Day 388 “There is no “safe” level, only “accepted.”

And as I write today’s news updates, the wind is still strong (at 8 pm)…

Japan’s Strongest Storm Since 1959 Slams Into Tokyo Region

By Chris Cooper, Kiyotaka Matsuda and Stuart Biggs – Apr 3, 2012 7:54 PM GMT+0900

Japanese airlines canceled hundreds of flights, some train services were halted and thousands of workers went home early as some of the strongest winds in more than 50 years hit Tokyo today.

The weather agency issued a tornado warning for the Tokyo area after the storm dumped as much as 6 centimeters (2.4 inches) of rain an hour in central Japan as it crossed from the southwest, with winds gusting up to 140 kilometers (87 miles) an hour. An 82-year-old woman died after being knocked over by the wind and hitting her head, national broadcaster NHK reported.

Article continues at:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-04-03/japan-s-strongest-storm-since-1959-forecast-to-slam-into-tokyo.html

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Mainichi Expert Sr. Writer: Gov’t sources say No. 4 pool a grave concern — Storage pool barely intact — We have no time to humor senseless thinking of those who downplay the risks

 http://enenews.com/breaking-mainichi-expert-sr-writer-govt-sources-say-no-4-pool-a-grave-concern-storage-pool-barely-intact-we-have-no-time-to-humor-senseless-thinking-of-those-who-downplay-the-risksTitle: In light of further nuclear risks, economic growth should not be priority
Source: Mainichi
Author: By Takao Yamada, Expert Senior Writer
Date: April 2, 2012
Emphasis Added

[…] One of the biggest issues that we face is the possibility that the spent nuclear fuel pool of the No. 4 reactor at the stricken Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant will collapse. This is something that experts from both within and outside Japan have pointed out since the massive quake struck. […] not only independent experts, but also sources within the government say that it’s a grave concern.

The storage pool in the No. 4 reactor building has a total of 1,535 fuel rods, or 460 tons of nuclear fuel, in it. The 7-story building itself has suffered great damage, with the storage pool barely intact on the building’s third and fourth floors. The roof has been blown away. If the storage pool breaks and runs dry, the nuclear fuel inside will overheat and explode, causing a massive amount of radioactive substances to spread over a wide area. Both the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and French nuclear energy company Areva have warned about this risk.

A report released in February by the Independent Investigation Commission on the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident stated that the storage pool of the plant’s No. 4 reactor has clearly been shown to be “the weakest link” in the parallel, chain-reaction crises of the nuclear disaster. The worse-case scenario drawn up by the government includes not only the collapse of the No. 4 reactor pool, but the disintegration of spent fuel rods from all the plant’s other reactors. If this were to happen, residents in the Tokyo metropolitan area would be forced to evacuate.

Former Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Sumio Mabuchi, who was appointed to the post of then Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s advisor on the nuclear disaster immediately after its outbreak, proposed the injection of concrete from below the No. 4 reactor to the bottom of the storage pool, Chernobyl-style. […]

“Because sea water was being pumped into the reactor, the soundness of the structure (concrete corrosion and deterioration) was questionable. There also were doubts about the calculations made on earthquake resistance as well,” said one government source familiar with what took place at the time. “[…] fuel rod removal will take three years. Will the structure remain standing for that long? Burying the reactor in a concrete grave is like building a dam, and therefore expensive. I think that it was because TEPCO’s general shareholders’ meeting was coming up (in June 2011) that the company tried to keep expenses low.” […]

Earthquakes in the neighborhood of level-5 on the seismic intensity scale continue to occur even now in the Tohoku and Kanto regions. We cannot accept the absurd condescension of those who fear the worse-case scenario, labeling them as “overreacting.” We have no time to humor the senseless thinking that instead, those who downplay the risks for the sake of economic growth are “realistic.”

Read the report here

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Translated news item posted on Safecast Listserv

Nikkei reports Fukushima rice goes mainly to restaurants

On March 27 Nikkei reported that Fukushima rice goes mainly to the food service and restaurant industries where there is a growing demand for blended rice.

http://www.nikkei.com/news/category/article/g=96958A9C93819591E0E4E2E3E48DE0E4E2E1E0E2E3E09797E3E2E2E2

There is a legal way to sell rice without identifying its origin.
Blended rice (BURENDO-MAI) is mix of rice from different regions and it is not required by law to identify its place of origin.
The law regulating agriculture before October 2011 stipulated that if the distributors wanted to label their blended rice with the type of the rice contained that exceeds 50% of the total, the product needed to pass a visual inspection.
http://www.maff.go.jp/j/jas/hyoji/pdf/pamph_e.pdf#search=’ブレンド米%20産地表示

Under the revised rice traceability law effective from October 2011, the above inspection is not required in case the distributor inform its customers of origin of the product.

If blended rice is labeled “Niigata Blend”, it means over 50% of the rice is from Niigata and the rest is from somewhere else. If one blended rice is labeled “Koshihikari Blend”, over 50% of the rice is of Koshihikari type and the place of origin and the year of produce are not legally required to be identified.

In October a local newpaper reported that Fukushima rice get more orders than expected from the food industry due to its low price. If Fukushima Koshihikari is mixed with Koshihikari rice from another location, distributors can avoid labeling it as Fukushima Koshihikari but label it as “Koshihikari 100%”.
http://www.kahoku.co.jp/spe/spe_sys1071/20111013_02.htm

51% of food services including restaurants surveyed purchase only blended rice, and 31.8% purchase both blended rice and rice of single origin. Those who purchase both replied that blended rice accounts for 64% and rice of a single origin accounts for 36%.
Questionnaire by the Ministry of Agriculture in 2004
http://www.syokuryo.maff.go.jp/archives/data/gaisyoku1607.pdf#search=’ブレンド米%20外食’

The rice price for restaurants in 2010 was 250 to 299yen/Kg for blended rice and 300 to 349yen/Kg for rice of a single origin.
Marketing report by Intage Co.
http://www.intage.co.jp/chikara/data/chapter2.pdf#search=’ブレンド米%20外食

Consumers pay 380 to 700 yen/kg for rice of a single origin whose place of origin, type of rice, year of produce are all labeled at supermarkets and for internet sale.

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WSPEEDI Simulation Showed 10 Terabecquerels/Hour Iodine-131 in Chiba on March 15 Last Year, Data Still Not Disclosed

10 terabequerels = 10,000,000,000,000 becquerels.

The system also calculated the amount of radioactive cesium to be 1 terabecquerels/hour each for cesium-134 and cesium 137. And the Japanese government is still sitting on the data.

WSPEEDI simulation system can predict the dispersion of radioactive materials in the hemisphere, in 3D.

From what Jiji Tsushin reports, the WSPEEDI simulation was done on March 15 upon request from the Ministry of Education and Science. For whatever reason, the Ministry decided to not announce it (for that matter, not let anyone know about it, till April 3, 2012).

On the very next day, on March 16, the Ministry announced that SPEEDI and WSPEEDI would now be the responsibilities of the Nuclear Safety Commission, and instructed the Japan Atomic Energy Agency to send the data to the Commission, who either sat on it or didn’t even know they were now in charge of SPEEDI/WSPEEDI.

There is another interesting bit of information in the Jiji article below. The simulation was ordered by the Ministry of Education, and one of the parameters was that radioactive materials were released at about 9PM on March 14, 2011. That’s about the time (9:18PM to be exact) when 2 safety relief valves were opened in Reactor 2, probably releasing a large amount of radioactive materials through a breach in the Suppression Chamber, according to the research paper by Fumiya Tanabe of Sociotechnical Systems Safety Research Institute.

If that’s the case, the government must have known that the Reactor 2 Suppression Chamber had already failed, and opening the safety relief valves would release a large amount of radioactive materials from the breach. So they ordered the WSPEEDI simulation specifying the time of the release at 9PM on March 14.

Article continues at:

http://ex-skf.blogspot.jp/2012/04/wspeedi-simulation-showed-10.html

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Highest Estimate Yet: Fukushima about equal to Chernobyl, says US gov’t funded study

Title: Fukushima-derived radionuclides in the ocean and biota off Japan
Source: www.pnas.org/cgi/content/short/1120794109
Authors: Buesseler et al.
Date: April 2, 2012
Emphasis Added

[…] our data are consistent with higher estimates of the magnitude of Fukushima fallout and direct releases [Stohl et al. (2011) Atmos Chem Phys Discuss 11:28319–28394; Bailly du Bois et al. (2011) J Environ Radioact, 10.1016/j.jenvrad.2011.11.015]. […]

There has been considerable debate about both the total radionuclide releases and the extent of atmospheric fallout vs. direct discharges from the Fukushima NPPs. […]

We measured a total inventory of Fukushima-derived 137Cs of 1.9–2.1 PBq in our study area(Methods), which is lower because most of the 137Cs delivered either as fallout in March or direct discharges in April would have been transported out of the study area by June.

[…] The model predicts an inventory of ∼0.4 PBq (using the lowest atmospheric and direct discharge source estimates) to ∼2.0 PBq (using the highest estimates) in our study area in June (SI Discussion). Thus, if we include realistic transport, our measured inventory in June agrees better with what is predicted using the largest release estimates; this is important, but needs to be supported by additional data over larger areas of the North Pacific. However, at present, such data are extremely limited and insufficient to make a basin-wide inventory calculation.

Article continues with table at:

http://enenews.com/highest-yet-us-govt-funded-study-estimates-fukushima-cesium-137-release-at-90-of-chernobyl

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Cesium up to 100 times levels before disaster found in plankton far off nuke plant

Radioactive cesium up to 100 times pre-nuclear disaster levels has been detected in plankton inhabiting the sea far from the crippled nuclear plant following the March 2011 disaster, according to a survey conducted by Japanese and U.S. researchers.

The high concentration of cesium, which is believed to derive from the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, suggests that radioactive substances that have leaked from the complex are spreading extensively in the sea.

[snip]
“Even though radiation levels detected from the plankton samples were still low, there is a possibility that large amounts of cesium will accumulate in fish through the food chain in a phenomenon called biological concentration. We need to continue our survey,” he said.

[snip]

The largest amount of radioactive cesium in animal plankton was found in a sample collected at a location 300 kilometers from the power plant — at 102 becquerels of cesium-134 and cesium-137 per kilogram in dry weight. This compares with the average amount before the accident, which stood at 0.1 to 1 becquerel of only cesium-137.

Read the entire article at:

Note: 300 kilometers [186 mi] 

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Japan gov’t study shows radiation plume going to Hawaii — Fukushima-contaminated water to hit in under 2 years — Ocean may be 50% of EPA’s maximum contaminant level for drinking water (PHOTO)

 

Title: Study: Radioactive water to reach Hawaii in 2 years
Source: AJW by The Asahi Shimbun
Author: TAKASHI SUGIMOTO
Date: April 03, 2012

Water contaminated by radioactivity that entered the sea from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant will reach the Hawaiian Islands in March 2014, according to a computer simulation by the Japan Atomic Energy Agency. […]

The researchers said 18,000 trillion becquerels of radioactive iodine and cesium have leaked from the plant into the sea.

The contaminated water will be carried by ocean currents, and the maximum radioactivity level in cesium-137 will be about 0.04 becquerel per liter when it nears the Hawaiian Islands, they said.

Read the report here

http://enenews.com/japan-govt-radioactive-fukushima-water-to-hit-hawaii-within-2-years-ocean-may-be-50-of-epas-maximum-contaminant-level-photo

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NHK on Japan’s New Safety Limits for Cesium: “Much Lower Than EU’s 1,250 Bq/Kg!”

This is a screen capture from NHK’s 7PM News on April 2, 2012 (h/t hanayuu). The new safety limits for radioactive cesium, 100 becquerels/kg for food and 50 becquerels/kg for drinks (water, milk), have become effective as of April 1 except for a few items that continue to use the old provisional standards (rice is one of them, until the fall of 2012).

 [snip]

What NHK didn’t say is that:

There are many who argue that Japan’s food self-sufficiency rate is low anyway, so all they need to do is to increase imported food a little bit to avoid contaminated food.

What NHK or the Japanese government won’t tell you (they don’t even tell the citizens in Japan clearly either) is that Japan’s food self-sufficiency rate of 39% is based on calories. (Japan is probably the only country in the world to calculate the food self-sufficiency this way. Just like snow in Japan is special, so is the calculation of food self-sufficiency in Japan.) Based on calories, Japan imports almost all of edible oils from abroad (97%). So if the food self-sufficiency is calculated on calories, it significantly lowers the rate as oils are high-calorie items.

Other high-calorie items are wheat (92% import) and sugar (74% import).

If the food self-sufficiency rate is calculated based on the amounts produced and consumed, as is the case in almost all countries in the world, the overall self-sufficiency rate is 69%. For individual items, rice is 97%, vegetables 81%, fish 60%, meat 56%, eggs 96%, milk 67%, fruits 71%. One big reason for lower numbers for meat, eggs and milk is because Japan imports 75% of feeds. (See the information from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, here. Sorry it’s in Japanese.)

When you consider these rates, Japan’s new safety limits indicate that Japan will be in a state of a nuclear emergency for years and years, not just for a brief period.

Read the entire article at:

http://ex-skf.blogspot.jp/2012/04/nhk-on-japans-new-safety-limits-for.html

(Interesting discussion in the comments section as well.)

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Ratio of electric power generated by thermal plants surpasses 70% following nuke crisis

The ratio of electric power generated by thermal power plants in Japan has surpassed 70 percent following the March 2011 nuclear meltdowns, while that by nuclear plants, which stood at over one-fourth, has fallen below 3 percent, say industry insiders.

Article continues at:

http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20120403p2a00m0na006000c.html

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Understanding of ‘locals’ needed

Edano skips decision on idled reactors

Staff writer

Uncertainty grew Tuesday over the timing of the possible restart of the idled Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture, as Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry Yukio Edano backed off from an earlier remark and Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said the administration was unlikely to make any decision during a Cabinet meeting later in the day.

On Monday, Edano told the Diet he had safety concerns and was opposed to restarting the Oi plant’s reactors 3 and 4, which have been stopped in the wake of the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

But on Tuesday, Edano said he will now refrain from discussing his view on whether to restart the reactors.

Article continues at:

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120403x2.html

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Disaster Debris Wide-Area Disposal: US Military in Okinawa Uneasy Over Okinawa’s Willingness to Accept and Burn?

From Stars and Stripes (3/27/2012; emphasis is mine):

Opposition grows on Okinawa to burning debris from quake
By Travis J. Tritten

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — Radiation fears are raising public opposition to Okinawa’s plan to help burn tsunami and earthquake debris from disaster zones in northeastern Japan.

Despite government assurances, hundreds of residents — including some in the U.S. military community — signed a petition to stop Japan from shipping the debris here, claiming that disposing of the waste could spread radiation and diseases across the island.

The Tohoku region has been struggling with about 25 million tons of debris left after massive tsunamis ground up coastal communities in March 2011 and without help from other areas of Japan, it could take nearly 20 years for some disaster-stricken areas to complete the cleanup, according to the Japan Ministry of Environment. The Japanese government wants to ship 4 million tons, about 16 percent, of the debris in Miyagi and Iwate prefectures to other areas of the country for disposal, an effort scheduled for completion in 2014.

Article continues at:

http://ex-skf.blogspot.jp/2012/04/disaster-debris-wide-area-processing-us.html

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Losses from Natural Disasters Reach New Peak in 2011

Catastrophic events in 2011 caused fewer deaths than in 2010 but incurred record monetary costs

WASHINGTON – April 2 – During 2011, 820 natural catastrophes were documented around the world, resulting in 27,000 deaths and $380 billion in economic losses, according to data compiled by Munich Reinsurance Company and analyzed in the Worldwatch Institute’s Vital Signs series. The number of natural catastrophes was down 15 percent from 2010 but was above the annual average of 790 events between 2001 and 2010, and considerably above the annual average of 630 events between 1981 and 2010.

Article continues at:

http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2012/04/02-2

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