April 24, Sunday

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Gabi reports:

Another rather cold morning, almost freezing.

The number of comfirmed dead and missing is now 26,466.

The evacuees from Iwaki went out yesterday to see the giant pandas in Ueno zoo.
The aquarium in Matsushima (Miyagi) also opened yesterday, after the many repairs. We saw fish swimming in droves and the show of the sea lions well done, the animals seemed to enjoy being back in action.
Some shops around the aquarium are open and they all hope for good business in the coming golden week holidays.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard visited Minami Sanriku and gave some koala dolls to the children in the shelter. She also promised more food and aid.

In Baghdad, a charity concert was held and about 100 people attended. They even played Japanese songs.

. . . . .

The recovery of Tohoku will take a lot new ideas about administrative efforts, some are now discussed in TV panels. The discussions sometimes border on the emotional, of course, considering the triple damage of earthquake, tsunami and radioactivity around Fukushima.

The SDF is going in again to search the contaminated region around the Fukushima plant for two days.


Bulletins from NHK Online

source : www3.nhk.or.jp

Sunday, April 24, 2011 00:23
TEPCO: Highly radioactive concrete fragment found

The operator of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says that concrete debris emitting a high level of radiation has been found near the Number 3 reactor.
TEPCO, says its workers detected radioactivity of 900 millisieverts per hour being emitted from a 30-by-30 centimeter concrete fragment, 5 centimeters thick, on Wednesday.
The workers were using heavy equipment to remove rubble near the electrical switchyard.
TEPCO says the workers were exposed to 3.17 millisieverts of radiation during the clean-up and the concrete block has been stored safely in a container with other debris.
The utility believes the contaminated fragment could be part of debris scattered across the compound as a result of a hydrogen explosion at the Number 3 reactor.
TEPCO: Radiation in groundwater little changed
Tokyo Electric Power Company says there has been little change in the radiation levels of groundwater around its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant as it continues to move highly radioactive water within the compound.
TEPCO on Tuesday began transferring 25,000 tons of the toxic water to an on-site waste processing facility. The water had accumulated in the basement of the Number 2 reactor's turbine building and in a tunnel connected to the reactor.
The utility says it had moved about 930 tons of the contaminated water by 7 AM on Saturday and the work has progressed well since then.
TEPCO also released figures for levels of radioactive substances in groundwater samples collected around the compound.
It says there has been little change in levels of iodine-131 and cesium-134 since the transfer began, suggesting that the contaminated water has not leaked from the nuclear plant.
At the Number 4 reactor, TEPCO injected 200 tons of water on Friday and 140 tons of water on Saturday into the reactor's storage pool for spent fuel rods as the water temperature remained above 90 degrees Celsius, much higher than normal.
But there are fears that the weight of the water might be further damaging the No. 4 reactor building.
The company says it will be more cautious about the volume of cooling water it injects. It promised to monitor the level and temperature of the water in the pool.

Sunday, April 24, 2011 00:23
Govt panel to discuss creative reconstruction

The head of the government's reconstruction panel says he wants to discuss creative reconstruction plans for areas devastated by the March 11th disaster.
The 15-member panel, including Prime Minister Naoto Kan, National Defense Academy President Makoto Iokibe, and the governors of the affected prefectures, met at the prime minister's residence on Saturday.
Iokibe, who chairs the panel, opened the meeting by saying he wants to consider the situation on the ground and discuss creative reconstruction, rather than simple restoration.
He then asked the governors of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima Prefectures to talk about the situation in the affected areas and how they are dealing with it.
Saturday's meeting focused on listening to the governors' ideas on reconstruction.
Miyagi Governor Yoshihiro Murai plans to propose issuing special government bonds, stimulating private sector investments, and creating special taxes to fund the reconstruction work.
The panel will hold meetings and visit affected areas during the week-long spring holiday, and plans to make its first proposal on urgent matters, including funding, in June.
Gemba calls for review of nuclear power projects
National Policy Minister Koichiro Gemba has proposed a fundamental review of plans to build more than 14 new nuclear reactors by 2030.
Speaking to reporters on Saturday, Gemba said it is impossible to implement the plans, which are part of the country's basic energy policy, in the wake of the problems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
Gemba also said that renewable energy sources, including solar and wind power, are certain to play a much bigger role in efforts to reconstruct Fukushima Prefecture. Gemba's home and constituency are in the prefecture.
He said Fukushima should be a base for renewable energy in Japan.

Sunday, April 24, 2011 00:23
Cherry festival opens in Hirosaki

A cherry-blossom viewing festival has opened in Hirosaki City, Aomori Prefecture, with evacuees from Miyagi Prefecture participating in the opening ceremony.
The city park boasts about 2,600 cherry trees, and more than 2 million people visit during the blossom season each year. Weather officials expect the trees to be blooming by Tuesday.
Refugees from Miyagi Prefecture were invited to participate in the opening ceremony on Saturday.
Hirosaki City will contribute one third of the park's entrance fees to local governments in areas affected by the disasters.
The festival will end May 8th.
. Festivals in Aomori .

Sunday, April 24, 2011 00:23
Mayors see little prospect of rebuilding lives

An NHK survey of municipalities affected by the March 11th disasters has found that 60 percent of them see little or no prospect of rebuilding residents' lives.
The mayors of 42 cities, towns and villages in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima Prefectures responded to the survey conducted between April 19th and 22nd.
8 mayors, including those of Iwate's Yamada Town, Miyagi's Watari Town and Fukushima's Futaba Town said there is no prospect of reconstructing residents' livelihoods.
Residents of Futaba Town were forced to evacuate their hometown and are taking shelter in Saitama Prefecture, north of Tokyo.
Another 18 municipal heads said there is little prospect of rebuilding lives.
All mayors, except that of Minami Soma City in Fukushima Prefecture, said they had managed to secure essential supplies, such as food and water.
However, 38 municipality heads, or 85 percent, said there was still no prospect of rebuilding industries or workplaces, while 79 percent said there was no prospect of drawing up reconstruction plans.
The survey also asked mayors of the 13 municipalities located within a 30-kilometer radius of the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant or within the evacuation zone what the 3 most serious issues are.
Eleven of them said financial compensation, 9 said employment, and 8 said radiation-related health concerns.

Sunday, April 24, 2011 08:02
TEPCO to install more wastewater storage tanks

The Tokyo Electric Power Company has decided to construct temporary storage tanks for highly radioactive wastewater accumulated at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The decision is part of the company's efforts to remove nearly 70,000 tons of wastewater pooled in turbine buildings and service tunnels in the compound of the plant. The contaminated water has been hampering work to restore reactor cooling systems.
TEPCO plans to transfer the wastewater to an on-site waste processing facility and temporary storage tanks based on a schedule for getting the nuclear emergency under control.
The company also plans to install water filtration and cooling systems for each reactor. Each system is designed to remove radioactive substances from the wastewater and recycle cold water into the pressure vessel to gradually cool down the nuclear fuel in the reactors.
TEPCO initially planned to install tanks with a capacity of 27,000 tons by the end of May. However, the company is now planning to construct 31,400 tons of storage capacity by early June.
In addition, the company plans to add tanks with a total capacity of 20,000 tons every month from June to December in case the water filtration and cooling systems cannot start operating on schedule in June.
TEPCO says the radioactive water will be sorted into 3 levels of contamination --- low, medium and high --- and will be stored accordingly.
TEPCO regards the high level wastewater as containing radioactive substances ranging from 100 to one million Becquerels per cubic centimeter.
To store the highly radioactive water safely, the company plans to construct special underground tanks coated with material resistant to radiation and corrosion, which have a total capacity of 10,000 tons.

Sunday, April 24, 2011 08:58
Banks to set up funds to help disaster-hit firms

The Development Bank of Japan has begun working with local banks in eastern Japan to provide financial aid to companies that have been hit hard by the March 11th earthquake and tsunami.
A large amount of money will be needed to rebuild factories and facilities as many companies were devastated by the natural disaster. ...

Sunday, April 24, 2011 10:26
Govt. to issue certificate for containers

The Japanese government will begin issuing certificates for the safety of shipping containers and ships leaving Japan. The certificates attest that the radiation level is within the margin of safety based on international criteria.
The measure aims to mitigate concern over nuclear troubles at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.
The transport ministry will first compile guidelines on how to measure the radiation level and start measurements on ships and containers beginning on Thursday.
Last month, China barred a Japanese ship from unloading containers at one of its ports, citing a high level of radiation detected on the cargo.
34 foreign vessels have canceled port calls at Tokyo Bay so far.
The transport ministry will start issuing certificates at the ports of Tokyo and Yokohama based on criteria set by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The Japanese Ship Owners' Association says the certificates will help vessel operation because there have been cases in which unloading was refused based on unclear criteria.

Sunday, April 24, 2011 10:57
Landslide, flood, aftershock warnings in Tohoku

Japanese weather officials are warning of the possibility of landslides and flooding in disaster-affected areas caused by bad weather through Monday.
The Meteorological Agency says rain and wind has grown stronger in northeastern and eastern Japan since Saturday.
The strong rain and wind passed their peak by Sunday morning. But cold air will move in over the affected areas through Monday and may cause heavy rain, lightning, and gusts of wind.
The agency is warning of possible landslides, flooding in low-lying areas, and overflowing rivers as the ground has lost strength or sagged due to aftershocks.
The agency is also cautioning about earthquakes in a wide area as strong tremors continue even outside areas hit by aftershocks.

Sunday, April 24, 2011 10:57
TEPCO map shows contaminated areas

Tokyo Electric Power Company has created a map of radiation levels as part of its removal of radioactive debris at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
TEPCO says highly radioactive debris is lying in some areas of the compound. Radioactivity of 900 millisieverts per hour was detected on a concrete fragment near the Number 3 reactor on Wednesday.
TEPCO's map indicates the number of milisieverts per hour at each location. Debris removal will proceed more cautiously at highly contaminated areas.
The utility has also been using remote-controlled machines since April 6th to remove rubble.
The company says it will try to complete the clean-up work by July, but hasn't decided on places and methods of disposing of removed debris yet.

Sunday, April 24, 2011 14:21
Quake protection considered for No.4 reactor

The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is studying ways to increase earthquake resistance of the spent fuel pool at the No. 4 reactor.
The walls of the reactor building supporting the pool were severely damaged by an explosion on March 15th.
TEPCO is examining footage taken by an unmanned helicopter. The company plans to install several concrete pillars on the floor below that will support the bottom of the pool.
The company says the radiation level on the floor is not immediately dangerous to human health, but that it needs to determine whether long hours of work are possible there.
The pool has the most fuel rods at the plant and a large amount of water has been evaporating. The company has been injecting water into the pool to prevent the rods from being exposed and further damaged.
But there is concern that the weight of the water might cause further damage to the reactor building. From Saturday, the utility has been assessing more carefully the appropriate amount of water to be poured by using a device to monitor temperature and the level of cooling water in the pool.
TEPCO says it will try to start the reinforcement construction as soon as possible because further strong aftershocks may occur.
. later at
Sunday, April 24, 2011 22:32
TEPCO discloses radiation map
Tokyo Electric Power Company has disclosed a map of radiation levels at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
The utility plans to urgently remove radioactive rubble, and the map will help to protect workers from unnecessary exposure to radiation.
TEPCO began making the map in late March, and has posted copies in the plant's buildings.
The map shows radiation levels that controllers measured around the first 4 reactors before the start of the working day.
Radiation levels around the Number 3 reactor building, which was damaged by a powerful hydrogen explosion, are higher than in other locations, and 300 millisieverts per hour of radiation was detected in debris on a nearby mountainside.
Work started on April 6th to remove contaminated rubble, which had been obstructing the restoration process.
TEPCO says much of the debris around the former office building has been removed, and it has started clearing the rubble around the Number 3 and Number 4 reactors.
Enough debris has been removed to fill 50 containers, and it is being kept in a field on the mountainside.
The radiation levels one meter away are 1 to 2 millisieverts per hour.

Sunday, April 24, 2011 17:03
Kaieda hopes China, S.Korea will ease import ban

Japan's trade minister has urged China and South Korea to avoid making emotional judgments about imports of Japanese agricultural products following the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
Banri Kaieda met Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming and South Korean Trade Minister Kim Jong Hoon in Tokyo on Sunday.
Kaieda said he hopes that China and South Korea will make decisions based on facts when dealing with Japanese food imports. ...

Sunday, April 24, 2011 22:32
Japanese robots to be used at Fukushima

Japanese robots that will be used to inspect the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant were shown to the media in Chiba, near Tokyo, on Sunday.
The robots were developed by research groups at Chiba Institute of Technology, Tohoku University and other institutions.
The remote-controlled robots with tracks more than 20 centimeters wide are designed to travel over stairs and debris. They have a camera on a one-meter long probe and a radiation monitor. Detailed 3-D images of the plant's interior can also be created with laser beams.
The cable-operated robot can be used to guide the wireless-controlled robot in areas where wireless communications are difficult.
The semiconductors in the robots are said to deteriorate under high levels of radiation. But tests show that they can withstand radiation levels 400 times higher than the limit for workers.
Eiji Koyanagi of Chiba Institute of Technology says the robots are highly mobile and easy to operate. He says his team will be able to improve the machines by using information obtained from the site.
Tokyo Electric Power Company workers are preparing to use the robots to inspect the plant.

Sunday, April 24, 2011 22:32
Thousands protest nuclear plants at Tokyo rally

About 4,500 people have rallied in Tokyo to call for the suspension of nuclear power plants.
The demonstrators gathered at Shiba Koen in central Tokyo and adopted a resolution calling for all nuclear plants in the country to be suspended and a nuclear-free society realized.
The protesters shouted, "Protect the children in Fukushima from radiation", as they passed the head office of Tokyo Electric Power Company. ...


Voices from around

. The Daily Reading List .  

. Daily Radiation Levels .  

. . .

Building hospital ships for disaster response

After March 11, Japan must reconsider its energy options

. Japan Times, Sunday 24 April  




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  1. Towns altered in shadow of Japan nuclear disaster

    FUTABA, Japan – Under a brilliant, cloudless sky, a half-dozen cows and a pony wander freely, batting the flies off their ears and chewing on fresh green sprouts. A pair of friendly Shiba dogs — cautious for just a moment — trot up and wag their tails, expectantly awaiting scraps of food. At the entrance to Main Street is a sign with the town's motto: "Nuclear Power is the Energy of a Bright Tomorrow."

    But a block down, an old house has collapsed. Its roof sits in the middle of the road like an odd little pagoda.
    There should be people, but everyone is gone.
    Strangely still from afar, the plant was the epicenter of life here. It was a paycheck, a golden goose of tax revenue, a place where lunches were eaten, turbines adjusted, paperwork filed. It was the pride of the town, tiny Futaba's contribution to the national grid, the powerhouse that kept the escalators and vending machines running in far-off Tokyo.

    But the plant no longer belongs to Futaba.

  2. Lesson from the past: Edo era roads, towns built just out of tsunami's reach

    It seems the people who built the Edo-period road running up the northeast coast of Japan knew something about the dangers of tsunami.

    Analysis of a Geospatial Information Authority of Japan (GSI) map of the March 11 tsunami flooding on the Sendai Plain by Tohoku University history professor Arata Hirakawa shows the waters stopped just short of the vast majority of the old Oshu Kaido and Hama Kaido roads. The region sees a major tsunami once every 400-500 years, and Hirakawa believes it highly probable the route was deliberately established just out of the reach of past inundations.

    "Our ancestors were very humble in the face of historical disasters," Hirakawa told the Mainichi, adding that we should learn from their example.

    In 1611, after the way station towns on the roads were built, the region was hit by the Keicho Tsunami, in which 1,783 people were recorded killed.

    "It's arguable that the people back then rebuilt the way station towns on safer ground after the Keicho Tsunami," says Hirakawa. "They chose sites that really stand out for avoiding the destruction from the March tsunami. I think it very likely the people at that time plotted out the road with tsunami in mind."
    "It's terribly sad, but since the development boom of the Meiji era, we've shed our historical tsunami experiences," Hirakawa says. "I really hope we take a serious look at historical disasters as we recover and rebuild our communities."

    (Mainichi Japan) April 24, 2011