Japan Nuclear Disaster Update 27: They should have seen the tsunami coming.

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In terms of radiation fallout Fukushima is said to be approaching Chernobyl by at least certain measures, and the potential for Fukushima to be worse in terms of total radioactive material released is very real. However, the two disasters really can’t be compared sensibly because the circumstances of release, and the potential effects, are very different. It has become increasingly clear that the authorities involved in the initial construction of the plant should have considered the Tsunami risk as a serious factor, and this is not just because the Tsunami actually happened. The consequence of having one’s multi-reactor nuclear power plant swallowed up by the ocean are sufficiently dire that one would want to avoid even a small chance of it happening. Or so they are beginning to realize.

Now, not only is it clear that three of the four reactors suffered full-on melt-downs, it may also be the case that one of the reactors suffered a sort of “China Syndrome” wherein melted nuclear fuel burned itself through all of the containment vessels and through the floor of the reactor plant, to China. China is, in this case, an unknown distance below the surface of the reactor building, where the radioactive material sits now boiling off whatever water seeps down there and makes contact. That may not be exactly what happens, but steam pouring out of the floor underneath a reactor vessel full of holes seems to be a clue…

The level of highly radioactive water in the reactor plants is rising, except in association with reactor number 1. perhaps the “China Syndrome” effect there causes the water to boil off. Or, perhaps the water there is leaking out to the sea. Or, perhaps, no one has a clue.

It is now known that several people have indeed suffered internal radiation exposure, and the number of such individuals known is going up, as medical personnel are examining people. The tea is tainted. The government survived a no-confidence vote but Kan’s resignation is being called for. Questions are also being raised regarding the Independence of the International Atomics Energy Agency.

There are still concerns that the Number 4 reactor spent storage pool will collapse.

In short, since our last update, nothing good has happened by way of progress to contain or mitigate the situation, but quite a bit has been revealed about how bad the accident was at the time it first occurred, and the severity of damage to the reactors, especially 1 and 2, has become more apparent. And, the Japanese people are in the streets demanding action and answers. It has been a long time since Japanese were openly and vigorously protesting something. Which was, if memory serves, the construction of nuclear power plants.

Ana’s Feed

Japan: anti-government criticism on the rise – globalpost, May 25

-It used to be that a large group of people holding colorful signs and shouting into megaphones, parading through the streets of just about any city in Japan was hard to come by.

-Not anymore.

-Or, more to the point, not since the tsunami and earthquake rendered the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant a disaster zone on March 11.

-Protesters are angry and feel that the government has concealed information, and released partial and/or confusing information relating to the series of disastrous events at the stricken reactor following the tsunami and quake. Just this week, partial meltdown of fuel rods was confirmed at the No. 2 and No. 3 reactors.

-In recent weeks, demonstrators have gathered in cities across the country — including Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto — to openly criticize the Japanese government’s response to the Fukushima power plant meltdown.


Cesium Fallout from Fukushima ALREADY Rivals Chernobyl – The Big Picture, May 30

-As I’ve previously noted, many experts say that the Fukushima plants will keep on leaking for months. See this and this. And the amount of radioactive fuel at Fukushima dwarfs Chernobyl.

-So it is bad news indeed that, as reported by New Scientist, cesium fallout from Fukushima already rivals Chernobyl:

After the 1986 Chernobyl accident, the most highly contaminated areas were defined as those with over 1490 kilobecquerels (kBq) of caesium per square metre. Produce from soil with 550 kBq/m2 was destroyed.

People living within 30 kilometres of the plant have evacuated or been advised to stay indoors. Since 18 March, MEXT has repeatedly found caesium levels above 550 kBq/m2 in an area some 45 kilometres wide lying 30 to 50 kilometres north-west of the plant. The highest was 6400 kBq/m2, about 35 kilometres away, while caesium reached 1816 kBq/m2 in Nihonmatsu City and 1752 kBq/m2 in the town of Kawamata, where iodine-131 levels of up to 12,560 kBq/m2 have also been measured. “Some of the numbers are really high,” says Gerhard Proehl, head of assessment and management of environmental releases of radiation at the International Atomic Energy Agency.


India says nuclear plants safe, but better response needed – AlertNet, June 1

-India’s rapidly emerging nuclear power plants are seismically safe, but the country needs to ramp up its capacity to respond should an emergency strike, a top disaster management official warned on Wednesday.

-In districts where there are nuclear installations, the government hopes to pre-position specialised medical teams, upgrade and equip hospitals and create better awareness amongst the general public on how to protect themselves.


Japan ‘underestimated’ tsunami risk – AlJazeera, June 1

-A UN atomic watchdog team on a visit to Japan said the country underestimated the hazard posed by tsunamis to nuclear plants.

-"The tsunami hazard for several sites was underestimated," the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA]said in a preliminary report on Wednesday.

-"Nuclear designers and operators should appropriately evaluate and protect against the risks of all natural hazards, and should periodically update those assessments and assessment methodologies," it said.

-However, the IAEA also praised Tokyo’s response to the March 11 twin disaster as "exemplary".


After Crises, Japanese Lose Faith In Government – NPR, June 1

-As she drives round Fukushima, Kayo Watanabe points out the radiation hot spots. She knows which street used by kids going to school has above-normal radiation levels, which school gutter has radiation levels 60 times higher than what is considered safe.

-She has been measuring radiation levels herself for a while. She says she doubted the official line from the beginning, back in March when the very first blast happened at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant almost 40 miles away.

-"We haven’t believed the government from the start," Watanabe says. "When the explosion happened, they didn’t say anything about it being dangerous. We don’t trust the media either, since the nuclear plant operator sponsors many newspapers and television stations."


Gov’t bans shipment of tea leaves in 4 prefectures – Kyodo, June 2

Blueprint for a new Japan – globalpost, June 2

-About 100,000 victims of Japan’s unprecedented triple disaster are still living in emergency shelters, cooped up in school gymnasiums, their privacy protected by “walls” crafted out of cardboard boxes. For those who have braved a return to the coast to salvage what little is left of their lives pre-tsunami, public discourse about national regeneration must seem premature.

-Yet amid the destruction and uncertainty, a faint outline of the future is emerging. The blueprint for post-disaster Japan encompasses myriad themes: town-planning, deregulation, free trade, welfare, politics and energy policy.


TEPCO plans to plug all potential leaks – NHK, June 2

-The utility says it identified 5 concrete tunnels and 39 pits around the plant as possible points from which radioactive water could flow out to the sea.

-The firm says it filled all the tunnels and some of the pits with concrete, and that it will finish work at 17 of the pits and repair cracked seawalls in June.


Wastewater rises, fears mount – NHK, June 2

-The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is struggling to remove pools of highly radioactive wastewater as fears of an overflow get more intense.

-Tokyo Electric Power Company says wastewater levels rose around 6 centimeters inside the No.2 reactor turbine building, and in its utility tunnel, during the 24-hour period through Thursday morning.

-Increases were also seen inside the No.3 and 4 reactor turbine buildings.

-The level of wastewater inside the No.1 reactor building dropped 8 centimeters on Thursday morning from Wednesday, unlike the other facilities.

-Tokyo Electric is measuring the level of radiation in groundwater near the plant to check for possible wastewater leakage.


Fukushima Water Has More Radiation Than Released Into Air – SFGate, June 2

-The water level in basements and trenches at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima plant rose and may contain more radiation than is known to have been released into the atmosphere in the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl.

-The amount of contaminated water rose to about 105 million liters (28 million gallons) from 100 million liters on May 18, and may start overflowing after June 20, the company known as Tepco said in a statement today. Radiation in the water is estimated at 720,000 terabecquerels, general manager Junichi Matsumoto said at a media briefing in Tokyo.


Fukushima to check internal radiation exposure – NHK, June 2

-The prefecture had already decided to conduct health checks on all citizens, but will now assess residents’ internal exposure to radiation from breathing and eating.

-The targets will be residents near the plant and people who live in adjacent areas with high radiation levels.

-A device called a "whole-body counter" will be used to precisely measure radiation.

-But the prefecture currently has only one device and can screen just 10 people per day. It is urging research institutes and others with the device outside the prefecture to help them.


Nagasaki staffers exposed to Fukushima radiation – NHK, June 2

-Nagasaki University Hospital says that at least 40 percent of local people sent to Fukushima Prefecture, host to the crippled nuclear plant, suffered internal radiation exposure.

-The hospital checked staffers and medical experts sent to Fukushima by Nagasaki’s prefectural government. They spent around a week helping local government offices and medical institutions in Fukushima after the nuclear plant accident in March.

-The hospital says radioactive iodine was detected in the bodies of 34, or about 40 percent, of 87 examinees. Some were also detected for radioactive cesium.


Residents retrieve cars from no-go zone near Fukushima nuke plant – Mainichi, June 2

-Some 60 residents managed to retrieve their cars that had been left in the government-designated no-go zone around the disaster-crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant on June 1 without major disruption.


Japan Steel Works to Target Non-Atomic Energy After Disaster – Bloomberg, June 2

-Japan Steel Works Ltd. (5631), a maker of nuclear reactor parts for customers from Areva SA to Toshiba Corp. (6502), will shift sales to non-atomic energy equipment and may cut idled capacity as the Fukushima disaster curbs orders.

-Japan will freeze construction of nuclear reactors and China is likely to delay new orders by a year, slashing component purchases from nuclear plant builders, President Ikuo Sato said in an interview at the company’s headquarters in Tokyo. The company will focus more on wind turbines, steel pipes for natural gas and rotor shafts used in thermal power plants to make up for the shortfall, he said.


No-confidence motion against Kan Cabinet falls short – Mainichi News, June 2

-During a lower house plenary session in the afternoon, a majority of legislators voted against the no-confidence motion, with 293 ballots cast against and 152 for the resolution. The motion had been co-sponsored by the opposition Liberal Democratic Party, New Komeito and the Sunrise Party of Japan.


Overseas media report of Kan surviving vote – NHK, June 2

-The Washington Post said on Thursday that the upheaval caused more embarrassment for Japan’s political system, which cycles through leaders about once a year. It said the system has failed to inspire public confidence in the aftermath of the March 11 double-disaster and nuclear crisis.

-The BBC’s correspondent in Tokyo said that Kan’s leadership has not been supported by the public since the disaster. He said there is anger that political fighting continues amid the country’s biggest crisis since World War Two.


Japanese PM beats no-confidence motion over disaster recovery, may quit when recovery holds – Washington Post, June 2

-Before Thursday’s parliamentary session, Kan urged lawmakers to let him stay and push ahead with measures to bring the country through the crisis, but in a nod to his many critics, he acknowledged “shortcomings” and said he would consider stepping down after the recovery firms up.

-“Once the post-quake reconstruction efforts are settled, I will pass on my responsibility to younger generations,” he said. “The nuclear crisis is ongoing, and I will make my utmost efforts to end the crisis and move forward with post-quake reconstruction works.”

-Kan has been criticized for delays in the construction of temporary housing and a lack of transparency about evacuation information in the nuclear crisis. His government is also embroiled in a debate about compensation for victims.


Pressure mounting on Kan to resign quickly – NHK, June 3

-Prime Minister Naoto Kan says a state of cold shutdown at the reactors of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant would lay the groundwork for his resignation.

-Kan is believed to have made the decision as some party members had hinted that they would vote in favor of a no-confidence motion against the Kan Cabinet, submitted on the previous day to the Lower House.


Japan’s Tea Industry Facing Shortage as Nuclear Radiation Taints Shipments – Bloomberg, June 3

-The government decided yesterday to curb shipments of dried tea leaves containing more than 500 becquerel per kilogram of radioactive cesium and ordered a halt in shipments from the eastern prefectures of Ibaraki, Chiba, Kanagawa and Tochigi where tainted produce was detected. Japan’s tea production, including fresh and dried leaves, was worth 102.1 billion yen ($1.3 billion) in 2009, according to the agriculture ministry.

-The decision came after Shizuoka prefecture, Japan’s largest growing region representing about 40 percent of total output, declared its green tea was safe. Governor Heita Kawakatsu said last month tests on fresh leaves and drinks showed they contained cesium amounts well below the government levels. Still, cesium levels in dried leaves could be about five times higher than fresh leaves, said Yasuo Sasaki, senior press counselor at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.


Gov’t eyes radiation dose limit for Fukushima debris removers – Kyodo, June 3

Heavy rain may cause toxic water to overflow outside Fukushima plant – Kyodo, June 3

2 Fukushima workers confirmed to exceed radiation exposure limit – Kyodo, June 3

FOCUS: Safety myth hampers R&D of measures against nuclear accidents – Kyodo, June 3

-On March 17, six days after the crisis erupted at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, a list was presented to Washington through diplomatic channels seeking U.S. assistance, such as robots that can remove wreckage and measure radioactivity levels, and devices to inject water into the plant’s reactors.

-The list was compiled after consultations among Tokyo Electric Power Co., the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and other ministries and agencies concerned.

-”It was like a list asking the United States for a favor. It was the result of their realization that they could not deal with the crisis on their own,” said a Foreign Ministry source.

No confidence in the International Atomic Energy Agency – Greenpeace, June 3

-The IAEA might like to think it is independent but it is far from it. The way it communicates its message is designed to serve the interests of the nuclear industry and governments not people’s health or the environment. In the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, the IAEA channelled all its information through the Japanese government who could then, if it chose, to delay or downplay it.


TEPCO cools storage pool in No.2 reactor building – NHK, June 3

-The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says it has succeeded in lowering the temperature in a storage pool for used nuclear fuel at the No.2 reactor after it started operating a cooling system there.

-Tokyo Electric Power Company says the temperature in the pool dropped to 38 degrees Celsius on Thursday from about 70 degrees previously.

-TEPCO had anticipated that it would take about one month to lower the temperature to about 40 degrees.


Radioactive gas leak at Tsuruga nuclear plant caused by holes in piping – Kyodo, June 3

Fukushima’s No. 1 reactor building radiation up to 4,000 millisieverts – Kyodo, June 3

Japanese firm develops ‘sun-chasing’ solar panels – Raw Story, June 3

-A new Japanese solar power device can generate twice the electricity of current models thanks to moving mirrors that follow the sun throughout the day, according to its developers.

-Smart Solar International, a Tokyo start-up that also has an office in California, will start producing the system in Japan in August, hoping it will be adopted in tsunami-hit areas along the northern Pacific coast.

-Sample sales are set to begin in October, with overseas sales targeting especially Asia and the Middle East set for 2014 or earlier.


Nuclear power is expensive and uninsurable – Grist, June 4

-The CEC’s 186-page report, "Comparative Costs of California Central Station Electricity Generation" [PDF], found that a 1,000-megawatt pressurized water reactor would generate electricity in 2018 from as little as $0.17 per kilowatt-hour to as much as $0.34 per kilowatt-hour. These results are startling: Most renewable technologies today, even solar photovoltaics (PV), generate electricity for less than that. Only a municipal utility could generate nuclear electricity for less than the cost of solar PV.


Steam, high radiation detected at No.1 reactor – NHK, June 4

-TEPCO said it found that steam was rising from a crevice in the floor, and that extremely high radiation of 3,000 to 4,000 millisieverts per hour was measured around the area. The radiation is believed to be the highest detected in the air at the plant.

-TEPCO says the steam is likely coming from water at a temperature of 50 degrees Celsius that has accumulated in the basement of the reactor building.

-The company sees no major impact from the radiation so far on ongoing work, as it has been detected only within a limited section of the building.


Gov’t didn’t release radiation data after accident – NHK, June 4

-A reading on March 12th, one day after the massive earthquake and tsunami hit the plant, shows that radioactive tellurium was detected 7 kilometers away. Tellurium is produced during the melting of nuclear fuel.

-Three hours before the data was collected, the government expanded the radius of the evacuation area around the plant from 3 kilometers to 10 kilometers.

-But the government’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency reported at a news conference several hours later that the nuclear fuel was intact.

-The government also failed to disclose the high radiation levels in weeds 30 to 50 kilometers from the plant. On March 15th, 123 million becquerels of radioactive iodine-131 per kilogram were detected 38 kilometers northeast of the plant.

-The nuclear safety agency says it deeply regrets not releasing the data.


Gov’t failed to release some radiation projections – NHK, June 4

-It was found on Thursday that the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency had failed to release 5 SPEEDI calculations for the Fukushima Daiichi and Fukushima Daini nuclear plants.

-The government said in May that it would release all projections made with the SPEEDI system.


WSPEEDI Shows Tokyo Was Under Radioactive Plume on March 15 – Ex-SKF, June 4

-Japan’s ever-sneaky Ministry of Education and Science again quietly released 3 sets of simulation maps of WSPEEDI without any press release nor any explanation; this time it was the simulations that they did on March 15. The Reactor 3 that used MOX fuel blew up on March 14 at 11:01AM JST.


TEPCO says venting failure caused hydrogen explosion at No. 1 reactor – Mainichi, June 4

-Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) has announced that an explosion at the No. 1 reactor of its crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant in March was possibly triggered by a failure to vent hydrogen gas out of the reactor building.

-TEPCO disclosed on June 4 that hydrogen gas which was supposed to be vented out of the building containing the No. 1 reactor to lower pressure inside the container vessel had actually leaked inside the building.


2 TEPCO employees exposed to radiation likely to get regular cancer tests – Mainichi, June 4

-Two Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) employees exposed to high radiation levels will probably not need treatment but will likely receive regular tests for cancer, a research institute has announced.

-TEPCO said the minimum amount of radiation the two workers were exposed to stood between 284 and 289 millisieverts, while the maximum they could have been exposed to ranged between 654 and 659 millisieverts — far more than the yearly limit of 250 millisieverts for workers handling the disaster.


Lethal four-sievert reading taken by robot; suppression chamber suspect – Japan Times, June 5

-On Friday, Tepco found steam spewing from the basement into the building’s first floor. Nationally televised news Saturday showed blurry video of a steady stream of smoky gas curling up from an opening where a pipe rises through the floor.

-The utility said it took the reading near the floor at the southeast corner of the building. The steam appears to be entering from a leaking rubber gasket that is supposed to seal the area where the pipe comes up through the first floor. No damage to the pipe was found, Tepco said.

-The reactor’s suppression chamber is under the building, and highly radioactive water generated from cooling the reactor is believed to have accumulated there, Tepco said, adding that the steam is probably coming from there.


Latest video of Fukushima plant – NHK, June 5


High radiation levels around ditches in Fukushima – NHK, June 5

-High radiation levels have been detected above roadside drainage ditches in Fukushima Prefecture, which hosts the crippled nuclear power plant.

-Japan’s Nuclear Safety Commission tested radiation levels in the air about 1 meter from the ground at a business district in the prefectural capital on May 24th and 25th.

-The test detected radiation of 3 to 4 microsieverts per hour above ditches covered with mud and fallen leaves. The level reached nearly 100 microsieverts in the mud. It is believed that radioactive dust has accumulated in the mud and leaves.


Japan nuclear plant moves more radioactive water to storage to prevent spill – Washington Post, June 5

-More than 100,000 tons of radioactive water have pooled beneath the troubled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan. TEPCO has said the water could start overflowing about June 20 — or possibly sooner with heavy rainfall.


Pressure in No.1 reactor drops close to atmosphere – NHK, June 5

-Pressure inside an operating reactor is normally around 70 atmospheres. But after the disaster, the pressure indicator showed 6 atmospheres in the Number 1 reactor, raising questions about data reliability.

-On Friday, the utility replaced the gauge with a new one and made measurements again.

-The reading was 1.26 atmospheres as of 11 AM on Saturday, almost equal to normal air pressure. The company says this proves that air inside the reactor is escaping outside.


GSDF member recounts fearing for life in blast at Fukushima nuke plant – Kyodo, June 5

Gov’t to OK incinerating, burying radioactive rubble in Fukushima – Kyodo, June 5

Plutonium found outside Fukushima plant – NHK, June 5

-The samples of plutonium-239 and 240 make up a total of 0.078 becquerels per kilogram.

-This is close to the amount produced by past atomic bomb tests.

-But the 3 substances are most likely to have come from the plant blasts, as their density ratio is different from those detected in the past.


Madarame: Plant guidelines should be fully revised – NHK, June 5

-The chairperson of Japan’s Nuclear Safety Commission, Haruki Madarame, has told NHK that the engineering guidelines for nuclear power plants should be thoroughly revised as they do not include the possibility of a long-term power failure.

-The complacency about blackouts has been pointed out as one of the causes of the severe accidents at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

-Madarame told NHK that the guidelines clearly state that a long-term power failure can be disregarded. He said he paid no attention to the explanation until the accidents and he regrets his lack of knowledge, adding that the guidelines should have included the worst-case scenario.

-He said the guidelines were not revised because experts on nuclear power generation are an enclosed group and they tend to avoid vigorous discussions and uncomfortable subjects.


TEPCO to see 570 billion yen net loss, excluding nuclear compensation – Mainichi News, June 5

-Tokyo Electric Power Co. is expected to post a parent-only net loss of 570 billion yen for the business year to March 2012, excluding compensation to those affected by the ongoing crisis at its crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, an internal document showed Saturday.

-The amount of cash and deposits held by TEPCO is expected to fall below 100 billion yen at the end of March 2012 from about 2.1 trillion yen at the end of last March. The company is facing difficulties in raising funds by issuing corporate bonds as their rating was lowered to junk bond status.

-It is expected to become necessary for TEPCO to seek further loans from banks and support from the government to cover the nuclear crisis-related compensation, which is said to reach several trillion yen.


Workers at Fukushima plant treated for dehydration – NHK, June 6

-Two workers at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have been treated for dehydration at a hospital.

-With 9 workers getting heatstroke, Tokyo Electric Power Company says it will take more measures to ensure the health of workers at the plant.

-TEPCO said no radioactivity was detected, but one worker was advised to stay in hospital for about a week, and the other to stay home for 3 days.

-The company said it is advising workers to wear vests containing cooling gels underneath the gear that protects against radiation, but that one of the 2 workers was not wearing a vest.


Soil sampling begins in Fukushima – NHK, June 6

-The ministry began taking soil samples on Monday as part of efforts to produce a map outlining radiation contamination in the prefecture. The study involves direct sampling of soil for the first time. Until now, the ministry has been measuring soil contamination from airplanes.


TEPCO mulls ways to cut humidity in No.2 reactor – NHK, June 6

-TEPCO says it plans to reduce the amount of radioactive materials inside the reactor building and then open the doors to lower humidity, now at 99.9 percent. The decision came after the failure of its initial attempt to bring down the humidity level. The company initially thought vapor from a storage pool of spent nuclear fuel was responsible for the high humidity. It installed a device to cool down the water. The device cooled down the water but failed to reduce the humidity.


Radioactivity of materials released in Fukushima nuclear crisis revised upward – Mainichi, June 6

-The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) on June 6 revised the level of radioactivity of materials emitted from the crisis hit Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant from 370,000 terabecquerels to 850,000 terabecquerels.

-The latest figure takes into consideration the release of radioactive materials during explosions at the plant’s No. 2 and 3 reactors.


Govt. document shows offsite center dysfunctional – NHK, June 6

-NHK has obtained a document from the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency that shows how the office, called an "off-site center" failed to function properly due to a rise in radiation levels in the wake of a power outage.

-Off-site centers were established at 22 locations near nuclear power plants throughout the country after a criticality accident in 1999 at a nuclear fuel processing plant in Tokai Village in Ibaraki Prefecture.

-Officials of the national and local governments, police and Self-Defense Forces were to gather at these offices in the event of nuclear power plant accidents to formulate plans to evacuate residents.

-The document reveals that officials from only 3 out of more than 20 organizations assembled at the off-site center at around 10:00 PM on March 11th, 7 hours after the earthquake.

-On the following day, the document shows that radiation levels were rising inside the center after an explosion occurred at the Number One Reactor building. It is believed that the off-site center was poorly equipped and unable to prevent radioactive materials from getting in.


Low-level emergency declared at nuclear power plant – Journal Star, June 6

-The Omaha Public Power District on Monday declared a low-level emergency at its Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station due to rising Missouri River waters.


Is The Future Of Nuclear Power In Minireactors? – NPR, June 6

-Almost 60 years ago, engineers in Idaho switched on the world’s first nuclear power plant. It was only able to illuminate four light bulbs. The reactor vessel in Idaho stood about 8 feet high, and eventually it made enough electricity to power a building.

-A nuclear plant today can produce 10,000 times as much electricity. But for the past 20 years, new nuclear plants have been too expensive to build. Now engineers are trying to revive the industry by thinking small again.

-They’re designing what they call "modular" or "mini"reactors. Instead of occupying a city block of buildings, the smallest could fit in a two-car garage. And it won’t break the bank.


Nuclear energy vital for economic growth: Russia – Nuclear Power Daily, June 6

-"In the next 10 years, nuclear power is a necessary condition for the safe and stable development of the world economy," Kiriyenko said in opening remarks to a major international conference on atomic power in Moscow.

-"Nuclear power is the locomotive of the innovative development of mankind," he said at the start of the three-day conference, called "The development of atomic energy — pause or continuation?"

-"For many people in the world, access to energy is a condition for normal life and development," Kiriyenko said.

-"Nobody has the right to stop a country from gaining access to this reliable and stable source of energy," he added.


Famed physicist Michio Kaku says northern Japan was almost lost to a "100% core melt" in the Fukushima nuclear accident – CNN, June 2


Japan mulls evacuating radiation ‘hot spots’ – Kyodo, June 6

Highly radioactive debris found at Fukushima plant – NHK, June 6

-On Monday, a piece of debris about 5 centimeters in diameter with radiation levels of 950 millisieverts per hour was removed from the west side of the Number 3 reactor building. It had been found on Saturday.

-Tokyo Electric Power Company has so far removed about 280 containers of radioactive debris, but radiation levels still remain high near the reactor building that was badly damaged by a hydrogen explosion.


Disaster victims manning front lines in struggle to tame Fukushima nuclear crisis – Mainichi News, June 6

-Most of the workers at the plant hail from the surrounding Hamadori region of Fukushima Prefecture — hit hard by the March 11 tsunami and then again by the imposition of the exclusion zone around the power station. Their new double identity, victim and tireless worker, has inspired a complex range of feelings among many of them.


No.1 reactor vessel damaged 5 hours after quake – NHK, June 6

-The report says the fuel rods in the Number 1 reactor began to be exposed 2 hours after the earthquake due to the loss of the reactor’s cooling system in the tsunami. Its fuel rods may have melted down 3 hours later, causing the damage to the reactor. This means the meltdown occurred about 10 hours earlier than TEPCO estimated last month.

-The nuclear agency also says a meltdown damaged the Number 2 reactor about 80 hours after the quake, and the Number 3 reactor 79 hours after the quake.


Scientists call for radiation exposure reduction – NHK, June 6

-A group of scientists at Fukushima University is urging the prefectural government to take stronger precautions in reducing radiation exposure to citizens.

-They also asked that prefectural government radiation experts who say that even relatively low levels of radioactivity are harmful be included as health risk management advisors.

-They also requested that the prefectural government draw up and make public a concrete plan to remove contaminated topsoil.

-Ishida says the prefectural government should take measures to protect its residents, on the premise that even low levels of radiation exposure are dangerous.


Gov’t may expand scope of evacuation order in Fukushima – Japan Today, June 6

-The government is considering expanding the scope of its evacuation order to include people from certain spots that are emitting high levels of radiation as a result of the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in March, government officials said Monday.

-The government will be discussing with municipalities these so-called ”hot spots” suffering from radiation exposure that would exceed the yardstick of 20 millisieverts during the course of a year.


Emergency measures urged for Fukushima students – NHK, June 6

-The opposition New Komeito Party has urged the government to put into practice emergency measures to protect children in Fukushima prefecture from exposure to radiation.


Fukushima students enjoy indoor swimming – NHK, June 6

-Two elementary schools in Tamura City started swimming classes on Monday using a city-run indoor pool located 20 kilometers from the school.

-More than 50 students were taken by bus. They first sprayed water on each other, and then practiced swimming for about 30 minutes.


Monitoring of beach radiation begins in Ibaraki – NHK, June 7

-Last year, more than 1-million 750-thousand people visited Ibaraki’s beaches, but the number of visitors this summer is feared likely to decline due the nuclear disaster.

-On Tuesday, officials visited Ajigaura beach in Hitachinaka City. They took samples of seawater from 1 to 1.5 meter deep for monitoring. They also checked radiation levels at 5 locations onshore.

-The prefecture is to complete testing at all 17 beaches by mid-June and release the results.


Nuclear safety agency to become independent according to report for IAEA – Mainichi News, June 7

-The government has decided to remove the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) from under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, turning it into an independent body, a report on the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant shows.

-The report, whose details emerged on June 7, points out that the body in charge of nuclear safety straddled several government agencies and when the crisis unfolded, it was unclear where the responsibility for enduring the public’s safety lay. The government will submit the report at an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) ministerial conference to open in Vienna on June 20.

-Under measures outlined in the report, electric power companies will be legally required to take measures to avoid severe nuclear accidents such as those in which reactor cores are damaged. The report concludes that "fundamental revisions to nuclear safety measures are inevitable."


Govt panel on nuclear accident holds 1st meeting – NHK, June 7

-Prime Minister Naoto Kan told the meeting that he wants the panel to broadly examine technological and other issues, such as the closed inner circle that makes nuclear-related decisions. He also singled out the fact that the industry ministry is responsible for both the promotion and regulation of nuclear power.


Kaieda:Nuclear plants to resume operating in July – NHK, June 7

-Kaieda said Japan’s economy must have a stable supply of electricity.

-He said after having eased the concerns of host municipalities, he wants to allow plants that meet safety standards to restart.

-Kaieda said that the green light will be given in July, the peak month for electricity demand in Japan.


Labor Ministry inspects Fukushima plant – NHK, June 7

-Labor ministry officials have conducted onsite inspections at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, to investigate why 2 workers were exposed to excessive levels of radiation.

-A team of 4 inspectors arrived at the plant on Tuesday afternoon to check working conditions and interview safety control managers.


Work continues to support No.4 reactor pool – NHK, June 7

-At the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, work is continuing to shore up a pool containing spent nuclear fuel at the No.4 reactor.

-Engineers are concerned that a wall supporting the pool, which holds 1,535 spent fuel rods, was damaged in an explosion on March 15.

-Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company plans to build a new structure with concrete walls and 30 steel pillars to support the pool.


More hydrogen produced than TEPCO’s estimate – NHK, June 7

-The agency says about 1,000 kilograms of hydrogen was produced at the No. 1 reactor when the fuel rods began to be exposed 2 hours after the quake and the metallic fuel containers oxidized one hour later.

-The same phenomenon took place at the No. 3 reactor some 43 hours after the quake, resulting in the production of 1,000 kilograms of hydrogen.

-Hydrogen explosions blew the top off the No. 1 and 3 reactor buildings.

-A smaller explosion at the No. 2 reactor damaged the suppression pool. The agency has not determined the cause of the blast, but calculates that about 800 kilograms of hydrogen was formed there 77 hours after the quake when fuel rods were damaged.


Contaminated water at Fukushima I reaches 105,000 tons – Denki Shimbun, June 7

-The purification system is to start working on June 15. It was concluded that, even with storage of water in the three locations to which the contaminated water can be pumped at an early date, a delayed startup of the system would present the risk of additional leakage as early as June 20. The company believes that it can secure about two weeks of leeway by getting more tanks to receive the water and decreasing the amount of water being pumped into the reactors.


3 nuclear reactors melted down after quake, Japan confirms – CNN, June 7

-Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant experienced full meltdowns at three reactors in the wake of an earthquake and tsunami in March, the country’s Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters said Monday.

-The nuclear group’s new evaluation, released Monday, goes further than previous statements in describing the extent of the damage caused by an earthquake and tsunami on March 11.


Melted Fuel at Fukushima May Have Leaked Through, Yomiuri Says – Bloomberg, June 7

-The melted fuel at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power station may have leaked through the pressure vessels of the Nos. 1 to 3 reactors, the Yomiuri newspaper reported.

-The Japanese government will submit a report to the International Atomic Energy Agency that raises the possibility the fuel dropped through the bottom of the pressure vessels, a situation described as a “melt through” and considered more serious than a “meltdown,” according to the report, which cited the document.


Japan Concedes Severity of Blast – Wall Street Journal, June 7

-Tokyo’s nuclear regulator revealed an apparent leak in the lid of Reactor No. 2’s containment vessel. That container was a crucial barrier between the overheating nuclear fuel rods at the reactor and the outside world, and the new information suggests radioactive substances were surging through holes that were collectively the size of a business card.

-U.S. officials cited fears of unknown problems in the early days when they called for U.S. citizens to evacuate a 50-mile zone around the plant. That zone was far larger than the 12-mile zone set by the Japanese government, and appeared to undercut the authority of Tokyo’s own judgment of where its residents were safe.

-"In those early hours, they didn’t seem to understand the severity of the situation," said one U.S. official in Tokyo. "In the beginning, they weren’t taking any suggestions from us at all."

-Officials of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission have taken Tokyo’s recent revisions on the accident’s severity as evidence that their initial surmises about were essentially correct, and justified the 50-mile zone.

-"We felt pretty confident [within a few days of the accident] that there was significant fuel damage," Bill Borchardt, the NRC’s operations chief, said in New York late last month. "There were numerous indications of high radiation levels that can only come from damaged fuel at those kinds of levels."


Parents urge Tokyo to rethink radiation monitoring – Japan Times, June 8

-A group of Tokyo parents filed a request Tuesday asking the metropolitan government to change the way it determines radiation levels in the capital after their own study found relatively high levels of contamination around Koto Ward.

-The metropolitan government checks levels of radioactivity at an elevation of 18 meters in Shinjuku Ward, where the maximum hourly reading was about 0.06 microsievert on Tuesday.

-But Ishikawa insists such readings are unreliable and should be taken at about 1 meter above the ground.

-"We request that the Tokyo government and Koto Ward properly check the radiation levels, especially around school areas and parks," she said.


Utilities asked to submit nuclear safety measures – NHK, June 8

-The government’s nuclear safety agency has instructed utility companies across Japan to come up with measures to better respond to a serious nuclear accident like the one at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

-The government has compiled a report for the International Atomic Energy Agency about the nuclear accident. It said the Fukushima plant lacked sufficient safety measures to deal with such a serious accident that caused the loss of all power sources.


Radioactive debris outside No.3 reactor removed – NHK, June 8

-Workers have completed the removal of radioactive debris that was outside the No. 3 reactor building at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

-TEPCO says workers will soon go into the reactor building to check the debris inside and to monitor radiation levels in the area.


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22 thoughts on “Japan Nuclear Disaster Update 27: They should have seen the tsunami coming.

  1. I think nuclear power is relatively safe.

    You wouldn’t know it from this blog, but Mr. Laden agrees.

    “Did you notice that I agree with you on risk of nuclear power? NO. Because you can’t even see through your own bullshit.”

    Posted by: Analiese Miller and Greg Laden | June 2, 2011 9:12 AM

    Can you imagine how long this blog would be if Mr. Laden thought nuclear power was unsafe?

  2. “Because if nuclear power is safe, we should report less news from Japan? How exactly does that work?”

    I just wonder why 27 blogs on relatively safe nuclear power, but not 27 blogs on anything else that is relatively safe? There are so many topics and countries to choose from.

    How exactly does that work?

    P.S. I could understand if this was a blog focused on the country of Japan or focused on nuclear engineering. But if its about general science, nature, culture, etc., what is driving the fixation on a Japanese power plant?

  3. Right, because the way news of a nuclear disaster in Japan is reported and reacted to has nothing to do with culture. Your reaction, for instance, is fascinating.

  4. Right, because the way news of a nuclear disaster in Japan is reported and reacted to has nothing to do with culture.

    Of course it does, as you obviously meant. I think that the problem is that he disagrees with what he perceives as your cultural slant. I do, to extent, as well. Why not post news of the thousands of vehicle accidents daily? If you’d rather take into account ecological impact, why not post about the effects of mountaintop removal coal mining or the hydrocarbons that seep into our groundwater everyday?
    The 27 posts appear to be a thinly veiled agenda. If you are anti-nuclear, say so. If the reverse is true, say so. If you are indifferent, why not beat an equally deserving drum simultaneously?

  5. Hmmmmmmmmmmm, no, I wouldn’t rather do any of those things, and I’m pretty sure Greg does what he wants here. But you should go for it, Arkham – blog about car crashes or anything of your choosing, and then we’ll be sure to stop by and say nothing but that you should be doing something else.

  6. You wouldn’t want to actually state your position? Why not?
    I do not think that what I “believe” should be what Greg posts. My point was that you have an agenda, or so it seems, that you want to push.

  7. To preempt forthcoming bullshit, I really don’t care. All I was doing was pointing out bullshit. You seem to have a cause, good for you. Does it (your cause) mean anything? Yes, we shouldn’t rely on 50+ year old tech.

  8. I apologize for three posts in a row, but I find hedging ones’ bets to be cowardly. This isn’t poker. State your intent.

  9. Arkham: The 27 posts appear to be a thinly veiled agenda. If you are anti-nuclear, say so. If the reverse is true, say so.

    I have two quick comments on that. First, I’m pretty sure that there really are two “agendas” or points of view that most people have, ani and pro nuclear. Like gun ownership, there are mostly two camps: Whatever the NRA tells you to think and whatever the anti-gun lobby tells you to think. And so on. I doubt very much that either Ana or I would ever be caught in any pre-polarized ready made camp about any issue.

    Second, “we” (the authors of this post) could probably describe a position we collectively hold on nuclear power, but it would take some work. We’ve not sat down and had that conversation. I have no idea what Ana’s position on nuclear power is, though I do have a sense on her position of safety and environmental issues generally … she generally seems to distrust large self-interested corporations, but I don’t want to represent or worse, misrepresent her views.

    Why don’t we blog about car accidents? Because we don’t. I’ve written blog posts about rabbies, is that good?

  10. My point was that you have an agenda, or so it seems, that you want to push.

    Oh, we do, we most certainly do. Our agenda is similar to yours, in part: Pointing out bullshit. But with respect to these posts and mainly Ana’s feed, our agenda is to keep fukushima on the table.

    Our posts have come out more or less evenly over time. Look at the rest of the blogosphere and the web-news-o-sphere. We seem to be under the impression that the situation at Fukushima is unresolved (there is good evidence of that) and while some threats have reduced others are increasing and other remain the same over this period. Yet coverage is following the usual decay curve.

    But not here.

    … we shouldn’t rely on 50+ year old tech.

    That may be true, but are you suggesting that applies to nuclear and not to coal?

    This isn’t poker

    I’m not sure if it is poker or not. Probably not, but it could be. For instance, not having an explicit stance in one of the two prescribed camps on global warming has caused you to re-affirm one of my worst fears regarding energy policy generally: That there really are two camps and that some people want everyone else to be in one or the other. I’ll take the pot in this hand, thank you very much.

    By the way, Arkham, what is your position on nuclear power?

  11. Oh, we do, we most certainly do. Our agenda is similar to yours, in part: Pointing out bullshit.

    I never once stated that I disagree with you.
    What is my position on nuclear power? I think that it is a worthwhile intermediate until we find a feasible alternative.
    I understand the need to keep Fukushima on the table, I was not arguing against that. Nor was I arguing for polemicist prattle. If you reread my first post on this thread you’ll find that I was attempting to clear up somebody’s argument as I saw it. If my intent was unclear I apologize. However I despise leaving backdoors open as opposed to stating clearly what you intend to say.
    In other words if you are ambivalent, say so. If you are pro or anti, say so. The only argument I made was that you shouldn’t cower behind half-statements. (A good example would be the thread from more than a year ago in which you whined about the Saints hitting the QB so much only to follow up later saying that you were really talking about concussions when you clearly weren’t.)
    As if you care, I appreciate the updates on the developing crisis, thank you.

  12. Fukushima is said to be approaching Chernobyl

    To clarify: the use of weasel words is what I was arguing against. See above for one example. (italics are mine)

  13. However I despise leaving backdoors open as opposed to stating clearly what you intend to say. In other words if you are ambivalent, say so. If you are pro or anti, say so. The only argument I made was that you shouldn’t cower behind half-statements.

    But now you’ve simply created three possible positions, anything else being something unacceptable to you. Also, our intention in this thread is not to declare “our position.” It doesn’t have to be. That’s something you want us to do here but it is not what we planned or intended to do here. We have a different reason for doing this, and not having our position on nuclear power as part of the thread is necessary to do that. And, as I’ve stated, I don’t know if Ana and I even have a collective coherent position on the topic. We’ve not discussed it.

    the thread from more than a year ago in which you whined about the Saints hitting the QB so much only to follow up later saying that you were really talking about concussions when you clearly weren’t.

    Well, no, I was talking about both bad sportspersonship AND concussions the whole time and as I understand it people in the sports injury business, people in the referee business, and people in the professional football reporting business all agree with what I had the apparent insight to see and courage to say out loud. Dammit!

    As if you care, I appreciate the updates on the developing crisis, thank you.

    I care about that more than any of the other things we’ve discussed.


    Fukushima is said to be approaching Chernobyl

    “To clarify: the use of weasel words is what I was arguing against. See above for one example. ”

    Those words were chosen carefully, very carefully, and they arenot weasel words. As I wrote that I made the reference to a possible near equivalence the way I did because I do not know if it is true, but I do know that it would be very interesting to try to measure, and the process of figuring out how to measure it itself is interesting given that they are different kinds of reactors and different kinds of accidents.

    Thus “… the potential for Fukushima to be worse in terms of total radioactive material released is very real. ” in the second part of the sentence and the next sentence: “However, the two disasters really can’t be compared sensibly because the circumstances of release, and the potential effects, are very different. ”

    Look, I’m a reasonably good writer, a thoughtful person (especially when I’m writing words that are going into a colleague’s mouth) and a smart guy. I feel funny pointing that out to you, but it may help you to read what I’m writing. Trust me more. It would be better for you to come at my words looking at what I say rather than assuming or reconstructing what must be in my mind and what must be interacting in my mind with characteristics (of me) that you come to the table assuming.

    This does not mean that I’m not sometimes subtle or even circumspect. If you know what I mean. But I’m actually not doing that on this Fukushima report project at all.

  14. There is nothing wrong with being subtle or circumspect, in fact, you are arguing against an argument I did not make. I read a comment above #4 I think and the following comment by Stephanie Z and thought people were talking past one another. Post #5, I thought at the time, was snarkiness due to misunderstanding. The whole point of my post was to ask somebody’s questions for them. That’s it. I have this problem of forgetting to add tags to my posts to clarify intent. Yes, I need them because I am a poor writer. I’m pure shit at implying tone, or so it would seem. The crap about football, etc. was snarkish due to the attack on me for asking questions that weren’t mine which I thought were foolish. I thought that that (really asking the questions desperately alluded to by the poster above) would lead to a more in-depth discussion of the points presented. My bad.
    In short, I find you intriguing because of the wordplay. I don’t like being attacked over misunderstandings, which are common on sciblogs.
    (btw, why don’t paragraph breaks appear here?)

  15. Sorry, one more post. In regards to the football post, you were arguing that hitting the quarterback as many times as the Saints did (NOT TO THE HEAD) was cheating in some way instead of what the defense tries to do: hit the quarterback. Helmet to helmet is fined in the NFL. Where are the fines? Fuck it, I just derailed the shit out this thread. I apologize.
    (I don’t even watch NFL football.)

  16. Arkham, number 5 was a perfectly good response to number 4. Saved me the trouble.

    Tone is hard to modulate in text.

    I don’t like being attacked over misunderstandings, which are common on sciblogs.

    I agree, and it is unfortunate that this happens sometimes.

    (btw, why don’t paragraph breaks appear here?)

    It is a mystery. They do, often. I wonder if it matters what browser one is using.

  17. Regarding NFL, here’s the thing … I don’t know much about football, but it seems to me that when two professional and experienced teams are playing the game under normal circumstances (i.e., same rules as always, same gear, etc.) and something that everyone agrees never ever happens occurs, then there is an explanation. It’s like if I see a cab driving across people’s lawns instead of on the street, I wonder what the reason is …. it has always been possible but it has never been done.

    That’s what lead me to ask questions about this. Looking back, I think that when you have a QB who can pass, you have to kill the play at one end of the flight of the ball or the other, and almost all the time you kill it at the receiving end and then now and then throw in a blitz. The saints decided to do it at the QB end, and to do it in a way that involved hitting Farve as much as possible to injure him, which they did, and one of his injuries may have figured in the big play at the end which caused the saints to win (Farve who often runs the ball himself, threw a bad pass instead of running ahead a few yards to get the first down, because of his leg injury).

    Since then I’ve heard commentaters again and again refer to that game as the time the Saints went overboard.

  18. Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t. The offensive line, the offensive coordinator, the head coach, the line coach, etc. are all there to foil the plan of the opposing defense. The saints weren’t being evil and trying to intentionally hurt Favre, they were using a blitz structure that not only worked, but kept the Vikings offense guessing. Hitting is part of football, period. If the O-line can’t do the job they are there to do, the opposing team will maul them. The line is kind of like setting up a real-time pawn line in chess: If you screw it up, you’re in trouble. Oh well, if I wanted to discuss football I would be on a FB board. Sorry for bringing it up.
    Goodnight Dr. Laden.

  19. See, I guess one of the reasons I thought this was important is that the Vikinds defense was ranked best in the league before this game, and there was no one important missing, injured, or not playing.

    So, this set of statements:

    The offensive line, the offensive coordinator, the head coach, the line coach, etc. are all there to foil the plan of the opposing defense. The saints were … were using a blitz structure that not only worked, but kept the Vikings offense guessing. If the O-line can’t do the job they are there to do, the opposing team will maul them. The line is kind of like setting up a real-time pawn line in chess: If you screw it up, you’re in trouble.

    are mysteries, aren’t they?

    These satements:

    Hitting is part of football, period. Goodnight Dr. Laden.”

    Are dismissive monkeywaving.

    This statement:

    The saints weren’t being evil and trying to intentionally hurt Favre

    Is a presumption you’ve made that you are trying to pass off as a conclusion and appears to be unlikely, according to most experts that have since commented on this that I’ve heard.

    orry for bringing it up.
    Goodnight Dr. Laden.

    Not a problem. The important thing is that I’ve cleared up your misconceptions! We were done with Fukushima anyway …. time for another update post with fresh information! (It’s in the works.)

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