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August 16, 2011
Tuesday, August 16, 2011 04:43 - NHK
Gov't to help quake survivors get licenses
Ministries and agencies that oversee occupational licenses have been asked to be flexible in helping survivors of the March disaster.
The Internal Affairs Ministry has received many complaints and inquiries from survivors about getting relief in applying for licenses.
The ministry conducted a survey of 73 licenses, which have more than 5,000 applicants annually.
The results showed that no measures have been taken for 26 licenses, including ones for administrative procedures specialist and tax accountant, such as postponing the application deadline or changing the exam date.
For 46 licenses, including for first-class architect and information processing technician, those who lost their certificates in the disaster had to pay fees to have them re-issued.
The 12 ministries and agencies in charge of licensing explained that there were no legal provisions and no such requests were made.
The Internal Affairs Ministry asked them to deal with the matter beyond the conventional framework.
It said it will make more requests if necessary based on the needs of the people in the disaster-affected area.
80m-long fissure found in seabed off Sanriku
A Japanese research vessel has confirmed a new 80-meter long fissure beneath the sea at the focus of the massive earthquake that hit northeastern Japan on March 11th.
The Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology released on Monday video and photos of the seabed off the Sanriku coast taken from the agency's manned submarine, the Shinkai 6500, between July 30th and August 14th.
Some of the footage, shot 150 kilometers north-northeast from the quake focus some 5,350 meters below the ocean surface, shows a fissure about one meter wide and one meter deep, extending for 80 meters, north to south.
A number of other new fissures and unleveled seafloors have also been found, including a 20-centimeter-wide fissure running for dozens of meters. It is located at a depth of 3,200 meters, about 90 kilometers north-northeast of the quake's focus.
Researchers say methane gas may be spewing out of the seafloor, as bacteria and other forms of life were found multiplying inside the fissures.
A senior researcher at the agency, Katsunori Fujikura, says the latest data sheds light on the earthquake's giant energy. He said scientists will analyze the information further to learn about the various phenomena triggered by the jolt.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011 09:46
Govt to compile decontamination plan
The Japanese government says it will prepare by the end of August a basic plan for decontaminating areas near the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan on Monday asked the nuclear crisis minister, Goshi Hosono, to begin compiling the steps that must be taken.
The government is planning to lift the designation soon of the zone extending from 20 to 30 kilometers away from the nuclear plant where residents have been told they must evacuate in the event of another emergency.
The measure would allow the return of some people who have left voluntarily, although worries about radiation persist among the affected communities.
The government plans to ease such concerns by adding more manpower to a taskforce in charge of decontamination.
The basic plan could also call for closer analyses of contaminated crops and plants to find out whether the radiation came from the air or soil.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011 11:41
IAEA seeks regular checks of nuclear regulators
In the wake of criticism of Japan's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency will seek regular checkups of nuclear regulators in member nations. The agency made the plan public on Monday.
The IAEA met in Vienna in June following the Fukushima Daiichi accident, and agreed to improve the response to nuclear crises and ensure the safety of nuclear power.
The IAEA worked out the new plan as part of such efforts and presented it to member countries.
The plan outlines a series of measures in 10 areas. These include assessments of safety measures taken by nuclear regulators every 10 years, and if necessary additional checkups in 3 years.
The draft also proposes the IAEA organize an independent group of experts to regularly assess nuclear reactor designs and measures to cope with critical nuclear accidents. The plan is said to include proposals made by IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano at the June meeting.
The draft will be submitted to the IAEA general assembly in September after member states study it.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011 12:23
TEPCO to use desalinating devices in pools
Tokyo Electric Power Company is planning to use devices to remove salt from spent nuclear fuel pools at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The operator fears that saltwater used to cool reactors 2 - 4 after the March 11 disaster could corrode stainless steel pipes and pool walls.
The new devices will arrive on 5 trucks and use special membranes and electricity to desalinate water.
TEPCO plans to first use the machinery by the end of this week at the number 4 reactor, which contains the most spent fuel. The concentration of salt is expected to be reduced by 96 percent in 2 months. It will then follow up in reactors 2 and 3.
Water temperatures at all 4 reactor pools have been relatively stable since the installation of a circulating cooling system was completed on August 10th.
Reactor facilities to purify waste water have all been equipped with desalinating filters.
Another device that uses the mineral, zeolite, to remove radioactive substances from circulating water has been installed in the cooling system of the number 2 to 4 reactors.
Through such measures, TEPCO hopes to stably operate the plant over the long-term until all the spent fuel is removed.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011 15:37
96% of cash in safes found after 3/11 returned
Japanese police say 96 percent of the cash found in safes in 3 northeastern prefectures after the March 11th disaster has been returned to its owners.
The National Police Agency says 5,700 safes had been recovered by or reported to police in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures as of July 10th.
Many of the safes had been buried in debris or mud.
They contained a total of 2.36 billion yen, or about 30 million dollars, in cash. One of them had the equivalent of more than one million dollars inside.
Police opened the safes and found bankbooks and property documents, along with the cash. This helped them identify the safe owners so they could return their property.
More than 3.7 billion yen, or about 48 million dollars, in other cash, some of it in wallets, has also been found in the 3 prefectures. Police say that about 85 percent of the money has been returned to its owners.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011 15:01
Buddhist Bon rituals observed in disaster sites
Traditional Buddhist Bon rituals to honor the spirits of ancestors and deceased family members have taken place in areas devastated in the March 11 disaster.
In the Hashikami district of Kesennuma city, Miyagi prefecture, locals observed a tradition of sending back spirits on ships woven with straw by local residents.
The vessels are about 40 centimeters long and loaded with offerings and sent out to sea or offered to temples.
In neighboring Iwate prefecture, at Hakozaki port in Kamaishi city, 71 fishermen and their families died or remain missing in the tsunami.
Fishermen burned offerings and flowers that they had placed before altars during the Bon holidays and sent off the spirits of their ancestors and disaster victims.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011 16:50
TEPCO tests Japan-made decontamination unit
Tokyo Electric Power Company is conducting a trial run of a Japan-built water decontamination unit at its troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
TEPCO started testing the performance of the new equipment shortly past noon on Tuesday.
The domestic-made unit uses 14 cylindrical tanks, each 3.5 meters high and 1.4 meters across, that contain minerals to absorb radioactive materials.
The utility plans to continue the trial until Wednesday night, before starting full-fledged operations.
Since late June, TEPCO has been decontaminating highly radioactive wastewater from the reactors and then injecting the cleaned water back into the reactors to cool them.
But the decontamination system --- the key part of the water circulation process --- has been plagued with trouble and its foreign-made components have repeatedly stopped operating. TEPCO says it has been running at 66 percent of capacity, failing to meet the initial target of 90 percent.
The power company hopes the new, Japan-built decontamination unit will help achieve stable circulation for cooling.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011 22:51
Radioactive sludge piling up
Radioactive sludge from sewage facilities across Japan has been piling up in storage facilities, despite the government's plan to bury it.
NHK asked local governments in 17 prefectures in northeastern to central Japan how they are coping with sludge that's been contaminated by radioactive material from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
Contaminated sludge from sewage facilities now totals more than 54,400 tons. 75 percent of it contains less than 8,000 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive cesium, the government-set limit for disposal by burial.
Despite this, some 27,700 tons of sludge --- 51 percent of the total --- remains in storage at water treatment plants.
Local governments say some burial projects have been rejected by residents near proposed sites.
In addition, 7 storage facilities in 4 prefectures have had to set up "no entry zones" where radiation levels have gotten too high.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011 22:51
Science teachers to cover radiation in class
Science teachers of Japanese junior high schools have discussed how to teach about radiation before the subject becomes compulsory from the next school year.
Japan's education ministry requires in its new curriculum guidelines that radiation be covered in junior high science classes starting in April. This is the first time in 30 years for the ministry to set such a requirement.
About 150 science teachers from schools in Tokyo attended a seminar on Monday.
An expert at the meeting explained features of radiation, how it is put to practical use, and its impact on the human body. The lecturer said it's important to have accurate knowledge about radiation rather than unduly fear it.
The participants then conducted an experiment in which traces of radiation were visualized by using a radioactive mineral ore and dry ice. In another experiment, the participants measured radiation levels in paints and rocks.
The teachers concluded the seminar by discussing how to teach about radiation in class. One participant said he should tell students about the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, but added that there's a lot he still doesn't know about the issue.
A 28-year-old teacher said she didn't study radiation in school and that she wants to learn about it before teaching the subject.
. . . . . Japan Times . . . . .
On day of past defeat, Kan urges recovery
Prime Minister Naoto Kan pledges on the 66th anniversary of the end of World War II that the nation will recover from the March 11 triple disaster, likening the hardship to postwar reconstruction.
Cabinet OKs new nuke watchdog
NGO offers wisdom from Chernobyl
Unpopular cargo: Radioactive waste shipload coming
Japan will soon receive its first shipment of highly radioactive waste amid the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant triple-meltdown crisis that started in March, and at a time when the storage of such dangerous substances is increasingly problematic.
The freighter Pacific Grebe set sail from Britain on Aug. 3 with more than 30 tons of radioactive waste on board. The cargo, Japanese spent fuel reprocessed in the U.K., is returning sealed in 76 stainless steel canisters packed into 130-ton containers. It is set to arrive early next month at Mutsu-Ogawara port in Aomori Prefecture for delivery to Japan Nuclear Fuel's nearby Rokkasho storage site.
Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant 六ヶ所村核燃料再処理施設
© More in the WIKIPEDIA !
August 17, 2011
. . . . . at 4:35
Earthquake M 5.4, off Iwate coast
. . . . . at 9:24
Earthquake M 4.4, off Ibaragi coast
a few minor tremors again in Tohoku, then
. . . . . at 12:05
Earthquake M 5.2, off Miyagi
(just watched the news, the Tohoku Shinkansen is running again, no damage)
. . . . . at 12:14
Earthquake M 4.6, off Miyagi
. . . . . at 16:55
Earthquake M 4.6, off Chiba
. . . . . at 17:46
Earthquake M 4.5, off Chiba
. . . . . at 20:44
Earthquake M 5.9, off Eastern Kanto
(it was only felt as 2 on the Japanese scale, from Aomori to Shizuoka)
Wednesday, August 17, 2011 06:33 - NHK
Kyoto Daimonji held with March 11 messages
An annual bonfire festival has been held in Kyoto with messages from survivors of the March 11 disaster inscribed on local firewood.
The city government originally planned to use the firewood from trees swept away by the March 11 tsunami. But the plan was cancelled after radioactive cesium was detected in wood sent from the hard-hit town of Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture.
Instead, event organizers used local wood and copied the survivors' eulogies or messages on them.
On Tuesday evening, the first fire was lit in the shape of the Chinese character "Dai", meaning large, followed by silent prayers for the disaster victims.
As Buddhist monks chanted sutras, four other fires were lit in a variety of shapes such as a boat and shrine gate, on the slopes of adjacent mountains.
The display illuminated the night sky above the ancient capital.
It is believed the bonfires help send off the souls of ancestors that have briefly returned home during the Buddhist Bon festival in mid-August.
. WKD : Kyoto, Daimonji-Yaki 大文字焼き .
Wednesday, August 17, 2011 09:52
New decontamination plan for nuclear plant
The Japanese government and operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant say they will try to reduce radioactive releases from the plant by directly treating contaminated gas in the reactors.
The government and TEPCO say the gas would be sucked from the reactors' containment vessels through existing pipes, and then filtered to remove cesium and other radioactive substances.
The plan would be added to another project underway to fully cover the Number One reactor building with polyester sheets.
The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says multiple measures are needed to reduce the radioactive substances being released from the plant.
The amount has decreased substantially since right after the accident, but the plant is still believed to be leaking radiation at a rate of about one billion becquerels per hour.
Some of the radioactivity is likely escaping from gaps created by explosions in the reactors' containment vessels.
The government and TEPCO's timetable aims for steep cuts in the release of radioactive material by January 2012.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011 13:36
TEPCO never expected hydrogen explosions: report
A government investigation has found that no one at the utility operating the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant had expected hydrogen explosions to occur at the plant.
The committee investigating the accident has been hearing the testimony of officials from government and the utility, the Tokyo Electric Power Company.
It has learned that Tokyo Electric officials discussed the hydrogen explosion that occurred at the No. 1 reactor building on March 12th, one day after the quake and tsunami.
The utility officials said nobody had expected such an explosion, and that attention was focused on the state of the reactors' cores and containment vessels.
They said they discussed ways to prevent similar explosions after the blast. But they were unable to implement them due to high levels of radiation at the site resulting in a 2nd explosion at the No. 3 reactor building on March 14th.
The reactors were deprived of their cooling functions after the quake and tsunami, causing damage to the reactor cores. It is believed this caused a massive buildup of hydrogen in the containment vessels resulting in the explosions.
TEPCO officials say they were aware that a core meltdown could cause a hydrogen explosion, but had never considered the possibility of a blast outside a reactor.
This finding exposes the utility's underestimation of the potential dangers at the plant.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011 22:23
Radioactivity down to one-fifth of July levels
The Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Company say the amount of radioactive material being emitted from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has dropped to one-fifth that of a month ago.
The government and TEPCO said on Wednesday that maximum radiation levels around the plant during the past 2 weeks were 200 million becquerels per hour.
This is one-fifth the levels detected in July, and one-10 millionth the levels in mid-March, shortly after the troubles began at the plant.
The state minister in charge of the nuclear crisis, Goshi Hosono, said the maximum reading of 200 million becquerels is just an estimate because the exact emission levels cannot be accurately measured. He pledged to seek methods for making precise measurements and for containing radioactivity inside the plant.
The government and TEPCO said there is no major change in their timetable for bringing the plant under control, and that their goal continues to be to achieve cold shutdown of the reactors while processing contaminated wastewater and reducing radioactive emissions.
The government said it will draw up a plan for decontaminating the current evacuation zone by the end of August, and it will launch a model decontamination project early next month.
Experts say that before the government allows residents to return to the evacuation zone, it will be necessary to prevent new leakage of radioactive material, as well as decontaminate material already leaked and dispose of mud and sludge generated by the decontamination process.
Fukushima plant chief apologizes over the accident
The head of the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station has apologized for the nuclear accident at his plant.
The operator of the plant, Tokyo Electric Power Company, released footage of workers at the facility on Wednesday, exactly one month after the utility entered stage 2 of its timetable toward ending the nuclear crisis.
The plant chief, Masao Yoshida 吉田昌郎, apologized to all Japanese people for causing the trouble, and said that with the help from people in Japan and from around the world, his plant has cleared the first stage of the timetable.
Yoshida said efforts are being made to achieve the goals required for the second stage so that evacuees will be able to return home as soon as possible.
Cooling stoppage unknown to plant chief
Government investigators have found that the chief of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant did not know that a backup cooling system for one of the plant's reactors was manually shut down on March 11th, the day of the quake and tsunami.
The investigators learned that Masao Yoshida was unaware that a worker stopped the system to prevent it from being damaged. The worker told the investigators that the system appeared to be operating at boiling temperature but was not producing steam.
Yoshida reportedly said it was a major error that he and other leaders did not immediately know such important safety information.
The plant's operator, TEPCO, says a fuel meltdown took place at the reactor 5 hours after the quake, generating large amounts of hydrogen that caused an explosion on the following day.
University of Tokyo Professor Koji Okamoto said the reactor lost all cooling functions due to the stoppage, and that the reactor's core should have been cooled by all possible means.
Okamoto said the failure of communication may have worsened the situation by delaying orders for water injections and government evacuations of nearby residents.
. . . . . Japan Times . . . . .
. Matsushima News in this BLOG .
Tsunami spared Matsushima but swept away bay's tourists
..... When the monster March 11 tsunami wiped out towns all along the Sanriku coast, killing or leaving thousands of people missing in Miyagi Prefecture, Matsushima's famed cluster of about 260 islets served as a natural buffer, weakening the impact of the waves and largely sparing the coastal town from utter devastation, despite its proximity to the 9.0-magnitude quake's epicenter.
But while the beauty of Matsushima — revered as one of Japan's three most scenic spots — was preserved, a plunge in tourists is hindering the community's efforts to come back from the Great East Japan Earthquake.
..... But even though the summer tourist season is now at its peak, and various festivals are livening up the town's streets, Isoda said the hotel's reservations from general customers is roughly one-tenth compared with previous years.
Matsushima - Famed Miyagi temple's visitors vanishing
Entsuin, also known as the rose temple for its unique Western-style rose garden, has long been a tourist fixture in the bay town of Matsushima, Miyagi Prefecture.
... Built in 1646 next to Zuiganji, the Tohoku region's most prominent Zen Buddhist temple, Entsuin houses the mausoleum of Date Mitsumune, the grandson of Tohoku warlord Date Masamune, and belongs to the Rinzai school of Zen.
Haruka Amano has been serving as a priest at Entsuin...
... "But now there are days when we only receive a few dozen visitors," she said, citing radiation fears as a major factor contributing to the decline in tourists.
"We run our temple relying on admission fees. I'm not sure how we'll get past this winter if this situation continues," she said. ...
Tomari reactor to get official nod to stay online
Hokkaido Gov. Harumi Takahashi is expected to announce her approval for resuming commercial operations of the Tomari nuclear plant's reactor 3, which has been running full tilt since March but technically only in test mode.
Tsunami artifacts prove popular
Solar plant cleans Kawasaki image
Tourists head west as Tohoku, Tokyo drop off itineraries
Japan at critical tipping point
..... Japan is at a crucial tipping point. As an island nation, it offers a microcosmic look at the problems facing the rest of the globe, including peak oil and climate change due to greenhouse gas emissions. And as Japan tips, so may the world. .....
The Explosive Truth Behind Fukushima's Meltdown
It is one of the mysteries of Japan's ongoing nuclear crisis: How much damage did the 11 March earthquake inflict on the Fukushima Daiichi reactors before the tsunami hit?
source : www.commondreams.org
August 18, 2011
another HOT day
As of 11:00 AM, temperatures already exceeded 36 degrees Celsius in Tokyo's Nerima ward and Koshigaya, near Tokyo.
Weather officials say daytime highs will mark 38 degrees in Maebashi and Kumagaya, and 37 degrees in Shizuoka. Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka will all see the thermometer edge 35 degrees.
But my valley is still just humid and around 30 at three in the afternoon.
DPJ presidential election to be held in late August
. The Political Situation . INFO .
Thursday, August 18, 2011 12:41
Japan-made decontamination unit to begin operation
Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, will begin operation of a new Japan-made decontamination unit as early as Thursday afternoon at its troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Full-fledged operations follow after a successful test run that started on Tuesday.
The new unit consists of 14 cylindrical tanks containing a mineral called zeolite, which absorbs cesium and other radioactive substances.
Cleaning radioactive water from reactors in a stable manner is among the most urgent issues to bring the ongoing nuclear accident under control. The decontaminated water is injected back into the reactors to cool them.
The existing decontamination system has been plagued with trouble, and its foreign-made components have repeatedly failed. This has brought the system's operating rate down to 69 percent, far below the initial target of 90 percent.
TEPCO plans to use the existing system along with the new one. The utility hopes the new unit will help achieve stable circulatory cooling of the reactors.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Google Earth map shows radiation at ground level
A Japanese nuclear agency has created a detailed map showing ground radiation levels within 100 kilometers of the Fukushima Daiichi plant.
The Japan Atomic Energy Agency made the map by having a survey team drive through the area in June. The team took readings of aerial radiation once every 10 seconds for several days along routes totaling 17,000 kilometers.
The map uses colors to indicate radiation levels and Google Earth technology to help users pinpoint locations.
The agency says the map is more detailed than those that show radiation levels based on data taken from high in the skies. For instance, it shows two sites that are only 100 meters away but whose radiation levels differ by a factor of 10.
The agency says it hopes the map will help evacuees decide whether it is safe to return home, and help government officials with decontaminating efforts.
Foreign travelers to Japan in July down 36 % - NHK
The number of foreign visitors to Japan in July was down 36 percent from the same month last year, marking the 5th month of decline following the March 11th disaster.
The Japan National Tourism Organization says an estimated 562,000 foreign people visited Japan on sightseeing or business during the month. The rate of decrease was much the same in June. ...
. . . . . Japan Times . . . . .
Tepco: Radiation release plunged
Radioactive materials emitted by the crippled No. 1, 2 and 3 reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant are roughly one 10 millionth of contamination spewed at the beginning of the accident in March, Tokyo Electric Power Co. says.
Wedding rings a hot item in disaster zone
Tomari reactor commercial output OK'd; first since 3/11
Fukushima kids give silent officials an earful on crisis
Waves wiped out caviar farm in Kamaishi
Pondering victims and the future
August 19, 2011
Fukushima Kids Art Exhibition:
From the Region Devastated by the Tsunami, A Small Message
source : Japan Times
Kids art for Fukushima - tee shirts
. . . . . at 13:51
Earthquake M 4.4, off Iwate
. . . . . at 14:36
Earthquake M 6.8, off Fukushima
It was felt from Hokkaido to Aichi and Shiga prefecture.
Friday, August 19, 2011 02:14- NHK
Fukushima, Miyagi cattle shipment ban to ease
The Japanese government plans to soon lift its ban on shipments of beef cattle from disaster-stricken prefectures of Fukushima and Miyagi, saying inspection systems for radioactive substances in beef are being readied.
The government banned shipments from these prefectures as well as 2 others after radioactive cesium exceeding the safety limit was detected in the meat of cattle raised there.
The cattle were fed rice straw contaminated with high levels of the substance that derived from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident.
To combat the problem, Fukushima and Miyagi governments are planning to instruct farmers to move the contaminated rice straw away from cattle sheds. They will also temporarily limit the number of cattle shipped so that thorough inspections for radioactive substances can be carried out.
The central government plans to lift the ban for these 2 prefectures as soon as the measures are implemented.
If things go as planned, beef shipments from Fukushima and Miyagi will resume for the first time in about a month.
. . . . . Japan Times . . . . .
U.S. mulled moving forces out: Maher
The U.S. government considered evacuating part of its forces out of Japan in a "worst-case scenario" in the early days of the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant, former senior U.S. diplomat Kevin Maher says.
Kaieda set to run; Maehara undecided
Trade minister Banri Kaieda plans to run for president of the Democratic Party of Japan to replace Prime Minister Naoto Kan and will officially announce his candidacy Friday.
No NISA penalties for now: new head
Water decontamination a 'major challenge' in nuclear crisis: Hosono
No time to foresee blasts: worker
Taking different postquake tacks
Fukushima kids take case to Tokyo, but get no satisfaction
They came looking for answers, and left feeling brushed off.
... Four children from the prefecture, all from elementary and junior high schools, visited the First Members' Office Building of the Lower House in the capital's Chiyoda Ward.
... Stumped by the questions from the children, the government officials repeatedly responded, "We will do our best."
... At a news conference following the meeting, an 11-year-old boy said he didn't understand why the officials did not take their questions seriously, even though they are adults.
source : www.asahi.com
I watched part of it on TV, it was very moving!
. . Bulletins from NHK WORLD
. . Japan Times
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