Day 384 Nowhere near the end.

“That Unit 4..they had 1,500 rods stuffed in there, they just kept stuffing them in”


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Woods Hole Scientist’s Latest View on Ocean Contamination from Fukushima Accident: “We Haven’t Gone Very Far” in Assessing the Extent, Damage

Wood’s Hole Oceanographic Institute researcher Ken Buesseler wrote a special article for CNN on March 11, 2012 about the effect that radioactive materials released from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant have had on the ocean and marine life. He led a team of international researchers last June to survey the ocean where the contaminated water was dumped by TEPCO.

[see link below for CNN article]

We’re no wiser one year after the accident, whether it is about:

  • the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident itself;
  • how much radioactive materials have been released so far;
  • degree of contamination on land or in the ocean;
  • effect of radiation on heath of humans (the national government is not taking health statistics in Fukushima Prefecture), animals, and plants

The Japanese government and government researchers cannot deal with any of these effectively. The Kan administration turned down the offer for help from the US and other nations for the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident, citing some “national security” concerns. Mr. Edano, current Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry and then-Chief Cabinet Secretary under PM Kan, still says he, as Chief Cabinet Secretary, did not turn down the offer but told the US and others “We will consider your offer”. That is, as fans of Sir Humphrey Appleby know, a bureaucrat/politician speech for “get lost”. Will this change? Not very likely.

As Mr. Buesseler would know, there are different movements of seawater depending on the depth and proximity to the coast in addition to a major move by a major current like “Kuroshio”. Significant amount of radioactive materials moved south along the coast, creating ever-shifting hot spots along the way, contrary to what the government researchers had assured the public (that they would be carried away by Kuroshio and disperse rapidly and evenly in the Pacific Ocean).

Mr. Buesseler may also be interested to know that squid, crab, and abalone have been found to highly concentrate radioactive silver from the ocean environment with ND level of radioactive silver (seemy post on abalone). The ND levels of radioactive materials can still become harmful, because of bioconcentration.

The Chinese survey ship was finding radioactive strontium in the firefly squid 800 kilometers off the coast of Fukushima, back in August 2011. They also found radioactive silver. (See my post from August 2011.)

Read the entire article at:

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18 Bq/kg of Radioactive Cesium from Canned Salmon

(Update: Checked the corporate site of Maruha Nichiro. It is “pink salmon” or “humpback salmon”, in northern Pacific Ocean, Bering Sea, Sea of Okhotsk, Japan Sea, Iwate Prefecture, and Hokkaido.)

Seikatsu Club is a co-op that has been publishing the results of its own analysis of food items it sells.

In the latest results on March 30, 2012, there are several items with radioactive cesium including a can of salmon from a major seafood company (Maruha Nichiro):

30 Bq/kg from lemon
32 Bq/kg from Kiyomi tangor (hybrid of satsuma mandarin orange and regular orange)
18 Bq/kg from a can of boiled salmon

For people trying to eliminate as much radioactive cesium as possible from the food they eat everyday, it’s not getting any easier after one year.

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NYT on Reactor No. 4: “Risk of another colossal radiation leak, experts say” — “Tepco has been racing to fortify crumpled outer shell”

Title: Inquiry Into Fukushima Plant Suggests Worse Damage
Source: NYTimes
Date: March 29, 2012

[…] The spent fuel rods stored at the No. 4 reactor pose a particular threat, experts say, because they lie unprotected outside the unit’s containment vessel.

Tokyo Electric has been racing to fortify the crumpled outer shell of the reactor, and to keep the tank fed with water.

But should a problem also arise with cooling the spent fuel, the plant could run the risk of another colossal radiation leak, experts say. […]

Read the report here

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All Fukushima residents to get compensation thanks to prefectural gov’t

FUKUSHIMA — All 2 million residents of Fukushima Prefecture will receive compensation after the prefectural government decided March 29 to provide residents living outside the evacuation zones with redress in lieu of Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) over the nuclear disaster.

Shirakawa, Aizuwakamatsu and other cities, towns and villages with relatively low levels of radiation agreed to accept the prefectural government’s compensation proposal, But some municipalities maintain that TEPCO should primarily compensate them and the amounts offered by the prefectural government are small.

During a meeting with municipal governments, the prefectural government offered to pay 200,000 yen to every pregnant woman and child under 18 in the 17 municipalities in the Aizu region even though it is not an evacuation zone; as well as 100,000 yen to each pregnant woman and minor in nine cities, towns and villages in southern Fukushima Prefecture that are also outside the evacuation zone. In addition, TEPCO has offered to pay 200,000 yen each to all pregnant women and children in these nine cities, towns and villages. The prefectural government also offered to pay 40,000 yen to all other residents of these areas.

Article continues at:

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Radioactive cesium over government standards found in rainwater collection tanks in Yokohama City over 250 km from Fukushima Daiichi

Posted by Lucas W Hixson on March 29, 2012

NHK reports sand from underground rainwater collection tanks at elementary and junior high schools in Yokohama City have been found contaminated with radioactive cesium in excess of 16,800 becquerels per kilogram, well over the national safety standards.  The Board of Education announced that it will conduct investigations at over 40 other schools with similar water tanks.

The Board of Education conducted the survey after a request from a contracted sludge treatment company to examine radioactive materials in the reservoir.  The water in the tanks was primarily used to flush toilets on each floor of the school.  There had been no concern prior to the investigations, and at some locations the water may have been considered as an alternate source of water supply.

Article continues at:


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Gov’t to buy up, discard rice from Fukushima areas exceeding new radiation standard

All rice from areas of Fukushima whose radiation levels exceed a new government standard of 100 becquerels per kilogram will be purchased by the government this year and discarded, it has been learned.

The new standard of 100 becquerels per kilogram comes into effect in April, and will apply to rice harvested from around October this year. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries decided to go ahead with the move to alleviate consumers’ concerns while supporting farmers.

Up to 37,000 metric tons of rice is expected to be covered by the measure, with the purchase cost reaching 9 billion yen.

Article continues at:

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Highest level of radioactive cesium to date found in freshwater fish in Fukushima village

IITATE, Fukushima — Radioactive cesium far exceeding the allowable limit and way higher than previously detected contamination levels in fish has been found in river trout here, the prefectural government said on March 28.

The yamame, or landlocked masu salmon, caught in the Niida River in Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture, measured 18,700 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram, a reading over 37 times more than the government-imposed provisional limit of 500 becquerels per kilogram.

 Article continues at:
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Radioactive Bamboo Shoots (Takenoko) from Inzai City, Chiba

Inzai City is located in the northwest corner of Chiba Prefecture, sitting in the immediate east of the high-radiation “Tokatsu” region that includes cities like Kashiwa, Nagareyama, and Abiko.

Chiba Prefecture announced on March 27, 2012 that bamboo shoots (spring delicacy in Japan) harvested in Nagareyama City and Inzai City exceeded the soon-to-be implemented new safety standard for radioactive cesium (100 Bq/kg), and requested the majors of these cities to instruct farmers to voluntarily withdraw the bamboo shoots from the market.

Again, if it’s done “voluntarily”, the local or national government does not need to compensate the farmers.

Nagareyama City is the one who quietly shipped the ashes from the garbage incineration plant by rail to Akita Prefecture to be buried last July. Akita Prefecture found out that the ashes contained 28,100 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium (link is in Japanese) and they angrily returned the ashes back to Nagareyama.

Article continues at:
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Fukushima farming areas hope new cesium limits will ease radiation concerns

Farming areas affected by the nuclear disaster in Fukushima have expressed hope that a new radiation limit for food will help them promote the safety of local products, but some still wonder whether consumer confidence can be restored.

The new radioactivity limit for cesium of 100 becquerels per kilogram is due to go into effect on April 1.

Article continues at:

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Up to 1 billion Bq/kg was estimated in seaweed near Fukushima reactors -Study

Title: Canopy-Forming Kelps as California’s Coastal Dosimeter: 131I from Damaged Japanese Reactor Measured in Macrocystis pyrifera (ACS Publications)
Source: Environmental Science & Technology
Author: Steven L. Manley and Christopher G. Lowe, Department of Biological Sciences, California State University
Publication Date (Web): March 6, 2012

Lower values of 131I were measured in kelps along the Japanese coastline prior to the reactor leak: 0.01− 0.37 Bq kg−1 fresh weight (0.067−2.5 mBq gdwt−1 assuming 15% dry wt). […]

It was estimated, however, that seaweed near the Fukushima reactor leak could be as high as 10^8 Bq kg−1 fresh weight (or 10^6 Bq gdwt−1).

Source: Schiermeir, Q. Radiation release will hit marine life. Nature 2011, 472, 145

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Radioactive soil left after decontamination work stored near original locations

FUKUSHIMA — Massive amounts of radioactive soil left after decontamination work at schools, parks and other public spaces here has been stored near its original locations, prefectural authorities have revealed.

The Fukushima Prefectural Government disclosed at a meeting on March 29 that such removed soil — contaminated with radioactive materials emanating from the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant — had been temporarily stored at 1,513 locations in 37 local governments as of Feb. 10. The waste included soil removed from school grounds.

Article continues at:

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Japanese adults and children in Fukushima told to endure radiation on par with nuclear plant workers


This map illustrates the distance between the Daiichi nuclear power plant and the Kawauchi office. It comes in at 20km. Some parts of the town are within the exclusion zone.

Kawauchi, a small town in Fukushima prefecture, had to be evacuated due to its proximity to the radiation coming out of the plant. One year later, several hundred people have returned, or what represents roughly 1/12th of the 3,000 residents who used to live there.

The idea, it appears, is that the town is supposed to return to normal. The municipal office has been reopened, and “elementary and junior high schools are set to reopen” in April, says the Mainichi newspaper. The Mainichi  quotes an old man who said, “It’s nice that there are a lot of people at the office again.” Surely the people in the disaster area have the right to rebuild their lives, and repopulating a village is an integral part of that.

Unfortunately for those residents, the city of Kawauchi is situated about 20 km from the Fukushima nuclear power plant. That means anyone who lives there will be exposed to levels of radiation that exceed what most safety experts consider to be safe. The levels exceed some areas of the Chernobyl exclusion zone. One would never know it by looking at the positive spin the Mainichi or Japan Today newspapers have given the story. It’s an emotional story of a “rebirth” (reminiscent of the legendary Phoenix ).

The Japan Today newspaper reports: “the village told more than 2,500 residents that” Kawauchi has “levels below 20 millisieverts per year, which it says is safe” (see here). This leads one to believe that the levels are close to 20 mSv. Some of the town lies in the exclusion zone (see here). There is no comment, questioning or anything other than the clause “it says is safe,” and the next sentence which says levels of radiation would need to be reduced further in future. The Japan Times published an article in which it said areas near the plant were between 1 to micrsoieverts, which would average close to 20 mSv per year (3 microsieverts per hourwould be 26 mSv per year. See article here). How is exposure to radiation near 20 mSv per year safe?

Does the city government have a basis for claiming that 20 mSv per year are safe for children? “The average annual radiation exposure from natural sources is about 310 millirem (3.1 millisieverts or mSv),”says the NRC (seelink). The NRC is giving a high estimate; many places have levels at 1 mSv per year or lower. Environmentalists and parents often prefer the more conservative figure of 1mSv (see here). However, even at the NRC’s rate, a person would be exposed to 20 mSv in a year, which is over six times the normal recommended background levels. This figure might be reduced a little with decontamination efforts, but that might take years and, in the meantime people will have been exposed to abnormally high levels of natural radiation (not background).

Article continues at:



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