Many articles to cover today. Catching up on some from yesterday that I didn’t have time to include.
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Japan may avoid electricity-saving even if no reactors operating
TOKYO, Jan. 27, Kyodo
The Japanese government may be able to avoid issuing an order to restrict electricity usage next summer, even if the nation has no atomic power supply at that time, industry minister Yukio Edano said Friday.
His comments came at a time when all of Japan’s 54 commercial reactors are expected to be suspended in April, unless the reactors that are currently idle for scheduled checkups become operational by then.
”Of course, if all the nuclear power plants are not operating, the demand for and supply of electricity are expected to be significantly severe,” Edano told reporters. But he also said, ”There is a good chance that we can get through without issuing a restriction on electricity usage.”
Article continues at:
Journal: Unprecedented phenomenon from using saltwater in Fukushima reactors — Forming new uranium compounds able to travel long distances…
Title: How sea water could corrode nuclear fuel
Source: UC Davis News & Information
Japan used seawater to cool nuclear fuel at the stricken Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant after the tsunami in March 2011 — and that was probably the best action to take at the time, says Professor Alexandra Navrotsky of the University of California, Davis.
But Navrotsky and others have sincediscovered a new way in which seawater can corrode nuclear fuel, forming uranium compounds that could potentially travel long distances, either in solution or as very small particles. The research team published its work Jan. 23 in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“This is a phenomenon that has not been considered before,” said Alexandra Navrotsky, distinguished professor of ceramic, earth and environmental materials chemistry. “We don’t know how much this will increase the rate of corrosion, but it is something that will have to be considered in future.”
Japan used seawater to avoid a much more serious accident at the Fukushima-Daiichi plant, and Navrotsky said, to her knowledge, there is no evidence of long-distance uranium contamination from the plant.
Uranium in nuclear fuel rods is in a chemical form that is “pretty insoluble” in water, Navrotsky said, unless the uranium is oxidized to uranium-VI — a process that can be facilitated when radiation converts water into peroxide, a powerful oxidizing agent.
Peter Burns, professor of civil engineering and geological sciences at the University of Notre Dame and a co-author of the new paper, had previously made spherical uranium peroxide clusters, rather like carbon “buckyballs,” that can dissolve or exist as solids.
In the new paper, the researchers show that in the presence of alkali metal ions such as sodium — for example, in seawater — these clusters are stable enough to persist in solution or as small particles even when the oxidizing agent is removed.
In other words, these clusters could form on the surface of a fuel rod exposed to seawater and then be transported away, surviving in the environment for months or years before reverting to more common forms of uranium, without peroxide, and settling to the bottom of the ocean. There is no data yet on how fast these uranium peroxide clusters will break down in the environment, Navrotsky said.
Read the report here
Follow up to “Navrotsky said, to her knowledge, there is no evidence of long-distance uranium contamination from the plant”:
Title: Fukushima radiation could be ocean risk
Date: Jan 26, 2012
Seawater used to cool nuclear fuel at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant after the 2011 tsunami could have corroded the fuel and spread radiation, scientists say. […]
Uranium in nuclear fuel rods is in a chemical form that is “pretty insoluble” in water, [Professor Alexandra Navrotsky of the University of California, Davis] said, but when radiation converts water into peroxide, a powerful oxidizing agent, uranium can be converted into uranium-VI, which in seawater is stable enough to persist in solution or as small particles.
The uranium-VI could form on the surface of a fuel rod exposed to seawater and then be transported away, surviving in the environment for months or years before reverting to more common forms of uranium and settling to the bottom of the ocean, researchers said. […]
Read the report here
US Diplomat: It’s not stable — Fukushima Daiichi is in really bad shape — US gov’t was “privately terrified” over crisis
Title: US ex-diplomat pulls no punches on Japan
[…] Since [Kevin Maher] was unceremoniously removed from his position last year, the veteran US diplomat on Japan has gone on the offensive with biting criticism on issues from Tokyo’s political paralysis to the Fukushima nuclear disaster. […]
Maher […] dismissed the government’s declaration last month that it had stabilized the leaking reactors. […]
Maher said that the US government was privately terrified over the unfolding crisis. […]
Maher said that he watched in horror as he saw television footage of a sole helicopter dropping water on the stricken plant.
Maher said that the United States was even looking at whether it would have to evacuate some 100,000 Americans […]
Statements by US Diplomat Kevin Maher
- “It’s not stable […] Tokyo is safe, but Fukushima Daiichi is in really bad shape.” (recently said at the Heritage Foundation)
- “I remember sitting on a task force many a time thinking, ‘Who the hell is in control in Japan?’ The government’s not doing anything”
- “Is that the best Japan can do? Frankly what happened is the US government called in the Japanese ambassador and said, look, you have to take this stuff seriously. We don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Read the report here
CNN: Outrage as animal carcasses litter region around Fukushima plant — “It’s shameful” says kennel worker (VIDEO)
Title: Fukushima’s animals abandoned and left to die
Date: Jan 26, 2012
When you stand in the center of Japan’s exclusion zone, there is absolute silence. […]
78,000 people were evacuated out of this area, believing they would return within a few days.
[…] thousands of people left with their dogs tied up in the backyard, cats in their houses and livestock penned in barns.
Nearly a year later, animal carcasses litter the region.
Cows and pigs starved to death, their bones still in pens. Dogs dropped dead with disease. A cat skull sits on a neighborhood road.
[…] animal rights activists call it an outrage.
“It’s shameful,” says Yasunori Hoso with United Kennel Club Japan. “We kept asking the government to rescue these animals from the beginning of the disaster […]”
[…] dogs now reside at the UKC Japan shelter near Tokyo. 250 dogs and 100 cats, all from the exclusion zone […]
Unfortunately, he added, the owners can’t live with their animals because they are homeless themselves.
Read the report here
Fukushima agricultural group proposes tougher restrictions on rice planting
Agricultural organization JA Fukushima Chuo-kai on Jan. 26 announced plans to toughen restrictions on rice planting in radiation-contaminated areas this spring if decontamination work in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear crisis proves too difficult.
The organization said it planned to restrict spring rice planting in areas whose harvests last year had radiation levels exceeding 100 becquerels per kilogram, if decontamination work in those areas is judged to be too challenging.
“Decontamination” Defined by Ministry of the Environment Is Nothing But a General, Thorough Cleaning by Hand
according to Sankei Shinbun, who has been unabashedly pro-nuclear energy and in favor of dispersing radioactive materials throughout Japan via the disaster debris to share in the “pain”.
The paper has an article about the meeting between the Ministry of the Education officials and the heads of the municipalities within the 20-kilometer radius “no entry zone” where the heads of the municipalities received the information from the Ministry about their lot – whether they can return after the decontamination work by the national government or not.
But that isn’t the interesting part of the article.
At the end of the article, there is a separate section that the newspaper writes about what “decontamination” is, according to the Ministry of the Education….
After decontamination (part 1): About the stone pavement in front of the village office that the Self Defense Force kindly took trouble to decontaminate for us. Right after the decontamination work on December 20, the radiation level was 1.57 microsievert/hour. On December 29 it was 2.87 microsieverts/hour. On January 10, it was 3.26 microsieverts/hour. I told you so, it’s no use. The gaps between the stones are filled with dead leaves [again].
He is not angry that the radiation didn’t go down. He is angry that the government needlessly exposed these young SDF soldiers who are from the bases inside Fukushima to high levels of radiation.
So far, two workers doing exactly what the Ministry of the Environment defines as “decontamination” have died in Date City and Hirono-machi in Fukushima Prefecture. The deaths have nothing to do with radiation, the government tells us, without giving any further details about the cause of their deaths.
If the government ever measured the density of radioactive materials in the soil and dead leaves that it made these workers and the SDF soldiers remove by hand in places like Iitate-mura and Date City, it hasn’t bothered telling us.
By the way, Sankei Shinbun categorizes articles related to the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident and the radiation contamination problems with the label “Radiation Leak”. At least Yomiuri and Asahi use “Nuke Plant Accident” as their label.
And STILL the gov’t thinks it can actually wash away the radioactive material….
Japan aims to end decontamination work in some evacuation areas by 2014
TOKYO (Kyodo) — The Environment Ministry said Thursday it plans to complete decontamination activities in part of the evacuation zones around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant by March 2014 but left unclear when evacuees would be able to return to their homes.
The ministry plans to start cleaning houses, offices, farm lands and others located in areas with an annual radiation dose of up to 50 millisieverts from around July, according to a road map unveiled the same day. Ministry officials said the government intends to bring the radiation level down to 20 millisieverts or lower.
Testing centers inundated with requests to check gravel for radiation
Radiation testing facilities have been inundated with requests to check gravel after it was revealed on Jan. 15 that high radiation levels were detected in gravel quarried near the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant and used in construction projects across the prefecture.
TEPCO to spend 1 tril. yen over 10 yrs toward scrapping reactors
TOKYO (Kyodo) — Tokyo Electric Power Co. plans to spend about 1 trillion yen in the first 10 years of the decades-long process toward scrapping the crippled reactors at its Fukushima Daiichi power plant, an estimate drawn up by the utility and a state-backed bailout fund showed Thursday.
The estimate covering the period through fiscal 2021 suggests the beleaguered utility known as TEPCO would need much more funds to complete the decommission process, which is expected to take up to 40 years and would involve the highly difficult task of removing the melted nuclear fuel from three reactors.
According to the estimate, TEPCO will set aside 427.5 billion yen for fiscal 2011 as expenses to cool the stricken reactors and dealing with radioactive water accumulating at the plant, while expecting to spend 325.3 billion yen by fiscal 2013.
TEPCO is also expected to earmark 47.3 billion yen and 55.5 billion yen for fiscal 2014 and fiscal 2015, respectively, and 25 billion yen annually in the following years to prepare for the task of taking out the melted fuel.
Based on a work schedule toward decommissioning, announced December, the plant operator would start removing the fuel stored in the spent fuel pools of the Nos. 1 to 4 units by fiscal 2013 and the melted fuel from the Nos. 1 to 3 reactors by fiscal 2021.
Article continues at:
Freedom of press hurt by nuclear crisis: group
Freedom of the press in Japan fell last year to a ranking of only 22nd in the world, from 11th the year before, due to “excessive restrictions” on reporting the Fukushima nuclear crisis, according to the global nonprofit group Reporters Without Borders.
While three countries ruled by dictatorships, Eritrea, Turkmenistan and North Korea, continued to occupy the bottom three places, countries known for respecting the basic freedom of the press, including Finland, Norway and the Netherlands, retained the top positions, the Paris-based group announced Wednesday.In its 10th annual rankings, Japan placed 22nd out of 179 nations studied.
“Japan coverage of the tsunami and the Fukushima nuclear accident gave rise to excessive restrictions and exposed the limits of the pluralism of the country’s press,” the organization said in a news release.
In the aftermath of the devastating March 11 quake and tsunami, the government and Tokyo Electric Power Co. have faced harsh criticism over slow disclosure of information about the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant.
Confirmation of reactor meltdowns came months after they actually happened, and the amount of radioactive materials released from the plant was later revised sharply higher.
As for the overall view in the past year, crackdowns on protest movements in the Arab world caused big changes in the group’s evaluations.
“This year’s index sees many changes in the rankings, changes that reflect a year that was incredibly rich in developments, especially in the Arab world,” the group said.
For example, Tunisia rose 30 places to 134th in the index. Libya, where the regime of Moammar Gadhafi was overthrown, rose to 154th.
Elsewhere in the world, the United States saw its position fall by 27 places to 47th after many journalists covering Occupy Wall Street protests were arrested, according to Reporters Without Borders.
From FukushimaDiary at:
Most of the cattle were already consumed before they were checked
In July of 2011, Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare decided to trace and check the cattle which were fed with contaminated hay (more than 300Bq/kg) after they were distributed.
It was 4626 cattle, distributed to 15 prefectures. However, by the time of 1/25/2012, about 65 % (2996 cattle) have not been checked yet. Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare is suspecting they were already consumed by when they decided to trace and check .
Cesium is biologically concentrated in trees
It was reported that cesium reaches inside of the trees and get concentrated at the meeting held in Minamisoma.
It was to discuss about the effect of radiation to the forest.
It was held by Soma area forest association on 1/24/2012.
About 100 members attended at it.
Prof.Hayasi Takahisa from Tokyo University of Agriculture introduced his study about exposed trees in Soma shi or Minami soma shi.
His study showed, contamination gets worse near the bottom of the mountains higher than 400m.
He measured radiation level of Japanese cedar or Japanese cypress.
The result showed that the contamination level went up to a few hundreds or thousand Bq/Kg inside of the trees not only the skin. However, it is not cleared the difference of the types of trees yet.
Note:The original article was published by NHK Fukushima but it is already taken down.http://www3.nhk.or.jp/error/error.html
Tokyo University Seismologists: 70% Chance Within 4 Years That M7 Earthquake Hits Tokyo Region
70% chance within 4 years, 98% within 30 years. It’s all about statistics.
The Insurance Journal carried an AP story about the study done by the researchers at Tokyo University on a potential M7 earthquake in Kanto region within 4 years.
After forking out the record payout after the March 11, 2011 earthquake/tsunami, the insurance industry worldwide may be very interested in knowing more about such a study coming from a premier university well-aligned with the national government in Japan.
People in the Tokyo region (metropolitan areas and Kanto) don’t seem to care. It’s like “What’s new?”
(Video) What Happened to Chernobyl Children 7 Years after the Accident (from a Japanese TV program in 1993)
When it was someone else’s problem (Chernobyl), Japan was telling the truth about the effect of radiation, particularly on children.
Tokyo Brown Tabby’s translation and captioning of a TV program from 1993:
Ironically, the female newscaster has morphed into one of the strongest proponents (even today) of nuclear power generation. The journalist on the right has remained a journalist; he was seen investigating and reporting from the high-radiation areas in Fukushima, right after Reactor 1 blew up at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant.
Tabby’s description of the Youtube video:
This video is from a Japanese evening news program broadcasted on Nihon TV, seven years after the Chernobyl accident (around 1993).
I hope the families in Fukushima who still hesitate to voluntarily evacuate their children will watch this and change their minds.
The original video is at:http://youtu.be/tWWICnIQE9k