Day 338 Henry, we’re back to culinary Russian Roulette

High level of radioactive cesium found in Okinawa noodles

NAHA — High levels of radioactive cesium have been detected in noodles produced in Okinawa, apparently because they were made with water filtered by ashes from Fukushima-produced wood.

The noodles, called “Okinawa soba,” had a level of radioactivity of 258 becquerels of cesium per kilogram. The restaurant that produced them had kneaded them with water filtered by the ashes of Fukushima Prefecture-produced wood.

The Forestry Agency on Feb. 10 notified prefectures across Japan not to use ashes made from wood or charcoal in cooking if the materials were lumbered or produced in Fukushima Prefecture, Tokyo and 15 other prefectures following the outbreak of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March last year, even if the wood or charcoal bore levels of cesium lower than the government-set standard — 40 becquerels per kilogram for cooking wood and 280 becquerels per kilogram for charcoal.

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3,000 Bq/kg of Radioactive Cesium in Dried Daikon in Fukushima

Dried daikon was made from daikon grown and harvested in Fukushima City in Fukushima Prefecture.

I don’t know what to say to these farmers and food processors in Fukushima Prefecture, after almost a year since the nuclear accident started. Farmers there continued growing food in the contaminated soil, and in the case of dried daikon, continued making dried food by drying the vegetable outside in the sun as radioactive materials were falling.

I suppose it is “out of expectation” for everybody involved.

The defenders of farmers in Fukushima who grew crops last year, and there are numerous, say they had no choice, that they didn’t know, and when these arguments fail they say “The purpose of life for the farmers is to grow crops, and we shouldn’t deprive them of the purpose”, as I just had one such defender on my Japanese blog.

To a degree, I agree, as in the case of organic rice farmer in Date City, Fukushima who REFRAINED from growing rice for the concern for radiation last year, only to be threatened by the municipal government to cultivate the contaminated land this year. The authorities are limiting choices for those who do not want to grow.

From Yomiuri Shinbun (2/13/2012):


Fukushima Prefecture announced on February 12 that 3,000 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium was detected from the dried daikon made from daikon harvested in Fukushima City. The national provisional safety limit is 500 becquerels/kg.


102 bags of 50-gram dried daikon have already been sold at 5 direct sales depots of JA Shin-Fukushima in Fukushima City. The prefectural government has requested the JA to voluntarily withdraw the products and halt shipment.


The brand name is “hoshi daikon (dried daikon”. It was sold at JA’s 5 direct sales depots in Fukushima City.

The argument by the authorities and the producers is that when the product is reconstituted with water, the radioactivity goes down.

No it doesn’t. Per-kilogram radioactivity goes down because 1 kilogram of dried daikon strips may result in 10 kilograms of reconstituted daikon strips. There may be only 300 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium in the reconstituted daikon, but if you are going to eat 1 kilo of dried daikon strips over time, you will still get 3,000 becquerels of radioactive cesium.

There have been 3 daikon grown in Fukushima City tested since June last year, and radioactive cesium was not detected, according to the Fukushima prefectural government site where you can check the result of the sample tests for Fukushima produce.




Okay, before we go on, I have to say that so many news sources are running around like crazy on this story with new reports coming out every few hours…

Here are some of the temperature readings in reports today:

Bloomburg at 8:00 a.m.: 89.2

NHK as of 10:00 today: 91.2 

Kyodo as of 11:00 a.m. today: 93.7 while readings from two other thermometers also at the bottom of the reactor vessel have remained around 35 C.

Jiji news at 6:25 p.m.: 342.2

Mainichi: TEPCO says, 12 Feb: between 75 and 90; 13 Feb 94.9

And shows a printout of a data chart showing 2/13 17:00 276.4.

He also points out, “if they misread 276.4 to be in Fahrenheit, it’s 135.8℃.”

And here is a report of the press conference:

TEPCO Evening Press Conference 2/13/2012: Reactor 2 RPV Thermocouple Is Broken, Matsumoto Says

Press conference live link is here.

Reactor 2 RPV’s thermocouple that’s been going up seems to have finally broken. (0r else…)

15:00 285.4 degrees Celsius
16:00 260.9
17:00 275.9

Screen capture from the press conference screen:

The last time this particular thermocouple went to that level, it was March 2011.

TEPCO was measuring the electrical resistance of the thermocouple before the temperature suddenly shot up to 285 degrees at 3PM.

Resistance 500 to 530 ohm.

The instrument has totally failed, says TEPCO’s Matsumoto.

Interesting question from a reporter from Nico Nico: Are you going to test the other two thermocouples at the bottom of the RPV?
A: No.

Yomiuri: Did measuring the resistance break the thermocouple?
A: We don’t know why the temperature shot up after we finished the measurement.

Yomiuri: Do you know when this thermocouple broke?
A: At least, until the end of January it was showing the same trend as the other two. We want to carefully compare with other thermocouples.

Jiji Tsushin says right before 3PM, the temperature was 342.2 degrees Celsius.


Q: Who decided that the thermocouple was broken? Was the manufacturer consulted?
A: TEPCO decided. We have experience in maintenance of the thermocouple. (Matsumoto sounds very testy.)

Q: Is there a possibility of a thermocouple showing temperature lower than what really is and therefore it is broken?
A: If this thermocouple were correct, there would be other thermocouples that would show higher temperature. The other temperatures are trending down. So we think this particular thermocouple is broken.

Q: The temperature rise in early February – was it related to the instrument failure now?
A: We think so. But we didn’t know at that time whether it was actually a rise in temperature or the instrument failure. The temperature did go down after increasing the water injection.

Q: How reliable is it to judge “recriticality” by xenon-135?
A: We think it is a reliable indicator.

Q: When was 342.2 degrees Celsius recorded?
A: We finished the testing at 2:54PM. So it must be between that time and 3PM. We’ll have to check.

Q: How high did the temperature go? (looking at the graph that was provided)
A: It went overscale, so the graph shows temperatures like that [over 400 degrees Celsius].





Bloomberg: Reactor No. 2 temperature breaches safety limit — Now almost double Feb. 1 level — Validity of safety declaration questioned — Nearly 200°F

Title: Tepco Says Fukushima Reactor Temperature Breaches Safety Limit 

Source: Bloomberg
Author: Tsuyoshi Inajima
Date: Feb 12, 2012 8:15 PM ET

Tepco Says Fukushima Reactor Temperature Breaches Safety Limit

[…] No. 2 reactor pressure vessel rose to 89.2 degrees Celsius (192.56 Fahrenheit) as of 8:00 a.m. today, higher than the 80 degrees limit, Naohiro Omura, a spokesman for the utility, said by phone today.  […]

Temperatures at the bottom of the No. 2 reactor vessel may have risen by about 40 degrees Celsius from 50.7 degrees Celsius since Feb. 1, even as the company increased the coolant being injected into the unit, raising questions about the validity the safety declaration.

[…] possible that unstable water flow into the unit may have kept the coolant from reaching part of melted fuel sufficiently, he said. […]

Read the report here




This report from Jiji Press says this afternoon 342 degrees was measured at the #2 reactor at Daiichi, and the TEPCO says the cause is probably a malfunction of the thermometer.






Possible sensor failure throws Fukushima reactor temp. data into doubt

In this photo taken on June 22, 2011 and released on Thursday, June 23, 2011 by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), workers in protective suits set up temporary pressure gauges in the Unit 2 reactor building at the tsunami-damaged Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in Okuma, Fukushima prefecture. (AP Photo/Tokyo Electric Power Co.)

In this photo taken on June 22, 2011 and released on Thursday, June 23, 2011 by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), workers in protective suits set up temporary pressure gauges in the Unit 2 reactor building at the tsunami-damaged Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in Okuma, Fukushima prefecture. (AP Photo/Tokyo Electric Power Co.)

Doubt has been cast on the accuracy of temperature readings from the No. 2 reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, as the government and plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) increasingly suspect a temperature sensor inside the reactor has malfunctioned.

According to TEPCO, readings from the suspect sensor — which registered 94.9 degrees Celsius at the bottom of the reactor’s pressure vessel on Feb. 13 — have been rising since the end of January this year. At the time, unable to determine if the elevated readings were real or not, the utility injected extra water into the core to prevent overheating. However, TEPCO began to suspect a malfunction on Feb. 12, when readings from the sensor — one of three in the reactor — fluctuated wildly between 75 and 90 degrees. The “safe” temperature for maintaining cold shutdown has been set at 80 degrees.

The sensor in question uses metal components whose electrical resistance changes with temperature, and calculates the ambient temperature based on changes in the electrical current. TEPCO plans to confirm the sensor’s condition by rechecking its electrical resistance, among other measures.

However, the very fact that the sensor may have malfunctioned casts doubt on the cold shutdowns of reactors No. 1-3, declared by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda in December last year. The declaration was based on readings showing pressure vessel temperatures had come below 100 degrees. Since then, TEPCO has assumed a maximum margin of error of 20 degrees Celsius. Even so, the admission of a possible sensor failure calls all the temperature data collected thus far into question, and with it the condition of the reactor cores.

“Because we haven’t been able to grasp how the nuclear fuel in the cores has been distributed, it’s impossible to rule out localized high temperature spots,” says Kazuhiko Kudo, a special professor of nuclear engineering at Kyushu University. “As the high radiation rules out installing new temperature sensors, if the last two sensors (in the No. 2 reactor) fail, the situation will be much more serious indeed.”

(Mainichi Japan) February 13, 2012




TEPCO carefully monitoring No.2 reactor

The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is carefully monitoring the No. 2 reactor one day after the reading of one of its thermometers topped the critical safety threshold of 80 degrees Celsius.

The reading of the thermometer at the bottom of the pressure vessel shifted between 80 and 90 degrees even after plant workers increased the amount of water injected into the reactor to about 17 tons per hour.

As of 10 AM on Monday, the reading stood at 91.2 degrees.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company says the thermometer could be malfunctioning, as 2 other thermometers at the same height are showing temperatures of around 33 degrees.

It says 3 other thermometers about 1.5 meters below the others show that temperatures inside the reactor are falling.

TEPCO adds it will continue to carefully monitor the reactor, as it has yet to confirm that the thermometer is malfunctioning.

Monday, February 13, 2012 12:15 +0900 (JST)




Fukushima No. 2 reactor nears 94 C, thermometer likely faulty: TEPCO

TOKYO, Feb. 13, Kyodo

Thermometer readings at the bottom of the No. 2 reactor at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant rose further Monday to exceed 90 C for the first time since it attained a cold shutdown in December, reaching a new high of 93.7 C as of 11 a.m., Tokyo Electric Power Co. said.

While concerns are mounting that the reactor may be reheating, TEPCO said it was likely the thermometer was malfunctioning. The device in question had fluctuated between 75 C and 90 C within a short time, while readings from two other thermometers also at the bottom of the reactor vessel have remained around 35 C.

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Radiation concerns keep municipalities from helping with disaster-area debris

Concerns about radiation are preventing the massive amount of debris left in areas hit by the March 2011 tsunami from being sent to other areas for processing.

Keisuke Hiwatashi, mayor of Takeo, Saga Prefecture, visited the disaster areas over 10 times for volunteer and other work. He felt that they needed immediate help processing debris, and on Nov. 28 he announced that Takeo would accept debris for processing. According to the city government, however, over 1,000 phone calls and e-mails came in over the next two days, with many of them critical of the decision. This included one that could be considered a threat. It is believed that Hiwatashi withdrew his decision because of these complaints, though there were additional reasons.

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