Day 268 “Liza, we need a bucket again.” “Henry, haven’t you got that thing fixed yet?”

     Hello Bots, and any humans that may be out there. I’m still assuming that there is only one human who lives here in Japan who is reading the news in this blog because no one but she ever leaves a message. It would be nice to know there are two or three carbon-based mammals with opposable thumbs actually reading and understanding the reports listed here.

     If you are human, please leave me a note, fake name and location okay(!), to tell me you have viewed this site. I’m beginning to seriously doubt the 930 hits from all over the world have been from individuals searching for news on Fukushima, etc.

     Ok, that’s out of the way. Now we just wait and see…

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As for today’s news, it would appear that Henry is having trouble with leaking – again (if you followed this blog in the early days, you know who Henry is).

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TEPCO reveals new contaminated water leak at Fukushima plant

NATIONAL DEC. 05, 2011 – 06:30PM JST ( 41 )


Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said Sunday that at least 45 tons of radioactive water have leaked from a desalination facility at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, and some of it may have reached the Pacific Ocean.

TEPCO said the trouble came in two stages, Fuji TV reported. In the morning, utility workers found that radioactive water was flooding a catchment next to a purification device. Officials said the device was then switched off, and the leak appeared to stop. But the company said it later discovered that leaked water was escaping through a crack in the catchment’s concrete wall and was reaching an external drainage ditch, Fuji reported.

Experts say that before the latest leak, the Fukushima accident had been responsible for the largest single release of radioactivity into the ocean, threatening wildlife and fisheries in the region. As much as 220 tons of water may now have leaked from the facility, according to a report in the Asahi Shimbun newspaper that cited TEPCO officials.

The water is believed to have contained up to one million times as much radioactive strontium as the maximum safe level set by the government, and about 300 times the safe level of radioactive cesium. Both are readily absorbed by living tissue and can greatly increase the risk of developing cancer.

TEPCO said it was exploring ways to stop the water from leaking through the crack and attempting to confirm whether contaminated water had reached the ocean, Fuji reported.

Japan Today

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More details at EX-SKF:

Fukushima I Nuke Plant: 45 Tonnes of Treated Water May Have Leaked to the Ocean

While that may not much (45 tonnes), the water may contain extremely high levels of beta-nuclides like strontium; according to TEPCO, the density of strontium could be as high as 100,000 becquerels per cubic centimeter. That’s 100 million becquerels per liter.


Additional rice shipment ban to be imposed on Fukushima rice

TOKYO, Dec. 5, Kyodo

Monday, Dec. 5, 2011

Decontamination project tests high-pressure sprays

Nuclear cleanup effort under way in Okuma


FUKUSHIMA — A government cleaning project designed to decontaminate radioactive areas around the crisis-hit Fukushima plant was shown to the media Sunday during a demonstration at the center of the hot zone in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture.

News photo
Hot or not?: A worker in full face mask and protective suit checks radiation levels at a bus stop bench near the Okuma town office in Fukushima Prefecture on Sunday. KYODO 

Using high-pressure water sprayers, a joint venture led by major contractor Obayashi Corp. has been working for a week to clean up the area based on a detailed plan drawn up by the Japan Atomic Energy Agency.

The project is being carried out to confirm the effectiveness, safety and economic efficiency of the decontamination plan and will focus on cleaning up areas within 20 km of the plant and other areas residents fled from.

The agency began monitoring radiation levels in Okuma on Nov. 18. The town is one of two hosting the Fukushima No. 1 power plant, which suffered core meltdowns in multiple reactors after the March earthquake and tsunami knocked out its cooling systems. The reactors have since released massive amounts of radioactive matter into the air, land and sea.

Sunday’s shift began at the Okuma town office, about 4 km southwest of the plant. The radiation level 1 cm above the top of the three-floor building, which was about 16 microsieverts per hour before treatment, dropped to about 10 microsieverts per hour following a 10-minute wash down.

Longer washings resulted in diminishing returns, with readings of 9.28 microserverts after 15 minutes and 8.92 microsieverts after 20 minutes. Changes were also minimal after switching to hot water.

The water used to wash down the building was pooled in a large water tank for examination to see whether it can be reused following treatment at a purification facility.

Miyagi thyroid testing


SENDAI — The Miyagi Prefectural Government on Sunday began testing the thyroids of 83 children of elementary school age and below in the town of Marumori, which is on the border with Fukushima Prefecture, to examine the impact the nuclear crisis has had on their health.

While the radiation level in the prefecture north of the crippled nuclear plant’s host is estimated to be below the annual limit of 1 millisievert in most areas, two areas of the town gave off readings of 4.1 millisieverts and 2.8 millisieverts, raising concern among residents — particularly those with children — it said.

Miyagi is now considering testing the kids for internal radiation exposure using a whole-body counter, it said.


And finally, this article from The Tokyo Shinbun at:

Here’s a quick translation (no guarantees about accuracy – the best I could do at the moment).

Does changing the wording change our impression of the danger?

The government and TEPCO and the press often throw around new words in relation to the accident at Fukushima Daiichi. When “accident” would suffice, the word “phenomenon” is used. “Decrepit” (as in the reactors) becomes “advanced age”, “contaminated water” becomes “stagnant water”. “They want to hide the serious danger of the situation behind subliminal meanings,” says a specialist in nuclear power.

To start with, “cold shut down”.

The original meaning of “Cold shut down” was to describe the state at which during a regular inspection (with the reactor stopped), inside the airtight nuclear container, the coolant water is no longer at boiling point.

In addition to using the word “state”, the government tags on “cold shut down”.  Hosono (government official in charge of the accident) used prudent expressions. However, the sealed containment was broken, and in this condition, high level radioactive water is currently inside the reactor building. The idea of “cold shut down” and the reality are miles apart.

There is a movement in the nuclear power world that says don’t use words that leave an impression of danger.

There are about 20 reactors that were started about 30 years ago. When the press calls the reactors “decrepit”, the government spokesperson comes back with the changed version, “with regard to the aging reactors…”

“We replace old parts of the reactor as they age, so it cannot be called decrepit” says the nuclear power world, when in reality, the main part – the containment vessel – cannot be replaced.

The “highly radioactive water” is changed to the term “stagnant water.” The surface of the water measures more than 2,000 millisieverts per hour. Therefore, the actual state of affairs is that it is “radioactive water”.

(the article goes on to show how the MOX fuel in Unit 3 is never referred to as containing plutonium.)

A professor at Osaka Graduate School explains basic knowledge of nuclear power to his students. He says that instead of obfuscating the language (and the problem), the press should be explaining what is happening in language that the average person can understand.




2011年12月4日 朝刊

 福島第一原発事故をめぐる政府や東京電力の記者会見では、しばしば珍妙な用語が飛び出す。「事故」と言えばいいのに「事象」が使われる。「老朽化」は「高経年化」、「汚染水」は「滞留水」に。「危険性を隠したがる原子力界の潜在意識の表れだ」と指摘する原子力の専門家もいる。ヘンテコな原子力用語を検証した。 (谷悠己)














Japan’s ‘nuclear gypsies’ face radioactive peril at power plants

Unskilled contractors make up most of the workforce and face higher doses of radiation than utility employees at Fukushima and other nuclear power plants in Japan.

Fukushima nuclear plant contract workers

Nuclear workers gather at J-Village, an abandoned soccer complex that has been transformed into a locker room and debriefing center serving the nearby Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. (David Guttenfelder, European Pressphoto Agency / December 4, 2011)

By John M. Glionna, Los Angeles TimesDecember 4, 2011

Reporting from Namie, Japan—

Kazuo Okawa’s luckless career as a “nuclear gypsy” began one night at a poker game.

The year was 1992, and jobs were scarce in this farming town in the shadow of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. An unemployed Okawa gambled and drank a lot.

He was dealing cards when a stranger made him an offer: manage a crew of unskilled workers at the nearby plant. “Just gather a team of young guys and show up at the front gate; I’ll tell you what to do,” instructed the man, who Okawa later learned was a recruiter for a local job subcontracting firm.

Okawa didn’t know the first thing about nuclear power, but he figured, what could go wrong?

He became what’s known in Japan as a “jumper” or “nuclear gypsy” for the way he moved among various nuclear plants. But the nickname that Okawa disliked most was burakumin, a derisive label for those who worked the thankless jobs he and others performed.

Such unskilled contractors exist at the bottom rung of the nation’s employment ladder, subjecting themselves to perilous doses of radioactivity.

Solicited from day labor sites across the country, many contractors are told little of the task ahead.

“The recruiters call out their windows that they have two days of work; it’s not unlike the way migrant farm workers are hired in the U.S.,” said Kim Kearfott, a nuclear engineer and radiation health expert at the University of Michigan.

“Many are given their training en route to the plant. They’re told: ‘Oh, by the way, we’re going to Fukushima. If you don’t like it, you can get off the truck right now.’ There’s no such thing as informed consent, like you would have in a human medical experiment,” she said.

After an earthquake-triggered tsunami deluged the Fukushima plant in March, a disaster that cascaded into reactor core meltdowns, activists are calling for better government regulation of what they call the nuclear industry’s dirtiest secret.

For decades, they say, atomic plants have maintained a two-tiered workforce: one made up of highly paid and well-trained utility employees, and another of contractors with less training and fewer health benefits.

Last year, 88% of the 83,000 workers at the nation’s 18 commercial nuclear power plants were contract workers, according to Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, a government regulator.

A study by the Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center, a Tokyo-based watchdog group, found that contractors last year accounted for 96% of the harmful radiation absorbed by workers at the nation’s nuclear power plants. Temporary workers at the Fukushima plant in 2010 also faced radiation levels 16 times higher than did employees of the plant’s owner-operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., because contractors are called in for the most dangerous work, according to the government’s industrial safety agency.

“This job is a death sentence, performed by workers who aren’t being given information about the dangers they face,” said Hiroaki Koide, an assistant professor at Kyoto University’s Research Reactor Institute and author of the book “The Lie of Nuclear Power.”

Okawa, who was off work from the plant the day of the tsunami, immediately quit the job and the “suicidal work” he performed there: mopping up leaks of radioactive water, wiping down “hot” equipment and filling drums with contaminated nuclear waste.

He described an unofficial pecking order at most nuclear plants among contractors, with the greenest workers often assigned the most dangerous jobs until they got enough experience to question the work or a newer worker came along.

“In the beginning, you get a little training; they show you how to use your tools,” said Okawa, 56. “But then you’re left to work with radiation you can’t see, smell or taste. If you think about it, you imagine it might be killing you. But you don’t want to think about it.”

Okawa, a small man with powerfully built hands, said contractors knew they faced layoff once they reached exposure limits, so many switched off dosimeters and other radiation measuring devices.

“Guys needed the work, so they cut corners,” he said. “The plant bosses knew it but looked the other way.”

Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times


  1. Anonymous said:

    Just to let you know, your blog is being read (and appreciated) by people in Japan.

    Thanks for helping keep us all informed!

    Michael (Tokyo)

  2. Anonymous said:

    I am one of millions who follow this blog daily, I am officially hooked!.
    Have you managed to find anything about the project 47 yet, I am still working on it. I also have a question uhohjapan, is organic still organic?

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