Japan Nuclear Disaster Update 31: Radioactive stuff spreads, questions multiply

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The International Atomic Energy Association issued its last report on Fukushima on June 2nd and appears to not be keeping their web site up to date any more. This is the last time I’ll be checking with them unless I hear otherwise. The email scandal reported last time continues “Analysts say the scandal reflects panic in Japan’s atomic power industry, long coddled by political, corporate and regulatory interests dubbed the “nuclear village” but now facing growing anti-nuclear sentiment as workers battle to end the Fukushima crisis.? (from Ana’s Feed, below). The magnitude of the tsunami wave that hit the plant (and vicinity) has been re-estimated, and it was quite a bit larger than previously thought. Radiation in sea-living organisms continues to be a concern.

UPDATE: On sundau, Goshi Hosono, the Japanese Government minister in charge of the accident, officially stated that “Step 1” of the recovery process was completed (as scheduled). This involves bringing cooling of the reactors to a stable level, and eliminating the risk of a hydrogen explosion.

The Step 1 plan also required “Prevention of release of contaminated water with high radiation level outside of the site boundary… Actions will be taken against accumulated water to (1) secure several storage places and (2) install facilities to process the contaminated water and reduce the radiation dose, among others.”

These steps seem to have been only partially achieved, so it is a little premature to announce that “Step 1” has been completed. In any event, as of Sunday, July 17th, it is claimed that cooling is totally under control and there is zero possibility of a hydrogen explosion at Fukushima.

Ana’s feed has several items regarding tracking radiation both near Fukushima and around the world.

Questions: Would a newer reactor design have done better? Were poor decisions made when this and other reactors were built? For instance, one of the original options for siting Fukushima was above the level of the tsunami. Siting the plant within range of tsunamis was a conscious decision. Why was it made?

More questions: Are US plants, now being re-evaluated with the sudden realization that nuclear power can be dangerous, in need of safety re-evaluations, upgrades, or decommissioning?

It turns out that while the Fukushima reactors were busy melting down, a depleted uranium storage facility in Chiba caught fire when the adjoining oil refinery blew up. Other industrial facilities including other nuclear power plants are now understood to have suffered important damage that has not been discussed publicly.

The situation with Fukushima’s cattle herd has continued to develop since our last report on July 7th. Initially, 11 cattle were found to have 2,300 becquerels/kilo of radioactive cesium, which exceeds the allowable limit of 500. The beef from that herd of 11 was never sent to market. However, in a separate development reported four days ago, the meat of six cows form Fukushima was distributed widely in Japan, and at least some of it was consumed by unsuspecting patrons. The six cattle were from the same farm as the 11. Eventually, a total of more than 80 cattle were shipped out from farms with high-cesium feed.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan visited Fukushima on Saturday

Read all about these issues and much, much more in Ana’s Feed:

"Now They Tell Us" Series: Depleted Uranium Storage Facility Next to Cosmo Oil Refinary In Chiba Burned after Earthquake Hit on March 11 -EX-SKF, July 3

-The facility belongs to Chisso Petrochemical, and it contained 765 kilograms of depleted uranium at 0.3% concentration. It caught fire when the adjacent Cosmo Oil LPG tank caught fire and exploded. Not a problem, the Chiba government now says, and Chisso hasn’t said anything about the facility.

-The Chiba prefectural fire department disclosed that the depleted uranium storage facility’s roof was burned down because of the fire and explosion of the LPG tank at Cosmo Oil. The depleted uranium storage facility belongs to Chisso Petrochemical [subsidiary of Chisso Corporation].

-Looking at Chisso’s press releases, there is no mention of the depleted uranium storage facility at this plant location. The explosion and fire at Cosmo Oil Refinery was finally put out on March 21, at which point Chisso was able to go inside their plant to assess the fire damage.


Greenpeace: Japanese Government Lying About Fukushima, Exposing Citizens to Deadly Radiation -AlterNet, July 4

-According to a Greenpeace activist who’s been to Fukushima and seen both the way its citizens are returning to normal life and the high levels of radiation still emitting from the devastated plant: the Japanese government is endangering lives. The Fukushima disaster is said to be on the same level as Chernobyl… and we all know about the aftermath. So why is Japan sending its citizens back to their deaths? Watch the interview, via Mark Crispin Miller, below:


A Safer Nuclear Crypt -NYT, July 5

-The nuclear calamity at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant has refocused attention on the vulnerability of spent fuel pools at the 104 operating American nuclear plants.

-The pools are generally far more packed than the damaged ones at Fukushima. Some scientists argue that the crowding raises the risk of a fire and makes the pools a tempting target for terrorists.

-Several members of Congress are calling for the fuel to be moved from the pools into dry casks at a faster clip, noting that the casks are thought to be capable of withstanding an earthquake or a plane crash, they have no moving parts and they require no electricity.

-“We should not wait for an American meltdown to beef up American nuclear safety measures,” Representative Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts, who advocates greater reliance on casks, said after the accident in March in Japan. “We must heed the lessons to be learned from the nuclear meltdown in Japan and ensure nuclear safety here.”

-But transferring the fuel to dry casks involves risks of its own, some industry experts say. “It’s a very complex discussion,” said Neil Wilmshurst, a nuclear power expert and a vice president of the Electric Power Research Institute, a nonprofit utility consortium. “Every time you move spent fuel, there’s always a risk of human error. How much of this do you want to do if you don’t need to do it?”

17,020 Becquerels/Kg Cesium in Dirt Cleaned Out from Elementary School Swimming Pool in Ibaraki Prefecture -EX-SKF, July 5

-Well they did it again, this time the Board of Education in Joso City in Ibaraki Prefecture. Back in May, as one of the annual, educational events of the schools, public elementary schools and junior high schools in Joso City had their pupils clean out the school swimming pools in preparation for the school swimming classes during summer. The teachers also helped out. Together, they cleaned the pools and scooped out the dirt that had accumulated at the bottom of the pools.

-5 schools kept the dirt in a corner of the schoolyards. At one elementary school, a concerned PTA member decided to measure the radiation of the dirt. The result? 17,020 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium.

-The city’s Board of Education has decided to have a company that specializes in disposal of industrial waste to dispose the pool dirt from the school. As to the dirt at 4 other schools, the radiation will be measured on July 5. If the numbers are higher than those for the schoolyards, the dirt will be disposed as industrial waste. Koichi Sakamaki, manager for education [at the Board of Education] said, "Cleaning the swimming pools is part of the school instruction. But we should have been a bit more careful."


Mitsubishi says nuclear power has to regain ‘trust’ -BBC, July 6

-Mitsubishi Heavy Industries says the world’s nuclear power industry has to work to regain the public’s trust.

-The company’s president, Hideaki Omiya, was speaking to Asia Business Report’s Mariko Oi as the firm continues to help deal with the damage caused to Japan’s Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant.

-While Mitsubishi did not build the facility, it did construct 23 other nuclear reactors across the country.


At U.S. Nuclear Reactors, Crews Train For The Worst -NPR, July 6

-Some nuclear industry officials say if Japan had U.S.-style training for its operators, they might have fared better during the multiple meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. In Japan, workers train on generic simulators. Here, every nuclear power plant has an exact mockup of its control room so plant operators can practice more realistic disaster scenarios.

-One recent morning, reactor operators who would normally report to work at the plant instead showed up for work in a building outside the fence, overlooking the plant’s iconic cooling tower. They step into a room that looks exactly like the control room where they spend most of their working days.

-"What you’re seeing is a physical replica, down to the books on the shelves and where the trash cans are located, of what the operators will use on a day-to-day basis in the plant," says Pat Berry, who heads training for Entergy, the plant’s owner.

-He’s here today to watch as the plant’s crew is put to the test, with a simulated "bad day at the plant."

-Berry says reactor operators in these training scenarios can respond to some pretty intense crises, on the scale even of Fukushima.

-But David Lochbaum, a nuclear engineer at a watchdog group called the Union of Concerned Scientists, says he’s skeptical that the mess in Japan could have been prevented, given the real-world conditions there.

-"Training would have helped deal with the challenge they had, but when you’re faced with a loss of power for as long as Fukushima went, I think they might have changed the pathway a little bit, but I think the destination would have been largely the same," Lochbaum says.


Japan Prime Minister Naoto Kan sorry for nuclear mix-up -BBC, July 8

-Japan’s prime minister has apologised for causing confusion by ordering nuclear firms to carry out safety tests on their reactors, weeks after his government said the plants were safe.

-Naoto Kan said his order for "stress tests" on Wednesday came too late.

-Local officials and energy firms say they no longer know whether they can restart their reactors or not.


Nuclear accident disclosure -Japan Times, July 8

-The Atomic Energy Society of Japan, an academic society made up of experts on nuclear power engineering, nuclear reactor physics and radiology, on Monday issued a statement criticizing the government, Tokyo Electric Power Co. and other related institutions for delays and insufficiency in their disclosure of information concerning the accidents at Tepco’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, which began March 11.

-The society says that people’s worries about the nuclear accidents and the spread of radioactive substances have increased because the process of information disclosure is cloudy and the information that has been provided is conflicting.

-The following point is especially important. The society notes that there is the possibility that the damage to people’s health from radiation exposure has increased because the government, Tepco and other related institutions did not properly disclose information on the status of the nuclear accidents and the environmental contamination by radioactive substances.

-It says that although they had information that must be disclosed, they have not done so.

-The society also takes the parties concerned to task over cases in which announcements have been made in Japan only after the data had been disclosed in reports intended for consumption abroad, and cases in which no announcements have been made in Japan although the information is provided abroad.

-The society also cited the handling of information on the arrangement of spent nuclear fuel rods in a cooling pool for the No. 4 reactor at Fukushima No. 1. It says that the U.S. Energy Department disclosed on May 26 a detailed diagram showing the arrangement of the spent nuclear rods as well as the results of its analysis on the situation.

-The society points out that the data on the arrangement of the spent nuclear rods came from Tepco and that the information has not yet been disclosed in Japan even though it would be useful in determining the cause of the destruction of the reactor’s outer building.


Japan’s nuclear industry credibility crumbles amid email scandal -Reuters, July 8

-Kyushu Electic President Toshio Manabe apologised for the email scandal on Friday.

-"I am reflecting deeply on the actions that tried to influence a hearing that should be fair and neutral," Jiji news agency quoted Manabe as telling a senior vice minister for trade and industry. "I apologise to the people."

-Analysts say the scandal reflects panic in Japan’s atomic power industry, long coddled by political, corporate and regulatory interests dubbed the "nuclear village" but now facing growing anti-nuclear sentiment as workers battle to end the Fukushima crisis.

-"There is growing suspicion that power companies are playing fast and loose with data to support their cause and will go so far as to orchestrate public support," said Jeffrey Kingston, director of Asian studies at Temple University’s Japan campus.


Systematic involvement suspected in Genkai scandal -NHK, July 8

-Kyushu Electric Power Company says its nuclear energy division may have been involved in a systematic effort to manipulate public opinion to support the restarting of its Genkai nuclear power plant.

-It was learned on Friday that the 2 of the utility’s executives, including a vice president in charge of the nuclear energy division, instructed their subordinates to help with the effort, referring to the meeting.

-The company previously admitted that employees of the utility and 4 affiliated firms — more than 1,500 people in total — were instructed to send e-mails during the meeting in support of the reactors’ restart.

-The 2 reportedly felt that the meeting was important because it took place just prior to Kyushu Electric’s general shareholders’ meeting.


Kyushu Electric senior official ordered e-mails -NHK, July 8

-A senior official with the operator of the Genkai nuclear power plant is now embroiled in the company’s recent scandal.

-Internal sources say the official instructed a manager to influence opinion on the restart of the plant’s reactors. The manager then asked staff and affiliates to pose as citizens and send e-mails supporting the restart.

-The sources say the official was in charge of construction and management of nuclear power plants, and admitted ordering the manager in the same division.


Kyushu Electric bid to manipulate public opinion on reactor restart a colossal mistake -Mainichi Perspectives, July 8

-It has been confirmed that a division chief-level employee at the company asked four employees at subsidiaries and three individuals at the firm’s nuclear power-related divisions to pose as members of the general public and send e-mail comments to a TV program about the Genkai plant, expressing support for the reactivation. He also asked them to send e-mails from their home computers to conceal their identities as employees at Kyushu Electric or its subsidiaries. These revelations illustrate the employee’s willful attempt to manipulate public opinion on the issue in an unfair manner.


Reactor restart at Ikata nuclear plant postponed -NHK, July 8

-The operator of the Ikata nuclear power plant in western Japan says it will postpone restarting one of the plant’s reactors because of opposition from local residents.

-Shikoku Electric Power Company said on Friday that it decided not to resume operations at the No.3 reactor on Sunday as originally scheduled.

-The company said it did all it could to ease the concerns of local residents in light of the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, including conducting detailed safety inspections of the reactor.

-But it was still unable to gain the necessary support.


TEPCO to send workers into No.3 reactor building -NHK, July 8

-The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant will send personnel, instead of a robot, into one of the reactor buildings to take steps to prevent a hydrogen explosion. But the work is likely to face difficulty because of the high radiation levels.

-The utility used a camera-mounted robot on Wednesday to examine the No.3 reactor building to determine if it can connect injection pipes to the containment vessel. But TEPCO was unable to assess the situation because the robot couldn’t reach the area.


Four cities request bigger nuclear safety zone -NHK, July 8

-Four municipalities around a nuclear power plant in Shizuoka Prefecture have asked the central government to expand the plant’s official emergency zone, so their communities can be included in the event of a nuclear accident.

-The mayors asked that the emergency planning zone around the Hamaoka nuclear power station be expanded from the current 10-kilometer radius to 30 kilometers.

-The municipalities are all located 10 to 30 kilometers from the Hamaoka plant.

-The mayors said the municipalities are unable to draw up evacuation plans unless their locations are recognized within the emergency zone. They said the matter is raising concern among residents.


Residents in radiation hotspots anxious about evacuating as deadline for decision looms -Mainichi News, July 8

-Over one week has passed since 113 households in four areas of the Fukushima Prefecture city of Date have been placed under special evacuation recommendations. Residents in these hotspots must decide for themselves whether or not to evacuate by July 8, but the level of support they will receive if they leave remains unclear.

-Besides the rent for the places that residents who evacuate will move into, financial support measures for residents have been left all but blank. The government’s dispute reconciliation committee for nuclear damage compensation will establish interim guidelines for compensation over the nuclear crisis at the end of this month, but measures for households under special evacuation recommendations in radiation hotspots have been left unaddressed.

-The government’s headquarters on local nuclear disaster countermeasures has already indicated that residents whose households are under special evacuation recommendations will not receive the same level of support as those in evacuation zones.


Man freed after arrest for collecting radiation-contaminated rubble in Fukushima -Mainichi News, July 8

-The man was arrested on March 26 after allegedly collecting about 1.8 metric tons of broken brick walls and other rubble from a house in Koriyama for a 42,000 yen fee without a license in violation of the Waste Disposal and Public Cleansing Law.

-The Koriyama branch of the Fukushima District Public Prosecutors Office, however, decided to set him free without charge after concluding that the law does not apply to waste contaminated with radioactive materials, and the rubble gathered by the man may be contaminated with radiation. The prosecutors office declined comment on the case.

-Police and other authorities concerned are asking the central government to quickly write a law to regulate contaminated waste to prevent the spread of radioactive materials through dumping.


Radioactive cesium detected from Tochigi tea -NHK, July 8

-Radioactive cesium exceeding the government limit was detected in processed tea made in Tochigi City, about 160 kilometers from the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

-The Tochigi Prefectural Government says 1,810 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive cesium was detected in tea processed from leaves harvested in the city in early July.

-The level is more than 3 times the provisional government limit.

-On Thursday, the prefecture requested that tea farmers in the city voluntarily stop shipments of their products.


Elderly Fukushima woman kills self ‘to evacuate to grave’ -Mainichi News, July 9

-A 93-year-old woman, dejected over the ongoing nuclear crisis, was found hanged at her home in Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, in late June, leaving behind suicide notes that said in part, "I will evacuate to the grave. I am sorry."

-After hydrogen explosions at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant in March, the woman was forced to evacuate to the house of her second daughter in Soma and was later hospitalized for two weeks before returning May 3 to her house in Minamisoma, subject to a possible emergency evacuation order due to the nuclear disaster.

-"If we have to evacuate again, elderly people (like me) will become a drag," her suicide note said.


This Time, Japan’s Gloom Runs Deeper -NYT, July 9

-Government estimates peg the reconstruction costs at as much as 25 trillion yen ($312 billion), a figure that private specialists say is conservative. Japanese investors buy a vast majority of government bonds, so lawmakers do not have to worry about a Greek-style financing crisis set off by the fears of foreign bondholders.

-Nonetheless, relying mainly on debt financing would add to fiscal risks stemming from an already high level of public debt, which at more than 220 percent of gross domestic product in gross terms is the highest among advanced economies. Japan will face mounting pressure to cut spending and raise taxes to keep interest payments from overwhelming its budget.

-Optimists note that Japan still has an ample trade surplus and foreign-exchange reserves, and a high savings rate that can be harnessed to pay for the transformation of the economy into, say, a leader in renewable energy.

Radiation detected in beef from Fukushima -NHK, July 9

-The Tokyo Metropolitan Government announced on Friday that it had detected 2,300 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive cesium in beef from a cow raised in a Minami Souma. The national limit is 500 becquerels per kilogram.

-The Tokyo Government says the beef was not made available to consumers.


Fukushima gov’t mulls inspecting all meat processed in prefecture -Kyodo, Julu 9

Harm from Fukushima Radiation: A Matter Of Perspective -Forbes blog, July 9

-A leading biophysicist has cast a critical light on the government’s reassurances that Americans were never at risk from Fukushima fallout, saying “we really don’t know for sure.”

-When radioactive fallout from Japan’s nuclear disaster began appearing in the United States this spring, the Obama Administration’s open-data policy obligated the government to inform the public, in some detail, what was landing here.

-Covering the story, I watched the government pursue what appeared to be two strategies to minimize public alarm:

It framed the data with reassurances like this oft-repeated sentence from the EPA: "The level detected is far below a level of public health concern." The question, of course, is whose concern.

The EPA seemed to be timing its data releases to avoid media coverage. It released its most alarming data set late on a Friday--data that showed radioactive fallout in the drinking water of more than a dozen U.S. cities.


More Kyushu Electric execs tried to manipulate public opinion to restart nuke plant -Mainichi News, July 9

-Prior to the broadcast, two then board members of Kyushu Electric Power — a vice president and a director in charge of nuclear power — instructed an operating officer to notify employees of its nuclear power divisions about the program.

-"I’d like to ask you for help," one of the board members reportedly told the operating officer.

-"Please actively support the program," another was quoted as telling the subordinate.

-The operating officer conveyed the boss’s messages to the division chief-level employee. The chief in turn sent e-mail messages to members of three divisions in charge of nuclear power as well as high-ranking officials at four Kyushu Electric subsidiaries, asking them to send e-mail comments to the program expressing support for the resumption of operations at two reactors at the plant.

-"From a viewpoint of members of the public, I’d like you to send comments in favor of the resumption of operations at the nuclear power station that can win understanding of prefectural residents," one of the e-mails partly reads.

-The two former board members involved became presidents of subsidiaries of the power supplier.


Insider blew whistle on Kyushu Electric TV stunt -Japan Times, July 9

-Akemi Muto, an assembly member from the Japanese Communist Party, said she obtained a written document containing the contents of the emails sent by a Kyushu Electric employee to other employees and subsidiaries June 25.

-In the emails, the employee asked people to post comments supporting the resumption of the reactors during the event held to win over locals. It was broadcast live on cable TV and streamed live on the Internet.

-Muto said she obtained the document from a whistle-blower in an affiliate of the utility, via an acquaintance, and told the senior official about it on the morning of June 26, just before the event started. The prefectural government failed to verify the document or the emails by asking the utility, she said.


Govt. explains Genkai nuke plant safety measures -NHK, July 9

-An official from the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency apologized for causing confusion among local residents by abruptly deciding to perform extra safety tests on all nuclear reactors in Japan. He said the Genkai plant is already safe because of emergency measures taken by his agency after the earthquake and tsunami in March.

-One local resident said the government should have performed the extra safety tests before declaring the Genkai plant safe. Another questioned whether it is appropriate to restart the Genkai plant’s reactors before the Fukushima Daiichi plant is brought under control.


Ratio of operating nuke reactors stands at 36.8% in June -Japan Today, July 9

-As of the end of June, 35 reactors, including those at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant were suspended, bringing the rate down to the lowest level since May 1979, when the figure dropped to 34.2 percent as reactors across Japan were suspended following the nuclear crisis at the Three Mile island in the United States.

TEPCO: 13.1 meter tsunami hit Fukushima plant -NHK, July 9

-TEPCO estimates that a 13.1-meter-tall tsunami passed a tidal observatory near the plant 51 minutes after the earthquake struck. That figure is far higher that the company’s originally estimate of 5.7 meters.

-Ten kilometers away at the Fukushima Daini nuclear plant, a tsunami up to 9.1 meters high was recorded 48 minutes after the quake.

-It says tsunamis were generated at 6 locations on seabed faults, resulting in the Daiichi plant being hit with a higher wave.

-TEPCO also says the ground beneath the 2 plants fell by 50 to 65 centimeters after the disaster.


Survey: radioactive materials found in plankton -NHK, July 9

-A group of researchers from the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology ended its 8-day survey on Friday. The goal was to study the spread of radioactive materials into the Pacific Ocean from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The group collected samples from the seabed along a 120-kilometer stretch off the coast of Fukushima.

-Radioactive cesium was found in animal plankton collected 35 kilometers off Iwaki City. The level was measured at 6 becquerels per kilogram.


Govt., TEPCO draw roadmap to reactor decommission -NHK, July 9

-The draft roadmap drawn up by the government’s Nuclear Safety Commission and Tokyo Electric Power Company says they tentatively set a target date to begin removing fuel rods that melted and fell to the bottom of the reactor.

-The work is considered to be the most important phase in the decommissioning process. The roadmap indicates that removal will start in 2021 if technology essential for the work has been developed before that.


Fukushima fuel rods removal can begin in 10 years -NHK, July 10

-An expert on decommissioning nuclear power plants says work to remove fuel rods at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant can begin in 10 years.

-Koji Okamoto made the comments in an interview with NHK on Saturday.

-Okamoto said the reactors and the containment vessels at the Fukushima plant were thought to be destroyed in a meltdown.


Japan Banks Urge Quick Passage of Tepco Bill -Bloomberg, July 10

-Japan’s Diet must pass a nuclear compensation bill within two months before banks including Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. (8306) offer new loans to the owner of the damaged Fukushima plant, the nation’s banking lobby said.

-Passage of the bill, along with government loan guarantees, is a prerequisite for banks to provide credit to Tokyo Electric Power Co., Katsunori Nagayasu, head of the Japanese Bankers Association, said in an interview. The utility is unlikely to suffer a shortage of funds in the year through March given that it received emergency loans after the record earthquake, he said.

-Under the draft law, Japan will create a body to handle claims against Tokyo Electric following the worst nuclear crisis in 25 years. The third-party entity will issue bonds to fund compensation, be allowed to acquire assets owned by the utility, and receive bank loans that are guaranteed by the government, according to the bill.


More Fukushima beef found contaminated with cesium -NHK, July 10

-The Tokyo metropolitan government has ordered that beef from 11 cows from a farm in Fukushima Prefecture be removed from distribution because of radioactive contamination.

-The animals came from a farm in Minami Soma, about 20 kilometers from the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

-In a test, officials found Friday the beef from one of the cows contained 2,300 becquerels of cesium per kilogram.

-The meat from 10 other cows had between 1,530 and 3,200 becquerels of cesium per kilogram.

-The same producer shipped 6 cows to Tokyo in May and June which were processed in a slaughter house without being tested for radioactive substances. The meat is believed to have already been distributed on the market.


Tokyo traces cows from contaminated farm -NHK, July 10

-On Friday, tests detected 1,530 to 3,200 becquerels per kilogram of cesium in beef from the 11 cows raised in Minami Soma city, about 20 kilometers from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The national safety limit is 500 becquerels. Tokyo ordered the beef to be removed from distribution.

-But beef from 6 cows shipped from the farm to

-Tokyo and Tochigi in May and June are believed to have already made it to market without radiation testing. Tests were supposed to have been conducted at the production site.

-Tokyo plans to collect the beef for examination, if it can locate it along the distribution routes.

-The Tokyo Metropolitan government is calling for tests to be conducted at production sites. Tokyo says it’s difficult to check all the cows shipped to the city.


Experts warn that drug’s benefits unproven for low-dose radiation dosages -Mainichi News, July 10

-Prussian blue is said to cut down the length of time that cesium-137 stays in the human body by two thirds, and the World Health Organization has recommended that all countries keep stocks on hand. It was approved for sale in Japan in October last year. Possible side effects are feared such as constipation and potassium deficiency in the blood, which can lead to irregular heartbeat.

-After the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant began, Tokyo-based pharmaceutical company Nihon Medi-Physics made an emergency import of 72,000 capsules from Germany and gave them for free to the Japanese government. However, none of the capsules have yet been reported used.

-Regular medical institutions do not handle Prussian blue. According to Nihon Medi-Physics, very soon after the nuclear disaster began, multiple drug importers started offering sales of Prussian blue direct to consumers via the Internet.


Nuclear workers to take counseling -NHK, July 10

-Workers at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant will begin receiving psychological care on Sunday.

-The workers have been asking for counseling to address their worries about radiation exposure. Many of them also lost their houses in the March 11th disaster.

-The taskforce of the government and the Tokyo Electric Power Company decided to send psychiatrists or other experts to Fukushima once a month.


URGENT: M7.1 quake jolts northeastern Japan, tsunami warning issued -Kyodo, July 10

Tsunami advisories issued after quake -NHK, July 10

-Japan’s Meteorological Agency says the quake had a focus off the coast of Sanriku, at a depth of 10 kilometers.

-The agency observed the first wave off Miyagi Prefecture at 10:28 AM. It estimates 50 centimeter tsunami will hit coastal areas.

-Tokyo Electric Power Company says it has found no problems with its Fukushima Daiichi and Daini nuclear plants as a result of the quake. It says it ordered its workers to move away from the coast.


Tsunami advisories lifted at 11:45 -NHK, July 10

-The agency observed 10 centimeter waves at Ofunato port in Iwate Prefecture and Soma port in Fukushima Prefecture. But after that, it observed no major tsunami and lifted the advisories at 11:45 AM.

-The agency says the quake had a focus off the coast of Sanriku, at a depth of 34 kilometers. It originally estimated the magnitude at 7.1, but later upgraded it to 7.3.

-Local police and fire departments report no major damage as a result of the earthquake.


Meteorological Agency warns of aftershocks -NHK, July 10

-Japan’s Meteorological Agency says Sunday’s earthquake in northeastern Japan was likely an aftershock of the March 11th earthquake.

-Nagai said the latest quake is believed to have been caused by faults shifting horizontally in the Pacific plate, an oceanic tectonic plate.

He said the number of aftershocks is on the decline, but warned of the possibility that aftershocks with a magnitude of 7 and over could occur due to the enormous strength of the March quake.

TEPCO: Quake caused no problems at nuclear plants -NHK, July 10

-TEPCO says the work to inject cooling water into the reactors is proceeding as usual. It adds that no problem was found with external power supply.

-As for radiation readings, the company says no changes were detected at monitoring posts around the 2 plants.

-Tohoku Electric Power Company says it has found no problems with its Onagawa nuclear plant in Miyagi Prefecture and Higashidori plant in Aomori Prefecture. It says their reactors were not in operation at the time of the quake.


TEPCO suspends decontamination system -NHK, July 10

-Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, said that it stopped the system on Sunday morning. The liquid was found leaking from the hose for injecting chemicals to break down radioactive materials in the French-made device.

-About 50 liters of liquid is believed to have leaked.

-TEPCO said it is examining whether the liquid was the chemicals or radioactive water, as well as the cause of the leak. The company added that it is doing its best to resume the operation as soon as possible.


Cattle farm inspected for radiation-tainted beef -NHK, July 10

-The officials visited the farm on Sunday morning to make inquiries about feed and water given to the cattle.

-The inspection has found that the 11 cattle were kept inside a barn, and since last fall, they had been fed with straw that was stored indoors and mixed with feed from outside the prefecture. They were given water drawn from a well.

-No radioactive substances were detected on the skin of the cattle in pre-shipment screening.

-The prefecture will also analyze water and feed samples at a laboratory to determine the source of the contamination.


Fukushima government eyes drastic measure on cattle after cesium scare -Boston Herald, July 10

-Radioactive cesium exceeding government-set limits was detected in 11 cows shipped in May and June from a part of Minami-Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, that is located within one of the emergency evacuation preparation zones. All 11 cows were shipped by the same farmer.

-According to the prefectural government, a total of 2,924 beef cattle have been shipped from the designated areas since late April.

-The prefectural government has already asked the Minami-Soma municipal government to voluntarily refrain from shipping beef cattle, and the prefectural government is now considering asking livestock farmers to refrain voluntarily from shipping beef cattle from anywhere in the designated zones.

-Cattle shipments from the zones were temporarily suspended after the nuclear accident, but in late April the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry said shipments could resume if the prefectural government took certain safety steps, such as inspecting the surface of the cattle’s bodies.


NRC, nuke industry criticized for skirting public -Forbes, July 10

-When a nuclear watchdog group asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a study on leaks of radioactive water at the Vermont Yankee plant, it was told the NRC had seen the report but had never officially taken custody of it – so it wasn’t public.

-Critics say it’s a style of communication between regulator and regulated that cuts out the public and even state regulators – trying to track leaks of tritium, a radioactive form of water linked with cancer when ingested in high amounts.

-An NRC spokeswoman confirmed the agency routinely sees industry reports that it does not share on its public web site.

-Raymond Shadis of the New England Coalition said the result is an agency making regulatory decisions based on information the public doesn’t get to see.

Soldiers watch over levees -omaha.com, July 10

-The military helicopter’s black shadow dances on an engorged Missouri River as the aircraft slowly loops the flood-encircled Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station — the same left-leaning turns the pilot navigated two days prior.

-Warrant Officer Boe Searight, 32, with the Nebraska Air National Guard wants the infrared camera mounted under the chopper to record similar flood scenes for levee experts on the ground to compare.

-He and his colleague Chief Warrant Officer 2 Eric Schriner also are looking for new signs of trouble for the flooded plant.

-“Keep daily eyes on it and see if anything changes,” says Schriner, 31.

-Far below, on mosquito-infested riverbanks, two-person crews with the Nebraska National Guard and Iowa National Guard patrol the Omaha and Council Bluffs levees in mud-caked boots.


LANL Closes Trails On Lab Property To Public -KOAT, July 11

-Los Alamos National Laboratory said it closed all the public trails on lab property and along West Road into the canyon because of fire and flood danger.

-Chris Cantwell, the lab’s associate director for environment, safety, health and quality, announced the closure Friday. He said signs will be posted in coming days.

-According to Cantwell, only one acre burned on lab property, but two major canyons above the lab suffered damage.

-Cantwell said lab crews had also begun installing additional storm water controls and monitoring systems in canyon bottoms where trace Cold War-era contamination may be present. The controls were aimed at slowing the ability of sediments to move down canyon.

Kan support rate falls to 16% -NHK, July 11

-Some 1,100 people responded to the survey, conducted last weekend.

-The support rate for the Kan Cabinet fell by 9 percentage points from last month. The disapproval rate has risen 11 percentage points to 68 percent.


Long-term response needed for radioactive water -NHK, July 11

-The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is struggling to deal with radioactive water that is pooling in reactor buildings as the crisis goes into its 5th month.

-Water being injected to cool reactors is becoming highly radioactive and accumulating in the basements of reactor buildings. In some facilities, contaminated water is just 20 centimeters from filling the basement.

Govt compiles unified plan on stress tests -NHK, July 11

-[Edano] said decisions on whether to restart currently idled plants will be based on primary assessments, and that all nuclear reactors will then undergo a second stage safety review to decide if they should be kept in operation.

-The second step will be more comprehensive than the first. It will take into account the progress of the stress tests modeled after a system in the European Union, and the results of investigations into the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant accident.

-The assessments will be conducted by the electric power companies, confirmed by the government’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, and approved by the Nuclear Safety Commission, an independent nuclear watchdog.

-Edano says the stress tests aim to improve the safety of Japan’s nuclear power plants and reassure the public. He says they will be conducted according to new procedures and rules.

-The government had been under pressure to compile a unified policy on the stress tests after Prime Minister Naoto Kan abruptly announced the tests last week.

-Kan’s announcement caused confusion and rifts in the government because it appeared to contradict an earlier request by Industry Minister Banri Kaieda to restart reactors in southwestern Japan, on the grounds that they are safe.

-Detailed procedures for the stress tests are yet to be finalized. Government sources close to the issue say the tests means that stopped plants will effectively be difficult to restart soon.


Govt to release views on restarting reactors -NHK, July 11

-Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Tetsuro Fukuyama said on an NHK TV program on Sunday that the new safety tests will be one of the requirements for restarting reactors after routine checks so that local residents can feel safe.

-He said the tests will show how unexpected problems can be dealt with.

-Saga Governor Yasushi Furukawa says he will judge whether to allow the restart of the Genkai reactors after examining the test results. Other local government heads voiced their intention to study the state’s views.


Okada says Japan’s reactor ‘stress tests’ should be shorter than EU’s -Japan Times, July 11

-Democratic Party of Japan Secretary General Katsuya Okada indicated Sunday that Japan’s safety assessment to be conducted on nuclear reactors before restarting them following suspension for regular checks should be shorter than the European Union’s version of "stress tests" on which it will be based.

-"A long-term test similar to the European Union’s would have an impact on industries and people’s daily lives," Okada told reporters while on a visit to Ofunato, Iwate Prefecture. "The point is how to create Japan’s version of the test."

-Although Okada had been reluctant to make the stress tests a precondition for resuming operations of reactors suspended for regular maintenance, he said, "We have come to a point where we cannot gain people’s understanding under current standards. We have no choice but to take the path of restarting them after they clear the stress tests."

-According to an outline of the government’s unified view on the resumption of the reactors, the state will conduct the stress tests in two stages — first checking the damage tolerance of the reactors and then conducting a comprehensive safety assessment based on the European Union’s stress tests.

-Whether operation of a reactor can be resumed will be determined during the first stage, and the second stage, involving the detailed EU method, will be conducted to enhance the reliability of the safety checks, government sources have said.


Some 50 utility workers posed as citizens to back atomic power on TV -Kyodo, July 11

Kyushu Electric Power execs made questionable donations to governor -Mainichi News, July 11

-Senior officials of Kyushu Electric Power Co. (KEPCO) have made monetary contributions to Saga Gov. Yasushi Furukawa over the past several years, sparking suspicions that they were effectively corporate donations under the guise of personal contributions.

-The director of KEPCO’s Genkai Nuclear Power Plant in Genkai, Saga Prefecture, and other senior KEPCO officials have donated 30,000 yen each in personal donations to the political organization of Gov. Furukawa every year since 2005.

-The donations were made only when the KEPCO officials were in key positions at the Genkai Nuclear Power Plant and the utility’s Saga branch office.

-"They were in effect corporate donations in the form of individual donations," points out one expert. The Law to Regulate Money Used for Political Activities bans corporate contributions to politicians apart from those to their political parties.


Japan’s thank you video shown in NYC -NHK, July 11

-The video, produced by Japan’s Foreign Ministry and the Tourism Agency, was released exactly 4 months after the disaster.

-It is being shown on a giant screen at Times Square in New York City.

-The video features members of a Japanese pop group, Arashi, visiting Hokkaido, Aomori, Tokyo and Okinawa. The group has been named by the Tourism Agency as "tourism navigators".

-The English subtitles say that Japan thanks people for their support and tourists are welcome to visit.

-The video message is being shown twice an hour for 24 hours.

-A person who saw the video said the scene of children playing on a beach shows that Japan is safe now. Another said the video will be the first step in reviving tourism.

Fukushima: Nuclear power’s VHS relic? -BBC, July 11

-Would a newer reactor have fared better? Was the relationship between industry and regulators too close? Perhaps.

-A question less often discussed, but equally intriguing, is whether decisions made half a century ago for reasons of commercial and geopolitical advantage have left the world with basic designs of nuclear reactor that are inherently less safe than others that have fallen by the wayside.

-The Nautilus reactor was constructed by the Westinghouse Electric Corporation, which began to see the pressurised light water reactor (PWR) as a commercial option.

-Meanwhile, other US government labs worked with the General Electric Corporation to develop a variant, the boiling water reactor (BWR) – the type used at Fukushima.

-With the US government now actively courting friendly European countries with its nuclear technology including enriched uranium, partly to immunise them against Soviet lures, Westinghouse and General Electric began to market their wares in Europe and the US – and eventually further afield.

-"They had a huge vested interest in dominating the nuclear power space – they stood to make many times the amount of money building a nuclear plant as they did a comparable coal or natural gas facility," says technology writer Alexis Madrigal.

-"The combination of those two forces – governmental support combined with the corporate imperatives of these two massive corporations – led to this time period which is known as the ‘great bandwagon market’. Essentially, both started selling nuclear plants at way below cost."


Birds may show Japan nuclear disaster’s global effects -Augusta Chronicle, July 11

-"Since Chernobyl, one thing we’ve learned is that you must have an ornithologist at the table," Brisbin said. "They may not know about cesium or gamma rays, but they know where birds fly."

-Studies found birds contaminated in Chernobyl winter in North Africa, the Mediterranean and southern Europe.

-The Fukushima incident, Brisbin said, also underscores the need for education programs in radioecology, the study of how radiation affects the environment.

-As a discipline, radioecology opportunities increased after Chernobyl, aided by research at Savannah River Site, but have dwindled in recent years.


Contaminated soil a concern at Los Alamos lab -Reuters, July 11

-Following a massive wildfire, crews at the Los Alamos National Laboratory have begun removing contaminated soil from nearby canyons out of a concern that flash flooding could wash toxins into the Rio Grande, officials said on Monday.

-The Rio Grande is a source of drinking water for many communities in New Mexico, including the capital Santa Fe.

-The soil in the canyons above Los Alamos National Laboratory, the linchpin of American’s nuclear weapons industry, contains materials with trace amounts of radiation and hazardous chemicals such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) that were dumped there decades ago, said Fred deSousa, spokesman for the lab’s environmental control division.

-Over the weekend, about 1,200 cubic yards of contaminated soil was removed primarily from two canyons — Los Alamos and Pajarito — that run through lab property, deSousa said.


Cesium found in hay fed to cattle -NHK, July 11

-[Officials] say 75,000 becquerels per kilogram of cesium has been detected in the feed. This far exceeds the government’s safety limit of 300 becquerels per kilogram.

-The farmer says the cattle had been kept inside but were fed with hay left outdoors after the March nuclear accident.


Minami-soma starts internal radiation checks -NHK, July 11

-Two locations in the city have measured radiation of 20 millisieverts or higher per year, a level that prompts the authorities to recommend the evacuation of nearby residents.

-State and prefectural authorities are continuing their monitoring with the aim of designating the areas as radioactive hotspots, despite being outside the government-designated evacuation zone around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

-The residents who were examined at the city-run general hospital on Monday are living near these 2 areas.

-After completing a questionnaire, the residents were checked for radiation with a whole body counter.

-A 20-year-old man says he’s very concerned about the outcome of the tests.

-Minami-soma City says it will give priority to checking children as well as adults in the highly contaminated areas. About 7,000 people will undergo the checks by the end of next March.


Makeshift equipment at Fukushima hit by problems -NHK, July 11

-The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has been struggling for months to bring the plant’s troubled reactors under control using makeshift equipment.

-But these makeshift facilities have been plagued by glitches.

-Earlier this month, the No. 5 reactor’s cooling system was temporarily shut down after sea water leaked from a crack in the system’s makeshift hose.

-TEPCO says the hose was installed in a wrong way. It is reinstalling it on Monday.


Kan to explore possibility of nationalizing nuclear power -Kyodo, July 12

Decontamination system fails again -NHK, July 12

-TEPCO says workers spotted a leak near a feeding pipe for a French-made device on Tuesday morning. TEPCO is trying to find out the cause and conduct repairs.

-Water leaked from the same device on Sunday, forcing operations to halt.


Nuclear crisis minister wants underground barrier built quickly -Mainichi News, July 12

-Goshi Hosono, minister in charge of the ongoing nuclear crisis, suggested July 11 that the government should push ahead with the construction of an underground barrier to block the flow of highly contaminated water from the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant as soon as possible.

-Construction of such a barrier will cost more than 100 billion yen, according to some estimates. Hosono suggested that the government should help the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), with the project.


Fukushima plant site originally was a hill safe from tsunami -Japan Times, July 12

-Katsumi Naganuma, 70, a former worker at Tokyo Electric Power Co., feels particular guilt because he knows that a 35-meter-high, tsunami-safe, bluff overlooking the sea was shaved down to build the Fukushima plant closer to sea level more than 40 years ago.

-Tepco, assuming tsunami 3.1 meters or higher would never hit the coast, cut down the bluff by some 25 meters and erected the plant on artificially prepared ground only 10 meters above sea level.

-"When I see the situation now, I feel it was wrong to clear that much of the hill away," said Naganuma, who worked at Tepco’s local office preparing for the construction in the late 1960s.

-In fact, Tepco decided to build the plant on low ground based on a cost-benefit calculation of the operating costs of the seawater pumps, according to two research papers separately written by senior Tepco engineers in the 1960s.

-If the seawater pumps were placed on high ground, their operating costs would be accordingly higher.

-"We decided to build the plant at ground level after comparing the ground construction costs and operating costs of the circulation water pumps," wrote Hiroshi Kaburaki, then deputy head of the Tepco’s construction office at the Fukushima No. 1 plant, in the January 1969 edition of Hatsuden Suiryoku, a technical magazine on power plants.


TEPCO restarts decontamination system -NHK, July 12

-Tokyo Electric Power Company had stopped running the system on Tuesday morning after workers spotted a leak from a joint that connects a pipe. The pipe feeds chemicals to a French-made device designed to break down radioactive materials.

-TEPCO says the original metal joint was corroded by the chemicals and that it has now replaced it with a stainless-steel part.

-The original joint had been replaced with a polyvinyl joint only 2 days ago due to another leak.


Wife to seek work accident compensation over Fukushima plant worker’s death -Mainichi News, July 12

-The wife of a man who died from a heart attack while working at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant plans to seek recognition of his death as a workplace accident, it has been learned.

-Neither Toshiba nor TEPCO have paid consolatory money or other compensation to Osumi’s wife. Her lawyer has criticized their treatment as "cold."

-"Mr. Osumi was working in a harsh environment wearing a mask and protective clothing. Their treatment of this worker, who was putting his life on the line in his work, is too cold."

-A TEPCO representative said the company did not believe there was a strong connection between the work and Osumi’s death. Toshiba’s public relations office, meanwhile, commented, "The relationship between the work and the heart attack is unclear, and at this stage we cannot judge whether or not it was a workplace accident."


Radioactive contaminated beef found in Shizuoka -NHK, July 12

-Radioactive cesium above the government’s standard level has been found in more beef from Fukushima Prefecture.

-The meat was sold in Shizuoka Prefecture, central Japan and some of it has already been consumed.

-The meat comes from a cow raised on a farm in Minamisoma City, near the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.


Expert: contaminated beef poses no problem -NHK, July 12

-An expert on nuclear medicine says eating meat contaminated with the radioactive substance cesium on a few occasions will not cause health problems.

-Keigo Endo is the president of Kyoto College of Medical Science.

-He says Japan’s safety limit for cesium is stricter than in the United States or Europe where a large amount of meat is consumed.


On-site inspection of cattle farmers begins -NHK, July 12

-The inspections of feed and other items cover 260 farms in areas subject to evacuation.

-On Tuesday, 2 prefectural officials inspected a farm in Kawauchi Village.

-The officials interviewed the farmer about how the feed has been kept, and measured the radiation levels of grass used for covering the floors of his cattle barn.

-The farmer told NHK that he was shocked by the detection of cesium, and that he welcomes the inspection because it will help ease consumer concerns about beef.

-The prefecture plans to expand the on-site checking to all cattle farms in the prefecture after completing the current round of inspections by this weekend.


Moms set up network to protect kids from radiation -NHK, July 12

-About 450 mothers and others from across the country gathered to kick off the organization in Tokyo, on Tuesday.

-A mother from Fukushima said that the national and local governments simply repeat that food on the market is safe, but she cannot trust their words. She said the group should urge prefectural governments to take sufficient measures to ensure children can eat safe food.

-Participants were then divided into groups based on the areas they are from, and discussed their worries.


Radioactive ash found in waste plants near Tokyo -Terra Daily, July 12

-The radioactive caesium was detected in plants in Kashiwa city in Chiba prefecture, northeast of Tokyo and about 200 kilometres (120 miles) from the plant that has leaked radiation since the March 11 quake and tsunami.

-Officials stressed that the radioactive ash collected in late June and early July, at concentrations of up to 70,800 becquerels per kilogramme, was safely contained within the plant and posed no health risk to the community.

-The level is far higher than the government’s 8,000-becquerel per kilogramme limit, above which waste dumps must keep such ash in storage, and it presents authorities with the question of what to do with it.

-Authorities suspect the caesium may be from garden waste, such as tree branches and grass cuttings, that has been burnt in the facility.


High level contamination in reactor building found -NHK, July 12

-Tokyo Electric Power Company has been conducting an investigation inside the 3 reactor buildings and in areas surrounding the buildings since early this month.

-On Monday, the plant operator said robots have detected airborne cesium-134 inside the No.2 reactor building ranging from 40 to 65 times above the government’s standard.


TEPCO prepares for nitrogen injection -NHK, July 12

-The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant will begin fixing pipelines at the No. 3 reactor on Tuesday afternoon in preparation for injecting nitrogen into its container.

-Tokyo Electric Power Company says workers confirmed last Friday that pipes could be connected to the container.

-TEPCO plans to inject nitrogen into the container in an effort to avoid a hydrogen explosion. The utility has set a target of July 17th to complete the operation. Nitrogen was injected into the No. 1 reactor in April and No. 2 reactor in June.


Doubts emerge over gov’t plan to assess safety of nuclear power plants in two stages -Mainichi Perspectives, July 12

-According to the government’s plan, the Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan (NSC) will examine the appropriateness of the selection of check items and the results of the assessment carried out by the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA).

-The public’s confidence in NISA, which belongs to the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry, has been badly damaged following the crisis at the tsunami-hit Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant. Under the circumstances, an independent organization should thoroughly evaluate the assessment that NISA will conduct on nuclear reactors, and the NSC is supposed to play an important role to that end.

-However, considering that the public’s confidence in the NSC has also been shaken, the government should study the possibility of giving the commission more independence and authority.


Over 100 involved in Kyushu Power’s e-mail scam -NHK, July 12

-On Tuesday, it was found that workers at a company branch in Saga were also told to send messages to the meeting, bringing the total involved to over 100.

-That accounts for more than 30 percent of the opinions at the meeting that were in favor of restarting the reactors.

-Kyushu Electric warns that the number may increase further and says it will submit a report of its investigation to the government by the end of the week.


Business group urges gov’t to promote nuclear power generation -Kyodo, July 12

Panel concludes that US nuclear plants need better protections against catastrophic events -Washington Post, July 12

-Calling the Japan nuclear disaster “unacceptable,” an expert task force convened by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has concluded that nuclear power plants in the U.S. need better protections for rare, catastrophic events.

-The series of recommendations, included in portions of a 90-page report obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press, will reset the level of protection at the nation’s 104 nuclear reactors after the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl by making them better prepared for incidents that they were not initially designed to handle.


FACTBOX-What’s in the US nuclear task force report? -Reuters, July 12

-A U.S. task force formed after the Fukushima Daiichi disaster in Japan recommended steps to increase safety for the U.S. fleet of 104 reactors.


Radioactive waste leaks at nuclear plant -The State, July 12

-An estimated 100 gallons of liquid waste spilled at the utility’s V.C. Summer plant, apparently from a pipe that leaked, according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The discovery was made late last week.

-State, federal and SCE&G officials say they have found no signs the material left the SCE&G nuclear plant or posed any threat to the public, but they are continuing to investigate.


AP: US nuclear power plant safety isn’t being tightly regulated -BoingBoing, July 13

-From my perspective, the benefits of nuclear power can outweigh the risks, as long as there’s competent safety regulation in place that’s being monitored by somebody independent of the people who are being regulated. There’s two things you should have learned from the ongoing flood watch at Nebraska’s Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant. First, regulation protects us. If the Nuclear Regulatory Commission hadn’t done its job here, the Fort Calhoun plant would not have been prepared for floods of the level that it has experienced this summer. Second, the nuclear industry can’t be relied upon to make the necessary safety upgrades on its own, without outside prodding. It’s not that they’re evil. Nobody sits around cackling about the prospect of a radiation leak. It’s just that businesses, like people, don’t always behave in a logical way. Sure, logic says that it’s worth it to upgrade your flood protection system because, if it fails, the outcome would be a lot worse for you and cost you a lot more money. But there are other pressures the owners of Fort Calhoun were dealing with, and they chose not to make those upgrades until the NRC essentially forced them to do it.

AP: US nuclear power plant safety isn’t being tightly regulated

Tighter U.S. nuclear safety rules proposed -Washington Post, July 13

-Calling existing nuclear safety rules a “patchwork,” a Nuclear Regulatory Commission task force is recommending tightened regulations and sweeping safety upgrades for the nation’s 104 nuclear reactors.

-If enacted, the proposed measures would constitute the biggest safety reforms for the industry since the NRC upgraded its rules after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

-The proposed rules are aimed at “redefining the level of protection that is regarded as adequate” in the case of low-probability — but very dangerous — events, said the report, written by senior NRC staff.

-The five NRC commissioners will discuss the report at a July 19 meeting. But NRC spokesman Eliot Brenner cautioned that there will be no immediate action. Many of the proposed rules — even if agreed upon by the commissioners — will require public input and formal federal rulemaking.

-The task force did call for swifter action on 12 recommendations, which could be forced on the nuclear power industry as “orders.” Among those: inspecting for earthquake and flood risks, protecting emergency equipment from disasters, and hardening exhaust vents in older GE reactors.


Los Alamos lab prepares for flooding after fire -Bloomberg, July 13

-Crews at Los Alamos National Laboratory installed barriers to divert water and removed sediment as they work to prevent any trace of nuclear and other contamination from being washed downstream by flooding triggered by a massive wildfire.

-Workers also sealed wells and installed sampling stations that will test runoff, lab spokesman Fred deSousa said.

-The work is designed to help stabilize canyons and prevent runoff from stirring up trace amounts of Cold War-era contamination.


U.S. Nuclear Plants Not Fully Equipped to Handle Extreme Events -Scientific American, July 13

-It is not clear whether the commission will initiate regulatory changes on the basis of the task force recommendations, or will wait until a second and more extensive review of the Japanese accident is completed at the end of this year.

-But initial reactions to the report indicated it may be pulled into the ongoing political debate over nuclear power and NRC regulation.

-Rep. Ed Markey, (D-Mass), a senior Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said the commission should quickly to adopt the task force recommendations, saying "America’s nuclear fleet remains vulnerable to a similar disaster."

-Sen. James Inhofe, (R-Okla.), top Republican on the Senate environment committee, disagreed. "Changes in our system may be necessary," Inhofe said, but "a nuclear accident in Japan should not automatically be viewed as an indictment of U.S. institutional structures and nuclear safety requirements," the Associated Press reported.


Gov’t nuclear panel noted but downplayed risk of power loss at plants -Kyodo, July 13

Quake damage to turbine blades found at Tokai -NHK, July 13

-Damage to turbine blades, apparently caused by the March 11th earthquake, has been found at a nuclear power plant in Ibaraki Prefecture, eastern Japan.

-The utility says some parts were also found missing from a device that injects coolant into the reactor. It also discovered cracks in equipment attached to the upper parts of the reactor.

-It says it is investigating whether those defects were also caused by the March quake.

-In the giant quake, the Tokai Daini plant lost its outside power sources, and had to rely on emergency generators until regular power returned.

-Earlier this month the government nuclear safety body found the level of quake-resistance of the electrical equipment at the plant was below the standard set by power companies.


Fukushima cleanup recruits ‘nuclear gypsies’ from across Japan -Guardian, July 13

-The sun has only just risen in Iwaki-Yumoto when groups of men in white T-shirts and light blue cargo pants emerge blinking into the sunlight, swapping the comfort of their air-conditioned rooms for the fierce humidity of a Japanese summer.

-Four months on from the start of the world’s worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl, this hot-spring resort in north-east Japan has been transformed into a dormitory for 2,000 men who have travelled from across the country to take part in the clean-up effort 30 miles away at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

-Iwaki-Yumoto has come to resemble corporate Japan in microcosm. Among its newest residents are technicians and engineers with years of experience and, underpinning them all, hundreds of labourers lured from across Japan by the prospect of higher wages.


Japan PM Naoto Kan urges nuclear-free future -BBC, July 13

-Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan has called for his country to develop into a nuclear-free society, amid rising public anger at the continuing crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

-In a televised news conference, Mr Kan said the country should harness renewable energy sources.

-About 30% of Japan’s electricity was nuclear generated before the Fukushima crisis, and the country had targeted raising that figure to 53% by 2030.

-But Mr Kan had already said this commitment should be scrapped.

-On Wednesday, he went a step further, saying: "We will aim at realising a society which can exist without nuclear power."


Radioactive meat circulating on Japanese market -CNN, July 13

-When the Fukushima Prefectural Government, on Monday, investigated the farm from which the meat was delivered, cesium was found in cattle feed such as hay, with radiation levels as much as 57 times higher than the ceiling set by the Japanese government.

-Up until now, cattle in Fukushima were only subject to a screening test, to inspect for radioactive particles adhering to the skin, and farmers were ordered to self-report how it the cattle feed was being stocked.


Cattle farmers told not to give feed left outside -NHK, July 13

-Officials in Fukushima Prefecture have urged cattle farmers not to give their animals feed left outside since the March nuclear accident.

-On Wednesday, prefectural officials handed out leaflets warning about such feed to about 250 farmers taking part in a cattle auction. The farmers were also asked to pay attention to the results of screening by the prefecture of corn and rice plants to be harvested in the near future to be used as feed.

-A cattle farmer in his 40s from Iwaki city in Fukushima Prefecture expressed concern that the nuclear crisis and damage caused by rumors could put many cattle farmers out of business, many of whom are elderly.

-He said the central and prefectural governments should have given instructions on cattle raising to the farmers sooner and in more detail.


U.S. protests Japan’s handling of radioactive beef -Kyodo, July 13

Testing system urgently needed after discovery of radiation-tainted beef -Mainichi Perspectives, July 13

-In cases like this, in which cows have been exposed to radiation internally through their feed, officials can’t check for radiation without actually testing the processed meat. To find out what cows had been fed and how they had been raised, the Fukushima Prefectural Government had done no more than ask farmers. Its half-hearted approach to inspections ended up casting doubt on the safety of food products from the prefecture.

-To prevent a recurrence, the prefectural government says it will launch emergency inspections covering all beef-cattle farms in the two evacuation zones and perform checks on all beef cattle that are shipped out, including checks for internal radiation. It sees the measures as necessary to ease consumers’ concerns and prevent the spread of harmful rumors.

-However, testing all cows is no easy task. In cases where the cows are processed into meat outside the prefecture, the prefectural government will ask other local bodies to conduct inspections, but parties on the receiving end lack the equipment and manpower to perform the checks.


52,547 Bq/Kg Off Cesium Radiation Found In Soil Just Outside Tokyo -Jersey City Examiner, July 13

-A reader from Japan has sent me a copy of his official Lab results for nuclear radiation soil samples collected in Kashiwa, Japan, which is on the outskirts of Tokyo and over 135 miles south of the Fukushima nuclear reactor. The lab results show that 52,547 Becquerels Per Kilogram Of Cesium Radiation was found in the sample. 23,663 Bq/Kg of Cesium 134 radiation was found. 28,884 Bq/Kg of Cesium 137 was detected.

-This high of a level of contamination so close to Tokyo also directly contradicts all official government tests done in the area so far. Those tests so far have shown no "levels of concern" in anything except for sewage slag.

-It should be pointed out that independent tests continue to show much higher levels of radiation than the government admits to or reports in their tests. As the YouTube Video attached on this page shows high levels of radiation have been detected near ground levels in Tokyo orders of magnitudes above the levels just a few feet higher. The Government is doing there tests a good distance from the ground which allows them to assert the radiation levels are safe even though people in the area receive the doses of radiation at ground level.


Fukushima Prefecture Stops Subsidizing Residents for Taking Summer Vacations Outside Fukushima -EX-SKF, July 13

-Apparently Fukushima had a program that helped the Fukushima residents to escape Fukushima during the school summer vacation (July, August) by subsidizing the cost of the hotels and bed and breakfast places (called "pension" in Japan, just like in continental Europe) in participating prefectures.

-This father had booked a pension in Shizuoka Prefecture, and was looking forward to sending his kids to a lower radiation location (well, relatively speaking, at this point). Then, he suddenly got a call from the pension, on July 12, and was told they had to cancel his reservation because they received a notice from Fukushima Prefecture not to accept temporary summer evacuees from Fukushima.

-Fukushima Prefecture has stopped the subsidy program for the temporary summer evacuation. The hotels and pensions that had been accepting the temporary summer evacuees from Fukushima will not receive subsidy any more that allowed for a lower room rate for the Fukushima evacuees, therefore they are canceling the reservations made under the program.

-In addition, Fukushima Prefecture has asked other prefectures to shut down the evacuation shelters for Fukushima residents by the end of this month, citing the reason as "temporary housing within Fukushima Prefecture available".


New cooling devices set for Fukushima fuel pools -NHK, July 13

-The operator of the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is to set up two more cooling systems for reactors’ spent fuel storage pools.

-The planned devices are to start operating in late July at the No. 4 reactor pool and in early August at the No. 1 pool.

-Spent fuel rods are currently kept in the storage pools of each of the 4 reactor buildings. The No. 2 and No. 3 reactor buildings already have cooling systems and water temperatures in these pools is at the normal level of below 40 degrees Celsius.


TEPCO halts reactor cooling to replace hose -NHK, July 13

-TEPCO said it had stopped cooling at 6:30 AM on Wednesday to replace a vinyl hose feeding seawater into the cooling system. It says the hose was touching the edge of a concrete structure and could have ruptured.

-The utility says cooling resumed shortly before 11 AM.

-It says the reactor’s temperature rose more than 6 degrees during the repair, to 49.3 degrees Celsius, but the cooling process remained stable.


Wastewater filters still working below target -NHK, July 13

-The utility aims to have the system’s decontaminating device working at 80 percent capacity.

-However, the operating rate for the first week was below target. During its second week, the system was only operating at 73 percent capacity.

-Tokyo Electric blames the failure to reach the target on repeated problems with filters used to remove radioactive substances.


Cesium found in hay at another farm in Fukushima -NHK, July 14

-Radioactive cesium far exceeding safe limits has been detected in hay fed to cattle at a second farm near the crippled nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture.

-Fukushima’s government warned on Thursday that 42 possibly contaminated cattle have already been shipped out from the farm in Asakawa Town.

-The latest checks uncovered radioactive cesium measured up to 97,000 becquerels per kilogram — some 73 times the government-set safety limit.

-The 42 cattle had been sent to 4 meat-processing plants between April 8th and July 6th — 14 to Yokohama; 13 to Tokyo; 10 to Sendai and 5 to Chiba.


Fukushima to decontaminate entire city -Daily Yomiuri, July 14

-The Fukushima municipal government plans to develop a "hometown decontamination plan" for the current fiscal year by early August.

-Ahead of developing the comprehensive plan, the government intends to start decontamination operations in the Watari and Onami districts, where high radiation levels have been detected.

-The municipal government’s measures include using high-pressure water to wash buildings and removing surface soil from the ground.

-The city government expects it will take at least several years–and possibly close to 20–to decontaminate the whole city.


Ashes With Up To 100K Becquerels/Kg Cesium May Be Buried, If Ministry of Environment So Decides -EX-SKF, July 14

-Japan’s Ministry of the Environment started the discussion on July 14 to raise the limit for radioactive cesium in the ashes from debris in Fukushima that are suspected to be radioactive in the wake of the Fukushima I Nuclear Plant accident. The current safety limit is 8,000 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium. The Ministry is considering to raise this limit to 100,000 becquerels/kg. The Ministry will call a meeting of experts to come up with the conditions for burying the ashes safely, such as measures to prevent groundwater contamination.


TEPCO urged to tighten workers’ radiation control -NHK, July 14

-About 3,000 workers are struggling daily at the plant to contain the nuclear crisis.

-The agency says it has found 8 areas of concern and ordered TEPCO on Wednesday to take appropriate measures.

-The agency said that TEPCO lacks information about subcontracting employees and ordered the company to boost the number of safety managers for such workers.


Nitrogen injection to begin at No.3 reactor -NHK, July 14

-Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency gave the go-ahead to Tokyo Electric Power Company on Thursday, after confirming the appropriateness and safety of the injection plan. The utility plans to begin the procedure later in the day.


Kan wants to phase out N-power / ‘Accidents cannot be prevented’ -Daily Yomiuri, July 14

-"Before the March 11 nuclear crisis, I thought that we should utilize nuclear power plants while securing their safety," Kan said.

-However, he has changed his stance after seeing the colossal damage caused by the nuclear crisis.

-"I have realized that nuclear accidents cannot be prevented completely with the conventional safety measures we have at present," he added.

-His announcement is a complete turnaround of the government’s basic energy plan, which focuses on constructing at least 14 new nuclear reactors by 2030 to increase the ratio of nuclear power generation drastically as a percentage of the total electricity supply from the current 26 percent to 53 percent. The government’s basic energy plan was formulated in June last year.

-But, the prime minister failed to reveal specific practical measures, a detailed schedule or numerical targets to realize his new policy during the press conference.


Japan media critical of PM’s nuclear-free vision -Nuclear Power Daily, July 14

-Several major Japanese newspapers on Thursday criticised Prime Minister Naoto Kan for outlining his vision of a nuclear-free future for the quake-prone island nation.

-While conservative dailies slammed the plan as irresponsible, even papers that share the goal criticised Kan for speaking vaguely and without sufficient debate, at a time when his days in power are numbered.

-In the face of the hostile reaction, Kan’s top spokesman, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano, stressed that Kan’s words should be understood as "a hope for the distant future", not official government policy.


TVA defends Browns Ferry after reports of equipment, operator failure -Times Free Press, July 14

-Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant had far more problems during recent tornadoes than TVA told the public after winds took down power lines and the plant went into automatic shutdown.

-Tennessee Valley Authority statements after the late April tornadoes indicated everything functioned as it should when all three reactors shut down when the power they generated had nowhere to go because more than 300 monster power towers had been blown down.

-But documents the utility is required to submit to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission show reactor operators became distracted while manually operating cooling water flow to the Unit 1 reactor and water began boiling off faster than it was being replaced.

-Additionally, a valve failed, a diesel-driven fire pump failed, the diesel-driven generator for the security station failed, the warning sirens were lost, power to the chemical lab was lost, and an emergency diesel generator keeping cool water flowing to one of three reactors shut down because of voltage fluctuations caused by a fluid leak after a brass fitting broke.

-David Lochbaum, director of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Nuclear Safety Project, used to work at Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant, and he also has been a Nuclear Regulatory Commission training officer.

-“I was a little surprised by the list of equipment that didn’t work,” Lochbaum said after reading TVA’s reports to the NRC. “The diesel generator for the security equipment not working was surprising. Fortunately, the plant was able to safely shut down despite all those problems.”

-But he said he was most surprised by the operators’ distraction.

-“That’s the only reason the operators are there,” he said. They need to make sure automated systems work.


Kyushu Power:141 people involved in e-mail scam -NHK, July 14

-Kyushu Electric Power Company says an internal investigation uncovered 141 employees at its head office and affiliates who were involved in an e-mail scam to sway public support for restarting its Genkai nuclear power plant.

-The report says the manager ordered his subordinate to make employees at the head office and affiliates send supportive e-mails to the meeting.

-Among opinions sent to the meeting, 286 were in favor of restarting the reactors with 163 against, showing the e-mail plot worked to turn the tables.

-President Toshio Manabe told reporters that he’s taking seriously a problem he admits has significantly undermined public trust.


Kansai Power to shelve MOX fuel plan in Takahama -NHK, July 14

-The utility told NHK on Thursday that a lack of local understanding means it cannot proceed with feeding the No.4 reactor of the Takahama plant with plutonium-uranium mixed oxide, or MOX fuel, in regular checkups starting on July 21st.

-The revelation came shortly after the Mayor of Takahama Town, Yutaka Nose, told reporters that lack of transparency in the government’s energy policy in the wake of the nuclear crisis makes it impossible to understand why the reactor needs MOX fuel.

-The No.4 reactor was supposed to become the fifth in Japan to introduce recycled nuclear fuel, after the company began using MOX at the No.3 reactor of the plant in January.

-Kansai Electric Power Company’s decision is likely to affect the so-called "pluthermal" project, the pillar of the nation’s nuclear recycling policy.


‘Nuclear Village’ Protester Turns Hero as Fukushima Drives Atomic Backlash -Bloomberg, July 14

-Toshinobu Hatsui’s protest against construction of a nuclear power plant split friends and families in his hometown. After the biggest atomic accident in 25 years, resentment has turned to gratitude.

-“Those of us who opposed the plant can finally be proud of what we did,” said Hatsui, a 62-year-old fisherman, recalling the anger among nuclear supporters in Hidaka, south of Osaka, who missed out on an economic windfall when the town rejected the plant in the 1970s. “Since the accident, people called to express their relief that it wasn’t built.”

-Opinion polls show more Japanese agree with Hatsui in demanding a future less reliant on atomic power, a pillar of energy policy for five decades. Getting what they want may depend on Prime Minister Naoto Kan surviving the backlash from the so-called “nuclear village” of politicians, bureaucrats and power utilities that promoted the industry’s rise, academics including Jeff Kingston said.

-“Japan’s nuclear village is worried and they’re extremely well connected,” Kingston, head of Temple University’s Asian Studies program at its Tokyo campus, said in a phone interview. “They’re out to get Kan and it’s not because he’s that incompetent. What worries them is that he’s been making provocative statements that trample on very powerful toes.”


A question of trust -The Economist, July 14

-The credibility gap bedevils the utilities. Tokyo Electric (TEPCO), the utility that serves the capital and runs the Fukushima plant, has been accused of withholding data from the start, including from the prime minister. And the energy firms have a record of spotty safety standards and cover-ups stretching back years. Yet their image worsened in recent days when it transpired that Kyushu Electric, which operates Genkai, asked thousands of employees to pose as ordinary citizens and send e-mails and faxes in support of reopening reactors at a public meeting in June that was televised live. The attempt to manipulate public sentiment, exposed by a rare whistle-blower, angered the public and energised the media.

-Japan’s food supply is safe. But pockets of doubt have crept in, owing to a mishandling of safety inspections. On July 13th the Tokyo Metropolitan Government said that beef contaminated with radioactive caesium more than six times above the safety limit was sold and possibly consumed. It followed initial reports that the meat never made it to market. Though the quantity was small (only a few cows, it appears so far) and the health risk said to be non-existent, it raises suspicions. When radiation above European safety limits was found in tea from Shizuoka in June, a prefectural official asked the retailer, Radishbo-ya, to keep quiet so as not to harm local growers.


Toshiba develops nuclear decontamination system -NHK, July 14

-The system, nicknamed Sarry, was shown to media at a plant in Yokohama on Thursday. It consists of a series of 14 tanks, each 1.4 meters wide and 3.6 meters high.

-Minerals put inside the tanks are to absorb radioactive cesium and strontium and reduce levels of radioactivity in contaminated water by a factor of about one million.

-The new equipment is expected to be used in parallel with or as a supplement to the existing one.

-A Toshiba official says the firm made the new system simpler than the existing one by studying problems it developed.


NRC report calls new wave of reactors safer -Business Week, July 14

-Two nuclear reactor designs slated for use in the United States could be safer than existing plants if a prolonged power outage occurred, a federal safety taskforce said Wednesday in a report examining lessons learned from the Japanese earthquake and nuclear crisis.

-The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission taskforce said the designs of Westinghouse Electric Co.’s AP1000 reactor and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy’s ESBWR reactor include systems that could cool hot, radioactive fuel for three days. Those emergency cooling systems are powered by gravity and evaporation, which do not require electricity.

-A coalition of environmental groups have asked the NRC to halt all licensing of new reactors and power plants until regulators can more thoroughly review the crisis in Japan. The coalition has also asked the NRC to restart the review process for the AP1000 after regulators uncovered last-minute design problems.

-"I think there are still some outstanding questions," said Tom Clements of the environmental watchdog group Friends Of The Earth.

-In May, NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko said that Westinghouse failed to properly model potential stresses on its AP1000 reactor, including the combined forces that an earthquake and changing temperatures could inflict on the reactor shield building. That massive concrete-and-steel structure protects sensitive reactor equipment from debris flung by a tornado, hurricane or even a crashing jetliner. Westinghouse said none of the modeling issues were significant, although NRC staffers are still analyzing the company’s responses.


Nitrogen injection starts at No. 3 reactor -NHK, July 14


Fukushima plant suffers a leak in water filtering -NHK, July 14

-Plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, found a leak through a broken plastic joint in a French-made facility on early Wednesday afternoon, forcing a shutdown for more than a day.

-As of late Thursday afternoon, Tokyo Electric has not finished replacing the damaged polyvinyl chloride joint. The PVC joint, which was the cause of earlier leaks, is thought to be structurally too weak.


Foreign visitors to Japan down 36% in June -NHK, July 14

-In May, the figure marked a year-on-year decline of 50 percent.

-Among Asians, the number of visiting Singaporeans fell 49 percent, Malaysians 43 percent, South Koreans 42 percent and China 40 percent.

-Outside Asia, the number of visitors from Germany was down 42 percent, France 39 percent, and the United States 29 percent.

-The Japan Tourism Agency says foreigners have shunned Japan due to the ongoing nuclear crisis in Fukushima.

-But it said it expects a gradual recovery in foreign tourism, as countries are easing their warnings to their citizens against visiting Japan.


U.S.-India nuclear deal drifts dangerously -Washington Post, July 15

-Hailed as the centerpiece of a new partnership between the world’s two most populous democracies, the U.S.-India nuclear deal has drifted dangerously since it was signed in 2008, analysts and former negotiators from both countries say.

-The risk now is that other countries, particularly Russia and France, might benefit from all the hard work that the United States put into the deal.

-The landmark agreement was supposed to allow the sale of nuclear reactors and fuel to India, even though the country has nuclear weapons but has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Its advocates said it would bring tens of billions in business to the United States and create thousands of jobs, while also cementing a new partnership between the two nations to counter China’s rise.


Indian Point Should Review Accident Impact Plans, Board Says -Bloomberg, July 15

-Entergy Corp. (ETR)’s Indian Point nuclear-power plant near New York City can’t be relicensed until the company provides a more thorough analysis of the facility’s measures to mitigate accidents, regulators said.

-Entergy, based in New Orleans, must complete an analysis of cost-effective ways to lessen the environmental impact of a severe accident, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board ruled yesterday. The board agreed with the State of New York’s challenge in January that Entergy’s analysis and the NRC’s review of it were inadequate.

-“We find that the NRC staff has prematurely concluded its review before receiving all the requisite information from Entergy,” the licensing board said in its 18-page decision.

-Indian Point, located about 35 miles (56 kilometers) from midtown Manhattan, has two reactors with licenses that expire in 2013 and 2015. Entergy has asked the NRC to renew the licenses for an additional 20 years. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has said the plant is too close to the city and should be closed.


Are California’s nuclear plants disaster ready? -PBS, Need to Know, July 15


Fukushima hay tests high for cesium -NHK, July 15

-Fukushima Prefecture says hay found with radioactive cesium far exceeding safety limits had been left outdoors for at least 4 days after the March 11th disaster.

-It says the hay was collected from 7 farms in Shirakawa, a city about 80 kilometers southwest of the crippled nuclear power plant. Tests found up to 97,000 becquerels of cesium per kilogram of hay — 73 times the government-set safety limit.

-The city lies outside the government-designated evacuation zone.


Finding that radiation-tainted straw was produced far from nuclear plant causes shock -Mainichi News, July 15

-"It’s unbelievable that this (contamination) occurred in an area so far away from the nuclear plant," said a 34-year-old man who has run a livestock farm in Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, for nearly 10 years.

-On July 8 the government asked livestock farmers in the city to refrain from shipping beef.

-"Fukushima-produced beef cows will no longer sell unless we switch to feed produced outside the prefecture and suspend shipments of beef cows until the safety of all feed produced in the prefecture is confirmed," the Minamisoma farmer said.

-Officials with the local governments of areas to which the cows had been shipped were busy confirming meat distribution routes until late on July 14.

-Top officials of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government have consulted with officials in Tokyo’s Bureau of Social Welfare and Public Health over how to conduct follow-up surveys. Thirteen of the cows had been shipped to Tokyo by June 16.

-The livestock farm in Asakawa that shipped the 42 cows expressed an apology for the incident in an interview with the Mainichi Shimbun.

-"I’m really sorry for this. I’ve been losing sleep since yesterday. I’m acquainted with the Shirakawa farmer who sold the rice straw to me," he said. "I can’t immediately comment on the matter any further because I haven’t resolved my feelings."


High Level of Plutonium Rumored to Have Been Detected in Rice Paddies 50 Kilomters from Fukushima I Nuke Plant -EX-SKF, July 15

-An old "baseless rumor" (back in May) that no MSM mentioned (not even to refute it), although bloggers cited the passage. But as the rice grows in the rice paddies in Kanto and Tohoku and more and more cows are found radioactive because what they ate was highly radioactive (rice hay), it may be worth keeping it in mind, just in case.

-According to the private survey by a food company, an extremely high level of radiation, order of magnitude higher than what the government has been reporting, has been detected in the soil in the rice paddy more than 50 kilometers away from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant.

-The food company says it is withholding the information for now because it may cause panic, but it says the survey has also found a high level of plutonium in the same rice paddy soil.

-There has been no follow-up to this report. Back in May, almost all tweets on the subject in Japan were from people who outright dismissed the report as "baseless rumor" and criticized Japan Business Press for fear-mongering. "There’s no way plutonium can travel outside the Fukushima plant!" was one typical tweet. (Never mind it did.) "They are manufacturing the story" was another.


U.S. military expected to lift ban on Japanese foods soon -Stars and Stripes, July 15

-The U.S. military is preparing to lift a ban on some Japanese foods, imposed after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami triggered a nuclear scare.

-The Japan District Veterinary Command, which is responsible for food safety on U.S. bases, said Thursday that, within a month, products from 26 Japanese processing plants will once again be sold on U.S. installations.

-The move to resume the Japanese food deliveries follows revelations by local government officials that radioactive beef from cows that grazed near the Fukushima plant has been distributed to at least nine Japanese prefectures and likely consumed, The Japan Times reported Wednesday. Hanfelt said U.S. bases do not receive beef from Japanese producers.

-Djuna Sample, of Fredericksburg, Va., who was browsing the fresh produce section at the Camp Zama commissary on Wednesday, said she is confident that commissary managers would make sure the food they sell is safe.

-“If they are going to start selling it (Japanese food) again, I believe it will be safe to eat,” she said.


Japan Geiger Counter Demand Spurs `Grey Market’ -Bloomberg, July 15

-Bloomberg’s Margaret Conley reports on demand for Geiger counters, also known as dosimeters, since the Fukushima nuclear reactor meltdown in Japan in March. Li Jinglei, chairman of Shanghai Ergonomics Detecting Instrument Co., a maker of the devices, said Japanese demand has spurred a grey market of "illegal" products that use faulty parts and shoddy designs or are fake.


Nuclear agency releases stress test details -NHK, July 15

-The 2-stage tests involve computer simulations to gauge a reactor’s resistance to earthquakes, tsunamis, and loss of power and cooling capacity.

-The first-stage tests will apply to reactors halted for regular checkups. The secondary tests are for all reactors and involve simulations for an earthquake accompanied by tsunami.

-The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says it will ask utilities to report the results of the secondary tests this year, but does not refer to the deadline for the primary tests. This leaves the timing for restarting halted reactors unclear.

-A nuclear agency official says that the agency’s only role will be to check whether the tests are conducted properly.


Monju fast-breeder reactor project may be reviewed -NHK, July 15

-Yoshiaki Takaki told reporters on Friday that it is natural to discuss the future of the Monju project in light of the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

-He said the issue of whether to continue or abandon Monju must be discussed in the context of Japan’s overall energy policy.

-The government regards the fast-breeder reactor as Japan’s next-generation nuclear power plant and hope to put it into practical use in about 40 years.

-Monju, located in Tsuruga City, Fukui Prefecture, has been suspended since last August due to a technical problem. The trouble occurred only 3 months after Monju resumed operation in May last year following a 14-year shutdown caused by a leakage of sodium coolant in 1995.


TEPCO checking for gas leak from No. 3 reactor -NHK, July 15

-The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is checking for gas leaks in the No. 3 reactor, into which nitrogen is being injected to prevent a hydrogen explosion.

-Tokyo Electric Power Company has injected more than 200 cubic meters of nitrogen into the reactor’s containment vessel since Thursday evening. But it says the interior air pressure has increased very little.

-TEPCO says gas may be leaking from a damaged part of the container.


Fukushima reactors 1-3 stabilized -NHK, July 16

-In a joint assessment, the government and TEPCO say they have completed the first step of a plan outlined in mid-April for a complete cold shutdown of the reactors. They say they completed the first step within the original 3-month deadline.

-The assessment adds that reactors 1, 2 and 3 have been stably cooled down, and that nitrogen has been injected into their containment vessels to prevent hydrogen explosions.

-Pools of spent nuclear fuel are also stable.

-The government and TEPCO say radiation levels in the surrounding air and seawater have been declining, and the goal of reducing the amount of radiation leaking outside the plant has been achieved.


Removing fuel from Fukushima Nos. 3, 4 reactors to be given priority -Kyodo, July 16

-he government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. will place priority on removing fuel from the spent fuel pools of the Nos. 3 and 4 reactors at the utility’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in the next phase of efforts to contain the crisis there, sources close to the matter said Saturday.

-In a new road map for restoring the plant ravaged by the March earthquake and tsunami, the two parties will also specify for the first time that it will take up to three years to handle medium-term issues such as the completion of treating highly radioactive water that has accumulated, the sources said.

-Work to set up covers around reactor buildings to prevent the dispersal of radioactive substances will be delayed, the sources said.


TEPCO denies nuke crisis compensation to kindergartens, nursing homes and clinics -Mainichi News, July 16

-Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) has refused to pay provisional compensation to kindergartens, nursing homes and health clinics affected by the ongoing crisis at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, according to a document obtained by the Mainichi.

-TEPCO, operator of the Fukushima plant, said it saw no need to pay provisional compensation to the facilities as they do not fall into the category of "small- and medium-sized companies" eligible for payments.

-"Legally, school corporations, social welfare corporations and medical corporations do not fall under the category of small- and medium-sized enterprises," the utility explained. The company said it was not clear whether it would pay them the damages in the future, sparking a furious backlash for its infringement of the Act on Compensation for Nuclear Damages which obliges the company to pay compensation to all victims.


Radioactive cesium detected in Fukushima shiitake -NHK, July 16

-Radioactive cesium exceeding the government standard has been detected in shiitake mushrooms grown indoors in 2 cities in Fukushima Prefecture, about 60 kilometers from the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. This is the first detection of radioactive cesium exceeding the standard in produce grown in greenhouses in the prefecture since the nuclear accident.

-The Fukushima prefectural government says 1,770 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive cesium was detected in mushrooms grown in Date City. The level is more than 3 times the provisional government limit of 500 becquerels per kilogram.

-At least 157 kilograms of shiitake mushrooms from the 2 cities were shipped from early July through Friday to Tokyo, a supermarket in Fukushima City, and a local farmers’ market.


More beef cattle fed with contaminated hay -NHK, July 16

-Fukushima Prefecture has identified 5 additional farms where straw contaminated with high levels of radioactive cesium was used as cattle feed.

-The prefecture says 84 cows that ate contaminated straw were shipped to markets across 5 prefectures, including Tokyo, between late March and mid-July.

-The straw was found to contain radioactive cesium up to 379 times above safety standards.


Beef from cattle at Fukushima farm distributed to 28 prefectures -Kyodo, July 16

News Navigator: Could radioactive cesium-contaminated beef threaten human health? -Mainichi News, July 16

-Q: How does radioactive cesium affect human health?

A: The substance will accumulate in a person’s internal organs, exposing the individual to internal radiation, and will generate active oxygen that damages cells and DNA. The structure of cesium 137 is similar that of potassium — which is contained in vegetables and fruits. If you are not following a nutritious diet, you tend to absorb cesium 137 in place of potassium.

-Q: It sounds scary. If you eat the contaminated beef that was on the market, will it affect your health?


Livestock farmers dismayed by radioactive beef scandal -Mainichi News, July 16

-About 4,000 livestock farming households in the prefecture have been struggling to overcome harmful rumors following the outbreak of the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, and the news of the radioactive beef came as a new shock.

-The owner of the cattle farm in Asakawa, Fukushima Prefecture, which shipped the contaminated livestock, went to his barn to feed the more than 100 cows housed there on the morning of July 15. "I cannot ship these calves. I’m not sure if I can stay in the livestock business. I don’t know what to do now," the farmer said dejectedly.

-He had obtained the radioactive cesium-contaminated rice plant straw in a trade with an organic rice growers union in the nearby city of Shirakawa for barnyard manure.

-A senior member of the union told the Mainichi on July 15, "We did not hear about any order not to sell rice straw left in open fields. We never imagined radiation could be detected in Shirakawa."


Fukushima cattle shipments banned -Japan Times, July 16

-The government’s nuclear disaster task force said Friday that shipments of beef cattle from Fukushima Prefecture will be suspended, amid concern that cows from there may be contaminated with radioactive cesium.

-The farm ministry said it will launch an emergency survey of rice straw covering rice and cattle farms in Iwate, Miyagi, Fukushima, Tochigi, Ibaraki, Chiba, Gunma and Saitama prefectures.


Japan Operator Shutting Down Nuclear Reactor After Malfunction -NYT, July 16

-Japan’s second-largest nuclear operator said Saturday that it was manually shutting down a reactor in central Japan after a technical malfunction.

-No radiation had leaked from the No. 1 Reactor at the Oi Nuclear Power Plant, on the Japan Sea coast, about 250 miles west of Tokyo, said Yoshihiko Kondo, a spokesman for the plant’s operator, Kansai Electric Power.

-Mr. Kondo said that a loss of pressure had been detected late Friday in an accumulator tank needed to cool the reactor core in an emergency, forcing the utility to shut down the reactor. Workers will begin the shutdown at 1 p.m. Saturday in Japan, and shutdown will be complete by 9 p.m., he said.

Lawyers join hands to stop nuclear power plants -NHK, July 16

-Lawyers from around Japan are joining hands to take legal action to shutdown nuclear power plants.

-Over 50 lawyers from 20 prefectures that host nuclear plants convened in Tokyo on Saturday.

-Similar lawsuits have been rejected in the past, as courts ruled that safety measures did not present any flaws.

-The lawyers argue that the government’s current guidelines are seriously compromised, because they do not require plant design to assume an extended interruption of power supply.


Key players got nuclear ball rolling -Japan Times, July 16

-How did earthquake-prone Japan, where two atomic bombs were dropped at the end of World War II creating a strong antinuclear weapons culture, come to embrace nuclear power just a few decades later?

-Therein lies a tale whose main characters include two former prime ministers, a suspected war criminal, CIA agent and postwar media baron, and "Japan’s Charles Lindbergh," a flamboyant pilot who encouraged people to search for uranium in their backyards.

-It also involves thousands of politicians, bureaucrats, engineers and the pronuclear media collectively known as Japan’s "nuclear power village."

-At the same time it’s the story of those who opposed nuclear power from the beginning, warning of the potential dangers and arguing for decades that nuclear power wasn’t as safe as advertised, and reactors could be seriously damaged by an earthquake.


Gov’t to review Fukushima no-entry zone when cold shutdown realized -Kyodo, July 17

-Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Goshi Hosono, state minister in charge of dealing with the nuclear crisis, met Saturday with the leaders of municipalities near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and said that the central government will consider reviewing its policy on the no-entry zone near the plant when the reactors at the complex are stabilized.

-According to participants, the two said the government will consider reviewing the areas within a 20-km radius of the Fukushima plant, which continues to spew radiation, and also said the government is aiming to bring forward the schedule for stabilizing the reactors from January as previously planned.

-Kan’s meeting with the leaders of local municipalities came as it appeared almost certain that the Step 1 phase of stably cooling down the nuclear reactors will be achieved on time by Sunday.

Hosono: Reactors to resume after safety secured -NHK, July 17

-On an NHK program on Sunday, Goshi Hosono said it is necessary to reopen the reactors for the sake of the people’s standard of living. He added that he wants to win public support for resumption by underscoring safe operation as a primary prerequisite.

-Regarding nuclear administration systems, Hosono said he wants to make the nuclear safety agency independent of the economy and industry ministry, and to incorporate some of the monitoring functions of the nuclear watchdog commission and science ministry in the new entity.

-Hosono also said he plans to draw up a blueprint early next month so that the new body could start as soon as possible, hopefully next April.


Nuke workers toiling under intense heat -Japan Times, July 17

-Workers are struggling under intense heat at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, with as many as 31 having fallen sick with heatstroke symptoms as of Friday, according to Tokyo Electric Power Co.

-While the utility has taken steps to ease working conditions, such as by shifting work hours, the measures have apparently been insufficient. Perspiration begins to build up inside masks, for instance, within seconds of putting them on. Workers also appear to feel pressured and refrain from taking sufficient breaks for fear of slowing down work to contain the crisis.


Japanese nuclear-contaminated beef "sold in and around Tokyo" -Reuters, July 17

-Japan’s second-biggest retailer said on Sunday it had sold beef from cattle that ate nuclear-contaminated feed, the latest in a series of health scares from radiation leaking from a quake-crippled nuclear power plant.

-Aeon Co said it had sold the contaminated beef at a store in Tokyo and at more than dozen stores in the surrounding area, as radiation continues to spill from the Fukushima nuclear power plant four months after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

-The retailer said it would start to check beef shipments from all areas that could potentially have contaminated feed.


Gov’t may expand cattle shipment suspension zone beyond Fukushima Pref. -Kyodo, July 17

Typhoon Ma-on approaching Daito Islands -NHK, July 17

-Strong winds of up to 144 kilometers per hour are expected in southern Kyushu and the Amami Islands, and up to 126 kilometers per hour in the Daito Islands.

-Waves are expected to reach a height of 12 meters in the Daito Islands and southern Kyushu, 11 meters in the Amami Islands and 9 meters in Shikoku. High waves are also expected as far away as the Kanto region.

-Heavy rainfall of 50 to 70 millimeters per hour is expected in the Daito Islands and from Kyushu through the Tokai region along the Pacific coast on Monday.


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5 thoughts on “Japan Nuclear Disaster Update 31: Radioactive stuff spreads, questions multiply

  1. Greg I REALLY appreciate these posts. I completely understand the sociology of the pro-nuke, fix-the-climate link: it so happens that nothing reaches a fairly large segment of society with the reality of climate science more than promoting nuclear energy as a solution. There’s a great deal of social research/polling to that effect. Conversely, letting the climate discussion get sidetracked into nuclear vs. renewables is a public-opinion loser.

    But obviously, you can’t evaluate how effective things will be without at least *some* of us objectively evaluating the big picture. And right now, there’s a vacuum – certainly some environmental organizations are kneejerk anti-nuclear people. And some are simply conservatives who support nuclear because it’s corporate, ties in with the military, and gives them a good excuse to attack environmentalists. But among people not in either of those two groups, the vacuum I’m speaking of results from some being market-oriented and corporation friendly and dismissive of environmentalists but also accepting of climate science. They’re going to only show data that fits their preconception about it. You’d expect others to be more inclusive and hence accurate, but they’re holding back because they understand the sociology.

    There are still only 2 blogs I know of really filling that void, one is Joe Romm’s blog at Think Progress and the other is this one. And this one is on scienceblogs, whereas that one is on a liberal think-tank site.

  2. The claim about depleted uranium burning is very dubious and so what. Uranium-238 is not particularly hazardous, so Greg and Analiese – are you reall scientists or just spreaders of speculation and fiction? Why make a big deal out of this? I will bet that you don’t realize that you ingest, breathe in and drink a fraction of a microgram of U-238 every day of your life and human beings and other inhabitants of earth have always done so. SPAM DELETED

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