View Full Version : 9.0 Earthquake Strikes Japan

March 11th, 2011, 01:50 AM
Japan tsunami damage follows 8.8 earthquake

March 11, 2011 - 5:35PM

The Sydney Morning Harold

http://images.smh.com.au/2011/03/11/2227833/japanmap-420x0.jpg The location of the earthquake.

Japanese television has shown major tsunami damage in northern Japan, following an earthquake that has been upgraded to 8.8.
Public broadcaster NHK showed cars, trucks, houses and buildings being swept away by the tsunami in Onahama city in Fukushima prefecture.
Scores of cars were seen floating in Iwate prefecture harbour, local TV said.
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http://images.smh.com.au/2011/03/11/2227862/gal_japan5-600x400.jpg Click for more photos (http://www.smh.com.au/photogallery/world/earthquake-strikes-japan/20110311-1br0u.html?selectedImage=0) Earthquake strikes Japan

A screen grab of images taken from Japanese television showing a tsunami swamping a city in northern Japan.

http://images.smh.com.au/2011/03/11/2227862/gal_japan5-80x80.jpg (http://www.smh.com.au/photogallery/world/earthquake-strikes-japan/20110311-1br0u.html?selectedImage=0)
http://images.smh.com.au/2011/03/11/2227853/gal_japan3-80x80.jpg (http://www.smh.com.au/photogallery/world/earthquake-strikes-japan/20110311-1br0u.html?selectedImage=1)
http://images.smh.com.au/2011/03/11/2227851/gal_japan1-80x80.jpg (http://www.smh.com.au/photogallery/world/earthquake-strikes-japan/20110311-1br0u.html?selectedImage=2)
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Japan earlier issued its top tsunami warning in response to the major offshore earthquake, which strongly swayed buildings 400 kilometres away in Tokyo and sent people fleeing onto the streets.
The meteorological agency issued its top-level evacuation alerts for the entire Japanese coast, Russia and the Mariana Islands, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said.
The quake was initially measured as a magnitude 7.9 but was upgraded.
It warned of a tsunami of up to six metres. Smaller tsunamis of up to 50cm reached some coastal communities, the agency said.
Know more? Send information and photos to 0414 284 637 or email them here (scoop@brisbanetimes.com.au).
The quake struck about 382km northeast of Tokyo, offshore, the US Geological Survey reported.
Smoke could be seen rising from a building in Tokyo port.
Shinkansen bullet trains stopped when the quake struck, while Tokyo port has shut all 19 of its water gates as it prepares for the tsunami.
Japan’s Coast Guard is halting ships on their way to entering Tokyo’s port,said Takashi Mifune, spokesman for the Bureau of Port and Harbor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.
Japan’s meteorological agency said the quake struck at 2.46pm (4.46pm AEDST) local time at a depth of 10km, 125km off the eastern coast.
Footage on national broadcaster NHK from their Sendai office showed employees stumbling around and books and papers crashing from desks.
Police and coast guard officials said they were assessing possible damage from the quake.
The yen tumbled against the dollar after the quake, falling to 83.30 against the dollar from 82.81 before the quake struck.
Several quakes had hit the same region in recent days, including a 7.3 magnitude one on Wednesday.
The Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre said there was no tsunami threat to Australia.

March 11th, 2011, 02:02 AM
Tsunami follows quake in northern Japan The Associated Press

Posted: Mar 11, 2011 1:27 AM ET

Last Updated: Mar 11, 2011 1:57 AM ET

Japan was struck by a magnitude 8.8 earthquake off its northeastern coast Friday, triggering a four metre tsunami that washed away cars and tore away buildings along the coast near the epicentre.

In various locations along Japan's coast, TV footage showed severe flooding, with dozens of cars, boats and even buildings being carried along by waters. A large ship swept away by the tsunami rammed directly into a breakwater in Kesennuma city in Miyagi prefecture, according to footage on public broadcaster NHK.
Officials were trying to assess possible damage from the quake but had no immediate details.
The quake that struck at 2:46 p.m. local time was followed by a series of aftershocks, including a 7.4-magnitude one about 30 minutes later. The U.S. Geological Survey upgraded the strength of the first quake to a magnitude 8.8.
read the rest:
[url]http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2011/03/11/japan-quake-tsunami.html (http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/story/2011/03/11/japan-quake-tsunami.html#socialcomments)

March 11th, 2011, 02:41 AM


2011 March 11 05:46:23 UTC


March 11th, 2011, 08:07 AM
10X more powerful than the San Francisco EQ of 1906.... (estimate)

Scary stuff.

March 11th, 2011, 08:17 AM
^^^ Too much !...
No comments !!!
What a tragedy to everyone in Pacific Zone !

March 11th, 2011, 08:32 AM
They're lucky it was situated offshore.

March 11th, 2011, 11:46 AM
Yes and no. If the earthquake was under land, chances are there would have been more direct earthquake damage. However, there would not have been a tsunami, which seems to have cause a lot of damage on its own (and over a larger area).

March 11th, 2011, 12:30 PM
The tsunami will turn out to have killed many more unsuspecting folks near the coast (and caused far more long lasting damage) than the quake itself.

Watching it all live last night on the TV was horrifying. The mass of water + debris overtaking roadways & cars & houses was jaw dropping.

Being on the ground and seeing something like that coming at you -- unimaginable what that must be like.

March 11th, 2011, 01:56 PM
I'm hoping they can get that nuclear reactor under control. Everything else can be rebuilt, but if that thing melts down... ugh.

March 11th, 2011, 02:34 PM
March 11, a date cursed for our civilization...
7 years ago about 200 people were killed in the terrorist attack in Madrid (Atocha Railway Station), it was another bloody March 11 !...

March 11th, 2011, 04:26 PM
Video: Dramatic footage of quake & tsunami damage (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/42027950#42027950?from=en-us_msnhp&gt1=43001)

http://col.stb.s-msn.com/i/AF/50D412513AA4D9535B633845FC.jpg (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/42030003#42030003?from=en-us_msnhp&gt1=43001)

During a presidential press conference re: Libya & our dependence on foreign oil, it was reported that we were on our way to Japan with coolant for the nuclear reactor. Very frightening.

March 11th, 2011, 07:56 PM
3 nuclear reactors in trouble after Japan quake
Cooling systems fail; radiation seeps outside one; thousands evacuated

Kyodo via Reuters
The Fukushima nuclear plant, the site of a coolant failure after Friday's quake, is pictured in a 2008 file

NBC, msnbc.com and news services
updated 1 hour 19 minutes ago 2011-03-11T23:28:27

TOKYO — Coolant systems failed at three quake-stricken Japanese nuclear reactors Saturday, sending radiation seeping outside one and temperatures rising out of control at two others.
Radiation surged to around 1,000 times the normal level in the control room of the No. 1 reactor of the Fukushima Daichi plant, Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said. Radiation — it was not clear how much — had also seeped outside, prompting widening of an evacuation area to a six-mile radius from a two-mile radius around the plant. Earlier, 3,000 people had been urged to leave their homes.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Saturday that the temperatures of its No.1 and No.2 reactors at its Fukushima Daini nuclear power station were rising, and it had lost control over pressure in the reactors.
Fukushima Daini station is the second nuclear power plant the company has in Fukushima prefecture in northeastern Japan, where the troubled Fukushima Daiichi plant is located.
Tepco said at about 2:46 p.m. local time three of its six reactors shut following the earthquake. All are boiling water reactors.
Tepco said the reactors shut due to the loss of offsite power due to the malfunction of one of two off-site power systems. That triggered emergency diesel generators to startup and provide backup power for plant systems.
About an hour after the plant shut down, however, the emergency diesel generators stopped, leaving the units with no power for important cooling functions.
Nuclear plants need power to operate motors, valves and instruments that control the systems that provide cooling water to the radioactive core.
Earlier, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said, "Residents are safe after those within a 3-kilometer (1.8-mile) radius were evacuated and those within a 10-kilometer (6.2-mile) radius are staying indoors, so we want people to be calm."
The country's nuclear safety agency said pressure inside one of six boiling water reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant near Onahama, some 170 miles northeast of Tokyo, had risen to 1.5 times the level considered normal.

Hours after the evacuation order, the government announced that the plant will release slightly radioactive vapor from the unit to lower the pressure in an effort to protect it from a possible meltdown.
Edano said the amount of radioactive element in the vapor would be "very small" and would not affect the environment or human health. "With evacuation in place and the ocean-bound wind, we can ensure the safety," he said at a televised news conference.

U.S. President Barack Obama said he spoke with Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan earlier Friday, and that the Japanese leader told him there were no radiation leaks from Japan's nuclear power plants.
"Right now our Department of Energy folks are in direct contact with their counterparts in Japan and are closely monitoring the situation," a senior administration official who handles nuclear issues told NBC News. "So far the government of Japan has not asked for any specific assistance with regard to the nuclear plant, but DOE and other U.S. government agencies are assessing the role they could play in any response and stand by to assist if asked."
Japan has a "tremendous amount of technical capability and resources" to respond to the issue themselves for now, sources told NBC News.
Meanwhile, new power supply cars to provide emergency electricity for systems that failed at the Fukushima-Daiichi plant have arrived there, the World Nuclear Association said.
"The World Nuclear Association understands that three to four power supply cars have arrived and that additional power modules are being prepared for connection to provide power for the energy cooling system," said Jeremy Gordon, analyst at the London-based WNA.
The cables were being set up to supply emergency power. Other power modules were in transit by air, WNA added on its website.

'Stages away from Three Mile Island'
The cooling problems at the Japanese plant raised fears of a repeat of 1979's Three Mile Island accident, the most serious in the history of the U.S. nuclear power industry. Experts, however, said the situation was, so far, less serious.
Equipment malfunctions, design problems and human error led to a partial meltdown of the reactor core at the Three Mile Island plant, but only minute amounts of dangerous radioactive gases were released.
"The situation is still several stages away from Three Mile Island when the reactor container ceased to function as it should," said Tomoko Murakami, leader of the nuclear energy group at Japan's Institute of Energy Economics.
Toshiaki Sakai, director of the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum International Cooperation Center, said nuclear power companies around the globe have since implemented over 53 safety improvements to avert a repeat.
The International Atomic Energy Agency estimates that around 20 percent of nuclear reactors around the world are currently operating in areas of significant seismic activity.

The IAEA said the sector began putting more emphasis on external hazards after an earthquake hit TEPCO's Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in July 2007, until then the largest to ever affect a nuclear facility.
When the earthquake hit the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, four reactors shut down automatically. Water containing radioactive material was released into the sea, but without an adverse effect on human health or the environment, it said.

March 13th, 2011, 05:54 PM
Japan quake, tsunami take dire toll on economy

(AP) – 5 hours ago

TOKYO (AP) — The Bank of Japan stood ready to prop up the financial system amid fears the Tokyo stock market will nosedive when trading opens Monday following the disasters that killed thousands and devastated the country's northeast.

Preliminary estimates put repair costs from the earthquake and tsunami in the tens of billions of dollars — a huge blow for an economy that lost its place as the world's No. 2 to China last year, and was already in a fragile state.

Japan' economy has been ailing for 20 years, barely managing to eke out weak growth between slowdowns, saddled by a massive public debt that, at 200 percent of gross domestic product, is the biggest among industrialized nations.

"In the short term, the market will almost surely suffer and stocks will plunge. People might see an already weakened Japan, overshadowed by a growing China, getting dealt the finishing blow from this quake," said Koetsu Aizawa, economics professor at Saitama University.

The nation's big-three automakers, meanwhile, said they would halt all production in Japan due to widespread damage to both suppliers and transport networks in the region.

The Bank of Japan pledged to pump more money into financial markets when it holds a policy board meeting Monday. There is not much left for the central bank to do regarding interest rates, which are already close to zero.

Tens of billions of dollars are expected to be needed to rebuild homes, roads and other infrastructure — requiring public spending that will add to the national debt.

"The impact on Japan's economy will be devastating," said Sheila Smith, senior fellow for Japan Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, a New York-based think tank. "The long-term economic blow to a country already struggling to lower its budget deficit ... will be significant."

Noting the 1995 earthquake in Kobe cost $132 billion and was the world's most expensive natural disaster, she said it was too early to say whether the losses from Friday's disaster would be on that massive a scale.

Four nuclear plants were damaged in the temblors, causing widespread power outages. In a frantic effort to prevent meltdowns, nuclear plant operators ruined at least two reactors by pumping sea water into them.

In an unprecedented move for tech-savvy Japan in recent decades, Tokyo Electric Power Co. rolled out blackouts of three hours per day to parts of suburban Tokyo and other cities, starting Monday.

And Tokyo trains, which usually run like clockwork but stopped for nearly the entire day after the quake, will be on a reduced schedule starting Monday, to conserve electricity.

"It looks like we are going to be running on reduced electricity for a long time. That is a definite risk to industrial production," said Carl Weinberg, chief economist at New York-based researcher High Frequency Economics.

"For Japan, a nation that lives by the sea, food comes in by the sea, energy comes in by the sea, exports go out by the sea. Everything stops if a quarter of the coastline has been wiped out," said Weinberg who teaches at New York University.

Profits at both Tokyo Electric and Tohoku Power utility are likely to plummet because of recovery costs for the nuclear power plants damaged by the quake, according to Shigeki Matsumoto, analyst at Nomura Securities Co.

Toyota Motor Corp., the world's top automaker, as well as Nissan Motor Co. and Honda suspended production at all their auto plants in Japan, starting Monday.

When production will resume is uncertain. The area hit by the quake is a major center for car production, complete with a myriad of parts suppliers and a network of roads and ports for efficient shipments.

"There is no way to get our products out, even if we make them, with the roads and distribution system damaged," said Honda Motor Co. spokeswoman Natsuno Asanuma.

Honda said the production halt will cost it about 4,000 vehicles a day.

Nissan said the tsunami damaged 1,300 vehicles bound for the U.S., including its Infiniti luxury brand, at Hitachi port in Ibaraki state in the northeast, and 1,000 vehicles stored at another center.

Among the plants being shut down is one Toyota had just opened in Miyagi prefecture, within the region hardest hit by the quake.

The factory, Toyota's first new Japan plant in 18 years, had been proudly shown to reporters last month as a welcome development in an otherwise stagnant Japanese auto market. It was set to start producing the Corolla for both the Japanese and North American markets in April.

Electronics plants in the northeast were also temporarily closed, including those owned by Sony Corp. and Toshiba Corp.

But Aizawa, the economics professor, warned against too much pessimism.

A giant disaster can get Japan to pull together and even provide opportunities for construction and jobs as the recovery gets under way, he said.

"There can be a blessing even in misfortune," he said. "Recovery is about regaining a livelihood for people. No one is going to blame Japan or lower its debt ratings for working on a recovery. This is about lives."

Ship out of water (http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/media/ALeqM5gmioT2GTKcneaBDxuAkhGs0GCLcg?docId=4b6448f8b 46d4b3783b4ee64cdde4cf1&size=l)

Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press

March 14th, 2011, 05:17 AM
New explosion at Fukushima nuclear plant


March 14th, 2011, 05:46 AM
Wind to blow south at quake-hit plant, unlikely to reach

TOKYO | Mon Mar 14, 2011 4:41am EDT

TOKYO (Reuters) - The wind over a quake-damaged nuclear complex in northeast Japan (http://www.reuters.com/places/japan), where low levels of radiation have been released, will blow south later on Monday, the Japan Meteorological Agency said, but is not expected to affect Tokyo.
It will blow in the general direction of the capital, but will be slow and the direction typically changes at slow speeds.
The Fukushima Daiichi plant, run by Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), is about 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo on the country's northeast coast.
Engineers were battling to avert a meltdown at three stricken reactors in the worst nuclear accident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, triggered by Friday's quake and tsunami.
Low-level radiation has been detected outside the plant but at very low levels. These levels would need to rise something like a thousand times before real fears of contamination are justified, experts say.
A 20-km (12-mile) evacuation zone has been set up around the plant.
An explosion at a reactor at the plant on Monday is unlikely to have led to a large escape of radioactivity, the government said.
Japan's nuclear safety agency, quoting a report from the facility's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co, said radiation near the No. 3 reactor about 40 minutes after the explosion was about one-50th of that considered critical to human health.
(Reporting by Junko Fujita (http://blogs.reuters.com/search/journalist.php?edition=us&n=junko.fujita&); Editing by Nick Macfie and Sanjeev Miglani (http://blogs.reuters.com/search/journalist.php?edition=us&n=sanjeev.miglani&))

March 14th, 2011, 08:49 AM
It is horrible to think that one act like this would be, no matter how catestrophic, enough to push the entire nation over the brink into financial chaos.....

I really hope this is not the case. Japan worked so hard to rebuild itself after WWII, to be delt this blow and have it scare away enough investment to leave them high and (no pun) dry on their financial landscape is sad and scary.

How many others will suffer from this that were nowhere NEAR the quake?

March 14th, 2011, 09:42 AM
Rebuilding can actually stimulate an economy, but it may take years to bear fruit.

March 14th, 2011, 01:56 PM
What the Media Doesn't Get About Meltdowns

By Cristine Russell

The nuclear power emergency in northeast Japan grows more treacherous and uncertain, as plant operators struggle to contain escalating dangers at several nuclear reactors in hopes of preventing a disastrous release of radioactivity into the environment.

The unfolding crisis in Japan continues to draw comparisons with the world's previous nuclear power accidents. The big question is the degree to which Japan's current nuclear power emergency resembles the more contained 1979 U.S. Three Mile Island accident, or the worst in history, the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe in the Ukraine.

"I covered Chernobyl and I covered Three Mile Island," NBC's chief science and health correspondent Robert Bazell said today. "So far it's not anything like Chernobyl. Let's keep our fingers crossed that it will continue to stay that way." A jet-lagged Bazell, who had just arrived in Tokyo, stressed, "the situation here is still not under control." He emphasized that "it is a race against time" to prevent a serious breach of the containment structures housing the nuclear fuel cores in at least two reactors at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, as well as potential dangers at several other plants in the region.

Indeed it is also a race to find reliable, real-time public information about the rapidly changing Japan nuclear power emergency, amidst a sea of confusing, conflicting and often limited information emanating from sources across the world. Dealing with the aftermath of the monstrous earthquake and tsunami, as well as the nuclear crisis, has clearly stretched Japanese government and company officials to the breaking point, and their communication has frequently failed to keep up with the story. At the same time, the media covering the Japan's nuclear power situation, on the ground and around the globe, face a challenging array of often-unconfirmed information and speculation.

Of immediate concern is the prospect of a so-called "meltdown" at one or more of the Japanese reactors. But part of the problem in understanding the potential dangers is continued indiscriminate use, by experts and the media, of this inherently frightening term without explanation or perspective. There are varying degrees of melting or meltdown of the nuclear fuel rods in a given reactor; but there are also multiple safety systems, or containment barriers, in a given plant's design that are intended to keep radioactive materials from escaping into the general environment in the event of a partial or complete meltdown of the reactor core. Finally, there are the steps taken by a plant's operators to try to bring the nuclear emergency under control before these containment barriers are breached.

In the Three Mile Island accident, a partial core meltdown occurred in one reactor unit but remained largely within the plant's containment barriers and little radiation was released to the environment. The Chernobyl catastrophe, however, resulted in a massive environmental release of radiation following a core meltdown. An important distinction is that the Chernobyl plant lacked crucial containment structures found at the Three Mile Island and Japanese plants.

According to the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale, which rates the severity of nuclear power plant incidents on a scale from zero to 7, Chernobyl was rated a 7, the highest level of severity and the only such accident. Three Mile Island was ranked a 5, "an accident with wider consequences." Thus far, the Japanese nuclear emergency at Fukushima Daiichi has been rated a 4, an "accident with local consequences," but this is of course a preliminary estimate.

On CNN's Reliable Sources show Sunday, host Howard Kurtz raised questions about the difficult balance between legitimate concern and fear mongering in the around-the-clock coverage of an evolving emergency. Radio host Callie Crossley criticized the repeated media warnings of possible nuclear meltdown: "Nobody told me what it meant....I thought that was extremely irresponsible." Guest Mike Chinoy, a former CNN Asia correspondent, countered that the media "don't have the luxury of putting something together....This is a scary story."

A key challenge is deciding what sources are the most credible in terms of new information about what is actually happening at Japan's nuclear plants and deciphering how serious the situation really is or might become. It almost requires a checklist to follow where the information is coming from; which nuclear plants are in danger; and who is at greatest risk (which will undoubtedly continue to change in hours and days ahead).

-- Some key sources. In Japan, the primary source of information about the damaged nuclear power plants comes from Japanese government officials, with Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano providing regular news briefings; there is also the Japan Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency; and local officials, who provide additional, and sometimes, conflicting information. The main utility company operating the damaged nuclear plants is Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO). Some of the most reliable information is coming from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to which Japanese authorities must report. Reports involving unnamed "officials," which CNN and others used frequently this weekend, should be handled with caution.

--Breaking news from Japan. Other key sources of real-time information include live USTREAM coverage from Japan on NHK WORLD TV, an English language 24-hour international news and information channel; NHK also has breaking news in English; as does Kyodo News agency. There are numerous threads on Twitter, including #fukushima, #nuclear, #earthquake, and #Japan.

-- The nuclear plants at risk. There are 55 operating nuclear power stations in Japan (see map (http://www.japannuclear.com/nuclearpower/program/location.html#)). Each plant may have multiple reactor units. At this point, the largest concerns involve reactors 1 and 3 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station (see New York Times graphic (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/14/world/asia/14nuclear.html?_r=1&hp)). Cooling problems have also been reported at the nearby Fukushima Daini nuclear power station. Preliminary radiation increases were also reported to IAEA from the Onagawa nuclear plant, and news reports have mentioned a fourth possible plant at risk.

-- For a clear backgrounder on how a nuclear power plant works, see the excellent BoingBoing "Nuclear Energy 101" piece (http://www.boingboing.net/2011/03/12/nuclear-energy-insid.html) by Maggie Koerth-Baker. She said she wrote it in response to a reader who said: "The extent of my knowledge on nuclear power plants is pretty much limited to what I've seen on The Simpsons."

Cristine Russell covered the Three Mile Island accident as a reporter for the Washington Star.

Copyright © 2011 by The Atlantic Monthly Group

March 14th, 2011, 04:13 PM
Before & after satellite photos of stricken areas. Toggle over 'before' image to see 'after' image, no clicking.


March 14th, 2011, 06:45 PM
Japan earthquake size upgrade to 9.0

Ugh. Japan’s earthquake was ever worse than thought. When the earthquake first occured last Thursday (my time), it was reported on Twitter to be a size 7.9 earthquake near the east coast of Honshu, Japan (http://twitter.com/NewEarthquake/status/46087193051144192). The local time in Japan was Mar 11 at 2:46pm and the epicenter was 179km E of Sendai. Then the size was upgraded to 8.8 about a half an hour later (http://twitter.com/NewEarthquake/status/46094218434850816). About another half an hour later it was upgraded again to 8.9 (http://twitter.com/NewEarthquake/status/46101164009332736) on the Richter magnitude scale. Today, the magnitude of the quake was upgraded again, to a staggering 9.0 (http://earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/eqinthenews/2011/usc0001xgp/). There are reports that anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 might be dead by the time the final tally counted. Horrible!


March 14th, 2011, 08:53 PM
Japan tsunami survivor Hiromitsu Shinkawa found 10 miles out at sea

Rescuers spot 60-year-old from Fukushima prefecture
clinging to the roof of his home two days after the tsunami struck


guardian.co.uk (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/13/japan-tsunami-survivor-shinkawa-rescued-fukushima)
Justin McCurry in Tokyo
Sunday 13 March 2011

A 60-year-old man has been found on the roof of his floating house nearly 10 miles out at sea, two days after the tsunami that devastated the north-east coast of Japan.

Hiromitsu Shinkawa must have resigned himself to his fate when he was swept away by the retreating tsunami that roared ashore in his home town of Minami Soma in Fukushima prefecture.

As the wave approached, Shinkawa took the fateful decision to return home to collect belongings. Minutes later he was out at sea clinging to a piece of the roof from his own home.

Incredibly, he was spotted by a maritime self-defence force destroyer taking part in the rescue effort as he clung to the wreckage with one hand and waved a self-made red flag with the other. He had been at sea for two days ...

© Guardian News and Media Limited 2011




March 15th, 2011, 12:36 AM
15 March 2011 Last updated at 00:29 ET

Radiation fears after Japan blast

As radiation levels near the plant rise, people are being checked for exposure

Prime Minister Naoto Kan has urged those living within 30km (18 miles) of the plant to stay indoors.
Earlier, reactor 2 at the Fukushima Daiichi plant was hit by a blast - the third reactor to explode in four days - leading to fears of a meltdown.
The crisis was sparked by a 9.0-magnitude quake and tsunami on Friday.
Thousands of people are believed to have died.
Exclusion zone A fresh explosion rocked reactor 2 at the Fukushima Daiichi plant - 250km (155 miles) north-east of Tokyo - in the early hours of Tuesday.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said, "Now we are talking about levels that can impact human health."
Continue reading the main story (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-12740843#story_continues_2) JAPAN NUCLEAR EMERGENCY

Explosions in three reactors at Fukushima plant
Fourth reactor on fire
Containment chamber damaged at reactor 2
Radiation levels at plant rise more than four fold
20km (12 mile) exclusion zone
People living within 30km to stay indoors

US asks nuclear questions (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-12738459)

He stressed that such levels were recorded at the plant and that the "further away you get from the power plant or reactor, the value should go down".
In his televised address, Prime Minister Kan said: "There is still a very high risk of more radiation coming out."
He added that the last remaining people within a 20km (12 mile) exclusion zone around the plant had to leave, and that those living between 20km and 30km from the site should remain indoors.
Radiation levels around Fukushima for one hour's exposure rose to eight times the legal limit for exposure in one year, said the plant's operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco).
The radiation reading at 0831 local time (2331 GMT) climbed to 8,217 microsieverts an hour from 1,941 about 40 minutes earlier, Tepco said. The annual legal limit is 1,000 microsieverts.

Japan's PM says there is a 'very high' risk of further radiation leaks

Higher radiation levels were recorded on Tuesday south of Fukushima, Kyodo news agency reported.
The French embassy said low-level radioactive wind could reach Tokyo within hours.
Mr Kan also said a fire had broken out at the plant's reactor 4. It now appears to have been put out.
Shares on the Tokyo stock exchange plummeted 13%. The leading Nikkei index had already fallen by 7% on Monday.
On Monday, a hydrogen blast at the Fukushima plant's reactor 3 was felt 40km (25 miles) away. It followed a blast at reactor 1 on Saturday.
All explosions have been preceded by cooling system breakdowns. Engineers are trying to prevent meltdowns by flooding the chambers of the nuclear reactors with sea water.
After the third explosion, officials said the containment vessel around reactor 2 had been damaged.
Complete devastation Meanwhile, five days after the tsunami triggered by the earthquake, the relief operation is continuing.
The latest official death toll stands at about 2,400 - but some estimates suggest 10,000 may have been killed.
One of the worst-hit towns, Minamisanriku, is now just a scene of complete devastation, says the BBC's Rachel Harvey.
Everything was flattened by the force of the tsunami, with only the town's hospital and a government building remaining, our correspondent says.
Thousands are still unaccounted for - including hundreds of tourists - while many remote towns and villages have not been reached.
More than 500,000 people have been made homeless.
The government has deployed 100,000 troops to lead the aid effort.
The UK Foreign Office has updated its travel advice to warn against all non-essential travel to Tokyo and north-eastern Japan. British nationals and friends and relatives of those in Japan can contact the Foreign Office on +44(0) 20 7008 0000.
#j-exp { padding-bottom: 10px; }


March 15th, 2011, 01:26 PM
Japan crisis worse than Three Mile Island, experts say

One reactor shield might be compromised; spent fuel pool leaking radioactivity

msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 21 minutes ago 2011-03-15T16:54:22

SOMA, Japan — The catastrophe at Japan's stricken nuclear complex is now worse than Three Mile Island, experts said Tuesday, after the two most recent blasts exposed a spent fuel pool to outside air and might have compromised a reactor shield.
Japanese officials told the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that the spent fuel storage area had caught fire and that radioactivity was "being released directly into the atmosphere."
After the fire was extinguished, a Japanese official said the spent fuel pool might still be boiling, though the reported levels of radiation had dropped dramatically by evening.
Experts noted that much of the leaking radiation was apparently in steam from boiling water. It had not been emitted directly by fuel rods, which would be far more virulent, they said.
"It's not good, but I don't think it's a disaster," said Steve Crossley, an Australia-based radiation physicist.
The IAEA said Tuesday that an explosion Monday at the plant, this one within Unit 2, "may have affected the integrity of its primary containment vessel." That means radioactivity could be leaking from the containment vessel.
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said low levels of radiation had spread from the complex along Japan's northeastern coast.
The radiation releases prompted Japan to order 140,000 people to seal themselves indoors and a 30-kilometer (19-mile) no-fly zone was imposed around the site Tuesday.
About the only good news Tuesday was that the winds were expected to blow most of the radioactivity out to sea.
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Soon after the latest events, France's nuclear safety authority ASN said the disaster ranks as a level 6 on the international scale of 1 to 7.
Level 7 was used only once, for Chernobyl in Ukraine in 1986. The 1979 accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania was rated a level 5.
"It is very clear that we are at a level 6," ASN President Andre-Claude Lacoste told a news conference in Paris. "We are clearly in a catastrophe."
Video: At least 15,000 people missing in Japan (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42084187/ns/world_news-asiapacific?GT1=43001#slice-1)(on this page) "This event is now closer to a level 6, and it may unfortunately reach a level 7," added David Albright, head of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, D.C.
At Three Mile Island, the radiation leak was held inside the containment shell — thick concrete armor around the reactor. The Chernobyl reactor had no shell and was also operational when the disaster struck. The Japanese reactors automatically shut down when the quake hit.


The IAEA said about 150 people in Japan had received monitoring for radiation levels and that measures to "decontaminate" 23 of them had been taken.
Clearing up nuclear questions (http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/03/14/6268351-clearing-up-nuclear-questions) Though Japanese officials urged calm, Tuesday's developments fueled a growing panic (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42083890/ns/world_news-asia-pacific/)amid widespread uncertainty over what would happen next.
In the worst-case scenario, one or more reactor cores would completely melt down, a disaster that would spew large amounts of radioactivity into the atmosphere.
Officials in Tokyo — 150 miles to the south of the plant — said radiation in the capital was 10 times normal by evening but there was no threat to human health.
Closer to the stricken nuclear complex, the streets in the coastal city of Soma were empty as the few residents who remained there heeded the government's warning to stay indoors.
Interactive: How a nuclear plant works (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42029294/ns/technology_and_science-science/) Officials just south of Fukushima reported up to 100 times the normal levels of radiation Tuesday morning. While those figures are worrying if there is prolonged exposure, they are far from fatal.

'Please do not go outside'
Officials warned there is danger of more leaks and told people living within 19 miles of the Dai-ichi complex to stay indoors.
"Please do not go outside. Please stay indoors. Please close windows and make your homes airtight," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told residents in the danger zone.
"These are figures that potentially affect health. There is no mistake about that," he said.
Some 70,000 people had already been evacuated from a 12-mile radius from the Dai-ichi complex. About 140,000 are in the new warning zone.

Friday's 9.0-magnitude earthquake and the ensuing tsunami have killed more than 10,000 people.
Desperate efforts
Workers were desperately trying to stabilize the three reactors at Units 1, 2 and 3 that were working when the quake and tsunami struck. Releases of hydrogen gas caused explosions that destroyed the outer structures at each unit.
Unit 4, where the pool is, had been under maintenance and was not operating at the time of the quake and tsunami.

With power out and the regular coolant gone, engineers are now injecting seawater into the reactors as a last-ditch coolant. Tokyo Electric Power Co., which operates the plant, said it might use helicopters to inject seawater inside the pool area within three days.
Officials said 50 workers were still at the Fukushima site. About 800 other staff were evacuated. The fires and explosions at the reactors have injured 15 workers and military personnel.
The death toll from last week's earthquake and tsunami jumped as police confirmed the number killed had topped 2,400. Officials say that at least 10,000 people may have died in Miyagi province alone, but those deaths are not confirmed.
Story: Millions in Japan freeze without electricity, heat (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42079799/ns/world_news-disaster_in_japan/)Hajime Sato, a government official in Iwate prefecture, one of the hardest-hit, said deliveries of supplies were only 10 percent of what is needed. Body bags and coffins were running so short that the government may turn to foreign funeral homes for help, he said.

Rescuers also found a 70-year-old woman alive four days after the disaster (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42084500/ns/world_news-asia-pacific/).
Osaka fire department spokesman Yuko Kotani said the woman was found inside her house that was washed away by the tsunami in northeastern Japan's Iwate prefecture.
Another survivor, described as being in his 20s, was shown on television being pulled from a building (http://photoblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/03/15/6272939-earthquake-survivor-is-rescued-after-being-buried-for-five-days) further down the coast in the city of Ishimaki after rescue workers heard him calling for help.
Video: Glimmers of hope amid tragedy in Japan (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42084187/ns/world_news-asiapacific?GT1=43001#slice-1)(on this page) The impact of the earthquake and tsunami dragged down stock markets. The benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average plunged for a second day Tuesday (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42085885/ns/business-stocks_and_economy/), nose-diving more than 10 percent to close at 8,605.15 while the broader Topix lost more than 8 percent.
To lessen the damage, Japan's central bank made two cash injections totaling $98 billion Tuesday into the money markets after pumping in $184 billion on Monday.
Initial estimates put repair costs in the tens of billions of dollars (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42077408/ns/business-world_business/), costs that would likely add to a massive public debt that, at 200 percent of gross domestic product, is the biggest among industrialized nations.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.


You see babies getting checked for radiation, a man getting rescued 10 miles at sea, a woman worried about her daughter who was ripped from her arms by the tsunami current, families reuniting. As much as we have a hard time here of processing all this, I can't even begin to imagine what they're going through. And the horror is just beginning.

March 16th, 2011, 09:07 AM
Green energy showing its ugly side...

March 16th, 2011, 09:38 AM
Nuclear energy isn't green energy (not yet).

March 16th, 2011, 10:05 AM
It is more a deep glowing red....

March 16th, 2011, 11:32 AM
Someone has to define green.

There is a plan on the table to build a giant wind farm off the Cap Cod coast. The locals, including a few Kennedys are up in arms? Is this green or not? Actually I would say yes. But obviously a bunch of people up there don't agree.

Nuke plants aren't pretty, do present risks (which have been actualized in Japan right now), but they do have environmental and functional advantages.

The plant in crisis right now is 40 YO. Maybe we've learned how to build these things better in four decades? Maybe they need to be replaced ever once in a while? Maybe they need to be sited better?

Nuclear energy isn't green energy (not yet).

March 16th, 2011, 11:40 AM
The wind farm is green. It is suffering from a bout of NIMBY-itis and may look a bit pale, but it is decidedly green.

The nuke plant is only green in the sense that it produces waste that can be contained. But it still produces waste. You have to find a place to put all this stuff for a few thousand years, and as has been shown, it carries its own risks no matter how well you originally design it.

All your suggestions are valid, but the fact is, nothing is green until it can operate WITHOUT having to deal with its byproducts later. Wind is about the greenest we have if all you count is dead birds....

March 16th, 2011, 11:56 AM
Someone has to define green.Green = sustainable

The locals, including a few Kennedys are up in arms? Is this green or not?Green = universal acceptance? No.

Maybe they need to be sited better?Maybe not in a place where four plates meet (Japan).

March 16th, 2011, 11:58 AM
In point of fact, nuclear has proven pretty sustainable. Perfect, no, but sustainable yes.

March 16th, 2011, 12:01 PM
Sustainable, possibly, but also everlasting. The problem of long term containment for spent fuel has not been solved, as has been shown in the terrible events in Japan. The nuclear refuse must be monitored and controlled, so that the radiation is contained and to assure that there is no contamination of future generations. What we're seeing now shows how fragile that effort can be.

March 16th, 2011, 12:02 PM
What is pretty sustainable?

And what does sustainable have to do with perfect?

March 16th, 2011, 01:00 PM
What is pretty sustainable?

Grinding away for decades producing a tiny (relative to other commercially viable) amount of (admitted vastly toxic but containable) waste. The fuel waste could be reprocessed into more useable fuel (and there are new designs that essentially self reprocess the spend fuel and only need refueling after several decades.)

And what does sustainable have to do with perfect?

There have been accidents (what got this conversation going.) But given the time and the number of units in use, very few.

March 16th, 2011, 01:16 PM
Grinding away for decades...Your personal definition. Decades is a minute number compared to half-life.

producing a tiny (relative to other commercially viable) amount of (admitted vastly toxic but containable) waste.Tiny? What do you mean?

The fuel waste could be reprocessed into more useable fuel (and there are new designs that essentially self reprocess the spend fuel and only need refueling after several decades.)As I said at first, "Not yet."

There have been accidents (what got this conversation going.) But given the time and the number of units in use, very few.Backwards.

I meant - what has sustainable (or green) energy to do with being perfect. Who says green energy is perfect?

Accidents will always happen. Do accidents make wind farms not-green? Can you say the same for nuclear power plants?

March 16th, 2011, 03:19 PM
It's not my definition. All of these plants in this country are a few decades old, and except for a few that have been retired, have been churning out electicity for most of that time.

As far as saying the amount of waste is tiny, compare that by weight or volume to any of the other technologies that we've been using (except hydro, of course). I'm thinking in terms of exhaust gasses, since lately, more green means less carbon. I'd also consider other polluting gasses.

They were planning to put all the spent fuel from all the reactors in the US on one site (Yucca Mountain, in NV). If it can all fit in one large hole in the ground, there isn't very much of it.

I think, if properly run, nuclear can be very green.

Look at one of the advantages nuclear has over wind or solar (not that either can really replace it), It's much more compact. A single reactor can put out 1,000 megawatts (give or take). The new ones will go to 1,500 MW or more. Usually they do these in pairs. How much ground do you have to cover with wind turbines or solar panels to produce this much power. At a certain point, when you carpeting vast swaths of land with these things, they start to seem less green. People are already bitching.

Your personal definition. Decades is a minute number compared to half-life.

Tiny? What do you mean?

As I said at first, "Not yet."


I meant - what has sustainable (or green) energy to do with being perfect. Who says green energy is perfect?

Accidents will always happen. Do accidents make wind farms not-green? Can you say the same for nuclear power plants?

March 16th, 2011, 04:03 PM
BBMW, your definition of "tiny" is subject to debate.

How much CO2 does it take to kill someone? How much otehr industrial waste does it take? Do any of these products break down over time? Do they effect other things around them?

The main problem with nuclear is that it is a material that works in many ways:

1. It starts off as a toxic chemical, but is not that dangerous because of its concentrations, weight eic.
2. The radiation is what is deadly. PROXIMITY to is, even w/o ingestion can prove deadly
3. It is cumulative. The longer you are exposed the higher the risk.
4. It contaminates ANY other substance. It can make ANYTHING radioactive, from water to gold.
5. Small amounts can be extremely dangerous.
6. Large amounts cannot be stored together for risk of achieving critical mass (a true "dirty" bomb, not just nuclear material ejected by conventional expolsives).

Fusion power is the only viable alternative right now, until we learn how to re-stabilize the fissive elements produced. Similar problems with radiation will happen, but not in the same manner. I believe that magnetic shielding can provide the protection, much like the van allen belt does for earth against the sun, for our possible fission plants.

Not only that, it CAN be further developed to give us new resources of any element up to about 55 on the chart I believe (Iron?) coming from common elements like Hydrogen, Helium and Carbon.

But calling fission power green now is like calling coal plants green. They just arent.

March 16th, 2011, 04:27 PM
It's not my definition.Whose definition then (of sustainable)?

As far as saying the amount of waste is tiny...I'm thinking in terms of exhaust gasses, since lately, more green means less carbon.That's your definition of sustainable, more or less carbon?

The fuel waste could be reprocessed into more useable fuel (and there are new designs that essentially self reprocess the spend fuel and only need refueling after several decades.)Reprocessing fuel/breeder reactors increase the problem of nuclear proliferation. I don't think that South Korea regards Kim's possession of weapons grade nuclear material as sustainable.

I think, if properly run, nuclear can be very green.Like I said, not now.

Look at one of the advantages nuclear has over wind or solar (not that either can really replace it)Now you're changing the discussion to which is better as an energy source. That involves other criteria besides sustainable.

Nuclear power is a highly complex, potentially dangerous technology. Regarding it as green could lead to a head-in-the-sand approach, passing on problems to the next generation that become difficult to deal with. That's not sustainable.

March 16th, 2011, 04:58 PM
March 16, 2011

U.S. Calls Radiation ‘Extremely High’ and Urges Deeper Caution in Japan


WASHINGTON — The chairman of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission gave a significantly bleaker appraisal of the threat posed by Japan’s nuclear crisis than the Japanese government, saying on Wednesday that the damage at one crippled reactor was much more serious than Japanese officials had acknowledged and advising to Americans to evacuate a wider area around the plant than the perimeter established by Japan.

The announcement marked a new and ominous chapter in the five-day long effort by Japanese engineers to bring four side-by-side reactors under control after their cooling systems were knocked out by an earthquake and tsunami last Friday. It also suggested a serious split between Washington and Tokyo, after American officials concluded that the Japanese warnings were insufficient, and that, deliberately or not, they had understated the potential threat of what is taking place inside the nuclear facility.

Gregory Jaczko, the chairman of the commission, said in Congressional testimony that the commission believed that all the water in the spent fuel pool at the No. 4 reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station had boiled dry, leaving fuel rods stored there exposed and bleeding radiation. As a result, he said, “We believe that radiation levels are extremely high, which could possibly impact the ability to take corrective measures.”

If his analysis is accurate and Japanese workers have been unable to keep the spent fuel at that inoperative reactor properly cooled — it needs to remain covered with water at all times — radiation levels could make it difficult not only to fix the problem at reactor No. 4, but to keep workers at the Daiichi complex from servicing any of the other problem reactors at the plant.

Mr. Jaczko (the name is pronounced YAZZ-koe) said radiation levels may make it impossible to continue what he called the “backup backup” cooling functions that have so far helped check the fuel melting at the other reactors. Those efforts consist of using fire hoses to dump water on overheated fuel and then letting the radioactive steam vent into the atmosphere.

Those emergency measures, implemented by a small squad of workers and firemen, are the main steps Japan is taking at Daiichi to forestall a full blown fuel meltdown that would lead to much higher releases of radioactive material.

Mr. Jaczko’s testimony came as the American Embassy in Tokyo, on advice from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, told Americans to evacuate a radius of “approximately 50 miles” from the Fukushima plant.

The advice represents a graver assessment of the risk in the immediate vicinity of Daiichi than the warnings made by the Japanese themselves, who have told everyone within 20 kilometers, about 12 miles, to evacuate, and those between 20 and 30 kilometers to take shelter.

Mr. Jaczko’s testimony, the most extended comments by a senior American official on Japan’s nuclear disaster, described what amounts to an agonizing choice for Japanese authorities: Send a small number of workers into a increasingly radioactive area in a last-ditch effort to cover the spent fuel, and fuel in other reactors, — with water, or do more to protect the workers but risk burning off the pools of water protecting the fuel — and thus risk a broader meltdown.

The Japanese authorities have never been as specific as Mr. Jascko was in his testimony about the situation at reactor No. 4, where they have been battling fires for more than 24 hours. It is possible the authorities there disagree with Mr. Jascko’s conclusion about the exposure of the spent fuel, or that they have chosen not to discuss the matter for fear of panicking people.

Experts say workers at the plant probably could not approach a fuel pool that was dry, because radiation levels would be so high. In a normally operating pool, the water provides not only cooling but also shields workers from gamma radiation. A plan to dump water into the pool, and others like it, from helicopters was suspended because the crews would be flying right into a radioactive plume.

Mr. Jaczko’s analysis suggests that a potentially dangerous chain of events could unfold, as workers trying to cool the adjacent reactors at the facility could also be exposed to intolerable levels of radiation. If they, too, had to withdraw, the problem could worsen, as reactor cores were go uncooled and spent fuel pools run dry.

Earlier in the day, Japanese authorities announced a different escalation of the crisis at Daiichi when they said that a second reactor unit at the plant may have suffered damage to its primary containment structure and appeared to be releasing radioactive steam.

The break, at the No. 3 reactor unit, worsened the already perilous conditions at the plant, a day after officials said the containment vessel in the No. 2 reactor had also cracked.

The possibility of high radiation levels above the plant prompted the Japanese military to put off a highly unusual plan to dump water from helicopters — a tactic normally used to combat forest fires — to lower temperatures in a pool containing spent fuel rods that was dangerously overheating at the No. 4 reactor. The operation would have meant flying a helicopter into the steam rising from the plant.

But in one of a series of rapid and at times confusing pronouncements on the crisis, the authorities insisted that damage to the containment vessel at the No. 3 reactor — the main focus of concern earlier on Wednesday — was unlikely to be severe.

Yukio Edano, the chief cabinet secretary, said the possibility that the No. 3 reactor had “suffered severe damage to its containment vessel is low.” Earlier he said only that the vessel might have been damaged; columns of steam were seen rising from it in live television coverage.

The reactor’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, said it had been able to double the number of people battling the crisis at the plant to 100 from 50, but that was before the clouds of radioactive steam began billowing from the plant. On Tuesday, 750 workers were evacuated, leaving a skeleton crew of 50 struggling to reduce temperatures in the damaged facility. An increasing proportion of the people at the plant are soldiers, but the exact number is not known.

The Pentagon said Wednesday that American military forces in Japan were not allowed within 50 miles of the plant and that some flight crews who might take part in relief missions were being given potassium iodide to protect against the effects of radiation. Tokyo Electric said Wednesday that some of those at the plant had taken cover for 45 minutes on site, and left water pumps running at reactors Nos. 1, 2 and 3. There was no suspension of cooling operations, said Kazuo Yamanaka, an official at Tokyo Electric. The vessel that possibly ruptured on Wednesday had been seen as the last fully intact line of defense against large-scale releases of radioactive material from the stricken reactor, but it was not clear how serious the possible breach might be.

The possible rupture, five days after a devastating earthquake and tsunami crippled the plant, followed a series of explosions and other problems there that have resulted in the world’s worst nuclear crisis since the Chernobyl accident in 1986.

The head of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano, who is Japanese, said he would leave for Japan as soon as possible to assess the situation.

The revised official assessment of the severity of the damage at the No. 3 reactor may have been intended to reduce some concerns about the containment vessel, which encloses the core, but the implications of overheating in the fuel rod pool at No. 4 seemed potentially dire.

There are six reactors at the plant, all of which have pools holding spent fuel rods at the top level of the reactor building. Reactors 4, 5 and 6 were out of service when the earthquake and tsunami struck, and there were concerns about the pools at 5 and 6 as well, and possibly those at the other reactors.

At a hearing in Washington on Wednesday held by two subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said, “We think there is a partial meltdown” at the plant.

“We are trying to monitor it very closely,” he said. “We hear conflicting reports about exactly what is happening in the several reactors now at risk. I would not want to speculate about what is happening.”

He said that his agency had sent 39 people to the American Embassy and to United States consulates in Japan “with the skills, expertise and equipment to help assess, survey and monitor areas.” The department has also shipped survey equipment that can measure radiation levels from the air, he said.

The developments were the latest in Japan’s swirling tragedy since the quake and tsunami struck the country with unbridled ferocity last Friday. Emperor Akihito made his first ever televised appearance on Wednesday to tell the nation he was “deeply worried” about the nuclear crisis.

International alarm about the nuclear crisis appeared to be growing, as several nations urged their citizens in Japan to head to safer areas in the south or leave the country. Prior advisories had largely been limited to simply avoiding nonessential travel. Germany urged its citizens to move to areas farther away from the stricken nuclear plant.

Earlier Wednesday morning, Tokyo Electric reported that a fire was burning at the No. 4 reactor building, just hours after officials said flames that erupted Tuesday had been doused.

A government official at Japan’s nuclear regulatory agency soon after said that flames and smoke were no longer visible, but he cautioned that it was unclear if the fire had died out. He also was not clear if it was a new fire or if the fire Tuesday had never gone out.

Hiroko Tabuchi contributed reporting from Tokyo, and Keith Bradsher from Hong Kong.

Interactive - How a reactor shuts down (http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2011/03/12/world/asia/the-explosion-at-the-japanese-reactor.html?ref=asia)

© Copyright 2011 The New York Times Company

March 16th, 2011, 05:36 PM
It's necessary a battalion of workers willing to die for nuclear radiation in Fukusima. The 'kamikaze' have always been a prototype of Japan culture. In Chernobyl, dozens of helicopter pilots were killed by nuclear radiation in their work after accident to seal the reactor blasted for the explosion.

March 18th, 2011, 11:18 AM
Shigeru Ban develops shelter for displaced Japanese


architnet (http://archinect.com/news/article.php?id=105188_0_24_0_C&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+archinect+%28Archinect.com+Fe ed%29)
March 16, 2011

We just received the following message from a reader...

My friend and roommate from SCI-Arc, Wataru Sakaki and the people in the office of Shigeru Ban Architects are developing simple shelters for the displaced Japanese of the disaster last week, and they can use the architecture community's help. Below is the link to Shigeru Ban Architects' website with information on the design they are working on and where you can donate.

Please do what you can (http://www.shigerubanarchitects.com/SBA_NEWS/SBA_news_5.htm)


AIA President offers assistance to Japan’s architects

Editor At Large (http://www.editoratlarge.com/articles/aia-president-offers-assistance-to-japan’s-architects.html)
March 17, 2011.

President of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Clark Manus issued the following statement regarding the Japan earthquake:

Our hearts go out to the people of Japan as a result of this horrific earthquake and tsunami. We are in contact with our colleagues at AIA Japan and the Japan Institute of Architects to offer not only our condolences but our profession's technical and professional expertise when the initiative begins focusing on rebuilding.

The AIA has members that are able to participate in rapid damage assessments to help people quickly and safely return to structures, or to keep people away from unsafe structures. More than 1,000 AIA members have received specific training to perform this work and the AIA is in touch with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Japan Institute of Architects (JIA) to offer these resources ...

The utterly devastated lives and communities of northern Japan are foremost on our minds. This unimaginable compound natural disaster cries out for a swift response to help alleviate the suffering and salvage the remaining fabric of families, friends, and loved ones.

©2009 JSN Global Media, LLC

March 18th, 2011, 01:57 PM
The 'kamikaze' have always been a prototype of Japan culture.Wasn't that when Shinto was in full force and the emperor was deified?

The same today? Hmmm.

March 18th, 2011, 02:11 PM
Being willing to die for the good of the country goes far beyond the boundaries of Japan.

March 19th, 2011, 12:39 AM
19 March 2011 Last updated at 03:12 GMT

Japan earthquake: Tsunami survivor found eight days on (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12793925?print=true)

Rescuers have found a survivor of Japan's earthquake and tsunami, eight days after the disaster devastated coastal areas in the north.
The young man was found in the city of Kesennuma, in Miyagi prefecture - one of the hardest-hit regions - Japan's NHK broadcaster reported.
The quake and the tsunami it triggered has killed at least 7,200 people. About 11,000 more remain missing.
The disaster also damaged a nuclear plant raising fears of radiation leaks.
The survivor, identified as Katsuharu Moriya and aged in his 20s, was rescued from the second floor of a wrecked house on Saturday, NHK reported.
He is said to be in a stable condition but was in shock and unable to speak.
He has been taken to a nearby hospital for treatment.
One rescuer told the Associated Press news agency: "I found a man wrapped in a blanket. He was physically exhausted."
Earlier, it had been believed that heavy snowfalls had all but ended hopes of rescuing anyone from the rubble.
Alert raised
Millions of people have been affected by the 9.0-magnitude quake and tsunami.
Many survivors have been left without water, electricity, fuel or enough food; hundreds of thousands are homeless.
Meanwhile engineers are attempting to restart the cooling systems of reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which were crippled by the quake.
They have been spraying water to cool overheating reactors and spent fuel rods, to curb the release of radiation. There are fears over four of the six reactors.
A nuclear and industrial safety agency official said: "We are scheduled to restore electricity at number 1 and 2 [reactors] today.
"Reactors number 5 and 6 also will be powered today. They are scheduled to restore power to number 3 and 4 tomorrow (Sunday)."
On Friday the government raised the alert level at the plant from four to five on a seven-point international scale of atomic incidents.
Japanese nuclear officials said core damage to reactors 2 and 3 had prompted the move.
The operator Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) has said it was not ruling out the option of entombing the plant in concrete to prevent more radiation leaks - a similar method was used after the world's worst nuclear accident in Chernobyl in 1986.
Prime Minister Naoto Kan said in a television address on Friday: "We will rebuild Japan from scratch. We must all share this resolve."
He said the natural disaster and nuclear crisis were a "great test for the Japanese people", but exhorted them all to persevere.
The government has now conceded it was too slow in dealing with the nuclear crisis.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano accepted that "in hindsight, we could have moved a little quicker in assessing the situation and coordinating all that information and provided it faster".

An update on this story, just after my post --

Rescue reports found to be inaccurate (http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2011/03/79523.html)
SENDAI, Japan, March 19, Kyodo

News reports about a man rescued from his house eight days after the mega earthquake in Japan made urgent headlines around the world Saturday, but it has been found that he had returned home the previous day after staying at an evacuation center, according to his family.

He had been staying in the shelter since the quake and tsunami hit the coastal city on March 11, and returned home in Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, around noon Friday to clean it up.

March 19th, 2011, 12:41 AM
The 'kamikaze' have always been a prototype of Japan culture.

This is no longer a valid representation, if it ever was truly representative.

March 19th, 2011, 12:46 AM
Regular updates:

NHK World

Kyodo news agency

BBC News --

March 19th, 2011, 12:53 AM
Aid Agencies Helping Tohoku Survivors

Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA)
Donations: 800-424-ADRA (2372)
Donations address: ADRA International, 12501 Old Columbia Pike, Silver Spring MD 20904
Website: http://www.adra.org

All Hands Volunteers
Donations: 919-830-3573
Donations address: PO Box 546, Carlisle MA 01741
Website: http://www.hands.org/donate/japan-tsunami

American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee
Donations: 212-687-6200
Donations address: 132 E. 43rd St PO Box 530, New York NY 10017
Website: http://jdc.org

American Red Cross
Donations: 1-800-RED-CROSS
Donations address: PO Box 37243, Washington DC 20013
Website: http://www.redcross.org

Donations: 203-658-9500
Donations address: 88 Hamilton Ave, Stamford CT 06902
Website: http://americares.org

Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team (AMURT)
Donations: 301-738-7122
Donations address: AMURT, 2502 Lindley Ter, Rockville MD 20850
Website: http://amurt.us

Baptist World Alliance/Baptist World Aid
Donations: 703-790-8980
Donations address: 405 N. Washington St, Falls Church VA 22046
Website: http://www.bwanet.org

Brother's Brother Foundation
Donations: 412-321-3160
Donations address: 1200 Galveston Ave, Pittsburgh PA 15233
Website: http://brothersbrother.org

Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation
Donations: 1-888-989-8244
Donations address: Tzu Chi USA HQ, 1100 S Valley Center Ave, San Dimas CA 91773
Website: http://www.us.tzuchi.org/usa/home.nsf/other/donateCharity

Catholic Relief Services
Donations: 1-877-HELP-CRS
Donations address: PO Box 17090, Baltimore MD 21203-7090
Website: http://crs.org

Christian Reformed World Relief Committee
Donations: 800-55-CRWRC
Donations address: CRWRC, 2850 Kalamazoo Ave SE, Grand Rapids MI 49560-0600
Website: http://www.crwrc.org

Church World Service
Donations: 1-800-297-1516
Donations address: PO Box 968, Elkhart IN 46515
Website: http://www.churchworldservice.org

Direct Relief International
Donations: 805-964-4767
Donations address: 27 S. La Patera Ln, Santa Barbara CA 93117
Website: http://www.DirectRelief.org

Giving Children Hope
Donations: 714-523-4454
Donations address: 8332 Commonwealth Ave, Buena Park CA 90621
Website: http://gchope.org

Habitat for Humanity International
Donations: 1-800-Habitat
Donations address: 270 Peachtree St NW Suite 1300, Atlanta GA 30303-1263
Website: http://habitat.org

International Medical Corps
Donations: 800-481-4462
Donations address: 1919 Santa Monica Blvd Suite 400, Santa Monica CA 90404
Website: http://internationalmedicalcorps.org

International Rescue Committee
Donations: 1-877-REFUGEE (733-8433)
Donations address: 122 E. 42nd St, New York NY 10168
Website: http://www.rescue.org

Mercy Corps
Donations: 800-852-2100
Donations address: Dept. NR, PO Box 2669, Portland OR 97208
Website: https://www.mercycorps.org/donate/japan

Operation Blessing
Donations: 800-730-2537
Donations address: 977 Centerville Tpke, Virginia Beach VA 23463
Website: http://www.operationblessing.org

Relief International
Donations: 310-478-1200
Donations address: 5455 Wilshire Blvd Suite 1280, Los Angeles CA 90036
Website: http://www.ri.org

Save the Children
Donations: 1-800-728-3843
Donations address: 54 Wilton Rd, Westport CT 06880
Website: http://savethechildren.org

World Vision, U.S.
Donations: 1-800-777-5777
Donations address: Federal Way, WA 98063
Website: http://www.worldvision.org

Google resources related to the 2011 Japan Crisis

A Japanese NGO, Jen

March 25th, 2011, 02:10 PM
Japan reactor core may be leaking radioactive material, official says

March 25, 2011 1:35 p.m. EDT

By the CNN Wire Staff
Tokyo (CNN) -- Authorities in Japan raised the prospect Friday of a likely breach in the all-important containment vessel of the No. 3 reactor at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, a potentially ominous development in the race to prevent a large-scale release of radiation.
Contaminated water likely seeped through the containment vessel protecting the reactor's core, said Hidehiko Nishiyama of the Japan Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.
Three employees working near the No. 3 reactor Thursday stepped into water that had 10,000 times the amount of radiation typical for a nuclear plant, Nishiyama said. An analysis of the contamination suggests "some sort of leakage" from the reactor core, signaling a possible break of the containment vessel that houses the core, he said.
The workers have been hospitalized and work inside the reactor building has been halted, according to the agency.
Work inside two other reactor buildings also had to stop and workers had to be pulled back Friday after the discovery of high levels of radiation in water at those locations, a Tokyo Electric Power Company official said Saturday. Water is still being pumped into the containment vessels, the utility official said.

read full story and see video:

March 25th, 2011, 09:28 PM
The confirmed and presumed death toll now stands at above 27,000. More than 300,000 are homeless. It will take up to five years to rebuild, and cost almost 5% of Japan's GDP, making the costliest disaster since WWII.

An incredible photographic essay from The Atlantic --

March 25th, 2011, 09:42 PM
Three employees working near the No. 3 reactor Thursday stepped into water that had 10,000 times the amount of radiation typical for a nuclear plant, Nishiyama said.

I read this several times and cannot believe it, if it means what it seems to mean. What could be "10,000 times the amount of radiation typical for a nuclear plant" mean? Does it really mean that this nuclear plant is hyper-radioactive, or is this a poorly structured sentence, or am I missing something?

March 26th, 2011, 07:11 AM
It sounds to me like you're getting it right. :(

March 26th, 2011, 09:51 AM
I read this several times and cannot believe it, if it means what it seems to mean. What could be "10,000 times the amount of radiation typical for a nuclear plant" mean? Does it really mean that this nuclear plant is hyper-radioactive, or is this a poorly structured sentence, or am I missing something?From what I've read, monitors around the plant have shown airborne radiation to be decreasing, while water contamination has become very high. Water is used - in different ways - to cool the reactor and spent fuel. It is speculated that a reactor breach is the cause of the high level contamination of the water.

The two type of reactors in use are the Boiling Water Reactors and Pressurized Water Reactors. The damaged plant in Japan is a BWR. Three mile Island is a PWR. A critical difference is the height above ground that the spent fuel pool is located - height amplifies shaking in an earthquake.

There's a good graphic at this NY Times article (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/20/weekinreview/20wald.html).

A technical description of the two types of reactors:

BPR (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boiling_water_reactor)

PWR (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pressurized_water_reactor)

March 26th, 2011, 12:28 PM
If I were Japanese, I'd be utterly exasperated at this point:

A spokesman said the spike in radioactive iodine—to 1,250 times the legal limit—didn't pose an immediate threat to human health or the area environment, since the material quickly dissipates in the tides and would become diluted before reaching fish and seaweed.


So water around the plant is 10,000 times more radioactive than your usual nuke plant coolant, and radioactive iodine is 1250 times the legal limit, and families in Tokyo are drinking bottled water because radioactive poison has been found in the water supply, and the government is now encouraging a wider evacuation zone, but there is still no serious threat to human health.... :mad:

March 26th, 2011, 01:19 PM
Restrictions on food imports from Japan are spreading. The US has already banned milk, vegetable, and fruit imports from several Prefectures near the power plants. However, Japanese imports account for only 4% of the US food supply.

Ban Grows on Japanese Food Imports

Mil Arcega March 25, 2011

Imported seafood from Japan is screened for radiation by a chef at a Japanese restaurant in Hong Kong to make sure the food is safe to eat, March 22, 2011

The number of governments that have banned Japanese food imports due to fears of radiation contamination is growing. On Friday, China joined Singapore and the U.S. in halting some imported foods from radiation-affected areas of Japan. Other governments are expected to take similar precautionary measures as Japan struggles to contain the damage from the Fukushima nuclear plant.

The situation at the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant remains precarious after several workers there suffered radiation burns while attempting to cool one of the damaged reactors.

Although the extent of contamination remains unclear, the damage to farms and livelihoods is spreading. At one of Japan's busiest fish markets, Yasumichi Tanaka said the daily catch is dwindling. "Fish supplies from the radiation contaminated regions have been totally halted."

Produce markets also have taken a hit. Retailers say some customers are avoiding all vegetables, not just those likely to be contaminated.
International orders have suffered, as well.

On Friday, China joined the growing list of countries that have halted food imports from affected regions. State TV reported the banned items included milk products, fruit, vegetables and seafood.

In Singapore, where some Japanese foods already are banned, restaurant manager Connie Hon said her customers are worried. "Consumer confidence is yes, somewhat shaken, I would say, amongst some of the Singapore populace, but that can't be helped, I think."

And at another popular restaurant, manager Nakakita Yoshihiko said the menu has changed. "First of all, they want to know the food comes from where and is it safe or not? These are two major questions and it's very easy to answer. It does not come from Fukushima, and Singapore is able to check all the items to make sure the food is safe."

Canada, Australia and Russia have adopted similar bans on Japanese foods. Health and security researcher Bill Durodie said more countries are likely to follow. "The reality is the United States made the decision a few days ago and it's almost inevitable that once a country that size has decided to act in that way, others will follow suit."

But an expert on the politics of energy said the danger of radiation-contaminated foods is greatly exaggerated. Charles Ebinger at the Brookings Institution told VOA that an average adult would have to drink a quart of contaminated milk each day for one year to receive the same radiation as one CAT scan.

Ebinger said the one certainty is the economic damage to Japan's northeast. "That particular part of Japan is deeply dependent on agriculture and fish, so I think inside the Japanese economy, we'll see pockets of areas that have been exposed to contamination, see their economy hurt very much."

Many European countries have yet to announce bans on Japanese food imports. Germany and France have started screening food samples. They say there will be no restrictions on Japanese food imports, however, until the test results are back.


How damaged nuclear plant's radiation gets into food, water

Officials in Japan's capital Wednesday advised parents not to give city tap water to infants after tests showed it had elevated levels of radioactive iodine - a problem attributed to a nuclear plant damaged in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Radiation exceeding legal limits also has been found in 11 types of vegetables and milk in prefectures surrounding the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, prompting some prefectures to stop shipping these products. The United States is preventing the import of milk, milk products, fresh vegetables and fruit from four Japanese prefectures, though certain products could be allowed in if tests show them to be safe, a Food and Drug Administration spokeswoman said.

Below are brief explanations of how the radiation can get into food and water and how dangerous the food/water contamination in this instance might be.

Traveling from nuclear plant to food, water and milk

Radioactive particles escaping from the Fukushima Daiichi plant bind to dust, traveling in the air for a distance before coming to ground, according to CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. The particles, such as cesium-137 and iodine-131, contaminate farm produce and water simply by falling on them.

The large surface areas of leafy vegetables, such as spinach, make them likely to collect greater amounts of particles than many other produce types, said Marko Moscovitch, professor at Georgetown's Department of Radiation Medicine.

The main way these particles get into milk is when they fall on the grass eaten by cows.

What are the risks of consuming the food, milk and water?

Experts say little is known about how eating radiation-contaminated food affects people in the short- and long-term. But experts who have spoken with CNN say that the contamination levels reported so far appear to pose very little risk.

Dr. James Cox, an oncology professor at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, said he believes the radiation levels measured in these products pose a "nonexistent" immediate risk to humans, and "very low" long-term risk.

Spinach tested in a prefecture south of Fukushima showed radiation up to 27 times greater than the legal limit. Gupta, however, said a person "would have to eat the contaminated spinach from Japan every day for one year to get the same amount of radiation you would get from one chest CT (computed tomography) scan."

A chest CT scan would expose a person to about 7 millisieverts of radiation. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission says that an average person gets about 3.1 millisieverts annually from natural sources, and an average American - thanks in part to medical diagnostic procedures and other man-made sources of radiation - gets about 6.2 millisieverts per year.

Even low radiation doses can damage or alter the DNA of irradiated cells, the NRC says. And the radiation protection community "conservatively assumes that any amount of radiation may pose some risk for causing cancer and hereditary effect, and that the risk is higher for higher radiation exposures," the NRC says.

But Gupta and Moscovitch say it's highly unlikely that the radiation reported so far in Japanese food would pose a risk to human health.

"(The radiation is) not negligible my any means. But impact on human health? Not likely," Gupta said Wednesday night on the CNN program "In the Arena."

Read more about what Cox - an expert on the effects of radiation on the survivors of Nagasaki and Hiroshima - has to say about the risks in this story, which also addresses the consumption of contaminated milk following the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986.

The concern about infants and the contaminated water

Tokyo officials recommended withholding tap water from infants after government samples taken Tuesday night found 210 becquerels of radioactive iodine per kilogram of water - two times higher than the limit that the government considers safe for infants.

The amount of iodine detected was lower than the level considered safe for adults: 300 becquerels per kilogram. A liter of water weights 1 kilogram. A becquerel is a measurement of radioactive intensity by weight.

The level set for infants is "very conservative," Cox said, but elevated radiation levels are considered a problem for small children, because their thyroid glands are more susceptible to radioactive iodine.

"Erring on the side of caution for the extreme degree for children makes good sense," Cox said. For adults, "as far as the immediate health risk, something that would make people sick, I don't think that would come close to it."

Can radioactive contamination be removed from water?

The World Health Organization says standard water treatment procedures - including coagulation, sedimentation and filtration - might remove "significant amounts of radioactive contaminants." Other options including blending contaminated water with noncontaminated water to dilute the radioactive particles, the organization says.

CNN's Thom Patterson, Elizabeth Landau, Danielle Dellorto, Miriam Falco, Madison Park and Jason Hanna contributed

© 2011 Cable News Network

March 28th, 2011, 08:05 AM
@ hbcat

Depends on where the water is.

If this is drain water, it means that the plant normally releases small amounts of radioactive material and that the stuff that is currently out there is probably directly exposed rather than filtered/stored/monitored/controlled.

10,000 is nothing when you think of the scale that is used to measure things like EM energy. And by "nothing" I do not mean that there is nothing to worry about, but that there is the possibility for so much more than 10,000........


I think the shift from air to water has to do with the water they have been dumping on the plant. Naturally cooling down the reactor core will reduce steam and airborne release, but those firehoses and seawater dumps are not controlled, so whatever gets dumped on the core has to come out somehow....

March 28th, 2011, 01:12 PM
Japan Fears Nuclear Reactor Is Leaking Contaminated Water

By HIROKO TABUCHI (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/t/hiroko_tabuchi/index.html?inline=nyt-per) and KEN BELSON (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/b/ken_belson/index.html?inline=nyt-per)

Published: March 28, 2011

TOKYO — Highly contaminated water is escaping a damaged reactor at the crippled nuclear power plant in Japan (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/japan/index.html?inline=nyt-geo) and could soon leak into the ocean, the country’s nuclear regulator warned on Monday.
The discovery raises the danger of further radiation leaks at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station and is a further setback to efforts to contain the nuclear crisis as workers find themselves in increasingly hazardous conditions.
Radiation measuring 1,000 millisieverts per hour was detected in water in an overflow tunnel outside the plant’s Reactor No. 2, Japan’s nuclear regulator said at a news conference. The maximum dose allowed for workers at the plant is 250 millisieverts in a year.
The tunnel leads from the reactor’s turbine building, where contaminated water was discovered on Saturday, to an opening just 180 feet from the sea, said Hidehiko Nishiyama, deputy director-general for the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.
The contaminated water level is now about three feet from the exit of the vertical, U-shaped tunnel and rising, Mr. Nishiyama said.

Contaminated water was also found at tunnels leading from the No. 1 and No. 3 reactors, though with much lower levels of radiation.
“We are unsure whether there is already an overflow” of the water out of the tunnel, Mr. Nishiyama said. He said workers were redoubling efforts to first remove the water from the Reactor No. 2 turbine building. Government officials have said that the water is probably leaking from broken pipes inside the reactor, from a breach in the reactor’s containment vessel or from the inner pressure vessel that houses the nuclear fuel.

For full story and diagrams:

March 28th, 2011, 02:17 PM
I think the shift from air to wwater has to do with the water they have been dumping on the plant. Naturally cooling down the reactor core will reduce steam and airborne release, but those firefoses and seawater dumps are not controlled, so whatever gets dumped on the core has to come out somehow....The coolant is in a closed system. That's why the very high radiation levels leads them to suspect that there's been a breach in the reactor, and coolant has escaped.

Government officials have said that the water is probably leaking from broken pipes inside the reactor, from a breach in the reactor’s containment vessel or from the inner pressure vessel that houses the nuclear fuel.It doesn't help that in their efforts be be un-Chernobyl-like and say nothing, plant officials have released inaccurate or conflicting information. Like...

"Readings show contamination of one million times above normal."

"No wait, that's wrong. It's one hundred thousand times above normal."

Either one would scare the hell out of me, but both of them gives the impression that the situation is out of control.

March 28th, 2011, 02:58 PM
Plutonium should be banned from nuclear reactors worldwide. Even one speck of 27 micrograms ingested will result in a 100% chance of getting lung cancer or worse. The Japanese are bumbling in their response to this nuclear emergency, they need to get this nuclear material isolated immediately or many people in Japan are going to eventually start growing tumors

March 28th, 2011, 05:58 PM
More radioactive water spills at Japan nuke plant

TOKYO (AP) — Workers have discovered new pools of radioactive water leaking from Japan's crippled nuclear complex that officials believe are behind soaring levels of radiation spreading to soil and seawater.

Crews also detected plutonium — a key ingredient in nuclear weapons — in the soil outside the complex, though officials insisted Monday the finding posed no threat to public health.

Plutonium is present in the fuel at the complex, which has been leaking radiation for more than two weeks, so experts had expected to find traces once crews began searching for evidence of it this week.

The Fukushima Dai-ichi power plant was crippled March 11 when a tsunami spawned by a powerful earthquake slammed into Japan's northeastern coast. The huge wave destroyed the power systems needed to cool the nuclear fuel rods in the complex, 140 miles (220 kilometers) northeast of Tokyo.

Since then, three of the complex's six reactors are believed to have partially melted down, and emergency crews have struggled with everything from malfunctioning pumps to dangerous spikes in radiation that have forced temporary evacuations.

Confusion at the plant has intensified fears that the nuclear crisis will continue for months or even years amid alarms over radiation making its way into produce, raw milk and even tap water as far away as Tokyo.

The troubles have eclipsed Pennsylvania's 1979 crisis at Three Mile Island, when a partial meltdown raised fears of widespread radiation release. But it is still well short of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, which killed at least 31 people with radiation sickness, raised long-term cancer rates and spewed radiation across much of the northern hemisphere.

Tokyo Electric Power Co., which runs the complex, said plutonium was found in soil at five locations at the nuclear plant, but that only two samples appeared to be plutonium from the leaking reactors. The rest came from years of nuclear tests that left trace amounts of plutonium in many places around the world.

Plutonium is a heavy element that doesn't readily combine with other elements, so it is less likely to spread than some of the lighter, more volatile radioactive materials detected around the site, such as the radioactive forms of cesium and iodine.

"The relative toxicity of plutonium is much higher than that of iodine or cesium but the chance of people getting a dose of it is much lower," says Robert Henkin, professor emeritus of radiology at Loyola University's Stritch School of Medicine. "Plutonium just sits there and is a nasty actor."

The trouble comes if plutonium finds a way into the human body. The fear in Japan is that water containing plutonium at the station turns to steam and is breathed in, or that the contaminated water from the station migrates into drinking water.

When plutonium decays it emits what is known as an alpha particle, a relatively big particle that carries a lot of energy. When an alpha particle hits body tissue, it can damage the DNA of a cell and lead to a cancer-causing mutation.

Plutonium also breaks down very slowly, so it remains dangerously radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years.

"If you inhale it, it's there and it stays there forever," said Alan Lockwood, a professor of Neurology and Nuclear Medicine at the University at Buffalo and a member of the board of directors of Physicians for Social Responsibility, an advocacy group.

While parts of the Japanese plant have been reconnected to the power grid, the contaminated water — which has now been found in numerous places around the complex, including the basements of several buildings — must be pumped out before electricity can be restored to the cooling system.

That has left officials struggling with two sometimes-contradictory efforts: pumping in water to keep the fuel rods cool and pumping out — and then safely storing — contaminated water.

Hidehiko Nishiyama, a spokesman for Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, called that balance "very delicate work."

He also said workers were still looking for safe ways to store the radioactive water. "We are exploring all means," he said.

Meanwhile, new readings showed ocean contamination had spread about a mile (1.6 kilometers) farther north of the nuclear site than before, but was still within the 12-mile (20-kilometer) radius of the evacuation zone. Radioactive iodine-131 was discovered offshore at a level 1,150 times higher than normal, Nishiyama told reporters.

The buildup of radioactive water first became a problem last week, when it splashed over the boots of two workers, burning them and prompting a temporary suspension of work.

Then on Monday, Tokyo Electric Power Co. officials said workers had found more radioactive water in deep trenches used for pipes and electrical wiring outside three units.

The contaminated water has been emitting radiation exposures more than four times the amount the government considers safe for workers.

The five workers in the area at the time were not hurt, said TEPCO spokesman Takashi Kurita.

Exactly where the water is coming from remains unclear, though many suspect it is cooling water that has leaked from one of the disabled reactors.

It could take weeks to pump out the radioactive water, said Gary Was, a nuclear engineering professor at the University of Michigan.

"Battling the contamination so workers can work there is going to be an ongoing problem," he said.

Amid reports that people had been sneaking back into the mandatory evacuation zone around the nuclear complex, the chief government spokesman again urged residents to stay out. Yukio Edano said contaminants posed a "big" health risk in that area.

Gregory Jaczko, head of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, arrived in Tokyo on Monday to meet with Japanese officials and discuss the situation.

"The unprecedented challenge before us remains serious, and our best experts remain fully engaged to help Japan," Jaczko was quoted as saying in a U.S. Embassy statement.

Early Monday, a strong earthquake shook the northeastern coast and prompted a brief tsunami alert. The quake was measured at magnitude 6.5, the Japan Meteorological Agency said. No damage or injuries were reported.

Scores of earthquakes have rattled the country over the past two weeks, adding to the sense of unease across Japan, where the final death toll is expected to top 18,000 people, with hundreds of thousands still homeless.

TEPCO officials said Sunday that radiation in leaking water in Unit 2 was 10 million times above normal — a report that sent employees fleeing. But the day ended with officials saying that figure had been miscalculated and the level was actually 100,000 times above normal, still very high but far better than the earlier results.

"This sort of mistake is not something that can be forgiven," Edano said sternly Monday.

Associated Press writers Jonathan Fahey in New York and Tomoko A. Hosaka, Mayumi Saito, Mari Yamaguchi and Jeff Donn in Tokyo contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press

Alpha particle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alpha_particle#Biological_effects). See "Energy and Absorption" and "Biological Effects."

March 28th, 2011, 08:48 PM
...10 million times above normal — a report that sent employees fleeing. But the day ended with officials saying that figure had been miscalculated and the level was actually 100,000 times above normal...
Two decimal points. A 100-fold error.

March 29th, 2011, 08:26 AM
The factor is irrelevant. Once you start going above, say, 10,000 you know something is wrong. It is no longer "secondary" radiation, but rather the hot stuff coming strait from the reactor core itself.

I think they need to have a press team to get the information from the techs and scientists, the latter of which are always known to say something before being able to completely verify it (in their excitement or worry) and end up retracting their words. in a situation like this, it is more important to get it right than to get it out first.

Although I do not like making technical information "friendly", it is important we do not have a bunch of information getting out before it is confirmed and before it can be, at least, partially diagnosed....

Zip - I think you are right, but what I am saying is that the reason it is coming out is because it needs to get out somehow. So much was dumped in there to keep it cool that it is now taking what HAS leaked and is discharging it to the surrounding area.....

March 29th, 2011, 09:44 AM
The factor is irrelevant. Once you start going above, say, 10,000 you know something is wrong. It is no longer "secondary" radiation, but rather the hot stuff coming strait from the reactor core itself.Not true at all.

100,000 times above normal is an hourly dose of 1 Sievert (1000 milliSieverts).

100 Sieverts? You are dead, guaranteed. Those workers who ran away knew exactly what they were doing.

March 29th, 2011, 11:59 AM
Special Report: How Japan lost
calculated nuclear risk

Kevin Krolicki, Scott Disavino And Taro Fuse

TOKYO (Reuters) - Over the past two weeks, Japanese government officials and Tokyo Electric Power executives have repeatedly described the deadly combination of the most powerful quake in Japan's history and the massive tsunami that followed as "soteigai," or beyond expectations.

When Tokyo Electric President Masataka Shimizu apologized to the people of Japan for the continuing crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant he called the double disaster "marvels of nature that we have never experienced before".

But a review of company and regulatory records shows that Japan and its largest utility repeatedly downplayed dangers and ignored warnings -- including a 2007 tsunami study from Tokyo Electric Power Co's senior safety engineer.

"We still have the possibilities that the tsunami height exceeds the determined design height due to the uncertainties regarding the tsunami phenomenon," Tokyo Electric researchers said in a report reviewed by Reuters.

The research paper concluded that there was a roughly 10 percent chance that a tsunami could test or overrun the defenses of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant within a 50-year span based on the most conservative assumptions.

But Tokyo Electric did nothing to change its safety planning based on that study, which was presented at a nuclear engineering conference in Miami in July 2007.

Meanwhile, Japanese nuclear regulators clung to a model that left crucial safety decisions in the hands of the utility that ran the plant, according to regulatory records, officials and outside experts.

Among examples of the failed opportunities to prepare for disaster, Japanese nuclear regulators never demanded that Tokyo Electric reassess its fundamental assumptions about earthquake and tsunami risk for a nuclear plant built more than four decades ago. In the 1990s, officials urged but did not require that Tokyo Electric and other utilities shore up their system of plant monitoring in the event of a crisis, the record shows.

Even though Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, (NISA) one of the three government bodies charged with nuclear safety, cataloged the damage to nuclear plant vent systems from an earlier earthquake, it did not require those to be protected against future disasters or hardened against explosions.

That marked a sharp break with safety practices put in place in the United States in the 1980s after Three Mile Island, even though Japan modeled its regulation on U.S. precedents and even allowed utilities to use American disaster manuals in some cases.

Ultimately, when the wave was crashing in, everything came down to the ability of Tokyo Electric's front-line workers to carry out disaster plans under intense pressure.

But even in normal operations, the regulatory record shows Tokyo Electric had been cited for more dangerous operator errors over the past five years than any other utility. In a separate 2008 case, it admitted that a 17-year-old worker had been hired illegally as part of a safety inspection at Fukushima Daiichi.

"It's a bit strange for me that we have officials saying this was outside expectations," said Hideaki Shiroyama, a professor at the University of Tokyo who has studied nuclear safety policy. "Unexpected things can happen. That's the world we live in."

He added: "Both the regulators and TEPCO are trying to avoid responsibility."

Najmedin Meshkati, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Southern California, said the government's approach of relying heavily on Tokyo Electric to do the right thing largely on its own had clearly failed.

"The Japanese government is receiving some advice, but they are relying on the already badly stretched resources of TEPCO to handle this," said Meshkati, a researcher of the Chernobyl disaster who has been critical of the company's safety record before. "Time is not on our side."

The revelation that Tokyo Electric had put a number to the possibility of a tsunami beyond the designed strength of its Fukushima nuclear plant comes at a time when investor confidence in the utility is in fast retreat.

Shares in the world's largest private utility have lost almost three-fourth of their value -- $30 billion -- since the March 11 earthquake pushed the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant into crisis. Analysts see a chance the utility will be nationalized by the Japanese government in the face of mounting liability claims and growing public frustration.


The tsunami research presented by a Tokyo Electric team led by Toshiaki Sakai came on the first day of a three-day conference in July 2007 organized by the International Conference on Nuclear Engineering.

It represented the product of several years of work at Japan's top utility, prompted by the 2004 earthquake off the coast of Sumatra that had shaken the industry's accepted wisdom. In that disaster, the tsunami that hit Indonesia and a dozen other countries around the Indian Ocean also flooded a nuclear power plant in southern India. That raised concerns in Tokyo about the risk to Japan's 55 nuclear plants, many exposed to the dangerous coast in order to have quick access to water for cooling.

Tokyo Electric's Fukushima Daiichi plant, some 240 km (150 miles) northeast of Tokyo, was a particular concern.

The 40-year-old nuclear complex was built near a quake zone in the Pacific that had produced earthquakes of magnitude 8 or higher four times in the past 400 years -- in 1896, 1793, 1677 and then in 1611, Tokyo Electric researchers had come to understand.

Based on that history, Sakai, a senior safety manager at Tokyo Electric, and his research team applied new science to a simple question: What was the chance that an earthquake-generated wave would hit Fukushima? More pressing, what were the odds that it would be larger than the roughly 6-meter (20 feet) wall of water the plant had been designed to handle?

The tsunami that crashed through the Fukushima plant on March 11 was 14 meters high.

Sakai's team determined the Fukushima plant was dead certain to be hit by a tsunami of one or two meters in a 50-year period. They put the risk of a wave of 6 meters or more at around 10 percent over the same time span.

In other words, Tokyo Electric scientists realized as early as 2007 that it was quite possible a giant wave would overwhelm the sea walls and other defenses at Fukushima by surpassing engineering assumptions behind the plant's design that date back to the 1960s.

Company Vice President Sakae Muto said the utility had built its Fukushima nuclear power plant "with a margin for error" based on its assessment of the largest waves to hit the site in the past.

That would have included the magnitude 9.5 Chile earthquake in 1960 that killed 140 in Japan and generated a wave estimated at near 6 meters, roughly in line with the plans for Fukushima Daiichi a decade later.

"It's been pointed out by some that there could be a bigger tsunami than we had planned for, but my understanding of the situation is that there was no consensus among the experts," Muto said in response to a question from Reuters.

Despite the projection by its own safety engineers that the older assumptions might be mistaken, Tokyo Electric was not breaking any Japanese nuclear safety regulation by its failure to use its new research to fortify Fukushima Daiichi, which was built on the rural Pacific coast to give it quick access to sea water and keep it away from population centers.

"There are no legal requirements to re-evaluate site related (safety) features periodically," the Japanese government said in a response to questions from the United Nations nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, in 2008.

In fact, in safety guidelines issued over the past 20 years, Japanese nuclear safety regulators had all but written off the risk of a severe accident that would test the vaunted safety standards of one of their 55 nuclear reactors, a key pillar of the nation's energy and export policies.

That has left planning for a strategy to head off runaway meltdown in the worst case scenarios to Tokyo Electric in the belief that the utility was best placed to handle any such crisis, according to published regulations.

In December 2010, for example, Japan's Nuclear Safety Commission said the risk for a severe accident was "extremely low" at reactors like those in operation at Fukushima. The question of how to prepare for those scenarios would be left to utilities, the commission said.

A 1992 policy guideline by the NSC also concluded core damage at one of Japan's reactors severe enough to release radiation would be an event with a probability of once in 185 years. So with such a limited risk of happening, the best policy, the guidelines say, is to leave emergency response planning to Tokyo electric and other plant operators.


Over the past 20 years, nuclear operators and regulators in Europe and the United States have taken a new approach to managing risk. Rather than simple defenses against failures, researchers have examined worst-case outcomes to test their assumptions, and then required plants to make changes.

They have looked especially at the chance that a single calamity could wipe out an operator's main defense and its backup, just as the earthquake and tsunami did when the double disaster took out the main power and backup electricity to Fukushima Daiichi.

Japanese nuclear safety regulators have been slow to embrace those changes.

Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA), one of three government bodies with responsibility for safety policy and inspections, had published guidelines in 2005 and 2006 based on the advances in regulation elsewhere but did not insist on their application.

"Since, in Japanese safety regulation, the application of risk information is scarce in experience � (the) guidelines are in trial use," the NISA said.

Japanese regulators and Tokyo Electric instead put more emphasis on regular maintenance and programs designed to catch flaws in the components of their aging plants.

That was the thinking behind extending the life of the No. 1 reactor at Fukushima Daiichi, which had been scheduled to go out of commission in February after a 40-year run.

But shutting down the reactor would have made it much more difficult for Japan to reach its target of deriving half of its total generation of electricity from nuclear power by June 2010 -- or almost double its share in 2007.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) figured it could reach the target by building at least 14 new nuclear plants, and running existing plants harder and longer. Fukushima's No. 1 reactor was given a 10-year extension after Tokyo Electric submitted a maintenance plan.

Safety regulators, who also belong to METI, did not require Tokyo Electric to rethink the fundamental safety assumptions behind the plant. The utility only had to insure the reactor's component parts were not being worn down dangerously, according to a 2009 presentation by the utility's senior maintenance engineer.

That kind of thinking -- looking at potential problems with components without seeing the risk to the overall plant -- was evident in the way that Japanese officials responded to trouble with backup generators at a nuclear reactor even before the tsunami.

On four occasions over the past four years, safety inspectors from Japan and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) were called in to review failures with backup diesel generators at nuclear plants.

In June 2007, an inspector was dispatched to Fukushima's No. 4 reactor, where the backup generator had caught fire after a circuit breaker was installed improperly, according to the inspector's report.

"There is no need of providing feedback to other plants for the reason that no similar event could occur," the June 2007 inspection concluded.

The installation had met its safety target. Nothing in that report or any other shows safety inspectors questioned the placement of the generators on low ground near the shore where they proved to be at highest risk for tsunami damage at Fukushima Daiichi.


Japanese nuclear regulators have handed primary responsibility for dealing with nuclear plant emergencies to the utilities themselves. But that hinges on their ability to carry them out in an actual crisis, and the record shows that working in a nuclear reactor has been a dangerous and stressful job in Japan even under routine conditions.

Inspectors with Japan's Nuclear Energy Safety Organization have recorded 18 safety lapses at Tokyo Electric's 17 nuclear plants since 2005. Ten of them were attributed to mistakes by staff and repairmen.

They included failures to follow established maintenance procedures and failures to perform prescribed safety checks. Even so, Tokyo Electric was left on its own to set standards for nuclear plant staff certification, a position some IAEA officials had questioned in 2008.

In March 2004, two workers in Tokyo Electric's Fukushima Daini plant passed out when the oxygen masks they were using - originally designed for use on an airplane - began leaking and allowed nitrogen to seep into their air supply.

The risks also appear to have made it hard to hire for key positions. In 2008, Toshiba admitted it had illegally used six employees under the age of 18 as part of a series of inspections of nuclear power plants at Tokyo Electric and Tohoku Electric. One of those minors, then aged 17, had participated in an inspection of the Fukushima Daiichi No. 5 reactor, Tokyo Electric said then.

The magnitude 9.0 quake struck on Friday afternoon of March 11 -- the most powerful in Japan's long history of them -- pushed workers at the Fukushima plant to the breaking point as injuries mounted and panic took hold.

Hiroyuki Nishi, a subcontractor who had been moving scaffolding inside Reactor No. 3 when the quake hit, described a scene of chaos as a massive hook came crashing down next to him. "People were shouting 'Get out, get out!'" Nishi said. "Everyone was screaming."

In the pandemonium, workers pleaded to be let out, knowing a tsunami was soon to come. But Tokyo Electric supervisors appealed for calm, saying each worker had to be tested first for radiation exposure. Eventually, the supervisors relented, threw open the doors to the plant and the contractors scrambled for high ground just ahead of the tsunami.

After the wave receded, two employee were missing, apparently washed away while working on unit No. 4. Two contractors were treated for leg fractures and two others were treated for slight engineers. A ninth worker was being treated for a stroke.

In the chaos of the early response, workers did not notice when the diesel pumps at No. 2 ran out of fuel, allowing water levels to fall and fuel to become exposed and overheat. When the Fukushima plant suffered its second hydrogen blast in three days the following Monday, Tokyo electric executives only notified the prime minister's office an hour later. Seven workers had been injured in the explosion along with four soldiers.

An enraged Prime Minister Naoto Kan pulled up to Tokyo Electric's headquarters the next morning before dawn. "What the hell is going on?" reporters outside the closed-door discussion reported hearing Kan demand angrily of senior executives.

Errors of judgment by workers in the hot zone and errors of calculation by plant managers hampered the emergency response a full week later as some 600 soldiers and workers struggled to contain the spread of radiation.

On Thursday, two workers at Fukushima were shuttled to the hospital to be treated for potential radiation burns after wading in water in the turbine building of reactor No. 3. The workers had ignored their radiation alarms thinking they were broken.

Then Tokyo electric officials pulled workers back from an effort to pump water out of the No. 2 reactor and reported that radiation readings were 10 million times normal. They later apologized, saying that reading was wrong. The actual reading was still 100,000 times normal, Tokyo Electric said.

The government's chief spokesman was withering in his assessment. "The radiation readings are an important part of a number of important steps we're taking to protect safety," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told reporters. "There is no excuse for getting them wrong."


Although U.S. nuclear plant operators were required to install "hardened" vent systems in the 1980s after the Three Mile Island incident, Japan's Nuclear Safety Commission rejected the need to require such systems in 1992, saying that should be left to the plant operators to decide.

A nuclear power plant's vent represents one of the last resorts for operators struggling to keep a reactor from pressure that could to blow the building that houses it apart and spread radiation, which is what happened at Chernobyl 25 years ago. A hardened vent in a U.S. plant is designed to behave like the barrel on a rifle, strong enough to withstand an explosive force from within.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission concluded in the late 1980s that the General Electric designed Mark I reactors, like those used at Fukushima, required safety modifications.

The risks they flagged, and that Tokyo did not heed, would come back to haunt Japan in the Fukushima crisis.

First, U.S. researchers concluded that a loss of power at one of the nuclear plants would be one of the "dominant contributors" to the most severe accidents. Flooding of the reactor building would worsen the risks. The NRC also required U.S. plants to install "hard pipe" after concluding the sheet-metal ducts used in Japan could make things much worse.

"Venting via a sheet metal duct system could result in a reactor building hydrogen burn," researchers said in a report published in November 2008.

In the current crisis, the failure of the more vulnerable duct vents in Fukushima's No. 1 and No. 3 reactors may have contributed to the hydrogen explosions that blew the roof off the first and left the second a tangled hulk of steel beams in the first three days of the crisis.

The plant vents, which connect to the big smokestack-like towers, appear to have been damaged in the quake or the tsunami, one NISA official said.

Even without damage, opening the vulnerable vents in the presence of a build-up of hydrogen gas was a known danger. In the case of Fukushima, opening the vents to relieve pressure was like turning on an acetylene torch and then watching the flame "shoot back into the fuel tank," said one expert with knowledge of Fukushima who asked not to be identified because of his commercial ties in Japan.

Tokyo Electric began venting the No. 1 reactor on March 12 just after 10 a.m. An hour earlier the pressure in the reactor was twice its designed limit. Six hours later the reactor exploded.

The same pattern held with reactor No. 3. Venting to relieve a dangerous build-up of pressure in the reactor began on March 13. A day later, the outer building - a concrete and steel shell known as the "secondary containment" -- exploded.

Toshiaki Sakai, the Tokyo Electric researcher who worked on tsunami risk, also sat on a panel in 2008 that reviewed the damage to the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant. In that case, Tokyo Electric safely shut down the plant, which survived a quake 2.5 times stronger than it had been designed to handle.

Sakai and the other panelists agreed that despite the successful outcome the way the ground sank and broke underground pipes needed for firefighting equipment had to be considered "a failure to fulfill expected performance".

Japanese regulators also knew a major earthquake could damage exhaust ducts. A September 2007 review of damage at the same Tokyo Electric nuclear plant by NISA Deputy Director Akira Fukushima showed two spots where the exhaust ducts had broken.

No new standard was put in place requiring vents to be shored up against potential damage, records show.

Masashi Goto, a former nuclear engineer who has turned critical of the industry, said he believed Tokyo Electric and regulators wrongly focused on the parts of the plant that performed well in the 2007 quake, rather than the weaknesses it exposed. "I think they drew the wrong lesson," Goto said.

The March 11 quake not only damaged the vents but also the gauges in the Fukushima Daiichi complex, which meant that Tokyo Electric was without much of the instrumentation it needed to assess the situation on the ground during the crisis.

"The data we're getting is very sketchy and makes it impossible for us to do the analysis," said David Lochbaum, a nuclear expert and analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists. "It's hard to connect the dots when there are so few dots."

In fact, Japan's NSC had concluded in 1992 that it was important for nuclear plant operators to have access to key gauges and instruments even in the kind of crisis that had not happened then. But it left plans on how to implement that policy entirely to the plant operators.

In the Fukushima accident, most meters and gauges were taken out by the loss of power in the early days of the crisis.

That left a pair of workers in a white Prius to race into the plant to get radiation readings with a handheld device in the early days of the crisis, according to Tokyo Electric.

They could have used robots to go in.

Immediately after the tsunami, a French firm with nuclear expertise shipped robots for use in Fukushima, a European nuclear expert said. The robots are built to withstand high radiation.

But Japan, arguably the country with the most advanced robotics industry, stopped them from arriving in Fukishima, saying such help could only come through government channels, said the expert who asked not to be identified so as not to appear critical of Japan in a moment of crisis.

(Scott DiSavino was reporting from New York; additional reporting by Kentaro Sugiayama in Tokyo, Bernie Woodall in Detroit, Eileen O'Grady in New York, Roberta Rampton in Washington)

(Editing by Bill Tarrant)

US Nuclear Regulatory Commission report on Containment Performance for BWR Mark 1 (http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/nuregs/staff/sr0933/sec3/157r1.html)
The staff concluded that venting, if properly implemented, could have a significant benefit on plant risk. However, venting via a sheet metal ductwork path, as currently implemented at some MARK I plants, would be likely to greatly hamper or complicate post-accident recovery activities, and was therefore viewed by the staff as yielding reduced improvements in safety. The capability to vent has been recognized as important in reducing risk from operation of MARK I plants for loss of long-term decay heat removal (TW) events, provided the potential downsides of using existing hardware are corrected. Controlled venting can prevent the failure of ECCS pumps from both inadequate NPSH and re-closure of the ADS valves.

A hard pipe vent and vent valves capable of withstanding the anticipated severe accident pressure loadings would eliminate the problems with operating the vent system during a severe accident. The vent isolation valves should be remotely operable from the control room and should be provided with a power supply independent of normal or emergency AC power. Other changes, such as raising the RCIC turbine back-pressure setpoint, may also be desirable and could be considered. Venting capability, in conjunction with proper operating procedures and other improvements discussed in this item, would greatly reduce the probability of core-melt due to TW and station blackout sequences.

March 29th, 2011, 03:51 PM
Not true at all.

100,000 times above normal is an hourly dose of 1 Sievert (1000 milliSieverts).

100 Sieverts? You are dead, guaranteed. Those workers who ran away knew exactly what they were doing.

Indeed, get exposed to 100 Sv in an hour and you no longer have any biological function and are probably buried in a lead coffin due to induced radioactivity.

From the World Nuclear Association (http://www.world-nuclear.org/):


March 29th, 2011, 04:22 PM
Fuel rods. Spent fuel pools. Containment vessels.

If it's hard to visualize this stuff, the Nuclear Energy Institute has a YouTube page. They're an industry advocate, so you have to take some of their info with a grain of salt. But their tutorial videos explaining components of nuclear power are informative, appropriately narrated by a humorless nerdy guy, in the style of a corporate training class.


March 29th, 2011, 07:32 PM
Those NEI vids aren't terribly instructive on the details of nuclear reactors. It's basically fluff to promote to the average joe that everything is safe

March 29th, 2011, 07:45 PM
Most people that read about this stuff in news reports don't care to know about the details of nuclear reactors.

What does a description of what a spent fuel pool looks like and how it works have to do with how safe it is; unless you look at it through a political lens, like you are doing?

March 29th, 2011, 08:12 PM
Scientific Lens. I'm more interested in the design of the moderators & cooling methods, the transfer of energy from the fuel to the steam channels, as well as the details of the fission products/reaction poisons, reaction rates, stable operating conditions, etc etc. That stuff can be explained in layman terms, there's pretty much no interesting information in those videos

March 29th, 2011, 10:13 PM
If you're trying to be an expert, then you have lots of research to do. Do you pore over all the white papers and advisories by regulatory agencies (and challenges to them by other groups)?

There was a PBS series broadcast years ago on some of the systems modern society is completely dependent on (power generation was one of them). A common theme was that these systems continually become more and more complex, so that even experts, such as theoretical scientists, don't have the knowledge to make intelligent decisions.

It's not that they can't understand it; they just can't devote the necessary time to it.

Don't expect the "average Joe" (us) to be able to make decisions until after the fact, when the problem becomes obvious.

March 30th, 2011, 08:24 AM
What I am saying Zip is that when it gets that high, you get to 100 awfully quickly.

It does not matter when it is higher. If you are there measuring it, you have already been exposed to too much.


What I was really going in in response to your original posting was that the radiation levels are not necessarily important in themselves. If you only have a small amount of water that is at that level, you will not have much when it is diffused.

The problem is, this seems to be diagnostic. If your levels are that high, you have broken open the core. You would probably not get levels at 10K over the "norm" without something serious being breached..... I believe they are more worried that this is just the beginning of more that will be coming, much more than what is currently there.

March 30th, 2011, 09:12 AM
Zip, I am wondering about that "Hydrogen burn" they were talking about and what it has to do with metal ducts.

These are the things that are too complicated to completely understand. Chemical reactions and the like that may have nothing to do with the actual nuclear reaction and direct power generation, but are still an integral part of the plants operation.

As for your long article on teh risks, being in Engineering, we have the same for wind, earthquake and snow events. Depending on the projected life of the structure, your factors of safety go up or down based on the probability of occurance of an event that would severly damage the structure.

For things like snow or wind, the structures are designed to be able to withstand it and be used again, Earthquake? They are designed not to fall so people can get out, but they are not designed (usually) to be operable agterwards. The cost would be extremely high for somethnig that has a relatively low rate of occurance. Cheaper to build two buildings (one after the first is damaged) than build one that will withstand the event.

Nuclear, however, is different. I believe they are designed just like Hospitals...

ASCE 7-02 classifies them as "Type IV" structures. In seismic code, this increases the loads by a factor of 50% from a standard apartment building! (It also makes special provisions for ductile failure and other safety measures necessary)

But all this being said, the one thing I do not understand is this. A 10% chance of occurance means that you have a VERY significant chance that one or more events will occur during the life cycle of the structure.

Complete resistance of that event may not be feasable, but some mitigating system, such as multiple seawalls, piers, breakwaters and the like would be advisable to reduce the energy of the waves coming in so that even though flooding would be expected, that the calamatous damage that would be incurred from the waves would be reduced.

What were the secondary systems in place to handle an event that would happen with a 2% chance on a mean recurrance curve of 50 years?

Eartquakes have more of a chance of occuring on that timescale and they are designed much more conservatively than this. What made this event so "special" that they could not plan to mitigate it so we would not have a complete failure?

March 30th, 2011, 09:20 AM
What I am saying Zip is that when it gets that high, you get to 100 awfully quickly.Has that ever happened?

It does not matter when it is higher. If you are there measuring it, you have already been exposed to too much.1Sv isn't necessarily fatal. 100Sv is.

What I was really going in in response to your original posting was that the radiation levels are not necessarily important in themselves.France and the US have sent robots to the plant to measure radiation and take photos, so someone thinks it's important.

Strange that the plant didn't have these robots, Japan being a leader in robotic technology.

March 30th, 2011, 09:26 AM
Strange that the plant didn't have these robots, Japan being a leader in robotic technology.
It's not strange when you consider that TEPCO is an old school utility who doesn't like being told what to do. They are not exactly cutting edge, and it shows in the failure to adopt recent global safety standards

March 30th, 2011, 09:30 AM
The president of Tepco has been hospitalized for stress. The chairman is taking over daily operations. In 2007, he was president of the company when an earthquake spilled barrels of nuclear waste at another plant.

4 of 6 Daiichi reactors can’t be fixed;
Tokyo Electric president hospitalized

By Michael Alison Chandler, Wednesday, March 30, 8:09 AM

TOKYO — Four out of six reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant were damaged beyond repair in Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami, the chairman of the Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Wednesday.

Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata said he is taking over daily operations at Tokyo Electric, which owns the crippled plant, because company President Masataka Shimizu has been hospitalized for an illness brought on by stress.

Shimizu, 66, has been largely silent since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami sent the Daiichi plant on a path toward nuclear disaster. Officials said Wednesday that he was suffering from hypertension and dizziness.

As contamination levels spiked offshore, workers continued to endure soaring radiation levels as they worked to stave off a full-scale nuclear meltdown. Tokyo Electric’s stock prices have plummeted, and Japanese lawmakers debated this week whether to nationalize the utility, which is Asia’s largest electric power company.

Katsumata, appearing before reporters Wednesday for the first time since the earthquake, said the company would prefer to remain privately held.

He expressed his “deep apology” for the “grave accident” at the plant, and for the “anxiety, concern, and inconvenience caused to the society over the spread of radioactive substances to the atmosphere, water, and the impacts on crops and drinking water.”

He said that reactors No. 5 and 6 at the plant can still operate, but “we have no choice but to scrap” reactors 1 through 4.

It is not the first time that Katsumata has dealt with a nuclear emergency as a result of a natural disaster. He was president of Tokyo Electric in 2007, when an earthquake struck a company-run power plant in Niigata prefecture, spilling hundreds of barrels of nuclear waste. In the aftermath, Katsumata had to apologize publicly for underreporting the extent of the damage. He was eventually moved from managing the day-to-day operations of the company into the chairman’s role.

On Wednesday, officials said measurements of radioactive iodine in the sea outside the Daiichi plant had spiked a day earlier, amplifying fears about an uncontrolled leak of highly contaminated water from at least one of the damaged reactors.

Levels of Iodine-131 were 3,355 times the legal safety limit, up from the previous high of 1,850 times the limit that was recorded on Sunday, officials said. The water was sampled about 1,000 feet south of a wastewater outlet.

“Experts are trying to analyze the situation and looking at all possibilities,” said Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, Yukio Edano, in a televised news conference. “We are considering the worst-case scenario. ... If the radiation goes up and it affects health of people in the area, we will advise people immediately.”

Potential solutions for containing the hazardous materials include spraying a synthetic resin on the ground to slow or stop contamination from spreading to the sea, and dropping a cloth cover over the reactors. Hydrogen explosions blew off the roofs of two reactors and damaged a third; at least one reactor’s spent fuel pools are now exposed to the environment.

Hironobu Unesaki, professor of nuclear engineering at Kyoto University, said a cover could be an effective way to control gaseous emissions from the reactors. But he said a cover would likely not have an impact on the water leaking from a pipe or a compression chamber at the base of the reactor, as the company suspects is happening.

Workers made limited progress Wednesday in eliminating radioactive water from the cavernous turbine rooms next to the first three nuclear reactors.

Water in two of the buildings has not yet been drained, because nearby condenser tanks needed to receive the water are already full. It could take several days to empty their contents safely into another tank on-site.

In the room adjacent to the first reactor, workers were able to reduce knee-deep water to a depth of about eight inches. But work stalled because the condenser tank there became full. Government officials on Wednesday raised the possibility of using a tanker or large boat as a repository for the contaminated water.

Water-based radiation in the building outside the second reactor exceeds 1,000 milliseiverts per hour, or 100,000 times the level that would be found if the plant were operating normally.

Correspondent writer Andrew Higgins and special correspondents Tetsuya Kato and Akiko Yamamato contributed to this report.


© 2011 The Washington Post Company

March 30th, 2011, 11:33 AM
Has that ever happened?

1Sv isn't necessarily fatal. 100Sv is.

France and the US have sent robots to the plant to measure radiation and take photos, so someone thinks it's important.

Strange that the plant didn't have these robots, Japan being a leader in robotic technology.

Sending in robots to the site is a gimmie.

That place could be sealed up for the next 1000 years and it would effect the world, and even Japan, rather insignificantly.

What is a problem is if this is a sign that there was a bigger breach and MORE could be coming out. The amoount that is in there is probably much greater than what we have seen, and seeing as much as we have is a sign that some of it is getting out.

Our difference in definition seems to be hinged on the scope of the situation we are defining.

March 30th, 2011, 11:35 AM
In the aftermath, Katsumata had to apologize publicly for underreporting the extent of the damage. He was eventually moved from managing the day-to-day operations of the company into the chairman’s role.

You are doing so horrible in the day-to-day operations we are promoting you.

March 30th, 2011, 12:20 PM
Japan may have lost race to save nuclear reactor

Fukushima meltdown fears rise after radioactive core melts through vessel – but 'no danger of Chernobyl-style catastrophe'

Highly radioactive water is now being detected outside the containment area at Fukushima, experts have warned. Photograph: Tepco/AFP/Getty Images
The radioactive core in a reactor at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/nuclearpower) plant appears to have melted through the bottom of its containment vessel and on to a concrete floor, experts say, raising fears of a major release of radiation at the site.
The warning follows an analysis by a leading US expert of radiation levels at the plant. Readings from reactor two at the site have been made public by the Japanese authorities and Tepco, the utility that operates it.
Richard Lahey, who was head of safety research for boiling-water reactors at General Electric when the company installed the units at Fukushima, told the Guardian workers at the site appeared to have "lost the race" to save the reactor, but said there was no danger of a Chernobyl-style catastrophe.
Workers have been pumping water into three reactors at the stricken plant in a desperate bid to keep the fuel rods from melting down, but the fuel is at least partially exposed in all the reactors.
At least part of the molten core, which includes melted fuel rods and zirconium alloy cladding, seemed to have sunk through the steel "lower head" of the pressure vessel around reactor two, Lahey said.
"The indications we have, from the reactor to radiation readings and the materials they are seeing, suggest that the core has melted through the bottom of the pressure vessel in unit two, and at least some of it is down on the floor of the drywell," Lahey said. "I hope I am wrong, but that is certainly what the evidence is pointing towards."
The major concern when molten fuel breaches a containment vessel is that it reacts with the concrete floor of the drywell underneath, releasing radioactive gases into the surrounding area. At Fukushima, the drywell has been flooded with seawater, which will cool any molten fuel that escapes from the reactor and reduce the amount of radioactive gas released.
Lahey said: "It won't come out as one big glob; it'll come out like lava, and that is good because it's easier to cool."
The drywell is surrounded by a secondary steel-and-concrete structure designed to keep radioactive material from escaping into the environment. But an earlier hydrogen explosion at the reactor may have damaged this.
"The reason we are concerned is that they are detecting water outside the containment area that is highly radioactive and it can only have come from the reactor core," Lahey added. "It's not going to be anything like Chernobyl, where it went up with a big fire and steam explosion, but it's not going to be good news for the environment."
The radiation level at a pool of water in the turbine room of reactor two was measured recently at 1,000 millisieverts per hour. At that level, workers could remain in the area for just 15 minutes, under current exposure guidelines.
A less serious core meltdown happened at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania in 1979. During that incident, engineers managed to cool the molten fuel before it penetrated the steel pressure vessel. The task is a race against time, because as the fuel melts it forms a blob that becomes increasingly difficult to cool.
In the light of the Fukushima crisis, Lahey said all countries with nuclear power stations should have "Swat teams" of nuclear reactor safety experts on standby to give swift advice to the authorities in times of emergency, with international groups co-ordinated by the International Atomic Energy (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/energy) Authority.
The warning came as the Japanese authorities were being urged to give clearer advice to the public about the safety of food and drinking water contaminated with radioactive substances from Fukushima.
Robert Peter Gale, a US medical researcher who was brought in by Soviet authorities after the Chernobyl disaster, in 1986, has met Japanese cabinet ministers to discuss establishing an independent committee charged with taking radiation data from the site and translating it into clear public health advice.
"What is fundamentally disturbing the public is reports of drinking water one day being above some limit, and then a day or two later it's suddenly safe to drink. People don't know if the first instance was alarmist or whether the second one was untrue," said Gale.
"My recommendation is they should consider establishing a small commission to independently convert the data into comprehensible units of risk for the public so people know what they are dealing with and can take sensible decisions," he added.

© Guardian News and Media Limited 2011

March 30th, 2011, 12:47 PM
Our difference in definition seems to be hinged on the scope of the situation we are defining.I think the difference is more fundamental. I can get documentation to backup what I'm saying. You seem to be making wild speculations.

That place could be sealed up for the next 1000 years and it would effect the world, and even Japan, rather insignificantly.

Assuming no drastic worsening of leaks from the tsunami- and quake-damaged plant, there will be no long-term exclusion zone like that around Chernobyl in Ukraine, the site of the world's worst nuclear disaster in 1986.

"The worst-case scenario in terms of people re-occupying the area is that people might be able to go back within months," said Steve Jones, an independent nuclear and environmental consultant.

"There's likely to be an extended ban on food production within the affected sector -- of about 20 to 30 km out -- that might persist for some time. But there is then also the option of applying all sorts of remedial measures."

Experts say the key to the future of the current exclusion zone will be levels of radioactive cesium 137, which has a half-life of 30 years. That means that its radioactivity drops by 50 percent every three decades.

March 30th, 2011, 01:05 PM
The radioactive core in a reactor at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power (http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/nuclearpower) plant appears to have melted through the bottom of its containment vessel and on to a concrete floor, experts say, raising fears of a major release of radiation at the site.
This is what the melted down core at chernobyl looks like today:



It's basically sitting in the basement on a concrete slab. The same seems to be probable at Fukushima Daiichi. The main difference between the two disasters is that the core at Chernobyl had no containment unit and literally blew up into the sky. The parts that didn't get blown onto Prypiat and into the atmosphere melted down to the bottom. At Fukushima, it's all going to melt to the bottom. The key will be preventing that material from escaping over the next thousands of years, either through disintegration and air contamination, or water contamination & outflow

March 30th, 2011, 01:16 PM
I think the difference is more fundamental. I can get documentation to backup what I'm saying. You seem to be making wild speculations.



How big is Japan?

How many people live there?

"The worst-case scenario in terms of people re-occupying the area is that people might be able to go back within months,"

How does this refute my statement saying that sealing this area off for 1000 years would not adversely effect Japan, or the world, as a whole?

IOW, I am saying, unlike my quote, that i people did not come back anywhere near this place for 1000 years, how much would it effect Japan as a whole? How many miles are we talking about as unusable?

Let me phrase my initial point differently.

If there was no major breach of the core, the levels would be lower.

The levels that are present NOW are not indicative of a full breach, but they are indicative of a breach.

Things are bad, but I believe that they fear the possibility of much worse. That there is more material in there that could make night lighting unnecessary for the next 500 years.

March 30th, 2011, 01:33 PM
How big is Japan?

How many people live there?We could talk about how this effects Japan's economy, which has been stagnant for a long time; how it effects the nuclear power industry in one of the most seismically active countries on earth, a country that imports its fuel; how you don't measure human misery as a ratio to the entire population.

But why bother? I believe your remarks to be silly, and will let it go at that.

March 30th, 2011, 04:10 PM
Gee. Thanks. :rolleyes:

March 30th, 2011, 10:39 PM

Dangerous Levels of Radioactive Isotope Found 25 Miles From Nuclear Plant

WASHINGTON — A long-lasting radioactive element has been measured at levels that pose a long-term danger at one spot 25 miles from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, raising questions about whether Japan’s evacuation zone should be expanded and even whether the land might need to be abandoned.

The isotope, cesium 137, was measured in one village by the International Atomic Energy Agency at a level exceeding the standard that the Soviet Union used as a gauge to recommend abandoning land surrounding the Chernobyl reactor, and at another location not precisely identified by the agency at more than double the Soviet standard.

The measurements, reported Wednesday, would not be high enough to cause acute radiation illness, but far exceed standards for the general public designed to cut the risks of cancer.

While the amount measured would not pose an immediate danger, the annual dose would be too high to allow people to keep living there, according to Edwin Lyman, a senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, an American organization that is often critical of nuclear safety rules. Cesium persists in the environment for centuries, losing half its strength every 30 years.

The International Atomic Energy Agency stressed that levels of contamination varied considerably from place to place. Experts said the measurement might represent a “hot spot” and might not be representative of larger areas, though that remains to be seen.

March 31st, 2011, 07:54 AM
The International Atomic Energy Agency stressed that levels of contamination varied considerably from place to place. Experts said the measurement might represent a “hot spot” and might not be representative of larger areas, though that remains to be seen.

They need to map this stuff more accurately. Spot readings will not give an accurate picture of not only how much radiation is where, but of possible transmission routes and media.....

March 31st, 2011, 07:55 PM
Almost lost in the power plant crisis is the earthquake-tsunami devastation.

30 Photos of Ships Swept Ashore (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/picturegalleries/worldnews/8390718/Japan-earthquake-30-pictures-of-boats-and-ships-swept-ashore-by-the-tsunami.html)

March 31st, 2011, 11:16 PM





March 31st, 2011, 11:43 PM
Entomb? Cement pumps flown in to nuke plant

Same company that helped seal in Chernobyl is sending equipment

msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 57 minutes ago 2011-04-01T02:37:07

TOKYO — Some of the world's largest cement pumps were en route to Japan's stricken nuclear plant on Thursday, initially to help douse areas with water but eventually for cement work — including the possibility of entombing the site as was done in Chernobyl.
Operated via remote control, one of the truck-mounted pumps was already at the Fukushima Dai-ichi site and being used to spray water. Four more will be flown in from Germany and the United States, according to the German-manufacturer Putzmeister. The biggest of the five has an arm that extends well over 200 feet.
"Initially, they will probably pump water," Putzmeister stated. "Later they will be used for any necessary concreting work."
A construction company in Augusta, Ga., was among those redirecting the pumps to Japan. Its owner said he believes building a concrete sarcophagus will follow.
"Our understanding is they are preparing to go to next phase and it will require a lot of concrete," Jerry Ashmore told the Augusta Chronicle (http://chronicle.augusta.com/latest-news/2011-03-31/srs-concrete-pump-heading-japan-nuclear-site)
He did not expect the pump to return. "It will be too hot to come back," Ashmore said.
A cargo plane is expected to fly the truck and pump from Atlanta next week at a cost of $1.4 million.

Putzmeister concrete pumps were among those used to seal in the Chernobyl reactor after it exploded in Ukraine in 1986, and sightings of the first truck at the Dai-ichi complex last week led to media speculation that Japan was planning to do the same in Fukushima.

Read the rest at:

April 1st, 2011, 02:18 AM
They refer to this as the "elephant's foot" 12658

April 1st, 2011, 02:23 AM
"http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z82GkhcqDKw Elephant foot" clip

April 1st, 2011, 08:06 AM
The thing that is most amazing, for me, about the ships is that you get a feeling for the sheer size of the wave that came though. It was not just a crash and tumble, it literally picked up and CARRIED these boats with 20 foot drafts UP AND OVER the ground and plunked them down on shore in one piece.

That is more than just a "wave" or even a "wall". Walls do not float cargo ships. That is a HUGE field of water......

April 1st, 2011, 09:18 AM
The ocean actually changed its boundaries for a brief period.

April 1st, 2011, 11:00 PM
Isn't the ocean constantly changing it's boundaries? This is just a far more extreme example. This planet is not static; it's growing, bulging, sinking & shifting all the time.

April 2nd, 2011, 07:33 AM
(look who's talking)

April 2nd, 2011, 11:56 AM
A dog was found alive on top of the roof of a floating house that was carried away with other debris in the water.

According to sources, he had been there for at least 2 weeks or more! Japanese Officials are puzzled as to how he was able to survive and stay alive for that long a period of time. A chopper flying over the debris spotted and rescued him.

This part of the rescue is very powerfully familiar with and quite similar to the '04 tsunami that occured in Indonisha, where, several days later, a baby was also found still alive lying on top of some of the floating debris out on the water. He was nicknamed Baby 81 because he was the 81st person to be admitted to the hospital for observation. He was also nicknamed Tsunami Baby and Miracle Baby.

His real name is Abilass Jeyarajah.

He touched a lot of peoples' hearts & lives and has gained world-wide attention and notoriety, especially after he and his parents came to America and had appeared on Good Morning, America.

After an extensive and exhaustive DNA search for his real parents, he was happily reunited with them. Today, he is a very bright cheerful smiling and happy very energetic 6-year-old who doesn't remember the danger that he was involved in at that time.

He says that he wants to be a doctor when he grows up. Here are some pics of him below;

April 4th, 2011, 12:39 PM
'No safe levels' of radiation in Japan
Experts warn that any detectable level of radiation is 'too much'.

Dahr Jamail (http://english.aljazeera.net/profile/dahr-jamail.html) Last Modified: 04 Apr 2011 15:46

http://english.aljazeera.net/mritems/Images/2011/4/4/201144134320660472_20.jpg According to the US Department of Energy, no level of radiation is so low that it is without health risks [EPA] In a nuclear crisis that is becoming increasingly serious, Japan’s Nuclear Safety Agency confirmed that radioactive iodine-131 in seawater samples taken near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power complex that was seriously damaged by the recent tsunami off the coast of Japan is 4,385 times the level permitted by law.

Airborne radiation near the plant has been measured at 4-times government limits.

Tokyo Electric Power Company, the company that operates the crippled plant, has begun releasing more than 11,000 tons of radioactive water that was used to cool the fuel rods into the ocean while it attempts to find the source of radioactive leaks. The water being released is about 100 times more radioactive than legal limits.

Meanwhile, water that is vastly more radioactive continues to gush into the ocean through a large crack in a six-foot deep pit at the nuclear plant. Over the weekend, workers at the plant used sawdust, shredded newspaper and diaper chemicals in a desperate attempt to plug the area, which failed. Water leaking from the pit is about 10,000 times more radioactive than water normally found at a nuclear plant

Thus, radiation from a meltdown in the reactor core of reactor No. 2 is leaking out into the water and soil, with other reactors continuing to experience problems.

Groundwater near the nuclear plant contains radioactive iodine 10,000 times the legal threshold.

Yet scientists and activists question these government and nuclear industry “safe” limits of radiation exposure.

“The U.S. Department of Energy has testified that there is no level of radiation that is so low that it is without health risks,” Jacqueline Cabasso, the Executive Director of the Western States Legal Foundation, told Al Jazeera.

Her foundation monitors and analyzes U.S. nuclear weapons programs and policies and related high technology energy, with a focus on the national nuclear weapons laboratories.

Cabasso explained that natural background radiation exists, “But more than 2,000 nuclear tests have enhanced this background radiation level, so we are already living in an artificially radiated environment due to all the nuclear tests.”

“Karl Morgan, who worked on the Manhattan project, later came out against the nuclear industry when he understood the danger of low levels of ionizing radiation-and he said there is no safe dose of radiation exposure,” Cabasso continued, “That means all this talk about what a worker or the public can withstand on a yearly basis is bogus. There is no safe level of radiation exposure. These so-called safe levels are coming from within the nuclear establishment.”

Risk at Low Doses

Karl Morgan was an American physicist who was a founder of the field of radiation health physics. After a long career in the Manhattan Project and at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, he became a critic of nuclear power and weapons. Morgan, who died in 1999, began to offer court testimony for people who said they had been harmed by the nuclear power industry.

“Nobody is talking about the fact that there is no safe dose of radiation,” Cabasso added, “One of the reasons Morgan said this is because doses are cumulative in the body.”

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) published a report in 2006 titled Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation (BEIR) report, VII Phase 2. NAS BEIR VII was an expert panel who reviewed available peer reviewed literature and wrote, “the committee concludes that the preponderance of information indicates that there will be some risk, even at low doses.”

The concluding statement of the report reads, “The committee concludes that the current scientific evidence is consistent with the hypothesis that there is a linear, no-threshold dose-response relationship between exposure to ionizing radiation and the development of cancer in humans.”

This means that the sum of several very small exposures to radiation has the same effect as one large exposure, since the effects of radiation are cumulative.

For weeks engineers from Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) have been working to restore power to the plant and have resorted to having seawater sprayed on radioactive fuel rods that have been at risk of meltdown.

Despite this, Japanese officials conceded to the public on March 31 that the battle to save four crippled nuclear reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has been lost. On March 29 a US engineer who helped install the reactors at the plant said he believed the radioactive core in unit No. 2 may have melted through the bottom of its containment vessel and on to a concrete floor.

Tepco’s chairman, Tsunehisa Katsumata, said they had “no choice” but to scrap the No’s 1-4 reactors, but held out hope that the remaining two could continue to operate, despite the fact that he admitted the nuclear disaster could last several months. It is the first time the company has admitted that at least part of the plant will have to be decommissioned.

But the government’s chief spokesman, Yukio Edano, repeated an earlier call for all six reactors at the 40-year-old plant to be decommissioned. “It is very clear looking at the social circumstances,” he said.

Even after a cold shutdown, scrapping the plant will likely take decades, and the site will become a no-man’s land.

Tonnes of nuclear waste sit at the site of the nuclear reactors, and enclosing the reactors by injecting lead and encasing them in concrete would make it safe to work and live a few kilometers away from the site, but is not a long-term solution for the disposal of spent fuel, which will decay and emit fission fragments over tens of thousands of years.

Near the plant, the radiation levels dangerously escalated to 400 milliseiverts/hour. Considering background radiation is on the order of 1 milliseivert per year, this means a yearly background dose every 9 seconds, based on industry and governmental “allowable” radiation exposure limits.

That compares with a national “safety standard” in the U.S. of 250 millisieverts over a year. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says a single dose of 1,000 millisieverts is enough to cause internal hemorrhaging.

Meanwhile, more than 168 citizens organizations in Japan submitted a petition to their government on March 28 calling for an expanded evacuation zone near the Fukushima nuclear disaster site. The groups are also calling for other urgent measures to protect the public health and safety.

Residents of evacuated areas near the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant have been warned that they may not be able to return to their homes for months as Japan’s nuclear crisis stretched into a third week.

The neighbourhoods near the plant will remain empty “for the long term”, Yukio Edano, the country’s chief cabinet secretary, said on April 1.

Though he did not set a timetable, he said residents would not be able to return permanently “in a matter of days or weeks. It will be longer than that”.

The official evacuation zone remains only 20 kilometers, while the government has encouraged people within 30 kilometers to evacuate.

Yet levels of cesium-137 in the village of Iitate, for example, have been measured at more than twice the levels that prompted the Soviet Union to evacuate people near Chernobyl. Iitate is 40 kilometers northwest of Fukushima.

Radioactive Iodine has already been found in the tap water in all of Tokyo’s 23 wards.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission had already recommended an 80-kilometer evacuation zone for U.S. citizens in Japan.

April 4th, 2011, 02:03 PM
^ There's science & facts behind the above article, but it is written in an unscientific manner, so it tends to distort reality.

According to the US Department of Energy, no level of radiation is so low that it is without health risks There aren't too many things about which we can say are "without health risks."

Cabasso explained that natural background radiation exists, “But more than 2,000 nuclear tests have enhanced this background radiation level, so we are already living in an artificially radiated environment due to all the nuclear tests.”Worthless, unless you're a lawyer.

The population of Denver gets twice the dosage of cosmic radiation than those at sea level. That's every day of their lives. No one has been able to correlate this to any long term health effect.

April 4th, 2011, 03:34 PM
Japan dumps thousands of tons of radioactive water into sea

By the CNN Wire Staff
April 4, 2011 9:47 a.m. EDT

A Tokyo Electric Power Company picture from April 2 shows water gushing from the cracked concrete shaftTokyo (CNN) -- Japan began dumping thousands of tons of radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean on Monday, an emergency move officials said was needed to curtail a worse leak from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
In all, about 11,500 tons of radioactive water that has collected at the nuclear facility will be dumped into the sea, officials said Monday, as workers also try to deal with a crack that has been a conduit for contamination.
The radiation levels were highest in the water that was being drained from reactor No. 6, the officials said.
These are the latest but hardly the only challenges facing workers at the embattled power plant and its six reactors, which have been in constant crisis since last month's ruinous earthquake and tsunami.
Officials with Tokyo Electric Power Company, which runs the plant, proposed the release of excess water that has pooled in and around the Nos. 5 and 6 reactors into the sea. But most of the dumped water -- 10,000 tons -- will come from the plant's central waste treatment facility, which will then be used to store highly radioactive water from the No. 2 unit, an official with the power company said.
The water in reactors Nos. 5 and 6 is coming from a subdrain and wasn't inside the building itself, officials said. Tests suggest that groundwater is the source of the contamination in these two units, but they are not certain.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano called the dumping "unavoidable." The liquid was most likely contaminated in the process of trying to cool nuclear fuel rods.

The scope of the dump was staggering.
"For an idea about how much is 11,500 tons, one metric ton is 1,000 kilograms or about 2,200 pounds, which is close to an English ton. Water is about 8.5 pounds per gallon, so one ton is about 260 gallons," said Gary Was, a professor of nuclear engineering at the University of Michigan. "So 11,500 tons is about 3 million gallons. A spent fuel pool holds around 300,000 gallons. So this amount of water is equivalent to the volume of roughly 10 (spent fuel pools)."
It could take 50 hours to dump all the water, Tokyo Electric said.
The dumping of so much radioactive water into the ocean conjures fears of mutated sea life and contamination of the human food chain, but one expert said the radiation will be quickly diluted, minimizing risk.
"What we have to watch is how these materials accumulate in food products and then could be consumed by people," something that can be monitored, said John Till, president of Risk Assessment Corp.
"The ocean is so vast that this material would dilute very rapidly and I wouldn't see any lasting effects at all," he said.
The build-up of water could cause problems around the nuclear facility, which is 240 kilometers (150 miles) north of Tokyo, Edano said Monday.
Authorities have made a priority of dealing with water from the No. 2 unit, some of which has been gushing into the sea through a crack in a concrete shaft.
"The radioactivity level is very high near the No. 2 reactor, and we know this. We have to stop the leak as early as possible to prevent this from going into the sea," Edano said. "The radioactivity level is much less in the water from the Nos. 3 and 4 units."
Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency officials said Monday night that the hope is that pumping out the No. 2 reactor turbine plant will lower the water level enough that contaminated liquid won't be able to reach the sea.
"I am not able to say for certain whether or not this will be the last discharge, but we certainly would like to avoid releasing any such water into the sea as much as possible," agency spokesman Hidehiko Nishiyama said.
Officials were still awaiting test results to confirm the water pouring into the ocean is leaking from the highly radioactive No. 2 reactor.
"We don't know clearly, but we feel it is somehow leaking from Unit 2," Nishiyama said. Even if the water is confirmed to have come from the reactor, neither Tokyo Electric nor government officials know how it is making its way from the reactor to the leaking pit, he said.
Once the water is pumped out of the waste treatment reservoir, the agency believes it can safely transfer the water from the basement of the No. 2 turbine plant to the reservoir without further leaks, he said.
Though Japanese officials say the water being discharged is less radioactive than the water now leaking into the sea, its top concentration of radioactive iodine-131 is 20 becquerels per cubic centimeter, or 200,000 becquerels per kilogram. That's 10 times the level of radioactivity permitted in food. But since it's being dumped into the Pacific, it will be quickly diluted, according to Dr. James Cox, a radiation oncologist at Houston's MD Anderson Cancer Center and a CNN consultant.
Reactors No. 1 and No. 3, which have lower levels of water, need to be drained as well. Tokyo Electric's plan is to pump that water to other storage tanks, including some that still need to be set up.
Attempts to fill the 20-centimeter (8-inch) crack outside the No. 2 reactor's turbine building -- on Saturday by pouring in concrete, then Sunday by using a chemical compound mixed with sawdust and newspaper -- were not successful.
As officials mull other ways to cut off the leak at its source, workers will install a silt fence along a damaged sea wall surrounding the plant, Nishiyama said. The aim of this screening, usually used to halt erosion at construction sites, is to prohibit the spread of radioactive particles into the sea.
Workers also have injected a dye tracer into the water to allow them to track the dispersal of such particles, the spokesman added.
Addressing the issue quickly is critical because officials believe it is a source of alarmingly high radiation levels in seawater near the plant, as well as in nearby groundwater.
Complicating the situation is the fact that, in some cases, authorities don't even know how much radiation is getting out.
After some high-profile errors, little new information on water, ground and air radiation has been released since Thursday. One reason is that the dosimeters being used don't go above 1,000 millisieverts per hour, said Junichi Matsumoto, an executive with Tokyo Electric.
Authorities know the water in the cracked concrete shaft is emitting at least that much radiation -- which equates, at a minimum, to more than 330 times the dose an average resident of an industrialized country naturally receives in a year.
Plugging the external leak is job one, in order to prevent the outflow of radiation into the Pacific. But it may not be the most difficult, or important, task ahead.
Authorities still have to figure out how the tainted water got into the concrete shaft in the first place. The water had to come from somewhere, potentially traveling across melted-down nuclear fuel in the reactor's core before somehow reaching the outside.
"We were assuming and hoping (that water) would stay in the containment vessel as vapor after being cooled," Nishiyama, the nuclear safety official, said Sunday. "However, it may have flowed into the building, and then the trench."
Determining why and how that happened -- and what to do about it -- may be "exceptionally challenging," said physicist James Acton, with the Washington-based Carnegie Endowment think tank. Officials may have to inspect a complex array of pipes inside the dangerous radioactive environment inside the containment buildings.
The state of the Nos. 5 and 6 units is another new problem. Water in their turbine buildings' basements threatens the power supply for the system used to cool nuclear material in these units' spent fuel pools, Edano said. This makes it imperative to pump out that water, which will end up into the sea like that from around the Nos. 3 and 4 units.
"Though those reactors are stable at the moment, the growing water level in the turbine houses may disturb their stability," he said.
The effort to keep the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 reactor cores and spent fuel pools cool took a step forward Sunday, when the electricity source powering those three units' cooling systems was switched from a temporary diesel generator to a more permanent, external power supply, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency's website.
Authorities hope this step, as well as preventing damage to the Nos. 5 and 6 units' power supply, will help to minimize the prospect of any more radiation that might contaminate tap water or food.
Farmers have pushed for lower standards on radiation in food, calling them unnecessarily stringent. On Monday, Edano said these limits would not change, even as he outlined a process in which sales restrictions on certain crops, in certain areas, would be lifted if they test safe three times in a row.
In the long run, utility and government officials want to make sure the nuclear fuel, and the potentially cancerous materials it can release, never poses a threat again.
One option being considered, a Tokyo Electric spokesman said Monday, is to wrap some or all of the reactors' containment buildings in massive amounts of sheeting. But for now, the aim is to make sure that the nuclear fuel rods do not overheat -- and release more radiation into the air, water and ground.
"Finally, we (need to) establish a long-term policy to cool the reactors," said Nishiyama, while acknowledging that much work needs to be done in the meantime.
CNN's Matt Smith, Tsukushi Ikeda, Yoko Wakatsuki, Junko Ogura, Midori Nakata, Susan Olson and Martin Savidge contributed to this report

April 8th, 2011, 12:28 AM
D*****! How much more can they take? Although apparently the ^ poisoned water has stopped pouring into the Pacific.

Strongest aftershock since Japan tsunami kills 2

By JAY ALABASTER and TOMOKO A. HOSAKA, Associated Press Jay Alabaster And Tomoko A. Hosaka, Associated Press – 1 hr 6 mins ago

http://d.yimg.com/a/p/ap/20110407/videolthumb.59d81a0e815979b6a239dc991f3c89c5.jpg?x =213&y=158&xc=1&yc=1&wc=400&hc=297&q=85&sig=dNuDsJEaCQC.5TidOCm0aA-- Play Video (http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/external/ap_av/av_ap3_wl/19d2c6d73c92f3ba72f4132cc30ad433/40993358;_ylt=Agzs5jIM4EUceWliGtNWtrn9xg8F;_ylu=X3 oDMTE5ZWJlYXNnBHBvcwMxBHNlYwN5bl9yX3RvcF92aWRlbwRz bGsDcmF3dmlkZW9tYWdu/*http://news.yahoo.com/video/world-15749633/24823553)AP (http://news.yahoo.com/video/world/ap) – Raw Video: Magnitude 7.4 quake hits Japan coast

SENDAI, Japan – A strong aftershock ripped through northeastern Japan, killing two, injuring dozens and piling misery on a region still buried under the rubble of last month's devastating tsunami.
The quake late Thursday was the strongest tremor since the March 11 jumbo and did some damage, but it did not generate a tsunami and appeared to have spared the area's nuclear power plants. The Fukushima Dai-ichi complex — where workers have been frantically trying to cool overheated reactors since they lost cooling systems last month — reported no new abnormalities. Other facilities retained a connection to the grid or switched to diesel generators after the 7.1-magnitude quake knocked out power to much of the area.
Many people in the area have lived without water and electricity for nearly a month, and the latest tremor sunk more homes into blackness: In total, around 3.6 million households — about 60 percent of residents in the area — were dark Friday, said Souta Nozu, a spokesman for Tohoku Electric Power Co., which serves northern Japan.
Five conventional plants in the area were out, and it was not clear when power would be restored, he said.
Matsuko Ito, who has been living in a shelter in the small northeastern city of Natori since the tsunami, said there's no getting used to the terror of being awoken by shaking.
"I was almost as scared as much as last time," said the 64-year-old while smoking a cigarette outside. "It's enough."
She said she started screaming when the quake struck around 11:30 p.m.
"Something has changed," she said. "The world feels strange now. Even the way the clouds move isn't right."
Thursday's quake initiated a tsunami warning of its own, but it was later canceled. Two people were killed, fire department spokesman Junichi Sawada reported Friday. A 79-year-old man died of shock and a woman in her 60s was killed when power was cut to her oxygen tank. More than 130 people were injured, according to the national police agency.
The temblor's epicenter was in about the same location as the original 9.0-magnitude tremor, off the eastern coast and about 40 miles (65 kilometers) from Sendai, an industrial city on the eastern coast, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It was strong enough to shake buildings for about a minute as far away as Tokyo, about 200 miles (330 kilometers) away.
At a Toyota dealership in Sendai, most of a two-story show window was shattered, and thick shards of glass were heaped in front of the building. Items fell off store shelves and a large automated teller machine crept across the floor at a FamilyMart convenience store.
Police directed cars through intersections throughout the city on Friday because traffic lights were out. Small electrical fires were reported.
While the city is far enough inland that it largely escaped tsunami damage, people there lived without regular services for weeks. Within an hour of Thursday's quake, they rushed convenience stores and cleared shelves of ice, water and instant noodles — items that were in short supply after the bigger quake.
The operator of the tsunami-ravaged Fukushima Dai-ichi plant said there was no sign the aftershock had caused new problems there. Workers briefly retreated to a quake-resistant shelter in the complex and suffered no injuries.
After the March 11 quake knocked out power in the region, the wave flooded the plant's diesel generators, leaving the complex without any electricity. Workers have been struggling to stem a tide of radiation since, using makeshift methods to pump cooling water into the reactors. That work continued uninterrupted after the latest quake, according to Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.
Other facilities along the northeastern coast remained connected to a power source Friday, and the agency said they were all under control. Backup generators kicked in at two — Rokkasho and Higashidori.
At a third north of Sendai — which has been shut down since the tsunami — one of three power lines was supplying electricity, and radiation monitoring devices detected no abnormalities. The Onagawa power plant's spent fuel pools briefly lost cooling capacity, but it resumed because a power line was available for electricity.
"It's the way it's supposed to work if power is lost for any reason," said David Lochbaum, director of the nuclear safety project for the U.S.-based Union of Concerned Scientists.


April 8th, 2011, 08:50 AM
Re the bolded part ^, you'd feel the same way if you went through that and many people after 9/11 felt the same way here. The world is no different, always has been and always will be a dangerous place - and of course we all die one day

April 8th, 2011, 01:16 PM
I would feel that way even if it wasn't a large-scale tragedy. Human's thinking gets skewed to one degree or another by everything that happens to them. Even if I went through a deeply personal, horrible tragedy I'd feel the same way. As I said, I don't know how much more they can take, nevermind the thinking about dying part.

April 9th, 2011, 07:00 AM
The Japanese are a resilient people. They are probably the best equipped people to handle this tragedy.

April 9th, 2011, 10:45 AM
True, & their reverence for their elders makes me admire them even more.

April 11th, 2011, 08:25 AM
For them to have to accept help from anyone outside their nation is very humiliating.....

I hope that the nations helping can do it right and help bridge this cultural divide that still seems to keep japan just a little bit out of arms reach when it comes to accepting people from other nations (this is most apparent in leadership positions in public and private sectors....).

Sometimes a tragedy does more to heal than good times. Lets hope this is the case for this latest one.

April 11th, 2011, 10:47 AM
help bridge this cultural divide that still seems to keep japan just a little biy out of arms reach when it comes to accepting people from other nationsThat was a very diplomatic way of saying they're as racist as hell over there.;)

April 11th, 2011, 02:46 PM
True, & their reverence for their elders makes me admire them even more.

A major problem is that most of them, or a least a larger % than in most societies, are elders. Not what you need when you have to dig yourself out of a situation like this.

April 12th, 2011, 01:30 AM
Somewhat of a myth, like the kamikaze thing, that the population of Japan is significantly older than that of other developed countries.

Japan has the highest percentage of people over 60 years of age (about 25%), but Germany and Italy are about the same. On a regional basis, Europe is the highest.

To get a better idea of how a population group is able to handle a crisis, you should look at what's called an Age Dependency Ratio, where elderly and children are measured against the work-force.

Map - Age Dependency Ratio (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/bd/Map_Age_Dependency_Ratio.PNG)

April 12th, 2011, 01:46 AM
APRIL 12, 2011

Japanese Declare Crisis at Level of Chernobyl


Japanese police searched for victims inside
the deserted evacuation zone in Minamisoma in Fukushima Prefecture.

TOKYO—The Japanese government raised its assessment of the monthlong crisis at its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to the highest severity level by international standards—a rating only conferred so far upon the Chernobyl accident.

Japan's nuclear regulators said the plant has likely released so much radiation into the environment that it must boost the accident's severity rating on the International Nuclear Event scale to a 7 from 5 currently. That is the same level reached by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in the former Soviet Union, which struck almost exactly 25 years ago, on April 26, 1986.

"Based on the cumulative data we've gathered, we can finally give an estimate of total radioactive materials emitted,'' Hidehiko Nishiyama, spokesman for Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, said at a press conference Tuesday.

Even as they upgraded their assessment of the situation, Japanese officials went to lengths to say that the problem they are struggling to contain isn't anywhere near the disaster of Chernobyl.

"It is quite different from Chernobyl," said Mr. Nishiyama. "First, the amount of released radiation is about a tenth of Chernobyl," he said, adding that while there were 29 deaths resulting from short-term exposure to high doses of radiation at Chernobyl, there were no such deaths at Fukushima.

"At Chernobyl, the nuclear reactor itself exploded," he said, adding that at the Fukushima plant, the pressure vessel and the containment vessel were largely intact.

Still, Fukushima Daiichi operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. warned Tuesday that since the Fukushima Daiichi plant is still releasing radioactive materials, the total level of radiation released could eventually exceed that of Chernobyl, a spokesman said.

The new assessment comes as Japan admits that the effects of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident—which has already caused the evacuation of tens of thousands of people and spread radiation through groundwater and farms over a broad section of eastern Japan—are likely to be long-lasting and grave. The accident was precipitated by the massive March 11 earthquake and tsunami, which knocked out Fukushima Daiichi's power and cooling systems, causing several of the reactors to overheat.

The International Nuclear Event scale, whose development is coordinated by the International Atomic Energy Agency, measures the severity of accidents based on how much radiation is released, the degree of damage to the nuclear cores and how widespread and long-lasting the effects are likely to be.

Level 5—the previous level given the Fukushima Daiichi accident—indicates a "limited release'' of radioactive materials requiring "some planned countermeasures.'' The 1978 Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania was rated a 5.


Level 7 labels this "a major accident," the most serious on the international scale. It means high levels of radiation have been released, and that the amount of time needed to bring the plant under control will require an extended period. But not all "major accidents" are equal in severity.

The decision to upgrade formally the severity of the accident came a day after Japan broadened the 12-mile nuclear evacuation zone around the plant to include all or part of five towns and villages that housed tens of thousands of people before the disaster, a sign that officials now see the long-term risks as far higher than originally estimated.

And the crisis appears far from over, with constant reminders that efforts to bring the crippled reactors under control are far from complete. Operator Tepco scrambled to keep reactors stable in the wake of another big earthquake Monday and a battery fire Tuesday morning, signs of how vulnerable the plant remains a month after the quake.

Experts have predicted it could take months for Tepco to bring Fukushima Daiichi's reactors truly under control, and years to clean up the plant itself.

Japanese nuclear regulators determined that after the accident, the plant has likely released tens of thousands of terabecquerels—or a mind-boggling tens of thousands of trillions of becquerels—of radiation in the immediate area. That's a level that's been recorded only during the Chernobyl accident.

While the new assessment puts Fukushima on a par with Chernobyl, there are key differences between the two, suggesting the Ukraine disaster was still far more serious.

In the case of Chernobyl, a graphite fire burned uncontrolled for days, spewing out radioactive smoke that spread around the world. Fukushima, unlike Chernobyl, has a containment structure, which, even if damaged, has meant that the Japanese accident has shown "much, much, much lower'' traces of far-flung radiation, Wolfgang Weiss, chair of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, said in Vienna last week.

The release from Fukushima of tens of thousands of terabecquerels of iodine-131, while huge, appears to be smaller than the 5.2 million terabecquerels released from Chernobyl. Japanese government officials said the radiation release was between 370,000 and 630,000 terabecquerels so far from Fukushima. The permissible level of iodine-131 for vegetables and fish is 2,000 becquerels per kilogram, or just a tiny fraction of what has been released.

A 2005 United Nations study said up to 4,000 people could eventually die from radiation exposure to Chernobyl.

In Japan, so far, a handful of workers have been hospitalized, but they were released a few days later, and regulators said they showed no signs of lasting injury.

There are, however, regular reports in the Japanese press of elevated radiation exposure for the workers trying to contain Fukushima, and it could be months, or years, before the real impact is known. The same is true for the population in and around the plant.

Officials said they expanded the original evacuation zone because the acccident had lasted longer than expected.

"Japan has been doing drills for possible nuclear accidents, but they assumed that the accidents would be resolved in about 10 days," said Mr. Nishiyama, the spokesman. "We are now dealing with a crisis of a historic proportion. This has necessitated different kinds of responses than initially planned."

Even in announcing the expanded evacuation zone, Japanese officials said residents of the affected areas weren't in danger of surpassing government exposure limits anytime soon and that they have about a month to move.

Testing by Japanese, U.S. and IAEA officials shows that the radioactive contamination is spreading unevenly from the plant, creating what are known as hot spots due to wind, topography and other natural conditions that show a higher density of radioactive material compared with some areas closer to the plant.

The move will present major logistical hurdles for communities already battered by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that damaged the plant as well as much of the surrounding countryside. The area includes towns and villages with a population totaling about 115,000 people before the crisis, though the number of people affected is likely to be far less because the government's order applies only to particular hot spots believed to have higher radiation levels, not a set radius from the plant.

Meanwhile, efforts to stabilize reactors at Fukushima Daiichi continue to be dogged by setbacks and scares, in a sign of how fragile the situation on the ground remains. On Tuesday morning, Tepco said there was a small fire at a battery unit outside reactor No. 4, which was put out shortly after being reported.

On Monday, a 7.1 magnitude quake centered in coastal Fukushima temporarily shut down power supply and makeshift cooling systems to three reactors at the plant, causing the evacuation of workers to the compound's command center. The systems remained down for nearly an hour while the evacuation remained in effect, keeping workers from switching to emergency power generators.

Tepco said the suspension didn't appear to have caused significant safety issues. But the scramble to restore power served as a reminder of how aftershocks and the risk of tsunami could upset the delicate efforts to stabilize the problems at the plant.

—Mitsuru Obe contributed to this article.

Copyright ©2011 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

Three "much-es"

April 13th, 2011, 08:02 PM
April 13, 2011

A month after quake, Tokyo is a city of shadows

by Tim Hornyak

TOKYO--If there's one sound you don't want to hear in Tokyo these days, it's the earthquake alarm. The two jarring chords came crashing through the cherry blossoms from a public-address speaker the other morning and sent me bounding into the street in my pajamas. The room started wobbling seconds later.

The 6.3-magnitude aftershock followed a 7.0 quake the evening before that made the skyscraper I was in feel like a ship at sea. On the 20th floor, I could sense the building sway for several minutes as it absorbed the shock waves.

I lived in Tokyo for a long time and I'm used to quakes rattling the capital. But returning after the 9.0 temblor and tsunamis that smashed northern Japan on March 11, Tokyo feels more dangerous than ever.

There have been nearly a thousand quakes (http://www.japanquakemap.com/) in the past month, including one as I write this. Not to mention the threat from the crisis-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, where radiation leaks have led Japan to rank it on par with Chernobyl on the International Nuclear Events Scale.

Some people have left Tokyo, or even Japan altogether. Fukushima differs vastly from Chernobyl, but for every scientist who downplays the radiation danger, there seems to be another who will emphasize the unknowns in the equation and play it up. It's hard to know whom to believe.

People are coping in different ways. The famous Japanese stoicism, born out of centuries of earthquakes, fires, and war, is evident everywhere as Tokyoites quietly go about their business, making sushi, holding elections, and playing baseball. But there's a pronounced sobriety in the air.

When the aftershocks do come, and cell phones squawk out those warning chords, people brace themselves and then check NHK TV for the quake report. Some say the dots on the map are getting closer to the capital, and that the Big One will hit right under Tokyo Bay. The capital region is home to more than 30 million people.

Long ago, Japanese believed giant catfish underground caused quakes when they thrashed about. They would pray to the god Kashima to subdue the catfish with a magic stone.

These days, people are more practical. Walking down a backstreet in the Meguro district when an aftershock hit, I heard the sound of an acoustic guitar coming from a tiny shop selling Hawaiian shirts. Inside was a lone merchant, strumming away.

I knew the tune well--"Ue wo Muite Arukou" (aka Sukiyaki) by Kyu Sakamoto, a 1960s hit about holding one's chin up. "It's a song of peace," the guitarist said. He plays to pacify the earth.

Fear of the ground shaking is perhaps entirely subjective, but it didn't help to arrive from Narita airport at night. The biggest change I saw was that many escalators had been stopped, with signs reading "setsuden" (electricity conservation).

It's a slogan seen everywhere as Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) struggles to raise its capacity from 40 million kilowatts, down from 64.5 million kilowatts; it anticipates a 20-25 percent supply gap with summer demand. Subway corridors and shop signs are dark or half-lit. Many streetlights are out and buildings are dim. Tokyo has become a city of shadows.

The hill of Kagurazaka, an old geisha quarter that's home to some of my favorite watering holes, seems like a tenebrous alien land. The garish lights of the Akihabara electronics district are muted. Even the great wall of neon along Kabukicho, the massive red light district by Shinjuku Station, is half-off. The sex trade is still swinging, but times seem harsh.

"A soapland pimp invited me," an American habitue told me, referring to Kabukicho's massage parlors. "It was the first time in 25 years. You know business must be terrible if they're soliciting gaijin (foreigners)."

The other watchword here is "jishuku" (self-restraint). Events such as concerts and welcome ceremonies for new employees have been canceled out of sympathy for victims of the disaster in northern Japan, which left nearly 30,000 dead or missing.

But as plans for annual summer festivals are shelved, people have started groaning about excessive government dourness. When Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara called on Tokyoites to refrain from the traditional spring "hanami" drinking parties under the cherry blossoms, many companies canceled official parties.

Yet that hasn't stopped thousands of people from boozing it up under the white petals, much to the delight of sake brewers in northern Japan who fear further economic hardships if no one is spending money on alcohol for the hanami season. There's still public division over the merits of jishuku, but there is a growing sense that self-restraint won't help Japan get back on its feet.

And on that note, I'm off to knock back a few cups of rice wine under the cherry trees.

Tim Hornyak is the author of "Loving the Machine: The Art and Science of Japanese Robots." He has been writing about Japanese culture and technology for a decade. Tim is a member of the CNET Blog Network

April 13th, 2011, 08:07 PM

Tepco makes Lehman seem a mere bagatelle

By David Pilling

Published: April 13 2011 21:26 | Last updated: April 13 2011 21:26

Tokyo Electric Power is Lehman Brothers times 10. It really is too big to fail. The company supplies 29 per cent of Japan’s electricity to more than 2m businesses and 26m households in the Tokyo metropolitan area. Not only is Fukushima Daiichi now out of permanent action, 13 of the company’s 17 nuclear reactors are offline, as are half of its 20 oil-fired thermal plants and both of its coal-fired thermal plants.

Tepco’s loss of power generation – about one-quarter of its normal output – is already having a profound effect, even before the intensely hot summer months when demand surges. The government is expected to exercise a legal provision, not invoked since the 1974 oil shock, to restrict electricity use this summer to just three-quarters of last year’s level. Keidanren, the big business lobby, worries that enforced cuts will damage swaths of industry – railways, pulp and paper, steel, chemicals, breweries, computer chip makers, auto and auto-parts makers all rely heavily on power. It is desperately trying to persuade the government to accept voluntary cuts.

In short, all talk about the earthquake and tsunami affecting only a small part of Japan’s gross domestic product looks optimistic. If power cuts carry on for the rest of the year, or longer, the very heart of Japan’s economy will be on life support.

Modern Japan simply cannot function without Tepco. That is precisely the problem. Like the big banks, the commercial lifeblood of any economy, Tepco is indispensable. If it has been negligent in its planning for, and response to, last month’s disaster – and there is ample evidence to suggest that it has – Tepco’s status as a too-big-to-fail utility is largely to blame. Moral hazard is not restricted to banking.

It should be acknowledged that, for the customer, Tepco is not a bad company. True, Japan’s electricity prices are high. But Tepco has done wonders at maintaining a stable electricity supply. Blackouts per household have been kept to a remarkably low four minutes a year. That compares with 45 minutes in France, 69 minutes in the US and 73 in the UK, according to Paul Scalise, an energy expert at Temple university’s Institute of Contemporary Asian Studies.

But Tepco has been afflicted by moral hazard behind the scenes. The company has a shoddy history of cover-ups and sloppy safety standards. In 2002, it was found to have routinely lied about safety data relating to cracks in its reactors. Now we know it located back-up generators at Fukushima in the basement, below the level of what turned out to be a wholly inadequate sea defence wall. There are also suggestions – denied by the company – that it delayed cooling the reactors with sea water to avoid scrapping billions of yen worth of assets.

One explanation for Tepco’s track record is the amakudari (descend from heaven) system by which civil servants drop into cushy jobs in the industries they once regulated. Toru Ishida, a former energy official with the ministry that regulates nuclear power, landed a senior position advising Tepco this year. Masataka Shimuzu, the president of Tepco who went awol after the Fukushima plant started spewing out radiation last month, is the vice-president of Keidanren, a sign of the power company’s huge clout.

The number of people moving between regulator and industry may not be that large. But the ties between regulator and regulated are too close. Structurally that is because the nuclear regulator is part of the trade ministry, which sees its job as promoting the use of nuclear energy as a way of weaning the country off foreign oil. More fundamentally, both Tepco and the government are on the same side. After the first oil shock, the public overcame its antipathy to nuclear power born of Japan’s experience in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

But accidents at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl have severely blunted public support. In response, the regulator and the nuclear industry have both played down risks, a state of affairs almost designed to encourage the sort of lax behaviour of which Tepco has been guilty.

Like the banks, Tepco has assumed that, if anything goes badly wrong, the government will stand behind it. The company is already furiously lobbying for favourable interpretation of a law that could exonerate it of liabilities incurred because of natural disaster. Without such largesse, Tepco looks doomed. It has a debt-to-equity ratio of nearly 300 per cent, three times the industry average.

Unless it can raise electricity prices sharply – something the public will not stand for – it is hard to see how it can generate sufficient cashflow to pay for the scrapping of old reactors, the building of new ones and, in the meantime, securing alternative sources of energy. That is even without the litigation from farmers and disgruntled users that are bound to follow.

From the shareholders’ point of view Tepco could either go the way of British Petroleum or Enron. Those who bought BP shares after the blowout in the Gulf of Mexico last year are sitting on gains of 70 per cent. Enron, of course, went bankrupt, taking its shareholders with it. Unless Tepco is allowed to go the same way, Japan’s nuclear industry will join western banking as a case of private gains and socialised losses.


© Copyright The Financial Times Ltd 2011.

April 13th, 2011, 09:06 PM
I was at a checkout counter in Narita airport, to the NE of Tokyo, last week when a rather large aftershock shook. The middle-aged lady behind the counter was noticeably disturbed by the shaking. Everyone is edgy, but life goes on.

April 13th, 2011, 09:55 PM
Bob Woodruff did a piece for ABC News last night and was interviewing people in an office in Japan when a large aftershock hit. He jumped up like a scared little girl with a deer in the headlights look while the other half dozen people just brushed it off like nothing was happening, lol. Man I can't imagine having that pounded into you every day to the point where it's just like the wind blowing

April 14th, 2011, 08:32 AM
GG, I know what you are saying, but I still have to ask...

How does a little girl jump when she is scared of a deer in her headlights? :D

April 14th, 2011, 10:02 AM
Here's the video:

Look from about 1:25 to 1:45

April 14th, 2011, 03:32 PM
I was commenting on the mixed metaphor GG.

If you are driving, you can't jump up. If you are a little girl, you can't drive, and the deer in headlights usually does not jump up.........

So it is just a bit weird your merging of analogies.... Thanks for the link though (and I do know what you mean! :D )

April 22nd, 2011, 10:32 PM
Taiwan stands out as supporter of Japan with massive amount of donations

(Mainichi Japan) April 18, 2011

As support has poured in from around the globe to Japan after the deadly March 11 earthquake and tsunami, Taiwan has stood out with over 4.85 billion Taiwan dollars (around 13.9 billion yen) in relief donations to Japan as of April 13, in what is possibly the largest amount of money per person donated from any country since the disaster.

With a population of 23 million, Taiwan's donations average out to about 600 yen per person. It's support stands out even in comparison to South Korea, which with a population of 49 million had donated over 55.6 billion won (over 4.2 billion yen) as of the middle of April, according to Korean news service Yonhap News Agency. The United States, with a population of 300 million, had as of the end of March donated around 120 million U.S. dollars (around 9.9 billion yen) to the American Red Cross.?

Japan omits largest donor Taiwan from thank-you note


Japanese internet surfers have been angry that their government missed Taiwan from a note expressing gratitude for international aid following last month's earthquake as Taiwan has been the country which has given the higest amount of donations as of press time on April 16.

Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that a total of NT$4.8 billion (US$165 million) in donations from the government and the public has been collected and delivered to Japan, more than the US$125 million from the United States, US$19 million from South Korea and US$4 million from China. Japan's foreign ministry, however, did not make public details of the individual amounts donated but only announced on April 14 that the Japanese government has received a total of US$8 million in public donations from 65 countries.

On April 11, Japan's foreign ministry published a thank-you note in seven foreign newspapers as a token of appreciation for the donations but Taiwan, as the largest donor, was not menyioned. The Taiwan-based China Times reported that Japanese netizens have attributed this to fears by the Japanese government that an expression of gratitude to Taiwan may become a political issue and irritate China. In response, foreign ministry officials said that they did not decide the thank-you list by the amount of donations received but by "the size of the country and the impact it may have on its neighbor countries."

April 24th, 2011, 09:40 AM
Emergency housing ideas (http://www.architizer.com/en_us/blog/dyn/19498/emergency-shelters/) emerge in earthquake ravaged Japan.

Arch record article here- http://archrecord.construction.com/news/2011/04/110421-Ban-Offers-Japan-Aid.asp

May 13th, 2011, 12:06 AM

May 13th, 2011, 02:01 AM
I saw several reports like this yesterday. Considering this --

Still, the worst fears did not materialize. Experts have long worried that such melting would allow a nuclear chain reaction to restart, producing enough heat to burn through all barriers — resulting in a full meltdown and a catastrophic release of radioactive material.

Mr. Matsumoto said relatively low temperature readings on the surface of the reactor, between 100 and 120 degrees Celsius (or 212 to 248 degrees Fahrenheit), suggested that the slumped fuel was being kept cool to some extent by the water inside the reactor and therefore was not as dangerous as some expected.

“We are not seeing a China Syndrome,” Mr. Matsumoto said, using a term coined in the United States in the 1970s to describe a severe nuclear meltdown of the fuel, which could sink into the ground and cause an explosion. The term is a satiric reference to the idea that in such an uncontrolled reaction, the core could burn through the earth.

-- it seems like the titles of these stories are on the alarmist side. We already knew things were really bad, but they could be even far worse. There has been no complete meltdown (no "China Syndrome") but the situation still sucks.

May 13th, 2011, 08:07 AM
Wiouldn't we be dealing more with a "Brazil Situation" here anyway?

May 15th, 2011, 12:24 PM
Cherry blossoms cover a tree among tsunami wreckage in Natori city, Miyagi prefecture, Japan, on April 18, 2011.
(Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty Images)

Japan Earthquake: Two Months Later (http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2011/05/japan-earthquake-two-months-later/100062/)

June 11th, 2011, 12:26 PM
A slide show of shots from March 11 and June 11 --


June 19th, 2011, 03:03 PM
JUNE 19, 2011,

Japan Failed to Implement World Nuclear-Safety Rules, Report Says


Japanese officials failed to implement international nuclear-safety standards designed to mitigate damage from tsunamis and earthquakes at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi plant that triggered Japan's nuclear crisis, a United Nations nuclear-agency report said.

The report, to be presented in Vienna on Monday at a ministerial-level meeting of the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency and its 151 member states, is the most definitive outside review to date of Japan's nuclear accident and subsequent handling. Its findings are expected to help frame an international nuclear community debate at the week-long meeting on how to ensure atomic-power safety in the future.

While praising the handling of the accident by Fukushima plant engineers, the IAEA report was critical of Japan's preparedness and response to the crisis in most other respects. In addition to failing to implement IAEA guidelines to protect nuclear plants against earthquakes and tsunamis, the report said Japanese nuclear officials also failed to quickly evacuate nearby residents in accord with the U.N. agency's standards and didn't build adequate multiple levels of protection to contain damage and radiation leakage in the event of an accident at a nuclear-power plant.

The IAEA report also questions Japanese authorities' advisories during the unfolding crisis, suggesting that local residents living between 20 and 30 kilometers (12 and 19 miles) from the Fukushima site remain in their homes, while closer ones were asked to evacuate.

"Long-term sheltering is not an effective approach," the report said.

Instead, the IAEA recommends evacuating local residents living near nuclear accidents according to specific criteria, such as when radiation levels approach dangerous levels. The report, based on Japanese data and the findings of an IAEA fact-finding mission to Fukushima, said its team couldn't determine the level of radiation exposure of residents before evacuation.

Still, the IAEA report said a Japanese road map toward recovery from the nuclear accident "appears to be ambitious but achievable, and to include the issues to be addressed in order to insure sustainable safety as well as protection of the environment."

There have been setbacks, however. On Friday, a system to decontaminate massive amounts of highly radioactive water flooding the Fukushima Daiichi site was shut down just five hours after operations were launched with much fanfare. Workers are scrambling to fix the latest in a series of glitches plaguing the the U.S.-French-designed system with the hope of bringing it back online by Tuesday.

In a telephone interview, a spokesman for Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said that it acknowledged the IAEA's assessment and that Japanese nuclear regulators were reviewing their evacuation policy to deal with large-scale nuclear accidents.

The recommendations to local residents were issued in close consultation with local authorities and in a speedy manner, Kentaro Morita, director of international public relations at the Japanese nuclear safety agency said. "However, we did not anticipate that the disaster would require such an extended period of evacuation, nor did we have guidelines in place for upgrading an indoor evacuation to a more full-fledged evacuation," he said.

In their report, the IAEA officials said Japanese nuclear officials conducted adequate safety reviews in anticipation of events they had faced in the past, such as handling equipment failures in the nuclear plant's control room, but failed to conduct safety reviews for less familiar threats, including earthquakes and tsunamis. "No probabilistic safety assessments for external events were required" by Japan's NISA, the IAEA experts wrote.

The IAEA concluded that Japanese regulators underestimated the earthquake risk because they primarily relied on "recent historical seismological data." Instead, nuclear regulators also should have considered "paleoseismic and archaeological information on historical and pre-historical earthquakes," as recommended in IAEA guidelines, the report found.

The IAEA said it also found "insufficient defense-in-depth provisions for tsunami hazards" as per the recommendations of a review conducted by an IAEA-led team of experts in 2002. "Moreover, those additional protective measures were not reviewed and approved by the [Japanese] regulatory authority," the IAEA report says.

Asked about IAEA criticism of Japan's preparations for the tsunami threat, NISA's Mr. Morita said, "The latest tsunami was unprecedented in its scale. We acknowledge that we are not fully prepared for such large-scale tsunamis and intend to strengthen tsunami countermeasures."

Junichi Matsumoto, a spokesman for Tokyo Electric Power Co., which operates the Fukushima plant, said the company would incorporate any new guidelines the Japanese government sets based on the IAEA's recommendation. "But we are also looking at recommendations coming out of the IAEA on our own, and will incorporate them as needed, irrespective of whether they are adopted by the Japanese," he added.

Copyright ©2011 Dow Jones & Company, Inc

June 19th, 2011, 08:07 PM
JUNE 19, 2011,
The IAEA concluded that Japanese regulators underestimated the earthquake risk because they primarily relied on "recent historical seismological data." Instead, nuclear regulators also should have considered "paleoseismic and archaeological information on historical and pre-historical earthquakes," as recommended in IAEA guidelines, the report found.

The crux. If there is going to be a nuclear industry, utility companies and government oversight agencies (especially), have to plan for events that occur every now and then, every century, and ever thousand years.

Might be best not to build nuke plants in areas of high seismic activity. That would probably mean excluding all of Japan (54 reactors) and Taiwan (3 active; 1 reactor under construction) from nuclear power usage, unless engineering could meet extremely high standards.


June 20th, 2011, 08:17 AM
I am a bit confused though.

I do not believe it was the actual earthquake that posed the biggest problem here. It withstood the shaking. It was the Tsunami and all the cooling apparatus that was damaged/taken out by the Tsunami.....

That was something that, if I remember correctly, many knew about before this event and no real amount of paleo-historical research into seismic events would have really predicted this. (You need to have an earthquake in a certain location to get a Tsunami that would be this damaging to this area....etc etc).

There are always some things that are designed for that aren't enough because we have not seen them before (vertical wave propogation causing shear failure in beam-to-column connections, I believe this was Northridge Ca), but there are others that happen just because the people who run the plant do not want to spent the money to fix something that has a slim, but definite risk of absolute destruction.

June 20th, 2011, 11:44 AM
My understanding is that it was both. Apparently The plants were designed to withstand a magnitude 7.9 earthquate whereas this quake was measured at 9.0

The Japanese Govt has admitted a low level of readiness for this event despite warnings that it was likely

Yet, no one was charged with a manslaughter (KIDDING!, I am kidding.)

June 20th, 2011, 08:57 PM
In this instance, it was the tsunami that destroyed the Fukushima nuclear plants. The earthquake alone would not have led to this disaster, although had the faultline been on land or nearer to the plants, that might have been different too. A few weeks ago the IAEA concluded that the Japanese had underestimated (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/01/japan-nuclear-crisis-iaea-report_n_869508.html) the tsunami threat to these facilities. The break wall surrounding the plant was built to with stand a 5.7 meter wave. The actual waves were more than 9 meters and perhaps as high as 14 meters (http://articles.cnn.com/2011-06-01/world/japan.iaea.report_1_japan-nuclear-plant-tsunami-waves-dry-cask-storage-facilities?_s=PM:WORLD). Note the wave levels in the Wiki illustration below.

There is a reason why we use the Japanese word for tsunamis. Japan gets hit with more, and larger, tsunamis than any place in the world, and the Tohoku (= "East-North") region in Japan has an unfortunate combination of geology and seismic activity meaning areas along this coast are going to get hit most often and the hardest (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historic_tsunamis). The characters for tsunami are "harbor" + "wave" --


The three dots on the left side of each signify water -- water, water everywhere. All the coastal harbors suffering the heaviest damage in Tohoku are perfect demonstrate the historical evolution of this term.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8d/2011_Tohoku_earthquake_observed_tsunami_heights_en .png

June 20th, 2011, 09:16 PM
No need for paleo-historic data when historical markers serve as clear warnings --


This stone memorial, on a hillside outside of Miyako in Iwate Prefecture, records a warning from survivors of the Meiji Sanriku Tsunami of 1896. It reads: "The tsunami reached here. Do not build houses below this point. Be cautious even after years have passed." The marker is 500 meters inland.

June 20th, 2011, 09:23 PM
^ 3rd of a mile? Would be interesting to see how many buildings/homes were built below that at the time of the tsunami. That's incredible. The nuclear fallout (figuratively) from their mistakes will affect that entire area for decades.

June 20th, 2011, 09:31 PM
Actually, the tsunami reaches as far as 10 km (6 miles) inland (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-12709598) in some of the long narrow river valleys. The illustration is taken from an article as evidence of what happens when we *do* heed such historic warnings. No one built below this marker and Miyako suffered minimal damage.

June 20th, 2011, 09:35 PM
Then what could have been done? Nothing. Except breakers, (jettys) maybe? Probably not a tsunami that size, but who would have thought of such a disaster?

June 20th, 2011, 09:48 PM
Nothing could have been done to stop the tsunami. But nuclear plants should not have been built there or truly massive safety measure need to have been included. This was not the case.

Who could have thought this might have happened? I guess I am saying that anyone looking at the historical record could have foreseen that massive tsunamis swamp this coast every century. Think of it this way: once every hundred years there will be "the biggest earthquake and tsunami of the century," and so forth for every 200, 500, and 1000 years. It's not a question of if such events will happen, but when.

Engineers and policy makers cannot think in terms of one or two decades when planning and building nuclear power plants. This is not even an argument against nuclear power. It's almost common sense.

June 21st, 2011, 08:00 AM
There has to be a way to be able to fully shut down a facility (including the long cool-down period) whenever something like this happens.

the killer was the Tsunamis that wiped out, I believe, either the coolant pumps or the generators that powered them.

I would hazard a guess that they were the pumps.

I also remember hearing about other pumps running out of fuel (fuel lines cut).

Either way, the reactor kept building up heat and pressure and blew (the pictures we have all seen). It was not that the waves hit the reactor itself, but that they destroyed the surrounding area.

Also, I was not going to say anything about the 9.0, because I did not know what the readings were on land, but just so you know, NOTHING is designed for a 9.0. San fran was leveled with a high 6, which is 100 TIMES WEAKER THAN A 9!!!!! (Logarithmic scale).

The problem with this old reactor was not design, per se, but bureaucracy and incompetance which prevented the shut-down/rennovation of an outdated reactor in a high risk location.

As a result of playing the odds, these guys won the "Unlucky Lottery".

June 21st, 2011, 11:08 AM
I believe the air intake vents for the diesel generators were on the same second story level as the generators. The generators should have been in earthquake resistant / watertight rooms with air intake chimneys several stories high

June 21st, 2011, 11:32 AM
Then what could have been done? Nothing. Except breakers, (jettys) maybe? Probably not a tsunami that size, but who would have thought of such a disaster?The same thing happens in the Mississippi River flood plain. Flooding was always a natural event. It's what made the surrounding land so fertile. Building levees to hold back the river just postpones the inevitable, and when it happens, it's worse.

June 21st, 2011, 01:12 PM
When the levee breaks.........[/Zep]

June 21st, 2011, 08:45 PM
As a result of playing the odds, these guys won the "Unlucky Lottery".

I agree with your post, NH, but this event isn't even nearly as remote as lottery odds. If the reactor is going to get swamped once per century, or even once every 150 years, that means that once every fifty years you'd have a 33-to-50% chance of seeing this occur.

I cannot find the source again, but soon after the tsunami I think I read about a safety report in which some important feature such as the intake vents Gordon mentions should have been elevated raised by some very measure (e.g. 30 centimeters), but these were only moved a few centimeters. This would have prevented this disaster.

Similarly, the people drilling the BP well in the Gulf "saved" about $100,000 in April, 2010 by not performing an essential safety test a couple of days before the fire and spill. Different cultures and different circumstances, same mentality.

June 22nd, 2011, 08:20 AM
HB, I will have to check my texts on that, but the key to this one was not only the earthquake (which is higher than anything I have heard in my life) but the accompanying Tsunami. The chances for both of those was remote, but they should still be designed for.

A similar correlation can be drawn to that large hurricane in Fla a number of years ago where aa whole large (new) development was leveled because the developer decided to save $$ by using cheaper nails.......

June 22nd, 2011, 06:45 PM
M 6.7 Earthquake hits North Japan 10 minutes ago.

June 23rd, 2011, 10:37 AM
^ It was off the coast and caused little or no damage.

June 23rd, 2011, 12:27 PM
Epicenters of the last two earthquakes in Japan.


That subduction plate boundary really shows how vulnerable Japan is.

August 20th, 2011, 04:36 AM
I'm hoping they can get that nuclear reactor under control. Everything else can be rebuilt, but if that thing melts down... ugh.

Too late Mr Hovering Cheesecakes. It's game over for our Nipponese friends.

I don't know what's really going on but it looks like the people in Tokyo are breathing "hot particles" (https://bitly.com/pZt9Vl) every day that are reaching as far as Seattle. (http://enenews.com/run-hot-radioactive-particles-seattle-50-percent-levels-tokyo-latches-lung-tissue-video)

Rice (http://enenews.com/cesium-now-detected-in-rice-boars) is also contaminated.

Have you ever seen that movie The Road? Or played the game Fallout?

August 20th, 2011, 02:02 PM
^I heard about the rice, & I think fish also. I also heard some of it reached US shores, & that trace amounts were found in NV (don't ask me how they can tell it came from Japan).

August 20th, 2011, 09:05 PM
Their waffles always sucked anyway.

Soccer game halted by Fukushima chants

Updated Aug 20, 2011 6:52 PM ET

A Belgian soccer match was temporarily stopped on Saturday after visiting fans taunted Japanese goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima over the recent Fukushima nuclear disaster.
The referee halted the match between Lierse SK and Beerschot after some Beerschot supporters began chanting: “Kawashima-Fukushima.”
The match resumed after a delay of several minutes and ended in a 1-1 draw. Kawashima left the field in tears and said later he could forgive many insults, “but not this.”
The Japanese player said: “Using the drama of Fukushima in this manner is not at all funny.”
An earthquake and tsunami in March devastated large parts of Japan’s northeast coastline and left more than 20,000 people dead or missing. Another 100,000 people were evacuated because of radiation leakage from the damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant.


August 20th, 2011, 09:51 PM
A new low in sports.

August 21st, 2011, 01:47 AM
And for a change, they weren't British!

August 21st, 2011, 10:03 AM
My thought exactly. How obnoxious. I wonder if the Belgians had any comment on the incident, I can't seem to find any?

Meanwhile, I am watching a DVR of Friday's NBC's Nightly News. The National News Agency in Japan reports that the Japanese people have found and returned $48MM of cash found earthquake clean-up. I wonder how much of that cash would have been returned if the disaster happened in other countries?

August 21st, 2011, 10:53 AM
Maybe this book (http://www.amazon.com/Satire-Lets-Kill-All-Belgians/dp/B0058889RK) wasn't such a bad idea...

http://img841.imageshack.us/img841/1242/lepage.png http://img831.imageshack.us/img831/1715/tumblrlmu7qmmfme1qfnx5s.png
http://img849.imageshack.us/img849/1408/tumblrlmwhlodx8x1qf3emt.png http://img233.imageshack.us/img233/9837/belgiumpage3.png

The sad thing is, this isn't the worst thing I've heard at a football match, not even close. I stopped going to the away matches of the local football (I refuse to use the s-word) team after some of "our" fans started singing Bloodhound Gang's "Fire, water, burn" during a match against Volendam (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volendam), a small town (the kind where everyone knows everyone) where a few years earlier they had a horrible fire in a bar, killing 14 people and injuring over 180. Somehow quite some people seem tot turn into brainless morons once football is involved.

August 23rd, 2011, 04:10 PM
A 5.9 quake that was centered in Virginia near Washington, DC, was felt up the entire Eastern Seaboard at about 2pm!<br>
Buildings were evacuated and flights were delayed. It sent shockwaves all up and down the coast and the tremors were felt as far north as Maine and as far west as Detroit & Chicago! An A-380 has arrived here and it was ordered to stay here until further notice. Skyscrapers began swaying, causing workers to flee them and head for the streets!

My building was shaking and I started feeling sick as though I was dizzy & sea sick, but I couldn't make heads or tails of it until I found out about the quake online!

Flights are now being given permission to go out.

August 23rd, 2011, 04:30 PM
Lots of descriptions of the feeling of vertigo, because when they're standing on solid ground, they're not expecting it to move.

August 24th, 2011, 03:46 PM
Japanese find millions in lost tsunami cash - and return ithttp://msnbcmedia.msn.com/j/MSNBC/Components/Photo/_new/110824_japansafe.nv_nws.jpg Vincent Yu / AP
Japan Self-Defense Force personnel stand near some safes they retrieved from houses destroyed by the tsunami in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan in a photo taken on April 7, 2011.

By Arata Yamamoto, NBC News Producer

TOYKO – If disaster struck, and millions of dollars in cash turned up, do you think it would be returned to its rightful owners?
In Japan, it was.
During the four months since the giant tsunami struck Japan's northern coast, more than 5,700 safes containing approximately $30 million has been recovered from the three hardest hit prefectures, Japan’s National Police Agency recently announced.
Remarkably – since residents of the tsunami zone have scattered across the country and even the world – 96 percent, or nearly $29.6 million in cash, has already been returned to its rightful owners, or if authorities feared the owner had died in the disaster, their closest relative.
Detective job to find rightful owners
The majority of the safes recovered in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima were collected by Japan’s Self Defense Force, police, and volunteers while combing through destroyed homes and buildings and clearing debris left behind by the devastating wave; some individuals also came forward with lost valuables.
Masao Sasaki, with the Iwate prefectural police, said that determining who the money belonged to and then actually finding them proved to be a great challenge and often involved excruciating detective work.
"In some cases, entire communities were completely washed away. Even if we had information on the address of the owner, there would be no building left, landlines were destroyed,” Sasaki explained. “So we went around to the various evacuation centers and started checking through the rosters."
In Iwate prefecture alone, where more than 23,000 structures along the coast were destroyed, 2,400 safes containing a total amount of $10 million was collected. Incredibly, 91 percent of it has already been returned.
Considering that up until June there were more than 330 evacuation centers in Iwate, and people were constantly moving to new locations, it was no small feat to return that much money.

Read the rest:


September 5th, 2011, 11:41 AM
Fukushima Blows Lid Off Exploited Labour

IPS NEWS (http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=104978)
By Suvendrini Kakuchi

TOKYO, Sep 3, 2011 (IPS) - The Fukushima disaster has thrown up the first opportunity in decades to bring justice to thousands of unskilled workers who risk radioactive contamination to keep Japan’s nuclear power plants running.

"Fukushima has created public awareness on a section of nuclear workers castigated as ‘radiation- exposed people’ but forming the dark underbelly of an industry that depends on them," says Minoru Nasu, spokesperson for the Japan Day Labourers Union.

Nasu, a long-time labour activist, says that while nuclear industry relies heavily on unskilled workers it has left it to thuggish subcontractors to marshal them as daily wagers.

The common practice for the past several decades can best be described as "human auctioning," Nasu told IPS. Labourers gather at the crack of dawn at designated places such as public parks to be picked up by toughs who take them to the nuclear plants.

According to figures available with the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, Japan’s regulator, of the 80,0000-odd workers at Japan’s 18 commercial nuclear power plants, 80 percent are contract workers. At the Fukushima plant, 89 percent of the 10,000 workers in 2010 were on contract.

The men are given contracts to do unskilled, dangerous work inside nuclear plants for months together. There are no guarantees in the event of an accident, or long-term health insurance against such diseases as leukaemia or other forms of cancer which may surface years after exposure to radiation.

"When their work is completed, they are expected to simply disappear. Nobody cares about them," said Nasu.

September 7th, 2011, 08:39 AM

Just when you thought mowing lawns and cleaning bathrooms was the worst for a corner worker... :(

September 12th, 2011, 10:32 AM
Sendai Airport, Miyagi prefecture.


After the earthquake...3 months...6 months (http://news.yahoo.com/photos/japan-quake-and-tsunami-6-months-later-1315530987-slideshow/combination-three-photos-taken-over-six-month-period-photo-143428925.html)

September 24th, 2011, 11:17 PM
High Radiation Found in Japanese Rice

SEPTEMBER 24, 2011, 2:24 P.M. ET


TOKYO—Japan has detected high levels of radiation in rice growing near the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant, a government official said Saturday.

A preparatory test ahead of the official examination of the safety of rice in Nihonmatsu, a city about 30 miles west of the stricken power plant, found that a sample of unharvested rice contained 500 becquerels of cesium per kilogram, the maximum permissible level, the Fukushima Prefecture official said.

Rice with up to 500 becquerels of cesium per kilogram is considered safe for consumption, but shipments of rice exceeding that level are banned in Japan.

The cesium level found in the rice sample in Nihonmatsu is the highest discovered since the regulations were set in April, and no rice shipments have been banned, an official at Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said. Rice with 500 becquerels of cesium per kilogram still can be shipped.

Fukushima Prefecture will conduct the official tests of rice for radiation in Nihonmatsu as soon as possible at 300 spots—many more than the initially planned 38 spots—as a a result of the latest discovery. Preparatory tests are aimed at determining how many spots rice should be tested in each area.

Fukushima has conducted more than 340 preparatory tests, of which the highest level of cesium previously found was 136 becquerels per kilogram, the Fukushima prefectural official said.

Fukushima is one of 17 prefectures in eastern Japan that are testing rice for radiation, the ministry official said.

The safety of foods remains a major concern among consumers after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami crippled Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, and the government has been testing vegetables and fish, among other foods, for radiation.

Consumers are likely to be wary of purchasing rice tested with the upper-limit level of cesium, given that rice is one of Japan's staple foods.

Copyright 2011 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved

September 25th, 2011, 01:39 AM
A Belgian soccer match was temporarily stopped on Saturday after visiting fans taunted Japanese goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima over the recent Fukushima nuclear disaster.

What the hell is wrong with so many Europeans when they get to a soccer game? You hear about this horrible stuff all the time at their games. Horribly racist taunts, violence, disgusting references to tragedies like the Japanese earthquake mentioned above...I just don't understand it. More of that glorious European moral superiority on display for the world to see, I guess.

September 25th, 2011, 10:29 PM
Sports fans in general represent the underbelly of society.

September 25th, 2011, 11:50 PM
I tend to agree with that. Maybe the crotch.

September 26th, 2011, 08:20 AM
Won't be eating any Japanese rice!

September 26th, 2011, 10:41 AM
I don't think the US imports much, if any, rice from Japan. About 40% of the US rice crop is exported, and ranks somewhere in the top five, along with India, China, Thailand, Vietnam.

Rice is a staple crop in Japan, sort of like the corn crop in the US.

September 28th, 2011, 01:12 AM
I don't know the latest statistics, but Japan frequently has a shortfall in their rice harvest and often has to import, typically from Thailand. This news will mean that even more is imported, but for how long is anyone's guess.

September 28th, 2011, 01:20 AM
What the hell is wrong with so many Europeans when they get to a soccer game? You hear about this horrible stuff all the time at their games. Horribly racist taunts, violence, disgusting references to tragedies like the Japanese earthquake mentioned above...I just don't understand it. More of that glorious European moral superiority on display for the world to see, I guess.

Just to show that not all the idiocy can be attributed sports or Europeans --

The fear of radiation was prevalent after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings and it stigmatized the survivors, known as hibakusha, or people exposed to radiation. Many hibakusha concealed their past for fear of discrimination that would prevent them finding work or marriage partners, according to the Japan Confederation of A-and H-bomb Sufferers Organization.
Some people believed A-bomb survivors could emit radiation and others feared radiation caused genetic mutations, said Evan Douple, Associate Chief of Research at the Radiation Effects Research Foundation in Hiroshima.

An examination of more than 77,000 first-generation children in Hiroshima and Nagasaki after the bombings found no evidence of mutations, he said.
While radiation readings are lower in Fukushima than Hiroshima, Abel Gonzales, the vice-chair of the International Commission on Radiological Protection, said similar prejudices may emerge.

“Stigma. I have the feeling that in Fukushima this will be a very big problem,” Gonzales said in a symposium held in Fukushima City on the six-month anniversary of the disaster.

Some children that fled Fukushima are finding out what Gonzales means.
Fukushima schoolchildren were being bullied at their new school in Chiba prefecture near Tokyo for “carrying radiation,” the Sankei newspaper reported in April, citing complaints made to education authorities. An 11-year-old Fukushima boy was hospitalized in Niigata prefecture after being bullied at his new school, Kyodo News reported April 23.

Produce from Fukushima’s rich soil is also being shunned. Peaches, the prefecture’s biggest agricultural product after rice, have halved in price this year. Beef shipments from the prefecture were temporarily suspended and contamination concerns stopped the town of Minami Soma from planting rice, according to local authorities.

Source: Fukushima Desolation Worst Since Nagasaki as Residents Flee September 27, 2011


On the other hand, this places European football idiots on the same footing with mean junior high school adolescents in Japan.

September 28th, 2011, 08:55 AM
Humans, in general, are stupid.

We get used to talking to a bunch of people that, in our own self imposed isolation, we begin to believe represent a good portion of the people out there. Maybe a "little" more informed...

But, all one has to do is look at the TV to see a good representation of what is really out there. Now I don't mean you SEE what is out there on TV, but you see what THEY see and what THEY want to see. The mere fact that Two and a Half Men was one of the most popular comedies speaks volumes.

And one nations borders does not make a hell of a lot of difference in what we are basically made of. Slight differences may be noted on the "average", but that boils down to nothing when the individual is concerned.

We are all stupid. It is only our nationality and upbringing that determines how we express that shortcoming and the resulting ignorance.

September 28th, 2011, 09:31 PM
Football morons -- not a nation but a state of mind.

September 28th, 2011, 10:08 PM
PBS / NOVA is airing a show right now about Surviving the Tsunami (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/earth/surviving-tsunami.html) and what's been learned about specifics that made survival possible.

October 15th, 2011, 10:11 PM
Citizens’ Testing Finds 20 Hot Spots Around Tokyo

Kazuhiro Yokozeki for The New York Times
Toshiyuki Hattori, who runs a sewage plant in Tokyo, surrounded by sacks of radioactive sludge.

Published: October 14, 2011


TOKYO — Takeo Hayashida signed on with a citizens’ group to test for radiation near his son’s baseball field in Tokyo after government officials told him they had no plans to check for fallout from the devastated Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Like Japan (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/japan/index.html?inline=nyt-geo)’s central government, local officials said there was nothing to fear in the capital, 160 miles from the disaster zone.
Then came the test result: the level of radioactive cesium in a patch of dirt just yards from where his 11-year-old son, Koshiro, played baseball was equal to those in some contaminated areas around Chernobyl.
The patch of ground was one of more than 20 spots in and around the nation’s capital that the citizens’ group, and the respected nuclear research center they worked with, found were contaminated with potentially harmful levels of radioactive cesium.
It has been clear since the early days of the nuclear accident, the world’s second worst after Chernobyl, that that the vagaries of wind and rain had scattered worrisome amounts of radioactive materials in unexpected patterns far outside the evacuation zone 12 miles around the stricken plant. But reports that substantial amounts of cesium had accumulated as far away as Tokyo have raised new concerns about how far the contamination had spread, possibly settling in areas where the government has not even considered looking.
The government’s failure to act quickly, a growing chorus of scientists say, may be exposing many more people than originally believed to potentially harmful radiation. It is also part of a pattern: Japan’s leaders have continually insisted that the fallout from Fukushima will not spread far, or pose a health threat to residents, or contaminate the food chain. And officials have repeatedly been proved wrong by independent experts and citizens’ groups that conduct testing on their own.
“Radioactive substances are entering people’s bodies from the air, from the food. It’s everywhere,” said Kiyoshi Toda, a radiation expert at Nagasaki University’s faculty of environmental studies and a medical doctor. “But the government doesn’t even try to inform the public how much radiation they’re exposed to.”
The reports of hot spots do not indicate how widespread contamination is in the capital; more sampling would be needed to determine that. But they raise the prospect that people living near concentrated amounts of cesium are being exposed to levels of radiation above accepted international standards meant to protect people from cancer (http://health.nytimes.com/health/guides/disease/cancer/overview.html?inline=nyt-classifier) and other illnesses.
Japanese nuclear experts and activists have begun agitating for more comprehensive testing in Tokyo and elsewhere, and a cleanup if necessary. Robert Alvarez, a nuclear expert and a former special assistant to the United States secretary of energy, echoed those calls, saying the citizens’ groups’ measurements “raise major and unprecedented concerns about the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.”
The government has not ignored citizens’ pleas entirely; it recently completed aerial testing in eastern Japan, including Tokyo. But several experts and activists say the tests are unlikely to be sensitive enough to be useful in finding micro hot spots such as those found by the citizens’ group.
Kaoru Noguchi, head of Tokyo’s health and safety section, however, argues that the testing already done is sufficient. Because Tokyo is so developed, she says, radioactive material was much more likely to have fallen on concrete, then washed away. She also said exposure was likely to be limited.
“Nobody stands in one spot all day,” she said. “And nobody eats dirt.”
Tokyo residents knew soon after the March 11 accident, when a tsunami knocked out the crucial cooling systems at the Fukushima plant, that they were being exposed to radioactive materials. Researchers detected a spike in radiation levels on March 15. Then as rain drizzled down on the evening of March 21, radioactive material again fell on the city.
In the following week, however, radioactivity in the air and water dropped rapidly. Most in the city put aside their jitters, some openly scornful of those — mostly foreigners — who had fled Tokyo in the early days of the disaster.
But not everyone was convinced. Some Tokyo residents bought dosimeters. The Tokyo citizens’ group, the Radiation Defense Project (http://www.radiationdefense.jp/?lang=en), which grew out of a Facebook discussion page, decided to be more proactive. In consultation with the Yokohama-based Isotope Research Institute, members collected soil samples from near their own homes and submitted them for testing.
Some of the results were shocking: the sample that Mr. Hayashida collected under shrubs near his neighborhood baseball field in the Edogawa ward measured nearly 138,000 becquerels per square meter of radioactive cesium 137, which can damage cells and lead to an increased risk of cancer.
Of the 132 areas tested, 22 were above 37,000 becquerels per square meter, the level at which zones were considered contaminated at Chernobyl.
Edwin Lyman, a physicist at the Union of Concerned Scientists (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/u/union_of_concerned_scientists/index.html?inline=nyt-org) in Washington, said most residents near Chernobyl were undoubtedly much worse off, surrounded by widespread contamination rather than isolated hot spots. But he said the 37,000 figure remained a good reference point for mandatory cleanup because regular exposure to such contamination could result in a dosage of more than one millisievert per year, the maximum recommended for the public by the International Commission on Radiological Protection.
The most contaminated spot in the Radiation Defense survey, near a church, was well above the level of the 1.5 million becquerels per square meter that required mandatory resettlement at Chernobyl. The level is so much higher than other results in the study that it raises the possibility of testing error, but micro hot spots are not unheard of after nuclear disasters.
Japan’s relatively tame mainstream media, which is more likely to report on government pronouncements than grass-roots movements, mainly ignored the citizens’ group’s findings.
“Everybody just wants to believe that this is Fukushima’s problem,” said Kota Kinoshita, one of the group’s leaders and a former television journalist. “But if the government is not serious about finding out, how can we trust them?”
Hideo Yamazaki, an expert in environmental analysis at Kinki University in western Japan, did his own survey of the city and said he, too, discovered high levels in the area where the baseball field is located.
“These results are highly localized, so there is no cause for panic,” he said. “Still, there are steps the government could be taking, like decontaminating the highest spots.”
Since then, there have been other suggestions that hot spots were more widespread than originally imagined.
Last month, a local government in a Tokyo ward found a pile of composted leaves at a school that measured 849 becquerels per kilogram of cesium 137, over two times Japan’s legally permissible level for compost.
And on Wednesday, civilians who tested the roof of an apartment building in the nearby city of Yokohama — farther from Fukushima than Tokyo — found high quantities of radioactive strontium. (There was also one false alarm this week when sky-high readings were reported in the Setagaya ward in Tokyo; the government later said they were probably caused by bottles of radium, once widely used to make paint.)
The government’s own aerial testing showed that although almost all of Tokyo had relatively little contamination, two areas showed elevated readings. One was in a mountainous area at the western edge of the Tokyo metropolitan region, and the other was over three wards of the city — including the one where the baseball field is situated.
The metropolitan government said it had started preparations to begin monitoring food products from the nearby mountains, but acknowledged that food had been shipped from that area for months.
Mr. Hayashida, who discovered the high level at the baseball field, said that he was not waiting any longer for government assurances. He moved his family to Okayama, about 370 miles to the southwest.
“Perhaps we could have stayed in Tokyo with no problems,” he said. “But I choose a future with no radiation fears.”
Matthew L. Wald contributed reporting from Washington, and Kantaro Suzuki from Tokyo.

October 15th, 2011, 11:36 PM
Anyone thinking at some point they're going to have to evacuate Tokyo?

October 16th, 2011, 01:33 AM
To where?

October 16th, 2011, 02:07 AM
@ BBMW, Did you read the story?

October 16th, 2011, 08:50 PM
I think Tokyo is learning more than Capitalism from the US......


November 3rd, 2011, 01:57 PM
The Simpsons Called It:
Three Eyed Fish Caught Outside a Nuclear Power Planthttp://fastcache.gawkerassets.com/assets/images/4/2011/10/blinky_fish.jpg


June 8th, 2012, 12:09 PM
Tsunami debris: Huge dock washes up on Oregon coast

People inspect a massive dock with Japanese lettering that washed ashore on Agate Beach
north of Newport, Ore. (Thomas Boyd / The Oregonian / June 6, 2012)

By Kim Murphy
June 6, 2012, 5:24 p.m

SEATTLE — Authorities have confirmed that a 66-foot-long dock that floated onto a beach near Newport, Ore., this week came from Japan — the latest in a growing wave of debris from the earthquake and tsunami that ripped through the Japanese coast in March 2011.

The Japanese Consulate in Portland confirmed Wednesday that the large floating pier originated at the port of Misawa in northern Japan, and from there appears to have drifted across the Pacific to where it was first spotted Monday on Agate Beach, about a mile north of Newport.

“It has a metal plaque written in Japanese. It was rather easy to identify where it originated,” Deputy Consul General Hirofumi Murabayashi told the Los Angeles Times.

By Wednesday afternoon, flocks of people were making their way to the scenic emerald cove where the dock — now surrounded by warning tape — lay beached on the sand like an alien ship.

“What we have is a really large, well-built dock that survived a cross-ocean voyage,” Chris Havel, spokesman for the Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation, said in an interview with The Times.

“It’s 66 feet long, 19 feet wide and seven feet tall, covered with reinforced concrete. We’re used to debris and trash that you can pick up and throw in a trash bag, and the occasional vessel that runs aground. Something like this, this large, this heavy, requires a little more careful handling,” he said.

Authorities say the pier was able to float across an entire ocean because, although covered in concrete, it is filled with Styrofoam.

The wayward pier is only the latest in what scientists say may be 1 million to 2 million tons of tsunami debris drifting across the Pacific.

In April, the U.S. Coast Guard unleashed cannon fire to sink a ghost ship found floating off the coast of Alaska after being cast adrift by the tsunami in Hokkaido, Japan. A shipping crate containing aHarley-Davidson motorcycle turned up in British Columbia this year.

In Oregon, the tsunami debris also contained a bit of living cargo: A starfish native to Japan was among the marine life clinging to the dock, according to scientists from the Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport.

Havel said salvage experts were trying to determine whether the dock could be re-floated at the next high tide and shipped to the port of Newport, or whether it would have to be dismantled in place.

Murabayashi said Japanese officials didn't care which option the state chose.

“The owner of this dock is Aomori Prefecture,” he said, “and they told us that they do not wish to have it returned.”

Los Angeles Times, 202 West 1st Street, Los Angeles, California, 90012 | Copyright 2012

June 8th, 2012, 12:30 PM
Do they wish to pay for its removal and disposal? ;)

I wonder why limited efforts were made to contain or clean up some of this debris before it washed up?

Some, not all.

June 8th, 2012, 01:26 PM
Yeah, here you go nation of thousands of dead and millions with substantial economic losses, here is your bill for the dock. Pay within 30 days, k thanks.

June 8th, 2012, 01:44 PM
Seems like they'd want to just keep it there as an oddity/tourist attraction.

June 8th, 2012, 03:37 PM
You don't read winkeys, do ya GG

June 8th, 2012, 06:07 PM
The last line of the article may seem silly, but it falls within maritime law with respect to salvage.

Since this is technically not a recovery at sea, I'm not sure how the law applies; but the person who salvages the property must contact the owner. If the owner wants it back, fair compensation is given.

If not, finders-keepers.

June 8th, 2012, 10:55 PM
You don't read winkeys, do ya GG

My winkeys are invisible :)

August 20th, 2013, 10:46 AM
August 20, 2013

300 Tons of Contaminated Water Leak From Japanese Nuclear Plant


TOKYO — Three hundred tons of highly contaminated water have leaked from a storage tank at the ravaged Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant on Japan’s Pacific Coast, its operator said on Tuesday, raising further concerns over the site’s safety and prompting regulators to declare a radiological release incident for the first time since disaster struck there in 2011.

Workers raced to place sandbags around the leak at the site to stem the spread of the water, a task made more urgent by a forecast of heavy rain for the Fukushima region later in the day. A spokesman at Tokyo Electric Power, the plant’s operator, acknowledged that much of the contaminated water had seeped into the soil and could eventually reach the ocean, adding to the tons of radioactive fluids that have already leaked into the sea from the troubled plant.

The leaked water contains levels of radioactive cesium and strontium many hundreds of times higher than legal safety limits, Tokyo Electric said. Exposure to either element is known to increase the risk of cancer.

The company said it had not determined the source of the leak.

“We must prevent the contaminated water from dispersing further due to rain and are piling up more sandbags,” said Masayuki Ono, a spokesman for the operator, also known as Tepco. But he also said much of the water has been absorbed into the soil, and workers would need to try to remove some of the soil using shovel cars and other heavy machinery.

Tepco has acknowledged in recent weeks that leaks of radioactive runoff at the site, about 150 miles north of Tokyo, are at crisis levels. The runoff comes from cooling water that workers are pumping into the damaged cores of the site’s three most damaged reactors, as well as from groundwater pouring into the breached basements of those reactors.

Some of that runoff has been seeping into the ocean since the accident at the site in 2011, triggered by a powerful earthquake and a 14-meter tsunami. To reduce the leaks, Tepco has started pumping out some of the contaminated water and storing it in almost 1,000 large tanks it has built on the debris-strewn site.

Tepco hopes to start cleansing the water using an elaborate filtering system and start releasing low-level contaminated water into the ocean. Those plans have been delayed by technical problems and protests from local fishermen.

Desperate for options, Japan’s nuclear regulator has suggested surrounding the plant with a huge underground ice wall to stem any leaks. That plan has its own drawbacks, however, and would require huge amounts of electricity almost indefinitely.

The latest leak comes from one of the site’s 1,000 tanks, about 500 yards inland, Tepco said. Workers discovered puddles of radioactive water near the tank on Monday. Further checks revealed that the 1,000-ton capacity vessel, thought to be nearly full, only contained 700 tons, with the remainder having almost certainly leaked out.

There had been concerns raised among some experts over the durability of the tanks. Mr. Ono said that Tepco had assumed the tanks would last at least five years, but the latest leak comes less than two years after the company started installing the storage vessels at the site to deal with the growing amounts of runoff.

“It is going to be very difficult and dangerous for Tepco to keep on storing all this water,” said Hiroshi Miyano, an expert in nuclear system design at Hosei University in Tokyo. He said, for example, that another strong earthquake or tsunami could destroy the tanks and lead to a huge spill.

At some point, Tepco will have no choice but to start releasing some of the water into the ocean after cleaning it, Dr. Miyano said. The continued mishaps at the site have heightened public scrutiny of Tepco and made it more difficult to build public consensus around any release of water, he said.

“That just makes the problem worse, with no viable solution,” he said.

The Nuclear Regulation Authority described the leak as a Level 1 incident, the lowest level, on a global scale that rates radiological releases. This was the first time that Japan had declared a radiological event since earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, which was rated at Level 7, the highest on that scale and on par with the 1986 accident at Chernobyl.

In a statement, the regulator ordered Tepco to do its utmost to identify the exact source of the leak, to step up radiation monitoring at the site and to remove contaminated soil. Tepco said it would do its best to comply.

Makiko Inoue contributed reporting from Tokyo.

© 2013 The New York Times Company

August 20th, 2013, 11:41 AM
It just keeps getting better, doesn't it?

Nothing to worry about though, they have lots of sandbags

August 20th, 2013, 01:20 PM
Holy Glowing Blowfish Batman!

August 20th, 2013, 03:51 PM
I was misled as a child - I was presented with an image of Japan as a bastion of high standards & quality, where things are done properly and substandard efforts are not tolerated. Yeah right

August 20th, 2013, 09:49 PM
Whaddya mean Doc? All the best stuff is made in Japan.

January 11th, 2014, 02:29 PM
Defying Japan, Rancher Saves Fukushima’s Radioactive Cows

NY TIMES (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/12/world/asia/defying-japan-rancher-saves-fukushimas-radioactive-cows.html?hp)
January 11, 2014

NAMIE, Japan — His may be one of the world’s more quixotic protests.

Angered by what he considers the Japanese government’s attempts to sweep away the inconvenient truths of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, Masami Yoshizawa has moved back to his ranch in the radioactive no-man’s land surrounding the devastated plant. He has no neighbors, but plenty of company: hundreds of abandoned cows he has vowed to protect from the government’s kill order.

A large bulldozer — meant to keep out agricultural officials — stands at the entrance to the newly renamed Ranch of Hope like a silent sentinel, guarding a driveway lined with bleached cattle bones and handwritten protest signs.

“Let the Cows of Hope Live!” says one. Another, written on a yellow-painted cow skull, declares: “Nuclear Rebellion!” Inside the now overcrowded ranch, bellowing cows spill from the overflowing cattle sheds into the well-worn pasture, and even trample the yard of the warmly lit farmhouse.

“These cows are living testimony to the human folly here in Fukushima,” said Mr. Yoshizawa, 59, a gruff but eloquent man with a history of protest against his government. “The government wants to kill them because it wants to erase what happened here, and lure Japan back to its pre-accident nuclear status quo. I am not going to let them.” ...

Ko Sasaki for The New York Times
At Masami Yoshizawa’s newly renamed Ranch of Hope, which is in the evacuation zone
created by the 2011 disaster at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Mr. Yoshizawa returned
to take care of the abandoned cows on his own and other ranches in the area.

Mr. Yoshizawa notes wryly that the cows are living much longer than they would have if they had been led off to slaughter.

For now, the local authorities have come up with a very Japanese solution to Mr. Yoshizawa’s defiance: turning a blind eye. Town officials in Namie deny knowledge of him or anyone else living inside the evacuation zone — despite the fact that they have restored electricity and telephone service to the ranch.

Mr. Yoshizawa does not make himself easy to ignore. He continues to appear in Japanese news media, maintains a blog with a live webcam (http://www.ustream.tv/channel/希望の牧場) of the ranch and holds occasional one-man protests in front of the headquarters of the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co.

“Not all Japanese are passive,” Mr. Yoshizawa said. “My cows and I will show that there is still a chance for change.”


Live Stream: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/希望の牧場


What we saw and heard in Fukushima, "The Ranch of Hope", Namie Japan


January 11th, 2014, 03:11 PM
As long as he doesn't start a petting zoo.

January 11th, 2014, 05:01 PM

Chicago Beware!




January 11th, 2014, 05:38 PM

January 11th, 2014, 11:05 PM

Chicago Beware!




Hey, been there!!!

January 13th, 2014, 12:42 PM
Petting would not be the big problem. If someone offers you a really good deal on Kobe Beef, I'd be suspicious.

As long as he doesn't start a petting zoo.