or "democratic", what distinguishes them from the Democratic Party of Japan (not "democratic" either from how they behave) is the different figurehead at the top who likes curry rice with pork cutlet on top. DPJ's coalition partner Komei Party will collaborate with anyone in power.

So who's left? Communist Party, Democratic Socialist Party, and numerous small leftist parties. On the right side of the spectrum, there's a nascent "ultra-right" coalition around 80-year-old Ishihara, and 44-year-old boy wonder mayor of Osaka.

The "ultra-right" coalition wants TPP, nuclear power plants, burn the disaster debris, raise taxes even more, and cooperate with the US more. So what's the difference between this party and DPJ or LDP? None.

There is Ichiro Ozawa's party, "We Put Citizens' Lives First", which the MSM almost completely ignores. When it doesn't ignore, it either mocks or vilifies. For the majority of the Japanese who are not much on the net, the party doesn't exist.

Greens? What is that? They won't get my vote with the slogan like this: "エコでフェアでピースな世界をめざして" (for the world that is "eco" (ecologically correct), "fair" and "peace", with words in quotations in transliterated Japanese)

Ah life is back to normal finally in Japan. Everything is the same, and nothing matters.

What could matter is the gigantic amount of total government liability of 983 trillion yen, but many in Japan declare "We owe it to ourselves, not a problem."

As if printing money is the same as creating wealth.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Environmental Health Perspectives Magazine: "Radiation and the Risk of Chronic Lymphocytic and Other Leukemias among Chornobyl Cleanup Workers"

I found the paper by the University of California - San Francisco researcher Lydia B. Zablotska et al regarding increased risk of leukemia for Chernobyl cleanup workers even at a low (less than 200 millisieverts) cumulative radiation exposure (see my previous post).

From Environmental Health Perspectives Magazine, advance publications (11/8/2012):

The media report on this paper in Japan is causing anxiety. People are worried that any low level of radiation exposure from the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident would lead to leukemia, as it has been "proven" by this paper. It seems only Nikkei Shinbun actually cited the radiation exposure levels in the study (less than 200 millisieverts, with over 90% less than 100 millisieverts).

Speaking of "low level radiation exposure", I happened on an old article from June last year by Yomiuri Shinbun that mentions the radiation exposure sustained by Self Defense Force soldiers during two-day work (March 12 and 13 last year) at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, pouring water into the reactors to prevent core melts. Of 12 soldiers who had dosimeters on them, 2 soldiers got 80 millisieverts in 2 days, and 8 others exceeded 30 millisieverts. 8 soldiers didn't even have dosimeters.

Ministry of Defense at that time said there would be no health problem because the exposure was within the limit set by the ministry. What's the limit? 100 millisieverts. For 2 days' work.

OT: Fiscal Cliff!

by WilliamBanzai7 over at Zero Hedge:

The US = Europe 2.0 = Japan 2.0, sooner or later. Probably sooner, because "we're all in this together", or "kizuna" that binds the domesticated animals.

As totally expected, Obama's "compromise" meant "compromise your position to fit mine", just like before. The market barely managed to end green, no DCB (dead cat bounce) though they (algos) made a valiant effort to prop up Apple and Google.

Hurricane Sandy Aftermath: New York Considering Putting Displaced Staten Island Residents in Prison

“I lost everything, but I still have my pride. We don’t have to stay in a prison,” said Wally Martinez, 44, who was staying at the retreat with his wife, two children and dog. “My brother was once in that very prison, and my mother used to visit him regularly. She used to tell me how miserable he looked and how filthy and disgusting that prison was.”

From New York Post (11/9/2012):

Residents displaced by Sandy are staring at life in Staten Island 'jail'


They want them to go from no house to the Big House.

The state is eyeing the recently shuttered Arthur Kill Correctional Facility on Staten Island as a temporary home for people displaced by the ravages of Sandy and this week’s nasty nor’easter, officials said yesterday.

Closed last December, the medium-security prison could feed and sleep as many as 900 people with nowhere else to go.

“Our facilities staff have to go through it to determine what it would take to get it up and running for such a purpose,” said Peter Cutler, a spokesman for the state Department of Corrections.

“Of course, the challenge is the fact that it was closed a year ago and all of the major infrastructure components, such as boilers and wastewater system, were deactivated.”

There are as many as 40,000 New Yorkers who need shelter from the one-two punch of extreme weather events, according to city estimates.

On Staten Island alone, about 5,200 people applied for temporary FEMA housing, but only about two dozen people have been successfully placed, federal sources said.

So it may resemble a scene out of “The Walking Dead,” but officials and displaced people alike say the former prison ought to be considered as a refuge.

“It’s empty. They might as well use it,” said Rob Conigatti, 39, who lost his Dongan Hills home and is now staying with his extended family. “At least they have the right facilities. You can’t keep them in schools. The kids gotta go to school.”

Some people are toughing it out in homes lacking power and heat while others are bunking with friends and family.

“We have not got into the discussion of longer term transitional housings,” said Councilman James Oddo (R-SI). “If there is no other viable option, it shouldn’t be taken off the table because of a quote unquote stigma. Between being cold and having people dry, in a warm, secure place, I know what my choice is.”

Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro, however, is firmly opposed to using the prison, sources said. He didn’t return a call for comment.

His opposition was echoed by several of the 60 people staying at the Mount Manresa Jesuit Retreat House in Shore Acres.

“I lost everything, but I still have my pride. We don’t have to stay in a prison,” said Wally Martinez, 44, who was staying at the retreat with his wife, two children and dog. “My brother was once in that very prison, and my mother used to visit him regularly. She used to tell me how miserable he looked and how filthy and disgusting that prison was.”

Currently, there are about 2,700 evacuees staying in emergency city shelters, according to Mayor Bloomberg.

Some of those people have been arriving with what euphemistically has been called “pre-existing conditions” of mental disorders and substance abuse, according to sources.

Many people, including senior citizens, were too scared to stay in the high schools that were opened last week because they didn’t want to bunk with already homeless people.

Additional reporting by Joe Tacopino

One thing Mr. Conigatti doesn't know is that of course you can keep them in schools, at least a year and a half. Learn it from Japan, who has put evacuees from Futaba-machi in an abandoned school, made them sleep on the floor with cardboard partitions, and pay for bento lunch boxes. Yes we can!

The 200 mostly elderly residents of Futaba-machi are still housed in the school, as of November 5, 2012, according to an NPO who has been occasionally providing them with hot meals.

Further Trouble at South Korea's Yeonggwang Nuclear Power Plant: Cracks in Control Rod Tunnels

(UPDATE 11/10/2012 from Yomiuri) It was Reactor 3 that was found with cracks in control rod tunnels. If this reactor cannot come back online within this year, and with Reactors 5 and 6 stopped in order to replace parts with forged certificates, South Korea may have zero spare capacity in January.


Yeonggwang Nuclear Power Plant has 6 pressurized water reactors. It is the fourth largest nuclear power plant in the world in terms of capacity. Two of its reactors were shut down in just recently to replace parts, as over 5,000 parts used in the five reactors were found with improper (forged) certification.

Now, one of the reactors was found with cracks in 6 of the control rod tunnels. No indication on which reactor.

(The world number one is TEPCO's Kashiwazaki Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant, by the way.)

From CNBC quoting Reuters (11/9/2012; emphasis is mine):

South Korea finds cracks in control rod tunnels at nuclear plant

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korean nuclear regulators have found microscopic cracks in tunnels that guide control rods at a nuclear plant under maintenance, government officials said on Friday, raising new concerns over the country's nuclear power sector.

The discovery of the cracks at the reactor comes just days after two reactors at the same plant in Yeonggwang county, in the southwest of the country, were shut down to replace parts that had been provided with forged certificates.

South Korea is investigating how thousands of parts for its nuclear reactors were supplied using forged safety documents, with regulators set to inspect all 23 of the country's facilities - a move that could test public support for the industry and threaten billions of dollars worth of exports.

"There are cracks in six tunnels. The reactor has been halted since October 18 for regular maintenance and now the process has been extended by a further 47 days for repair of the cracks," said a spokeswoman for the presidential Korea Nuclear Safety and Security Commission.

She said it was the first time cracks of this type had been found in South Korea's nuclear sector, but added the safety risk was not serious enough to require public disclosure.

The reactor affected by the cracks has a capacity of 1,000 megawatts, and a government official said the extended shutdown could complicate efforts to ensure steady supply of power through the peak winter season after the two other reactors had been stopped until the end of this year.

Asia's fourth-largest economy generates 30 percent of its electricity from 23 nuclear reactors at state-owned plants, and the government has warned of the potential for unprecedented power shortages due to the shutdowns as demand peaks in winter.

"This could affect power supplies, but we are preparing contingency plans," said a senior economy ministry official, who declined to be named as he is not authorized to speak to the media.

South Korea's state-run nuclear power utility said it was investigating the cause of the cracks, but said they had not caused any leaks.

"There are no penetrating cracks or leaks," Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power, a subsidiary of state utility Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO), said in a statement. It operates all of the country's nuclear power plants.

The country's power utility and nuclear regulators have come under heavy criticism this week after the disclosure that eight firms had used forged safety documents to supply parts to nuclear plants raising concern of broader potential problems in the large and growing nuclear programme.

A task force has been established with government and private sector experts to inspect all reactors to ensure their parts are properly certified. It will also inspect five reactors under construction to see if troubled parts with forged certificates have been provided.

(Additional reporting by Meeyoung Cho; Editing by Jack Kim, Ed Davies and Ian Geoghegan)

There are people in Japan ridiculing the Koreans for the forged certification issue and the shutdown of the reactors, no doubt partially fanned by the territorial row with South Korea over Takeshima Island.

I guess they've forgotten that Japan is downwind.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

TEPCO Says It May Take 10 Trillion Yen (US$125 Billion) to Decon and Compensate, Needs Government Support

In the land of make-believe (aka Japan), TEPCO says it will take 10 trillion yen, or US$125 billion, to decontaminate and compensate people and businesses that suffered the consequence of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident.

Decommissioning the reactors is totally separate. TEPCO says the company is allocating 1 trillion yen ($12.5 billion) to decommission Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant (or at least Reactors 1, 2, 3 and 4). $3 billion each, a generous enough amount if it were a normal reactor.

As AFP article below notes, Japan's national government budget is about 90 trillion yen, of which only 50% of expenditure is paid by revenues from income tax and stamp tax, according to the charts by the Ministry of Finance. The rest is all borrowing, and 24% of the budget has to be set aside to pay the interests to the bond holders (11%) and to retire the debt (13%).

Japanese always wanted their government and the central bank to just print away to cause inflation. Here's their chance.

From AFP (11/7/2012):

Fukushima operator warns clean-up 'may cost $125 bn'

TOKYO — The cost of the clean-up and compensation after Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster may double to $125 billion, the plant's operator warned Wednesday.

Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) said decontamination of irradiated areas and compensating those whose jobs or home lives have been affected would cost much more than the five trillion yen it estimated in April.

"There is a view that we may need the same amount (again) of additional money for the decontamination of low-level radiation areas and costs of temporary facilities for storing waste," the company said in a statement.

The utility -- one of the world's biggest -- received one trillion yen of public cash in April in exchange for granting the government a controlling stake.

The money was on top of previous grants and loans. It was intended to prevent the company, which generates and supplies electricity to millions of people, including in and around Tokyo, from going under.

But on Wednesday, as it presented a new management plan, TEPCO said it was looking at a bill of up to 10 trillion yen ($125 billion) -- equal to around two percent of Japan's gross domestic product or 11 percent of the country's annual budget.

The company said it would need more government help to meet the colossal figure.

TEPCO also said it had already set aside one trillion yen of its own capital to decommission the plant's broken reactors, which is in addition to the clean-up and compensation bill, but it was possible this may also rise.

"We are awaiting the government's instructions and are aware the total cost, including of removing fuel debris and final disposal, could be considerably larger than we have previously allowed for," it said in a statement.

Company chairman Kazuhiko Shimokobe told reporters TEPCO could become a shell, existing only to sort out the mess left by the tsunami-sparked disaster and dependent on the government for money.

"If we address the swelling costs by doubling the amount of government bond issuance (to 10 trillion), our firm will become an entity only for the purpose of dealing with post-accident issues," a company statement said.

"It will become difficult for us to raise money from the private sector so we will have to rely on the goverment for the financing of all of our business."

Shimokobe stressed that he believed TEPCO should be revived as a fully-fledged private-sector entity, to achieve its mission of compensating those affected by the disaster and providing a stable supply of energy.

TEPCO said Wednesday it would build a new office in Fukushima to try to speed up processing of compensation claims, whose slow pace has been much criticised, and to provide more than 4,000 jobs in Fukushima prefecture.

It also said it is looking at shaving extra 100 billion yen in costs annually.

Last month the Tokyo-listed TEPCO -- the one-time standard bearer of widows' and orphans' stocks -- said it expects to lose 45 billion yen this year, a figure well down on the 160 billion yen initially forecast.

The devastating tsunami of March 2011 swamped cooling systems at the Fukushima plant, sending reactors into meltdown and spewing radiation over a large area.

The clean-up is expected to take decades, with scientists warning that some settlements may have to be abandoned.

In October TEPCO admitted it had played down known tsunami risks for fear of the political, financial and reputational cost.

The confession was one of the starkest yet by a company that has fallen very far out of favour in Japan and has been criticised for trying to shirk responsibility for the worst nuclear disaster in a generation.

The massive natural disaster claimed nearly 19,000 lives when a huge undersea quake generated a massive tsunami that wreaked havoc along a stretch of coast in northeast Japan.

But the emergency at Fukushima is not officially recorded as having directly caused any deaths, although it has made tens of thousands of people homeless and rendered swathes of Japan's agricultural belt unfarmable.

Post-Election: Will California Lead the Nation?

For good or bad, California has been the trend-setter of things to come for the rest of the country.

This time, post-election, California has:

Passed Proposition 30 to raise tax on California residents supposedly pay for "education":

A frend was in a gathering at a public school yesterday, where the educators and administrators and well-wishing moms and dads were gloating over the passage of Proposition 30 which will tax every California residents extra so that California schools have "enough" money to "educate" children. Knowing how these school administrators earning 6-figure salaries have squandered money that was borrowed on the back of the California taxpayers in the past, she wondered how they would justify burdening their fellow Californians for more waste. Well, the cure-all slogan is the same after all: "It's for the kids!" This particular school hopes to use the new-found money to purchase tissue paper boxes, among other things.

Prop 30 will not only raise taxes on the income of more than $250,000 (which in California is not that rich, particularly in Bay Area) for seven years, but also hike the already high sales tax by a quarter percent for four years. However, nowhere is it said that the money raised will be definitely used for schools. Minor details for these educators.

Handily defeated Proposition 37 that would have required labeling of GMO food:

Flawed as it may have been, Californians overall were easily persuaded by the coalition of big ag and food businesses in the US with a ton of money (Monsanto, whose ex-VP advises Obama on food safety, alone spent $8 million to defeat the Proposition 37) not to require GMO labeling because "it will hurt small farmers and retailers". Eat GMO and support small farmers! (Oh wait, have I heard that before somewhere else?)

Handily voted in Proposition 39 on "green initiatives" (supposedly):

The proposition was bankrolled by a hedge fund manager to the tune of 32 million dollars. Prop 39 will requires multistate businesses to pay income taxes based on percentage of their sales in California, and dedicate revenues for five years to clean/efficient energy projects. After that, the money may be used for schools. Sure.

So who is this hedge fund? Farallon Capital management LLC is based in San Francisco, catering to high net worth individuals. Mr. Thomas F. Steyer, who generously "donated" 32 million dollars to his campaign for Prop 39, is the Co-Senior Managing Member of the firm.

Let's see, which companies will be the first to simply pick up and leave California? Oil and gas companies are my guess.

And most importantly,

Handed Democratic "super majority" in the State Assembly:

What does that mean? It means the Democrats in the Assembly alone can amend the state constitution, override the governor's veto if they are so inclined, pass anything including raising taxes without Assembly vote or public vote. I'm sure it will be either "for the kids" or "for the environment" or "for stopping global warming". Or better yet, "for fiscal responsibility". The easiest target will be Proposition 13. The next easiest will be to charge sales tax on food, with a promise that low-income families will be exempt.

Overall, rent seekers' victory over the productive class that is getting smaller almost by the hour.

Unexpected Shutdown of Cernavoda Nuke Plant in Romania "did not effect the safety of the population or the environment", says the Government

The same refrain (or the famous last word), the world over.

Cernavodă Nuclear Power Plant has two CANDU pressurized heavy water reactors.

The reactor 2, which unexpectedly shut down on Wednesday, will be restarted on Friday. The report is due in 48 hours (that's Friday).

According to the Romanian report below, "the unit shut down automatically as a result of an automatic rapid closure system having unexpectedly gone up". (Now, do I have to study CANDU reactors, too? I have no idea what this means.)

From ACT Media (11/8/2012):

Unexpected shutdown of Cernavoda n-plant's unit 2 did not affect safety of people or the environment

The unexpected shutdown on Wednesday of unit 2 of the Cernavoda nuclear-power plant did not effect the safety of the population or the environment, the Ministry of the Environment and Forestry (MMP) reports in a press release.

'Information coming from the National Environmental Protection Agency indicates that the automated gamma radiation monitoring devices do not show any increase in the normal values, while the results of the measurements fall within the limits of the natural fund,' reads the release.

The devices monitor the radiation 24/7, and in this instance the normal radiation level was not exceeded.

The unexpected shutdown of the unit did not affect the safety of the plant's staff, the population or the environment, and the causes behind the malfunction will be the subject of a detailed analysis, MMP says in the release.

Radiation monitoring will continue, says MMP and any excess radiation will be notified to the National Environmental Guard and jointly analysed.

The Nuclearelectrica National Nuclear Power Corporation announced unit 2 of the Cernavoda nuclear-power plant shut down unexpectedly on Wednesday at 11:300hrs, EET, and it will be restarted on Friday.

The unit shut down automatically as a result of an automatic rapid closure system having unexpectedly gone up. The causes for the closure are being investigated according to the procedures of the plant.

The unit is safely down and it will be restarted as soon as the exact causes behind the malfunction are found.

State secretary with the Economy Ministry Rodin Traicu said a report on the unexpected shutdown on Wednesday of unit 2 of the Cernavoda nuclear-power plant will be ready in 48 hours, but the incident did not pose any risk to nuclear activity.

From the wiki on the plant:

"The Nuclear Power Plant in Cernavodă (Romanian: Centrala Nucleară de la Cernavodă) is a nuclear power plant in Romania. It produces around 20% of the country's electricity. It uses CANDU reactor technology from AECL, using heavy water produced at Drobeta-Turnu Severin as its neutron moderator and water from the Danube – Black Sea Canal for cooling.

"By using nuclear power, Romania is able to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by over 10 million tonnes each year.[citation needed]"

How wonderful.

(H/T Dan Berte)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

UC San Francisco Researchers: "Chernobyl cleanup workers had significantly increased risk of leukemia"

even with the cumulative radiation exposure of less than 100 millisieverts, as Nikkei reports (quoting Kyodo), supposedly from the paper published on November 8, 2012 in the journal Environmental Health Perspective. (I haven't found the paper yet.)

Here's from (11/8/2012; emphasis is mine), UCSF Press Release:

Chernobyl cleanup workers had significantly increased risk of leukemia
Findings may help estimate cancer risk from low-dose exposures like CT scans

A 20-year study following 110,645 workers who helped clean up after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident in the former Soviet territory of Ukraine shows that the workers share a significant increased risk of developing leukemia. The results may help scientists better define cancer risk associated with low doses of radiation from medical diagnostic radiation procedures such as computed tomography scans and other sources.

In the journal Environmental Health Perspectives this week, an international team led by scientists at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and the Chernobyl Research Unit at the Radiation Epidemiology Branch of the National Cancer Institute describes the increased risks of leukemia among these workers between 1986 and 2006. The risk included a greater-than-expected number of cases of chronic lymphocytic leukemia, which many experts did not consider to be associated with radiation exposure in the past.

The new work is the largest and longest study to date involving Chernobyl cleanup workers who worked at or near the nuclear complex in the aftermath of the accident.

Overall, there were 137 cases of leukemia among the workers over the 20-year span of the study, and 16 percent of those cancers were attributable to the Chernobyl radiation exposure, the team found.

The findings shed light on the thorny issue of estimating cancer risk from low doses of radiation – an issue of importance to miners, nuclear workers and anyone who is chronically exposed to low levels of radiation at work or patients who receive sizeable radiation doses when undergoing medical diagnostic tests.

"Low doses of radiation are important," said the lead researcher Lydia Zablotska, MD, PhD, an associate professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at UCSF. "We want to raise awareness of that."

Worst Nuclear Accident of All Time

The nearly 111,000 Ukrainian workers in the study were among the more than 500,000 former Soviets who worked directly on the front lines in the aftermath of Chernobyl disaster, which was the worst nuclear accident of the 20th century followed by the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan.

It began in the early morning hours of April 26, 1986 when a planned test of a backup system for operating cooling pumps went awry. A combination of human error and unsafe reactor design led to the runaway production of heat in Chernobyl's Reactor No. 4, which quickly caused two massive explosions, ruptured the reactor, crumbled the building, exposed the nuclear core, rained radioactive debris around the compound and spread fallout through the atmosphere over the Soviet Union and Europe.

Many of the Ukrainian workers were exposed to high levels of radiation because they were part of the teams that helped sweep up contaminated debris from the immediate area – much of which was highly radioactive. Some of them, in fact, reached lifetime limits of radiation exposure within a matter of a few hours.

Although an elevated radiation-related risk of leukemia was not surprising, given the level of exposure among many of these workers, what did surprise Zablotska and her colleagues was the elevated risk of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), which was similar in size to the risk estimated for non-CLL leukemia.

Leukemia and Low-Dose Radiation

For many years, doctors have known that ionizing radiation from an X-ray source or produced by the decay of radioactive elements can cause leukemia, because it can penetrate the body, expose bone marrow to the radiation and damage DNA. But while scientists have understood this basic mechanism for decades, the question of how much leukemia risk is associated with moderate or low doses of radiation has been hard to answer.

For many years, the best estimates came from long-term studies involving survivors of the 1945 atomic bomb detonations over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan during World War II. People in the immediate vicinity of the blasts were exposed to various levels of radiation, and in the decades afterward, their health was monitored and the increase in cancer tracked.

From those assessments of cancer risk, scientists estimated risks from lower doses by extrapolating the data down. But there have always been problems with this approach, said Zablotska. Atomic bomb survivors were bathed in gamma or neutron rays, while someone who undergoes a CT scan in the U.S. is exposed to X-rays, a different type of radiation. Moreover, extrapolating risks for Japanese population to Western population is further confounded by differences in genetics, lifestyle and diet between the two.

The new work helps to bridge this gap because the doses received by the Ukrainian cleanup workers falls somewhere in between the high level received by the Japanese atomic bomb victims and the lower levels received by people who undergo extensive medical scans.

It also challenges the idea that chronic lymphocytic leukemia is not linked to radiation exposure – something that earlier studies of atomic bomb survivors had seemed to support.

The genetic makeup of the Japanese population may have hidden any increased risk, Zablotska said, because they are much less likely to develop this type of cancer anyway. Chronic lymphocytic leukemia accounts for only 3 percent of all cases of leukemia in Japan – as opposed to about one-third of all leukemia cases in the U.S. and 40 percent of all cases of leukemia in Ukraine.

The article, "Radiation and the Risk of Chronic Lymphocytic and Other Leukemias among Chernobyl Cleanup Workers" by Lydia B. Zablotska, Dimitry Bazyka, Jay H. Lubin, Nataliya Gudzenko, Mark P. Little, Maureen Hatch, Stuart Finch, Irina Dyagil, Robert F. Reiss, Vadim V. Chumak, Andre Bouville, Vladimir Drozdovitch, Victor P. Kryuchkov, Ivan Golovanov, Elena Bakhanova, Nataliya Babkina, Tatiana Lubarets, Volodymyr Bebeshko, Anatoly Romanenko and Kiyohiko Mabuchi will be published online by the journal Environmental Health Perspectives on November 8th, 2012. See:

In addition to UCSF, authors on this study are associated with the National Research Center for Radiation Medicine in Kyiv, Ukraine; the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md.; Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in Camden, N.J.; Columbia University in New York City; and Burnasyan Federal Medical Biophysical Centre in Moscow.

This study was funded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) through grant #CA132918 and contract #NO1-CP-21178 and by the Intra-Agency Agreement between the NCI and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) through agreement #Y2-Al-5077 and #Y3-CO-5117. Both NCI and NIAID are part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Additional support was provided by the U.S. Department of Energy (contract HHSN 261 2004 55796C), the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the French Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety.

UCSF is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care.

Contact: Jason Socrates Bardi
University of California - San Francisco

The Japanese "safety" limit for workers doing decontamination, aka "shifting contamination elsewhere", is maximum 50 millisieverts per year, and maximum 100 millisieverts total in 5 years - same as radiation workers at nuclear power plants.

But as then-Minister of the Environment Goshi Hosono said, "Japan is different! We're not Russia! We have advanced decontamination technology!" Like screwdrivers.

The country is different indeed, that's for sure.

Marc Faber's Asset Protection Plan: Machine Gun, Tank

He's joking, he says. He lists these two items to protect against "unintended consequences of market manipulation" by Mr. Bernanke under Mr. Obama, who he says "basically doesn't care about piling up debt".


From Zero Hedge (11/7/2012):

Faber on President Obama’s reelection:

“I am surprised with the reelection of Mr. Obama. The S&P is only down like 30 points. I would have thought that the market on his reelection should be down at least 50%...I think Mr. Obama is a disaster for business and a disaster for the United States. Not that Mr. Romney would be much better, but the Republicans understand the problem of excessive debt better than Mr. Obama who basically doesn't care about piling up debt. You also have in the background Mr. Bernanke, who with artificially low interest rates enables the debt to essentially escalate endlessly.”

Onwhere he sees the equity markets given Obama’s reelection:

“You have offsetting factors. The problem with Mr. Obama is that you get more regulation and it’s disincentive for businessmen to hire people. You probably also get higher taxes, so in terms of the economy, he is very negative in my view. But you still have Mr. Bernanke, and you still have because of money printing very high corporate earnings. They are now coming down, but they are still at the elevated level. You have money printing supporting the market and on the other hand, you have an economic slowdown globally which will affect earnings negatively. It is difficult to tell where the market will go because we have so much manipulation. I think, minimum, it will drop 20%.”

On how investors should protect their assets:

“They should buy themselves a machine gun…I need to buy a tank. Joking aside, look, we have manipulated markets. Whenever you manipulate markets, you will get unintended consequences. i think the reelection is unintended consequence of money printing, that favors the so- called 0.25%. It was easy for the Democrats to attack the wealthy fat cats of Wall Street, the elite, and the privileged people to portray them as a profiteer of the system, which to some extent, they are. Not because they wanted to but because Mr. Bernanke enabled them to be profiteers. We have a situation where you have today Mr. Obama, I doubt he will stay at the presidency for another four years. I think there will be so many scandals, but that’s another story.”

Zero Hedge has the video of Mr. Faber's interview with Bloomberg TV.

The stock market looks to stage a DCB (dead cat bounce) from the drop of over 300 points in Dow Jones Industrial on Wednesday, with Dow E-Mini futures (December) right now 34 up from the close of the day. Not much of a bounce but flat-lining. For now.

Japanese Government Now Admits 675 Radiation Monitoring Posts Show "10% Lower" Than Actual Levels, "Beyond Expectation" Says Ministry of Education

Why 10% lower? Because the led battery was shielding the radiation detector.

How convenient.

From Kyodo News (11/7/2012):

現地の放射線量10%低く表示 監視装置675カ所改修へ

Radiation levels displayed 10% lower, 675 monitoring posts to be repaired


The Nuclear Disaster Response Headquarters of the Japanese national government announced on November 7 that the radiation monitoring posts set up in Fukushima and the neighboring prefectures have been showing air dose levels about 10% lower [than the actual levels], and that the repair work will be done on 675 of them.


The metal box containing the battery is placed next to the radiation detector inside a monitoring post, blocking the radiation.


Residents and municipalities [in these prefectures] have pointed out that the levels displayed by the monitors are different from the dose levels [that they measure], so the government will modify the location of the equipment and try to have a more accurate reading.


In response to the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident, the national government has set up the radiation monitoring posts in public buildings and tourism destinations, and the monitoring results have been available on the homepage of the Ministry of Education and Science since this April.

Jiji Tsushin says it was the lead storage batteries right next to the monitoring post shielding radiation from the ground, and there are 545 monitoring posts in Fukushima, and 130 in neighboring Miyagi and Yamagata and other prefectures (the article doesn't say where).

10% lower. And that's on top of the reduction of radiation by replacing the soil/concrete around the monitoring posts, and after a sizeable decrease in cesium-134 (half life 2 years) in the environment.

The original vendor contracted to build these monitoring posts (Alpha Tsushin) was summarily dismissed in November last year after their monitoring posts displayed the radiation levels "too high" for the comfort of the Ministry of Education. The current monitoring posts are supplied by Fuji Electric, one of the top four heavy electric companies including Hitachi, Toshiba, and Mitsubishi, and Hitachi-Aloka Medical.

These four companies do a healthy business contracting from the national and local governments on large and small public projects. Always go extra miles to please the price-insensitive customers.

Jiji Tsushin's article also says:


Ministry of Education says it did not expect the shielding effect of the batteries.

Yeah right. I can almost hear the conversation that may have taken place between an official at the Ministry of Education and the favored vendors like Fuji Electric and Hitachi:

Official: "We have a problem. Alpha Tsushin's monitoring posts are scaring the residents. The numbers are just too high, and we don't think it's right to scare people who have suffered so much (and whom we need to stay put where they are). So we're going to fire the vendor. What can you offer?"

Fuji, Hitachi: "Well, we could build monitoring posts that display more reasonable numbers."

Official: "Do it. I don't care how you do it, and don't tell us how you do it."

Post Election, US 10-Year Note and Smith & Wesson Up, Up and Away

10-Year Treasury Note: Risk off, or simply front-running Ben.

Smith and Wesson: Risk on, or front-running Obama. Gapped up on a heavy volume.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

California Proposition 37 (GMO Food Labeling) Heading for Defeat

As Obama wins, Monsanto and its coalition of large ag and food companies look set to win in defeating Proposition 37 in California.

Yes, the proposition has many flaws and exemptions. But the argument often used that it would hurt small farmers and small grocers (as if Monsanto cares about small farmers) if they have to comply started to smell to me like the same argument to support Fukushima produce: "Farmers are hurting, we must help them by eating food produced in Fukushima, even if it contains radioactive cesium. It's safe anyway, because the government says so. We're in this together, aren't we?"

From NBC San Diego (11/6/2012):

Early Returns Show Prop 37 Food-Labeling Law Failing

Anywhere between 40 and 70 percent of food products sold in California grocery stores contain some genetically engineered ingredients.

A statewide proposition that would require manufacturers to label all foods made with genetically-modified ingredients was failing in very early returns Tuesday, according to the Secretary of State.

As of 8:45 p.m., Prop 37 was losing 58.3 percent to 41.7 percent.

If Prop 37 passes, California would become the first state in the nation to enforce the GMO labeling requirements.

The potential law was heavily bankrolled by chemical companies and food manufacturers. And the majority of that funding – some 93 percent of the $44 million raised to defeat the proposition – came from out of state.

By comparison, the Yes on 37 camp poured some $7 million into a campaign dubbed the "crusade against Frankenfood."

Genetic engineering involves manipulating the genes of an organism, usually with the goal of improving a plant’s resistance to pests or to allow a plant to withstand the use of pesticides.

While there have been no long-term studies that suggest consuming genetically-modified foods are harmful to humans, supporters of Prop 37 cited a lack of evidence to the contrary in their arguments for the measure.

"Whether you buy genetically engineered food or not, you have a right to know what you are buying and not gamble on your family’s health," supporters said.

(Full article at the link)

The website "No on Prop. 37" has a list of donors to the successful campaign:

Abbott Nutrition
B&G Foods, Inc.
BASF Plant Science
Bayer CropScience
Bimbo Bakeries USA
Bruce Foods Corporation
Bumble Bee Foods, LLC
Bunge North America, Inc.
C. H. Guenther & Son, Inc.
Campbell Soup Company
Cargill, Inc.
Clement Pappas & Company, Inc.
Clorox Company
Coca-Cola North America
ConAgra Foods
Council for Biotechnology Information
CropLife America
Dole Packaged Foods Company
Dow AgroSciences LLC
E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co.
Faribault Foods, Inc.
Flowers Foods, Inc.
Four K Farms
General Mills, Inc.
Goya de Puerto Rico, Inc.
Goya Foods Great Lakes
Grocery Manufacturers Association
H.J. Heinz Company
Hero North America
Hershey Company
Hillshire Brands Company
Hirzel Canning Company
Hormel Foods Corporation
House-Autry Mills, Inc.
Idahoan Foods, LLC
Inventure Foods, Inc.
JMR Farms, Inc.
Kellogg Company
Knouse Foods Cooperative, Inc.
Kraft Food Group
Kraft Foods Global, Inc.
Land O’Lakes, Inc.
McCain Foods USA, Inc.
McCormick & Company, Inc.
Mead Johnson Nutrition Company
Mondelez International
Monsanto Company
Moody Dunbar, Inc.
Nestle USA, Inc.
Ocean Spray Cranberries, Inc.
PCS Administration (USA) Inc. (Also Known As “PotashCorp”) PAC (Out of State PAC)
PepsiCo, Inc.
Pinnacle Foods Group LLC
Reily Foods Company
Rich Products Corporation
Richelieu Foods, Inc.
Sara Lee Corporation
Saticoy Foods Corporation
Smithfield Foods, Inc.
Snack Food Association
Solae, LLC
Sunny Delight Beverages Company
Syngenta Corporation
The J.M. Smucker Company
Tree Top, Inc.
Tri-Cal Inc.
Welch Foods, Inc.

US Presidential Election: It's 4 More Years with Obama

Declares CNN, NBC.

Four more years with Ben Bernanke the Money Printer is also assured. Good luck with that, too.


Quick check on the Japanese reaction is very favorable, not at all surprising from a country with 86% support for Obama. Many on Twitter says Obama is better for Japan.


But as I said before, these people are in a fairyland where the US will press TPP, GMO, Ospray, military bases, more US Treasury purchase on Japan and somehow the president of the US is not involved in any of these. Not to mention it is the land where radioactive materials are safe as long as the government says so.

Also, as a country who has been still attempting to resurrect the moribund economy for over 20 years using the Keynesian method of the government-led "stimulus" and has so far miserably failed, they wish for the handy defeat of the Republicans in the 2014 election so that the US money printing and government-led "stimulus" under Ben and Obama will continue.

It's amusing to read Nikkei, who seems to think there is a vast majority of middle class Americans (i.e. working for GM and Chrysler in Ohio) who ardently supported Obama for the economic recovery. Sure. Middle class.

And the Japanese are happy to see "Sesame Street" continues.

US Dow Futures Down 111 Points, S&P Down 14, Nasdaq Down 21, Gold Up, 10-Year Note Up, JP Yen Up, Risk Off

Screenshot from Bloomberg:

Gold is holding. From Kitco:

US Treasury 10 year note (price), from Ino:

US dollar index, from Ino:

And where is money going from US dollar? Japanese yen:

It looks like "risk off". Pricing in 4 more years in the doldrums under the incumbent, it seems. The only thing for sure is the Fed chairman's money printing.

US Presidential Election: Vote Counting Has Started

Obama got Vermont, Romney got Kentucky, West Virginia, according to AP:

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney captured Kentucky and West Virginia and President Barack Obama countered with Vermont on Tuesday night in a duel for the White House shadowed by a weak economy and high unemployment that crimped middle class dreams for millions.

In the popular vote, Romney led 51 percent to 48 percent with less than 1 percent of the nation's precincts tallied.

Japan's Nikkei says Romney got Indiana. The Japanese media's coverage of the US election has been pretty much in line with that of the US mainstream media such as New York Times and Washington Post.

Fox News's tally is right now 78 Obama, 82 Romney. It doesn't seem to be a big surprise so far. Romney leads in popular vote.

The magic number is 270.

Go Obama! cheer the Japanese net citizens.

NY Staten Island Residents in Dire Need for Fresh Underwear

"Election? What election?" must be the thinking of the residents today on Tuesday November 6.

"Hurricane damage? What hurricane damage?" must be the thinking of most of the US mainstream media, whose coverage of the Hurricane Sandy damage in the northeast US has been minimal; what little they've reported is mostly about Manhattan, or about President Obama's very brief visit to New Jersey.

The Staten Island Borough President says "It's like a third-world nation."

And "Nor'Easter" is coming.

From Fox News New York (11/6/2012):

Plea for underwear on Staten Island

Staten Island Borough President James Molinaro says the people of his community are in desperate need of fresh underwear.

"It's like a third-world nation," Molinaro said in a phone interview on Tuesday's Good Day New York.

He says so much other clothing has been donated that they are not accepting anymore.

"What we do need right now is underwear; undergarments for children and adults," Molinaro says. "That we need desperately."

Molinaro says that people can bring underwear to Miller Field on Father Capodanno Blvd. or New Dorp Lane.

The Borough President is very concerned about the storm that is expected to hit the island on Thursday.

"The protection we had at the shoreline is all gone," Molinaro says. "A lot of our berms are gone."

He says a five foot storm surge could create new devastation.

"The problem that we're having is that there are so many people without electric, in homes that are partially destroyed, they're afraid of looters and we have to reach them."

As for the election, he says that is not high on his list of priorities.

"I have not checked on the voting process. I'm not concerned about it. I'm not interested at all. I got people that are still trapped in their houses. Hundreds of people are without lights. Hundreds and hundreds of people are without shelter and we have a major storm coming. The furthest thing from my mind is the voting."

Monday, November 5, 2012

#Radioactive Japan: Revival of Iitate Miso in Tokyo

The first thing that came to my mind was the famous saying: "Road to ...."

L'enfer est plein de bonnes volontés et désirs.

From Yomiuri Shinbun English (11/5/2012):

Fukushima miso finds new life in Tokyo

FUKUSHIMA--A unique miso created by residents in a Fukushima Prefecture village that was evacuated due to the nuclear crisis has been revived by a group of Tokyo homemakers who are using the Fukushima bean paste as a base for a new miso.

Eight homemakers of farming families in Iitate's Sasu district started making "Sasu no miso" about 30 years ago, using mostly ingredients produced in the village. The miso was naturally fermented over two years in special tubs made from walnut trees, giving it a distinct, savory fragrance. People came from all over the prefecture--and even further afield--to buy the miso.

However, the village was designated as part of the expanded evacuation zone after the crisis began at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. As a result, the homemakers, including Eiko Kanno, 76, had to evacuate, leaving the precious miso behind in an earthen storehouse.

With nobody around to take care of the miso, there was a time when it was in danger of disappearing forever. But then came some unexpected help.

Rea Masuda, president of a publishing company and a consumers' group representative in Tokyo, suggested that Kanno make a new miso product using Sasu no miso as its base to "inherit" the unique aroma. Masuda became acquainted with Kanno's group because she often purchased products from the village.

Kanno agreed to the proposal. When she temporarily returned home in November last year, she brought back about 50 kilograms of Sasu no miso from the storehouse and entrusted it to Masuda's group.

After checks were conducted to confirm the miso did not contain dangerous levels of radiation, Masuda and other association members held workshops in Tokyo, Saitama Prefecture and elsewhere for homemakers to whip up the new product.

The group made about 500 kilograms of miso based on Sasu no miso and decided to sell about 120 kilograms of it at a sales booth at a temporary housing complex in the Matsukawa district in Fukushima city, where the villagers now live.

The group plans to keep making the miso next year and beyond.

"We don't want the genes of the village's miso to die out," Masuda said.

I'd rather that the "genes" died out. But Ms. Masuda's group is very actively pushing the program to "adopt" the Iitate miso. Active, live microorganisms in the miso had been in the irradiated environment in Iitate for 8 months or so, but "no health effect" for the organisms, I suppose.

I'm starting to feel that I do not have common genes with these people.

In the meantime, one of the two Iitate-mura residents that I follow on Twitter, Mr. Ito, casually tweeted the other day that the much prized Matsutake mushrooms he just collected would probably measure anything from 1,000 to 15,000 becquerels/kg. He said he was thinking of sending them to TEPCO with an invoice.

US Presidential Election: NBC Revealed "Result" One Day Early

In the meantime in the US, one day before the presidential election, NBC inadvertently released the screen of the "result" of the presidential election. As Politico's Dylan Byers notes, a test page for Tuesday's election results has gone public on NBC.

NBC's "result":

  • Popular vote Romney 55%, Obama 43%, with 16% in;

  • Electoral College Obama 280, Romney 257, with 270 needed to win

From Politico (11/5/2012):

Don't worry, Obama fans. The screen has since been corrected, and CNBC's Jim Cramer (of Mad Money fame) is predicting 98-440 (electoral college) landslide victory for Obama.

#Radioactive Japan: Naoto Kan Is One of Candidates Considered by an Anti-Nuke Citizens' Group as Next Governor of Tokyo

Never a dull day in Japan, full of (literally) fantastic stories.

This one I thought was a bad joke floating on the net, but it turns out the joke has a real possibility. So far, it is just a possibility, but the anti-nuclear citizens' group "Let’s Decide Together / Citizen-initiated National Referendum on Nuclear Power" set up a committee called "I Change Tokyo", and will interview several candidates on November 8 to decide who to endorse.

From the tweets (here and here) by the secretary-general of the group and a publishing author, reporting on a preliminary meeting they had on November 4:


Seven people made presentations about the candidates they would endorse. [The candidates were] Makoto Yuasa, Hiroko Uehara, Kenji Utsunomiya, Naoto Kan, Taro Yamamoto... We decided to speak with [these candidates] and ask them not only about "beyond nuclear" (脱原発) but 6 issues including nuclear plant referendum in Tokyo and punishment over the national flag and the national anthem.

As this news spread and people were dismayed, a horde of people started filling the net defending Kan by the now familiar refrain: "He saved Tokyo!" "He saved the world!" "Resolute leader!" "He stopped Hamaoka!"
  • Mr. Makoto Yuasa is a social activist and a former advisor to PM Naoto Kan.

  • Ms. Hiroko Uehara is a former mayor of Kunitachi City in Tokyo and a Social Democrat.

  • Mr. Kenji Utsunomiya is a high-profile attorney.

  • Mr. Taro Yamamoto is an actor turned anti-nuclear activist.

If Mr. Kan is really running for the governor of Tokyo, I guess temporary "downsizing" is in fashion. The boy wonder mayor of Osaka City was the governor of Osaka Prefecture, and now he says he will enter the national politics.

Among other things, I remember Mr. Kan as hiding behind TEPCO in early April in 2011 when they had to dump low-contamination water to make room for the highly contaminated water collected after cooling the broken reactors at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. Messrs. Kan (PM) and Edano (Chief Cabinet Secretary) and Kaieda (Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, in charge of NISA) had a middle manager of TEPCO make an announcement in the press conference, instead of them, particularly the "resolute" prime minister, announcing it. The message was clear: the nuclear accident was a problem of a private enterprise, nothing to do with the government. When the neighboring countries got upset that they hadn't been informed prior, Mr. Edano said the Foreign Ministry had sent them a fax.

Some argue that the citizens of Tokyo who elected Ishihara deserve no better. I suppose. But even those people didn't expect disaster debris with radioactive particles, arsenic, and asbestos to be burned right where they lived, thanks to the "resolute" governor.

Other mainstream choices for the coming gubernatorial election? Current Vice Mayor of Tokyo Naoki Inose with the strong endorsement from Mr. Ishihara, and Ms. Yuko Ando, Fuji TV newscaster, as LDP candidate.

The rationale behind the female newscaster is that a woman will be more attuned to what matters to people, kinder and gentler coalition building skills, and other typical blah blah blah. Well that has worked well for the citizens of Yokohama City, whose mayor "attuned" to the people's concerns kept feeding school children with radioactive beef despite protests from the parents.

Laugh and be merry. A laugh a day keeps radioactive cesium at bay.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

#Radioactive Japan: Tokyo Had a Day Tour to Fukushima to Re-Educate Grocers on "Baseless Rumors"

The trip was planned and made in October, before Shintaro Ishihara quit as Governor of Tokyo to stage a comeback to the national politics. Until the end, Mr. Ishihara strongly supported the farmers in Fukushima Prefecture instead of securing the safety for the residents of Tokyo. He should have been the governor of Fukushima.

From Yomiuri Shinbun Fukushima version (10/17/2012):


Tokyo Metropolitan government to hold a Fukushima tour to eradicate baseless rumors


In order to eradicate baseless rumors stemming from the nuclear accident, Tokyo Metropolitan government is planning free day trips to Fukushima Prefecture for the retailers who sell vegetables and fruits in Tokyo. The first trip will be on October 24, with 100 people participating.


According to the Tokyo government, the amount of Fukushima produce sold is recovering, but not yet reaching the level before the accident. This summer, it was a rich harvest of peaches, but the sales of Fukushima peaches in Tokyo Central Wholesome Market in July and August this year was 11% less than in the same period in 2010. The Tokyo government believes it was due to the continued baseless rumors, and has planned the tours for retailers. They will depart Tokyo on October 24 in 4 buses for Fukushima. At the prefectural agricultural experiment station in Koriyama City, they will observe a test for radioactive materials using the germanium semiconductor detector. Then they will go to the produce stands in Fukushima City and Koriyama City to observe simplified tests for vegetables and fruits.

The way I read the news is that in the minds of politicians and bureaucrats in the Tokyo Metropolitan government, as long as the level of transaction remains below that prior to the 2011 disaster, it means the "baseless rumors" against Fukushima produce are rampant, and the retailers need to be re-educated until they change their minds and start buying up a storm from Fukushima and dump them on consumers in Tokyo.

It is like those town hall meetings held in many municipalities throughout Japan, whose purpose was to simply keep repeating "Disaster debris is safe" until the residents get weary and just give up. When the residents do not give up, the politicians do it anyway. In case of Tokyo, Governor Ishihara didn't even bother to tell Tokyo residents. When some did question, the governor told them to shut up.

And just like last year, "Miss Peach" girls from Fukushima Prefecture were giving away famed peaches and other fruits and juice to people in Kawasaki City in Kanagawa Prefecture. "Oh it's sweet! It's delicious!" Just like last year: If it is delicious, it is safe. This year, they don't seem to even bother to find out if it contains radioactive cesium.

If peaches were good enough to give to the imperial family, or export to rich Thais, they sure are good enough for everyone in Japan. 34 Bq/kg of cesium from peach juice from Fukushima? Who cares?

Everything back to stupored normal, as it had been for over 20 years in Japan until the March 11, 2011 disaster. The shock didn't even last two years. Nothing to see here, move on.

(Photo from Yomiuri Shinbun)

#Radioactive Fish off Northeast Japan: Charts of Radioactivity of Bottom-Dwelling Fish Don't Show Much Downtrend (Halibut)

These charts are made by one of people I follow on Twitter, Kontan_Bigcat, who seems to have been very meticulously following the published data (both official and private, like NPOs) on radioactivity in Japan and been producing excellent charts visualizing the data.

From his updated togetter on radioactivity in bottom-dwelling fish in northern Japan on the Pacific Ocean side, charts and his comments (I added some English labels):

Halibut, north of Miyagi (Miyagi, Iwate, Aomori, Hokkaido), up to 9/30/2012 data: 20 to 40 Bq/kg in Sendai Bay (Miyagi), no discernible downtrend in radioactivity. Aomori is seeing an increase, from 5 Bq/kg at most in spring but 20 Bq/kg since summer:

Halibut, outside the 30-kilometer radius from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, up to 9/30/2012 data: Fish exceeding 1,000 Bq/kg is no longer found, but there is no discernible downtrend in radioactivity:

Shinchi-machi is located just south of Miyagi, and Iwaki City is north of Ibaraki.

Halibut, inside the 30-kilometer radius from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, up to 9/30/2012 data: Monitoring survey inside the 20-kilometer radius started in April, but there doesn't seem to be a difference between inside the 20-kilometer radius and between 20 and 30 kilometer radius. Fish that exceed 1,000 Bq/kg are no longer found, but there is no discernible downtrend in radioactivity:

Halibut, Ibaraki and south of Ibaraki (Chiba), up to 9/30/2012 data: It seems the radioactivity is slowly declining south of Ooarai, but north of Hitachinaka [i.e. closer to Fukushima] continues to show 10 to 40 Bq/kg, and there is no discernible downtrend.:

And the last chart for halibut, plotting all the data points, from north (Aomori, Hokkaido) to south (south of Choshi, Chiba):

Interestingly, the recent high for the radioactivity in halibut was found not inside the 20-kilometer radius from the plant, as one might expect, but outside, off Iwaki City, at 150 Bq/kg or so. The radioactivity in halibut caught in or off Sendai Bay is not far behind.

Kontan_Bigcat also has charts for marbled sole, common skete, greenling, Pacific cod, and Japanese sea bass (not the bottom-dwelling fish, but they feed on food on or near the ocean bottom). One greenling sample near the 20-kilometer radius from the plant tested 25,800 Bq/kg in August this year, as he notes, but successive tests at the location yielded radioactivity one order of magnitude lower (above 1,000 Bq/kg).

As Washington Post reports (quoting AP), Woods Hole researcher Ken Buesseler speculates in his article in Science magazine that steady radioactive cesium levels may indicate that cesium is being freshly supplied from the broken nuclear power plant.

It is possible, but there are other major and obvious sources of radioactive materials all along the coast of northern Japan: Rivers carrying radioactive sediments all the way from the mountains (where a lot of radioactive materials remain, un-"decontaminated"). Abukuma River in Fukushima alone carries 50 billion becquerels of radioactive cesium per day to the Pacific Ocean. The river runs through the contaminated middle third of Fukushima, and reaches Sendai Bay in Miyagi.

He also does not seem to consider "bioconcentration" much either - concentration of radioactive materials going up the food chain. For example, abalones in the seawater with 40bq/kg of radioactive cesium and the non-detectable level of radioactive silver (Ag-110m) were found with high concentration of both, particularly Ag-110m. Abalones eat seaweed.

Then there are coastal currents which shift bottom sands, which seems to be happening as evidenced by increasing radioactivity in halibut caught off Aomori/Hokkaido.

But Mr. Buesseler may have mentioned these in his article, which I do not have access to.

Just like many other stories in the past about Fukushima, his article, or the articles by the foreign media based on his article have been (re-)imported to Japan, and some Japanese are tweeting the same thing they have tweeted often before: "See, a foreign scientist is saying this, and the respected foreign media is reporting it! See how our own government and media lie and hide stuff! Fukushima I Nuke Plant is leaking!"

They do not read the fine print, that the Woods Hole researcher created his charts using the data from the Japanese government (and probably TEPCO, which is now part of the government), which has been available to anyone all along, and that it is his hypothesis that the plant continues to leak radioactive water.

But that's too much details for them, apparently.