. Radiation Problems - INFO

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Main sources of information:
source : NHK World News
source : Japan Times - JT .


Radiation of people, soil, food and water has been a problem since the accident at the Fukushima Power Plant.

Here I will try to keep up with problems after July 11, 2011.

. INFO Fukushima Power Plant TEPCO .


In Blissful Ignorance Cows Graze

Fukushima causes no worries for the local cattle, who graze today contented as if there was no disaster. Maybe its that nature is stronger than what disasters mankind brings upon it, or the simple resignation to the fact they are doomed if not to radiation, then to the slaughterhouse.

The cows graze contented
Radiation seeps invisible
Grass tastes the same.

Read more of his poetry
source : Poetry of Tomás Ó Cárthaigh, Ireland


Monday, July 11, 201

Monday, July 11, 2011 12:50 - NHK
Cesium found in hay fed to cattle
Radioactive cesium far exceeding the legal limit has been detected in hay that was fed to cattle at a farm in Fukushima Prefecture. The prefecture has been investigating why the cattle were contaminated with the radioactive substance.
On Sunday, officials took samples of feed and well water at the farm located in Minamisoma City within the planned evacuation zone.
They say 75,000 becquerels per kilogram of cesium has been detected in the feed. This far exceeds the government's safety limit of 300 becquerels per kilogram.
The farmer says the cattle had been kept inside but were fed with hay left outdoors after the March nuclear accident.
Eleven cattle from the farm were sent to Tokyo to be slaughtered. The beef from the animals contained levels of cesium that were more than triple the legal limit. The prefecture has asked farmers in the city to suspend beef cattle shipments.
Fukushima Prefecture will continue to investigate the feed and water and check if there were any problems with the way the cattle were raised.

Monday, July 11, 2011 21:31 - NHK
Expert: contaminated beef poses no problem
An expert on nuclear medicine says eating meat contaminated with the radioactive substance cesium on a few occasions will not cause health problems.
Keigo Endo is the president of Kyoto College of Medical Science.
He says Japan's safety limit for cesium is stricter than in the United States or Europe where a large amount of meat is consumed.
Endo says eating 500 grams of meat containing the safety limit of cesium for at least 200 days would add up to 1 millisievert of radiation.
However, he says the government should work out measures immediately to prevent beef containing cesium above the safety limit from reaching the market including stepping up checks.


Tuesdsay, July 12, 201

Radioactive contaminated beef found in Shizuoka
Radioactive cesium above the government's standard level has been found in more beef from Fukushima Prefecture.
The meat was sold in Shizuoka Prefecture, central Japan and some of it has already been consumed.
The meat comes from a cow raised on a farm in Minamisoma City, near the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Above normal levels of radioactive cesium have also been found in 11 other head of cattle from the same farm after they were brought to a slaughterhouse in Tokyo.
Officials of Shizuoka City, more than 300 kilometers from Minamisoma City, say a meat-packing company bought 27 kilograms of the beef on June 10th.
13 kilograms have already been sold to restaurants in the city. In an inspection, Shizuoka City detected 1,998 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram, 4 times higher than the government's standard.
The remainder, 14 kilograms of beef from Minamisoma was purchased by a meat dealer and sold by retailers or consumed at restaurants.
Tokyo, Kanagawa and 3 other prefectures also have found that meat from 6 head of cattle raised by the same producer was sold to some local dealers.

. . . . .

High-level cesium detected at waste disposal facilities in Chiba
High levels of radioactive cesium have been detected in incinerated ashes at waste disposal facilities in Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture, in apparent effects from the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, the local municipal office said Monday.
At one waste disposal center in Kashiwa, up to 70,800 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram were detected from ashes collected on June 24 and more than 60,000 becquerels were observed from ashes collected on July 1 and 2, the city office said.
source : mdn.mainichi.jp

Tuesday, July 12, 2011 13:06 - NHK
Hosokawa indicates tests on all beef cattle
Japan's health minister has indicated that all beef cattle raised in some parts of Fukushima Prefecture, including Minamisoma City, where radioactive cesium above the government's standard level was recently found, will be considered for testing.
Ritsuo Hosokawa spoke to reporters on Tuesday, following the detection of cesium over 3 times the government's standard level in beef from cattle raised at a farm in Minamisoma City near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
The prefecture asked the city to voluntarily stop cattle shipments after the detection.
Hosokawa says eating the meat once does not particularly threaten human health and that people do not need to excessively worry about the beef.
But he says the reason for the beef's distribution must be thoroughly investigated to prevent a recurrence.
Hosokawa said that he needs to discuss the issue with related ministries, agencies and Fukushima prefecture to consider testing all cattle from marked-off areas of Fukushima Prefecture at meat-processing facilities and slaughter houses. The cattle in the prefecture are currently being sampling tested.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011 14:33 - NHK
On-site inspection of cattle farmers begins
Officials in Fukushima Prefecture have launched on-site inspections of all cattle farms in the evacuation zone around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. The move comes after radioactivity exceeding the government standard was detected from beef from the prefecture.
The inspections of feed and other items cover 260 farms in areas subject to evacuation.
Last week, radioactive cesium exceeding the government standard was detected in 11 cattle shipped from a farm in Minamisoma city. Another 17 were found to have been fed with hay left outdoors after the March nuclear accident.
On Tuesday, 2 prefectural officials inspected a farm in Kawauchi Village.
The officials interviewed the farmer about how the feed has been kept, and measured the radiation levels of grass used for covering the floors of his cattle barn.
The farmer told NHK that he was shocked by the detection of cesium, and that he welcomes the inspection because it will help ease consumer concerns about beef.
The prefecture plans to expand the on-site checking to all cattle farms in the prefecture after completing the current round of inspections by this weekend.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011 14:41 - NHK
Checking internal radiation of people begins
An atomic energy research facility in Ibaraki Prefecture has begun screening residents from neighboring Fukushima in northeast Japan for internal radiation.
Fukushima Prefecture plans to check its entire population of about 2 million to assess the effect of the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
It is now checking internal radiation levels for residents in the evacuation zone and areas near the nuclear plant as well.
Similar checks have also begun at the government-affiliated Japan Atomic Energy Agency in Tokai Village, Ibaraki where a total 28 pregnant women, parents and their small children from Namie Town arrived on Tuesday.
A piece of equipment called a Whole Body Counter will be used to determine if they have absorbed radioactive materials through food and drinks.
The facility will examine about 2,800 people from Fukushima through next month.
Takumaro Momose at the facility says he knows that people in Fukushima are fretting about internal radiation and that he explains to each person the details of their test results to help ease their anxiety.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011 20:37
Moms set up network to protect kids from radiation
Japanese mothers have set up a nationwide network to protect their children from food contaminated with radioactive substances.
About 450 mothers and others from across the country gathered to kick off the organization in Tokyo, on Tuesday.
A mother from Fukushima said that the national and local governments simply repeat that food on the market is safe, but she cannot trust their words. She said the group should urge prefectural governments to take sufficient measures to ensure children can eat safe food.
Participants were then divided into groups based on the areas they are from, and discussed their worries.
A mother who lives near Tokyo said she hopes members will share information to protect their children from radiation exposure.
Another mother said she now knows that many parents share their worries. She said that she hopes their efforts will gain momentum and bring about change.


Wednesday, July 13, 201

Wednesday, July 13, 2011 16:24 - NHK
.Beef from Fukushima farm sold in 8 prefectures
Beef from a cattle farm in Fukushima Prefecture that was found to be contaminated with radioactive material has been sold at 21 stores in 8 prefectures.
Radioactive cesium exceeding government safety levels was detected in 11 heads of cattle shipped last Friday from a farm in Minamisoma City to a meat-processing facility in Tokyo.
Officials conducted a follow-up survey on another 6 heads of cattle that had been shipped from the same farm to meat-processing facilities in Tokyo and Tochigi Prefecture in May and June.
They found that beef from the cattle had been sold by wholesalers to meat shops and restaurants in 11 prefectures.
Some 370 kilograms of beef were sold to customers in 21 shops and restaurants in 8 prefectures. The beef may have already been consumed.
Tests on beef that was left unsold at the stores show that it contained radioactive cesium 4 to 7 times the government safety level of 500 becquerels per kilogram.
Tokyo government officials say that the unsold beef has been withdrawn from shops to prevent it from being consumed.
Officials plan to continue testing the unsold beef and to investigate where the meat might have ended up.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011 17:52 - NHK
.Cattle farmers told not to give feed left outside
Officials in Fukushima Prefecture have urged cattle farmers not to give their animals feed left outside since the March nuclear accident.
A farmer in Minamisoma City whose cattle were found to be contaminated with radioactive materials had been feeding his animals straw kept outside after trouble began at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant due to the March 11th disaster.
On Wednesday, prefectural officials handed out leaflets warning about such feed to about 250 farmers taking part in a cattle auction. The farmers were also asked to pay attention to the results of screening by the prefecture of corn and rice plants to be harvested in the near future to be used as feed.
More than 270 calves were sold at the auction, at an average price of about 4,200 dollars, down about 12 percent from last month.
A cattle farmer in his 40s from Iwaki city in Fukushima Prefecture expressed concern that the nuclear crisis and damage caused by rumors could put many cattle farmers out of business, many of whom are elderly.
He said the central and prefectural governments should have given instructions on cattle raising to the farmers sooner and in more detail.


Thursday, July 14, 201

Thursday, July 14, 2011 21:52 - NHK
Cesium found in hay at another farm in Fukushima
Radioactive cesium far exceeding safe limits has been detected in hay fed to cattle at a second farm near the crippled nuclear power plant in Fukushima Prefecture.
Fukushima's government warned on Thursday that 42 possibly contaminated cattle have already been shipped out from the farm in Asakawa Town.
The finding came during inspections ordered by the prefecture after a large dose of the radioactive substance was found in hay at the first farm in Minami-Soma City.
The latest checks uncovered radioactive cesium measured up to 97,000 becquerels per kilogram -- some 73 times the government-set safety limit.
The 42 cattle had been sent to 4 meat-processing plants between April 8th and July 6th -- 14 to Yokohama; 13 to Tokyo; 10 to Sendai and 5 to Chiba.
The prefecture has ordered the farm to stop shipping and transporting its cattle.
It has also provided detailed information to relevant municipalities, asking them to trace back distribution channels of beef from the cattle.


Saturday, July 16, 201

Saturday, July 16, 2011 12:26 - NHK
Radioactive cesium detected in Fukushima shiitake
Radioactive cesium exceeding the government standard has been detected in shiitake mushrooms grown indoors in 2 cities in Fukushima Prefecture, about 60 kilometers from the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. This is the first detection of radioactive cesium exceeding the standard in produce grown in greenhouses in the prefecture since the nuclear accident.
The Fukushima prefectural government says 1,770 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive cesium was detected in mushrooms grown in Date City. The level is more than 3 times the provisional government limit of 500 becquerels per kilogram.
560 becquerels of radioactive cesium was detected in mushrooms from Motomiya City.
At least 157 kilograms of shiitake mushrooms from the 2 cities were shipped from early July through Friday to Tokyo, a supermarket in Fukushima City, and a local farmers' market.
Fukushima officials are to ask the farmers to recall their produce and refrain from making new shipments while determining the cause.


Monday, July 18, 201

Beef cattle shipment ban is set to expand
The government may expand the area that beef cattle shipments would be subject to suspension beyond Fukushima Prefecture, where it plans to soon impose the curbs, senior vice health minister Kohei Otsuka said Sunday.
"We are currently considering Fukushima Prefecture, but we may have to consider the need for further response by checking the distribution of contaminated straw," Otsuka said on a TV program.

Monday, July 18, 2011 23:24 - NHK
More beef cattle fed irradiated straw
Fukushima and Niigata prefectures have identified more farms that shipped beef cattle that had been fed straw containing radioactive cesium in amounts above the government standard.
Fukushima Prefecture says 7 farms in 6 municipalities fed their cattle straw left outdoors after the March nuclear accident in the prefecture. The straw was found to contain radioactive cesium in amounts up to 520 times the standard.
The farms shipped 411 head of cattle to meat-processing facilities in 5 prefectures including Tokyo from late March to early July.
Fukushima asked local authorities to trace the meat and carry out radiation checks if any was found.
The prefecture also asked all cattle farms in the prefecture to voluntarily refrain from shipping and transferring their stock for the time being.
In Niigata Prefecture, radioactive cesium levels as high as 15 times the government standard were detected in straw given to beef cattle at 2 farms. The straw was from Miyagi Prefecture, which neighbors Fukushima.
One of the farms has shipped 24 head of cattle.
Investigators have found that a total of 578 head of cattle have been shipped after being fed contaminated straw. The amount of contaminated meat found to have been distributed to markets across the country is expected to rise.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011 12:39 - NHK
All prefectures to check cattle feed
Japan's agriculture ministry will ask all 47 prefectures in the country to check rice straw used to feed cattle for possible radioactive contamination.
Agriculture minister Michihiko Kano announced the measure on Tuesday.
The ministry had earlier asked only 11 prefectures in the Kanto and Tohoku regions, including Fukushima, to check rice straw used at livestock farms.
The ministry decided to have all prefectures undertake checks as cattle in 2 other prefectures -- Niigata and Yamagata -- were also found to have been fed rice straw containing radioactive cesium above the government-set limit.
The agriculture ministry says it will also look into whether dealers in eastern Japan sold rice straw kept outdoors after the Fukushima nuclear disaster began on March 11th.
Kano told reporters that the ministry will work with all the prefectures to make sure no more cattle are fed cesium-containing straw.
So far, 578 heads of cattle given contaminated feed are known to have been shipped to parts of Japan. Some of the meat has apparently been consumed.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011 18:38 - NHK
Cattle farmers seek compensation
Cattle farmers in Fukushima Prefecture affected by the suspension of local beef shipments are calling for compensation from the government and Tokyo Electric Power Company.
Morio Yokoyama raises about 70 head of cattle at his farm in the town of Aizubange, some 120 kilometers west of the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Yokoyama said the situation is very frustrating because it's unclear when he will be able to resume shipment of his cattle.
He called for an inspection of all cattle stock, and said that if any are found to be inedible, the government and the utility should be responsible for removing them from distribution and compensating farmers.


More tainted beef shipped from Fukushima farms
Seven more farms in Fukushima Prefecture fed their beef cattle rice straw contaminated with radioactive cesium, effectively adding 411 more cows suspected of having been exposed to the isotope into the nation’s meat distribution chain, the Fukushima Prefectural Government admits.


Wednesday, July 20, 201

Wednesday, July 20, 2011 08:00 - NHK
Govt to step up radiation monitoring
The Japanese government will step up radiation monitoring and decontamination work to consider whether to lift evacuation orders after completing the second stage of the plan to bring the Fukushima nuclear crisis under control in January.
The government announced on Tuesday that the first stage, a stable cooling of the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, had been achieved on schedule.
The government also released a new plan, including the second stage to be completed by January, and mid-term targets to be achieved within about 3 years after that.
Industry minister Banri Kaieda said the process of putting the crisis under control has been making steady progress and is producing results.
The minister for the nuclear crisis, Goshi Hosono, said the government hopes to lift the evacuation advisories for areas around the plant. He said the state will make a decision after confirming the safety of the reactors by early August and consulting local authorities.
The government also aims to lift the evacuation orders for the 20-kilometer no-entry zone and the planned evacuation areas after completing the second stage of the plan in January. In the second phase, the government aims to significantly reduce the volumes of radiation emitted from the plant.
To speed up the process, the government will increase radiation monitoring and decontamination work in the 2 zones before completing the second stage.
It will also step up the decontamination of infrastructure by cleaning up water and sewage systems and disposing of radioactive waste.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011 18:44 - NHK
Fukushima farmers ask minister to check all cattle
Cattle breeders from Fukushima Prefecture have asked Japan's agriculture minister to check all cattle in the prefecture for radiation.
The government on Tuesday suspended all beef cattle shipment from Fukushima Prefecture after radioactive cesium exceeding government safety levels was detected in straw used to feed the animals.
On Wednesday, about 30 representatives of farmers' and cattle breeders' groups from the prefecture visited government agencies in Tokyo to demand the state buy up beef cattle that had been banned from being shipped.
They asked agriculture minister Michihiko Kano to inspect all cattle in the prefecture, as well as all beef that had already been shipped, to regain consumer trust.
The government has said it would check all cattle only in areas designated for evacuation.
Kano expressed regret over the government's failure to inform cattle breeders about the risks of rice straw, and said only that he wants to be able to say for sure that beef on the market is safe. He reportedly did not say clearly whether he would instruct all cattle to be inspected.
The head of the prefectural federation of farmers' cooperatives, Tokuichi Shojo, later told reporters that thorough inspections are essential to regain the credibility of Fukushima farm products and livestock.
He said he wants the government to consider how it will check all cattle, based on its experience with outbreaks of BSE, or mad cow disease, and foot-and-mouth disease.
(Consumption of Japanese beef (wagyuu) has dropped sharply in the last few days!)


Thursday, July 21, 201

Thursday, July 21, 2011 08:07 - NHK
Priority placed on radioactivity checks on beef
Japan's health ministry has called on local governments across the country to prioritize checks for radioactive substances on beef over other food products.
The ministry issued the instruction after it found that at least 1,200 head of beef cattle fed with rice straw contaminated with higher radioactive cesium than the government-set standard were shipped nationwide.
Beef shipped from farms in Fukushima Prefecture was found to contain radioactive cesium in amounts higher than the government standard.
The ministry is asking local governments to promptly check radioactivity levels in the meat products because contaminated beef could possibly be held at wholesalers or retailers.
The ministry says it will take all possible measures to ease the anxiety of consumers over the contaminated beef.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Friday, July 22, 2011 07:59 - NHK
Ito-Yokado sold beef linked to irradiated feed
Ito-Yokado sold beef linked to irradiated feed
Major supermarket operator Ito-Yokado says it sold over 2,600 kilograms of meat from beef cattle fed with rice straw contaminated with radioactive cesium exceeding the government limit.
The company says 2,651 kilograms of beef from 24 cattle were sold at 94 outlets in Tokyo and 6 surrounding prefectures as well as Yamanashi, Shizuoka, Niigata prefectures and Hokkaido, between April and July 14th.
Ito-Yokado is calling on people who purchased the beef to contact its stores and return the product.
Since the issue came to light, supermarkets and department stores have revealed their sales of beef linked to the contaminated feed.
On Thursday, another supermarket operator, Seiyu, said it had sold 126 kilograms of the beef. Department store operator Isetan Mitsukoshi Holdings said its sales totaled 68 kilograms.

Prof. Nonaka speaks on cesium in rice straw
A Japanese expert on radiation in soil says radioactive materials on rice straw and soil must be monitored even if they are located far from the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Niigata University Professor Masanori Nonaka spoke about rice straw contaminated with radioactive cesium above the government limit. Contaminated rice straw has been shipped nationwide as cattle feed.
Nonaka said many farmers on the Pacific side of the Tohoku region leave rice straw on paddies to let it dry during winter. He said that was probably how the rice straw, like a sponge, absorbed cesium that had dissolved into rainwater, snow, and soil.
Nonaka said radiation levels in the air were checked after the nuclear accident, but not those in the farmland, produce, and rice straw. He said this is how the rice straw contamination occurred.
Nonaka said to ensure safety radiation in soil and rice straw must be checked, even if they are far away from the nuclear plant.

1400 cattle fed contaminated hay shipped
NHK has learned that at least 1,400 beef cattle were shipped from 76 farms in 11 prefectures after being fed rice straw contaminated with radioactive cesium at levels higher than the government safety limit.
The straw had been distributed by agents in Miyagi and farmers in Fukushima and Iwate prefectures, near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Investigations are now underway to identify distribution channels of the straw and cattle.
The number of farms found to have fed the straw to their cattle may rise further.

Govt plans to buy up tainted beef - NHK
Agriculture Minister Michihiko Kano says the government will swiftly consider ways to buy up all beef contaminated with radioactive cesium at levels exceeding the national safety limits.
Kano told reporters on Friday his ministry is now working on a basic outline of the buy-up system, which it hopes to release soon.
He said the ministry will refer to measures taken in 2001 during the outbreak of BSE, or mad cow disease.
Kano said the buy-up system will only cover beef, and not vegetables or other farm produce. He said this is because beef with excessive radiation levels has already reached the market, while this has not happened for other products thanks to inspections.
Reports surfaced last week that beef cattle fed with rice straw contaminated by radioactive fallout from the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant had been shipped to restaurants and retailers. Local municipalities and farmers' groups are asking the government to check all cattle for radiation before shipment.
Kano said he wants to study these measures, working with prefectures and other ministries concerned to develop a workable system.

. . . . . Japan Times

Contaminated beef may have been sent abroad

The government said it can't rule out the possibility beef contaminated with radioactive material has been exported, as consumers and lawmakers accused authorities of negligence on food safety.
The government on Tuesday imposed a ban on beef shipments from areas near the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant after finding 637 cattle were fed hay containing radioactive cesium. Supermarkets including the country's biggest, Aeon Co., said the beef was sold in Tokyo and other cities.
"We cannot completely rule out the possibility" contaminated beef was also sold abroad, Yuichi Imasaki, the deputy director of the farm ministry's meat and egg division, said Wednesday. "The chances are very low" because most countries have tightened rules on Japanese beef imports or banned them, he said. ...

State to buy all radioactive beef
The government will buy up all beef found to contain radioactive cesium at levels exceeding the allowable limit, and incinerate it, a senior farm ministry official said Thursday.
Nobutaka Tsutsui, senior vice minister of agriculture, forestry and fisheries, said the ministry is considering expanding the inspections currently imposed on all cattle shipped from Fukushima Prefecture to those from other prefectures.
"We're considering how much we can broaden the inspections on all the cattle and farms from outside Fukushima Prefecture," he said.
The latest move came as beef suspected of being contaminated with the isotope was found to have reached Tottori Prefecture, leaving just one prefecture in the country unaffected by the growing beef scare. ...


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Govt to buy back cesium-contaminated beef - NHK
The Japanese government says it will buy back beef containing unsafe levels of radioactive cesium that has already reached the distribution chain.
Agriculture minister Michihiko Kano announced the step on Tuesday, adding that the contaminated beef will be purchased through a private-sector body.
Kano said the measure is designed to allay consumer concerns over the feeding of cattle with rice straw containing cesium in excess of the government-set limit.
NHK has learned that nearly 2,900 head of cattle allegedly given such feed have been shipped to 46 of Japan's 47 prefectures, excluding Okinawa.
Excessive levels of cesium have been detected in beef in 6 of the prefectures, including Fukushima, where work continues to contain a nuclear plant accident.
Beef with radioactive cesium at levels within the safety limit will not be bought back. But, the government will subsidize the cost of storing it for the time being.
Agriculture minister Kano assured consumers that these measures will ensure that only safe beef reaches market.
The costs of purchasing and storing the beef will be eventually passed on to Tokyo Electric Power Company, the operator of the disabled nuclear plant.
The government will also help livestock farmers affected by restrictions and price declines by offering them 50,000 yen, or about 640 dollars, for each head of cattle that was supposed to be shipped.


more was posted in the daily reports

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Cesium beyond limit found in Chiba, Saitama tea - NHK
The Japanese health ministry says radioactive cesium exceeding the government's safety limit has been detected in tea leaves in Chiba and Saitama prefectures, near Tokyo.
This is the ministry's first discovery of radioactive substances beyond the legal limit since it began unannounced tests of food products last month.
The tests were started in order to verify local government data using different numbers and kinds of food samples.
The ministry says the leaves of one type of tea from Chiba Prefecture contained 2,720 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram, more than 5 times the safety limit.
Meanwhile, a maximum level of 1,530 becquerels per kilogram was detected in 3 kinds of tea leaves from Saitama Prefecture.
The prefectural governments of Chiba and Saitama say they will investigate where the teas were grown and how much has made its way to market.
They say they will order tea producers to recall their product, if necessary.


Ex-PM feared for Japan's survival in nuke crisis
Japan's former prime minister says he feared early in the March nuclear crisis that it might become many times worse than the Chernobyl disaster and threaten the nation's survival.
Naoto Kan says he imagined "deserted scenes of Tokyo without a single man" and the need to evacuate tens of millions of people.
"It was truly a spine-chilling thought," Kan said in an interview with the Tokyo Shimbun daily published Tuesday.

Kan said those images flashed in his mind during the first week of the crisis, when information coming from the radiation-leaking Fukushima Dai-ichi plant was sketchy and he was told that its operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., was considering pulling out its staff. TEPCO has since said that it never planned to withdraw from the plant.
Kan, who resigned last week amid criticism over his administration's handling of the disaster, said when he heard that cooling systems had failed at the nuclear plant soon after it was damaged by a March 11 tsunami, he understood the gravity of the situation.
"The power was totally lost and there was no cooling capacity. I knew what that meant. So I thought, 'This is going to be a disaster.'"
Without staff to cool the overheated reactors, Kan said he knew the reactors and spent nuclear fuel stored in pools would "rapidly melt down and release massive amounts of radiation."
He said he summoned then-TEPCO President Masataka Shimizu for an explanation, but he "never told me anything clearly."
source : finance.yahoo.com

Friday, September 09, 2011 06:50 - NHK
Sunflowers help remove radiative materials
A Japanese study shows that sunflowers can help reduce the levels of radioactive materials in farmland soil by up to half.
The findings were announced on Thursday by a Kobe-based private-sector group made up of former staff members of Japan's RIKEN research center.
They grew sunflowers in 4 fields in Minamisoma City, within 30 kilometers of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The researchers said in one of the fields the level of radioactive cesium per kilogram of soil fell by 20 percent, from 2,100 becquerels to 1,680 becquerels, in 2 months. In another field, the level fell by around half.
Sunflowers that have absorbed radioactive materials need to be buried in the ground, and the group says finding disposal sites will be the key to promote the decontamination method.
The group said it will ask farmers near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to grow sunflowers so it can check levels of radioactive materials in soil on a regular basis.

September 11, 2011
Cesium levels of Fukushima rice below limit
Levels of radioactive cesium in early rice crops from four municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture were below government maximums, according to the Fukushima prefectural government.
Based on the results, all early rice harvested in the prefecture will be authorized for shipment.
source : www.asahi.com


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Cesium fallout map illustrates Kanto levels
The science ministry's latest aerial monitoring over Chiba and Saitama prefectures confirms that radioactive cesium released from the Fukushima No. 1 power plant has contaminated parts of the Kanto region.

... Simply calculated, if a person is exposed to 0.5 microsieverts per hour for 365 days, the total dose would be 4.38 millisieverts. Exposure to a cumulative radiation dose of 100 millisieverts increases one's cancer risk by 0.5 percent, scientists say.

Plutonium detected 45 kilometers from nuke plant - NHK
Small amounts of plutonium have been detected in samples of soil taken at locations including a spot 45 kilometers away from the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. This is the first time that the government has detected plutonium outside the nuclear plant since the accident.
The science ministry announced on Friday that the plutonium was detected in samples taken from 6 locations in the towns of Futaba and Namie, and Iitate Village in Fukushima Prefecture --- all located northwest of the nuclear plant. The radioactive substance is believed to have been released by the nuclear plant after the disaster.
The ministry says the samples taken from a location in Iitate, farthest among the 6, contained 0.82 becquerels per square meter of plutonium-238 and a total of 2.5 becquerels of plutonium-239 and -240.
The ministry had collected soil samples at 100 locations within an 80-kilometer radius of the plant in June and July.
Experts say that if plutonium is inhaled or ingested, it remains in the body for a long time and can cause cancer.
But ministry officials say that possible exposure to the detected plutonium is believed to be very low.
In June, university researchers detected smaller amounts of plutonium in soil outside the plant after they collected samples during filming by NHK.

Sunday, October 02, 2011 06:31 - NHK
Debris from March disaster tested for radiation
Work has begun in Miyagi Prefecture to examine debris left behind by the March 11th natural disaster, and test for radioactive substances released by the nuclear accident in Fukushima.
Testing began on Saturday, at a temporary storage site in Ishinomaki City. Here the quake and tsunami left behind more than 6 million tons of debris -- the largest amount among all municipalities hit by the disaster.
Using heavy machinery, workers removed samples of wood and rubber from a huge pile of debris. Storage sites across the prefecture are getting close to capacity.
If safe levels of radioactivity are confirmed, local officials hope to move debris to new disposal sites being built in Miyagi Prefecture and also to incineration facilities located outside the prefecture. The testing is aimed at dispelling public safety concerns about the transfer and disposal of debris.
The prefecture plans to measure the radioactivity of debris at 12 storage sites, including those in Kesennuma and Minamisanriku.
One official says he hopes the testing will facilitate the transfer of debris to neighboring regions and help reduce the burden on Miyagi Prefecture.

Sunday, October 02, 2011 14:25 - NHK
School buildings decontaminated in Fukushima
Parents and teachers have worked to remove radioactive substances at elementary schools in Fukushima Prefecture ahead of the reopening of classes later in the month.
Twelve elementary and junior high schools in Minami Soma City will restart classes on October 17. The government lifted an evacuation advisory on Friday for areas outside the 20-kilometer no-go zone around the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
On Sunday, more than 70 teachers and parents worked to decontaminate classrooms and the gymnasium at Ohmika elementary school, located about 21 kilometers from the nuclear plant.
Parents wearing masks sprayed detergent over windows and walls of the gymnasium and then wiped it off with rags. In classrooms, they used vacuum cleaners and brushes to clean up dust piled on window frames.
One parent said he will work hard because children are happy to go back to school. Another said he is still worried about radiation, but that he will have to look forward and move on.
The number of students at Ohmika elementary school has declined to 71, one-third of the figure before the nuclear accident. The school says 6 students will return when it restarts classes.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011 - NHK
Govt to check radiation levels outside 20km zone

The Japanese government says it will check the radiation levels in the environment at 5 municipalities outside the 20-kilometer no-entry zone around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The decision follows a move last Friday to lift an evacuation advisory for the 5 municipalities, which are mainly located in the ring between 20 and 30 kilometers from the plant. Many of the residents have not returned home as the decontamination process is not complete.
A government nuclear accident taskforce will conduct studies on the environment in the municipalities at their request.
The taskforce will use a device onboard a vehicle to measure radiation levels on the roads. Unmanned helicopters will be used in hilly places, where vehicles cannot enter.
It will also examine the density of radioactive substances in wells and springs at 4,000 spots, as well as in streams, rivers and reservoirs at 19 places.
The government says it will publicize the degree of decreasing radiation levels as the decontamination process continues.

Report of long-range plutonium find tardy - JT
The science ministry was tardy when it reported last week for the first time that traces of plutonium fallout were found outside the Fukushima No. 1 power plant's compound through tests conducted in June, a nuclear expert said Monday.

U.K. expert says limits on radiation 'unreasonable' - JT
"The real problem is fear," Oxford University professor emeritus Wade Allison said at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo.
... PET scans, which emit gamma rays to map internal organs, usually the brain, give patients a dose of 15 millisieverts of radiation in a couple of hours, which is the equivalent of eating 2,000 kg of meat tainted with 500 becquerels per kilogram of cesium, he said.
Therefore, the government regulation is "unreasonable," he said. He also cited an article in Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter from April 24, 2002, that states, "the Swedish Radiation Protection Authority admits:
'We condemned tons of meat unnecessarily.' "
... "The food standard can be raised closer to the more internationally recognized level of 1,000 becquerels per kilogram."

Tuesday, October 04, 2011 - NHK
Decontamination seminars begin in Fukushima
Fukushima Prefecture has begun holding training seminars for workers who will be cleaning areas contaminated with radiation from the Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Fukushima plans to conduct the 2-day technical seminars around the prefecture. On Tuesday, 113 civil engineers, painters and other volunteers who have just begun cleanup work took part in the first seminar in Koriyama City.
An expert from the Japan Atomic Energy Agency spoke about what kind of tools should be used to effectively remove radioactive materials from home gutters and roadside ditches.
The participants also learned how to protect themselves while they are working. On the second day, they will receive practical training using dosimeters.
A man from Iwaki City said he has volunteered several times for decontamination work and would like to learn how to prevent polluted water from spreading. He said he wants to decontaminate Fukushima quickly and restore the area to what it was before.
The prefecture plans to hold 10 seminars by the end of the year and hopes to train as many people as possible to help accelerate the cleanup process.

Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2011 - JT
Evacuee kids' thyroids need monitoring
NAGANO — Hormonal and other irregularities were detected in the thyroid glands of 10 out of 130 children evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture, a Nagano Prefecture-based charity dedicated to aid for the victims of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident said Tuesday.
The Japan Chernobyl Foundation and Shinshu University Hospital did blood and urine tests on youngsters aged up to 16, including babies under age 1, for about a month through the end of August in Chino, Nagano, when the children stayed there temporarily after evacuating from Fukushima.
No clear link has been established between the children's condition and the radiation from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, according to the nonprofit organization.
"At present, we cannot say the children are ill, but they require long-term observation," said Minoru Kamata, chief of the foundation.
As a result, one child was found to have a lower-than-normal thyroid hormone level and seven had thyroid stimulation hormone levels higher than the norm. The remaining two were diagnosed with slightly high blood concentrations of a protein called thyroglobulin, possibly caused by damage to their thyroid glands. Three of the 10 children used to live within the 20-km no-go zone around the nuclear plant and one was from the so-called evacuation-prepared area.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011 - NHK
Miyagi to add radiation monitoring posts
Miyagi Prefecture in northeastern Japan says it will begin monitoring atmospheric radiation levels in all of its towns and cities to keep track of fallout from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The prefecture says it will install 44 new monitoring posts that it plans to start operating within the current fiscal year, which ends in March of 2012.
Six of the posts will be set up in Onagawa and Ishinomaki near Tohoku Electric Company's Onagawa nuclear power plant. Four of 7 monitors around the plant were washed away by the March 11th tsunami.
Nine monitors in all will be positioned in southern Miyagi Prefecture, in areas closest to the border with Fukushima Prefecture.
Miyagi officials say the data collected at the posts will be sent to the science and technology ministry and released to the public on the Internet.

Thursday, October 6, 2011 - JT
Panel to suggest provisionally hiking annual radiation exposure limit
A government panel reviewing radiation limits for the general public will propose that the government increase the current 1 millisievert annual exposure level to an interim limit between 1 and 20 millisieverts, panel sources said Wednesday.
A group under the panel, headed by Otsura Niwa, a professor emeritus at Kyoto University, plans to propose the government provisionally revise radiation limits for food products and soil, many of which were set hurriedly when the Fukushima nuclear crisis started.
However, the plan to raise the annual exposure limit for ordinary people could be criticized for endangering health, which would potentially affect the subsequent review process, observers said.
... Prior to the disaster at the Fukushima complex, there were few standards for radiation exposure or radioactive materials in the event of emergencies.
But after the start of the nuclear crisis in March, ministries and agencies rushed to set provisional limits for radiation exposure and radioactive materials.

Thursday, October 06, 2011 15:39 - NHK
Gov't panel mulls interim goals on radiation dose

A government panel is calling for Japan's one-millisievert annual radiation limit to be eased for the interim, saying it will be difficult to restrict exposure in some areas near the troubled Fukushima nuclear plant.
The environment is contaminated by radioactive substances in areas hit by fallout from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, causing concern that residents may be exposed to radiation for long periods.
The panel on radiation believes it will be difficult to keep their dose below the one-millisievert limit set by the government for normal times and proposed on Thursday to set an interim exposure target.
It says the target should be set between one and 20 millisieverts in line with recommendations by the International Commission for Radiological Protection.
The panel says the target should be lowered in steps as decontamination progresses.
It adds that targets could differ by region and that residents should have a voice in setting the targets.
The panel will wrap up its proposal at its next meeting, but its plan to ease the radiation exposure limit is expected to arouse controversy.

Friday, October 07, 2011 - NHK
New safety rules for outdoor nuclear workers
Japan's health ministry will introduce safety guidelines to protect workers who clean up radioactive substances around the disabled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Existing guidelines target only those working indoors at the plant.
Citizens groups had complained that the ministry was not doing enough to minimize the exposure of workers who engage in decontamination outdoors.
The new guidelines will require outdoor clean-up workers to wear protective masks and carry dosimeters to monitor radiation.
The ministry says it will work to ensure that the rules are upheld, as efforts to decontaminate farmland and residential areas near the Daiichi plant will soon begin in earnest.


Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011

Okutama cesium level seen spiking - JT

An aerial radiation survey of the capital and Kanagawa Prefecture has revealed the northwest tip of Tokyo was tainted by an unusually high amount of fallout, while most other areas showed normal levels, a science ministry official said Friday.
The results, released late Thursday, show that fallout from the Fukushima No. 1 power plant contaminated part of the mountainous Okutama region on Tokyo's western fringe. Radiation readings in the area were the highest of the two prefectures at 100,000 to 300,000 becquerels of radioactive cesium per square meter. ...


Thursday, October 13, 2011

Yokohama tests soil for radioactive strontium
Officials in Yokohama City are testing soil for radioactive strontium following a report from a local resident in September that the substance had been detected in sediment on the roof of an apartment building.
In September, radioactive cesium more than 80 times the government-set limit of 500 becquerels per kilogram was found in sediment collected from roadside ditches in Yokohama City, which is near Tokyo.
The city later removed sediment from the area.
But the city decided to retest the sample for radioactive strontium due to the request of a local resident.
The resident said a private testing institution had detected 195 becquerels of strontium per kilogram -- more than 6 times the government safety limit -- in the rooftop sample.
The science ministry says radioactive strontium can accumulate in bones if inhaled and that it poses a cancer risk.
The ministry added that it has found strontium in the soil in Fukushima Prefecture, site of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. But the agency says it has conducted few checks for the substance outside the prefecture because the amounts detected in Fukushima Prefecture were very small.
Yokohama is located about 250 kilometers from the Fukushima plant.

Yokohama finds high strontium-90 levels - JT
Radioactive strontium exceeding normal levels has been detected in sediment from atop an apartment building in Yokohama, according to municipal officials.
Strontium-90, with a half-life of 29 years, had been detected at concentrations roughly between 10 and 20 becquerels at various places across Japan prior to the nuclear crisis.
... Meanwhile, the science ministry said it is still uncertain whether the strontium came from Fukushima No. 1.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Radiation map gives close-up fallout readings - JT
The science ministry posts a radiation map that visitors to its website can enlarge to see to what extent their neighborhoods have been contaminated by fallout from the Fukushima nuclear accident.
The website launched by the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry is now available in Japanese only.

Monday, October 24, 2011 - NHK
Hotspot hotline
Japan's science ministry has launched a telephone hotline to deal with public concerns about radiation exposure in areas outside Fukushima Prefecture. The prefecture hosts the damaged nuclear complex.
The ministry set up the hotline after radiation monitoring by local governments and citizens' groups found a number of locations within the Tokyo Metropolitan Area with levels exceeding government limits.
The ministry is asking local governments and citizens' groups to tell it if they find sites where the hourly radiation dose at one meter above the ground is more than one microsievert higher than nearby areas.
One microsievert per hour is the government-set limit for determining whether topsoil at school playgrounds should be removed, using state subsidies.
The ministry is also asking the local governments to carry out simple decontamination work, such as clearing mud from ditches if necessary.
The ministry says the central government will support decontamination efforts if radiation levels remain more than one microsievert higher than nearby areas even after the cleaning.
The ministry has posted a guideline on its website on how to properly measure radiation levels, such as the right way to hold the dosimeter and the time needed for a reading.


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cesium in pollen not viewed as health risk
The Forestry Agency believes cedar pollen next spring contaminated by cesium fallout from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant will be well below the legal safety limit.

Setagaya radiation said to be radium
Radium-226 is sometimes used for medical treatments.


Wednesday, January 4, 2011

Mothers first to shed food-safety complacency
Impatient with the pace of government action and distrustful of official information on the nuclear crisis, mothers with young children are among the most active agitators for food safety.
... Various grassroots groups got together in Tokyo in July to share information and formed the National Network of Parents to Protect Children from Radiation, which as of Dec. 15 consisted of 250 groups with an estimated 5,000 to 6,000 members, Nakayama said.

Crisis spawns distrust as Web alliances try to push for truth
... Mizuho Nakayama is among a small but growing number of Internet-savvy activist moms.
The 41-year-old mother joined a parent group that petitioned local officials in June to test lunches at schools and day care centers for radiation and avoid using products from around the nuclear plant.


Tuesday, January 17, 2011

Concrete material distribution to be probed
Japan's central government and Fukushima Prefecture plan to investigate the distribution of gravel from quarries possibly tainted with radiation from the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The move comes after higher-than-usual levels of radioactive cesium were detected in concrete used in the construction of an apartment building in Nihonmatsu City.
The concrete was made from crushed stone from a quarry in Namie town, which was designated as an evacuation zone following the nuclear accident.
The state and local governments will investigate the shipments from not only that quarry but 9 other quarries as well.
The quarries are located in and around designated evacuation zones or in places which are identified as radiation hot spots.

It has so far been learned that gravel from the quarry in Namie was sold to at least 200 construction companies and is likely to have been used in the construction of buildings and roads.
Meanwhile, 5 of the 12 families living in the contaminated building say they want to move elsewhere. They were already forced to evacuate their homes near the Fukushima Daiichi plant after the nuclear accident.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Govt ramping up probe into irradiated gravel
Japan's central government and Fukushima Prefecture plan to expand their investigation into the distribution of gravel possibly contaminated with radioactive substances after the March nuclear accident.
The investigation is now underway after higher-than-usual levels of radioactive cesium were detected in concrete used in a newly built apartment in Nihonmatsu City. The city escaped a major impact from the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The concrete was made from crushed stones from a quarry in Namie Town, designated an evacuation zone following the accident.
The Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry and the prefecture decided to expand the number of quarries to be investigated from 10 to 17.
The ministry also decided to investigate whether gravel obtained from local rivers after the accident is contaminated.
It has so far been learned that gravel from the quarry in Namie was sold to more than 200 construction companies and used in the construction of buildings and roads at about 1,000 locations.


Understanding the Ongoing Nuclear Disaster in Fukushima:
A “Two-Headed Dragon” Descends into the Earth’s Biosphere

From Meltdown to Melt-Through
The Tōhoku earthquake made a direct hit on the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant. At 3:00 p.m. on the following day, March 12, a hydrogen explosion took place in the No. 1 reactor, followed by similar explosions in the No. 3 reactor on March 14 and in the No. 2 and No. 4 reactors on March 15. On March 21, there was another mysterious explosion in the No. 3 reactor.
... March 15: The Largest Release of Radiation
March 21: A Second Massive Release of Radiation

From evening to nighttime of the same day, an “evil wind” struck the village of Iitate and Fukushima City, located northwest of the nuclear plant.
March 21: A Second Massive Release of Radiation
On the morning of March 21 the wind was blowing from the north.
On March 23, a new plume formed, moving southwest from the coastal areas of Ibaraki through Chiba prefecture.
The Formation of Contaminated “Hot Spots”
Hot spots were discovered in many parts of the capital city, too, with its population of thirty million.
The Amount of Radiation Released from Fukushima Daiichi
source : Fujioka Atsushi


Monday, March 12, 2012

Team: Radiation exposure in Tokyo far below limit
Researchers say Tokyo residents' internal radiation exposure from the nuclear accident in Fukushima is far below government-set safety limits, so the risk to human health is extremely limited.
A team led by University of Tokyo researcher Michio Murakami 村上道夫 estimated the amount of radioactive materials people in Tokyo have ingested through drinking water and food since March last year. The team used data compiled by local and central governments.
Total exposure was 0.048 millisieverts for infants; 0.042 millisieverts for pre-school children; and 0.018 millisieverts for adults. The figure for infants is about one-twentieth of the permissible level.
The team estimates that this level of radiation exposure will increase infant cancer rates later in life by 3 per 100,000 individuals. The risk is said to be a little lower than that caused by exhaust gas from diesel-engine cars.
The team says a shipment ban on foods that contain radioactive cesium above legal safety levels has reduced the risk of cancer by 44 percent for infants; 34 percent for pre-schoolers; and 29 percent for adults.
In the figure for infants, 8 percent of the risk reduction is due to the distribution of bottled water by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.
Murakami says the shipment ban has been effective at lowering cancer risks, but experts need to verify whether the ban is worth its cost and the overall impact on agriculture.
He says there is a need for public discussion on how much radiation risk society can tolerate.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Bamboo shoot contamination detected
More radioactive contamination has been found in farm products for human consumption about 200 kilometers from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
Authorities in a northern city of Chiba prefecture on Tuesday sampled bamboo shoots grown for food. They found contamination of up to 250 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram.
The contamination levels are up to two-and-a-half times the government's new limit of 100 becquerels per kilogram, which goes into effect next month.

Prefectural officials also say 130 becquerels of cesium per kilogram was detected last week in a bamboo shoot in a third city.
The prefecture is asking farmers to refrain from shipping their bamboo shoots to customers.
The officials suspect radioactive cesium carried from Fukushima landed upon the leaves of the parent bamboo and was absorbed by the roots.

Fishing ban due to radioactive contamination
Radioactive contamination from the Fukushima nuclear accident is forcing fishermen in a neighboring prefecture to suspend catches of one of their fish.
Catches of Japanese sea bass are the first marine products of Miyagi Prefecture, north of Fukushima, to be suspended due to the nuclear accident.
Up to 360 becquerels of radioactive cesium were detected in sea bass hauls over the past 2 months off the coast of Miyagi.
Radioactive cesium levels in fish exceeded the stricter restrictions that will begin next month. This will be 100 becquerels per kilogram.
Miyagi Prefecture and fisheries cooperatives are considering asking fishers in the prefecture to voluntarily refrain from catching the fish.
2 other types of fish from the Miyagi coast have also exceeded the 100 becquerel level.

Lethal radiation detected inside Fukushima reactor
Tokyo Electric Power Company has detected extremely high levels of radiation inside one of the crippled reactors of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
TEPCO was able to place monitoring equipment directly inside the reactor for the first time since last year's accident.
A dosimeter lowered into the containment vessel of the No.2 reactor registered 72.9 sieverts, or 72,900 millisieverts per hour at maximum -- a level where a human is certain to die within about 7 minutes of exposure.
The utility hopes to determine the state of the vessels as it moves to decommission the reactors.
It says radiation levels increased as the dosimeter was lowered inside the reactor. This suggests the nuclear fuel melted down and collected at the bottom of the vessel.
The utility also learned the water level inside the vessel was only 60 centimeters, compared to the original estimate of about 3 meters.
TEPCO suspects the suppression chamber at the bottom of the vessel may have been destroyed.
The findings are a setback for plans to scrap the reactor. The utility has to pinpoint and repair damaged parts inside the vessel and fill it with water before extracting the fuel.
TEPCO says the development of devices that can withstand the extremely high levels of radiation is a pressing matter.

Nuclear safety agency seeks fault reassessments
Japan's nuclear safety agency has asked the operators of six nuclear plants on the Sea of Japan coast to re-examine the active faults near the plants.
The faults could shift simultaneously, triggering bigger earthquakes.


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Reactor 2 radiation too high for access
Radiation inside the reactor 2 containment vessel at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant has reached a lethal 73 sieverts per hour and any attempt to send robots in to accurately gauge the situation will require them to have greater resistance than currently available, experts say.

60% of big municipalities test school meals' cesium


Nuclear security falls short


Monday, April 02, 2012

Stricter food safety standards introduced
Local governments across Japan have begun applying the stricter standards for permissible levels of radioactive cesium in food products that came into effect on April 1st.
Under the new rules, common food products, such as vegetables and rice, may contain at maximum 100 becquerels of cesium per kilogram.
The limit for baby food, including formula and milk, is 50 becquerels, while that for drinking water is 10 becquerels.
The new levels are from one-fifth to one-20th of the old amounts deemed safe.
The health ministry has specifically called on 17 prefectures, including Fukushima, Ibaraki and Tokyo, to carry out periodic checks for radiation. Other local governments are initiating safety inspections on their own.
The ministry says that as of 5 p.m. on Monday, 4 prefectures that submitted their inspection results on drinking water and fish found no products that exceeded the new limits.
Monday's inspections have centered on products that have been found to contain cesium of over 100 becquerels in the past. Municipalities are required to check more than 3 samples of any food products found to contain over 50 becquerels of cesium.
Distribution of foods exceeding permissible levels will be stopped by local and central governments.


Thursday, April 05, 2012

Strontium at Fukushima plant flows into sea
Tokyo Electric Power Company says more radioactive wastewater has leaked from its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and flowed into the sea. The water contained high levels of strontium.
Workers at the plant discovered water leaking from a pipe connected to a wastewater tank, at around 1:00 AM on Thursday.
Workers shut valves, and the flow stopped about an hour later.
TEPCO says about 12 tons of wastewater leaked from a disconnected joint in the pipe. The company also says it believes that a large portion of the water has flowed into the ocean through a nearby drainage ditch.
The utility is trying to determine how the joint became disconnected, and how much water poured into the sea.
Radioactive wastewater also leaked on March 26th from a different section of the same piping.
Last December, water leaked from another device within the plant compound.

Utsunomiya City starts service to check radiation

Utsunomiya City, north of Tokyo, has started a new service checking radiation levels at local residences if people request it.
The city, 140 kilometers southwest of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, began the service in April because many locals are concerned about radiation hot spots after the nuclear accident last year.
The municipality accepts requests by telephone from residents and city workers then visit their houses. They examine the radiation levels in 3 places requested by the inhabitants, such as the entrance and the garden. The staff informs the residents of the result when they complete the check.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Fukushima miscarriage rate stable

Counter to rumor,
Fukushima Prefecture has not seen rising rates of miscarriages or abortions due to radiation exposure — or fear of it — since the Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11 last year, a survey reveals.

The finding suggests that radiation released from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, or stress related to it, has probably not seriously affected the physical or mental health of pregnant women in Fukushima.

"Of course, we didn't believe the rumor, but we just wanted to confirm that it was groundless," said Fukushima Medical University professor Keiya Fujimori, who led the survey team.

Last May, the team asked 81 hospitals and private clinics to report on the number of miscarriages and abortions every two months, he said. The team had compiled valid responses from 74 medical institutes as of January.
They found there were about 10 miscarriages and about 18 abortions per 100 pregnancies, essentially the same rates as before the quake, he said.
The national average for miscarriages is about 10 percent. And although 18 percent is higher than the national average for abortions, Fukushima's rate has tended to be higher than other prefectures, he added.
The survey included only medical institutions that have remained in Fukushima.
The results were published in the March edition of the journal Perinatal Medicine.

Food passes Swiss test
A recent radiation test conducted by the Swiss government has not found any sample of Japanese food available in Switzerland exceeding the legal limit.
An inspection agency said Monday that the test covered 99 samples of Japanese food circulating in the country, such as tea, seafood, vegetables, fruit and rice. The samples were selected at random last November to be screened for radioactive cesium and other nuclear materials, it said.
As with the European Union, Switzerland has limited food imports from Japan, in principle, to items produced in areas other than 11 prefectures including Fukushima, Miyagi and Tokyo, following the March 2011 accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

4 nuclear plants asked to review quake safety
Japan's nuclear safety agency is set to ask the operators of 4 nuclear power plants to re-examine the effects of seismic activities that it says became more active after the March 2011 earthquake in northern Japan.
The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency will request the reassessment of quake resistance for the Tomari plant in Hokkaido, Tsuruga and Monju plants in Fukui Prefecture and the Shimane plant in Shimane.
It says the risk has increased of active faults more than 5 kilometers away from each other shifting simultaneously and causing a greater earthquake than predicted.
Hokkaido Electric Power Company says even if the 2 active faults on the sea and the land move at the same time, the assumed temblor in part of the Tomari facility will be a little larger than that previously calculated. It says quake resistance can be secured as important buildings are little affected by the quake.
But experts at the agency pointed out at a meeting that the tremor will be further intensified if the 2 active faults shift simultaneously.
They asked the company to reassess quake resistance based on the new assumption.
The company says it will respond appropriately in line with the experts' views, but it insisted that there will be no problem with the ability of key equipment to safeguard the nuclear plant.
Results of the reassessment could force a revision of quake resistance standards at the plants.
They could also affect the outcome of the stress tests required for restarting the idled plants.
The power companies say they will submit reports on their reassessments.

Fukushima to ask IAEA to set up local office
The governor of Fukushima Prefecture will visit the headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency to ask it to establish an office in the prefecture to help with the aftermath of the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.
Sources say that Fukushima Governor Yuhei Sato will visit the IAEA headquarters in Vienna, Austria in August to meet the Director General of the agency Yukiya Amano.

Fukushima air to stay radioactive in 2022

A decade from now, airborne radiation levels in some parts of Fukushima Prefecture are still expected to be dangerous at above 50 millisieverts a year, a government report says.
The report, which contains projections through March 2032, was presented by trade minister Yukio Edano Sunday to leaders of Futaba, one of the towns that host the crippled Fukushima No. 1 power plant.
The report includes radiation forecasts for 2012 to 2014, and for 2017, 2022 and 2032, based on the results of monitoring in November last year. It was compiled to help municipalities draw up recovery and repopulation programs for the nuclear disaster.
The forecasts do not take into account experimental decontamination efforts.

Earlier this month, the government designated areas where annual radiation dosage exceeds 50 millisieverts as those likely to remain off-limits to evacuees in the near term.
The report said that annual radiation levels in March 2022 will probably exceed 50 millisieverts in some of the areas, including Futaba and Okuma, the other town that hosts the radiation-leaking plant.

In another meeting between the central and local governments, Reconstruction Minister Tatsuo Hirano presented a draft policy for reviving Fukushima that is based on a special reconstruction law that took force in March.
The draft said the central government will provide fiscal support to improve living conditions and revive the regional economy and communities.
The government plans to give Cabinet approval to the policy as early as May.
source : www.japantimes.co.jp


Thursday, April 26, 2012

Cesium contaminated fish found in Tone river
Radioactive cesium exceeding the new legal limit has been found in fish in the Tone River, which passes north of Tokyo. Authorities have taken measures to stop the shipment of fish caught in the river.
Chiba prefectural officials say a silver crucian carp caught in the river contained 110 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram. The new limit is 100 becquerels per kilogram.
The Tone River is the river with the largest drainage area in Japan. The town where the contaminated fish was caught is located about 180 kilometers from the disabled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
The prefecture has asked 10 municipalities along the river and 6 fishery cooperatives not to ship fish from the river to market.
Last month, fish and shellfish pulled from a pond near the river were removed from circulation because of radiation levels above the legal limit.
Prefectural officials say they will check other types of freshwater fish for radioactivity.


Wednesd, May 29, 2012,

NHK news
Smartphone with radiation detector announced
For consumers worried about nuclear hotspots after the Fukushima crisis, a personal Geiger counter could soon be as close as your cell phone. Major Japanese phone carrier Softbank is releasing a smartphone this summer with a built-in radiation detector.
Softbank announced the phone on Tuesday at a launch event for new products. The company says a simple touch of the screen lets users measure the radiation around them in about 2 minutes.
Users will be able to save the readings and also keep track of location data.
The release of the new phone in Japan comes amid growing health awareness, particularly among mothers with small children.
Softbank chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son says that with the smartphone, a mother will be able to measure radiation levels between her home and her child's school, and save the data on the phone's map.
Son says he wants to reduce monthly charges for the handset.
Industry observers say Softbank's latest move will further intensify competition among carriers to boost smartphone sales.


Monday, Jun. 3, 2012

Traces of strong radiation found in Yakusugi cedar
Japanese researchers say they have found effects from strong cosmic radiation on an old Yakusugi cedar dating back to the 8th century.
A research group at the Solar-Terrestrial Environment Laboratory of Nagoya University has studied the amounts of radioactive carbon contained in rings of a cedar tree, which is around 1,900 years old, on Yakushima Island, southwestern Japan.
The amounts of radioactive carbon can be affected by radiation from outer space called cosmic radiation.
The group found a large amount of radioactive carbon, about 20 times the usual level, in a ring dating back to A.D. 775.
The researchers believe that the strongest radiation in the past 3,000 years fell on the tree at that time.
They say that a very strong explosion, such as a supernova that occurs relatively close to Earth or a super flare on the surface of Sun, may have been involved.
Associate Professor Kimiaki Masuda, who heads the research team, says that Earth's environment could have been affected by the powerful radiation.
Masuda says that his team will be able to predict how increases in cosmic radiation will affect the Earth's environment.
The findings were published in the online edition of the British journal "Nature" on Monday.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Record cesium level detected in fish caught near Fukushima nuclear plant
Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Friday it detected a record 740,000 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive cesium in a fish caught in waters near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, equivalent to 7,400 times the state-set limit deemed safe for human consumption.
The greenling measuring 38 cm in length and weighing 564 grams was caught near a water intake of the four reactor units in the power station’s port on Feb. 21 during the utility’s operation to remove fish from the port.
Tepco has installed a net on the sea floor of the port exit in Fukushima Prefecture to make it hard for fish living near the sediments of contaminated soil to go elsewhere.
According to Tepco, the previous record of cesium concentration in fish was 510,000 Bq/kg detected in another greenling captured in the same area. Currently, fishermen are voluntarily suspending operations off the coast of the prefecture except for experimental catches.

source : Japan Times

Govt. to release effective decontamination methods
Japan's government plans to have experts choose effective radiation decontamination methods and make them public online.
The environment ministry has been working with affected municipalities to remove radioactive substances released by the March 2011 accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
But some experts say decontamination has not been carried out properly due to the lack of information on effective methods.
Under the plan, an expert panel will choose effective decontamination techniques employed by private firms. The selected methods will then be posted on the ministry's website.
Ministry officials say they hope the plan will facilitate the selection of techniques that suit each municipality.
They also express hope that the government evaluation system will promote efforts by the private sector to develop effective decontamination methods.
The ministry plans to start the new system in fiscal 2013, which starts in April.
NHK world news


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Blackout interrupts cooling at Fukushima Daiichi
Tokyo Electric Power Company officials say a power blackout caused a malfunction in the cooling system for spent nuclear fuel at the struggling Fukushima Daiichi power plant.
A TEPCO spokesperson said the blackout occurred shortly before 7 PM on Monday. It disrupted cooling at the plant's number 1, 3 and 4 reactors.
Officials say they recorded temperatures of up to 25 degree Celsius in the pools at 6 PM Monday.
They say it will take about 4 days for the hottest pool to exceed the safety limit of 65 degrees Celsius.
They say the blackout has interrupted the cooling system for another pool containing used fuel.
TEPCO officials say about 8,500 spent fuel units are stored in the 4 pools. They say the power outage has not prevented the injection of coolant into the crippled reactors.
They also say they have observed no change in radiation levels at monitoring posts around Fukushima Daiichi.
Workers will begin restoring the cooling system once they discover the cause of the interruption.
TEPCO officials took 3 hours to announce the incident. They have apologized for the delay and said they were double checking the situation at the facility.
It's not the first time the plant has experienced electrical problems. The cooling system for 3 pools broke down for an hour in January 2012.
Last June, a pump to circulate water in the spent-fuel pool of the number 4 reactor malfunctioned and halted the cooling process for about 30 hours.
NHK news

- - - and here is the culprit - - -

TEPCO: Rat likely caused Fukushima power failure
Tokyo Electric Power Company says a small animal may have caused a power failure at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
A utility spokesperson says the firm's engineers found the burnt body of what looked like a rat near a switchboard installed outside the building.
He said the engineers suspect the animal touched the switchboard which caused a short circuit, resulting in the blackout on Monday.
He also said many parts of the plant lost power as there was no emergency electrical circuit system due to a temporary integration of 2 power lines as a result of construction work.
The power failure led to operations being suspended at 9 facilities in the Fukushima plant. The affected units include the pools of the No. 1, 3 and 4 reactors and another pool to cool down spent fuel rods.
Workers managed to get the cooling system functioning again at about midnight on Wednesday, some 29 hours after the blackout started.
This is the first power failure at the Fukushima plant to stop the cooling systems for several hours since the March 2011 accident.
TEPCO engineers are investigating the cause of the short circuit.
They are planning on moving the outdoor switchboards inside. They are also thinking of setting up an auxiliary power unit for the cooling pools.
NHK, Mar. 20, 2013

Tepco smells a rat in Fukushima No. 1 fuel pool cooling glitch

Tepco said it had not taken any steps to prevent wildlife, such as rodents, from getting at the switchboard and said it is continuing to investigate other factors that may have caused the power outrage, which was apparently resolved minutes after midnight Tuesday.
source : Japan Times

Govt. tells TEPCO to add multiple power sources
Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary says the government has instructed Tokyo Electric Power Company to install multiple power sources at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
Yoshihide Suga made the comment at a news conference on Thursday. The plant suffered a power failure on Monday evening. It took about 29 hours to restore power to all the affected cooling systems, which service spent-fuel pools.
Suga said the government instructed TEPCO to supply multiple power sources to the cooling systems at the plant. He added it told the utility to implement other efforts as quickly as possible to restore the public's confidence in the safety of the plant.
He said the government also told the firm to improve its risk management as the utility failed to promptly report the latest trouble to the authorities.
Suga added TEPCO's handling of the power failure has greatly damaged public trust in the company.
NHK, Mar. 21, 2013


April 27, 2013

Radiation detected from wells at Fukushima Daiichi

The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says it has newly discovered small amounts of radioactive substances from more than half of the wells set up around underground storage pools.
Tokyo Electric Power Company says radiation was detected on Friday in water from 13 of the 22 wells around 3 storage pools that recently leaked. The wells are located 10 to 20 meters from the pools.
The water contained up to 0.048 becquerels of radioactive substances per cubic centimeter.
TEPCO says this is about the same level as that of water from wells around the No. 5 storage pool that does not contain contaminated water.
TEPCO drilled the wells following massive leaks of contaminated water from underground storage pools. The company checks daily radiation levels of water in the wells.
TEPCO says the detected radiation density is so low that it cannot determine whether it is linked to the recent leakages. The utility says it will continue monitoring the radiation levels.
NHK World News


May 2, 2013
Radioactive tritium found at Fukushima plant wells
The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has detected radioactive tritium in underground water from wells.
TEPCO found the toxic substance in water from 2 of the 8 wells newly set up on the sea side of the plant.
The monitoring wells were dug to enable TEPCO to test for water that may have leaked from the plant's underground storage pools.
The firm said the concentration of radioactive tritium is up to 3.8 becquerels per cubic centimeter. That's about one twentieth of the government's safety standard.

TEPCO said the underground water from the 2 wells does not contain high levels of chlorine or any other radioactive elements.
Utility representatives said this suggests the radioactive tritium does not come from the recent storage pool leaks. They said it's likely from another series of leaks that occurred near the wells in March and April last year.
TEPCO says it will prepare more monitoring wells and continue its effort to pinpoint the source of the radioactive substance.
NHK World News

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  1. Livestock farmers dismayed by radioactive beef scandal
    (Mainichi Japan) July 16, 2011

    The government is considering banning shipments of beef cattle from Fukushima Prefecture in the wake of the revelation that a local cattle farm shipped 42 cows fed radioactive cesium-contaminated straw to Tokyo and several other prefectures.

    About 4,000 livestock farming households in the prefecture have been struggling to overcome harmful rumors following the outbreak of the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, and the news of the radioactive beef came as a new shock.

    The owner of the cattle farm in Asakawa, Fukushima Prefecture, which shipped the contaminated livestock, went to his barn to feed the more than 100 cows housed there on the morning of July 15. "I cannot ship these calves. I'm not sure if I can stay in the livestock business. I don't know what to do now," the farmer said dejectedly.

    He had obtained the radioactive cesium-contaminated rice plant straw in a trade with an organic rice growers union in the nearby city of Shirakawa for barnyard manure.



  2. Anonymous12/17/2012

    Asahi Newspaper

    The operator of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant is grappling to locate the source of a leak of highly radioactive water in the crippled No. 2 reactor, and will continue trying to pinpoint the cause next week.

    A remote-controlled robot is now scouring the basement of the reactor building that houses the pressure suppression chamber to pinpoint the cause of the leak.

    Tokyo Electric Power Co. said it was unable to identify the source of the leak when the robot inspected one of the eight vent pipes that connect the chamber with the containment vessel on Dec. 11.

    TEPCO suspects the radioactive water is leaking from fractures near the pressure suppression chamber.

    It was the first detailed inspection near the chamber.

    Nuclear fuel in the No. 2 reactor melted following the earthquake and tsunami disaster last year.

    A huge volume of highly radioactive water, used to cool down the fuel, has since been leaking from the reactor, TEPCO said.


  3. Trying to revive a Fukushima ‘ghost town’, CNN, 12/24/12

    The village of Iitate in Japan’s Fukushima prefecture was once home to 6,000 people.

    Today, however, it is essentially a ghost town, evacuated after the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant just 25 miles (40 kilometers) away following the Tohoku earthquake in March 2011.

    While former residents can return to Iitate during the day, it’s still an eerie scene — children’s toys lie abandoned in yards, bicycles rust on front porches and only an occasional truck passes through its quiet streets.

    For elderly couple Yukio and Masayo Nakano the last 20 months have not been easy. Yukio lived had lived in his home in the village for more than 60 years, moving in just after World War Two.

    “I can’t describe it. It’s hard living in the temporary housing, and it’s very stressful mentally,” he says.

    The difficult situation has also taken its toll on his wife Masayo.

    “I’m lonely. We’re getting old,” she says. “I think every day how long I can survive in this situation.”

    Only one building — the town’s nursing home — has permanent residents. Following consultation with their families and the Japanese government, the 80 or so people living there were allowed to stay despite the evacuation order.


  4. New Environment Minister meets Fukushima Gov.

    Japan's new Environment Minister Nobuteru Ishihara says he will work with Fukushima to decontaminate the prefecture following last year's nuclear disaster.
    Ishihara met prefectural governor Yuhei Sato in Fukushima City on Thursday. Much of the prefecture was contaminated by radioactivity from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

    Ishihara said that he wants to discuss candidly with prefectural officials building a storage facility for radioactive waste and other issues.
    Sato thanked Ishihara for visiting the prefecture immediately after taking his Cabinet post.

    The governor said he wants the central government to understand the feelings of residents and the problems facing local communities.
    Ishihara later told reporters he could not say yet when the government will begin to study a possible storage site.

    He said the government should first obtain the understanding and trust of local people.

    Dec. 27, 2012
    NHK world news

  5. NHK news -
    TEPCO to install filtered vent at nuclear reactor

    Tokyo Electric Power says it will install a filter-equipped emergency vent system to reduce levels of radioactivity released in the air in case of a meltdown at a nuclear power plant.

    The company said on Thursday that it will start work to install the system at the Number 7 reactor of its Kashiwazaki plant in Niigata next week.

    The system comprises a water tank 4 meters long and 8 meters high, to be installed next to the reactor.

    In an emergency, contaminated steam released from a reactor vessel to lower pressure inside the structure would be filtered through water before it enters the atmosphere.

    The process can reduce levels of radioactive iodine and cesium by a factor of up to 1,000.

    In the March 2011 Fukushima Daiichi accident, failure to promptly conduct a vent operation caused serious damage to a containment vessel, leading to a massive release of radioactive substances.

    To step up safety, Tokyo Electric and other utilities plan to install filtered vents at all their reactors.

    The government's Nuclear Regulation Authority also plans to make installation of filtered vents a requirement for restarting idle reactors.

    Jan. 10, 2013

  6. Japanese food still banned in 44 states
    Radioactive contamination fears persist

    Two years on from the Fukushima crisis, 44 economies are still banning or restricting imports of Japanese foods due to concerns over residual radiation, according to government officials.

    The government fears these economies could continue to impose the measures, damaging domestic food export businesses, the officials said.

    According to the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry, 10 countries including Canada and Mexico have lifted restrictions on foods shipments from Japan, but major importers such as China and South Korea have kept strict measures in place.

    China stopped importing all food products from 10 prefectures after the triple meltdowns disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 plant in March 2011. South Korea, meanwhile, has suspended imports of many food items from Japan, such as fish and spinach, according to the officials.


  7. Providing lessons on nuclear policy
    by Richard Broinowski.

    Most books about the nuclear reactor accident of Fukushima No. 1 are very opinionated. Given the many repercussions of the disaster, it is not surprising that people find it difficult to discuss in a disinterested way, sine ira et studio.


  8. TEPCO removing radioactive water

    Tokyo Electric Power Company has begun transferring radioactive water from a leaking storage tank at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

    The company says radioactive strontium and other substances were detected on the ground around a storage tank from Wednesday to Friday.

    TEPCO estimates that 120 tons leaked so far based on the change in the level of water in the tank.

    The work began on Saturday morning.

    Workers are using 4 pumps to transfer radioactive water in the tank to an adjacent tank.

    The utility says the leaked water has not flowed into the ocean because there is no ditch around the tank, and the sea is some 800 meters away.

    TEPCO says it will take at least 5 days to finish the transfer of water.

    Apr. 6, 2013 - NHK world news

  9. TEPCO reports leak from another water storage tank

    Tokyo Electric Power Company says it has found a small leakage of contaminated water from a storage facility at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. This follows a recent massive leak from another underground tank.

    The company examined a contaminated water storage tank adjacent to the underground tank that had leaked 120 tons of radioactive water. The 2 tanks have the same structure.
    TEPCO says a small amount of radioactive strontium was detected just outside a triple-layer of waterproof sheets underneath the storage tank, leading to discovery of the leak.

    The tank contains more than 10,000 tons of contaminated water.
    But the utility says it is a minor leak as it hasn't observed any change in the tank's water level and the concentration of radioactive substances is low.
    It says it will continue to monitor the storage facility, but it sees no need to transfer the water to a different tank.

    TEPCO is now transferring 13,000 tons of contaminated water from the tank where the massive leak occurred to 2 other tanks nearby.
    The utility says it will take 2 more days until Tuesday to finish the work.

    TEPCO officials apologized for causing concern and explained that no water from either leak has reached the ocean.

    Apr. 7, 2013 - NHK world news

  10. New Fukushima facility shrinks nuclear sludge

    The city of Fukushima now has Japan's first facility capable of reducing the volume of the radioactive sludge from the 2011 nuclear disaster.
    The facility was installed by the Environment Ministry in a municipal sewage treatment plant. A ceremony was held in the city on Saturday.

    It will dry the sludge at a temperature of 450 degrees Celsius and reduce it to about one-fifth of its original volume.

    The Environment Ministry expects the facility to treat 30 tons of sludge daily.
    Such sludge has been accumulating in sewage treatment plants in Fukushima and neighboring prefectures due to a lack of progress in the building of interim storage facilities.
    The volume of such sludge in Fukushima Prefecture alone has risen to more than 68,000 tons.

    The ministry plans to transfer the dried and shrunken sludge to interim storage facilities and permanent disposal sites, although it is unclear when these facilities will be built.
    Environment Minister Nobuteru Ishihara says his ministry will work to build interim storage facilities as soon as possible.

    Apr. 6, 2013 - NHK world news

  11. Alarm disregarded, radiation level unchecked

    According to a follow-up report on a radiation exposure accident last week, researchers at the Japanese laboratory went on with their work even after an alarm went off to report an equipment malfunction.
    The accident occurred at a Japan Atomic Energy Agency facility in Ibaraki Prefecture at around noon on Thursday. The workers were bombarding gold with proton beams to generate elementary particles.

    When the alarm went off, the equipment automatically stopped. But the scientists reset the alarm and resumed the experiment without looking into the cause.
    The radiation level within the facility rose after about 90 minutes. The researchers temporarily stopped the experiment and turned on exhaust fans.

    When the radiation level dropped, the work resumed.
    The researchers finally stopped the experiment after 4:00 PM when the level rose further.
    The equipment malfunction created an unexpected amount of radioactive substances. At least 6 researchers were exposed and the exhaust fans blew some of the radioactive substances into the outside environment.

    The agency did not measure the radiation levels around the facility at that time.
    It wasn't until evening of the following day that workers noticed the level at a monitoring post in a nearby facility had risen at the time the fans were used.

    Agency officials admit the series of actions were inappropriate.
    Out of 55 people who were in and out of the lab facility at the time of the accident, 6 male researchers were confirmed to have been exposed to radiation. 14 were not exposed.

    Officials are quickly checking the remaining 35.

    May 26, 2013 - NHK world news