Greenpeace Report, “Lessons from Fukushima”, February 2012
via Nuclear Free Planet
It has been almost 12 months since the Fukushima nuclear disaster began. Although the Great East Japan earthquake and the following tsunami triggered it, the key causes of the nuclear accident lie in the institutional failures of political influence and industry-led regulation. It was a failure of human institutions to acknowledge real reactor risks, a failure to establish and enforce appropriate nuclear safety standards and a failure to ultimately protect the public and the environment.
This report, commissioned by Greenpeace International, addresses what lessons can be taken away from this catastrophe. The one-year memorial of the Fukushima accident offers a unique opportunity to ask ourselves what the tragedy – which is far from being over for hundreds of thousands of Japanese people – has taught us. And it also raises the question, are we prepared to learn?
Climate change will shake the Earth
A changing climate isn’t just about floods, droughts and heatwaves. It brings erupting volcanoes and catastrophic earthquakes too
As last year’s events in Japan most ably demonstrated, when the ground shakes violently beneath the sea, a tsunami may not be far behind. These unstoppable walls of water are hardly a surprise when they happen within the so-called ring of fire that encompasses the Pacific basin but in the more tectonically benign North Atlantic their manifestation could reasonably be regarded as a bit of a shock. Nonetheless, there is plenty of good, hard evidence that this was the case during post-glacial times. Trapped within the thick layers of peat that pass for soil on Shetland – the UK’s northernmost outpost – are intrusions of sand that testify to the inland penetration of three tsunamis during the last 10,000 years.
Read the entire article at:
Apparently, the above assessment of the condition of Mother Earth is not yet good enough for some. The U.S. will be cutting the budget for NOAA’s tsunami warning system. FOLKS on the WEST COAST of the Good Ol’ US of A, guess you all better get out your binoculars. Maybe you can see the tsunami far out to sea as it rapidly approaches your shores because the gov’t sure isn’t going to look out for you.
White House Budget Cut Will Affect NOAA’s Tsunami Warning System
After seeing the devastation by the tsunami that hit the Pacific coast of eastern Japan on March 11, 2011, you would think that the US government would strengthen the tsunami warning systems to make sure the residents living in the coastal areas of the US (particularly on the Pacific Ocean) have good information.
But, … no.
The Obama White House wants NOAA to cut the budget for the ocean buoys on the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans to save $4.6 million.
Article continues at:
CNN: 78,000 still evacuated as a result of Daiichi….
CNN on Fukushima’s constant threat: Plant Chief reveals biggest risk is if something goes wrong with reactors — No more stable now than in April says defender of nuclear power (VIDEO)
Date: Feb 29, 2012
[...] During a tour of the nuclear plant, manager Takeshi Takahashi told CNN’s Kyung Lah that the biggest risk is if something goes wrong with the reactors. The nuclear fuel needs constant cooling. Huge tanks around the site hold water contaminated with radiation and finding more space to store the water is a constant challenge.
“The reactors are no more or no less stable than they were in April of last year,” [Michael Friedlander, a former senior operator at U.S. nuclear power plants] said. “They fundamentally continue to be reliant on a feed and bleed cooling mechanism and anything can happen. Another earthquake could happen; another tsunami could happen.” [...]
“Michael Friedlander [...] a defender of nuclear power who is now a money manager in Hong Kong.” -New York Times
Watch the video here
Get the DVD of SURVIVING JAPAN: After the Tsunami
Inside story of 2011 Japanese Tsunami and Fukushima disaster.
A critical look at how the authorities handled the nuclear crisis and Tsunami relief by an American who volunteered in the clean-up.
Surviving Japan is a documentary by volunteer and director Chris Noland. It is in short, a documentary of the devastating events in Japan and the after-math that followed.
The documentary shows the humanitarian and aid crisis that faced the people in the wake of both natural and nuclear disaster. It features true stories from those affected by the disaster, the government and even TEPCO. It highlights the struggle in dealing with: The Tsunami clean-up, Government response to the disaster, radiation plus the future of nuclear power after the accident.
AP: Crucial equipment shockingly feeble-looking — Mended with tape — Reactor No. 3 like ashtray filled with cigarette butts
Title: Tour of ‘fragile’ Fukushima nuclear plant shows shocking state of disrepair
Source: Mari Yamaguchi
Author: Associated Press
Date: 02/28/2012 01:05:48 PM PST
[...] Journalists given a tour of the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant on Tuesday, including a reporter from the Associated Press, saw crumpled trucks and equipment still lying on the ground. [...]“I have to admit that it’s still rather fragile,” said plant chief Takeshi Takahashi, who took the job in December after his predecessor resigned due to health reasons. [...]
But the equipment that serves as the lifeline of the cooling system is shockingly feeble-looking. Plastic hoses cracked by freezing temperatures have been mended with tape. A set of three pumps sits on the back of a pickup truck.
[...] the Unit 3 reactor, whose roof was blown off by a hydrogen explosion, resembles an ashtray filled with a heap of cigarette butts.
Read the report here
Ministry of Agriculture to Allow Rice to Be Grown in Almost All Areas in Fukushima This Year, Just Like Last Year
except for a few districts where rice with high level of radioactive cesium exceeding 500 becquerels/kg was found in last year’s testing.
Well why not? The government didn’t stop farmers in Fukushima from planting rice last year, right after three explosions (possibly 4, counting Reactor 2′s Suppression Chamber) at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant released 650,000 terabecquerels (iodine equivalent) of radioactive materials. They apparently told some reluctant farmers if they didn’t grow rice they wouldn’t be compensated. So the farmers in Fukushima tilled the land, mixed up the contaminated soil and poured water in the rice paddies and grew rice. If they could do it last year, surely they can do it this year, and next year, and year after next year.
Farmers in the areas where rice with radioactive cesium between 100 becquerels/kg and 500 becquerels/kg was found last year will be allowed to grow rice this year, even though the new safety limit for radioactive cesium in food will be 100 becquerels/kg starting April 1, 2012.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries will allow rice cultivation on only one condition that all bags of rice (60-kilogram bag) be tested after harvest.
(Ostensible) reason? So that the farmers in Fukushima aren’t discouraged from growing rice.
(Don’t ask me.)
From Jiji Tsushin (2/28/2012):
Farmers can grow rice in Fukushima, even in the areas that had rice with radioactive cesium exceeding 100 Bq/kg, as long as all bags of rice are tested, says Ministry of Agriculture
In response to a series of detection last year of radioactive cesium exceeding the national provisional safety limit (500 becquerels/kg) in rice grown in Fukushima Prefecture, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries announced the policy on the 2012 rice on February 28. The areas where radioactive cesium exceeding 100 becquerels/kg but below 500 becquerels/kg was found last year will be allowed to grow rice as long as certain conditions are met, including testing of all bags of rice after harvesting.
The total amount of rice produced in these areas in 2011 was about 30,000 tonnes, or 10 percent of the total amount of rice produced in Fukushima Prefecture.
Agriculture Minister Michihiko Kano spoke to the press, “Securing the safety of food is our first priority”, emphasizing the need to dispel consumers’ anxiety. He explained that in establishing the policy further consideration was given to the strong desire of the farmers in Fukushima to grow rice.
We’ll see if testing all bags of rice is even possible, given the lack of testing equipment even with the last year’s sampling test. It doesn’t look like they even pretend to “decontaminate” rice paddies in the high radiation middle third of Fukushima (“Nakadori”).
Let’s speculate on the real reasons for the decision by the Ministry of Agriculture:
- They’d rather gamble, and if cesium is below the 100 Bq/kg limit the government will not have to do anything.
- They want to give business to the companies that make radiation testing devices and equipment (like Fuji Electric who made the radiation monitoring device at a school in Minami Soma City).
After all, this was the Ministry whose officials thought waving the Nal scintillation survey meter over cows would measure the radiation of the meat accurately enough. They didn’t know that rice hay was fed to the cows as part of the diet right before the cows were to be sold. We cannot, and shouldn’t expect much sharp thinking from this (or any other) ministry.
Caveat emptor, but I sense that most Japanese are either just too weary or not caring any more at this point. Relentless drive by the Kan administration and then by the current Noda administration to spread radioactive vegetables, fruits, meat, fish, leaf compost, mushrooms and logs to grow mushrooms on, firewood, disaster debris, etc. so that Tohoku (Fukushima, Miyagi, Iwate) “can recover” is taking its toll.
French Gov’t: 15 main incidents of radioactivity leaks at Fukushima — Only 408 million-billion becquerels of iodine-131 released into air — Cesium at 1/3 Chernobyl level — Contamination chronic and lasting
Title:Fukushima contamination ‘chronic and lasting’: French agency
Author: Laurent Banguet
Date: Feb 28, 2012 at 2:00 pm ET
Radioactive contamination levels from Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant have fallen sharply since the accident but will be “chronic and lasting” for many years, a French watchdog said Tuesday.
[...] Didier Champion, crisis manager at the Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) [said] “Today, and for many years to come, we will have a situation of chronic and lasting contamination of the environment.” [...]
“There are risks of chronic exposure at low dosage, and without care this can build up over time,” he warned.
[...] IRSN said [...] the impact on the civilian population over the long term, and on emergency workers and plant employees, remained unclear.
By the Numbers
- IRSN said the main radioactivity leaks occurred between March 12-25 in about 15 incidents, “of which the biggest probably took place before March 15″
- Provisional estimate that 408 peta-becquerels, or 408 million billion becquerels, of radioactive iodine had been emitted into the air
- 10 times lower than in the 1986 Chernobyl
- Caesium of all kinds released at Fukushima was estimated by the agency at 58 peta-becquerels
- Three times less than Chernobyl
- Caesium 137 accounted for 21 peta-becquerels
- Of around 24,000 square kilometers (9,200 square miles) of land contaminated by caesium 137
- only 600 sq. kms (230 sq. miles) breached a safety threshold of 600,000 becquerels per square metre
- However, there remained “hot spots” of contamination, up to 250 kilometres (156 miles) away
Read the report here
Title: Institut de radioprotection et de sûreté nucléaire – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The French Institut de radioprotection et de sûreté nucléaire (IRSN) (“Radioprotection and Nuclear Safety Institute”) is a public official establishment [...] placed under the conjoint authority of the Defence minister, the Environmental minister, the Industry minister and the Health and Research minister.
Read the report here
AP: “Probe finds Japan withheld risks of nuke disaster”
Here’s AP’s Japanese reporter’s take on the report by the private independent investigation commission set up by the Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation (RJIF).
One of the issues that AP focuses in the article below is whether TEPCO did want to abandon the plant on March 15. The private RJIF commission sides with the Kan administration that TEPCO did, and only PM Kan’s strong word persuaded TEPCO to keep a small number of workers to continue to work on the plant.
TEPCO has said all President Shimizu wanted to do was to temporarily remove non-essential workers at the plant. Why? Probably because of the extremely high radiation level on the plant. The radiation spiked up to 1 sievert/hour in the morning of March 16, 2011 (JST), as AP reported on March 15, 2011 (US EST) and BBC mentioned in the documentary “Inside the Meltdown” aired on February 23, 2012.
I wonder if Mr. Kan, who had majored in applied physics (engineering) in his college and became a patent agent after graduation, knew about the radiation level of 1 sievert/hour and still insisted all workers to remain on the plant no matter what, even if there were nothing TEPCO alone could do at that point.
The RJIF has already run out of copies of the report which they printed only a small number of copies. The message on their website says they are thinking of ways to disseminate the report widely.
Read the entire article with AP report at:
Panel lays bare Fukushima recipe for disaster
Conflicting authority, mistrust, meddling add to poor preparation
The Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant crisis was caused by Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s lack of preparation for huge tsunami and exacerbated by conflicting levels of authority and downright “distrust and meddling” by high-ranking officials, an independent investigative panel reported Tuesday.
“There were cases of excessive meddling (by the government) toward people working at the site,” and such actions did more harm than good, said Koichi Kitazawa, former chief of the Japan Science and Technology Agency.
The investigative group Kitazawa leads, the Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation, interviewed more than 300 politicians, bureaucrats and workers involved in the Fukushima crisis for its report.
Kitazawa painted a picture of distrust and doubt due to the limited exchange of information among the government, Tepco, bureaucrats and other parties. “Overall, they had also fallen into a systematic inattentiveness” toward making the crippled nuclear plant secure, he concluded.
The panel’s report reveals that although the public was being reassured there was no reason to panic following the March 11 disaster, government leaders were contemplating worst-case scenarios, including evacuating the capital.
“We were concerned that damage from the nuclear accident could lead to a massive series of chain reactions,” Yukio Edano, chief Cabinet secretary at the time, told the panel, according to the report.
Article continues at:
Gov’t tells utility to consider more active faults to check Tomari plant’s quake resistance
The government’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) urged Hokkaido Electric Power Co. on Feb. 28 to re-examine the quake-resistant capability of the Tomari Nuclear Power Plant by taking into account the possibility of the active seabed and continental faults nearby moving closely together to cause earthquakes.
The instruction was given to the utility firm verbally. The cumulative fault line where the seabed fault, about 40 kilometers west of the Tomari nuclear power station, and continental faults nearby could move simultaneously to trigger earthquakes spans up to about 150 kilometers.
Article continues at:
Mayor of nuclear reactor city used taxpayers’ money on gifts for nuclear disaster minister
TSURUGA, Fukui — The mayor of this city, home to three nuclear reactors, gave year-end gifts to nuclear disaster minister Goshi Hosono and other legislators using taxpayers’ money, it has been learned.
Tsuruga Mayor Kazuharu Kawase, 60, used his mayor’s entertainment expenses to purchase and give assortments of Echizen snow crab worth 10,000 yen each to 11 Diet members of both the ruling and opposition parties as year-end gifts between November and December last year. Echizen crabs are a local specialty of Fukui Prefecture.
Kawase is known to have repeatedly advocated the necessity of the prototype fast-breeder reactor Monju in the city and of building additional nuclear power plants. He also chairs the All Japan Council of Local Governments with Atomic Power Stations.
According to the bill of the mayor’s entertainment expenses, Mayor Kawase purchased a total of 180,000 yen worth of Echizen crab assortments as gift items for 18 people, including 11 Diet members.
Article continues at:
Report: Gov’t “collapsed” during Japan nuke crisis
- By Lucy Craft
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The one year anniversary of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan is less than two weeks away, but details about the nuclear meltdown that happened that tragic day are just beginning to emerge.
On Feb. 27, a news helicopter was allowed close enough to get a good glimpse of the crippled Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant. Today, a report revealed the chaos between Japan’s leaders during the crisis.
“The normal lines of authority completely collapsed,” Tetsuro Fukuyama, the prime minister’s adviser, told investigators.
CBS News correspondent Lucy Craft reported that in the hours after the tsunami struck the nuclear plant, Japanese officials huddled in an emergency bunker struggled to grasp the size of the catastrophe.
“As we listened to our top nuclear experts, we politicians had no idea what they were talking about. Was anyone going to suffer radiation contamination? Would this be another Chernobyl or Three Mile Island? No one could give us a straight answer,” Fukuyama recalled in the report.
After 300 interviews with officials and nuclear experts, the report said government was partially at fault for not having an emergency plan if a magnitude 9.0 earthquake struck the country.
However, investigators concluded the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric, was to blame for the majority of the problems. “They were astonishingly unprepared for this nuclear accident,” lead investigator Youichi Funabashi told CBS News.
It seems that Tokyo Electric was unprepared for a power failure. Without electricity, the cores of the reactor couldn’t stay cool, and it triggered explosions and meltdowns.
With little information from the plant, Fukuyama said that the government thought that a nuclear meltdown was impending, and feared that a massive cloud of radiation would force the evacuation of 30 million people in the Tokyo region.
As a last-ditch effort, the Japanese government discussed “suicide squad” made up of men over 65 years old to ascertain the damage first hand. Fukuyama said he would lead the group.
“Terrified doesn’t begin to describe how we felt,” Fukuyama told investigators months after the scare. A “no go” zone still remains around the plant because radiation levels are too high. Clean up at the plant is estimated to take 40 years.
“When we learned the reactors had in fact melted down, I was overwhelmed, by our inability,” he added.
Watch the CBS video with article at:
Tama river fish contaminated
Having the opening season for trout and char fishing in March, each local government is measuring radiation level of fish.
As the result, it turned out that fish in Tama river, Sagami river, and other major rivers in Kanto area are contaminated.
Satetsu river (Japanese dace) 240 Bq/Kg
Yasaku river (Japanese dace) 225 Bq/Kg
Kobyaku river (Char) 269 Bq/Kg
Arakawa (Trout) 224.9 Bq/Kg
Tama river (Trout) 81 Bq/Kg
Sagami river (Trout) 33 Bq/Kg
Sakawa river (Trout) 27 Bq/Kg
Sakura river (Trout) 299Bq/Kg
Numao river (Trout) 336 Bq/Kg
Fukushima gov will use contaminated wood for building materials
Fukushima prefecture is going to financially support local governments for tree thinning as forest decontamination as of April of 2012. They are going to pressure Japanese government to include thinning as forest decontamination into the decontamination guideline.
They are planning to use the logged trees for building materials of reconstruction and woody biomass fuel.
71% area is forest in Fukushima.