Posts Tagged ‘Shizuoka’

On 2012 March 19, The Asahi Shimbun reported that the “city of Osaka, the largest shareholder of Kansai Electric Power Co., will call on the utility to abolish all of its reactors “at the earliest possible time” and today, Mainichi Daily News commented that Osaka had “stirred ripples”. Articles are reproduced below. Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto’s suggestion to phase out of nuclear power, surely surprised KEPCO investors but also citizens for its unusual thoughtfulness.

Kansai is the western region of Japan where Osaka, Kobe, Kyoto, Nara cities lie and, depending on definition, the nuclear power plant shore-lined prefecture of Fukui, where a 7.3 magnitude earthquake killed 1% of population and completely damaged 79% of buildings in 1948. Besides, prevalent winds blow from Fukui towards the huge drinking water Biwako reservoir and aforementioned Kansai cities. Under the radioactive fallout in case of such an earthquake would also be prefectures of Gifu and Aichi, an industrial heartland centered on Nagoya city, where Toyota, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Toray Industries (worldwide leader in the carbon fiber industry that should make Boeing Dreamliner fly someday) are based. A new powerful earthquake in Fukui would probably relegate Japan a few ladders down the economic rankings. Kansai is already under severe economic stress – it always was but for a brief decade of national euphoria called the “bubble”.

Since about 30 years ago, poor Japanese regions exchanged time and again their votes and security against subventions and nuclear power plants. Whenever subventions would dry up, they would agree for a new reactor building. Nowadays that these are idled and that subventions have run out, poor regions cannot start a new cycle and are pushing and being pulled to ramp up their radioactive waste “management” business. In the same vote buyout scheme as for nuclear power plants, over-sized incinerator plants have been built and left unused due to their capacity threshold being over the actual amount of waste. Poor prefectures now plan to upgrade these little used, dioxin-spitting facilities so that they could operate at a wider range of waste quantities and include some kind of filtering for radiation. This scheme represents a large economic boost promise in terms of construction work, which is the main employment outside large cities – and under the control of yakuza gangs, who request some sustained business to replace the drop in their recruiting services for nuclear plant workers.

Radioactive waste are largely above what is considered as “low-level waste” worldwide and its incineration in current facilities turn their prefecture into secondary radioactive sources, the primary being Fukushima, still emitting as of 2012 March 22, a year after. Current secondary radioactive sources include 23 wards in Tokyo, Tomakomai (Hokkaido) and Shimada (Shizuoka, where Japanese green tea comes from).

Many prefectures have requested to become secondary radioactive sources, including places where the transportation hazard, time and cost had prevented the Japanese government to push for it such as Okinawa. However, Okinawa is surviving only by the presence of the US army and its underlying economy is threatened by a possible redeployment in Japan, in Guam or elsewhere. Tourism has been declining since about 5 years ago in Okinawa and will not pick up when it will effectively become a secondary radioactive source. Food in supermarkets in Okinawa come from all over Japan as it does not produce much besides beef which become labeled “Kobe” beef after spending 1 year in that heavily industrialized city. Okinawa cows are rather skinny so it must be quite a terrible feeding process that turn them into extra-fatty meat one year later in Kobe warehouses. There have been some scandals of radioactive wood used to bake pizzas in Okinawa, schools have been forced by parents to cancel radioactive snowball gifts, some vegetation like mosses from irradiated areas have been planted in Okinawa, etc. Okinawa is not a nuclear-free land anymore: this concept does not apply to any Japanese territory anymore one year after the disaster. As an advice to nuclear refugees from the no man’s land, if you cannot leave Japan, it is safer to settle down in cities where you can work to sustain a healthier lifestyle, not necessarily to the far end of the archipelago where they have no job; no sense about radio-protection; no clean food choice – and where you will be stuck when they start incinerating radioactive waste.

How does the new denuclearization scheme fit in with the irradiated waste incineration plan and is it for real? Kansai is searching for ways to revitalize its broken economy and incineration is one leg. The other leg is nuclear decommissioning, a potentially profitable business. It takes 5 years for nuclear combustible to cool down, under active controlled systems (or not so controlled systems). Then the proper decommissioning operations begin (and probably never really end). As an actual example, if we look at Sellafield in the UK, a mere 2 square mile facility, the official planning states that decommissioning and closure of the site is planned for 2120 (right: 108 years from now). After this stage, management of radioactive materials is forever. Therefore, decommissioning of the 3 reactors in Mihama, 4 in Oi and 4 in Takahama – and maybe Monju / Tsuruga – all in Fukui prefecture and globally called the Nuclear Ginza, could create a 300 years business, not including the storage and monitoring of million-year long radioactive waste. It could easily give a job to anyone and sustain the local economy. Additional benefits would come from the development of health care – did we mention that Osaka was a biotech center ?

Japanese pharmaceutical companies had trouble to compete globally because their drugs are not properly tested and have resulted in accidents and because they lack innovation. However, in the grand Osaka renewal scheme of joint radioactive waste incineration and nuclear decommissioning, there would be plenty of test subjects and Japan would have an incomparable lead in radiation-induced diseases, even though they would not be marketed as such: auto-immune diseases such as the Kawasaki syndrome, pneumonia, heart attacks, leukemia and all sorts of cancers, or any other kinds of affections described by Pr. Bandazhevsky, even in children (sic).

How is it that decommissioning would make the population sick? Nuclear reactor decommissioning is a task forecast to take over 1 century in the case of Sellafield but nuclear projects always get behind schedule (Areva EPR project in Finland as a relevant example). As a rule of thumb, you can at least double the time (in the case for Olkiluoto, Finland, Areva started in 2005, due to be completed in 4 years – now maybe in 9 years, probably 12) and since it is impossible to rule out wars, economic depressions, natural disasters and social unrest over the period of a century, it could take 4 to 500 years to carry out. The probability of the job being properly done to the end is marginal and our grandchildren, if they ever live, will most likely have to deal with no man’s lands in every place there used to be a nuclear power plant in the 20th century. Working in a nuclear power plant make people sick, they have in Japan, as well documented, not only in Fukushima. Work ethics are shoddy here and tasks are carried out by the 6th level of untrained sub-contractors aka yakuza firms. Nuclear Ginza and other locations in Japan like Tokaimura and Genkai accumulate accidents and are regularly leaking radioactive material, not surprisingly. Now let us project this over the next 500 years for a large segment of society busy cleaning a mess and adding to it at the same time: everyone would get sick, even if Hosono, Noda and Edano, the devilish Trinity as it were, were not working so hard to distribute contaminated food over all the territory – which they are. Mutations get transmitted to people who are not involved in the multi-generational task, weakening the whole society. As a side-note, it is of course impossible to decommission Fukushima nuclear plant within 40 years: it will never be really clean, no matter the official whitewash.

Recently 2 Japanese researchers apologized because they had taken some bone-marrow samples from cancer patients during surgical operations without anybody knowing: with radiation-induced diseases, all Japanese medical researchers would be able to experiment, publish their results and test new drugs on unsuspecting patients. When the Japanese war criminal in charge for human live dissection and experimentation during the war became the head of the top medical institute in Tokyo and was never bothered except for a moment by the Chinese woman who recognized him, anything can happen. Unit 731, Masaji Kitano and Green Cross all over again. Kansai, with Nuclear Ginza, you invested in a future treasure trove for your biotech and pharmaceutical industry (sic) ! Just as some people do not get black humor, let us note here that we are being sarcastic and we do not wish this nightmarish scenario to happen, quite the contrary but we are at a loss as to how prevent it. Japan has yet to come to term with its dark past and its present shows that it is never far behind – humor is a way to get some relief in the terrible situation we are now, and black humor can be offensive. Current Japanese politics are just as offensive.

So it could be for real and it would be the least damaging, as the alternative would be to wait until the next great Fukui earthquake and a fireworks over Nuclear Ginza.

Another possibility is that Hashimoto does not really intend to denuclearize Kansai, but is only trying to gain more KEPCO shares, some financial compensation or a special investor status from KEPCO for Osaka city in exchange for a time extension, a percentage increase in nuclear-produced electricity or such compromise.

Whichever, the pain only begins.

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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