May 17, Tuesday - Tea

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Gabi reports:

Dealing with the debris is a big problem now.
There seems to be so much to keep a waste incinerator busy for 23 years to come ... ufff.

A farmer was standing beside his rice fields. He had to offer them as space for temporary debris storage, since in the limited areas of most coastal towns there is not much flat space.
Another problem is flat space for temporary housing. Some villagers have to re-locate completely from their former location, and people are opposed to this kind of splitting villages and disrupting neighborhoods.
Thousands of damaged cars are now lined up, but it is hard to find the owners of them and get permission to dismantle them. The same holds for damages boats and ships.
Ahh, and now it comes in an NHK bulletin, see below.

. . . . .

Situations at the evacuation shelters are not very good. More than two months later, people are still having problems and have to pay for example, for the coin laundry every week, about 1000 yen. Three meals, tea and a bath every three days are free, the rest is not.
The Red Cross has accumulated millions of donations by now, but these poor people are not getting anything yet, and many lack the funds to pay for extras, having lost their job and farm work by the tsunami or radiation.

. . . . .

Today is the day for the first tea harvest.
Tea growers in Kanagawa prefecture, some 300 km away from Fukushima, had to dump their first harvest because of radiation.
Tea was harvested with huge maschines, not handpicked this year.

We saw a farmer emptying the huge sacks with leaves in a nearby dump, crying, because he had to throw away the "children" which he had grown with such great care.
Also local products with powdered tea, like cookies and noodles, have to be taken off the market, because of fear (even if they are made with tea from last year's harvest ...)

first tea harvest -
the geiger counter keeps ticking
and ticking

. Green Tea Kigo


Bulletins from NHK Online
source : www3.nhk.or.jp

Tuesday, May 17, 2011 05:17
TEPCO to announce revised reactor cool-down
The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant will announce on Tuesday a revision of its plan to cool down the plant's reactors.
The revision comes one month after the original plan was announced.
Tokyo Electric Power Company says it needs to change its plan to pour water into the reactors after confirming that the fuel rods have melted and may have burned holes in the pressure vessel of the Number 1 reactor.
Radioactive water is likely to be flowing out from the containment vessel to the basement.
TEPCO says it suspects a similar situation is happening in the No. 2 and 3 reactors.
The firm says it is considering pumping water out of the containment vessels and circulating it back into the reactors after cooling it with heat exchangers.
It is also considering pumping water from the basement back into the reactors.
TEPCO is expected to keep to its original schedule of stabilizing the reactors within 6 to 9 months.
Back-up cooling systems at Fukushima failed
The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has admitted that the reactors' back-up cooling systems failed to function after the March 11th earthquake and tsunami.
Tokyo Electric Power Company on Monday revealed the plant's operation records for the period following the disaster on March 11th.
An emergency condenser system at the Number 1 reactor functioned for less than 10 minutes after the earthquake. The failure lasted for 3 hours.
The utility suspects that workers manually shut down the system as pressure inside the reactor became so low that they were afraid of damage.
Another type of back-up cooling system at the No. 1 and 2 reactors lost power when the tsunami engulfed batteries.
TEPCO is still analyzing the data to assess the failure's impact on fuel rods.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011 07:31
Gov't to announce evacuee support plan
The Japanese government will announce a plan on Tuesday containing measures to support evacuees from around the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The plan will contain the first official schedule for assisting evacuees.
The government is expected to allow evacuees to re-enter the 20-kilometer exclusion zone to collect their cars from late this month.
Residents of the extended evacuation zone will be asked to complete their evacuation by the end of the month. The government is expected to announce measures to support their employment and business operations.
The government plans to decide when to lift the evacuation orders once the nuclear reactors have stabilized. Tokyo Electric Power Company hopes to stabilize the reactors within 9 months.
The government has drafted a bill to assist TEPCO with compensation for evacuees. The utility has agreed to make provisional payouts while the bill passes through the Diet.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011 07:41
WHO meeting to discuss nuclear-related issues
The World Health Organization's Director-General has called for international support for Japan after the March 11th disaster and the related accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
Margaret Chan gave the opening address at the WHO's annual meeting in Geneva on Monday to delegates from the body's 193 member countries.
In a special session, hastily arranged following the accident, Japanese health officials are expected to inform participants of measures taken by the government to safeguard the health of residents near the damaged plant.
The delegation is also expected to explain measures to ensure the safety of food and drinking water.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011 08:25
Disposing of tainted tea leaves
Farmers in Kanagawa Prefecture have begun disposing of tea leaves that were tainted by radioactive material from the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, more than 250 kilometers away.
Radioactive cesium above the designated safety limit was detected earlier this month in tea leaves harvested in 6 municipalities in Kanagawa, neighboring Tokyo.
The prefectural government asked the municipalities and local farmers' cooperatives to voluntarily halt shipments of tea leaves.
Farmers in Kiyokawa Village began stripping their tea trees of leaves following the announcement.
The prefectural government has asked farmers to place the harvested leaves as far as possible from the trees until it decides with the central government how to dispose of them.
One farmer says he wants to get rid of the contaminated leaves as soon as possible to protect the entire plantation.
Tea growers in Ibaraki halt shipments
Tea growers in Ibaraki Prefecture have voluntarily halted shipments of tea leaves, after radioactive contamination was detected in their products.
On Monday, the prefectural government asked two municipalities and their cooperatives to halt all shipments of tea. Daigo town is about 100 kilometers from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant and Sakai Town is 180 kilometers away.
Daigo Town is home to some 300 tea growers and 37 tea processing plants. This is the most important season for them, as the harvesting of tea leaves usually begins in May.
The leader of the cooperative, Toshimitsu Yoshinari, said the Japanese government should first investigate the situation and find ways to remove any radioactive materials.
He said he will request compensation from the government and the Tokyo Electric Power Company.
Farmers to make 1st damages claim against TEPCO
Farmers in Fukushima Prefecture plan to demand about 5.5 million dollars in damages from TEPCO over radioactive contamination from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
32 agricultural groups decided at a meeting in Fukushima City on Tuesday that they will make the demand to Tokyo Electric Power Company on May 27th. It will be their first compensation claim.
They say that 4 farmers' cooperatives lost about 1.8 million dollars by the end of April because they could not ship vegetables such as spinach due to the contamination.
A dairy farmers' cooperative estimates that losses from halted shipments of raw milk in March reached about 3.7 million dollars.
The groups say they plan to hold meetings once a month to assess ongoing losses and demand compensation from TEPCO.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011 09:36
"Mega float" arrives at port near Fukushima plant
A giant storage barge that will be used to hold radioactive water has arrived at a port near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The steel mega-float, 136 meters long and 46 meters wide, can store up to 10,000 tons of water. It has been provided to Tokyo Electric Power Company from Shizuoka City in central Japan, where it had been used as a fishing park.
The floating structure entered the Onahama port in Iwaki City, south of the nuclear plant, on Tuesday morning.
After some final checks, it will move to off the coast of the stricken nuclear plant.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011 09:59
Quake debris disposal to take 3 years
Japan's Environment Ministry says it will take 3 years to dispose of massive amounts of debris left in northeastern Japan by the March 11th earthquake and tsunami.
The ministry has asked local governments that have not been affected by the disaster to accept some of the debris because the volume is so huge that municipalities in affected areas cannot handle it.

346 municipal governments across the country have so far accepted the request.
Under a roadmap drawn up by the ministry, debris left in residential areas will be moved to temporary disposal sites by the end of August, and will be either burned or buried by the end of March next year.
Debris in non-residential areas will be moved to the temporary dumping sites by the end of next March and disposed of by the end of March 2014.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011 09:59
Generator trucks proved useless at Fukushima plant
The operator of the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant says dozens of power-generating trucks brought to the plant just after the March 11th disaster mostly proved to be useless.
About 70 generator trucks from the Self-Defense Forces and other entities headed to the plant after the quake knocked out external power and the tsunami disabled the facility's backup generators.
But plant operator TEPCO says debris strewn across the compound and flooded switchboards hampered the trucks' set up.
The utility says a switchboard for the No.2 reactor was finally wired to one of the generator trucks about 24 hours after the disaster.
But moments later, a hydrogen explosion at the neighboring No.1 reactor fried the wiring and cut off the power supply from the truck.
Another hydrogen explosion 2 days later at the No.3 reactor damaged generator vehicles with chunks of flying concrete.
Electricity was finally restored to the plant through the regular power grid on March 21st --- 10 days after the quake and tsunami.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011 11:59
Cabinet approves revision of energy, key policies
Japan's Cabinet has approved revisions to various key policies including energy, which has placed significance on nuclear power.
In a meeting on Tuesday, the Cabinet drew up guidelines for various key policies in view of the changes that have emerged following the March 11 earthquake and nuclear disaster.
Under the plan, the new growth strategy panel is to resume meetings by the end of May and present a strategy for Japan's revival by the end of the year. The meetings had been suspended since the disaster. ...

Tuesday, May 17, 2011 11:59
Govt spokesman seeks clarifications
Japan's top government spokesman has demanded TEPCO to present a detailed report on how workers manually shutdown the reactor's emergency cooling system before the tsunami struck.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told reporters on Tuesday that he learned about the manual shutdown in morning news reports. He said the government's nuclear safety agency has asked TEPCO to explain the matter.
Edano said the utility should first present a detailed account of the facts and developments, so that an assessment can be done. He said the company will be asked to publicize all findings.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011 12:28
Transfer of radioactive water to begin Tuesday
The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant will start transferring highly radioactive water from the No.3 reactor to a temporary storage facility on Tuesday.
Tokyo Electric Power Company estimates that there is about 22,000 tons of highly radioactive water in the reactor's turbine building and a connecting tunnel.
The utility says water in the basement of the turbine building was about 1.44 meters high as of 7 AM Tuesday, a rise of more than 20 centimeters over the past 2 weeks. Some of the water leaked into the sea last week.
Starting Tuesday afternoon, TEPCO will pump highly contaminated water to a temporary storage facility at the plant, where radioactive water from the No.2 reactor is already being transferred.
TEPCO says it will move 12 tons of contaminated water per hour over about 2 weeks for a total of about 4,000 tons.
In the No. 3 reactor, the temperature at the bottom of the reactor basement rose to 144 degrees Celsius two weeks ago, leading TEPCO to increase the amount of water injected from 7 to 9 tons per hour. As a result, it says, the temperature had fallen to 130 degrees as of 7 AM Tuesday.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011 12:32
Govt admits nuclear role, pledges support
The Japanese government will on Tuesday announce its policies for supporting people and businesses affected by the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
According to the draft documents, the government admits that promoting nuclear energy has been a state policy and promises to deal responsibly with all victims of the nuclear accident until the very end of reconstruction.
Under the planned timeline, 24,000 temporary housing units will be secured by mid August for people evacuating areas near the nuclear plant.
Starting in late May, the evacuees will be allowed to retrieve their vehicles from within the 20-kilometer no-entry zone. They will also be allowed to make more temporary visits home.
The government promises to monitor residents' health even after the nuclear disaster is resolved, and also to offer consultations and radiation checks for people outside Fukushima to ease their anxieties.
Special zero-interest long-term loans are planned for small- and medium-sized companies, while soil in the affected areas will be decontaminated and refined.
The policies and timeline will be formally adopted by the government's nuclear disaster taskforce on Tuesday afternoon.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011 13:18
Nuclear plant cooling system manually shut down
The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says workers may have manually shut down the No.1 reactor's emergency cooling system in order to prevent damage to the reactor. It says pressure inside the reactor had dropped sharply after the earthquake struck the plant on March 11th.
Tokyo Electric Power Company on Monday disclosed records of its operations at the plant.
They show that the reactor automatically halted operations after the earthquake.
The emergency cooling system was automatically activated but stopped about 10 minutes later and remained off for about 3 hours until after the tsunami arrived.
TEPCO says plant workers may have manually shut down the cooling system because pressure inside the reactor had dropped sharply from 70 to 45 atmospheres.
The system is designed to cool the reactor even if all external sources of power are lost, but the move to shut it down temporarily means that it did not fully function.
TEPCO says the decision may have been made based on a manual to prevent damage to the reactor.
It says if the system had worked, it may have had more time until the meltdown, so it will investigate developments leading up to the decision to turn it off and whether the move was correct.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011 13:56
US halts 24-hour Fukushima monitoring
The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission says it has halted 24-hour monitoring of Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant as conditions are slowly stabilizing there.
The commission announced on Monday that it was adjusting its response as Japan continues to implement its shutdown plan. But it said the US team of experts in Japan will remain in place and it will continue to support them and coordinate response efforts with federal and industry partners.
Meanwhile, the State Department is continuing to recommend that US citizens avoid travel within a 50-mile, or 80-kilometer, radius of the Fukushima plant. But it said based on studies, it believes it is safe to use the railway and expressway to transit through the area.


Voices from around

. Daily Radiation Levels .  

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Japan Times :

Kan sticks to nuke crisis road map
Prime Minister Kan says the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant can still be brought under control in six to nine months despite the meltdown in reactor No. 1.

Tepco prepares to start pumping tainted water from No. 3
Highly radioactive water flooding the Fukushima power plant's No. 3 reactor will be transferred to a waste-disposal facility to prevent it from tainting the environment.

Second quake budget won't be ready until August
Prime Minister Kan indicates that the second extra budget for Tohoku's reconstruction won't be ready till August, partly due to differences over how to raise the money, expected to exceed --10 trillion.

Rosy telling of nuke response, warnings headed for IAEA

Pope's emissary prays at scenic Matsushima

Crisis forces 169 schools to relocate or close

Tepco CDSs leap on loan writeoff remark

Reconstruction legislation

Tokyo: What lessons can Japan learn from the disasters of March 11?




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  1. Doctors defy radiation woes in Japan's Fukushima

    FUKUSHIMA CITY, Japan: When other doctors fled, 72-year old Kyohei Takahashi stayed, and hundreds of patients in the tsunami-hit Japanese town of Minamisoma near a crippled nuclear plant will never forget.

    Dr. Takahashi has defied radiation fears and worked gruelling hours for the past nine weeks to do what he considers his duty.

    "As a doctor, I thought, I shouldn't retreat," he said. "I told myself: who will do it if I don't?"

    Takahashi says he decided to keep his clinic open when other doctors closed shop and fled after the Fukushima nuclear power plant, just 25 kilometres (16 miles) south of Minamisoma, was crippled by the March 11 quake and tsunami.

    "It was utter panic," the doctor recalled. "The telephones didn't work, the shops were closed, people had disappeared and no hospitals were open except this one. The city was completely dead."

    Takahashi, who specialises in obstetrics and gynaecology, accepted anyone who came for help, mostly elderly people who remained in the stricken city following a government order to stay indoors or evacuate.

    Together with four clinic workers, he has examined as many as 120 patients a day, many of them suffering pneumonia as they withstood freezing temperatures without electricity, running water or enough food after the disaster.

    "Doctors are there to work in this kind of adversity," he said. "This is my mission -- maybe it's the last chapter of my medical career."

    The city turned into a virtual ghost town after the nuclear power plant was engulfed by the monster tsunami triggered by the nation's biggest recorded earthquake, and then rocked by a series of explosions and fires.


  2. Gabi san, that haiku you wrote is chilling.
    . . . . .
    ‎. . . life here in Japan is chilling right now ... even with warm early summer sunshine ...
    . . . . .
    Our prayers to all of you.
    The future, uncertain, is even more chilling as the effects of Tepco's madness has yet to be realized and will heighten anxiety, for years.

  3. Sorry for the tea growers.

  4. two years of the whole turkish tea harvest was dumped after chernobyl.