It's a cold (low -1C) but fine December 10 morning where I live in northern Ibaraki, Japan, about 120 km north of Tokyo. I'd just like to tell you a bit about what's in my mailbox this morning... Not everything, just the "important" items...
Marco Kaltofen Presentation to APHA If you've been reading any of Chris Busby's stuff you will not find anything to surprise you here, but it needs endless repetition since the governments are trying very hard (consciously) to deceive everyone into believing that low levels of radiation will not harm people. They will. But not "immediately." However this story is used to justify the use of nuclear power NOW for the energy boost it gives to economies NOW while it ruins countries and populations in the FUTURE.
Washington also recommends that we all read the PDF version of Nuclear Roulette available at this link.
On the global warming/climate change issue, here's some interesting reading from China: Chinese 2,485 year tree ring study shows natural cycles control climate, temps may cool til 2068 - So, the globe is in the middle of a warming cycle, but another cycle imposed over the longer term cycle shows that we are currently just in a cooling phase that may last another half century or so. Apparently there is not a huge contribution by anthropogenic CO2. Have a nice day, all you folks down there is Durban, SA. If you try hard enough you can find a link to download the PDF of the academic paper that is the subject of this page linked here.
Lots and lots of REAL and down-to-earth explanations of what's happening financially/economically in Europe and the whole world - read this and ask yourself if you're going to be OK this Christmas - yes, this one, not the one coming up in just over a year's time... December 5 2011: Look Back, Look Forward and Look Down. Way Down.
I was going to start a new update page each month, but November's turned out to be not so long, so I'm letting it run into December. Maybe I'll start a new one in the new year.
Can you please do me a favour and go to the site linked below, read the appeal and then click the "approve" button below (if you approve). This is in several languages - please ask your friends to look too. Thank you!
I've been busy for a couple of weeks and so have not updated - also I do not like repeating myself too much and there did not seem to be anything really new to say... However, there are a few things I'd like to show you today.
Chris Busby under attack:
Firstly, the following reports have appeared in the Guardian:
There is a very serious "debate" going on - it's been going on for the last few decades or more, about the health impacts of low-level radiation. I say debate, but the pro-nuclear side plays quite dirty and it is by no means a fair debate in terms of honesty, professional integrity, ability to influence power-holders, or in terms of resources, such as money, information, libraries, and so on. If you need to be convinced of this, the best thing I think you can do is read Chris Busby's book Wolves of Water. I have just finished reading it carefully, cover-to-cover, and it is a truly disturbing document. Seen in the light of the contents of this book and the above rebuttals to the Guardian articles, it should be clear to most people who and what the articles are trying to protect. So how do we get out of this mess? There's one good way. All people who believe nuclear power and nuclear weapons should be totally and irrevocably abolished should stand up and say so and join with others till the job is done!
My friend in Kyushu said, "Thought you'd like a butchers at this article. Damn shame."
Is Ishihara admitting by this that there are no rational grounds for the shipment of this debris from Iwate Prefecture with which to persuade people of the necessity for this policy? Well, we should remember that he has been told by the central government (Minister of the Environment Goshi Hosono and Minister of Economy Trade and Industry Yukio Edano) to do it, but I get the idea that he didn't have to be pushed very hard to go ahead with it. Nevertheless, is this the way public officials behave in a supposedly democratic state? Sometime, since 3/11, it feels like we're very quickly returning to something like the pre-war Japanese police state. I think this is primarily part of the fight over nuclear power; those who want it for their reasons, and those who say it is too dangerous for human health to be playing around with radioactive nuclear materials in this way. Here's a perspective on that from Dr Chris Busby:
So, Chris Busby sees the scientific circles that support nuclear power in terms of people who are somehow afraid of the "chaos of nature" and like to hide from that behind rational/verbal/mathematical screens that help them feel more comfortable with the world. It also helps to make at least some of these people a lot of money. Money also helps people to hide from the realities of living with the 'real' world - of facing the chaos of nature as it is. Much better, they apparently think, to live in a penthouse in a large city, eat high quality food without ever a thought about where it came from or who produced it, and who can flit from antiseptic airport to antiseptic airport and stay in thoroughly clean 5-star hotels and take it easy on spotless beaches - all except for the radiation, that is, but then these people will not be holidaying on Japan's east coast or anywhere near Sellafield, will they? And that brings us onto the next graphic.
This graphic shows quite clearly that things have changed since around 1980. Up until that time, (this graphic seems to refer to the USA only) the "rich" 1% were reasonably content to get richer at roughly the same pace as everyone else's income grew (in absolute terms, they go a lot more actual money though). Since that time, they have not been satisfied to do so, and thus we have "the 99% occupy" Wall Street or whatever they can find to occupy near them. Quite right too. So here we have the rich 1% hiding behind the walls their money provides for them being very interested in maintaining nuclear power because this is one of the great energy sources that powers the machine that keeps them rich. With no nuclear and with declining fossil resources, the rich just might end up in the same renewable energy boat with the tourist class, and that would not be nice, would it? Thus, it is necessary for the people who benefit from the current system, despite the fact that to some extent it will also (along with the "poor" rest of us) be themselves and their descendants who will suffer the genetic consequences of their monstrous folly, to deny that there is any problem with radiation, and perhaps many of them are also in denial as well, though it is clear that some are simply lying through their teeth in order to maintain their social standings (income and so on).
For a further explanation for how this amoral system has come into being, please see my recent article - The Realization of Human Happiness - I would be very happy if you would read it and comment on it sometime. Thank you......
Dr Chris Busby has shown that the Xenon escaping from F#1 reactor 2 indicates a prompt criticality. Please see...
Riding roughshod over public opinion... Genkai nuclear reactor restarts after 1 month hiatus - Kyushu EPCO now has approval to start reactor 4 at its Genkai Nuclear Power Station and plan to go ahead in the next few days. However protests are already starting locally. For financial reasons, the local town mayor approves the restart, but very few ordinary people in the country do. There could be a very nasty political battle looming over this one... NHK TV reported at about 5pm that reactor 4 had already begun to produce electricity. They didn't waste any time doing it, did they? And as you have read in the article linked above, the reactor must be stopped again in December for regular maintenance - so this whole farce is just a little bit of playacting to show the Japanese people that, whatever they think, if the power companies want to restart the downed reactors then they will!! It is a HUGE insult to public opinion and to democracy, since to do this the politicians and the bureaucracy must be in the pockets of the power companies. I think every Japanese person with a brain tonight knows just how much the power companies are thumbing their collective noses at them and are determined to take them for a ride to their demise down atomic alley...
#10;">Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has backed down from his position for Japan to seek to rely less on nuclear power. - If you looked at the top article, it's already obvious what's going on here... Domestic nuclear reactor restarts and a push for Japan's nuclear exports. Mr Noda seems to be a completely 'reformed character' from the one who came to power only two short months ago!! Wonder what happened to him??
The Fourth Reactor and the Destiny of Japan - No, not at Genkai Nuclear Power Station but at F#1! Quite right. We will never feel safe until this mess is properly and 100% cleared up! However, the people in Tokyo (politicians and bureaucrats, wakey, wakey!) seem to think there's no problem! "Let them eat cake!"
Areva finds 12,300 tonnes of uranium in Jordan: report - World in microcosm? Use limited natural resources to cause the population to overshoot and then use the limited resources to create more of what should be a sustainable resource (if there weren't too many people around)... At some point we have to step lightly off the treadmill, or can we? And if we can't, then what?
A friend of mine in the Kansai area reminds me that this video clip from the BBC News on 14 March 2011 is worth seeing again. I believe the BBC never invited Chris to come back and speak on the news after this. Wonder why not. He was basically right, after all.
My Kansai friend also pointed out that the radiation pollution emanating from the Fukushima No.1 nuclear disaster site has people here quite worried. There have been appearing on the Internet here some pictures of odd occurrences which people think might be due to the radiation pollution. They are all saying, "We do not state definitively that this is due to radiation, but we think it *might* be." Judge for yourself. Sorry about all the Japanese - please do not worry about the writing, just look at the videos and pictures...
Last year's rice bags on sale - What the blogger is trying to say here is 'couldn't some unscrupulous people put radiation polluted rice in one of these bags and sell it as last year's rice? Please be careful what you're buying when you go to the supermarket....'
NISA Presents TEPCO's Severe Accident Operation Manual - A bit late? Even so, since TEPCO did not allow for the occurrence of a "station blackout" (SBO - total loss of external power) in the manual, so as far as 3/11 is concerned it is useless. I suppose it's just as well we know that fact...
News: An enraged Fukushima citizen talks about everything - A very long interview in Japanese (1 hr 52 min) and I am sorry I cannot help you understand it all, but there is a brief English overview of the contents on the page. This is also extremely sickening, but we need to be aware of what is going on - to be aware of what nuclear power is doing to people. So all you doctors and others who claim radiation doesn't hurt people, get your overalls on and go help out at the nuclear disaster site! I hear they're short of workers now. For the life of me, I can't imagine why. They pay quite well, I hear. You won't see me there, though.
Here's an example:
English PDF file - Radiation and Reason - Fukushima and After - by Professor Wade Allison, Oxford University and Professor Akira Tokuhiro, University of Idaho. They recommend on slide 17 that the radiation standards for external exposure be relaxed about 1000 times to 100 mSv for a max single dose, 100 mSv in any one month (1200 mSv per year) and a max lifetime dose of 5 Sv. Slide 7 onwards plays down internal exposure from food. Fine. Let people choose what they want to eat or not on the basis of publicly announced data! But professors, don't let me catch you or whoever buys your food snooping around the supermarkets looking for the lowest deal in radioactive contamination. Oh, and please do not forget to support Fukushima farmers by eating their produce! And if you're so sure that external exposure is safe up to 100 mSv/month, why not take a month's stint of work at the Fukushima No.1 Nuclear Power Station doing the kind of work you can see people doing in the video two items below??
VIDEO - #Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Video of Inside Reactor 1 - Don't know why I didn't see this a few days ago. What a mess!! This is like some kind of weird futuristic film! The future is here... Of course, they're talking in Japanese, but from time to time you can hear a voice shout out "(number) milli!" and then the person with the camera says, "Ryokai!" (OK), or sometimes just "Hai!" (Yes). The first man is reading out the radioactivity level... Just before the end someone says "189" (no "milli"), but the blog says it's 189 millisieverts.
Video of Inside Reactor 2, Maybe the Last Video of Quince Who Was Lost in the Building - Yes, this is the one you've been waiting for. Quince, the robot, finally gets itself lost inside reactor unit 2. The final few seconds are funny. No sound, so as you get your tour of the inside of the crippled reactor building listen to your favourite compilation of punk songs for background. My recommendations are: God Save The Queen, Going Underground, Is Vic There?, and finally Hanging Around. (14 mins)
The nuclear crisis hasn't gone away here, but there is lees reporting on the TV and in the newspaper and that iis causing people to 'forget' what is still going on in Fukushima. However, a Japanese friend of mine sent me this link...
Although the page is in Japanese, you can see that this little Geiger counter is selling for 9800 yen - a little over USD100 these days. My friend told me that 300 of these were sold out in two minutes!! I think there are still quite a few people 'out there' who do not think the nuclear crisis is over yet...
Germany's "Heute Show" Making Fun of TEPCO, Japanese Government - This is a bit old (April) and some who are caught in the middle of the nuclear disaster may not find it funny at all (but rather sad or exasperating), but it is worth watching just to see how the Germans feel about what is happening here. [Many more informative items about different aspects of the nuclear disaster on the EX-SKF site.]
A friend pointed out to me today that the Japanese language TEPCO Press Release mentions the presence of Tritium and "all-beta" in the seawater near the water intakes (the figures being in this Japanese PDF table) at a level of 470 becquerels/litre for Tritium and 380 becquerels/litre for "all-beta". However the detection of Tritium is not mentioned in the equivalent (as far as I can see) English press release and the PDF table has not been translated. Maybe they'll get round to it in a few days. Maybe never. We'll see...
During 50-plus years of nuclear weapons production and government-sponsored nuclear energy research and production that generated contaminated soil and groundwater covering two million acres in 35 states, the U.S. government did not have environmental structures, technologies or infrastructure to deal with the legacy.
The nuclear disaster appears to be entering a new phase. In the last few days, although reporting on the disaster and other nuclear issues has not disappeared, it is being slowly shunted aside by 1. Japan's possible participation in the negotiations for establishing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which will destroy Japanese farming and the rural economy (another kick in the face for northeast Japan), 2. raising the consumption tax from the current 5% to 10%. Ostensibly to raise money for the disaster reconstruction, business circles naturally find it more palatable for this extremely regressive tax mode to be used than any other that might hurt their bottom lines, or even divert money away from military expenditure and so on, and 3. raising the age of pension provision to 68 for those now around 50 (with no mention of any change in the 65 retirement age!). Strangely, I do not see anyone out in the streets protesting. All of this, and the way the government has behaved over the nuclear contamination issue ought to have people protesting as they are at Wall Street or in Greece, but not in Japan. Just read this...
China to lead in new nuclear reactors? - One more reason not to be in Japan, perhaps! (Along with the nuclear power plant increase in South Korea, to say nothing of what might be going on in North Korea!)
Second Dutch nuclear rail shipment heads to France - Good to see that some people are protesting about nuclear waste. It's a really crucial nuclear issue. Although many Japanese know about it and condemn the nuclear industry's irresponsible (big understatement) attitude over nuclear waste, you hear very little about anyone actually protesting about it.
Green light for nuclear expansion in Britain: minister - Clearly, the British have decided to ignore any safety issues that exist as well as to turn a blind eye to the nuclear waste problem. Perhaps they think they will be able to solve that with the reprocessing plant at Sellafield, but that simply creates more pollution problems of its own (please read Chris Busby's Wolves of Water for more details on that).
Radioactive fallout in rain 10 times more than originally reported - Well, the June 11 numbers seem to be out by a factor of 24 to 25 and the July 19 figures by about a factor of 19. It looks a lot more like conscious tampering with the figures than a genuine mistake. I agree with Mr Mochizuki that the general rule is not to announce anything bad until people have already been unwittingly experiencing it for a month or two. That seems to have been the method employed since very soon after 3/11.
Protests thwart India's nuclear plans - Oh. The 'nuclear industry' seems to have been quite severely affected in several countries, but not so much in Japan, where people seem to be going back to sleep now that seven months have passed since the earthquake + tsunami + nuclear disaster, but that may be illusory. Whether it will prove possible to start up some of the currently halted reactors or not will show if the Japanese public have really gone back to sleep...
Chairman of the Japan Business Federation (Nippon Keidanren) Hiromasa Yonekura visits Hokkaido - On p.8 of yesterday's (October 7) Akahata Newspaper, I noticed an article about Mr Yonekura's visit to Hokkaido the previous day. Although not directly related to the Fukushima No.1 nuclear disaster (though the Keidanren is very pro-nuke), the contents of the article are extremely symbolic of the thinking of Japan's business elite, and therefore shed light on the nature of the thinking behind the pro-nuke stance. The visit was an unusual one in that it consisted of a meeting between Keidanren officials and officials of the central committee of the Japan Agriculture (JA), the central organization of Hokkaido's agriculture, including the chairman, Mr Toshiaki Tobita. I suppose Mr Yonekura's goal was to get the Hokkaido agricultural organization to back the negotiations to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which Japan's industrial business circles want to join as soon as possible. (The article has a photo of Mr Yonekura speaking in front of a Hokkaido JA poster which says, "We oppose the negotiations for participation in the TPP.")
Mr Yonekura's remarks were along the following lines: Japan's participation in TPP is crucial for the realization of economic growth. Although the principle of TPP is abolition of trade tariffs, rice and wheat should be exempted and in order to negotiate conditions on items we really do not want to give way on we must participate at an early stage. According to an article in the Nikkei Shinbun's web edition (in Japanese), Mr Yonekura also stated, "We must also earn foreign currency in order to purchase energy and food through economic collaboration with other countries." Mr Yonekura also visited agricultural areas and is quoted as saying, "I was really inspired! I would really like to see (Hokkaido) lead Japan's agriculture." Hokkaido is well known for it's large-scale and diversified agriculture.
In reply to Mr Yonekura's remarks, Chairman Tobita said, "Hokkaido's agriculture has been nurtured through protection by high tariff rates. I am very worried about what will happen if the tariffs are removed." Following the meeting, Mr Tobita also states, "We have not changed our minds about joining the rest of the country in having the whole agricultural sector oppose TPP participation." So I guess Mr Yonekura did not quite manage to achieve the aim he set out to in making the trip up to Hokkaido
And I think the reason for that is basically that Mr Yonekura, the Keidanren he represents, and therefore more or less the complete industrial business circle in Japan are living in a totally self-delusionary fantasyland.
1) The "realization of economic growth"? Dream on.
2) Importing energy and food from overseas? Yes, I hope it will continue, but at the same time I think it might be prudent to take measures inside the country just in case this does not go on forever, as Mr Yonekura and his crew seem to believe (although one of the pro-nuke arguments is that nuclear power is good insurance against future fossil energy shortages - another delusion).
3) All industrialized countries have problems supporting primary industries (agriculture, mining and so on) since industry is so much more productive. However, as suggested in 2), since it is dangerous to rely heavily on other countries for imports of basic necessities (food and energy), most countries have a system of subsidies and so on to support their domestic agricultural (etc.) production. TPP participation will devastate Japan's rural economy just at the time when world energy shortages are about to have an effect on the production and transportation of food (how many years in the future? 5? 10?). Even Japan's Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries estimates that Japan's food self-sufficiency will decline to 13% from the current 39% if Japan joins the TPP. This is tantamount to the sacrifice and destruction of Japan's rural economy for the sake of, maybe - if they are lucky - a short-lived flush of industrial activity.
4) Hokkaido's agriculture is no model for the rest of the country. Clearly, Mr Yonekura hasn't discovered topography or population density yet. It's true that Hokkaido produces quite a good exportable surplus (Hokkaido produces twice as much food as it's residents consume). But Hokkaido's large fields require large machines, and the winters are bitterly cold. When fossil fuels become much more expensive, or unavailable, how is this agriculture going to survive? Are people from the south going to want to volunteer to go to Hokkaido to start up small family farms after fossil energy use becomes impossible? Not many, I think.
Time for Mr Yonekura and his friends to wake up and realize that the future is not going to be simply a very long extension of the party we've been enjoying for the last 50 years or so. There are hard times coming and TPP participation isn't going to prevent them, in fact it will probably make things significantly worse for ordinary Japanese people. There are LOTS of things the Japanese government and people should be doing now (as I mention in 2)) to help to mitigate the effects of coming food and energy shortages. (Improving the livelihoods of Japanese farmers in order to get more young people involved in agriculture - of course this will raise food prices and is totally contradictory to the general direction of TPP - would be a good place to start.) participation Either way, since economic growth is effectively dead, nuclear power isn't needed either. No sane society needs it.
#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: TEPCO Has Started to Expel Hydrogen Gas from the Pipe Leading to Reactor 1 CV
Citing the doses of radiation received in medical procedures, such as CT and PET scans, Allison said Japan's standard — which bans the sale of food containing more than 500 becquerels per kilogram of radiation and requires the evacuation of areas receiving 20 millisieverts a year — is far too conservative.
PET scans, which emit gamma rays to map internal organs, usually the brain, give patients a dose of 15 millisieverts of radiation in a couple of hours, which is the equivalent of eating 2,000 kg of meat tainted with 500 becquerels per kilogram of cesium, he said.
But with CT and PET scans the radioactive material isn't actually inside the body! The radioactive material in the machine is emitting gamma rays which pass thought the body for the time when the scan is being carried out. The "expert" assumes that is safe, but where's the proof of that? The problem with internal exposure, when the radioactive material is actually inside the body, is that localised areas of organ tissue are being bombarded with alpha/beta/gamma (depending on the radionuclide that has entered the body) over a long period of time. That is a quite different story from an CT or PET scan or an X-ray, and the "expert" really ought to know that. Ahem! So he is either NOT an expert or he is very brazenly lying! Which do you prefer??
The group has apparently determined it is difficult at present to maintain the 1 millisievert limit and envisions setting a more realistic interim limit without specifying a numerical target, while keeping the 1 millisievert limit as a long-term goal, according to the sources.
So the panel is sitting around saying that since the 1 millisievert limit cannot be maintained, it should be changed to an unspecified number while hoping that the level will come down to 1 millisievert in the long term. To me this sounds like a very bad excuse to NOT evacuate people from quite badly contaminated areas of, for example, Fukushima City and Koriyama City (and some other towns and cities in between). I would like to suggest that the panel hold its meetings in public in one of these cities. That might be a little more like a fair process. The panel might find that the opinions of the local people will force them to change their minds and do their work a little faster... Nothing like actually being in a nuclear contaminated area when you are asked to make decisions that will affect the people there!
Report of long-range plutonium find tardy - Although the article is fairly good and addresses some of the concerns mentioned above (like internal exposure), it does attempt to perpetuate the stupid myth that because Plutonium is a "heavy" element, it should not "fly" very far. Come on, folks, you don't need a PhD in chemistry to know that atoms are very, very light, and so if some material (whatever element it may be composed of) is vaporized in an explosion, for example, it may move quite a long way, depending on wind speed and so on. The second thing is that it is NOT, NOT, NOT "not worth worrying about" small amounts of Plutonium and Strontium-90 hanging around in the environment!! There should be a big, fat zero amount of these artificial radionuclides in the environment for anyone to pronounce the area "safe". The fact that they are present even in the teeniest-weeniest-tiniest amounts is sufficient reason to not bother with nuclear power. Are the people who are making these statements all indestructible bionic men, or something???
Creditors win early round against Tepco - See how the big-name politicians are behaving? Quite happy to see that the banks and other major debtors get their money back and for ordinary people to be disadvantaged when it comes to compensation for the damage, losses and problems caused by the nuclear disaster. Democratic Party of Japan? What's "democratic" about it?
Nuclear reactor shut down in Japan, cause unknown - I think we're down to ten reactors actually operating in Japan now. Powers that be want to get some of the stopped reactors up and running again, but it is going to be a fight with public opinion.
Disaster-zone population would've fallen 46% anyway: study - Hmmm... depopulation due to aging, but I think also part of the story is that farmers in Japan cannot make a living producing food. People are therefore drifting away from rural areas (the areas in Japan that would be self-sufficient in food if left to their own devices are almost all in the northeast and Hokkaido) and towards industrialized areas, where it is more or less possible to make a liveable wage - if you're lucky to get "decent" work, and that is becoming much harder in recent years...
#Radiation in Japan: Those Who Fled Fukushima in Panic Made a "Rational Decision", Says Government - This is brilliant! Despite the fact that the government was downplaying the nuclear disaster and the subsequent radiation right from the start, those who evacuated from Fukushima Prefecture in the first month will now be compensated for their correct guess that the government was lying because they were "rational," and those that waited more than a month because they had some faith in what the government was telling them will be refused compensation. You can just imagine the top politicians chuckling amongst themselves as they picture the poor public trying to make head or tail of what it's all about. Ha, ha. The whole thing makes me feel utterly disgusted!
Dr Chris Busby sings Bob Dylan... I Pity the Poor Newspaper Man...
Nice one. Not usual guitar tuning. DADGAD (usually EADGBE) and then play in A... I'm sure you'll figure out what the song is about if you listen to it.
An Anti-nuke Green Party to be Established in Japan Soon??
The Japanese media this morning seems to be filled with the news that a well-known anthropologist, Shin'ichi Nakazawa (Professor at Meiji University in Tokyo), is about to set up a Green Party which will have a nuclear phase-out as one of its main policies. This would appear to be a 'good idea,' given that 80-90% of the Japanese population (according to opinion polls and so on) would appear to favour the idea of a nuclear phase-out. There have been attempts to set up green parties in Japan before (since about the 1980s), but they have all failed due to the inability to create a strong enough centripetal force for all like-minded greenies to get on board - i.e. the main problem being that the personalities involved prefer to be big fish in little ponds and somehow have an aversion to compromising on the details of ideology and direction for the sake of the overall goal. What chance does this latest attempt stand?
A newsletter is to be published, beginning perhaps in November, and a website set up to promote networking around the country. The idea, apparently, is NOT to participate directly in elections for the time being, but to endorse candidates who espouse appropriately green policies. This is probably partly because of the high election deposits in Japan - 3 million yen for candidates in small constituencies and 6 million yen for proportional representation candidates, the deposit being forfeited if the candidate does not receive 10% of the vote. Small (new) parties generally find it hard to field candidates for national elections. (Deposits for local elections are lower, down to 300,000 yen for city or ward council elections and not necessary for town or village council elections.) It will be interesting to see what the newsletter and website will look like when they appear next month... (Internet articles in Japanese and and article on the front page of the Tokyo Newspaper this morning.)
A little glimpse of the REAL Japan?
I wasn't going to post another video on today's update, but my friend in Kyushu sent me the link for this one because it shows very 'nicely' what people in Fukushima are facing in terms of attitude from their government...
Here's the script of the clip from about 10 seconds in...
Ms. Akira Matsu of the Komeito (Clean Government Party)
"At a symposium on problems at primary schools, a woman lawyer living in Aizu Wakamatsu City, about 100 km for the nuclear disaster site, gave a very serious presentation. This woman has four children, three in primary school and one in kindergarten, and she is also seven months pregnant. The children and the mother have all been tested and have been found to have internal caesium. She was told that there is no immediate cause for concern, but she is very worried, especially about internal exposure, so she told her children not to drink the milk that is given out at the school. When they did this, a teacher said, 'Those who are not going to drink the milk. come out to the front of the class!' There were several of these children. They were told to pour their milk into a bucket one by one and asked to give the reason why they would not drink the milk. The teacher apparently said, 'If you don't drink the milk, you are not Fukushima Prefecture citizens; you have no right to live in Fukushima!' This is like when people were called "hikokumin" (non-citizens) during pre-war times, and the mother was really concerned about whether this was really OK or not and whether she could explain to her children that they could continue to live in Fukushima in the future... Stop laughing and listen, Chief Cabinet Secretary! This is a very important topic and I want you to listen very carefully. Please don't laugh when something as important as this is being said. This is not a joke!"
[See Chief Cabinet Secretary Fujimura laughing and he and Mr. Edano. now Minister for Energy, Trade and Industry, sitting there looking like a pair of primary school students being scolded by their teacher...]
"What I want to say is that this is how people in Fukushima are really feeling..."
That's up to 1:53. You can stop there - if you watch the rest of the clip, you will see that, despite the rebuke, the government politicians lined up opposite the speaker are not being very respectful.
If someone wants to hack this site because we are telling the truth about what is going on in Japan and indirectly casting a bad light on some of the top politicians, all I can say is that there can be nothing more condemning than seeing how these politicians behave in their parliament when a fellow parliamentary member is talking about the suffering of people in Fukushima. Personally, i am just completely flabbergasted at the fact that top national politicians, the Chief Cabinet Secretary, can you believe? can behave in this way. It only goes to prove, in my opinion, everything that people in Fukushima (and elsewhere) have been saying about the cold and uncaring attitudes of politicians and officials towards those affected by the disasters...
#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: March 15 6AM Explosion Was "Somewhere in the Plant", Not Near Reactor 4
Resources used up this year - Yes, it's clear "we" are not living anything even close to a sustainable lifestyle - some people in not-so-developed countries are, maybe, but?most of them are trying to "develop" and emulate the lifestyles of the "rich" just as while "we" in the industrialized countries are finding out what is wrong with this way of life. Please see next link...
Earth Overshoot Day - Right, so it seems "we" are in "overshoot". But "we" have known this for about 30 years already and no one seems to give a fig, especially (naturally) the people who make a lot of money pursuing overshoot. Written in 1980, Overshoot - The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change by William R. Catton Jr. was a very strong warning that has been studiously ignored by about 99.999999999% of humanity (well, not everyone reads English, after all....)
Wave power excites as next energy source - Wow! I'm so excited! Sure, might be worthwhile in some locations (near the sea, ha, ha), but I just wish that when thinking about future energy issues and writing articles about them people wouldn't just assume that we will "need to use" the same amounts of energy "we" are using now. The whole point about the mess we are in now is that we (who then?) have collectively decided that's it's reasonable to make use of every available resource and technology to generate electricity and make "stuff" so that, for example, the Karen people (a people who prefer to live by the production of rice in swidden fields in mountain forests) in their mountain villages in northern Thailand can watch Everton vs. Liverpool playing live in the Premier League (that's the top UK pro football league, round ball, just in case there's any confusion) on a Saturday evening. I also watched it live in Japan - great game it was - and Liverpool won 2-0, no doubt pleasing my friend down there in Kyushu. BUT if I have to put up with nuclear power plants or any other kind of energy source that is going to cause problems and keep "us" in overshoot (see above) then I'll be quite happy to get the guitar out and sit around the fire singing folk songs for entertainment. I'm not all that fussy about what I am doing in the time when I don't have the concentration to do anything more "productive," BUT I AM pretty fussy about not having to have nuclear power to do it.
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?
In reply to this, my friend in Kyushu said:
You know, at some time I'd love to turn my mind back to pre 3/11 days and start the important questions you brought up in the blog yesterday... However the 3/11 joker in the pack really means that not a lot can be done if we are having to live under the threat of atomic fallout, etc... We are screwing up our future when we could/should be sorting it out. This needs a good hard examination of the worst, which those in power are simply not able to focus on. Imagine if my future had been a plot in Iitate mura for example. I am 80 odd km's from Sendai. Am I prepared to put the work and capital in (is this tantamount to attaching a ball and chain when I should be ready to go at the drop of a hat)?
I'm not sure if that is comprehensible to people who do not understand the situation in Japan, but my friend is thinking of buying a forested mountain in response to future food and energy shocks that are likely to happen in Japan in the (not-so-distant?) future. However, if we are all now having to live with the threat of the 'local' nuclear power station blowing up, what chances do people have of making realistic decisions for the long-term future???
Tepco's management may be forced to step down and pensions will be cut, according to the Nikkei newspaper. Beyond compensation payments, the utility may have a funding shortage of ¥8.3 trillion over 10 years if it cannot raise power rates and restart idled nuclear reactors.
Given TEPCO's past safety record, surely it would be best to disband the company and put its assets under new management. In that way the generation and distribution of electricity could be separated, breaking the choking monopoly of the power company on the electrical power business, and power station safety put on a new footing. Simply allowing the same company to continue to make the same mistakes while carrying out the same horrific mis-management practices after a disaster like this is simply not acceptable.
The detected amounts of plutonium were small and posed no danger to health, the officials said.
Cough! ANY amount of Plutonium is far too much, and dangerous. Of course, in Iitate Village it may not be immediately harmful to anyone's health since there are very few people left there now!! The "too heavy to fly" quote is from the Three Plutonium Brothers.
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??
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?
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.
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???
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...
#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 #s25">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???
"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.
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.)
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..."
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.
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...
#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.
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...
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.
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...?
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.
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!
#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?
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.
"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.
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.
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.)
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??
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).
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~~~
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.
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...
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?
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...
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?
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.
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...
"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??
"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!
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!).
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...
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).
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??
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
~~~Situation at the Nuclear Disaster Site~~~
#Fukushima I Nuke Plant SFPs with High Level of Radioactive Cesium
#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?
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...?
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??
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!
“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'?
#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??
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.
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"?
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.
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.
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).
#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...
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."