Posts Tagged ‘Fukushima Diary’

Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto formally rejected the 55,000 signed petition for a referendum on nuclear power yesterday as reported by Asahi Shimbun, on the grounds that he already asked KEPCO to study ways to phase out nuclear power in Kansai and because organising a referendum would be too costly – however, the same newspaper reported a month ago that Hashimoto “would rather live somewhere else than in this country [Japan]” than not setting up a referendum for what could arguably be a less urgent and life threatening topic, i.e. the pacifist constitution or the right to go to war.

Osaka is technically bankrupt and it could be heard that the city wants to save taxpayers’ money on a referendum, but this loses credibility when the same money is freely spent on another one, which is moreover just bound to make life more dangerous than it is already.

The reason behind this apparent lack of logic is simply that if Japan is allowed to change its pacifist constitution, then it will legally be able to manufacture a whole new range of weapons including mass destruction ones, without having to resort to complicated and less profitable arrangements such as the new joint weapon development agreement with the US. Osaka is on the verge of economic collapse and Hashimoto is promoting the views of companies such as Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, which used to manufacture zero fighter planes during WW2, and is a major supplier in the Japanese nuclear, space and defense industries. It used to also be a worldwide leader in shipbuilding with shipyards in the city of Kobe for instance but Japan also lost that market to South Korea and China years ago.

As for Hashimoto’s real intentions (in Japanese, his “honne”), Survival Japan consulted a Japanese major newspaper reporter for insider analysis. It would be that Hashimoto and other politicians are sounding their electors’ reactions with such proposals in order to prepare their final proposal for the major elections this summer, as Hashimoto will very likely drop Osaka and apply for the position of Prime Minister. It is also for this reason that the radioactive waste incineration is not in the news of late: Hashimoto knows that this sensitive topic would affect adversely the election outcome, so they will probably not move forward with incineration in Osaka until after the summer. Autumn 2012 will probably see a renewed nuclear industry thrust as well as nationwide radioactive waste incineration – unless a revolution takes place or the whole Fukushima nuclear plant explodes (as everyone who has been following the status of the ongoing disaster knows, this is a serious threat with a pool full of nuclear fuel on the brink of collapsing at reactor no. 4 and the defective cooling of fuel in reactor no. 2 – every morning I wonder if it is still there and so is Tokyo).

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Last night, I listened to the soothing sound of rain on the roofs in my futon – but I couldn’t get off my mind the thought that winds have been blowing from north-east of Japan all day and would be until Saturday and the night rain was ladden with radioactivity from Fukushima to a certain extent: black rain indeed.

Black rain was the expression used to describe the radioactive fallout after American nuclear bombing of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, before they forced Japan to accept nuclear power. It was later on used as a title for a silly and inaccurate gangster American movie by Ridley Scott. Black refers to the harmful particles in rain drops and is doubly chilling by night time.

Anyway, I slept well but I would like to warn everyone not to stand in the rain until the week-end and especially keep your children dry. Watch out for leaky rubber boots where feet soak for hours, have them wash their hands when coming back home as usual, etc. especially if you are in Aichi (Nagoya) and Kansai (Osaka, Kyoto) areas. Of course, the whole Kanto region (Tokyo, Chiba, Yokohama) is directly under, but nobody should live there anymore.

Contrarily to my post on Shikoku, Fukushima winds avoid it this time, as well as Wakayama according to the Meteocentrale simulation. However, it is only a simulation and daily updates change significantly (usually the last of the 3 days forecast is wrong), so the real situation might change on an hourly basis. Even if this was not the case, there would still be a gap between the simulation and reality. A slight difference means that Shikoku could be swept instead of Osaka since it is after all a small territory. The wind direction has been consistently reported and the higher probability is that the whole Honshu region from Fukushima down to Kansai will get a share of it. (more…)

Choosing an appropriate Geiger counter to monitor environmental radiation levels in Japan can be confusing due to the large choice of devices, including handheld electronic dosimeters that offers similar capabilities. Counters differ by the type of radiation that they can detect (alpha, beta, gamma, X-rays and sometimes even neutrons), their accuracy, price, availability, etc. Rather than presenting an extensive comparison between all devices, this post introduces a specific Geiger counter used by Safecast to map radiation mainly in the no man’s land: the Inspector Alert distributed by International Medcom (SurvivalJapan has no interest in promoting this company, this review is purely on a volunteer basis and I decline all responsibilities as to opinions shared here). It is also the device used by Pr. Frank Daulton, Ph.D., Applied Linguistics, Ryukoku Univ., Kyoto, Japan when he detected 0.377 uSv/h close to ground around his home in Otsu-City, Shiga Prefecture, not far from Kyoto and 311 miles (500 km) from Fukushima (his picture reproduced here) as reported on Earthfiles website. (more…)

In an April survey, 572 cities and villages from 11 prefectures answered that they could accept nuclear waste. On November 2nd, that figure had dropped to 48 municipalities, i.e. 92% less, according an article from mainstream Sankei news (Japanese only).The Ministry of Environment chose not to reveal the names of these thoughtless cities and villages until they decide to actually transfer the nuclear waste. This lack of transparency does not improve trust ratings in M. Hosono and his ministry.

Several officials reportedly had some severe health problems which turned out to be lung diseases. Fukushima fall-out regularly visits Tokyo where evermore hotspots appear and get difficult to cover up by the authorities with “non-Fukushima related” statements. Blogs and twits regularly point out to the logical existence of radionuclides which are not officially monitored until they eventually get into mainstream news, as in the case of strontium and probably “soon” uranium and plutonium oxides – how soon largely depends on when citizens will find and get a lab a positive sample that will force the authorities to admit it.

Effects on lungs are somewhat controversial as with any radioactive hazard studied and reported by governmental agencies and the nuclear industry and academia. For instance, uranium has supposedly “No adverse health effects reported” on humans whereas it causes “Severe nasal congestion and hemorrage (sic), lung lesions and fibrosis, edema and swelling, lung cancer” on animals, according to Wikipedia. As humans are ordinary animals, there is no particular reason for this discrepancy besides the political need to support their participation to the nuclear industry. Likewise, some Fukushima workers supposedly within the irradiation norms died suddenly from “non-Fukushima related” causes diagnosed by doctors working for TEPCO, under the seal of privacy and without any advanced nor official research. For instance, Fukushima Diary reported in their “Two sludge disposal facilities workers had sudden death within 2 weeks” post that, during an emergency citizen conference held on 10/24/2011 to discuss about how to deal with the radioactive debris and sewage sludge from Fukushima, the fact that two sludge disposal facilities workers died all of a sudden only in two weeks in October was leaked by a worker at a sewage farm in Chiba. This information did not appear at first in mainstream news according to blogger M. Mochizuki. Then a third worker suddenly died, supposedly from septic shock, as he reported in his subsequent post, “The third dead worker [septic shock]“. Although it is not clear whether the article refers to the same ″third″ worker (age and date differ), the Independent, a UK mainstream newspaper, reported that the worker died on his second day of work, while being exposed to “only” 170 uSv on the day he died (no mention about his first day). The Independent mentions also that: “The Japanese government’s maximum level of exposure for male workers at the plant is 250 millisieverts for the duration of the effort to bring it under control.”, which is largely over 20 millisieverts usually tolerated in other countries. Even this latter limit, which is equivalent to about 50 uSv per day, is arbitrary, as there is no reason why a nuclear plant worker should be more resistant to radiation than the general public, for which the international limit is 1 millisievert (raised to 20 in Japan after Fukushima). If we dismiss TEPCO’s explanation for the death of this worker, it seems that “fairly low” levels of radiation, contrarily to official, academic and industrial reports which serve the same community, could kill in a single day. After all, this third worker was irradiated to a daily level sixty times higher than the maximum for a member of the general public on the day he died, and no data was published for the previous day, which could be ten times more for what we know, considered the levels of radioactivity on site and other information leaked on Twitter by workers.

Although on the paper uranium and plutonium oxides are almost completely evacuated by the human body when ingested, and that when inhaled in “small” amounts, they have not been proved to be lethal, it may cast some reasonable doubts when some official people get pneumonia or bronchitis during an exceptional warm autumn, and their place of work or residence happen to be reported as some of the hottest spots in Tokyo, and that they have visited extensively Fukushima and contaminated prefectures such as Iwate and Miyagi.

Fukushima Diary reported on October 1st that some of the worse hotspots were in found in the “mud in Diet” (0.5 uSv/h) and in front of the Imperial Palace (0.7 uSv/h). Natural background radiation is ten times less. In the same post, M. Mochizuki mentioned that Upper House President Takeo Nishioka (who died of pneumonia early Saturday) nearly fainted at the Diet, that he said that he was suffering from severe canker sore and that he could not sleep recently. Besides, M. Mochizuki reported that M. Nishioka sometimes lost his words at the Diet. Of course, we may dismiss any information or connection with Fukushima as M. Nishioka was already 75 years old and some hotter spots have been found since without any casualty reported. However, when 9 year-old Princess Aiko was taken to the hospital for a cold, I suspected that it was in fact a symptom of low radiation exposure, especially since she is young and therefore more sensitive. These days, the official version from the Imperial Household Agency (IHA) is that she, like M. Nishioka, caught pneumonia. The Diet and Imperial Palace are geographically close in Tokyo. Although I hope that, now that she has left the hospital, she will live on healthily, I would not be surprised if the IHA announced some “unexpected” complications. The members of the Imperial Family must be exemplary and the Imperial couple visited Fukushima, Iwate and Miyagi two months after the nuclear disaster. Now, Emperor Akihito, who has “a fever due to a cold”, contracted bronchitis and had to go to the hospital. His immune system seems weakened, as “he appears to be fatigued and has lost some resistance to fight his illness” – which can be caused by a number of afflictions, including low-level radiation exposure, exacerbated by his old age (77). When he will die, it could be a signal for the Japanese Self-Defense Force to start a coup (Cf. Risk Of Coup In Japan? in SurvivalJapan). It would be quite a scandal if the Emperor was to become the victim of TEPCO and the government, the final straw that could very well serve as an excuse for the ultra-nationalist militaries to grab power.

These speculations will need to stand the test of time but I would not be surprised if the number of lung / respiratory diseases spiked, in of course a “non-Fukushima related” yet potentially lethal fashion in weeks to come, especially when officials or public figures are involved. After all, in the United States, “heart attack” is often a code name for drug overdose for this population, so pneumonia, bronchitis and, why not, severe asthma could become the same for radionuclide-induced cancers and acute poisoning (once in lungs, they move on into blood).

Update: Japan Times reported in April that pneumonia cases were on the rise in Tohoku, with a number of patients five to six times higher than the previous year at the same time.

Kyodo News reported today that a Genkai nuclear power plant reactor in Saga prefecture, Kyushu, was stopped due to an “abnormality”.

This coincides with a post on Fukushima Diary blog where radioiodine level in dehydrated sludge of Nagasaki city central sewage treatment plant (中部下水処理場) was reported much higher than in no man’s land Miyagi last month :

1) in Miyagi

  • 42 Bq/kg – 8/9/2011
  • 41 Bq/kg – 9/6/2011

2) In Nagasaki

  • 563 Bq/kg – 8/4/2011
  • 151 Bq/kg – 8/11/2011
  • 44 Bq/kg – 8/22/2011

Radioiodine disappears quickly so this comes from “fresh” nuclear reactions (half-life is about 8 days).

Of course, Kyushu Electric Power denied any radiation leak in the Kyodo article.

Genkai nuclear power plant is located near an island named Fukushima (sic) and the readings for Nagasaki city above are from about 60 km away as can be seen on the map of Kyushu below (Kyushu is the large southern island in our monitored land). The letter ‘A’ marker in purple locates Genkai and the red one Nagasaki city. (more…)

Typhoon Roke did hit Fukushima as in our forecast (Cf. Typhoons and Fukushima in SurvivalJapan). News all over the world repeated the Japanese official statement that no damage had occurred in the nuclear power plant, although about as much as 40 cm of rain water had flooded in some areas. Cameras which monitored the site encountered a malfunction just when the typhoon hit in so we have no image of any material that might have been expelled in case of a new hydrogen explosion. In some other news, TEPCO suddenly stated that 500,000 liters of “groundwater” leaked in the plant everyday.

Fukushima Diary blog reports that the radioactivity level has significantly risen around Futabamachi to 21 uSv/h, i.e. 1 mSv in 2 days. In their post, they also mention an article by NHK according to which the level of radioactive cesium in the sea nearby had doubled. In Utsunomiya, still according to Fukushima Diary sources, 330 millions Becquerels / square kilometer was measured from cesium 134 although oddly no cesium 137 was detected. Utsunomiya is the main city of Honda Motors where a few expats work. Finally Fukushima Diary reported some suspicious yellow powder in the rain, etc. All details, photos and references available in their post.

What to believe is a personal matter. My gut feeling tells me something did get wrong that night and that both atmospheric fall-out and ocean contamination did increase,  without any actual hydrogen explosion so far. What went wrong in my opinion is the same thing that happened on March 11. The yellow powder that Fukushima Diary blogger associated with cesium is probably made of sulfate particles coming from newly created radioactive sulphur. This article explains the process.