Quote of the day:
Late last year, however, the minister in charge of the response to the Fukushima disaster, Goshi Hosono, conceded that officials had no idea about the exact location of molten uranium fuel but assumed that it had come to rest at the bottom of its containment vessels.
Rising temperatures at Fukushima raise questions over stability of nuclear plant
In the current climate of plate tectonic movement, how can the Japanese government and the corporations that run 54 nuclear power plants even CONSIDER the idea of restarting even one of them?????
View this and please reconsider if you think there is any justification for restarting a plant here:
Nobel Prize winner Oe stresses Japan’s ethical responsibility for ending nuclear program
Kenzabu Oe, Nobel Prize laureate in literature, said Feb. 8 that Japan has an “ethical responsibility” for abandoning nuclear power in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, just as the country renounced war under the postwar Constitution.
During a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan (FCCJ), Oe called for an immediate end to nuclear power generation and warned that Japan would suffer another nuclear catastrophe if it tries to resume nuclear power plant operations. “It’s important to make a decision now” to abandon nuclear power, he said.
Satoshi Kamata, the founder of the “Sayonara Nuclear Power Plants” campaign, said at the press conference with Oe and Keiko Ochiai — author, radio personality, and founder and manager of the Crayon House bookstores for children — that they and other members of the initiative will hold rallies in Tokyo, Niigata, Matsue, Shizuoka, Matsuyama, Sapporo and Saga on Feb. 11 to protest against restarting nuclear reactors.
Article continues at:
Temperature decreasing inside Fukushima reactor
Tokyo Electric Power Company says it has been able to lower the temperature inside the No.2 reactor at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant by increasing the amount of water being injected into it.
TEPCO had been struggling to deal with rising temperatures inside the reactor. A thermometer located at the bottom of the reactor read 45 degrees Celsius on January 27th, but rose to over 70 degrees on Sunday. The cause is unknown, and two other thermometers at the reactor have shown no such increase.
TEPCO said on Wednesday that the temperature inside the reactor was 66.7 degrees at 5 AM, 5.5 degrees lower than a day earlier. The temperature gradually declined after the company increased the rate of water injection by 3 tons to 13.5 tons per hour on Tuesday.
Such a high rate of injection has not been used since just after the nuclear crisis began last March.
TEPCO says the temperature inside the reactor rose slightly to 68 degrees at 10 AM, but it is still dropping overall.
The utility cannot determine the exact situation inside the reactor or the cause of the temperature rise.
The utility says it will continue to monitor the situation closely while maintaining the current rate of water injection.
Wednesday, February 08, 2012 15:31 +0900 (JST)
70% of nuclear reactor hosts cautious on restart
An NHK survey has found that more than 70 percent of Japanese municipalities that host nuclear power plants are cautious about restarting the reactors.
51 of Japan’s 54 nuclear reactors are currently out of operation. Restarting them would require the approval of local municipalities.
NHK surveyed 29 municipalities, excluding those in Fukushima Prefecture.
5 of them, or 17 percent, said they would give the go-ahead for the reactors to resume operation. But 21 municipalities, or 72 percent, said they wouldn’t allow it, or that they cannot yet decide.
Municipalities that expressed caution said they cannot be sure whether the reactors are really safe, and cited the difficulty of persuading residents while the government has yet to decide on its nuclear policy.
Asked what is needed beside stress tests to restart the reactors, 48 percent said a satisfactory investigation into the accident at Fukushima Daiichi plant, and understanding by local residents. 38 percent cited new government safety regulations.
The municipalities stressed their concern over reactor safety, and demanded more government accountability.
Wednesday, February 08, 2012 17:10 +0900 (JST)
Child population drops in disaster-hit prefectures
The number of children has significantly decreased in 3 Japanese prefectures hit by the March 11th disaster.
The Education Ministry says the child population as of May 1st in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima fell by more than 27,000 from a year earlier to about 834,000.
Fukushima saw the biggest fall of 5.8 percent, or more than 17,000, followed by a decrease of 2.3 percent in Iwate and minus 1.7 percent in Miyagi.
The ministry says the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant is to blame for an 11-percent decline in the number of kindergarteners and a nearly 8-percent drop in the elementary school population in the prefecture.
It says smaller children are more vulnerable to radiation and are likely to have been evacuated to other prefectures.
The child population in the 3 prefectures had been falling even before the disaster due to the low birthrate.
Wednesday, February 08, 2012 01:34 +0900 (JST)
|Danger: This April 10 image released the next day by Tokyo Electric Power Co. shows the hydrogen blast-damaged reactor 4 building at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant. Inside, a spent fuel pool holds 1,500 nuclear fuel assemblies. TEPCO|
Nuke dangers nowhere near resolved: Kan’s crisis adviser
In December, Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda announced the “conclusion” of the meltdown crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, saying Tokyo Electric Power Co. was managing to keep the three crippled reactors cool, as well as the facility’s spent fuel pools.
But a former special adviser to Naoto Kan, who was prime minister when the crisis started, warned that the situation is far from resolved and said Fukushima has exposed a raft of serious nuclear problems that Japan will have to confront for years.
“I would say (the crisis) just opened Pandora’s box,” Hiroshi Tasaka, who has a doctorate in nuclear engineering and is now a professor at Tama University, said in a recent interview with The Japan Times.
He was one of a select group who glimpsed the secret worst-case scenario document written up by the Japan Atomic Energy Commission on March 25 that was later reportedly quashed by the government.
According to the scenario, the biggest risk during the meltdown crisis wasn’t the reactors themselves but the spent fuel pools sitting atop them, particularly the one above reactor 4, which still contains about 1,500 nuclear fuel assemblies, Tasaka said.
Unlike reactors 1, 2 and 3, the No. 4 unit was offline for regular checks when disaster struck on March 11 and thus didn’t suffer a meltdown. But its fuel rods were in the pool outside the reactor, and its coolant water fell dangerously low.
Adding to the danger is that the fuel pool is now directly exposed to the outside environment after a hydrogen explosion blew off the upper part of the reactor building on March 15, Tasaka noted.
The potential heat from the pool was also much higher than other pools because 204 of the 1,535 assemblies were still “new ones” that had been temporarily removed from reactor 4 for regular checks.
The Fukushima crisis has highlighted the dangers of spent fuel pools, which are outside the robust primary containment vessels of the reactors themselves, Tasaka said.
Under the current circumstances, the nation has no prospect of starting up the experimental high-level nuclear waste processing facility in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, because of both technical difficulties and the sentiments of antinuclear activists.
This means utilities must store their spent fuel assemblies in cooling pools at their respective reactor sites as a “temporary measure.” This situation greatly increased the danger at Fukushima No. 1 on March 11.
“The storage capacities of the spent fuel pools at the nation’s nuclear power plants are reaching their limits,” Tasaka wrote in a new book, “Kantei Kara Mita Genpatsu Jiko No Shinjitu” (“The Truth About the Nuclear Accident as Viewed From the Prime Minister’s Office”).
According to Tasaka, the utilities’ fuel pools were about 70 percent full on average in 2010, but the figure was 80 percent at Fukushima No. 1.
The makeshift cooling systems set up at Fukushima No. 1 to stabilize the stricken reactors and fuel pools have greatly reduced the possibility of another catastrophe, Tasaka said, but the ad hoc system for decontaminating the coolant water is nevertheless generating large amounts of highly contaminated waste every day.
Making matters worse, the government doesn’t have any place to permanently store it, he wrote.
Tasaka is also deeply concerned about the “groundless optimism” displayed by bureaucrats and business leaders as they rush to restart dozens of reactors that remain halted for safety checks since March 11.
“I understand quite well the intentions of the government, which now wants to send out a message of hope. But at this stage, all the risks should be put on the table,” he said.
The nation’s nuclear regulators must carry out drastic reforms to regain the people’s trust. This is an imperative for the government if it wants to keep pushing nuclear power, Tasaka said.
He recalled viewing the government’s worst-case scenario in late March. He was officially appointed special adviser to the prime minister on March 29.
The document detailed a hypothetical Fukushima crisis worst case: Eventual contamination from the plant would require the government to assist residents in the Tokyo area to evacuate if they wanted to voluntarily “migrate,” based on the same evacuation protocols adopted for the 1986 Chernobyl accident.
The scenario assumed another hydrogen explosion would occur in the reactor 1 building and radiation would force all of the workers at the plant to evacuate.
All of the pools storing hundreds of nuclear fuel assemblies would eventually lose their cooling ability and the assemblies would melt down and breach the pools.
According to Kyodo News, the simulation was “so shocking” that top government officials decided to keep the paper secret by treating it as a mere personal document of Japan Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Shunsuke Kondo, who compiled the simulation. The government only gave it official recognition at the end of December, according to Kyodo.
More than 10 months after he saw the worst-case scenario paper, Tasaka is still not sure if such scary information should immediately be made public during a nuclear plant crisis.
The assumed worst case was extreme and people did not need to immediately flee the Tokyo area even in March or April, Tasaka said. Disclosing the simulation could have caused panic in the capital, he said.
Tasaka was obliged to keep secret what he learned through his work at the prime minister’s office and was not in a position to decide what information was to be made public during the crisis.
He said he decided to start talking about the worse-case scenario only after Kan mentioned some of its highlights during an interview with the media in September.
Tasaka believes the media and government should lay some ground rules in advance on what sensitive information should be made clear in a nuclear crisis.
“Backup” Tokyo (Capital of Japan) to Be Considered Somewhere in Japan to Preserve Government Functions in Case of Disaster
Locations already jockeying for the front-runner position to become a “backup” capital include Hokkaido, Osaka, and Fukuoka.
There they go again, looking for another construction boom in the land of earthquakes, tsunamis and nuclear accidents.
From Jiji Tsushin (2/8/2012):
Democratic Party of Japan to consider backing up of the capital functions
Democratic Party of Japan will hold the first meeting of “the working group for backing up the core functions of the capital” (headed by Sumio Mabuchi, former Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transportation) on February 10. It is to prepare for the case of Tokyo devastated by an epicentral earthquake. The focus will be whether the group designates a location to temporarily move the function of the Prime Minister’s Official Residence and the central government ministries. The group will submit the report to the government by the end of March.
The expert committee at the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transportation started the discussion on backup functions of the capital last December, in light of the March 11, 2011 earthquake/tsunami. The committee says it won’t specify the location [to which the functions will be moved], but heated campaigns to become a “backup” capital have already started among locations including Hokkaido, Osaka, and Fukuoka City.
Well, even after the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident, they still do not (or cannot) say they should consider a potential nuclear disaster when planning a backup capital. If they do consider, there may be nowhere in Japan that’s suitable.
Radioactive Okinawa Noodles and Pizzas from Radioactive Ashes from Radioactive Firewood from Fukushima
Radiation’s reach is indeed long. Okinawa is as far away as you can get in Japan from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, and there has hardly been any radioactive fallout. Maybe because of that, businesses in Okinawa don’t seem to be much concerned about radioactive contamination in goods.
Here’s an example of some Okinawa restaurants having bought firewood from (of all places) Fukushima Prefecture via a distributor in Gifu Prefecture who clearly thought it could get away with it; one of the restaurants made the traditional “Okinawa Soba (noodle)” using the ashes from the radioactive firewood, and has already served the noodles to the customers.
As usual, the familiar refrain from the government officials: “There is no effect on health.” They might as well add “Just keep on smiling.”
From Okinawa Times (2/8/2012):
Okinawa Prefecture announced on February 7 that 4 restaurants in Okinawa have used firewood from Fukushima Prefecture, and in one of the restaurant the maximum 468 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium was detected from the firewood, which is about 11 times the level of the national safety limit for radioactive cesium in firewood (40 becquerels/kg). In another restaurant, 39,960 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium was detected from the ashes after the firewood was burned, which is about 5 times the level of the national safety limit of 8,000 becquerels/kg. The Okinawa prefectural government says, “For both the consumers and the employees at these restaurants, there is no effect on health at these levels.”
The distributor who sold the firewood to Okinawa says, “We washed the firewood with a high-pressure washer, and it passed the test by Motosu City [in Gifu Prefecture]. So we thought it would be OK.” The distributor will recall the firewood in question.
The restaurants that used the firewood from Fukushima were 3 restaurants offering kiln-baked pizzas and 1 noodle shop offering “Okinawa Soba” noodles. From the firewood and the ashes at 2 restaurants, radioactive cesium exceeding the safety standards was detected.
The noodle shop got the ashes from burning the firewood from the restaurant where radioactive cesium exceeding the safety limit was detected to make noodles. Part of the noodles has already been served to the customers. According to the test by the prefectural government, 258 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium was detected from the noodles (safety standard is 500 becquerels/kg), and 1,260 to 8060 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium was detected from the ashes. Of three samples of ashes, one of them exceeded the safety limit [of 8,000 becquerels/kg].
The tests at the remaining 1 restaurant and the shipper are on-going, and the test results will be published in 2 to 3 days.
The Okinawa prefectural government points to the national guideline that says less than 2% of radioactive cesium in the firewood will be transferred to the food being cooked, and says “Even at the maximum 468 becquerels/kg, only 9 becquerels will be transferred to food, and there is no health effect even if you ingest this food.” The prefectural government also says there is no effect on the employees who cook with the firewood, because they won’t be at the firewood all the time, and the amount of time they are exposed to radiation is short.
The distributor in Gifu Prefecture sold 15.7 tonnes of firewood from Fukushima Prefecture in Okinawa. 8.4 tonnes of it have been sold to restaurants. The remaining 7.3 tonnes are stored in a container near the Naha Port. 0.7 tonne of the firewood sold to restaurants is not used, and the shipper in the prefecture will collect them and ship it, along with what remains in the container, back to Fukushima via Osaka on February 8.
“Okinawa Soba” is like ramen noodles, and instead of brine it often uses lye from the ashes.
If you burn firewood with 468 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium, it will result in ashes with 85,176 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium(468 x 182). Even by the lax “standard” of the Ministry of the Environment, you wouldn’t be able to bury these ashes in a regular dump, not to mention using it in your garden. You certainly wouldn’t want to use them in your noodles, because the transfer rate from the ashes to the noodles seems rather high from the example in the article.
Radioactive beef and radioactive leaf compost have already reached Okinawa, and I hear that Kanto and Tohoku vegetables are freely sold in Okinawa.
Still, the national government, just like last year, is set to do everything to help the producers in Fukushima who have been suffering from “baseless rumors” called radioactive materials.
Photos of Daiichi BEFORE the disaster:
And finally, a bit of news overlooked from January 23:
- Mainichi reports that the Japanese government intentionally minimized renewable energy power supplies in its 2012 Summer calls for nuclear restarts. Rather than a 10% shortage, there is actually a 6% surplus with *zero* nuclear plants in operation. They did not count hydro-electric power generation resources and did not allow for voluntary energy savings that were implemented over the past year. They merely used peak numbers from pre-quake power usage. Evil.