Posts Tagged ‘Kyushu’

The last nuclear power plant reactor in Kyushu was taken off-line towards the end of December 2011, leaving the Japanese southern island free of nuclear produced-electricity. Off-line reactors are not necessarily safe in case of earthquake, tsunami or human error, all of which are far too common in Japan to allow such utilities to be but ticking bombs.

It is however a first step towards a nuclear-free island, which produces most of the domestic food, including beef (the famous so-called “Kobe beef” is raised in Miyazaki, Kyushu) now that Hokkaido is contaminated. Besides nuclear fallout, the town of Tomakomai in Hokkaido decided to incinerate nuclear waste against the will of citizens, as reported in Tomakomai Minpo on 2011 December 8. The translated and commented article is available on Ex-SKF blog here. Tomakomai is located on the southern shore, about 50 km / 30 miles away from Sapporo, with a mostly residential / industrial plain between these cities (agricultural products come mainly from Tokachi plain on the east coast which has been under nuclear fallout most of spring and summer 2011).

Politicians and executives will likely get away with public opinion manipulation and other scandals in Kyushu as articles below show: a mere salary cut whereas in some more democratic countries, they might have been jailed. Besides, the Nishinippon Shimbun newspaper cancelled the publication of an anti-nuclear book due to pression from the same utility, which shows that public opinion manipulation is deeply rooted in Kyushu Electric Power Co. and Kyushu political institutions. Indeed, Saga Gov. Yasushi Furukawa is assured to get a highly paid sinecure in Kyushu Electric Power Co. after he “retires”.

Kyushu is the last large clean food producer in Japan and it has not accepted any nuclear waste for incineration yet: it may as well become the future of Japan.

Hereafter are reproduced several articles found in Japanese news in December 2011, as original articles might become unavailable soon: (more…)

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Mainichi Shimbun reported further issues at Genkai Nuclear Power Plant in Kyushu. The water leaks follow those at Mihama and Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant last week and a fire yesterday at Tsuruga Nuclear Power Plant (read about it in Fire And Water At Japanese Nuclear Power Plants on Survival Japan). Previous update is available here. It mentioned that there hadn’t been any radioactive material leak, which of course was inexact (although KEPCO tries hard to prove there is no causal link between the leaks and the radiation surge) – incidentally JAPC declared the same regarding Tsuruga today.

About Genkai, claims by the local government that radiation levels ″sometimes rises under natural conditions such as rain″ might be half-truths as radioactive rains are not natural conditions, but it is irrelevant nonetheless in the current nuclear power plant leak context. Besides, ″the usual range of 433 to 472 cpm″ is not harmless – it is about 10 times readings I measured elsewhere in Japan (Cf. Geiger Counter Case Study: Inspector Alert on SurvivalJapan – although results in the post are given in uS/h, in fact 40 cpm was a typical value).

Nuclear power plants in “normal operation” in the US leak a ″little″ amount of radioactivity which operators must report to the NRC. Japanese nuclear power plants are similar although I am not aware of any such reporting in Japan.

Mainichi Shimbun – Radiation rose slightly afterwater leak at Genkai plant

SAGA, Japan (Kyodo) — A radiation reading at Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Genkai nuclear power plant in Saga Prefecture rose slightly above the usual range after coolant water leaked there Friday, the prefectural government said Sunday.

The reading at an outlet for seawater cooling the No. 3 reactor’s secondary cooling system was 473 counts per minute at 3 p.m. Friday, against the usual range of 433 to 472 cpm, not high enough to immediately impact human health, it said.

On Friday morning, 1.8 tons of primary coolant water containing radioactive materials leaked within the reactor’s purification system. The utility claimed the radiation reading is unrelated to that leak and said it will investigate the cause.

Water used in treating low-level radioactive waste is sometimes discharged from the outlet, but that was not the case Friday, the local government said, adding the reading sometimes rises under natural conditions such as rain.

(Mainichi Japan) December 12, 2011

Original article may still be available at this link.

Further updates with “not so slight levels” or such as “Yukio Edano ordered the last Genkai reactor to shut down” for instance are foreseeable.

The only reporter I could spot at the Osaka protest (Cf. Protest Against Radioactive Waste In Osaka in SurvivalJapan) was from the Mainichi Shimbun. Yomiuri Shimbun is a pro-nuclear news and powerful lobby with links to the CIA since the 1950, with its head Matsutaro Shoriki, to promote and sustain nuclear energy (and possibly weapon technology?) in Japan so their coverage is less and more biased unfortunately. Asahi Shimbun reported about a petition signature campaign in both Tokyo and Osaka on the same day for a referendum to take place, as per their article reproduced below: (more…)

Mainichi Shimbun reported further issues at Genkai Nuclear Power Plant in Kyushu. The water leaks follow those at Mihama and Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant this week. Previous update is available here.

Mainichi Shimbun – Radioactive water leaks at Kyushu Electric’s Genkai reactor

SAGA (Kyodo) — Kyushu Electric Power Co. said Saturday that 1.8 tons of coolant water containing radioactive materials had leaked within a purification system at an idled reactor at its Genkai nuclear power plant in Saga Prefecture.

But the utility failed to report the leak to the local governments when it detected it Friday morning, only notifying them of trouble with pumps in the system for the No. 3 reactor, which has been suspended for regular checkups, prompting the Genkai mayor to complain.

The water leaked from a joining area of the pumps, with no radioactive materials leaking outside the reactor building, and has been completely recovered, the utility said, adding that the intensity of radioactive matter contained is unknown.

On Friday, the company serving the Kyushu region in southwestern Japan said a rise in temperature over 80C at the base of one of the pumps triggered an alarm, but didn’t reveal the water leak on the grounds that it did not go outside the purification system.

The government’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said the leak within the purification system posed no immediate safety threat and urged the firm to investigate the cause.

But Genkai Mayor Hideo Kishimoto said, “It should have reported properly (to the Genkai town and Saga prefectural governments).I have been repeatedly telling it to change its corporate culture.”

(Mainichi Japan) December 10, 2011

The original article may still be available at this link.

Read also a further update here.

This post is a first December update following the Nuclear Incident in Kyushu November Update on SurvivalJapan. Genkai nuclear plant reactor no. 4 in Kyushu was restarted a month ago after a serious incident and is schedule to be stopped again this month for periodic inspection. Mainichi Shimbun newspaper wrote on November 18th (full article in our November update) that: “Kyushu Electric should not be allowed to resume operation of the No. 2 and 3 reactors, currently idled for regular checks, at its nuclear plant in the town of Genkai in Saga Prefecture “in view of its current governance,” Edano told the Budget Committee of the House of Councillors.” As for no. 1, the article mentioned that: “Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yukio Edano said Thursday the government will not allow Kyushu Electric Power Co. to restart two nuclear reactors at its Genkai power plant amid a scandal involving an attempt by the utility to misrepresent public opinion regarding the restart.” Today, NHK World announced that it was shut down, as can be read in the reproduced article below:

Genkai nuclear reactor 1 halted

Kyushu Electric Power Company has halted the No.1 reactor at the Genkai nuclear power plant in southwestern Japan. This means more than 80 percent of the nation’s reactors are now offline. It remains unclear when or if any of them will be restarted.

Shortly before noon on Thursday, workers at the Genkai plant began suppressing nuclear fission to reduce output at the reactor. The unit stopped operations at around 8:30 PM.

As a result, the No.4 reactor at the Genkai plant is the only one active in the Kyushu region.

Kyushu Electric plans to ask households and firms in its service area to use around 5 percent less electricity from December 26th, when the No.4 reactor is scheduled to be halted.
In mid-month Kansai Electric Power Company also plans to suspend the No.2 reactor at the Ohi plant and the No.2 reactor at the Mihama plant, both in Fukui Prefecture. These moves will leave the Kansai region with only one reactor online.

Kansai Electric plans to urge people to use around 10 percent less electricity from December 19th.

Of the country’s 54 reactors, the Genkai No.1 reactor is the 45th to go offline. There are no prospects for restarting the idle reactors as none of them has yet to meet the requirements for resuming operations.

These preconditions include passing the state’s safety stress tests and getting approval from local governments hosting the nuclear plants.

NHK World – Friday, December 02, 2011 07:47 +0900 (JST)

Hereafter is a screenshot for the NHK World video with active and inactive reactors in Japan. Genkai is indicated by the red box, reactor no. 4 is the only one left active for the island, until it shuts down for maintenance later this month. Given the unethical and unprofessional ways it was restarted a month ago, it could remain offline thereafter if Edano decides so. However, there might simply be a behind the scenes struggle to make Kyushu accept nuclear waste that his colleague Hosono keeps trying to sell nationwide. (more…)

Nine months after the disaster, the Japanese Science Ministry finally gave birth to a report about radiation spread across Japan, as published by Asahi Shimbun newspaper (article also reproduced below). Although from the relatively small size of Japan compared to Chernobyl-stricken Belarus, it was obvious from the onset that Cesium would fall “all over Japan” (breaking news title from the Asahi Shimbun article), the issue was to assess concentrations.

Since the Japanese government policy remains to downplay the risk, after censoring radiation reports in the news and in the blogosphere, data should be taken with a grain of salt. Last week, the Japanese government has turned its back on the company it had contracted to monitor radiation in parks and school playgrounds around Fukushima, after it suddenly discovered that the accuracy of the Geiger counters it had ordered was substandard (Cf. Mainichi Shimbun news article and comment in Geiger Counter Case Study: Inspector Alert in SurvivalJapan). MEXT data for all regions but Fukushima falsely reported radiation levels close to natural background radiation for months so that I only trust citizens reports such as Safecast. On the Japanese government radiation map below, it is a safe bet to assign to each concentration the level range above each reported, i.e. for 0-10.000 Becquerel/sq.m, the real value is probably between 10.000 and 30.000 Becquerel/sq.m. As for the methodology, only one station per prefecture was used to measure data. The Japanese government and affiliated organizations reportedly used Geiger counters conveniently located to show the least radiation, as in the current case of Tokyo University, which use only their one station with lower readings and switched off the other one which measures higher levels of radioactivity. Japan is not the only country to set their radioactivity monitoring stations at their convenience, this is common practice as shown in France by CRIIRAD with Areva (ex-COGEMA) company for instance, in the context of nationwide contamination from closed uranium mines. Read for instance “Decommissioning Projects – France” on Wise-Uranium with links or directly the English report by Head of CRIIRAD Bruno Chareyron, “Radiological hazards from uranium mining”, available for download in PDF format. CRIIRAD stands for Commission de Recherche et d’Information Indépendantes sur la RADioactivité / Commission for Independent Research and Information about RADiation and Bruno Chareyron was invited in Fukushima.

If absolute figures are probably fudged, relative concentrations of radiation in cities are likely to be trustful (although it says nothing about other cities in each prefecture). Hereafter is a ranking based on the news article, with lowest concentration rounded up to 1 Bq/sq.m for Uto, Kumamoto Prefecture, as the reported value is unrealistically small (0.378 Bq/sq.m) and for the sake of having a non-null integer multiplier. It should be noted that the apparent precision of figures is misleading and I kept the 2 most significant figures for this short ranking:

Kumamoto (Kyushu) : 1

Osaka : 20

Tokyo : 20,000

Yamagata (Fukushima and Miyagi neighbor by the Sea of Japan) : 20,000

Ibaraki (northern neighbor of Tokyo by the Ocean Pacific) : 40,000

In other words, radiation is 10 times lower in Kyushu compared to Kansai (suspiciously, in spite of the Genkai nuclear incident, Cf. Nuclear Incident in Kyushu November Update on SurvivalJapan). Kansai is itself a 1000 times less irradiated than Tokyo. This seems about right and there is of course a gradient between these regions. Indeed, before information black-out was enforced, a Japanese green tea grower in Shizuoka (further south from Mount Fuji, about 150 km / 100 miles south-west of Tokyo) reported high level of radioactivity (read for instance the New York Post article about it). In order to get 680 Bq/kg in dried tea leaves, as was reported there in Honyama area, the soil needs to be pretty contaminated and hence also the air, from which radioactive fall-out precipitates (therefore, other food products from this wider area are contaminated as well). This means that statements like the following one is untrustworthy: “Large amounts of radioactive dust fell in Tokyo, but a separate survey has detected relatively low accumulations of cesium in the soil.” Actually, it was documented in the US in the wake of a nuclear bomb test in Nevada that decontamination of roads and concrete surfaces is impossible even by using hydrochloric acid, so if the latter sounds paradoxical with regards to “large amounts of radioactive dust fell in Tokyo”, then it is another lie by the ministry official : “Tokyo has smaller soil surfaces than other prefectures, but road and concrete surfaces are less prone to fixate cesium deposits, which were probably diffused by the wind and rain”. Read “Secret Fallout” by Dr. Ernest Stainglass available for download in PDF format for more information about the myth of nuclear decontamination and more specifically chapter 1, “Thunderstorm in Troy”.

Likewise, it is just simply impossible to reconcile statements of Ibaraki prefecture being 1 million times more radioactive than 2 years ago on one hand, and the current air radiation level being 0.14 uSv/h, i.e. what I personally measured in my city in the monitored area and which is an ordinary value indeed. Again, the same article mentions that Ibaraki is more than 40,000 times radioactive than Kumamoto in Kyushu (actually 100,000 if we consider the exact values given in the article). It is a wonder that such inconsistencies can exist in an article from a mainstream newspaper without a word of critical analysis. The article leaves a great grey area between Tokyo and Osaka – as it would be interesting to get some values for Nagoya for instance, which is inside the no man’s land in my book (although the Aichi prefecture is supposedly “clean” on the map below), as one needs to draw a line somewhere and radiation reports by citizens were higher than “normal” there.

image

Note: real values probably one notch higher in the scale

Asahi Shimbun – Cesium from Fukushima plant fell all over Japan

November 26, 2011

Radioactive substances from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant have now been confirmed in all prefectures, including Uruma, Okinawa Prefecture, about 1,700 kilometers from the plant, according to the science ministry.

The ministry said it concluded the radioactive substances came from the stricken nuclear plant because, in all cases, they contained cesium-134, which has short half-life of two years.

Before the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake, radioactive substance were barely detectable in most areas.

But the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology’s survey results released on Nov. 25 showed that fallout from the Fukushima plant has spread across Japan. The survey covered the cumulative densities of radioactive substances in dust that fell into receptacles during the four months from March through June.

Figures were not available for Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, where the measurement equipment was rendered inoperable by the March 11 disaster.

One measurement station was used for each of the other 45 prefectures.

The highest combined cumulative density of radioactive cesium-134 and cesium-137 was found in Hitachinaka, Ibaraki Prefecture, at 40,801 becquerels per square meter. That was followed by 22,570 becquerels per square meter in Yamagata, the capital of Yamagata Prefecture, and 17,354 becquerels per square meter in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward.

The current air radiation level in Ibaraki Prefecture is about 0.14 microsievert per hour, equivalent to an annual dose of about 1 millisievert, the safety limit for exposure under normal time international standards.

Large amounts of radioactive dust fell in Tokyo, but a separate survey has detected relatively low accumulations of cesium in the soil.

“Tokyo has smaller soil surfaces than other prefectures, but road and concrete surfaces are less prone to fixate cesium deposits, which were probably diffused by the wind and rain,” a ministry official explained.

The fallout densities were considerably lower in the Chugoku and Kyushu regions in western Japan. The smallest figure of 0.378 becquerel per square meter came from Uto, Kumamoto Prefecture. The density in Osaka was 18.9 becquerels per square meter.

The peak value in Ibaraki Prefecture was 970,000 times larger than the cumulative fallout density of 0.042 becquerel per square meter in fiscal 2009, found in an earlier nationwide survey before the Fukushima crisis started.

Before the accident, cesium-137, which has a longer half-life of 30 years, had been detected from time to time from atmospheric nuclear tests. But those densities mostly stayed below 1 becquerel per square meter, while cesium-134, with a shorter half-life, was rarely detected, the ministry officials said.

Also on Nov. 25, the science ministry released maps of aerially measured radioactive cesium from the Fukushima plant that accumulated in Aomori, Ishikawa, Fukui and Aichi prefectures.

This was the final batch of the 22 prefectures in eastern Japan where mapping was to be completed by the end of this year.

Nowhere in the four prefectures did the accumulations exceed 10,000 becquerels per square meter, the threshold for defining an area as being affected by the nuclear accident. This reconfirmed the science ministry’s view that radioactive plumes wafted only as far west as the border of Gunma and Nagano prefectures and as far north as the border of Miyagi and Iwate prefectures, ministry officials said.

The ministry also confirmed that radioactive plumes tended to drift just short of mountain ranges where they formed belts of high cesium concentrations due to rainfall and other factors. The mountain ranges included the Ou and Iide mountains along the border of Yamagata and Fukushima prefectures, the Echigo mountains along the border of Fukushima and Niigata prefectures, the Shimotsuke mountains along the border of Fukushima and Tochigi prefectures, and the Kanto mountains along the border of Gunma and Nagano prefectures.

These patterns are shown in three-dimensional plots in an online Japanese-language document released by the science ministry (http://bit.ly/unIfH0).

The ministry also said Nov. 25 that it will conduct aerial measurements of cesium accumulations in soil in regions outside the 22 prefectures starting next year. That is because small amounts of cesium have been detected in dust deposits in Hokkaido and western Japan.

By HIROSHI ISHIZUKA / Staff Writer

This post follows up Nuclear Incident in Kyushu published last month on SurvivalJapan. Genkai nuclear plant reactor no. 4 was restarted on November 1st against the local population’s will and without any detailed public report regarding the incident. According to the Japan Times, “The reactor shut down automatically Oct. 4 due to an abnormality in its steam condenser that emerged after repairs were carried out using a faulty manual.” Kyushu Electric Power (KEPCO) simply changed the manual and got approval from the Central Government which found it “largely appropriate” as reported by Asahi Shimbun on November 2nd (read below). In their article on November 1st, the expression reported was “largely acceptable”, any of these leaving a taste of less than diligency and professionalism in a critical system such a nuclear plant, especially in the post-Fukushima context.

Genkai Mayor seemed surprised by the move as he declared that “We thought the reactor would be inspected without a resumption of operations. This is something we did not expect.” in the same article. However, he chose not to oppose the Central Government. Saga prefecture governor, who was involved in the scandal by KEPCO which was caught manipulating the public opinion in order to restart the plant operations, agreed with the decision. KEPCO president, who was directly behind the fraudulent scheme, did not resign and suffered only a minor salary cut. Eventually, the plant restarted producing nuclear power anyway, which shows that for the Japanese nuclear industry, not only it is acceptable to deceive and manipulate the public opinion, if you get caught red-handed, it does not matter as you can still impose your decision in the end with blessings from local politicians. On the technical side, KEPCO claims that the incident was due to human factor, yet it was the second time this particular type of issue had occured at that very plant.

Saga Governor Yasushi Furukawa gives a news conference on July 30 to explain the part he played in a campaign by Kyushu Electric Power Co. to orchestrate e-mail messages in favor of nuclear power. (Haruki Morishita)

Saga Governor Yasushi Furukawa gives a news conference on July 30 to explain the part he played in a campaign by Kyushu Electric Power Co. to orchestrate e-mail messages in favor of nuclear power. (Haruki Morishita)

(more…)