ROLLING UPDATE No.4 on the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster by Japan resident

Continuing the updates on the Fukushima No.1 Nuclear Power Station in Japan from...

The original article - Late March 2011

The original article in French - Late March 2011

ROLLING UPDATE 1 - Late March 2011

ROLLING UPDATE 2 - Late March to early April 2011

ROLLING UPDATE 3 - April 8 to August 19, 2011

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Latest updates on top. August 20, August 21 - no post, August 22, August 23, August 24, August 25, August 26, August 26, August 28-September 4 - no post, September 5, September 6 - no post, September 7, September 8, September 10, September 13, September 14, September 15, September 16, September 20, September 24, September 25, September 26, September 28, September 29, September 30

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Sites worth taking a look at every day:
EX-SKF
GREEN ACTION's Fukushima Update
Radiation Safety Philippines
http://enenews.com/

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Woops! I think humanity might have been better off not playing around with the atom...

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Continuing from Rolling Update 3 from August 20...

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ROLLING UPDATE 5 WILL BEGIN FROM OCTOBER 1

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September 30

Feel the sensation of your jaw dropping as you read this article: WSJ: Potassium Iodide That Never Came

Though Japan's nuclear-safety experts recommended dispensing pills immediately, Tokyo didn't order pills be given out until five days after the March 11 accident, the documents show.

Potassium iodide, which blocks radioactive iodine from entering the thyroid gland, is most effective when taken just before exposure, or within two hours after. It has little effect when administered days after the release of radiation.

Naoki Matsuda, a professor of radiation biology at Nagasaki University and an adviser to the Fukushima prefecture government, recalled a meeting with prefectural staff after a day of screening local residents on March 14. They reported gauges on radiation monitors set for 13,000 cpm going off repeatedly. "It was very clear the previous level of 13,000 cpm wouldn't work," Mr. Matsuda wrote in an essay posted on the university's website. "We discussed how the staff should turn off alarm sounds and refrain from wearing protective suits and face masks in order not to fan worries among residents."

So on March 14, the Nagasaki University professors were already engaged in damage limitation for the nuclear industry??

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Small hydropower plants keep it local - All renewable energy forms are going to have their problems. They need to be sited in appropriate locations in order to reap the full benefits and they must be operated by people who know what they're doing. The real proof of renewables will come after fossil fuels become very expensive and unavailable in a couple of decades' time from now (or less?). Then what? Please look at the photo and tell me how you are going to repair that turbine if it breaks down in a world where fossil energy is no longer available. Most people will not be able to. That's why I keep saying that a society/economy that runs on renewable energy forms will be transitional to what comes after that. Which is what? What do you want it to be? How are you going to ensure that you get there?

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GREEN ACTION - Coverage of Japanese family, farmers and activists’ U.S. speaking tour

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September 29

NRC Poll: 98% want a nuclear phase-out

According to an announcement by the Japanese Government's Japan Atomic Energy Commission on September 27, published on the front page of the Akahata newspaper on September 28, opinions solicited from the Japanese public concerning nuclear power showed that 98% were in favor of an immediate or gradual nuclear phase-out. Of these, 67% were in favour of the immediate shutdown of nuclear power stations and a switch to renewable and other energy forms, and 31% were in favour of a gradual nuclear phase-out with a switch to renewable and other energy forms. 1.5% were in favour of maintaining the status quo or increasing nuclear power and 0.5% were in favour of nationalization of nuclear power stations. 10,189 opinions were received and of these 3,060 were drawn at random for the survey. So I suppose if the politicians, bureaucrats, business people and so on want to argue with that they are welcome to, but at some point it might just snap back in their faces.

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Third-party panel to demand resignation by TEPCO management

It (TEPCO) is also considering cutting expenses through suppression of repair and maintenance costs...

Are they mad??? How do they expect to maintain safety if they do that???

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The waste from the Japanese earthquake and tsunami - This is just horrific! I have heard that there was a plan put out that was rejected by the government and the powers-that-be. The plan was this: Take all the tsunami waste, whether it contains a certain amount of radioactive material or not, and pile it up all along the shoreline as a tsunami barrier against future tsunami. Once it is piled up to a certain extent, cover it with earth and then continue to pile up more on top, then cover with earth again. Repeat until the barrier contains all the debris and then cover with earth one more time, and then finally with concrete. The barrier might be 20 m high and two or three hundred meters wide. Since people should not be living where tsunami might strike anyway, the people should be compensated for their land and move to higher ground. It's a huge project, but at least it does not mean that the debris has to be transported very far and the result is that you have a tsunami barrier right up and down the coast where it is required. There may be problems with this idea, and there may be better ideas, but I haven't heard them yet...

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Will Accept and Burn Disaster Debris from Tohoku, Renews Efforts to Invide Olympic Games to Tokyo

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#Fukushima I Nuke Plant Reactor 2 Achieves "Cold Shutdown" - Oh, this is great - more self-delusion again! I already did a rant on "cold shutdown" on September 25, so I am not going to repeat that sad story again here. Please take a look at the diagram (from the Yomiuri Shimbun): It tries to indicate "where the molten fuel is thought to be." But there is no direct evidence that that is where the molten fuel actually is, and therefore no assurance that the the thermometer is measuring the temperature of the molten fuel, or just the wall of the reactor pressure vessel. It's clear that the thermometer is measuring the temperature at the base of the reactor pressure vessel, but the chances of most of the molten fuel being there are remote. There may be a little remaining there, but since the control rods enter through the base of the RPV in this kind of reactor, the molten fuel has likely burned through the control rods or their lower supports and exited through the holes into the drywell, and then perhaps into the suppression chamber, and then perhaps out onto the concrete floor of the containment building, where it might have stopped. This has been suspected since about mid-May (before that for some people), so again TEPCO is trying to fool the general public with very possibly false information. Probably lies, since it is very likely that TEPCO knows roughly where the majority of the molten core is. HOW ABOUT THE TIMELY AND ACCURATE INFORMATION YOU'VE BEEN PROMISING FOR SEVERAL MONTHS NOW, TEPCO, INSTEAD OF THIS MEANINGLESS DRIVEL DESIGNED TO LULL THE GENERAL PUBLIC INTO A FALSE SENSE OF REASSURANCE???

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September 28

UN agency to aid Fukushima clean-up

"These things need to be done properly. Otherwise the amount of debris becomes huge. I hope that we can give some advice," Amano said.

Yes, I hope so too, and I hope it will be good advice that will really help the people who are living in Fukushima Prefecture and in other places badly affected by the radioactive contamination. However, as hinted at the end of the article, the idea that decontamination can be done "properly" (and since the Japanese government has lost a great deal of credibility over the last six months it now needs the backing of a 'credible' UN agency such as the IAEA) may simply be a substitute for evacuating people from areas which are really too contaminated to live in, especially for children and pregnant women. "Proper" decontamination will take years, whereas the only sure way to protect people in contaminated areas is to move them away as quickly as possible. It's not too late even now.

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UN agency sets up nuclear safety 'action team'

Most countries, however, notably in the developing world, still want to expand their use of nuclear power, with the IAEA projecting between 90 and 350 new reactors will be built worldwide by 2030.

The idea that a "compact and dedicated action team" under the IAEA could prevent nuclear accidents from occurring in the roughly 440 commercial nuclear reactors around the world is 'interesting.' Reading the article, it seems there are countries which are not terribly keen on getting involved of 'providing resources' for the team to do its work "properly." I can see how this "action team" - imagine them dressed in their Superman outfits and arriving unannounced at ancient nuclear power stations in a swirl of helicopter dust, pushing the plant managers aside and fixing the station's safety problems in a couple of hours! - might have some effect if they focus on older and potentially dangerous power stations first, but if they are underfunded and the countries (and power companies) involved are not going to be cooperative, then how are they ever going to prevent the next nuclear disaster from happening? And, anyway, why should some countries be negative about Mr. Amano's proposals? Aren't they interested in preventing accidents? (Think - money.)

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Backing off from the nuke phaseout - Japan Times Editorial

People should be watchful of this kind of manipulation by a national leader and bureaucrats.

Hmmm... not the usual language used in Japanese papers towards top politicians. Someone here may have woken up...

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DPJ divided over whether to resume operations at nuclear power plants, build new facilities

Regarding the construction of new nuclear power plants, he said, "It's unrealistic. We'll decommission end-of-life reactors."

However, Noda slightly changed his position when he was responding to questions by the SDP's Abe in the Diet session on Sept. 27. "It's difficult to build new nuclear reactors, but there are those that have been almost completed. We'll make a decision on a case-by-case basis while listening to opinions from local residents."

For an angle on "opinions from local residents, please see the following article..."

Pronuclear plant incumbent re-elected mayor of Yamaguchi town

A total of about 4.5 billion yen had been given to the town in nuclear-related subsidies by the end of the fiscal year through last March. Of the town's roughly 4.4 billion yen budget for the current fiscal year, about 1.1 billion yen came from such subsidies.

'Interesting' to see what will happen. Governor Nii of Yamaguchi Prefecture has stated that he will not renew the licence of the power company to develop the site when it comes up for renewal in October next year, making construction of the power station effectively impossible. However, that's still a year off, so he might find some reason for changing his mind in the meantime.

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Industry ministry underreported opponents to reactivation of nuclear plant in Kyushu - One is left wondering why the 100 people presumably opposing the restart of the nuclear power station did not send their emails in until after the deadline. However, the official says, "We stopped accepting opinions during the broadcast, calculated them and released the results during the program." Oh. Sending in an email opinion while the meeting is still in progress is pretty tough since most people probably want to see how the meeting turns out before they send in their opinion...

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#Radiation Map by Ministry of Education: Gunma Looks Worse Than Expected - Right, and it's clear that Niigata, Iwate, Akita, Chiba, Saitama, Tokyo Nagano and Yamanashi should have been included. We might then possibly get something close to the full extent of the contamination.

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Ruling party panel approves tax hike plan - Get this: "more than ¥11 trillion to pay for reconstruction following the March 11 calamities." Oh, come on, is this coincidence or some kind of sick joke??

Japanese Researcher: 2,600 Bq/Kg of Cesium-137 from Rice Grown on Soil Taken from Iitate-Mura - Nice to know that the transfer rate of Cs-137 was 0.05 (in this case), and that maybe for Cs-137 + Cs-134 the transfer rate will be about 0.1 - 10%. So if the soil is 'mildly' polluted at about 100 Bq/kg Cs-137 and about the same for Cs-134, then I should expect 20 Bq/kg in the unprocessed rice grains. I have also heard that much of the radiation in the seed is in the husk, so when I mill the rice it will be a fair bit less. Rough, but gives you a rough rule of thumb to use if you happen to know roughly how contaminated the soil is...

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September 26

In the last few days I have mentioned PM Noda's speech at the UN, but we should remember that he wasn't the only thing that was happening at the UN Meeting on Nuclear Safety and Security. If you go to Green Action you'll see quite a lot about the UN meeting, including a link to this useful page at The Energy Net. It is not pleasant reading, because it is clear that the UN has been quite actively complicit in the nuclear industry's promotion of nuclear power. What else would you expect the nuclear industry do do? But then whose side would you expect the UN to be on? And whose side would you expect the government of whichever country you live in to be on? You'd almost certainly be wrong. That's the problem, and that's the problem we all face in Japan now, especially those who live in contaminated areas, such as in Fukushima Prefecture, but also parts of Ibaraki, Chiba, Tochigi, Miyagi, and perhaps Tokyo and Iwate.

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I mentioned the growth fantasyland yesterday - here's a reference to fantasy in economics -- Terry Smith says the world is living in a fantasy -- There's a link to the original BBC interview (6:19) on the page - why doesn't the BBC allow people to download mp3s of interviews...?

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Despite headwinds, solar energy making progress, advocates say

On the other hand, the fossil fuel and nuclear power lobbies insist solar energy is an unsafe, prohibitively expensive and unstable power source, as electricity output varies according to the amount of sunlight.

Well, nuclear power is unsafe, prohibitively expensive and unstable, and fossil fuels will be prohibitively expensive before very long, so what's the big deal? There is a certain amount of interesting cost comparison data in the article, but in general nuclear power costs are calculated far too low (as I have shown in an update on April 30 - Nuclear Power Isn't Cheap!) and should be about 11-12 yen/kWh rather than the 5 yen/kWhr that is often quoted (the article says 5 cents in the US, so that's very roughly the equivalent of 5 yen). And then, of course there is the nuclear waste problem. Solar is no angel either, as I mentioned at the end of the update for September 24. The renewables should be very useful for helping "us" make the transition for whatever is coming in the 22nd century, but nothing much more than that. Once nuclear and fossil fuels become unavailable/unusable by about the middle of this century (I'm talking more about Japan than anywhere else), renewables will make the transition a little more comfortable till people figure out what the 22nd century is about.

Oh, I liked the little dig about electricity output varies according to the amount of sunlight - very funny! As if they hadn't heard of lead-acid batteries! Other kinds of batteries and capacitors may help this along in a few years. Come on, people, even the Karen in the mountain villages of northern Thailand have solar panels with lead-acid batteries in the houses so they can have lights and watch TV or DVDs at night! What do you want? In the rural areas of Japan, i.e. where I live, according to my mother-in-law's elder brother's diary from around 1930, parts of which I read a little while ago, when it got dark, people went to bed. So my wife's uncle was writing that in the winter months he was going to bed at about 18:30! So? They would then get up fairly early in the morning and do farmwork or whatever they had to do on the day. No sunlight? Light a fire outside and roast some chestnuts. Cold and dark in the morning? Light a fire outside and boil up some water for tea, then stand around warming yourself and talking to other people till you feel like going somewhere to do some work. That's how the Karen live. It's OK. You should try it. Stop pretending that fantasyland is the only possible way to live!

Speaking of the Karen, NHK broadcast an interesting program on their 'General' TV channel last night (21:00-21:49)...The Wonderful Forest of Kuniko Obaba (sorry, Japanese only) , about the last person in Japan to do swidden (slash-and-burn) farming. Good documentary. It's a shame to see that her knowledge and skills will soon be gone. I was surprised to see that she and her family do their swidden family in a very similar way to the Karen in northern Thailand, the only two major differences being that Kuniko Obaba's rotational period is 30 years, whereas the Karen rotate in 6 to 12 years, and the main crop is soba (buckwheat), whereas in Thailand it is rice. There is some very deep similarity between the Karen and the Japanese - when I visited a few Karen villages with my wife some years ago, she said "Oh, just like Japan when I was small," i.e. in the early 60s! It wasn't really until the 80s that Japan became some kind of fantasyland - only 30 years ago. Most people won't have a great deal of trouble going back. Those under 30 might have a bit of a problem adjusting to it. The older nuclear power pushers would simply find it a bit nostalgic, but they probably won't be around to see it happen.

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~~~Radiation Lookout~~~

(Independent) Experts urge great caution over radiation risks

He added: "I also suspect that full disclosure of such data is not in the interests of the Japanese nuclear industry."

Irradiated food poses moral dilemmas - Yes, like the immorality of having nuclear power in the first place. Don't blame me or the Japanese people for that. We weren't given any choice and are still not.

However, Ishii said it is just not realistic for the group to keep the old standard, as it is not able to compensate the huge numbers of farmers who would be affected.

"It's totally understandable for consumers to turn to us, looking for radiation-free food," Ishii said. "But the truth of the matter is that there is no Noah's Ark (to take people away from all this)."

Ishii also voiced fears that much of the nation's primary industry could be obliterated if the farmers and fishermen in the Tohoku and northern Kanto regions have safety standards imposed on their produce that are beyond their power to achieve.

Japan's primary industry is about to be obliterated anyway by TPP if the business circles and their politician friends get their way. What a wonderful mess they have made out of the beautiful Japanese countryside!

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#Radiation in Japan: Evacuation-Ready Zone to Be Abolished on September 30 - I feel very sorry for the people who come from those towns and villages. Will they really return? I know I would want to if I were one of them. But do they trust the government, which is effectively still trying to convince them that nothing really all that serious has happened?

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September 25

Yesterday, I tried to catch up with my self, but made a bit of a mess of it - I hope you did not find it too overwhelming. Despite the fact that the crisis has now been going on for well over six months, there is still too much information to digest coming out every day, unless you dedicate most of the day to reading it. That may seem strange to people overseas, but the links I paste here are by no means all of them - I'm a little bit selective and try to emphasize the material that has some direct relationship with the situation at the nuclear disaster site. Anyway, things are a little more relaxed today, so I'll try to do a "normal" update and hope that things will continue like this for a few more days.

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Noda vows cold shutdown of Fukushima reactors by year-end

"We will release all information about the accident in a prompt and accurate manner to the international community," Noda said.

He also indicated that Japan will continue to export nuclear power plant technology with heightened safety features to newly emerging nations.

"We will respond to the interests of nations deciding whether or not to use nuclear energy," he added.

Problems:

1) It's been said many times before, but this term "cold shutdown" refers to a nuclear reactor that is shutdown according to the normal sequence of shutdown operations (for regular maintenance, or to prevent an accident from occurring) not to one (or more) that is being cooled and so on after a disaster. Surely, PM Noda must know by now that the true state of the reactors 1-3 at the Fukushima nuclear disaster site is that the nuclear cores have melted down and have dropped to the bottom of the containment, and that in at least one of them the molten core material has penetrated through the containment into the ground below. There is just no way that resolving this situation (what does a resolution mean, anyway?) can be termed a cold shutdown.

2) "We will release all information about the accident in a prompt and accurate manner to the international community," Noda said. But not to the general Japanese public, I suppose. If it were, then all the known facts about the situation in 1) would now be full public knowledge, but they are not and we have to rely on fragments of information, mostly in independent Internet media, to have any idea at all of what is going on at the nuclear disaster site.

3) As mentioned yesterday the government of Japan has no grounds for talking about enhanced safety for the export of nuclear power while the Fukushima nuclear disaster is still ongoing. If they want to export nuclear power to other countries (and many Japanese people do not want that, and the neither do the majority in the importing countries - it is of course the elites who want it because they can make large amounts of money from it and also build nuclear weapons. This has very little to do with the lives of ordinary people, who generally have to suffer the negative consequences. Saying that the electricity produced is 'a benefit' is fine, but there are other ways of generating electricity that do not involve the kind of Faustian bargain, health problems and anxieties that nuclear power offers) then let them prove it by running all their nuclear reactors to the end of their stated lifetimes. That will take at least another 20 years. Until that time, stop talking about exports, please.

4) Fine. Please respond to the interests of the people of THIS nation about whether they want to use nuclear energy or not! Talking of the "interests of nations," I assume PM Noda is talking about the interests of the elites of those nations, not 'ordinary' people.

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Panel's impartiality questioned over payments from research institute with TEPCO ties

Toyohiro Nomura, 68, a law professor at Gakushuin University, and Tadashi Otsuka, 52, a Waseda University law professor, accepted monthly payments from the Japan Energy Law Institute (JELI) based in Tokyo's Minato Ward.

Of course you'll have to read the whole article for yourself to see the full extent of the problem, but it looks like at least four of the nine people selected for the panel should have been ruled ineligible if the ministry (MEXT) had done a 'proper job' of looking into their professional backgrounds. If I were a Fukushima Prefecture resident (or former resident) about to claim compensation, I would be very angry about this kind of thing, which shows once again the relaxed and business-as-usual attitudes people (even those directly involved with the Fukushima nuclear disaster in some way) in Tokyo and other areas have to the plight of those who have been affected (and that includes earthquake/tsunami disaster victims in Miyagi and Iwate Prefectures as well.)

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~~~Radiation Lookout~~~

Fukushima finds cesium in Nihonmatsu rice, to hold more tests before shipment decision

According to the prefectural government, 500 becquerels of radioactive cesium were detected in a rice sample collected on Sept. 12, and soil in its paddy field contained 3,000 becquerels of cesium per kilogram. Rice crops from 11 other locations in the Obama district had from undetectable amounts up to 212 becquerels of cesium.

No big surprise, I think. This was bound to happen in some locations right from the start. What is interesting is how they will finally deal with it. Previously, I have predicted that irradiated rice would be mixed (clandestinely?) with radiation-free rice to bring the radiation level down to some "acceptable" level. Will there be a suspicion of this kind of thing happening, or will the disposal process be fully reported and transparent?

Also interesting is that "priority test areas" will get two testing locations per 15 hectares of land. Sounds too large to me. I would test one location each hectare, but then that might not be realistic under the circumstances. Suppose you have 1000 ha (10 sq km) and each reading takes 15 minutes, the process will take about 10 days. With 10 teams doing the readings it will take a day. If this calculation is roughly correct, is it such a big problem??

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Here's another opinion - Monitoring of cesium in food

And here's the ZDF video mentioned at the end of the previous item: German TV ZDF - Frontal21 Fukushima - with English and Japanese subtitles -- Worth watching and gives a good idea of what is happening in Fukushima Prefecture as a whole.

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105,600 Bq/Kg of Radioactive Cesium from Apartment Bldg Rooftop in Yokohama City -- The photo is really interesting. The top comment, "Decontamination with a broom. I love it," is also right on target. The whole thing is so relaxed. Professor Shun'ichi Yamashita should use this photo in his PowerPoint presentations. Radiation? No worries, mate!

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Evacuation revelations shocking -- A response to the article Exodus eyed early in nuke crisis linked to in yesterday's update. Indeed, how would the government have evacuated the whole of Tokyo if it had proven necessary?? Was it actually necessary, or are "we" (or you people who live in Tokyo) basically happy with the way things have turned out? My friend in Kyushu says that the whole thing may have hung on something as simple as the "divine wind" - the fact that for much of the time in the few days following the nuclear disaster the wind was blowing out to sea. If it had been blowing landwards, many, many more people would have had to be evacuated. But the radioactive material that did blow out to sea, where did it go? Into the sea (and of course the 'seafood') and over to North America. People here like to think that it just disappeared, or got very diluted, which is essentially the same thing (?), but that is probably a far too simplistic way of looking at the situation. In any event, Tokyo was not evacuated (though some people have left) and now will not be (we hope).

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~~~Situation at the Nuclear Disaster Site~~~

There may still be explosions... TEPCO: It May Be 100% Hydrogen Gas Inside the Pipe Connecting to Reactor I Containment Vessel

Explosion Danger at Reactor No. 1? Worker says hydrogen levels over 4% in pipe leading to Containment Vessel — Mainichi: “Danger of explosion” if over 4%

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September 24

Sorry about the lack of updates again. I was so busy earning money (gasp!) for a few days that by the time the evening rolled around I was too tired to do anything but sleep. And then this site got hacked (so now you know we are telling the truth!) and I could not update last night, but it's back again now so I'll try to catch up on the Japanese nuclear news for the last few days.

~~~TEPCO Stuff and the Situation at the Nuclear Disaster Site~~~

TEPCO quietly paid 40 billion yen to areas near nuclear plants

TEPCO doles out money to greedy municipalities

VOX POPULI: TEPCO doesn't deserve to be called a public interest company

Tepco scraps plan to hike power charges 10 to 15%

Tepco plans to sell 280 properties to raise ¥200 billion

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Massive New Radiation Releases Possible from Fukushima … Especially If Melted Core Materials Hit Water

Column of the Day: What’s happening in Fukushima?

What TEPCO and the Media are Hiding by Takashi Hirose

Will Tokyo be Evacuated?

Fukushima clean-up may require removal of 100 million cubic meters of soil

Density of cesium over Fukushima plant's No. 2 reactor declines sharply

Nuke plant workers due free cancer exam

TEPCO Admits to 200 to 500 Tonnes of Groundwater Flooding into Bldg Basements Every Day at #Fukushima I Nuke Plant

TEPCO burdened with task of treating contaminated water at damaged nuclear plant

Actions speak louder than words over cold shutdown goal for Fukushima nuclear reactors

'Guinea pig' acts like Tepco shill

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~~~Recent Government and Political Moves~~~

Exodus eyed early in nuke crisis -- Tokyo faced evacuation scenario: Kan - In the press recently, whenever we see the name "Kan" it is prefixed withe the adjective "unpopular", but this article suggests to me that former PM Kan was probably unpopular with TEPCO and the nuclear industry rather than with the Japanese people, and that it was the nuclear people who wanted him out of office as quickly as possible.

Japanese PM Noda's speech at the U.N. Nuclear Safety Meeting - I thought this was a very poor and weak speech, but probably the pro-nuke lobby does not think so. I will not pull it apart sentence by sentence - you can do your own deconstructing if you like - but I did think it was a great sell-out of the Japanese people and a big nod (since he is a "nodder") in the direction of the nuclear industry. Basically, all the things that the Japanese people do not want to hear at the moment.

Noda voices confidence over resolution of Fukushima nuclear crisis - Well, I hope he has a nice Christmas, because I'm not so optimistic myself...

Obama, Noda vow to push economic growth - Which must mean that nuclear power stations are necessary because you will find it difficult to stimulate economic growth without growth in relatively cheap energy (although it is not impossible given strong energy-saving measures, but at least it would have to mean that energy costs did not rise much - however, stopping nuclear power plants means using fossil fuels, mainly oil, to generate electricity, and that will entail higher energy prices. See next news item.)

Energy imports snuff out export recovery -- Trade deficit for August soars to 32-year high on nuclear outage - So oil and LNG imports, increasing due to lack of electrical power generated by nuclear power have pushed Japan's trade balance into deficit in August. This is the future. Even if all the nuclear power stations in Japan are brought back online next year, they won't last forever. Japan's trade balance will worsen due to the need to import ever-more-expensive fossil fuels. Expect food prices to rise in coming years; this will make Japan's situation worse. Renewable energy will help, but will not solve the basic underlying problems. Sooner or later, Japan will have to look the future square in the face, and it is not a pretty face. But the problem with oncoming crises is that the longer you wait before introducing mitigating measures, the longer and deeper the crisis will be. So PM Noda et al. need to get real with Japan's particular problems: Low ability to produce energy from domestic resources and low ability to feed a population nearly four times larger than it was 140 years ago, plus the need to deal with the ongoing crises in northeast Japan while government finances slip further into the debt mire. It's not easy, but extricating Japanese politics from the growth fantasyland might be a good first step...

Noda wants nuclear reactors back up by next summer - Of course, how else could one even dream of economic growth?

Current nuclear debate to set nation's course for decades - Well, yes and no... If the politicians, business circles and the nuclear industry/lobby/village push too hard they may find themselves facing a surly population at election time. Since TPP seems to be one of the cards that fits in with the politico-business-nuclear industry 'hand,' things could get out of hand far quicker than the much out-of-touch (with the ordinary people of Japan) elite seem to believe at the moment. This is no longer 1972 - the game has changed beyond recognition, but the dinosaurs have not seen how the goalposts have moved, do not know what the 21st century is about (especially for Japan) and do not have a clue where "we" may be going in the 22nd century. Do you?

Seiji Maehara: Japan Has Obligation to Export Safe Nuke Plants - Yes, but as an Akahata Newspaper article said recently, Japan does not have the right to talk about nuclear safety.

EDITORIAL: Politicians must share awareness of nuclear problems we face - Yes, but the problem is that they are now incapable of getting on that wavelength. TEPCO and the others have made sure of that.

Japan promises 'safer nuclear future' - Promises they can't make, promises they can't keep.

Japan reports possessing 30 tons of plutonium - Er... to do what with? To keep where? That's the problem, isn't it? What are all those pro-nuclear people planning on doing with the thousands of tons of nuclear waste that they are literally planning on producing? That's a jolly nice little legacy they are going to leave for future generations (ask the people of Fukushima Prefecture about that one). There's really no escaping this one; the vision of a nuclear-powered society with nuclear waste piling up and nowhere to put it is something I don't even want to contemplate in my worst nightmares. Have you seen Stanley Kubrick's Clockwork Orange? Not the same thing, but bad enough...

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VIDEO from Arnie Gundersen on 19 Sept - It's quite interesting near the end, where Arnie talks about the cost-benefit analyses that have been applied to safety measures (in the US), as it seems that the (money) value placed on human life and the costs associated with post-accident clean-ups have been evaluated too low (so safety measures never get implemented). But that's exactly what's happening in Fukushima now. TEPCO and the Japanese government are refusing to admit that anything serious has happened, thereby avoiding responsibility and the need to take any action to protect local citizens from radiation beyond the simple evacuation of severely contaminated areas. Effectively, they have said, "It's not worth spending any money on trying to help these people or clean up their lands," with the inference that the value of the people and the lands is not sufficient to warrant paying out the sums of money that might be necessary to do the job. I think any sane person (who would not be running nuclear power stations anyway) would place a far higher value on people's lives (infinite?) and their lands and would be determined to spend their very last penny to help. What do you think, Mr. Noda?

VIDEO: Hartmann: A Fukushima survivor reveals all (With Aileen Mioko Smith)

VIDEO: Prof. Chris Busby – help save children from Fukushima from radiation

VIDEO: Japanese jr. high radiation education: Science education or brainwashing? About 20 minutes, but gives a pretty good idea of what education in Japan is liike.

Japan nuke expert: Melted fuel rods estimated to be 12 meters underground Reactors No. 1-3 — To be 100 feet deep in a year (AUDIO)

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Photographs of 60,000-Strong Anti-Nuke Demonstration in Tokyo: Japanese MSMs Called It "A Parade" - A friend of mine was unable to participate in the demo because when she got to the nearest station the platform was so jam-packed with people that those on the train could not get off! She gave up and went home. Maybe other people did too. This was no funny parade. It was by FAR the largest ever anti-nuke demonstration in Japan and ought to send a message to PM Noda and pals that a large section of the population (polls say 85%) want to see a nuclear phase-out, gradually, say over the next 10-15 years. The bottom line on this seems to be, "You can have your nukes for now, if you can guarantee to run them safely (which no one can) but you MUST stipulate a date before 2030 for the final phase-out." This will defuse the political situation immediately. However, there appears to be quite a number of people among the elite who are adamantly against stating a date for a nuclear phase-out. They are very powerful, but only a minuscule percentage of the population. It appears that this is how Japanese democracy operates.

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Background: Impact of Radiation on Babies

Nuclear engineering students unsure of Japan's nuclear future

Hold the cesium: Ways to reduce radiation in your diet

#Radiation in Japan: Another Reason Not to Trust Your Goverment - Inferior Survey Meter

Nobel Laureate may have suppressed evidence on radiation effects in 1946

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~~~Overseas~~~

Siemens Abandoning Nuclear Power Business

Siemens Turns Its Back on Nuclear Energy

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France calls for mandatory international nuclear checks - Yes, I suppose they would. After all, they have just about the greatest interest in seeing that nuclear power is not abandoned in the near future.

S. Korea court rejects bid to shut nuclear reactor - South Korea going down the same path as Japan. How long before they get their huge nuclear disaster?

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Eastern Europe and the two largest nations on Earth, China and India, determined to push ahead with nuclear power...

Czech power giant CEZ to press ahead with atomic energy

Poland presses on with nuclear power debut

Despite Fukushima, India bullish on nuclear

China to restart nuclear projects in 2012: report

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Traces of Japan nuclear fallout in California rainwater

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Protests mark rising environment awareness in China - Oh! Renewable energy is supposed to be the "clean" alternative to nuclear power. This does not look too good!

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September 20

Sorry about the lack of updates in the last few days - I was very busy for a few days and then had to goof off for a while before driving up to Sendai and back - up and down radiation alley between Koriyama and Date Cities in Fukushima Prefecture - and then a day to recover yesterday...

Sixty Thousand Attend Anti Nuke Rallies in Meiji Park in Tokyo

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Former judges say court cases involving nuclear plants were hard to judge

"Shutting down a nuclear plant brings a huge cost on the operator, so we can't order a shut down lightly. Amidst societal and political demand to promote nuclear power, it was not easy for courts to make decisions that would get in the way of that."

Er... sure, but if NPPs are dangerous then they have to be shut down. Why did we have to wait for this disaster at F#1 to figure that out??

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Fighting for a radiation-free Japan - Communities in the Tohoku region are struggling for information, decontamination and a say in future policies.

"The government and TEPCO need to admit to the crime they’ve committed. Then they need to work on making amends. This accident was not a natural disaster. It was caused by humans," he said.

"They’re just dealing with paperwork. They’re cold, like stones," said Baba. And there is a lot of paperwork to be done. Displaced individuals are getting small payments, but businesses that have lost revenue as a result of the nuclear meltdown need to go through an arduous 60-page application process for compensation.

Yes, that is the reality of the situation. Despite the horrific disaster they have caused and bear responsibility for, the officials are cold, distant and aloof, as if they are trying to pretend that nothing much has happened. TEPCO, the government and bureaucracy, the whole lot of them - not a sympathetic heartbeat from the whole crowd of them!

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Tepco scraps plan to hike power charges 10 to 15%

Tepco plans to sell 280 properties to raise ¥200 billion

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Austrians slam reported Czech nuclear plans

S.Korea minister blames blackout on weather, reports - Ordinary Japanese people were quite shocked about this sudden and very extensive 5-hr power cut. Despite the problems, nothing nearly this bad has happened in Japan (oh, except the F#1 nuclear disaster, that is!).

India wants new tests before French reactors order

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September 16

Cesium in sea may return in 20 to 30 years

Cesium absorption through roots may have long-term effect on farming - Effect of contaminated soil on food chain sparks fears

Minimizing the Effect of Chronic Internal Radiation, Pts I-IV

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Nuclear miscalculation: Why regulators miss power plant threats from quakes and storms - Long but fairly interesting article on NPP safety issues. Easy to see how the power companies have managed to wiggle more and more out of taking safety measures that really should be required. Another example of something people used to do fairly conscientiously but is more recently deteriorating because doing it 'properly' costs too much money. Nuclear accidents, of course, can cost more money than the power company has and so the people end up paying from taxes or increased electricity bills...

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September 15

High-Level Waste Arrives from UK

High-level waste arrived at Mutsu-Ogawara Port near Rokkasho Village in Aomori Prefecture this morning.





[Photos by Citizens' Nuclear Information Center]

In the top photo you can see a long grey 'cask' being shunted towards a container by a crane. I suppose that's it. In the lower photo, another photo with the crane area enlarged, it looks like there is one 'cask' on the left and another being shunted over by the crane, but seen end-on. Quite interesting just to see a couple of photos of what is happening. Please see the Bloomberg article posted on September 7 for more details of what this is about.

This high-level waste is presumably arriving back from Sellafield in northwest England. Sellafield is basically a reprocessing facility that reprocesses nuclear waste (from nuclear power stations) to get the remaining uranium and plutonium out of it and to reduce the volume of the waste somewhat. Britain does this to try to alleviate the nuclear waste problem at nuclear power stations, create more fuel, and provide material for nuclear weapons. The service is also provided to other countries, such as Japan, for a certain fee, which I am sure is not cheap. The problem is that in the process of doing this Sellafield pollutes the surrounding area and the Irish Sea with radioactive pollution, including uranium, plutonium and other radionuclides. Some of the pollution in the Irish Sea ends up polluting the coastline of Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales, from where it is blown back onto the land and causes health problems for the people who live near these coastlines. The most documented areas are the east coast of Ireland, directly across the Irish Sea from Sellafield, and the coast of Wales, especially the north coast. Much of this work has been done by Chris Busby. To read more about this, please see Chris Busby's Wings of Death (1995), and Wolves of Water (2006) and also Marilynne Robinson's Mother Country (1989).

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Japan to reduce reliance on nuclear power?

In his first speech to the nation as prime minister Sept. 2, Noda said it was "unrealistic" to build new reactors and that existing reactors would be decommissioned at the end of their life spans.

Oh. That's not much different from what I've been saying. But will he do it? And what about nuclear power stations currently under construction? And what's the plan to dispose of nuclear waste?

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September 14

Japan's nuclear disaster - six months on - A short list of some of the problems. Doesn't mention any of the spent fuel pools and the 100s of tons of spent fuel in them, one of the big worries still remaining at the disaster site. Also says that local areas may not be habitable for "years". Try "decades". In some areas of Iitate Village (30-40 km away from the disaster site to the northwest), it could be more like "centuries" before things get back to anything like what one would call "normal". Mentions "meltdowns" but not melt-throughs - I think we have at least one - perhaps reactor 1. There is highly radioactive steam emanating intermittently from cracks in the ground (after an earthquake in August) near the reactors, so the likelihood of at least one melt-through is high. Also says, "Units one and three are showing temperatures below 100 degrees Celsius." What, in the reactor where the nuclear fuel USED to be? That's a bit of a macabre joke, no? Oh, well, the article is OK, I suppose, but somehow does not quite convey the sense of the complete and utter horrible disaster this is, continues to be, and will remain for years, if not decades, into the future.

UN nuclear chief calls for post-Fukushima action - I found this article to be badly written and hard to understand. However, one thing that is clear is that even if a pro-nuclear organization such as the IAEA (so-called "watchdog" but with false teeth) calls for safety measures, certain countries immediately come up with objections and want to water them down! I have a really, really huge problem understanding these people. We DO want safety with our nuclear power, don't we? I mean, I'm not really sure about this since TEPCO have been acting for about the last two decades as if there were no need for safety at nuclear power stations, and now that we've had the biggest ever nuclear disaster here in Japan TEPCO is still trying to act as if it's no big deal! At the risk of sounding extremely boring, can I ask one more time why it is, if nuclear power is so "safe," that nuclear power stations are not placed where the power is most needed - in or very near large cities? (Because they are dangerous. OK, if they're dangerous, why is it that the operators do not seem to be terribly interested in safety measures? Aaaahhhhhhhh!!)

Research on US nuclear levels after Fukushima could aid in future nuclear detection - Quite interesting, but needs to be read with care. A bit like walking into a supermarket; first the loss leaders to make you go "Oh!" and then later the same old stuffy goods putting you back to sleep again. Basically, the article is about the detection of Xenon-133 on the west coast of the USA. How about Uranium, Plutonium, Caesium and Strontium, then??

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September 13

I now have normal access to this page again after five days of not being able to log in to Candobetter. The owners of the host server have given me an explanation which makes very little sense to me (not in terms of technical content but in terms of what they say happened) and tends to suggest that the ISP I am using in Japan is playing funny games with my Internet access (see below). I'm not going to go into details, because if this is the case I do not want the 'authorities' to know how we solved the problem. Alternatively, it was just a simple Internet glitch and I am being neurotic :-) I think the best way to proceed is to resume the 'service' again tomorrow (I'm too tired tonight) and see what happens. In case it isn't clear, the reason I am doing this is 1) because the virtually the whole Japanese media, and so by inference the English media, though that may not be entirely true, is merely toeing the government line, which is to play down the nuclear disaster as much as possible and attempt to persuade the population, especially in Fukushima Prefecture, that there will be no or very few adverse health effects from the disaster, and 2) the overseas (English) media have now mostly stopped reporting on the Fukushima nuclear disaster because it is 'old' news. Thus there is a need to have the day-to-day developments noted in English so that 'we' can remember what has happened and what is going on now. I'll try to post the main items of news about the nuclear disaster each day.

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September 10
I AM NOW FINDING IT VERY DIFFICULT TO ACCESS THIS SITE IN ORDER TO UPDATE THIS PAGE. I MAY BE MISTAKEN, BUT IT WOULD APPEAR THAT ACCESS TO THIS SITE IS BEING BLOCKED DUE TO THE PERCEPTION THAT THE CONTENT OF THIS PAGE IS 'MISTAKEN' IN SOME WAY. MY FEELING IS THAT IF 'AUTHORITIES' HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THE CONTENTS OF SERIOUS AND CONSCIENTIOUS WEBSITES THEY SHOULD ENGAGE IN DEBATE WITH THE AUTHORS RATHER THAN ARBITRARILY BLOCK ACCESS TO USERS. IT SHOULD BE CLEAR TO ANYONE WHO READS THESE PAGES AND THE PREVIOUS UPDATES THAT ONLY PUBLISHED SOURCES ARE REFERRED TO (LINKED). COMMENT, OF COURSE, HAS A CERTAIN BIAS, BECAUSE THE AUTHOR, BEING HUMAN, HAS CERTAIN STRONG OPINIONS ABOUT THE CONTENT (OTHERWISE WHY BOTHER DOING IT?). THE HINDRANCE TO THE FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION REPRESENTED, I BELIEVE, BY THE ARBITRARY BLOCKING OF WEBSITES SUCH AS CANDOBETTER IS SYMBOLIC OF THE MOVEMENT AWAY FROM THE PROTECTION OF BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS THAT HAS BECOME CONSPICUOUS IN MANY COUNTRIES SINCE THE 1990S. ONLY BY OPPOSING THIS ARE WE EVER GOING TO FIND OUR WAY TO A MORE HUMANE, PEACEFUL AND SUSTAINABLE WORLD. THANK YOU.

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September 8

Again we ask, is Fukushima 'worse' than Chernobyl?

Here is a jpg image of an XL file from Chris Busby (not published anywhere, as far as I know).

The source of the Fukushima #1 figures is Radionuclides Released into the Air from Fukushima I Nuke Plant, by NISA so these are NISA's figures. Sources for figures for Chernobyl are as shown.

Nuclear crises: How do Fukushima and Chernobyl compare? says that the government is using the figure of 5.2 EBq (Exa-becquerels or 10^18 Bq), so let's keep that figure in mind as well.

I would appear that releases of radioactive materials from Fukushima No.1 are two to three times those of Chernobyl. If you think there's a mistake somewhere, please leave a message in the comments section below. Please remember that these are all Japanese government figures, so if you have a problem with them, in the end you will have to take it up with the Japanese government.

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Japan's ex-PM Kan feared 'uninhabitable Tokyo': report

Japan to seek IAEA advice before restarting reactors

Japan to focus on clean energy exports: minister

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Japanese Island’s Activists Resist Nuclear Industry’s Allure

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September 7

I'm stiil tired, but there are two articles that should be mentioned today, so I'll just post these and a little comment.

No. of Japan's nuclear plants to be zero in future: Hachiro

Industry minister Yoshio Hachiro said Tuesday that the number of Japan's nuclear power plants would be "zero" in the future, based on Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's policy of not building new nuclear power plants and decommissioning aged ones.

That'll be very nice, if it's true. The problem will be, as mentioned in the article, whether to go ahead with the reactors that are currently under construction. Something of a fight looming over that I suppose, though the "political decision" is pretty much a foregone conclusion. PM Noda et al. do not seem to wish to state a phase-out date - too early yet for that perhaps - though that is one thing they should do if they are really committed to going down this road.

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Japan Prepares for First Radioactive Waste Import Since Quake - Right. Enough material here for a good, fat book, but the point is that this links up very nicely with the article posted above. I.e. if PM Noda et al. are serious about a nuclear phase-out then (for the reasons mentioned in this article - the nuclear waste situation and what to do about it) it needs to be sooner rather than later. Certainly before 2030.

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September 5

It's been a busy week, but I'll try to revive the updates and get back up to speed in the next few days...

Some thoughts on Junko Edahiro's article and the recent typhoon

I have just read Junko Edahiro's article Coexisting with Nature: Reflections after the Devastating 2011 Earthquake in Japan, posted on this site. Quite true. Japan is often known as the "natural disaster country, Japan." Over the weekend (3-4 September 2011) typhoon number 12 (for this year) just swept over the western part of the country, leaving 20 dead, 55 missing, and goodness only knows how many people injured and houses destroyed or flooded. It happens once or twice each year. We know it's going to happen. On NHK TV this morning (Monday) we were shown a river with what looks like a very strong and tall wall (levee) protecting the houses right by the river, but two sections of the wall (about 20 meters each) have broken off where they were joined together and the houses that were once inside the wall have been flooded and partially destroyed, perhaps now uninhabitable. I'm usually watching TV in the morning as I have breakfast with my wife, Chisato. I mention that it's a pity the wall did not protect the houses. Chisato says, "Yes, but the people living there ought to know what the dangers are. Japanese people know that you cannot live on the banks of a river!" (Right, this is true if you live on the coast, or near a nuclear power station or anywhere in Japan, since all of Japan is vulnerable to earthquakes at any time.) But people still do live in these places, though you'll note that in Junko Edahiro's article she mentions that in some areas people do not live closer to the sea than the markers showing where previous tsunamis have reached up to.

But in Japan there are two (at least) factors that have to be taken into account. The first is why are people living in these obviously dangerous places, like sea or river floodplains, or near nuclear power stations. The answer is a) because the local authorities permit it - there used to be laws that prohibited dwellings in these areas, but these have been rescinded, presumably as the population grew and land for housing became scarce. If you sense a little political corruption going on here, you may well be correct. Chisato definitely thinks so. And b) because 'Japan' wants nuclear power, and nuclear power stations have to be sited somewhere, and if one of them is near you, then it's just your tough luck; you have the option of moving away if you wish to. We already know about the dangers of constructing and operating nuclear power stations in Japan and what a total mess of big money political corruption that has been and still remains today. Does Japan really 'need' nuclear power? Only if you subscribe to a particular view of society and economy - one that is still strong today, but is becoming increasingly outdated and dangerous, as well as becoming increasingly unpopular among large sections of disgruntled populations.

The second factor is, I think, a little more problematical. Behind all the problems mentioned above lurks the historical demographics of Japan. Before the Meiji Restoration of 1868, Japan had a population of about 30 to 33 million. Roughly a quarter of today's 127.5 million (which has been slowly declining since 2004). In the Edo Period, the era of about 250 years before the Meiji Restoration, the population of Japan rose only very slowly. There were several well-known famines during that period. So what is a country with this kind of natural endowment doing quadrupling its population in about 130 years, and did this happen simply by 'chance' or just in the natural course of events? Of course not; Japan's 'decision' to become a rich and powerful nation was an ideological one based on the imperatives of the time (late 19th century) and the desire of those who stood to gain immensely from the (at the time) new, modern economic development. Thus, IF population is at least one important factor driving 'natural' disasters in this country, and from the above it would seem so, then these typhoon, earthquake + tsunami, and now nuclear disaster(s) can be seen not as 'natural' or 'man-made,' but rather 'ideological' disasters, since a different ideology in Japan (NOT expanding the population for military and economic reasons, and NOT allowing people to live on sea and river floodplains, and NOT constructing nuclear power stations, because they were not necessary at the population and production level of the country) would have resulted in a different outcome: fewer disasters - not fewer earthquakes and typhoons, but fewer people seriously affected.

The drift of this argument should also lead us to the realization that unless this ideological background is unmasked and consciously rejected by the Japanese people, these disasters will continue. If the Japanese people wish to have fewer people seriously affected by these kinds of disasters, then they need to think about how they want to live in the future - a re-evaluation of values and a change of ideological course. That's where Japan stands now. I suppose we'll see whether or not the Japanese people are actually waking up at the next general election.

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August 27

Yesterday I said METI minister Banri Kaieda was unlikely to be the next Japanese PM, and then this morning the Tokyo Newspaper is screaming headlines at me from the front page, saying, "(Ichiro) Ozawa backs Kaieda for PM," which means that Kaieda might have a good chance of becoming PM on Monday. Oh. We've mentioned Mr Ozawa before (see Rolling Update No.3, May 29) with rather emotional statements about the nuclear disaster. Now, he's backing Banri Kaieda for PM, and you really cannot get much more pro-nuke than that, so what is going on. I don't really know :-) but it would seem that all the politicians who have any power at all in this country have been lined up and most sternly told that they WILL back nuclear power or become toast. I don't see any other explanation, do you? If you do, write it on a soy bean and plant it. If the soil is nicely polluted with Caesium 134 and 137 and lots of other goodies you can't see, taste, smell or measure, then you might end up with Jack's beanstalk. Then you can climb to the top and have an audience with the big bad giant in his castle. Ask the giant from me if he's having a nice day.

Speaking of nice days, I have to drive to Sendai tomorrow (actually, I don't have to drive, but it's now easier and cheaper than taking the train because the generous government in its wisdom has allowed us folks who live in the 'disaster-affected areas' to use the expressways (freeways, or feeways, if you like) for free, though they are threatening to rescind this because lots of people are making very good use of this timely measure. (On the theory that if it's good and it works, rescind it quickly before anyone actually starts to feel happy. Don't forget the crisis. No one is supposed to be happy now. All go around wearing long faces, please. Happiness is now immoral. If people start to look happy, we're going to slap them down with some stiff new taxes and payments that will take their breath away, especially if the US dollar finally keels over and dies.) Anyway, to achieve this journey I have to drive straight up radiation alley between Koriyama and Fukushima City. Here's a good map. About 50-60 km to the west of the nuclear disaster site you can see a string of five cities running north-south. The southernmost one is Koriyama, the fourth one, in bold, is Fukushima, and then I go about 60 or 70 km north to Sendai. I will be there for nearly a week as I have courses to teach at the university. I do 'Food and Energy' at grad school level for three days (riots in the aisles this year, I think) and then help the undergrads with Ag Sci English for a couple of days. Then I get in the car and drive back down radiation alley again. Such fun. Hope you all have a nice week too.

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~~~Situation at the Nuclear Disaster Site~~~

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant SFPs with High Level of Radioactive Cesium

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~~~Radiation Lookout~~~

#Radioactive Rice in Chiba and Ibaraki, but Not in Fukushima


As the brown rice grown in Hokota City in Ibaraki Prefecture was found with radioactive cesium, Governor of Ibaraki Masaru Hashimoto answered the reporters on August 19 and said "There is no problem with safety. After the formal testing is complete by the end of August, we will persuade the consumers that there's nothing to worry about consuming Ibaraki rice", and that he will do his best to counter the "baseless rumor".

Mmmm... so cool, you all, to be living in a prefecture 'governed' by such a personage as Mr Masaru Hashimoto. I feel so... lovingly and tenderly cared for. If you've never seen Mr Hashimoto, he's like a big, friendly soft toy. Frankly, I'm not even a little bit surprised that the rice grown here is contaminated with radiation. The nuclear disaster site is only 100 and something km north of here. (I am a little surprised that rice grown in Nihonmatsu and Motomiya Cities, in the radiation alley I mention above, is found to be uncontaminated.)

Anyway, if the US dollar really does keel over and die, what's going to happen in Japan? I do not think it will be business-as-usual, somehow. Especially if economic activity crashes in the US, will Japan still be able to receive the millions of tons of delicious soy, wheat, maize and so on that it has been receiving from the US over the last half-century or so? If not, who will care if the rice is polluted at 499 Bq/kg or 501 Bq/kg? If food imports from the US drop precipitously we'll be lucky to get enough rice to eat. Oh, we grow our own, by the way. We are doing so this year and intend to carry on doing so. The rice is probably going to be mildly polluted, but what the hell, the air, the water and everything in the whole environment is polluted. Ask me about it in 10 years' time. Of course, I'm very, very 'angry' about it, but what do you suggest I do about it? Write it on a soy bean?

Volume of radiation screening requests for food beyond capacity of current facilities

OT: Radioactive Rice Hay Story Still Doesn't Quite Add Up for Me Personally

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August 26

Japan enacts key bills, clears way for Kan to go - Uh-huh. Time for the next unpopular PM to be installed. By the way METI minister Banri Kaieda, unlike PM Kan, failed to make good on his promise of several weeks ago to resign over the spoofed emails to the 'public' meeting about restarting the Genkai NPP. Since Kan's cabinet is having to resign en masse, Kaieda will also lose his position, but it will be 'interesting' to see who becomes the next PM and what will happen to Kaieda (since he is unlikely to actually be the next PM). And don't speculate on the energy policy of the next PM - all the candidates are pro-nuke of one ilk or another, so there will basically be no change. Perhaps the 85% of Japanese people who apparently wish to see a nuclear phase-out (well, those who responded to the opinion poll) would like to have something to say about it...?

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Quake-prone Japan looks at geothermal energy

The biggest hurdle to geothermal, most experts agree, is the high initial cost of the exploration and drilling of deep earth layers that contain hot water, and of then constructing the plants.

Another problem is that Japan's potentially best sites are already being tapped for tourism with popular "onsen" hot spring resorts or are located within national parks where construction is prohibited.

- a) Nuclear power stations are also expensive. b) OK, so keep the onsens but build more NPPs?? Not possible to have the geothermal plants and have the onsens too??

EDITORIAL: Ray of light amid the nuclear gloom - The Japan Times try to tell us how good renewable energy is, but there's a riposte...

Scientific sources and some math: By EAMON WATTERS - I think he's OK on geothermal, but it should not stop anyone from trying since Japan actually has very good geothermal technology (see above article). Partly right on solar: many of the panels can be placed on existing roofs, along roads and need not be taking up a lot of flat land otherwise usable. Again, partly right on wind - a bit too pessimistic about the problems - wind turbines are now a fairly established technology. (See this article about Brazil) - Admittedly, Brazil has a lot more available land than Japan. Nuclear power: I have shown a calculation elsewhere (see Rolling Update No.3, April 30) that gives the cost of nuclear power as over 12 yen/kWh. That compares well with the 9-14 yen for wind power. However, if you count in the costs of stupidities like reprocessing plants and fast breeder reactors (Monju) that don't work and then look at the fact that no one has yet figured out how to manage nuclear waste for 100,000 years (and how can you cost it if you don't know how you are going to do it?) AND the REAL cost of the Fukushima disaster and other potential disasters that are waiting to happen in Japan, that does not exactly result in cheap energy, does it? Might not even be as good as the 49 yen/kWh of solar. And if solar pollutes, OK, let's not do it!! This one I liked: Dr. James Hansen, considered by many to be the world's pre-eminent climatologist, considers investments in fourth-generation nuclear power essential for the survival of civilization. What a joke! What civilization would that be? Unless you've been asleep for most of the year, you might have realized that what we are living in now is not much of a 'civilization'. When the financial crash occurs (some are saying September or October this year) it will be even less of one. Oh, are we talking about the carbon dioxide hoax again here? I thought that one died a long time ago, and anyway, nuclear power is not the answer for it. Nuclear power is not the answer for anything. Nuclear power is the 20th century's mistake and the quicker we give it up and get down to what the 21st century is supposed to be doing (inventing clean, sustainable, low-energy societies) the better!

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~~~Situation at the Nuclear Disaster Site~~~

Contaminated Water Treatment System Stops for the Nth Time at Fukushima I Nuke Plant

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~~~Radiation Lookout~~~

22% of radioactive cesium settles on eastern Japan - Oh, that was lucky, wasn't it?

13% of Radioactive Iodine, 22% of Radioactive Cesium from Fukushima I Nuke Plant Landed in Central/Northern Japan

Japan Lifts Ban on Beef From Disaster Area

“There is no safe level of internal radiation exposure, especially for children,” Tatsuhiko Kodama, head of the Radioisotope Center at Tokyo University, said in an interview this month.

Can't be said enough times. This needs to repeated over and over again till the politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen, academics and other apologists for nuclear power understand it, digest it, internalize it and start acting on it!

#Radioactive Sludge by Children's Swimming Pool, Again, in Kawasaki City, Kanagawa - Yes? So why not remove it to somewhere where it is less 'inconvenient'?

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#Radioactive Rice Hay From Miyagi Went Far and Wide

Cleansing the soil of radioactivity

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~~~Overseas~~~

Argentina keen for more nuclear power

"Safe" radiation levels after Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster challenged by citizens - As noted in the post about Arnie Gunderson's Internet radio talk (see Rolling Update No.3, August 16) Japan, the US and apparently Canada also have agreed to play down the Fukushima disaster and the consequent emissions of radioactive material. The article about Argentina above is maybe enough reason to see why...

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August 25

#Radiation in Japan: Government Believes Radiation Level Will Drop by 40% in 2 Years

...even if they don't do any decontamination.

Well I guess they don't buy the argument of Russian scientists about the "ecological half life" of radioactive cesium in Chernobyl area being 62 to 420 years.

Very much worth your while reading this article and thinking about what the govt is doing... and what it is not doing. It feels very scary in the sense that it's clear that there is very little sympathy, wisdom or willingness to learn in the Tokyo govt offices.

Japan utility knew of tsunami threat: government - Yes, apparently, this particular story began in 2006, but TEPCO took no concrete measures up to March 2011. The fact they they reported the result of their study to NISA on 7 March 2011 is just now coming out. Oh. All that rubbish about a large tsunami being 'beyond assumptions' in the weeks after 3/11 - just what was that all about??

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Towns hosting Fukushima plant consider making nearby area a nuclear waste site

EDITORIAL: Government should not lead nuclear technology sales drive

Government's move to monitor online sparks public outcry

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~~~Radiation Lookout~~~

Radioactive Strontium in Firefly Squid Off Fukushima Coast, Says China - Yes, but how much and where??

Japan Triples Airborne Radiation Checks as ‘Hot Spots’ Spread - This rather confused article is good in the sense that it shows how confused the whole situation and the Japanese government is.

Gov't lifts cattle shipment ban for Fukushima, Iwate, Tochigi

'Hot spot' areas found in Fukushima city worry 'goya' growers

Japan to seek to reduce children's radiation dose by 60% in 2 yrs

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August 24

Nuclear reactors at quake-hit Virginia nuke plant are “sitting on a fault line” - Take a look at the 'related posts' under the article.

(UPDATED) 2 Nuclear Reactors Shut Down In Virginia Following M5.9 Earthquake

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Researcher too frightened to get closer than 100 km from meltdowns after seeing radiation levels — “I’ve been quite shocked by the amount” (VIDEO) - Some of the comments under the article are also interesting.

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University of Tokyo professor blasts Diet over no policy on radioactive contamination - Despite Prof. Kodama's berating of Japan's politicians in the Diet in early August (Rolling Update No.3, August 3), he still doesn't think the politicians are doing what they should be.

New Word to Learn for Non-Japanese Speakers: "Dango"

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~~~Situation at the Nuclear Disaster Site~~~

Potent radiation leak halts water decontamination operations at Fukushima plant

(UPDATED) TEPCO: 3 Sieverts/Hr Radiation in SARRY Was from Sludge, Maybe, Hopefully

...And Condenser Pipe for Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool Leaks

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~~~Radiation Lookout~~~

Fukushima gov't seeks lifting of ban on cattle shipments

#Radiation in Japan: List of Prefectures in Japan That Have Said They Will Accept Disaster Debris

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Japan nuclear no-go areas to last 'decades': media

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~~~Overseas~~~

Nuclear talks, energy to top Kim, Medvedev summit

GE uranium enrichment plans raise fears: report

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August 23

Suicides stalk Japan disaster zone

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74 percent favor gradual reduction of nuclear power plants: Mainichi poll - Are the newspapers and journalists afraid to write up the story properly or something?? Yes, the headline says 74 percent favor gradual reduction of nuclear power plants, and then in the article it says only 11 percent demanded an immediate halt to nuclear energy, so what most normal people would do is add those numbers to get a massive 85% of those polled who want to see nuclear power ended in Japan (whether immediately or gradually). So why not say that? In general, if you get 85% of the population lined up against one broad idea, as the results of this poll suggest, it's a pretty conclusive statement about public values. Politically, this should mean you stand a good chance of committing political suicide if you go against these values in an election. However, only Mizuho Fukushima of the Shaminto (Social Democratic Party) seems to be taking the idea of a nuclear phase-out seriously. Maybe PM Kan does, but it's only his 'personal opinion' and he is getting pushed out for it, only to be replaced soon by a new PM who does not espouse a nuclear power phase-out - we already know that because all the candidates for the leader of the Japan Democratic Party have been surveyed and none of them are in favour of a nuclear phase-out! So the money clout of TEPCO and all the other big businesses counts for more than public opinion/values?? Perhaps the ballot box will shock politicians back to their senses. Unlikely. the end of the article mentions that 22% support the LDP while 49% do not support any political party. What that means is if there were to be a general election next week, voter turnout might be low and the LDP would be back in power. The only alternative is that the 49% undecided suddenly decide to vote for Mizuho Fukushima and the Shaminto and any other alternative candidate who will stand on an anti-nuke platform, but the likelihood of that happening is pretty slim. So here we are with public opinion/values which are unlikely to be realized at the ballot box. Japan.

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Green Party leader prods nuke power foes

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Japan — Earthquake, Tsunami and Nuclear Crisis (2011)

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~~~Radiation Lookout~~~

Kan to spell out no-go zone reality -- Some areas to stay closed well past cold shutdown

Fukushima officials worry new discovery of radioactive beef will harm reputation more - Of course the farmers should be compensated for loss of income. There are also a lot of other things people in Fukushima should be concerned about as well as rumours and loss of reputation (when the nuclear disaster will end and the health of future generations for starters...)

Fukushima tests rice radiation-resistance -- Absorption level of 110 strains studied

Large Zone Near Japanese Reactors to Be Off Limits

"Ecological Half Life" of Cesium-137 May Be 180 to 320 Years?

NPO in Fukui Selling Buddhist Rosaries and Bracelets Made of Rikuzen Takata Pine

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~~~Situation at the Nuclear Disaster Site~~~

3 SIEVERTS/HR at SARRY in #Fukushima I Nuke Plant

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August 22

Articles in Der Spiegel on the Fukushima Nuclear Catastrophe

Here's one of these articles:

Interview with Professor Shun'ichi Yamashita: Studying the Fukushima Aftermath -- 'People Are Suffering from Radiophobia' - See if you trip over the contradictions and attempts to make himself look good at the expense of the the Japanese government and TEPCO. However, the real problem here is that he is stuck on a radiation health effects model that does not take internal radiation as seriously as it needs to be taken. Why is this? Simply, it is because heath effects from atomic bombs and from nuclear power station disasters are not the same. E.g. Prof. Yamashita says:

From radiation biology we also know that smaller doses can damage human DNA. But the human body can effectively repair those injuries within a short time; this is a natural intrinsic protective mechanism. That is what I am trying to tell the people.

However, if you check out pages 50-70 of Chris Busby's book Wolves of Water (2006) you will find that recent research shows the above statement to be patently untrue. How is it that "one of Japan's leading experts on the effects of radioactive radiation" doesn't know this? Isn't he reading recent research on the subject? Is he unwittingly telling the people of Fukushima "lies"?

Another article...

Poisoned Fields - The Painful Evacuation of a Japanese Village - Oh, dear. Perhaps you didn't want to read this article. Wouldn't blame you. I don't think these people are living the lives they wanted to. Although nowhere near as bad as this, I'm not living the life I want to either. Since 3/11, the nuclear disaster has taken over everything - every spare minute I have. How are you going to compensate for that, TEPCO, the nuke pushers, the academics, the bureaucrats, the politicians who think nuclear power is OK? How are you going to compensate all of these people for what you have done to their lives? I've been saying you're wrong since the early 80s. Some people have been saying it a lot longer than that. You people didn't listen. Now we're all paying for your absolutely horrific mistake. Lies, procrastination, meanness and coldness are all we are going to get from you.

...

After Fukushima, Japan's 'authority myth' is crumbling -- Ordinary people in Japan are starting to wonder whether to trust what politicians and the media tell them

After Fukushima: nuclear dirty tricks -- After nearly half a century of producing nuclear power, Japan has finally separated regulation from promotion

Japan's polarised industrial culture, which veers between the heedless pursuit of short- term interest, on the one hand, and confessions, tears, and apparently heartfelt apologies when things go wrong, on the other, makes it an extreme case. But the same factors are at work in every country that has a nuclear industry. The impulse to minimise the inherent risks of the most dangerous technology man has ever tried to master, the tendency to conceal or downplay accidents, the assertion that each succeeding generation of plants is foolproof and super safe, and the presumption, so often proved wrong by events, that every contingency has been provided for, all these have been evident again and again. Angela Merkel, one of the few leading politicians who is also a scientist, saw the writing on the wall. Her decision to phase out nuclear power has revived a global debate which has been dormant for far too long.

- And the people have been dormant for far too long too: Held in thrall by the media and government propaganda bought by power company money. Waking them up from this isn't going to be easy. It's quite clear that the power companies are working hard on the media, politicians, bureaucrats and academics to get back to business as usual ASAP - before the populace wakes up to what is going on.

...

Japan at critical tipping point

But the bureaucrats of the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) really run the country, in league with the electricity monopolies.

- Oh. Not much hope for the people, then?

Nuke crisis refugees from coast reject temporary housing in inland snowy region - Sounds like the 'cultural insensitivity' that is sometimes mentioned in connection with ODA...

Nation hit by A-bombs placed big bet on nuclear power

74% of Japan's nuclear plants to halt this month

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~~~Radiation Lookout~~~

Wild Boar in Miyagi Prefecture Was Found With 2,200 Becquerels/Kg of Radioactive Cesium

One of the central ideas of Governor Murai is to build a big museum to commemorate the earthquake/tsunami of March 11, and build a memorial park around the museum. His other ideas include high-rise towers and high-rise residential buildings to separate out the living space and work space (farmers and fishermen would "commute" to their work which would be organized like corporation).

4,000 Potentially Radioactive Cows Without Radioactive Rice Hay May Have Been Shipped by One Farmer in Fukushima

#Radioactive Sludge in Kindergartens in Tokamachi City, Niigata - sludge at the bottom of the container that collects rainwater - Yes, that's where you'd expect to find it.

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~~~Situation at the Nuclear Disaster Site~~~

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Toshiba's SARRY Joins the Underperformers at the Plant

"Never Give Up, Fukushima" Sign Right Next to 10-Plus Sieverts/Hr Location - A link to some bleak photography from the nuclear disaster site.

#Fukushima II (Not I) Nuke Plant Eyewitness Account on March 11 - Not a lot of info about what happened at Fukushima No.2 NPP on 3/11, but I there is an account at Rolling Update No.3, August 11. Certainly, something quite serious did happen there...

Neptunium-239 Was Indeed Detected in Iitate-mura Soil, Higher Than at Fukushima I Nuke Plant Front Gate - And Cobalt-60.

More on Fukushima II (Daini): Loss of Function to Remove Residual Heat for Up to 2 Days and 23 Hours, March 11 to 14 - It looks like what happened at Fukushima No.1 also very nearly happened at Fukushima No.2 as well!

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Crane Topples at Reactor 3?? - What's going on? Can't even keep a crane upright?

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~~~Overseas~~~

Three Mile Island's lessons for Japan


"We're going to see what it's like when government agencies aren't able to prove they were acting in good faith," said Bradford.

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August 20

YouTube Video: Passionate report by Aileen Mioko Smith from Green Action, Fukushima. Introduced by Tom Campbell of Guacamole Fund. Musicians United for Safe Energy concert 8/7/2011

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Children of Fukushima ask the government for a secure life - 20 minute video in Japanese. I hope there will be an English translation soon. This meeting took place in the evening of 18 August in one of the Diet Members' buildings behind the main Diet (parliament) building. Ten government representatives, from the cabinet office nuclear disaster countermeasures headquarters and the Ministry of Education sat facing the children and the audience. The second girl to speak, a junior high school second year student said, "Despite this huge disaster, you're still trying to restart nuclear power stations. I find this hard to understand." She also said, "We want you to get rid of the nuclear power stations quickly and thoroughly clean up Fukushima Prefecture."

When asked if it was possible to implement a mass evacuation of schools, the ten officials could not answer. In the end, two of them did give vague answers about school decontamination, but would give no clear answer on the mass evacuation of schools. I would seem they have been told quite clearly what they can and cannot say.

At the end, the junior high school girl said, "When we grow up, we want to live in a society without nuclear power."

Fukushima kids give silent officials an earful on crisis - Here's a bit more on the video above.

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Japanese NGOs Urge UN to Investigate Violation of Children’s Human Rights in Fukushima

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Two Voices Are Heard After Years of Futility - About Yuichi Kaido and Mizuho Fukushima, perhaps the Japan’s most prominent pair of antinuclear activists.

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2.5 trillion yen in nuclear money doled out to local governments since 1966

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~~~Situation at the Nuclear Disaster Site~~~

Cracked Fukushima: Radioactive steam escapes danger zone

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Doctor for Fukushima workers: When going into danger areas they don’t use radiation meters — It’s hiding amount of exposure — “Real radiation count is much higher, that’s a fact” (VIDEO)

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~~~Radiation Lookout~~~

High Radiation Right Next to Children's Swimming Pool in Kawasaki City

#Radioactive Manure from Cows Bought from Fukushima - Er... so livestock bought from Fukushima Prefecture are excreting radioactive manure. Is this supposed to be surprising?

508 Millisievert Annual Cumulative Radiation at 3 Kilometers from Fukushima I Nuke Plant - Distance from the plant doesn't tell us much. You simply have to measure the radiation in every location on a fine grid if you want to know what the actual situation on the ground is.

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Fukushima radiation alarms doctors

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~~~Overseas~~~

Canadian gov’t now plans to start radiation testing on fish off B.C. coast

More from Canada: Gov’t researchers plan to test for radiation in Yukon’s local food supply, caribou — An attempt to answer questions by citizens

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Comments

Anti-nuclear pressure in Japan

A leading Japanese recruiter of teachers from Australia is placing recruits closer to leaky nuclear reactors than recommended by Canberra's radiation safety agency.

It maintains no teacher will be placed in an area the Japanese Government deems "unsafe".
A magnitude 6.8 quake jolted Japan off Fukushima, tsunami advisory 19 Aug 2011. A 50 cm tsunami advisory was issued for the coast of Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures. No damage or injuries have been reported, and the tsunami advisory was lifted after no waves were sighted.

The quake was strongly felt in Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures, causing the Shinkansen bullet train in the region to suspend service and expressways to be closed.

Rice, still a significant staple, has not been planted in many areas. Others face stringent tests and potentially harmful shipping bans after radioactive cesium was found in rice straw.

Relations between the United States and Japan, already strained over the delayed relocation of an American military base on Okinawa, received no help this week when a retired U.S. envoy publicly criticized Tokyo's initial response in March to the nation's nuclear crisis. U.S. officials worried about the lack of leadership shown by Prime Minister Naoto Kan's government after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami led to partial reactor meltdowns at the coastal plant.

Japan has approved the full resumption of the commercial operations of an atomic reactor for the first time since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami set off the Fukushima nuclear disaster. The Japanese economy is chronically stagnant and has been further threatened by the energy shortages.

An overwhelming number of Japanese, for years ambivalent about nuclear power, are now calling for the country’s remaining reactors to be shut down. Citizens, anti-nuclear groups, and government officials gathered recently in Hiroshima and Nagasaki to push for renewable energy sources and nuclear non-proliferation.

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