"For more than a decade, the Productivity Commission has debunked the common myth that immigration can overcome population ageing. [...] If Australia was truly a ‘clever’ country like Japan, it would manage population ageing by: 1) better utilising existing workers, given there is significant spare capacity in the labour market; and 2) where required resort to technological solutions. The last thing that Australia should be doing is running a mass immigration program which, as noted many times by the PC, cannot provide a long-term solution to ageing, lowers wages, and places increasing strains on infrastructure, housing and the natural environment." This article first published at #comments">https://www.macrobusiness.com.au/2017/06/poor-old-japan-low-unemployment-less-crowded-cheaper-housing/#comments
For more than a decade, the Productivity Commission has debunked the common myth that immigration can overcome population ageing. For example:
PC (2005): “Despite popular thinking to the contrary, immigration policy is also not a feasible countermeasure [to an ageing population]. It affects population numbers more than the age structure”.
PC (2010): “Realistic changes in migration levels also make little difference to the age structure of the population in the future, with any effect being temporary“…
PC (2011): “…substantial increases in the level of net overseas migration would have only modest effects on population ageing and the impacts would be temporary, since immigrants themselves age… It follows that, rather than seeking to mitigate the ageing of the population, policy should seek to influence the potential economic and other impacts”…
PC (2016): “[Immigration] delays rather than eliminates population ageing. In the long term, underlying trends in life expectancy mean that permanent immigrants (as they age) will themselves add to the proportion of the population aged 65 and over”.
In a nutshell, trying to overcome an ageing population through higher immigration is a Ponzi scheme. It requires ever more immigration, with the associated negative impacts on economic and social infrastructure, congestion, housing affordability, and the environment.
The obvious question that follows is, if immigration is not the solution to the ‘problem’ of population ageing, then what is? Enter Japan, whose population is both shrinking and ageing quickly:
And whose labour market is tight, with Japan’s unemployment rate recently hitting a 22-year low of just 2.8% (if only Australia was so lucky!):
Rather than open the immigration spigots for a short-term fix, and in the process crush-load infrastructure and housing, Japan has instead taken the high tech route of engaging in automation.
Population boosters in Australia often label Japan an ‘economic basket case’ due to its ageing population. But the facts do not back this assertion up. In addition to having an unemployment rate that Australian workers could only dream of, as well as a relatively affordable housing market, Japan’s GDP growth in per capita terms has been highly respectable, as it has been for most other nation’s with declining populations:
These facts have not been lost on the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), which has penned the following rebuke to the clam that Japan is facing a ‘dismal’ future due to population ageing:
The NYT featured yet another piece on a country, in this case Japan, facing a future with a lower population. The piece warns that it will be difficult to maintain economic growth with a declining population and that Japan’s labor shortage would get more severe.
This doesn’t sound like too bad of a story to people familiar with economics. Thus far the labor shortage has not been serious enough to cause wages to rise in Japan. If it eventually does get more severe and wages do rise then it just would mean that some of the least productive jobs would go unfilled. For example, perhaps Tokyo would no longer pay workers to shove people into overcrowded subway cars.
As far as GDP growth, economists usually care about GDP per capita as a measure of living standards, not total GDP. This is why Denmark is a richer country than India, even though India has a much larger GDP…
It is worth reminding readers that growth in productivity swamps the impact of demographics. If Japan can sustain a 1.5 percent pace of productivity growth, then output per worker hour would be 80 percent higher in forty years. Even in a very extreme demographic change, say going from three workers per retiree to 1.8 workers per retiree, this would still allow for a 17 percent rise in average living standards over this period… And this does not account for the benefits from less strain on the infrastructure and the natural environment. Nor does it take account of the lower ratio of dependent children to workers…
Presumably the folks who are concerned about the job-killing robots expect that productivity growth will be considerably more rapid.
We also shouldn’t forget that economists at MIT recently found that there is absolutely no relationship between population ageing and economic decline. To the contrary, population aging seems to have been associated with improvements in GDP per capita, thanks to increased automation:
If anything, countries experiencing more rapid aging have grown more in recent decades… we show that since the early 1990s or 2000s, the periods commonly viewed as the beginning of the adverse effects of aging in much of the advanced world, there is no negative association between aging and lower GDP per capita… on the contrary, the relationship is significantly positive in many specifications.
If Australia was truly a ‘clever’ country like Japan, it would manage population ageing by: 1) better utilising existing workers, given there is significant spare capacity in the labour market; and 2) where required resort to technological solutions.
The last thing that Australia should be doing is running a mass immigration program which, as noted many times by the PC, cannot provide a long-term solution to ageing, lowers wages, and places increasing strains on infrastructure, housing and the natural environment.
You probably would have noticed the media attention given to the Australian economies historic 26 year reign of economic growth which has been claimed is breaking that held by the Netherlands. Apart from being incorrect, (The Netherlands’ real GDP declined by 0.3% in the June quarter of 2003, and by 0.01% in the September quarter of that year) that record should go to Japan. In fact, if Japanese GDP data were available on a quarterly basis earlier than 1960, it’s likely that this run of continuous economic growth would have been even longer, perhaps as long as 38 years, inferring from annual data available back to 1955. Not bad for a nation mocked for its decision to abandon population growth and actually reduce its population.
Our current reliance on GDP as an economic indicator harkens back to a war-time measure where it was considered necessary to measure production (of war material) in order to fight the war. After the war finished it seems logical to continue to use GDP in order to create the materials necessary to repair shattered infrastructure, a situation that is no longer logical when we should be caring for the economic casualties of this process.
The weakness of GDP as an indicator has been pointed out by many, none better than US senator Robert Kennedy who said "GDP measures everything but tells us nothing," and it certainly does not show growth was achieved or even if it was beneficial. Switching to non-sustainable resource dependency was certainly not to our long term benefit and while the total value of goods and services has increased due to population increases so has income inequality, poverty, homelessness, mortgage stress and many more unpleasantness including government corruption. Perhaps more importantly all this growth in GDP came at the expense of a government debt of $551b and a household of about $2t - the third highest in the world - leaving us vulnerable to a housing bubble implosion. Then there has also been a welter of public asset sales - now called recycling - often used for re-occurring expenses just to keep governments functioning. Many of these sales, like our gold reserves that were flogged off by Peter Costello or the GPO which went for a paltry $150m, indicate that we are not getting good value for our assets, despite the $3.5b that went to financial advisers in order to facilitate these sales.
A panel in Japan has proposed the government take measures to halt the country's population slide so it goes no lower than 100 million people. At present Japan's population is likely to fall to about 87 million by 2060. This new proposal probably reflects outside interference by globalists, who are pushing for cheap imported labour. We should take into account that Japan's population numbers were stable until international trade and 'development' pushed them up by reorganising the population away from largely rural and small cities to massive land-less labour sources in huge cities. The Japanese are a very big tribe and have managed to regain control over their numbers. This push for immigration will once again destabilise them. Japan can only feed itself by importing food and energy. Already the national atomic power production system has shown itself to be hugely unstable and dangerous. This should be taken as a signal that Japan needs to go with its natural trends to return to a smaller, stable population. Reference: Anthony Boys, How will Japan feed itself without fossil energy? in Sheila Newman, (Ed) The Final Energy Crisis, 2nd Edition, Pluto Press, 2008.
The panel which the mainstream western press has unsurprisingly given such prominence, reportedly advised, using typical pro-growth terms 'greying population' , 'vibrancy', 'shrinking workforce', 'larger group of pensioners':
"Japan should stabilise its population about 100 million people, stemming an expected dramatic fall in the next 50 years in the rapidly greying country. If the plan is adopted by the government, it would be the first numerical population target in the country.
The population of 127 million is projected to fall to about 87 million in 2060 because of a far-below replacement fertility rate and the almost complete absence of immigration.
That would have potentially huge knock-on effects on the size and vibrancy of the economy, and will heap ever-increasing pressure on a shrinking workforce to provide care for a larger group of pensioners.
In its interim report, released on Tuesday, a government panel proposed Japan should take measures to halt the population slide so it goes no lower than 100 million people.
The panel estimated that if Japan's total fertility rate - the average number of children born to a woman - recovers to 2.07 in 2030 from the 1.41 in 2012 and stays at that level, the country's population will be about 100 million in 2060.
In its report, the panel called on the government to double its support for parents to make childcare easier, while encouraging senior citizens to work longer to help offset the cost of their old age.
The panel also suggested Japan accept more foreign skilled workers to boost the labour force. Previous such suggestions have fallen on deaf ears in a country that views immigration with suspicion.
Economic and fiscal policy minister Akira Amari said the government planned to reflect the proposals in its guidelines on economic and fiscal policies to be released in June.
"We hope the government will share our sense of crisis," Akio Mimura, the panel's head and chairman of the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said at a panel meeting, a cabinet Office official said. Source: AAP 13 May 2014 - 6:02 PM UPDATED 13 May 2014 - 9:40 PM"
The Japanese are a national group of tribes of Pacific Islanders who occupied and organised land-tenure in this region for millenia without advice from globalist entrepreneurs.
Diet change in Japan in the 20th century
During the Edo Period, when Japan’s population numbered around 33 million, total cereal dependency was probably around 90 percent, with 6 percent provided by soybeans and azuki beans, and a further 6 percent by potatoes and sweet potatoes, plus fresh vegetables, fruit, fish, and meat, when available and/or in season.
Remarkable changes took place in the Japanese diet from the 1930s to the 1990s. The increases and decreases are symbolic of the changes that have taken place in Japan over the last 70 years (the mid-thirties was the period when buses, trains, and telephones were beginning to change patterns of life in rural Japan) and over the last 40 years, since the inception of the drive to industrialization and economic growth.
With the exception of wheat consumption, which rose 4-fold, direct cereal consumption decreased generally. Intake halved of the traditional soybean-foods, miso and soy sauce. Consumption of milk and other dairy produce increased 28-fold (4-fold since 1960), along with oil and fat, which rose 15-fold (over 3-fold since 1960), meat, which increased 14-fold (6-fold since 1960), eggs, which rose over 7-fold, and fish, which increased nearly 4-fold. More than twice as much fruit was eaten. Since 1990 domestic production of cheese has increased nearly 120 percent , all part of the ongoing change (Westernization) of the Japanese diet that has been taking place over the last half-century.
Today’s westernized Japanese diet represents a move away from cereals into animal protein foods. In fact, the total consumption of cereals has not decreased, the cereals are simply "processed" through livestock to provide food in the form of animal protein.
What food does Japan still produce for herself?
Japan could easily have been self-sufficient in food in 1960, but is now grossly dependent on the international market for food supplies. Since the late 1990s, 60 percent of food calories consumed in Japan are imported. Japan ranks about 130 in the world, far below Pakistan, Nigeria, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Brazil in grain self-sufficiency.
Production of the food staples – rice and soybeans as well as other cereals – has predictably diminished along with farmland and levels of consumption. Rice is one crop for which Japan can easily be self-sufficient. At the end of the 19th century, Japan planted about 2.6 million ha of wet rice per year, but yields were about two tonnes per ha. From 1920 to 1969, planted area hovered around the 3 million ha mark, but yields rose from about 3 tonnes/ha to about 4.5 tonnes/ha. Planted area in 2004 was around 1.7 million ha, yield being around 5.2 tonnes/ha.
Planted area for soybeans was a high of over 400,000 ha in the 1870s and peaked in 1910 at 470,000 ha, but by 1995 it was under 69,000 ha. A complicating factor for adducing food needs is that soybeans are now imported as livestock feed.
Self-sufficiency in soybeans has fallen steadily since 1930 and is now around 20 percent, with annual imports since the early 1980s in the 4.5 million to 5 million tonne region.
In areas of Japan with fairly mild winters, and where the land was not snowbound in the winter months, winter wheat and barley were often grown on paddy land as a winter crops. Total production of wheat and barley, 3 million tonnes in 1913 and 3.8 million tonnes in the late 1950s, has plummeted to around a million tonnes or less since 1970.
Japan still produces about 80 percent of vegetables, 39 per cent of the fruit , 44 per cent of beef, 51 per cent of pork, and 67 per cent of the dairy products she consumes.
Self-sufficient in fish (though at lower levels of per capita consumption) up to around 1980, since then Japan has had to maintain, and even raise, per capita fish consumption by subsidizing her ever-declining fish catches with imports.
Japan has gone from potential or near self-sufficiency in livestock feed in 1960 to about 50 percent overseas dependency in just under 40 years. Source: Anthony Boys, How will Japan feed itself without fossil energy? in Sheila Newman, (Ed) The Final Energy Crisis, 2nd Edition, Pluto Press, 2008, pp 354-357.
The “new” plan sets a target of capturing 333 minke whales annually as part of a 12-year-long research effort "to achieve conservation of [Antarctic marine ecosystem] resources while pursuing their sustainable utilization and to understand and predict the effects of factors such as climate change."
Japan needs to have more "sampling" of whale demographic data, so they must kill more widely and extend their illegal whaling program!
"After giving serious scientific consideration, it has been concluded that age data at the annual scale can be obtained only through lethal sampling methods, and thus lethal methods need to be employed under this program," the plan said.
Wildlife is protected in the Antarctic, and the “sustainable utilization” is illegal! How is the word “sustainable” measurable when whales are intelligent, peaceful, and social marine mammals with high intrinsic value.
(A whale and a calf being loaded aboard a factory ship, the Nisshin Maru. The sign above the slipway reads, "Legal research under the ICRW")
Japan needs to have more "sampling" of whale demographic data, so they must kill more widely and extend their illegal whaling program!
Thanks to inactive governments, and ineffective politicians who've failed over and over again to directly end Japan's criminal and illegal commercial whaling. It's the science of absurdity, a pretence of “science” when it's really killing protected species and an environmentally sensitive, protected zone- the Antarctic.
This "research" is about promoting commercial whaling, not science or conservation!
Ostensibly Japan aims to obtain more precise information on minkes should the moratorium on commercial whaling ever be lifted and a quota system re-introduced, and to investigate the Antarctic marine ecosystem. So, in case the moratorium is lifted, they killing will will finally be legal and they will be ready to lift their "research" veil and start fully-authorised legal whaling in the Antarctic Whale Sanctuary.
Wrongs need to be nipped in the bud, not allowed to fester and give criminals greater audacity and confidence! Inaction is as good as endorsement of crimes. The International Court of Justice condemned Japan's illegal whaling, but that hasn't stopped the whaling. Japan is just using the "research whaling" loophole to an even greater extent, to keep it within the limits of the ban.
Despite initially committing to respect the World's International Court of Justice's judgement, the Government of Japan and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe days later announced a sort of “back-to-front about-face,” defiantly declaring that Japan would return to whale killing around Antarctica after a one-year – with a new research plan and rationale!
Despite the new rationale, it's actually still thinly disguised commercial whaling, that they want or need to kill whales, develop the research plan and rationale later and then ignore international institutions and processes that might impede your “scientific slaughter”.
"This is is the same tired old plan to kill whales under the guise of scientific research," Mr Kindleysides of the Australian Marine Conservation Society said. "Prime Minister Tony Abbott must tell Japan this is not acceptable."
The amount of whale meat stockpiled for lack of buyers has nearly doubled over 10 years, even as anti-whaling protests helped drive catches to record lows. More than 2,300 minke whales worth of meat is sitting in freezers while whalers still plan to catch another 1,300 whales per year. Japanese have lost their appetite for whale meat!
The only reason for Japan's insistence on using harpoons on the Antarctic's majestic whales is to continue their warrior heritage and defy the West, and ensure they have a global export market in whale meat while the rest of the overpopulated world suffers from food insecurity!
It’s a matter of territorial rights, and infiltration of what they see as an international resource. The Antarctic is an open sea that everyone is entitled to its rich resources - and Japan is ensuring their presence and their "right" to it's riches.
In the latest report, Australian scientists will work with international scientists who helped the International Court of Justice find the previous Japanese program illegal. Surely such a thin scientific facade will easily exposed?
The Syrian conflict, from the perspective of Australian history: In 1942, Australia, with the help of its American allies led by President Franklin Roosevelt, prevented invasion by the Empire of Japan. Much of this was due to the preparedness of Australia's own defence forces, as described in "Armedand Ready" (1995) by A. T. Ross.
However, had Australia, in 1942, faced what Syria has had to face since March 2011 – hordes of foreign terrorists, estimated to number as many as 250,000, operating from countries bordering Syria – Australia almost certainly would have been conquered.
Against the expectations of even many sympathetic to Syria, she has withstood invasion and defeated the terrorists.
But that endurance has come at a terrible cost. Some estimates put the cost so far to be as high as 195,000 dead, in addition to the wounded and terrible material destruction suffered by Syria.
No country, not even a country as resourceful as Syria, can indefinitely defend itself from invasion from territories embracing at least one third of the world's land mass. Unless Syria's friends within those countries can force their governments to end their support for the terrorists, Syria could well be defeated. The consequences for Syria could well be commensurate with the carnage and destruction endured by its neighbour Iraq since 1990.
Since 18 July 2012, the beginning of the Nicaraguan-model war on Syria, fighters have flocked to the Levant from the entire Muslim world. According to the narrative spewed by the Atlanticist and Gulf media, it is all about spontaneous migration. The Guardian revealed that "A report by the UN security council finds that 15,000 people have travelled to Syria and Iraq to fight alongside the Islamic State (Isis) and similar extremist groups. They come from more than 80 countries." [#fnEgw1" id="txtEgw1"> 1 ]
However, the Security Council does not itself draw up reports: it commissions them from the Secretary-General who, in turn, assigns the task to his representatives and committees. The newspaper did not reveal who authored the document in question. In all likelihood, the figures were provided by Peter Neumann, Director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King's College London. This scholar, whose research unit is sponsored by the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya (Israel) and who also serves as an expert for the George Soros Open Society Foundations, collected official figures from various sources except for those provided by two States directly concerned, Syria and Iraq. Neumann accompanied President Obama to the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council meeting on terrorism, last September. In London, he is assisted by Aaron Y. Zelin (also an expert at WINEP, the AIPAC think tank). In other words, the Guardian falsely presents the numbers as originating from a neutral international entity when, in fact, they came from experts with US and Israeli ties.
Professor Neumann's figures coincide with those put out by the US intelligence services. They are on average 12 to 16 times lower than those provided by the Syrian Arab Army.
As already seen after the attacks of September 11, 2001 when several institutes were given grants to produce analyses on the danger of Al Qaeda, today we are witnessing a proliferation of research studies on the jihad in the Levant, based on the same sources, so as to consolidate the Atlanticist and Gulf discourse.
Professor Neumann claims that the Islamic State attacked Iraq, conquered a large swath of Jordanian territory and administered it with only 800 men. Then, always according to him, IS considerably beefed up its troops and manages to keep the US Coalition in check with less than 5 000 men.
If such estimates are patently absurd, it is just as difficult to verify those provided by the Syrian Arab Army which, in June 2014, put the number of foreign jihadists who entered the country over the past two years at 250,000. However, an on-the-spot check renders this figure not only plausible, but even probable.
For example, at the beginning of the war, fighters from Libya arrived in two contingents. The first one was made up of Libyans affiliated with the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG, Al-Qaeda in Libya). Their number was estimated to be at least 3 000, while Professor Neuman has only tallied 556 in three years. The second contingent consisted of 1 500 Afghans [#fnEgw2" id="txtEgw2"> 2 ], while Professor Neumann found only 23 in three years.
The Syrian Arab Army says that it incinerates the corpses of the jihadists it eliminates, except where it has established repatriation agreements with the countries of origin. Thus, Damascus has quietly organized in conjunction with the Emir Abdelkader Foundation the repatriation of the remains of more than a thousand Algerian jihadists, while Professor Neumann's figure is only 250.
This controversy is not innocent: for the past three years, the Atlanticist and Gulf States narrative is that Syria is in the throes of a domestic revolution, supported by some foreign jihadists, while the Syrian Arab Republic claims to be the target of an attack from abroad by jihadists who arrived in droves, supported by some Syrians.
However, the outcome of the presidential election on 3 June 2014 showed that the Atlanticist and Gulf narrative was false, as Bashar al-Assad garnered 88.7% of the votes from his fellow citizens.
#A9F5E1;line-height:120%;">Brave Crimean prosecutor, Natalya Poklonskaya, was offered her job after several men refused such a dangerous position. She showed leadership when Crimeans wanted to quit Ukraine, saying that the will of the people was the only rule of law. She became an involuntary internet sensation, however, because of her passion and beauty as she delivered her defense of democracy at a press conference. Her looks and gutsy presentation inspired admiring anime-style images throughout the world, gaining her overwhelming popularity, particularly in Japan. NATO policy makers, however, seem impervious to her honest message and she is now among forty officials put on a sanctions list by Tokyo. This can probably only extend her popular impact because she is already seen, rightly, as an iconic heroine battling fascists.
Editor Candobetter.net: This article was originally published as " "Japan's darling Natalia Poklonskaya on Tokyo Russia sanctions list," on RT, August 5, 2014. We republish it here with some concerns that we could be seen to be furthering sexist treatment of a courageous public servant. The important educational content of her speech and actions, however, are embedded in the package and the principles she espouses are as attractive as her personal presentation. If she were modelling clothes, she would not be an internet sensation, but she is not modelling clothes; she is modelling principles that humans everywhere value highest.
The Sanctions list
The list, made public by the Japanese Foreign Ministry on Tuesday, includes former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, a number of top figures in the self-proclaimed People's Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, as well as people believed to be "directly responsible for the annexation of Crimea."
"Japan will continue our coordination with G7 nations and the international community to achieve a peaceful and diplomatic resolution of the Ukraine situation," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a regular briefing, according to AFP. "We have made our decisions to select those who were directly responsible for the annexation of Crimea and destabilization of eastern Ukraine, and after we reviewed sanctions by the United States and EU."
Adoration by the Japanese online community did not save the Crimean prosecutor, Natalya Poklonskaya, from being added to Tokyo's black list.
Poklonskaya took up her post just days ahead of the March 16 Crimean referendum on independence from Ukraine, after four of her male colleagues refused to take the risk.
Her first press conference gained her YouTube stardom, garnering 3.7 million views in just three days. Her youth, good looks, quiet voice and emphatic statements inspired a lot of anime-style images of Poklonskaya, and earned her the nickname of 'Prosecutie'.
In Russia she received an online nickname "nyasha" (sweetie), to which Poklonskaya reacted by saying she would prefer to be perceived as a prosecutor and will not tolerate any meaningless "nyash" or "myash" while at her post. That secured 'Nyash-Myash' as a popular nickname for the young prosecutor.
She has not yet reacted to being included on Japan's list of sanctioned officials. The response to Tokyo's sanctions has mainly come from the Russian Foreign Ministry.
Moscow now believes it "inappropriate" to hold diplomatic consultations between deputy head of the Foreign Ministry, Igor Morgulov, with his Japanese counterpart, Shinsuke Sugiyama, scheduled for the end of August.
"Now that Tokyo has adopted additional anti-Russian sanctions, we consider it inappropriate to hold this meeting. Consultations have been postponed," deputy head of the ministry's information department, Maria Zakharova, told journalists.
Apart from individuals, two Crimea-based companies have also fallen under Japanese sanctions – energy company Chernomorneftegaz and oil base Feodosia. Tokyo has also banned all imports from Crimea.
Japan has announced sanctions against Russia before. In April, it said it would not issue visas for 23 Russian officials.
Switzerland also expanded its sanctions against Russia on Tuesday. It announced the addition of 26 individuals and 18 companies to its sanctions list. This comes despite comments over the weekend from Switzerland's Economy Minister, Johann Schneider-Ammann, who said his country wouldn't duplicate EU sanctions against Russia.
Environment Minister Greg Hunt justified the downgrade of a customs vessel to a plane to monitor Japan's illegal whaling, saying that "we want them to be aware that there will be monitoring – independent monitoring which from an aerial position can take independent vision of what occurs.''
There's no scientific or economic justification for Japan's whale slaughter in the Southern Ocean, where they are internationally protected. We already know what Japan plans to do in the Antarctic.
What's the point of the 2008 federal court decision that Japan's whaling was a breach of Australian law, and not wanting to police it? It's as effective as counting horses as they bolt through the open gate. In the most peaceful place on Earth, the cold and white wonderland of the Antarctic, powerful harpoons will rip the flesh off magnificent whales - in what is their sanctuary!
Japan will be in the Antarctic to deliberately employ explosive harpoons to slaughter protected whales in a whale sanctuary. Sea Shepherd vessels are there to intervene and stop their illegal activities. Japan's intent has already been clearly stated for years, through a bogus "research" legal loophole. If they were to "behave properly", according to Environment Minister Greg Hunt, they would have scientists, biologists, zoologists and technicians on board, to gather data and observe marine wildlife in their habitats. They would not have harpoons, lethal weapons, and all the paraphernalia of a factory ship to process whale meat.
Repetition of whaling in the Antarctic, and Australia's lack of direct action, has strengthen Japan's resolve and purpose and given them confidence in a de facto legality. Simply "recording" illegal activities, in hindsight, from a plane, is a feeble response considering there is clearly no compelling economic or scientific reason for the decades of flouting international standards.
The crew of Sea Shepherd are an embarrassment, a perpetual reminder, a thorn in the flesh to the professional hypocrites in our government who have rendered themselves useless by lots of posturing and words about being "anti whaling", but take no action.
Australia's customs patrol vessel, the Ocean Protector was built specifically to handle the icy conditions of the Southern Ocean, but instead it was patrolling the waters around Christmas Island for asylum seeker boats.
It's an easy and soft option to fend off unarmed asylum seekers, in primitive fishing boats in tropic waters, than to face the more challenging economic power and military hardware of Japan's whaling fleet and explosive harpoons in the more threatening Antarctic wilderness!
The Japanese often refer to their nuclear power plants (NPPs) as apartments without toilets. This is due to the complete lack of planning by the power companies and the government regarding the disposal of spent nuclear fuel. As Japan gears up to restart its NPPs in the near future, the spent fuel pools are beginning to look more and more like flushless toilets...
Earlier this year, the Japanese government announced that it would formulate a national energy plan for 2030 that would include the percentage of nuclear power in the energy mix at that time, and put forward three options 0%, 15%, and 20-25%. (e.g. see my Japan’s Energy “Options” ) The government appeared to favour the 15% option (existing NPPs minus those over 40 years old in 2030), but public opinion came down heavily (70-80%) in favour of the “zero option” (which some mistakenly assumed meant an immediate nuclear phaseout).
When the government’s Energy and Environment Conference conclusion was announced last week we all did a double-take because they said they had chosen the “zero option” but have left the door open to a final nuclear phaseout sometime in the 2050s (maybe – since the fate of NPPs now under construction and planned is not yet certain and existing NPPs may still get up to 20-year extensions on their 40-year “lifetimes.” However, it also looks likely that Uranium resources will be scarce by the 2030s, so world nuclear power may all be winding down by that time anyway.). However, the people are not fooled, and respect for politicians has reached an all-time rock-bottom low. We were all astounded again when even this so-called “zero option” was ferociously opposed by Japan’s business circles, leading to failure to produce a cabinet decision endorsing the decision of the Energy and Environment Conference (itself consisting of cabinet members) that had come up with the “zero option” conclusion.
So, although the government makes sweet (and effectively meaningless) promises about the safe operation of the NPPs that are now undoubtedly going to be restarted, the one story it and the power companies do not like to mention (though all anti-nuke campaigns do) is what’s happening in the spent fuel pools at each of the NPPs.
Of the 57 fuel pools (50 reactors now; a few reactors share spent fuel pools and then each NPP has a common fuel pool - see “Japan SPF data.pdf” attached to this article.) 35 will run out of space for spent fuel in under 5 years. 14 have between 5 and 9 years to go and the remaining 8 have 7 between 10 and 14 years and one (in Hokkaido) has 28 years to go. Have a guess which NPP has the least remaining space available in its SFPs… It’s TEPCO’s F#1 Units 5 & 6 and their common pool, which each have only 0.7 years of remaining space!! (TEPCO’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa#7 has only 0.2 years remaining!) There’s no way those reactors can start again till large amounts of spent nuclear fuel are removed, BUT the priority on the F#1 site is Unit 4, and that is reckoned (by Arnie Gundersen in his interview with Dr Helen Caldicott – Downloadable mp3) to take till 2015-2016!!
Of course, the power companies could remove the spent fuel assemblies (a ton each, according to Arnie Gundersen) and eventually place them in dry casks, but that costs money. Dry casks also are not the “final solution.” In the past, the next step was reprocessing and then reuse of the Uranium and Plutonium gained to generate more electricity (or for use in nuclear weapons). However Japan is now mulling over whether or not to forego the “nuclear cycle” – i.e. to give up on reprocessing (which it has never been able to run), and simply move to final disposal of the waste. Kingston (Japan’s Nuclear Village, Jeff Kingston ) correctly points out that this may be the “beginning of the end of nuclear power in Japan,” since once the lie of the “nuclear cycle” is revealed it will become clear that nuclear wastes cannot be recycled ad infinitum (they never could) but must eventually be somehow flushed out of the system (i.e. the environment we live in).
Some of the nuclear waste is currently stored at the site of the reprocessing facility at Rokkasho Village, in the north of Honshu – Aomori Prefecture. There is a “mid-term” storage facility there, (and one or two under construction) but the locals are saying, “If you’re not going to reprocess, then we don’t want the waste stored here (unto eternity). Please remove it.” But to where? Assuming another “mid-term” storage facility could be built (more mega-bucks), that is still not the final solution for the spent nuclear waste.
As you may know, no one has the final solution for spent nuclear waste. The US has apparently abandoned Yucca Mountain. The Finns have built Onkalo (see the movie Into Eternity, where the designers scratch their collective heads and declare themselves unsure whether it’s OK or not), the Swedes are building a facility UNDER the Baltic Sea (see Sweden's final spent nuclear fuel repository at Forsmark NPP), the French, for all their claims of having “conquered” the nuclear cycle (while the reprocessing plant at Le Havre vies for first place as Europe’s most polluting facility with the UK’s Sellafield), are storing waste nuclear fuel in Siberia (Arnie Gundersen in the interview mentioned above). Japan has “plans” to construct a final repository for its nuclear waste and has come up with three candidate areas (in the north, would you believe? Tokyo Newspaper, 2012/9/18) but this is not being taken very seriously given the active seismic nature of the real estate.
As you can see, the yummy nuclear tale is quickly turning extremely yuccy. Our generation, the one that has lived from just after WWII to now, has “enjoyed” the dubious fruits of nuclear power and nuclear weapons, as well as consuming the lion’s share of fossil fuels, and is now in the process of contaminating the planet with nuclear waste for the next thousand generations. How will these future generations judge us? They will HATE us (if there is anyone around, because infertility may make humanity extinct – See Busby on the Jerusalem sperm-count study: No more births in Israel by 2020*), just as we now totally condemn the actions of the “nuclear village” and their hangers-on. There may be a general election in Japan this autumn. It will be interesting to see if the Japanese people will wake up to the notion that it is not a good idea to have their future determined by politicians and business people who are largely science-illiterate and who have apparently swallowed hook, line and sinker, the lies and half-truths about “safe” nuclear power and radiation fed to them by their nuclear village pals.
* Here’s a recent follow-up to the Jerusalem sperm count study that suggests Israeli men may be effectively infertile by 2030. Please note that the study does not mention radiation or Uranium as the cause (or one of the causes) of the fertility decline. In the Youtube video above, however, Chris Busby claims that it is the Uranium used in weapons (not only depleted Uranium, apparently) during the wars in the Middle East over the last two decades that is causing at least part of the problem.
WHO, UNSCEAR, IAEA, ICRP, governments and academia protect the nuclear industry by claiming that low-levels of ionizing radiation do not result in large numbers of health effects such as cancers and congenital abnormalities. It appears, however, that the ICRP risk factors underestimate health effects by a factor of 200 to 600. The Second Event Theory is one attempt to develop a mechanism that explains the dangers of low-level radiation. Meanwhile, in Japan recently, Mr. Hobun Ikeya, a veterinary surgeon and president of the Ecosystem Conservation Society-Japan caused an uproar by stating, “People in areas over which the radioactive plumes passed should not marry [...] If they give birth to children after getting married, the incidence of deformities may be very high.” He was referring to approximately 30 million people. He was asked by a number of Fukushima City councilors to retract the statement, but did not.
In a lecture given in Tokyo on radiation contamination from the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in July this year, Mr. Hobun Ikeya, a veterinary surgeon and president of the Ecosystem Conservation Society-Japan1 caused an uproar by stating, “People in areas over which the radioactive plumes passed should not marry [...] If they give birth to children after getting married, the incidence of deformities may be very high.”2 This apparently included not only Fukushima, but also Tokyo and surrounding areas, inhabited by about 30 million people, roughly a quarter of Japan’s population. He was asked by a number of Fukushima City councilors to retract the statement, but did not. Note that radiation in Fukushima City since March 11, 2011 has been high enough to warrant evacuation by children and pregnant women, but no such officially organized evacuation has been planned. Rather, the government has worked hard to try to keep the population in place.
The usual argument given for proclaiming that it is safe for all to live in Fukushima City is that an external dose of up to 20 mSv/yr [milli-Sieverts per year] (100 mSv/yr according to some)3 is “not harmful to health.” Chris Busby explained when he was in Japan in June 2011 that what ‘establishment experts’ who wish to play down the dangers of radiation exposure do not take into account is internal exposure, basing their judgments regarding safety on the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) external exposure risks only. These risk factors are partly the result of research into the health effects studied after the Hiroshima (and Nagasaki) A-bombs, basically an acute single dose of external radiation, are quite different from radiation releases from nuclear power plant accidents or even normally functioning nuclear power plants. (It does also seem that the US-controlled Hiroshima research was “tilted” to arrive at certain conclusions by discounting internal radiation.)4
The European Committee on Radiation Risks5 (ECRR, of which Chris Busby is the scientific secretary) estimates that the ICRP risk factors underestimate effects to human health by something like a factor of 200-600. What we generally hear is that if a small particle containing radioactive isotopes (like a hot particle containing Uranium or Plutonium) enters your body through inhalation or in food or drink, it may get lodged in some part of your body, e.g. your lung, or migrate preferentially to some organ that has an affinity for the isotope, such as Iodine-131 concentrating in the thyroid gland, and since, if the half life of the radioisotope is long, it may remain there, emitting radiation, for literally decades, the possibility of cancer arising in the irradiated tissue is therefore high. For the lay person, this is a reasonably easily acceptable notion, and to some extent explains why internal exposure is dangerous.
However, though the science is a bit more difficult, there is a much more convincing theory of how internal exposure causes cancers and other problems involving DNA mutation. This theory also explains why the isotopes present in natural background radiation are unlikely to result in cancers and other problems. The theory is called the Second Event Theory and was developed by Chris Busby in the late 80s.
Firstly, we have to talk a little about how cells work. Most cells in the living body are in a quiescent state. However, anything that can cause damage to the cell or the DNA within its nucleus, e.g. a “hit” by ionizing radiation, can cause the cell to become active and undergo a DNA repair and replication process followed by a cell division into two daughter cells. Simply, this is how evolution has prepared the cell to repair any DNA damage that might occur. This process of repair and replication of the cell’s DNA keeps our DNA free of mutations that might occur from natural background radiation 99.99999% of the time. The process from the cell becoming active to division into two daughter cells takes roughly 10 to 12 hours.
Here comes the problem. Once the repair and replication process for the cell’s DNA has begun, it cannot stop and will continue through to cell division. So if a second “hit” from ionizing radiation strikes the cell DNA during that 10 to 12-hour “window” the cell may suffer a mutation that gets passed on to its daughter cells and their descendants thereafter, and I think you can see how that might lead to a future cancer. ICRP risk factors do not account for this. For the ICRP, the external dose is averaged out over the whole body, each cell in your body receiving on average one radiation hit per year at a natural background dose rate of about 1 mSv/yr, making the possibility that a second hit will occur within the 10 to 12-hour window after the first event vanishingly small.
Now some man-made radioisotopes, those being produced as fission products in nuclear power stations as well as in nuclear weapons explosions, Strontium-90 (St-90) being one of them, fit right into this second event theory pattern in a very surprising way. 1) When they decay to another isotope, the isotope thus produced is also an unstable isotope with a relatively short half-life (which means that it is decaying relatively quickly). So if only one atom of St-90 finds its way into a cell, it may decay, sending out a beta-particle, which can damage a DNA strand, and then there is some possibility that the resulting atom of Yttrium-90 (Yt-90) may decay, emitting another beta-particle within the next 10 to 12 hours, damaging the DNA again, only this time the damage will be irreparable and will likely result in a mutation. This is how serious health effects may occur at internal dose rates that are far, far below natural background radiation. The main isotopes from Fukushima No.1 that show this second event type of decay are Strontium-90/Yttrium-90, Tellurium-132/Iodine-132, and Uranium particles, which will also show a second event, but there are several others.6
2) Another surprising fact is that St has an affinity for the Phosphorus on the backbone chain of DNA. That means that an atom of St-90 can actually enter the cell and affix itself right onto the DNA, so that when the second decay of the Yt-90 occurs, it does not even have to “aim” very well to hit the DNA a second time! Another element that binds to DNA is Uranium.7 Both Uranium and Plutonium (e.g. in the form of Uranium oxide from depleted uranium8 or Plutonium oxide released from nuclear power plants and reprocessing plants) may enter the body through inhalation and from there enter the lymphatic system. Since the likelihood of absorption of another gamma-ray (or X-ray) is proportional to the fourth power of the atomic number (which is why lead is used to shield against radiation), in the case of Uranium (atomic number 92) or Plutonium (atomic number 94), the chance of a hit by an incoming gamma ray from some source either inside or outside the person becomes even higher.9
Another important characteristic of the interaction between radioisotopes and tissue is the bystander effect, through which genomic instability may be induced over an area of tissue. Briefly, “if a cell is damaged by radiation … there is some factor induced in the cell and its descendants that predispose them to general mutation increases, which may be manifested as chromosome aberrations or other more visible damage. The process is termed ‘genomic instability’. And this is not all. It also turns out that it is not only the primary cell that is hit that manifests the genomic instability, but also about one third of the cells within a … radius of about 400 cell diameters which also exhibit this phenomenon. This is called the ‘bystander effect’.”10 This also helps to explain why cancers can arise due to internal exposure with a much larger probability than predicted by such risk factors as those published by the ICRP and in other publications.11 Furthermore, once the genome has been damaged, there is no way to repair it. Failing the elimination of the damaged genome from the population by death without issue (as Mr. Ikeya so kindly suggests) the genomic aberrations may be passed down through dozens of generations.
Let’s compare what we have studied above with natural background radiation. The nuclear industry likes to point out that we are receiving doses of so many mSv of radiation from the environment and that these are much larger than the small amounts of radiation mentioned in low-level radiation studies. They also mention that there are places on Earth where the natural background radiation is relatively high, but that no especial health effects are seen in these areas. The main sources of radiation from the environment (as well as cosmic rays from space) are Carbon-14, Potassium-60, and Radon gas (Radon-222) from the decay of Uranium found in granite and other rocks.12 These can all enter the body through inhalation and ingestion. But they are not second event isotopes – i.e. when they decay, they result in a stable isotope, so the radiation they emit when they decay may activate a cell, but there is far less probability of a second decay striking the DNA of the same cell within the ensuing 10 to 12-hour time window. As noted above, that’s how evolution has provided us and other life with a mechanism that prevents against DNA mutation from natural background radiation.13
So, are we likely to see cancers, birth irregularities (such as deformities, stillbirths, infant mortality or premature births, due perhaps to internal exposure of both male and female reproductive cells to ionizing radiation) and other health effects associated with radioactive contamination in Fukushima, or as far away as areas just south of Tokyo? Given the evidence from Belarus and many other areas of Europe after the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe, which the establishment (IAEA, WHO, UNSCEAR, the governments, the nuclear industry and pro-nuclear academia) have most assiduously attempted to hide, but which has been revealed by Yablokov et al.14 and many other writers and filmmakers, and given the early evidence of hot particles in the air in Tokyo, and even on the west coast of the USA, in March/April 2011 from the examination of car filters and so on, and the ingestion of amounts of radioisotopes in food as revealed by Rick Wilcox’s July 2012 article15 on Japan’s low-dose radiation disaster, it would seem very probable that problems are going to occur in the coming years and decades.
But does that mean we should counsel people not to get married? No, I don’t think so. What I think we should do, although now possibly too late (though it may actually never be too late) is encourage young people to do what they can to avoid internal exposure and to attempt to detoxify themselves if they think they are seriously internally exposed (and if they are within 250 km of the Fukushima nuclear disaster site then it is quite possible that they are). There are ways of doing this, and the one way to avoid exposure is to leave the area, though the Japanese government is making this problematical by implementing the burning and storage of radioactive earthquake and tsunami rubble all over the country. The other thing is to warn young people of the possible dangers they face so that they are aware of the risks when they decide to get married and start a family. They may then make their own choices, including what to do when they see the results of pre-natal screenings.
The Japanese government and the nuclear establishment has told the nation nothing of these risks, preferring to deceive their gullible population with ICRP risk factors, which are little more than simplistic lies. Thus Mr. Hobun Ikeya and the Fukushima City councilors can engage in polemics through the pages of newspapers and on the Internet while neither they themselves nor the general public have any idea of what the real situation might be. Now that we know quite a lot more of what the mechanisms of internal exposure to man-made radioisotopes are likely to be, and that it certainly does look as if the risk factors are 200-600 times greater than those given by ICRP calculations, we can only see the actions of the government and the nuclear establishment in concealing the realities of internal exposure as a horrendous human rights crime against their own people and the people of other countries who are also receiving some of the fallout from the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe. It seems that this is what they have to do in order to justify the restart of nuclear power stations in Japan for the purposes of “protecting the people’s livelihoods,” for protecting Japan’s economy and for protecting the nuclear industry as well as for some clumsily disguised aspiration for nuclear weapons (“national security”),16despite the clear and well-understood seismic dangers, the mounting spent nuclear fuel waste issue, and the huge public majority in favour of a total nuclear phaseout. And let’s not pretend that the government and the nuclear establishment can claim innocence regarding the effects of internal exposure; they know of Chris Busby’s work as well as I do, and spend enormous amounts of time, effort and money in the attempt to refute, exclude, and otherwise keep his work and the work of others from public attention.
I think we and the Japanese people should be asking the following questions: Can “we” really put the genome of the people on the same balance as “protecting livelihoods, the economy and the nuclear industry?” What exactly is this national security that coerces potentially a quarter to a third of the nation to carry a compromised genome? What is it that is so important to protect that even the genome of the Japanese nation can be thrown down onto the sacrificial chopping-block with a shrug of the shoulders and a look in the other direction? Why are we seeing the government become the enemy of the people in so many countries now? What are we missing here? Is there some important secret we’re not being told, some crucially imperative necessity we’re unaware of? It feels like there’s some large, evil monster secreting itself in a dark corner of the room. Perhaps it will not be too long before we begin to perceive its true form.
Material for this article was drawn from three books by Dr Chris Busby:
Chris C. Busby, Radiation and Cancer in Wales: The biological consequences of low-level radiation, Green Audit (Wales) Ltd., 1994. [Referred to below as “R&CinW”]
Chris Busby, Wings of Death: Nuclear pollution and human health, Green Audit Books, Green Audit (Wales) Ltd., 1995. [Referred to below as “WoD”]
Chris Busby, Wolves of Water: A study constructed from atomic radiation, morality, epidemiology, science, bias, philosophy and death, Green Audit, 2006. [Referred to below as “WoW”]
A scientific paper on the Second Event Theory has also been published:
Busby, C. C. (1998), ‘Enhanced mutagenicity from internal sequentially decaying beta emitters from second event effects.’ In ‘Die Wirkung niedriger Strahlendosen- im kindes-und Jugendalter, in der Medizin, Umwelt ind technik, am Arbeitsplatz’. Proceedings of International Congress of the German Society for Radiation Protection. Eds: Koehnlein W and Nussbaum R. Muenster, 28 March 1998 (Bremen: Gesellschaft fur Strahlenschutz)
6. Especially Barium-140/Lanthanum-140. Both Strontium and Barium are in the same chemical family as Calcium, and therefore bind to chromosomes as well as being incorporated into bones (WoW, p.60-61; see WoD, p.203, Table 7-3, and R&CinW, p.41-42, Table 3-1). Tritium is also dangerous as it freely exchanges with the Hydrogen atom on DNA, the two events being delivered by different atoms, as with Uranium or Plutonium particles (WoW, p.61), and also with Iodine-131, which has a very short half life of 8 days, and which concentrates in the thyroid resulting in large amounts of radiation in a small volume of tissue.
11. E.g. Committee on the Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation (BEIR) VII: Health Risks from Exposure to Low Levels of Ionizing Radiation, BEIR VII Phase 2, Committee to Assess Health Risks from Exposure to Low Levels of Ionizing Radiation, Board on Radiation Effects Research, Division on Earth and Life Studies, National Research Council of the National Academies, The National Academies Press,
12. Chris Busby, WoW, p.53 (natural background radiation), and WoD, p.82 (on Radon-222 gas)
13. Radium-226, naturally present in some environments, does undergo a sequential decay process, but the DNA mutation hazard of this is thought to be almost zero for reasons set out by Chris Busby in WoD, p.205-206.
16. “Protecting the people’s livelihoods” was one of the reasons given by PM Noda when he decided on the restart of Ohi nuclear power plant reactors 3 and 4 in June 2012 (e.g. this news item - in Japanese). “Protecting the Japanese economy” is a standard phrase often used with reference to nuclear power stations in business circles, e.g. by Keidanren Chairman Yonekura. As an example see this news item (15 June, 2012, in Japanese). “Protecting the nuclear industry” is what ordinary Japanese people believe PM Noda and the government are trying to do. Regarding “national security reasons,” several important politicians have mentioned the need for Japan to keep nuclear power plants running in order to maintain the façade of the capability of building nuclear weapons. On August 28, 2012, PM Noda stated, “Since it is interconnected with national security, we cannot simply say ‘zero nuclear power’.” (in Japanese). On the very day I am writing this article (September 6, 2012) p.1 of the Tokyo Newspaper is criticizing the current Defense Minister Morimoto for a statement made in January this year, before he became Defense Minister, to the effect that “nuclear power stations are not simply for generating electricity; they are performing a very important deterrent function from the viewpoint of surrounding countries.”
The Japanese government has recently announced power supply "options," which it says will be used as a basis for a "national debate," the outcome of which will be reflected in the formulation of a new Basic Energy Plan. But what is it about the deceptive methodology of the "options" that always leads to the conclusion that nuclear power is "necessary"...?
The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station catastrophe has caused something of a national debate, if such a thing can be said to occur in Japan, on Japan’s energy future. The core of the debate is, naturally, how much, if any, nuclear power will Japan require in the coming decades and how much power can be produced by renewable energy technology or supply requirements reduced by energy conservation and efficiency efforts. Power companies, business circles and the politicians, bureaucrats, academics and so on who constitute the ‘nuclear village’ claim that without nuclear power Japan will face power shortages and try to scare the general public into acceptance of nuclear power with dire warnings of blackouts during the peak summer power consumption period. Nuclear opponents, on the other hand, say that there is no non-nuclear energy/electrical power shortage in Japan and that nuclear power stations are simply not necessary.1
Japan’s new energy policy, the “Innovative Energy and Environmental Strategy” is due to be unveiled sometime during the summer of 2012 and is supposed to reflect discussions on reviews of the Framework for Nuclear Energy Policy and the Basic Energy Plan. The Basic Energy Plan was revised in June 2010, but is now being reviewed ‘from scratch’ since it has a strong bias towards nuclear power.2 The Plan is drawn up by the Advisory Committee for Natural Resources and Energy, a consultative body of the Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry (MITI), and the review of the Plan has included a number of options for the composition of power supply from different sources (nuclear power, thermal, renewables, etc.). These options have been published in the Japanese press recently, and are as follows.
No figure was given for total energy or electrical power requirement in 2030.
Luckily, we have recently been treated to a rare look into the process of discussions in one of the subcommittees that has been deliberating these options. This appeared in the form of a monthly mail magazine sent out in English by Japan for Sustainability (JFS).3 Under the title “Re-Examining GDP Growth Projections to Plan Japan's Future Energy Policy,” the author Junko Edahiro, representative of JFS and a member of the Fundamental Issues Subcommittee under the Advisory Committee on Natural Resources and Energy,4 describes the discussions in the committee meetings on the various energy ‘options’ and the economic growth scenarios that form their basis. The English article also contains a link to a Japanese PDF (originally a PowerPoint presentation) that was submitted to the subcommittee as an opinion by Ms. Edahiro on March 9, 2012. This PDF contains detailed material supporting Ms. Edahiro’s argument and the discussion below will be based on the English article and the Japanese PDF. Slide numbers mentioned below refer to the slide numbers in the Japanese PDF
Regarding the lack of a figure for the total energy requirement for the 2030 power structure, Ms. Edahiro says, “This discussion gives me the impression that we are being told to think about how to cut a pie into pieces without knowing the size of the entire pie. I've been saying at the meetings that we need an estimate of the quantity of energy required before discussing how to secure the supply.” Quite right, but not unusual. Even the well-known Tetsunari Iida, sitting on the same subcommittee, and his Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies (ISEP) do the same thing – giving energy source mixes for the power supply for 2020 or 2050, but failing to mention how large the pie is.5 (Strangely, Ms. Edahiro also gives a similar power structure graph for 2020 and 2030 on Slide 41 of her PDF.) Perhaps it is hard to calculate, but all the non-expert people I have talked to have assumed that the total energy/electrical supply in 2050, when ISEP says that it will be possible to supply 100% of electrical power by renewables, will be roughly the same as it is today. The graph on p.1 of ISEP’s paper makes it look like all electrical power in 2050 is supplied by renewables, but has been reduced by 50% through energy savings, and there is no indication of the actual size of the power supply. Less than we are consuming today, I’m sure, but how much less, and what might that mean it terms of lifestyle? I am not suggesting that it will necessarily be a worse lifestyle than we ‘enjoy’ in Japan today – one of the major points of Ms. Edahiro’s article is that it may well be a better, more relaxed, happier, less stressed-out lifestyle – but it will be different from what we have today. Perhaps that is what Tetsunari Iida wants to avoid saying, though I have no idea why he would want to avoid saying it. Perhaps that is what the nuclear village wants to avoid saying, since it might mean that if we are living in this low-energy 2030 or 2050 society we might not need nuclear power.
So we want to know just how much energy/electricity Japan will need for its economy in 2030 or 2050. To estimate the amount of energy that will be required at some point in the future, we need to have some way of calculating what the level of economic activity will be at that time. We can do this by knowing the current GDP, which is given by multiplying productivity by the number of workers in the labour force, and then by estimating the labour force and productivity in the target year. Calculating precise figures is difficult, but pretty good estimates can be made. This will result in an estimate of the amount of energy required for that level of economic activity, leading then to a number of options on how the energy can actually be supplied. At the same time, this will also result in an annual growth rate for the period up to the target year. The current Basic Energy Plan of June 2010 assumes an annual growth rate of approximately 2% for Japan for the period 2010 to 2020, then an approximate 1.2% for the period 2020 to 2030 (which is about the same as called for in the Japanese government’s New Growth Strategy6), with oil prices of approximately $120/bbl for 2020 and $170/bbl for 2030 (which is taken from the IEA’s “World Energy Outlook 2009”) (Slide 10). But note that these annual growth rates do not seem to have been calculated using the method mentioned above. They appear to be more like wishful thinking “called for” in the New Growth Strategy for the purposes of alleviating Japan’s wobbly pension, social security and public debt problems.
In the Fundamental Issues Subcommittee, the committee secretariat firstly proposed two growth scenarios, apparently based on cabinet office calculations:
(1) 1.8 percent this decade and 1.2 percent from 2020 (the “growth strategy” scenario), and
(2) 1.1 percent this decade and 0.8 percent from 2020 (the “prudent” scenario).
Ms. Edahiro, however, pointed out that Japan's labour force is estimated to decrease by 19.2 percent, or 13 million workers, between 2000 and 2030, due to the rapid aging of the nation’s population. (See graph in Slide 14, which shows that Japan’s population peaked at around 2005 and is now in decline).
Ms. Edahiro goes on to propose that projections of energy/electricity demand be based on the growth rate of GDP per capita rather than on total GDP, since Japan’s “economically affluent lifestyle depends on the level of national income per capita, not on the overall size of the economy.” What happens when we make growth predictions based on the reduction of the size of the labour force and per capita GDP?
Japan's annual GDP growth rate from 2000 to 2010 was 0.74 percent, while the annual GDP growth rate per capita was 0.65 percent. Calculating on the basis of these numbers and the reduction in the size of the labour force, the annual growth rate per capita can be estimated at 0.3 percent this decade to 2020, and zero from 2020 to 2030 (Slide 18). Ms. Edahiro estimates that the real GDP in 2030 would be only 3.7% greater than in 2010, i.e. an effective zero-growth scenario, whereas under the scenario envisaged by the current Basic Energy Plan it would be 40% larger. Assuming that there are possibilities for renewable energy expansion and increased energy conservation and efficiency, this clearly shows a huge gap in perception between the bureaucracy, which maintains that nuclear power is necessary for economic reasons, and people like Ms. Edahiro, who are not necessarily “anti-nuke,” but who base their estimations for the necessity of nuclear power on more realistic growth scenarios.
At this stage, the committee secretariat added the following to the growth scenarios:
(3) The case suggested by members, which assumes that Japan will maintain its per capita GDP growth and estimates the real GDP growth rate at 0.3 percent this decade and at zero percent from 2020.
Some committee members complained that this low growth rate in scenario (3) would cause some difficulties with government policies, such as the pension system. Ms. Edahiro rebuts this argument by saying,
“… I believe people who address policies based on easy assumptions that the size of a pie will get larger should reconsider their way of thinking… It is more important that we consider how to sustain those things under the situation of a realistic growth rate.”
I would interpret this as meaning, “What’s the point of having nuclear power if there is no basis in reality for the economic growth that it is intended to support?”
It should also be pointed out that, although not mentioned in Ms. Edahiro’s article, the PDF shows in Slide 20 that the real GDP of Germany has been rising for more than 20 years while the energy supply has gradually fallen. This is compared with Japan, where it looks much more like energy supply and real GDP rise or fall together. Presumably, this is due to Germany’s efforts to promote renewable energy as well as energy conservation and efficiency improvements, which have been stifled in Japan by the power companies and the nuclear village, who do not wish to see any competition for their energy regime. Thus, even if Japan’s real GDP is 40% larger than what it was in 2010, that does not necessarily mean that 40% more energy will be required to fuel it or that the energy must come from thermal (fossil energy) or nuclear sources.
Finally, in the PDF slides, Ms. Edahiro points out that electricity is not even the Japan’s biggest energy problem. Oil is. Oil supplies 52% of Japan’s final energy demand (electrical power is 26%, coal 11%, natural gas 10%, industrial steam 4%, and renewables are negligible – Slide 23). What Japan needs to do is reduce consumption of vehicle fuel through the introduction not only of hybrids and EVs, but also by allowing the use of bioethanol and biodiesel. This is another area where the big energy companies have tried to block off competition to their fuels by delaying tactics or by the use of ethyl tert-butyl ether (ETBE) as a 3% gasoline additive instead of making serious efforts to introduce the use of bioethanol, e.g. by small, private enterprises making use of waste plant materials and so on. No one in Japan seems to have woken up to the fact that there are plenty of countries in the world where large numbers of vehicles are run on 100% biodiesel fuel or bioethanol (Slide 31 - or that in countries like Brazil there are thousands of flexible fuel vehicles (FFVs), which make it possible for cars to run on any mixture of gasoline and ethanol). It is very interesting to hear the gasps from Japanese audiences when I tell them that all gasoline cars can run on ethanol with certain, relatively easy, changes to the fuel injection system (and tell them about the existence of FFVs, some of which appear to be running on Japanese roads with neither the owners nor the dealers knowing it!) and that Henry Ford actually designed his first mass-produced cars to run on ethanol, not gasoline, and were effectively FFVs!
There are a large number of other issues involved here. The IEA estimates, mentioned above, that oil prices will be approximately $120/bbl in 2020 and $170/bbl in 2030 are a joke. Anyone can make a guess, I suppose, and they might be right, but at the same time, the tendency for oil-exporting countries to consume more and more of their production domestically as their resources deplete also suggests that the amount of oil reaching Japan’s shores might be zero in 2030.7 Who knows? What’s the betting that Japan will not be importing any fossil energy in 2050? If we think like Tetsunari Iida and imagine that 100% of Japan’s energy (not just electricity) will be supplied by renewables in 2050, then perhaps we need to start thinking about what kind of agriculture Japanese people will be doing in 2050, what Japan’s population will be then, and whether Japan will need to import food or how it will do so if it needs to. These are just examples; there are hundreds of energy issues that all countries will have to face in the coming decades. The extent to which we are able to make use of one energy resource or another defines our societies and lifestyles. The Oil and Gas News, an Internet newsletter sent out by the Energy Daily (www.energy-daily.com) proclaims oil and (natural) gas to be the “fuel of civilization.” Quite right. It will not even be possible to operate nuclear reactors for more than a year or so without (relatively cheap) oil supplies.
For the time being, though, how and why the nuclear village bureaucrats, politicians and others abuse figures and ‘options’ to persuade the Japanese people that nuclear power is necessary for the future of Japan’s economy is a story the Japanese people need to know. Along with the Japanese earthquake/tsunami problem and the problem of nuclear waste (symbolized by the continuing horror story at Fukushima Daiichi’s extremely precarious Unit 4 fuel pool), it is quite clear that the Japanese people should not be wasting their time trying to decide how much nuclear power they want. The answer should already be patently obvious: ZERO.
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?
Abstract (Part of the original paper; useful, so I'll leave it here.)
This paper attempts to map out a definitive route to human “happiness” based on the notion of a human reconnection with nature through an appropriate heart-brain balance. The consequences of this for human society, especially agriculture, are explored. The content focuses specifically on Japan, but is thought to be adaptable to any society in the world.
Current Japanese society cannot be said to be very “happy,” nor does it appear that “happiness” will be achieved in this society, or in other advanced industrial nations, simply by continuing along the lines of the present economic and social policies. The GDH (Greater Domestic Happiness) and Food Problem Research Group was set up by the Mottainai Society chairman, Professor Yoshinori Ishii to look into the future of Japanese society in the context of ‘Peak Oil’ and to address the possibilities for the achievement of “happiness” in Japan. The research group held its first meeting in Tokyo on 17 November 2009. Prior to the meeting, the secretary of the group, Mr Yasuo Tamura, circulated the following memo.
1 Nov. 2009
Reason for the Establishment of the “GDH and Food Problem Research Group”
The oil peak has already come and gone and the natural gas and coal peaks are expected within the next 15 years. Nuclear power cannot do everything. It is high time to begin putting together a plan for a transition from an oil-dependent “high-energy society” to a “low-energy society.”
The basics of civilization – transportation, fuel, chemical raw materials, etc. – are about to undergo a fundamental change. Globalization will also recede. It will be necessary to plan for regional decentralization, local production for local consumption, environmental coexistence, and localization.
That means not making GDP the target for the state and society. That is because growthism and the society based on the competitive principle have not made people happy.
We wish to outline a concept for a society that values the concepts of mottainai (‘waste not, want not’) and sufficiency, that values the bonds between people, and that cares for life and the diversity of nature. For this, we think in terms not of GDP, but GDH – Gross Domestic Happiness – and will also undertake a transformation of the way in which we think about the food issue. That is the “GDH and Food Problem Research Group.” We hope that you (the prospective members of the research group) will approve of these ideas.
The necessity to replace GDP/GNP, symbolizing growthism and a society based on the principle of competition, with a more human society oriented towards caring for life and nature was at the time, and still is, becoming clearer by the day. This group took as its starting point “Gross Domestic Happiness” (GDH or Gross National Happiness, GNH) as proposed by the King of Bhutan and implemented in that country.
At this stage, the central emphasis of the work of the group was less on defining what “happiness” might be than on examining Japan’s food issues. The feeling was that most of this work on the social realization of “happiness” had already been carried out by the King of Bhutan and his advisers in devising the Bhutan GDH and that once society took on the GDH approach and the food issue was resolved, then Japan’s society would realize happiness as a matter of course. However, while work and discussions on the issues of food, energy, employment, social change and Japan’s future progressed, it proved more and more difficult to get a firm grasp on the concept of “happiness.” As this was happening, I was beginning to read around the subject of human happiness a little more and increasingly came to feel that “happiness” relied on an appropriate human relationship with nature as much as it did on appropriate human social and economic relationships. If that were so, then however much we ‘adjusted’ human relationships in the attempt to bring about human happiness in society, unless the human-nature relationship was also ‘adjusted’ so that all people lived in harmony (more or less) with nature, then “happiness” would be an illusion, and therefore unattainable. The development of these ideas in the context of Japan’s food and energy issues is the content of the remainder of this paper.
Part 1: Japan’s Food and Energy Problem
Japan’s food issue is inseparable from the world food and energy situation. Japan imports roughly 60% of its food calories. The population of Japan, roughly 127,700,000 and falling very slowly, lives on a land area of 377,944 km2, of which around 65% is forested mountain land, and has roughly 4.5 million ha (45,000 km2) of farmland. That calculates to 0.035 hectares per person (ha/cap) or about 28.4 cap/ha. Good Japanese farming will support about 11 cap/ha, thus showing why it is that Japan can feed only about 40% of its people. This need to import food is likely to become critical as fossil energy resources become more expensive and less easily available in the second and third decades of the 21st century. The reason for this is that a great proportion of agriculture around the world today, especially that in industrialized countries and the countries that are exporting large amounts of food to Japan (the USA, Canada, Australia, Argentina, and to a certain extent Thailand) relies heavily on fossil resources to produce food. The international transportation of food is also heavily reliant on fossil energy resources.
The main uses of fossil resources in agriculture are in chemical fertilizers and other agrichemicals, fuel for machines and transportation (and the energy required to manufacture machines), and the generation of electricity for pumps, dryers and so on. Higher prices or reduced availability for fossil fuels means a reduced ability to fertilize cropland, protect crops from weeds or pests, to use machinery to cultivate the land or process crops, and to move materials from one place to another. The ability of current food exporting countries to export will also be diminished, it will become difficult to transport large amounts of food over long distances, and at the same time it will also become more difficult for Japan to maintain its current level of food production. A simple simulation devised by the author shows that with all current conditions except for energy use remaining the same as they were in 2009, but with fossil energy use in Japanese agriculture declining suddenly to zero, the current food self-sufficiency of Japan, 39-40%, would decline to 15-16%. Thus, in a generalized world fossil energy shortage Japan is likely to face simultaneous drastic reductions in both food imports and its ability to produce food. It was generally recognized in the research group that this situation is likely to occur before 2030, and could happen at anytime from around the middle of the second decade of the 21st century.
If a situation of a sudden cessation of all food and energy imports into Japan were to occur, this would bring about a human catastrophe on a massive scale. However, the food and energy import problems are unlikely to happen both simultaneously and suddenly, and since there is perhaps at least five years (as time of writing, October 2011) before any serious crisis occurs, there are a number of measures that the Japanese people and government can start to enforce now to avoid, as far as possible, this deep human catastrophe from becoming a reality. In brief, the following measures can be taken:
1. Reduce reliance on chemical fertilizers and other chemicals and move slowly towards sustainable farming systems based on organic materials (organic farming, permaculture, natural farming, mixed farming, LISA [low input sustainable farming], and so on).
2. Increase farmland area up to 5.3 million ha and improve the cropping ratio up to 140%, while at the same time providing greater (financial, government support) incentives to farmers to produce food by making it possible for them to make a decent living from farming, obtain expert help in the transition to organic forms of agriculture, and increased security in the form of, for example, crop insurance.
3. Increase the number of people working in farming (especially young people) from the approximately 2.5 million now up to 10 million, again by making it worth people’s time to farm in financial terms.
4. Begin to provide farm draft animals to replace machinery for the time when fuel becomes unavailable. Introduce a target of breeding two to three million farm animals (horses, oxen, etc.) by 2040.
5. Ensure the sustainable management of all forests for the sustainable harvesting of wood for construction and energy, and the harvesting of other forest products, such as leaf humus for fertilization of farmland.
6. Produce biofuels (without competing with the production of food for humans) for running farm and transport machinery over the next 20 to 30 years.
7. Reduce the need for the transportation of food and enforce, as far as possible, local production for local consumption.
8. Reduce food processing and packaging to the minimum necessary.
9. Rethink food retailing and preparation (including restaurants) in order to use less energy.
These are all worthwhile policies that can be introduced locally and gradually. However, as of time of writing (October 2011), not only are no such policies being implemented, they are not even being considered. Since it takes at least several years for farming practices to change, agricultural policy needs to be thought out ahead of time, not when the crisis is beginning to happen.
Further, the events following the earthquake and tsunami disaster of 11 March 2011 have made the situation considerably worse. Substantial areas of Fukushima Prefecture have become uncultivable due to radiation pollution of the land. The fear of radiation pollution of food will also drive some consumers away from domestic food produce to imported foods. These two factors will tend to exert a downward pressure on Japan’s food self-sufficiency.
Japan is now also preparing to join the TPP, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a free-trade economic partnership that will likely include many countries in the Asia-Pacific region, such as the USA, Australia, New Zealand, Peru, Chile, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and others. The abolition of import tariffs on agricultural products will mean an influx of cheap food from exporting countries and a loss of domestic markets for Japan’s farmers. The Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) has estimated that Japan’s food self-sufficiency will fall to 13% if Japan joins the TPP. This is tantamount to a destruction of Japan’s agriculture and rural economy at precisely the time when Japan should be devising policies to protect and bolster these against future worldwide food and energy shortages.
If the worst does come to the worst and Japan’s food (and energy) imports cease, how far can Japan go in providing food for its population? A useful study by Toshiki Mashimo estimates that if producers do their very best to expand production and consumers do their very best to adjust consumption to lower levels and to traditional foods, Japan might be able to raise its food self-sufficiency to 80% under current agricultural methods, or to 75% if organic farming was the main method of production. This will not be easily achieved, but if it is, and food and energy imports can be maintained at a certain level, this kind of effort would be a great relief to the Japanese people. At the same time, it suggests that the Japanese population needs to decline to 80% or 75% of its current level, or about 95 to 100 million people rather than the current 127.7 million. At the current slow decline of the Japanese population, this situation is not likely to be achieved until 2050 or later.
A food shortage, perhaps triggered by a fossil energy crisis, is not going to contribute to the “happiness” of Japanese people. I will explain below that “happiness” is not something that is going to be easily or quickly achieved in Japan (or in any industrial country). I hope it will become clear how this “happiness” is related to agriculture as the argument is developed.
Part 2: What is “Happiness” and how can it be achieved?
2.1 Introduction to “Happiness”
Since I believe that nearly all previous attempts at defining “happiness” have been wide of the mark, I do not intend to review past literature on the subject. The reader may enter the phrase “definition of happiness” into the search box in Google to find sufficient examples of this definition and other related information. I currently use the following definition:
A long-lasting sense of inner contentment and security.
I think this covers the main aspects of what is generally thought of as “happiness.” One problem with this definition is that it gives us no clue as to how “happiness” is to be achieved.
So how can this “happiness” be achieved? Let us try to list up a number of factors that might help lead to the achievement of “happiness” in a society.
1. At least sufficient material conditions for a “decent” level of daily existence (food, water, clothing, shelter, and so on).
2. An even distribution of the materials in 1., or at least a sufficiently “fair” distribution that does not cause a part of the population to feel that it is being treated unfairly.
3. 2. infers that human relations within the society will be “good,” i.e. that people are “fair” with each other and that no one is being mistreated. This would also imply the absence of wars and other forms of violence.
Human security is sometimes said to be composed of the two human freedoms of “freedom from want” and “freedom from fear”. Human security might thus nicely sum up the factors 1. to 3.
However, for our “happy” society, we might also want to include fair access to “decent work,” good quality health and education, as well as a number of freedoms (freedom of movement, freedom of choice of occupation, freedom of expression, freedom of association, etc.) that are now supposed to be guaranteed under UN covenants. A similar list of factors can be seen in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which also includes love and belonging, esteem, and self-actualization.
Thus the factors that might aid in the creation of a “happy” society are well-known. The assumption then is that the “happy” society may be approached by implementing social policies that lead to the realization of these factors in society; a social engineering approach to “happiness.” Unfortunately, although the material conditions of the 20th century might have enabled this to happen, it is most definitely what did not happen in almost all societies. In fact, as we are noting recently, the more materially affluent societies become the more difficult it appears to be for those societies to be “happy” - to be inhabited by people who consider themselves to be “happy.”
So what is the problem? Firstly, I think that if we wish to discover what human “happiness” might be, although material (and psychological) conditions are necessary they are not sufficient, and that instead of looking for factors external to the human being we have to look at internal factors. That is, we have to look at what human beings are, what we have evolved to be, in order to find where our “real happiness” lies. Secondly, as I have already mentioned in the Introduction, I have become convinced that “happiness” depends on having an appropriate relationship with nature. Despite the over-simplicity of the idea, the more tenuous the human relationship with nature becomes, the less likely we are to achieve “happiness.” (I suppose it’s necessary to define “nature” here, but basically I mean non-urbanized areas where people can come into contact with wild or domesticated animals and plants, including most agricultural settings, coastal areas, wilderness areas, forests, and some desert areas.) I hope it will become clear later why these two factors (what we are and our relationship with ‘nature’) are, in fact, so deeply connected as to be virtually one and the same thing.
2.2 Carlos Castaneda - his contribution and his failure
A surprising number of people have never heard of Carlos Castaneda (abbreviated hereafter to “CC”), but if you were an English-speaking young adult in the 1970s it may have been hard not to have heard of him. CC’s first book, The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge, was first published in 1968, when CC was a student of anthropology at UCLA. The book describes how CC met and became an apprentice to a Yaqui indian shaman, don Juan Matus. ‘Teachings’ reads as a diary of the apprenticeship CC underwent with don Juan and was considered at the time to be a masterpiece of anthropological research. (CCs third book, Journey to Ixtlan, is almost identical to the Ph.D. dissertation that CC submitted to UCLA in 1973.)
Through don Juan, CC comes to see that there is “a separate reality” (the title of CC’s second book), a separate awareness or a separate consciousness from the one that we usually experience in our daily lives. This offers the possibility of, if not the realization of “happiness,” a totally different way of life based on the cognitive structure of the shamanistic world of don Juan. To the American youth of the early 70s, who were in the midst of experiencing or who had recent memories of the assassination of President Kennedy, the Civil Rights Movement, the Vietnam War, the hippie movement, Watergate, and the deaths of Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin, the notion of a way out into a different way of life and a different world was appealing indeed, and CC’s books sold extremely well.
So if this is not a path to “happiness” (a different way of life, but not necessarily to “happiness,” as can be seen from the books themselves), then why are we mentioning this here? The interesting thing about don Juan’s different perceptual mode is that the skill that must be mastered in order to gain the new perceptual ability is stopping the internal dialog. It is necessary to stop the internal chatter in your brain, the endless conversation that we have with ourselves nearly all our waking hours. Everything in don Juan’s shamanistic perceptual mode begins with emptying the brain of this internal conversation.
This should come as no surprise to South and East Asian Buddhists, who are all familiar with Zen Buddhism. The main practice of Zen is Zen meditation (zazen, sitting meditation), the purpose of which is to quieten the mind and stop the inner dialog. In the Flower Sermon, the Buddha is said to have uttered the following words to explain what he was doing while looking at a flower:
I possess the true Dharma eye, the marvellous mind of Nirvana, the true form of the formless, the subtle Dharma gate that does not rest on words or letters but is a special transmission outside of the scriptures.
I think this is exactly what don Juan was trying to teach CC. The separate reality that was reachable if one was successful in stopping the internal dialog was termed by don Juan the “nagual.” By contrast, our ordinary, everyday perceptual mode was termed the “tonal.” (The term “nagual” is originally from the Nahuatl word meaning a shaman, but in CC’s books is used in the sense of a tonal/nagual dichotomy.)
Don Juan explains that “A warrior is aware that the world will change as soon as he stops talking to himself,” but just exactly what is involved in this change? CC’s fourth book, Tales of Power, consists almost entirely of an explanation of the tonal/nagual contrast and the notion that, if one can attain the nagual, this will make it possible for a person to see things differently, as opposed to the ordinary ‘seeing’ of objects that we do in our normal mode of perception, the tonal. On pages 125-126 of Tales of Power, in a chapter entitled “The Island of the Tonal,” don Juan explains to CC, while out eating a meal, that the tonal is like the tops of the tables in the restaurant. Everything that we can talk and think about in our normal mode of perception is on the tables (representing the minds of different people). Even ‘God’ is on the table, as it is something we have a word for and can refer to. Don Juan likens God to the tablecloth that can wrap up everything else on the table inside itself. The nagual, then, is the space between the tables; the area where we do not use words to comprehend or communicate what we see there. (So if we have a word for ‘nagual,’ isn’t it part of the tonal? No, don Juan says, because the tonal/nagual are a true pair.)
The above describes for us a door into ‘a separate reality,’ but this seems to lead neither to nature nor to happiness. Moreover, in the mid-70s a number of people denounced CC’s work as a hoax and cast doubts as to whether don Juan actually existed as a real person. Primary among the detractors was Richard De Mille (son of the well-known film director Cecil B. De Mille), who showed that it was more likely that CC got his ideas by spending his days in the UCLA library than out in the desert of northern Mexico with a Yaqui shaman named don Juan. (His 1980 book, The don Juan Papers includes a 47-page glossary of quotations from don Juan and their sources, which include Wittenstein, C.S. Lewis and Yogi Ramacharaka, a pseudonym of William Walker Atkinson).
This would suggest that CC himself was never actually able to stop his inner dialog, find the nagual and see. However, he had spent at least ten years reading about and discussing transcendentalism and the occult. He knew enough about these subjects and had sufficient talent as a writer (in English despite the fact that he was a native Spanish speaker) to concoct a ‘story’ that was convincing enough to satisfy even UCLA professors. Today, his books, which are now thought to have sold over 10 million copies, are generally considered to be novels (though they are still marketed as ‘nonfiction’). Even if they are novels and CC himself had no direct experience of the nagual, his sources appear to have been largely valid. His enormous influence has, therefore, opened the eyes of a generation of English-speakers to the idea of reaching ‘a separate reality’ by shutting off the inner dialog. That has been CC’s lasting contribution.
We may now imagine millions of mostly young people attempting to stop their inner dialogs and reach a different mode of perception, with varying degrees of success. Some may have been successful, but the general feeling is that although CCs books were fascinating to read, they were an incomplete ‘manual’ for reaching the nagual. There are clearly still elements missing here, and I think these are the link with nature and one further factor that is the main subject of the remainder of this paper.
2.3 How do humans connect with nature?
How does stopping the internal dialog have a relation to the human being’s ability to form a relationship with “nature”? The answer is: by perceiving “nature” with the human heart.
Most people are aware that the heart is an organ that pumps blood around the body. Far fewer people, however, know that the heart also has other functions and abilities. These include:
1. High sensitivity to electric charges, electromagnetic radiation and magnetic fields,
2. An ability to transmit electromagnetic radiation. The heart also has its own magnetic field,
3. Being a ‘brain’ in its own right, since 15% to 20% of its cells are neural cells.
Many of the electromagnetic signals living organisms receive contain large amounts of information. Living organisms are able to decode the information embedded in those signals and respond, since we are all transmitters as well as receivers and communication always goes both ways. Groups of cells in the heart, as in other organs, beat together at a single frequency. This synchronization of cells in proximity with each other is termed entrainment.
A heart is, in fact, a large self-organized grouping of cells.
This aggregating of cells, as with electrical detection arrays in fish, makes it possible for the organ to sense extremely weak electric fields. Furthermore, the role of magnetic fields in cells and living organisms should also not be overlooked.
Cells and living organisms not only perceive, decode, and respond to extremely weak electric signals, they perceive, decode, and respond to magnetic signals, which contain information, just as electric signals do. The organ of the human body that is very sensitive to magnetic fields is the hippocampus, an organ that works closely with the heart and “works closely with the amygdala … to modify body physiology in response to emotions.” The hippocampus is also involved in “the extraction of meaning from the vast sea of signals in which we live,” just as salmon, bees and birds “orient themselves within directional meaning.” The hippocampus can also form new neurons in response to demands to process nonlinear information from the environment, if you live in a rich and stimulating environment where you are continually receiving such electrical or magnetic signals.
We are made to be in the wild nonlinearity of the world, and this immersion is needed for the hippocampus and our central nervous system to be healthy.
Since all living organisms both receive, decode, and respond to electrical and magnetic signals, this means they are capable of communicating with each other. This is automatic; we have evolved with it, just with all the other bodily functions, and with the five senses. Furthermore,
… the human heart is vastly more than a muscular pump – it is one of the most powerful electromagnetic generators and receivers known. It is, in fact, a highly evolved organ of perception and communication.
Buhner says that “the magnetic field produced by the heart … extends around the body in a torus, a fractal, sort-of-spherical shape that continually flows through space,” and that “Measured with magnetic field meters, the electromagnetic field that the heart produces is some five thousand times more powerful than that created by the brain.” This might explain how, if some people are actually capable of seeing electromagnetic fields, people report seeing the ‘aura’ of the human body shaped like a luminous egg. This is how CC reports that don Juan sees humans, but it is suggested by Richard De Mille that CC obtained this idea from William Walker Atkinson while reading in the UCLA library.
Nevertheless, if we live in an environment that is filled with electrical and magnetic ‘pollution’ and in a culture that de-emphasizes the nonlinear sensitivity of the heart to the benefit of the linear and analytical brain, this ability to perceive and communicate may atrophy. Nature is, in fact, a “web of communications that is so complex and detailed that there is no way to understand it with the linear, analytical mind,” which is a very similar situation to the tonal/nagual contrast of Carlos Castaneda. If we have lost the ability to connect with nature through the heart, perhaps we should think about trying to reconnect ourselves.
2.4 Is it possible to ‘reconnect with nature’?
The quick answer to this question is ‘yes, of course,’ but it depends on your past history (the degree to which the linear/verbal/analytic mode of cognition has colonized your ‘mind’) and your age (the older you are, the more difficulty you will tend to experience when attempting to ‘reconnect’).
Just as heart cells in proximity to one another ‘entrain’ (their oscillations synchronize), so when the electromagnetic fields of two hearts are in proximity with each other they will also entrain. Not only two human hearts, but this will occur when the electromagnetic field of the heart is in contact with that of any other organism. At that point, “there is an extremely rapid and complex interchange of information.” This incoming information perceived by the heart may be experienced as ‘emotion,’ and the meanings embedded in the information can be extracted from the emotional flow just as meanings are extracted from the sounds we hear. However, we are trained to ignore these sensory cues; most people are unable to consciously use the heart as an organ of perception and the information perceived by the heart is processed below conscious levels of cognition.
There is nothing strange about this. It is well-known that humans are affected by olfactory, visual and auditory signals that are not processed consciously and that different people are capable of different levels of olfactory, visual and auditory perception. What may be strange is that our society (the modern, industrialized lifestyle) actually trains people to ignore these sensory cues and, through education, attempts to colonize the mind with linear/verbal/analytic/reductionist styles of cognition. Overcoming this bias is not easy, but because it is the evolutionary birthright of every human to have and use these abilities, it can be done. It is especially easy to train children to use both their brains and their hearts in tandem. (I am not suggesting that people ‘turn off’ their brains and perceive solely with the heart!)
Let me offer two further pieces of ‘evidence’ that hint at the heart being an organ of human perception. The first is what we call “love” or “falling in love.” Human language is full of the connection between the emotions, especially “love,” and the heart. A “sweetheart,” a “broken heart,” “heartstrings,” “heartache,” and so on are simple examples. The almost ubiquitous use and recognition of the ‘heart mark’ are also symbolic of this. “Love” has also been described as a kind of “madness” by Shakespeare and others. However, if we were to see “falling in love” as the entrainment of two hearts that took a liking to one another (as well as the two people involved being aware of other sensory cues), we might not be quite so inclined to see “love” as a kind of madness. To the calculating, analytical brain, “love” surely is madness; it literally drives the brain mad not to be able to make sense of what the heart is doing perfectly “naturally”!
One further clue is from the Greek word aisthesis, which Buhner states is the “heart’s ability to perceive meaning from the world.” Definitions of this word are generally not clear about the function of the heart. A definition easily available on the Internet states that aisthesis is a “sensation, perception, as an opposite of intellection (noesis), understanding and pure thought; more loosely – any awareness.” Hillman, however, says that, “In Aristotelian psychology, the organ of aesthesis is the heart; passages from all the sense organs run to it; there the soul is ‘set on fire.’ Its thought is innately aesthetic and sensately linked with the world.” It seems to be clear that the Greeks had no problem about perceiving with the heart.
So, all we have to do is practice perceiving with the heart. Yes, but if you have never actually been aware of doing it before, just exactly how are you going to go about doing that? In his book, The Secret Teachings of Plants, Buhner gives ten “exercises for refining the heart as an organ of perception,” and I would recommend anyone interested to try doing these exercises. However, I think the basic thing that anyone can do is to find good natural areas, such as woods or forests or mountain areas that they like and spend time there. Not everyone can do this, especially if they are living in a large metropolis, so there is an immediate ‘lifestyle’ barrier to ‘reconnection.’ But assuming you are able to spend time in a natural environment, what then?
Buhner, being interested in plants, asks us, “… if you truly want to communicate with plants, just what is the status of the plant? Just how do you really feel about it?” Plants have been on the planet longer than we have, but do you see them as your equal, or even superior to you, as if they were our elders or teachers? Buhner suggests that if you do not, the plants will not ‘talk’ to you. Knowing the name of a flower or tree will not help you. These anthropocentric words are part of the linear world, not part of the nonlinear world of heart perception. The tonal/nagual dichotomy again, if you like. First you must try to stop the internal dialog, halt the flow of words and be prepared to abandon your accumulated linear mode knowledge – to know nothing. That may be as simple as just breathing a little more deeply than usual and then standing or sitting in a relaxed way, taking in your surroundings by ‘feeling’ them rather than thinking about (appraising, explaining) what you feel in terms of verbal thought.
Preconceptions must be abandoned. There is nothing in the linear/verbal/analytical/reductionist world that has prepared you for this mode of communication. There are no neat formulaic rules for this – you will be outside of human culture and must be prepared to allow anything to happen and be prepared to surrender yourself to it. Otherwise you will probably experience nothing and get nowhere with it. Only those who are not afraid to step outside of our current culture of linear cognition will be able to, gradually, step into the nonlinear perceptual mode of nature.
It is important to see, hear and smell what is there in front of you, in nature, and pay attention to that rather than what your brain is trying to tell you about it. This does not simply mean “shutting off the inner dialog.” Buhner tells us that we cannot stop the linear mind and leave nothing in its place. The answer is to do something else instead; sense what is actually there in your surroundings. If you find yourself being drawn to a plant, go up to it and spend some time with it. Touch it and taste it. Try to be aware of its scents. You may feel embarrassed about doing this. If you try to taste a small part of a leaf, you may hear voices in your mind (your parents, former teachers and so on) telling you not to do so. It may take you some time to get used to overriding these voices. Buhner quotes Henry David Thoreau, who said, “Nature is a prairie for outlaws,” and tells us that “the green is poisonous to civilization.” Civilization’s rules are not enforced in nature, and we should understand that a “reconnection” with nature will change us, and make us more “natural” and “wild.” But humankind really (from the point of view of October 2011) needs to change in this way now if we are to step back from the catastrophes an over-emphasis on linear/verbal/analytical/reductionist cognition has caused us to wreak upon ourselves. This is one way to return to what evolution has intended us to be – to reclaim our birthright.
Once you have a relationship with a certain plant, and while this may happen quite quickly, it may also take weeks or months, as your heart’s electromagnetic field begins to entrain with that of the plant, you may notice a certain ‘emotional tone’ arising within you. In the same way as you suddenly become aware of the picture embedded in an ‘optical illusion’ puzzle, you may then receive a sudden communicative burst from the plant, termed by Goethe “the pregnant point,” that can be routed from the heart to the brain and become accessible to linear/verbal/intellectual/analytical cognition. This is the first real communication with the plant. Buhner describes in great detail how this relationship with this and other plants can be developed in order to receive direct knowledge from plants about their medicinal properties for humans. However, I shall stop here, since the aim of this short paper is not to help you to become a shaman herbalist but simply to show how human “happiness” can be achieved through a ‘reconnection to nature.’
3. Further comments on aspects of “happiness” and ‘reconnecting with nature’
Having read this far, many may perhaps feel that what the arguments I have presented here are somehow not ‘real,’ belong in the realm of ‘religion,’ the ‘supernatural’ or the ‘occult.’ Here, I would like to present further evidence to show that the idea of the human connection with nature (in a wide sense, to include not just individual plants or animals, but also a wider ‘natural consciousness’ from the ‘interacting web of life’ or even the cosmos) through perception using the human heart is a ‘real’ phenomenon close to our daily lives. I will also end the paper with comments on what the consequences and benefits may be for a human society or civilization that aims for an appropriate heart-brain balance, and how this implies the achievement of human “happiness.” Finally, I will make a few comments on the consequences of this on agriculture and the production of food, and how, concretely, the society of the future is likely to be shaped by putting these ideas into practice.
3.1 Do we know anyone who is doing this? Who are they and what kind of people are they?
Everyone, including lifelong city-dwellers are perceiving with the heart. It is part of who we are. Regardless of how conscious we are of doing it, it is said that experience of the world is perceived by the heart first and then flows to the brain for further processing. It is very likely that we all know people who are adept at communicating with plants or animals through the heart, but these people are more likely to be conspicuous in the countryside than in the city, and even then the person involved may not be exactly aware of what they are feeling or doing. Some may even hide their ability, since there are parts of society who do not appreciate the abilities of people to perceive nature directly with their hearts.
There are also well-known people who have been known to have the capacity to receive direct knowledge from ‘nature.’ Buhner mentions Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Luther Burbank, George Washington Carver, Masanobu Fukuoka, Henry David Thoreau, Buckminster Fuller, Barbara McClintock, and although not mentioned by Buhner, I feel sure that Rudolf Steiner must also have had a great ability to perceive the world directly through the heart. Steiner’s works are not based on linear/analytic/intellectual ‘scientific’ logic. For example, in his lectures on agriculture, which now form the basis of the biodynamic farming movement, Steiner states:
Now let us take the manure, in whatever form is available, stuff it into a cow horn and bury it in the ground at a certain depth – I would say between ¾ and 1½ meters, provided the soil beneath is neither too clayey nor too sandy. We should select a good soil that’s not too sandy. You see, by burying the cow horn with the manure in it, we preserve in the horn the etheric and astral forces that the horn was accustomed to reflect when it was on the cow. Because the cow is now outwardly surrounded by the Earth, all the Earth’s etherizing and astralizing rays stream into its inner cavity. The manure inside the horn attracts these forces and is inwardly enlivened by them. If the horn is buried for the entire winter – the season when the Earth is most inwardly alive – all this life will be preserved in the manure, turning the contents of the horn into an extremely concentrated, enlivening and fertilizing force.
These ideas were not reached through scientific experimentation, as we know that “He [Steiner] encouraged his listeners to verify his suggestions empirically, as he had not yet done.” Biodynamic farming practitioners are still doing this, as I have personally witnessed on a biodynamic farm in Kyushu. How Steiner could have ‘known’ all this is a complete mystery until we understand that he could have received the ‘information’ through the heart’s direct perception and communication with nature.
I’m not saying that we will all be geniuses of the stature of Goethe and Steiner or farmers with the unique insights of Luther Burbank or Masanobu Fukuoka if only we will learn to perceive nature with our hearts, but we will never even begin to understand what they did or how they did it unless we try to re-balance the linear/verbal/analytic mode of thinking of the brain with the nonlinear/nonverbal/intuitive mode of perception of the heart.
Indigenous people, naturally, have never lost the automatic ability to perceive directly with the heart. Buhner states, “All ancient and indigenous people said that they learned the uses of plants as medicines from the plants themselves. They insisted that they did not rely on the analytical capacities of the brain for this nor use the technique of trial and error. Instead, they said it was from the heart of the world, from the plants themselves, that this knowledge came.”
Among widely diverse nonindustrial cultures the members whose speciality was plant medicines, vegitalistas, described their experiences remarkably similarly irrespective of culture, continent or time. The vast majority (essentially all instances where I have found first-hand accounts) told interviewers that they did not obtain their knowledge of plant medicines from the exercise of reason or through trial and error. They were uniformly consistent in saying that their personal and cultural knowledge of the medicinal actions of plants came from “nonordinary” experiences, specifically: dreams, visions, direct communications from the plant, or sacred beings.
Communication with plants via the human heart also means that plants know something about the humans they are in contact with. The Pgaz K’Nyau (Karen), an indigenous people of Eastern Burma and Northern Thailand, have this to say:
Pgaz K’Nyau people have a very clear reason for honesty and purity in life and in dealings with other people. If you want to think we’re naïve, that’s up to you, but we believe that nature has a spirit. We rely on her for maintenance of our lives, and we must respect her, stand in awe of her, and obey her and act towards her with honesty and purity. It is this relationship with the natural world that has trained the spirit of the Pgaz K’Nyau people to use natural resources with great care. It also means, for example, that a man or woman who is a liar, or a thief, or is in some other way an immoral person will not be able to produce enough food. He or she cannot be a good farmer because nature will deny him or her the benefit of her miraculous power to keep us alive with food.
The Pgaz K’Nyau also say that if you want to learn from those who know about medicinal plants, you have to be apprenticed to such a person and be trained by them. In general, it is no good just following the person around and then mechanically copying what they do (unless the apprentice is extremely perceptive) because the medicines produced may not work, or may not be as effective as when the ‘knowledgeable person’ gathered and prepared them. Buhner also notes that an experienced herbalist can put out a call to a plant before he or she goes to gather it. The plant will then “begin altering the chemicals they produce in anticipation of your gathering them as medicines.” It is crucial, however, that this call has “emotional reality.” You cannot fake it.
I think you can see that this leads us into some very tricky territory. Buhner says that people who engage in perceiving nature with the heart find that a certain moral development occurs within them. This is a morality that comes out of aisthesis. “True morality begins to emerge of itself.”
Because nature does not lie, the direct perception of Nature means that each of us that does lie, each part of us that lies, even in our deep unconscious, must reorder, must restructure, if we truly want to perceive deeply into Nature.
Thus perceiving nature with the heart is associated with a certain morality. Plants (and animals) can perceive who you are and will not deal with you if they do not “like” you. As a sidelight, I will mention the story of a well-known lie-detector examiner, Cleve Backster, in 1966. A polygraph lie-detector usually consists of a galvanometer coupled with a Wheatstone bridge, and this can measure the human body’s electrical potential as it fluctuates under the stimulus of thought and emotion. One morning, Backster decided to attach the electrodes of a lie detector to a Dracaena massangeana plant in his office and see what would happen if he gave it some water. Instead of indicating a reduction in resistance, as you would expect if the moisture of the leaf increased, the opposite reading was seen as the pen on the graph paper indicated a reaction “very similar to that of a human being experiencing an emotional stimulus of short duration.” Backster figured that since the most effective way to get a quick emotional reaction from a human is to threaten his or her well-being, he would try to burn the leaf, but the instant he conjured up the image of the flame in his mind, and before he could even move, there was a dramatic movement of the pen on the graph paper. The plant had ‘read’ Backster’s mind!
Backster spent the next several years experimenting with plants. An interesting phenomenon that Backster noted was that when threatened with danger plants will go into a trance-like state, rather like a person fainting when faced with overpoweringly life-threatening situation. When a Canadian physiologist visited Backster in his lab one day, Backster was unable to get any reaction from the first five plants he tried. Backster asked the physiologist, “Does any part of your work involve harming plants?” “Yes,” the physiologist replied. “I terminate the plants I work with. I put them in an oven and roast them to obtain their dry weight for my analysis.” A short while after the physiologist left the lab, all of Backster’s plants began to respond as normal. Backster, however, was never able to discover that the key to the connection between humans and plants was the functioning of the human heart, as we have seen here.
If there is a moral dimension to the perception of nature by the heart, what of the linear/verbal/analytic brain?
Unlike the heart, with its connected empathetic connections the brain has no inherent moral nature. The continual training of children in a system of perception that is amoral leads to behaviours in adults that have no moral basis.
Buhner also quotes Masanobu Fukuoka as saying:
Nature is both the creator of man and his greatest teacher. Sensitivity, reason, and understanding true to man all can be manifested only through sympathy with nature. Judgement and criteria for right and wrong, virtue and evil, excellence and mediocrity, beauty and ugliness, love and hate do not hold if man steps off the Great Way pointed out by nature.
In other words, Fukuoka believed that if we are not connected to nature through the heart we have no basis for making value judgements. It does very much look as if the unbalance between the use of the linear/verbal/analytic mode of cognition and the nonlinear/nonverbal/intuitive perception of the heart has brought the modern world to where it is today. Is there really any option for mankind but to reappraise the contents of our civilization, the way society is run, and how we educate our children? I will have more to say about this later.
3.2 Is this ‘religion’? Where is ‘God’?
I am not going to write a treatise on religion, but simply repeat here what a few people have said because it makes sense to me. From the above, we see that the heart is capable of connecting with ‘nature,’ especially individual plants and animals, but there also seems to be some large spiritual ‘entity’ behind the relations with plants and so on. Buhner talks a lot about the use of medicinal plants to help cure people, but he also says:
For it is the meaning, the spirit of the plant, that heals the disease. The plant chemical merely gives it a form in which to travel. And although this form does help our bodies, form to form, we are not (solely) our physical form, and our disease is not (usually) merely a physical form, like a virus… The disease itself is a meaning and cannot be healed merely by supplying a form.
Others say that the plant knowledge is not important and that it is the spiritual energy of the shaman that actuates the healing. This takes a lot of energy, which is stored up like a battery inside the body. Healing can be carried out when the battery is fully charged up, and as the healing is done the battery is used up so that at the end of the healing the shaman feels really exhausted. The ‘battery’ power then has to be recharged before further healing can be done. We have seen above that the heart is an electromagnetic transmitter/receiver and has a strong magnetic field. Energy is required for this to be done and maintained over time. It is also true that some people have more energy in their bodies and hearts than others. We also know that hearts can connect, or ‘entrain,’ with other living entities such as cells, plants, animals, and other hearts. It should come as no great surprise, then, that some people with an abundance of energy in their body and heart could ‘give’ (transmit) some of that energy to a person whose body/heart energy was weak due to illness and so on, and give them an energetic boost that could help them recover their health. However, there is little point in going deeply into this topic, since we only wish here to explore the necessity to achieve a healthy heart-brain balance achievable by the human-nature connection through the perceptive function of the heart.
Nevertheless, individual plants, though they may have their unique spirit, are a part of the interconnected, interacting web of life, the sum of which is a spiritual force that many have experienced as the ‘essence’ of Nature (with a capital ‘N’). The Pgaz K’Nyau perceive two kinds of spirits, k’laz (soul-spirits), which reside in humans and other living creatures such as plants and animals, and k’caj (owner-spirits), which are the spirits that ‘own’ the earth, the land, the water, the sky, and so on, and which are also ‘owners’ of particular areas of forests, for example. They also perceive an overarching natural spirit, a kind of ‘supreme being,’ Taj hti taj dau, who is the owner of nature itself. We could say that Taj hti taj dau is the Pgaz K’Nyau word for ‘God.’
We thus have the notion that Nature, from whom we have all been created, is roughly equivalent to what is called ‘God’ (in monotheistic religions). This large spiritual entity can be perceived directly and experienced, and appears to be the subject of ‘religions.’ Buhner says that the entity “has many names, but only one identity.”
religions are a particular mode of representation
they are not the thing itself
and continues on to say:
This identity is the center from which all things come. And it has always been clear to those who read the text of the world, who are open to the touch of life upon them, that this Mystery is so much greater than Man that it can never be understood by the linear mind.
Since the focus of this paper is Japan, I would like to quote extensively from a friend on Japan’s indigenous spirituality, Shinto.
On Shinto and nature, Shinto was traditionally very deeply rooted in nature, and the folk Shinto groups still are, and engage with nature by taking treks through the mountains, sometimes engaging in great feats of endurance, but that is secondary to being aware of conditions and letting the gods dictate the course and timing. In Shrine Shinto, the officially organized and codified side, the connection has largely been reduced to symbolism, but some of the former connection remains. This is particularly evident in the misogi ritual, which involves cold-water bathing in the ocean, waterfalls, rivers, and so on. Many of the professional priests I talk to, however, have no sense of the spirit world, and consider Shinto to be nothing but a set of traditions. They do see the value in maintaining pre-industrial knowledge and techniques, and choose those in particular for important rituals. A number have told me they wish they could "see" gods the way I and others say we can. I try to point them to times and places where gods are likely to be evident, dawn in particular and any place away from the distractions of modern society. From there, I tell people to be aware of a sense of deep familiarity, like you were coming to a place you loved in your childhood. This sense can be cultivated, but often we shut it out as mere irrationality. If you let it in, though, the insights become more powerful and life becomes more meaningful.
Shinto is also explicit about the perceptive capability of the heart (kokoro). One of the most universally used prayers of purification among Shintoists, Rokkon Shohjoh (Six-Rooted Purity) says, “With your eyes, see all manner of impurity, but in your heart, do not see it.” This is followed by ears, nose, mouth (interestingly, “With your mouth, say all manner of impurity, but in your heart, do not say it”), body (feel) and mind: “In your mind, think all manner of impurities, but in your heart, do not think them.” (Kokoro ni moromoro no fujoh wo omoite, kokoro ni moromoro no fujoh wo omowazu). In Fujikyo and some other sects, the last “kokoro” is pronounced “nakago” to distinguish it. Some sects write it as “inner heart”.
So far within Shinto, the only time it has been suggested to me to try to turn off the internal voice was with people involved in Shugendo, which has strong Buddhist influences. We hiked a rough course up from Kompira to the Ryuo-sha, a Buddhist-Shintoist deity--the Dragon King), and along the way, they told me that if I emptied my mind, I would be able to see the gods and spirits. Every year I continue to hike that trail and practice what they told me. It is a useful technique.
Shinto also recognizes one God, which they see variously as the unification of all that is divine or as the original God from whom all else is derived. Shinto can be considered a loose confederation of nature-based, polytheistic folk religions, held together in an imposed hierarchy, which they have gone along with. For any particular deity, there may be a number of names and descriptions. Amaterasu, the sun goddess, has been erroneously described as Shinto’s principal deity. She is well favored, of course, and worshipped at Shinto’s highest shrine, Ise Jingu, along with Toyouke, the god of agriculture. She is also called Tenshokohdaijin, the on-yomi (Chinese reading of the Chinese characters), with the kun-yomi (Japanese reading) being Amaterasu-Sumeohkami (and I see that in Fujikyo, she is listed as number 14 among the 16 principal deities, just before Jinmu-Jingu and Meiji-Jingu, so therefore principal of Japan’s specific hierarchy as a nation, but past a big list with Myo-o-jin from Buddhism, “Main-Heart God”, “One-Heart God”, Water, Fire and Wind Heart Gods, and so on included).
In Fujikyo, I have heard several names for the Great Divine Spirit: Ohmioya no Kami (Great Illustrious Parent One), and Taisosan-jin (Great Ancestral One, where “Tai” is written as “Ten,” so the meaning of the ‘God-father,’ not as ‘creator’ but as ‘guardian,’ of the heavens is included). Rev. Haruko Shimizu has explained that she considers Fuyoh Miroku-jin (which I will translate loosely as “Embodiment of Mt. Fuji and the Sun,” emphasizing the connection with nature that they seek in such an awe-inspiring locality) to be the Great Spirit, whose name comes up repeatedly in the prayers of that sect, and since he is listed second to Taisosan-jin, they are saying that God Himself has His own ancestors.
I think we can see in Shinto all the elements of the human-nature connection that have been mentioned thus far. The Chinese character for 'heart', when spoken as “kokoro” in Japanese is commonly understood to mean the human “heart” or “mind.” Despite the issue of whether people knew about their physical hearts hundreds of years ago, I do not think there is a great problem in equating kokoro with the human heart. We also see a recognition of an overarching spirit of nature, a “Great Ancestral One” or a “Great Spirit” very similar to the Pgaz K’Nyau Taj hti taj dau.
From the above it is possible to see that ‘God’ as the all-enveloping ‘tablecloth’ of the tonal is merely a shadow representation of ‘God’ in the nagual. It should be clear what religions are supposed to be doing but, in general, are not. The notion of an appropriate heart-brain balance, therefore, is not ‘religion,’ either in the sense of modern, organized religions, or in the sense that it relies fundamentally on subjective belief.
3.3 A sort of conclusion: Where does this path lead?
We have looked at what human happiness might be, and I have concluded that the path to happiness lies through a reconnection to nature through the use of the heart as an organ of perception. What might be the consequences of attempting to put this idea of “happiness” into practice, much as some now insist that the path to “happiness” is to be found through greater wealth and socialized security – through economic growth and social engineering?
Firstly, to go back to where this paper started out, what would this mean in terms of food and energy? Since we would be much more aware of the ‘feelings’ of plants and animals, many of the practices of modern farming would become impossible. We would have to recognize that an intensive use of machinery and chemicals (modern energy-intensive agriculture) in a way that is very ‘impolite’ to plants and other living organisms should be corrected in favour of overtly nonviolent forms of agriculture, such as permaculture and organic farming on small family farms. Greatly reduced use of machinery would mean, 1) more people working on the land, and 2) greater use of farm animals. It is likely that a re-balance of heart-brain cognition on a society-wide basis would trigger the movement of people from big cities to more rural settings. Greater use of animals on farms (the current problem being where to get the animals) would help agriculture as a whole to move back to mixed cropping and livestock-raising farms, rather than the forced separation of cropping and livestock that we have now, and presumably this would also go part of the way to solving the fertilizer problem that will occur when fewer chemicals are used.
So far, there is little news, since I have previously proposed these changes, in the context of diminishing supplies of fossil energy resources, for Japanese agriculture in a presentation in February 2010. In this presentation, I pointed out that since transportation would become problematical then ‘local production for local consumption’ would be a basic principle of this style of agriculture, and thus society as a whole would be likely to shift towards self-sustaining ‘bioregions.’ In this sense, the notion of moving to a society with a better heart-brain balance would appear to be appropriate for a world in which fossil energy use was greatly reduced.
As hinted at above, it should also be pointed out that plants are extremely adept at the use and manufacture of chemical substances, and we would therefore do ourselves a big favour by reducing the chemical pollution of the environment by synthetic chemicals. At the same time, since the heart’s connection with nature depends on electromagnetic radiation and fields, it would also be beneficial to reduce electromagnetic pollution of the environment as much as possible. This is also very much in line with the coming decline in the ability to use fossil energy resources. The future society should be far less polluted than the one we are experiencing now, making a healthy heart-brain balance that much easier to achieve.
Energy production in the bioregions would be local, decentralized forms of energy such as the use of wood, solar or wind power, and the use of animal traction for agriculture. There would be no large-scale industry as we know it now. This would also mean a greatly reduced role for money. This would also be a good match for a society with an improved heart-brain balance. The greater ability of almost all people to use their hearts for perception would make lying, cheating and thievery far less common because people would be much more aware of the intentions of those around them.
The Pgaz K’Nyau have a deep suspicion of any use of money beyond the use of small amounts for petty purchases. Anything more than that creates disparities in wealth between people (which can put the survival of a village in jeopardy) and will ruin lives that are lived simply to amass large amounts of money and property. In the Pgaz K’Nyau view of life and death, the land of the dead (pluz kauj) is a mirror image of the land of the living (le hko). In le hko, rice is delicious and people are important. In pluz kauj, rice is also delicious, but the people there have a love for money and wealth. When the Pgaz K’Nyau travel down from their villages in the mountains to the towns and cities in the valleys, where the people love money and are mostly ‘stuck’ in a linear/verbal/analytic ‘brain’ mode of cognition, they say they are going to pluz kauj, the land of the dead. The inference is that if you do not have a good heart-brain balance and are not capable of perceiving nature with your heart, then you are effectively ‘dead.’
Thus, to sum up briefly, “happiness” is a human condition that can only be reached through a “correct” connection with nature. This connection occurs by using the heart as an organ of perception, as it was meant to be. As a result, we can achieve a more appropriate heart-brain balance. This balance inevitably leads to changes in the moral behaviour of individuals and therefore to changes in society. The combination of these ideas and practices with the kind of, hopefully “happier,” lifestyle we can anticipate when fossil energy resources become scarce helps us to envisage the kind of society that might come into existence in the latter part of the 21st century.
In the midst of the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami disaster, the subsequent nuclear catastrophe at Fukushima No.1 Nuclear Power Station and the financial crisis that currently grips Europe and the United States, I feel strongly that human weakness and stupidity (and a certain amount of deceit) has created huge disasters within societies where for several decades we have heard little else but promises that economic growth was unquestionably leading all mankind toward a secure and comfortable lifestyle. I think it is now time to wake up to what is truly wrong with society and begin to educate everyone, especially children, on how to regain their birthright (the ability to use the heart as an organ of perception) and an appropriate heart-brain balance, and move toward the society of the 22nd century, where true human happiness may be achievable. While it may seem that this is only one possible future, I believe eventually this is the future toward which all human societies will eventually converge, whether in the 22nd or 23rd centuries, or later.
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."
The JapanOffspring Fund is planning to produce a documentary film The Truth About Fukushima 311 and are calling for donations to help them do it. Can you please take a look at the page and help them out if you can? [How to donate from inside Japan] (This page refers only to donations in the US. I will try to post alternative donation methods here later.) Thank you.
Very frightening stills of F#1 reactor 3 blowing up from Arnie Gundersen's presentation linked below in the #jy12">July 12 update. The stills are taken from about 20 mins 35-40 secs into the presentation. Note that the face appears to be 'screaming' out to the northwest, the direction in which the heaviest nuclear contamination took place in the first two weeks after the earthquake.
VIDEO: Chris Busby: Chernobyl-like radiation found in Tokyo - Two points here: Chris Busby mentions that he has heard from an authoritative (?) source that the Fukushima nuclear disaster site is spewing out 10 TBq (tera becquerels - i.e. 10 trilion Bq) per hour, though I am sure this is little more than a rough estimate. Multiplied by 24 gives 240 TBq per day. (Note that in mid-July, releases were reckoned to be 1 GBq per hour (G=giga=10^9=billion). Down below, in the update for #m15">May 15, we cite the figure of 154 TBq/day of releases, which seemed high at the time. So have releases suddenly risen recently? We've heard reports of cracks in the ground around the reactor buildings, from which steam is escaping intermittently. Has the corium of at least one reactor now burned its way through the concrete floor of the containment vessel and into the ground below? Whatever is happening, it's one big sordid mess!
Secondly, Chris Busby mentions that contamination has been found in Tokyo that is higher than the Chernobyl exclusion zone. I think he is referring to this: Radiation Defense Project. Under the explanation, you will see two pdfs. Take a look at the top one and scroll down to the bottom. You'll see there a Sugamo (central Tokyo) figure of 61,713 Bq/kg (total Cs) for 'roadside sand.' That is where you would expect to find higher levels of contamination, but for the center of Tokyo this is really quite high.
#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Early Days of Confusion and Mistakes at the Plant Being Revealed - Such a mess, it's almost laughable if it wasn't such a serious situation! Here again we see the GROSS INCOMPETENCE of TEPCO when it comes to doing ANYTHING!!
Governor Takahashi has been receiving campaign donations from executives at Hokkaido Electric Power Company (link in Japanese), and she says she will continue to do so as she sees nothing technically wrong with it.
Another politician taking the money and doing the bidding of the power companies (see the Japanese link in the article for the source on the contributions from Hokkaido EPCO). Time for the Japanese public to ensure that politicians like Gov. Takahashi have truncated political lives, I think.
~~~Situation at the Nuclear Disaster Site~~~
#Fukushima I Nuke Plant Worker: No Steam Gushing From Cracks, But There Are Many 10-Plus Sieverts/Hr Locations - Unverified rumors.
"The parents don't have enough money and one thing they do every day is drinking . . .
beer or vodka. And their children start to do the same," Vdovichenko said.
"I hope the people in Fukushima would not have the same problems as we have."
SolarIMG podcast with Arnie Gundersen from Fairewinds - In this interview (audio only - 15 mins) - please download the mp3 from the linked page - Arnie Gundersen gives us some very interesting pieces of the puzzle. The most interesting part (starts at about 12 min 40 sec into the interview) was the Arnie states that a decision to downplay the Fukushima nuclear disaster and its consequent radioactive contamination was taken at the highest levels of the US government, the State Department and the FDA, and that this decision was taken in coordination with the Japanese government in the form of Hilary Clinton (Secretary of State) signing some kind of pact with her 'counterpart' (the current Foreign Minister, Takeaki Matsumoto - who took office on 9 March 2011 - oh) to the effect that the US will continue to accept food imports from Japan. I.e. the US will not test imports of food from Japan.
So what does this look like? Both Japan and the US want to play down the nuclear disaster. Neither country wants to be forced by its population to forego nuclear power. So they can work together on that for mutual benefit, the US agreeing to accept Japanese food imports virtually unconditionally. The amounts of food exported to the US from Japan to the US must be miniscule compared with what is moving the other way, but still it is useful for Japan since Japan can point to this when negotiating with other countries over the food export/import problem. Japan also wants to continue to import food from the US (Canada, Australia, Argentina, Thailand and a host of other countries) due to a low food self-sufficiency rate (39% this year, goodness only knows what it'll be next year). So to have the US 'guarantee' not to stop exporting food to Japan is very handy for Japan given the soil contamination situation (er... which is so small as to be insignificant, of course) and the negotiations for Japan's upcoming participation in the TPP, which the US and and Japanese business circles are very keen to promote, and against which the greatest opposing argument is that the TPP will result in a massive influx of cheap food into Japan, thus causing Japan's rural economy to collapse. I have also been arguing for about a year now that TPP is the 'wrong way' for Japan to be heading now. The slide down the declining side of the oil peak (the IEA admitted in November last year that the peak of annual production of conventional oil was passed in 2006) will mean declining agricultural (food production) productivities around the globe, especially in the energy-intense agricultural systems of the countries that are currently capable of producing surplus food supplies they can export. Higher oil/natural gas prices and/or declining availability of both mean less food available for import to countries with low food self-sufficiencies. So I think Japan and the US are colluding to down play the seriousness of the Fukushima nuclear disaster and the consequent radioactive releases, each giving the other 'guarantees' on matters of importance: food imports, TPP, military bases and whatever is on the agenda. However, the possible 'guarantees' of continued food imports from the US to Japan will not hold up once fossil energy shortages start to bite seriously. Will we be seeing electric tractors ploughing the fields? Can electricity be used to manufacture the nitrogen fertilizers (and mine and the other minerals that are used to manufacture other chemical fertilizers) which account for the greater part of the nutrients currently used to grow humanity's food in place of the Haber-Bosch process using natural gas to produce ammonia, the precursor for nitrogen fertilizers? Thus food importing nations are likely to go hungry and nuclear power will not be a great help.
Another interesting point was that of nuclear contamination rainouts that have been occurring in North America, mostly, but not limited, to the Pacific Northwest. Arnie believes that this contamination is due not only to releases of radioactive matter from the ongoing problem at the Fukushima nuclear disaster site, but also due to burning of contaminated material in Japan. This may be true to an extent as the Japanese government has said that it is permissible to burn materials that are less than 7000 Bq/kg. Matrial burned in this way merely moves the radioactive material around to the next town, the next prefecture, or across the Pacific to North America. However, as noted above the governments (including the Canadian government) have decided to play the contamination down and are describing it as very low-level and too insignificant to worry about. Arnie says that papers will soon be published that show 'definitively' that the governments are wrong. Thus the truth about the cover-up is likely to come out.
Arnie also says in the interview (near the beginning) that the levels of radiation in Fukushima Prefecture (a large place, so within 50 or 60 km of the nuclear disaster perhaps) are high and therefore the incidence of lung cancer is likely to rise about 20% over the next five years. Presumably, this is mainly from the inhalation of hot particles. Arnie says this is based on what has happened after other nuclear accidents. In this sense he is saying roughly the same thing as Chris Busby - that cancer rates will increase from internal exposure due to hot particles in the air.
#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Reference to Tritium in Water - Tritium is associated with developmental problems in humans. It's not surprising that it is being found at F#1, but has it found it's way into the general water supply yet? Testing is required, I think.
Neptunium-239 Detected from Soil in Iitate-mura in Fukushima??? - It's unclear what this means, or even if it is "true" - there is a suggestion that the researcher may have got something wrong. If it's true, then there should be quite a lot of Pu-239 in the soil. Why didn't the researcher test for that, or if he did, why isn't that result being given out with the result for Neptunium-239??? The point of the Neptunium-239 being there is that it will decay quickly into Pu-239, which has a halflife of 24,000 years, basically sticking around 'forever'.
Bioremediation for Contaminated Soil: Phytoremediation and Mycoremediation - A good 7-point scheme to follow here. Private citizens should do it, and of course the government should encourage it and give (financial and other) support, but will they. I doubt it. They probably do not want to admit that there's any problem which requires measures like these, except in the worst areas around Iitate Village, perhaps. That's a shame, because this is something the government could push quite hard for relatively little money and expect get quite a large effect for their trouble. I might personally try something like this in the field in front of my house. Maybe in a couple of years I'll be able to grow fairly clean vegetables and so on. Might be worth doing in on the paddy field for one year. The problem will be how to harvest and how/where to dispose of the final ash (after incinerating the mushrooms, but where is the incinerator?) That's why the govt needs to get involved.
#Radiation in Japan: Bill That Will Allow the National Government to Dispose Radioactive Debris Set to Be Submitted To the Diet, Will Probably Pass The radioactive material will probably find its way into 'burial sites' all over the country. Spread it around, dilute it, and even out the health effects so that no one will be able to tell what is causing what. It'll take a while, which is just what the pro-nukes and others resoinsible want...
"I won't be responsible, because I'll be dead by then."
Please see the article for the source of the quote...
In interviews and public statements, some current and former government officials have admitted that Japanese authorities engaged in a pattern of withholding damaging information and denying facts of the nuclear disaster — in order, some of them said, to limit the size of costly and disruptive evacuations in land-scarce Japan and to avoid public questioning of the politically powerful nuclear industry. As the nuclear plant continues to release radiation, some of which has slipped into the nation’s food supply, public anger is growing at what many here see as an official campaign to play down the scope of the accident and the potential health risks.
Yep, that's just about the size of it. Note also that this article says:
“In the end, it was the prime minister’s office that hid the Speedi data,” he [Seiki Soramoto] said. “Because they didn’t have the knowledge to know what the data meant, and thus they did not know what to say to the public, they thought only of their own safety, and decided it was easier just not to announce it.”
... which is a little different from what an article I quoted on #au12">August 12 said, which was that Reports from the forecast system were sent to the nation's nuclear safety agency, but the flow of data stopped there. Prime Minister Naoto Kan and others involved in declaring evacuation areas never saw the reports, and neither did local authorities. I 'prefer' to believe that NISA did pass on the SPEEDI info to the PM's office (because that's what bureaucrats are trained to do, isn't it?), but if PM Kan and the other politicians failed to interpret the data, that is because NISA and other advisors did not explain it properly? I don't believe that either, so the remaining possibility is that PM Kan and the others knew what it meant, but decided not to publicise it because it was too shocking or revealing of the terrible situation at F#1, which, at the time, they were still hoping could be contained. One day, maybe, we'll know what really happened.
Another point brought up in the blog article concerns Tellurium-132.
In one of the most damning admissions, nuclear regulators said in early June that inspectors had found tellurium 132, which experts call telltale evidence of reactor meltdowns, a day after the tsunami — but did not tell the public for nearly three months.
That's serious. If you look down this page, you'll see that the detection of Tellurium-132 is mentioned on #j5">June 5, but the news appears to have come out on June 3. If you read the article there (#Fukushima I Accident: Tellurium-132 Was Detected on March 12 Morning, 6 Kilometers from the Plant, NISA Now Admits) it is pretty clear that at least one reactor has experienced a meltdown. NISA spokesman Hidehiko Nishiyama is quoted as saying "We didn't intend to hide the information, but it never occurred to us to disclose it to the public. We are sorry." In hindsight this looks a lot less like stupidity and a lot more like outright deceit. Nishiyama is not saying that he did not know what the presence of Tellurium-132 indicated. I reckon he did. But then, if he can say "it never occurred to us to disclose it to the public" while understanding the importance of the Tellurium-132, then we must understand that the 'job description' of NISA does not primarily consist of informing the public about important events and so on, but of collating and interpreting information for feeding to top bureaucrats and politicians who then decide what to do and whether or not to release the information. That pretty much matches with what they've been doing all along (e.g. with the SPEEDI data), so it's possible they have been 'good boys' and have been acting within the remit of their 'job description' all along. Thus the disingenuous "Oh, it never occurred to us to tell the public" line. Anyway, in the same article the IAEA report is quoted as saying:
"The Japanese government's longer term response to protect the public, including evacuation, has been impressive and extremely well organized."
Are they saying that the coverups about the nuclear accident/disaster and the efforts to play down the seriousness of the radiation in Fukushima Prefecture (mostly, but not only) and keep people in place without evacuating them were impressive and extremely well organized???
Professor's anger at lawmakers creates buzz on Internet>>
1 Millisievert Internal Radiation from a Man in Minami Soma City - The mayor seems to be happy that only one man exceeded the internal exposure limit of 100 mSv, beyond which cancers may occur. However, this is based on the ICRP model, which is reckoned to give a 300-900 times lower prediction for numbers of cancers than the ECRR model. Suppose you breathe in a small Plutonium or Uranium particle and it lodges in your lung. In terms of radiation exposure it may be very small. It is not detected by the whole body counter (since these are alpha emitters not gamma emitters), so you'll get a 'zero' reading for internal exposure. However, your chances of developing a cancer in your lung will have risen considerably. And by the way, the Fukushima Prefecture health study for all the people of Fukushima, just starting up now, is based entirely on the ICRP model. Wonder what results we'll see from the study. Wonder what the reality will be in the decades to come.
Nice hot Obon holiday here in Japan. Obon is the time to remember the ancestors. It's the hottest time of the year, so a good time for a break - usually three days, so it incorporates the remembrance of the end of the 'Pacific War' on 15 August 1945. I'll be visiting the family tomb later today, so I'll do a little early updating. Not so much here, but further north, this Obon season is a tragic one, since so many died as a result of the earthquake and tsunami on 11 March. Since this is the first Obon since they passed away, it is called Nii Bon a 'new bon'. So far relatively few people has died as a consequence of the F#1 nuclear disaster, but over the next 50 years or so, and even after that if genetic damage is passed on to the next generation, the health problems will slowly unfold. Of course, it would be 'nice' if they would not, as the government and official doctors are fond of telling us, but in the end I'm afraid we're going to find that they have simply lied...
When we wash their hair, it comes off in a clump. It is really scary. The doctor says, "I really wonder why the white blood cell count is down..." Doctor, don't be so relaxed about it. There is going to be more and more people who don't respond to treatment.
Woops! Classic radiation sickness symptoms, if I'm not very much mistaken. I'm supposed to go to Sendai for a week at the end of this month. What on earth am I thinking about!
~~~Halleluya, brothers and sisters, more revelations!~~~
TEPCO just can't seem to get its math right! Yesterday's (12 August) Akahata Newspaper ran an article on p.15 outlining another problem at F#2 NPP. Apparently, two calculations concerning the earthquake safety assessment were pointed out by the plant maker to be mistaken in March, but this only came to light when TEPCO reported the mistakes to NISA on 11 August. The mistakes concern reactor 2 at F#2. Under the revised earthquake safety assessment of 2007, TEPCO had to make a series of calculations to show how much components within the reactors would vibrate in the case of an earthquake. The two calculations that were mistaken were for the force that the structure supporting the reactor pressure vessel would be subject to in the case of an earthquake. The second was for the amount of vibration that would be seen in the control rods when shutting down the reactor. Both are very crucial figures that ought to be known with some precision, but both were estimated at about 10% below what the correct figure should have been. Is this a simple calculation mistake or some attempt at a coverup? Presumably less motion would be 'safer.' Whichever the case may be, it is simply one more example of TEPCO's incompetence and unwillingness to allow the public to know what is happening in a timely manner. Or are they simply lying again? If you look at the quotes from the two articles below, you will see that TEPCO was, right up to the meltdowns on 11 March engaged in all its old tricks of deceit. There seems to be some confusion over whether a report was submitted on 28 February or if NISA ordered a report to be submitted on March 2, but which has not yet been submitted by TEPCO is there any point is submitting it now, anyway?). Or are these two separate reports?? (The content seems to be somewhat different.) Again, whichever it is, it still adds up to the same tale of incompetency and deceit. How come these people have been allowed to run NPPs for so long? In a country where many things are done properly, the inability to run NPPs safely has been a national shame. Since 11 March, it is tantamount to criminal behaviour!
Disenchantment With Nuclear Power - Japan's Silent Anger - Yes, but I do not think the government should count on wa ("harmony") to enable them to get off scot-free in this case. The historical background to wa was to try to get warring parties to be more peaceful by making a moral virtue out of obedience to the elite - basically the shogunate. Much of what we now now as 'Japanese culture' stems from the Edo Period. In fact, there have been plenty of wars and uprisings in Japanese history, and, as the article portrays, the anger is simmering just under the surface. Just as in England now, an incident could set a spark to the smouldering embers and Japan could be engulfed in a wave of protest and violence. The government needs to be careful not to overstep the mark. People are getting pretty fed up with the "polite" politicians of Tokyo lying and selling them down the river. At some point, the Japanese people are going to start demanding that their 'leaders' get real.
Anyway, there is an interesting paragraph in this article:
This year, on 28 February, Tepco submitted a report to the Japanese Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (Nisa) about the Fukushima plant, admitting that it had submitted fake inspection and repair reports (3). Tepco had failed to inspect more than 30 technical components of the six reactors, including power boards for the reactor's temperature control valves, as well as components of cooling systems such as water pump motors and emergency power diesel generators. These generators were knocked out by the tsunami, leading to the crisis with the cooling system.
On March 2, 2011, nine days before the meltdown, the Nuclear Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) warned TEPCO of its failure to inspect critical pieces of plant equipment, including the recirculation pumps. TEPCO was ordered to make the inspections, perform repairs if needed and report to NISA on June 2nd. It does not appear that the report has been filed as of this time.
Reports from the forecast system were sent to the nation's nuclear safety agency, but the flow of data stopped there. Prime Minister Naoto Kan and others involved in declaring evacuation areas never saw the reports, and neither did local authorities.
"When I think about it now, I am outraged," principal Hidenori Arakawa said. "Our lives were put at risk."
#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Krypton-85 and Xenon-131m in Reactor 2 Containment Vessel Air Samples - Half life of xenon-131m is about 12 days. - As someone says in the comments, Xe-131m is beta decay product of I-131. Hmmm. It does look as if there is still some fissioning going on, and the molten 'corium' is in the air, not underwater?
#Fukushima "Special District for Medical Research" Planned by Japanese Government - Really strange! Why would they do this if they were so sure that there were going to be hardly any health effects from radiation?? Something not quite right here?
Nuclear commission erases children's exposure data - The commission itself is sick and stupid! If they didn't want individuals to be identified, why did they put the address of the child on the site in the first place? If they cannot understand this very basic issue, how can they actually do anything at all??? Nuclear Safety Commission? If you gave them a car I doubt they could find their way to the NPPs they are supposed to be supervising.
Food self-sufficiency rate fell below 40% in 2010 - And if farmers are faced with poor prices now and threatened with introduction of the TPP, how would anyone ever expect them to to be enthusiastic about production??!! The goal of 50% food self-sufficiency is a truly sick joke. Under the current arrangements it can never be met. There have to be financial/economic incentives for young people to enter farming. It's that easy, but the current regime of dinosaurs still thinks it's OK to be importing food effectively 'forever' and do not see the looming fossil energy crisis about to occur (despite the fact that they moan and groan that fossil energy is expensive when people start to mention denuclearization)!
~~~Halleluya, brothers and sisters, more revelations!~~~
Three reactors at Fukushima No.2 NPP also on the brink of meltdown catastrophe after March 11!!!
When my Tokyo Newspaper said good morning to me this morning, it smacked me in the face! Under the headlines Partial loss of power for three days and Problem avoided by using human wave tactics with several thousand workers on the front page, the newspaper tells us how TEPCO has managed to avoid telling us what happened at F#2 on 11 March and after for FIVE LONG MONTHS! See yesterday's article: Despite the promises of TEPCO's PR minions to release full information immediately, the company persists in being extremely selective about what it releases and when.
According to the article, when the tsunami arrived, the sea water heat exchange building was flooded. The pumps that pumped up the seawater for reactors 1, 2 and 4 ceased to function. The electrical distribution panel was also immersed in seawater for a time and so power was lost. The ability to cool the reactors was thus lost. While changing the pump motors, a 9 km electric power cable had to be laid (nobody ever thought of preparing external power such as this in the event of an accident). There was not enough cable at F#2 NPP (!!) and so cable had to be trucked in from Kashiwazaki-Kariwa NPP in Niigata and flown in by Self-Defense Force helicopter (which landed at the NPP at night, the headlights of 20 workers' cars being used to mark out the landing spot in the car park). The cable brought in by truck proved to be too heavy to unload (!!) and a heavy crane had to be brought in from outside. (No wonder people say emergency manuals are useless in emergencies!)
Meanwhile the reactors, including No.3 were heating up and the NPP prepared to carry out vents. These were not needed in the end, as one by one the reactors were brought back under control on 14 March. The NPP chief, Mr Naohiro Masuda, later explained, "There were several thousand workers onsite on that Friday. If the earthquake had happened just a little later, at night or on Saturday, we would not have been able to cope. We were a hair's breadth away from disaster." Whew!
Yesterday, I wrote a little about what we think happened at F#1 and tentatively concluded that the problem was that NPP piping is likely to fail in an earthquake. This portrayal of the problems at F#2 on 11 March and after looks like a 'pure' tsunami-type disaster - seawater flooding of pumps and distribution panels causing loss of cooling capability. Presumably, external power also failed, otherwise why the need for the 9 km cable? There's no mention of pipes rupturing. It's possible that some did, but were covered by the backup cooling system. (The fact that the pressure in the reactors rose, possibly necessitating vents suggests that some pipes may have ruptured.) However, it is probably true to say that FAR MORE EXTENSIVE rupturing of pipes took place at F#1, reflecting age of reactors and lack of appropriate maintenance/repair.
Anyway, thanks, TEPCO for being nearly five months late with that announcement!! You have so far consistently managed to prove that you are grossly unreliable. Having people like you running NPPs does nothing to enhance my sense of safety and well-being.
Draft Articles for Current Japanese Constitution to Cover Emergency Powers - JAPANESE article. The draft covers 4 articles and 11 clauses and includes limitations on freedom of communications, freedom of residence and movement and 'rights to assets.' A "Basic Emergency Situation Law" is also apparently in preparation. Oh, then why do they need the changes to the constitution? The person responsible for the drafting thus far, the LDP's Taro Nakayama is said to have looked at the constitutions of other countries when drafting the articles, but no details are given. Which countries, I wonder?
My feeling is that there is no need to amend the current Japanese constitution. As far as I know, it has not been amended since it was drawn up immediately after the war. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. The good part is that it is actually a pretty good constitution - I had to read it pretty thoroughly in a Law course as an undergrad in a Japanese university about 30 years ago. It has stood the test of time in the intervening 65 years and has not really needed to be changed because it deals with large issues in a very overarching way, setting broad guidelines without going into great details. The bad part is that the right-wing crowd are always venting their displeasure about having to live under a constitution that was 'handed down' to them by the Americans. So they've been eager to change it for several decades, but so far have not been successful. This attempt by Taro Nakayama appears to be along the lines of 'let's not waste a good crisis; let's use it to make amendments to the constitution.' Once the constitution is amended once, then perhaps people's resistance to constitutional amendments will slowly abate, and then they can do what they like with it, like remove Article 7 - the renunciation of war...
As I say above, these emergency powers (though I have not seen the draft) do not look to me as if they 'sit' well with the current constitution. If there is to be an emergency powers law, then what's the point? Simply to have a constitutional amendment?? So what if the constitutions of other countries have been used as reference? There are lots of different constitutions in the world. Which countries? Afghanistan, Argentina, Algeria, Albania, Andorra? We won't know unless Mr Nakayama tells us.
The limits to rights in times of emergency also look like just the kinds of things the government would like to do now. Freedom of communications? Stopping inconvenient people telling the truth on the Internet for example. The government is working hard at that one right now. I wonder how long it will be before they find me? Freedom of residence and movement? Sounds like what the government is doing now to force people to return to areas which are quite contaminated with radioactivity (see below). Or force them to remain in contaminated areas, such as is happening in Fukushima City, Koriyama City and other places. 'Rights to assets'? I'm not sure exactly what this is, but it could cover a wide area such as bank deposits, landholdings, buildings and other property. In other words, it could be the denial of property rights by the government in times of emergency. If this is what it is, then I hope the people of Japan will understand what they are getting themselves into! It is one of my worst nightmares - the government (for example) nationalizing (commandeering) all farmland in a food emergency. It's amazing to me how people whose main ideological principle is the right to hold private property can decide (by enshrining it in the constitution) to take that right away in times of emergency. The Japanese people need to think very carefully about this one. The other thing they need to think carefully about is what actually constitutes, or defines, an emergency.
Today's Nuclear Safety Commission Meeting Has a Noisy Audience - They are not happy about Tomari NPP (Hokkaido) reactor three going into regular commercial operation after over 5 months of 'testing' (that would usually last about a month). Governor of Hokkaido Harumi Takahashi was more than a bit annoyed that she was not consulted on the decision (she and the 4 local towns would usually have a meeting to decide on whether to approve the change or not) and the METII minister Banri Kaieda had to call her and agree not to make the change official until she had approved. The feeling is that the government (METI) is trying to see how far it can push before public opinion starts pushing back. See a Japanese news clip here.
PM Kan needs to read this in conjunction with the following item: Health Effects of Chernobyl - 25 years after the reactor catastrophe - It's about time some of the people in the Japanese government found out what the radiation in Fukushima and other places is going to mean! This short paper will give them some idea. Or perhaps they already know but are simply trying to wriggle out of the 'responsibility'.
#Fukushima Children Know Radiation Contamination in Fukushima - Yes, let the children speak for you. They will tell the truth. Are you listening PM Kan? (Are you even alive, PM Kan?)
" If the price[of natural gas] goes up, we won't escape an energy crisis."
"We don't want to repeat Japan's mistakes," said Sodsai Sangsoke, from an anti-nuclear power group in Ubon Ratchathani.
Sodsai was one of the participants in the NNAF meeting last week.
Safety laws not ready for nuclear project - Quite informative. Clearly this is the seminar that one of the participants told me yesterday they had attended. Thailand is not quite ready for nuclear power, is it? Let's hope it never will be.
Of course, Japan did not 'want' to repeat the mistakes of Three Mile Island or Chernobyl. Who would? After the First World War, I don't think most of the people of Europe were very 'happy' to see the Second World War starting up, but it happened. After the Second World War, a great number of people said, "Never again!" but it was not long before the Korean War and the Vietnam War and many other wars were happening. Can we say Japan has repeated the mistakes of Chernobyl?
The accident at Chernobyl appears to have occurred when the operator attempted to run the reactor at a low input, thereby destabilizing it and allowing it to run out of control. That is not the case at Fukushima#1, where reactors 1, 2 and 3 were in normal operation. So it was the very severe earthquake and ensuing tsunami that 'caused' the disaster. Yes, but then if all three reactors at F#1 experienced meltdowns but none of the reactors at Onagawa, F#2, and Tokai NPPs, then what was the problem at F#1 that was not present at the other three NPPs? Luck? I don't think so. We will have to wait for quite a number of years till we get 'full' answers to these questions, but let's have a look at what we have now. TEPCO has maintained that the problem at F#1 was that the tsunami swamped the backup diesel generators and thus the multiple-reactor meltdowns were 'caused' by loss of cooling capability due to the tsunami. This has been countered by rumours of lack of fuel in the diesel generator fuel tanks (it is known that the generators ran only for a very short time) and by Arnie Gundersen, who has said that the diesel pumps need auxilliary pumps right down near the edge of the ocean, and these would have been taken out by the tsunami anyway. The tsunami theory has also been challenged, e.g. by Mitsuhiko Tanaka in TEPCO will do anything to maintain the 'unforseeable' theory Mr Tanaka shows that it is very possible that the reactors, especially reactor one, were well on the way to a meltdown long before the first wave of the tsunami struck F#1 NPP roughly 45 minutes after the quake. According to Mr Tanaka, the accident was a typical 'loss of coolant' and 'station blackout' (loss of external power to drive cooling pumps). People escaping from the reactor buildings after the earthquake struck talk of pipes 'buckling and hissing.' (#jy27">July 27) TEPCO has admitted that one pipe in reactor 3 ruptured in the earthquake. (#m26">May 26) Of course, if it was the earthquake that were 'primarily' responsible for the meltdowns, then none of Japan's NPPs are safe. TEPCO will no doubt want to maintain the 'tsunami' theory, both to attempt to exonerate itself from any blame for the accident and to prevent people stating the obvious - Japan is too dangerous a place to have NPPs.
A lesson that definitely needs to be learned from F#1 is that if anyone really wants to run an NPP, they have to think very carefully about how to run it safely. Unfortunately, private companies are not good at this (because safety costs money) and this also does not work very well in a country, like Japan, where there is no real independent nuclear regulatory body with enough teeth to inspect properly and demand appropriate safety upgrades and so on. A well-maintained NPP may have ridden out the earthquake + tsunami. The other NPPs in the region survived, but it's not clear what factors are involved in that. Luck? If the crucial point at F#1 was keeping the pipes intact, it's still possible that no 'normal' amount of maintenance would have prevented pipes from rupturing. All cooling backup systems were lost, and a vent was found not to be possible at a crucial time. It would have been perfectly 'normal' for someone to have realised that the diesel generators could have been placed on higher ground a short way inland, but if they require auxiliary pumps near the sea then perhaps that did'n matter either.
Another safety aspect that worries me is that the plants are not being run and staffed by actual power company employees. It seems that sub-contractors of sub-contractors are doing the actual work of running, maintenance and repair of NPPs. I.e cost-cutting again. CNIC has documented many of TEPCOS safety problems and coverups spanning nearly 20 years. With no strong regulatory agency it is no surprise that TEPCO is a company that runs a slipshod ship, and therefore no surprise that a severe accident should happen under severe conditions such as those of 3/11. That is definitely a lesson that all countries who are running or planning to run NPPs must learn. If they don't, there will be more TMIs, Chernobyls and F#1s. The best way to prevent this is simply not to have NPPs.
The first three days (30, 31 June and 1 August) of NNAF were interesting. The first day was a 'seminar' on the F#1 crisis. Among the speakers were Sei'ichi Nakate from Fukushima City, Ayako Ohga, a resident from near F#1 (misspelled 'Oka' in one of the Thai newspaper reports, but then the Thais cannot easily differentiate between "Ohga" and "Oka") and the agriculture journalist Kazuoki Ohno. Particularly interesting was Mr. Nakate's idea of "satellite" evacuation. Basically, affected communities in Fukushima would evacuate en masse, as a community, to a 'safe' location. Accommodation, schools and so on would have to be constructed in the new location, but the displaced community would retain their identity. The children would be taught by the same teachers in the relocated schools. People would be allowed to go back to the original location when necessary, so links with the 'place' would not be cut. After a few (?) years of decontamination, the community would relocate back to its original setting. It would cost some money, but not all that much. It seems eminently humane and doable. Is the government talking notice? Not that I have seen, but maybe it will as the pressure builds (which is really too late).
The party was split on the second day as some people went to participate in a demonstration in Fukushima City. I did not go. The radiation in Fukushima City worries me. I persuaded at least one person not to go. Many people who did go accepted masks from me. Apparently the organizers also prepared masks for the participants, but I got very few back afterwards (one mask might not be enough for a day.) The people who stayed in Tokyo participated in an event at Waseda University about the export of nuclear power from Japan. Excellent presentations were given by Prof. Murai of Waseda University, Mr Yuki Tanabe of JACSES, Mr I Heon Seok from South Korea, Mr Nuruddin Amin from Indonesia, and Sodsai Srangsoke from Thailand. Most impressive was Nuruddin Amin's bird's eye view of the location of the proposed Muria NPP on the northern shore of central Java, The location is quite obviously on the lower reaches of a volcano! Nuruddin tells me that the volcano is dormant, but I remain unconvinced. How can we forget the earthquake and tsunami of 26 December 2004 and the long line of earthquakes and eruptions that have taken place in Indonesia before and since? If anything Indonesia is a worse choice for nukes than Japan is.
On 1 August, the whole group gathered again to to hear 'country reports.' My vague feeling before the NNAF began was that the rest of Asia might help Japan in some way to phase out nuclear power. After listening to reports from China, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand it was clear that I was quite wrong. The main points that came over clearly from the country reports were 1) Nuclear power leads inevitably on to nuclear weapons (particularly India, Mr. S. P. Udayakumar and South Korea, I Hoen Soek) and 2) That Japan must LEAD Asia in denuclearization, partly because of the F#1 disaster, but more importantly as Japan (and South Korea) is an exporter of nuclear power (Indonesia, Mr. Dian Abraham; the Philippines, Ms Mitzi Chan: Thailand, Ms Sodsai Srangsoke; and Taiwan, Mr Lin Changmao). The reasons for Japan not having nuclear weapons are not exactly clear, but let's just say that it will be an extremely sad day when the only country to have experienced the atom bomb begins to prepare to drop it on others. At the end of the day a Joint Declaration "Let us work hand in hand to create a nuclear-free society," and a list of requests to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) and TEPCO were drawn up and agreed upon. The requests consisted of six items, 1) Apologise to the people of Asia for the pollution of the sea and atmosphere by the F#1 disaster, 2) Bring the disaster to a swift conclusion, 3) Release all information and give clear explanations of the truth of the disaster, 4) Evacuate all affected people and pay full compensation for losses, etc., 5) Effect a complete denuclearization of Japan, 6) Stop all nuclear power exports and disband all organizations whose primary aim is the export of nuclear power from Japan.
2 August was the last day of the NNAF meeting in Tokyo. In the evening, many of the participants travelled to Hiroshima for a few more days of meetings and events. After dropping all the baggage off at Tokyo Station, the group went first to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. We were ushered to a conference room on the top floor of the building. The group of four METI officials consisted of three young men around 30 years of age and an older man in his 40s. Quick introductions were made and our Japanese organizers wen slowly through the list of requests. The officials replied calmly and in a manner that you would expect at a national ministry, the contents of the answers, of course being 'textbook' answers out of the manuals. The main answer for request 1, for example was that METI and the Japanese government holds press conferences where matters are explained and communicates information to other governments when necessary. For number 4, it was basically 'we are doing everything we can.' For number 6, the answer was that nuclear power is exported by private companies and the government does not tell the companies what to do. On the other hand there is no mention of the fact that the Japanese government, especially METI, is actively supporting and encouraging the export of nuclear power through financial help and help with such activities as feasibility studies. None of the officials seemed embarassed by what was happening, nor did they show any degree of emotion about the unfolding disaster happening 250 km north in Fukushima Prefecture. Perhaps they believe their own propaganda. Perhaps they don't read the newspapers. I don't know. The short meeting broke up with a friendly exchange of name cards. A 20-minute demonstration with flags banners and a pair of very loud megaphones took place on the sidewalk outside the METI building. (Short speeches by the Asian participants with Japanese interpretations by yours truly.)
The next event was a demo at and visit to the offices of TEPCO, only a five-minute walk from the METI building. Our group was ushered to a street corner by the police and flags, banners and so on were set up. The megaphones appeared again and for 20 minutes or so the above demonstration was repeated. The Asian participants and the Japanese organizers then left the demonstration to go into the TEPCO building for a meeting. In the conference room, we were met by three TEPCO PR officials, two in their 40s and one in his 50s (who did most of the talking while the other two kept notes. Everyone was given handouts (available in either English or Japanese version) - "Press Releases" (7 pages) and "The Great East Japan Earthquake and Current Status of Nuclear Power Stations" (23 pages - lots of coloured diagrams and maps and so on). Firstly there was a ritual apology by the three TEPCO PR men. Again the Japanese organizers went slowly through the six requests. Again we got 'canned' replies. Quite annoying was that every time a subject was brought up, the head PR man would ask everyone to look at a certain page in the materials. This took a lot of time (and so was done on purpose?) because the 'Press Releases' material had no page numbers and the coloured material had page numbers that started from p.1 at three different points in the materials. Actually, if you look at this small pile of materials carefully, you can see that it consists of three separate PowerPoint presentations (two slides on each page, top and bottom, each slide being numbered). So there is no way you can ask a group of people to refer to a certain 'page' in the materials unless they are fully aware of what is in them! (This company runs nuclear power stations, remember? Have you heard the stories about the blueprints they use when they do maintenance and repair on the reactors?? No laughing, now, please.) I suppose in a way it was meant to be chaos. Anyway, after a while, when most people had got the right page, the head PR man would then proceed to read it out verbatim. This also took time, and was also pretty annoying as it was mostly 'old' news.
Request No.3 turned out to be a bit sticky for the PR people. It was pointed out that TEPCO is releasing data far too late. The head PR man was adamant that information was 'now' being released at the earliest possible moment. The organizers queried why it was that the meltdowns were not announced until May 16, despite the fact that they occurred very early on in the disaster. We were referred to a page in the mateirlas that no one could find and then the subject moved on to the next request... No.4 (evacuations and compensations) was similar to METI's answer - we are doing our best under the circumstances... I think we skipped No.5 and the answer for No.6 was that TEPCO was pulling out of all of its overseas business, which was interesting, but some of the Asian participants (particularly the Taiwanese, who say that TEPCO is involved in a proposed power plant near Taipei) remained very skeptical.
As a PR exercise, I personally felt that both meetings were a disaster. There was not a shred of sincerity in anything that the officials in either METI or TEPCO said. I thought that the Asian participants were disappointed by the visits. Not necessarily because the officials did not agree with the contents of the requests and so on, but more because none of the officials expressed any sorrow for what had happened or the people affected, and neither did they seem to have an awareness that people had come from all over Asia to hear what they had to say and that therefore they owed them at least the honour of being sincere and human about what was going on. In a sense, this made the meetings meaningful. It was quite clear to the Asian participants that what they had suspected and what they had heard about the delays in releasing information, the coverups and the misinformation (e.g. Dr Yamashita's 'radiation won't harm you') was completely true. The officials had built up their little story about how it was not all that bad, no big deal, not terribly serious, and for whatever reasons they were going to stick to it regardless of who might be suffering in Fukushima Prefecture now (from the nuclear disaster; I know there are plenty of people in Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate Prefectures suffering from the consequences of the earthquake and tsunami and not getting very much better treatment from the government) and who might be suffering there and further off, hundreds of kilometers further off, in five or ten years time when the cancers and other illnesses begin to appear.
And will they? A week before the NNAF meeting I spent four days going around with Dr Chris Busby. If you haven't heard heard his talks and so on about internal radiation, about the differences between the ECRR model and the ICRP model, about how the IAEA and WHO has diverted everyone's attention away from the truth about the health effects of Chernobyl, then you should, because this is the battleground on which the F#1 disaster compensations and health surveys and so on is going to be fought. (See this huge study by Alexey Yablokov) The government are determined to show that (almost) nothing happened! That's what the ICRP model predicts and that's what the 'health studies' will show. (The chief of UNSCEAR has already declared this.) If you believe the ECRR, there is going to be quite a lot of ill health and quite a lot of cancers in northern Japan in the coming years. If you have a lot of time to read and have a medical/scientific 'frame of mind,' try reading Chris Busby's Wolves of Water (or the earlier Wings of Death). If you do, you will see how the government and the pro-nuke doctors, academics, bureaucrats, businessmen and all the others who think 'radiation is fine' and 'it's OK to drink plutonium' and 'Japan needs nuclear power' are selling the people of Fukushima and the rest of the country down the river in a rice paper canoe.
For... don't say it... (gasp!) money! Money has so taken over our lives that we no longer recall that the government is supposed to be looking after the people. What else is the government for? (They seem to have found plenty of alternative purposes.) If the people are not important, then what is?? Money? If we live in societies (as I believe) so that the weak can be helped by the strong, how come the strong have now abandoned the weak, or at times even demand that the weak support the strong? If these people have human brains in their heads and human hearts in their chests, why are they not seriously going all out to help the people who have been affected, with all the financial resources that can be mustered? Instead we find that the government rushes almost obscenely to pass a law that will ensure the survival of TEPCO and its ability to continue to make profits, after which TEPCO announces that compensations will be paid out starting from mid-October!
Meanwhile, F#1 continues to shake, rattle and fume. It is maybe that denuclearization is the least that Japan needs.
I'll try to do some other stuff tomorrow. Have a nice evening.
Japan PM in Hiroshima vows nuclear-free future - And also today at Nagasaki. Although not mentioning the "datsu genpatsu" (nuclear phaseout/denuclearization) word, he did say something to the effect that a nuclear-free society would be a good thing to aim for. His own opinion, of course, and not that of the government. The two mayors also made similar statements without actually mentioning "datsu genpatsu". It seems you can say what you like as long as you do not use the offending vocabulary item and do not suggest that you are representing anyone. Ha, ha. Who are they kidding! Why not just go the whole hog and get a little public support! Mr Edano actually said at a press conference today that TEPCO should pay compensation to parents in Fukushima who want to evacuate their children away from contaminated areas outside the designated evacuation zones. A personal opinion, no doubt. Is it public pressure by people like Mr Nakate (Seiichi Nakate - Fukushima Network to Protect Children from Radiation) that is causing these slight shifts in the government stance? I hope so.
#Radioactive Rice to Come? Rice Growing in a Rice Paddy with 35,000 Becquerels/kg of Radioactive Cesium? - Well, yes. With the world financial meltdown about to take place (?), this time next year it may simply be a case of "Eat it and shut up! You're lucky enough to have that!" One person commented, "Get the passports ready..." I think that might be the best solution for a lot of people. Rice futures market? Please give us a break. Might be 'interesting' gradations in prices for different degrees of radioactive pollution. I'm sure the government will come out with a grading system soon so that everyone can get in the same ball park. On the news last night, there was an item about how the Japanese Meteorological Agency is thinking about changing the grade system for tsunami waves by, for example, elimination the two grades for a 3 metre wave and a 4 metre wave and combining them into one grade and so on. Very nice. I can just imagine 10 bespectacled middle-aged men (there might be a woman there, you never know) sitting round a table in a small meeting room discussing this for 3 hours, give or take 30 minutes. Nothing better to do, I suppose.
Radiation Defense Project - As I was saying yesterday, some of the interesting news is now beginning to happen away from the standard MSM (though they may have managed to catch up on this one). This group has measured soil samples (5 cm depth) in 150 locations in metropolitan Tokyo and in surrounding areas. Their results show that contamination is significantly worse than the government has been saying and that they had previously thought. They are going to begin other activities and a more detailed sampling survey soon. A soil sampling survey has already begun in the Kansai area.
Thai Channel 3 report on NNAF meeting in Tokyo last week - If you don't understand Thai, sorry, please just watch the video. Mr Nakate is wrongly identified as Mr Nakata, unfortunately. If you understand Japanese, you'll understand what he's saying - basically humans and NPPs cannot exist together and we're sorry for the innocent children who are being affected and sad that we did not oppose nuclear power a little more forcefully before the accident. I hope the Thais get the message. I was told that today some of the Thai participants (including the reporter responsible for this video) visited a government energy department for a 'seminar' to report on the trip and explain about the situation in Fukushima. Thailand is in the process of planning four NPPs. I hope this will help to dissuade them.
Sunflower radiation absorption project blossoms around Japan - Hmmm... Good idea? Hope it works. Apparently, sunflowers are not the best decontamination crop, but they do work to some extent. Another problems is what to do with the plant matter after it has absorbed some of the radiation from the ground. Some people have suggested digesting it with bacteria. OK, but there will always be some radioactive material left and some place will have to be found to 'dispose' of it...
Never did get around to doing any links to news items yesterday, so I suppose I'd better do some today...
Rice Futures Market Repens in Japan in 72 Years: Limit Up in Tokyo on 1st Day Because of Radiation Scare - This was apparently decided in late June or on 1 July, as seen in this JAPANESE VIDEO where Ko-ichi Kato of the LDP explains his party's strong opposition to the opening of the rice futures market in Japan. After all we've seen since 3/11 and with the knowledge of the contamination of the soil in northern Japan, surely this is not the time for a rice futures market! Are the government begging for riots on the street, or what!? You only have to look at the next article to see what's happening...
As I was saying to one of my friends yesterday, my current time horizon is about a week. At 12:33 today we had an earthquake that worried me a bit. Turned out to be an M4.8 and quite near here, so no big problem, but if it had been further away, i.e. larger at the epicenter, and near the nuclear disaster site, it could have been very dangerous. If there is another really big earthquake near the Fukushima coast, then it could cause further serious damage to the reactor 1-4 buildings, and if any of the spent fuel pools are destroyed, e.g. by a building collapsing (reactor 4 AND the fuel pool within it are leaning to one side) then you really can say bye-bye to northern Japan. I'm sure this is not the only concern - what is the status of the meltdowns in reactors 1-3? No one seems to know. Thanks. At the end of August, I am supposed to go to Sendai to give two courses at the university. I guess it will happen, but I won't be 'sure' till about the day before...
Speaking of meltdowns, the US$ and the US economy also appears to be melting down. Not a lot of fun for ordinary Americans, and if it really does collapse Japan may be in for a very hard time too, e.g. what happens if food exports to Japan fall? It's beginning to look to me like the generalized world collapse - what I was calling in the early-mid 90s the complex (systemic) crisis of population, energy, food and 'money' - though at the time I did not think it would be financial crises pulling the apple cart over, but the general resource/food/population crisis bringing the financial structure down.
Wouldn't we all like now to put the radioactivity back in the NPP, wind back the clock a bit and demand fiscal responsibility instead of rising government debts, and wish we had elected leaders who really cared for the people (who elected them) instead of doing the bidding of big money interests? Well, we can't and now we're going to pay for it. But at least now we know we were fooled. We may be fooled again, but not all that many times. And perhaps a lot of people are not going to be fooled anymore. We woke up, and we grew up, like waking up to a cold and rainy Monday morning from a really pleasant and happy dream. Oh.
At least on those cold and rainy Monday mornings there was still some hope for the future. My time horizon used to be about 50 years. With care, I might live to be 80 or 90. Still another 20 to 30 years to go. Time to do what I want, like read some interesting books and read and speak the languages I am interested in - Japanese, of course, but also Thai, Lao, Khmer, Karen, Chinese, Cantonese and Korean. Of course, I'll never be 'fluent' in all of them, but if I can have simple conversations and read simple stuff, I'll be happy. But since 3/11, I have hardly been able to do any of this. Far too busy with this blog and with all kinds of other 'work' connected with working for a nuclear phase-out in (denuclearization of) Japan, to do with the accident site, to do with radiation hazards and to do with supporting the people of Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate Prefectures. Not a lot, but I do what I can do.
As i say, the time horizon is down to about a week. If the Japanese government dislikes what I say or do, they can put me in detention and deport me. As far as I am concerned, a death sentence. They probably don't give a hoot, though. We also do a little farming. Some rice and some vegetables. VERY few vegetables this year. Just can't seem to get outside to do it. We may have have very light soil contamination here, but any (radioactive) contamination just absolutely sickens me. The total disregard for any form of life, not just humans, of TEPCO and all the other nuclear-pushers, and now the government, since it is quite plain they they do not 'care,' either, is so staggeringly abhorrent to me that I can hardly look at the trees, grass, flowers, birds, insects, etc., etc. without wondering, "If they're going to do this, just what on Earth is the point in going on?"
We try to eat cleanly, we try to drink clean water and other liquids, avoid processed foods and stuff in 'pet' bottles. We avoid putting chemicals on any of our land. To stay healthy, I try to get enough exercise each day, watch my weight, try not to overeat, hardly ever drink alcohol, don't smoke (only one person has ever smoked in our house since it was built 25 years ago - the year of Chernobyl). And now Fukushima! Thanks, TEPCO. I know you will continue to take from me (I pay your electricity bills) and you will never give me anything back for this little piece of 'suffering,' but I really do feel that since 3/11 my life has irrevocably changed because of your complete and utter stupidity, and I will do whatever I can with my remaining life to see that (even if your company continues to exist) everyone knows just who is responsible (and in what way) for this unspeakable crime against the Japanese people. (I'm not exaggerating; I think it is clear that TEPCO managers have been criminally negligent for at least the past two decades, and it is documented. It's simply a question of getting the information to people.) And to see the complete denial of nuclear/atomic technology in Japan, Asia and the world.
I might actually get to updating a few links later...
However, Edano commented, "It is necessary to keep existing promises."
Oh, dear, it's so hard to get through to these people! Look, Mr Edano, the people who want the NPPs live a long way away from them and stand to make money/enjoy the electricity generated from them. Most of the local people will get few benefits and will be saddled with the disbenefits like regular radiation releases, anxieties over possible accidents, loss of fishing grounds, destruction of local culture, and perhaps actual accidents. These people do not want NPPs in their towns and villages and therefore DO NOT WANT Japan (and S. Korea, Russia, USA, etc.) to export NPPs. These are promises you can break, Mr Edano. Please stop exporting NPPs from Japan.
EDITORIAL: Taxes should not be used to bail out TEPCO - The last sentence sounds nice, but the fact is that as things stand TEPCO WILL survive. I think that's the wrong decision. A drunk driver who kills people on the road will be locked up. What's the difference here???
Documents reveal U.S. plan in mid-1950s to deploy nuke arms in Japan - OK. Look at India and now South Korea. Atoms for peace has a way of leading onto atoms for war. What is interesting here is that it is not at all clear why Japan does NOT have nuclear weapons. In theory, they should by now have all the technical know-how and the components (uranium enrichment, reprocessing, etc) that make it possible to manufacture and deliver a nuclear weapon, BUT the reprocessing plants in Tokai and Rokkasho Villages (like the Joyo and Monju FBRs) have been TOTAL WASHOUTS! Why is that? The Shinkansen has a great safety record, whereas the Chinese can't seem to keep their trains on the track. But China has nuclear weapons and their delivery systems. Or is it that the US never wanted Japan to have nuclear weapons and was too afraid of public opinion/political backlash to ever try very seriously to deploy them here?
~~~Situation at the Nuclear Disaster Site~~~
#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: 700 Liters of Highly Contaminated Water Leaked - VERY radioactive water - both the water that leaked AND the water in the basements of the various buildings!
TEPCO may use 'shower spray' on troubled reactor - Yeeoow!! I wish I had the luxury of making decisions in two or three weeks!! Right now my time horizon is about a week. Thanks to TEPCO, I have no confidence right now of being alive after about 14 August.
Public hoarding old rice over fallout fears - Right, so how about if rice below the government standard (500 Bq/kg??) were shipped out to west Japan and mixed 3-1, 5-1, 10-1 with very low-contamination rice to dilute the overall radiation level? Are people going to agree to/put up with that? Presumably, the somewhat contaminated rice grains are still going to contain fairly high radiation levels while the west Japan rice grains do not. Are people going to measure every grain? Is the government going to try to do this secretly? (Bet they can't keep the lid on it.) And what about the little rice farmers who aren't selling into the market? (My family.) Are the local authorities going to come round to our field and test/measure the rice before harvesting? Doubt it. Frankly, I'm not at all surprised that people are hoarding old rice. But what about next year and the year after?
The new framework has been designed to help Tokyo Electric Power Co. provide compensation to people and businesses in difficulty without going out of business amid the crisis at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.
- Help TEPCO provide compensation????? Sounds nice, but is actually help TEPCO to survive as a company. It really is a national shame when the only thing these Tokyo politicians can do relatively quickly is pass a bill that ensures the survival of TEPCO! By any standards of judgement of TEPCO's track record over the last 20 years it is clearly a criminally negligent company. Allowing it to survive like this only serves to highlight the fact that there is NO democracy in Japan, since the vast majority of politicians are busy serving corporate interests and NOT the people who elect them!
"Research and development to find ways to use uranium fuel more effectively and to reduce nuclear waste is a natural fit for Japan, which has scarce natural resources."
Oh, how nice if it could be done without killing too many people. Dream on. No one is EVER going to make it work properly and cleanly (you know, like 'no pollution'). This FBR doesn't work and I doubt it ever will, the Joyo pilot FBR in Oarai Town, Ibaraki Prefecture is doing zilch. The Mitsubishi demonstration FBR won't be built for at least another ten years (that means effectively never if you just think in terms of how much oil is going to be coming to Japan after about 2021). The Rokkasho Village reprocessing plant is a very expensive joke. I got a feeling (a feeling I can't hide) that the Minister of Education doesn't have much of a clue what he's talking about. Please read the article to find out why (apart from the above quote). Where on earth can he be getting his information? From the bureaucrats who run the ministry, I suppose. These people seem more and more to know absolutely NOTHING!
TEPCO Is Not Providing English Translation of Its Report to NISA on Emergency Cooling Scheme That Assumes Fuel and Reactors Intact at Fukushima I - Dear me! potential misunderstandings by inconvenient foreigners, eh? Just don't know how to keep their minds shut and their noses clean like good Japanese folks. And of course TEPCO assumes that foreigners can't read Japanese... When I went round with the Asian participants of NNAF to the TEPCO Head Office the other day, the senior PR man of the three queried our Japanese organizer as to why there was an obvious European in the group despite the "Asian" title. The organizer had to explain to him that I was the interpreter. His eyes opened wide and he looked at me as if to say, "What, this worm can speak Japanese?!" Ha, ha! Yes, we have a pretty good idea of what is going on here...
~~~Situation at the Nuclear Disaster Site~~~
#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Video of Packbot Approaching 5+ Sievert/Hr Location inside Reactor 1 - Oh, boy! Neerly as eerie as some parts of the Alien series. Had me wondering if the extremely radiated and annoyed alien was suddenly going to pounce on the unsuspecting pacbot...
#Radiation in Japan: 12,600 High School Students from All Over Japan Gather in Fukushima for Annual Cultural Festival - I wonder if people in the areas affected by the Chernobyl disaster are seeing this kind of thing going on in Japan. They must be shaking their heads and wiping their eyes... not from laughter.
Panel calls for more rice fields - My friend in Kyushu sent me this one today. Perhaps he was trying to drive me into an early grave, or at the very least into a nervous breakdown. I talked above (Monju article) about how politicians and bureaucrats (not limited to this country, I suppose) seem to have the intelligence of gnats (sorry, gnats), but this really has to take the imperial biscuit. Has any of the people who are putting out this monstrous garbage ever been near (let alone in) a paddy (rice) field?? Sure, plenty of young people not willing to take over their parents' small landholdings (e.g. around 0.5 ha or even less) and I just wonder why? Well, the price of rice for the producers is less than 10,000 yen/hyo (60 kg) when the production costs are around 16 - 17,000 yen! Er? Not a lot of 'fun' that. The downtrodden, wrung out and hung up to dry farmers are subsidising the traders, supermarkets, city folks and all and sundry! And what will these 20 to 30 hectare farms look like? 'Salary man' serf farm labor riding around on tractors, spreading chemicals bund to sordid bund, producing rice hardly fit to eat - yes, we've had that around here; there are some places near here where they say the rice is 'kusai' - stinks - and does not taste too good. And what will happen to this when oil/nat gas becomes more expensive? Won't run. Will have to be put back the way it is now (not easy, especially when they tear up the traditional irrigation channels!!!) or even smaller individual fields. Completely and utterly bleeding stupid and ignorant with a total lack of vision for the future to boot!
Looking around my house, I see more farmers are growing okabo (upland rice) this year. They know there's going to be a shortage, so they think it might bring a bit more cash this year. It's growing nicely right beside my house now and I can smell the rice plants growing as I walk by. Know the smell of rice growing in the field, bureaucrat? Walking my dog a few days ago, I was walking by one of these fields when a farmer I have a passing acquaintance with drove up on his small (20 hp) tractor. He had stopped by to check out how the okabo was growing. He looked at the field (about 1/10 ha) carefully for about 90 seconds and then went back to the tractor. We'd caught up with him by that time. "Looks like quite a new tractor. One or two years old?" I quipped. "Bought it two years ago." "Right. Cost you a bit." "Yes, it did." "Be OK if the rice grows nicely and you can sell it OK." "Yes, we're worried about that." "End of the road for nukes, I think." "Yep, they're no good!" He started the engine and went off to his next stop. Politicians, bureaucrats. Come here and talk to my 70-year-old + farmer friends. They know a great deal more than you do! Try three or four nights in a Karen village (N. Thailand, not Burma, bit too dangerous) at harvest time. Part way through, if you don't break down in tears for the sudden realization of what human life truly is and how wonderful it can be, you don't have a brain or a human heart in your chest. Nuclear power? FBR? Reprocessing plant? TPP? Economic growth? Before Fukushima, just about, maybe. Now? Forget it. That's all yesterday and the rest of us are trying to find a sane tomorrow, so please just get out of the way or join us, huh?
I'm not going to do anymore tonight, 'cos I'm just too depressed and fed up with the crassness of it all. Have a nice evening and maybe tomorrow will be better.
Hello, again! I'm back from the No Nukes Asia Forum (NNAF). I will try to report on that later. I have a lot of catching up to do and a lot to say, and very little time in which to do it, but I will try to find as much time as possible each day to update this page so that you will be kept in touch with what is happening at the Fukushima nuclear disaster site and what is going on in Japan as a consequence of the nuclear disaster.
[From tomorrow until 8/2 I will be attending the NO NUKES ASIA FORUM, so no updates till at least 8/3 - sorry.]
#Radiation in Japan: How the Brainwashing Was Done in Fukushima - The people are going to remember the names of these professors... (read the comments below the article, please). I heard roughly the same sentiment from a young woman who attended a meeting in Ibaraki Prefecture yesterday where a different professor from a different university was giving the local people essentially the SAME STORY. This professor (I know his name and university - do you want to know?) stated (in answer to an obviously planted question from a prefectural staffer), "It is said that low radiation exposure is good for your health. This is exactly the situation we are in now." Thanks, Prof. We'll remember who you are. In the meantime, this is called radiation hormesis and is debunked as an incredible lie by Karl Grossman, a professor at State University of New York College.
Noting that the central government still hasn't gotten to the bottom of the Fukushima nuclear crisis, Izumida said Tuesday in Tokyo that the new safety assessment procedure is almost useless unless the cause of the accident is taken into consideration.
In other words, nuclear reactors should not be restarted until TEPCO and the government starts being quite a bit more honest about what actually happened at F#1. But, as we saw yesterday (top article) TEPCO and the government have no wish to do that because it would show that plant mismanagement and the earthquake rather than the tsunami were relatively much more important 'causes' of the disaster. So they either lie or give up? Another factor is that the government and business circles are asking for nuclear reactor restarts, but have studiously avoided any mention of a date for a nuclear phase-out. Because of the way METI minister Banri Kaeda and others in the government have handled this, popular opinion is turning strongly against nuclear power, and it may just prove to be impossible to restart ANY reactors until a firm promise of an appropriate (i.e. in the 2020s) phase-out date is given by the government.
Power companies' generation figures called into question amid push for reactor restarts - A very unsatisfactory article. The power companies and METI are VERY CONSCIOUSLY HIDING the figures for thermal power stations and hydroelectric generation. I can't find them anywhere. Just as for nuclear power reactors (for which the information is easily available!!) I cannot find anywhere on the web which thermal power stations are online/offline and what their maintenance schedules are and so on. Please prove me wrong by showing them to me. That includes you, Mr Banri Kaieda, METI minister. It's been clear since the 1980s that this secrecy is deliberately employed to prevent people knowing that thermal power stations have maintenance scheduled for the summer in order for the power companies and the government to pronounce pompously that "nuclear power is necessary" when it is not! How about the regular press finding the figures and publishing them instead of this almost totally meaningless article?!
Power shortages expected even 5 years ahead - Another pretty absurd article. Designed (as usual) to elicit the "Ah, yes, after all Japan cannot survive without lots of nuclear power" response. In the situation Japan is in at the moment (and with the economies of US/EU/China on the edge of the precipice) who knows how much electricity will be needed in 5 years' time?? OK, if Japan wants to go the French way, maintain its nukes and even build more, we will all have to face the possible consequences. If Japan wants to go the German way and phase out nuclear power in the 2020s, then one of the first things to do now is to begin to reduce electric power consumption through conservation, just as Germany is now as it moves toward the increase of renewable energy. Without this yes/no decision on whether Japan is going to go down the nuclear phase-out path or not, talking about "power shortages" in 5 years' time is almost as ridiculous as Tetsunari Iida's favorite(?) saying that "100% of Japan's energy can be provided by renewable energy sources in 2050." 100% of what? 100% of what Japan is using now or 100% of what Japan will be using in 2050? The latter I suppose, but how much energy is that compared with what Japan uses now? 10%? 20%? That part is never made clear. I'm sure most people who hear him say that are just making up some kind of dreamy story in their heads. I must remember to ask him what the answer is next time I run into him in Tokyo...
#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Robot "Quince" Video Inside Reactor 3 - Interesting for gamers, maybe.
#Contaminated Water Treatment System: 58% Operating Rate, Amount of Water Increased by 3000 Tonnes in a Week - Apparently the water treatment system is not keeping up with water pumped into the reactors in the attempt to cool them.
Tochigi Prefecture tested the leaves that went into the leaf compost bags, and they found 72,000 becquerels/kg of radioactive cesium. The leaves were collected in the northern Tochigi in April, and was sold outside the prefecture from mid June to early July.
Er... so they knew about the contamination but did not stop the leaves from being bagged?? Not sure I quite understand what is going on...
Contents page of the CNIC bi-monthly newsletter Nuke Info Tokyo No.143 - Please see the top article, which is about how the disaster at F#1 occurred. The author, Mr Mitsuhiko Tanaka, describes how reactor 1 probably melted down and how this story 1) is different from that described by TEPCO in its simulation, and 2) describes how the meltdown process probably began before the arrival of the tsunami, making the earthquake the major 'cause' of the disaster rather than the ensuing tsunami (though 'causes' are very complex in this case and I would certainly not ascribe the 'cause' of the disaster to something as 'simple' as the earthquake alone.) The meltdown described here seems to be eerily similar to that described by METI itself in a video created some years ago (though it is not clear exactly when). See the top link in the update for #jy23">July 23 for the video. ALSO, please note that in the article UK Independent: A young man sacrificing his future to shut down Fukushima linked in yesterday's update, the young man featured recalled that On 11 March, when the quake disabled the plant, he watched in terror as pipes hissed and buckled around him. Thus it does now look very much like a loss of coolant accident accompanied by loss of external power (Station Blackout - SBO) was the immediate cause of the meltdown, at least in reactor 1.
IAEA's Chief Amano Does #Fukushima I Nuke Plant Tour - The IAEA people seem to be perfectly aware of the dangers of radiation - even internal (inhaled) radiation - since they are wearing the filter masks and so on. Of course it's a lot closer to the damaged reactors than Fukushima City, but they were only there a short time. Isn't living in Koriyama or Fukushima Cities just as dangerous???
And then today, after visiting the nuclear disaster site yesterday, Mr Amano now tells PM Kan that nuclear power is going into business-as-usual mode! Nuclear power to grow despite Fukushima, IAEA head says after meeting Kan - I'm going to have to quote most of the article here because it is so absurd! Also please see the comments under the article linked here to confirm that many people are NOT buying the IAEA line.
The head of the U.N. atomic watchdog said Tuesday that nuclear power will keep growing in the world despite the crisis at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant, which he visited the previous day.
“Some countries, including Germany, have reviewed their nuclear energy policy, but many other countries believe they need nuclear reactors to tackle problems such as global warming,” he told reporters. “Therefore, securing safety is more important than anything.”
Amano, who visited the crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant on Monday, said he affirmed to Kan that the international nuclear body will help the disaster-hit country bring the atomic power plant under control.
“I told the prime minister that the IAEA can help Japan because we have knowledge and experience on decontamination and the management of melted or spent nuclear fuel,” he said.
Japan and plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) are trying to bring the plant’s reactors to stable “cold shutdown” by January.
Kan has also announced “stress tests,” modeled on a similar program in the European Union, for all nuclear reactors in Japan. The majority of the nation’s 54 reactors are currently offline for safety checks.
“I think it’s very good that countries check the safety of nuclear generation after the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant,” said Amano. “It would be good if the IAEA could review such safety inspections internationally.”
1. I do not subscribe to this "watchdog" idea. It's not as if the IAEA keeps a careful watch on the safety of nuclear reactors worldwide and then comes in with strong recommendations for action if it sees something amiss occurring at a nuclear plant somewhere. That would be what a "watchdog" does. If there is a sense in which the IAEA is a "watchdog," it would be in the way that the IAEA seems to promote nuclear power and act as a mouthpiece for the nuclear industry when conscientious and concerned groups and citizens oppose nuclear power or nuclear power plants due to valid safety reasons somewhere in the world.
2. "...need nuclear reactors to tackle problems such as global warming ... “Therefore, securing safety is more important than anything.” I think the world is quite capable of tackling global warming without nuclear reactors. Since mining, refining, transportation of nuclear fuel, the fabrication of fuel rods, construction, decommissioning, dismantling of nuclear reactors and nuclear power stations, and the storing and final disposal (a problem not yet solved) of spent nuclear fuel all use fossil fuels, the effect of using nuclear power on CO2 emissions abatement is small. If "securing safety is more important than anything," then JUST DON'T BUILD NUCLEAR REACTORS/NUCLEAR POWER STATIONS IN THE FIRST PLACE! In the end that is the only way to ensure real 'safety'.
3. If the IAEA is going to "help the disaster-hit country bring the atomic power plant under control" then I'd like to know in concrete detail what it is the IAEA is actually doing or is going to do. F#1 is a first in history. I think the real situation is that NO ONE really knows what to do. Sounds very reassuring, but in fact a lot of hot air, isn't that right, Mr Amano? I'll be very happy indeed to know what concrete steps/measures/actions the IAEA is planning to help get the crippled reactors of F"#1 under control.
4. Similar to 3. "...the IAEA can help Japan because we have knowledge and experience on decontamination and the management of melted or spent nuclear fuel." Yes, that might be very nice, but how about helping with the health problems of people, especially children, in Fukushima Prefecture and other surrounding areas. Why is this NOT mentioned? We should recall that the WHO is not permitted to make any statement or take any action concerning the area of health and radiation without the approval of the IAEA, isn't that right, Mr Amano? (Please see the Guardian article of April 11: How nuclear apologists mislead the world over radiation.) So is the IAEA NOT concerned about the people who are being affected, and is the IAEA NOT going to make any particular effort for the health problems of affected people/areas, but only help with getting the reactors at nuclear disaster site under control??
5. "...trying to bring the plant’s reactors to stable “cold shutdown” by January." This is probably a problem with the author of the article rather than Mr Amano. “Cold shutdown” is a term that is usually used to refer to bringing nuclear reactors to a halt in normal circumstances, or to a non-catastrophic halt in an emergency such as an earthquake and so on. It is not a term that can be used to describe the final cooling of the totally destroyed reactors 1, 2 and 3 (and 4?) at F#1.
6. "The majority of the nation’s 54 reactors are currently offline for safety checks." F#1 reactors 1-6 are certainly offline, but not for 'safety checks'!!! I live near Tokai nuclear power station, which has only one reactor. It just about managed to shut down safely on 11 March. Whew! When "stress tests" were ordered, the governor of Ibaraki Prefecture, Masaru Hashimoto, called NISA? METI? the Nuclear Power Minister (Mr Hosono)? to confirm whether the Tokai reactor would be subject to the test. He was told, "No, the reactors on the coast affected by the earthquake/tsunami are not included." That probably includes Onagawa, and F#2. Higashidori nuclear power station is apparently preparing to undergo the stress test (In Japanese). (Japanese articles on the web here and here show that Tokai and Onagawa are not being asked to restart and that F#2 is not included in the stress tests. If a nuclear power station is not included in the stress test then it cannot restart, and if it is not being asked to restart then it is not included in the stress tests.) It's even possible that none of these will ever run again. Certainly, people around me in Ibaraki are saying that the Tokai reactor is 'finished.' It would be nice to have a little more accuracy with the reporting.
7. "I think it's very good that..." "It would be good if..." Excuse me, but are these the words of a serious nuclear "watchdog" that we can really trust?? I think not. Extremely weak. How about, "The IAEA will do whatever it can to ensure that..." and so on? Does it not actually have the real power to tell national and private power generators what to do? I suspect not. See the blog update for #m14">May 14 where this quote appears: "What national nuclear regulators appear to want from stress tests is a largely toothless paper-shuffling exercise." And isn't that the point, Mr Amano? Just make it look good on the surface and on paper and pretend that nuclear power is 'safe' so that the little people on the street don't lose sleep getting all anxious over a little radiation. There is no "watchdog," there is no real 'safety,' and clearly there is no concern for the people (especially children) who are right now being affected by the radiation releases from the F#1 nuclear disaster site. Please tell me, Mr Amano, if we do not worry about these people in Fukushima City, Koriyama City and other places in Fukushima Prefecture, and parts of Tochigi Prefecture and Ibaraki Prefecture, then why is it necessary for you to wear full protective gear, including an air filter mask (presumably to prevent the inhalation of hot particles) to visit F#1 for a few hours? In fact, given the ability to see things very well over long distances via the Internet or with HD videos, why was it necessary for you to visit the disaster site in the first place? Are you some kind of 'disaster tourist' or is this just another extension of 'theatrical politics'?
Final note. Mr Amano, I am not trying to attack you personally, but simply trying to point out some of the problems I see with the stance of the organization you represent, the IAEA. I will be very happy indeed to receive any correction concerning 1-7 above and place it here for all to see. If I am wrong somewhere, I will be perfectly happy to acknowledge that fact on this page. Please feel free to write to me at any time.
~~~Halleluya, brothers and sisters, more revelations!~~~
"Now They Tell Us" Series: #Fukushima Reactor Cooling Was From Outside the Shroud - Rather pathetic, really. A good example of bolting the stable door after the horse has fled. What's the point of cooling the shroud once the molten nuclear fuel has eaten its way out of the reactor pressure vessel and onto the floor of the containment vessel, or even further? I suppose some of the water may have gone down there...
Radiation exposure over lifetime studied - A government food safety panel recommended Tuesday that safeguards be taken to ensure that cumulative radiation exposure during one's lifetime not exceed 100 millisieverts, a benchmark beyond which the risk of cancer increases.
Despite the 'safety myth,' nukes are known to be dangerous and so are sited as far as possible away from major population areas - though in Japan that has turned out to be difficult. Basically these areas are also areas where the main forms of livelihood are 'primary' industries - fisheries and agriculture. Primary industries have a very hard time competing with (secondary) manufacturing industries (in terms of "efficiency" of making money) and so become very disadvantaged within the society/economy of the country. In most advanced 'civilised' countries primary industries have to be supported by government subsidies and so on (since food security is considered by most countries to be an important component of sovereignty - Japan is an interesting case because of it's large population and low food self-sufficiency). Thus, because of the cash sweetener, it has proven to be fairly easy to get (depressed) rural locations to accept nuclear power stations here.
Regarding some aspects of nuclear power the local people were lied to, and the power companies (TEPCO) have failed to keep their promise to run the nuclear power stations safely (the argument that the tsunami 'caused' the F#1 accident has now completely run out of steam). So, of course people are very unhappy about being lied to and then treated like 3rd class 'citizens' when they have to bear the brunt of the nuclear contamination following the disaster - as seen in the video above. Talking to Tokyo people, they are just waking up to the fact NOW that their food AND electricity comes/came from the same places and that what has happened has been inconvenient for them, but also that the real situation that has existed for the past 40 years or so was somehow hidden from them, and that the people who have had to put up with the anxieties (both of farming and nuclear power) during that time are now, ON THEIR (Tokyo people) BEHALF suffering an unmitigated disaster in which the government has very callously turned its back on them!! Time for the people of Tokyo to wake up, turn round and tell the government that this current behaviour is SIMPLY UNACCEPTABLE!
I have attempted to do a rough calculation of extra cancers likely to occur from the F#1 nuclear disaster in the Tokyo conurbation based on the calculations by Dr Chris Busby in his PDF paper The health outcome of the fukushima catastrophe. The results are below. (Tables 1 and 2 are the same as Tables 5 and 6 (pp.10-11) in Dr Busby's paper. Calculation methods are given in the same paper on pages 9-10, but if anyone would like to know the details, please leave a comment at the bottom of this page.)
The 100 km zone is estimated to have a population of 3,338,900.
Table 1. The predicted cancer increases in the 100 km zone near the Fukushima site
In 50 years based on collective doses at an exposure of 2 µSv/hr for one year
In ten years following the catastrophe, based on surface contamination only
In 50 years, based on collective doses at exposure of 2 µSv/hr for one year; probably half of these expressed in the first ten years
The 100-200 km zone is estimated to have a population of 7,874,600
Table 2. The predicted cancer increases in the 100-200 km zone near the Fukushima site
In 50 years based on collective doses at an exposure of 2 µSv/hr for one year
In ten years following the catastrophe, based on surface contamination only
In 50 years, based on collective doses at exposure of 2 µSv/hr for one year; probably half of these expressed in the first ten years
For the estimate in the 200-300 km zone I have assumed 1 µSv/hr for one year or 300 kBq/sq m ground contamination. If the resulting figures look large, that is because the population of this zone is large. However the radiation exposure/contamination assumptions may be too large. An estimate of one-half to two-thirds of the one given here might be approporiate. We will know in ten years time because according to the ECRR models there should have been at least 250,000 extra chancers in this area. It remains to be seen whether cancer statistics that will enable this to be judged will actually be kept.
The 200-300 km zone is estimated to have a population of 37,630,341 (see Table 4)
Table 3. The predicted cancer increases in the 200-300 km zone near the Fukushima site
In 50 years based on collective doses at an exposure of 1 µSv/hr for one year
In ten years following the catastrophe, based on surface contamination only
In 50 years, based on collective doses at exposure of 1 µSv/hr for one year; probably half of these expressed in the first ten years
For the number of extra cancers appearing in the whole 300 km zone, the figures for each model in Tables 1, 2 and 3 must be added. I.e. for the whole zone out to 300 kms, the ECRR absolute model would predict roughly 1,500,000 extra cancers over 50 years, half of those perhaps occurring in the next ten years.
Table 4. 200-300 km zone population
Parts of Iwate Pref., Akita Pref., Niigata Pref. and Nagano Pref. in the 200-300 km zone have been ignored. The furthest parts of Kanagawa Pref. may actually lie beyond the 300 km line from the Fukushima site. Population statistics from Japanese Wikipedia (2010 figures)
The Simple Life - This is what I'd like to be doing, and should be doing now, but with the ground contaminated with radioactive Caesium 134/137 and goodness know what else, I do not really feel like going out into the field to do any work!
Japan’s Nuclear Power Plants under Scrutiny - The impact of the July 16 earthquake in Japan on a large nuclear power reactor near Niigata has raised issues about transparency and safety. BY VIVEK PINTO. This is a PDF article from 2007 that shows very clearly that Japanese nuclear woes definitely did not start on 11 March 2011.
On 11 March, when the quake disabled the plant, he watched in terror as pipes hissed and buckled around him.
#Radiation in Japan: Government to Survey Half of Japan for Soil Contamination - This is one of the things Dr Chris Busby said during his recent trip in Japan that the Japanese govt MUST do in order to produce a radiation contamination map (to be published on the Internet and so on) that will allow people to make up their own minds what to do. Needs to be done quickly and properly. One further measure was to set up high-volume air filters at 10s of kms distances out to 200-400 kms from Fukushima No.1 to monitor airborne hot particles and so on. The filters must be analyzed every two weeks for uranium, plutonium and so on and the results published. Looks like the Japanese government will do the first, but totally ignore the second, which is really necessary. Several people have left comments on this page saying that the idea of making a radiation map by helicopter is laughable and that the map should be made by people actually surveying the radiation on the ground. Sure, if they can do it in a reasonable amount of time. The helicopter survey is reckoned to tak the rest of this year. It doesn't look like the Japanese government wants to commit a lot of manpower/money or other resources to this project.
#Radioactive Rice Hay in Tochigi: 106,000 Becquerels/Kg Cesium
#Radiation in Japan Spreads: Wheat, Rapeseeds in Fukushima, Rice Hay Outside Fukushima Far Exceeding Safety Limit
"It is important to our relations with Japan that we seek to remove the strong Japanese notion that atomic and nuclear energy is primarily destructive. We should accordingly attempt at an early point to include Japan in bilateral and multilateral actions intended to develop peaceful uses of atomic energy."
"I sometimes feel a sense of powerlessness when seeing the rush to build nuclear power plants, but I think to myself, 'Even ants can defeat an elephant if they are brought together.' We can change history if we can have a strong common will."
IMHO, however, the article shows very clearly how people who have opposed nuclear power up until quite recently have faced an impossible task due to the incredibly large imbalance in power relations between 'ordinary' people on one side and the power companies and the government on the other. Since 3/11, the power balance has shifted somewhat, but perhaps not all that much.
A man who took part in the construction of emergency housing in Iwate Prefecture said he had been promised 20,000 yen, or 250 dollars, per day, but received only about one-third of the amount.
Not actually people working at the F#1 nuclear disaster site, but this behaviour is CRIMINAL. Is this the GOVERNMENT doing this??? Even 20,000 yen/per day is not fantastic, but 6,000 to 7,000 yen/day is close to slave labour! Is this the sort of thing the workers at the nuclear disaster site are experiencing?? The article appears to suggest so. NHK is not exactly renowned for its radical reporting, so just exactly what is going on? If this kind of thing is happening at the nuclear disaster site then it is a NATIONAL DISGRACE!!
Christopher Busby's Talk in Japan, July 17: From Air Filters, Plutonium in Fukushima, Uranium in Tokyo - If you read the comments, you'll see that Dr Busby's short trip has attracted a certain amount of attention. The fact that a pro-nuke person (from Nuclear Power? Yes Please) has contributed quite a lot to the discussion probably signifies that Dr Busby is telling just a bit more of the truth than is comfortable for the pro-nuke people. I haven't seen the U-stream videos because I was there - as Japanese interpreter, so if you hear the Japanese interpretations, it's me. Don't know if they actually show my smiling face, but you might just get lucky...
Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan says the policy he announced on Wednesday on reducing the country's dependency on nuclear energy is his own, and not a government plan.
Justice Minister Satsuki Eda said many Japanese are increasingly suspicious concerning the future of nuclear energy, and that Kan's announcement was aimed at starting national debate on the issue.
Sounds like PM Kan is isolated inside his own cabinet. Perhaps that is because the other ministers are basically in favour of nuclear power (and therefore are trying to push Kan out). Eda appears to be supportive of Kan, but I'm not clear on what his stance on nuclear power is.What does many Japanese are increasingly suspicious concerning the future of nuclear energy mean? Many Japanese are suspicious about nuclear power? Yes. Suspicious about whether or not a nuclear phase-out is actually going to happen or not? Yes. Suspicious about many politicians' stances on nuclear power? Yes, Mr. Eda, a little too much ambiguity, I think.
Yoshiaki Takaki told reporters on Friday that ... the issue of whether to continue or abandon Monju must be discussed in the context of Japan's overall energy policy.
Oh, is Japan still going to attempt to complete the back-end of the nuclear cycle, then? That's really the only energy context in which a decision not to scrap Monju makes any sense. And since, as Wikkles suggests, FBRs do not look like a terribly good future energy option, scrapping it would seem to make more sense than anything else. However, to politicians, the only things that make much sense are their pride, money under the table, and their future election chances. Compared with these, the realities of FBR operation pale away over the far-distant horizon.
A hibakusha group said in its declaration in August 1956, "Our only hope is that atomic power, which could lead humanity into destruction and annihilation, will be used in the direction for human happiness and prosperity."
One of the organizers of the convention is Rengo, the Japanese Trade Union Confederation, the country's largest union group. Under its umbrella are unions at power utilities and nuclear reactor manufacturers.
A bit of a specious argument really. a) In 1956, the authors of the declaration probably had little chance of knowing what nuclear power would mean today, and they would almost certainly oppose it if they were to come to write the declaration today. b) Sure, RENGO will struggle to protect the livelihoods of its membership. What do you expect them to do? I know it's hard to equate nuclear power and livelihoods, but that's how they will see it. But nuclear power does not have to be faded out immediately. If PM Kan gets his way (he won't) it will take 40 years. Realistically, it will take at least ten years (unless the pro-nukes really take a strong stance, and then it could happen more quickly). The problem may be that new nuclear power stations will no longer be built in Japan. Is building them overseas an answer? Not really. So, for the time being, thermal power stations and renewable energy equipment will have to be built to satisfy energy needs. The employment will have to shift over to these. No big problem for the membership, except that the companies they work for now might get pushed out of the market. That's happening all the time, so what's the fuss? (And anyway, who can see ten or more years into the future now??)
~~~Situation at the Nuclear Disaster Site~~~
#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Water Treatment System Is in Trouble
Big Brother is watching you - and using your money to do it!
According to a front-page article in the Akahata newspaper for yesterday morning, the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, a part of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), has been farming out programs to look for anti-nuclear opinions in the press and on the Internet. These programs have been carried out under the "adaptive information provision program," a part of the "nuclear facility siting promotion and adjustment program." (Quite a lot of newspeak there!) The program has been farmed out to different organizations since 2008, when 23.94 million yen were paid out form the program. In 2009, 13.12 million yen and in 2010, 9.76 million yen were paid out to the operators of the organization. (Since the figures are going down, perhaps the Agency doesn't find the results as interesting as they would like...) According to the Agency's explanation at the time of bidding for the program in 2010, the aim of the program was to 'respond to inappropriate or inaccurate information.' The program covers 30 newspapers, including main national newspapers, industrial trade papers and local papers from areas which have nuclear power stations. The organization that carried out the program in 2010, a foundation named the Institute of Applied Energy (IAE), said that if they found a 'mistaken' article, they would report it to the Agency and also prepare corrections.
The IAE themselves said that they were unclear about what the term inappropriate meant exactly and agreed that it could be interpreted to mean a wide range of things. The program specification [had to stop for a few minutes there for an earthquake at 21:01 - M5.5 in south Tochigi Prefecture - quite near here] drawn up by the Agency mentioned "analysis making use of specialist views or knowledge of trends concerning" the country's nuclear power policy, the use of MOX fuel in any conventional reactor, and so on. The program operators were also told to monitor anti-nuclear academic or engineers' blogs to see what kind of data or arguments they were employing. An Agency spokesman explained that "There is much misunderstanding about nuclear power.This is a program about effective information provision." I won't bore you with the details, but this IAE organization has quite a number of former TEPCO and METI people on its board of directors. What a surprise. I'm sure the Japanese people are thrilled to know about this particular use of their tax money.
She's equipped her house with solar panels so she won't need power from the plant. She noted the irony that after the quake, family and friends came to her house to charge mobile phones because electricity to the town was cut.
"If nuclear plants are safe for people to live near, they should build one in the middle of Tokyo," she said, pointing to the construction site.
Solar panels in the middle of a nuclear power station. That's a good one. If another earthquake comes when the plant is running (if ever) and external power is lost, the plant manager can just step over to the house and ask Atsuko if they can hook up to her solar panels for a few hours to keep the cooling system going. Oh, and Gov. Ishihara was saying the other day that he'd like to build a gas-fired power plant in Tokyo. Not too smart. Everyone knows that nuclear power is cheaper. The Agency for Natural Resources and Energy and METI have been saying that for a long time. Since gas will eventually run out and uranium will eventually be in short supply, why not build the whole nuclear cycle in Tokyo? You could base it on the circular Yamanote line. Have a nice big nuclear reactor in Shinjuku, near to the Metropolitan Office so that Gov. Ishihara gets all the energy he needs to run his cooler, then have a nice big reprocessing plant at Shibuya. Have a big fast breeder reactor at Tokyo Station then run the line around to the final nuclear waste depository at Ikebukuro. Then you'll be ready to start again at the nuclear reactor at Shinjuku. Now that's what I call a nuclear fuel cycle! Come on, Gov. Ishihara, how about it? Nice and safe! (See the population of Tokyo drop to about 5,000 staunch nuclear power supporters over about two or three months! Note for Agency lurkers: I humbly apologise for the inappropriate content of this article:)
PM Kan, can you please put your money where your mouth is??!!
The Akahata newspaper for yesterday (13 July) ran a small article tucked away in a corner of page two. 28.8 billion yen cut from renewables: In a paper approved by the cabinet on July 12, it was made clear that the 2011 budget for renewable energy programs, including PV panel diffusion programs, was 28.827 billion yen (about US$360 million) less than in 2010. Of this, 21.48 billion yen was for accelerated introduction of renewable energy forms, 5.2 billion for PV house installation subsidies, and subsidies for small and medium sized hydropower and geothermal energy development.
Seems to me to be just the sorts of things they would want to be promoting now if they were serious about a nuclear phase-out. Not really surprising that they conclude nuclear power is 'necessary' if they do things like this!
Interesting, but I see two problems. The article says that the top of the bluff was removed so that the NPP could be built directly on the bedrock. But as far as I know it is not; the bedrock is something like 8 or 10 meters below the NPP buildings. Or is that what they mean by 'directly on solid bedrock.'?
The second thing here is that the story in the article says that TEPCO was applying to the government to construct and start up the NPP. However, what I hear from Japanese people (sorry, no references, just what I hear people say) is that it was the government that wanted nuclear power and the power companies weren't all that keen on it at first. Japanese people tell me that is the reason why the power companies don't seem to be very 'interested' in or 'proud of' the NPPs. It wasn't their big idea in the first place. There us still a sense of, "Oh, well, the government forced us to do it, and we're not really sure how to run these things anyway..." This is the reason why, despite the fact that the NPPs are all owned and run by private power companies, the people and the power companies themselves want the government to take an major part of the 'responsibility' (blame) - and also why the government accepts this - the apologies have not been 'ritual apologies; PM Kan et al. are having to apologise seriously for this mess because of this history.
"This is all technical procedure, not a decision to be made politically," Edano said.
Japan still needs nuclear power: Tokyo governor - It's all a bit too much... there's so much to comment on here that I could sit here all night and write about this. If it wasn't for the fact that Gov. Ishihara is top man in one of the worlds largest (and now most radioactive) cities in the world (and that for some unfathomable reason the people of that metropolis have been electing him), this might be very funny. Chose the wrong metier, old chap; should've been a CLOWN!!
None of the shops who sold the contaminated beef is named. The reason? Because "Even if you eat this meat, I don't think there is no immediate danger to one's life" (official in Yokohama City, as reported by Tokyo Shinbun), so there's no need to name the shop.
Wow! Things just zing up worst and worst everyday, isn't we?
Talking of "stress tests," my friend in Kyushu, who has a way with words (and therefore says the most outrageous things, which is why I do not let you know what his name is because it will get him into trouble), sent me a little message after reading what I said about stress tests last night...
All this 'stress test' BS, purlease. We've just had a stress test in Fukushima. It's called a Magnitude 9 earthquake and nuclear power plants don't stand up too well, as we are witness to.
What other stress test are they thinking needs examination? The Chairmens' ability to stress out and retire on a lolopping wad of freshly printed notes after a statutory sumimasen boo hoo bowing and scraping session on TV? He obviously failed the stress test. Matsumoto failed the stress test. Kan is looking dubious. Hatoyama and Ozawa have their heads down.
Perhaps the only people passing the stress test are the poor, directly affected, tax paying citizens of Iitate Mura, Kawamata, Namie, etc., etc... who have lost EVERYTHING. These people never had a choice.
People within a 100km radius of Genkai and other nuclear power plants should decide if they want the stress of what those in Fukushima have faced. Fukuoka City, that means YOU babes. Can you afford to say 'Yes'?
And of course, they cannot. Quite right. The important stress tests have either been failed or are still ongoing. I'm still here, but that's only kinda provisional, if you know what I mean...
"The adults are the ones who have been promoting nuclear power, but it is our children who will likely bear the burden that comes with it. I want to fulfill my own responsibilities in order to somehow reduce their suffering," Koide says.
"I made the donations out of my desire to promote pluthermal power generation. I decided the amount of donations myself and have no idea about contributions by other officials," a former Saga branch manager told the Mainichi, denying that the donations were made systematically by the utility.
I might have found this a tiny bit more believable if he had said 'support nuclear power generation' or something like that, but, to me anyway, 'promote pluthermal power generation' sounds like he was scripted...
Now four months since the earthquake and the nuclear disaster just simply seems to lurch from problem to stupidity. As you will see below, some people are now estimating that it will be ten years before they can start to get the nuclear fuel out (if they ever do)...
"A long-term test similar to the European Union's would have an impact on industries and people's daily lives," Okada told reporters while on a visit to Ofunato, Iwate Prefecture. "The point is how to create Japan's version of the test."
Oh? Since when was Mr. Okada an expert on nuclear safety? Since when was the EU 'stress test' a 'long' test? First I've heard of it (although they have been termed 'a largely toothless paper-shuffling exercise,' as we saw yesterday). Saying the test should be shortened because otherwise they would have an impact on industries and people's daily lives is the same as saying the tests are just a sham and we want to get them out of the way ASAP. If you're going to do the tests, Mr. Okada, do them properly in the knowledge that we can have confidence that those NPPs that pass the test will operate safely and that those NPPs that fail will be shut down until they can pass or be decommissioned. IF you do the tests properly, then it might just spare the people who live near NPPs a certain amount of anguish. And if further nuclear accidents can be prevented by doing the tests appropriately and the government and the power companies doing their best to ensure safety at NPPs (instead of spending lots on money in the media and running around trying to 'explain' that their friendly local NPP is 'safe') then the correct effect will have been achieved, eh, Mr. Okada? One more small matter: Japan's version of the test? A better one or a worse one? If it's a shorter one, it will probably not be as good. Not as good as 'a largely toothless paper-shuffling exercise' is really not very good at all, is it? Are you planning to simply deceive everyone with a poor excuse for a paper-shuffling exercise or are you planning to do what most Japanese are expecting you to do with these tests, Mr. Okada?
#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: They Will Start Charging Workers for Food at J-Village - If true, and I think it is, this must mean the end of TEPCO. If they can't even find the money to feed the heroes who go to the nuclear disaster site, they must have their backs jammed right up hard against the wall. (And if they do have the money then they need to have their backs jammed right up hard against the wall!) I hope this will turn into a national outcry!!
The inspection has found that the 11 cattle were kept inside a barn, and since last fall, they had been fed with straw that was stored indoors and mixed with feed from outside the prefecture. They were given water drawn from a well.
No radioactive substances were detected on the skin of the cattle in pre-shipment screening.
So where did the radioactive contamination come from, then??? The NHK 19:50 news on BS1 solved the mystery. In fact the farmer had run out of hay (straw) and had used hay that had been sitting around outside till sometime in April. The hay was measured at about 75,000 bq/kg. Oh.
If the sunflowers that have absorbed cesium are burned, the radioactive cesium could be dispersed into the atmosphere. Therefore, Yamashita and other researchers are planning to use bacteria to decompose the sunflowers and reduce the volume of the plants and treat them as radioactive waste.
See these articles about Kesennuma to get an idea of what life is like in the north, where the effects of the 3/11 earthquake and tsunami were felt the hardest...
Mr. Madarame/Detarame, how come the NSC just wants stress tests as a formality??
The Tokyo Newspaper this morning carries an article on the front page concerning Mr. Madarame's (Japan's Nuclear Safety Commission Chairman) comments on the nuclear power stations' "stress tests" - whatever they are, a kind of computer simulation, perhaps. Mr. Madarame (also known as 'Detarame' [a load of BS] for some mix-up about dumping or not dumping sea water on the Fukushima #1 reactors at the beginning of the nuclear crisis) claims that passing the stress tests is not a condition for restarting currently down nuclear reactors. He bases his comment on the fact that during the recent stress tests in Europe some of the reactors underwent the stress test while they were running. I have not heard that any reactors were stopped or prevented from restarting due to failing the stress test in the EU (did any of them fail it?) and the tests have been labelled 'a largely toothless paper-shuffling exercise' by some people there (see under 'Overseas' in #m14">May 14 below). So, Mr. Madarame/Detarame, what's the point if passing/failing the stress test is not going to make any difference about whether a nuclear reactor runs or not?? I agree that doing the stress test while a reactor is running is fair enough, but that if a reactor fails the test then it should be stopped until all agree that it is 'safe' to operate it. Nuclear safety really is a mess in Japan! It is just incomprehensible to me that the Chairman of the NSC should want toothless stress tests that are merely a formality...
#Radiation in Japan: How Cows and Pigs Evacuated from Fukushima - Yes, where on earth did they all go??
#Fukushima Cattle Evacuation: Farmers Will Get to Pay for It
Earthquake at 9:57AM JST on July 10 in Tohoku, Tsunami Warning - Where I am in N Ibaraki, this earthquake was quite long - started with fast vibrations building up over a minute of so, followed by long lateral movements. Because it went on so long it felt like it might be working up into a really big one. In the end it was about M7.1 and the epicenter was off the coast of Miyagi Prefecture, quite a long way north of F#1. Good thing it was not right off the mid-Fukushima coast...
#Radiation in Japan: Dr. Shunichi Yamashita Will Become Vice President of Fukushima Medical University - Please watch the video here. It's a compendium of little clips of the Dr. saying most of the stupid things he has become famous for saying so far. I think many people in Fukushima just don't want to see him around, but he seems to have been temporarily transferred to Fukushima Medical University from Nagasaki University just so he can be near the radiation polluted areas.
Sengoku has eyed changes in the current system of power generation and distribution, saying, "We will destroy the feudal system created under the LDP administration that placed electric power companies at the pinnacle."
Unfortunately, it does not look as if he will actually get the chance...
Kyushu Electric Power Busted for Using Shills to Promote Pro Nuke Views at Genkai Hearing - Really. What a totally underwhelming surprise. Even in the middle of a huge nuclear catastrophe, these people just don't 'get it,' do they? Nothing more important than money, right? Eat it! Go on, let's see you chomp those 10,000 yen bills and swallow those 100 yen coins. Keep on eating it till you figure out what it is you're eating and what it is you're doing to the people and all living things of this country and of the Earth. Maybe you'll wake up, but I doubt it.
#Fukushima: Drawings of AREVA's Decontamination System Written in Italian and French, Details Unavailable due to National or Corporate Security - It sounds like a big mess, but you should read the comments too.
#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Contaminated Water Treatment System at 76% Operating Rate
#Radiation in Japan: Katsuo (Skipjack Tuna) Haul Is Zero at Onahama Port in Fukushima
No.1, the subjects. 134 children were surveyed on March 26 and 27 in Iwaki City, 647 children on March 28 to 30 in Kawamata-machi, 299 children on March 30 in Iitate-mura. Total of 1,080 children were tested. It's in the footnote but the survey done in Kawamata-machi on March 24 was excluded because of the high background radiation.
As always, the quote is out of context, so if you want to get the 'whole' story, please follow the link to the article. Er... so the results of an exposure survey are discounted are excluded if the radiation in the area is higher than you expect it to be? Translate: If we get results we don't like then we will discount them. Even if the high 'background radiation' (it is not 'background radiation,' because ALL of it over about 40 nanoSv is from the nuclear disaster) makes it difficult to carry out the tests in some way, then you put THAT fact in the footnote and give the results anyway, THAT is the scientific method, not arbitrary decisions on what data to include or not to include. All data is data, even if there is some problem with it. This is one of the problems of having too many humanities (law school) people running around without much of a clue and too few people with a robust scientific background involved in the work. Especially politicians are well-known for chasing their agenda and not listening to advice from people who really know what they're talking about. Hmmm?
A Governor’s Power to Shape the Future of a Nuclear Japan - As the article states, what is needed in Japan is an orderly phase-out of nuclear power, not an immediate shutdown. So what's the problem if the Saga governor gives his approval to restart the Genkai nuclear reactors? Basically, people like Banri Kaieda have polarized the debate by demanding nuclear power station restarts without making any gesture towards an eventual nuclear phase-out. That is annoying a lot of people (and there's plenty to be annoyed about in the news recently). Another thing the article does not mention is that the governor's father worked for Kyushu Electric and was the general manager at the Genkai PR Center. Hmmm. That does not necessarily mean that the governor is bound by family ties to approve the restart, but neither does he want to be seen to be granting the approval too hastily. A little bit of political theatre going on here, perhaps.
Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany was able to announce her momentous decision to shut down all of her country's nuclear power plants within the coming decade, while Japan's seized-up government seems perpetually ensconced in a sarcophagus dropped over their heads by a profit-at-any-cost industry, an uncreative and captive bureaucracy and an apathetic, meek citizenry fed on a broadly apathetic and meek media diet.
...the statement issued by the International Commission on Radiation Protection (ICRP) dated March 21, on which the designated radiation rate is based, only states, ” after the termination of this emergency, it is possible to choose as a reference levels for ordinary people in the band of 1 to 20 mSv per year.”
So when it came to making some kind of decision, the people involved simply looked at this and said, "Oh, well, we choose 20 mSv/yr, then," without any serious scientific consideration of what that meant. Maybe there wasn't anyone there that knew what it meant... Perhaps they thought no one else would know what it meant either.
~~~Situation at the Nuclear Disaster Site~~~
#Fukushima I Nuke Plant Reactor 3: "Warrior" Robot Is Now a Photographer
#Fukushima I Nuke Plant Now Has a Temporary Tide Barrier - Looking at the pic, I feel so underwhelmed... still, there is an Uncle Genpachi and Tama cartoon posted here just to help bring you back up to par after looking at the pathetic 'tide barrier'...
~~~Halleluya, brothers and sisters, more revelations!~~~
Radiation at Thyroid Gland Found in 45% of 1,000 Children Tested in Fukushima - Although they say that they uploaded the information to their website in May and that they informed the parents, waiting THREE MONTHS before announcing this is simply one more example of the cynicism and callousness with which Japanese officialdom has handled this whole crisis. Since there is effectively NO safe dose of radiation, presumably if SOME of the children tested (1080) have internal exposure of the thyroid gland then SOME of them will get a cancer of the thyroid. If 100 millisieverts per year body dose equivalent will increase the risk of cancer by 0.5% and some of the children were measured at 50 millisieverts/year, then there will be some presumably measurable increase in the risk of cancer, be it 0.2% or 0.1%, or whatever.
Informing the parents (when, and did they actually give the parents the individual results?) is fine, but what about all the other children and their parents. Surely, if they heard that 45% of children tested had internal exposure of the thyroid gland, they would assume that their child also had a two to one chance of thyroid exposure also and then take whatever measures are appropriate. But THREE MONTHS LATER??!! Commissioner Shigeharu Kato, I consider that totally unconscionable! It makes me doubt whether you actually have a human heart beating inside your chest!
William Houston interviewed on the King World News - You can download the mp3 from this page. It's only about 12 minutes, but well worth the listen. You will learn how the baricentre does a somersault every 180 years and causes more volcanic/seismic activity - just as we have been having for the last several years, including on 3/11, and how this is connected to sunspot minima, likely to cause significant cooling of the global climate...
TEPCO builds levee to protect reactors - ..."designed to withstand an 8-meter-high tsunami" - regardless of the fact that the tsunami that hit the power station on 3/11 was reported by TEPCO to have been 14-15 meters above sea level. In the picture the new levee does look very 'makeshift'. Is this the best you can do, TEPCO? Pathetic, just pathetic.
#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: "Warrior" Robot Vacuumed Reactor 3 Floor, Radiation Still Very High - Ahem... On the video here it looks to me less like a 'robot' and more like a remote-control vacuum cleaner.
#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: TEPCO Starts Full Circulation Cooling of Reactors
#Fukushima I Nuke Plant Reactor 5 Cooling Stopped for 3.5 Hours Due to Ruptured Pipe
Des Moines Register: "Nuclear plants need scrutiny, not hysteria" - Yes, and maybe if we had a little more scrutiny/security/safety, then we'd have a bit less 'hysteria.' Oh, well, I suppose people who think the worst possible thing that can happen is an economic crisis finds anyone with a different worldview 'irrational' and 'hysterical.'
Cesium-134 and 137 detected in the urine of schoolchildren in Fukushima City
The Fukushima Network for Protecting Children from Radiation, an organization of parents in Fukushima City, released the results of urine analyses of ten children (boys and girls between the ages of six and sixteen) on 30 June. The samples were taken between May 20 to 22 and analysed by a French research organization ACRO. Cesium-134 (half-life two years, indicating that it almost certainly originates from the Fukushima No.1 nuclear disaster) was found at levels between 0.41 and 1.13 Beqcerels/litre (Bq/l) and cesium-137 (half-life thirty years) was found at levels between 0.43 and 1.30 Bq/l. These levels are estimated to have been zero before the nuclear disaster. Shigenobu Nagataki of the Radiation Impacts Research Institute says that health impacts at this level of internal exposure have not been reported and that the people can go about their normal daily lives without undue worry. Mr. Haruki Madame, chairperson of the Cabinet Office Nuclear Safety Commission said, "Quite low values. Epidemiologically, health impacts are unthinkable." The parents' organization has called on the country and the prefecture to undertake the responsibility of carrying out immediate testing of internal exposure for all children in Fukushima Prefecture.
On 29 June, the Akahata newspaper published a long article (also available on the web in Japanese), starting on the front page and continuing on p.3, on TEPCO's PR budget and the way in which it was able to 'tame' Japan's thee main mass circulation newspapers, the Asahi, Yomiuri and Mainichi.
TEPCO's PR budget for 2010 appears to have been 11.6 billion yen, or about US$145 million. In hindsight, it probably would have been better to use this money on improving safety measures at nuclear power stations.
The taming of the three mass circulation newspapers apparently began in 1974, when the Asahi Newspaper was feeling the pinch of lost advertising revenue due to the downturn of the economy following the first oil shock. Not long after, the advertising manager of the Yomiuri Newspaper contacted TEPCO to remind them that it had been their former president, Shotaro Shoriki, who had been largely responsible for introducing nuclear power into Japan and that the Yomiuri was therefore concerned that TEPCO was commissioning PR ads to its rival newspaper.
Once the Asahi and the Yomiuri were publishing regular PR ads for TEPCO, the Mainichi Newspaper also indicated that it would like a share of the pie. However, the Mainichi was also running anti-nuclear campaign articles and a series called "Bringing Politics into Daily Life" (Seiji wo Kurasi he), which TEPCO was not too happy about. The TEPCO PR director at the time was a man named Ken Suzuki (wow, really, there must be thousands of them in Japan). He told the Mainichi people, "What's your company's policy on energy issues? If you believe opposition is for the public good, then shouldn't you take a thoroughly oppositionist stand? What's the point in worrying about a few advertisements? ... If you base the writing in your newspaper on fanning the consumer movement and destroying companies, then obviously advertisements will gradually dry up." The editorial managers promised to be prudent about articles on nuclear power and the "Bringing Politics into Daily Life" series disappeared from the pages.
Quite amazing what you can do if you have deep pockets, eh?
#Radiation in Japan: Professor Kosako: "Come the harvest season in the fall, there will be a chaos" - I think with the rice, they will simply draw harvests from different parts of the country together and mix them. Most people will have no idea what's going on and the average radiation contamination will, of course, be far lower than the arbitrary standards.
Specifically, Mr. Kosako said the government set a relatively high ceiling for acceptable radiation in schoolyards, so that only 17 schools exceeded that limit. If the government had set the lower ceiling he had advocated, thousands of schools would have required a full cleanup. With Mr. Kan's ruling party struggling to gain parliamentary approval for a special budget, the costlier option didn't get traction.
"When taking these steps, the only concern for the current government is prolonging its own life," Mr. Kosako said.
Children's lives vs. money and keeping hold of power. Great.
In the early afternoon today the hourly NHK news was showing pictures of different places in Tokyo with the lights and 'coolers' off. One of these was a large office floor in the Ministry of the Environment. The main lights were off and the staff were working away at their computers with desk lamps on only. Quite dark. The air conditioning was apparently off (it was around 30C today) and some of the printers had signs on them saying "Not in use due to conservation of electricity". A bit overdone, I think. My wife said, "Ha, ha. Konkurabe." Konkurabe means a 'test of endurance,' in this case between supporters of a nuclear phase-out and the pro-nukes. All government personnel are, of course thrown in on the side of the pro-nukes (since nuclear power in Japan is a 'government policy'), even if they are in the Ministry of Environment. The problem with konkurabe-type tests of endurance is that neither side can afford to give an inch because that might result in total defeat, so the argument inevitably gets polarized into black and white positions (something that often happens in Japan) - nuclear power forever vs. shut 'em down NOW! What Japan really needs is the German solution: 1) a date by which the last nuclear reactor will go into decommissioning, 2) an organized energy conservation plan, 3) realistic introduction of renewable energy techniques. We might then see fewer overdone scenes like those in the Ministry of Environment today.
"There is no alternative to nuclear power today," Sarkozy said. "Those who ask for a moratorium -- I find this curious. It would consist in keeping old plants and abstaining from researching new safer plants."
If you hear someone say, "There's no alternative to ..." they are usually consciously lying. "There is no alternative to nuclear power today" is a ridiculous statement, even in France. There are plenty of alternatives, and Mr Sarkozy knows it. If the alternatives didn't exist, there would be no fight - no need to insist on it. A moratorium would not necessarily prevent old plants from being decommissioned. What's the problem? Research is research, there's no reason to stop it unless the research itself is dangerous. If nuclear power is phased out, there will probably not be much point in researching new plants, but the final disposal of spent nuclear fuel and the effects of radiation on health still require a lot more research. In the picture, Angela Merkel looks about as fed up of listening to Sarkozy's diatribe as I am...
About 15 metric tons of water with a low level of radiation leaked from a storage tank at the plant on the Pacific coast, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said.
It's really great how these people seem to specialize in telling us about little problems when we already know they have similar huge problems which are not ready to 'reveal' yet. It's as if they're saying, "We have to give the little kiddies the easy-to-swallow stories first followed by less and less easy-to-swallow problems in order to build up their resistances to bad news and then tell them what's really going on (which is really bad!)" Ahem... well, we've already known for a couple of months now that many tons of highly radioactive water are leaking into the groundwater and that TEPCO has to take immediate steps (like build a barrier dam) to ensure that this water does not flow out into the sea or flow inland, thus poisoning the groundwater in the surrounding region. Get real, please (and fast!).
#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Radioactive Tellurium Detected in Seawater at Water Intake - It's a bit of a problem because apparently Tellurium-129 has two different forms with different half-lives. Still, finding an radionuclide with a half-life of 70 minutes outside in the sea is a little odd since it should all effectively disappear in 10 or 11 hours.
Bulgaria signed grant agreements on Tuesday to receive 73.8 million euros ($105.3 million) for energy projects as compensation for shutting down four units at its Kozloduy nuclear plant ahead of joining the EU in 2007.
I had to go to the local electrical appliance shop today to get some blank DVD discs. My wife wanted to look at the electric fans (we have three, but she wanted to look at ones which charge overnight or which run on a built-in solar panel...) When we got to the area where the fans are on display we had to laugh because it looked like those old photos of Soviet supermarkets with rows of almost empty shelves. I asked a shop assistant what had happened and he told me that they had all sold out four or five days ago. Oh. I've never seen anything like this in Japan before. Interesting, because it means that the Japanese public are taking the government claim that there will be a 'power shortage' very seriously. We don't have air conditioning in our house, but almost everyone here does. That means that people are seriously thinking of, or already implementing, since it about 30C today, leaving the 'coolers' off and using fans instead. (The government claims that this alone would reduce summer peak domestic power by 53%.)
On the hourly NHK news today, we have been treated to scenes of Mr. Kaieda (Minister for the Economy, Trade and Industry) in Kyushu pleading with the local administrative heads to give their approval for the Genkai Nuclear Power Station to be restarted soon. You can hear him say things like, "The necessary safety measures have been taken and we need to get the reactors back online to ensure that there is no problem with the summer power peak..." but the town and prefecture heads look embarrassed and everyone seems to know now that he's telling a barefaced lie. The newspapers carry little graphs every day showing how many percent of available power capacity was used the day before and what the prediction is for the day, so we all know roughly what the score is. I think the Japanese people have decided that if they have to reduce power consumption by 15%, then they'll do it. You only have to look at the electric fan sales area to see that. The people are going to prove you wrong, Mr. Kaieda. There is no need for nuclear power here. Why are you so intent on pushing it when the population is so obviously against it, I wonder?
Here's the little graph from today's (29 June) Tokyo Newspaper. On the left the graph of power consumption in the Tokyo area for 28 June. It reaches a peak between 4 and 5 pm. Peak power consumption was 43.26 GW (gigawatts); 88.6% of capacity, which is 48.8 GW. On the right is the forecast for today - a peak at 43.5 GW, or 89.1% of capacity, between 4 and 5 pm. have fun trying to convince everyone that nuclear power is 'necessary', Mr. Kaieda. Now that the papers are making it quite obvious that Japan can run perfectly well without nuclear power (with a little cooperation from the population) it's going to get much harder for you to go running around telling your little lies, isn't it?
Keidanren hits Rakuten's criticism - Rakuten has decided to withdraw from Keidanren due to a disagreement over support for the electrical power industry, but Keidanren chairman Yonekura defends his organization...
Keidanren is "not a group for the interests of a certain industry but a policy group for improving the living quality of the general public and the Japanese economy," Yonekura said Monday in a speech in Tokyo after Keidanren received a document notifying them of Rakuten's intention to withdraw from the business group.
Sigh! I almost thought he was going to say 'trickle down' or some tired old phrase like that... Sad about the dinosaurs; lost in space and hell bent on making the planet toast for everyone else...
38 years of nuke profit up in smoke? - Tut, tut. Really should have been a bit more careful with those reactors. And if this is so, why does the former CEO get away with a severance pay of about US$7 million? Several days later and I'm still trying to figure out how that can happen. I see on the TV this evening that Donald Keene is going to become a Japanese citizen and live out his remaining years in Japan (he's 89). I hope he is fully aware of what he is getting himself into...
#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Some Kind of Fissioning Still Somewhere?
#Radiation in Japan: Government to Use SPEEDI for Radiation Exposure Survey for Fukushima Residents - This just about sums it up doesn't it? The government had all the information right from the start and sat on it, and now they are going to use it to tell everyone how much radiation exposure they HAD and measure the consequences instead of using it for what it was intended for - getting people out of harm's way quickly when an accident happens. The same with just about everything that has happened throughout this whole nuclear disaster.
Court Case to have Schoolchildren in Koriyama City (Fukushima Prefecture) 'Mass Evacuated' to Begin at the Koriyama Branch of Fukushima District Court - This case is beginning to gear up. I will be posting an explanation on a different page: Here it is.
Fukushima starts health checks - It's not quite clear from the article, but it seems that the whole population of Fukushima Prefecture will get a similar health check.
"It is not inconceivable the country would have a third 'lost' decade of growth," Thomas Byrne, senior vice president at Moody's, said in an emailed statement.
The economy would need to expand at double the current pace at a minimum "to help the government grow out of its huge debt burden."
Yes, but in the medium term Japan will find it exceedingly difficult to grow it's economy, largely for fossil energy supply reasons. The IMF says that Japan's growth rate in five years will be 1.2 percent. Oh.
LDP in Fukushima goes antinuke - In other words, they just woke up to the fact that they are political toast if they continue to promote nuclear power in a prefecture which has areas that are as contaminated with radioactivity as some parts of the Ukraine, Belarus and Russia after the Chernobyl disaster.
Nuclear plant operator skipped pipe check - For two weeks? During which times there have been aftershocks, including an M6.7 earthquake on 23 June. They've always been asleep at the wheel and they are still asleep at the wheel. How come the retiring CEO gets severance pay of US$7 million? Beats me. How come he's retiring in the middle of the worst industrial accident the world has ever seen? Beats me.
#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: New and Improved Reactor Cooling System Using Treated Water Shuts Down After 1.5 Hour of Operation
Court Case to have Schoolchildren in Koriyama City (Fukushima Prefecture) 'Mass Evacuated' to Begin at the Koriyama Branch of Fukushima District Court - A group of lawyers is helping the parents of 14 elementary and middle school students to fight a case against Koriyama City authorities concerning the radiation in school premises. The parents claim that mass evacuation of the children is the only realistic way to protect them from the radiation exposure. There are no materials (I know of) in English yet, but I intend to follow this case closely on this page/site. The first court hearing is scheduled for 4:30 pm, Tuesday, July 5th at Koriyama Branch Court (Koriyama City). PLEASE go along to the court on the day if you are in the area!
Power industry's chokehold A fairly informative article about the way those who hold the 'power' in Japan also prevent real democratic progress from being made here. A fairly small group of people literally holds the rest of Japan to ransom and believes that it 'owns' the country.
"So many people in Japan are now saying that they can't trust their own government."
"I also suspect that full disclosure of such data is not in the interests of the Japanese nuclear industry."
Gov't explains nuclear plant safety measures - Quite surreal... Even the carefully selected seven asked potentially embarrassing questions -- or, this being Japan, it was scripted? With 50 people demonstrating outside about the way the meeting was being held, it would seem the government is doing itself no big favour by trying to tilt the playing field.
#Radioactive Tea in Shizuoka: Shizuoka City Mayor Launches "We Are Drinking Teas Made in Shizuoka City" Campaign - When it comes to doing a PR job for nuclear power, even mayors of major Japanese cities do not shirk at possible internal radiation from drinking tea brewed with irradiated tea leaves. Sure, the idea is to keep selling the tea in an attempt to prevent the local economy from collapsing, but it is also promoting a denial of the fact that radiation may be fatally dangerous, or even that the radiation is there at all, which is just what the power companies want.
#Fukushima I Nuke Accident: TEPCO Created Radiation Dispersion Simulation Maps on March 12
#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Radioactive Strontium from Ocean Soil Off the Plant
For some stupid reason, it's at times like these, when a really bad disaster or other event occurs, that we recall our history. After a war, we vow never to do it again, and then recall that we did exactly the same thing 20, 50, 80 years ago. A bit like waking up in the morning with another hangover, or throw the Camels in the trash, recalling that we'd done that the last time we had a bad cough... Even if the F#1 nuclear disaster had not happened just as we were recalling that it was 25 years since the Chernobyl disaster, we would have been remembering that a nuclear disaster was something so bad that we never wanted to do it again, that we had 'promised' that it would never happen again. But it did.
As I was revisiting an article I read yesterday on EX-SKF (#Contaminated Water Processing at #Fukushima: Wrong Valve Was Open in Kurion's System) I found links to the following three articles:
Maybe I'm ignorant and a total idiot with my head in the sand and don't know what time it is, but I have no recollection of hearing about these before, but now, in the middle of the F#1 nuclear disaster, I see that history comes back to haunt and mock us. I want to say two things, mostly with the article at the third link in mind:
1) All those who are saying, "It's safe, the radiation won't affect you," and especially #sy">Dr. Shunichi Yamashita of Nagasaki University, who says radiation won't affect you if you're happy and laugh (yes, yes... being happy and laughing may have a certain effect in boosting the immune system, but people caught in the middle of a nuclear disaster are not generally known for their happiness - check out the relevant NHK documentaries if you need to understand that - young men whose families have lost their farmland literally crying on screen!!!*), please, you need to read this and find out what is going on in the real world.
* NHK ETV Special, Radiation Pollution Map Produced by Network - Two months after the Fukushima Nuclear Power Station Accident, broadcast 20 May 2011, 89 min. [ETV Tokushu, Nettowa-ku de tsukuru ho-shano- osen chizu - Fukushima genpatsu jiko kara ni ka getsu] - A very good documentary on the realities of the radiation pollution in Fukushima Prefecture.
2) Read the article and think "Fukushima," "Iitate Village," Fukushima City," "Koriyama City," and quite a few other places where the radiation levels are abnormally high, but which are outside the 20/30 km zones, and where the people are essentially being asked to stay where they are or evacuate at their own expense. TEPCO and Japanese government, you are responsible for the disaster. Please ensure that what happened to the people mentioned in this article (Inside the Zone) does not happen to the people of Fukushima!
This next news item also made me think of Dr. Shunichi Yamashita and the different responses people have to radiation and nuclear power.
...Americans were more accepting of cloned products than Europeans.
+ Students in Ireland and France were less likely to consume cloned products than K-State students.
+ At Kansas State, sociology and English students were less likely to consume cloned products than the agriculture students.
+ Participants were more likely to consume cloned products after learning that both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Food Safety Authority had stated that cloned animal products pose no safety risk.
More of the European students were concerned about cloning from an ethical and moral perspective, while the American students cited food safety concerns. The strength of opposition to cloning was much stronger for those who morally opposed cloning than for those who opposed it for food safety concerns, Fox said.
The survey also found that women were less likely to purchase cloned products, and people familiar with science were more accepting of cloned products.
What does this tell us (my interpretation)? Because of the nature of European and American society (big generalization - I'm saying 'on average,' not 'everyone') Americans are more likely to be uncritical of things they are told by 'experts' or 'authorities,' especially if it is repeated frequently enough (or maybe because it is repeated often). Europeans are more likely to hang on to their doubts even in the face of a propaganda campaign, or maybe the propaganda is less intense. Also Americans were more likely not to consume cloned meat because of safety concerns, whereas Europeans were more likely to reject cloned meat on the basis of ethical or moral grounds. I.e. Americans are more concerned about personal safety issues, whereas Europeans are more concerned about the wider issues of animal care, what society can and cannot do and so on (though 'safety' can also be thought of on a society-wide basis). Also women were less likely to consume cloned animal products than men, women in general being considered closer to 'life' or 'nature' because, perhaps, they carry and give birth to the next generation. (Too simplistic; anyone want to express it better?)
Note that all participants seemed to be fairly easily reassured by government authorities. Note that also science students (i.e. agriculture students = agricultural science students) were more likely to consume cloned animal meat than humanities students. I.e. science students have it drilled into them that science is 'safe' and 'objective' - i.e. ethical and moral concerns are largely irrelevant and anything that 'works' is beneficial. (I was a science student, by the way.) Science students are much more likely to dump their ethical/moral compass and deride opposition to scientific progress on ethical/moral grounds as 'hysteria,' 'irrational,' 'medieval,' and 'emotional.' (Remember those? Search below for the sources - thank you, Messrs. Sarkozy and Mori...) Lastly, the strength of opposition to cloning was much stronger for those who morally opposed cloning than for those who opposed it for food safety concerns, thereby making those who oppose cloning and the consumption of cloned animal products to seem all the more 'hysterical,' 'irrational,' 'medieval,' and 'emotional' by the 'objective,' 'scientific,' '(economically) rational,' 'modern,' 'forward-looking,' etc. technocrats, businessmen, politicians, university professors, nuclear power researchers, and so on.
Now transfer this to Japan and put it in the context of the F#1 nuclear disaster ad the radiation pollution situation in Fukushima Prefecture. I don't think I have to even explain it... :-) Personally, I find the idea of cloned animals abhorrent. AND I don't think it can be denied that this is leading to cloned humans. How many people are aware of what this really means? I am prepared to put up with 'modern' agriculture because at this level of population (circular argument: the population has risen at least in part because of modern agriculture) we have no option if we want to eat. We are all captives of the system. A system that does what? Makes machines of animals and factories of fields. It's hidden so that city folks don't usually get to see this. Human cloning? Makes people into machines, commodities (well, 'things') to be bought and sold and existences over whom some other people will play God - have the power of life and death over. Scary, but we are very clearly approaching the time when this will seem 'normal,' just as it will soon seem 'normal' to be eating radiated food or food produced from GE crop plants and cloned animals. I think all of this is inextricably interwoven with nuclear power and the whole structure of the ideological power relations of our current political, economic and social arrangements (even in the 'developing' countries, which all now effectively governed by substantial 'advanced' world bridgeheads within them). There's no pick and choose. As I have been saying since the The original article, the nuclear phase-out is the first step towards a saner, sustainable human lifestyle.
An article in the Tokyo Newspaper yesterday (23 June, p.26) mentions the issue of building a barrier wall at the F#1 nuclear disaster site to prevent the melted coriums reaching the groundwater. We've seen this mentioned before in the article Preventing radiation contamination more important than TEPCO's stock prices on #j21">June 21. The article took the form of an interview with Professor Hiroaki Koide of Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute. He stated that reactors 1 to 3 at the F#1 site had melted down and that at least reactor 1 had become a 'melt through' to the concrete floor of the reactor building, the corium being at a temperature of about 2800C, and possibly into the ground below, becoming the world's first 'China syndrome.' Professor Koides said, A barrier should be constructed around the reactors to shut them off from the groundwater. If the nuclear fuel comes into contact with the groundwater, the pollution will flow into the sea or spread by flowing through the groundwater.
A former civil engineer was asked about the construction of such a barrier. He responded that if the groundwater is assumed to be at a depth of 10 to 20 metres, a steel sheet panel used in river improvements can be driven into the ground to a depth of about 30 metres, a depth where it is hard for water to penetrate, and for an 'iron curtain' around the site. A liquid chemical agent could then be injected to reinforce the ground to prevent runoff into the sea. This would cost about 10 billion yen and would take about 6 months to complete. It's a construction method that is very common with river improvements, so there is no specialized problem with it. (I have also heard that under the F#1 site there is a strong rock base at about 40 meters below the surface, but cannot find a reference to this. Can anyone help??) ...
TEPCO's plan for such a barrier is shown on their progress schedule as a mid-term issue and there has not been any specific mention of the actual construction work yet. Professor Koide says, This is no time to be drawing pretty pictures with the flow chart. The barrier is the only means they have right now (of solving this problem). There's not a moment to be wasted.
Yesterday's (23 June) Akahata ran an article on p.14 entitled No Need to Raise Electricity Bills or Increase Taxes. The Japan Center for Economic Research (JCER) published a paper on April 25 stating that at least 6 trillion yen will be necessary to cover the costs of the nuclear disaster. They say that this can be done by using TEPCO's reserves and net assets and redirecting a part of the existing nuclear power budget. Specifically, TEPCO's reprocessing-related reserves and accumulated profits of about 3.7 trillion yen. Around 200 billion yen/year can be saved from the fast breeder reactor and nuclear cycle research. A part of a reserve fund of 12 trillion yen accumulated by the power companies for reprocessing costs can be used if the operation of the reprocessing plant at Rokkassho Village, Aomori Prefecture, is suspended. Thus there is available approximately 12 trillion yen in 'underground reserves,' mostly from accumulated funds for future reprocessing, which JCER says should now be used in part to fund the costs of clearing up the nuclear disaster site and providing compensations to the people of Fukushima and elsewhere. JCER, by the way, is no radical research organization; they are very deeply connectied with Japan's business circles (Keidanren and so on) and also TEPCO itself. The money is there. Taxes and electricity bills do not necessarily have to be raised, so where's the political will to do it?
Yesterday's (23 June) Tokyo Newspaper ran an article on its local Ibaraki page under the headline "They're not thinking about the lives of the people in the host regions", which was essentially an interview with the mayor of Tokai Village, Mr. Tatsuya Murakami. Tokai Village is the home of several nuclear-related facilities, including the Tokai No.2 Nuclear Power Station (one reactor, a pluthermal 1,100 megawatt BWR running since 1978) and a reprocessing plant. Mr. Murakami said, Despite the fact that the truth about Fukushima nuclear disaster has not been made clear and that disaster has not yet ended and and yet the economy and industry are being emphasized, they are not thinking about the lives of the people in the host region. Such a country should not have nuclear power. Concerning subsidies the village depends on from hosting the nuclear power station, Mr. Murakami said, We have to extricate ourselves from that awareness. We cannot equate the values of our children's safety with the subsidies. The proportion of the subsidies in the total village budget is not so large. Clearly, the mayor is indicating a 'nuclear phase-out' line. Concerning a visit from METI's (Ministry of the Economy, Trade and Industry) NISA (Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency) earlier this month to inspect emergency safety measures, Mr. Murakami said, It was superficial. In the earthquake archipelago Japan, how is it they can say that all the reactors except Hamaoka are safe? Apparently, METI's Kaieda has not requested that Tokai No.2 be restarted. Tokai village has the largest number of people living in fairly close proximity to the nuclear power station of all the nuclear power stations in Japan. Mayor Murakmai is very precautious about a possible restart of Tokai No.2. NISA should be separated from METI and emergency plans need to be reviewed, he stated.
Hmmm... Interesting. For a long time Mayor Murakami has been quite happy to go along with the nuclear facilities in Tokai Village and it has proved impossible for candidates on an anti-nuke platform to dislodge him from the mayorship. However, he seems to have changed his tune considerably on nuclear power since 3/11. The village has recently decided to remove 38 automatic drinks vending machines from village facilities as a power saving measure. Some of the villagers complained that that might make things difficult for people who are dehydrated in the summer heat. Perhaps they think they cannot bother the village officials for a glass of water...
Ancestral markers warned Japanese of tsunamis - As I have said before, the older folk know that living near the sea in certain regions is dangerous, but because the large tsunamis are about 100 years apart, people forget... but not all of them. Some remember that they have stone markers telling them where previous tsunamis have come up to.
~~~Situation at the Nuclear Disaster Site~~~
Never a dull day down at the nuke... #Fukushima I Nuke Plant: T-Hawk Helicopter Crashed onto Reactor 2 Building - FAB. Does this prove incompetence, or what?
Starting early today, but will probably not do as much as yesterday :-) . There was an M6.7 earthquake (a 5 minus on the Japanese scale) off the coast of Iwate Prefecture this morning at 07:51 JST. It was just about perceptible where I am in northern Ibaraki. We had advance warning of the quake on NHK TV. There was no apparent tsunami, though NHK warned people to look out for a possible 50cm wave. The two nuclear power stations in the area (Hidashi Dohri and Onagawa) do not appear to have been affected. However, a quake of this size further down the coast where the F#1 nuclear disaster is still ongoing could have extremely serious repercussions.
What I want to mention this morning, for those of you who do not know yet, is that...
Recently Re-elected Tokyo Governor Ishihara is Enthusiastically Pro-Nuclear - both Weapons and Power Stations!
The Akahata newspaper ran a small article yesterday (22 June) about how Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara participated in a 'seminar' hosted by the Kokumin Shintoh (The People's new Party) representative Shizuka Kamei on June 20. Gov. Ishihara spoke at the seminar, saying, "Japan must have nuclear weapons. As long as Japan does not have them, we will never be treated as a full-fledged independent country." "America will never protect us. Just look at the world's international politics. There's a lot of different kind of talk going around, but the people who have nuclear weapons, if I use an analogy from mahjong, are like those that declare with an i-han (a very strong hand). Those of you who know mahjong will understand; if you don't have an i-han, you can't win." "The road to Japan's survival is to form a military government. If we do not, Japan will be a subject state to some other country. I think military conscription would be a good idea." (See this TV Asahi page for a video news clip - in Japanese, but the content is the same as the above.)
Gov. Ishihara is also know for saying the 3/11 earthquake and tsunami were 'heaven's retribution' on the Japanese people (presumably for being so stupid as to not have nuclear weapons) and for declaring after the F#1 nuclear disaster that "I am a nuclear power proponent."
Phew! I am so stunned (despite the fact we have known all this for a long time) that a person like this can be elected and hold power in Japan. Oh, well, the public gets what the public wants.
I have just one question for Gov. Ishihara. Why not build a nuclear power station on some land near the Tokyo Metropolitan Office in Shinjuku (in the middle of Tokyo)?? What's the problem? Please don't tell me it isn't safe. Come on Gov., I really do want to know what the reason is!
Suicides upping casualties from Tohoku catastrophe - It's just so sad... How are the TEPCO nuclear bandits going to atone (or pay!) for this? They really should, but will they in any meaningful way? It's doubtful, of course, but that's exactly why this effort/struggle against the nuclear village/nuclear mafia/nuclear bandits has to go on till they agree to phase out nuclear power and give a firm date for shutting down the last reactor. (And also reaffirm the promises not to make or hold nuclear weapons.)
#Radiation in Japan: Children as Subjects of Radiation Research?
Researchers simulate Fukushima radiation spread - Oh, well done Tokyo University! Only about two months late. We've seen something very similar to this on #a22">April 22 in an article called #more-59947">Is America Getting Radiation TODAY? and actually we were late then because the article was posted on April 6. At the time we thought it might be a mistake or a hoax. Oh. How long has Tokyo University been sitting on this? (And why?)
Mori said referendums on nuclear power, like the one in Italy earlier this month, are "inappropriate" because securing energy supply is an issue of national security.
"Emotional responses should not dictate our decisions at times like this," he said.
Cough! National security? Is someone about to invade, then? Better not to have nuclear power stations, then, since they would be a target... Oh, I see what you mean, security for you and your friends, the nuclear bandits? The current socio-economic relations cannot be said to be providing security for the majority of ordinary people in this country, so that's what you must mean. Referendums inappropriate? Take a little summer trip to Rome and see if the people there agree with you! A little advice: It's called 'democracy' and the people are thinking they'd like a little more of it, please. Thank you. Oh, and that emotional thing. Look, when people's lives are at stake (go talk to some of the people in Fukushima Prefecture/City if you don't believe me) they are not going to simply want to have interminable debates and conversations about what might or might not be done next year, etc. They want ACTION NOW! (Again, ask the Italians whether their response was 'emotional' or not.) If being emotional means ignoring objective data, then you are just as much to blame yourself when you say "It's [nuclear power is] the only way to secure a stable supply of environmentally clean electricity at a relatively low cost." Environmentally clean? Don't think the people of Fukushima would agree with you on that. Relatively low cost? Yes, if you count only the fuel costs and the construction of the plant, maybe. You know that isn't true if you count in everything, including final disposal of nuclear waste (which you have so far studiously ignored). Ask TEPCO. They have recently discovered that nuclear power is not at all cheap. Get your facts straight, Mr. Mori, and start trying to find out what the people of Japan really want rather than simply pushing the demands of your nuclear bandit clique friends. Thank you. Have a nice day. (Over 30C in many parts of Japan today - see the electricity demand soar as the city people switch on/turn up the air conditioning...)
But LDP President Sadakazu Tanigaki has shown reluctance to allow the Diet to take up the feed-in tariff bill, saying it is debatable whether the measure will really be effective.
If he doubts the effectiveness of the measure, he should make proposals to improve it.
...On the flipside, this new policy would shake up the existing power supply system, in which utilities have been monopolizing regional markets. That ensures there will be strong resistance to the legislation.
The power industry has strong influence on both the ruling Democratic Party of Japan and the opposition LDP.
Many lawmakers will oppose the bill to curry favor with the industry.
Hot curry-flavoured politicians forgetting who elected them! Sure, I know they need money for elections, but politicians who manage to get elected on the basis of their election contributions are simply fooling everyone (including themselves) and making zero contribution to a democratic society. Better just not to allow election contributions at all, maybe. And it's quite clear where the LDP's sympathies lie. Not with the ordinary people who actually elect the politicians, that's for sure. However, it's extremely sad to see so much opposition to a power system that is accepted as the norm in so many other countries. For a list of countries and regions that have a feed-in tariff for electricity generated from renewables, see Feed-in Tariff. It's only the nuclear bandits that are holding the country to ransom that are opposed to it. Japan's name should be up there with the rest of them, and soon, if they ever want to catch up with Thailand, India, Algeria and Puerto Rico.
What's the big hurry, Mr. Kaieda?
Yesterday's (June 21) Tokyo Newspaper ran an article (p.26) under the headline What's the big hurry to declare nuclear power safe?, which was a severe criticism of Banri Kaieda, Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry, under whose jurisdiction nuclear power generation comes. Mr. Kaieda has been annoying the Japanese public for the last few weeks by running around trying to get support from local authorities that host nuclear power stations (NPSs) to allow the reactors that are down for regular maintenance and so on to restart (and for talking to the IAEA meeting in Vienna about safety of and necessity for Japan's nuclear reactors). The governors of prefectures and mayors of local townships that host NPSs have an effective veto on the restart of nuclear reactors. That means ALL nuclear reactors in Japan could be shut down by April 2012 as the ones online now are stopped for regular maintenance and the ones currently offline do not get the go-ahead to restart from their local authorities.
Mr. Kaieda's enthusiasm to see offline reactors getting restarted as soon as possible, despite the ongoing nuclear disaster, has been seen as close to obscene by the general public here. The article included interviews with members of the public in Fukushima City. One housewife in the city, who in the period immediately after the 3/11 earthquake and ensuing nuclear disaster had to wait for three hours outside to get water supplies, said, At the time they said nothing, and then later they told us there had been meltdowns and announced that there had been radiation flying around. It's not just me, it's possible that children were exposed to radiation. Even if Mr. Kaieda says it's safe and that there will be a power shortage, I'm not about to believe him right away.
Mr. Kaieda and the other accessories to the nuclear bandits, like the politicians we saw the day before yesterday (#j20">June 20) who want to very quietly introduce the notion of underground nuclear power stations in their meeting rooms without letting the public know what's going on (till it's far too late), are working completely against the wishes of about 80% of the population (see opinion poll results on #j19">June 19) while at the same time playing political games with the earthquake and nuclear disaster situations while the populations of Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate Prefectures suffer. (It's bad, believe me. When the local Communist Party of Japan city councilor came around to collect the newspaper subs a few days ago, my wife and I spent about ten minutes reeling off all the problems that the people in the north are facing. He looked a bit sheepish. He's a nice man, we like him and support him. That's why we subscribe to the CPJ newspaper. He's not part of the problem at all, but we need him and the CPJ to tell the politicians in Tokyo to wake up and remember the plight of the people in the north, the ones still affected by the earthquake/tsunami and the ones affected by the nuclear disaster, and some people, of course, have been affected by all three! But what are the politicians doing? Running around trying to get the offline nukes restarted! Playing power political football with the problem! Hiding the horror stories, telling lies, planning the next nuclear nightmares!)
I think one of the reasons why a large part of the Japanese population are unhappy about what Mr. Kaieda is doing and saying is that they feel that he is trying to drag them down a nuclear pathway with no end in sight. The mood in Japan now is most definitely for a nuclear phase-out. I think it will be hard to change that. However, Kaieda is trying to push ahead with nuclear reactor restarts without recognizing this basic fact and therefore without giving the Japanese population some reassurance that the end is in sight. Once a firm statement is made on WHEN THE LAST NUCLEAR REACTOR WILL BE DECOMMISSIONED, and that should be closer to 2020 than 2050 (somewhere between Germany's 2022 and Switzerland's 2034?) then the public and the local authorities might feel that some of the reactors can be restarted provided they are really 'safe'. If not, what Mr. Kaieda and his nuclear bandits might get instead is more like Italy - a complete phase-out NOW.
Solartopia! by Harvey Wasserman
Talking of 'nuclear bandits,' the term first appeared on this page as the title of an article #j9">"Give Us Your Money, Your Planet and Your Lives" The Nuclear Bandits by Harvey Wasserman. Harvey is the author of a book Solartopia! Our Green-Powered Earth, A.D. 2030. I recently obtained a copy of the book and read it. It's a book about the world in 2030, the lifestyle of that time and the energy sources that are used to power that lifestyle. Harvey makes it clear right from the start that many of the social and economic problems we face today are directly related to nuclear power and carbon (fossil) fuels, and that our future will be secured by phasing out the use of these as quickly as reasonably possible and phasing in renewable energy sources - solar, wind, hydro, geothermal electrical power generation, biomass and biofuels (not based on human food crops) backed up by hydrogen as an energy carrier. I was quite surprised by how much Harvey emphasized the use of hydrogen.
However, before I start getting critical about the energy details, I want to say that for me this book represents a dream about the future. It would be 'nice' to think that we knew something about the future. I've been trying to look at future food and energy trends for about the last 15 years, and although I have been able to foresee some of the major trends, there is no way I could have foreseen any of the detail. Solartopia! came out in 2007, so I suppose Harvey was writing in 2005/2006 and trying to look 25 years into the future. Much of it, unfortunately, is going to be wrong (I think). But rather than the details of the energy system, the lifestyle, and how we're supposed to get there, it's the quality of the optimistic dream of the future that is really the wonderful thing about this book. The details may be wrong, but I DO want to live this future (I may still be alive in 2030, with a bit of luck).Nuclear bandits, all other forms of pro-nuke people; smokestack industry, jet fighter, aircraft carrier, star trek (space exploration type people; passenger car lovers, and others enthralled by the nuclear/carbon energy world are probably not going to like this at all. What I like about Harvey's world is that it is a world where social problems are solved by social means, not by facile application of tekno-fix.
It's not that Harvey's vision sees us 'going back' to live in mud huts. If anything, energetically at least, Harvey's 2030 world is considerably more hi-tek than today's, and the lifestyle that people enjoy is in no way inferior to ours today - in fact in many ways it is superior because it is based on true grassroots democracy with very much reduced income disparities between the 'top' and 'bottom' of society, though affluence and poverty are still in existence. It's not a 'perfect' society, but probably as good a society as can be humanly and realistically devised and implemented. Hope the dream comes true.
Finally, a few words about Harvey's energy arrangements. The first problem I have with his renewable energy scheme is does it have a large enough EROEI (energy return on energy investment) to be realistic and viable? For society to prosper, EROEI should be more than 10 (i.e. 1 unit of energy is required to produce 10 units of energy for use by society). Recent and soon-to-appear solar panels are going to exceed this with no problem. But does that still mean that one solar panel will be able to reproduce itself and also provide 10x that amount of energy for society? Solar panels, win and hydro turbines are not easy to make. Will a world that runs on renewable energy be able to do all the mining of the necessary minerals and metals, the refining and the manufacturing of the panes and turbines and still provide us with large amounts of energy for society? I'm still a little doubtful, but maybe we won't really know till we get there.
The second problem is that although some of the energy is produced locally for local use (like solar panels on your roof), quite a substantial part of the overall energy (for industry, for example) must come from remote locations and be delivered to the end user through a grid or in the form of hydrogen. The electricity grid we have now (in most countries) may not be suitable for use with electricity generated from renewables only (I have mentioned this before - see #j2">June 2). Maybe the present grid can be adapted for use or made to work somehow. It probably would not need to be as extensive as it is now; local grids would work better, people being remote from the grid simply using local renewables. See how you feel about it as you read Harvey's book.
The third and last problem is the use of hydrogen as an energy carrier (like electricity, which is also and energy carrier, not a source. The source - the sun, wind, water currents, coal, natural gas, oil, and so on - is used to generate the electricity, which then travels along wires to where you want to use it). Hydrogen can be produced by the electrolysis of water (2H2O > 2H2 + O2), then stored or piped to where you want to use it in a fuel cell or burn it in an internal combustion engine. The problem is that hydrogen is very light, hard to liquefy and can escape from almost any kind of container. So there are energy losses (as for electricity transmission) involved. The paper that finally convinced me that the pure hydrogen-only economy is not going to happen is "The Future of the Hydrogen Economy: Bright or Bleak?" by Baldur Eliasson and Ulf Bossel. (If you search for the title on Google you will immediately find the PDF. When I clicked the link it downloaded automatically so I don't even know the URL where it is located...) Eliasson and Bossel say that large-scale use of hydrogen will involve excessive energy losses and so we are better off using something else such as methanol or ethanol (Harvey does mention these), though hydrogen could be used for small-scale local applications (e.g. using solar cells on your roof to produce electricity, which produces hydrogen from water, the hydrogen then being used to run a fuel cell at night). It seems that this is what Dan Nocera is talking about on YouTube, but it is not explicit. The energy losses also look quite significant, but it may be practical.
Oh, one last thing. Harvey mentions several times that the product from the use of the carrier hydrogen is (pure) water, and so this can help secure water supplies. However, if I were to choose the water I drank, I would drink from a clean mountain stream in which the water was full of minerals. Harvey does mention the lack of water pollution in 2030, so why be all that enthusiastic about the water produced by fuel cells (if we are still able to manufacture them). Oh, well, I'm getting bogged down in the energy details again :-). Please read the book for the vision. The energy details will almost certainly be wrong, though the broad outline may be robust. The vision is something everyone should want to have a stake in. Except maybe the nuclear bandits.
"I think it is difficult to create an effective system because it is a matter of conflicts of interests."
Yes, but that's what the system is supposed to mediate. That's why it has to be independent. We know it's difficult, but if the conflict is my life against their profit, I would like to have that properly mediated by an independent body, not one that's going to judge in favor of the nuclear power industry all the time (as it has every time up till now, as far as I am aware).
~~~Situation at the Nuclear Disaster Site~~~
#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Reactor 2 Radiation at 430 Millisieverts/Hr
At the northernmost tip of Japan’s Honshu Island, J-Power EDPC is in the process of building a new nuclear power station (NPS). If built, it will be a 1380 megawatt pluthermal BWR and currently it is scheduled to be completed in 2014. There’s only one problem. There are two plots of land, about one hectare in all, in the NPS site that are owned by a private individual, and she doesn’t have any intention of selling the land to J-Power.
The land was originally owned by Asako Kumagai. When J-Power was buying land for the NPS project, several of the landowners refused to sell at first, but eventually sold out leaving only the land owned by Asako unbought. Asako and her daughter, Atsuko, built a log house on one part of the property, but unfortunately Asako passed away in 2006, before she could move into the house. Atsuko, who lives in Hakodate, on the other side of the Tsugaru Strait, visits the house a few times each week.
There is a map of the NPS site. This page is in Japanese. The map is at the foot of the page and is not very clear, but Atsuko’s land is within the area marked by the red squares. In fact the two blue areas show how the position of the reactor had to be moved from within Atsuko’s land to a position about two hundred meters south (to the left on the map). If the reactor is finally built while Atsuko is still occupying the land, the log house will be a mere 300 meters from the reactor.
J-Power has provided an unpaved access road, fenced in on both sides, to the property. When mail arrives addressed to ‘Asako House,’ as the log house is known, the mail carrier has to tramp the one-kilometer road to the house to deliver the mail. This proves to everyone that the house and land are not abandoned. WE WOULD BE EXTREMELY HAPPY IF YOU WOULD HELP ATSUKO BY SENDING HER POSTCARDS!
Any postcard is OK. How about sending Atsuko a picture postcard of your town? Please write just a few sentences of support for Atsuko – in any language.
Fukushima is the greatest nuclear and environmental disaster in human history
by Steven C. Jones - Scary, but The amount and intensity of the radioactive fallout from this particular nuclear disaster will assuredly kill hundreds of millions of people worldwide over time. seems to be overdone. What's the basis for saying this? Certainly, Chernobyl, though it did result in many deaths, did not result in anything like this number. We will never really know, but I hope it will not be hundreds of millions of people
Somethings happening here today
A show of strength with your boy's brigade and,
I'm so happy and you're so kind
You want more money - of course I don't mind
To buy nuclear textbooks for atomic crimes.
And the public gets what the public wants
But I want nothing this society's got -
I'm going underground, (going underground)
Well the brass bands play and feet start to pound
Going underground, (going underground)
Well let the boys all sing and the boys all shout for tomorrow
A tiny article on p.2 of the Akahata for 19 June 2011: Applications for Underground Nuclear Power Stations will be Reviewed: At a cabinet meeting on 17 June, the Japanese government gave a response to a question from the LPD member of the lower house (from Fukui Prefecture) Taku Yamamoto concerning underground nuclear power stations. The response was that if power generating companies make an application to construct such a power station, the application will be reviewed by the Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) based on the existing regulations governing nuclear power stations. The promotion of underground nuclear power stations got off the ground in May, when two former JDP prime ministers (Yukio Hatayama and Tsutomu Hata) and two former LDP prime ministers (Yoshiro Mori and Shinzo Abe) became consultants to a Diet Members' Alliance for Policy Promotion of Underground Nuclear Power Stations. Taku Yamamoto, who is also a member of the Alliance, evaluated the cabinet's response by stating, "This is the first time that the government has embraced (yo-nin) the idea of underground nuclear power stations."
Yes, it looks like the public will get what the public wants!
Nuclear Power Too Expensive - Jürgen Trittin
Akahata 19 June 2011: Former German environment minister Jürgen Trittin gave a press conference at the Japan National Press Club on 17 June as head of a German Green Party MPs delegation visiting Japan. He said that "No one could claim that NPPs are cheap if the costs (of decommissioning and dismantling reactors and the costs of the final disposal and storage of radioactive waste materials) were added into the electricity bills." He also pointed out that if a serious accident were to occur and the immense costs of compensation were added on to electricity bills, as is planned in Japan, that would be devastating. Regarding future energy policy, Mr. Trittin emphasised that energy conservation would be important in the short term and an expansion of the use of renewable energy would be important in the mid-term.
Conservation in the short term is a good lesson for Japan to learn. Although a little old, here is a good statement of Mr. Trittin's basic position.
According to a well-known Japanese documentary maker, TEPCO paid for the creation of a blacklist of actors and musicians who are against the nuclear industry.
When one actor, Taro Yamamoto, joined an anti-nuclear protest, he lost his part in a popular soap opera. Yamamoto's 'crime' was to say that schoolchildren in Fukushima should not be subjected to the same annual radiation dose (20 microsieverts per year) as nuclear power workers in Europe.
And 'wa', the harmony, is disappearing as people feel that their government has failed them.
The sad but true story of some of the things that are happening in northeast Japan. We also mentioned TEPCO and Taro Yamamoto here on #m28">May 28.
"It was an extremely shocking sight," Hatamura said. "I didn't have any idea as to how the situation was going to be dealt with."
That was Professor Hatamura, a professor emeritus at the University of Tokyo, one of the members of an expert panel investigating the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant visiting the site for the first time Friday (17 June). Er... excuse me professor, but aren't you supposed to be an "expert"? Don't you read the newspapers or watch TV? Everyone else seems to know that something really bad happened at F#1. Well, I know some of the people in Tokyo aren't paying much attention, but... BTW, Professor Hatamura was appointed head of the independent panel last month.
"Decontamination is the key to solving the problems at the plant," said Tadashi Narabayashi, a nuclear engineering professor at Hokkaido University.
"Tepco should have had a very simple water decontamination system of its own," Narabayashi said. "Then, it's easy to fix or replace a troubled part by themselves."
Yes, quite right, professor, but then (1) TEPCO never thought they would have an accident and (2) they never wanted to spend money on that kind of equipment (or making the reactors safer), but preferred to spend it on controlling the media for PR purposes...
#Fukushima Contaminated Water Treatment: 75 Tonnes of Water Processed in 5 Hours
#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Another Leak in Kurion's System at "Rapture" (Rupture) Disk
Contaminated Water Processing at #Fukushima: The Water Was Simply Too "Hot" So if the water was more radioactive than TEPCO originally thought, what does that do to the calculation concerning the total amount of radiation in the water? This was stated to be 720,000 TBq in the #j12">June 12 update below, but now they're saying the water was 144 times as radioactive as the system had anticipated, so do we multiply 720,000 by 144 = 103.68 m TBq?? I hope not, because that would be about 20 times more radiation than was released by Chernobyl (5.2 m TBq is the figure we've been using here), and that's only in the 'liquid releases.'
Indonesia leader in Japan sceptical of nuclear power Under 'Overseas' on #j16">June 16 it was reported that Indonesia was willing to face the risks of nuclear power, but now the president, currently visiting Japan, seems to have reservations. Perhaps he should visit the F#1 nuclear disaster site and go the whole way to convincing himself that nuclear power is not such a great idea. There is a nice picture of the Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (looking a bit shocked) visiting Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, on Saturday in the article Fukushima panel shocked by destruction posted in today's update, above.
In the Japanese Government no one really cares about the safe and regulated expansion of its nuclear program and facilities. None of the efforts made by elected officials in Japan since the disaster at Fukushima have had a positive influence on nuclear policies or engineering. Instead this tragedy will go down as one of the most criminal examples of near-universal mismanagement and misdirection, a glaring recurring fact that has prevailed in nuclear disasters decades past. In hindsight it is easy to see that we have always looked to nuclear energy as a form of salvation, "an energy too cheap to meter", but some of our creations have led us to seek a salvation from our technology.
The only way to prevent these disasters is not to get involved with the technology in the first place, but how can that be done??? History shows that whatever can be done will be done. Watch out for the human clones to be appearing in a few years' time. This article also shows that those in power (who want to hold onto their power by whatever means possible) will always fail to take the best advice available and will sacrifice the honest, innocent and unprotected for the sake of their own aggrandisement. Sound familiar?
~~~Situation at the Nuclear Disaster Site~~~
#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Kurion's System Was Stopped At the Very First "Skid" It is possible that the water TEPCO is trying to treat/demineralize at the F#1 nuclear disaster site is possibly too full of sludge/radioactivity/seawater for the water treatment equipment to handle. If that is so, what then???
#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: NISA's Nishiyama Indicates There Is No Plan-B Right Now
"We'll have to keep solving the problems as they arise. If the system doesn't work, we'll have to look for other alternatives."
Fab. Looks like seafood will be off the menu, then.
#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Reactor 2 Double Door Will Be Opened on June 19 Night, JST And what manner of horrors will be discovered within, one wonders?
#Radioactive Tea in France: Shizuoka Governor Tells France Tea Is Safe, "No Problem"
"Even if the final blend tea measured 1,000 becquerels/kilogram, when you brew it the number will go down to about 10 becquerels. I don't think there's any problem at all if you drink the tea."
Yes, thanks, Governor. Cup of tea, anyone?
Today's Tokyo Newspaper has an article (front page) on an opinion poll concerning nuclear power policy conducted on the 11th and 12th June. The results are as follows:
Decommission all nuclear reactors immediately: --------------------------------9.4%
Decommission nuclear reactors as they go into regular maintenance: -------18.7
Decommission reactors as power supply is secured through other sources: 53.7%
Maintain status quo on nuclear reactors: -----------------------------------------14.1%
Don't know/no response: ------------------------------------------------------------4.1%
Since nearly 82% of people polled are in favour of a nuclear phase-out, his suggests that the Japanese people would be fairly happy with a nuclear phase-out similar to that of Germany, or even faster if thermal and renewable generating sources are able to supply sufficient power. (How much is 'sufficient', though?).
“Monju is a vital national asset,” said Noritomo Narita, a spokesman here in Tsuruga for the reactor’s operator, the government-backed Japan Atomic Energy Agency. “In a country so poor in resources, such as Japan, the efficient use of nuclear fuel is our national policy, and our mission.”
Still, Mr. Takeda said he hoped to see Monju complete safety checks and prepare for a restart within a year.
“Japan needs the nuclear fuel cycle,” he said, because supplies of fuels will not last forever. “Uranium will last less than a hundred years. Plutonium will last over a thousand.”
Over a thousand more years of this insanity? Dropping the 3.3-ton device on the RPV would be just hilarious incompetence if it wasn't this serious - and they still expect to be allowed to play with their plutonium toy for another 1000 years? Sorry, 'vital national asset.' If you believe the fossil/nuclear worldview. Many are beginning to get quite tired of it recently...
Regarding the June 11 Kyodo article "Kaieda calls for restarting nuke reactors": I would like to ask industry minister Banri Kaieda — and anyone else who so strongly recommends the continued operation of nuclear plants in Japan after seeing what has happened these past few months — to prove to us that they are 100 percent confident that the plants are safe and that accidents such as those that occurred at Fukushima after March 11 will never happen again. They can do this by buying a house next to a nuclear plant and living there for the rest of their lives.
Otherwise, their words are just a lot of hot air and their motives are very dubious. They should tell us how much money they are making by pushing the pro-nuclear line.
This echoes the sentiments of many in Japan. Notice also that some people are saying 'there will be no health effects from Fukushima' (yesterday) and that 'if you are happy and laugh the radiation will not affect you' (#j12">June 12). All of these people should be included in the little(?) housing estates that are going to spring up around Japanese nuclear power stations. I hope they will all have a very jolly time enjoying each other's company!
Minister says severe accident measures taken, seeks reactor restarts I saw Kaieda saying this at a press conference on NHK today. He looked so unconvincing that he didn't even seem to have convinced himself that it was 'safe' to restart reactors that are currently offline for maintenance and repairs. He looked a bit 'zombie-like.' Quite understandable, really, since he is trying to look as if nothing has happened in the middle of the world's most horrific nuclear disaster.
#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Full "Hot" Run Starts at Contaminated Water Treatment System Please read the comments here (not many) - I'm not going to reproduce them here as some of them are a bit 'rude'...
#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: 2 TEPCO Workers Who Exceeded 600 Millisievert Radiation WERE Wearing Masks, No KI Available Until Too Late Most of this article is a bit 'rude' and also some of the comments. Please try to keep your hair on and prevent your ears from venting radioactive steam when you read this!
Yes, we talked about this before on #m9">May 9, but this video is so easy to understand that even Mr. Kaieda, the Ishiharas and those folks in the Keidanren (yes, even you Mr. Yonekura) might just be able to get the message. Enjoy!
Here's the YouTube link: Uncle Genpachi and Tama 'Uncle Genpachi' is from the Japanese for NPP - 'genpatsu' and Tama is a stereotypical name for a cat in Japan - i.e. 'Kitty'.
More cartoons for you to enjoy here: #Anti-Nuke Animation "Uncle Genpachi & Tama" Series
“No health effects are expected among the Japanese people as a result of the events at Fukushima,” the Nuclear Energy Institute, the nuclear industry trade group, flatly declared in a statement issued at a press conference in Washington last week.
Oooh... thanks for that! Big enough to fly to the moon!
HIDDEN AGENDA: Moves to oust Kan may be linked to politicians in TEPCO's pocket Near the end of the article it is explained how TEPCO ran it's neat little scheme for delivering money to politicians through illegal donations. It's OK for lawmakers to be breaking the law like this? Why do they bother making laws in the first place if they are going to do things like this? Presumably, the people who were giving and the the politicians receiving is an open 'secret'. So what's stopping the authorities from starting to arrest people then? And will the Japanese people want to continue to elect lawmakers who break the laws?
Energy analysts are concerned that Riyadh is using its vast oil wealth to buy U.S. weapons systems worth $67 billion to confront an expansionist Iran and spend another $130 billion on buying off the Saudi population to prevent internal unrest, rather than invest hundreds of billions of dollars in developing new oil reserves.
"Achieving this production increase is essential but it will not happen unless the rulers of those countries invest colossal sums in the development of new petroleum reserves -- especially the heavy 'tough oil' variety that requires far more costly infrastructure than existing 'easy oil' deposits."
"But right now, "Klare noted, "faced with a ballooning population and the prospect of an Egyptian-style youth revolt, the Saudi leadership seems intent on using its staggering wealth on employment-generating public works programs and vast arrays of weaponry, not new tough-oil facilities.
Just the sort of thing we would expect to happen at or just past the peak annual global production of crude oil. So maybe we should now be turning our attention toward nuclear power to offset the coming scarcity and price rises of crude oil, natural gas and coal, but that would ignore the fact that nuclear isn't easy to run without relatively cheap and plentiful fossil resources. Thus we are at the beginning of the end for both fossil resources and nuclear, and that means the end of classic economic growth. Instead of thrashing around trying to find ways of restarting the growth that isn't going to happen, why not start work on how society is going to adapt to the changes we will face living within the energy that renewables can provide?
#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Kurion's System Leak Was Due to High Pressure in One of Cesium Absorption Towers
I was told by a former TEPCO nuclear plant engineer that something else is likely involved when the company wants to blame workers for a malfunction or an accident. We'll see if that's the case here.
Yes, and one of the times when TEPCO has tried to blame something on 'worker error' is when an emergency cooling pump suddenly stopped functioning about ten minutes after the 3/11 earthquake, resulting in a meltdown in at least one of the reactors. In this case, the most likely explanation at the moment is that there was insufficient diesel fuel in the emergency generator tank. Also 'worker error,' no doubt...
#Radiation in Japan: Testing of Vegetables Only 0.1%, Government Discourages "Unauthorized" Health Checks in Affected Areas Oh, yes, of course, you inconveniently independent-minded people who go around pointing at all manner of stuff with your 500 yen gieger counters, PLEASE stop doing it because you'll only get it wrong and cause everyone a great deal of heartache! And you really must understand that local residents do not want to have their health checked up every couple of days, so just be nice chappies and leave it up to the relevant authorities and approved academic associations. Thank you so much, and do enjoy watching the commercials on TV tonight...
GOOD EVENING! I WOULD LIKE TO ASK YOU TO DO ME AND MY FRIEND AKIKO IN SWEDEN ONE LITTLE FAVOUR TODAY, OR SOON -- AKIKO SAYS - Just wondering if you can ask your friends to sign at the cyber action link:http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/getinvolved/gmo-potato/ I am trying to get 5000. Another 353 names needed. Local politicians are now working to make the area, where we did the action, a GMO free zone.
OK, not really all that connected with the F#1 nuclear disaster, but just another dangerous technology the growthists are using to destroy your life, your freedom and our beautiful planet... Hope you have a nice day!
“If this suit is successful and the operation of nuclear plants is deemed to be against the constitution because of the very real possibility of accidents, it should be applicable to every reactor in Japan, and to any applications for new facilities,” said Eto...
With nationalization looking less and less of a possibility, the most likely outcome for TEPCO is it will become a kind of "zombie company" that generates profits only to pay back its creditors and the government, as well as make compensation payments.
Become? Become? It's already been a "zombie" company for quite some time now. How else do you account for the way they run nuclear power plants!!??
#Fukushima I Nuke Plant Reactor 3: Video of Inside the Reactor Bldg (6/9/2011) Look here, TEPCO bosses, pro-nuclear politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen, scientists and others who have not understood yet - you will see yourself going down these steps in your nightmares...
The treatment system combines 4 devices, including those made by French and US makers. The French-made device uses a special chemical agent to treat the contaminated water. The US-made device is designed to remove radioactive cesium. Tuesday's testing showed it reduced the amount of cesium in the water to one-3,000th of the previous amount.
TEPCO plans to reduce the level of radioactive substances to one-10,000th before moving decontaminated water to temporary tanks.
EX-SKF claims that the French and the US devices do the same thing and that the whole contraption is a political construct.
But all is not lost... your opportunity to profit handsomely from this mess is now at hand.
Indonesia to pursue nuclear power? "Nothing in the world is without risk..." Sure, you may die in a traffic accident today. Your toaster might blow up while you're trying to have breakfast. The girl behind the counter at McDs might throw a cup of scalding coffee in your face. You may be mugged in the street as you walk home in the dark. A huge earthquake might cause a devastating tsunami to hit the coast of Indonesia... hang on a minute... didn't that already happen? Oh, well, it only happens once in 10,000 years, so it should be OK, shouldn't it?. Can't do anything without some risk involved, after all. Is the new reactor going to be in Jakarta? Wouldn't be good to have large transmission losses... And all this from a country that was until a few years ago a natural gas and crude oil exporter!
Japan's LDP: "Anti-Nuclear Movement Is Mass Hysteria" As we saw on #j13">June 13, everything the growthist nuclear reactor lovers don't like is "medieval" and "irrational" (Sarkozy) and now in Japan if you go out on the street and protest against the nuclear madness then that's "mass hysteria." So Mr. Kaieda and Mr. Ishihara (father and son), if fear of death by radiation (don't try to pretend there won't be any) is 'hysteria,' I'd like to see your face if you were asked to go and live near and work in the F#1 nuclear disaster site. Get a grip on reality, please. Economic growth is as good as finished here: "...Your old road is rapidly fadin'... get off of the new one if you can't lend your hand, for the times they are a'changin'!" (Bob Dylan)
Huge Victory in Italian Referendum - No! to Nuclear Power and Privatized Water By MICHAEL LEONARDI One of the impacts of the F#1 nuclear disaster, I think. But Japanese people need to read this to understand how the politics of the street - grassroots democracy - can be used to tell the patronising dinosaurs where to get off! Far too much emphasis on 'quiet discussion' and the analysis of dry documentation and not enough lively public discussion of what people really want here.
Writer Natsuki Ikezawa made the following comment in the serial column "Owari to Hajimari" (The End and the Beginning) that recently ran in The Asahi Shimbun: "Somehow fundamentally, nuclear energy is beyond human control. That is why when we try to use it beyond the limits of reason, we have to base it on a pack of lies."
"Lies" must be one of the keywords concerning nuclear power...
The phrase that "radiation has no immediate effect on human health," frequently used by the Cabinet of Prime Minister Naoto Kan also reeks of deception. "Kirinukicho" director Noriaki Tsuchimoto (1928-2008) said three decades ago: "What I found frightening was the time difference that (people who were exposed to radiation) got sick and died 20 to 30 years later." This is the scariness of the "time bomb" that stays inside the bodies of sufferers for a long time.
China will stick to nuclear energy Yes, of course they will. The Communist Party of China still believes in capitalist style economic growth, so of course they feel they need nuclear power. They will eventually be consigned to the dustbin of history! Ha, ha!
Global warming or global cooling?? The two articles below contain some very similar paragraphs, but they are different. If the sun is indeed heading for a new 'Maunder Minimum' you can say bye-bye to 'global warming.' If you want to know what the impact of the sun is on the Earth's climate, please see the documentary The great global warming swindle. CO2 as the cause of global warming was basically a scam invented with the help of Maggie Thatcher, who wanted to build more nuclear power stations in the UK. As usual, the politicians have us looking the wrong way at the wrong time...
Nuclear energy has proven capacity to deliver, on a large scale, low-carbon baseload power, but there are still concerns regarding safety and radioactive waste.
Accelerating the development of forms of nuclear power that close the nuclear fuel cycle, including an effective solution for managing long-lived nuclear waste, and a widely available fuel supply, would be transformative.
To achieve significant and timely uptake of these technologies, we propose international collaborations to develop the first commercial demonstration of the integral fast reactor with a fully closed fuel cycle (full recycling of uranium and plutonium), and experimental demonstration of novel accelerator-driven thorium-based systems.
So, while admitting 'concerns regarding safety and radioactive waste,' these people want to go ahead and complete the nuclear back-end cycle. Well, I hope they have fun doing it on some different planet to this one we're on now. How about Pluto? Go and play up there for two or three hundred years and see if you can get it right. Meanwhile, back on Earth, I would not trust my energy future to these people.
Err... This doesn't look very nice... #Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Live Camera Shows Huge Smoke/Steam Enveloping the Reactor Buildings Speeded up clip from the live camera at F#1 last night. Could be the wind changing direction and the way the lights look through the smoke/steam...
The Tokyo Newspaper ran an article today (p.2) about Assistant Professor Keisuke Sueki of Tsukuba University's isotope center, who took radiation measurements (of Cesium 137) in roughly 110 locations, mostly in Ibaraki and Fukushima Prefectures between late March and early May, turning these into a radiation map:
It's quite clear that weather and topography has moved the radiation around in non-intuitive ways. Strong radiation pollution in the south appears to have been caused by rainfall patterns. Where I live is in the white area in the northern part of Ibaraki Prefecture. Oh. I'm sure there are plenty of hot particles around, though...
Italy goes nuclear free - Italians have voted overwhelmingly to give up nuclear energy. The Italian interior ministry says more than 94 percent of votes cast were against domestic nuclear power generation.
Latest video message from Arnie Gundersen: Hot Particles From Japan to Seattle Virtually Undetectable when Inhaled or Swallowed. Arnie mentions that NISA had revised upwards the radiation releases from F#1 in the early days of the disaster from the original 370,000 TBq to 770,000 TBq. All along I've been going on the worse assumption from the Nuclear Safety Commission, who had estimated that 630,000 TBq had been emitted. Guess I'll have to add on another 140,000 TBq to my estimate - about 2.7% of the total radiation releases from Chernobyl (about 5.2 m TBq). So my revised estimate for Fukushima releases would be about 30%, up from about 27%.
But what is more important, perhaps, about what Arnie has to say is that much of the 'increase' in the estimated releases would have had to have been in the form of hot particles of cesium, strontium, plutonium, uranium, cobalt-60, etc., etc. Arnie estimates that people in Tokyo would have been breathing in 10 of these hot particles a day in April, 5/day in Seattle, and maybe 300-400/day in the Fukushima region. So quite a lot where I am in northern Ibaraki. 100-200/day in April, I suppose. That, of course, means internal exposure, in lungs, bones and so on. Thanks a lot, TEPCO. I'll bill you later.
Photo Slideshow of citizen volunteers taking emergency supplies to Miyagi Prefecture Over this past weekend (11-12 June), my Swedish friend Martin Frid has been up to Miyagi Prefecture with a group of self-funded volunteers to deliver emergency supplies to the people affected by the earthquake/tsunami disaster there. I asked him if he had any photos I could put on this page - here's his answer: "I took lots of photos while holding back the tears. There is so much to do, it is just unbelievable. I made a simple Youtube movie (slide show) without any sound. Hope you like it." Take a look. Not directly related to the nuclear disaster, but remember that these ordinary citizens are doing this while the elite fiddle around playing political games in Tokyo.
During a visit last month to the Gravelines nuclear power plant in northern France – the fifth-largest in the world – President Nicolas Sarkozy renewed his country’s commitment to the industry and described post-Fukushima fears over nuclear safety as “medieval” and “irrational”. He did not name anyone in particular, but it was hardly difficult to guess who he had in mind.
Yes, I suppose you would seem a bit “medieval” and “irrational” if you were worried about personal or family safety from nuclear power despite the obvious benefits in terms of a lifestyle with abundant electricity and lots of money to be made. In Japan at the moment, though, its the modern, rational people who are looking more than a bit stupid.
It is clear that the government should start anew by scrapping the draft.
Yes, indeed! The bureaucrats in their air-conditioned offices [less of that in the summer peak, please] still think they can railroad through whatever they feel like doing. I don't think they have much of a clue what's going on in the streets below. Are they even looking at the newspapers? - they are FULL of nuclear power issues, almost all critical or reporting bad news at F#1 nuclear disaster site or other NPPs. A huge negative media blitz for nuclear power. Missed the point? Stuck on another planet with little hope of getting home would be more like it...
Yes. As you know, the Japanese government, in its report to the IAEA, said it had underestimated the amount of radioactivity released to the atmosphere during the first week and that it amounts to roughly 40 million curies of radioactivity. What they failed to mention is that they discharged an equally large amount into the ocean, about 20 million curies, and that the—what they’re counting here is the radioactive iodine and radioactive cesium.
A little hard to understand what he's saying immediately because of the units. 1 curie = 3.7 x 10^10 Bq. So the 40 m curies = 1.48 m TBq (terra becquerels = 10^12 Bq). So the 20 m curies = 740,000 TBq - that's about what the government were saying for contaminated water onsite (actually 720,000 TBq see update for #j5">June 5) - not released into the ocean (yet). The 1.48 m TBq is very close to what I estimated for the TOTAL releases so far. I have not heard that that has been updated to 1.48 m TBq - did I miss something somewhere?
...the Soviet Union and Russia basically have claimed that about 50 million curies of radioactivity were released to the environment—this is roughly comparable to what the Japanese government has currently admitted—and that this site continues to release significant amount of radiation in the atmosphere, nowhere near as large as it did during the first week or two, but it’s still quite significant.
Hmmm... 50 m curies x 3.7 x 10^10 = 1.85 m TBq. But the number we have been working with for releases of radioactive material from Chernobyl is 5.2 m TBq, so the figure given here seems to be quite low. I think I'll stick to my #j5">June 5 estimate of 27% of Chernobyl releases so far from F#1 - which counts contaminated water onsite as "releases" since it is sitting around outside the reactor and eventually will have to go somewhere.
Aileen Mioko Smith here again: Head of Fukushima health study: 100 mSv/yr OK for pregnant moms — “Effects of radiation do not come to people that are happy… They come to people that are weak-spirited” Oh, joy! Dear doctor, how do you expect mothers living in radiated areas where the government and local authorities are not being upfront about radiation levels or are simply not measuring radiation adequately and appropriately to be happy!!?? I could get really cynically stupid here, but let's just say, doctor, that you don't have a great deal of imagination or much of an idea what people who are living in the middle of a nuclear disaster are feeling. Easy if you want to know - just take a trip up to Fukushima and hang out in some of the evacuation centers for a few weeks. No cheating, now. Eat what they eat, sleep where they sleep, visit 'Hello Work' with them, go with them and their children to the schools, and visit the local town or village halls. See how you feel. Happy and laughing? Give us all a break, doc!! (I'll just skip the diatribe about radiation exposures being accumulative and all that... just too tiresome for words.)
#Fukushima I Nuke Plant Reactor 4: 4th Floor Photos Not pretty :-( Who is taking these pictures??? Whose working on getting the structural supports in place???
#Fukushima I Nuke Plant Reactor 3 Gamma Camera Photos
#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Kurion's Cesium Removal System Is Clogged Somewhere
#Fukushima Marine Contamination: US's Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hall Massachusetts Surveying Ocean Off Fukushima
Three months today since the earthquake/tsunami and the start of the nuclear disaster at F#1. Even when I wrote the The original article and started up the 'Rolling Updates,' I did not think I would still be doing this every day, as I am now. And the end of the crisis at F#! is still nowhere in sight! In the meantime, TEPCO and the government are still struggling to deal with the seemingly ever-expanding radiation pollution problem and the Fukushima nuclear evacuees as well as the earthquake/tsunami evacuees from Fukushima, Miyagi, and Iwate Prefectures. Not so bad, perhaps, if TEPCO and the government were making real progress with these issues, but they are plainly not. TEPCO and the government continue to leak snippets of information that should have been released well over two months ago (which means we are still in the to some extent in the dark about what actually happened in the first few days of the disaster), and have failed to come up with any realistic plan or methodology for overcoming the ongoing problems at the F#1 site. I'm updating early this morning because there are a couple if things I noticed late last night that I want to put up as quickly as possible...
Nuclear Reactor [IN AUSTRALIA] By 2022, Uranium Body Says If you already have some knowledge of nuclear power, you will undoubtedly see the the very serious issues in this extremely problematical - I think I can say 'provocative' - article. I will try to spell these out later today, BUT, although Candobetter.net is open to the whole world, quite a lot of the people reading and participating are probably Australians. In my opinion, this article (and I am sure there are others like it, so let's take this one as an example of many, not a unique case [search this page for "Australia" and you will see more articles linked below]) literally throws down the gauntlet to the Australian people on the nuclear issue. Oppose it strongly now or have it railroaded right over you by the nuclear power proponents. If you think nuclear power is no problem, OK, have it your way. If you have doubts about whether this what you really want in Australia, please allow me to tell you what I think from the point of view of someone who is literally living in the middle of a nuclear disaster now. I hope that in the near future it will be possible to start a 'forum' or something like it on Candobetter.net so that we can share two-way communication rather than have me simply writing my updates each day but getting very little feedback from you, the reader. Let's talk. Whether you're pro- or anti-nuke, whether you're in Australia or not, let's talk about the future of energy in Australia...
He [Mr Angwin] said although the meltdown of reactor cores at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in March caused nuclear energy to fall out of favour, the various international examinations would address many safety issues and give the community greater assurances over the power source.
Will they really? E.g. see "Stress Tests" in yesterday's update. IAEA and so on may appear to do this, and there may be somewhat of a safety effect, but in the end the plant operators will cut corners in order to prop up their bottom lines, and anyway accidents will continue to occur due to human error and the fact that no machine can run perfectly for 30 to 40 years. This is all besides the other problems of nuclear power such as where to put the spent fuel.
"Now is not the time for policy makers to go any softer on nuclear power," Mr Angwin said.
"Softer" may be your perception, but "hardheaded" might be a better way to describe what's going on. If you take a real hardheaded look at nuclear power from uranium mine to final disposal of the spent fuel, whether you route through the 'back end' cycle or not, given the chance that catastrophic accidents can occur, on balance it just does not seem worth the while and probably does not pay (though you may think it does if there are parts of the process that you can externalise or socialize).
"Now is exactly the right time for policy makers to give nuclear power a dispassionate, economic, technological, social and political examination."
Needs more explanation about why now is "exactly" the right time. To me this looks just right, because if we really did get an inclusive and informed dispassionate, economic, technological, social and political examination then we would probably find that people really didn't want it. That is what is beginning to happen in Japan now that the F#1 nuclear disaster has woken people up to the dark sides of nuclear power. However, I think the kind of thing Mr Angwin is talking about here is polite talk in boardrooms and government committees between people who are basically in favour of nuclear power anyway and backed up by a media campaign to ensure that the general public remains virtually uninformed about the problems and informed only about the bright side of nuclear power (apparently cheap and abundant electricity run all the appliances in your home and your EV too) so that the inclusive debate/examination never takes place.
He called for a "genuine conversation in which the outcome is not pre-determined by political fear and which there's some considered, weighing up of benefits of cost and after which the country makes a genuine choice."
Couldn't agree more, except I'm not sure what the 'political fear' is all about. I'll attempt an interpretation, but am willing to listen to other ideas. Ahem... a small but very vocal minority makes a big fuss about the dangers of nuclear power and they somehow manage to convince a critical mass of the voting population that nuclear power is a 'bad idea.' Opinion polls then show that at election time incumbents are going to have a hard time getting re-elected if they stand on a pro-nuclear power platform. The fear of losing the election then forces both the incumbent (and prospective) politicians from endorsing nuclear power, which will also mean they will have to oppose it in public and parliament if they wish to be elected. Political fear. Generally known as "democracy." And I would add that the pro-nuclear lobby is also 'a small but very vocal minority.' The rest I agree with just as long as Mr Angwin is truly 'genuine' about what he says. The Japanese experience is that nuclear power decisions (on siting and so on) are accompanied by media blitzes (powered by large sums of money from electric power companies) plus money and the promises of employment and so on being thrown around in the communities in question to ensure that any dissenting voices are thoroughly drowned out. People in Australia should be aware of these possibilities (they are the means by which democracy is undermined) and devise actions that can be taken to prevent or alleviate them.
Fukushima was not the accident which resolved the nuclear debate in favour of the anti-nuclear side but re-opened the entire debate.
That's true, but the fact that the debate has been 're-opened' despite the efforts of the nuclear power industry to have the debate buried for several decades, does not mean that the pro-nuclear side is any nearer to winning it. I would contend, as above, that if a fair debate inclusive of the whole well-informed population were to actually take place the pro-nuclear side would lose.
The current debate among global greens groups was no longer about their anti-nuclear tactics but whether nuclear energy was better than fossil fuels.
My feeling is that this is a sweeping over-generalization about 'global greens' (who do not really exist because greens should be acting locally and only thinking globally - i.e. if all localities are OK, then the whole Earth will probably be OK) and that this statement represents merely the thinking of SOME greens (like George Monbiot, for example?) who seem to think nuclear power is a 'good idea' because it results in smaller CO2 emissions than other energy sources watt-for-watt. However, I think many greens (please don't ask me to be exact because I know of no green opinion poll) oppose nuclear power on far stronger grounds than 'whether it is better than fossil fuels.' In fact, I think it is true to say that these grounds are irrelevant, since 1) fossil fuels have proved to be very problematic for the environment [include CO2 emissions in that if you want to], 2) since fossil fuels are very likely to become much more expensive than now over the next decade or so and so 'we' had better start thinking about how we are going to change our lifestyles in order to wean ourselves off their use, and 3) the idea that nuclear power can operate 'normally' in an environment where there is very little available (expensive) fossil fuels is most probably mistaken because many of the services (e.g. mining, construction, heavy steel and alloys, and transportation) required by nuclear power to operate simply won't be there. So the question 'is nuclear energy better than fossil fuels?' simply becomes an illusion since the two are so interlinked that nuclear power is essentially unthinkable without relatively cheap fossil fuel resources.
Demand for electricity in Australia is expected to increase 35 per cent by 2030, which will require high capital investment and be managed with the government's 20 per cent renewable energy target.
If you're still reading at this point, you may have a fairly good idea about what I'm going to say. Sure, the business-as-usual (BAU) scenario wants to extrapolate out the rising straight-line or slightly curved upwards and rising population and consumption curves and draw conclusions about the future on that basis. In an economy that runs on debt there must be growth, including population growth, or it just all collapses. But what's the realistic physical basis for this 'increase 35 per cent by 2030'? I don't think there is one. I think, based on what I have learned about fossil fuels over the last dozen years or so, that by 2022, when this first Australian nuclear power station is supposed to come online, we are going to be looking at a fossil resource world that is far more restricted than the one we are seeing now. That means higher prices, if you're lucky, or downright unavailability if you are in the wrong place geographically or do not have the ability (e.g. as a nation) to pay. That first Australian nuclear power station is going to be relatively short-lived and even if it is built I doubt it will make it to 2030. In short, here in mid-2011 I do not think we have much of a clue about what the world, Japan or Australia is going to look like in 2030, let alone make estimates of what electricity demand will be in that year. We therefore have very little basis for saying things like 'nuclear power will be necessary in the 2020s,' etc., etc. What's happening in Japan now is also very instructive. Because of the F#1 nuclear disaster, it now looks as though NO nuclear reactors will be running in Japan come April 2012 (see articles in yesterday's update). Good and bad. Bad because Japan will now have to generate the electrical power it needs from fossil fuels. That means two things: 1) more expensive electricity because (if you count ONLY the fuel costs) generating electricity from fossil fuels is more expensive than nuclear power, and 2) we are being told that there will not be 'enough' electrical power, especially in the summer peak, when all the air conditioners are running at max at 3pm on the hottest afternoons of the year. Therefore, we are being told in the newspapers and on TV, we have to conserve electricity by using electric fans rather than air conditioning (saves about 50% of domestic electricity at the peak time), turning off unnecessary lights, turning off PCs, TVs and so on instead of leaving them on standby, and so on. In other words, because of the F#1 nuclear disaster, Japan is already moving into the slow lifestyle change phase due to energy resource restriction that we thought would be coming in five to ten years' time! I think this is so because there seems to be very little evidence that the Japanese economy is going to make any kind of miraculous recovery before fossil resource restriction begins to result in a generalised worldwide 'cooling' of energy consumption in the mid-term future, i.e. by about the early 2020s.
Mr Angwin criticised those who argued against nuclear power because solar power was a baseload power source, " in that they think solar is a consistent and reliable, around-the-clock source of energy".
It's actually quite hard to figure out what this means, but that may be the fault of the writer rather than Mr Angwin. I do not ever recall having read or heard anyone say "solar power was a baseload power source." Could be wrong, but I think most people know about rainy days and nights. OK, but we can even out the valleys and mountains by using batteries and other forms of generation, such as wind, hydro, biomass, biogas and so on. (Many people do not know, for example, that large solar (PV or thermal) power stations in the US are generally constructed with a built-in natural gas generator to help smooth out the generating power fluctuations due to darkness. Kind of makes a nonsense of the whole thing, but probably obvious from the current business perspective.) However, once we get to a time when the majority of electric power is generated by renewables, we will have to have substantially rearranged out lifestyles, since the current electrical grid system (even if it can be maintained) will probably not work well with renewables (please see Nicole Foss, Renewable power? Not in your lifetime in the #j2">June 2 update). The conclusion is that 'we' will probably be living lifestyles that are defined by highly decentralised and diverse renewable forms of energy rather than the humongous centralised thermal and nuclear generating stations that provide electrical power now. We'll just have to live on what we can devise and/or buy to use on our own houses or in our immediate neighbourhood. I think you can imagine how that will work and what kind of a lifestyle it will be. Once fossil resources are essentially played out the alternatives to this are probably all worse.
In the meantime, nuclear power is a great baseload power source because it is generally safest when the power station is running at or close to 100% of capacity 24 hours a day. The problem for the power company then is how to even out the day-night fluctuations in power consumption, and that is done by ramping up or down thermal (fossil fuel) power stations (how will that work when fossil resources become scarce?) or by inventing creative ways of using the otherwise 'wasted' energy generated at night. This is done by pumping water up to higher elevations at night and then allowing it to flow down through hydroelectric turbines during the day, or having consumers install some kind of heating system that takes advantage of cheap night-rate electricity and so on. So where renewables have valleys due to darkness, reduced water flow or lack of wind, the problem with nuclear power is that it is unable to adjust to the day-night fluctuations in energy sources due to human behaviour patterns.
"Bear in mind most people's only experience of solar power is likely to have been installing photovoltaic panels in their roof at the expense of other tax payers."
This comment ignores the fact that nuclear power will also be unable to run without some kind of government subsidy. As mentioned above, if you look strictly at the fuel costs nuclear power appears to be cheap. However, there are numerous other problems that require money: siting, safety, accident insurance and final disposal of spent fuel (there may be others; I am not sure if this is exhaustive or not). Siting - local authorities have to be sweetened up in order to accept a nuclear power station within their boundaries. Sometimes this works by having the local authority impose a tax on the nuclear power station's presence. In Japan it works both ways. The government gives the local authority subsidies AND the local authorities tax the power stations. Safety - this is a whopper; I'll only scratch the surface here. Airline companies, as an example, know that safety costs money in terms of downtime, engineer/technician salaries, spare parts... you name it, but they cut corners anyway, fully aware of the fact that once in a while planes are going to malfunction. On the other hand you could spend five times as much money on safety and accidents might still occur. It's almost exactly the same story with nuclear power stations. If you want 100% safety, well 1) it's unachievable, and 2) you don't have that much money. So there's a cost-effectiveness balance in play that usually works in favour of cutting corners for the sake of the company's bottom line. TEPCO tried to do this, for example, by 1) delegating work to sub-contractors (called 'affiliated companies') and 2) by lengthening the period between regular maintenance downtime. See what happened to them. Whenever and wherever private companies are permitted to own and operate nuclear power stations, this is what will happen. Regulate it? The companies will kick up one heck of a fuss! It will just cost too much! Accident insurance - in the case of a nuclear accident, those affected will have to be recompensed. This is usually catered for by insurance companies, but do you think any insurance company will touch this one? No, you're right. So, the government sets up a kind of insurance scam where the power company has a limited liability and after that the government pays - i.e. you pay through taxes. In fact, in Japan all electricity bills include a small amount towards an insurance fund. If the power company were not backed up by the government in this way (i.e. because the government feels that nuclear power is vital in order to maintain the electricity supply) the power company could not even break ground on the construction of a nuclear power plant. Still, here in Japan, where the unthinkable has already happened, the unholy arguments about how the people affected are going to be recompensed probably mean that in the end they are going to get far too little far too late. Does this look like any kind of anxiety you'd like to live with? Final disposal of spent fuel - Please, you can do two things for me: 1) Please look down to the main article on #a23">April 23 in the updates below and read about the MESS that Japan is in with it's spent nuclear fuel, most of which is stored at operating nuclear power stations, thereby posing a huge threat to the safety of the whole country - and I am NOT exaggerating here. 2) See the Finnish documentary "Into Eternity" about the Finnish method for LONG-TERM storage of spent nuclear fuel (there's a link to an article containing the whole documentary on this page somewhere, but I'm not publicising it because there's probably a copyright issue...). If these don't turn you off about the cost and sanity of nuclear power, then you are a very special person. Yes, I know Australia is a big place and therefore there should be places where spent nuclear fuel can be stored safely, but 1) can you find a place to construct the repository that won't be opposed by some people? and 2) can you guarantee me it's going to be OK for 100,000 years? Remember what your ancestors were doing 100,000 years ago? Humans didn't start doing any form of agriculture until at the earliest about 30,000 years ago. No solution has yet been found for this problem. See what you think of the Finnish idea. This is also criticised by people who have a problem with the basic premise (hide it so that people living more than about 1000 years in the future can't find it).
Outside the conference, four university students opposed to the expansion of nuclear and uranium mining were charged with trespass[ing] after they blocked the entrance to the conference.
Wow, sounds like a small bunch of desparadoes there! They must have known what would happen to them. Still they got a little bit of media attention that they would probably not have got any other way. And isn't that the point really? Only one side is getting its view publicised. Anyone with a dissenting (different) view is made to look like a tiny minority of anti-social nutcases. Democratic decision making, as (on the surface, at least) promoted by Mr Angwin in the article, is very strongly dependent on the free flow of information (e.g. through access to the media) so that voting citizens are as informed as fully and properly as they possibly can be about election issues. I think these were probably four very frustrated students who felt the 'only way' they could get their voice heard was to do something that that they would end up being arrested for. Higher levels of frustration lead to escalated acts of violence - known as 'terror'. I'm not condoning this kind of violent behaviour at all, but simply wish to point out that it needs to be realised that part of the responsibility for actions like these lies in the source of the frustration. if you push people off and completely deny their right to express themselves freely on issues they feel strongly about, what do you expect will happen?
In summary, nice media bytes about how wonderful nuclear power is and how happy/convenient/enjoyable it will make our lives need to be balanced by the downsides that we do not hear very much about in the media, by a more realistic idea of what the global/national energy future looks like, and by the experience of the Japanese who are now experiencing what I think you could call their third nuclear disaster. When you have grasped some of that stuff you will probably then be in a better state to judge whether you want to have nuclear power in Australia or not. Anyway, I do not pretend to be exhaustive and know all there is to know, and neither do I have a reliable crystal ball for seeing the future. I am open to discussion and criticism and believe that if people get together in the right frame of mind they can find really good solutions to problems and make robust judgments on difficult issues. Hope we can start that kind of forum here - we can do better!
Also please note that, despite the rainy season weather (and it is raining here today) there are several anti-nuke demonstrations due to take place in Tokyo and other parts of Japan today (see link at the top of yesterdays update). Hopefully, they will not be rained out! I will try to report on some of the demos later today...? Later in the morning the rain stopped and it is now cloudy but dry here and in Tokyo, I think. Looking at the site below and the link from it this is clearly the largest ever anti-nuke demo day in Japan ever. In fact I have NEVER seen so many coordinated demos in Japan on one day.
#Fukushima I Nuke Plant Reactor 3 Bldg Has Over 6,400 Tons of Contaminated Water
#Fukushima I Nuke Plant Reactor 3 Bldg Radiation Measurement
#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: One Worker Fell Unconscious, 9 Workers Exceeded Allotted Radiation Level
#Radiation in Japan: Date City in Fukushima To Fit Kindergarteners and School Kids with Dosimeter Well, at least they will be able to monitor radiation doses to children to some degree, but what are they going to do when they find out that some of the children are receiving higher doses than they think are 'safe'? Evacuate, I suppose.
Sweden's Lesson for Real Sustainability - The Green Revolution Backfires EVs end up polluting more than anything else up to now because the owners love their nice new electric cars so much they now drive more than before!! Now that oil prices are going up, if we want to sustain the fab lifestyle 'we' have been used to for the last 50 years or so then WE WILL need more nuclear power! If that's more than you can stomach then it would seem that the only answer can be that we change to simpler lifestyles and stop consuming so much stuff!
Despite the potential vulnerability to earthquakes of the Mark I containment system, which is identical to those at the No. 1 and 5 reactors of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) concluded in a 1980 safety evaluation that probable damage from tremors was "negligible" and "insignificant."
Even if the reactors, containments and buildings are 30 to 40 years old? Well, we know now that F#1 reactors 1, 2 and 3 were damaged and on their way to meltdowns BEFORE the tsunami arrived. So either the NRC evaluation was wrong (or its assumptions irrelevant) or TEPCO was criminally negligent. Or both. I don't care if the disaster shouldn't have happened; it has happened, so now I want to know what those responsible are going to do about it and what the long-term consequences will be (hint - nuclear phaseout).
TEPCO to use filters at plant Uh-huh - and then the problem becomes what to do with the highly radioactive materials that are filtered out. Turn it into concrete for construction? No! Surely not...
This second item concerns the sewage sludge that has been in the news recently. As I have said below (#j5">June 5), the radiation in the sewage sludge almost certainly originates in rainwater runoff from the regions surrounding the town or city where the problem exists. The rainwater, along with the city sewage is then treated in the sewage plant, resulting (hopefully) in clean water and the sludge of stuff that has been removed from the water. Somehow (most of) the radioactive materials are also removed from the sewage water - by filtration or chemical means such as oxidation and so on. This sludge can then be mixed in with concrete as a cheap filler. Great way to 'get rid' of it, until you have to live in an environment that has been built with concrete that includes this radioactive sludge... Hmmm...
Concerning the item above that, "Let's All Help Fukushima Farmers," a friend of mine who lives in Tokyo sent me the following email...
A Society in Denial of the Nuclear Nightmare (and other scary tales)
Now that three months have passed since the Fukushima nuclear disaster began, you would think people in the region where this has occurred would be waking up. Not where I live in the heart of central Tokyo’s Shibuya area.
Of course, if you walk around the busy parts of this main city hub you will notice no difference in people’s demeanor, “life goes on.” La-dee-dah. Hey, let’s go shopping for the latest electronic goods so we can use more electricity!
I have often mentioned the issue to people in shops and so on, and I do think many people are concerned, but as time passes the issue is fading into the background, in their minds, as the media likes it that way. But you would definitely not dare ask any food vendors or shops about radiation in their foods. I am sure you would get the usual Japanese passive-aggressive, feigned victim response: What do you mean? Are you slandering our business? How dare you ask such an impertinent question; would be the mood and tenor, if not the actual words of their response.
When I saw a friendly young fellow who spoke English in the elevator today, I asked him about his suntan. He said he goes to the beach a lot in Chiba. I asked about his worries of swimming in the ocean due to radiation levels. His response was typically pathetic, “Its far away from Fukushima so it should be safe.” I wished him good luck.
What about the world of academia? Most of the teachers I work with do not talk about the incident much. Some are very concerned and disgusted with the situation, but I actually talked to two teachers that were still pro nuclear!
One Japanese professor I knew years ago bumped into me on the street just after the accident in March. He told me Japan would “never” give up nuclear power. Oh, that’s a great attitude professor.
Here is a final anecdote about the stubborn and stupid ways of Japanese folks. A little birdie told me this story just after high levels of radioactivity were discovered near school playgrounds in Koto Ward. In our ward the school won’t test the soil because the ward office has told them it is safe (but how do they know this if they have not tested the soil?). The Tokyo government itself only supplies one air monitoring reading for the entire city of Tokyo! A complete scientific fraud. (This is changing now; see below.)
I know from years of dealing with this elementary school’s administrators just how shallow, superficial and incompetent (and xenophobic) they are. For years the grounds of the school was an innovative clay soil, which is meant to be a good surface to play on. But it turned out that the PTA director (who is a medical doctor) found contamination from industrial effluents in the soil. So she worked hard to get the school to replace the contaminated soil. After years of meetings and battles with the ward office, they finally agreed to remove the contaminated soil and plant a special type of grass. Turns out the same greedy yakuza company that built the school ground in the first place, with the defective soil, was used to plant the grass as well. Then, it was discovered they used a much cheaper grass type than they were contracted to -- resulting in its not taking very well to the surface.
* When I mentioned this story to some of the parents of children at that school, while riding my elevator, they just sniffed at me as if to say "foreigners don’t understand Japan and should not say such things, even if true." However, I did in fact know the intimate details of this case.
Finally, the ward office agreed that new grass could be planted to replace the defective grass. They also spent a lot of money building a special garage to house a riding lawn mower, full of tool and gardening implements, hoses, and so on. Holy smokes, I could mow that patch of grass in a half hour with a push mower and you would have saved thousands of dollars. Oh well, when the Japanese do something, they really do it, eh?
So, the nuclear nightmare came along and guess what, the new PTA leader said the old PTA leader (still working on the grass issue) would not want to have the soil checked for radiation because “we have to support the people in Fukushima.” What does that mean? If we find radiation in Tokyo that is somehow hurting the folks in Fukushima? In other words, you should buy those radioactive foods to support the farmers, go on vacation to Fukushima to support the tourist industry, and don’t talk about radiation, because, maybe, if we pretend it does not exist, it will just go away. I was then informed by the new PTA leader that “there is nothing we can do” about the school ground soil issue. When I enquired whether the ward office monitors the air and soil levels and how to find their data, I was just ignored. How richly ironic that the eccentric do-gooder on a campaign to give the children safe soil, had switched her tune if it meant going against the national interest of Japan (“Support Fukushima and ignore radiation!”).
Fortunately, a group of 35 families in Koto ward are demanding the government carry out school ground testing, but where are the other several million families in Tokyo making such demands? Why is the PTA not doing anything to find out about soil contamination? Enjoy mulling over these rhetorical questions and don’t bother to guess at an answer. Welcome to the Japanese nuclear nightmare.
In the city where I live, only half the distance from the F#1 nuclear disaster site as Tokyo is, things are a little different. A kindergarten just near me called the city office to see if they could get their grounds checked for radiation, and sure enough they said someone would be round in the afternoon to do it. A man and a woman came round from the city office just before 2 pm and took a series of readings with a hand-held geiger counter. They explained that they would take 6 sets of readings - one in each corner of the grounds, one in the centre and one in the sand pit (where the children play in the sand). Each set of readings was taken a ground level and at 50 cm off the ground (i.e. the height of small children). For each reading the geiger counter was placed on the ground or held at 50 cm above the ground (see photos) until five readings were taken (the geiger counter appeared to take an new reading every 5 seconds or so).
The man called out the readings each time and the woman dutifully marked them down on the standard form (come on... this IS Japan). The average appeared to be about 0.140 microsieverts/hr. I pointed out that this was about double the reading shown (on the Internet) from the local elementary school monitoring station. They knew about the MS, but could not account for the difference. I suggested that it might be because the MS is on the roof of a building. They agreed that might be so, but did not know if that was actually the case - they did not know if the MS was on the roof of one of the school buildings or not. (The man did say that the particular geiger counter he was using was known to give a slightly high result.) Anyway, the whole procedure took a little over 30 minutes. Everyone seemed to be satisfied that there was no big problem. One thing that worried me a little was that the city office people did not seem to know about local 'hotspots' or where to look for them (see this video clip from June 8), but were simply interested in carrying out the prescribed testing method.
The average of 0.140 microseiverts/hr works out at 1.23 millisieverts/year, just above the 1 millisievert per year that the Ministry of Education has set as it's 'target' level for school playgrounds. To be lower than this level the average reading would have to be 0.114 microsieverts/hr. And this isn't even Fukushima City!
Fishermen take matters into own hands Story of fishermen in the tsunami disaster area struggling to maintain their livelihoods, but will they find that despite their efforts they will not be able to fish because of radiation pollution of the ocean?
"Give Us Your Money, Your Planet and Your Lives" The Nuclear Bandits - By HARVEY WASSERMAN
Oh, gee, if the US NRC can't even tell power companies under it's jurisdiction to get their fire protection measures up to par, what chance did the Japanese regulators have of telling TEPCO and all the others to get their safety measures up to scratch? I should think something very similar to what is described in this article has been going on for a long time in Japan. The title says it all...
"The problem is that no one was thinking about safety designs and accidents because our hands were kept full by government inspections and explanations to officials for as many as 17 reactors."
Er... hang on a minute... nobody thinking about safety (designs) and accidents because they were too busy with government inspections intended to ensure that safety is maintained and accidents do not happen??? This sort of thing happens in a lot of areas in Japanese society - some activity that is intended to serve some purpose becomes formalized to the extent that it becomes a ritual which then gets in the way of achieving the goal it was originally supposed to achieve. Form not substance. Form OK, throw the substance out the window. BANG! What was that??? The nuke just blew up! Oh, never mind, just go on TV and give the public one of those formalized statements, will you? There's a good chappie...
Prime Minister Naoto Kan, approving the 750-page report, said that "above all, it is most important to inform the international community with thorough transparency in order for us to regain its confidence in Japan."
Could we then have a little more domestic transparency so that the population might regain a little confidence in the people who are supposed to be running Japan??
Panel leader Yotaro Hatamura, a Tokyo University professor emeritus on the study of human error, said at the meeting that "nuclear power has higher energy density and is dangerous. It was a mistake to consider it safe."
Yes, and a bit late to be stating the obvious, professor. Plenty of people have said that it was a mistake from about the early 70s, but who was listening then? Not you. Not the people who are responsible for this disaster, who quite brazenly expect to remain in business/power in the future despite what they have done. Are the people who have opposed nuclear power since the 70s going to get some kind of social bonus points for having been treated like social outcasts for 40 years only to find they were right in the first place? I very much doubt it. They'll probably end up being vilified for the power shortages that are going to occur in the future...
Yamauchi, an expert on radiation physics, said high levels of contamination were detected in soil, especially around a plant in Koto Ward that produces sludge, an ingredient in cement, where the level reached 2,300 becquerels per kilogram.
If that was soil, it would still be considered safe to grow crops on. How would it be if you lived in an apartment block made using this concrete??
Normally, radiation spreads concentrically, but conditions sometimes cause radioactive materials to accumulate in certain locations.
Whew! Thanks Einstein! I think most people have managed to get that message by now!
Beaches face nuke readings Pic of a woman official from the Ibaraki Prefectural Government checking radiation levels on a beach in Hitachinaka on Tuesday. About 100-110 km south of the F#1 nuclear disaster site. Even if the beach is relatively radiation-free, would you want to swim in the water? (Tokai NPP is only about 10-15 km north of here.)
Only about 7 km down the coast from F#1, so far unheard of problems at F#2 - #Fukushima II (Not I) Nuke Plant Wants to Dump 3,000 Tons of Water into the Ocean
Kaieda said Japan's economy must have a stable supply of radiation electricity.
Full stop. End of conversation. Don't bother to think, please, it might not be good for you. I'm the minister and obviously I know best, irrespective of the fact that I know very little about anything except that industry must go on... blah, blah, blah... Small wonder politicians are so unpopular in this country (see article about 'Diet not functioning' below). What has me puzzled, though (and Japan can be a very puzzling country) is why the people keep electing the same old dinosaurs...