May 10, Tuesday

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Gabi reports:

I woke up to the pounding rain on the tin roof ... whow, the typhoon is approaching!
Three days of heavy rain in the forecast.

rainclouds racing
all over Japan -
first typhoon

In the evening, it was not as bad as predicted, just a rainy day with some strong bouts inbetween. For now, good night.

. . . . . at 19:15
Earthquake M 5.4, off the coast of Ibaraki

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Chubu Electric is now preparing for summer
. Hamaoka Power Plant .

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Some English language teachers are coming back to Tohoku, especially Tamura, Fukushima. They carried messages and paintings from children of their homeland to the disaster zone.


Bulletins from NHK Online

source : www3.nhk.or.jp

Govt to monitor radioactive strontium levels
An advisor to Japan's prime minister says there needs to be close monitoring of radioactive strontium levels around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
Goshi Hosono made the remark to reporters on Monday, one day after Tokyo Electric Power Company detected high concentrations of strontium-90 in soil samples taken on April 18th inside the plant's compound. The amount is about 130 times higher than the maximum level observed within Fukushima Prefecture after past foreign atmospheric nuclear tests.
Hosono serves as the secretary general of a joint nuclear accident task force set up by the government and the operator of the plant.
Noting the danger of strontium to human health, he said a detailed investigation is needed, including analysis of past data, to determine how the radioactive substance was scattered.
Once inhaled, radioactive strontium accumulates in bones, like calcium, and could cause cancer.
On April 13th, the science ministry announced that 3.3 to 32 becquerels per kilogram of strontium-90 was detected in soil samples from 3 locations in Namie Town and Iitate Village, 30-kilometers from the Fukushima plant. It also said an extremely small amount of strontium was found in plants taken from Motomiya city, Ono Town and Otama and Nishigo Villages, which are 40 to 80 kilometers from the Fukushima plant. The samples were taken on March 16th and 19th, 5 to 8 days after the accident at the plant.
Until now, the government has not checked strontium levels regularly or in wide areas as it's not easy to distinguish from other radioactive materials and takes time and labor to measure.
The science ministry plans to determine the best method for monitoring strontium.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011 07:43
High radiation may slow down TEPCO's repairs
The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says it may need to slow down some repairs at the Number one reactor due to elevated radiation levels.
Tokyo Electric Power Company measured the levels at several spots in the reactor building on Monday as part of its preparation to fill the containment vessel with water and restore a circulating cooling system.
The company is concerned that the reactor's pipes are leaking radioactive water, contaminating the area.
The tests yielded a maximum of 700 millisieverts per hour, thus workers can only stay in the vicinity for around 20 minutes.
However, employees spent half an hour doing the tests and were exposed to as much as 10.56 millisieverts of radiation.
TEPCO says the figures are higher than acceptable for worker safety.
On Tuesday the firm will attempt measures to reduce radiation levels, including laying down sheets containing lead to insulate the radioactive substances.
It will continue checking the levels but is worried that it may need to change plans depending on the results.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011 07:43
Aerial fallout map confirms soil radiation levels
Japan's Nuclear Safety Commission says a new aerial map of radioactive fallout contamination has confirmed the radiation levels in the area near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The commission's chairman, Haruki Madarame 班目春樹, told reporters on Monday that the map will reinforce the agency's system to monitor contamination and will help find ways to lower radiation levels.
The Japanese Science Ministry and the US Energy Department conducted a joint aerial survey from April 6th to the 29th of the area within an 80-kilometer radius of the plant.
The map shows the density of radioactive cesium in red or yellow, depending on the concentration in the soil.
The high density area lies northwest of the plant, coinciding with data collected on the ground.
Madarame also said the situation at the power plant is stabilizing and that it is about time to review ways to carry out daily surveys on the ground. He said the soils could be tested fewer times but more meticulously with the aid of aerial mapping.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011 10:43
Fukushima evacuees begin brief home-visits
People forced to evacuate from the 20-kilometer no-entry zone around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant are being allowed to make brief home visits for the first time.
93 representatives of 54 households from Kawauchi Village were bused to a gymnasium on Tuesday morning.
There, they will put on protective clothing and receive radiation dosimeters and walky-talkies before they are taken to their homes.
They will be allowed to spend about 2 hours gathering personal belongings.
The residents will then be returned to the gym to undergo screenings for radiation exposure.
The home visits were arranged at the request of the evacuees. Many people in the no-entry zone enforced by the government on April 22nd had fled the area before then, under an evacuation advisory in place since the nuclear accident.
In total, residents of 9 municipalities are expected to make brief home-visits by the end of May. But those who live within 3 kilometers of the nuclear plant will have no such chance, due to higher radiation levels.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011 10:43
Nuclear experts seek single regulatory body
Japanese nuclear scientists are calling or the creation of a single professional nuclear watchdog, similar to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in the United States.
15 scientists at the Atomic Energy Society of Japan analyzed the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Their report says the existence of multiple supervisory bodies made responsibilities unclear and hampered smooth communication in the wake of the accident.
The report calls for a unified command and for reviewing the roles of the Nuclear Safety Commission, the industry ministry's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, and the science ministry.
The scientists also recommend reviewing the presumed scale of tsunami that a nuclear plant could face.
They say that the plants should be equipped with heavy machinery to remove debris in case of a tsunami, in addition to devices to protect key safety instruments.
The scientists warn that existing contingency plans do not fully address disasters like tsunamis, which are less frequent but have a far-reaching impact.
They add that regulators and plant operators rely too much on precedent in their risk analysis, without making sufficient effort to reflect the results of the latest studies.
University of Tokyo Professor Koji Okamoto, who was involved in the analysis, said contingency plans should be drawn up on the premise that accidents do occur.
He says he hopes the lessons learned in Fukushima can be shared at more than 400 reactors across the world.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011 12:44
TEPCO to begin pipe work for No.3 reactor
The operator of the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is to begin construction work on pipes for the No.3 reactor to make sure that all cooling water being pumped in is actually reaching the reactor.
Tokyo Electric Power Company has been pumping 9 tons of water per hour into the reactor since last Wednesday after its temperature began rising earlier this month.
That was an increase from 7 tons per hour. But the temperature at the bottom of the reactor stood at 150.6 degrees Celsius as of 5 AM Tuesday, marking a rise of 34.1 degrees over the past 10 days.
The power company suspects that not all the water was reaching the reactor because some of it may have been entering a pipe that branched off.
So it decided to pump water through another pipe that had been used to inject water into the reactor before.
The construction work to change pipes for water injection is to begin on Tuesday afternoon. If all goes smoothly, the water will be pumped through the pipe starting on Thursday.
The water level inside a tunnel connected to the reactor was 76 centimeters from the tunnel opening on the ground surface as of 7 AM Tuesday--a 16 centimeter rise over the past 10 days.
The level continues to exceed the 1 meter mark, which the utility firm has set as the benchmark to begin transferring contaminated water.
The firm plans to quickly prepare to transfer contaminated water from the No.3 reactor turbine building and the tunnel.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011 13:11
.TEPCO seeks govt help to pay compensation
The president of Tokyo Electric Power Company has asked the government for financial help in paying compensation over the accident at its nuclear plant in Fukushima.
TEPCO President Masataka Shimizu handed a letter of request to Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano and Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Banri Kaieda on Tuesday.
According to the letter, in the current business year TEPCO expects to spend an extra 1 trillion yen or about 12.5 billion dollars for thermal power generation and 9.3 billion dollars to redeem its bonds and repay debts.
The utility says it is afraid that the expenses will make it hard to offer just and speedy compensation while maintaining stable power supplies.
TEPCO also says its chairman, president and other board members will decline their salaries and bonuses for the time being. It says it will sell securities, properties and other assets to raise as much funds as possible, and restructure its management.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011 16:04
.Govt to promote use of renewable energy
Japan's environment minister says the government will push for the introduction of renewable energy, now that a utility has agreed to suspend operations at its nuclear plant in central Japan.
Chubu Electric Power Company said on Monday that it would temporarily shut down the Hamaoka nuclear plant, at the request of Prime Minister Naoto Kan. Kan had said the plant wasn't sufficiently prepared for a major earthquake expected to hit the region.
Environment Minister Ryu Matsumoto told reporters on Tuesday that the utility's decision would have a huge impact on the government's environment and energy policies. Matsumoto said he'd been instructed by the prime minister to promote the use of renewable energy sources.
He said that because the Pacific coast of northeastern Japan is well suited for solar and wind power generation, the government hopes to incorporate such systems in housing for tsunami survivors.
The Environment Ministry estimates that the maximum amount of electricity possible from wind power generation in northeastern Japan would exceed the energy now being generated by domestic nuclear plants.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011 16:04
Fukushima city to remove topsoil from schoolyards
The mayor of Fukushima city has agreed to a demand from parents and teachers to have radiation-contaminated topsoil removed from schoolyards.
Outdoor radiation levels temporarily exceeded safety limits last month at 10 kindergartens, nurseries, and elementary and junior high schools in the city.
The municipal board of education says most elementary schools continue to have students play and study indoors.
On Tuesday, members of a federation of local parent-teacher associations met with Mayor Takanori Seto.
They presented him with a request in writing seeking the removal of surface soil from schoolyards to prevent children from being exposed to radiation.
They also demanded a briefing for parents by municipal officials and radiation experts.
PTA federation chairman Tomoki Akiyama said conflicting information about how much radiation is safe has made parents increasingly concerned about the health of their children.
Mayor Seto said the city will start removing soil from schoolyards as soon as it decides on the most effective method.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011 16:04
Officials ease radiation concerns in Russia
Officials from Japan's trade and industry ministry are visiting Russia's Far East to explain that products from Japan are safe.
As problems continue at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, minute levels of radiation have been detected on used cars exported from Japan to Russia.
Trade ministry officials in charge of Russian affairs visited Vladivostok and met with a vice provincial governor on Tuesday.
They presented a Russian translation of Tokyo Electric Power Company's plan to bring the crisis under control and explained that the Japanese government is making an all-out effort to stabilize the troubled Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The Japanese officials also noted that radiation checks are being tightened on Japanese products slated for export.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011 17:32
Evacuees return from brief home visits
Evacuees from a no-entry zone around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have briefly visited their homes.
The 92 members of 54 households from Kawauchi Village on Tuesday became the first among evacuees from 9 municipalities in the zone to be allowed such visits.
The government set up the 20-kilometer zone on April 22nd, 6 weeks after the start of the nuclear accident at the plant.
The evacuees, aged from 21 to 85, put on protective clothing and received dosimeters and walkie-talkies at a gymnasium before entering the zone in 5 groups by bus.
During the visits, they collected valuables and checked on livestock. They then returned to the gymnasium and underwent radiation checks.
The visits were arranged at the request of the evacuees, many of whom left the area in response to an advisory.
Evacuees from Katsurao Village are to make similar visits on Thursday.
Such visits are to be allowed until the end of May, except in areas within 3 kilometers of the plant.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011 19:13
Kan to focus on natural energy, energy saving
Prime Minister Naoto Kan says that from now on the government will focus on use of natural energy and measures to save energy, rather than on nuclear power.
At a news conference on Tuesday, Kan thanked Chubu Electric Power Company for its quick decision to accept his request that operations be suspended at the Hamaoka nuclear plant in central Japan.
Kan said that although the decision has raised fears of a power shortage, the problem could be avoided with help from other utilities and through power-saving efforts in the private sector and among the public.
The prime minister said Japan's energy policy has relied on nuclear power and fossil fuels, but that he would shift focus to natural energy, such as solar and wind power and biomass fuels. He also pledged efforts to create a more energy-efficient society.
Kan admitted that the government shares responsibility for the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, along with its operator Tokyo Electric Power Company, as the government had promoted nuclear power generation as a national policy.
He added he would give up his salary as prime minister until the crisis has ended.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011 19:13
TEPCO starts adjusting gauges at Unit 1
Workers at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in northeast Japan have started adjusting gauges at the plant's Number 1 reactor to ensure stable cooling.
The 9 workers started the work on Tuesday morning as part of a plan to fill the reactor's containment vessel with water.
The plant's operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, says it hopes to determine the level of water inside the vessel, which the firm plans to fill with water.
The firm installed radiation-proof mats containing lead at the site after a survey on Monday detected radiation levels of 7 to 12 millisieverts per hour nearby.
But the firm says the mats have reduced radiation by only about 10 percent, and that it must work out how to protect workers from exposure.
The firm also says the temperature of the plant's Number 3 reactor has been rising this month, and that work to pump water to cool the reactor may be insufficient.
The company says it is installing new pipes at the reactor and hopes to start pumping water through them on Thursday.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011 19:13
Japan stresses food safety to foreign media
Japan's government has stressed the safety of Japanese food at a luncheon held for about 50 foreign journalists in Tokyo.
The event at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan on Tuesday follows moves by a number of countries to impose bans on food imports from Japan due to concerns over radioactive contamination.
Food served at the meal included fish caught off the coast of northeastern Japan and vegetables from the eastern prefecture of Ibaraki, which is close to the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
A government official told the assembled reporters that more than 40 countries and territories have implemented various kinds of import restrictions, even though Japan's food safety standards are among the toughest in the world.
He said unfounded rumors about food safety are plaguing farmers in the disaster-stricken areas, and expressed hope that countries would buy more Japanese food.
One of the reporters cited the recent food poisoning at a barbeque restaurant chain in Japan that killed 4 people, and asked if the country's food safety standards are sufficient. Another reporter said that Japan's safety criteria for food shipments are not clear.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011 20:22
Radiation high at No.3 reactor pool
The operator of the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has detected high levels of radioactive materials in the spent fuel pool of the No.3 reactor at the plant.
Tokyo Electric Power Company examined a water sample from the pool on Sunday. The sample contained 140,000 becquerels of radioactive cesium-134 per cubic centimeter, 150,000 becquerels of secium-137, and 11,000 becquerels of iodine-131.
None of these substances were detected during an inspection on March 2nd, before the accident triggered by the March 11th disaster.
TEPCO says these substances may have come from damaged fuel rods in the reactor rather than the damaged spent fuel rods in the pool, because it has detected radioactive iodine, which has a short half-life. Radioactive substances such as iodine are generated during nuclear fission inside a reactor.
The company says the radioactive substances may have become attached to debris and entered the pool together.
Footage from the pool at the No.3 reactor on Sunday showed debris, believed to have been caused by a hydrogen explosion, scattered all over the interior of the reactor building.
The levels of radiation detected are almost the same as those detected in April in water samples in the fuel pool of the No.2 reactor.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011 20:22
Governors cautious on resuming reactors

The governors of 2 Japanese prefectures say they need more information from the government before they can agree to resume operations of reactors at nuclear power plants in their prefectures.
The governors made such remarks on Tuesday, one day after the utility operating the Hamaoka nuclear power plant in Shizuoka Prefecture agreed to suspend operation of the plant's reactors. The remarks also followed a statement by Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Banri Kaieda that all other nuclear plants have no problems in terms of continuing or resuming operations.
Shimane Prefecture Governor Zenbe Mizoguchi said he cannot yet judge whether he can restart operations that were suspended for a regular check at a reactor at a plant in Matsue, the prefecture's capital. Mizoguchi said he first has to confirm with the state various situations surrounding nuclear plants, including the damaged Fukushima Daiichi plant, as well as power supply and demand.
Saga Prefecture Governor Yasushi Furukawa said he cannot authorize restarting 2 reactors at the Genkai power plant in his prefecture without learning how the government assessed emergency safety measures taken for plants in Japan.
Operations at the 2 reactors were suspended for a regular inspection, and their resumption has been delayed following the start of the accident at the Fukushima plant.


Voices from around

. Daily Radiation Levels .  

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Japan Times :

Chubu Electric OKs Hamaoka shutdown
Chubu Electric answers an urgent request by Prime Minister Naoto Kan bydeciding to shut down the Hamaoka nuclear power station in Shizuoka Prefecture.

Radiation to restrict work on No. 1
Radiation readings in the Fukushima power plant's No. 1 reactor building are as high as 700 millisieverts per hour, which means workers need shielding to proceed with critical repairs.

Osaka day laborer duped into reactor cleanup
An Osaka day laborer responding to an ad for a truck driver in Miyagi Prefecture finds himself beside the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, cleaning up debris.

More Fukushima veggies banned

Kansai bids to be 'backup capital'

Tepco, nine other utilities skip April bond issue

Nuclear regulators leave Kan to fill in the blanks
... A blank piece of paper is kind of what the minutes of a special March 11 Nuclear Safety Commission (NSC) meeting looked like. The meeting was held in response to the series of devastating events that occurred that fateful day.
If I've read those meeting minutes correctly, the NSC commissioners met for just five minutes. The document doesn't say who was at the meeting, but if all five commissioners attended, that would leave one minute of brainstorming time for each of them. You'd think they would have spent just a little more time putting their heads together to figure out a solution to one of the worst nuclear power plant accidents ever. I guess they thought it best just to leave the fate of the nation in the hands of Tepco (Tokyo Electric Power Co.) for a while.



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1 comment:

  1. Stay safe. We had a thunderstorm tonight but nothing major yet.
    And we're having snow in May in Australia!
    Great, just what we need when we return home. Had enough of the cold in Qingdao.
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