Day 204 These people are nuts!

Unbelievable.

–  –  –  –  –

Japan Officials Failed to Hand Out Radiation Pills in Quake’s Aftermath 

By YUKA HAYASHI

TOKYO—Government officials failed to distribute to thousands of people pills that could have minimized radiation risks from the March nuclear accident, government documents show.

The disclosure is the latest evidence of government neglect of emergency procedures in the chaotic days after the disaster, in which an earthquake and tsunami damaged the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

JPILLS

The Yomiuri Shimbun/Associated PressPackaged pills of potassium iodide at a shelter in Miharu on March 20.

The Fukushima area and some municipalities surrounding the stricken plant had ample stocks of potassium iodide, like most local communities near nuclear reactors around the world. That is a relatively safe compound that can prevent thyroid cancer, the most common serious outcome of a major nuclear accident.

Government disaster manuals require those communities to wait for the central government to give the order before distributing the pills. Though Japan’s nuclear-safety experts recommended dispensing pills immediately, Tokyo didn’t order pills be given out until five days after the March 11 accident, the documents show.

By then, most of the nearly 100,000 residents evacuated had gone to safer areas and the release of radiation from the plant had subsided from its earlier peaks.

Potassium iodide, which blocks radioactive iodine from entering the thyroid gland, is most effective when taken just before exposure, or within two hours after. It has little effect when administered days after the release of radiation.

In interviews with The Wall Street Journal, several national and local government officials and advisers blamed the delay on a communications breakdown among different government agencies with responsibilities over various aspects of the disaster.

They also cited an abrupt move by the government shortly after the accident, when local officials raised sharply the level of radiation exposure that would qualify an individual for iodine pills and other safety measures, such as thorough decontamination.

“Most of our residents had no idea we were supposed to take medication like that,” said Juichi Ide, general-affairs chief of Kawauchi Village, located about 20 miles from the plant. “By the time the pills were delivered to our office on the 16th, everyone in the village was gone.”

[JPILLS]

Mr. Ide said the boxes containing pills, also known as KI, for Kawauchi’s 3,000 residents still sit in its now-empty village hall.

The towns closest to the plant had pills in stock, and two of them—Futaba and Tomioka—did distribute them to residents without awaiting word from Tokyo. Two communities farther away from the plant, Iwaki and Miharu, handed out KI pills to their residents based on their own decisions. While Iwaki residents were told to hold off until the government gave instructions, those in Miharu took the pills, leading late to a reprimand from prefectural officials.

Japanese radiation experts say results of subsequent tests among Fukushima residents suggest few had been exposed to dosages large enough to raise the risk significantly of developing thyroid disease, even without the medication.

Still, officials from two government bodies—the Nuclear Safety Commission and the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency—are asking why the residents weren’t given the pills known to be highly effective, particularly among young children.

A NISA official said the agency is investigating the case.

“It was very clear to us experts what we needed to worry about the most was to provide protection against the risk of thyroid cancer among children,” said Gen Suzuki, a physician specializing in radiation research who was summoned to the Nuclear Safety Commission following the March 11 accident as a member of its emergency advisory team. “I had simply assumed local residents had been given potassium iodide.”

When he learned recently that wasn’t the case, Mr. Suzuki said he was “flabbergasted.”

The NSC, a national government-policy advisory body, recently posted on its website a hand-written note dated March 13 as proof that it recommended distribution and ingestion of the pills.

NISA, the main nuclear-regulatory body charged with administering the government’s nuclear-disaster headquarters, says the note never came.

Kenji Matsuoka, director of the Nuclear Emergency Preparedness Division at NISA, said the agency was still investigating the case of the lost memo. “We are sorry if the message was lost because of the chaos at the disaster headquarters,” he said. “Our priority at that time was getting people out as quickly as possible.”

Officials in Fukushima prefecture in charge of distributing potassium iodide to local communities say they waited in vain for an instructions from the government’s disaster headquarters, headed by then-Prime Minister Naoto Kan.

The failure to disburse the preventive pills follows other examples of how the Japanese government failed to implement available measures aimed at protecting local residents from the harms of radiation.

Some local officials have accused the government of failing to share the data from its radiation-projection systems, which, they said, resulted in their evacuating residents into highly contaminated areas.

Others blame the authorities for taking weeks before asking some residents outside the initial evacuation zones to evacuate, despite signs of radioactive dangers. The government was widely criticized for declaring food, including beef, to have been safely tested, only to find later that contaminated meat had been sold in grocery stores.

Potassium iodide is an inexpensive and readily available substance that governments and local communities with nuclear reactors typically have on hand. Following the Chernobyl accident in 1986, Poland gave 10.5 million children at least one dose of KI soon after the accident, with very few reports of resulting side effects. In the U.S., Congress passed a law in 2002 promoting distribution of the pills to communities near nuclear plants, but the law hasn’t been implemented.

Japan’s NSC recently posted on its website a document dated March 13 stating Fukushima residents aged 40 or younger should be given potassium iodide, if radiation screening confirmed they received certain levels of exposure. The commission says the document was sent to NISA, the coordinator of disaster response, at 10:46 a.m. that day, two days before the worst day of the accident on March 15, when explosions of two reactors sent thick radioactive plumes across many towns of Fukushima prefecture.

As with most of the correspondence between government officials following the accident, the statement was sent to disaster headquarters in Tokyo by fax, rather than via e-mail. An NSC representative stationed in that office then handed a copy to a NISA official, according to Hideaki Tsuzuku, director of the radiation-protection and accident-management division at the NSC. “It’s not for us to know what kind of judgment was made and action was taken after that,” he said in an interview.

NISA’s Mr. Matsuoka says the agency can’t confirm whether a NISA official received the memo, adding that an investigation into the case continues.

NISA issued an instruction March 16 for residents of towns within 20 kilometers of the plant to take KI pills, nearly four days after the government issued an evacuation order for those same towns.

People close to the situation say the delay may have been caused in part by an abrupt change in the standard used in determining what level of radiation exposure would trigger distribution of the pills. According to official disaster manuals written before the accident, anyone who showed radiation readings of 13,000 counts per minute—a measure for external exposure, as opposed to the more commonly used benchmark of sieverts, which measures health effects—was to be given KI pills, as well as a thorough decontamination, including showering and a change of clothes.

On March 14, Fukushima prefecture raised that cutoff to 100,000 cpm. Once the level was raised, people registering between 13,000 and 100,000 were given wet wipes to clean off the top layer of their clothing. They were not given pills.

During March, roughly 1,000 residents registered readings of 13,000 cpm or higher—102 had readings above 100,000 cpm.

“When they told us they wanted to raise the screening level, we instantly knew we had a serious level of contamination,” said Mr. Suzuki, the NSC adviser. “They were implicitly telling us they had more people than they could handle logistically, amid the shortage of water, clothing and manpower.”

Naoki Matsuda, a professor of radiation biology at Nagasaki University and an adviser to the Fukushima prefecture government, recalled a meeting with prefectural staff after a day of screening local residents on March 14. They reported gauges on radiation monitors set for 13,000 cpm going off repeatedly. “It was very clear the previous level of 13,000 cpm wouldn’t work,” Mr. Matsuda wrote in an essay posted on the university’s website. “We discussed how the staff should turn off alarm sounds and refrain from wearing protective suits and face masks in order not to fan worries among residents.”

The NSC was initially cautious about allowing the higher screening benchmark. On March 14, it issued a statement advising Fukushima to stick to the current level of 13,000 cpm, noting that level is equivalent to a thyroid-gland exposure level at which the International Atomic Energy Agency recommends disbursing KI. The World Health Organization advocates one-tenth of that level for giving the medication to children.

The NSC relented on March 20, after the prefecture used the new benchmark for days. In a statement, the commission noted 100,000 cpm was permissible according to the IAEA’s screening standard in the initial stage of a nuclear emergency.

Before the government’s March 16 order to disburse the iodine pills, two towns located near the plants, Futaba and Tomioka, with a combined population of 22,500, independently ordered some of their residents to take the pills that were in their stock, according to town officials.

Those in other nearby towns never did so, including Namie, where contamination was later confirmed to be worst among Fukushima communities.

In all, after the government’s March 16 order, the prefecture delivered to all communities located within 50 kilometers of the plant enough KI pills and powder to be given to 900,000 people. Most were untouched.

=  +  =  +  =  +  =

There is more about this WSJ article from EX-SKF at:

http://ex-skf.blogspot.com/2011/09/wsj-potassium-iodide-that-never-came.html

In particular, this quote:

“Oh wait a minute…. I just noticed the part that this WSJ English article mentions but is completely missing in the WSJ Japanese article on the exact same topic. It’s this part in red:

The NSC was initially cautious about allowing the higher screening benchmark. On March 14, it issued a statement advising Fukushima to stick to the current level of 13,000 cpm, noting that level is equivalent to a thyroid-gland exposure level at which the International Atomic Energy Agency recommends disbursing KI. The World Health Organization advocates one-tenth of that level for giving the medication to children.

I don’t know who the editor is at Wall Street Journal Japan, but the paper sure behaves just as good as the Japanese counterparts. Omit the very inconvenient part that the Japanese authorities may not want the citizens to know from its Japanese version, but state it clearly in the English article to calm their journalistic conscience.”

=  +  =  +  =  +  =

This, filed under “not playing with a full deck”…

–  –  –  –

Fujimura confirms lifting of evacuation advisory

http://www3.nhk.or.jp/daily/english/30_24.html

Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura has made it clear that an evacuation advisory for 5 municipalities outside the 20-kilometer no-go zone around the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant will be lifted within the day.

Fujimura told reporters on Friday that a formal decision will be made at a meeting of the government’s nuclear accident task force in the evening.

He said restoration plans submitted by the municipalities differ slightly in content, but he vowed that the government will strongly support them in all areas, including the removal of radioactive materials.

Nuclear crisis minister Goshi Hosono told reporters that he wanted to lift the advisory as soon as possible, as it has created hardships for the local residents.

Calling the latest step a major turning point, Hosono stressed that efforts to contain the nuclear accident have entered a new phase, in which residents are encouraged to return to their normal lives.

Friday, September 30, 2011 12:18 +0900 (JST)

=  +  =  +  =  +  =

This, about No-Duh:

–  –  –  –

Japan’s PM ‘isolated, out of his depth’

ABC News Video Report

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-09-28/japans-pm-isolated-out-of-his-depth/3034664

=  +  =  +  =  +  =

***There was a series of interesting reports on Fukushima Diary yesterday. I suggest you check them out and see what you think.***

http://fukushima-diary.com/

Some snips:

Brontide

Here is the tweet of a Fukushima citizen.

Question-
Did you hear something before the earthquake came ?

Answer:

It sounded like wave in the sea. At first,it sounded far. and it came slowly,and finally became as loud as the wave.(It was very long)

I recognized it to be a brontide from the very beginning. It sounds so different from our everyday noise.

At latitude 37.1 north and longitude 140.8 east (Fukushima) ,there has been 10 earthquakes since 7PM tonight….

[clip]

the actual threat is the finally starting hydrovolcanic explosion underground. [from the melted fuel rods hitting the groundwater]

+  +  +  +  +

Reactor 4 on fire

See photos of fine taken at 20:00 on 28 Sept

http://fukushima-diary.com/

+  +  +  +  +

Explosion Underground?

[as source of the earthquakes felt yesterday in area around Fukushima]

http://fukushima-diary.com/

+  +  +  +  +

How Late Are We?

Unusual forms of vegetables showing up everywhere in Japan

http://fukushima-diary.com/

+  +  +  +  +

Doctors and nurses “retiring” from hospitals in Fukushima Prefecture

http://fukushima-diary.com/

+  +  +  +  +

Professor Koide prevented from publishing findings of amount of radiation that flew to Tokyo on March 18.

http://fukushima-diary.com/

+  +  +  +  +

“Reactor 1 contains 60% hydrogen and other kinds of flammable gas. It may explode if it comes in contact with oxygen. It can’t be released or replaced by nitrogen, so we can only inject nitrogen from isolation valves.”

http://fukushima-diary.com/

=  +  =  +  =  +  =

Nuttier than a fruitcake

–  –  –  –

Eight prefectures eyed for radioactive dumps

Tokyo included in temporary soil storage sites

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20110930a1.html

By NATSUKO FUKUE

Staff writer

The Environment Ministry has revealed a controversial plan to build temporary storage facilities for soil contaminated with radiation from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in eight prefectures in the Tohoku and Kanto regions.

The eight are Fukushima, Iwate, Miyagi, Tokyo, Chiba, Tochigi, Ibaraki and Gunma, Vice Environment Minister Hideki Minamikawa told reporters Wednesday after visiting Fukushima Prefecture for talks with local leaders.

The volume of contaminated soil and waste, estimated at 28.79 million cu. meters, is enough to fill the Tokyo Dome 23 times over, according to a recent ministry survey.

No details were released on when, or specifically where, the facilities will be built, or how much contaminated soil they will store.

“In order to proceed with the decontamination promptly, we want to decide locations to set up temporary storage facilities immediately,” Minamikawa told reporters in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture. “We need to discuss things with not only the Fukushima government but also other local governments.”

The ministry will hold talks with the eight prefectural governments to explain the plan.

In late August, then Prime Minister Naoto Kan announced plans to build a facility in Fukushima, which was strongly opposed by local politicians. On Sept. 8, his successor, Yoshihiko Noda, said in Fukushima that the government will continue talks with the local government on the issue.

Anticipating opposition in the prefectures named by the ministry, Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura emphasized Thursday that nothing concrete has been decided.

“The Environment Ministry will continue discussing this issue,” Fujimura said at a news conference Thursday morning.

The contaminated soil is currently stored in makeshift yards at several locations. It will have to be shipped to the temporary facilities once the central government decides on their locations.

A permanent disposal site will be built outside Fukushima, according to the government.

=  +  =  +  =  +  =

Tokyo plans to store, burn debris from disaster zone

Staff writer

To help quake- and tsuami-damaged areas rebuild, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government said Thursday it is offering to store about 500,000 tons of debris and waste from Iwate and Miyagi prefectures for three years.

The amount of debris in the disaster zones is so massive and regional disposal capacity so low that it is hampering with efforts to rebuild.

Tokyo intends to approve the plan with Iwate on Friday, while the agreement with Miyagi is pending.

Tokyo would become the first municipality outside Tohoku to accept disaster debris.

The metro government plans to transport the debris by train to private waste disposal facilities, which will separate it into burnable and nonburnable waste.

The burnable trash will be reduced to ashes and dumped into landfills in Tokyo Bay with the nonburnable waste, which will just be directly dumped as is, metro government officials said.

Some residents outside Tohoku are particularly sensitive about plans to move debris from the area because it might be tainted with nuclear fallout from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 power plant.

Article continues at:

http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20110930a2.html

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: