April 20, Wednesday

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spring rain today -
the sound of misery
and hope  


Gabi reports:

Another cold rainy morning.

Nearly 28,000 people are dead or missing.

. A letter from a Miyagi shelter resident  

. . . . .

(See NHK bulletins below).

The robot used in the Fukushima plant was hindered by humidity and clouding on its lens.
We have a bathroom mirror with a switch to pervent clouding ... technology lacks where it seems most needed.

Toshiba is now selling TV with rechargeable batteries, which they use to sell in other Asian countries with regular power down. Well, maybe they should invent many more maschines and appliances with batteries. Or bicycles to load such batteries, while watching TV ... so many possibilities.

Belgium will continue to import cars from Japan.
Indonesia will increase its export of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Japan.

Hiroshima city is not going after the Summer Olympic Games 2020 any more, citing financial matters.

Prince and Princess Hitachi visited quake and tsunami victims and nuclear plant accident refugees at a shelter in Kawasaki, near Tokyo.

. . . . .

People who put up some power generators in their homes died of gas poisoning, because they did not follow the installing instructions or for other reasons ... anyway, another kind of accident that should not happen.

Italy has now frozen its nuclear power plant projects.

A US power company says it will abandon its plans to build nuclear reactors in Texas, citing the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan.

Toyota Motor company will make further cuts in the output across North America.

. . . . .

The pottery town of Mashiko has seen a lot of destruction. Some important pieces by Hamada Shoji have fallen down and are now in sherds.

. WKD : Mashiko Pottery .


Bulletins from NHK Online

source : www3.nhk.or.jp

Wednesday, April 20, 2011 01:52
Prime Minister apologizes to village mayor

Prime Minister Naoto Kan has apologized to the mayor of a village in Fukushima Prefecture for the recent nuclear accident.
Iitate village lies outside the original evacuation zone around the crippled nuclear power plant and the residents initially thought they would not have to leave the area.
But on April 11th, the government asked them to evacuate within a month as the annual radiation exposure for the village is expected to exceed the safe limit.
On Tuesday, Kan met Mayor Norio Kanno at the Prime Minister's official residence in Tokyo.
The mayor said the evacuation of all the residents will create an incalculable risk. He requested assistance for the villagers, saying most of them will lose their jobs and livestock, and be unable to make a living.
The prime minister apologized and said he is determined to do all he can to create a safe environment for the villagers.
福島県・飯舘村長 菅野典雄

Wednesday, April 20, 2011 07:53
Toshiba to sell rechargeable TV

Electronics maker Toshiba has developed a TV set with a rechargeable battery to help viewers cope with expected power outages this summer.
The government plans to ask households to reduce electricity consumption by 15 to 20 percent on weekdays between 10 AM and 9 PM, as output has been reduced due to a crippled nuclear power plant.
The new TV recharges itself when it is turned off at night and
can be used for 3 hours when the battery is fully charged.
Viewers can switch from a household outlet to the internal battery by using the remote control.
Toshiba is already selling rechargeable TVs in other parts of Asia, where blackouts occur frequently.
The new TV has a 19-inch screen and will be priced at around 480 to 600 dollars, about 120 dollars more than a conventional model.
The TV will hit the market in July and will be mainly sold in the Tokyo area, where power outages are expected.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011 07:41
Robots face difficulties at Fukushima plant

Tokyo Electric Power Company says radioactive debris and high humidity are hampering the investigation by robots at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
The company began using remote-controlled robots to explore the first three reactor buildings on Sunday and Monday.
At the Number 2 reactor building, the robot's camera lens was instantly clouded by high humidity.
TEPCO officials think that the steam is coming from the damaged section of the reactor's suppression pool.
But they have not found a way to resolve the problem as the steam could be highly toxic.
Robots entered the Number 3 reactor building through the southern entrance, but their path was blocked by debris. The firm is considering using another robot that can remove obstacles weighing up to 100 kilograms.
At the first reactor building, robots were able to advance 40 meters along the northern side wall.
The use of robots is aimed at paving the way for staff to work inside the contaminated buildings to stabilize the reactors, but the prospects of success remain unclear.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011 07:46
FM official: Fukushima less serious than Chernobyl

A senior official of Japan's Foreign Ministry says that although the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant is ranked at the highest level of severity, it is less serious than the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.
State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Chiaki Takahashi 高橋千秋 made the remark at an international conference on nuclear safety that opened on Tuesday in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev. The meeting is being held to mark the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl accident on April 26th.
The Japanese government recently raised the severity level of the Fukushima accident to the maximum of 7 on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale.
This is the same ranking as the Chernobyl disaster.
Takahashi denied that the government's move signifies a deterioration of the situation at the Fukushima plant.
He said the government raised the severity level after it had gathered enough data to estimate the entire amount of radioactive emissions from the plant.
He said nuclear reactors have not exploded and no one has died of radiation exposure.
Takahashi said he hopes other nations will have confidence in the information and respond calmly based on the facts. He said the Japanese government will swiftly provide the correct information to the international community with the maximum transparency.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011 07:56
IAEA to send fact-finding team to Japan

The UN nuclear watchdog says it will send a team of experts to Japan to investigate the cause of the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.
The Deputy Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Denis Flory, held a news conference at the organization's headquarters in Vienna on Tuesday.
He said a team of experts will investigate the cause of the accident and the safety measures that were taken after the March 11th earthquake and tsunami that crippled the plant.
The IAEA will consult with the Japanese government to decide when to conduct the investigation. It hopes to release the results at a ministerial-level meeting in June.
Flory expressed the IAEA's hope that the fact-finding team will make proposals to improve the situation so that people evacuating from the exclusion zone can return home as soon as possible.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011 12:55
Highly contaminated water level falls slightly

Tokyo Electric Power Company says the amount of highly radioactive water at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is slightly lower now. TEPCO began moving the water to an on-site waste processing facility one day ago.
The utility company says the level of contaminated water in a tunnel linked to the No.2 reactor is one centimeter lower than the previous day as of 7 AM on Wednesday.
That amounts to a reduction of 210 tons of the water in the tunnel, pumped out at a rate of 10 tons per hour.
TEPCO is aiming to remove a total of 25,000 tons of the contaminated water out of the No. 2 turbine building basement and connecting tunnel to the nearby processing facility.
The utility says it will monitor the current pumping rate for 10 days or more and then add more pumps, to move 10,000 tons of the radiated water by mid-May.
TEPCO says contaminated water levels are also rising in the basements of reactors No.5 and 6, and in tunnels connected to reactors No.3 and 4.
It says it will transfer about 100 tons of contaminated water from the No.5 and No.6 reactors to condensers, to assess how much water is accumulating. It says groundwater may have been seeping into the reactors' turbine buildings.
TEPCO estimates a total of 67,500 tons of radioactive water has accumulated at the nuclear plant, which is hampering efforts to restore cooling systems.
(yesterday, they reported the French company Areva will do something about decontaminating the water.)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011 12:20
Edano calls for cross-party reconstruction talks

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano has called for cross-party discussions to come up with a plan to rebuild areas devastated by the March 11th earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan.
On Wednesday, Edano made the remarks at the first meeting of a study group in a panel tasked with creating a blueprint for reconstruction.
The meeting was attended by 18 specialists in such areas as politics, the economy, finance and regional revitalization. They included the panel chairman, National Defense Academy president Makoto Iokibe, and Professor Jun Iio of the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies who leads the study group.
Edano asked the members to bring together their wisdom to create a new plan regardless of their cabinet or party affiliations.
Professor Iio said the stricken zone faces the challenges the whole of Japan is facing, including a declining population and disparities between urban and rural areas. He said his group wants to create a plan to make the area one of the world's most advanced.
The panel is to produce its preliminary plan at the end of June.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011 13:46
Govt to bar entry to nuclear evacuation zone

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano says the government is preparing to forbid entry into the 20-kilometer evacuation zone around the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Edano on Wednesday told reporters the stiffer measure is aimed at securing the safety and health of local residents, as the situation at the nuclear plant remains unstable. He said the government is in final talks with local municipalities to enforce the measure.
At present, citizens are merely advised to stay outside the 20-kilometer zone, and most residents have followed the instruction and left.
Edano said the government is considering allowing evacuees to return home briefly to gather their belongings, just before the zone becomes off-limits.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011 14:03
Japan's trade surplus plunges 79 percent

With the March 11th earthquake and tsunami hurting production and exports, Japan's trade surplus for the month plunged 79% in yen terms from the same month last year.
The Finance Ministry said in a preliminary report on Wednesday that the trade surplus was about 2.4 billion dollars in March.
Exports totaled 70.7 billion dollars, 2.2 percent lower than in the same month last year, and marked the first decline in 16 months.
Growing exports had been driving the economy before the quake struck. But after March 11, exports such as cars and semiconductors tumbled as supply chains and production lines were affected by the disaster.
Imports grew nearly 12 percent to 68.3 billion dollars, mainly due to rising fuel prices.
Japan's finance ministry says as a result the trade balance will turn negative in April. It says production continues to be stalled, and that demand for resources will be high in the aftermath of the disaster in northern Japan.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011 14:18
Govt suspends shipment of Fukushima sand lances

The government has instructed Fukushima Prefecture to suspend shipments of a small fish caught off its coasts found to have radioactive contamination, and to warn people not to eat them.
The restrictions announced on Wednesday are being applied to marine products for the first time, amid ongoing troubles at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The instruction follows a health ministry report that the fish called sand lance caught on Monday near Iwaki city, south of the plant, was found to contain 14,400 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive cesium. That's 29 times the safe limit.
Ministry testing also found 3,900 becquerels, or twice the limit, of radioactive iodine in the fish.
Excessive amounts of radioactive cesium were detected in sand lances caught in the same area on April the 7th and 13th.
The government says the fish are not on the market, as fishery cooperatives in Fukushima are not operating.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011 17:48
Outdoor school activities limited in Fukushima

Safety concerns are growing among teachers and parents in Fukushima Prefecture, as some schools are being forced to restrict students' outdoor activities due to high levels of radiation.
On Tuesday, the Japanese government announced that its latest survey found 13 nursery schools, kindergartens, elementary schools, and junior high schools in Fukushima exceed the radiation safety limit of 3.8 microsieverts per hour.
Outdoor activities at these schools have been limited to one hour a day and playing with sand is banned.
On Wednesday, teachers at a kindergarten in Fukushima City put up notices and told children not to touch soil or sand.
The children were instructed to wash their hands and gargle after entering the school, and to remove mud from their shoes when they go back home.
The kindergarten said more than 20 pupils have quit or been absent since the nuclear accident. Another 2 students failed to appear on Wednesday, citing radiation fears.
The kindergarten's principal expressed shock at the results of the government's survey, and said the school had no choice but to suspend school trips and gathering of edible wild plants until radiation levels return to normal.
Since April 5th, Fukushima Prefecture has also conducted its own radiation measurements at 1,600 schools and other places.
The prefecture says it will begin re-checking on Thursday 47 schools, kindergartens and parks that were not covered in the government survey, but where it found high levels of radiation.


Voices from around

. The Daily Reading List .  

. Daily Radiation Levels .  

. Japan Times, April 20 .  

. . . . .

Early disorder added to Japan’s nuclear crisis
When lead-lined Japanese military helicopters took to the sky last month to dump water onto the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, Kazunori Hasegawa watched the desperate and highly risky cooling operation on television with dismay.

“It was so inefficient, so inefficient,” recalled Hasegawa, president of Chuo Construction. The Chinook helicopters had to fly high to avoid potentially lethal radiation, and much of the 8,000 gallons they dropped during the day’s operation landed wide of the mark.

He had an idea: Might not two huge German-made contraptions he had sitting outside his office here in Yokkaichi do a better job? The devices, truck-mounted concrete pumps, had maneuverable arms 52 yards long and could blast water directly onto the Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s perilously overheated reactors and spent fuel rods.

“I was ready to move right away,” Hasegawa said. Tokyo Electric, known as Tepco, wasn’t.
source : www.washingtonpost.com


Ganbaro Nihon ! Keep going, Japan !



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  1. Japan Quake Caused Surprisingly Severe Soil Collapse

    The scale of Japan's March 11 earthquake and tsunami wasn't the only thing that surprised geologists.

    The 9.0 earthquake in Japan — the fourth most powerful quake ever recorded — also caused an unusually severe and widespread shift in soil through liquefaction, a new study suggests.

    Near coastlines, harbors and rivers, earthquakes can make the wet, sandy soil jiggle, turning it temporarily from a solid to a liquid state, a process known as liquefaction. Heavy sand and rock sinks, while water and lighter sand bubble to the surface. The slurry spreads, often toward the water, and the surface shifts.

    Japan's liquefaction occurred over hundreds of miles, surprising even experienced engineers who are accustomed to seeing disaster sites, including from the recent earthquakes in Chile and New Zealand.

    Long-lasting quake

    The duration of the Japanese earthquake, about five minutes, could be the key to the severity of the liquefaction and may force researchers to reconsider the extent of liquefaction damage possible.


  2. Anonymous4/21/2011

    . letter from Miyagi .
    Arigato, Gabi, for providing this report.
    May it inspire changes that will better protect the mental health of these elderly citizens!

  3. Anonymous4/21/2011

    . letter from Miyagi .
    Thank you, Gabi, for the reminder of how it is for Japanese homeless persons. And for the reminder that the days of homeless persons all over the world are pretty similar.
    I worked with homeless mentally ill persons in downtown X. for six years but did not get a visceral sense of the emptiness of their lives untill I read this.
    Again thank you.

  4. . letter from Miyagi .
    Arigato, Gabi, for providing this report.
    May it inspire changes that will better protect the mental health of these elderly citizens!

  5. Sorry to hear of the shifting soil. I was wondering a way to get some money for quake relief...
    Sell Hamada poetry shards?
    That way some one can say they have a piece of Hamada pottery. I am not kidding, this could very well work and get much money, too.

  6. Anonymous4/21/2011

    this news of the soil is very distressing..........

  7. Anonymous4/21/2011

    Thank you for the additional info, Gabi. My heart is with the Japanese victims of the disaster.

  8. Thank you, Zhanna, for stopping by!

  9. tsunami hits
    must have higher banks
    Tohoku Region

    tsunami hits
    throughly prepared must be
    nuke plants against quakes


  10. Anonymous4/22/2011

    I like the nuke situation in Germany!!