Japan Nuclear Disaster Update 32: “Biggest Industrial Catastrophe in History”

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In the old days this was easy. The power plants were melting down but no one knew what was going on inside them; Water was being poured in and cooking off as steam, and every now and then the way they were getting the water in or the way they were powering the pumps would change, or one of the containment buildings would blow up, or whatever. If you’ve been reading the last few Fukushima Updates, however, you’ll know that things related to the crippled nuclear power plant have gotten more, not less complicated, which at first is counter-intuitive, but on reflection, expected. After all, engineers have more access to the inside of the plants now, though that is still limited. Pumping water into a big concrete box that blows up now and then is not as complicated as assembling a functiniong cooling system from parts that have been mauled by floods and earthquakes and that are highly radioactive. And the secondary but very important ramifications of an out of control set of multiple meltdowns at a large nuclear power plant are developing around the world as entire countries swear off nuclear power while at the same time major, influential industry entities revert to pretending that this is pretty much what we expected and everything is fine. The patterns and problems associated with contamination are starting to emerge and sink in; The fact that the industry expected this sort of meltdown to occur has been revealed.

One of the interested developments for the coverage period for this update was the declaration that Step 1 of the road map plan to bring the crisis to an end was completed. This involved stable cooling of the reactors and eliminating risks of hydrogen explosions. It is probably true that this has been accomplished, however things could change; Cooling systems are in place and hydrogen is no longer burning off, as it were. However even since this declaration there were interruptions in the cooling system. There have also been technical problems with the decontamination units that are supposed to clean the water that is being cycled through the cooling systems. At one point power went out for 5 hours stopping all cooling operations for some of the reactors and storage pools. We might be optimistic and call the situation stable but not trustworthy.

Also interesting is the attempt to redefine the meaning of the planned “Step 2.” This is “cold shutdown” of the reactors, to be completed within six months, which is actually a thing defined by standards. A cold shutdown has two major features: The reactors have to be below a certain temperature internally, and the radioactive stuff in the reactors has to be contained. The second of these two is of course impossible in at least two of the reactors, possibly three, because they melted down and the radioactive stuff will never be contained by any standard that the industry may have specified at any time in the past. The outcome of a “china syndrome” like event is that you get a bit of landscape that is really more like a new geological formation than an ex-power plant. And it will do what it does. The Japanese authorities seem to be interested in redefining both the temperature of “cool” and the meaning of “containment.” The current plan is to build an underground shield running 30 meters deep to contain the radioactive material and contaminated water. Below that is a geological layer that at this time does not absorb water. It is not clear how this feature would be built or how it would be made earthquake resistant. For the time being, engineers and plant managers are seriously considering plugging the holes in the reactors, though there is no known way to do this. Meanwhile, the IAEA has visited the site and tells us that everything is fine.

One of the most prominent features of contamination after a nuclear disaster like Chernobyl or Fukushima is the way radioactive material can become concentrated as it moves up the food chain. Therefore, authorities would naturally be prepared to focus on dairy products and animal meat, as these are well up the food chain from, for instance, grass or hay (or what seems to be called “straw” made from rice stalks, in Japan). But, ooops, they forgot about this problem and officials of the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry allowed quite a bit of beef into the market from cattle that had been eating contaminated feed.

The problem is that while steps were taken to avoid having cattle feed on contaminated grass and certain stored feed, the memos regarding safe levels of contamination in feed never got to the rice farmers who provide this “straw” material. And of course, that stuff was contaminated. The beef did get into the market and some of it was even eaten by nursery school children. At first it was reported that almost a dozen cattle had eaten radioactive feed and then were sent to market. Then more such cattle were discovered. It now seems that the number is probably close to 1,400 over 3,000 cattle shipped.

Also, it appears that straw grown very far from the plant is contaminated, but is still being used as feed. And, some of the beef may have been sold abroad. Other plant products and eggs are also contaminated.

Some time over the next few years the process of removing the spent fuel rods will be initiated. This includes the rods that are inside the reactors. Removing rods so badly damaged from reactors so badly damaged in buildings so badly damaged has never been done before, according to engineers involved in the planning. (This implies that the removal of nuclear material from Chernobyl was easier.) The process is expected to take several decades.

Evacuations continue and evacuation zones continue to be expanded as contamination is discovered or spreads. People are still resigning or getting charged or investigated or otherwise sternly looked at, plant construction plans are being scrapped. Gangsters. There are gangsters benefiting from the cleanup projects. Whistle-blowers are blowing their whistles but the climate for them is just as dangerous as ever; Policies are being scrutinized or changed, except in the US where recommendations have been hastily cobbed together and are now being duly ignored. We have yet to see a good analysis of the effects of these political and economic shifts on global warming. Earthquakes continue to occur in Japan. Contamination of workers is an increasing concern at Fukushima.

Another plant in Japan, Genkai, may have a faulty reactor pressure vessel. You will recall from earlier updates that this is the plant that the industry pushed the local mayor to restart using methods that were not entirely ethical. Other plants have other problems.

One of the most interesting and possibly most important items to come up over the last few days is a simulation created by the Japan Nuclear Energy Safety Organization of a meltdown and “china syndrome” event at the type of reactor at Fukushima. The simulation was created before this disaster and appears to be what actual did happen. See below.

Japan has passed a law outlawing this blog post. Don’t expect to be reading this if you are in Japan, or if you do … watch out.

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House increases money for nuclear waste review -AP, July 14

-The House on Thursday approved more money to review an application to store nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain in Nevada, deviating from the Barack Obama administration effort to kill the project.

-The 297-130 vote on an amendment to an energy spending bill doubles from $10 million to $20 million the budget for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to review a licensing application for the Yucca operation.

-With the amendment, the $30 billion spending bill for the Energy and Interior departments contains a total of $45 million for Yucca Mountain activities and includes a provision to bar the use of funds to close down the program.

-Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., who sponsored the amendment, said in debate Wednesday that the nuclear disaster in Japan, where high-level radioactive waste was stored in pools, showed the need for a centralized storage location. Currently there’s some 82,000 tons of spent nuclear fuel and high-level nuclear waste stored at 80 sites in 35 states.

-The facility at Yucca, he said, is under a mountain in the desert in an isolated area 90 miles from Las Vegas. "If we can’t store it there, we really can’t store it anywhere," he said.


Monitoring continues around Las Conchas Fire near Los Alamos -The Taos News, July 16

-Radiation Control Bureau Chief Michael Ortiz said the state Environment Department works with the Department of Energy (DOE) to monitor air quality constantly, and additional monitors were set up in areas affected by smoke from Las Conchas.

-Ortiz said the Environment Department reviewed and validated all of DOE’s findings to ensure public dose limits were below limits of concern.

-"They met all of our regulations as far as public emissions," Ortiz said. "They were well below all our limits for each of those isotopes."

-The Environment Department’s DOE Oversight Bureau chief, Thomas Skibitski, said the department will be performing stormwater monitoring as newly burned areas start receiving rain. He said the department is reviewing monitoring locations and will coordinate its efforts with LANL.

-Skibitski said he expects erosion to be a problem in areas burned in Las Conchas, and contaminants that were previously sequestered in the soil may become re-exposed as stream channels cut through layers of sediments.

-He said contaminants, such as those from atmospheric weapons testing that occurred 50-60 years ago, may get "remobilized and redistributed downstream" as was seen after Cerro Grande when new erosion channels were cut.


Lecture by Dr. Christopher Busby in Waseda -USTREAM, July 17


Video streaming by Ustream

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

BULLETIN: Japan crowned women’s world champions after victory over U.S. -Kyodo, July 17

Kan congratulates Women’s World Cup team -NHK, July 18

-Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan has said the Women’s World Cup title is a wonderful gift for the country’s people, especially survivors of the March 11th disaster.

-Kan said on Monday that he was impressed that the Japanese players were not intimidated by their physically stronger opponents and never gave up hope.

-He expressed gratitude to the national team for giving courage to everyone.

For Devastated Japanese, World Cup Was ‘More Than A Game’ -NPR, July 18

-While American fans are understandably disappointed that the U.S. women’s team came up short in Sunday’s World Cup soccer final against Japan, there’s no shortage of reports about how important the victory was across the Pacific in a nation still recovering from the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami.


"Another Kind of Fukushima?" Asks Whistleblower Robert Gilkeson -Truthout, July 18

-No, I didn’t make up the whistleblower title for Registered Geologist Robert (Bob) H. Gilkeson. For his important work on groundwater contamination at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, in 2007 he received the annual "Whistleblower Award" from the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability at a Washington, DC reception.

-The Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico is operated by competent people, right? And, is filled with respected scientists who always tell the truth, right? That is the "official story"–the world’s greatest science protecting America–that LANL has been feeding to the American lawmakers, media and the public for nearly seven decades. But now the northern New Mexico community members and organizations are determined to put an end to LANL’s "official story." They’re building a "new story." Here is their story.


U.S. regulators need to take steps to ensure safety within 5 yrs -Kyodo, July 18

NRC Chief Urges Action on Nuclear Safety Review -ABC, July 18

-"We all know that some changes are in order," Jaczko said at the National Press Club. "I believe we have enough information at this time to take the necessary interim steps" in response to the task force report. The five-member commission is scheduled to review the task force report on Tuesday.

-"None of us want to make rushed, poor decisions," Jaczko said. "We must move forward, however, with the urgency called for by these safety issues."

-Jaczko’s call for action was tempered by some Republican lawmakers, who cautioned in a letter to the NRC chief that the agency should give the take force a full and deliberate review. The letter, signed by four leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, including Chairman Fred Upton of Michigan, said a proper review would include a thorough analysis of each of the report’s 12 major recommendations, as well as comments from the nuclear industry and other interested groups.

-The Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry lobbying group, said the 90-day response time urged by Jaczko was arbitrary and counterproductive.

-"We don’t think it’s appropriate" for many of the recommendations, said Scott Peterson, a spokesman for the group. The task force report recommends some "fundamental changes" in the agency’s regulatory framework that are not easily adopted in 90 days, Peterson said. Specifically, some changes recommended in emergency planning are complicated and potentially expensive, he said.

-Asked whether he was expecting resistance to his call for his prompt action, Jaczko said, "We’ll see."


Fukushima Daiichi prepares for typhoon arrival -NHK, July 18

-Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, is rushing to put a makeshift roof over a turbine building at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant as typhoon Ma-on approaches Japan.

-The metal roof will cover the turbine building of reactor Number 3. The hole in its roof was caused by a hydrogen blast in March.

-The new roof is 5-meters long and 16-meters wide. It is designed to cover up the hole to prevent an increase of radioactive water in the building.

-Fearing high waves, a hose was temporarily disconnected from the "megafloat" barge, which contains relatively low-level radioactive water.

-But no measures have been taken to prevent rainwater from entering reactor buildings 1, 3, and 4. The structures were damaged by hydrogen blasts.


TEPCO covers turbine building as storm approaches -NHK, July 18

-The Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, has built a makeshift roof over a turbine building at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant as typhoon Ma-on approaches.

-TEPCO started work to cover a hole in the roof of the No. 3 turbine building on Monday morning. The hole was caused by a hydrogen explosion in a neighboring reactor building in March.

-The work ended 6 hours later when the makeshift metallic roof’s three parts, each 5 meters long and 16 meters wide, were installed by a crane.


1st phase of work to contain nuke crisis completed on time: Hosono -Mainichi News, July 18

-Goshi Hosono, state minister in charge of handling the nuclear accident, said Sunday that ”Step 1” or the first phase of work to bring the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant under control was completed on Sunday as scheduled.

-”We believe Step 1 of stably cooling (the reactors) and eliminating risks of a hydrogen explosion has been achieved,” Hosono said in a TV program, referring to the road map and time schedule issued April 17 by plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co.

-The utility, known as TEPCO, shares that view. But going forward, concerns linger about whether the country’s worst nuclear crisis will be contained as planned as some Step 1 goals were not achieved, including targets for decontaminating radioactive water accumulating at the site.


Government to set up a new nuke admin. system -NHK, July 18

-Japan’s nuclear crisis minister says he wants to move the nuclear safety agency from the Ministry of Economy and Industry and integrate it with another nuclear watchdog commission.

-He added that some of the monitoring functions now performed by the Science Ministry would be moved to the new entity that will be made by connecting the nuclear safety agency with the nuclear safety commission.

-Following the accident at the Fukushima daiichi power plant, the government has come to believe the current nuclear administration can no longer provide full safety checks.

-The nuclear safety agency is under the umbrella of the ministry of industry, which also promotes nuclear power generation.


An IAEA perspective on Fukushima -The Energy Collective, July 18

-I recently had the pleasure to attend a lecture by Randy Beatty (who has been affiliated with the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] for some time), focusing upon the IAEA’s perspective on Fukushima, particularly in terms of our current understanding of the sequence of events (which is still evolving) as well as the IAEA’s interactions with the government of Japan and TEPCO (the owner of the Fukushima reactors).

-Below is a summary of some of the major topics covered, including a more detailed reconstruction of the accident sequence (and particular, both the relatively small timeframe in which most of the damage occurred) as well as a better understanding of how other, secondary complications such as the hydrogen explosions came about. Finally, more precise estimates of the quantities of radiation released and the direction of its spread shed some light on how many were affected and the relative appropriateness of certain evacuation precautions.


Trouble in water injection at Fukushima Daiichi -NHK, July 18

-TEPCO says water was moving at a rate of 3.8-cubic-meters per hour to cool down nuclear fuel in reactor number 1 on Sunday morning.

-But an alarm warned that the rate had decreased to 3-cubic-meters per hour.

-This was third time this month that such trouble had occurred, causing TEPCO to replace the pump in order to stabilize water injection.

-Reactor number 2 shares the same pump but has not seen similar trouble. TEPCO says some deposits in the plumbing might have been behind the unstable flow of water.


‘Colossal blunder’ on radioactive cattle feed / Govt officials admit responsibility for foul-up that let tainted beef enter nation’s food supply -Daily Yomiuri, July 18

-Officials of the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry have admitted they did not consider the possibility of cattle ingesting straw contaminated by radioactive substances emitted from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

-"This is nothing less than a colossal blunder by our ministry. It was beyond our expectations that straw would become a source of radioactive contamination," a ministry official said.

-On March 19, about one week after the outbreak of the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, the agriculture ministry issued written instructions regarding livestock feed to farmers via local governments. The documents stipulated that any grass fed to livestock should have been reaped before the accidents at the plant, and stored indoors since the accident.

-However, the instructions made no reference to rice straw.

-In late April, the ministry set new regulations on livestock feed, stipulating that all feed must contain less than 300 becquerels of radioactive material per kilogram. However, the ministry failed to communicate this order to rice farmers who sell straw to livestock farmers.

-The ministry has asked livestock farmers to report the details of feed and water given to their cattle. But it is known that at least one farmer, who is based in Minami-Soma and shipped cattle contaminated with radioactive substances in excess of the provisional limit, gave an inaccurate report, the ministry said.

-The contamination of beef from that farmer’s cattle was discovered July 8.


More beef cattle fed irradiated straw -NHK, July 18

-Fukushima Prefecture says 7 farms in 6 municipalities fed their cattle straw left outdoors after the March nuclear accident in the prefecture. The straw was found to contain radioactive cesium in amounts up to 520 times the standard.

-The farms shipped 411 head of cattle to meat-processing facilities in 5 prefectures including Tokyo from late March to early July.

-In Niigata Prefecture, radioactive cesium levels as high as 15 times the government standard were detected in straw given to beef cattle at 2 farms. The straw was from Miyagi Prefecture, which neighbors Fukushima.

-One of the farms has shipped 24 head of cattle.


435 more cows confirmed shipped from Fukushima, Niigata farms -Kyodo, July 18

-Of the cows shipped from the Fukushima farms, 199 went to Tokyo, 192 to Hyogo Prefecture, nine to Gunma Prefecture, eight within Fukushima Prefecture, two to Tochigi Prefecture and one to Saitama Prefecture.

-Separately, 84 cows from five cattle farms in Fukushima Prefecture have been shipped to at least 17 prefectures. The meat of one of them contained levels of radioactive cesium greater than the government-set limit, while the levels of the isotope contained in the meat of two other cows were within the limit.

-Parts of the meat from the 84 cows have been provided to consumers in Ishikawa, Gifu, Mie and Wakayama prefectures so far. Of them, the municipal government of Kanazawa, Ishikawa, said 8.2 kg of the meat was served to around 170 people at two wedding centers in the city.


Contaminated beef sold at Chiba, Miyagi supermarket -Kyodo, July 18

Ito-Yokado, Aeon supermarkets sell Fukushima beef -Kyodo, July 18

505 more cows found shipped after being fed tainted straw -Kyodo, July 19

All prefectures to check cattle feed -NHK, July 19

-Japan’s agriculture ministry will ask all 47 prefectures in the country to check rice straw used to feed cattle for possible radioactive contamination.

-Agriculture minister Michihiko Kano announced the measure on Tuesday.

-The ministry had earlier asked only 11 prefectures in the Kanto and Tohoku regions, including Fukushima, to check rice straw used at livestock farms.

-So far, 578 heads of cattle given contaminated feed are known to have been shipped to parts of Japan. Some of the meat has apparently been consumed.


Miyagi man who sold contaminated straw blames gov’t for scandal -Mainichi News, July 19

-A man in Osaki, Miyagi Prefecture, who sold straw contaminated with high levels of radioactive cesium told the Mainichi on July 18 that he had never imagined that his straw was contaminated because the city is about 150 kilometers away from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant.

-"The wind was in a different direction immediately after the hydrogen explosions, so I never thought it was contaminated. I really feel sorry," the man said.

-"I have been in this business for some 20 years. I have really worked hard not to damage the trust of my customers, so these results are regrettable," the man said.

-He said ordinary farmers cannot take steps to deal with such cases unless the state and Miyagi Prefecture forewarn them of the dangers of rice straw. "If there had been a possibility of danger, even if only slightly, authorities should have conducted surveys much earlier," he said.

-Radioactive cesium has also been found in straw sold by traders in Tome and Kurihara in Miyagi Prefecture.


Govt bans beef cattle shipments from Fukushima -NHK, July 19

-Japan’s government has suspended all beef cattle shipments from Fukushima Prefecture for fear of widespread radioactive contamination caused by the troubled nuclear plant.

-The health ministry says rice straw contaminated with radioactive cesium in amounts exceeding a government standard was fed to cattle at farms in Fukushima, Yamagata and Niigata prefectures.

-The ministry says 648 head of cattle were shipped from the farms, and that beef from the cattle was distributed to 35 prefectures.

-Cattle farmers in Fukushima Prefecture affected by the suspension of local beef shipments are calling for compensation from the government and Tokyo Electric Power Company.


Q&A: Contaminated beef in Japan -BBC, July 19

-The Japanese government has banned all beef shipments from Fukushima after radioactive cesium was discovered in cows from the region. Some of Japan’s largest supermarkets said they have already sold beef from Fukushima to consumers.

-Is it likely that chicken and pork have also been affected?

After the mad cow disease scare regulations were ramped up on beef cattle. From start to finish the process of where the meat comes from and where it goes is closely monitored. However, pigs, chicken and fish are much less regulated. That is causing worries that radiation could be detected in these food products in the months to come.

-Why wasn’t this prevented?

Fukushima prefecture officials said they issued a guidance to farmers soon after the earthquake and tsunami instructing them not to feed cattle with grass and other feed kept outside. However, farmers have complained that they never received any such instructions.

Officials said it was difficult to make sure that the guidance was understood correctly after the earthquake because of disruptions to roads, electricity and gasoline supplies. They also indicated that some farmers didn’t understand that rice straw fell under the category of grass and other feed.


240 Children in 3 Nursery Schools in Yamagata Prefecture Ate Cesium Beef -EX-SKF, July 19

-Concerning the beef from the cows from Asakawa-machi in Fukushima Prefecture that were fed with the rice hay that contained the high level of radioactive cesium, Sakata City (in Yamagata Prefecture) announced on July 19 that 3 nursery schools in the city purchased the beef in late April, and total 290 children and teachers ate the meat in school lunches.

-According to Sakata City, the three nursery schools purchased the meat from the same food grocer in the city. The meat was cooked into "hashed beef" dish and served as lunch. 240 children and 50 teachers and administrators ate 20 to 40 grams per person.


In Japan, nuclear bestsellers reflect new debate -Washinton Post, July 19

-A Japanese nuclear researcher with a four-decade track record of activism and obscurity was walking through Kansai International Airport a few weeks ago when he spotted a display of bestsellers at a bookstore. Glancing down, he saw his latest book, “The Lie of Nuclear Power,” with his face emblazoned on a corner of the cover.

-For Hiroaki Koide, the moment confirmed a shift — that of a fringe interest turning mainstream. Four months into the most severe nuclear crisis in a quarter-century, while bureaucrats and power industry chiefs tussle over nuclear energy policy, at least one industry has raced to make wholesale adjustments. Publishers are releasing books about nuclear power at the rate of more than one a day, according to bookselling Web sites, begging for content from authors who once wondered why they had so few readers.

-Those books now drive Japan’s new national debate about nuclear energy policy. They also mirror the trend in the conversation, skewing 4-to-1 against nuclear power — roughly the ratio recorded in recent opinion polls. Some of the books are dispassionate, loaded with charts. Some drip with anger. Some are rueful. But taken together, they reflect a society that has increasingly lost trust in government information.


Govt to define "cold shutdown" -NHK, July 19

-The government has so far failed to specify what a cold shutdown entails. It now plans to define the term as bringing reactor-bottom temperatures to about 100 degrees or lower, and substantially reducing the public’s radiation exposure by controlling the release of radioactivity.

-Achieving a cold shutdown has been cited as one of the conditions for lifting the 20-kilometer no-entry zone around the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

-It remains unclear, however, when the lifting would come, as the government still hasn’t decided on benchmark levels of radiation that it deems safe enough for people to return to the restricted zone.


Radioactive water in Fukushima poses challenge -NHK, July 19

-The system’s decontamination rate dropped to 37 tons of water per hour at one point, more than 20 percent below the target capacity.

-It increased to 39 tons per hour after TEPCO workers released air from the pipes on Friday. They also replaced a hose connecting the tanks to ease water circulation.

-However, the rate dropped again to 37 tons per hour on Monday morning. TEPCO says the reason for the decrease is unknown.


Japan to unveil updated road map to achieve cold shutdown of reactors -Kyodo, July 19

-Prime Minister Naoto Kan told a parliamentary committee in the morning, ”We are starting to see a tremendous critical condition heading toward a certain level of settlement,” with the completion ”almost as scheduled” of the initial phase of Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s timetable to bring the nuclear disaster under control.

-Under the timetable initially drawn up by the utility, the cold shutdown is scheduled to be achieved by January at the latest, but Kan said earlier that the government and the plant operator would try their best to move up the schedule so that people forced to evacuate their homes because of the crisis can return.

-During the so-called ”step two,” which is expected to be implemented in the three to six months following the completion of the first phase, the utility known as TEPCO aims to achieve not only a cold shutdown of the reactors but also a reduction in the total amount of contaminated water in the plant’s premises.

-TEPCO would also consider creating an underground ”shielding wall” to surround the reactor buildings and reactor turbine buildings so as to prevent contaminated water seeping from the buildings and get mixed in with groundwater. The wall is expected to extend 30 meters deep to a layer that does not absorb water.


Govt renews Fukushima plant stabilization plan -NHK, July 19

-Under the renewed plan, the government will carry out regular health checks for about 30 years on residents in Fukushima Prefecture, where the plant is located. The checks will include thyroid cancer screening tests for children, the estimate survey of external exposure, and the measurement of internal exposure.

-The government will also start a safety assessment of radiation levels in the evacuation advisory zone around the plant, in an aim to lift the advisories currently in place there.

-As for the evacuation zone and the 20-kilometer no-entry zone, the government will start monitoring radiation levels earlier than planned. The government will start lifting its evacuation orders for areas where safety has been confirmed, after the plan’s second stage is achieved by next January.


All reactors off by spring — a once unthinkable scenario -Japan Times, July 19

-The industry ministry has estimated that idled reactors may cause a power deficit ranging from 4 to 20 percent at five electric utilities — Tohoku, Kansai, Hokuriku, Shikoku and Kyushu — between around December and February.

-The utilities plan to cover the loss by increasing thermal power plant output, including reactivating those not in use.

-The Institute of Energy Economics, Japan, a quasi-government think tank, estimated that the increase in use of thermal power would push up the nation’s annual fuel costs over Â¥3 trillion in total.


Tepco Will Start Removing Fukushima’s Spent Fuel Rods Within Three Years -Bloomberg, July 19

-Tokyo Electric Power Co. said it’s on track to bring its crippled Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear station to safe status as soon as October and plans to start removing rods from the spent fuel pools within three years.

-“No country has ever removed fuel from the pools inside such damaged buildings,” Japan’s nuclear crisis management minister Goshi Hosono said at a press conference yesterday. “It will be a challenge, and it is difficult to give a time frame.”

-"The problem is the melted fuel inside the reactors,” said Hironobu Unesaki, a nuclear engineering professor at Kyoto University, said by telephone. “That is something you need to think about in terms of decades.”


EU agrees to bury nuclear waste in secure bunkers -Reuters, July 19

-Radioactive waste from Europe’s 143 nuclear reactors must in future be buried in secure bunkers, ministers from EU member states agreed on Tuesday.

-The new rules force national nuclear authorities to draw up disposal plans by 2015, which will be vetted by Europe’s energy commissioner Guenther Oettinger.

-"After years of inaction, the EU for the very first time commits itself to a final disposal of nuclear waste," Oettinger said in a statement.

-The 14 European Union member states using nuclear power currently store the radioactive waste in surface bunkers or warehouses for decades while it cools down.


Japan Should Have Nuclear Weapons: Ishihara -Bloomberg, July 19

-Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara criticized Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s vow to reduce dependency on atomic energy after the Fukushima disaster, saying instead the country should deepen its nuclear embrace to include weapons.

-“Japan should absolutely possess nuclear weapons,” Ishihara said in a July 15 interview at his office in Tokyo, citing China and North Korea as potential threats. “I don’t think we can easily do away with atomic power. Nuclear energy is inexpensive if managed well,” he also said.

-Ishihara has built a political career on taking on consensus views on everything from Japan’s pacifist constitution to its economic ties with the U.S., with a record of success with voters that’s withstood controversial remarks that have forced public apologies. The 78-year-old governor expressed regret in March after calling the earthquake and tsunami that left almost 21,000 people dead or missing “divine punishment” for the “egoism” of Japanese society.


Nuclear-boost: Uranium mine in Andhra could be among largest in world -Times of India, July 19

-Indias nuclear power aspirations just got a boost thanks to a lucky find. The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) has discovered that the upcoming uranium mine in Andhra Pradesh's Tumalapalli has close to 49,000 tonnes of uranium -- three times the original estimate of the areas deposits. In fact, there are indications that the total quantity could go up to 1.5 lakh tonnes, which would make it among the largest uranium mines in the world.


NRC to compile nuclear safety overhaul in 90 days -NHK, July 19

-The top US nuclear chief says his agency will come up with directions on regulatory changes for safety at US nuclear power plants within 90 days.

-The chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Gregory Jaczko, says the NRC will quickly evaluate what kind of overhaul is needed at plants, based on the results of a report by its task force.

-The report calls for a reassessment of preparedness for natural disasters such as earthquakes and for each plant to be equipped with enough backup power to keep the facility running in case of blackouts.


Fukushima-type disaster inevitable in U.S.? -CBS, July 19

-Watts Bar, in Spring City, Tenn., is the last nuclear plant to be licensed in the U.S., and a textbook study of the pros and cons of nuclear power. It provides electricity to some 9 million people in seven states, yet is dogged with a long history of safety issues and whistle-blower lawsuits — including six by a 71-year-old great-grandmother named Ann Harris.

-If you walk through the front door of Harris’s house in rural Tennessee, you’ll meet one of the most unlikely and feared advocates of nuclear safety.

-Harris said she "began as a clerk in instrumentation engineering at Watts Bar in construction on Unit 1. And I could barely spell ‘nuclear’ when I went to work."

-What was the turning point in her work? "Basically," she replied, "the books are being cooked. People are saying things, they swear under oath it’s been done, and it hadn’t been done."

-When Harris refused to sign a multimillion-dollar construction contract riddled with errors, she said, Tennessee Valley Authority executives told her that her career was over. Instead, it sparked a 28-year crusade devoted to preventing a nuclear accident.


US nuclear regulators question recommended reforms -Reuters, July 19

  • The commissioners did not directly address Jaczko’s timeline at a public meeting on Tuesday, but three of them stressed they wanted to hear from stakeholders such as the industry and the public.

-Calling the report "an important, but early step," Kristine Svinicki, a Republican commissioner, said the NRC needs to proceed with a "systematic and methodical review."

-The recommendations "must be open to challenge by our many stakeholders and tested by the scrutiny of a wider body of experts … prior to final commission action," Svinicki said.

-William Magwood, a Democratic commissioner, called the report’s ideas "intriguing and challenging" but said he wants to hear from people outside the agency.

-"We may not agree with everything they suggest, but it would be arrogant of us not to listen to them very closely and very carefully," Magwood said.

-William Ostendorff, a Republican commissioner, echoed calls for consultation. "I personally do not believe that our existing regulatory framework is broken," he said.


Who has final say over the fate of Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant? -Christian Science Monitor, July 19

-Vermont has won the first round in its legal battle to shut down the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. On Monday, a federal judge denied the plant owners’ request for an injunction to keep it running until a legal decision is made.

-While the Vermont Yankee case is unique in many respects, its outcome could have implications for other states. Dozens of older nuclear plants are seeking to renew operating licenses to extend their lifetimes another 20 years beyond their original 40-year licenses. The debate over whether to renew these licenses gained even more urgency after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan earlier this year.

-Last year, the Vermont Senate voted 26 to 4 to refuse the plant a new operating permit, citing unreported radioactive water leaks and the 2007 collapse of a Vermont Yankee cooling tower. Yet the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) moved to extend the plant’s license for 20 more years just days after the Fukushima disaster began.


Head of NM resource protection office resigns -News West 9, July 19

-The head of the resource protection division at the New Mexico Environment Department has resigned, but the agency isn’t offering any details.

-Department spokesman Jim Winchester confirmed Jim Davis’ resignation was effective Tuesday morning.

-Winchester also confirmed that the department restructured some operations Monday and that included removing the state’s hazardous waste bureau from Davis’ division.

-The bureau is responsible for oversight and technical guidance related to the generation of hazardous waste as well as its storage and disposal.

-This includes work at Sandia and Los Alamos laboratories and the federal government’s nuclear waste repository in southeastern New Mexico.

-Winchester says the decision was made at the discretion of the department’s secretary and deputy secretary. He didn’t provide any details.

-Davis, reached Tuesday by The Associated Press, declined to comment.

GE unit halts nuclear fuel output over alarm hitch -Reuters, July 19

-General Electric Co’s (GE.N) nuclear fuel unit Global Nuclear Fuels (GNF) has suspended manufacturing since Thursday at its North Carolina facility after warning horns failed to operate properly during a safety system test, GNF reported to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

-The report posted on the commission website explained that the alarm system at the facility north of Wilmington failed to immediately activate the horns as designed during the test.


Pictures–Ten Oldest U.S. Nuclear Plants: Post-Japan Risks -National Geographic, July 19

-The world’s largest nuclear energy producer, the United States, Tuesday aired its first detailed public examination of whether stronger safety standards are needed in light of Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.

-Although the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) task force concluded that the sequence of events that caused Japan’s crisis was unlikely to recur in the United States, the panel has urged a new focus on preparing for the unexpected.


Kyushu Electric president to tender resignation on July 27 -Kyodo, July 19

Ex Japanese Nuclear Regulator Blames Radioactive Animal Feed on "Black Rain" -Fairewinds, July 19

-While many radioactive cattle have been discovered large distances from Fukushima, what is more important is where their feed is coming from. "It’s not only about the radioactive cattle in Fukushima Prefecture; its also about the radioactive straw the cattle eat that was grown elsewhere". Straw found 45 miles from Fukushima is highly contaminated with radioactive cesium, which is an indication that radiation has contaminated large portions of Northern Japan. More than half a million disintegrations per second in a kilogram of straw are comparable to Chernobyl levels. This proves that the American Nuclear Regulatory Commission was correct when it told Americans to evacuate beyond 50 miles and that the Japanese should have done the same. An Ex-Secretariat of Japan’s Nuclear Safety Commission blames this contamination on "Black Rain". Rather than minimize the information the Japanese people receive, Gundersen suggests minimizing their radiation exposure."


Govt to step up radiation monitoring -NHK, July 20

-The Japanese government will step up radiation monitoring and decontamination work to consider whether to lift evacuation orders after completing the second stage of the plan to bring the Fukushima nuclear crisis under control in January.

-Industry minister Banri Kaieda said the process of putting the crisis under control has been making steady progress and is producing results.

-The minister for the nuclear crisis, Goshi Hosono, said the government hopes to lift the evacuation advisories for areas around the plant. He said the state will make a decision after confirming the safety of the reactors by early August and consulting local authorities.

-The government also aims to lift the evacuation orders for the 20-kilometer no-entry zone and the planned evacuation areas after completing the second stage of the plan in January. In the second phase, the government aims to significantly reduce the volumes of radiation emitted from the plant.


Fukushima farmers ask minister to check all cattle -NHK, July 20

-On Wednesday, about 30 representatives of farmers’ and cattle breeders’ groups from the prefecture visited government agencies in Tokyo to demand the state buy up beef cattle that had been banned from being shipped.

-They asked agriculture minister Michihiko Kano to inspect all cattle in the prefecture, as well as all beef that had already been shipped, to regain consumer trust.

-The government has said it would check all cattle only in areas designated for evacuation.


Japan Won’t Rule Out Possibility Radioactive Fukushima Beef Was Exported -Bloomberg, July 20

-“We cannot completely rule out the possibility” contaminated beef was also sold abroad, Yuichi Imasaki, the deputy director of the farm ministry’s meat and egg division said by phone today. “The chances are very low” because most countries have tightened rules on Japanese beef imports or banned them, he said.


Farmers demand govt action to dispel consumer fear -NHK, July 20

-On Wednesday, about 100 cattle farmers and meat distributors attended a briefing at the agriculture ministry.

-Distributors noted that prices of beef other than that from Fukushima Prefecture are falling, and expressed concern that more and more consumers might start avoiding beef altogether.

-They called for tougher inspections and other steps to eliminate consumer concerns.


Over 1,200 cows suspected to have eaten radioactive feed transported -Kyodo, July 20

1,458 Meat Cows Possibly Contaminated from Radioactive Rice Hay Have Already Been Sold -EX-SKF, July 20

-6 prefectures announced on July 20 that the cattle farmers in their prefectures had shipped the total of 637 meat cows fed with the rice hay suspected of containing radioactive cesium in high concentration. The prefectures are: Iwate, Akita, Niigata, Gunma, Shizuoka, and Gifu.

-850 meat cows in Yamagata, Miyagi, Fukushima, and Niigata have already been found to have eaten the contaminated rice hay. The total number of meat cows in 9 prefectures that were fed with the contaminated rice hay is now 1,485. The prefectures will track the shipment of the cows, and will conduct the test on the unsold meat.


US nuclear chief promises more support for Japan -NHK, July 20

-The Chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission says Japan has achieved substantial progress in its efforts to bring the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant under control.

-Jaczko said Japan still has important challenges to tackle such as the disposal of highly contaminated water, removal of radioactive substances, and creating measures to deal with future natural disasters.

-He said the US team in Japan will continue to support the country in dealing with these and other issues.

-Jaczko suggested that less damage may have been done if Japan had imposed rules for external power outages at nuclear plants similar to those introduced in the US after the September 11th terrorist attacks.


US safety rule maybe prevented Fukushima crisis -NHK, July 20

-The chief of a US nuclear watchdog says that if Japan had adopted safety rules similar to those of the United States, damage at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant could have been smaller.


Haruki Murakami takes the Japanese to task -Global Post, July 20

-You might expect Haruki Murakami, author of bestselling novels "Norwegian Wood" and "Wind-up Bird Chronicle" among others, to condemn TEPCO for its misconduct in the wake of the tsunami.

-But what you might be surprised to hear is that he is no less strict with the Japanese people in general.

-In a recent speech in Barcelona, where Murakami accepted the International Catalunya Prize for his contribution to literature, the Japanese author said that the real tragedy in Japan has been the public’s tacit acceptance of a culture of efficiency.

-… we Japanese are the ones who allowed such a distorted system to operate until now. Maybe we will have to take ourselves to task for tacitly permitting such behavior. This state of affairs is closely linked to our own sense of morals and our personal standards.


EU adopts new nuclear waste disposal requirements -NHK, July 20

-The European Union has decided to require member nations to draw up final disposal plans for spent nuclear fuel and other radioactive waste by 2015.

-EU ministers agreed on Tuesday that the union’s 27 member states must outline specific plans for building underground and other facilities for final disposal of nuclear waste.

-The plans are to be submitted to the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm. The commission will be able to demand reviews if necessary.


France delays new generation nuclear plant amid new safety concerns -Washington Post, July 20

-Electricite de France, the world’s largest nuclear plant operator, says the reactor at Flamanville will go online in 2016 instead of 2014, and will cost some â?¬6 billion ($8.5 billion)overall instead of the â?¬5 billion earlier estimated.

-The reactor has already faced repeated delays and run billions of euros over budget.

-EDF said in a statement Wednesday that two accidents had caused it to reorganize its construction planning. One accident, in which a worker died after a fall in January, forced civil engineering work to be suspended for nine weeks. The other left one worker dead after a fall in early June. Both are under investigation, EDF said.

-The company said another reason for the delay is linked to the accident at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant following a tsunami in March. EDF and nuclear plant operators around Europe are conducting so-called stress tests of nuclear reactors after the Japanese accident.


Caribbean states want end of nuclear waste shipments -Nuclear Power Daily, July 20

-The Caribbean Community (Caricom) warned Wednesday of an impending shipment of British radioactive waste through the Caribbean to Japan, and called for an end to what it sees as a dangerous environmental gamble.

-While the Guyana-based Caricom headquarters could not say the exact date or name of the ship, the 15-nation regional grouping said such shipments threaten the Caribbeans rich but fragile ecosystem.

-Caricom told the Britain, France and Japan that the practice of shipping hazardous waste through the Caribbean sea risked the existence of the more than 20 million people and is "unacceptable and injurious."


Russia charges ex-nuclear director with fraud -Nuclear Power Daily, July 20

-Russia on Wednesday announced the arrest of one its most senior former nuclear officials for allegedly pocketing state research grants and stealing other people’s work off the Internet.

-It was the second major corruption case to strike Russia’s nuclear industry since the head of what was then known as the atomic energy ministry was arrested on US money laundering charges in 2005.

-An urgent reform of the powerful lobby led to the creation of what is today Rosatom — a state nuclear corporation that oversees Russia’s web of Soviet-era reactors and secret research institutes.

-The Rosatom spokesman said the agency’s fight against corruption had since gone on "continually" and that more than 30 top executives were dismissed for graft last year.

-"We have given the law enforcement authorities details about nine (corruption) cases in the first six months of the year alone," Novikov said.

-The agency has been working especially hard to polish its image in the wake of the earthquake in Japan that damaged the Fukushima plant and renewed world doubts about the merits of nuclear power.

-Yevstratov’s agency was responsible for certifying equipment and making sure that each of the hundreds of Rosatom facilities operated at safe radiation levels.


Kan hints at reviewing Japan’s nuclear fuel recycle policy -Kyodo, July 20

LDP proposes to keep nuclear power in key policies -Japan Today, July 20

-The main opposition Liberal Democratic Party proposed Wednesday to keep Japan’s existing nuclear power plants running while enhancing their safety, countering Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s recent pledge to gradually reduce the country’s reliance on nuclear power.

-The proposal is among the LDP’s main policies on which it will campaign for the next lower house election to be held by 2013.

Whistleblowers "terrified" at TVA nuke plants? -CBS News, July 20

-Linda Nadeau worked for more than 20 years as a security guard for the Tennessee Valley Authority, the government-owned electricity corporation, patrolling the most secure areas of its nuclear power plants, including Watts Bar.

-"I want people to know how we were treated," she told Keteyian. "I’m not the only one. There was other people."

-A 1986 report documents what investigators called "widespread intimidation, harassment and discrimination by TVA management," along with "widespread mistrust."

-A crying Janice Overall told CBS News her husband, Curtis, "paid the ultimate price."

-In the comfort of Harris’s kitchen, Overall spoke of Curtis, an award-winning employee who helped run Watts Bar’s unique ice containment system, designed to prevent a nuclear meltdown.

-But in 1995, after Overall discovered what he believed were problems with the system on the eve of Watts Bar’s long-delayed startup, he got harassed with threatening notes, and even a fake bomb discovered in the back of his pickup. Battling a bad heart and deep depression, Overall died in 2007 at the age of 56, without any proof of who had harassed him.

-Nadeau informed her supervisors that other security guards at Watts Bar were sleeping on the job. In 2008, she was fired for what was termed "inappropriate abusive communication behavior."

-She thinks it was retaliation, saying she "was told by one of the supervisors that I am — above-average clean. I’m too moral. And I’m paranoid and eccentric."

-CBS News spoke with one whistleblower, Gail Richards, who said she was too afraid to appear on-camera for "fear of further risk of retaliation for me and my family by the TVA and NRC."


NRC Revisits Old Question: How Safe are U.S. Nuclear Reactors? -Scientific American, July 20

-The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Fukushima task force has confronted the commissioners with a central quandary of their mission: When are nuclear plants safe enough?

-Task force members said yesterday they were not asking the NRC to rewrite the Atomic Energy Act. But the obvious implications from the Fukushima accident point to the need to raise the safety bar at U.S. reactors, they said.

-Task force member Gary Holahan, deputy director of NRC’s Office of New Reactors, said yesterday that the group concluded that action was needed to remedy the kinds of inconsistent performance by nuclear plant operators where safety measures covering extreme hazards were covered by voluntary guidelines. "We were looking for something that would have the commission establish expectations of safety. It’s pretty clear in the report that we found much more comfort in things that were required than those that were voluntary."


Terror Alert: Nuclear Plants -ABC News, July 20

-U.S. intelligence indicates al Qaeda might target chemical and nuclear plants.


Cleanup rate at Fukushima plant remains low -NHK, July 20

-The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, has found that the system’s decontamination rate was about 53 percent during the past week, compared with the target rate of 70 percent. It has been unable to reach the target rate for 3 consecutive weeks.

-The utility says the system’s low performance rate is due to water leaks as well as the fact that its capacity to remove radioactive materials is 30 percent lower than the catalog states.

-TEPCO says the system’s performance has not improved even after its piping was changed, and that the cause of the problem is still unknown.


Plugging reactors no longer stated goal for Tepco -Japan Times, July 20

-To substantially reduce the amount of radioactive materials released from the plant, Tepco needs to get to the bottom of the problem: plugging holes or cracks in the reactors’ containment vessels that are allowing contaminated water to flood on-site facilities, including the reactor buildings and turbine buildings, experts said.

-The updated road map, however, includes no reference to this critical work in the second stage, even though it was mentioned in past plans. And without fixing this problem, it is difficult to say that the release of radioactive materials is under control.

-"In terms of managing the leakage of radioactive materials, I think plugging the holes will be the most important point," said Tsuyoshi Misawa, a professor of reactor physics at Kyoto University’s Research Reactor Institute, adding he was perplexed it wasn’t included in the new plan.


Handling of nuclear crisis must take evacuated residents into consideration -Mainichi Perspectives, July 20

-Progress on the roadmap is a matter closely connected with the lives of residents from the area around the nuclear plant. It is unacceptable that four months after the onset of the nuclear crisis, residents have not yet been given any guidelines on their future lives. The government should provide an outlook for areas that have been heavily contaminated with radiation, and quickly take measures in preparation for the lifting of evacuation orders in areas such as emergency evacuation preparation zones where contamination is light.

-TEPCO has released figures on the amount of radioactive materials now believed to be leaking from the crisis-hit plant, but this alone is not a sufficient reason to lift evacuation orders.

-Is the possibility of another hydrogen explosion in the future low enough to ignore? Is there a danger of plant facilities being damaged further by an aftershock or another natural disaster, leading to the dispersal of more radioactive materials? We want officials to quickly present a trustworthy risk assessment.


Decontaminating soil, lowering radiation levels needed to lift evacuation order -Mainichi News, July 20

-"In order to form a community, it will be desirable for residents to return to their hometowns together. I wonder, though, if we can bring people back once they have been scattered, including children who have transferred to other schools," said an official with the Kawauchi Municipal Government — a village that falls within the 20- to 30-kilometer-radius stay indoors zone.

-Another headache for the affected municipalities is disposal of debris and sludge. While the updated timetable for bringing the Fukushima nuclear power plant under control stipulates that collection, temporary storage and disposal of debris and sludge will begin in the Step 2 period, the plan is facing tough challenges as it is difficult to find municipalities that can ultimately accept such waste. Some municipalities are urging that ultimate disposal sites be determined as soon as possible.

-There is approximately 600,000 tons of debris in Minamisoma, with some 150,000 tons of it collected during the search for missing people and left dumped for more than two months at a planned construction site. The remaining debris is also left piled up in tsunami-ravaged areas.

-"No areas will come forward to take such debris," said an official with the Minamisoma Municipal Government’s disaster countermeasures headquarters.

-Radioactive sludge that is generated at sewage plants is yet another headache. At a sewage plant in the Haramachi district of Minamisoma, the amount of radioactive sludge has topped 80 tons, threatening the facility’s capacity. While the return of residents to the area would mean an increase in the amount of sludge, the municipal government has not been able to find a place to temporarily place contaminated sludge.


Contaminated rice straw found in 10 prefectures -NHK, July 21

-The Japanese government says rice straw used for cattle feed contaminated with radioactive cesium has been found in 10 prefectures across the country. Beef produced from cattle fed the contaminated straw and shipped out from farms has already been distributed to almost all prefectures.


High levels of radioactivity found extensively -NHK, July 21

-Japan’s science ministry says air above the ground about 150 kilometers from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is as radioactive as areas 50 kilometers from the source of radioactivity.

-The ministry on Wednesday released a map showing radiation levels at locations one meter above the ground in Miyagi Prefecture, north of Fukushima, based on the results of an aerial survey from June 22nd through 30th.


Is This Mike On? Another YouTube SOS from Fukushima -TIME, July 21

-Another disgruntled Japanese official has taken to the interwebs to air his grievances about the inadequate attention being paid to the welfare of residents of Minamisoma, a town about 25 kilometers away from the stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. Minamisoma last grabbed international headlines when the town’s mayor posted an earnest appeal for help on YouTube two weeks after the March 11 disasters, bringing him worldwide attention and a nomination as one of the most influential people of the year from TIME.

-In a bit of social media jiujitsu, Koichi Ohyama, a city council member, uses the same tactic to take Sakurai to task for asking residents who voluntarily evacuated to come back home. Ohyama says the mayor and the central government have been rushing to repopulate the town, putting economic interests ahead of residents’ best interests. Selective spots in the 20-30 km band around the plant found to have high radiation levels were evacuated in the spring, but the mandatory order was never applied to Minamisoma.


Fukushima Disaster Is "Biggest Industrial Catastrophe in History"; Too Bad the Media Would Rather Cover Reality TV Stars -AlterNet, July 21

-It’s one thing when the dirty hippies (alwayz wrong) are raising the flag about radioactive destruction, but you’d think that the media could tear themselves away from the Kardashians’ cleavage for two seconds when a former senior vice president in the nuclear industry says stuff like:

"The fuels are now a molten blob at the bottom of the reactor," Gundersen added.


The Fukushima tragedy demonstrates that nuclear energy doesn’t make sense -Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, July 21

-From the time we learn to walk, mistakes are inherent in the process of human learning. An essential design principle for technology should be that we, the generations that benefit, should bear the major costs of its mistakes. Nuclear power fails this simple test miserably. It is just not possible to pick up the pieces and move on after a grave accident. Land is contaminated for generations. Cancer risks lurk in the shadows. Local economies are destroyed and cannot be restored. Nor have we properly addressed the problem of nuclear waste, even though each year’s operation of a reactor creates enough plutonium (if separated from the waste) to make about 30 nuclear bombs.

-Of late, even some staunch environmentalists, like James Lovelock of Gaia hypothesis fame, have become nuclear power advocates. They argue that nuclear power is essential to solving the challenges of climate change. But this is deeply flawed thinking. Nuclear power is not a game-changer, panacea, or even vital piece of the energy puzzle. It is an unpredictable, existentially dangerous, and far too costly energy source that would have us trade carbon dioxide for plutonium.


Rain increases contaminated water at plant -NHK, July 21

-Heavy rain brought by a tropical storm has increased the level of radioactive contaminated water at the basements of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

-Rain has been gathering in the buildings housing the reactors because the roofs were severely damaged by hydrogen explosions that occurred after the initial March 11th disaster.

-Tokyo Electric Power Company or TEPCO, the plant’s operator, says that at 7 AM local time on Thursday, the level of contaminated water pooled at the basement of the building of the No. 1 reactor was 44 centimeters up from the previous day.


Tokyo Electric’s lax worker management found -NHK, July 21

-The operator of the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has failed to confirm the whereabouts of 198 workers who are believed to have worked at the plant since the nuclear disaster started.

-The company also reports that it has conducted radiation exposure tests on 8,338 workers, but still has to test more than 1,500 workers, including the 198.

-The utility had reported last Wednesday that the number of missing was 132.

-The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency is also investigating the case because if it is proven that some of these workers were hired by the company without their identities being confirmed, it could constitute a violation of anti-terrorism legislation.


1400 cattle fed contaminated hay shipped -NHK, July 21

-NHK has learned that at least 1,400 beef cattle were shipped from 76 farms in 11 prefectures after being fed rice straw contaminated with radioactive cesium at levels higher than the government safety limit.

-The straw had been distributed by agents in Miyagi and farmers in Fukushima and Iwate prefectures, near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

-Investigations are now underway to identify distribution channels of the straw and cattle.

-The number of farms found to have fed the straw to their cattle may rise further.

Japanese National Government, Fukushima Prefectural Government, Industry Groups Plan for Lifting the Shipment Ban on Fukushima Beef -EX-SKF, July 21

-The shipment ban on meat cows in Fukushima was finally put in place on July 19, but on July 20 they already outlined the conditions for lifting the ban.

-Fukushima Prefecture hopes to lift the shipment ban placed on the cows in the prefecture by the end of July, according to Fukushima Minyu Shinbun (7/21/2011), a local paper in Fukushima Prefecture.

-From what Fukushima Minyu Shinbun describes, the conditions for lifting the ban have been already agreed upon between the parties involved (the national government, the Fukushima prefectural government, and the cattle industry groups).

-So what is the plan? Fukushima Minyu is rather vague on that, so we’ll go to Asahi Shinbun that has a bit more details. The plan, as it is right now, will serve to obfuscate, give sense of "security" where there’s hardly any, and most of all, doesn’t cost much because they won’t be doing things much differently from what they are doing right now. All parties involved – the national government, the Fukushima prefectural government, the industry groups – are eager to resume shipment, so it will resume as soon as people forget about it. (And stuff those blogs with safety message about cesium!)


Govt considers contaminated beef buy up -NHK, July 21

-Senior Agriculture Vice-Minister Nobutaka Tsutsui told reporters on Thursday that the government is considering buying all the contaminated beef and incinerating it so that it cannot reach consumers.

-He said the leadership took similar steps when dealing with the issue of BSE, or mad cow disease.

-Tsutsui said that a system must be established to prevent any contaminated beef from being distributed.

-He added that details of the plan, including funding, will be worked out by the end of this week.


Gov’t to allow use of simpler radiation detectors for beef -Kyodo, July 22

Ito-Yokado sold beef linked to irradiated feed -NHK, July 22

-Major supermarket operator Ito-Yokado says it sold over 2,600 kilograms of meat from beef cattle fed with rice straw contaminated with radioactive cesium exceeding the government limit.

-The company says 2,651 kilograms of beef from 24 cattle were sold at 94 outlets in Tokyo and 6 surrounding prefectures as well as Yamanashi, Shizuoka, Niigata prefectures and Hokkaido, between April and July 14th.

-Ito-Yokado is calling on people who purchased the beef to contact its stores and return the product.


Prof. Nonaka speaks on cesium in rice straw -NHK, July 22

-A Japanese expert on radiation in soil says radioactive materials on rice straw and soil must be monitored even if they are located far from the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

-Nonaka said many farmers on the Pacific side of the Tohoku region leave rice straw on paddies to let it dry during winter. He said that was probably how the rice straw, like a sponge, absorbed cesium that had dissolved into rainwater, snow, and soil.

-Nonaka said radiation levels in the air were checked after the nuclear accident, but not those in the farmland, produce, and rice straw. He said this is how the rice straw contamination occurred.


Gov’t to buy up all beef containing cesium exceeding allowable levels -Mainichi News, July 22

-The government will buy up all beef found to contain radioactive cesium at levels exceeding the allowable limit, and incinerate it, a senior farm ministry official said Thursday.

-Nobutaka Tsutsui, senior vice minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, said the ministry is considering expanding the inspections currently imposed on all cattle shipped from Fukushima Prefecture to those from other prefectures.

-"We’re considering how much we can broaden the inspections on all the cattle and farms from outside Fukushima Prefecture," he said.

-The plan to purchase all contaminated beef could be complicated by the fact that the government has not bought vegetables and fishery products containing radioactive substances above the allowable limits.


IAEA chief to visit Fukushima plant next week -NHK, July 22

-IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano was speaking on Thursday at the agency’s headquarters in Vienna.

-Amano will visit the nuclear complex on Monday to confirm the extent of damage to the facility and inspect ongoing operations to cool the reactors.

-Amano said he will wear protective gear and go as far into the plant as he is allowed so he can get a full understanding of what is going on.


AP Interview: IAEA chief seeks heightened role for his agency in future disasters -Washington Post, July 22

-The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said Friday that he would like to see his agency more involved in damage control from any future nuclear disaster, in comments prompted by criticism of the IAEA’s role in the Fukushima accident.

-The agency was criticized by some member states and in Japan for taking what was perceived to be a too passive role in trying to manage the March 11 Fukushima disaster. In an interview with The Associated Press, Amano suggested he would like to increase the IAEA’s future profile.

-The agency is now drawing up an action plan on nuclear safety to be presented to the IAEA board and Amano said that document can be used as a launching pad to explore enhancing the role of his agency in damage control from any further disasters.

-Separately, in an IAEA statement, Amano said he welcomed the progress that the Tokyo Electric Power Company has made in implementing its “Road Map” to contain and stabilize the situation in the aftermath of the March disaster at its reactor.

-Based on progress to date, the agency thinks that TEPCO’s plan to achieve “cold shutdown by early next year is possible, said the statement.


UN watchdog reviews S. Korea’s nuclear safety regulations -Nuclear Power Daily, July 22

-The International Atomic Energy Agency said in a statement the review — the first such mission carried out in a country since the nuclear disaster in Japan — was conducted between July 10-22 by a team of 16 experts from 14 countries.

-It said the experts had "identified good practices", including a "clear and structured national approach for nuclear safety" on the part of South Korea’s regulatory system, and also "provided advice on areas for future improvements."


Independent Probe, Manager’s Firing Raise Questions About ‘Safety Culture’ at DOE’s Nuclear Waste Site -NYT, July 22

-More than six years ago, a Department of Energy official wrote to Bechtel National, the company in charge of the design and construction of the most expensive environmental remediation project in the world.

-The letter summarized a survey of workers and their belief that those who raised safety concerns would be "targeted for future lay-off lists." Safety is of paramount concern at the Hanford Site; the Washington state nuclear production complex is home to more than 50 million gallons of radioactive waste that is slated to undergo a first-of-its-kind treatment.

-"Discussions between [the Office of River Management] and BNI management on these issues have demonstrated BNI’s willingness to work to address these employee concerns," ORM manager Roy Schepens wrote in the 2005 letter. "In addition, the ORM recognizes the efforts BNI has made and continues to make to address the perception of a chilling effect in the workplace."

-It wasn’t the first time such accusations surfaced and it wouldn’t be the last. But this year, DOE is facing perhaps its most public criticism yet, with a new report that reveals a broken safety culture and a former manager who says he was fired for voicing concerns about serious risks in the project.


External power supply cut at 2 Fukushima reactors -NHK, July 22

-Tokyo Electric Power Company says part of the external power supply has been cut at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant due to a problem in the transmission lines.

-TEPCO said on Friday that a current breaker was tripped by a sudden surge in the external power lines, cutting off electricity to the No. 3 and 4 reactors.

-The operator was forced to suspend a system treating radioactive water. Another system cooling the No.3 reactor’s spent fuel storage pool was also shut down.

-TEPCO says the pool’s temperature remains stable at around 30 degrees Celsius.

-TEPCO is working to restore external power, as it tries to find out what caused the problem.


TEPCO head seeks local leaders’ support on Niigata nuclear plant -Kyodo, July 22

Japan utilities push to extend life of nuclear plants -Reuters, July 22

-Kansai Electric files to keep 40-yr-old Mihama reactor running

-Chubu says to beef up tsunami defences at Hamaoka by Dec 2012

-Debate intensifies as safety fears square off vs economy worries


Hamaoka operator to build 18m-high embankment -NHK, July 22

-The utility had been studying plans to build a new embankment 1.5 kilometers along the coast by the plant, in the wake of the Fukushima accident.

-Chubu Electric said it will also extend the height of an embankment now surrounding the plant. The firm also plans to build a waterproof building to house a backup pump for injecting seawater into reactors in case other cooling functions are lost due to tsunami flooding.

-The firm said the measures will cost around 1.3 billion dollars, and plans to complete all construction by December 2012.


Utilities ordered to enhance data credibility before ‘stress tests’ -Kyodo, July 22

Post-Fukushima Japan ponders geothermal power -AlJazeera, July 22

-Japan is sitting on enough geothermal power to replace all of its planned nuclear power stations for the next decade.

-The naturally occurring alternative has received increasing attention following the nuclear disaster at Fukushima.

-But geothermal energy is both costly and culturally controversial. Japanese people have enjoyed hot springs for centuries and believe their waters provide medicinal benefits.

-Geothermal drilling is seen as a threat that could siphon off the springs sources.

-Al Jazeera’s Aela Callen reports from Akita, Japan.


TEPCO probes Fukushima blackout -NHK, July 22

-The trouble occurred at around 7:10 AM on Friday, when a circuit breaker malfunctioned on the power feed to the No. 3 and 4 reactors.

-The blackout halted equipment to cool the spent fuel pool for the No. 3 reactor.

-Cooling was restored around 5 hours later by means of an alternative power source.

-The utility says that although it has installed several external power sources, their automatic switchover functions were not available. The company says it will improve the systems.

-A sudden surge in the external power supply is thought to be behind the failure. TEPCO says it is looking into the problem.


Water treatment system at Fukushima plant stops temporarily -Kyodo, July 22

Tiny Robots Being Primed to Patrol for Radioactive Leaks -NYT, July 22

-The pipes at nuclear power plants are dangerous places — with very hot water, high pressure, high radioactivity.

-Today, stationary sensors provide some insight into conditions inside the pipes. But as the nation’s nuclear fleet ages, engineers need to see more.

-Enter robots.

-Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are working to improve remote imaging of the piping at pressurized water reactors with the development of tiny, spherical robots that could work their way through them and send video images back to watchers in a control room.

-That could help operators find leaks and address a concern raised by the Government Accountability Office in June. GAO said all U.S. nuclear plant sites have experienced leakage of potentially radioactive water into the ground, some of it likely from buried pipelines that are hard to access and inspect for cracks (E&E Daily, June 22).


TEPCO admitted failure to vent Fukushima No. 1 reactor in May report -Mainichi News, July 22

-Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) acknowledged it failed to vent steam from the containment vessel of Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant’s No. 1 reactor in analysis reports as early as May, while publicly maintaining that the venting valves remained open, the Mainichi has learned.

-TEPCO said in the paper it confirmed a drop in pressure within the containment vessel at 2:30 p.m. on March 12, and presumed venting had been successful. TEPCO also recorded that at 2:49 p.m. it assumed the venting valves had closed as pressure began to rise in the containment vessel.

-According to TEPCO, it could not obtain instrumental data on pressure within the containment vessel due to the hydrogen explosion at 3:36 p.m. on March 12.


Melt-Through Simulation Created by Japan’s METI Well Before -EX-SKF, July 22

-This animation was created by the Japan Nuclear Energy Safety Organization, a government corporation under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (which regulates the nuclear industry), to train Senior Specialists for Nuclear Emergency Preparedness on the severe accident of loss of cooling, using a Mark-1 Boiling Water Reactor.

-It was created before the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident, though there is no information as to when it was created. (The Japan Nuclear Energy Safety Organization itself was created in 2003.)

-They must have known all along that it was not even a meltdown but melt-through.

-The animation has this reassuring message at the end:

"Even if it gets to the worst case scenario (that you've just seen), we are trying our best to learn and upgrade our skills in dealing with nuclear emergencies by training the nuclear emergency specialists, so that the residents near the nuclear power plants can feel safe and secure."


Gov’t names 4 more radiation ‘hot spots’ near Fukushima plant -Japan Today, July 22

-Japan on Thursday recommended 59 more households should evacuate from four areas considered radiation “hot spots” near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, officials said.

-The voluntary guidance, in areas where higher levels of radiation have been detected sporadically beyond the 20-kilometer no-go zone around the plant, will affect households in Fukushima Prefecture’s city of Minamisoma.

-The move is the second such recommendation after authorities in June identified 113 households that should evacuate from four districts near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.


’70s activist foresaw nuclear disaster -Japan Times, July 23

-When the late Shizuko Sakata started distributing the newsletters she wrote in Nagano Prefecture more than 30 years ago to campaign against nuclear power, her daughter, Masako, was not fully supportive.

-"I thought her doubts over nuclear power plant safety might have been fair, but I had more belief in comments by scientists saying that safety issues had been sufficiently examined," said Masako Sakata, 63.

-But amid the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant, she recently reread the newsletters, called "Please Listen," and realized that the fears of her mother, who died in 1998 at age 74, had actually come true.

-Tamotsu Muraishi, an editor at Nagano-based publisher Office Emu, has also been impressed with Sakata’s foresight.

-"She predicted the current situation in Japan decades ago," he said. "As a publisher, I wanted to hand down her writings to the next generation."

-To do so, Muraishi reprinted some of the newsletters and articles Sakata contributed to a local newspaper in a recently published book, also titled "Please Listen," which "has sold well through word of mouth," he said.


Report: Utility executives biggest individual donors to Japan’s former ruling party -Washington Post, July 23

-Japanese utility company executives were by far the biggest individual donors to Japan’s former ruling party during its last year in power, accounting for a whopping 72 percent of personal contributions, a news report said.

-Executives from nine utility companies contributed 47 million yen ($595,000) to the Liberal Democratic Party in 2009, Kyodo News agency reported. That’s nearly three quarters of the nearly 65 million yen ($823,000) received in 2009 in total individual donations to the party.

-Among the donors were executives with Tokyo Electric Power, which operates the radiation-spewing reactors at Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant. The crisis is the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.


Tepco tries to woo Niigata leaders -Japan Times, July 23

-Tokyo Electric Power Co. President Toshio Nishizawa sought support Friday from local leaders in Niigata Prefecture, home of the utility’s only operating atomic power plant, while apologizing for the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 complex and vowing to create safer nuclear stations.

-Nishizawa, accompanied by his predecessor, Masataka Shimizu, told Kashiwazaki Mayor Hiroshi Aida and Kariwa Mayor Hiroo Shinada that Tepco will learn from the lessons of the Fukushima disaster and the deadly quake that struck Niigata in 2007 to build nuclear plants that are "safe and resilient to disasters."


Philippines aims to rekindle nuclear industry -AlJazeera, July 23

-A nuclear plant in the Philippines that has sat untouched for over a quarter of a century has become an unlikely tourist attraction.

-With another power crisis now looming, energy officials hope allowing people to cheaply tour the facility will eventually win their much-needed support to finally bring the facility on-line, even though its fuel rods were sold off over 10 years ago and the plant is not well maintained.

-Al Jazeera’s Marga Ortigas reports from Bataan.


Cause of Fukushima blackout identified -NHK, July 23

-The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says the interruption on Friday of a system that cools one of the spent fuel pools was caused by the incorrect set-up of a circuit breaker.

-Tokyo Electric Power Company said on Saturday that a circuit breaker had been mistakenly set up at one-third of the correct level, causing it to shut down prematurely.


TEPCO to eliminate gangsters from nuclear projects -NHK, July 23

-The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is stepping up efforts to prevent gangsters from earning money in projects for bringing the crisis under control.


No.1 reactor temperature falls below 100 degrees -NHK, July 24

-The operator of the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant says the temperature at the bottom of the No. 1 reactor is being kept at the lowest level since a new cooling system went into operation late last month.

-Tokyo Electric Power Company says the temperature fell below 100 degrees Celsius for 6 consecutive days through Sunday.

-TEPCO says the lower temperature was achieved by raising the amount of water injected into the reactor, and that it wants to maintain the current condition.

-TEPCO says the cooling system is still unstable and the amount of water to be injected into the No. 1 reactor continues to decrease. The company says it wants to accelerate work to fix the problems.


TEPCO checks piping of decontamination system -NHK, July 24

-It says the operating rate was 53 percent in the past week, far below the target rate of 80 percent.

-The utility says it will examine the interior of the system’s pipes as sludge and other materials may be clogging the flow of water.

-The power company says it will install alternative pipes to reroute the flow and check whether the amount of treated water will increase.

-TEOCO says if it’s proved effective, it will consider replacing the pipes.


70% back Kan on nuclear power but support for Cabinet hits record low -Kyodo, July 24

-A total of 70.3 percent expressed support for Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s call for a society that does not rely on nuclear power in a telephone poll conducted over the weekend by Kyodo News, but public support for his Cabinet sank to 17.1 percent, the lowest level since it was inaugurated just over a year ago, from 23.2 percent in the previous poll.


State law raises funds for nuclear safety program -Chicago Tribune, July 24

-Gov. Pat Quinn has signed a bill intended to improve safety at the state’s 11 nuclear reactors.

-Exelon operates all of the reactors. The bill increases the annual fee that the company has to pay per reactor from $1.75 million to $1.9 million.

-The extra money will be used by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency for its nuclear safety program.


Decontamination experiment starts in Fukushima -NHK, July 24

-More than 3,500 city employees and citizens took part in an experiment to remove radioactive materials from roads in a highly contaminated area of Fukushima City on Sunday.

-The experiment follows the city’s decision to clean up all the roads used by elementary and junior high school students.

-A house in the area was also cleaned for experimental purposes. The roof and plants were washed with high-pressure equipment after city employees measured radiation levels.

-A similar experiment will be conducted in another area in the city, where relatively high radiation levels have been measured.

-The city plans to review the methods and their effectiveness, and release a decontamination plan and a manual for residents next month.


U.S., Japan to jointly study new technology to decontaminate large areas -Kyodo, July 24

Aging Genkai nuclear reactor may have faulty vessel: study -Kyodo, July 24

-A nuclear power reactor unit which began operations 36 years ago at Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Genkai plant may have a faulty pressure vessel, an analysis by researchers showed Saturday.

-The possibility of a fault in the process of manufacturing a critical unit encasing nuclear fuel assemblies at the seaside plant’s No. 1 reactor casts doubt over the credibility of previous inspections of nuclear reactors, the analysis led by Hiromitsu Ino indicated.

-Ino, professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo, and other experts in metal materials, performed a close analysis of test data used to determine the degradation levels of steel used for the pressure vessel.

-The analysis of the data, which were disclosed by the utility only in July, showed that disparities exist in the quality of steel used for the vessel, pointing to the possibility that there was a mistake in its manufacturing process, Ino said.

-The No. 1 unit of the Genkai plant in Saga Prefecture, southwestern Japan, began operating in 1975.

-”The technique used in manufacturing reactors in the 1970s was immature,” Ino said. ”It’s possible that a faulty manufacturing process existed, and the pressure vessel’s durability is questionable.”

-Ino said the No.1 reactor, which is currently operating, should be suspended until its safety is confirmed.

-Of the four reactors at the seaside plant, the Nos. 2 and 3 reactors have been suspended for regular maintenance.

New Japan Law ‘Cleanses’ Bad Nuclear News -UK Progressive, July 24

-Friday, July 15, the Ministry of Industry and Trade (METI) – Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, opened a call for bids (tender) regarding the “Nuclear Power Safety Regulation Publicity Project”, for contractors to monitor blogs and tweets posted about nuclear power and radiation.

-Since March 11, 2011 it has been reported that YouTube videos containing footage or comments unfavorable to Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) or the Japanese government have been removed within several hours of their posting. Examples of offending YouTube videos include excerpts of TV shows with controversial comments like footage showing smoke emitted from the nuclear reactors, and an ex-TEPCO employee speaking on his Fukushima experiences. Likewise, Twitter accounts with too much content regarding nuclear power and radiation issues have been disrupted.

-On June 17, 2011 the Japanese Parliament passed “The Computer Network Monitoring Law” . Prof. Ibusuki of Seijo Univ. Law Dept. comments that “The Computer Network Monitoring Law will enable the police to monitor anyone’s internet activity without restriction.” Although this appears, on the surface, to be beneficial when targeting cyber-attacks, some Japanese commentators are suggesting that the law is un-Constitutional.


Indonesia still keen on gaining nuclear power -AlJazeera, July 24

-The nuclear crisis at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant has forced many countries to reconsider plans for nuclear energy, but Indonesia is not one of them.

-The government says it is continuing with plans to acquire nuclear energy as it needs more energy sources to support its growing economy.

-Al Jazeera’s Step Vaessen reports from West Java.


Declassified papers show U.S. promoted atomic power in Japan -Japan Times, July 25

-The documents, collected by Kyodo News at the U.S. National Archives, show that President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s administration, concerned about Japan’s possible exit from the Western camp, accelerated cooperation with Japan in atomic energy technology to contain antinuclear and anti-U.S. sentiment among the Japanese.

-In a memorandum to U.S. Secretary of State John Dulles, dated May 26, 1954, Eisenhower said he was "concerned about the Japanese situation," and asked Dulles to help "have a better idea of what it is now possible for us to do to further our interests in Japan."

-"It is important to our relations with Japan that we seek to remove the strong Japanese notion that atomic and nuclear energy is primarily destructive. We should accordingly attempt at an early point to include Japan in bilateral and multilateral actions intended to develop peaceful uses of atomic energy." That November, Japan got reams of atomic energy documents.


Analysis: Sticking with nuclear could be costlier Japan option -Reuters, July 25

-Mobile phone carrier Softbank’s charismatic president, Masayoshi Son, has become Japan’s most prominent corporate apostle of alternative energy. This month, he launched a clean energy group with 35 of Japan’s 47 prefectures keen to get involved in renewable energy projects.

-"The vested interests dominate a lot of the political process, but we are seeing a challenge from the local government level," said Rikkyo University professor Andrew DeWit, adding that Son was also attracting interest from a range of companies and non-profits.

-Hiroshi Mikitani, president of online retailer Rakuten Inc, has defected from Japan’s biggest business lobby, the pro-nuclear Keidanren, out of pique with its opposition to opening the power industry to competition.

-Electronics and IT firms are eager to help upgrade Japan’s power network to a "Smart Grid" needed to handle an influx of electricity from decentralized, fluctuating power sources such as solar and wind farms and construction firms are eyeing profits from designing and building "Smart Cities."

-Reactor maker Toshiba Corp, for one, has said it would increase its focus on renewables and smart grids and in May announced it would buy Swiss smart-meter maker Landis+Gyr.

-"The companies are way ahead of the government," said an electronics industry analyst who declined to be identified. "But it would help to have a coherent policy to support what they are doing."


M.6.2 Quake hits Miyagi and Fukushima -NHK, July 25

-The depth of focus of the earthquake, which occurred off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture, was 40 kilometers.


Gov. releases radiation forecast system data -NHK, July 25

-Japan’s nuclear watchdog has released results of their analysis on how radioactive substances spread after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant accident.

-The Agency says it calculated the data based on updated figures obtained from the nuclear reactors through June.

-The 600 pages of information are available on the internet.


Japan’s Food-Chain Threat Multiplies as Fukushima Radiation Spreads -Bloomberg, July 25

-Radiation fallout from the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant poses a growing threat to Japan’s food chain as unsafe levels of cesium found in beef on supermarket shelves were also detected in more vegetables and the ocean.

-More than 2,600 cattle have been contaminated, Kyodo News reported July 23, after the Miyagi local government said 1,183 cattle at 58 farms were fed hay containing radioactive cesium before being shipped to meat markets.

-Japan has no centralized system to check for radiation contamination of food, leaving local authorities and farmers conducting voluntary tests. Products including spinach, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, tea, milk, plums and fish have been found contaminated with cesium and iodine as far as 360 kilometers from Dai-Ichi.


Villagers hold memorial in nuclear plant’s shadow -Japan Today, July 25

-Under tight government supervision, dozens of villagers from a town where the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is located ventured deep into an irradiated no-man’s land Sunday to hold a belated memorial for friends and relatives killed by Japan’s earthquake and tsunami.

-They found that their town–evacuated for more than four months–is fast becoming a wilderness.

-“There is nothing left but debris and empty streets,” said Norio Kimura, a villager who lost his father, wife and a daughter in the disaster.

-With no one left behind to care for them, cattle roam the streets. Tall grass has grown out of rice paddies and meadow flowers bloom in farms. Weeds have grown knee-high out of cracks in the streets.

-Wearing full-body protective gear and white face masks because of the continued risk of radiation exposure, the families bowed their heads in silence before a shattered public hall as a Buddhist priest chanted sutras and burned incense for the dead. Their village, Okuma, is where four of the crippled nuclear plant’s six reactors are located.


Fukushima to provide lifetime thyroid tests in wake of nuclear crisis -Mainichi News, July 25

-The Fukushima Prefectural Government decided on July 24 to provide lifetime thyroid gland tests for some 360,000 prefectural residents aged 18 and under to help detect thyroid cancer triggered by radiation from the crisis-hit Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant.

-The free tests will be launched in October. Eligible residents will be tested once every two years until the age of 20, and once every five years thereafter. The prefectural government’s move is said to be unprecedented.


Contaminated water on increase at Fukushima plant -NHK, July 25

-Tokyo Electric Power Company is injecting fresh water from a nearby dam to make up for the shortage of water in its system for cooling the reactors at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

-NHK’s reporter points out that as a result of Sunday’s trouble, the amount of contaminated water is increasing. He adds that the recycling of cooling water, a key element of bringing the accident under control, cannot be maintained.

-TEPCO is investigating the cause of the problem. The utility says the decontamination system as a whole is not operating stably and it needs to improve its reliability.


IAEA chief says cooling operation going as planned -NHK, July 25

-IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano visited the plant on Monday, one day after he arrived in Japan. This is his first visit to Fukushima Daiichi since the March 11th disaster triggered the nuclear accident there.

-Amano later told reporters that he wore protective clothing and toured the plant on a bus, while being briefed about damage to reactor buildings and other facilities by the head of the nuclear station.

-Amano said he inspected the cooling operation to check on the progress of the stabilization plan.

-He said he also visited the plant’s headquarters to talk with workers there about the content and the environment of the stabilizing operations.

-Amano said steps are being carried out systematically and that he believes the prospects are bright.


Workers at Fukushima plant report harsh conditions -NHK, July 25

-About 1,500 temporary workers of subcontractors hired by leading construction companies gathered in Tokyo on Sunday to discuss the situation.

-The workers were forced to work without any explanation about the risk of radiation or any measures against heat strokes.

-Another worker said he has received only half of the wages he had been promised for building temporary housing in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture. He said he wants the government to do something about the unfair working conditions.

-The organizers say these issues have not surfaced before because many workers find it inappropriate to complain when they think about the hardships of people in the disaster-hit areas.


Japan: angry Fukushima citizens confront government (video) -BoingBoing, July 25

-The video above documents what I am told is a meeting between Fukushima residents and government officials from Tokyo, said to have taken place on 19 July 2011. The citizens are demanding their government evacuate people from a broader area around the Fukushima nuclear plant, because of ever-increasing fears about the still-spreading radiation. They are demanding that their government provide financial and logistical support to get out. In the video above, you can see that some participants actually brought samples of their children’s urine to the meeting, and they demanded that the government test it for radioactivity.

-When asked by one person at the meeting about citizens’ right to live a healthy and radioactive-free life, Local Nuclear Emergency Response Team Director Akira Satoh replies “I don’t know if they have that right.”


Fukushima mobilizes 3,900 to help decontaminate ‘hot spots’ -Japan Today, July 25

-Decontamination efforts began at several “hot spots” – areas where especially high radiation levels were detected – in and around Fukushima City on Sunday and continued Monday. Some 400 experts and 3,500 residents are participating in the effort. Residents worked to haul mud and debris from gutters and deweed the area.

-Additionally, a specialized cleaning vehicle decontaminated certain roads, especially those used by children to commute to school. After the initial cleanup, residents reported Monday morning that the radiation level had dropped by about half, from 10 to around 5 microsieverts an hour.

-The cleanup area is about 90 kilometers away from the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, outside of the mandatory evacuation zone. But concerns began to rise when a high reading of 3.83 microsieverts/hr was measured in June. The cleanup was initiated in the hopes of avoiding the need for an evacuation of the area, local officials said.

Wheat, Rapeseeds in Fukushima, Rice Hay Outside Fukushima Far Exceeding Safety Limit -EX-SKF, July 25

-Fukushima Prefecture announced on July 25 that radioactive cesium exceeding the provisional limit was detected from the wheat harvested at a farm in Hirono-machi [23 kilometers south of Fukushima I Nuke Plant] in Fukushima Prefecture. The prefectural government says the wheat hasn’t been sold in the market. It is the first time that radioactive cesium exceeding the limit has been detected in wheat.


How Japan’s media sees progress on Fukushima nuclear crisis -Mainichi Perspectives, July 25

-Dishing out the most praise for the achievements of Step 1, which aimed to stabilize the cooling of nuclear reactors at the plant, was the Sankei Shimbun, which has often severely criticized the government administration.

-"Stable cooling of the plant was realized within the goal of three months," the paper said, adding, "We would like to praise this achievement, which was made after overcoming difficulties."

-The Mainichi Shimbun gave credit for the launch of a circulating injection cooling system, but pointed out that the system is a hastily arranged provisional measure, and said officials must start carefully considering construction of a sustainable cooling system.

-The Nihon Keizai Shimbun, meanwhile, said it is certain that contaminated water continues to leak from the plant, presenting the view that stability has not yet been reached.

-The Tokyo Shimbun also pointed out a series of problems including leaks, and stated, "The results have not matched expectations."


Entergy to fight for Vermont Yankee reactor survival -Reuters, July 25

-Entergy Corp (ETR.N) said on Monday it will refuel the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant and fight to keep it running for another 20 years until 2032 when its new operating license expires.

-Vermont’s Governor, Peter Shumlin, who led the state legislature’s effort to shut the 620-megawatt plant in 2010 when he was President of the Senate, wants the 39 year old reactor to shut next year when its old license was to expire.

-After winning a 20 year extension of its operating license from federal regulators in March, New Orleans-based Entergy, the No. 2 nuclear power operator in the United States, in April sued in federal court to block the state from shutting the reactor next year. The trial is scheduled for mid-September.


City presses Centrica to cancel plans for building nuclear power plants -Guardian, July 25

-Centrica is being urged by the City to withdraw from a £4bn commitment to build new nuclear power stations in partnership with Electricité de France (EDF) amid soaring costs and delays at a prototype reactor at Flamanville in France.

-The call comes days before the company will reignite the row over high domestic energy prices by reporting six-monthly operating profits at its British Gas Residential Energy division of £300m even before its latest price rises.

-Meanwhile, a House of Commons report out on Monday demands that energy companies found guilty of mis-selling their products on the doorstep and elsewhere should pay compensation.

-The Evolution view reinforces concerns expressed by other investment specialists such as Citigroup, which has previously questioned the economics of building new nuclear plants. It is a blow to EDF and the government, which are both keen to see ageing power stations replaced from a source that used to provide almost a quarter of Britain’s electricity.


Nuclear power’s real chain reaction: spiralling costs -Guardian, July 25

-I wanted to understand better the effect of the delay and ballooning costs at Flamanville 3 on the ultimate cost of the electricity produced, and Jim Watson, professor of energy policy at the university of Sussex, kindly agreed to help.

-The details of his working are at the end, but the summary is that the cost per kilowatt hour has jumped between about 33% and 45% in the last few years. Watson notes that the cost is particularly sensitive to delays, as this widens the gap between the heavy capital outlay and the point at which money starts to flow back in. The UK’s committee on climate change estimates nuclear power as the cheapest low carbon source, but budget busting comparable to that at Flamanville would make it the same, or higher, than wind power.

-So, the construction of nuclear is stalling and the costs are rising. Contrast that with renewable energy, where installations are surging, and most of the technologies are coming down in price as they mature and reach scale.

-In the UK, the government has bet heavily on nuclear to keep the lights on at a cost we can bear, while cutting carbon emissions. The plan is to build eight new plants, with EDF’s reactors operational by 2018.


Turkey may end priority talks with Japan on nuke, Reuters, July 25

-Turkey may end priority talks with Japan on building its second nuclear power plant by the end of this month, a move that could lead to competition for the project with other nations including France and South Korea, Japan’s Yomiuri newspaper reported on Tuesday.


Govt to buy back beef with excessive cesium levels -NHK, July 26

-NHK has learned that more than 2,800 head of cattle allegedly fed with such straw have been shipped to 46 of Japan’s 47 prefectures, excluding Okinawa.

-Excessive levels of cesium have been detected in beef in 6 of the prefectures, including Fukushima, where work continues to contain a nuclear plant accident.

-Some of the beef that reached the markets has yet to be tested. The government will seek inspections of all such beef, and buy the meat back if higher-than-permissible cesium is detected.


Japan Scientists Say Sea Radiation Tests May Miss Seafood Threat -San Francisco Chronicle, July 26

-Japan’s government has to release more data from ocean radiation tests to accurately assess the contamination threat to seafood, according to a statement by the Oceanographic Society of Japan.

-The government should release radiation readings in sea water that are below its minimum measurement level, because even at those low quantities the radioactive elements may pose a danger when concentrated in seafood, the group, which counts 1,860 marine scientists as its members, said yesterday.

-"Depending on the species, fish have been known to accumulate as much as 100 times the amount of pollutants in the environment," Jota Kanda, a professor at Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology specializing in marine environment, said by phone yesterday.


FSC shows intake benchmark of 100 millisieverts -NHK, July 26

-A government food safety panel has recommended that safeguard measures be implemented to limit cumulative radiation exposure during a person’s lifetime to no more than 100 millisieverts.

-The report says more than 100 millisieverts of exposure and radioactive intake during a lifetime could increase the risk of developing cancer and other conditions.

-The report also pointed out the vulnerability of children, who have greater risks of developing thyroid cancer, leukemia and other illnesses than adults do. But it did not give clear guidelines on setting standards for children, citing a lack of research.


A young man sacrificing his future to shut down Fukushima -Independent, July 26

-Atsushi Watanabe (not his real name) is an ordinary Japanese man in his 20s, about average height and solidly built, with the slightly bemused expression of the natural sceptic. Among the crowds in Tokyo, in his casual all-black clothes, he could be an off-duty postman or a construction worker. But he does one of the more extraordinary jobs on the planet: helping to shut down the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

-That job, in a complex that experienced the first triple-reactor meltdown after Japan’s 11 March earthquake and tsunami, means he will never marry or raise a family for fear of health problems down the line, and may not even live to see old age. But he accepts that price. "There are only some of us who can do this job," he says. "I’m single and young and I feel it’s my duty to help settle this problem."


New decontamination unit to arrive at Fukushima -NHK, July 26

-A new system to decontaminate radioactive water will arrive at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on Tuesday. The current system, the key to cooling the reactors, has been plagued with problems.

-The new equipment, SARRY, consists of 14 cylindrical tanks containing minerals. It is designed to reduce radioactive substances in water, such as cesium, to less than one millionth.

-The first shipment of tanks and parts left a port in Iwaki, Fukushima on Monday.


Nuclear plants urged to brace for biggest tsunami -NHK, July 26

-A senior member of a Japanese government council on disaster preparedness says nuclear plants must prepare for the biggest possible tsunami, no matter how small the likelihood of such an event.

-Kawata said a nuclear plant that Chugoku Electric Power Company plans to build by the Seto Inland Sea could be at risk. He cited new findings that a past massive earthquake in the Pacific off central to southwestern Japan sent tsunami waves into the sea.

-Kawata also cited old documents that say a tsunami hit Wakasa Bay in Fukui Prefecture after an earthquake about 400 years ago. Thirteen nuclear reactors are located by the bay in the Sea of Japan.


Japan’s Chubu to restart mothballed unit early in Aug -Reuters, July 26

-Japan’s Chubu Electric Power Co plans to move forward the restart of 154-MW mothballed Chita Daini No.2 gas turbine unit to Aug. 2 from its previous plan for January 2012, to help boost summer power supplies amid the extended shutdown of its sole nuclear power plant.

-Chubu shut its Hamaoka nuclear plant in mid-May after Prime Minister Naoto Kan called for its closure, citing research showing that the area is at a particularly high risk for a major earthquake within the next few decades.

-The company said last week it aims to complete work on bolstering tsunami defences at its shuttered Hamaoka nuclear plant in December 2012, fulfilling a requirement for restarting the plant.


Fukushima long ranked Japan’s most hazardous nuclear plant -Reuters, July 26

-Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant ranked as one of the most dangerous in the world for radiation exposure years before it was destroyed by the meltdowns and explosions that followed the March 11 earthquake. For five years to 2008, the Fukushima plant was rated the most hazardous nuclear facility in Japan for worker exposure to radiation and one of the five worst nuclear plants in the world on that basis. The next rankings, compiled as a three-year average, are due this year.


Spent Fuel Pools as a Bright Spot in Fukushima’s Crisis -NYT, July 26

-In a presentation to Wall Street analysts, Marvin Fertel, the president and chief executive of the Nuclear Energy Institute, emphasized that spent fuel pools at the Fukushima Daiichi plant had “survived the accident quite well.”

-Noting that fuel pools at American reactors have far more radioactive material in them than the ones at Fukushima, the accident focused new attention on the idea of moving spent fuel out of the pools and into dry casks, Something already done at most American reactors when they run out of space.

-That idea first came to prominence after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

-But the Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff’s report does not call for moving more of the fuel.

IAEA chief sees more nuclear power use despite Fukushima crisis -Reuters, July 26

-The head of the U.N. atomic watchdog said on Tuesday he expected global use of nuclear power to continue expanding despite the world’s worst radiation crisis in 25 years at Japan’s tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear plant.

-"There are some countries like Germany that have revised (their energy policy). But many countries still believe nuclear power generation is necessary given global warming," said Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

-"The rate of expansion could slow, but it will surely keep growing."


Oregon critical of nuclear cleanup plan -Nuclear Power Daily, July 26

-Oregon says plans to clean up the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in neighboring Washington leave too much radioactive waste at the former nuclear weapons site.

-The state of Oregon and the Hanford Advisory Board say the latest version of a $300 million federal plan to clean up plutonium and other radioactive waste dumped in the center of the facility on the Washington side of the Columbia River has improved but would still leave too much contamination in the ground, The (Portland) Oregonian reported Tuesday.


Fukushima Reactor Cooling Was From Outside the Shroud -EX-SKF, July 26

-Here I thought they’d been injecting water directly above the melted fuel or where the fuel had once been.

-TEPCO in its daily press conference on July 26 said the cooling of the three reactors at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant has been done by cooling the core shrouds from outside. The shroud is a cylinder inside the Reactor Pressure Vessel (RPV) that surrounds the reactor core.


Govt seeking voluntary ban on compost and humus -NHK, July 26

-Japan’s government is calling on farmers not to use or sell compost and humus made in the east of the country since the start of the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

-The agriculture ministry wants a voluntary ban on the use and sale of compost made of manure from cows that may have been fed the contaminated straw. The measure also applies to humus from fallen leaves.


Radiation Driving Japan Corn Cargo to Quarter-Century Low: Freight Markets -Bloomberg, July 26

-Japan, the world’s biggest corn importer, may buy the fewest cargoes in a quarter century as concern about radiation-tainted meat curbs livestock production.

-Corn shipments may drop 5 percent to 15.4 million metric tons this year, according to Nobuyuki Chino, the president of Tokyo-based Continental Rice Corp. Beef imports rose 11 percent in the first five months and may maintain that pace for the rest of the year, said Tetsuro Shimizu, chief researcher at Norinchukin Research Institute Co.


Tennessee Awaits Tons Of German Nuclear Waste -NPR, July 26

-The city of Oak Ridge, Tenn., is anticipating the arrival of nearly 1,000 tons of nuclear waste from Germany. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved a plan in June for an American company to import and burn low-level nuclear waste from Germany.

-Radioactive residue left over from the process will be sent back to Germany for disposal, but opponents have voiced concerns that the U.S. will become the world’s radioactive waste processor.

-But, very little of that opposition is coming from Oak Ridge.


Some worry Tennessee town may be world nuclear waste dump -Reuters, July 27

-A new contract to process 1,000 tons of nuclear waste from Germany has environmental activists concerned that the town of Oak Ridge, Tennessee could become a prime destination for the world’s nuclear trash.

-The city in east Tennessee was founded by scientists who were developing the atomic bomb during World War II. It continues to be a center for the nuclear industry.

-It has processed nuclear waste for decades, including some from Britain and Canada. But the large German contract, its first from continental Europe, marks a significant expansion and has raised eyebrows.

-"With current regulatory conditions, there is nothing stopping really great quantities of radioactive waste materials from coming from all over the world to be processed in Tennessee," says Don Safer, chairman of the board of the Tennessee Environmental Council, said on Tuesday.


Neb. nuclear plant’s flood recovery being planned -Forbes, July 27

-When the Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant will be able to restart is still not clear, because the utility that operates it won’t be able to inspect it for damage until floodwaters from the overflowing Missouri River recede, officials said Wednesday.

-The Nuclear Regulatory Commission met with Omaha Public Power District officials to discuss what steps will be needed before the plant can reopen. Utility officials and regulators emphasized safety throughout the public meeting.


Tourism industry to be more widely compensated by TEPCO -Kyodo, July 27

Summer Santa brings cheer to Fukushima children -Kyodo, July 27

-Santa Claus arrived in Japan from Finland, bringing cheer on Tuesday to children who evacuated to Saitama Prefecture from areas near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.

-About 50 children rejoiced as Santa in summer attire — wearing white shirt, red vest and green shorts — gave them sweets at a former high school building in Kazo, Saitama Prefecture, where many of the residents from the town of Futaba are taking refuge.

-Santa said he arrived the day before as he learned about the March quake and tsunami that hit Japan.

Document: 1600 Fukushima Workers Thought to Be Exposed to High Radiation -TIME, July 27

-A newly released document says the Japanese government estimated in April that some 1600 workers will be exposed to high levels of radiation in the course of handling the reactor meltdowns at the stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.

-The figure was released in a document from the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), which is in charge of regulating Japan’s nuclear industry, after the Japan Occupational Safety and Health Resource Center requested the information be made public, according an article published on Thursday in the Mainichi Daily News.

-The government defines high exposure levels for workers as over 50 millisieverts per year. Under normal Japanese law, it is illegal for nuclear workers to be exposed to more than 100 millisieverts per year, but in the wake of the March 11 crises, the government raised the exposure limit to 250. The April 25 document, however, expresses concern for the safety of its dozens of other reactors: if this many of nuclear workers face such high exposure, they may be not be able to legally work at other nuclear plants in the coming year.


U.S. wasn’t fully prepared for radiation risks following Japan earthquake, top general says -Stars and Stripes, July 27

-U.S. Forces Japan commander Lt. Gen. Burton M. Field talked about the radiation risk to U.S. troops during a briefing on Operation Tomodachi for members of the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan on Wednesday. The March 11 earthquake and subsequent tsunami damaged the Fukushima Dai-Ichi Nuclear Power Station, leading to the release of a radioactive plume that contaminated air and water as far south as Tokyo.

-“As the (Fukushima Dai-ichi) reactors exploded and they sent some of that radiation out, we had the issue with it being detected off shore by the Navy,” he said. “We had to start dealing with the kind of environment that the U.S. military had not really worked in, so we didn’t have the strictest guidelines on what kind of risk we would take in terms of radiation exposure for our (service) members.”

-Servicemembers didn’t initially know what kind of contamination procedures they would have to use for equipment that was going to be exposed to the radiation, he said.


TEPCO seeks new ways to reduce contaminated water -NHK, July 27

-The utility injects about 390 tons of water into the reactors every day, but most of it becomes contaminated with radioactive materials.

-TEPCO says the temperature of the No.3 reactor is relatively stable, but it needs more water than the others because of leaks and other problems.

-Reducing the volume of contaminated water is the key to putting the reactors under control, but a system for treating radioactive water has been hit by a series of troubles.

-TEPCO hopes to eventually send workers into the buildings to find a way to pour water directly onto the fuel rods.


Workers to inspect No.3 reactor building -NHK, July 27

-The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says it will send workers into the No.3 reactor building on Wednesday to check the condition of its piping. They will have to work quickly, with high levels of radioactivity making it difficult to operate inside the building for long periods of time.

-Tokyo Electric Power Company made the decision after a remote-control robot on Tuesday found limited damage to pipes and valves in the building.

-On Wednesday, 6 workers will enter the second and third floors of the building. They are expected to try to learn whether it is OK to send coolant water into the pipes there.

-The robot probe found radiation levels in part of the building of up to 75 millisieverts per hour, making extended work difficult.


60 Becquerels/Kg Cesium from Eggs in Fukushima (Video-clip added) -EX-SKF, July 27

-A chicken farmer in Kawamata-machi in Fukushima Prefecture has brought his eggs to a volunteer testing station in Fukushima City. After 20 minutes of testing, 60 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium is detected from the eggs.

-Disappointed, the farmer says, "I don’t know what to say to my customers. It’s much lower than the provisional safety limit in Japan, but if I compare the number to the safety limit in Ukraine it is extraordinary…"

-The reporter asks the farmer, "What is the safety limit in Ukraine?"

-6 becquerels/kg, he tells the reporter.

-The man who runs the station says, "For these farmers, the provisional safety limit in Japan is just too loose."

-Kawamata-machi is 47 kilometers northwest of Fukushima I Nuke Plant.


Fukushima Teacher Muzzled on Radiation Risks for School Children -Bloomberg, July 28

-As temperatures soared to 100 degrees Fahrenheit on a recent July morning, school children in Fukushima prefecture were taking off their masks and running around playgrounds in T-shirts, exposing them to a similar amount of annual radiation as a worker in a nuclear power plant.

-Toshinori Shishido, a Japanese literature teacher of 25 years, had warned his students two months ago to wear surgical masks and keep their skin covered with long-sleeved shirts. His advice went unheeded, not because of the weather but because his school told him not to alarm students. Shishido quit this week.

-“I want to get away from this situation where I’m not even allowed to alert children about radiation exposure,” said Shishido, a 48-year-old teacher who taught at Fukushima Nishi High School. “Now I’m free to talk about the risks.”

-Kiyoharu Furukawa, 57, assistant principal at Fukushima Nishi High, said the school told Shishido not to spend too much time talking about radiation during his classes as some students and parents complained. He confirmed Shishido resigned.


How the Brainwashing Was Done in Fukushima -EX-SKF, July 28

-An article appeared in the local (Ishikawa Prefecture) version of Mainichi Shinbun on July 25. The article was about the anti-nuke demonstration in Kanazawa City in Ishikawa on July 24, and it contained this passage:

Among the participants was Mr. Takumi Aizawa, a school worker at Kusano Elementary School in Iitate-mura in Fukushima Prefecture, which has been designated as "planned evacuation zone" by the national government. Mr. Aizawa told the demonstrators, "After the earthquake there was no information. Then a university professor sent by the government came to the village and said, "You can eat vegetables harvested in the village if you wash them". Children, who had been evacuated, then started to come back [on that reassuring word] and they got irradiated."

-What? And who was this professor? I suspected Dr. "100 millisieverts" Yamashita, but it turned out to be his younger sidekick, Dr. Noboru Takamura of Nagasaki University. The powerful duo was all over Fukushima Prefecture in March and early April, preaching "safety" of radiation and radioactive fallout to the worried residents of Fukushima as the official radiation advisors for the prefecture.

-So what else this good doctor and his boss Dr. Yamashita were saying back in March? The collection of tweets were found on this Japanese blog, and they paint a propaganda effort by the Japanese government that would make Goebbels and Edward Bernays proud.


Edano orders ban on shipping Miyagi beef cattle -NHK, July 28

-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano says he has ordered the governor of Miyagi Prefecture to suspend all of its shipments of beef cattle.

-Edano made the announcement on Thursday, after levels of radioactive cesium above the government safety limit were detected in beef cattle raised in the prefecture.

-Miyagi is the second prefecture to have all of its cattle shipments banned, following Fukushima, which was given a suspension order last week.

Govt to pay for beef tests by prefectures -NHK, July 28

-Japan’s government says it will shoulder the cost to municipalities of testing beef for possible radioactive contamination.

-Many prefectures have decided to voluntarily check all beef produced in their region after radioactive cesium exceeding government standards was detected in rice straw used to feed cattle.

-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told reporters on Thursday that the government may subsidize the cost, because it prioritizes the safety of beef.

11 prefectures decide to test all beef cattle for radiation; expected to cost 4 billion yen -Mainichi News, July 28

-Eleven prefectures have decided as of July 27 to test all beef cattle for radiation contamination after radioactive cesium above the allowable level set by the central government was detected in cattle in some prefectures, and total costs for the measures are expected to reach around 4 billion yen, the Mainichi learned.

-The 11 prefectures include Yamagata and Shizuoka, which have already started to test beef cattle for radiation contamination. The central government is reluctant to conduct such tests on all beef cattle across the country except for some parts of Fukushima Prefecture, but eight other prefectures are considering testing all beef cows. A heated debate is likely to emerge on who should shoulder the costs for radiation tests.


12 prefectures step up voluntary checks on beef -NHK, July 28

-About 3,000 beef cattle are suspected of having been shipped out after being fed rice straw contaminated with radioactive cesium from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

-In Yamagata Prefecture, northwest of the plant, testing equipment is being used to measure radiation levels of meat from slaughtered cattle.

-The beef is shipped only when its radiation levels are confirmed to be lower than the government safety limit.

-In Shizuoka Prefecture, 350 kilometers southwest of the plant, local agricultural cooperatives are asking private laboratories to check all beef shipped from meat-processing plants run by the cooperatives.


After tornadoes, TVA will replace emergency sirens -Times Daily, July 28

-A Tennessee Valley Authority official said Wednesday the authority plans to correct a problem that left only 12 of Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant’s required 100 emergency sirens working after the April 27 tornadoes.

-“We’re looking at procuring, bringing in and installing emergency sirens that would have a battery backup capability so they would be able to withstand a loss of electrical supply for some period of time,” said Bill McCollum, chief operating officer of the TVA.

-Also, shortly after the tornadoes came within seven miles of the plant, a valve failed, the diesel-driven generator for the security station failed, a diesel-driven fire pump failed and the plant lost power to the chemical lab.

-During many of those incidents, the emergency sirens were without power.

-McCollum said TVA was aware of the vulnerability of the siren-warning system before the tornadoes.


Chubu Electric unable to remove damaged nuclear fuel rod for 17 years -Mainichi News, July 28

-Chubu Electric Power Co. revealed Thursday it has been unable to remove a spent fuel rod that was damaged in an accident 17 years ago from its Hamaoka nuclear power plant in Shizuoka Prefecture.

-While spent nuclear fuel is normally sent to the reprocessing plant in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture or elsewhere, the damaged rod remains inside the fuel pool of the plant’s now decommissioned No. 1 reactor, in a special container, it said.

-The company said it had asked domestic research organizations and foreign nuclear fuel firms to take it but to no avail, and is still pondering how to get the rod outside in the absence of clear government rules on how to dispose of damaged fuel that requires more delicate handling.


Solar power plants to start operation in Kawasaki -NHK, July 28

-A solar power plant is to start operation in Kawasaki, near Tokyo, in mid-August.

-Kawasaki City and Tokyo Electric Power Company have jointly built the plant on 11 hectares of reclaimed land in the Ukishima district along Tokyo Bay.

-The plant, which has 38,000 solar panels — each measuring 1.3 meters by 1 meter — is expected to generate 7.4 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year, enough to supply to 2,000 average households.

-Kawasaki City and Tokyo Electric are also building another solar power plant in Ougishima district, near Ukishima.


Nagasaki mayor: shift from nuclear power needed -NHK, July 28

-Mayor Tomihisa Taue told reporters on Thursday that the people of his city do not want to see more "Hibakusha," as the victims of the 1945 atomic bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima are known.

-He said he will call for a move toward safer, renewable energy sources in this year’s declaration, no matter how long it might take to achieve that shift.

-The mayor’s appeal on nuclear power generation will be the first of its kind at a Nagasaki peace ceremony. The annual declaration has always focused on the abolition of nuclear weapons.


Evacuees should receive compensation in line with radiation levels in neighborhoods -Mainichi Perspectives, July 28

-Residents of areas outside government-designated no-entry zones, planned evacuation zones and emergency evacuation preparation zones near the tsunami-hit nuclear power plant in Fukushima — who have fled to other areas at their own discretion — have failed to receive any financial assistance.

-This is because only those who have evacuated from government-designated evacuation zones are eligible for provisional compensation by Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, or to receive donations that the Japanese Red Cross Society and other organizations have collected from the general public.


Bill on nuclear crisis compensation passes lower house -Kyodo, July 28

IAEA to help Japan assess nuclear plant safety -NHK, July 28

-The International Atomic Energy Agency has offered to help Japan assess the results of additional safety tests planned by the government for the country’s nuclear power plants.

-Kaieda said Japan wants to join hands with the IAEA to bring the nuclear crisis under control.

-On whether the safety tests should be a requirement for restarting suspended plants, Amano told reporters that each country should decide on its own, and that the agency is not in a position to tell Japan what to do.


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17 thoughts on “Japan Nuclear Disaster Update 32: “Biggest Industrial Catastrophe in History”

  1. Oh, dear, sweet, merciful entropy.

    Reading through that whole list puts me in shock, though I think this one might’ve been the one that really did it:

    ‘When asked by one person at the meeting about citizens’ right to live a healthy and radioactive-free life, Local Nuclear Emergency Response Team Director Akira Satoh replies “I don’t know if they have that right.” ‘

  2. Wait, what? Japan has passed a law outlawing this blog post? This post specifically, this string of posts, or any post that Japan feels are not in the national interest regarding the Fukushima reactors or something like that?

  3. I exaggerate slightly. They have a law that gives the government power to limit what goes on the internet that appears to be there to limit bad news about Fukushima. It’s in Ana’s feed!

  4. Japan has passed a law outlawing this blog post.


    Publishers are releasing books about nuclear power at the rate of more than one a day, according to bookselling Web sites, … skewing 4-to-1 against nuclear power …

    [Much more than] citation needed.

    What this post says about censorship:

    … Ministry of Industry and Trade (METI) – Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, opened a call for bids (tender) regarding the “Nuclear Power Safety Regulation Publicity Project”, for contractors to monitor blogs and tweets posted about nuclear power and radiation.

    -Since March 11, 2011 it has been reported that YouTube videos containing footage or comments unfavorable to Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) or the Japanese government have been removed within several hours of their posting. … Twitter accounts with too much content regarding nuclear power and radiation issues have been disrupted.

    Neither of these is a law: the former is, arguably, market research, and the latter looks like standard Google evilness.

  5. “If we can’t store it there, we really can’t store it anywhere,” he said.

    Exactly. What now, Rep. Shimkus (& corporate sponsors)?

  6. Pierce:

    New Japan Law ‘Cleanses’ Bad Nuclear News -UK Progressive, July 24
    -Friday, July 15, the Ministry of Industry and Trade (METI) – Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, opened a call for bids (tender) regarding the “Nuclear Power Safety Regulation Publicity Project”, for contractors to monitor blogs and tweets posted about nuclear power and radiation.
    -Since March 11, 2011 it has been reported that YouTube videos containing footage or comments unfavorable to Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) or the Japanese government have been removed within several hours of their posting. Examples of offending YouTube videos include excerpts of TV shows with controversial comments like footage showing smoke emitted from the nuclear reactors, and an ex-TEPCO employee speaking on his Fukushima experiences. Likewise, Twitter accounts with too much content regarding nuclear power and radiation issues have been disrupted.
    -On June 17, 2011 the Japanese Parliament passed “The Computer Network Monitoring Law” . Prof. Ibusuki of Seijo Univ. Law Dept. comments that “The Computer Network Monitoring Law will enable the police to monitor anyone’s internet activity without restriction.” Although this appears, on the surface, to be beneficial when targeting cyber-attacks, some Japanese commentators are suggesting that the Law is un-Constitutional.

  7. Greg Laden @ # 6 – Yabbut that “Law” is for monitoring: unless we have some significant translation issues here, that doesn’t imply banning.

    Can anyone here say with any real knowledge whether the Japanese gov’t has its fingers in the Google/YouTube and Twitter pies? Since the reported censorship happens there, I suspect the local telecom megacorp has some overlap with TEPCO, and that we’re witnessing the miracle of free markets in action in this case (soon to be extended to book publishers?).

    And, can any of y’all intertube mavens out there route a request through Japan and see whether this blog post can be accessed in the land of pre-cooked self-illuminating beef?

  8. @Pierce R. Butler: I can’t copy and paste entire articles here – there is always more to the story through the provided link (though I do try hard to pull out the key points). The story you are stuck on, for instance, ends this way: “The question is, will METI draw the line at â??clarifyingâ? erroneous information, or will it act to clamp down and suppress sources of information that it finds inconvenient?”

    METI is contracting internet monitors (â??The Contractor is required to monitor blogs on nuclear power and radiation issues as well as Twitter accounts (monitoring tweets is essential) around the clock, and conduct research and analysis on incorrect and inappropriate information that would lead to false rumors, and to report such internet accounts to the Agency,) and there is now a law that allows the police to monitor internet activity “without restriction.” The author wonders how this will play out. I suspect we shall see.

  9. Greg @ # 8 – I know I got trouble when a comment ending in a joke immediately meets with a call for a sense of humor…

    Ana @ # 9 – Yes, that does raise some ominous implications – “clarify” has some impressively awesome Orwellian overtones. At minimum, these monitors will be feeding their findings to PR flacks; at max, who knows? (Though I’d think that when bookstore shelves overflow with antinuke screeds, the futility of chasing bloggers would seem self-evident; of course, whoever’s blocking tweets & YT videos may not see it that way.)

    For police to be assigned “unlimited” authority to patrol the ‘tubes on behalf of Tokyo Electric raises several questions, including whether anyone’s threatening TEPCO et al with illegal activity (haven’t heard anything about that, though I’ve missed some of yr updates here); what limits they previously operated under; whether some sort of Japanese Civil Liberties Union will do anything about this; and how this will influence William Gibson’s next novel.

  10. Greg @ # 8 – I know I got trouble when a comment ending in a joke immediately meets with a call for a sense of humor…

    OK, I’ll take it down a notch. We should probably not be laughing about nuclear meltdowns anyway.

  11. Greg @ # 12: We should probably not be laughing about nuclear meltdowns anyway.

    Our other options being … ?

  12. I’m reading a very interesting book (citation below.) The authors’ purpose was to probe why the U.S., being a democracy, allowed its multibillion-dollar investment in nuclear power to fail as it did. They concluded that the scaleup during the late 1960s to plants rated at 1GWe or more made the AEC shift its safety strategy from containing accidents to preventing them â?? and paradoxically made it impossible to prove accidents could be absolutely prevented.

    (Their argument is more sophisticated than that; I’m trying to be as concise as possible.)

    Another point they make is that Japan and France, although democracies, allow less day-to-day public involvement in government decisions â?? which is why they were able to push nuclear power farther than most other Western nations.

    The Demise of Nuclear Energy?
    Lessons for Democratic Control of Technology

    Joseph G. Morone & Edward J. Woodhouse
    New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989

  13. “This implies that the removal of nuclear material from Chernobyl was easier.”

    In a sense it was, in that the nuclear material in reactor four at Chernobyl essentially removed itself.

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