Japan Nuclear Disaster Update 28: Mostly about contamination, of the sea, and around the world

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There is an increase in reports of activity of scientists studying the extent and impacts of radiation spilled or otherwise transferred into the ocean from Fukushima. TEPCO, in the meantime, seems to have a need to put a lot more water, possibly decontaminated to some degree, into the sea. Similarly, there is a plan afoot to release previously sequestered air from Reactor 2, with filtering to lower contamination applied to the air before the building’s doors are opened. Venting began about four days ago.

Another report has been released confirming that not only did Reactors 1, 2 and 3 melt down, they also “melted through” (a.k.a. China Syndrome) to some extent, having breached their containment vessels. But TEPCO was quick to apologize. Earlier, we reported evidence that in the case of at least one of the reactors, nuclear material may have gone beyond the safety vessels designed to capture melt-through from the reactor vessels. This has not been confirmed. Or denied.

There is a lot more news on contamination, evacuation plans, mutant bunny rabbits, and the increasing cross talk between agencies regarding various issues in Ana’s Feed (below).

The IAEA has not released an update on reactor status for almost two weeks, so we can’t report that. We have little evidence, however, that any significant additional controls on the current situation other than releasing more radiation have occurred. Generally, when you read news reports over the last few days that say “things are improving but still bad” you should edit that in your head: “Things are … still bad” because there is not much changing on the ground.

Here is an interesting video with a simultaneous translation (right speaker English, left speaker Japanese) for those of you wishing to bone up on your foreign language, whichever that may be:

And here’s an update in English Only:

And finally, the real reason you’re here: Ana’s Feed! Japan’s radiation twice as bad – CNN, June 7

-Nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen talks to CNN’s John King about the dangers of the radiation situation in Japan.


IAEA to survey radioactive contamination in sea – NHK, June 7

-The IAEA, the UN nuclear watchdog agency, is to survey the long-term effects of the spillage of radioactive water from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power on the maritime environment in the Pacific Ocean.

-The survey will collect samples of radioactive substances in sea waters and will compare them with data collected before the nuclear accident in Fukushima.

-The maritime survey will be conducted over 4 years, beginning in July.


Scientists Study Ocean Impacts of Radioactive Contamination from Japan’s Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant – Newswise, June 7

-Scientists from Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS) are joining colleagues from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, several other U.S. academic institutions and laboratories in Japan and Spain on the first international, multidisciplinary assessment of the levels and dispersion of radioactive substances in the Pacific Ocean off the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant in Japan. The research effort is funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

-Operating with the permission of the Japanese government, the ship will follow a track line from east to west and operate at 34 sampling stations, criss-crossing the Kuroshio Current. Deploying water sampling rosettes, the team will collect and analyze the samples for many radionuclides – among them isotopes of cesium, iodine, ruthenium, promethium, strontium, plutonium, radium and uranium – to learn how much contamination was released into the ocean, to assess its potential impact on marine life and human health, and to provide input to models for better understanding of contamination pathways and dispersion.

-Scientists associated with the study note that these early field data will expand understanding of how radioactive pollutants travel through the ocean and the extent to which they enter marine food chains. To fully understand the long-term significance of their presence in these food webs will, however, require considerable additional research over a number of decades. The field work underway now marks a start.


#Fukushima II (Not I) Nuke Plant Wants to Dump 3,000 Tons of Water into the Ocean – EX-SKF, June 7

-Did you even know that there was water in the basement of Fukushima II ("Daini")? And that water needs to be treated to remove the radioactive materials?

-TEPCO says it will remove the radioactive materials in the water to the level lower than allowed by law before releasing it into the ocean. But the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is strongly against the plan, fearing the effect on the marine products.


Nuclear talks split over inspections – NHK, June 8

-Officials from over 30 nations have agreed to strengthen cooperation in case of a nuclear accident, but remain divided over inspections of neighboring countries’ nuclear plants.

-Countries abandoning nuclear energy, such as Switzerland, advocated scrutiny into neighbors’ safety systems. Pro-nuclear India expressed opposition to a mandatory inspection system.


France, U.S. Reject International Nuclear-Safety Oversight – Bloomberg, June 8

-Regulators from the U.S. and France rejected calls to make peer reviews of nuclear safety inspections mandatory and give an international body oversight of atomic power plants.

-At the same time nuclear watchdogs need more independence to ensure they’re free from political interference, the officials said today at a press conference in Paris, where regulators from about 37 countries met for the first time since the Fukushima atomic plant disaster.


Fukushima ‘lessons’ may take 10 years to learn – BBC, June 8

-Learning all lessons from the accident at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power station could take a decade, according to France’s top nuclear safety officer.

-But all nuclear countries should carry out safety tests within a year, said Andre-Claude Lacoste.

-The chairman of the French nuclear safety agency (ASN) was speaking at a forum in Paris organised by the OECD’s Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA).

-Regulators said international control of nuclear safety would be "difficult".

-The forum follows a day of political discussions on nuclear safety organised by the French G8 presidency, and comes two weeks before ministers gather in Vienna for a week-long session at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that could set new international rules.


TEPCO tests water purification system – NHK, June 8

-On Wednesday, TEPCO tested the control board of a US-developed device that adsorbs radioactive cesium. It also tested the pumps of a French device that uses special chemicals to settle radioactive substances in the water.

The new water purification system has 2 other main parts that use Japanese and imported technology.

TEPCO says it expects the system to decontaminate about 1,200 tons of water per day before it is transferred to temporary storage tanks within the compound of the nuclear plant.

More than 105,000 tons of toxic water is believed to have already accumulated in the basements of the reactors and their turbine buildings. Every day more than 500 tons of contaminated water is added to the amount, as TEPCO has to inject fresh water into the reactors to keep them cool.


Blackout hits Fukushima nuclear plant’s Nos. 1, 2 units – Japan Today, June 8

-The crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant suffered power outages at its Nos. 1 and 2 reactors temporarily Wednesday, with lights in the units’ central control room being cut off and the transmission of radiation data being partially halted.

-The operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co, said the blackout did not affect its water injecting operation to cool the reactors, while Goshi Hosono, an adviser to Prime Minister Naoto Kan on the radiation leakage crisis, said the incident did not affect any equipment that could have caused an extremely serious situation.

-Also Wednesday, TEPCO revealed a plan to leave a door linking the reactor and turbine buildings of the No. 1 unit open to reduce humidity in the reactor buildings later this month and help improve work efficiency within them.

-Since radioactive materials within the reactor building could leak to the outside through the opened door, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, the government’s nuclear safety agency, has instructed the utility to report the expected effects of the move on the environment by June 15.


Air in No.2 reactor building to be released – NHK, June 8

-Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, plans to install air filters to lower the contamination and humidity, and then open the building’s doors to let out the air.

-TEPCO hopes to install the filters by this Saturday, run them for about 3 days, and open the reactor building’s doors some time next week.


Japanese-made robot to be used at Fukushima plant – NHK, June 8

-The robot moves with the help of a pair of 20-centimeter-wide rolling belts. Four additional belts at each corner of its body enable the robot to move freely through debris and up and down staircases.

-The robot is equipped with a device to measure radiation. It also has a sensor to gauge levels of radioactive water inside reactor buildings, as well as a container to collect the water.

-The robot’s camera is tightly sealed to keep its lenses from blurring due to moisture, as the humidity level inside the Number 2 reactor building is 99.9 percent.

-Since the accident, US-made robots have been used to help monitor the situation inside the reactor buildings.


Fukushima nuclear plant may have suffered ‘melt-through’, Japan admits – Guardian, June 8

-The report, which is to be submitted to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said fuel rods in reactors No 1, 2 and 3 had probably not only melted, but also breached their inner containment vessels and accumulated in the outer steel containment vessels.

-The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), says it believes the molten fuel is being cooled by water that has built up in the bottom of the three reactor buildings.

-The report includes an apology to the international community for the nuclear crisis – the world’s worst since Chernobyl in 1986 – and expresses "remorse that this accident has raised concerns around the world about the safety of nuclear power generation".


Despite Radiation, Some Japanese Villagers Stay Put – NPR, June 8

-The village of Iitate, about 20 miles from the plant, has radiation levels well above those considered safe. But it appears there are still quite a few people in the village, including one couple busy in their fields.

-Nisaka Mieko, 77, and her husband are digging chives out of the rich, brown earth, plastic gloves on their hands, masks over their mouths. The oniony smell of ripe chives hovers as they chuck bundles of veggies into their tractor.

-Closer still to the nuclear plant, Sato Takao feeds hay to his cows. He can’t leave until he’s sold them. They’re for Wagyu beef, an expensive delicacy, but he’s only getting 70 percent of the market price — even though he says his meat has radiation levels of only 100 becquerels per kilo, a fifth of that judged dangerous.

-And for some, leaving this rural idyll with its forests of cedar is more than they can bear.

-More than a hundred elderly people at the village’s retirement home are being allowed to stay on, so long as they remain inside. That some prefer radiation to resettlement shows the enormity of the government’s task.


Japan’s radiation fallout ‘a monster you can’t see’, NBC Nightly News, June 8

-No one in Fukushima has shown signs of illness from radiation exposure, but more than 80,000 people have been turned into radiation refugees.


Fukushima doctor shortage – NHK, June 9

-Fukushima Medical University is launching an intern system for young doctors to work in quake-hit areas while training in radio-therapeutics. The move is part of efforts to deal with acute shortages of doctors in the prefecture as a result of the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

-The doctors will provide medical services for residents from the exclusion zone when they visit their homes. They will also provide consultations to people concerned about the impact of radiation from the power plant.


Greenpeace warns of radiation risk to Japan children – Space Daily, June 9

-Greenpeace called on Japan on Thursday to evacuate children and pregnant women from a town about 60 kilometres (40 miles) from the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant because of high radiation.

-The environmental and anti-nuclear group said its own data from Fukushima town roughly matched that of the government, but that it drew radically different conclusions, especially on the health threat for children.


Fishermen to Tepco: Don’t release water – Japan Times, June 9

-A plan by Tepco to release water containing traces of radioactive materials from the Fukushima No. 2 nuclear power plant into the Pacific has been halted by stiff opposition from the Fisheries Agency, sources said Wednesday.

-Although Tokyo Electric Power Co. told the agency it would release the water after removing radioactive substances to an undetectable level, the agency is not approving the plan, leaving the fate of the 3,000 tons of water accumulated in the nuclear power station, located 15 km south of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 plant, undecided.

-If the water remains in tanks for a prolonged time, the storage facility may be corroded by salt in the water.

-About 7,000 tons of water accumulated at the Fukushima No. 2 power station when it was hit by tsunami on March 11.


IAEA to ask Japan for transparent nuclear report – NHK, June 9

-NHK has learned that the International Atomic Energy Agency will ask Japan to provide a more transparent report on the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.


After Japan, what country is the next nuclear weak link? – Reuters, June 9

-U.S. diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks provide scary commentary on the conditions in developing nations with nuclear power aspirations.


Leaked oil found in seawater near Fukushima Daini – NHK, June 9

-The utility says the oil is likely to have leaked from a transformer used to supply power to the plant from the outside grid. The oil is believed to have accumulated in an emergency water tank in the basement.

-It says the water could have overflowed into the sea through rainwater pipes connected to the tank while workers drained the tank on Wednesday to inspect it.


Survey: strontium widespread in Fukushima – NHK, June 9

-Japan’s science ministry conducted a survey for radioactive substances at 11 locations in 10 municipalities from late March to mid-May.

-It says strontium-90 was detected in all 11 locations.

-In Namie Town, the reading stood at 250 becquerels per kilogram of soil, while in Iitate Village the reading was 120 becquerels per kilogram. The readings in the other locations were between 2 and 18 becquerels.

-The ministry says the survey revealed that strontium was detected even in the city of Fukushima about 60 kilometers from the plant, suggesting wide-spread contamination.


Japan mayor wants tsunami-hit rice paddies to go solar – Reuters, June 9

-A Japanese mayor is seeking to rebuild his city into a renewable energy hub by placing solar panels on top of rice paddies that were devastated by the March earthquake and tsunami.

-Mayor Katsunobu Sakurai put Minami Soma, 25 km (16 miles) from the tsunami-crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant, on the global map after his plea for assistance via YouTube reverberated around the world.

-TIME magazine also chose the 55-year-old former farmer as among the 100 most influential people in the world.


U.S. study called quake concerns over Fukushima-type containment ‘negligible’ – Mainichi, June 9

-Despite the potential vulnerability to earthquakes of the Mark I containment system, which is identical to those at the No. 1 and 5 reactors of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) concluded in a 1980 safety evaluation that probable damage from tremors was "negligible" and "insignificant."

-In response to the NRC report, the NSCJ did not add seismic slosh to a list of issues to be studied under the guidelines for the BWR (Boiling Water Reactor)-Mark I containment system design.

-According to Mark I developer General Electric Co. (GE) and other groups, there are 38 nuclear reactors with the Mark I containment vessel — 24 in the United States, 10 in Japan, two in Taiwan and one each in Switzerland and Spain.

-After the Mark I system went on sale in the 1970s, GE engineers and other experts pointed out that the system did not take suppression pool hydrodynamic loads into consideration.


Nuclear evacuation being considered for more areas – NHK, June 9

-The Japanese government says it will quickly decide on whether to evacuate more people from areas around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant which have radiation levels exceeding the state limit.

-This comes after it was found that accumulative radiation exposure levels in parts of Date and Minamisoma cities exceed the 20 millisieverts per year limit set by the government. The areas are outside the current evacuation zone.

-After the meeting, Sakurai told reporters that residents are voicing concern and some want to evacuate. He said he asked the government to carefully consider the residents’ wishes when deciding about evacuation.

-Fukuyama told reporters that the government wants to quickly reach a decision after discussions with the 2 cities. He added the government wants to be on the cautious side in protecting the health of the residents.


TEPCO to use filters at plant – NHK, June 9

-TEPCO says it will separate oil from contaminated water before transferring it to US-made equipment that absorbs radioactive cesium using minerals including zeolite. The water is then to be transferred to French-made equipment that absorbs radioactive substances using chemicals.

-The company says the devices will reduce the concentration of radioactive substances in the water to one-thousandth to one-ten-thousandth of the current level.


Electrical Fire Knocks Out Spent Fuel Cooling at Nebraska Nuke Plant – ProPublica, June 9

-A fire in an electrical switch room on Tuesday briefly knocked out cooling for a pool holding spent nuclear fuel at the Fort Calhoun nuclear plant outside Omaha, Neb., plant officials said.

-The safety of deep pools used to store used radioactive fuel at nuclear plants has been an issue since the accident at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant in March. If the cooling water a pool is lost, the used nuclear fuel could catch fire and release radiation.

-As ProPublica reported earlier, fire safety is a continuing concern at the country’s 104 commercial reactors, as is the volume of spent fuel piling up at plants.

-Workers restored cooling in about 90 minutes, and plant officials said the temperature in the pool only increased by two degrees.


GOVERNMENT REPORT TO IAEA / Challenges of a nuclear disaster, responses and the lessons learned – Daily Yomiuri, June 10

-The following is a summary of "Report of Japanese Government to the IAEA Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety–The Accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Nuclear Power Stations," which was submitted Tuesday.


U.S. nuclear regulator withheld information – Reuters, June 10

-The head of the U.S. nuclear safety regulator did not break the law when he stopped a review of a proposed Nevada burial site for radioactive waste, but he "strategically" kept information from his fellow commissioners, the Wall Street Journal said, citing a report from the agency’s internal watchdog.


Children in Fukushima to be given dosimeters – NHK, June 10

-A city 60 kilometers away from the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has decided to distribute dosimeters to all kindergarteners and school children to monitor their radiation exposure.

-Date City is now outside the evacuation zone but earlier this month the estimated radiation levels at 3 locations topped the evacuation level of 20 millisieverts per year.

-This level is 20 times higher than the long-term annual reference level for ordinary people recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection.


Cesium detected in Shizuoka tea – NHK, June 10

-Radioactive cesium exceeding the legal limit was detected in tea made in a factory in Shizuoka City, more than 300 kilometers away from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Shizuoka Prefecture is one of the most famous tea producing areas in Japan.


JA asks government to buy affected land – NHK, June 10

-Japan’s Central Union of Agricultural Cooperatives requested that the government buy all disaster-affected farmland and have the farmers buy back the cultivatable land after the government restores it.

-The executive director of JA, Shigeo Fuji, said in a news conference that the government should outline its policy as soon as possible since farmers are anxious about their future.


Sludge from contaminated water would be packed with radioactive substances: TEPCO – Mainichi News, June 10

-Sludge that will be generated in the process of treating radioactive water at the tsunami-hit Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant is estimated to contain 100 million becquerels of radioactive substances per cubic centimeter, the plant operator said.

-TEPCO estimates that about 2,000 cubic meters of sludge will be generated through the treatment of radioactive water at the plant by the end of this year, and intends to keep the toxic substance in the plant’s intensive radioactive waste disposal facility.

-However, the facility can only hold 1,200 cubic meters of the sludge because radioactive waste generated in the plant’s ordinary operations is already kept there, forcing the utility to build a new facility to keep the sludge on the plant premises.

-However, because it is so highly radioactive, the sludge is extremely difficult to manage. Areva acknowledges that it has never handled sludge generated through the treatment of water emitting more than 1,000 millisieverts of radiation per hour.


Japan Admits 3 Nuclear Meltdowns, More Radiation Leaked into Sea; U.S. Nuclear Waste Poses Deadly Risks – Democracy Now, June 10

-Guests: Robert Alvarez, former senior policy adviser to the U.S. Secretary of Energy and now a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies. His new report is called "Spent Nuclear Fuel Pools in the US: Reducing the Deadly Risks of Storage." Aileen Mioko Smith, executive director of the group Green Action.


Novelist Murakami raps Japan’s nuke policy in Spain award speech – Kyodo, June 10

Action 3 News broadcast of the situation at the Fort Calhoun Power Station on the Missouri River


Shizuoka tells tea retailer to conceal radiation info – Japan Times, June 10

-Shizuoka Prefecture told a Tokyo-based mail order company not to say anything on its website about excessive radioactive material being found in tea from the prefecture, the retailer said Friday.

-After Radishbo-ya Co. made an inquiry to the Shizuoka Prefectural Government about the matter Monday, a prefectural official told the company not to disclose the finding due to fears the message would cause unwarranted harm to Shizuoka tea growers, adding that the prefecture would confirm the finding on its own, according to the retailer.


Radiation in No. 3 reactor too high for work – NHK, June 10

-Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, sent 9 workers into the No.3 reactor building for about 20 minutes on Thursday, in a bid to start stabilizing the reactor.

-The utility plans to inject nitrogen gas into the containment vessel to prevent accumulated hydrogen from causing an explosion. It also intends to install a system to cool the reactor with circulating water.

-The workers withdrew after measuring radiation of 100 millisieverts per hour near the reactor’s containment vessel.


2 TEPCO workers confirmed with radiation doses more than twice limit – Mainichi News, June 11

-Thousands of workers have entered the plant to grapple with the country’s worst nuclear accident, with the government raising the legal limit on the amount of radiation to which each worker can be exposed from 100 millisieverts to 250 millisieverts exclusively for the Fukushima crisis.

-But TEPCO was found to have allowed two of its workers to be exposed to 678 millisieverts and 643 millisieverts, respectively. Their internal exposure was 590 millisieverts and 540 millisieverts.

-TEPCO also said another male employee may have been exposed to radiation above the limit.


No.2 reactor air filter starts running – NHK, June 11

-Tokyo Electric Power Company had set up 2 air-filtering units at a building adjacent to the reactor building. The devices will filter radioactive materials out of air pumped from the reactor building through a duct. The cleaned air will be fed back into the reactor building.

-TEPCO says it plans to run the devices for about 3 days and check internal radiation levels before opening up the doors of the reactor building.


Ex-adviser raps gov’t for worsening local residents’ radiation exposure – Mainichi News, June 11

-A report by a former government adviser on the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, obtained Friday, criticized the government for exacerbating the radiation exposure of local residents due to what he called its impromptu initial handling of the crisis.

-Toshiso Kosako, professor on radiation safety at the University of Tokyo’s graduate school, said in the report submitted to Prime Minister Naoto Kan just before he stepped down as adviser in late April that the government had failed to make efficient use of forecasts on the spread of radioactive substances from the Fukushima plant.


Radiation leaking from Fukushima power plant should be monitored more closely – Mainichi Perspectives, June 11

-Residents of the Tokyo metropolitan area are becoming increasingly concerned about levels of radiation spreading to their neighborhoods from the tsunami-hit Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant.

-A private organization that monitored radiation levels in Tokyo detected higher amounts of radiation than Tokyo Metropolitan Government official data. Residents of the 23 wards in central Tokyo and cities in the Musashino district in western Tokyo have voiced concerns about their exposure to radiation, prompting many of these municipalities to launch or plan measurements of radiation levels. Similar moves are spreading in neighboring Kanagawa and Saitama prefectures.


Detection of radioactive materials in the soil in Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station – TEPCO press release, June 11

-Since plutonium and uranium were detected from the samples at the 3 periodic sampling spots collected on April 11 and 25, we conducted americium and curium analyses. As a result, americium 241, curium 242, 243, and 244 were detected as shown in the attachment 3.

Thousands in Tokyo protest against nuclear power – Japan Today, June 11

-Streets in parts of Tokyo were completely jammed with thousands of chanting protesters, paralyzing sections of the city. Some marchers called for the country’s nuclear plants to be shut down immediately and for stricter radiation tests by the government.

-In Tokyo, protesters carried colorful banners and banged drums as they walked in orderly rows past the Economy Ministry and the head offices of Tokyo Electric Power Co, which operates the Fukushima plant. Entire families marched, their toddlers and even dogs wearing clothing with anti-nuclear slogans.

-“I’m worried about the children. It’s not just in Fukushima, there are radiation problems even here in Tokyo,” said Mika Obuchi, 45, who marched with her husband and 9-year-old daughter.


Protests Challenge Japan’s Use of Nuclear Power – NYT, June 11

-“We now know the dangers of relying on nuclear power, and it’s time to make a change,” Hajime Matsumoto, one of the rally’s organizers, told a crowd in a central Tokyo square that eventually grew to about 20,000 people, according to organizers’ estimates.

-“And, yes, I believe Japan can change,” he shouted, as the crowd roared back and people pumped their fists in the air.


#611nonukes: photos, video from Japan anti-nuclear protests – boingboing, June 11

-Large anti-nuclear protests marking 3 months since the Fukushima nuclear disaster are under way in Japan today, with solidarity demonstrations in other countries around the world.


Unthinkable nuclear woes may yet become normal in Japan – Irish Times, June 11

-It’s hard to imagine something much more frightening than five-year-olds marching off to irradiated school playgrounds in the morning with Geiger counters strapped to their chests.

-Yet otherwise, the story, exactly three months since Japan’s worst ever seismic event on March 11th, is a very predictable tug of war between those who want business as usual, and those who say nothing will ever be the same.

-With memorable exceptions, including the elite professor who burst into tears on national TV because he couldn’t toe the government line on radiation, officialdom and business have united in assuring Japan that nuclear power is safe. Industry minister Banri Kaieda said yesterday that without the nation’s 54 reactors, 30 of which are off-line, the economy would be effectively crippled.


Radioactive mushrooms contaminated in Chernobyl disaster seized at British port – Daily Mail, June 11

-A ton of mushrooms containing ten times the safe level of a radioactive metal has been seized and destroyed by health chiefs.

-Levels of radiation are measured in becquerels. The EU sets a maximum limit for caesium 137 in food of 600 becquerels per kilogram – double the level in Japan.

-But the amount of radioactivity found in the mushrooms destined for British families was more than 6,000 becquerels.


TEPCO starts ventilating No. 2 reactor to lower radiation levels – Kyodo, June 11

TEPCO forced to review reactor 4 cooling plan – NHK, June 12

-On Friday, workers entered the 4th floor of the No.4 reactor building where the pool is located for the first time since the nuclear disaster took place.

-They found a large hole in a wall created by the March 15th explosion. They also discovered that a nearby pipe necessary for the cooling system had been mangled.

-TEPCO says the repair team found it hard to work near the pool as equipment had been destroyed and debris was scattered on the floor.

-Fixing the damaged pipe is expected to be extremely difficult. In addition, it remains unclear if there is another pipe that can be used for the cooling system.


Shareholders propose Kansai Electric give up nuclear power – Kyodo, June 12

Measures to prevent heatstroke to be added – NHK, June 12

-So far, 12 workers have been diagnosed as suffering from heatstroke.

-Tokyo Electric Power Company will set up 7 more rest areas in addition to the 8 existing ones.

-Workers can take off the protective gear, drink water, and lie down there.

-In addition, the company will supply 2,500 vests containing cooling gel which will be worn underneath the gear.

-1,300 face masks which provide extra air during inhalation will be secured.


Mutant rabbits, economic meltdowns and nuclear tourism – Japan Times, June 12

-While workers and remote-controlled robots were struggling to grapple with the hydra-headed reactor troubles, a separate story went viral on YouTube, where a movie uploaded by a user named "yuunosato" on May 21 had already been viewed more than 1.8 million times as of June 9. Titled "Tokyo Denryoku Fukushima Genpatsu Jiko-go ni Umareta Mimi-Nashi Kousagi," ("Earless Baby Rabbit Born After the Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Reactor Accident"), it shows a cute albino bunny at a farm in Namie-cho, a village just outside the 30-km exclusion zone.

-The bunny shows no signs of sickness. It hops about its enclosure, wiggles its nose and nibbles away at sansai (mountain vegetables). But without those distinctive floppy ears, Bugs looks a little like a guinea pig.

-"I’ve been raising rabbits for over 10 years, and this is the first time something like this has happened," the clearly disturbed owner, a woman in her 50s, tells Flash (June 14).

-Rabbits’ gestation period is approximately four weeks, so the earless bunny was definitely conceived after the March 11 accident. "After its birth, I also stopped eating sansai," the owner frets.


Radioactive water treatment likely to be delayed – NHK, June 12

-Treatment of highly radioactive water at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is likely to be delayed by a problem with the flow of water.

-TEPCO had planned to start a test-run of the device on Friday, but it was postponed after the firm found another problem, which needed repairing first.


Water treatment device fixed – NHK, June 12

-The equipment failure that has delayed the test of a system to treat highly radioactive water at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has apparently been resolved.

-Tokyo Electric Power Company says it will carry out a test-run after checking the equipment once more on Monday.


In Nuclear Crisis, Crippling Mistrust – NYT, June 12

-On the evening of March 12, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant’s oldest reactor had suffered a hydrogen explosion and risked a complete meltdown. Prime Minister Naoto Kan asked aides to weigh the risks of injecting seawater into the reactor to cool it down.

-At this crucial moment, it became clear that a prime minister who had built his career on suspicion of the collusive ties between Japan’s industry and bureaucracy was acting nearly in the dark. He had received a confusing risk analysis from the chief nuclear regulator, a fervently pro-nuclear academic whom aides said Mr. Kan did not trust. He was also wary of the company that operated the plant, given its history of trying to cover up troubles.

-Mr. Kan did not know that the plant manager had already begun using seawater. Based on a guess of the mood at the prime minister’s office, the company ordered the plant manager to stop.

-But the manager did something unthinkable in corporate Japan: he disobeyed the order and secretly continued using seawater, a decision that experts say almost certainly prevented a more serious meltdown and has made him an unlikely hero.


High concentration of radioactive strontium found at Fukushima plant – Kyodo, June 12

Excessive levels of strontium detected in seawater – NHK, June 13

-Radioactive strontium that exceeds the government-set safety level was detected for the first time in sea water in the inlet next to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

-Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, reported that strontinum-90, at a level 53 times higher than the safety standard was detected in samples taken from inside an inlet used exclusively by the nuclear plant, on May 16.

-TEPCO also said that strontinum-90 was detected at a level 170 times higher than the standard in samples also taken on May 16, near the water intakes outside reactor number 2. At the reactor number 3 water intakes, the level was 240 times higher than the legal safety limit.

-TEPCO announced that strontium-90 was also detected for the first time in ground water near the reactors’ buildings.

-A ground water sample taken on May 18, around reactor number 2, measured 6,300 becquerels per liter. And for reactor number one, the sample showed 22 becquerels.


Test-run to be delayed at Fukushima – NHK, June 13

-Tokyo Electric Power Company has further postponed the test-run of a new system to treat highly radioactive water that threatens to overflow from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The operator says it wants to conduct the test-run on Tuesday or later — more than 4 days behind schedule.

-The company had planned to begin the test-run with the US-made device. But the plan was delayed after the discovery of water seepage from a pipe joint and the failure of a pump to siphon water.

-On Monday, TEPCO attempted to start a test-run of other devices instead, but the plan proved unfeasible.

-The company is now checking if the 5-day test-run period can be shortened in a bid to start operating the system as soon as possible to prevent water from overflowing.

-The radioactive water accumulating on the plant’s premises could overflow in about 2 weeks. The amount is growing by the day as fresh water is being injected into the reactors in an attempt to cool them down.


Tap water deemed safe, radiation checks to be continued: gov’t – Kyodo, June 13

Researchers call for nuclear data release – Nature, June 13

-Shortly after a massive tsunami struck the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on 11 March, an unmanned monitoring station on the outskirts of Takasaki, Japan, logged a rise in radiation levels. Within 72 hours, scientists had analysed samples taken from the air and transmitted their analysis to Vienna, Austria — the headquarters of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), an international body set up to monitor nuclear weapons tests.

-It was just the start of a flood of data collected about the accident by the CTBTO’s global network of 63 radiation monitoring stations. In the following weeks, the data were shared with governments around the world, but not with academics or the public. Now scientists working with the CTBTO on behalf of member states are calling for the data to be released, both to give other researchers an opportunity to use them, and to improve the network’s performance.


TEPCO releases photo showing damage to No. 4 reactor building – Mainichi News, June 13

-In the photo, which was released on June 11, the pipes and walls near a power generator inside the structure are charred black, and rubble covers the floor.


TEPCO begins operating seawater treatment system – NHK, June 13

-The company began full-fledged operation of 2 filtering devices on Monday after a series of test-runs.

-The devices are installed near the water intakes of the Number 2 and Number 3 reactors, where high radiation levels have been detected.

-The devices are designed to first pump up seawater and then absorb radioactive cesium using the mineral zeolite. The water is returned to the sea as the final step.

-TEPCO says each device is capable of treating up to 30 tons of seawater per hour. Tests showed the machines reduced cesium levels by 20 to 30 percent. The company says it will find ways to increase filtering capability.


Joint survey of high radiation areas in Date – NHK, June 13

-Date is about 60 kilometers from the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

-The joint survey on Monday was conducted in response to a request from the city.

-Officials conducted measurements in Kamioguni, a district of Ryozen, where high radiation levels had been discovered earlier. The new sampling covered about a 20 meter radius, one meter above the ground.

-On Monday, the prefecture measured 2.91 microsieverts per hour in the district. If people stay in such an environment all day for 15 days, the radiation level exceeds 1 millisievert, the long-term annual limit for ordinary people, as recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection.


Farmland in Fukushima no-go zone to be inspected – NHK, June 13

-Fukushima Prefecture says rice planting has been suspended in all areas within the 30-kilometer radius from the power plant. Shipments of agricultural produce from within the 20-kilometer radius no-entry zone also remain halted.

-State and prefectural authorities say they decided to study soil in paddies and farmland within the no-go zone in response to growing calls by the residents who say they want to know what’s become of their farmland.

-The authorities have been carrying out inspections of soil samples within the 30-kilometer zone, but have refrained from checking the soil within the no-entry zone.


Tepco Decontamination to Produce Radioactive Sludge Crisis – Bloomberg, June 13

-The utility known as Tepco plans to start decontaminating millions of liters of water poured over melted reactors after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami knocked out cooling systems. By the end of the year it expects to have 2,000 cubic meters of highly radioactive sludge separated from the water, said Teruaki Kobayashi, a nuclear facility manager at Tepco.

-“We haven’t determined a final disposal site for the waste,” Kobayashi said in an interview yesterday. “Our priorities are decontaminating radioactive water and maintaining cooling efforts.”

-“Dealing with this type of sludge waste is something Japan never expected and not having the final disposal facilities is akin to building a condominium without a toilet,” said Ken Nakajima, a professor of nuclear engineering at Kyoto University. “It will likely have to be stored at the Fukushima plant for several years,” he said.


Growing exposure problems at Fukushima – NHK, June 13

-The ministry says the provisional amount of radiation exposure was up to 497 millisieverts for each of six TEPCO male employees.

-Six additional workers received doses of between 200 and 250 millisieverts, and 88 were exposed to between 100 and 200 millisieverts.

-The ministry has instructed the utility to have the workers undergo thorough examinations, saying it is regrettable that so many workers have received such high doses.


FOCUS: 1,400 Fukushima plant workers waiting for radiation exposure results – Kyodo, June 14

-While authorities slammed Tokyo Electric Power Co. for exposing workers at its crippled nuclear power plant to radiation levels exceeding the allowable limit, particularly for internal exposure, around 1,400 of the company’s workers are still waiting for detailed checkup results.


Six more Tepco staff exposed beyond limit – Japan Times, June 14

-Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency spokesman Hidehiko Nishiyama said Tepco has submitted provisional assessments of the external and internal radiation exposure levels for 2,400 of the workers to the government, indicating that the number who received the maximum dose is likely to climb even further.


Plutonium detected in Fukushima plant soil – NHK, June 14

-The utility said plutonium was detected in samples collected near a recreational ground 500 meters from the Number One reactor. Plutonium was also detected in samples from near a waste disposal facility, also 500 meters from the reactor.


Canada lifts restrictions on food imports from Japan – Kyodo, June 14

Radiation ‘hotspots’ hinder Japan response to nuclear crisis – Reuters, June 14

-Hisao Nakamura still can’t accept that his crisply cut field of deep green tea bushes south of Tokyo has been turned into a radioactive hazard by a crisis far beyond the horizon.

-"I was more than shocked," said Nakamura, 74, who, like other tea farmers in Kanagawa has been forced to throw away an early harvest because of radiation being released by the Fukushima Daiichi plant 300 kilometers (180 miles) away.


Farmer’s suicide note shows Japan’s disaster impact – CNN, June 14

-A farmer’s farewell, etched in white chalk, is echoing menacingly through Japan’s agricultural sector.

-"Wish there was no nuclear power plant. My endurance has come to an end," the note says.

-The farmer, in his 50s, then killed himself on the land he struggled to maintain since Japan’s tsunami and nuclear crisis began.


Nuclear Energy Just Doesn’t Make Sense! – care2, June 14

-A paper by the University of New South Wales’ deputy director of the Institute of Environmental Studies, Mark Diesendorf said that by 2020, offshore wind farms, solar thermal and solar PVs are predicted to be cheaper than nuclear energy. The cites the rising cost of cost of building a nuclear power plant, which increased since 2002 from over $2,000 per kilowatt (KW) generation capacity installed to about $7,400 per KW. The cost of onshore wind power decreased last year from $1,900 per KW to $1,700 per KW, and solar decreased from $7,000 per KW to $5,120 per KW, and as low as $3,000 for utility scale projects.


Italians Vote to Abandon Nuclear Energy – Wall Street Journal, June 14

-Mr. Berlusconi’s administration had in past weeks urged people not to vote in the four referenda, which were organized by center-left opposition parties and which asked voters whether they wanted to overturn government laws on reviving nuclear energy, privatizing Italy’s water supply and giving top government officials partial immunity from prosecution.

-Instead, 57% of Italians went to the polls–a number well above the 50% of the voting population needed to make a referendum valid, a threshold last reached in 1995. More than 95% of those who cast their ballots voted "yes" in each referendum, overturning the four laws in question.

-"This was a vote against nuclear energy. But by urging people not to go to the polls, Berlusconi turned this into a vote against himself," said Giovanni Sartori, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Florence.


Nuclear safety board criticizes $12 billion Hanford project – MSNBC, June 14

-A lax safety culture that deters timely reporting and resolution of technical concerns is endangering the success of a $12.2 billion plant being built at the nation’s most contaminated nuclear site, according to a report by the national Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board.

-The board’s investigation found that the U.S. Department of Energy, which manages cleanup at the Hanford nuclear reservation in south-central Washington, and contractor Bechtel National reinforced the lax safety culture, the Tri-City Herald reported Tuesday.

-Bechtel National is building the plant to convert 53 million gallons of highly radioactive waste left from decades of plutonium production into glasslike logs for permanent disposal underground.

-Accusations against the Energy Department and Bechtel included burying technical reports that raised safety issues and creating an atmosphere that discouraged workers from raising technical issues that could affect the plant’s safe operation.


Congress hears report on nuclear agency chairman – CNN, June 14

-In the days after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan, Gregory Jaczko appeared frequently on television as the calm, steady hand of the U.S. nuclear power industry.

-But at a hearing Tuesday on Capitol Hill, critics painted a different picture of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman, saying he ruled by intimidation, yelled at his staff, was manipulative and — in one key case — withheld information from his fellow commissioners in order to achieve his goal.

-And Congress members dickered over whether another word can be used to describe Jaczko’s actions: illegal.


Japan’s Richest Man Takes on Atomic Future With Solar Plans – Bloomberg, June 14

-Billionaire Masayoshi Son has a track record in taking on monopolies after building a business that opened up the nation’s telecommunications industry. Now he aims to shake up Japan’s power utilities after the worst nuclear crisis in 25 years.

-Son, the 53-year-old chief executive officer of Softbank Corp. (9984), plans to build solar farms to generate electricity with support from at least 33 of Japan’s 47 prefectures. In return, he’s asking for access to transmission networks owned by the 10 regional utilities and an agreement they buy his electricity.


Radioactive material in sludge at 16 prefectures – NHK, June 14

-NHK has found through interviews that at least 22 of Japan’s 47 prefectures have been testing sludge for radioactive material. 16 of them, ranging from Hokkaido to Osaka, have actually detected radioactive substances.

-The level of radioactive cesium was highest in Fukushima city, at 447,000 becquerels per kilogram. This was followed by Tokyo at 55,000 becquerels and Maebashi, north of Tokyo, at 42,800 becquerels.

-Japan has had no safety guidelines for contaminated sludge, which is a new problem.


Gov’t to monitor swimming areas for radiation – Japan Today, June 15

-The government will ask municipalities to check radiation levels at swimming areas this summer in assessing their water quality in the wake of the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, government officials said Tuesday.

-The Environment Ministry will notify local governments of a guideline this month for monitoring radioactive cesium in seawater, rivers and lakes in addition to regular screening for coliform bacteria and other contaminants.

Cesium detected in two whales caught off Hokkaido – Japan Today, June 15

-Radioactive cesium was detected in two minke whales caught off the coast of Kushiro, Hokkaido, a whalers’ association said Tuesday.

-While the level of the radioactive material remained below the temporarily set upper limit, the association officials said during a press conference in Kushiro that the contamination must have been caused by the continuing nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant and that they will closely monitor future developments.

Nuke operators plan to prevent severe accidents – NHK, June 15

-Japanese operators of nuclear power plants have compiled a set of measures to prevent severe accidents, including hydrogen explosions at reactors.

-On Tuesday, 10 power firms submitted reports to the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency on measures that should be taken immediately to address possible severe accidents like those at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

-The reports say that even if all electricity sources are lost, the utility firms will use power-generating vehicles to activate ventilators to prevent radioactive substances from entering control rooms. The emergency power source will also be used to maintain communication with the control rooms.

-The firms will also secure special protective gear that will allow workers to operate in highly radioactive environments. They will also deploy large construction machinery to swiftly dispose of debris scattered by hydrogen explosions.


Lawyers to form anti-nuclear national group – NHK, June 15

-Dozens of lawyers are set to form a national group next month in response to the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant. They hope to file suits this autumn to demand the suspension of nuclear power plants across the country.

-In the past, lawsuits were filed seeking the repeal of state approvals to build nuclear plants. Plaintiffs won in some trials at lower courts. One such case is the Shika plant in Ishikawa Prefecture in 2006.

-But the higher courts rejected demands by plaintiffs in all cases, saying that nuclear power plants in Japan are safe.


Japan to retain nuclear power as main energy source: Kaieda – Kyodo, June 15

Nuclear plants to improve power board safety – NHK, June 15

-Japan’s nuclear agency has instructed power companies to ensure the safety of electrical devices like the one that burned at a nuclear power plant after the March 11th earthquake.

-A high-voltage power supply board at the No.1 reactor of the Onagawa nuclear plant in Miyagi Prefecture short-circuited and erupted into flames shortly after the quake.

-The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency believes that the fire began when parts suspended inside the device shook violently and collided with each other.

-The agency has found that 71 such devices are in use at 4 nuclear plants. It believes that they would pose a danger in the event of a huge earthquake.


Contaminated tea found at 5 more plants – NHK, June 15

-Radioactive cesium exceeding Japan’s legal limit has again been detected in processed tea from Shizuoka City, more than 300 kilometers from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

-Shizuoka Prefecture said on Tuesday that it detected about 580 to 650 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram in the processed tea from 5 out of 20 factories in Shizuoka City. The legal limit is 500 becquerels.


Draft: IAEA functions should be strengthened – NHK, June 15

-The document says an IAEA team of nuclear safety experts will conduct periodic reviews and assessments of the regulatory frameworks and operations of nuclear plants in each country.

-It calls for an international framework to be established to quickly deal with nuclear emergencies.

-The draft also urges the creation of a global liability regime so that states affected by nuclear accidents can receive appropriate compensation.

-There was no reference to the regime in the draft as of last week. It was apparently included to respond to countries’ demands for compensation for the effects of radioactive materials from the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.


Nuclear safety agency starts on-site inspection of atomic power plants – Kyodo, June 15

TEPCO to sell playing field to Suginami Ward for damages payments – Kyodo, June 15

Leaking Nuklear Reactor Scheme Unveiled – Wall street Journal, June 15

Tokyo Electric Power Company reveals what could be a major step in bringing the leaking Fukushima nuclear power plant under control. The plan is to cover and seal the whole building with an insulation structure. Video courtesy of Reuters.


Footage of Fukushima No.3 reactor released – NHK, June 15


Tokyo ups radiation checks to 100 sites – Japan Times, June 16

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government kicked off a weeklong program Wednesday to measure radiation levels in the air at 100 locations to address fears over the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant, instead of just relying on one central monitoring site since the emergency erupted in March.

Just added: Cesium is on the rise again in raw milk and topsoil samples taken in California and analyzed at the Berkeley Lab. Info on milk, Info on topsoil

And finally, for those who have expressed concern about our reporting of Fukushima related news to the exclusion of other things, we have this.

Have you read the breakthrough novel of the year? When you are done with that, try:

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3 thoughts on “Japan Nuclear Disaster Update 28: Mostly about contamination, of the sea, and around the world

  1. If you read the reports the most amazing thing is that folks at the plant did not know that a tsunami was incoming. Given that Japan has a system to warn before the S waves of an earthquake hit, this is amazing. Further because the emergency cooling system at #1 was taking the pressure down to fast it was turned off. In addition the manuals on how to use the manual release valves in the plant where in another building that was damaged by the quake. Todays Japan Times says that the regulator (NISA) knew about the higher potential tsunami threat but could not force Tepco to do anything about it.
    In at least one point of view its sort of the same blindness that also affected Transocean before the Gulf Oil spill. Their proceedures did not include a massive blowout and how to deal with it, so when it happened they were not prepared. Tepco was not prepared for a site blackout even because they could not concieve of such a thing. Its the same as the black swan in business, some threats your eyes may see but the brain does not percieve.

  2. http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/features/2011/06/201161664828302638.html

    “Fukushima has three nuclear reactors exposed and four fuel cores exposed,” he said, “You probably have the equivalent of 20 nuclear reactor cores because of the fuel cores, and they are all in desperate need of being cooled, and there is no means to cool them effectively.”

    TEPCO has been spraying water on several of the reactors and fuel cores, but this has led to even greater problems, such as radiation being emitted into the air in steam and evaporated sea water – as well as generating hundreds of thousands of tons of highly radioactive sea water that has to be disposed of.

    “The problem is how to keep it cool,” says Gundersen. “They are pouring in water and the question is what are they going to do with the waste that comes out of that system, because it is going to contain plutonium and uranium. Where do you put the water?”

    Even though the plant is now shut down, fission products such as uranium continue to generate heat, and therefore require cooling.

    “The fuels are now a molten blob at the bottom of the reactor,” Gundersen added. “TEPCO announced they had a melt through. A melt down is when the fuel collapses to the bottom of the reactor, and a melt through means it has melted through some layers. That blob is incredibly radioactive, and now you have water on top of it. The water picks up enormous amounts of radiation, so you add more water and you are generating hundreds of thousands of tons of highly radioactive water.”

    “Units one through three have nuclear waste on the floor, the melted core, that has plutonium in it, and that has to be removed from the environment for hundreds of thousands of years,” he said. “Somehow, robotically, they will have to go in there and manage to put it in a container and store it for infinity, and that technology doesn’t exist. Nobody knows how to pick up the molten core from the floor, there is no solution available now for picking that up from the floor.”

    WTF are we doing here? We implement processes that when they go wrong are simply uncontrollable. Are we as industrialized societies totally insane?
    What differentiates that willingness to sacrifice the health of our children actually from religious nutters to play with the lives of their children?

  3. I like what you had to say Kraut, but you lost me on your last sentence there. Could you explain how this correlates with religion, rather than just run of the mill greed and shortsightedness?

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