July 1, Friday

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Gabi reports:

A young man worked in a car repair factory when the tsunami hit.
He had not much time, so just jumped on the hood of the car and hold on to dear life. The car was lifted up by the swirling waters, higher and higher, until just a few centimeters below the ceiling of the repair hall.
Can you imagine the thoughts that went through his head at this moment?
And then the water receeded, leaving him clinging to the car, on the ground now, in the midst of incredible rubble and debris.
That was March 11, 2011.

Yesterday we saw him on TV, working in Kurashiki, Okayama. The company had offered to give him work here (Kurashiki is about one hour's drive from my home.) Now he lives alone, trying to make new friends here while fostering the bonds with his family in Tohoku.

He learned about the hand fans (uchiwa 団扇 ) made in Marugame, a town just over the bridge on the island of Shikoku. He could get the maker to make a donation of 1000 fans, which he packed in his car today to drive to his hometown. People still living in the school sports hall as evacuees are having a hard time now with the heat and humidity.
Even a small breeze from a handfan is welcome.

. Handfans from Marugame 丸亀

a cooling breeze
floats toward Tohoku -
Marugame fans


It is raining again this morning, and more rain to come.

Since today, power saving is the theme of the day (or rather the months to come).

15% power cut required for large users on Friday
. Energy saving 節電 setsuden - INFO

. . . . .

Mr. Kan's thoughtless headhunting
. The Political Situation .  INFO .


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

Friday, July 01, 2011 07:59
Govt to warn of possible rolling blackouts
The Japanese government plans to issue a public warning that rolling blackouts may occur when peak demand for electricity is projected to reach the supply amount.
Tokyo Electric Power Company will be able to provide 53.8 million kilowatts this summer. This is lower than last summer's peak demand of 60 million kilowatts.
Tohoku Electric Power Company will be able to supply 13.7 million kilowatts this summer which is 1.1 million kilowatts short of last summer's peak demand.
The government is asking households and businesses to cut electricity use by 15 percent compared with last year in order to avoid a massive blackout.
If it appears that electricity consumption will reach close to 97 percent of maximum supply, the government plans to issue a public warning at around 6 PM on the previous day about possible rolling blackouts.
In that case, the government will also call on households and companies to further reduce power use.

Friday, July 01, 2011 01:40
Circulation cooling system works again
The newly installed reactor cooling system at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has resumed working after a 5-hour suspension due to mechanical trouble.
The operator of the crippled plant, Tokyo Electric Power Company, TEPCO, says a French-made water-decontamination device, which is part of the cooling system, stopped automatically on Thursday afternoon. An alarm system was set off within 10 minutes.
TEPCO says after repairing the device and doing test runs, it resumed operating on Thursday evening.
The system that decontaminates and re-uses the plant's radioactive water is considered key to the stable cooling of the reactors. Although the cooling system had stopped, the utility says the decontaminated water continued to pour into the reactors.
The company says the alarm device indicated the level of decontaminated water inside one tank was too low, and a gas exhaust had malfunctioned.
TEPCO is trying to find out why the alarm system was set off, and the cause of the other troubles.
Since its start on Monday, the cooling system has suffered a series of problems including leaky piping.

Friday, July 01, 2011 10:43
Another worker exposed to high radiation
Tests have revealed that another worker at the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has been exposed to radiation doses exceeding 100 millisieverts. Before the accident in March, 100 millisieverts was the maximum radiation exposure permitted in an emergency situation.
Tokyo Electric Power Company, the operator of the plant, submitted a report to the heath ministry on Thursday. The utility checked the radiation exposure of about half of the 4,300 people who started working at the plant in April.
TEPCO says none of the workers has been exposed to doses exceeding the legal limit of 250 millisieverts set by the government for emergency situations.
But one worker was exposed to 111 millisieverts, while the readings for 9 other people were between 50 and 100 millisieverts.
The health ministry instructed the utility to promptly carry out tests on the remaining half of the workers and report back by July 13th.
TEPCO has nearly completed checking the people who were working at the plant in March. The checks found that 3 of them had been exposed to doses exceeding the 250-millisievert emergency limit, while 4 others were suspected to having surpassed that limit.
The limit radiation exposure was raised from 100 millisieverts to 250 millisieverts after the Fukushima accident to secure enough time for workers at the plant to bring the situation under control.

Friday, July 01, 2011 11:43
TEPCO to enhance manual on coolant system
The operator of the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says it will improve the content of operation manuals for a newly introduced reactor coolant system. The move is intended to prevent human errors from causing suspension of the cooling operation.
On Monday, Tokyo Electric Power Company started using the system, which is designed to decontaminate and recycle highly radioactive water that is being used to cool all three troubled reactors. The work was suspended several times due to water leaks and other problems.
The company says human errors, including mistakes in handling valves, were largely responsible for the trouble.
It says that the new system was hastily built by piecing together various technologies from Japan and abroad. It added that workers have not been given enough time and training to get used to operating and maintaining the system.
The company says it will improve the content of the operation manuals with an eye toward eliminating human errors while it continues operations to cool the reactors.

Friday, July 01, 2011 11:43
BOJ Tankan: Business confidence down after quake
The Bank of Japan's latest quarterly Tankan survey shows that business confidence has tumbled since the March 11th disaster.
The headline index for large manufacturers stood at minus 9 points during the April-June quarter. That's down 15 points from the March survey, and is the first negative figure in 15 months. ...

Friday, July 01, 2011 12:19
Radioactivity survey ship leaves for Fukushima
A research ship has left Tokyo to survey the spread of radioactive substances into the ocean from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

The ship belonging to Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology left Toyoumi Wharf in Tokyo Bay on Friday morning. About 30 specialists in ocean observation and marine biology are onboard the Umitaka-maru. 海鷹丸
In cooperation with a fisheries research organization and other groups, the ship will collect seafloor samples off Fukushima to study the impact of radioactive substances on fish and plankton. The research will focus on shellfish and sandworms on the seabed that are believed to be susceptible to radioactive materials.
Professor Takashi Ishimaru 石丸隆, the team's leader, says it's important to provide accurate information because without data, people tend to become suspicious and they might create groundless rumors.
Ishimaru says he hopes the results of the survey will help scientists learn how fish and shellfish absorb radioactive substances.
The ship is to arrive off Fukushima on Saturday and will continue its activities until July 8th.

Friday, July 01, 2011 13:33
Human error blamed for cooling system halt
Tokyo Electric Power Company says human error was responsible for the latest problems with a water-decontamination device at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
The French-made device automatically stopped operating on Thursday afternoon after an alarm system was triggered. It resumed operation 5 hours later.
On Friday, TEPCO blamed the trouble on flawed programming of water levels in a tank that contains processed water. It says workers mistakenly set the water level at 3 percent of capacity, rather than 30 percent. As a result, water levels dropped rapidly and caused the device to stop operation.
TEPCO on Monday started the operation of a new cooling system that is expected to play a key role in stabilizing the crippled reactors.
But the system, which is designed to recycle cooling water after removing radiation from it, has been suspended several times.
Trouble has been occurring particularly frequently with the decontamination device, mainly because of human error.
TEPCO says the decontamination system had been operating just 55 percent of the time as of Tuesday.
The company said it will also take the step of improving operation manuals for the cooling system as a way of eliminating human errors.

Friday, July 01, 2011 15:19
113 households in Date City advised to evacuate
The city of Date in Fukushima Prefecture sent 113 households written notices on Friday to recommend that they evacuate.
On Thursday, the central government designated the 113 households as areas with radioactive hotspots despite being outside the government-designated evacuation zone around the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
The cumulative radiation is expected to reach the government standard of 20 millisieverts a year in areas that include the 113 households in 4 districts in the Ryozenmachi area. Date City is about 50 kilometers northwest of the plant.
The city is asking the 113 households if they plan to evacuate and to return their answers by July 8th.
The city says it will provide subsidies for rental accommodation, adding that about 40 municipal housing units are available.

Friday, July 01, 2011 14:48
Robot deployed at Fukushima reactor for cleaning
Tokyo Electric Power Company has put a robot inside a highly radioactive facility at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to decontaminate the site.
The No.3 reactor building has been filled with highly radioactive sand, dust and rubble since it was badly damaged in a hydrogen explosion in March.
The radiation level inside the facility is 170 millisieverts per hour at its peak. The high radiation is preventing workers from going inside and taking steps to prevent fresh explosions.
On Friday, TEPCO sent a US-made remote-controlled robot fitted with a vacuum cleaner inside the building.
An operator is manipulating the robot to make it clean the floor.
TEPCO plans to send a worker into the building as early as Saturday to check radiation levels. If they are sufficiently reduced, the utility hopes to prepare a nitrogen injection to prevent hydrogen explosions.

Friday, July 01, 2011 17:16
Hitachi starts power-saving shift
Leading Japanese electronics maker Hitachi has started shifting some of its operations to weekends to cope with expected power shortages.
The firm is closing its group factories in eastern Japan on Thursdays and Fridays, to operate them on weekends from July to September.
The shift is part of efforts called for by the government to cope with possible power shortages due to the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and the closure of many reactors of other plants for safety inspections.
The government has asked large-lot users in eastern Japan to cut their power consumption by 15 percent during the summer. Violators could face fines.
On Friday, one of the firm's plants in Hitachi City, north of Tokyo, that produces turbines for thermal power stations and has about 7,000 employees was quiet, with closed gates and shutters. Hitachi says it's taking other power-saving measures such as covering walls of its office buildings with leafy plants to block sunlight.
Power saving begins at Tokyo Stock Exchange
The Tokyo Stock Exchange has joined other major businesses in cutting power consumption following a government appeal to save electricity during summer.
The Stock Exchange on Friday switched off 75 percent of its large electronic display board showing current stock prices. It also turned off other displays and escalators in the building. Educational tours have been suspended until September 30th.

Friday, July 01, 2011 18:30
Tokyo subway saving power
Tokyo's subway system has begun temporarily stopping air-conditioning at stations because limits have been placed on heavy electricity users from Friday.
The system run by the Tokyo government began suspending the use of air-conditioners for one and half to two hours from noon to 3 PM at nearly half of its 106 stations.
It will also reduce trains by 20 percent, except during the morning and evening rush hours, to meet aims of cutting power use by 15 percent from last summer's peak.
A company employee says he hates the summer heat. But he says that he has no other option than to put up with the expected power shortages this summer.
(It must be pure hell in this heat!)

Friday, July 01, 2011 20:02
Panel mulls damages for internal exposure
A government panel is discussing whether to compensate people suffering internal exposure to radiation from the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
At a meeting on Friday, panel leader Yoshihisa Noumi 能見善久  said discussions should be made on whether to recognize such people or those exposed to radiation but yet to develop health problems as suffering mental distress.
Some panel members said people who have been exposed to radiation can be recognized as suffering mental distress. Others said that in cases of no health damage, compensation should not be paid.
The panel decided to continue discussions, saying it is difficult to determine which radiation levels will be covered by compensation.
The members also discussed whether to compensate for damage caused by import bans on Japanese goods by foreign governments and a decrease in tourism to Japan. The panel is expected to continue discussions to wrap up its interim guidelines in late July.
The panel had already decided to compensate people who were forced to evacuate by government order after the nuclear plant accident for mental suffering.

Friday, July 01, 2011 20:16
Saga governor to decide in weeks on plant restart
The governor of Saga Prefecture in southwestern Japan has indicated that he will decide within a few weeks whether to approve the restart of reactors at a local nuclear power plant.
At the prefectural assembly on Friday, Governor Yasushi Furukawa reiterated his view that the Genkai nuclear plant is safe to operate. Two of the 4 reactors at Genkai remain halted since the nuclear disaster in Fukushima. They were offline for regular safety checks at the time.
The governor indicated his belief in the plant's safety earlier in the week, after meeting economy minister Banri Kaieda on Wednesday. The minister assured him that the government will guarantee nuclear plant safety.
Furukawa said that mid-July may be an appropriate time for a final decision on the restart, because a briefing for residents and an assembly session are scheduled in early July.
He added that he is asking Prime Minister Naoto Kan to visit Saga so that he can hear Kan's views directly before deciding. The accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant forced the suspension of many nuclear reactors across Japan.
Genkai may become the first plant to resume full operations, although safety concerns continue to occupy local authorities and residents.


Voices from around

. Daily Radiation Levels .  

. . . . .

Japan Times :

Cesium found in child urine tests

Small amounts of radioactive cesium are found in the urine of 10 children in the city of Fukushima, confirming their internal exposure to radiation, according to a survey by citizens' groups.

113 households identified as radioactive hot spots
The central government designates 113 households in Date, Fukushima Prefecture, as areas with radioactive hot spots and recommends that the people living there evacuate.

Magnitude 5.4 quake jolts Nagano, leaving 11 injured

Last nuclear evacuees leave closed Grand Prince Akasaka hotel

Canada inviting 150 students from disaster zone

Defiant Tepco rallies utilities around future of nuke power

Radioactive debris dilemma unresolved, growing worse


TEPCO denies new leak at Fukushima plant
Radioactive tellurium-129m was detected for the first time in seawater near the water intake of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant's No. 1 reactor, Tokyo Electric Power Co., the plant operator, said June 29.
Seven hundred and twenty becquerels of the substance was detected per liter of water collected on June 4. This concentration is about 2.4 times safe levels.
Tellurium-129m has a short half-life of about 34 days. Its detection near the intake indicates the possibility of a new leak of radioactive water into the sea.
TEPCO, however, said a new leak was unlikely because there wasn't a sharp increase in other radioactive substances and because tellurium-129m was detected only at this single sampling point near the water intake.
source : asahi shinbun


His blue T-shirt -
the color of
calm sea and mountains

Tomorrow, my son joins the Tenrikyo Church Disaster Relief Corp, will spend a week in Soma city, which is not so distant from the Fukushima Nuke Power Plants, but not within the evacuation area.

Kuniharu Shimizu
source : see haiku here



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