Daily Archives: May 14, 2011

Japan Nuclear Disaster Update 23: Exposures exposed, the hole in Reactor #1, and the sea around us …

There is a lot happening in Japan, and the situation at Fukushima remains pretty much out of human control. There is a nuclear incident at a reactor site other than Fukushima. There is still quite a bit of radioactive material leaking into the sea. The radiation levels in the crippled Fukushima plants is still high or even rising. There is information coming out now about radiation levels and exposure that was apparently kept secret earlier for fear of causing panic. And so on. Check out Ana’s feed (below) for numerous details and links.

One of the most important things to have come to light in the last few days is this: Early in this crisis the nuclear fuel in Reactor #1 melted down and created a hole in the containment vessel. This is something that was in fact indicated by the available evidence of the time but denied by many who felt it could not possibly happen. Several weeks ago there was a report of an eye witness account of a hole in this reactor vessel. This was put aside by many because it was felt that it could not possibly happen. Well, now we are being told that it happened. Reactor #1 truly melted down and breached its containment, and this reactor is now one of the more important sources of radioactive material at the plant, the radioactive water that is stopping workers from working there, and the radiation pouring into the sea.

There seems to be a fair amount of water that is disappearing from this melted down reactor, and no one knows where it is going.

It is also important to note that there are still concerns about a possible hydrogen explosion.

There are attempts underway to install an effective cooling system at Reactor #1. It does not seem that any plans have been proposed that directly address the problem of the hole in the vessel.

Ana’s Feed:

Radiation leaks from fuel rods suspected at Tsuruga plant – Kyodo, May

-Leaks of radioactive substances from fuel rods are suspected to have occurred at a nuclear power plant in Tsuruga, the Fukui prefectural government said Monday, citing a rise in the level of radioactive substances in coolant water


Belated release of radiation forecast data – NHK, May 2

-The Japanese government is about to begin releasing data projecting the spread of radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant that it initially withheld for fear of causing panic.

-A joint task force of the government and Tokyo Electric Power Company says about 5,000 undisclosed bits of data will be released from Tuesday.

-Hosono said the task force withheld the information because some data were based on overly rigorous assumptions and feared it may trigger panic. But he said the task force now believes that panic can be avoided if it offers proper explanations on the projections. He also promised to promptly release all such data in the future.



Govt to screen contaminated debris – NHK, May 2

-The Environment Ministry has ordered municipalities near the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to wait before removing radiation-tainted debris from the March 11th quake and tsunami.

-Vice Minister Hideki Minamikawa told reporters that his ministry wants to quickly carry out the checks to allow local authorities who clear radiation screenings to remove the debris as soon as possible.

-Municipalities located far from the plant are allowed to remove debris as usual.



Another gov’t prediction system failed in Fukushima nuke accident – Kyodo, May 3

-Japan’s system for predicting the volume of radioactive materials to be released into the environment failed in the wake of the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant due to the power supply cut following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, sources close to the matter said Monday.


Gov’t assumed massive radiation exposure from Fukushima nuclear plant – Kyodo, May 3

-The government assumed a worst-case scenario of ”significant public exposure” to radiation when workers were struggling to bring a nuclear reactor under control at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant a day after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, Kyodo News learned Tuesday.


URGENT: Seabed radiation 100-1,000 times normal level off Fukushima plant: TEPCO – Kyodo, May 3

-Radiation readings have risen to 100-1,000 times the normal level on the Pacific seabed near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the operator said Tuesday.


Lab Experts Discuss Fukushima Crisis – Berkeley Lab

video – http://today.lbl.gov/2011/04/18/lab-experts-discuss-fukushima-crisis/


EPA ends special monitoring for Japan disaster fallout – Washington Independent, May 4

radiation sampling in recent weeks has shown fallout from Fukushima in rain, drinking water and milk, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced yesterday that it is returning to its regular program of quarterly sampling.

-During the stepped up sampling EPA identified radioactive iodine (I-131) in rainwater at levels that exceed limits for drinking water and in some areas milk was found to have more I-131 than allowed by EPA.

-Researchers at the Dept. of Nuclear Engineering at University California Berkeley have documented radioactive cesium in the topsoil in California, which has given rise to concerns that radioactive particles may enter the food supply.



Work for full restoration of reactor cooling system to start Sun. – Kyodo, May 4

-Tokyo Electric Power Co. will start work Sunday to install a new cooling system at a reactor of its radiation-leaking Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the operator said Wednesday.


Gov’t to determine if evacuees could return home early next year – Kyodo, May 4

-Prime Minister Naoto Kan said Wednesday the government will determine early next year if evacuees from the nuclear emergency in Fukushima Prefecture could return home.


TEPCO chief visits Fukushima again to offer apology – Kyodo, May 4

-Tokyo Electric Power Co. President Masataka Shimizu on Wednesday apologized for the crisis at the company’s nuclear power plant during his visit to the disaster headquarters of Hirono, Fukushima Prefecture.


TEPCO neglected radiation checks in building where two women absorbed high doses – Mainichi, May 5

-Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) failed to check the levels of radiation inside a key operation center at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant before two female workers were exposed to high levels of radiation there.

-TEPCO said it had been aware that the levels of radiation inside the building were high. But it then said, “We initially thought that way because the levels of radiation outside the building were high.” TEPCO started checking the levels of radiation in the building on March 24 — a day after it stopped female workers from working there.

-“We should’ve had workers wear masks earlier. I believe the fact that radioactive substances entered the building after the hydrogen explosion will be an important lesson for us. We want to assess the way TEPCO handled the situation as quickly as possible,” said Hidehiko Nishiyama, a spokesman for the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.



Govt to decide on evacuees return in early 2012 – NHK, May 5

Prime Minister Naoto Kan says his government will determine early next
year whether evacuees who live around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear
plant will be able to return home.



Stabilizing cooling systems in Daiichi not easy – NHK, May 5

-A team of workers will enter the No. 1 reactor building at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on Thursday for the first time since the March 11th earthquake and tsunami.

-The workers will set up a purifier for the radioactive-tainted air in the building. This is being done ahead of work to build a system to restore the cooling functions in the reactor.

-Even if workers manage to enter, radiation levels may remain high near where a water circulating system is to be installed. The workers may need to clean the pipes with water and contain radiation with lead sheets. They may also have to change some damaged pipes and valves, which could be time-consuming.



TEPCO to set up device to cool reactors – NHK, May 5

operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant will start setting up a system around mid-May to help cool the facility’s No.1 reactor.

-It says once the new system is put into operation, it should lower the temperature of the fuel in the reactor to below 100 degrees Celsius within a few hours to a few days.



Tornado-hit Alabama nuclear plant opened to media – NHK, May 7

-A nuclear power plant in the southern US state of Alabama which was forced into an emergency shutdown of its reactors by tornadoes last month has been opened to the media.

-The head of the plant said workers are now reviewing safety measures at the plant, adding that the staff had learned from the Fukushima accident the need to prepare for a series of disasters of unexpected scale.



TEPCO hopes workers enter building for cooling – NHK, May 7

-A new filtering system that Tokyo Electric Power Company installed on Thursday continues to draw air from the No. 1 reactor building to remove highly radioactive substances and send it back into the building.

-The company hopes that the workers can enter the building on Sunday to install a water level onitoring device.



Cabinet finalizing framework for TEPCO nuclear compensation – Kyodo, May 7

-Cabinet ministers made final adjustments Saturday for creating a new entity to help Tokyo Electric Power Co. pay compensation over radiation leaks from its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, deferring an agreement to a session on Sunday or later.


TEPCO opens doors of troubled No. 1 reactor building – Kyodo, May 8

-Tokyo Electric Power Co. said the doors of the No. 1 reactor building connecting it to the adjacent turbine building at the crisis-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant were opened Sunday, paving the way for the utility to proceed with efforts to stabilize the damaged reactor.


Job seeker says ending up at crippled nuke plant not mentioned in ad – Kyodo, May 8

-A man who applied for the job of driver in Miyagi Prefecture has filed a complaint with a job placement center in Osaka’s Airin day-laborer district, saying he was made to work at the crippled nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture, sources familiar with the case said Sunday.


Kan seeks that TEPCO compensate damage from unfounded radiation fears – Kyodo, May 8

-Prime Minister Naoto Kan said Sunday that compensation to be paid by Tokyo Electric Power Co. for the nuclear crisis at its Fukushima Daiichi power
plant should cover all damage including that caused by unfounded
radiation fears.


Gov’t to mull fate of Daini plant without premise of resumption – Kyodo, May 8

-The government plans to consider what to do with a nuclear power station near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi complex without basing discussions on the premise of resuming operation of reactors at the plant, in deference to local people who have taken the brunt of the ongoing nuclear crisis, a government source said Saturday.


Cabinet ministers agree to demand further restructuring of TEPCO – Kyodo, May 8

-Cabinet ministers agreed Saturday to demand that Tokyo Electric Power Co. carry out further restructuring to secure funds for compensation payments over radiation leaks from its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, officials said.


TEPCO releases footage of No.4 reactor pool – NHK, May 8

-The video was taken on Saturday by a camera on the tip of a mechanical arm used to pour water to cool the reactor.

-The footage shows 1,535 spent fuel rods stored in racks and covered by water. It also shows debris and ladders damaged by an explosion that occurred after the March 11th earthquake and tsunami. The shelves on the side wall have been destroyed.

-Bubbles are occasionally visible, as the water is boiling at a temperature of 84 degrees Celsius.



Radiation levels fluctuate in Fukushima schools – NHK, May 8

-The government has been closely monitoring radiation levels at schools in Fukushima since the troubles began at a nuclear power plant there. The latest measurements show that radioactivity has fallen below the safety limit at 2 schools, but one school saw it rise again.

-The education ministry says 2 straight days of declines in radiation levels allow schools to lift restrictions although the decision is up to the Fukushima education board and school principals.



Kan: Hamaoka shutdown “exceptional measure” – NHK, May 8

-Kan said he asked the Chubu Electric Power Company to suspend the Hamaoka plant because the science ministry predicts an 87 percent chance of a massive earthquake in the area in the next 30 years. He added that the time is imminent and he hopes the utility will discuss the situation and find the most appropriate solution.



High radiation in reactor building – NK, May 9

-High levels of radiation detected in the No. 1 reactor building at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant may disrupt work to cool the reactor.

-700 millisieverts per hour were detected near the first floor, the largest of the places to be checked.

-The detected figure shows that workers would be exposed to a level that would exceed even this raised level in about 20 minutes.



TEPCO to formally seek gov’t support for damages payment – Kyodo, May 10

Tokyo Electric Power Co. chief will meet with government leaders
Tuesday to formally seek help in making damages payments in the wake of
the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, company
officials said.


Aerial fallout map confirms soil radiation levels – NHK, May 10

Japanese Science Ministry and the US Energy Department conducted a
joint aerial survey from April 6th to the 29th of the area within an
80-kilometer radius of the plant.

-Madarame also said the
situation at the power plant is stabilizing and that it is about time to
review ways to carry out daily surveys on the ground. He said the soils
could be tested fewer times but more meticulously with the aid of
aerial mapping.



High radiation may slow down TEPCO’s repairs – NHK, May 10

-The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says it may need
to slow down some repairs at the Number one reactor due to elevated radiation levels.

-The tests yielded a maximum of 700 millisieverts per hour, thus workers can only stay in the vicinity for around 20 minutes.

-It will continue checking the levels but is worried that it may need to change plans depending on the results.



TEPCO finds another leak of radioactive water into sea – Kyodo, May 11

-Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Wednesday it had detected another leak of highly contaminated radioactive water into the sea off the Fukushima
Daiichi nuclear power plant but was able to stop the flow.


Radioactive water found in No.3 reactor pit – NHK, May 11

-Tokyo Electric Power Company says water containing radioactive material has been found flowing into a pit outside of the No.3 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

-Workers could not confirm whether the water was leaking out into the sea, but they reported seeing froth near the water intake.

TEPCO says the concentration of radioactive Cesium in water sampled from the pit was 620,000 times higher than the safety limit set by the government. The utility also says it detected 1.5 milli-sieverts per hour of radiation on the surface of water in the pit, which indicates contaminated water may be leaking into the sea.



Gov’t: Burying contaminated soil into ground works – NHK, May 11

-The Japanese government plans to inform schools in Fukushima Prefecture that burying radiation-contaminated topsoil into the ground is an effective way to reduce its radiation level.



Japan’s probe into nuclear crisis to take about 1 year – Kyodo, May 12

-Japan’s forthcoming investigation into the causes of the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant will take about one year, government sources said Wednesday.


Gov’t plans to supervise TEPCO management for over 10 yrs – May 12

-The government is planning to supervise for more than 10 years the management of Tokyo Electric Power Co., which has been struggling in the face of compensation claims following the crisis at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, sources close to the matter said Wednesday.


Nuclear fuel at Fukushima No. 1 unit melted after full exposure – Kyodo, May 12

-Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, revealed Thursday that holes had been created by melted nuclear fuel at the bottom of the No. 1 reactor’s pressure


Water likely leaking from No.1 reactor – NHK, May 12

-Tokyo Electric sent workers inside the building to adjust the water gauge of the reactor.

-The utility had suspected the gauge wasn’t working properly because the water level hasn’t been rising despite pumping in 150 tons of water daily to cool the reactor.

-On Thursday morning, it was found that the water level was more than one meter below the bottom of the fuel rods, suggesting a large volume of water is leaking into the containment vessel.

-The utility says it does not believe the fuel has completely melted and spilled through the bottom of the reactor. It adds that instead, the fuel appears to be being cooled inside the reactor.



New radioactive leak raises questions – NHK, May 12

radioactive water was found leaking into the sea from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant on Wednesday. It’s now been revealed that contaminated water levels in the No. 3 reactor’s turbine building were already alarmingly high by Sunday.

-Radioactive cesium 620,000 times higher than the government-set safety limit was detected from the leaked water.

-The company says it doesn’t know when the leak began, but that it will investigate if the monitoring of water levels was appropriate. The problem raises the question of whether the utility wasn’t able to prevent the latest leak.



TEPCO: Highly radioactive water flowed into sea – NHK, May 12

-Workers found that contaminated water was flowing from a pipe into a pit near the Number 3 reactor’s water intake on Wednesday morning.

-The workers then used a camera to film near the water intake pipe. They found contaminated water was also leaking from the wall of the pit into the ocean.

-The firm says it managed to stop the leak later in the day after it blocked the pipe and buried the pit in concrete.



35 Japanese reactors are soon to be out of line – NHK, May 12

-During the next few months, 5 more reactors will have to be shut down ahead of regular inspections.

-If the utilities decide to keep these 40 reactors offline for the time being, Japan will have about 75 percent of its reactors shutdown this summer.



Japan to cull livestock in no-go zone near Fukushima plant: Edano – Kyodo, May 12

-Japan will cull livestock and poultry in the no-entry zone within a 20-kilometer radius of the crisis-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant due to difficulty in feeding them, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said Thursday.


More Fukushima evacuees briefly return home – NHK, May 12

-Seventy people from 45 households from Katsurao and Kawauchi villages on Thursday became the second group among evacuees from nine municipalities in the no-entry zone to be allowed such visits. On Tuesday, the first group of residents from Kawauchi Village visited their homes.

-At a gymnasium, the residents put on protective suits and were given radiation dosimeters and walky-talkies. Then they were taken to their homes on buses.

-The residents had two hours to gather their valuables, belongings and check on livestock and take care of other matters.



Keidanren asks China to lift import restrictions – NHK, May 12

-The head of Nippon Keidanren, or the Japan Business Federation, has asked China to lift restrictions on Japanese agricultural imports based on fears of radiation following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant accident.

-He said Japan will provide China with accurate information about the situation at the plant so that China can avoid excessive customs screenings for Japanese farm imports.

-Yang said China hopes to actively support Japan’s reconstruction efforts and takes its request seriously. He added that China will keep following information from Japan and do all it can to help, based on Chinese import rules.



Japan stresses food safety to Hong Kong businesses – NHK, May 12

Japanese Consulate General in Hong Kong has held a presentation to ease
concerns about radioactive contamination in food from Japan.

-Those present raised a series of questions about the safety of nuclear power plants in Japan.



S.Korean radiation rules slash Japan food imports – NHK, May 12

-South Korea says it imported nearly three quarters less Japanese food in May after tightening its rules on radiation levels.

-The country’s Food and Drug Administration says average daily imports of food from Japan have fallen to 75 tons since the start of May, down 74 percent from April.

-Imports of vegetables and processed food from Tokyo, Fukushima and 11 other prefectures must now come with Japanese government certification showing that they meet safe limits for radiation.



Tepco admits nuclear meltdown at Fukushima plant – BNO News, May 12

-According to reports, several holes were found at the bottom of the nuclear reactor’s pressure vessel, where the melted nuclear fuel now threatens to leak out of.



Fukushima reactor has a hole, leading to leakage – Reuters, May 12

“One of the reactors at Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant has a hole in its main vessel following a meltdown of fuel rods, leading to a leakage of radioactive water, its operator said on Thursday.

The disclosure by Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) is the latest indication that the disaster was worse than previously disclosed, making it more difficult to stabilize the plant.”



Gov’t postpones decision on TEPCO compensation scheme – Kyodo, May 13

-The government on Thursday postponed a decision on a plan to financially support Tokyo Electric Power Co. in its massive compensation burden arising from the nuclear crisis at its Fukushima Daiichi plant, as some ruling party lawmakers disrupted the process by arguing that the state’s responsibility in the payments should be further clarified.


Gov’t decides to aid TEPCO with new entity over nuke compensation – Kyodo, May 13

-The government said Friday that it will create a new institution to help Tokyo Electric Power Co. bear its massive compensation burden resulting from the nuclear crisis at its Fukushima Daiichi plant and keep the utility under close watch to make sure that it squeezes out the costs by streamlining efforts.



Japan’s government approves Tepco compensation scheme – BBC, May 13

“Japan’s government has approved a plan to help Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco)
compensate victims of the crisis at its tsunami-crippled nuclear plant.

Payouts are expected to run into the tens of billions of dollars over the Fukushima nuclear plant breakdown.

The assistance could help Tepco avoid bankruptcy, but the overnment insisted it was not meant as a bail-out.”



Japan government agrees on compensation plan for operator of crippled nuclear power plant – Washington Post, May 13

The plan prevents TEPCO from setting a ceiling on liabilities. It also establishes a third-party commission to monitor and investigate the company’s management.

Shinichi Ichikawa, the director of equity research at Credit Suisse in Tokyo, said the plan needed to achieve three targets: maintain the stability of electricity supply, not rattle financial markets and ensure victims of the March 11 disaster would be compensated.”



Kaieda notes need to review Fukushima plant recovery road map – Kyodo, May 13

-Industry minister Banri Kaieda said Friday it is necessary to review the restoration road map unveiled last month for the crisis-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant by its operators following the latest findings indicating a meltdown of the No. 1 reactor fuel.



Radioactive substance detected in incinerator ashes in Tokyo – Kyodo, May 13

-A highly radioactive substance was detected in incinerator ashes at a sewage plant in eastern Tokyo in late March, shortly after the start of the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, metropolitan government sources said Friday.


NISA: no need to flood No.1 reactor – NHK, May 13

-An official of Japan’s nuclear safety agency has suggested that a nuclear fuel meltdown at one of the damaged Fukushima reactors means that filling the reactor’s container with water may be meaningless.

-The operator, TEPCO, said on Thursday that most of the fuel rods in the reactor are believed to have melted and sunk to the bottom of the reactor’s pressure vessel.

-TEPCO says the melted fuel has apparently cooled, even though much of the injected water is leaking through holes at the bottom of the vessel.



Hamaoka No.4 reactor shut down – NHK, May 13

-The operator of the Hamaoka nuclear plant in central Japan has completed shutting down one of its reactors as it begins suspending operations at the plant. The facility is being halted due to concerns over a massive earthquake that is forecast to strike nearby.



Radioactive water leaked while being transferred – NHK, May 13

-Tokyo Electric Power Company says an operation to transfer highly radioactive water pooled in the turbine building of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant’s No.3 reactor caused contamination of the sea nearby.

-The utility company says 1,200 becquerels of radioactive cesium 134 were detected in one cubic centimeter of sea water near the water intake on Thursday. The figure is 20,000 times the state limit. 1,200 becquerels of radioactive cesium 137, which is 13,000 times the state limit, were also detected.

-The company admitted in a news conference on Thursday that prior inspections to prevent leaks were inadequate.



TEPCO searching for ‘missing’ radioactive water – NHK, May 13

-Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, says contaminated water is apparently leaking from the No.1 reactor, which is in a state of meltdown.

-The utility says the leaked water is likely in the basement of the reactor building — still a no-go zone due to concerns over high radiation levels.

-TEPCO is considering using remote-controlled robots to check the situation, but says the wireless links needed to control them may not reach the basement and that it has to explore other options as well.



Radioactive cesium detected in tea leaves – NHK, May 13

-Radioactive material above designated safety limits has been detected in tea leaves harvested in 5 municipalities in Kanagawa Prefecture, neighboring Tokyo.

-The prefectural government checked samples of leaves harvested in 15 municipalities in the region.

-Officials say that samples from 5 of those were found to contain unsafe levels of radioactive cesium.

-They say 780 becquerels of cesium were detected in tea leaves in Odawara City, 740 becquerels in Kiyokawa Village, 680 becquerels in Yugawara Town, 670 becquerels in Aikawa Town and 530 becquerels in Manazuru Town.



Radioactive element detected in grass, vegetables – NHK, May 13

-3,480 becquerels of radioactive cesium were detected in one kilogram of pasture grass collected on May 5th in Nikko City, Tochigi Prefecture. The figure exceeds the state limit of 300 becquerels.

-Also, at two different locations in Nasushiobara City, 3,600 becquerels and 860 becquerels of radioactive cesium respectively were detected in one kilogram of pasture grass collected on May 3rd.

-The parsley had been shipped to a fresh food market in Niigata Prefecture, west of Fukushima.

-Niigata prefectural government instructed wholesale distributers to stop selling the parsley.



Energy Dept: US will help contain Fukushima crisis – NHK, May 13

-Referring to information offered by Japan right after the accident, Poneman said the US side had difficulty grasping what was actually happening. He said if US officials had been able to obtain data more quickly, they could have given better advice.

-Poneman said that even before the Fukushima crisis, the US had repeatedly urged Japan to ratify an international treaty over damage from serious nuclear plant accidents.
He expressed hope that Japan will ratify the pact soon.



Melted nuclear fuel casts doubt on credibility of TEPCO data – Mainichi, May 13

“Hidehiko Nishiyama, a spokesman for the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA), said the latest data has more credibility than previous data.

But Tadashi Narabayashi, a professor of reactor engineering at Hokkaido University, said, “It is problematic that TEPCO kept releasing data as if the water gauges were functioning properly. I wonder what a road map based on such data really means.””



Fukushima schoolchildren’s radiation exposure estimated at half of upper limit – Mainichi, May 13

“Schoolchildren’s cumulative radiation exposure a year in Fukushima Prefecture would be about half the limit for their outdoor activities, if calculated under the current standards, according to the education ministry.

The finding has prompted the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology to convene a meeting to seek advice from experts on whether the outdoor activities of schoolchildren in the prefecture should be restricted.”



Sewage plants in Fukushima perplexed over how to dispose of highly radioactive sludge – Mainichi, May 13

“On May 12, the government announced that highly radioactive sludge will be tentatively kept at sewage plants in the prefecture, while sludge with relatively low-level radiation could be recycled into cement and other material.”

“On May 1, the Fukushima Prefectural Government announced that 334,000 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive cesium was detected in molten slag after sludge was processed with high heat at a purification center in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture. The finding was followed by the detection of radioactive cesium in sludge at 15 other sewage plants in the prefecture, as well as at one sewage treatment facility in Tochigi Prefecture, one in Ibaraki Prefecture, three in Gunma Prefecture and one in Niigata Prefecture. The Kanagawa Prefectural Government announced on May 12 that cesium was detected in sludge at four sewage plants in the prefecture, while the Tokyo Metropolitan Government disclosed the same day that up to 24,000 becquerels of radioactivity was detected in sludge incineration ash at three sewage plants in the capital.”


Which is right: ‘In your face’ or staid professionalism?

I’m looking forward to the moment in a few weeks from now when Desiree Schell and I sit down and have a serious public conversation about approaches to promoting skepticism and science-based reasoning and policy. We’ll also discuss New Atheism and Accommodationism, I assume.

As you know, Desiree hosts the highly popular radio program and podcast “Skeptically Speaking.” This may be the first time she’s engaged in a public conversation with some crazy New Atheist blogger anywhere other than on her own home turf (we’ll be talking on Atheist Talk Radio, with Mike Haubrich hosting). It should be interesting to say the least. The word “Feisty” has been used in reference to the conversation likely to develop.
Continue reading Which is right: ‘In your face’ or staid professionalism?

How to make espresso at home

You can’t easily. But you can do something similar, enjoy a rewarding experience, and have access to a tasty brew at a reasonable price and only a moderate level of fiddling. A while ago I bought a Cuisinox COF-M4 Milano 4-Cup Espresso Coffeemaker. It is a modernized version of the early 20th century “moka pot,” which is designed to make an espresso-like beverage. The original moka pot is made of aluminum, which is an excellent metal for this job given it’s heat conductive properties, but it also provides an undesirable addition to the taste of the final product. And, aluninum is not exactly biologically inert, and though the scientific evidence for the toxic effects of aluminum is weak, I tend to avoid it where I can so I can feel OK about using it when needed (i.e., no aluminum cooking pots so I can use it in grilling).
Continue reading How to make espresso at home