November 2011

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November , 2011

source : Linda Wishon, facebook

I have to scale down, and will concentrate on the NHK news.
Please read the Japan Times online every day. Link below.


An official drinks water from Fukushima plant
A senior government official drank a glass of water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant on Monday in an apparent effort to demonstrate its safety.
On October 7th, Tokyo Electric Power Company began spraying about 70 tons of purified water over the compound at its Fukushima nuclear plant every day. The utility uses the water after removing radioactive substances and salt from the contaminated water that has accumulated in the basements of the Numbers 5 and 6 reactor buildings.
TEPCO and the government's nuclear safety agency say the level of radioactive cesium in the purified water is below the government standard for bathing, and does little harm to the environment.
Reporters in Tokyo have been grilling Cabinet Office Parliamentary Secretary Yasuhiro Sonoda 園田康博 on the safety of the purified water since the middle of October.
On Monday, Sonoda demonstrated to the reporters the safety of the water by drinking a glass of it.
When asked if he could wipe away public concern about the water, Sonoda said he drank the water because he was asked to, but he does not think his act can ensure the water's safety.
He added that the best way to do that is with data.

Preparations begin to resume Genkai No.4 reactor
The operator of the Genkai nuclear power plant in western Japan says it has begun preparations to restart a reactor that was shut down automatically about a month ago.
Kyushu Electric Power Company announced on Monday night a plan to resume operations at the No.4 reactor. The utility said it will take several days before the reactor is fully operational again.

SDP head criticizes Genkai reactor restart
Opposition Social Democratic Party leader Mizuho Fukushima is criticizing the government for allowing the restart of a nuclear reactor in western Japan.
The No.4 reactor at the Genkai plant in Saga Prefecture was shut down early last month in a procedural error. Kyushu Power Electric Company will restart the reactor later on Wednesday. ...

Media to tour Fukushima nuclear plant
Nuclear crisis minister Goshi Hosono says he will allow media into the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on Saturday next week, for the first time since the March 11th disaster.
Hosono spoke to reporters on Tuesday about the government plan to achieve cold shutdown, maintaining the temperature of reactors at less than 100 degrees Celsius, by the end of the year.
He said work is underway and in order to confirm the process, he will visit the plant on November 12th and exchange views with people directly involved in the operation.
Hosono said the situation at the plant is gradually settling down so he will allow a fixed number of journalists to accompany him.

Govt lowers land assessments for disaster zone
The government has lowered its land price assessments for areas of northeastern Japan affected by the March 11th earthquake and tsunami.
Land assessments for inheritance and gift tax calculations are set annually on January 1st. This means that damage from the March disaster is not reflected in this year's calculations.
The National Tax Agency on Tuesday released land price adjustment rates for locations in 10 prefectures, including a plunge of 80 percent for Onagawa in Miyagi Prefecture. Many of the town's residents were killed by the tsunami.
Other municipalities in Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima prefectures were assessed with a 70 to 75 percent drop in land prices.
This is the second time the agency has had to adjust land price rates in the wake of a disaster. After the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake that struck Kobe and vicinity in western Japan, land prices in affected areas were downgraded, but the maximum price fall then was 25 percent.
The adjustments do not apply to areas around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Land prices there will be assigned zero as it is nearly impossible to evaluate the commercial effect of radioactive contamination on property.


. . . . . Wednesday November 2, 2011

the google logo from Japan

. Yokoyama Taikan 横山 大観 .
2 November 1868 - 26 February 1958

Kyushu Electric restarts reactor
The operator of the Genkai nuclear plant in Kyushu, southwestern Japan, has restarted a reactor that shut down in October due to a procedural error.
Kyushu Electric Power Company said it began removing control rods from the No. 4 reactor at the Genkai plant on Tuesday to resume power generation.
The operator plans to resume generating electricity on Wednesday afternoon. It will gradually increase output and restore it to normal on Friday.
This is the first reactor in Japan to go back on-line since the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi power station.
The No. 4 reactor is scheduled to be shut down again in mid-December for a regular inspection.
Kyushu Electric says it decided to restart the reactor at this time to secure a stable power supply and lower fuel costs.
The utility company says its employees visited households in the town of Genkai where the nuclear plant is located to explain the cause of the trouble and measures to prevent a recurrence of accidents. The company says it has received a certain level of local consent.
The administration of Genkai Town has agreed to the resumption. But Kyushu Electric has lost credibility with the public because its employees were asked to fake local support for resuming nuclear power generation.
Other local administrations and people living near the plant are demanding a more detailed explanation.

Radioactive substance could be radium 226
The science ministry says the high radiation detected in a residential neighborhood in Tokyo is most likely caused by radium 226.
On Tuesday science ministry officials and experts dug up the ground beneath a supermarket parking lot and a nearby sidewalk in Setagaya Ward.
They detected substances related to radium 226 at a depth of about 30 centimeters.
The 2 spots had registered readings of high radioactivity, as much as 170 microsieverts per hour last month.
Radium is a product of decayed uranium and found in basalt and granite. In the past it was used for treating cancer, and as an ingredient in luminous paint used on the face of clocks and watches.
The ministry says that they also found a bottle of chemical at the same site, about 40 centimeters below surface, and detected radiation of 40 microsieverts per hour nearby. The ministry plans to investigate the link between the bottle and the radiation.
Radium 226 was also detected in a different residential area in the same ward recently and it was determined that the radiation had nothing to do with the nuclear disaster in Fukushima.
..... and then on Nobember 04
Buried bottle determined to be radiation source
Japan's science ministry has determined that high radiation readings taken near a supermarket in Tokyo were caused by radium in a buried bottle.
On Wednesday, workers removed the reagent bottle along with some contaminated underground soil from the parking lot of a supermarket in Hachimanyama, Setagaya Ward.
After the removal, radiation in the area dropped to 25 microsieverts per hour, which is one-1,600th the previously observed level. The ministry says the source of the radiation was the radium 226 in the bottle. The radioactive substance is used in cancer treatments and to make fluorescent paint. ...

Cesium in pollen not viewed as health risk
. . . . . and
Setagaya radiation said to be radium
. Radiation Problems - INFO .

TEPCO: Radiation levels unchanged
TEPCO says the radiation reading taken on Wednesday near the No.2 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant was basically unchanged from the day before.
The utility says the reading, taken at a monitoring post about 500 meters northwest of the reactor, stood at 293 microsieverts per hour at 9 AM, up only one microsievert from 24 hours earlier.
It says the radiation level near the compound's west gate, about one kilometer from the No.2 reactor, was also unchanged at 11.2 microsieverts per hour, and that no neutron radiation was detected.
Readings at 8 other monitoring posts on Wednesday were also the same as Tuesday.

Temperature, pressure unchanged in No.2 reactor
TEPCO says temperature and pressure in the No.2 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is basically unchanged in a 24-hour period between Tuesday and Wednesday.
The company says the temperature at the bottom of the reactor was 76 degrees Celsius as of 5 AM on Wednesday. That was down 1.4 degrees from 24 hours earlier.
The reactor's pressure gauge registered 0.007 megapascals at 5 AM on Wednesday, down one part per thousand from the same time on Tuesday .

TEPCO: New criticality seen at No.2 reactor
The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi power plant says the No.2 reactor may have recently gone critical.
Tokyo Electric Power Company said on Wednesday its latest findings suggest that the state of criticality may have continued temporarily.
TEPCO detected radioactive substances, xenon-133 and xenon-135, in gas taken from the reactor's containment vessel on Tuesday. Both materials are produced during nuclear fission and have a short half-life of 5 days and 9 hours respectively.
The xenon-133 registered 14 parts per million becquerels per cubic centimeter, and the xenon-135 12 parts per million.
After detecting the xenon, TEPCO poured a boric acid solution into the No.2 reactor to suppress nuclear fission. It said temperature and pressure in the reactor are basically unchanged.
The operator says the reactor continues to cool, and that it expects to achieve cold shutdown by the end of the year as planned.
It says it will continue to monitor xenon levels in the No.2 reactor and also check conditions in the No.1 and No.3 reactors.
TEPCO adds it will discuss the matter with the government's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.

Xenon means recent fission in reactor 2

Tepco says that some of the melted fuel in reactor 2 at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant may have triggered a brief criticality event.

Tokyo helps dispose of disaster rubble
Piles of rubble will be transported to Tokyo for disposal on Wednesday from the quake and tsunami-hit prefecture of Iwate.
The March 11th disaster has created millions of tons of waste. The central government has been asking prefectures outside the affected areas to help with disposal. But many are reluctant, fearing the rubble is contaminated with radiation.
Iwate Prefecture has more than 4 million tons of debris. The Tokyo Metropolitan government has offered to accept 11,000 tons of it for disposal. ...


. . . . . Thursday November 3, 2011

Safety zones around nuclear plants to be widened to 30 km

Radioactive materials detected in Tokyo Bay
Waste water discharged into Tokyo Bay from a cement plant has been found to contain radioactive cesium at much higher levels than the government-set limit for disposal.
The plant in Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo, uses ash from incinerators in the prefecture to produce cement. The Chiba government says the plant operator checked waste water discharged from the plant into Tokyo Bay once in September and once in October.
It found radioactive cesium at levels of 1,103 becquerels per kilogram, and 1,054 becquerels per kilogram respectively.
The levels are 14 to 15 times higher than the limit set by the country's Nuclear Safety Commission.
The water had been used to clean filters which remove toxic materials from ashes.
The operator stopped discharging the waste water on Wednesday. The prefectural government has launched a survey of the seawater of Tokyo Bay near the plant.

Shortcomings in nuclear safety assessment found
The organization in charge of assessing the safety of Japan's nuclear plants has admitted it allowed nuclear fuel rods to pass quality checks using a faulty manual.
The manual was borrowed from the Japanese manufacturer of the rods.
The Japan Nuclear Energy Safety Organization conducted the checks in 2008 on 4 sets of fuel rods for reactors.
The government-backed organization says it approved 3 of the 4 sets even though the manual said the rods were 3 to 5 centimeters shorter than the actual length of 4 meters.
It says the examiners failed to notice the mistakes as they did not closely check the manual beforehand.
Industry watchdog, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, says it will order the organization to correct these shortcomings and improve its screening procedures.

Safety zones around nuclear plants to be widened to 30 km

TEPCO retracts criticality call
The operator of the Fukushima nuclear power plant has retracted an earlier assessment that a continuous nuclear reaction, or a criticality, could have taken place in the damaged Number 2 reactor.
The Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, said on Thursday that the small amount of xenon-135 it detected in gas taken from the reactor's containment vessel was the result of the spontaneous nuclear fission of radioactive curium-242 and -244. The two substances are contained in nuclear fuel.
The amount of xenon-135 detected almost matched the amount that would have been produced if the radioactive curium in the fuel had undergone spontaneous fission.
TEPCO says a criticality event would have resulted in higher levels of xenon concentration. Spontaneous fission refers to the nuclear fission of radioactive materials other than uranium, and it does not lead to criticality. Such fission is said to occur constantly.
The earlier detection of small amounts of Xenon-135 had suggested the possibility of a criticality occurrence in the melted fuel in the damaged reactor.
TEPCO sys it will send the assessment to the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency for reevaluation.


. . . . . Friday November 4, 2011

Tokyo begins disaster rubble disposal

Authorities in Tokyo have begun disposing of a massive amount of rubble from the March earthquake and tsunami in northeast Japan.
Freight trains brought the rubble from Iwate Prefecture to a facility in Tokyo, where it was transferred to containers and taken to a nearby waste processing plant. Workers there then sorted it and crushed it.
Officials conducting random radiation checks on the rubble said a sample had a reading below the maximum allowable level set by Tokyo at 0.01 microsieverts per hour. The rubble will be disposed of on reclaimed land in Tokyo Bay after some of it is burned.
The Iwate debris is the first part of half a million tons the Tokyo Metropolitan government has agreed to accept from Iwate and 2 other prefectures by March of 2014.
Tokyo is the first prefecture outside the disaster areas to offer to help dispose of the debris.

70 percent in Japan want end to nuclear power
An NHK poll shows that nearly 70 percent of Japanese people want to reduce or abolish nuclear power in the future.
NHK polled about 2,600 randomly selected adults nationwide over 3 days through October 30th. 1,775 people responded.
24 percent of respondents said all nuclear power plants should be shut down and 42 percent said the number should be reduced. 23 percent said the existing facilities should be maintained and 2 percent said they want more nuclear plants. 49 percent of respondents said they are very afraid of another nuclear accident and 37 percent are worried to a certain extent.
When asked if nuclear power generation will become safe in the future, 46 percent said yes and 48 percent said no.

Science far from conclusive on low-level radiation risks
The Fukushima nuclear accident has transformed a long-standing academic debate over whether low-level radiation doses are harmful into an urgent issue for millions of ordinary people.
How much risk does exposure to a cumulative radiation dose of 100 millisieverts present?
How afraid should we be of radiation at that level?
What about the risks of cumulative radiation doses of less than 100 millisieverts?
What is the government's assessment of the 100-millisievert risk, and how is it reflected in food restrictions?
Is there any scientific research on radiation exposure of less than 100 millisieverts?
Why are those studies inconclusive?
Because there are confounding — or outside — factors in getting cancer, such as smoking.
(and stress or fear ... which was not checked in the statistics . . .)
What was the result of the Kerala research?
Kerala's radiation level is about the same as in Iitate, Namie and other municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture
So radiation of less than 100 millisieverts won't harm the human body?
Read the details


. . . . . Saturday November 5, 2011

Radioactivity in Fukushima children's urine

A medical consulting firm in Tokyo says radioactive material has been detected in the urine of 104 children in Fukushima Prefecture, the site of the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
RHC JAPAN collected urine from children aged 6 or younger in Minamisoma City to check for possible internal exposure.
Those checks were done at the request of parents of preschool children. Tests being carried out by local governments only cover elementary school students and older.
Of 1,500 samples that have been analyzed so far, 7 percent contain radioactive cesium.
The levels of material detected were mostly between 20 and 30 becquerels per liter, slightly above the detection limit. The highest was 187 becquerels in the sample of a one-year-old boy. The firm says there has been no internal exposure that could affect human health.
National Institute of Radiological Sciences Director Makoto Akashi says that although those test results need verification, they do point to the possibility of internal exposure in Fukushima children.
He added that the level of internal exposure would not increase if one eats food tested for radioactivity.

Cesium-contaminated mushrooms served in food
Radioactive cesium exceeding the government standard has been found in mushrooms grown at a facility in Yokohama City, near Tokyo. About 800 people were served food containing the mushrooms from March through October.
The city says high levels of radioactive cesium were found in dried shiitake mushrooms harvested in both months. The contamination is believed to have been caused by the Fukushima nuclear accident. The contamination in March was up to 2,770 becquerels of cesium per kilogram; in October, 955 becquerels per kilogram.
Each exceeded the government's standard of 500 becquerels.
The facility checked the mushrooms for radioactive contamination this week after concerned citizens inquired about possible contamination in food served there.
Yokohama is around 250 kilometers from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
The mushrooms were reportedly not sold on the market.

Dalai Lama attends memorial for disaster victims
Tibet's exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has attended a memorial service for victims of the March 11th earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan.
The Dalai Lama visited a temple in Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture, on Saturday morning.
At the temple's main hall, he chanted a Buddhist sutra dedicated to the disaster victims before nearly 1,000 people. After the service, he told the attendees that he shared the sorrow of people affected by the disaster. He encouraged them to rebuild the city and to keep moving forward.
Ishinomaki Mayor Hiroshi Kameyama said he feels a pain in his heart every day, but he hopes to rebuild the city with the support of the citizens.
Local elementary school children then presented the Tibetan leader with a bouquet and a large colorful flag with his name written on it.

People participate in tsunami prevention drills
People across Japan have participated in disaster prevention drills.
The government designated November 5th as the new Tsunami Disaster Prevention Day to highlight the importance of being prepared.


. . . . . Sunday November 6, 2011

Survivors plant cherry trees to mark tsunami line
People in northeastern Japan, including survivors of the March 11th tsunami, have begun planting cherry trees to mark the affected areas to give warnings to future generations.
About 100 people planted 35 trees in a temple ground in Rikuzentakata City, Iwate Prefecture, on Sunday.
The group plans to eventually plant 17,000 trees over 170 kilometers in the city in marking off areas inundated by the tsunami.
The project's leader says he is sorrowful at having lost many friends in the tsunami.
He says he hopes the cherry trees will hand down memories of the disaster to young children and help prevent any further loss of human life.
The group plans to plant more trees on March 11th next year to mark the first anniversary of the disaster.

Disaster survivors move into 3-story housing
People who lost their homes in the March 11th tsunami have begun moving into 3-story temporary housing in Miyagi Prefecture.
The 6 housing structures for 144 households have been built in a baseball ground in Onagawa Town, where flat sites are scarce. Local government officials say this is the first 3-story temporary housing in the country.
On Sunday, people began moving into the new housing, which was built by combining steel shipping and storage containers. Each unit has wide windows that admit sunlight to spacious rooms.
A woman in her 40s says that she is happy to finally have a home for her family after spending months in a shelter.


. . . . . Monday November 7, 2011

most of the news is about joining the TPP Trans-Pacific Partnership
... seems Tohoku is falling behind in the news quite a lot.

Nuclear power companies subject to cyber attacks
The operators of nuclear power plants in Japan have become the latest victims of cyber criminals.
NHK asked 10 electric power companies that manage nuclear power plants if they have experienced attacks on their computer networks in the past year.
Tokyo Electric Power Company, Hokkaido Electric Power Company and Tohoku Electric Power Company said they had received targeted cyber attacks through emails disguised as business communications from government offices.
TEPCO says, however, that it has no evidence of an information leak.
Five other utilities reported that their computers were hit by viruses delivered through email, but they also said they have had no data leakage.
Noting past cyber attacks on nuclear facilities abroad, Keio University Professor Keiji Takeda says hackers may have sent viruses to try and collect data from plants in Japan.
He says not only electric power companies, but also gas and water suppliers, railway operators and other infrastructure operators should share information on viruses and check again to see if their computers have been infected.
Earlier, Japanese government institutions and defense contractors came under cyber attacks.

Minute radiation monitoring begins in no-go zone

The environment ministry has launched a detailed survey of radiation levels in areas near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
This information will enable the government to pinpoint which areas in the irradiated 20-kilometer zone of the plant need to be decontaminated first. Areas with radiation levels of about 20 millisieverts per year will also be included.
About 30 people, including ministry officials and Tokyo Electric Power Company staff gathered at a monitoring point in Iitate Village. The village is in a government-designated evacuation zone, from which all residents were ordered to leave.
Radiation levels for the survey will be measured at 100 meter intervals at an altitude of 50 meters, using unmanned helicopters and cars.
The ministry will provide an interim report on the results in December.
In the 12 designated municipalities, three corporations commissioned by the government have been selected to carry out the survey how to proceed the decontamination work effectively.
The ministry is set to begin full-scale cleanup efforts from next January according to the result of these surveys.
A ministry senior official said he hopes the survey and decontamination work will move forward quickly to allow some 100,000 evacuees to return to their homes.

Smaller increase in children's weight in Fukushima

A survey shows that some children in Fukushima Prefecture have smaller average weight gains this year compared to the year before. A pediatrician says the results indicate the negative effects of the nuclear plant accident in March.
Doctor Shintaro Kikuchi tracked the weights of 245 children aged from 4 to 6 in 2 kindergartens in Koriyama City, Fukushima Prefecture. The results show an average weight increase of 0.81 kilograms over the past year through June. The increase for children in the same age group the previous year was 3.1 kilograms.
The average increase for children aged 5 to 6 in the survey was 0.84 kilograms. But a nationwide health ministry survey conducted last year for children of the same age group showed an average gain of 1.8 kilograms.
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident has caused high levels of radioactivity in areas around the plant. Koriyama is located about 60 kilometers from the facility and many children in the city have been forced to play indoors to avoid contamination.
Kikuchi noted that the smaller weight increases could be related to reduced appetite resulting from less exercise as well as changes in the secretion of growth hormones due to stress. He said measures should be taken to restore normal hormone levels in the children.

Fish market in tsunami-hit town reopens
A fish market in a northeastern Japanese town that was devastated by the March tsunami has begun trading again.
The market in Otsuchi, Iwate Prefecture, had been closed for about 8 months after the tsunami swept away the market building and an ice-making facility.
On Monday, 20 tons of mackerel, salmon and other fish were brought in. The market's first fish auction since the tsunami was about a half the normal haul for this time of the year but enough to bring life to the market again.
Before the auction, about 30 fishermen and market officials observed a moment of silence for those killed in the disaster.
The head of the town's fisheries cooperative says he has mixed emotions. He says the reopening is only a small step forward and that more fisheries workers should come back to the market.
One dealer says the market will gradually be revitalized now that the fish have returned.
Meanwhile, a railway company in Iwate Prefecture has resumed operations for the first time since the March 11th tsunami.
A ceremony was held on Monday to celebrate the resumption of freight train service between a limestone mine and the Taiheiyo Cement plant which resumed operations on Friday.
A locomotive later left the station in Ofunato City for the mine.
Company says the train makes up to 13 round trips a day between the mine and the plant, 11 km away. They say it can carry 630 tons per trip.
The company president says he is glad that his firm could put the locomotive -- a symbol of reconstruction --back into service.

Minute radiation monitoring begins in no-go zone
The environment ministry has launched a detailed survey of radiation levels in areas near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
This information will enable the government to pinpoint which areas in the irradiated 20-kilometer zone of the plant need to be decontaminated first. Areas with radiation levels of about 20 millisieverts per year will also be included.
About 30 people, including ministry officials and Tokyo Electric Power Company staff gathered at a monitoring point in Iitate Village. The village is in a government-designated evacuation zone, from which all residents were ordered to leave.
Radiation levels for the survey will be measured at 100 meter intervals at an altitude of 50 meters, using unmanned helicopters and cars.
The ministry will provide an interim report on the results in December.
In the 12 designated municipalities, three corporations commissioned by the government have been selected to carry out the survey how to proceed the decontamination work effectively.
The ministry is set to begin full-scale cleanup efforts from next January according to the result of these surveys.
A ministry senior official said he hopes the survey and decontamination work will move forward quickly to allow some 100,000 evacuees to return to their homes.


. . . . . Tuesday November 8, 2011

. . . . . at 11:59
Earthquake M 6.8,Okinawa Main Island

No criticality in Fukushima
Japan's nuclear agency has confirmed that sustained nuclear fission did not take place at the Fukushima nuclear power plant last week.
The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency disclosed the results of experts' studies on a report by Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO.
The utility detected a small amount of the radioactive material, xenon-135, in the reactor's containment vessel of the damaged No.2 reactor on Tuesday of last week.
TEPCO initially feared it may signal an ongoing nuclear reaction. But it determined that the substance was produced through spontaneous fission, a form of radioactive decay, and not from sustained fission or criticality.
The nuclear agency said the density of the xenon, which did not change when a boric acid solution was injected into the reactor, proved that criticality did not occur.
The agency ordered TEPCO to regularly check the density of nuclear substances inside the vessels and to report any changes.
Cabinet Office Parliamentary Secretary Yasuhiro Sonoda said on Monday that it is regrettable that TEPCO was slow to report the incident to local governments, calling on the utility to share information as quickly as possible.

Disposal of earthquake rubble begins in Tokyo
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government has begun work to bury rubble left behind by the March 11th earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan.
Tokyo began accepting large amounts of debris from Miyako City, Iwate Prefecture, for disposal last Thursday. The rubble is being broken into pieces or incinerated at facilities in the city.
On Tuesday, ash was transferred from a local incinerator to a landfill site in Tokyo port, where it was buried using large construction equipment.
The metropolitan government said it plans to accept up to 500,000 tons of debris from Miyako and other disaster-hit areas by March 2014.

1/4 won't return to Fukushima restricted zone
A survey in Fukushima Prefecture has revealed that one in 4 evacuees has no intention of returning to the restricted areas around the disaster-stricken nuclear power plant.
A group from Fukushima University sent questionnaires to all households from 8 municipalities in the district of Futaba, where the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is located. Roughly half, or 13,500, responded.
26.9 percent of evacuees said they wouldn't be returning to their hometowns. Among people in their early 30s or younger, the figure rose to 52.3 percent.
More than 30 percent of evacuees from 3 towns in the no-entry zone said they won't return. The 20-kilometer zone is where radiation levels are particularly high.
Asked what troubles them most, nearly 60 percent cited a lack of prospects for ending their time in evacuation.
In the comment section of the survey, some evacuees wrote that they loved their hometowns and the people they know there, and that they would want to return home soon if it was possible.
The survey's leader, Associate Professor Fuminori Tanba, says the comments indicate that the evacuees do want to return home, despite the high number of those saying they will not. He also says the central and local governments should come up with steps to satisfy the wishes of the residents.


. . . . . Wednesday November 9, 2011

Scrub homes, denude trees to wash cesium fears away
Experts advise people who live in and near Fukushima Prefecture where they face cumulative annual radiation exposure exceeding 1 millisievert — the legal limit for the general public — to quickly take the initiative in removing irradiated soil and other material where fallout might accumulate in their vicinity, instead of waiting for the government to carry out decontamination work.

(this reads like a satire, one expert says this, the next one just the opposite . . . poor people of Fukushima!)

Record 2.05 million Japanese on welfare

The number of Japanese living on welfare benefits hit a record high in July amid the severe employment situation.
The welfare ministry says 2.05 million people received assistance in July, up 8,903 from the previous month. The recipients are increasing in working-age households.

Commission releases report on scrapping N-plant

Japan's Atomic Energy Commission has compiled a report saying it will take more than 30 years to scrap the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The commission's panel of experts had been discussing the schedule since August.
The report released on Wednesday says transferring spent fuel from the plant's 4 damaged reactor buildings to a pool inside the compound will begin within 3 years after the reactors achieve cold shutdown.
Removing the melted fuel inside the No.1 through No.3 reactors will begin within 10 years. The reactors' containment vessels must first be repaired and filled them with water to block radiation.
The schedule is based on the handling of the nuclear accident at Three Mile Island in 1979. But the situation at Fukushima Daiichi is far more serious because 3 reactors suffered simultaneous meltdowns.
It could take more than 30 years to extract the nuclear fuel, dismantle the reactors, and turn the compound into a vacant lot.
The report recommends that the government and the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, set up a new task force to lead this unprecedented project. It also calls for cooperation with overseas research institutions, and construction of a facility near the plant to examine extracted fuel and other waste material.
The report is to be made official by the end of the year.

Disaster-response robots draw attention
Robots developed for rescue operations in earthquakes and nuclear disasters are the focus of this year's International Robot Exhibition in Tokyo.
The biennial event began on Wednesday with more than 270 companies and universities exhibiting robots for industrial and other uses. They include humanoid and animal-like machines.
Much attention is focused on robots that can operate in conditions where people cannot, such as quake-hit areas and nuclear disaster sites.
A robot developed by a major machinery manufacturer can cut through concrete, carry debris and perform various other jobs by changing its arm attachments. It can be operated by remote control.
In a discussion session, Shinji Kawatsuma of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency spoke about the failure of Japanese-made robots to perform properly during the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. He said workers need more time to learn how to operate the machines, and that day-to-day training is essential for the use of rescue robots.


. . . . . Thursday November 10, 2011

Tepco told to revise Fukushima road map
The government orders Tepco to create by the end of the year a new schedule for scrapping the crippled nuclear reactors at the crisis-hit Fukushima No. 1 power complex.

TEPCO to monitor xenon at Fukushima plant
Tokyo Electric Power Company or TEPCO says that it will install devices to detect radioactive xenon and determine any occurrence of nuclear criticality.
Radioactive xenon was detected in gases from the containment vessel of No. 2 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant on November 1st and 2nd.
TEPCO said that xenon was produced through spontaneous fission, not from sustained fission. But initially the utility could not determine whether it was sustained fission or not.
The utility also plans to create a system to measure temperature changes of nuclear reactors as an indicator of nuclear fission.

TEPCO: hydrogen from reactor caused blast
The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant says the explosion of the facility's Number 4 reactor on March 15th was caused by a backflow of hydrogen from an adjacent building.
The Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, announced the finding on Thursday.
The blast was initially thought to have been caused by hydrogen created when spent fuel stored in a pool at the reactor building was damaged by the devastating March 11th quake.
TEPCO workers who entered the building on Tuesday to determine the cause found that the 5th floor was more severely damaged than the 4th, where a pool of spent fuel is located, and that the fuel was intact. The workers also confirmed that an air conditioning duct on the floor was severely damaged.
TEPCO says the hydrogen likely flowed into the reactor through the duct connected to the plant's Number 3 reactor when workers released pressurized air from it to prevent a hydrogen blast.
The firm says the explosion very likely occurred after the density of hydrogen in the duct increased.
A hydrogen blast took place at the Number 3 building a day before the explosion at the Number 4 building.


. . . . . Friday November 11, 2011

. November 11, Remember March 11 .

. . . . . Saturday November 12, 2011


. . . . . Sunday November 13, 2011

Fukushima No. 1 stable: plant chief - JT
Making his first public appearance since the nuclear crisis started in March, the general manager of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 plant apologizes for failing to prevent the triple meltdowns but stresses that conditions at the site have "definitely been stabilized."

Support for quake orphans
Tohoku University in quake-stricken northeastern Japan has set up a special task force to help children who lost their parents in the earthquake and tsunami for the next ten years.
More than 830 children in Miyagi Prefecture alone lost one or both parents on March 11.
At Saturday's symposium commemorating the launch of the task force, more than 50 people who have been helping orphaned children gathered.
The Tohoku regional director of Ashinaga -- Daddy Long-Legs in English, Yoshiji Hayashida, called for long and warm care for children, referring to his experiences following the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake in 1995.
He pointed out that a child who suffered mental damage needs to be cared for by the same specialist for a long time to heal the wounds.
One participant pointed out that many relatives who have accepted orphaned children cannot offer enough support because of their old age and the financial damage they also suffered from the quake.
The task force members are to meet twice a week and will begin full operation in January of next year after hiring more psychiatrists and other professionals.


. . . . . Monday November 14, 2011

Panel to analyze long-period motion from quakes
A panel for Japan's Meteorological Agency has begun looking into measures against long-period ground motions caused by earthquakes.
The agency set up the panel to better understand the impact of long-period ground motions, whose cycle is more than several seconds. Long jolts, which often occur during powerful earthquakes, are known to violently shake high-rise buildings.
In the first meeting of the panel on Monday, the agency explained the effects of long-period ground motions during the March 11th earthquake.
It says that more than 30 surveyed high-rise buildings in Tokyo did not suffer structural damage, but that people inside half of the buildings had difficulty standing because of the swaying.
It says long-period ground motions damaged a tall building in Osaka, hundreds of kilometers to the southwest of the quake's epicenter. It also damaged large oil tanks in Niigata Prefecture on the Sea of Japan coast to the west.
The agency plans to develop a scale to indicate any impact of long-period motions on buildings and release the information to the public immediately after a quake.
The panel will discuss what exactly should be told to the public and through what media. It plans to come up with a recommendation by next spring.

Taking thyroid tests to the children in Fukushima
Doctors in Fukushima Prefecture are hitting the road to improve children's' access to thyroid tests in an effort to spot possible health problems associated with the nuclear accident in the prefecture.
Medical personnel visited a health center and a nursery school in Kawamata Town on Monday and conducted ultrasound scans on about 240 children. The town is about 47 kilometers from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
The tests, which began last month, were initially available only at a medical university in Fukushima City.
People not living in the city found it hard to bring their children to the university for the tests.
The tests cover about 360,000 children in the prefecture who were 18 years old or younger as of April 1st, about 20 days after the accident.
Radioactive iodine released from the nuclear plant could accumulate in the thyroid glands of children and raise their risk of developing cancer.
The results of the tests will be mailed out in about a month.
The Fukushima children will undergo thyroid checks every two years until they turn 20, and once every five years after that.

Shareholders to sue TEPCO execs over nuke accident
Tokyo Electric Power Company shareholders are preparing to sue the utility's current and former executives over the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.
The group of 42 individuals asked the company's auditors on Monday to file a lawsuit against 61 people who have held executives posts since 2002.
The shareholders are requesting compensation of over 5.5 trillion yen, or about 71 billion dollars, from the executives. The amount is the highest ever demanded in a lawsuit in Japan. The investors say the TEPCO executives failed to take steps to protect the plant from earthquakes and tsunami and must be held accountable for the accident.
The group adds that if the auditors fail to file a lawsuit within 60 days, they will do so on their own. At a news conference in Tokyo on Monday, one of the shareholders said she wants to make it clear through a court trial that the executives are personally responsible.
TEPCO declined comment on the matter.


. . . . . Tuesday November 15, 2011

Fukushima No. 1 tour an eye-opener
As the radiation level in the tour bus rose, journalists getting their first first-hand look at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant felt their tension levels rise as well.

Contaminated water still headache for Tepco

Radioactive cesium may have reached Hokkaido
(the accent here is on MAY)
A team of researchers says radioactive cesium discharged from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant MAY have contaminated soil in Hokkaido and areas of western Japan more than 500 kilometers from the plant.
The international team, including researchers from Nagoya University, simulated the spread of radioactive materials. They combined global atmospheric patterns with nationwide radioactive measurements taken over one month from March 20th, 8 days after a hydrogen explosion at the Fukushima plant.
The researchers say the results suggested that some cesium-137 had reached the northernmost island of Hokkaido, and the Chugoku and Shikoku regions of western Japan. They say the radioactive material may have accumulated in the soil due to rain.
Cesium-137 has a half-life of 30 years.
But the research team says the pollution is not high enough to require decontamination. The radiation density per kilogram reached 250 becquerels in eastern Hokkaido, and 25 becquerels in mountainous areas of western Japan.
Nagoya University professor Tetsuzo Yasunari says the simulation suggested cesium had dispersed across a wide area. He called for a nationwide testing of soil, and warnings of hot spots where radiation levels are high.
(We need some real numbers, not simulations!)

Shikoku electric submits reactor test results
An electric company in western Japan has submitted to the government the results of safety tests on a reactor at its nuclear power plant. The plant has been offline since a month after the accident at the Fukushima plant.
Shikoku Electric Power Company executive Susumu Tanigawa handed the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency the results of the so-called stress test on the No. 3 reactor at Ikata nuclear plant in Ehime Prefecture on Monday.
The utility says the test results show that the reactor can withstand seismic shaking of up to 1,000 gals, around 1.9 times the assumed maximum intensity of a quake, and it can hold out against a tsunami of up to 14.2 meters.
The nuclear watchdog agency will scrutinize the test results.
A final decision to reactivate the reactor will be made by the government.
Sikoku Electric became the 2nd utility to submit stress test results after the Fukushima accident. But prospects for the restart of idle reactors are uncertain.
Some nuclear experts voiced criticism of the reactor safety tests on Monday at the first meeting of a government panel to discuss ways to evaluate the results.
One member said the stress test should not be the only condition for restarting reactors when the cause of the Fukushima accident has not been clarified.
Some also said it will be impossible to gain public understanding if safety evaluations are conducted solely by the government-run nuclear safety agency, and stressed the need to listen to the opinions of local residents.
Disagreements within the panel lead to it putting off specific discussions on evaluating the test results of the No. 3 reactor at Kansai Electric's Ohi plant, which were submitted earlier in October.

Counter-terror measures for nuclear plants
The Japanese government is planning to strengthen defensive measures against terror attacks on nuclear power plants.
A government anti-terror panel met on Monday to discuss ways to respond to international threats.
It proposed counter-terrorism measures for nuclear plants, including compelling plant operators to cover emergency power sources and seawater pumps, which are used to cool reactors.
Utilities will also be obliged to step up security surveillance. ...

Radioactive material removed from Setagaya lot
A radioactive substance detected in Setagaya Ward in Tokyo was removed on Tuesday. After a brief scare, it was found to be unrelated to the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
The substance was detected at a supermarket parking lot and nearby sidewalk in the ward last month.
Officials conducted work to remove the substance from the ground where the highest reading was registered. ...

5-year-olds in Kesennuma celebrate rite-of-passage
Children in disaster-hit Kesennuma City, Miyagi Prefecture, celebrated a traditional rite-of-passage on Tuesday.

Kyushu Electric again denies governor's role
The president of Kyushu Electric Power has again denied that the company's attempt to manipulate public opinion on nuclear energy was triggered by remarks from the governor of Saga Prefecture.
An independent panel was set up to investigate after employees at Kyushu Electric were discovered to have sent fake e-mails in favor of restarting the utility's Genkai nuclear plant in Saga. The emails were submitted at a government meeting with local residents in June. ...


. . . . . Wednesday November 16, 2011

Second tainted bottle found in Setagaya

A second bottle believed to have contained radioactive radium-226 is found buried near a supermarket in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo.

Cattle in no-go zone to be tested

Higher radiation detected downstream in Fukushima
Surveys by Japan's Environment Ministry show that downstream radiation levels have risen in some rivers in Fukushima Prefecture.
The ministry has been monitoring radiation levels in rivers near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to assess the impact of the accident there.
Officials took sand samples from 2 rivers in September.
In northern Fukushima Prefecture, the upstream radioactive cesium levels were 3,200 becquerels per kilogram in the Niida River in a district of Iitate Village. The downstream levels of the same river in an area of Soma City were 13,000 becquerels.
The upstream levels had fallen to one-fifth of those observed in May, but the downstream measurements had tripled.
Cesium levels near the mouth of the Mano River in another part of Soma City had doubled from May.
Kinki University Professor Hideo Yamazaki says radioactive substances in riverbed sands are probably moving downstream, and radiation levels should be monitored near river mouths.


. . . . . Thursday November 17, 2011

First glimpses inside the Fukushima No. 1 compound since 3/11

High radioactivity detected in some Fukushima rice
An inspection of recently-harvested rice in Fukushima Prefecture has found levels of radiation higher than the government-allowed limit.
The Fukushima Prefectural government says tests have detected 630 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive cesium in rice from a field in the Oonami district in Fukushima City. The government's maximum allowable level is 500 becquerels per kilogram.
Oonami is about 50 kilometers from the disabled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The prefectural assessment followed tests conducted by a local agricultural cooperative on Monday, which pointed to higher dosages than the interim tolerable limit.
The prefecture says the farm in question produced about 840 kilograms of rice this year. It says the harvested rice is being kept in a warehouse and has not gone into circulation. The prefecture says it has asked all farmers in the district to suspend rice shipments.
The central government says it has begun to assess whether to ban rice shipments from the district altogether.
This is the first time that radiation levels higher than the government limit have been found in rice crops since the nuclear accident.
Last month, the prefecture allowed shipments from the district after tests at 2 locations largely confirmed radioactive levels lower than the legal limit.
The prefecture says it will reexamine the crops from all 154 farms in the district.
A prefectural agriculture department official says the prefectural government is appalled by the test results. He says the prefecture will try to obtain information on distribution of rice from surrounding areas, and will investigate why the rice contained such high levels of radiation.
The head of the local agricultural cooperative says his cooperative takes the fact that radioactive cesium has been detected in the district seriously despite the contradictory results of earlier tests. He says his cooperative plans to conduct more detailed tests.

Tokyo Station gets more quake-resistant

A four-year project to make a Tokyo train station resistant to powerful earthquakes is to be completed next year.
The 650-million-dollar project is being carried out at the 97-year-old Tokyo Station, a designated important national cultural asset.
Project workers have replaced 10,000 wooden stakes supporting the building with reinforced concrete stakes driven 20 meters into the ground. ...

Fukushima Prefecture probes cesium-tainted rice

Fukushima Prefecture is trying to track down all rice harvested in one district of Fukushima City after radioactive cesium higher than the government limit was found in some of the rice.
The prefectural government says 630 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive cesium has been detected in rice harvested in the Oonami district in Fukushima City. The maximum allowable level set by the central government is 500 becquerels per kilogram.
The prefecture says that rice harvested from the same rice paddies is stored at facilities including a local agricultural cooperative, and none of that rice has been released to the market. The prefecture has asked all 154 farmers in the district to suspend rice shipments.
Still, the prefectural government has asked all the farmers about their shipments. Based on the interviews of 86 farmers, about one ton of rice was sold to local dealers from the district. The government is trying to confirm whether any of the rice has reached consumers.
The Fukushima Prefectural government is investigating the cesium contamination while continuing the interviews. The prefecture will discuss its course of action with Fukushima City and local agricultural cooperatives on Thursday afternoon.

Accident manuals for No 2 & 3 reactors disclosed
Accident manuals for reactors Number 2 and 3 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant have again disclosed a lack of proper procedures to deal with a nuclear accident.
The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency released Tokyo Electric Power Company's procedural manuals for the two reactors on Thursday. The portion of the manual for the No 1 reactor was disclosed in October. ...

Govt official dumps radiation-contaminated soil
An Environment Ministry official has dumped radiation-contaminated soil near his home in Saitama Prefecture, near Tokyo.
Environment Minister Goshi Hosono revealed this at a news conference on Thursday.
He said a cardboard box containing the soil was sent to his ministry on November 8th from a sender who identifies himself as a resident of Fukushima City.
An enclosed message calls on the ministry to store and dispose of the soil collected from the sender's garden.
The Environment Ministry kept the soil in its warehouse, and the radiation reading taken close to it was 0.18 microsieverts per hour.
A section chief at the ministry said this is no higher than readings taken in many areas in and around Tokyo and suggested he could dispose of the soil in his own garden. His subordinate then dumped the soil in a vacant lot near his home on Sunday.
This was revealed after another box marked as "ash" was sent to the ministry apparently from the same sender on Wednesday.
The ministry is said to have already retrieved the soil and plans to dispose of it appropriately.
Hosono said he takes the inappropriate dumping of the soil very seriously and apologized. He said it should not have happened, as his ministry has been playing a central role in efforts to clean up areas contaminated with radiation.
Hosono said he will punish the section chief and study taking punitive actions against other senior officials, including himself.
He also said sending radiation-contaminated materials to his ministry will not lead to a fundamental solution to the problem, and called on people not to do so.

Govt, TEPCO predict cold shutdown this year

Japan's government and the operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant say a cold shutdown of the reactors will be attained this year.
The government and the Tokyo Electric Power Company on Thursday announced the results of their monthly review of a 2-stage timetable for containing the nuclear crisis.
They said temperatures around the facility's No.1, 2 and 3 reactors are no more than 100 degrees Celsius, and that the amount of radioactive material emitted there has dropped to one 13-millionth the level detected at the time of the accident.
They also said additional exposure to radiation in areas just outside the plant is estimated at 0.1 millisieverts per year at the most.
The government and the utility are stepping up efforts to achieve the second stage of the timetable, involving a cold shutdown of the reactors.
Late last month, a shield to cover the No.1 reactor building was completed, and workers began installing walls to prevent radioactive material from leaking into seawater.
Nuclear crisis minister Goshi Hosono said comprehensive measures are vital to handle every possible occurrence. Hosono added that the government will try to beef up the cooling system of reactors to withstand earthquakes, tsunami and other disasters.
After achieving a cold shutdown of the plant's disabled reactors, the government plans to review the 20-kilometer no-entry zone around the plant.


. . . . . Friday November 18, 2011

Fukushima to ban rice grown in Onami
The government bans shipments of rice harvested in the Onami district in the city of Fukushima after one farm's product registers levels of radioactive cesium above the provisional limit.

Cesium fallout widespread
Radioactive cesium from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant probably reached as far as Hokkaido, Shikoku and the Chugoku region in the west, according to a recent simulation.
... Hayano said that even before the Fukushima disaster, soil throughout Japan contained up to around 100 becquerels of cesium-137 per kilogram due to weapons tests in the Pacific and the 1986 Chernobyl accident. ...
"The simulation's degree of accuracy is not that high. ..."

Fukushima saw fewer births after nuclear disaster
A survey in Fukushima Prefecture shows the number of births fell by 25 percent in the 3 months following the accident at the nuclear power plant.
The Japan Association of Obstetricians and Gynecologists conducted a nationwide survey of around 1,100 medical institutions handling deliveries between April and June. 714 responded.
The number of births per institution in Fukushima came to 67, down from 90 in the same period last year. This means there were 1,000 less deliveries in the prefecture during the 3-month period than a year earlier.
The combined number of deliveries in Tokyo, Chiba and Kanagawa is also estimated to have decreased by around 2,000 in the same period.
On the other hand, some prefectures further west such as Fukuoka, Gifu and Osaka saw more babies born than a year earlier.
Professor Akihito Nakai of Nippon Medical School took part in the survey. He says the findings show that many women chose to give birth away from their homes because they were concerned about radioactive contamination.
He is calling on authorities to work out measures to help these mothers deal with heavy psychological burdens.

Officials mull disposal of disaster debris
Officials from local governments across Japan have inspected how debris from the March earthquake and tsunami is transferred from disaster-hit areas to Tokyo for disposal.
The environment ministry organized the study tour on Friday for some 50 officials from 31 municipalities. They inspected a temporary storage site in Miyako City, Iwate Prefecture, which is part of the disaster zone.
So far, of the municipalities outside the disaster-hit Tohoku region, the Tokyo metropolitan government is the only one to undertake the disposal of debris from Miyako.
Other municipal governments have yet to decide if they'll handle materials that could be contaminated with radioactive substances from the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.
Participants on Friday's tour observed workers repeatedly measuring radiation levels of rubble to ensure they were within permissible limits before leaving the site by truck. A lead box packed with debris was measured, as well as the container carrying the load.
In a survey conducted by the environment ministry in October, 54 municipalities and associations expressed willingness to dispose the disaster-related wreckage.
That is about one-tenth the number of areas that said they would handle the rubble in April, when there was much less fear about nuclear contamination.
Some officials said they want their municipalities to follow the lead of the Tokyo Metropolitan government to help dispose of the wreckage. But others said they first needed the understanding of residents.


. . . . . Saturday November 19, 2011

Kano hints rethink in testing rice for cesium
The ban on shipping rice from a district in the city of Fukushima due to high levels of radioactive cesium shows the need to amend the two-phase test currently performed to check the grain for radiation, farm minister Michihiko Kano indicates.

Debris in sea from March 11th will be cleared
A huge amount of debris along Japan's eastern coast has been hampering the activity of fishing boats following the March 11th tsunami. The government says it will complete clearing away the debris by March 2014.
Wreckage of houses, boats, and vehicles is still drifting at sea or has sunk to the bottom along the coast of the Tohoku Region, the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido, and the Kanto Region.
The debris is impeding navigation of vessels in and out of ports and fishing activities, which have resumed after the disaster.
The Environment Ministry and Land and Transport Ministry worked out guidelines to clear away the debris and informed the 7 prefectures, including Hokkaido and Chiba.
The guidelines say that the debris at fishing ports should be cleared away by prefectures and local municipalities by the end of this year.
In sea areas where trawl fishing takes place, debris will be cleared away by the end of the current fiscal year in March. All the gathered debris will be incinerated or put into a landfill by the end of March 2014.
The guidelines say the salt content of debris in sea water may cause corrosion of incineration facilities, and that wood debris should be exposed to the elements after being collected to get rid of salt before burning.
The Environment Ministry plans to send officials upon request by local governments of the affected areas to provide technical advice.

Food fair opens to support disaster-hit producers
A food fair is currently under way in Tokyo, with farmers and retailers from around the country marketing their products at more than 80 booths.
A non-profit organization comprising corporate farms and other groups opened the fair at a park in central Tokyo on Saturday.
The event features a variety of local foods, especially those from the disaster-stricken areas of northeastern Japan.
The booth of an agricultural cooperative from Tome City in Miyagi Prefecture served skewered grilled beef. The staff assured customers that no radioactive substances have been detected in the beef.
A retailer of fisheries products from Tokyo's Tsukiji district sold squid and mackerel. A sandwich with a slice of grilled and salted mackerel was especially popular among the fair's visitors.
The fair also offers people the rare opportunity to try their hand at operating farm machinery. An elementary school girl had a good time trying to use a compact cultivator to plow a bit of ground.
The event runs through Sunday.


. . . . . Sunday November 20, 2011

23 prefectures reluctant to help Tohoku dispose of disaster debris
More than half of the prefectures polled by the Environment Ministry do not plan to accept quake and tsunami debris from disaster-stricken Tohoku.

From the sky, tsunami areas cleaner but barren

Smiles return to Tohoku as the circus comes to town

Messages of gratitude videoed in tsunami-hit town
In a tsunami-hit town in northeastern Japan, residents have taken part in a project to thank people around the world for their support following the March 11th disaster.
People of Minamisanriku town in Miyagi Prefecture gathered at a hotel on Saturday to take part in the "Arigato Project". Arigato means thank you in Japanese.
A volunteer group promoting the project videotaped the participants holding hand-written messages saying "thank you" in various languages and expressing their gratitude.
A woman who wrote a message in Hebrew was asked why she took part. She said she wanted to thank a medical team from Israel. The team treated the woman when she got sick after the disaster.
The group will continue the campaign and post the video messages on its Website.

Short films on 3/11 disaster screened in Tokyo
Film directors from around the world have produced short clips to respond to the March 11th earthquake and tsunami and give encouragement to survivors. ...


. . . . . Monday November 21, 2011

Primer for decontamination
The potentially lucrative business of decontaminating areas of radioactive substances released from Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power station may well go to companies handpicked by a government organization that has long played a leading role in promoting the construction of nuclear plants with the electric power industry.
If this becomes a reality, it is feared that much of the cleanup work will be undertaken by amateurs who have only gone through the "Decontamination 101" seminars certifying completion of rudimentary training to do the job.
... "Undertaking decontamination work is not included in the JAEA's mission and is not part of its capabilities," professor Kodama asserts. "There are companies in the private sector that have the technology and the experience. Why does the JAEA have to do the job?"
... Besides, each of these certificate seminars lasts only two days. On the first day, participants are taught such fundamentals as "an outline of the accident at the nuclear plant," "the basics about radiation" and "how to handle radiation safely." Only on the second day are they taught methods of decontamination.
The textbook is only 12 pages. ...
With so many amateurs certified as "experts," a number of unsatisfactory results have already been uncovered. Professor Tomoya Yamauchi at the Graduate School of Maritime Sciences at Kobe University, reports that a decontamination project undertaken by the JAEA for streets used by elementary school children in Fukushima City resulted in a reduction of radiation levels by only 32 percent.

"Miracle lone pine" has little chance of survival
A conservation group says the only pine tree in a coastal city of northeastern Japan that survived the March 11th tsunami is dying.

The tree in Rikuzentakata, Iwate Prefecture, was dubbed the "miracle lone pine" after the disaster and it has become a symbol of the city's reconstruction. About 70,000 pine trees used to line a scenic coastal area, but the tsunami washed away all of them but one.
Conservation groups in Tokyo and Iwate have been striving to save the tree, as requested by the city government. The measures so far include pumping out saltwater from the ground around the pine and encircling it with steel plates to prevent further exposure to saltwater.
Last month, one of the groups checked the condition of the tree's roots after its leaves turned brown in the summer. The group says its analysis showed that most of the root tips can no longer absorb water and nutrients due to extensive damage from saltwater.
The 2 conservation groups say it would be extremely difficult to restore the roots.
They plan to discuss whether to continue their conservation efforts.

Conditions for survivors' public housing eased
Japan's land and infrastructure ministry has decided to ease the tenant conditions for post-disaster public housing to accommodate more survivors of the March earthquake and tsunami.
The ministry will rent public housing to those survivors whose houses were only partially damaged but have since been deemed beyond repair and have to be demolished.
Until now, only those whose houses were totally destroyed have been eligible.
Prefectures and local municipalities are building public housing for the survivors who cannot afford to rebuild their damaged houses by themselves. The central government is offering subsidies and the rent will be relatively low.
The ministry is also expected to shorten the period required before tenants can buy their public housing.
People would be able to purchase a wooden house after living in it for 5 years, instead of 7 and a half years. Those in fire-proof housing would be able to buy them after 11 and a half years, rather than 17 and a half years.
12,000 units will eventually become available in Miyagi Prefecture and up to 5,000 in Iwate.
Fukushima has yet to decide on the total number. But the prefecture's Soma City will complete 12 units by March next year -- the first in the affected areas.


. . . . . Tuesday November 22, 2011

Diet passes third stimulus package


Organization for reconstruction

The Diet deliberations on the third supplementary budget for fiscal 2011 to finance reconstruction from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami and the Fukushima nuclear crisis and related bills are proceeding rather smoothly. But the ruling and opposition forces have a schism over a bill to establish a Reconstruction Agency.

Astronaut Furukawa returns to Earth - NHK
Astronaut Satoshi Furukawa has returned to Earth after a 5-and-a-half month stay on the International Space Station -- the longest ever by a Japanese person.
Furukawa and 2 other astronauts began their journey home on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft at 23:00 UTC Monday. ...


. . . . . Wendesday November 23, 2011
National holiday in Japan

Post-disaster preparations discussed in Tokyo
Japanese officials in charge of natural disaster measures have discussed preparations for stranded commuters after major disasters such as earthquakes.
National and local government officials along with representatives from business groups held the second meeting of its kind in Tokyo on Tuesday.
Many people were stranded in the Tokyo metropolitan area on March 11th as most public transport was suspended after the quake. .....

Symposium on radiation exposure held in Hiroshima
International nuclear experts are discussing ways to promote medical research and treatment for radiation exposure.
They opened a two-day symposium on Wednesday in Hiroshima. It is the first meeting of its kind jointly sponsored by Hiroshima Prefecture, medical organizations, and the International Atomic Energy Agency.
One of the speakers was Fukushima Medical University Professor Seiji Yasumura. He is in charge of conducting a survey on the health of residents in Fukushima Prefecture following the nuclear disaster there.
Professor Yasumura said the current budget for his study is not sufficient because of the time needed to do the work and the fact that few people fill out the surveys that help him estimate levels of radiation exposure.
IAEA Deputy Director General Daud Mohamad said the agency will provide all possible support to Fukushima Prefecture if requested.


. . . . . Thursday November 24, 2011

Reports are walloping tourism

By MATT JONES - Kutchan, Hokkaido
The Nov. 18 front-page article "Cesium fallout widespread" states that there has been continued testing of soil throughout Hokkaido since before and after the March 11 nuclear accidents at Fukushima, the results of which can be found at:
source : monitoring-hokkaido.info

These results indicate that levels of cesium-137 are lower than they were three years ago and that levels of cesium-134 are not detectable, implying that this fallout is the residue of the Chernobyl disaster (1986) and atmospheric nuclear testing — as cesium-134 and -137 from Fukushima should be found in equal amounts. The nature of this article and others in the press have caused many cancellations of tourist bookings and will continue to hurt not only Hokkaido but Japan in general for many years to come.

The above article should have emphasized that these results are
that actual values are much lower, and that most of the world is contaminated with as much, if not more, cesium-137 than Hokkaido is.

The news media are destroying Hokkaido's vital tourism industry unnecessarily through sensationalist reporting and slack research. I sincerely hope The Japan Times follows up on this article to try to fix some of the damage that has been done.

and just to remember, the Daily Radiation Levels of Eastern Japan
source : www.japantimes.co.jp
Today, Tokyo 0.054
Fukushima Town 0.986
Aomori 0.026
Shizuoka 0.038

. . . . at 4:24 - 2011年11月24日 4時34分
Earthquake M 6.0, Off Fukushima prefecture
Felt as 1 from Aomori to Shizuoka, all of Tohoku and Kanto.

. . . . at 19:25 - 2011年11月24日 19時25分 ごろ
Earthquake M 6.1, Hokkaido, Uraga 浦河沖
Felt as 1 from Hokkaido to Yamagata.


. . . . . Friday November 25, 2011

Earthquakes early in the morning, Hiroshima North is shaking again . . .
My home is shaking again two times . . .  
4時52分 ごろ around five in the morning

. My Earthquake Records in Western Japan .

Miyagi debris from tsunami Tokyo-bound
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government announces the capital's incineration facilities will help store, dump and burn up disaster debris from Onagawa, Miyagi Prefecture, next year.

Many obstacles hinder debris disposal


Tepco's simplified form just 34 pages, 1,005 sections

Nuke accident-linked cancer may be impossible to detect
Experts remain divided over health risks from small doses of radiation
..... Several experts inside and outside Japan said that cancers caused by the massive amounts of radiation the plant emitted may be too few to show up in large population studies, such as the long-term survey of the 2 million residents in Fukushima Prefecture just getting under way.
... The cancer risk may be absent, or just too small to detect, said Fred Mettler, a radiologist who led an international study into health effects following the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.
That's partly because cancer is one of the top killers in industrialized nations, in which the average lifetime cancer risk is about 40 percent. The odds are high that if people in such countries live long enough, they will die of cancer.
... So far, no radiation-linked deaths or sickness have been reported among either local residents or the workers trying to bring the plant under control.

Over 80 percent of nuke reactors to be shut down
Another nuclear reactor in Japan will be shut down for regular inspection on Friday.
With this addition to the list, more than 80 percent of the nuclear reactors in the country will not be operating.
The shutdown procedure for the reactor at the Takahama nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture, central Japan, will begin in the evening. The reactor will come to a complete halt before dawn on Saturday.
The latest shutdown means 44 of Japan's 54 nuclear reactors, or more than 80 percent, will not be generating power. Some of the idle reactors are now undergoing stress tests, a prerequisite for deciding whether to resume operation.
Authorities from Fukui Prefecture, which has 11 nuclear reactors, say they will not approve resumption unless the central government provides them with new safety standards which take into account the findings from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident.
Other reactors also face a similar situation in considering whether to restart operations.
All nuclear reactors in Japan which are currently operating are scheduled to undergo regular inspection by next spring, at the latest. If the present stalemate in safety persists, the country will see all 54 nuclear reactors shut down.

Cesium from nuke plant spread along mountains
An aerial survey has shown that radioactive cesium from the Fukushima nuclear disaster has accumulated along the mountains of eastern Japan.
Japan's science ministry released on Friday the results of the helicopter survey, covering 22 prefectures in eastern and central Japan.
The results are indicated in a colored map showing varying levels of cesium in soil. The radioactive substance has a long half-life, and is likely to affect the environment for decades.
Areas immediately northwest and south of the nuclear plant are indicated in red and yellow. This shows they have the highest concentrations of cesium, at above one-million becquerels per square meter.
Areas in blue, with concentrations of 30,000 becquerels or more, are seen spreading out toward Miyagi Prefecture -- about 60 kilometers to the north, and to Gunma Prefecture -- about 200 kilometers southwest.
The pattern appears to correspond to the location of mountain ranges in the region.
In one of the routes of contamination, clouds carrying the radioactive substance apparently hit a mountain range northeast of the plant, before being carried by the wind to peaks far north of Tokyo. The science ministry says the mountains could have blocked the radioactive fallout from spreading further.
The ministry plans to expand its aerial survey early next year, focusing on western Japan and the northernmost prefecture of Hokkaido.

More Fukushima rice tainted with cesium
Fukushima Prefecture says it has found rice tainted with radioactive cesium above the tentative government limit from five more farms.
The prefecture said on Friday that the five farms are in the Oonami district of Fukushima City, about 56 kilometers from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
The highest level of cesium detected was 1,270 becquerels per kilogram. The government's maximum allowable level is 500 becquerels per kilogram.
Earlier this month, the prefectural government found rice samples from a field in the district also containing radioactive cesium above the limit.
Shipments of rice harvested from the area have been suspended by central government since last Thursday.
Fukushima Prefecture subsequently ordered tests on rice samples from all 154 farms in the Oonami district.


. . . . . Saturday November 26, 2011

People in temporary homes enjoy mochi pounding
People living in temporary homes in a town in disaster-hit northeastern Japan got to enjoy a traditional year-end event on Saturday.... making rice cakes.
The event took place in a schoolyard in Miyako City, Iwate Prefecture, where temporary homes have been built.
The residents took turns pounding the rice cake, and called out each time the mallet was brought down. The fresh rice cake was then coated with toasted soybean flour or sweet bean paste, and served to the participants.
The event was organized by a group supporting disaster-hit people. Mountain climbers and university students joined the event as volunteers.
The head of the group, Hidehiko Otsuka, says he wanted people living in temporary housing to come out and have fun.
He said he was glad to see them smiling.


. . . . . Sunday November 27, 2011

Monju reactor may be axed: Hosono
The government will consider scrapping the Monju prototype fast-breeder reactor during its operational review of the troubled nuclear facility, according to nuclear disaster minister Goshi Hosono.

Tsunami probability raised to 30%

Warm Biz warming up

New system to dispose radioactive debris developed
A municipality in Fukushima Prefecture plans to use on a trial basis new disposal equipment for debris contaminated with radioactive substances.
The environmental equipment company based in Tokyo that developed the new system says it will reduce the volume of rubble from the earthquake and tsunami in March to about one-300th of the current size on average.
The company says the wreckage will be heat-treated in an oxygen-free environment and be broken down into gas, oil, and ceramic powder. As the ceramic powder absorbs the radioactive material, the firm says the process is expected to create no contaminated ash.
Tests carried out in Hirono Town, Fukushima Prefecture, show that debris was reduced to one-268th of the current volume, and that almost all radioactive substances were absorbed by the ceramic powder.
The town plans to begin test-use of the equipment in December and consider full-scale introduction if it proves effective.


. . . . . Monday November 28, 2011

Rigging opinions on nuclear power

Fukushima plant chief to go on sick leave
The head of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is stepping down for health reasons.
Masao Yoshida of Tokyo Electric Power Company has been in charge of dealing with the situation at the plant since the March earthquake and tsunami damaged the reactors.
The utility says Yoshida, who will be replaced on Thursday, is resigning in order to receive medical treatments at a hospital. The company says it cannot disclose his illness and level of radiation exposure as that is personal information.
In a statement issued on Monday, Yoshida expressed his regret over leaving the plant at a crucial time and apologized to all the people involved. He said he has to undergo treatment for a disease that was discovered in a health check-up.
Yoshida spoke to reporters on November 12th when the damaged plant was opened to media for the first time since the accident. He said that he had expected to die several times during the first week of the crisis.
He added that when he saw the hydrogen explosions at the Number 1 and 3 reactors, and when his team was unable to pump water into the Number 2 reactor, he thought it was the end.
The utility says Takeshi Takahashi, who is a manager at TEPCO headquarters, will succeed Yoshida.

2 Japanese traditions listed as UNESCO heritage

UNESCO has added 2 more traditional Japanese events to its list of intangible cultural heritage.
The two new registrations are Mibu no Hana Taue, the ritual of transplanting rice in Hiroshima Prefecture, and the Sada Shin Noh sacred dance performed at a shrine in Shimane Prefecture.
Mibu no Hana Taue is an annual event held in Kitahiroshima Town. It is dedicated to the god of rice paddies and calls for a good harvest. In the ritual, villagers use colorfully decorated cattle to plough paddies.
Equally colorfully dressed girls then transplant rice seedlings while singing to the accompaniment of flutes and drums.
Sada Shin Noh is a dance performance at Sada Shrine in Matsue City that dates back nearly 400 years.


. . . . . Tuesday November 29, 2011

Fukushima No. 1 tsunami risk ignored
The head of the troubled Fukushima No. 1 power plant, Masao Yoshida, is hospitalized for an undisclosed illness and will be relieved of his duties for medical treatment.

Academic society set up to study decontamination
A group of researchers has set up an academic society in the hope of helping on-going efforts to remove radioactive materials caused by the trouble at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
Researchers in a wide range of fields, including atomic energy and nuclear waste, jointly launched the society at a meeting in Tokyo on Monday.
Ehime University visiting professor Masatoshi Morita, an expert on environmental pollution, said progress has been slow in decontamination efforts centering on Fukushima Prefecture. ...

Expert urges probe of No.2 reactor leak
The spike in radiation levels following unspecified trouble at the No.2 reactor on March 15th was much more prominent than on March 12th or 14th, when explosions hit the No.1 and No.3 reactors.
Shinichiro Kado, an associate professor at the University of Tokyo, calls the reactor containment vessel "a final fortress" for keeping radioactive substances trapped, and a "cornerstone" for the integrity of a nuclear plant.
Kado says a breach of the vessel is extremely grave.
He says TEPCO needs to clarify how radioactive substances were released, by cross-referencing data on reactor conditions and patterns of radioactive dispersion in the atmosphere.

TEPCO says no explosion occurred at No.2 reactor
The operator of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says there was no explosion at the No. 2 reactor, denying an earlier report that there was. But the company says it is still unable to determine how and why radioactive substances were released from the reactor.
NHK has obtained Tokyo Electric Power Company's interim report on the nuclear accident that was triggered by the earthquake and tsunami on March 11th.
The report includes findings from a study that the utility launched in June to analyze how the accident occurred and how workers responded to it.
The report says that almost all electricity sources for the reactors were lost at once following the tsunami. As a result, multiple safety functions were also lost, causing meltdowns from the No. 1 to the No. 3 reactors.
TEPCO analyzed seismographic data recorded within the plant in the early morning of March 15th, 4 days after the disaster, when a large blast was reportedly heard near the containment vessel of the No. 2 reactor.
The company concluded in the report that there was no explosion at the No. 2 reactor, and that a blast at the No. 4 reactor was mistakenly believed to have occurred at the No. 2.
Later that day, pressure inside the No. 2 reactor vessel dropped sharply, and radiation levels near the plant's main gate rose above 10 millisieverts per hour, then the highest level so far.
The interim report fails to specify how the leakage occurred at the containment vessel, just saying that gas in the vessel was somehow released into the air.

Panel studies aging effect on Fukushima accident
Japanese nuclear experts are investigating how the aging of facilities factored into the accident that struck the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in March.
The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, together with a panel of experts, has begun studying regulations on aging nuclear plants. Nineteen --- or more than one-third of all reactors in Japan, including those in Fukushima --- began their operations more than 30 years ago.
... Some members said that to win local approval to continue operating the reactor, the reason why this happened must be determined as soon as possible.


. . . . . Wednesday November 30, 2011

High cesium level found in Date rice
The government orders a ban on the shipment of rice harvested in two more districts in Fukushima Prefecture after tests detect dangerously high levels of radioactive cesium.

Controversial plan to ship debris


Fukushima proposes scrapping all nuke plants
Quake-stricken Fukushima Prefecture has decided to draft a regional reconstruction plan that does not depend upon nuclear plants. The prefecture hopes to compile a blueprint for the reconstruction by the year-end to deal with the damage from the March quake and tsunami as well as the nuclear disaster.
Sources close to the governor, Yuhei Sato, say the Fukushima government will propose decommissioning all 10 nuclear reactors in the prefecture in its reconstruction plan.
Tokyo Electric Power Company operates all the reactors, including 4 at the Fukushima Daini plant that survived the tsunami.
In October, the prefectural assembly adopted a pledge to remove all the reactors, but Governor Sato has not made clear whether he supports the idea.
Sato will finalize the policy at a senior officials' meeting on Wednesday, and will hold a news conference.
Concern has been expressed about the loss of jobs and the potential impact on TEPCO's compensation plan, if all the reactors in the prefecture were decommissioned.

Diet passes reconstruction financing bill
Japan's Diet has passed a bill to secure funds for reconstruction projects related to the March 11th disaster.
The bill was approved by a majority vote in the Upper House on Wednesday.
It allows the government to issue reconstruction bonds worth about 150 billion dollars. The issuance will be funded by a provisional tax hike.
Income taxes will be increased by 2.1 percent for 25 years starting January 2013. Residential tax will be raised annually by about 13 dollars per person for ten years starting in June 2014. A 5 percent cut on corporate taxes will be postponed for three years.

TEPCO: Melted fuel ate into containment vessel

The operator of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has announced the results of an analysis on the state of melted fuel in the plant's Number 1 unit.
The Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, and several research institutes made public their analyses on the melting of fuel rods at 3 of the plant's units at a government-sponsored study meeting on Wednesday. The analyses were based on temperatures, amounts of cooling water and other data.
TEPCO said that in the worse case, all fuel rods in the plant's Number 1 reactor may have melted and dropped through its bottom into a containment vessel. The bottom of the vessel is concrete covered with a steel plate.
The utility said the fuel may have eroded the bottom to a depth of 65 centimeters. The thinnest part of the section is only 37 centimeters thick.
TEPCO also said as much as 57 percent of the fuel in the plant's Number 2 reactor and 63 percent in the Number 3 reactor may have melted, and that some of the melted fuel may have fallen through reactor vessels.

Fukushima to call for scrapping all reactors
The governor of Fukushima Prefecture in northern Japan says he will ask the government and Tokyo Electric Power Company to decommission all nuclear reactors in the prefecture.
Fukushima hosts a total of 10 nuclear reactors, including 6 at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Four of those were crippled in the March 11th earthquake and tsunami.
Governor Yuhei Sato told reporters on Wednesday that the prefecture's reconstruction plan will call for the scrapping of all the reactors. The plan prioritizes the safety of children.
Sato said prefectural authorities reached the decision after discussing the impact that the decommissioning would have on employment, the economy and the finances of local municipalities. He added that the prefecture will do its best to create jobs for people who currently work at nuclear plants.
Sato is the first governor of a prefecture hosting nuclear plants to demand the decommissioning of nuclear facilities following a serious accident.
Officials in Fukushima will finalize the draft of the reconstruction plan on Thursday, and they aim to make a final decision on it by the end of the year.
Tokyo Electric Power Company has already decided to decommission the 4 severely damaged reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. The utility also says it will consult with local authorities about what to do with the remaining 6 reactors.
Under normal operating conditions, the 10 reactors have a total generating capacity of 9 million kilowatts per hour, accounting for 19 percent of all nuclear power generated in Japan.


all alone
with his smile
stone buddha
in the nuclear zone

Dietmar Tauchner

tsunami dreams-
grass pillows for the homeless
on Basho's Narrow road

Beverley George

source : kusamakura-haiku.jp


. . Bulletins from NHK WORLD . .
. . Japan Times - JT . .

がんばろ東北 Ganbaro Tohoku !

Onegai Jizo Sama !


. December 2011 .


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  1. Anonymous11/04/2011

    first winter rain...

    thinking of you, Gabi, across the ocean in Cali.


  2. Thanks, my dear friend B.

  3. Monday, Nov. 14, 2011

    Antinuclear-plant protesters rally in Fukuoka

    FUKUOKA — A series of large antinuclear rallies took place in Fukuoka on Sunday with the organizer saying more than 15,000 people, including from South Korea, took part calling for dismantlement of all nuclear power plants in Japan.

    Yukinobu Aoyagi, a leading member of the events, told a gathering in a park in the southwestern city, "We'll work together so as not to see our soil contaminated with radiation."


  4. Anonymous11/16/2011

    Radioactive material removed from Setagaya lot: have you figured out what they did with it? I'm researching trying to find out how they disposed of it with no luck thus far.

    Happy to find your blog! Looks like you & I do the same research each day! I participated in the voluntary departure of dependents that was offered in March & have not returned. The children & I are still stateside & will not be going back. But I am still drawn to the research, fearing the long-term effects on my children and especially the ones who have returned or never left Japan. :(

  5. Dear "Hide me"
    You can write or telephone the city ward office for an answer
    Let me know if you find it out.