Day 357 Sharing 40,000,000,000,000,000 bequerels with the word

Thom Hartmann: Fukushima, Did we almost lose Tokyo?

 (via Nuclear Free Planet at:

Kevin Kamps, Beyond Nuclear joins Thom Hartmann. In a little over a week – we’ll hit the one-year anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that triggered a nuclear crisis at Fukushima in Japan. And this week – we’re learning that that nuclear crisis is even worse than was originally thought. On Wednesday – Japanese Scientists announced that twice as much radioactive cesium than estimated blew out of the plant after the earthquake and tsunami. That’s about 40,000 trillion bequerels. And it took just 18 days for those radioactive particles to encircle the planet – turning up in places as far away as Vermont. French scientists are now calling on Japan to remain vigilant in its inspections of fruit, milk, and game to prevent further radiation contamination.

These new numbers come on the heels of a Greenpeace report on the Fukushima disaster – in which the organization places the blame for the crisis – NOT on the natural disaster – but instead on the Japanese Government. The report accuses the Japanese government of ignoring the risks posed to Fukushima before the earthquake and “cutting corners to protect profits over people.” It goes on to argues that nuclear energy is “inherently unsafe” and governments are too quick to approve nuclear power plants, while at the same time unable to the consequences of nuclear disasters. That includes the United States. Currently – there are 23 General Electric Mark 1 reactors in operation around the United States. The Mark 1 is the same reactor design used at Fukushima. And just last month – the Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued a warning to 96 nuclear reactors around the nation that sit on fault lines – urging operators to perform new stress tests to see if the reactor can hold up to earthquake. So what should we make of all this?

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Update on the firewood used in pizzeria ovens in Okinawa (from the Safecast listserv)

After high levels of cesium up to 39960Bq/kg was found three Pizzerias’ ovens in Okinawa, the Ministry of Agriculture issued a notice to general consumers, restaurant owners and food manufacturers regarding the use of firewood, charcoal and ash for cooking and processing food.

Ash from firewood and charcoal that was produced, originated from, or stored in the following 17 prefectures are prohibited for use in cooking and processing food: Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi, Akita, Yamagata, Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Saitama, Chiba, Tokyo, Kanagawa, Niigata, Yamanashi, Nagano and Shizuoka.

The exceptions include firewood and charcoal stored with cover to avoid rain and wind, and its original material was cut on or before March 11, or was cut outside the 17 prefectures and was stored with cover to avoid rain and wind.

The restaurants in Okinawa bought firewood from a distributor in Gifu prefecture without knowing the firewood came from Fukushima. Charcoal is used in Yakitori restaurants and some Yakiniku restaurants and also for cooking Unagi (eel). Fukushima is the fifth largest producer of charcoal in Japan.

On February 24 the Ministry of the Environment released survey results of household firewood and ash in 8 prefectures.

Iwate firewood; ND to 770Bq/kg ash: less than 72 to 10,100Bq/kg
Miyagi firewood: ND to 231Bq/kg ash: 161 to 14,100Bq/kg
Fukushima firewood:ND to 1460bq/kg ash: 1,360 to 240,000Bq/kg
Ibaraki firewood: 151 to 159Bq/kg ash: 7,300 to 9,500Bq/kg
Tochigi firewood: less than 31 to 400Bq/kg ash: 1,160 to 4,700Bq/kg
Gunma firewood: ND to 270Bq/kg ash: 560 to 8,000Bq/kg
Saitama firewood: ND to 85Bq/kg ash: 520 to 1,310Bq/kg
Chiba firewood: ND to 244Bq/kg ash: 650 to 2,120Bq/kg

The Ministry of the Environment suggests using firewood of 40Bq/kg, of firewood confirmed to be safe, for household stoves, and in the case such firewood is not available the Ministry of the Environment suggests removing the outer layer of the wood, where the radioactive cesium is attached, before use. Ash should not be mixed with the soil in gardens or farms, unless the safety of the ash has been confirmed. Otherwise, it should be collected, stored and disposed by the local municipalities.

And this (also from Safecast listserv) about cesium showing up in the urine of a 12-year-old boy 

M. Sasaki runs the food measuring service called “Team Nihonmatsu” in Fukushima prefecture that detected 30 Bq/kg Cesium in MEIJI Baby Formula in November last year.

When he tested the urine of his 12 year old son it measured 7.55 Bq/kg.

Sasaki was shocked and felt that he had failed to protect his own child from radiation exposure . The son goes to a junior high school where school lunch and milk had been measured for cesium and it was found to be “Not Detected”. Sasaki often decontaminates around his house keeping the radiation level at approximately 0.2 uSV/h.

He suspected that milk from major brands that his son drinks at home was the cause for contamination. 18 Bq/kg of cesium was measured in MORINAGA

brand milk manufactured in the Sendai factory. 39.8 Bq/kg was measured in MEGUMILK manufactured in Michinoku milk factory in Miyagi prefecture.

After his son was found with cesium in his urine, the family stepped up the measures to have only verified safe milk and food products at home, and also his son spent his holidays outside Miyagi prefecture. Later his son passed another examination for internal radiation exposure with a “Not Detected” result.


M. Sasaki has so far tested 130 samples of milk far and came to the following conclusion:

Milk manufactured in Miyagi prefecture contains over 10 of cesium.

Milk manufactured in Iwate prefecture contains 10 Bq/kg or less cesium. MEIJI Oishi Milk manufactured at the headquarter factory in Tokyo often have cesium (depending on each test sample) , while milk of the same type and brand manufactured in other prefectures, such as Hokkaido, is not found to have cesium. To his surprise, Sasaki also found that cesium was not detected from milk produced in various Fukushima factories at the time of his testing. However, Sasaki feels it is important to continue his testing, because one never knows when contamination will shop up in various food products.

Sasaki received a phone call from an acquaintance running another food measuring service who said that 40% of infants tested in Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma are found with cesium in their urine, and he suspects that another source of internal radiation exposure is homegrown vegetables. Sasaki hopes that that vegetables and other food products, including milk, will continue to be measured extensively so it is possible to determine the cause of contamination.

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6,800 tons of radiation-tainted rice straw left lying in 8 prefectures

Packed rice straw is laid on an idle rice paddy in Ichinoseki, Iwate Prefecture on Dec. 13, 2011. (Mainichi)

Packed rice straw is laid on an idle rice paddy in Ichinoseki, Iwate Prefecture on Dec. 13, 2011. (Mainichi)

Some 6,800 metric tons of rice straw contaminated with radioactive substances leaked from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant remains in eight prefectures with no immediate prospect of disposal, the Mainichi has learned.

Moreover, sludge generated from radiation-contaminated waste water as well as ash tainted with radioactive materials amounts to some 97,000 tons in 12 prefectures — 3.6 times the figure as of July last year, according to the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry.

Even though waste containing up to 8,000 becquerels of radiation per kilogram can be buried under national government standards, efforts to dispose of such waste have made little progress, showing that the government’s countermeasures have not been properly implemented

Article continues at:

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Date City in #Fukushima to Allow Rice Growing Everywhere, Even Where 500 Bq/kg Safety Limit Was Exceeded Last Year

The mayor of the city says “It’s for the research purpose, and won’t be sold”. Sure.If Fukushima City and Nihonmatsu City follow suit, the only municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture where rice won’t be grown this year are the same as last year, inside the no-entry zone and in the planned evacuation zone.

Everywhere else, whether it produced rice with 500 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium or not, farmers will grow rice.
Officials in Nihonmatsu City have already said as long as it is the national government’s responsibility to test the harvested rice, they don’t see any problem growing rice.

Article continues at:

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From broken temp sensors to leaky pipes, Fukushima nuke plant plagued with problems

Nearly a year has passed since the meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, and while some progress has been made in decommissioning the power station, operations continue to be plagued with problems from broken temperature sensors to leaky piping.

Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) took a major step forward in the decommissioning and dismantling process — expected to take at least 30 years — in January when it inserted an endoscope into the plant’s No. 2 reactor vessel, beginning the first direct internal observations since the crisis began in March 2011.

 Article continues at:

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Contamination level is increasing in Tokyo Bay

Posted by Mochizuki on March 2nd, 2012

Following up this article..Tama river fish contaminated

Cesium is carried from the rivers to Tokyo Bay.

Prof. Yamazaki from Kinki university measured cesium contained sea ground soil at 36 points of Tokyo bay.  The result shows the contamination level is increasing near the outlet of Arakawa river. He assumes cesium is carried from contaminated river.

(5 cm deep in the sea ground, cesium 134 and 137)

8/2011 : 308 Bq/Kg

10/2011 : 476 Bq/Kg(↑155%)

12/2011 : 511 Bq/Kg(↑107%)

It’s in the increasing trend at many other points too. Cesium level is higher near the river than the center of Tokyo Bay.

He also measured how deep cesium 134 is contained in the sea ground at 4 points near a river. As the result, cesium was measured already 24~26 cm deep underground. Usually, mud is deposited 1~2cm yearly near the outlet of a river. Prof. Yamazaki assumes cesium may have been carried by benthic organism.


原発事故由来セシウム濃度 東京湾じわり上昇

2012年3月2日 07時04分
山崎教授は昨年八月以降、湾内の三十六カ所で海底の泥に含まれる放射性セシウム134と137の濃度(一キログラム当たり)を測定している。 福島第一原発事故による影響で、東京湾の荒川河口付近の海底で放射性セシウムの濃度が上昇していることが近畿大の山崎秀夫教授(環境解析学)の調査で分かった。国は現時点で東京湾で調査を行っておらず、山崎教授は「今まさに原発事故由来の放射性物質が、首都圏の放射能濃度の高い地域を流れる河川から東京湾に届いたところ。今後の推移を見守るため、国による継続的な調査が必要だ」と指摘する。





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Tokyo Starts to Burn Onagawa Debris in Earnest at Incineration Plants for Regular Household Garbage in 23 Special Wards

Residents of those 23 Special Wards (“ku”) had zero say in the decision. The decision was unanimously reached by the Assembly of Mayors of the 23 Special Wards, and the decision was quickly welcomed by the Tokyo Metropolitan government and the project of burning the disaster (radioactive) debris from Onagawa-machi in Miyagi Prefecture immediately started in December with the test incineration.

After the so-called “explanation” to the residents was done in the Special Wards, now the formality has been over. It’s time to burn the debris no matter what. The first containers arrived at Chuo Waste Management Plant in Chuo-ku on March 2.

The governor of Tokyo and the mayors of the 23 Special Wards of Tokyo are so eager to “help out” people in the disaster-affected areas in Tohoku (where the radioactive fallout also landed) that they are willing to burn the disaster debris with radioactive materials, toxic chemicals, arsenic, asbestos, and no one knows what else, in the incineration plants with no special facilities to treat radioactive materials. These plants are often located in the middle of crowded residential/commercial areas with single-family homes, apartments, shops, schools, hospitals, small factories. When they are located on the landfills on Tokyo Bay, they are often close to public facilities like parks, schools, hotels.

These plants are not even for industrial waste; they burn regular garbage from households.

Article continues with maps at:

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Ministry leaders decided to hold nuclear data after Fukushima crisis

The government's new radiation contamination map site is seen in this screen capture taken on Oct. 18. (Mainichi)

The government’s new radiation contamination map site is seen in this screen capture taken on Oct. 18. (Mainichi)

TOKYO (Kyodo) — The science minister and other top ministry officials decided to withhold radiation forecast data from the public four days after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami triggered a nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, an internal document made available Friday showed.

Then Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Minister Yoshiaki Takaki, lawmakers serving as top ministry officials and top bureaucrats made the decision on March 15 to withhold data about the predicted spread of radioactivity, which included an assumption that all radioactive material would be discharged from the crippled plant.

Prediction of the spread of radioactive substances, compiled from the System for Prediction of Environmental Emergency Dose Information, “could be by no means released to the public,” the document dated March 19 showed.

 Article continues at:

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TEPCO notifies gov’t of plan to replace thermometer at Fukushima plant

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Friday it has notified the government of a plan to set up a new temperature gauging device replacing a troubled thermometer at a reactor at its crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

According to a report to the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, the utility is considering putting a thermometer down to a depth of 15 to 20 meters through an existing pipe to gauge the temperature of water at the bottom of the No. 2 reactor.

Article continues at:

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Yomiuri: Radiation fears more serious than expected — Hosono meeting almost every day with advertising agencies to discuss strategy for appealing to public

Title: ONE YEAR AFTER THE DISASTER / Quake-hit areas still struggling with debris
Source: Yomiuri
Date: Mar 3, 2012

[…] The Environment Ministry has not actively explained in detail about debris from quake-hit areas because it did not want to agitate residents who oppose accepting the debris. […]However, public fears of radiation were more serious and stronger than ministry officials expected.

Environment Minister Goshi Hosono has become increasingly frustrated with the slow progress ahead of the first anniversary of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Hosono has called employees of large advertising agencies to his office almost every day to discuss strategy to appeal to the public directly. […]

Read the report here

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Violin made from tsunami debris to be played on anniversary

Making violin from tsunami debris

KAMAISHI, Japan, March 3, Kyodo

A project is under way to have 1,000 violinists from around the world play at various venues in Japan and abroad with violins made from debris in the tsunami-ravaged city of Rikuzentakata, with the first performance to be given by an Israeli-born violinist at a first-anniversary ceremony there on March 11.

Violins have been made under the project from wooden debris in Rikuzentakata, home to the so-called ”miracle pine,” regarded as a symbol of reconstruction.

The tree survived the gigantic tidal waves that knocked down all the other roughly 70,000 pine trees on a 2-kilometer stretch along the Pacific shore.

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Japan proposes sharing women’s disaster experience

Japan will submit a draft resolution to the United Nations next week calling for greater recognition of women’s roles and challenges in the event of major disasters.
Japanese government representative Hiroko Hashimoto announced the plan in New York on Friday at the UN Commission on the Status of Women.
Hashimoto said the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan last March provided a chance for people to recognize the roles women could play in disaster prevention, relief work and reconstruction.
She also said Japan wants to share the lessons it learned from the disaster to help the international community build better response systems.
Japan’s draft resolution also emphasizes the importance of protecting women from violence in the event of major disasters.

Saturday, March 03, 2012 09:09 +0900 (JST)

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Tepco wants six-year 10% hike, then 5% cut


Tokyo Electric Power Co. and the fund helping it with nuclear disaster compensation might hike power rates once for six years before cutting them 5 percent in fiscal 2018, sources said Friday.

The utility’s plan, which entails further restructuring based on additional loans from creditor banks, is designed to persuade creditors to give it more loans. But its feasibility is unclear because it depends on restarting now-idled nuclear plants and other unforeseeable factors.

The utility, which runs the crippled Fukushima No. 1 power plant, briefed creditors on the plan with the state-backed Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund. Tepco’s earnings in the plan were projected over the next decade in a bid to win ¥1 trillion in additional loans.

Article continues at:

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Fidel Castro calls on Japanese to tell nuclear experience to world

HAVANA (Kyodo) — Former Cuban leader Fidel Castro took part in a gathering for Japanese atomic-bomb survivors organized by the Cuban government and a Japanese NGO on Thursday in Havana and called on them to convey to the world their experiences regarding the recent nuclear crisis in Japan and the 1945 U.S. bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The 85-year-old attended the gathering for more than three hours and made the call in a speech to about 800 Japanese in the audience. It was one of the few public appearances he has made following his retirement from all public positions last April.

Among other participants at the Global Hibakusha Forum, co-organized by Peace Boat, a Japanese nongovernmental organization and the Cuban government, were 10 survivors of the U.S. bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II, and Fuminori Tamba, an associate professor at the University of Fukushima.

Tamba is conducting research on the effects of radiation on local residents in the aftermath of the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which was triggered by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami last year.

Castro heard Hiroshi Nakamura, an 80-year-old hibakusha, speak about what he went through during the bombing of Hiroshima when he was aged 13.

“It’s my duty to support hibakusha like you as we seek a world free of nuclear weapons,” Castro said, adding that a book should be compiled in Cuba about the irradiation and the nuclear accident to tell the world what happened.

Touching on the disaster in Fukushima, he said, “Humankind has laid its hands on something extremely dangerous,” although in the past he has expressed support for Iran’s right to make peaceful use of nuclear power.

While Castro walked slowly, aided by a person beside him during the event, and his voice was slightly hoarse, he appeared to be in good spirits and smiled when he put on a Japanese happi coat given to him as a souvenir.

(Mainichi Japan) March 3, 2012


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