Saturday, August 17, 2013

(Special Post for August 15 - Part 1) Japan's General Staff Office Knew About Hiroshima and Nagasaki Atomic Bombing in Advance and Did Nothing, According to 2011 NHK Documentary

(8/18/2013: Part 2 has been uploaded. They knew the B29 headed for Hiroshima was carrying the atomic bomb, they knew the B29 headed for Nagasaki was carrying the atomic bomb. They knew hours in advance.)


There is an NHK documentary that was aired two years ago on August 6, 2011, on the anniversary day of Hiroshima atomic bombing. I was unaware of this documentary until I saw a tweet a few days ago that had the link to a blogpost by Councilman Koichi Ohyama of Minamisoma City, Fukushima on September 25, 2012.

Mr. Ohyama's post from one year ago quotes the NHK documentary's announcement from two years ago, which says that the top officers of Japanese imperial army knew in advance the impending US attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and did not do anything.

Atomic bomb attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki have been described (at least in Japan) as "beyond expectation" (just like the Fukushima nuclear accident) and "surprise attacks" with no pre-warning by the US, who used to dump leaflets in Japanese from the planes to warn civilians of impending attacks.

But NHK says the top military officers in imperial Japan knew, and did nothing. The military essentially was the government during the war.

I had never heard of such a thing.

So I looked for the video of this documentary and watched it.

原爆投下 活(い)かされなかった極秘情報 by gataro-clone

To share what I learned with readers who do not speak Japanese, the following is my first-pass translation (not all strictly literal, subject to revision; links added for reference) from the NHK documentary titled "Atomic bombing - top secret information that was never utilized (原爆投下 活かされなかった極秘情報)", aired on August 6, 2011. Since the documentary is one-hour long, I have broken up into two parts with my summary for each, for easier reading.

Summary of Part 1:

Atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki has been considered "beyond expectation", "surprise attack". However, the General Staff Office of the Japanese Imperial Army knew about the secretive US activities on Tinian Island in the Northern Mariana Islands since June 1945. The special intelligence unit directly controlled by the General Staff Office had been monitoring the code signs of B29s on the Northern Mariana Islands, and it noticed the peculiar code signs of about a dozen B29s that suddenly appeared on the island of Tinian in June 1945, two months before the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The intelligence unit sensed these planes were on some unknown, special mission. The information was quickly shared with the top military officials.

Japan had been aware of the US efforts to develop atomic bombs, and it had started its own efforts to develop atomic bombs in 1943. But when the government had to abandon the effort in June 1945, it convinced itself that uranium extraction was impossible for anyone, including the United States. The Japanese government had information on successful detonation of the first atomic bomb on July 16, 1945 in New Mexico, but it again convinced itself that it couldn't be an atomic bomb.

The intelligence unit continued to monitor B29s with V600 call signs and kept informing the top officials. They did not connect the dots, and the mysterious B29s on Tinian Island remained mysteries as the fateful August 6, 1945 approached.



Tinian Island in the Northern Mariana Islands. August 6, 1945. North Field. Secret B-29 planes was about to depart, to drop the "special bombs" - atomic bombs on Japan.

An atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. Three days later, the same happened in Nagasaki.

So far, the atomic bombing in Hiroshima and Nagasaki is considered to have been utterly "beyond expectation" for the Japanese, "surprise attacks". However, in fact, the Japanese military intelligence unit had known in advance the US activities surrounding the atomic bombing. They were monitoring the US military communications.

NHK has uncovered what little information left on the matter, and found eyewitnesses, diaries, audio tapes of the deceased officers in charge of intelligence. What NHK has found out is the fact that the military knew the danger was imminent but nothing was done.

The military intelligence unit had started tracking what they called "special task planes" which became active in June 1945 on Tinian Island, two months before the atomic bombing. On August 6, 1945, they knew the movement of the bomber approaching Hiroshima.

In case of Nagasaki, the top officers of the military knew the bomber was approaching Nagasaki, 5 hours before the bomb was dropped.

Was there anything that could have been done?

People who had been involved and who had said nothing since the end of the World War II have started to talk.

There was no air-raid siren. People were exposed to radiation and heat from the atomic bombs, without any protection. More than 200,000 people died in 1945 alone in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Why was nothing done, when they had intelligence surrounding the atomic bombing?

For the first time in 66 years, here's the truth.


(5:02 - Intelligence)

The former headquarters of the special army intelligence unit in Suginami-Ward in Tokyo. Ryoji Hasegawa, 88, was a second lieutenant of the Japanese Imperial Army. He was told never to disclose even the existence of the unit, which became active in the spring of 1945. The unit was directly under the General Staff Office, charged with collecting the enemy intelligence. One of the tasks for Hasegawa was to collect information on B-29 bombers, as the US air raids using B-29 on Japan intensified in March 1945.

There were more than 100 members in the special intelligence unit. They were listening in on the Morse code used between the bombers and the bases. The messages were mostly encrypted, and deciphering was difficult. However, there was a short signal at the top that was not encrypted.

That was a call sign. It started with "V", followed by three digits, and that would let the receiver know who was sending the message.

The monitoring records of the Japanese military. Most of the records were destroyed after the war, but NHK found some that survived. Most call signs were from the Mariana Islands.

The special intelligence unit noticed that bombers from each island had different call signs. Saipan: V400s, Guam: V500s, and Tinian: V700s. By monitoring the call signs, they could tell how many bombers were coming from which island. The unit was able to predict where they were headed, by continuously monitoring the call signs.

Hasegawa: "We would collect the information, and tell the General Staff Office how many B29 bombers were likely to go which direction. 200 here, 300 there..."


(9:40 - V600 call signs from Tinian Island in June 1945)

June 1945. The special intelligence unit noticed something abnormal. They caught mysterious call signs that they had never heard before. Hasegawa says, "They were call signs in V600s. We'd seen 400s, 500s and 700s, and they come from Saipan, Guam, Tinian. But now, V600s. Something was wrong, we thought."

They were coming from Tinian Island. On the island that had been using call signs in 700s, there was now a new group of B29 bombers using call signs in 600s. What was their purpose? The unit strengthened its monitoring capability to watch closely.

Tinian Island was taken by the US in August 1944. North Field of Tinian Island, which was the base for Japan bombing raids. A special unit arrived there in June 1945 and started using call signs in V600s. It was the 509th Composite Group, which later dropped atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

One of the Group was Mr. Russel Guggenbach (spelling is my guess), 88. He participated in the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as a crew member of B29. Mr. Guggenbach says the contact with other units was strictly forbidden on the island.

"The new commander informed us that there was going to be new officer, a new bomb was being developed, and if successful the bomb would shorten the war. We were told we were on the tight security, and we should obey orders and what we learned, what we saw, we learned to keep it ourselves. We were not supposed to tell even to our best friends."

The US was spending 2 billion dollars to develop atomic bombs.

There were about 10 B29s of this special unit on Tinian Island that used the call signs in V600s. Compared to other B29s that went on the air raids on Japan, 200 or 300 planes at a time, it was incredibly small. Guggenbach says they did the pin-point bombing practice in the nearby small islands, though they didn't know the final destination. All their training, says Guggenbach, "was for this special bomb, on a special mission."


(15:03 - How much did the top Japanese military officers know about this information?)

Major Eizo Hori was in charge of providing intelligence collected by the special intelligence unit to the top officers in the General Staff Office. He died 16 years ago, but according to his family he had always blamed himself for not being able to stop the atomic bombing. His family kept an audio tape that Hori made several years before his death, about the special unit on Tinian Island.

"Unit with the call signs in 600s, it was a mysterious unit. When we followed the numbers carefully, we found that there were only 12 or 13 of them. So far, B29s were in hundreds. Something was wrong. We started to call them "special task plane". Something was very wrong, and we did our best to keep track of them..."

Major Hori's information of the "special task planes" was conveyed all the way to the top of the General Staff Office. However, Hori said he didn't know at that time that the "special task" was atomic bombing.


(17:57 - What the military/Hideki Tojo knew about the US atomic bomb development)

Japanese Imperial Army had known from early on that the US had been developing nuclear bombs. In the spring of 1943, General Hideki Tojo, who was then the Minister of War, spoke to people in charge of weapon development. He said,

"We also have information that the development of atomic bombs is in an advanced stage in the US. This development may decide the fate of the war."

General Tojo then ordered the aviation headquarters to start the development of atomic bombs.

The best and the brightest in the nation were gathered. One of them was Mr. Kunihiko Kigoshi, 92. He was in charge of developing the uranium compound to be used in the bombs. Dr. Yoshio Nishina of Institute of Physical and Chemical Research led the group of researchers including Mr. Kigoshi.

Mr. Kigoshi says Dr. Nishina was frequently called to the aviation headquarters of the Japanese Imperial Army to be asked about the progress on atomic bomb development.

"After Dr. Nishina returned from the aviation headquarters, we were called to his office and told to do our best. I believe he was under significant pressure from the Army."

In the mountainous region of Fukushima Prefecture, uranium ore was being mined by school students. Mr. Kiwamu Ariga, 80, was one of the students mobilized for the war efforts to mine uranium. He and his fellow students mined, and then transported uranium ore on their backs.

One day, to inspire the students doing the harsh labor, an army officer came and spoke to the students. Mr. Ariga says,

"The officer told us that a bomb will be made from the stones we were carrying. He said a small matchbox-size [bomb] would destroy a large city like New York in an instant. So keep up your effort, said the officer."

However, the Imperial Army gave up on developing the atomic bomb at the end of June, 1945. It was due to lack of materials and resources, as the US air raids became too frequent.

But that was not the reason cited in an Army report. The report said, "It turned out that it was impossible to extract radioactive uranium. In the US, they came to the conclusion that it was impossible."

As an excuse for discontinuing the development, the Army made a baseless assertion that even the US couldn't do it [extract uranium]. [This is by NHK's narrator - i.e. NHK's opinion.]

Mr. Kigoshi says,

"They had to have a reason for discontinuing. If they thought the US might succeed, that would mean Japan would totally lose. The environment was such that it prohibited that kind of thought from entering into people's minds."


(23:27 - The US succeeds in the first atomic bomb detonation in New Mexico)

But right after Japan halted the development of atomic bombs, the US carried out the first successful atomic bomb experiment in New Mexico on July 16, 1945. Fragments of this information were delivered to the General Staff Office. But no one dared admit it was an atomic bomb.

After the war, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs compiled the history of the war. A person who served as secretary to the Minister of War wrote a memo on the incident:

"We had the report of a new weapon tested in New Mexico that had large explosive power. But no one thought it was an atomic bomb."

Mr. Kigoshi, who was involved in Japan's effort to develop atomic bombs, says it was impossible for the top Army officers not to know it was an atomic bomb.

"Of course, even at that time, they must have thought the bomb was utilizing nuclear fission, I believe. Japan's development effort was just too small-scale. I thought it would be the US who would succeed."

The Imperial Army refused to recognize that the US had succeeded in developing an atomic bomb. Mysterious B29s on Tinian Island, dubbed "special task planes" by the Japanese intelligence, remained mysterious. The fateful day approached.

(To be continued in Part 2 of the post)

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Alpha Nuclides Found in Condensed Water from Reactor 3's PCV Gas Control System

As the sudden and renewed media attention (latest I found today was from Bloomberg News, informing the readers about that "300 tons of water laced with radioactive particles") is being focused on contaminated water (highly contaminated water in the underground trenches, low-contamination water in the observation holes along the embankment which is a reclaimed land along the ocean) at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, there are other curious surveys and examinations being done at the plant, without any media attention.

The probe of Reactor 2's Containment Vessel into the pedestal area is one. Here, I think, is another.

On August 12, 2013, TEPCO announced the result of the alpha-nuclide analysis of condensed water from the gas control system of Reactors 1, 2 and 3. I believe this is the first time that TEPCO has ever tested alpha nuclides in gas/condensed water coming out of any Containment Vessel.

All-alpha was not detected in the condensed water from the gas control system of Reactors 1 and 2, but there was a small amount of all-alpha, max 0.19 Bq/cm3 (cubic centimeter) detected from the condensed water from the gas control system of Reactor 3.

Reactor 3 was using MOX-fuel with extra plutonium as part of fuel when it was shut down on March 11, 2011. 32 MOX-fuel assemblies were installed in the fuel core when Reactor 3 was restarted in October 2010 after a scheduled maintenance.

From TEPCO's handout for the press in English, 8/12/2013:

Sampling Results (All α) of Condensed Water at Unit 1-3 PCV Gas Control System (the Entrance of HEPA Filter) in Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station

TEPCO had done the nuclide analysis for condensed water for gamma nuclides (including radioactive cesium) back in June, and there was no statistical difference between the reactors.

Even though TEPCO hasn't identified which alpha nuclides were found in the condensed water from the Reactor 3 gas control system, it seems the company suspects the contamination of Reactor 3 building may be different from that of other reactor buildings, which may pose problems in the future decontamination work.

TEPCO has been injecting nitrogen gas into the Primary Containment Vessels of Reactors 1, 2 and 3 to prevent the concentration of hydrogen gas. The gas control system with HEPA filter has been installed to treat the gas being pushed out of the PCV, and there are particulate filters and charcoal filters to collect radioactive materials in the gas. There are also drains to collect condensed water.

The nitrogen injection system and the gas control system of Reactor 3 were installed in July 2011, with TEPCO workers and affiliate company workers getting 5.34 millisieverts radiation for 9-minute work. The hose for the nitrogen injection had to be installed in the area with 55 millisieverts/hour radiation.

(There are several, curious loose ends about Reactor 3. I'm writing a post for my record.)

PM Abe's Decision not to Visit Yasukuni "Looks to the Future", Says US Senator Bob Menendez

Senator Bob Menendez is the Democratic senior Senator from New Jersey, and he serves as the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

He's visiting Japan right now.

The US has been rather active in East Asia and Southeast Asia recently.

Menendez said of Abe's decision,

"the decision is "an expression of looking towards the future and understanding the importance of his decision in context of Japan's future in the region"

If Prime Minister Abe officially visited the shrine, would there still be a future for Japan in the region?

From Kyodo News English, via (8/14/2013):

Abe's decision not to visit Yasukuni "looks to future"

The visiting chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday welcomed Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's decision not to visit the war-related Yasukuni Shrine on the anniversary of Japan's surrender in World War II, saying it "looks to the future."

Robert Menendez, who will talk with Abe on Thursday, told reporters in Tokyo the decision is "an expression of looking towards the future and understanding the importance of his decision in context of Japan's future in the region," given that the Tokyo shrine is seen by other Asian countries as a symbol of Japan's past militarism.

Separately, Menendez called for the restoration of Japan-China relations during a meeting with the leader of the New Komeito party, the junior partner in Japan's ruling coalition.

Menendez told Natsuo Yamaguchi that Japan is the axis of U.S. policy for stability in Asia and the United States wants to overcome regional challenges in cooperation with Japan.

He also said the United States, Japan and South Korea should deepen cooperation, but that did not mean ganging up on China, according to a New Komeito lawmaker who briefed reporters after the meeting at the Diet building.

Given repeated intrusions by Chinese vessels in what Japan claims as its territorial waters near the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, Yamaguchi said, "It is important to avoid a contingency by setting up a maritime communication system."

Yamaguchi said New Komeito intends to deal with the issue by keeping in mind the importance of dialogue.

On the U.S. military presence in Okinawa, Menendez was quoted as saying that he wants to proceed with the relocation of U.S. forces to Guam, but given the importance of the U.S. military role in the Asia-Pacific region, he wants to maintain a good balance in the area.

The meeting took place ahead of Yamaguchi's planned trip to Washington and New York from Sept. 8 to 13.

It is as if Mr. Menendez is trying to make sure the Komei Party sticks with Abe's LDP.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: In-the-Ground Water Storage Ponds Are "Floating" Because of Groundwater Pressure

It's one thing after another at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant. Today, it's the floating ponds.

Remember those in-the-ground water storage ponds that leaked back in April? They were originally constructed for storage of treated water. But as TEPCO was running out of above-the-ground steel tanks, TEPCO consulted with the then-regulator Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency bureaucrats and experts in August 2012. NISA officially allowed the use of these in-the-ground water storage ponds for highly contaminated, post-RO (reverse osmosis) waste water with high beta.

The ponds were lined with thin liners, as if they were garden ponds, and the water leaked. That was not what the elites at TEPCO and NISA were expected. TEPCO was forced to move the waste water into above-the-ground steel tanks.

These ponds have stood empty since May/June. Well of course they float.

Now, TEPCO announced that they found two of these ponds "floating", or bulging in the center. TEPCO doesn't say why, but Asahi Shinbun (8/13/2013) speculates it may be from the groundwater pressure:

貯水槽40センチ浮く 福島第一原発、地下水の浮力か

In-the-ground water storage ponds float 40 centimeters [max] at Fukushima I Nuke Plant, probably due to buoyancy from groundwater


TEPCO announced on August 13 that the in-the-ground water storage ponds at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant which leaked contaminated water in April were found floating maximum 40 centimeters. It is probably due to buoyancy created by groundwater flowing around the ponds. The contaminated water has been transferred to the above-the-ground tanks, and the ponds are empty. TEPCO says there is no fresh leak of contaminated water.


According to TEPCO, the Pond No.3 (56 x 45 x 6 meters) that contained highly contaminated water is floating maximum 40 centimeters, and the Pond No.4 (40 x 25 x 6 meters) that contained low-contamination water from the basements of Reactors 5 and 6 buildings is floating maximum 15 centimeters.


The Pond No.3 and the Pond No.4 are located west (mountain-side) of the reactor buildings. According to TEPCO, 1,000 tonnes of groundwater is flowing there per day, and the groundwater levels in the area where the in-the-ground ponds are located have risen by 1 meter or so since April.


As a countermeasure, TEPCO will put a 50-centimeter layer of gravel at the bottom of the ponds as weights. If the groundwater levels suddenly rise due to heavy rain, TEPCO will draw groundwater from the wells around the ponds and move the water to different ponds.

Uh... musical ponds?

Why don't they simply pump up the groundwater there and put it in these ponds?

It was just too bad and extremely short-sighted for TEPCO and NISA to use these ponds for highly contaminated waste water. They could have used these ponds to store clean groundwater before it goes anywhere near the reactor buildings and from there released into the ocean.

From TEPCO's handout for the press, 8/13/2013, Pond No.3:

Monday, August 12, 2013

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant Groundwater Contamination: 1st Well in Operation, 13 Tonnes of Groundwater Drawn in 6 Hours

Assuming the same pace throughout the 24-hour period, it would be only 52 tonnes of water - about half of much publicized 100 tonnes per well per day, totaling "300 tonnes of contaminated water" assumption by METI.

From TEPCO's English press release, from the Japanese email alert for the press, 8/9/2013:

Status of Pumping up Groundwater from the Water Collection Pit at the East Side of the Unit 1, 2 Turbine Building in Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station

At 2:10 PM today (on August 9), groundwater was pumped up from the water collection pit (south) installed at the east side of the Unit 1, 2 Turbine Building and transferred to Unit 2 vertical shaft C.

Amount of groundwater pumping up from the water collection pit as of 8:00 PM today (on August 9) is approx. 13m3. Of those, approx. 3m3 are transferring to the vertical shaft C.

So, TEPCO is pumping up the groundwater in the embankment area to dump it back in Shaft C, where the highly contaminated water from April 2011 has been sitting. TEPCO's representative at yesterday's meeting of Nuclear Regulatory Authority's working group on dealing with contaminated water at the plant was saying the operation would be useful in diluting the density of radioactive materials in the highly contaminated water.


Here's the pit that became operational (from TEPCO's Photos and Videos Library, 8/9/2013):

Groundwater is pumped up by the suction pump (small black thing on the left), then transferred to the filtration tank (red tank in the middle), then to the gray water tank. Then it will be transported to Shaft C in the flexible blue tube you see coming out of the gray tank.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant Reactor 2 Containment Vessel Probe: Camera Stopped Just Short of Pedestal Opening

So close. TEPCO posted a short report on August 12 with photos as if that was what had been planned all along - to stop right at the opening of the pedestal.

However, the worker who tweeted from Fukushima I Nuke Plant and now tweets from somewhere else, "Happy", said in his August 10 tweet that the probe was done on August 9, but TEPCO couldn't retrieve the camera and the water sample and had to abandon the probe.

I'm not sure the August 12 attempt was a third one (if "Happy" is correct), instead of second. But it's clear from TEPCO's report that they didn't collect the water, and they do not have the video.

On their initial attempt on August 2, 2013 and the video, see my post on August 4, 2013. TEPCO clearly intended, from the first attempt, to insert the camera inside the pedestal.

From TEPCO's Photos and Videos Library, 8/12/2013:

Temperature at (1) was 41 degrees Celsius, and temperature at (2) was 45 degrees Celsius, according to the same document. The radiation levels at those points are "under evaluation".

Click to enlarge the photos.





(UPDATED) #Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Mist Was Not Radioactive, But TEPCO Doesn't Know What Was

(UPDATE 2) 10 workers were all TEPCO employees.

(UPDATE) Some researchers and independent journalists are speculating as to what could have contaminated the workers and how. Researchers Jun Makino and @study2007, and journalist Ryuichi Kino seem to have come to the same, albeit tentative, conclusion which can be summarized as:

A mass of air containing radioactive materials was passing the area, and caught by the mist and fell on the workers.

Another unconfirmed story is that the mist generator was contaminated. No information as to how it got contaminated.


This is a follow-up on the last post about workers who were waiting for the bus to take them from the Anti-Seismic Building to the checkpoint near the main gate at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant and somehow got their heads and faces contaminated with radioactive materials.

TEPCO at first suspected the water used in the mist generator, but it says the test confirmed the levels of radionuclides were below detection levels.

So what caused the sudden rise in radioactivity in that particular location? TEPCO says it doesn't know, but is certain that it was a one-off, localized event.

The workers had maximum 19 Bq/cm2 (square centimeter) of contamination, not 10 Bq/cm2. Test by WBC showed no internal radiation exposure.

TEPCO did disclose some information about the water source, in the handout for the press on August 12, 2013 (English labels added by me). As I added to my previous post, TEPCO has its own dedicated water source for the plant, which is a river water. As NHK reported, the water is dammed, and then transported, I assume via the duct or pipe, to the plant, just outside the plant perimeter. There is a water purification facility there. The purified water is then fed to the plant for daily use. How it is fed to the plant buildings is not explained:

Latest from #Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Workers Being Sprayed with Radioactive Mist

(UPDATE 3) TEPCO says it tested the water, and gamma nuclides, all-beta were NOT DETECTED. So how did 10 workers get contaminated? No one knows, but the contamination was not 10 Bq/cm2 but 19 Bq/cm2 on their heads and faces.


(UPDATE 2) Before the accident, TEPCO had its own water source to supply to the plant. If TEPCO is still using the same water, it is a river water. (Information from Fukushima Prefecture, H/T Dr. Moriguchi)

(UPDATE) According to NHK, the water comes from a dam about 10 kilometers west of the plant. No details as to how the water gets to the plant.


TEPCO's email alerts to the press today (August 12, 2013) are about a mysterious rise in radioactive levels in front of the Anti-Seismic Building and how it may have happened.

10 workers ended up with max 10 Bq/cm2 (square centimeter) of radioactive materials on their heads and faces, and will be checked by WBC.

How? They were doused with mist from water contaminated with radioactive materials. Why were they being doused with mist? To prevent heatstroke. How did the water get contaminated? That's what TEPCO is investigating right now.

The water used for the mist generator is also used in toilets in the Anti-Seismic Building, the headquarters for all the work being done at the plant.

First alert:


At 12:33PM today (August 12), an alarm went off from the continuous dust monitoring system installed in front of the Anti-Seismic Building, indicating radioactive density was high.


At 12:48PM, we instructed workers to put in masks in the areas where workers are no longer required to put on full-face (and half-face) masks. We are currently observing the continuous dust monitoring system and carrying out measurement using portable dust sampler. We will let you know as soon as we know more.

Second alert:


In order to prevent heatstroke, we've been spraying workers with water mist in front of the Anti-Seismic Building. Bodily contamination was found on 10 people who were waiting for the bus in front of the Anti-Seismic Building.


The cause of contamination may be the mist from the mist generator. We are conducting detailed investigation.


As of 1:25pm, the mist generator is stopped.

Third (latest) alert:


The water used in the Anti-Seismic Building and Reactors 5 and 6 (in toilets, etc.) comes from the same source as the water used in the mist generator which is likely to be the cause of contamination on the body. So we stopped the use of water in the toilets at 1:16PM, and notified the workers by the simultaneous broadcasting system.


At 1:40PM we closed off the master valve of the pipe that feeds water to the mist generator and to the Anti-Seismic Building and Reactors 5 and 6.


10 workers with bodily contamination have maximum 10 Bq/cm2 of contamination on their heads/faces. We have instructed them to undergo WBC.


We are conducting the nuclide analysis of the water in the mist generator, and will let you know the result as soon as possible.

No information as to WHERE the water source is located.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Historical Radioactive Cesium Levels in Seawater Near Water Intakes Inside Plant Harbor - From 71 Million Bq/L to 200 Bq/L in 2 Years

(Warning: the post is very long. It's for my record.)

The post was being written for my Japanese blog in early August, but I may write it up for here as well for my record, in light of the off-handed remark of "300 tonnes of contaminated water leaking every day" by a career bureaucrat from the most powerful government ministry in Japan.

The remark was actually a mere assumption by the official and his office but was reported as "fact" by the reporters from Japanese and foreign media who were present at the press conference and who heard the official repeat the word "assumption" a number of times throughout the press conference.

It was not just established mass media but also some independent journalists who decided to go with the "300 tonnes of contaminated water" assumption, because it fits their narrative of hopeless situation at Fukushima (plant) and in Fukushima (prefecture).

The latest article (8/11/2013) by one of the independent journalists covering the nuclear accident presents an amazing story - a hearsay supposedly directly from workers at the plant that this "300-tonne-a-day contaminated water" is flowing like a river, no, it's worse, it's pouring out like a waterfall. Needless to say, this article in Japanese is being retweeted at a furious pace. No doubt it will be translated into English and spread throughout the world very soon, if not already.

After the remark by the METI bureaucrat was widely reported as "fact", the mental image held by people outside Japan (and many inside) seems to be that the "highly" contaminated water directly from the basements of the turbine building at Fukushima I Nuke Plant is flooding into the Pacific Ocean unchecked and polluting marine life, some experts claim as far away as in southern hemisphere.

The actual "highly" contaminated water, whose contamination is so high that it is expressed in Bq/cm3 instead of Bq/Liter (as in "millions of becquerels of radioactive cesium per cubic centimeter"), sits in the underground trenches coming from the turbine buildings. It's been mostly sitting there since April and May 2011.

These trenches may have been damaged by March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami, or by subsequent strong aftershocks, and part of this water may have been seeping into the layers of crushed stones beneath the trenches and into the surrounding soil, which then gets mixed with the groundwater that's been flowing from the mountain-side (west side) of the plant. Radioactive cesium, all-beta including strontium, tritium, and several other gamma nuclides have been detected in the sample water (probably this mixture of groundwater and the trench water) from the observation holes dug along the embankment.

The density of radioactive cesium in the sample water from the observation holes is expressed in liter instead of in cubic centimeter, as the contamination is far less than the water in the trenches, and as the contamination of seawater is measured in liter. Instead of millions of becquerels of cesium per cubic centimeter (or in liter, billions of becquerels) as in the water in the trenches, the sample water from the observation holes has between 10s and 1000s becquerels of cesium per liter.

And what about the seawater itself? The seawater samples have been taken almost every day since April 2011 from right outside the water intakes for the reactors, which is located along the embankment. TEPCO calls it "open culvert". Each water intake location is somewhat sealed off by silt screen, and the open culvert is also somewhat sealed off by silt screen from the rest of the plant harbor.

Diagram from TEPCO's "Enhancement of Monitoring Plan at the East Side of Unit 1-4 Turbine Buildings and in the Port at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station", 6/26/2013, showing the plant harbor and the open culvert area (in gray) where the water intakes are located. Silt screens are indicated in curved lines in red:

As of August 1, 2013, the highest measurement of radioactive cesium in seawater was 66 becquerels/liter of cesium-134, and 140 becquerels/liter of cesium-137, inside the silt screen of Reactor 3 water intake in the open culvert. Outside the silt screen, the numbers drop to 13 Bq/L for cesium-134, and 23 Bq/L for cesium-137.

Maximum amount of cesium in discharge water allowed for Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant BEFORE the accident, per liter:

  • Cesium-134: 60 becquerels/liter

  • Cesium-137: 90 becquerels/liter

From TEPCO's Nuclide Analysis Result Page (in Japanese only):

Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant nuclide analysis of seawater inside the plant harbor, released on August 1, 2013

  • Unit: Bq/L (liter)

  • Maximum density: Seawater at Reactor 3 water intake screen (inside the silt fence) Cesium-134 66 Bq/L, Cesium-137 140 Bq/L 

Now, going back in time, what was the density of radioactive cesium in the extremely contaminated water that was pouring out from the crack in the concrete wall near the Reactor 2 water intake screen in April 2011?

  • Cesium134 1.8 million Bq/cm3 (or 1.8 billion Bq/Liter)

  • Cesium-137 1.8 million Bq/cm3 (or 1.8 billion Bq/Liter) 

(Photo from TEPCO's Photos and Videos 4/2/2011)

What about the density of radioactive cesium in seawater when the above "highly" contaminated water was pouring out of the crack?

Nuclide analysis of seawater inside the plant harbor, released on April 5, 2011:

  • Unit: Bq/cm3 (cubic centimeter, or 1/1000 of liter)

  • Maximum density: seawater at the Reactor 2 water intake screen Cesium-134 35,000 Bq/cm3 (or 35 million Bq/Liter), Cesium-137 36,000 Bq/cm3 (or 36 million Bq/Liter

The density of radioactive cesium in seawater then rapidly fell down. Nearly three months later, the density was low enough to be expressed in becquerels per liter, instead of becquerels per cubic centimeter.

Nuclide analysis of seawater inside the plant harbor, released on July 31, 2011

  • Unit: Bq/L (Liter)

  • Maximum: Seawater in front of Reactor 3 water intake screen (inside the silt fence) Cesium-134 1,300 Bq/L, Cesium-137 1,500 Bq/L

Expressed in liter, the density of radioactive cesium in seawater went from 71 million Bq/L in April to 2,800 Bq/L in July, 2011.

By the end of 2011, the density of radioactive cesium in seawater right in front of water intake screens dropped to three digits, from 4 digits in July.

Nuclide analysis of seawater inside the plant harbor, released on December 22, 2011

  • Unit: Bq/L 

  • Maximum: Seawater in front of Reactor 3 water intake screen (inside the silt fence) Cesium-134 310 Bq/L, Cesium-137 340 Bq/L

One year later in December 2012, the density further dropped to two digits, but still above the legal limit for discharge water from the normal nuclear power plant (Cs-134: 60 Bq/L, Cs-137: 90 Bq/L).

Nuclide analysis of seawater inside the plant harbor, released on December 31, 2012

  • Unit: Bq/L 

  • Maximum: Seawater in front of Reactor 3 water intake screen (inside the silt fence) Cesium-134 40 Bq/L, Cesium-137 76 Bq/L

In early 2013, the density dropped below the legal limit of radioactive cesium in the discharge water from the normal nuclear power plant (again, Cs-134: 60 Bq/L, Cs-137: 90 Bq/L).

Here's from April 1, 2013, one day before TEPCO started the construction of the impermeable wall by driving down sheet piles with vibratory hammer along the embankment.

Nuclide analysis of seawater inside the plant harbor, released on April 1, 2013

  • Unit: Bq/L 

  • Maximum: Seawater in front of Reactor 4 water intake screen (inside the silt fence) Cesium-134 17 Bq/L, Cesium-137 49 Bq/L

The data released on April 2 and April 3 do not show much difference. However, from the seawater sample taken on April 3, one day after the construction using sheet piles and vibratory hammer started, radioactive cesium was found again exceeding the legal limit for Cs-137.

Nuclide analysis of seawater inside the plant harbor, released on April 4, 2013

  • Unit: Bq/L 

  • Maximum: Seawater in front of Reactor 3 water intake screen (inside the silt fence) Cesium-134 59 Bq/L, Cesium-137 110 Bq/L

Depending on the locations, some samples show the density of radioactive cesium one order of magnitude larger than the samples taken before the start of the construction work, from two digits to three digits. Since then, the density of cesium in the seawater in front of water intake screens has been fluctuating between two-digit numbers and three-digit numbers.

Here's a chart plotting the density of radioactive cesium in seawater at the Reactor 3 water intake screen, inside the silt fence. It's a composite of the chart released on April 20 and the chart released on August 1. The thin red line indicates 10 to the power of 2 (1.0E+2). (Y-axis is in log scale.)

Toward the end of April, as the construction of the impermeable wall with sheet piles progressed, the density of radioactive cesium in seawater started to fluctuate wider.

Still, as far as radioactive cesium is concerned, the seawater in front of the water intake screens has not at all reached the level of contamination that obtained when the truly highly contaminated water from the Reactor 2 turbine building was pouring out into the ocean in April 2011.

It is safe, I believe, to assume that the highly contaminated water that still exists in the trenches and which has radioactive cesium in billions of becquerels per liter is not leaking in great quantity into the seawater yet.

If the density of radioactive cesium in the seawater in front of the water intake increases to 4 digit numbers per liter, I might start to worry. So far, it hasn't happened, despite TEPCO's (and METI/Agency of Natural Resources and Energy's) ill-conceived attempt to stop the groundwater flow with waterglass.