May 20, Friday

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Japan earthquake donation doll


This little doll is a freebie.
Please pass her along to your friends
source : marketplace.secondlife.com


Gabi reports:

Honda Motor in Brazil will lay off 400 workers at its plant in Sao Paulo. It will reduce output due to the short supply of automotive parts after the earthquake.

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A worker at the Fukushima plant suffered a heat stroke after working for about 15 minutes in the sauna-like conditions.

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Quake in Turkey kills 2, injures 80

An earthquake in western Turkey killes at least 2 people and injured about 80.
The quake occurred in Kutahya Province on late Thursday night. Tremor had a magnitude of 5.8 and a focus about 9 kilometers deep.

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A group of students from Brazil have sent messages written in Japanese to cheer up children affected by the earthquake and tsunami.

Chinese tourists are back! A group of 13 arrived at Narita airport today. They want to visit Akihabara Electric Town and go shopping.


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

Friday, May 20, 2011 02:27
Radiation limits activities in school fields
More than 90 percent of elementary and junior high schools in Fukushima City disallow or limit outdoor activities for students in their athletic fields due to radiation-contaminated topsoil.
In Fukushima Prefecture at the grounds of some elementary and junior high schools in April radiation levels exceeded the government limit of 3.8 microsieverts per hour.
The level dropped to below the limit at all of the schools last week.
But NHK research has found that 69 out of 72 public elementary and junior high schools in the area were disallowing or limiting outdoor activities in the athletic fields as of Thursday.
The schools say that they cannot judge whether radiation levels are safe enough even though they have dropped. They also refer to the request by parents that students not be allowed to play outside.
These schools let students use gyms or play cards during the breaks.
Fukushima City is planning to start removing the contaminated topsoil at some schools as early as this month. But schools are still worried about radiation as the troubled nuclear plant remains unstable.
No outdoor swimming classes for Fukushima schools
Fukushima City has decided to cancel all outdoor swimming at its schools this summer due to fears of radiation from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
The board of education notified all the city's 72 public elementary and junior high schools of the decision on Thursday.
The board has been issuing instructions to schools about ways to minimize the effects of radiation on children.
The board says it has judged that it will be difficult to continue its outdoor swimming programs until the accident at the nuclear plant is brought under control.

Friday, May 20, 2011 02:27
Experiments to decontaminate soil to start
The Japanese government will start experiments aimed at cleaning up soil contaminated by radiation in areas around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant so that farming can hopefully resume there.
The government has banned rice growing within a 30 kilometers radius of the plant and in some areas where a high level of radioactive cesium was detected in the soil.
Rice is the main crop for farmers in the areas.
Seeking to restart the farming, the agriculture ministry plans to test ways to reduce the radiation levels in the soil in Iitate Village in the evacuation zone, starting from June.
One idea is to swamp the paddies with water, stir up, and then wash away the radioactive substances.
Another idea is to set up at a drainage canal and equip it with a mineral called zeolite which absorbs radioactive materials.
The ministry will also test the effectiveness of sun flower and rape, two plants that draw radioactive substances to their stems.
It hopes to decontaminate the soil by adopting the measures that prove effective after about 3 months of testing.

Friday, May 20, 2011 06:25
TEPCO to record historic financial loss
Tokyo Electric Power Company will post a historic loss of around 15 billion dollars in the fiscal year ending in March. This is due to the huge cost of recovery efforts arising from the recent disaster.
A source close to TEPCO says that the company will allocate 5 billion dollars to stabilize the troubled Fukushima Daiichi reactors. It also needs to earmark funds for future decommissioning of four reactors, as well as the expenses required to restart thermal power plants that were not being used.
In total, the extraordinary loss will exceed 12 billion dollars, bringing the overall deficit to 14.7 billion dollars, which is the largest since the company opened in 1951.
TEPCO will have to go through another difficult year in fiscal 2011, as the compensation to the affected people will be adding to these costs.
To address the problem, the firm plans to sell 27 resort houses and athletic grounds as well as stocks of affiliate companies. In addition, it will also implement salary reductions for its workers and a 100% cut for its 8 executive members.
Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata and the President Masataka Shimizu have already indicated they will resign from their posts. However, some others in the firm say the bosses should continue working to address the situation until all the reactors are stabilized.

Humidity, heat, radiation in reactor buildings

At the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, high radiation levels and humidity in the reactor buildings are hampering efforts to stabilize the reactors. The utility urgently needs to improve conditions so that people can work in the buildings.
On Wednesday, staff entered reactor buildings No. 2 and 3 to survey radiation levels for the first time since the explosions at the plant. This followed a survey at the No.1 reactor.
At the No.2 reactor they found peak radiation levels of 50 millisieverts per hour. They also experienced high humidity and intense heat, which limited the work there only to 15 minutes.
At the No.3 building the team detected 160 to 170 millisieverts of radiation per hour near a pipe connected to the reactor. The pipe was to be used to inject nitrogen to prevent a hydrogen explosion.
To improve the working conditions at the No.2 building, Tokyo Electric Power Company is planning to set up a cooling system to lower the temperature of a spent fuel pool which is causing the humidity.
But the company says the system will become operational at the end of May at the earliest, and that work inside will not be possible for the time being.
As for the No. 3 reactor building, the utility says they may have to find another way to inject nitrogen and also shield staff from the radiation in order to work inside.
These difficulties may affect the company's road map to stabilize the reactors.
Health office to monitor nuclear plant workers

Japan's health ministry has set up a special office to monitor the health of workers at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
After the accident at the Fukushima plant in March, the ministry raised the state limit for radiation exposure for workers at the plant to 250 millisieverts -- 2.5 times the previous limit.
About 30 workers have already been exposed to more than 100 millisieverts as the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, struggles to contain the disaster.
The new office will compile data on radiation exposure for workers for long-term monitoring purposes, and inspect daily work schedules in advance.
Health Minister Ritsuo Hosokawa told reporters on Friday that the workers and their families must be concerned about radiation exposure, and that the office will closely monitor their conditions.

Friday, May 20, 2011 12:15
March quake mechanism
A Japanese scientist says the March 11th earthquake and tsunami were caused by distinctive movements of nearby tectonic plates.
Associate Professor Satoshi Ide of the University of Tokyo's Graduate School analyzed data from seismometers around the world. He studied the movements of the descending Pacific plate, or the ocean plate, and the overlying North American plate carrying eastern Japan, at the time of the quake.
Ide found the quake began with the North American plate sliding relatively slowly along its boundary with the Pacific plate, off the coast of Japan at a depth of about 20 kilometers.
The sliding movement spread in the direction of the coast for about 40 seconds, sending strong tremors across northeastern Japan.
Then, about one minute after the quake began, the displacement accelerated near the Japan Trench, causing the North American plate to slip as far as 30 meters. Ide says this resulted in lifting vast amounts of seawater, triggering the massive tsunami.
About 90 seconds after the start of the quake, the plate slid again deep beneath the seabed near the coast, triggering another wave of strong jolts.
Ide says the findings show that the movement of the North American plate was greater than the stress accumulated around its boundary with the Pacific plate. He says he will next explore whether similar events could happen in other areas.

Friday, May 20, 2011 13:38
TEPCO studying ways to start nitrogen injection
The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is studying ways to start nitrogen gas injection into 2 reactors to prevent hydrogen blasts.
Hydrogen explosions occurred at the plant's first three reactors in March following the earthquake and tsunami.
Tokyo Electric Power Company plans to inject nitrogen gas into reactors No.2 and 3 to prevent further hydrogen explosions.
Nitrogen injection is already underway in the No.1 reactor.
To prepare for the injection, TEPCO sent workers into the No.2 and 3 reactor buildings on Wednesday to check radiation levels and other conditions.
In the No.2 reactor building, steam coming from the spent fuel pool proved to be a problem.
In the No.3 reactor, high radiation levels of 160 to 170 millisieverts per hour were detected near the door of the containment vessel, where the company intended to inject the nitrogen gas.
TEPCO decided to install a new cooling system for the spent fuel pool in the No.2 reactor in the hope of reducing the amount of steam.
For the No.3 reactor, the firm is considering injecting nitrogen gas from a different part of the reactor where radiation levels are lower or setting up lead sheets to block radiation.

Friday, May 20, 2011 11:34
Govt approves plan to resettle quake evacuees
The Japanese government has decided on a package of relief measures for evacuees of the March 11 disaster. They will be implemented over the next 3 months and funded by the recently-enacted extra budget.
The plan was approved at a meeting of the government's disaster taskforce on Friday. Prime Minister Naoto Kan said many of the evacuees are voicing frustration at the slow progress of the government's responses.
He instructed Cabinet ministers to do their utmost so that people can quickly feel their lives are returning to normal.
The relief measures include the removal of debris from residential areas by the end of August.
The government will speed up the construction of temporary housing by sending land ministry officials to secure plots of land. It aims to close most of the evacuation shelters by mid-August.
Breached embankments along rivers will be reinforced by July to prevent flooding during the rainy season.

Friday, May 20, 2011 14:04
Health office to monitor nuclear plant workers
Japan's health ministry has set up a special office to monitor the health of workers at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
After the accident at the Fukushima plant in March, the ministry raised the state limit for radiation exposure for workers at the plant to 250 millisieverts -- 2.5 times the previous limit.
About 30 workers have already been exposed to more than 100 millisieverts as the plant operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, struggles to contain the disaster.
The new office will compile data on radiation exposure for workers for long-term monitoring purposes, and inspect daily work schedules in advance.
Health Minister Ritsuo Hosokawa told reporters on Friday that the workers and their families must be concerned about radiation exposure, and that the office will closely monitor their conditions.

Friday, May 20, 2011 16:25
TEPCO suffers massive net losses
Tokyo Electric Power Company has posted a record loss due to the huge recovery costs from its damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant following the March 11th disaster.
TEPCO says its net loss amounted to around 15 billion dollars for the fiscal year ended in March. The loss is the largest since the company started in 1951.
The utility reported extraordinary losses of over 12 billion dollars, due to efforts to stabilize the stricken nuclear reactors at the plant.
TEPCO also announced it will sell off its real estate and recreational facilities to raise about 7 billion dollars as part of a compensation fund for people affected by the nuclear disaster.
The company also says it will streamline its business by about 6 billion dollars, by cutting labor costs and research and development.
Further measures the company announced include scrapping the 4 crippled reactors -- Numbers 1 through 4 -- and giving up a plan to build 2 more reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.
TEPCO president to step down in June
The president of Tokyo Electric Power Company, Masataka Shimizu, will step down to take the blame for the nuclear accident in Fukushima.
TEPCO's executive board decided on Friday that Shimizu should resign in June when the company holds its shareholders' meeting.
As the utility's president, Shimizu is being held responsible for the enormous damage caused by the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, including the forced evacuation of many residents.
Shimizu will be succeeded by Managing Director Toshio Nishizawa, who is 60 years old. Nishizawa previously served as the head of the utility's planning division.
TEPCO Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata will remain in his post to lead the efforts to bring the nuclear plant under control.

Friday, May 20, 2011 18:01
Miyagi strives to save rice farming
Efforts to resume rice planting have begun in parts of Miyagi Prefecture that were ravaged by the March 11th earthquake and tsunami.
In Minami Sanriku Town, farmer Toshimasa Goto saw half his paddies flooded in the disaster.
The tsunami also destroyed his barn and left farming equipment unusable.
The 62-year-old farmer decided to plant rice on about 2,000 square meters of land that escaped the deluge.
On Friday, Goto and his wife sowed seedlings one by one and operated a planting combine in areas wide enough for machinery.
Goto said he had almost given up on rice farming this year, but now hopes his family can finally move forward as the rice begins to grow.
An operation to flood rice paddies with fresh water has begun on the plains around Sendai City, which were swamped by the tsunami. Workers on Friday were checking how much salt has been removed.
Miyagi Prefecture was one of Japan's leading rice producers before the March disaster.

Friday, May 20, 2011 18:55
Government picks 16 new conservation sites
The Japanese government will add 16 sites, including 2 beaches in quake-devastated Miyagi Prefecture, to the list of places to be conserved for their natural or aesthetic values.
An advisory panel to the Cultural Affairs Agency on Friday recommended that the Kugunari and Kukunaki beaches in Kesennuma City be designated as national monuments.
The 2 sandy beaches are noted for the almost musical noises they make when walked on. Currently, they are both covered with debris left by the March 11th tsunami, but a survey found that the rubble can be removed, leaving the so-called "singing sand" intact.
くぐなり(十八鳴 / くぐなり浜) Kugunari Hama Beach
. . . CLICK here for Photos !

Friday, May 20, 2011 19:46
No.1 reactor has 4.2 meters of contaminated water
Workers have confirmed that more than 4 meters of highly radioactive water has flooded the basement of one of the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The plant's operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, sent workers inside the No.1 reactor on Friday as part of preparations to install a cooling system to stabilize the reactor core.
TEPCO suspects that the reactor's fuel rods have melted down, creating holes in a pressure vessel and damaging the reactor's containment vessel.
Contaminated water is apparently leaking from the holes. Under a revised plan announced this week, the utility plans to decontaminate the water and circulate it to cool the reactor core.
Two workers who went into the building on Friday morning stayed there for about one hour, and confirmed that water in the basement was roughly 4.2 meters deep. That's slightly more than a week ago, when TEPCO first confirmed the existence of water there.
4 other workers later took over and spent about 90 minutes on the ground floor using a gamma camera to measure the spread and densities of radiation.
TEPCO plans to use the findings to decide how to install the cooling system and set procedures for workers to follow.


Voices from around

. Daily Radiation Levels .  

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Japan Times :

Economy slides back into recession
A sharper than expected 3.7% annualized drop in GDP yanks Japan back into recession after factory production and consumer spending wilted after the March 11 disasters.

Yamaguchi might nix nuke plant via license
Yamaguchi Prefecture might invalidate Chugoku Electric's license to reclaim land in Kaminoseki to halt plans to put a new nuclear power plant there.
山口原発 / 上関原子力発電所

Edano seeks to end regional monopolies of power utilities

Tepco told to avoid sale of national park land

Manufacturers expect lasting quake impact

Impasse over reconstruction
..... Another reason is that Mr. Kan acts as if he was not really concerned about the reconstruction of the disaster-hit areas.
The Kan administration plans to submit a second supplementary budget for fiscal 2011 — to fund full-scale reconstruction — to an extraordinary Diet session expected to start in August or later. This is used as an excuse by the LDP for not cooperating with the DPJ. ...

Care for orphaned children
As of May 14, there were 141 orphaned children in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures ...
Of the 141 orphans, two have entered children's social welfare facilities. The remaining 139 were taken in by other families, most of them relatives.



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  1. Anonymous5/21/2011

    A tragic situation exists precisely
    when virtue does not triumph
    but when it is still felt
    that man is nobler than the forces which destroy him.

    George Orwell

  2. Anonymous5/21/2011

    UNITED NATIONS (AFP) – The United Nations has launched a broad study of the implications of the accident at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant following the earthquake and tsunami in March, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon announced.

    "The UN has a clear role to play in facilitating this discussion," Ban told heads of UN agencies during a video conference on Friday.

    "To advance this agenda, I will convene a high-level meeting on 22 September on nuclear safety and security."

    The UN head said he would "present a UN system-wide study on the implications of the nuclear accident at Fukushima.

    "The report will touch on a variety of areas, including environment, health, food security, sustainable development and the nexus between nuclear safety and nuclear security," he said. "It will also present system-wide views on how to improve disaster risk preparedness."

    The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has leaked radiation into the air, sea and land since it was crippled by the 9.0 magnitude quake and ensuing tsunami which led to the world's worst nuclear incident since Chernobyl.

    Yahoo News