Day 367 Where are the sparrows?

Before I start with the day’s news items, I wanted to mention something that happened on Sunday, 11 Mar, when I was at one of the events in Nagoya, specifically Angel Hiroba. I was listening to a speech being given on the stage and was talking with a woman next to me who happened to be an avid birdwatcher. She told me to listen carefully and look around.

There were no sparrows. 

I thought that they’d probably flown off somewhere nearby where there was less noise, but later as I was walking around downtown Sakae, I noticed that she was right. There was a small flock of pigeons, but not a sparrow to be seen — or heard. Actually, the downtown area was void of any form of birds. I heard one hiyodori in a tree somewhere, but I never did see any sparrows. 

Where have they gone? Why?

And on another note, there was an experiment conducted on 3 Mar 2012, from 10a.m. to 12:30p.m. The group doing this experiment let off 1,000 balloons from Suishohama in Fukui Prefecture. They followed the balloons to track how far they would go and how long it would take. You can see the list of places and the times at:

2012 03 03水晶浜からの風船飛ばし

http://maps.google.co.jp/maps/ms?msa=0&msid=216195107364261166554.0004ba799d8f00892b019

They arrived in Gifu City at Nagara at 13:30

Kozouji at 13:00

Aichi-ken Ichinomiya at 13:00.

The point of all this is…. if one of the reactors up in Fukui – Mihama or Monju – were to release radiation as a result of an accident, it would only take a few hours for that radiation to reach one of the largest population centers in Japan, the greater Nagoya area.

Food for thought.

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Nuclear safety panel to present its view on Oi reactors soon

http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2012/03/146877.html

TOKYO, March 13, Kyodo

Japan’s Nuclear Safety Commission on Tuesday concluded a series of discussions with experts on the results of stress tests on two idled reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Oi plant, and will compile its evaluation report in the near future, the commission’s chairman suggested.

If the commission approves the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency’s endorsement of the utility’s stress test results on the Nos. 3 and 4 reactors of the plant in Fukui Prefecture, administrative procedures for the first resumption of reactors idled for scheduled checkups since the Fukushima nuclear accident will move forward to the final stage.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and three ministers concerned will then judge whether to authorize the restart of the reactors after taking into account the opinions of local governments hosting the plant.

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New regime for food radiation tests

Ministry unifies guide for municipalities, sets lower cesium limits

Staff writer

The health ministry has issued to municipalities unified radiation testing guidelines effectively requiring regular sample checks on any food item that has a cesium reading of 50 becquerels per kilogram in current or past random inspections.

The nonbinding guidelines take effect next month and cover any food items subject to the random tests through this month that hit or top the cesium limit.

To date there have been no unified guidelines for radiation tests on food products except for those that have exceeded the current cesium ceiling of 500 becquerels per kilogram. Municipalities carried out their own checks on the food items they suspected may be radioactive.

The ministry’s guidelines, released Monday, will cover municipalities in 17 prefectures in eastern Japan starting April 1, the date a new regulation on radioactive cesium will be enforced that lowers the threshold on food from the current 500 becquerels to 100 becquerels per kilogram.

The guidelines call for more frequent tests on food items from which contamination of 100 becquerels per kilogram has been found until April. These include peaches, shiitake grown on logs, beef, rice and tea.

Article continues at:

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120313x1.html

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Japan struggles to handle plutonium as fast-breeder reactor project becomes unrealistic

In this file photo, the nuclear reactor Monju is seen in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, on Nov. 16, 2010. (Mainichi)

In this file photo, the nuclear reactor Monju is seen in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, on Nov. 16, 2010. (Mainichi)

Japan has been fighting an urgent and difficult battle to dispose of accumulated plutonium extracted from spent nuclear fuel as it has become increasingly unrealistic to realize the country’s long and expensive fast-breeder reactor project.

One gram of plutonium is said to have energy equal to 1 kiloliter of petroleum. If plutonium is mixed with uranium to create “MOX (mixed-oxide) fuel” and is burned at a fast-breeder reactor, more plutonium is produced than consumed. But now that it has become difficult to realize the government’s project to build a fast-breeder reactor that was once dubbed a “dream reactor,” Japan has been hard-pressed to dispose of accumulated plutonium.

Japan started the construction of the Monju prototype fast-breeder reactor in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, in 1985, and succeeded for the first time in generating power at the fast-breeder reactor in August 1995. But in December 1995, a fire broke out at the facility when sodium used as coolant leaked out. The operation of the reactor was resumed in 2010, but it has been plagued by a series of problems ever since, and therefore it is extremely difficult to put it into commercial use.

Article continues at:

http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20120313p2a00m0na012000c.html

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Gundersen: Fukushima Meltdown Could Result in One Million Cases of Cancer

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US Scholar Living in Japan Is Fed Up With Selfish and Irrational Japanese Who Refuse to Accept Disaster Debris

Brookings Intitute’s nonresident fellow and former Washington Post writer Mr. Paul Blustein derides the Japanese for their irrational fear of radiation and joins Cyndi Lauper in scolding the Japanese for refusing to accept and burn the disaster debris in their neighborhood.

In the article commemorating the one-year anniversary of the disaster, the resident of Kamakura City writes in Washington Post (emphasis is mine),

… That spirit has faded, however, as divisions have erupted over nuclear power. The national discussion of the country’s reliance on atomic energy has degenerated into farce as many people have become increasingly — and irrationally — preoccupied with how radiation from the crippled Fukushima Daiichipower plant might affect them. Large segments of the population are so petrified, and so militant in their fear, that most local governments outside Tohoku are refusing to accept for burial some of the millions of tons ofrubble left by the tsunami. (And I’m talking about the remnants of smashed buildings and vehicles in other prefectures, not junk from the nuclear plant’s vicinity.)

In a town near where I live, officials rejected the debris, saying that even if the radiation emissions were zero, local farmers and fishermen might suffer from huu hyou higai — financial losses due to baseless rumors — just as many Tohoku producers are already. So much for kizuna.

So much indeed. Most Japanese hate that word now. He doesn’t seem to realize that people he criticizes as “irrational” know fully well that the remnants of smashed buildings and vehicles are not from the nuclear power plant but earthquake and tsunami debris in Miyagi and Iwate, and that as the debris lied along the coast of Miyagi and Iwate the nuclear power plant had several explosions that spewed out a large amount of radioactive materials that deposited on top of the debris. For most of the country outside southern Tohoku and Kanto, the radiation levels of the debris are much higher than their background.

He probably doesn’t know (or care) that these debris may be contaminated with chemicals and oil, soaked in seawater, and that the municipal incinerators for household garbage may not be equipped to handle such debris. Or the fact that the debris with 100 becquerels/kg of cesium will result in ashes with 3300 becquerels/kg of cesium, which have to be buried in the disposal sites which often are located near the water source or the agricultural land with inadequate facilities to trap and clean the radioactive runoff.

He doesn’t seem to listen to the heads of the municipalities in the disaster-affected Miyagi and Iwate who do not want the debris to be shipped outside their cities and towns.

Details too minor, I suppose.

Then he goes on to scold the citizens for not trusting their government and experts:

The hysteria about radiation reflects a breakdown in trust, as witnessed by endless media accountsquoting people who doubt the government’s monitoring of food and soil. This is lamentable;although officials disingenuously played downthe possibility of a much worse accident at Fukushima Daiichi in the first days after the quake, reputable experts affirm the government’s major claim: that health risks are minuscule except in areas very close to the plant.

You can read the entire article at the Brookings site,here.

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474,000 tons of disaster rubble remains piled up in nuke crisis no-go zone

There is still some 474,000 metric tons of earthquake and tsunami debris piled up in coastal areas of the Fukushima nuclear disaster no-go zone, the Environment Ministry announced on March 12.

The debris is contaminated with radioactive cesium from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, with concentrations reaching as high as 58,700 becquerels per kilogram in the town of Okuma, where some of the No. 1 plant’s reactors are located. As the toxic debris is inside the nuclear crisis exclusion zone, its disposal is up to the central government, which is moving ahead with plans for sorting facilities and temporary incinerators.

Article continues at:

http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20120313p2a00m0na004000c.html

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Shizuoka’s Shimada city to accept disaster debris from Iwate

SHIZUOKA (Kyodo) — The Shimada city government in Shizuoka Prefecture has found no radioactive contamination in samples of rubble left by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Iwate Prefecture and is expected to finally accept such rubble for incineration.

Article continues at:

http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20120313p2g00m0dm028000c.html

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More Municipalities Say Yes to Disaster Debris as Government Sends Formal Request to Prefectures to Accept It

The push for disaster debris that has been contaminated with radioactive fallout from Fukushima I Nuke Plant has reached an almost hysterical level with TV commercials, huge ads in the paper, and newspaper editorials calling anyone who doesn’t want the debris burned in their neighborhood as “unpatriotic”. Even a foreigner living in Japan, former Washington Post reporter, chimes in, rebuking the Japanese for refusing to “help” people in the disaster affected area.

Several cities in Okinawa Prefecture arefor accepting the debris. Kitakyushu City, who was once known for heavy pollution and now wants to be the environmental capital of the world, wants to accept and burn the debris. Governor of Kyoto wants it, as long as the government compensates for the damage from “baseless rumors” (such as the number of foreign tourists dropping to zero…). Cities in Shizuoka and Niigata want it, even if Governor of Niigata is dead set against it. Mayor of Yokohama, who is personally responsible in my opinion for feeding Yokohama’s school children with radioactive beef, and ex-TV personality Governor of Kanagawa want to join Governor of Tokyo in merrily burning the debris and dump it in the Tokyo Bay. Wakkanai City in Hokkaido, the northern most part of Hokkaido right across from Russia’s Sakhalin Island, wants to burn it. (Links are in Japanese.)

Article continues at:

http://ex-skf.blogspot.com/2012/03/more-municipalities-say-yes-to-disaster.html

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Radioactivity dispersal distance from Fukushima 1/10th of Chernobyl’s

http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2012/03/146846.html

TOKYO, March 13, Kyodo

Radioactive substances released from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant were dispersed roughly one-10th of the distance of those spewed after the Chernobyl accident in 1986, the Japanese science ministry said Tuesday.

The ministry compared data on radioactive substances from the Fukushima plant collected between March and November 2011 with data from the Chernobyl disaster collected three years and eight months after the outbreak of the disaster in April 1986, ministry officials said.

The data showed, for example, more than 1.48 million becquerels of radioactive cesium per square meter was detected in soil at a location some 250 kilometers away from the Chernobyl plant. In the case of the Fukushima Daiichi plant, the distance was much smaller at about 33 km, the officials said.

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Gundersen: One Year Anniversary of Fukushima Daiichi

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Naoto Kan Writes for Foreign Affairs on March 11 Anniversary

Washington Post (Noda)? Nah. Former Prime Minister Kan will write for the limited, more sophisticated global readers who read Foreign Affairs magazine about the Fukushima nuclear accident.

Kan is smarter than Noda, and he opens the piece by talking about his father. Personalizing the accident. Clever ploy. His father told him about Prometheus, Kan says. Nice story. In addition to reading “Japan Sank (日本沈没)” by Sakyo Komatsu after the Fukushima accident started, he must be reading the Asahi Shinbun’s “Trap of Prometheus” (which details his administration’s horrendous response to the nuclear disaster).
From Foreign Affairs (3/8/2012), my comment in blue italic in square brackets:

[snip]

Especially in recent years, in order to prevent global warming, nuclear power has been an effective replacement to power plants that feed on fossil fuels and pollute the atmosphere. In fact, before Fukushima, Japan had a plan to expand its network of nuclear plants. [The party line. No mention of nuke plants utilizing only one-third of heat generated and dumping the rest into the ocean, thus actually raising the temperature of seawater which may be contributing more to man-made global warming.]

Read the entire article at:

http://ex-skf.blogspot.com/2012/03/naoto-kan-writes-for-foreign-affairs-on.html

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Cindy Lauper…. please read EX-SKF’s blog!!!

US Pop Star Joins the Chorus of “Buy Fukushima Products to Support Fukushima”

Cyndi Lauper is urging people and the governments outside Japan to buy products made in Fukushima to support the recovery of Fukushima.

She’s been visiting Fukushima on charity events, and meeting children in Fukushima. Instead of speaking out for the safety of children in the contaminated area, she urges foreigners to buy Fukushima goods.

She even expresses her dismay that the disaster debris clearing hasn’t progressed.

[snip]

I guess she’s never heard of the nuclear accident or radioactive cesium. Nor seen the small children with glass badges.

You can still view the video clip of the NHK News segment at the link.

Read the entire article at:

http://ex-skf.blogspot.com/2012/03/us-pop-star-joins-chorus-of-buy.html

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http://www-tc.pbs.org/s3/pbs.videoportal-prod.cdn/media/swf/PBSPlayer.swf

Watch In Japan, Nuclear Clean-up May Be Mission: Impossible on PBS. See more from PBS NewsHour.

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