As a result of our last posting on Fukushima, we had a discussion initiated by commenter Daedelus2u about radioactive istopes of Cesium becoming concentrated in fish. I thought I’d take this opportunity to expand on that discussion a little. This relates to the possibility that radioactive elements spilled or spewed from a nuclear reactor site (as per normal or following a meltdown and China Syndrome, as in the case of Fukushima) can become part of our diet especially in fish, and how much concentration of radioactive isotopes we might expect.


Ana’s feed is loaded with startling and disturbing items, as usual, or maybe more than usual.

Charges of falsifying information, lying, and cheating in order to either get people to go for a nuclear plant’s construction or took make it look like everything is just fine continue to surface and expand. And, revelations of very high pay rates for cushy desk jobs in the industry are a bit of an embarrassment. Also, it appears that the Japanese government created fake witnesses who spoke in support of nuclear power during hearings to determine whether or not plants would be built, and arranged for staged pro-nuclear protest. We hate to say “We told you so” but we have been saying this all along. It is not possible to make nuclear power safe if the word “power” does not refer only to electricity.

There is still Hydrogen where there should not be hydrogen. There is enough to cause concern that there could be another explosion, and its presence possibly indicates recriticality. There is some good news though. It appears that as of a few days ago, for the first time, most or all of the water in the reactors or containment vessels has stopped boiling. For now. So, if there is nuclear material producing Hydrogen from water, it is probably in some unknown location underneath the reactors.

The Japanese are having a hard time burying radioactive materials that have been piling up at disposal facilities. There are probably almost 30 million cubic meters of contaminated soil that have to be dealt with as well. In case you were wondering, that’s enough to fill the Tokyo Dome … 23 times.

Just as various evacuation advisories are being lifted around Fukushima, Plutonium likely from the plant has been detected about 45 kilometers away. The levels are low, but Plutonium is very very poisonous even at low levels.

Meanwhile Tepco has made the claim that there was never a Hydrogen explosion at Reactor 2, as was previously considered. “The committee reversed the company’s position that there had been a hydrogen explosion in Reactor 2, and now concluded there was no such explosion.” But something did happen early in the morning on March15th when people heard the sound of an explosion at which time the pressure in Reactor 2′s suppression chamber dropped. It was suggested that there was a near simultaneous explosion in reactor buildings 2 and 4.

There has also been some discussion about whether or not bit tsunamis were expected to occur in the most tsunami-ridden part of he planet earth, near the sea. Before we get to that, here is a picture of one of the ancient stone markers used in Japan to remind people where Tsunamis have struck in the past:

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Well, OK, it turns out that TEPCO did expect that a tsunami like this could happen, which of course makes it all so much worse. They expected a tsunami over 10 meters to be possible based on simulations done in 2008, but failed to report this to the government just before the Tohoku quake: “.. a Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency official says it is regrettable that TEPCO did not start work on its tsunami measures right after it made the estimate 3 years ago” (NHK World English)

And, of course, there was knowledge of tsunamis of the magnitude of the one that struck the plant in ancient times. And, as we now know, while the tsunami certainly is big part of the reason for the reactors melting down, the quake itself may have been sufficient to destroy the earthquake-resistant plant.

In an interesting development of uber passive-aggressiveness, Japanese demonstrators have demanded that the government build a nuclear power plant in the middle of Tokyo, to demonstrate their commitment to nuclear safety.

Also, scan through Ana’s Feed for the ups and downs of nuclear operations in the US and elsewhere.

On The Problem of Biomagnification of radioactive elements

The short answer is this: There are unknown things at work here, and the best way to know just how radioactive your Fukushima-area sushi or other sea life can be is to measure it directly. Much of the prior work done on fish has been in fresh water cooling ponds of nuclear power plants, and there is evidence of a not well understood mechanism at work in concentrating at least one radioactive element. Here, I’m not going to attempt a comprehensive review of the literature or to provide definitive answers. I just want to clarify some terms and set up some background for understanding the processes involved. (Some of the research is listed in the references at the end of this post, where you will also find abstracts.)

We are considering the process by which any element or compound can end up inside the tissue of a fish or some other organism (but we’ll stick mainly with fish). There are three or four terms (with variants) often used to describe this process, and the distinction between them is not logical from a language point of view and in practice is not consistent either. They are:

  • Bioaccumulation
  • Bioconcentration
  • Biomagnification

Bioaccumulation is the absorption of a substance into an organism at a rate that is greater than it is lost. That sounds simple but it is not. Although the term is usually meant to refer to toxins, the distinction between toxin and non-toxin is not useful and gets in the way of understanding the process. Also, once you mention a specific toxin, the corporate giants who make it, use it, own it, or are liable for it will send people over to explain why it is harmless and good. So I’d like to discuss bioaccumulation/concentration/magnification in relation to a non-toxin at first: Carbon (C).

Imagine a newly hatched tiny fish. It lives in a water column that we define as a few centimeters of mud and the organisms that live in or on it, several meters of water, the water’s surface, and for good measure a few meters of air above the water. (By adding the bits on top and bottom we can account for worms and seagulls and such). Within this hypothetical water column there is Carbon, much of it in the form of gas (CO2) but also in carbohydrates and other biological matter (like plants and animals) and some stuck in biofilms or particulate matter or accreted biogenic substances, like coral, crusts, slime, etc. As the fish grows, Carbon goes in and out of the organism, but on balance over time, more goes in than goes out. This makes sense because the organism is made of Carbon (and other elements) and it is growing. But, even when we sample our growing fish to account for its increasing size, by measuring the Carbon in a cubic millimeter, the proportion of Carbon in that tissue is still greater than the average amount of Carbon in the entire water column as defined above.

The fact that the fish has accumulated Carbon means that this process … growth through building tissues … is Bioaccumulation. But the fact that there is more Carbon than expected if we just measured Carbon in the water column as a whole means that this could be thought of as some kind of biological concentration, or Bioconcentration, or even Biomagnification.

But we don’t use those terms to describe it, because the Carbon in this fish is “normal” and expected. We just call it Bioaccumulation because there is no special concentration going on. (You can see already that the distinctions among these terms is arbitrary and not sensible in relation to the meanings of the root words, in some cases.)

Now let’s look at Carbon Isotopes. There are many isotopes of Carbon but the most common and stable ones are C-12 and C-13. It turns out that when you build biological tissues, the tiny little molecular machines that are doing that work treat C-12 and C-13 differently, which results in one of the isotopes being more common in the biological tissue than one would expect given what is in the environment. I don’t know what fish do, but in plants, C-12 and C-13 isotopes of Carbon are differentially incorporated (it’s called “fractionization” sometimes). Land animals that eat different kinds of plants can be distinguished by measuring their Carbon-12 to Carbon-13 ratios. I quickly add that I would expect all underwater aquatic plants to have the same Carbon pathways, but plants that live in swamps may be quite different from one another, so we have to imagine a fish that eats forbs and reeds as well as truly aquatic plant, and I know of no such fish. But if there was a fish that through either its diet or it’s internal metabolic process fractionated C-12 vs C-13, the isotope that is more often incorporated in the fish’s tissue is being biomagnified. More goes in than comes out, and not just more, but more of more, compared to the other isotope.

If you carefully study the definitions of these three terms, you’ll see that “Bioconcentration” has accrued a special meaning having to do with water intake and output, and its use is a bit clouded by this. To avoid the inevitable pedantry in this regard, I want to distinguish between Bioaccumulation and Biomagnification only and ignore the term “Bioconcentration” and define them as follows:

Bioaccumulation is the normal incorporation of a particular element or substance in living tissue over time through growth or differential replacement of in situ matter.

Biomagnification is the increase in proportion of a particular element or substance in living tissue as the substance moves up trophic levels (plant eaten by small fish, small fish eaten by big fish, big fish eaten by person as Sushi bar) to become relatively more abundant in the tissue than the normal Bioaccumulation levels.

If there is no mechanism for Biomagnification, then we might expect there to be dispersal of a substance over time so it becomes less concentrated up the food chain. But that depends on the abundance of the substance and how it is being used. If all the Carbon in the water column (including the animals, slime, and everything in it) is of a certain C-12 to C-13 ratio, and a shark that eats Bluefin tuna that east mackerel that east shrimp that eats plankton that makes itself out of gas and liquid is tested, it may have the same ratio as all the other organisms. That is not dispersal or magnification. It is just stable Bioaccumulation with nothing interesting going on.

There are a lot of substances that mange to get themselves incorporated into the fatty tissues of animals, which tend to increase over time in concentration. Toxins subject to such Biomagnification are well known and are often a serious health issue. For instance, DDT, Mercury, and PDB’s are found in much higher concentrations in older, highly placed (on the food chain) fish and thus, the people who eat them.

So, what about radioactive isotopes? In the last Fukushima update, we reported concerns over Cesium in fish. Commenter Daedalus2U noted that he could see no mechanism for the Biomagnification of Cesium in fish, and he’s probably right: We can’t see the mechanism well, or at least, as far as I know, it has not bee worked out. But it does seem to happen.

One way an element can become bioaccumulted and possibly biomagnified is if it is mistaken by metabolic processes in the body for something else. Strontium gets incorporated in tooth and bone because it substitutes for Calcium. Some very serious poisons are poisonous for this very reason: They get substituted for something else, but then at some crucial step later in the molecular process, they totally fail. It’s like the old movie gag where Charlie Chaplin or somebody is accidentally dragged off the street and mistaken for an important person, but when it comes time for that important person to do the thing they are good at doing … well, in the movies hilarity ensues, but in your cells, bad things can happen.

Cesium is one such element. It gets mistaken for Potassium. This can cause toxicity because it replaces Potassium at some early metabolic step but fails as a Potassium substitute at a later step. Fortunately, Cesium is rare in the environment so it is rarely an issue. However, nuclear fission makes Cesium, so one can find much more of it in places like the plume of poison flowing out of the Fukushima melt down site.

Regular non-radioactive Cesium is a toxin, but there are many isotopes of Cesium that are radioactive. The most common radioactive isotopes produced at a nuclear meltdown site that also have half lives long enough to matter in Bioaccumulation or Bioconcentration are Cs-137 (half life of 30 years) and Cs-134 (half life of 2 years). When a radioactive isotope is “accumulated” into your tissue, you get potentially nasty radioactive energy bombarding your tissues. It’s like carrying an X-ray machine with you all the time. Except, of course, if the concentration is low then it’s a very very low level X-ray machine. It only matters if there’s a lot of radioactive material.

And for this reason we need to know if Cesium merely bioaccumulates but at higher trophic levels then disperses, or if it biomagnifies, becoming more common with higher torphic levels.

Unfortunately, it biomagnifies. My own off the cuff analysis in our last update suggests Biomagnification because it is in higher concentratoins in fish than plants, and among fish, in higher concentrations in fish that eat other fish more often. (That observation is supported by the findings of Rowan and Rasmussen, 2011) But that’s based on a few samples, and the samples are from all over the place, which makes it impossible to draw any real conclusion.

Studies of Cesium in fish show a potential Biomagnification of 2 to 5 or so times, possibly higher. Interestingly, different tissues of a given fish may have different amounts of Cesium in them. Clearly, Cesium is being mistaken for Potassium, which in turn is used in low amounts throughout tissue, and the process of replacement is lower than fatal toxic levels within a given fish (because the fish are still alive) and variable across tissue.

One piece of good news is this: Assume that fish accumulate Cesium, replacing Potassium with it. This can not go too far. It is not likely that tissues can operate with more than a small amount of Cesium replacing the Potassium. In other words, as Cesium makes its way up trophic levels, biomagnifying at each level, at some point the viability of the fish is in question. It can’t magnify up too many trophic levels. There is of course a bad news to this good news. If fish respond to Cesium pinioning by not growing as much, the more Cesium-containing fish may be the prey of some other fish up the food chain in higher proportion, so you get even more Biomagnification. I know that sounds unlikely and strange, but so is the Platypus and it’s real. My understanding is that this stunted-growth facilitated concentration has been considered as a mechanism for concentrating Mercury in marine organisms.

The bottom line: for Cesium, there is a potential problem. There is Biomagnification. We don’t really know how toxic Cesium is … most of the studies have been done on bacteria. We don’t know how radioactive the most radioactive Cesium-magnifying fish can be. We do know that some of the fish sampled so far around Fukushima are above “acceptable” levels in their concentration of Cesium, and we know that radioactive isotopes are being deposited in the sea near the melt-down site as we speak, mostly un-observed (i.e., we don’t know how) and poorly measured (we don’t know how much).

As indicated in Ana’s feed, there is increasing evidence that the amount of nuclear contamination in the sea near Fukushima is large, ongoing, and much of the nuclear stuff being dumped into the ocean by the still leaking plant is not dispersing as far as originally estimated, and rather is circulating in the region. Biomagnification is thus a very serious issue.

Ultimately the question of Biomagnification of cesium and other radioactive isotopes is going to be answered empirically. There will be measurements of fish, and there will be measurements of health effects, and then we will understand the magnitude of the problem. It’s a big out of control experiment. To bad that, given the track record of the powers involved, the useful data will be destroyed, repressed, or misrepresented. Remember. The word “Power” in “Nuclear Power” is not about electricity.

Ana’s Feed

Hydrogen check ordered at No.2, 3 reactors -NHK, Sept. 26

  • The government’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency on Sunday instructed TEPCO to check pipes in the No.2 and No.3 reactors. The No.3 reactor suffered hydrogen explosion on March 14th and No. 2 reactor had a hydrogen explosion on March 15th.
  • The utility says it will measure the levels of hydrogen at the No.1 reactor before injecting nitrogen and taking other measures to prevent another explosion.

Researchers to study effects of radiation on Fukushima marine life to rejuvenate fisheries -Mainichi News, Sept. 26

  • Authorities here will study how radioactive cesium effects marine life in a bid to rejuvenate local fisheries in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
  • The Fukushima prefectural fisheries experiment station in Iwaki will launch an experiment study in October on how fish and shellfish take in cesium and how long it will take to reduce the effects of cesium by keeping marine life in cesium-laced water tanks.
  • While coastal fishing in Fukushima has been suspended following the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant and the ensuing release of radiation-contaminated water into the ocean, local authorities are seeking to find ways to secure the safety of marine life for the future recovery of Fukushima fisheries.
  • “Fukushima’s fisheries have a long way to go to overcome harmful rumors. If we could reveal how radiation effects marine products, we can establish the means to secure seafood safety. We are committed to producing results that can help the recovery of local fisheries,” said Satoshi Igarashi, head of the fisheries experiment station.

Burying of radioactive household waste challenging -NHK, Sept. 26

  • Japan’s environment ministry says that the disposal of radioactive ashes from household garbage is not going well in Tokyo and surrounding areas, partly due to residents’ objections.
  • Of 410 facilities where cesium levels of ashes were 8,000 becquerels or lower, 22 sites mainly in the Tokyo Metropolitan area have been storing the ashes. They say they cannot bury the ashes due to residents’ objections.
  • The survey also found ashes which had over 8,000 becquerels of cesium had not been buried at 42 facilities. They said that disposal was difficult.
  • The ministry plans to send officials to municipalities’ meetings to explain to residents the safety of waste disposal. It also plans to demonstrate more specific ways of disposing of the highly contaminated ashes.

Gov’t to allow ash containing over 100,000 becquerels of cesium per kg to be buried -Mainichi News, Sept. 26

  • The Environment Ministry decided Sept. 25 to allow ash with radiation levels of more than 100,000 becquerels per kilogram to be buried if steps to prevent leaks of radioactive substances are properly taken, ministry officials said.
  • The ministry made the decision on contaminated ash following a similar decision on rubble contaminated with radioactive substances that spewed from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant after the March 11 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.
  • From now on, ash with radiation levels of over 100,000 becquerels is required to be solidified with cement and can be buried at facilities where measures are in place to prevent the seeping of rainwater and the leakage of contaminated ash to groundwater.

Makinohara assembly adopts resolution seeking Hamaoka nuclear plant’s permanent halt -Mainichi News, Sept. 26

  • The city assembly here on Sept. 26 adopted a resolution calling for a permanent halt to operation of the Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant as long as its safety in the event of a major earthquake and tsunami cannot be guaranteed.
  • Makinohara, a city with a population of about 50,000 located within a radius of 10 kilometers from the suspended plant, is the first of five local governments with nuclear safety pacts with Chubu Electric Power Co. to call for a permanent end to the plant’s operations.
  • Makinohara Mayor Shigeki Nishihara said during the assembly meeting, “There is a high probability of an inland Tokai earthquake, and we cannot give up our demand for a permanent halt.”

Japan to freeze fast-breeder reactor project -NHK, Sept. 26

  • The education, science and technology ministry plans to request more than 20 billion yen, or about 260 million dollars, in its 2012 budget to maintain and manage the troubled prototype fast-breeder Monju reactor. This is roughly the same amount budgeted for the project as in the current fiscal year.
  • But the ministry is planning to ask for only 20 to 30 percent of the 10 billion yen, or about 130 million dollars, allocated in the current fiscal year for research and development on the project.
  • This is due to uncertainty over Japan’s future nuclear policy in the wake of the accident in Fukushima.

Noda must make promoters of nuclear power take responsibility for disaster -Mainichi Perspectives, Sept. 26

  • The administration of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda is aiming to implement a tax hike because a massive budget deficit is eroding the nation’s foundations, and also because recovering from the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami requires a lot of money. Raising taxes under current circumstances makes sense. That’s fine.
  • But there’s something I want to ask Noda, and that is this: Haven’t you forgotten one very crucial issue? The big question that was on everyone’s minds just six months ago? That is, to clarify what responsibility the main promoters of nuclear power – also known as Japan’s “nuclear village” spanning industry, government and academia – have over the still ongoing disaster?
  • The collusive ties between government and industry were what undermined nuclear safety regulations. One would think that given the nuclear disaster, the practice of “amakudari” (literally “coming down from the heavens”), in which retiring bureaucrats acquire jobs in the industries that they formerly regulated, would have diminished, but that hasn’t been the case.
  • That isn’t acceptable. From what we’ve seen of the nuclear village, what we need is a fundamental reform of the civil service system, a radical one that places capable private citizens and politicians at the helm of important bureaus within the various ministries.

Demonstrators challenge gov’t to build nuclear plant in Tokyo -Japan Today, Sept. 26

  • Dozens of demonstrators rallied in Tokyo on Sunday, challenging Japanese authorities to build a nuclear power power plant in the capital to demonstrate their sincerity about nuclear safety.
  • About 50 anti-nuclear power demonstrators shouted: “Let’s build a nuclear power plant in Tokyo!”
  • “If they are not lying about nuclear safety, they might as well bring a nuclear power plant to Tokyo, right?” said organizer Angelo De Rosa, a 45-year-old Italian language teacher based in Tokyo.
  • “In this rally, I also want to question if the government has provided people correct information on nuclear safety.”

Japan to check liquor products for radiation -Kyodo, Sept. 26

Fuel removal begins at Sellafield pond -World Nuclear News, Sept. 27

  • Operations have started to remove nuclear fuel from the Pile Fuel Storage Pond (PFSP) at the Sellafield site in the UK. The move marks the first time that fuel has been retrieved from the pond since the 1960s.
  • The sub-divided outdoor storage pond is some 100 metres long, 25 metres wide, 7 metres deep and contains over 15 million litres of water. It is the world’s largest open-air nuclear storage pond. The PFSP contains skips of irradiated fuel and waste, each skip containing up to 6 to 12 cubic metres of material. So far, 26 redundant skips have already been removed from the pond and disposed of. Almost 50 skips remain within the PFSP.
  • Before fuel could be removed from the pond, sludge that had accumulated in it needed to be removed. Operations to retrieve this sludge – consisting of algae, corrosion products and wind-blown material – began in 2008.

U.S. secretly asked Japan to help dump nuclear reactors -Asahi, Sept. 27

  • The United States secretly sought Japan’s support in 1972 to enable it to dump decommissioned nuclear reactors into the world’s oceans under the London Convention, an international treaty being drawn up at the time.
  • Countries working on the wording of the pact wanted to specifically prohibit the dumping of radioactive waste at sea.
  • But Washington wanted to incorporate an exceptional clause in the case of decommissioned nuclear reactors.

Second falsifying records charge at TVA nuke plant -newsobserver.com, Sept. 27

Southern Gambles on First U.S. Nuclear Reactors in 30 Years -Bloomberg, Sept. 27

  • At stake for Atlanta-based Southern is more than its bottom line and reputation, Chief Executive Officer Thomas Fanning said during two interviews. If there is to be a nuclear revival in the U.S., Southern, the largest U.S. power company, must deliver the $14 billion project on-time and on-budget, he said.
  • “We’ve got to be successful,” Fanning said during an interview at Bloomberg headquarters in New York. “This is the first, best shot for the nuclear renaissance in America.”
  • Nuclear expansion ground to a halt in the U.S. as cost overruns, construction delays and a thicket of new regulations after Three Mile Island’s partial meltdown in 1979 turned some plants into economic disasters, Ted Quinn, past president of the American Nuclear Society, said in a telephone interview.

Anti-nuclear experts join energy panel -NHK, Sept. 27

  • Japan’s industry ministry has decided to add experts who favor reducing the nation’s reliance on nuclear power to a panel tasked with crafting a new energy policy.
  • Industry minister Yukio Edano revealed the decision on Tuesday.
  • The new panel is to hold its first meeting on October 3rd. It will review Japan’s mid- to long-term energy policy, which had been focused on increasing nuclear power until the March 11th disaster.
  • Industry minister Edano said that the panel members were chosen so that a balanced debate could be held. He added the meetings will be posted on the Internet and he hopes they will be as open as possible.

Edano raps TEPCO over high salaries, compensation forms -Japan Today, Sept. 27

  • A new organization that was set up to help Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) implement reforms held its first meeting in Tokyo on Monday. The state-backed entity, which has been set up by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, is tasked with ensuring that TEPCO implements internal reforms and adopts cost-cutting measures.
  • Launching the body, Trade and Industry Minister Yukio Edano was critical of TEPCO, saying the company’s executives were overpaid and that their salaries should be the same level as public servants, NHK reported. He was also quoted as saying he would not support an increase in electricity rates.
  • Furthmore, Edano criticized TEPCO for sending out complicated application forms for compensation to displaced residents of Fukushima Prefecture affected by the nuclear crisis.

Scores of ex-bureaucrats landed cushy jobs at TEPCO, linked to lax nuclear safety rules -Mainichi News, Sept. 27

  • Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) had more than 50 retired bureaucrats working for the utility firm as of the end of August – a widespread practice in Japan called “amakudari,” or “descent from heaven” – the Mainichi has learned, and former bureaucrats acknowledged that cozy ties between the government and utility firms were a key factor behind the country’s lax rules governing nuclear power generation.
  • There were 47 former bureaucrats from the central government working at TEPCO as “temporary employees” as of the end of August, and there were more than 50 such “amakudari” employees if posts of “advisors” filled by former vice ministers were included, the Mainichi has learned.

Govt resumes review of Japan’s nuclear policy -NHK, Sept. 27

  • Members advocating nuclear power noted that resource-poor Japan must aim for a realistic energy policy.
  • The policy on nuclear power use, research and development was drawn up in 1956 and has been revised about every 5 years. It was last revised 6 years ago. The policy calls for promotion of nuclear power despite accidents at nuclear facilities and scandals such as cover-ups of trouble, and for at least 30 percent reliance on nuclear power after 2030.
  • The commission is to draw up a new policy outline over the next year.

Fukushima City to decontaminate all houses -NHK, Sept. 27

  • Fukushima City, about 60 kilometers from the crippled Dai-ichi nuclear power plant, plans to remove radioactive materials from all private houses in the city.
  • The plan was decided after high levels of radiation were detected in some areas of the city. The amounts were close to a level that would prompt authorities to recommend evacuation of nearby residents.
  • Under the plan, professional cleaners commissioned by the city will scrub radioactive substances from roofs and ditches of the houses, and remove concrete, which radioactive material tends to adhere to. They will also decontaminate roofs and ditches of other nearby houses, but residents will be required to remove surface soil and weed gardens by themselves.
  • The city says it will recruit volunteers from around the nation, if necessary, and send them to households that need manpower. The city also plans to decontaminate parks and community halls.

Contaminated soil from nuclear crisis may total 29 mil. cubic meters -Kyodo, Sept. 27

U.N. agency to aid Fukushima decontamination -Japan Today, Sept. 27

  • The U.N. atomic agency said Monday it was hoping to send in early October a team of experts to assist in making safe “properly” the area around Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.
  • “Japan does not have that much experience in decontamination,” International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director general Yukiya Amano, himself Japanese, told reporters at the U.N. body’s Vienna headquarters.
  • “They have had small accidents but they have never had an accident this big, so we can provide assistance. Even though they have some ideas, we can provide confidence and credibility,” he said.
  • “For many countries, for the engineers, what is going on in the reactor is the main issue of interest. But for the local people, the most important is what happens with their house or rice field. We need to decontaminate.”

Fukushima’s Contamination Produces Some Surprises at Sea -NYT, Sept. 28

  • Six months after the accident at Fukushima Daiichi, the news flow from the stricken nuclear power plant has slowed, but scientific studies of radioactive material in the ocean are just beginning to bear fruit.
  • The word from the land is bad enough. As my colleague Hiroko Tabuchi reported on Saturday, Japanese officials have detected elevated radiation levels in rice near the crippled reactors. Worrying radiation levels had already been detected in beef, milk, spinach and tea leaves, leading to recalls and bans on shipments.
  • Off the coast, the early results indicate that very large amounts of radioactive materials were released, and may still be leaking, and that rather than being spread through the whole ocean, currents are keeping a lot of the material concentrated.
  • The scientists had expected to find ocean radiation levels falling off sharply after a few months, as radioactive substances were dispersed by the currents, because, he said, “The ocean’s solution to pollution is dilution.’’
  • The good news is that researchers found the entire region 20 to 400 miles offshore had radiation levels too low to be an immediate threat to humans.
  • But there was also an unpleasant surprise. “Rather than leveling off toward zero, it remained elevated in late July,’’ he said, up to about 10,000 becquerel per cubic meter. ‘‘That suggests the release problem has not been solved yet.”

Panel: TEPCO unprepared for Fukushima accident -NHK, Sept. 28

  • A government panel says Tokyo Electric Power Company was unprepared for the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and failed to take steps to minimize the damage.
  • The panel investigating the accident held its third meeting on Tuesday. It met behind closed doors, saying that allowing media access would negatively affect its interviews with the plant’s staff.

Third-party panel to demand resignation by TEPCO management -Mainichi News, Sept. 28

  • A third-party panel tasked by the government with overseeing Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s cost-cutting efforts has decided to call for a resignation by the utility’s management, sources familiar with the matter said Tuesday.
  • In its final report to be possibly compiled later this month, the panel is set to clearly state that it would be desirable for the management to “fulfill its business responsibility through measures including resigning, declining retirement pay and returning stock holdings” as a prerequisite for the firm to receive government financial support in compensation to victims of the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

Village warns residents over TEPCO redress claims -NHK, Sept. 28

  • A village in Fukushima Prefecture is warning residents to be wary of signing a compensation document from Tokyo Electric Power Company for damage caused by the nuclear plant accident.
  • The document says that residents must renounce their right to file objections after they have received payments.
  • Iitate Village, located near the nuclear plant, is criticizing TEPCO for asking applicants to sign the document before the damage can be fully assessed.

Govt N-liability fund may take over TEPCO -Yomiuri, Sept. 28

  • The government’s nuclear damage liability fund, which began operation Monday, may put Tokyo Electric Power Co. under its control because costs to decommission reactors at the crisis-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant are expected to reach several trillion yen.
  • Former Hitotsubashi University President Takehiko Sugiyama, who became head of the organization on Monday, told a press conference the entity would inject capital into TEPCO and put the utility under public management when the decommissioning costs reach an extremely high level.

Gov’t to decontaminate areas with radiation exposure of 5 millisieverts or more per year -Mainichi News, Sept. 28

  • The Environment Ministry has decided to decontaminate areas where people could be exposed to radiation of 5 millisieverts or more per year by removing up to 28.78 million cubic meters of radioactively contaminated soil in Fukushima and four other adjacent prefectures affected by the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant.
  • The areas subject to the decontamination project are in Fukushima, Miyagi, Yamagata, Ibaraki and Tochigi prefectures. A huge temporary storage facility for contaminated materials needs to be built, and therefore the government is likely to have tough talks with local municipalities on selecting a space for such a facility.

Can Japan’s Anti-Nuclear Protesters Keep Its Reactors Shut Down? -TIME, Sept. 28

  • A showdown between politicians and concerned citizens may be in the making. On Monday, the city of Makinohara in Shizuoka Prefecture drew widespread attention after it passed a resolution to permanently shut down the nearby Hamaoka nuclear power plant. A similar resolution had already been adopted by the three other municipalities in the prefecture and six major companies, including Suzuki, have said they may leave the area because of concerns over the plant. Hamaoka’s three reactors went offline as part of a government safety mandate following the Fukushima accident. But despite the fact seismologists have described the ageing plant as among the most dangerous in the world because of its position on top of two major fault lines, operator Chubu Electric Power Co. has announced plans to restart it. It’s now building a 60-foot-tall levee to protect the plant from a possible tsunami.
  • Some activists are now pushing for a national referendum on nuclear power. In a Sept. 21 poll conducted by the Mainichi Shimbun, a major newspaper, nearly two-thirds of respondents indicated they wanted a vote on whether the country should continue to rely so heavily on nuclear power. In his speech at the anti-nuclear rally earlier this month, Kenzaburo Oe pointed to a referendum Italy held in June in which the country voted down the prospect of building new reactors. The Japanese people, too, should be given the right to vote, he said. “What is now clear is this: in Italy, human life will not be threatened by nuclear energy anymore. We Japanese, however, must continue to live under the fear of nuclear disaster.”

Industry ministry underreported opponents to reactivation of nuclear plant in Kyushu -Mainichi News, Sept. 28

  • The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) is suspected of underreporting the number of people who were opposed to the reactivation of the Genkai Nuclear Power Plant in Saga Prefecture, sources close to the case said on Sept. 28.
  • If about 100 respondents to an Internet broadcast survey who were excluded from counting because their responses were sent after the deadline were included, the total number against would far outnumbered those who were in favor of reactivating the plant.
  • METI had announced that 589 messages were sent from viewers to the program broadcast online on June 26 – 286 expressing support for the resumption of operations at the plant and 163 against reactivation.
  • Of the messages in support of the resumption, 141 messages subsequently turned out to have been sent by Kyushu Electric insiders. After these messages are excluded, messages against reactivation slightly outnumbered those in favor.

Swiss plan to phase out use of nuclear power gains full backing in parliament -Washington Post, Sept. 28

Labour’s love-in with the nuclear industry still blossoming -Guardian, Sept. 28

  • Labour’s love-in with the nuclear industry continued at a fringe event at the party conference in Liverpool, though not without some indiscreet words slipping out.
  • Public consultations on the building of new nuclear power stations are required by law, but would not cause problems in getting them built, Alan Raymant, COO of Horizon Nuclear Power said. “As a developer we are not obliged to follow the results of the public consultation. But we have to take it into account and explain why we have not include its recommendations,” he said. Horizon is the joint venture of E.on and RWE npower looking to build 6GW of new nuclear powers.
  • There was more: “It’s absolutely fundamental to have public consultations but we have to realise that we can’t please everyone if we are to have an economic project,” Raymant said.

Feds inspecting Palisades nuke plant after shutdown caused by breaker fault during maintenance -The Republic, Sept. 28

  • Federal regulators said Wednesday they were inspecting the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant in West Michigan following a shutdown caused by an electrical breaker fault during maintenance work last weekend.
  • The plant shut down automatically Sunday when two small pieces of metal inside the breaker panel touched, causing a short circuit, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said. It will remain offline until workers determine what happened and fix the problems.
  • “The plant is in a safe shutdown condition but we have a number of questions about the complexity of the series of events that led to the reactor trip and want to better understand the actions taken by the plant staff before the reactor shutdown and in response to the event,” said Mark Satorius, NRC’s Region III administrator.
  • Steam containing “a tiny amount” of tritium, a radioactive isotope, escaped after the shutdown but caused no safety risk and was far below regulatory limits, NRC spokeswoman Viktoria Mitlyng said. The steam quickly dissipated in the atmosphere, she said.

Plant shit off because of quake vibration, not power loss -MSNBC Nightly News, Sept. 28

NRC Has Authority to Deal With Seismic Risks, Lochbaum Says -Bloomberg, Sept. 28

  • Nuclear regulators already have “sufficient information and knowledge” to deal with earthquake risks at existing U.S. reactors and don’t need to wait for a broader review, a safety advocate said.
  • The Nuclear Regulatory Commission developed seismic rules for new plants in 1996 and has since approved preliminary construction for proposed nuclear units at a Southern Co. (SO) plant in Georgia and certified an early reactor design by Toshiba Corp. (6502)’s Westinghouse Electric unit, according to comments filed with the agency today by David Lochbaum, director of the Nuclear Safety Project at the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Union of Concerned Scientists.
  • “If the NRC truly lacks sufficient information about seismic hazards and how safety at nuclear power reactors is affected, then the agency cannot responsibly have issued early site permits and certified new reactor designs,” he said.

3 Fukushima reactors cooled below 100 degrees -NHK, Sept. 28

  • The temperature of another troubled reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has fallen below 100 degrees Celsius for the first time since the nuclear disaster in March.
  • Tokyo Electric Power Company or TEPCO says the temperature in the lower area of the Number 2 reactor stood at 99.4 degrees at 5 PM on Wednesday.
  • Temperatures at the Number 1 and 3 reactors have been maintained below 100 degrees Celsius since August.
  • The utility says its cooling efforts have achieved results although it is too early to say that it has attained a state of cold shutdown for all 3 troubled reactors.

Fuku I Hydrogen Gas Update: It Was 63% Concentration -EX-SKF, Sept. 28

  • TEPCO announced on September 28 that the concentration of hydrogen gas in the pipe that leads to the Containment Vessel of Reactor 1 at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant was 63%.
  • TEPCO says there is no danger of explosion because no oxygen was detected in the pipe. The company will inject nitrogen in the pipe on September 29 to expel hydrogen.
  • Looking at TEPCO’s handout for the press on September 28 (Japanese only for now), all they will do is to try to expel hydrogen in the pipe alone by injecting nitrogen from the far end of the pipe. They must be operating on the assumption that all the hydrogen in the pipe is from the initial zirconium cladding and water interaction, not the recent or on-going radiolysis, and once the hydrogen currently in the pipe is expelled, that will be the end of the story.

High hydrogen levels in pipes at No.1 reactor -NHK, Sept. 29

  • TEPCO began measuring the density of the gas on Wednesday after finding it accumulating in pipes connected to the reactor’s containment vessel late last week.
  • It found that the density of hydrogen was high, at between 61 to 63 percent.
  • TEPCO says the hydrogen is likely the remains of gas that caused explosions at the plant in March, following the quake and tsunami disaster.

Fukushima Desolation Worst Since Nagasaki as Residents Flee -Bloomberg, Sept. 29

  • Beyond the police roadblocks that mark the no-go zone around Japan’s wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant, six-foot tall weeds invade rice paddies and vines gone wild strangle road signs along empty streets.
  • Takako Harada, 80, returned to an evacuated area of Iitate village to retrieve her car. Beside her house is an empty cattle pen, the 100 cows slaughtered on government order after radiation from the March 11 atomic disaster saturated the area, forcing 160,000 people to move away and leaving some places uninhabitable for two decades or more.
  • “Older folks want to return, but the young worry about radiation,” said Harada, whose family ran the farm for 40 years. “I want to farm, but will we be able to sell anything?”
  • What’s emerging in Japan six months since the nuclear meltdown at the Tokyo Electric Power Co. plant is a radioactive zone bigger than that left by the 1945 atomic bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. While nature reclaims the 20 kilometer (12 mile) no-go zone, Fukushima’s $3.2 billion-a-year farm industry is being devastated and tourists that hiked the prefecture’s mountains and surfed off its beaches have all but vanished.
  • “There are no simple solutions,” Timothy Mousseau, a professor of biological sciences at the University of South Carolina, said. Deciding whether life should go on in radiation tainted areas is a “question of acceptable risks and trade offs.”
  • To Mousseau, one thing is clear. “There will be consequences for some of the people who are exposed to levels that are being reported from the Fukushima prefecture,” Mousseau said by e-mail from Chernobyl, where he is studying radiation effects.

Facilites to store contaminated soil to be built -NHK, Sept. 29

  • The environment ministry says it will build facilities to temporarily store radioactive contaminated soil in Tokyo and 7 prefectures in eastern and northern Japan.
  • Local governments have been trying to remove radioactive materials since the crisis began at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. But they are struggling to find places to store mud and sludge generated by the decontamination.
  • According to the plan, the facilities will be built in Tokyo and 4 other prefectures in Kanto and 3 prefectures in the Tohoku region.

Radioactive soil can fill 23 Tokyo Domes -Japan Times, Sept. 29

  • Radioactive soil and vegetation that must be removed in Fukushima and four adjacent prefectures could reach up to 28.79 million cu. meters, equal to filling the Tokyo Dome 23 times, according to a recent Environment Ministry estimate.
  • But finding a disposal or temporary storage site will be a tall order.
  • The estimate covers soil and dead leaves mainly from areas with radiation levels of more than 5 millisieverts per year in the prefectures of Fukushima, Miyagi, Yamagata, Tochigi and Ibaraki, whose data were used to mete out the rough figures.
  • In Fukushima, home of the nuclear plant leaking all the radiation, about 17.5 percent of the prefecture is contaminated to that level.

Rubble from quake- and tsunami-hit areas to be disposed in Tokyo -Mainichi News, Sept. 29

  • The Tokyo Metropolitan Government is set to dispose in the capital rubble from earthquake- and tsunami-hit areas in Iwate and Miyagi prefectures, officials said.
  • There is far more rubble in areas hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake, tsunami and the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant than local bodies can dispose of. Moreover, due to radiation fears, little progress has been made in efforts to dispose of such waste.
  • Tokyo decided to process rubble from disaster-hit areas after detecting only 133 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram of ash generated after rubble was incinerated, far below the upper limit of 8,000 becquerels set by the national government. The central government will foot the expenses of disposing of disaster-generated rubble.

Japan to postpone test to restart Monju -NHK, Sept. 29

  • The Monju fast-breeder reactor uses plutonium extracted from spent nuclear fuel to generate power. It is seen as a prototype for Japan’s next-generation nuclear power plant.
  • The government aimed to conduct a test to raise the reactor’s output to 40 percent of its capacity by the end of next March.
  • However, in the wake of the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, Japan’s Atomic Energy Commission has begun reviewing the country’s long term energy policy.

Diet to set up panel on Fukushima accident -NHK, Sept. 29

  • Japan’s governing and opposition parties have agreed to set up an investigative panel on the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
  • The opposition Liberal Democratic Party, the New Komeito Party and the Sunrise Party of Japan submitted to the Lower House a bill to launch the panel of experts.
  • The 3 parties plus the Communist Party and the main governing Democratic Party agreed on Wednesday to set up a 10-member body in the Diet with the authority to summon witnesses and to demand the submission of documents.

Panel eyes 7,400 job cuts at TEPCO -Japan Today, Sept. 29

  • A Japanese government panel overseeing the restructuring of TEPCO is to demand the company slash 7,400 jobs to help pay for the clean up at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, a report said Wednesday.
  • The panel is also considering calling for the resignation of the beleaguered company’s management in a move that would also see them forfeit their retirement benefits, another report said.

Shaking caused plant shutdown -fredricksburg.com, Sept. 29

  • In response to the NRC’s request for more information, Dominion said there was a direct correlation between the reactors’ shutdown and earthquake motion.
  • “The units tripped seconds before we lost off-site power,” said Richard Zuercher, spokesman for Dominion’s nuclear operations. “Both reactors shut down as designed when multiple reactor sensors detected a slight power reduction as a result of the vibrations in the reactor or monitoring devices.”
  • Dominion soon discovered that ground motion briefly exceeded the plant’s design limit, but said there was no damage to safety or operating systems.
  • That topic was the subject of a protest at Dominion headquarters in Richmond Tuesday afternoon by Not on Our Fault Line, a newly formed watchdog group. The Louisa County group says if North Anna’s existing units go back online, they should be upgraded to the higher seismic standards planned for a proposed Unit 3.
  • The NRC also asked Dominion whether there was any damage to fuel in the reactors. The fuel is thumbnail-size uranium dioxide pellets loaded into metal alloy rods that compose fuel assemblies.
  • Dominion said, “There is reasonable assurance that there was no significant physical or functional damage to the fuel.”

Entergy faces another special investigation over malfunction at Palisades -Michigan Messanger, Sept. 29

  • The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has sent a special investigation team to Entergy’s Palisades nuclear power plant to examine the circumstances around the plant’s latest unplanned shutdown.
  • Palisades 798 MW pressurized water reactor, located about 70 miles southwest of Grand Rapids on Lake Michigan, abruptly powered down on Sunday night when an electrical malfunction took out the power supply to several safety-related valves and switches.
  • “The issue involved plant workers who were performing maintenance activities on an electrical panel when a small metal piece located inside the breaker panel came into contact with another metal piece and caused an arc,” the NRC said Wednesday. “This resulted in a series of electrical issues that caused the plant to shut down and sent signals to multiple plant systems causing certain safety pumps to start and some safety valves to reposition.”
  • Officials say the plant has been controlling temperature by venting steam, that contains low levels of tritium, into in the environment.
  • The shutdown at Palisades is the second this month and occurred just five days after the plant restarted from a shutdown triggered by a leak in the plant’s cooling system. The NRC has not yet released the report from the special investigation into that event. The agency also inspected the plant in August after a water pump failed.

GE nuclear fuel unit outlines changes to regulator -Reuters, Sept. 29

  • Global Nuclear Chief Operating Officer Nichole Holmes said the GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy operation is strengthening its training programs to address five performance issues the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has labeled “apparent violations,” during an enforcement conference in Atlanta Thursday.
  • The recent organizational issues came to light during an NRC inspection of Global Nuclear’s fuel assembly operation following a company report in March of a buildup of uranium dioxide powder in a grinding station filter.
  • Describing the company’s commitment to organization change, Holmes said the company is interviewing for a training leader and has hired a project manager to lead efforts in GE Hitachi’s process excellence program designed to enhance problem identification and simplify the safety process.
  • In a follow-up inspection report in September, the NRC described five new “unresolved” performance issues as “apparent violations.”

EDF Underestimated Radioactivity in Deadly Waste-Site Explosion -Bloomberg, Sept. 29

  • Electricite de France SA, Europe’s biggest power producer, underestimated radioactivity levels in a furnace that exploded at a waste-processing site this month, killing one and injuring four, the nuclear watchdog said.
  • EDF has been told to explain how it gave incorrect data, Autorite de Surete Nucleaire said in a statement, adding that the immediate environment and population were unaffected by the events. The watchdog had previously sought safety improvements at the facility, while allowing it to continue to operate.
  • Some 4 metric tons of metal with 30 million becquerels of radioactivity was in the melting furnace of the plant at the time of the accident, it said. The operator had initially said the level of radioactivity was 63,000 becquerels.

Fukushima prefecture struck by major tremor -NHK, Sept. 29

  • The Meteorological Agency says the tremor occurred shortly after 7 PM, centered off Fukushima Prefecture.
  • The agency says there was no tsunami.
  • The quake registered a maximum intensity of 5-plus on the Japanese scale of zero to 7.
  • Tokyo Electric Power Company says the quake has not interfered with its attempts to stabilize three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, crippled since the nuclear crisis began in March.

Tepco Faces ‘Zombie’ Future as Fukushima Claims Set to Surpass $59 Billion -Bloomberg, Sept. 30

  • okyo Electric Power Co., which faces damages of at least 4.5 trillion yen ($59 billion) for the Fukushima nuclear disaster, may be consigned to a future as a “zombie company” requiring constant government funding.
  • The estimate is contained in a report from a panel reviewing finances at the Japanese utility known as Tepco, the Yomiuri newspaper said today. The government is trying to avert the bankruptcy of a company that supplies power to 29 million customers as it pays for the worst nuclear disaster in 25 years.
  • With bankruptcy proceedings “they can squeeze out at least 5 trillion yen,” Yoshimi Watanabe, the head of Japan’s opposition Your Party, said in an interview. The government is “simply writing a check to be funded by higher electricity bills and taxes. Tepco will ultimately be a zombie company.”

Tokai village mayor reflects on JCO and Fukushima crises, calls for anti-nuke shift -Mainichi News, Sept. 30

  • Mayor Tatsuya Murakami criticized the government sharply at a morning assembly opened on Sept. 30, twelve years to the day after a criticality accident at a nuclear production and processing company here that led to the deaths of two company employees and exposed 666 people to radiation.
  • In front of the approximately 100 village officials who gathered, Murakami both criticized the central government for its handling of nuclear power and showed his anti-nuclear position.
  • “A government that is both incompetent and unfeeling toward mankind is not qualified to have nuclear power plants,” he said.

Radioactive water found beneath Georgia nuclear Plant Hatch -ajc.com, Sept. 30

  • The Atlanta-based Southern Co. learned of the leak beneath Plant Hatch in Baxley on Wednesday when it identified radioactive tritium in two test wells about 25 feet below the ground, said Dennis Madison, a utility vice president who oversees the plant.
  • Workers guided by ground-penetrating radar were planning to dig Friday to identify the source of the leak.
  • “This water is totally contained right under the industrial footprint of our plant,” Madison said.
  • He said the utility hoped to identify the source of the leak no later than Sunday afternoon and intended to have it repaired early next week. While the size of the leak was unknown, it was enough to raise the water table in the wells about five feet. Both reactors at the site were functioning normally and showed no other signs of water loss.
  • “We really don’t know what the rate is,” Madison said. “We know it’s more than a drip.”
  • The maximum concentrations of tritium reported inside the wells was more than 200 times the limit set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for drinking water, according to a report that Southern Co. officials filed with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

NRC Tells Dominion It Plans More Inspections at North Anna -Bloomberg, Sept. 30

  • The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission told Dominion Resources Inc. that it won’t let the North Anna reactors restart after last month’s earthquake until the agency is confident operations would be safe.
  • The commission said in a statement today that it planned additional inspections at the nuclear power plant near Louisa, Virginia. The reactors haven’t generated electricity since a 5.8-magnitude temblor on Aug. 23, the state’s worst in more than a century.
  • “We’re reviewing Dominion’s information to ensure North Anna’s systems will be able to keep the public safe and the plant won’t start up again until we’re satisfied on that point,” Eric Leeds, director of the NRC’s Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation, said in a statement.

GE calls for shut-down tests on reactors worldwide -Reuters, Sept. 30

  • GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy has warned operators of boiling water reactors (BWR) worldwide – including 35 in the U.S. – that the plants could fail to shut automatically during an earthquake, potentially risking the safety of the power plant.
  • GE Hitachi spokesman Michael Tetuan said most nuclear plants could fix the problem by replacing fuel channels, if needed. A typical boiling water reactor has between 400 and 800 such channels.
  • The affected plants are of the same GE design as Japan’s Fukushima reactors which were crippled by an earthquake and tsunami in March.
  • In the U.S., 12 of those nuclear units are owned by Exelon Corp (EXC.N); five by Entergy Corp (ETR.N); and three by the Tennessee Valley Authority.
  • Other affected plants are owned by Constellation Energy Group (CEG.N), Progress Energy (PGN.N), Southern Co (SO.N), NextEra Energy (NEE.N), DTE Energy (DTE.N), Public Service Enterprise Group (PEG.N), PPL Inc (PPL.N), Xcel Energy (XEL.N), Energy Northwest and the Nebraska Public Power District.

Ministry of Education Admits to Plutonium in Iitate-mura in Fukushima -EX-SF, Sept. 30

  • 35 kilometers northwest of Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant.
  • Ministry of Education and Science disclosed on September 30 that plutonium has been detected from the soil in Futaba-machi, Namie-machi and Iitate-mura in Fukushima Prefecture, which derived from the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident. According to the Ministry, it is the first detection of plutonium outside the plant.

Evacuation advisory lifted outside 20km zone -NHK, Sept. 30

  • The Japanese government has lifted an evacuation advisory for 5 municipalities outside the 20-kilometer no-entry zone around the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
  • Residents in the towns of Hirono and Naraha, Kawauchi Village and the cities of Tamura and Minamisoma had been advised to prepare for evacuation in case of an emergency at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. All the municipalities are in Fukushima Prefecture.
  • The decision on the move came on Friday in a meeting of the government’s nuclear accident task force, attended by all Cabinet ministers.

Fujimura confirms lifting of evacuation advisory -NHK, Sept. 30

  • Fujimura told reporters on Friday that a formal decision will be made at a meeting of the government’s nuclear accident task force in the evening.
  • Nuclear crisis minister Goshi Hosono told reporters that he wanted to lift the advisory as soon as possible, as it has created hardships for the local residents.
  • Calling the latest step a major turning point, Hosono stressed that efforts to contain the nuclear accident have entered a new phase, in which residents are encouraged to return to their normal lives.

Japan Lifts Evacuation Advisories Near Nuclear Plant -NYT, Sept. 30

  • A 12-mile exclusion zone will remain in place around the nuclear power plant, Fukushima Daiichi, which the government is working to bring under control. The worst contaminated areas close to the plant are likely to remain uninhabitable for decades, government officials have acknowledged.
  • Still, the government decided Friday to lift evacuation advisories for five lesser-hit towns and cities just outside that radius. Radiation levels in those towns and cities were stable enough to warrant lifting the advisories, which affected about 59,000 people, officials said. About 30,000 of those people had already returned to the area as radiation fears eased.
  • But questions remain about whether radiation levels are low enough for all residents to return. On Friday morning, for example, the entrance to Minamisoma city’s main hospital measured 0.51 microsieverts per hour in radiation, according to numbers released daily by the city. A simple calculation would bring annual exposure at the level to almost 4,500 microsieverts, or 4.5 millisieverts a year, far above the annual limit of 1 millisievert for civilians that is recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection.
  • At an elementary school in the town of Naraha, also declared safe for residents to return, the measurement came to 0.77 microsieverts per hour, or 6.75 millisieverts a year at that level.

Local reactions to lifting of advisory -NHK, Sept. 30

  • Local residents remain concerned despite the central government’s announcement that it will lift an evacuation advisory in Fukushima Prefecture.
  • A resident of Minamisoma City, which is partly included in the evacuation advisory, said she doesn’t feel relieved because the decontamination work has made little progress. The 57-year-old woman said she hopes the city’s radiation levels will decline noticeably through the decontamination efforts.
  • A 61-year-old taxi driver in Minamisoma said business has been bad as many people have left the city. He said he hopes the lifting of the evacuation advisory will encourage residents to return to their homes.
  • A 36-year-old shop clerk said he doubts that firms will return to the city even after the evacuation advisory is lifted. He said he wants the central government and the operator of the nuclear plant to assume responsibility for decontaminating the city.

Plutonium detected 45 kilometers from nuke plant -NHK, Sept. 30

  • Small amounts of plutonium have been detected in samples of soil taken at locations including a spot 45 kilometers away from the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. This is the first time that the government has detected plutonium outside the nuclear plant since the accident.
  • The ministry says the samples taken from a location in Iitate, farthest among the 6, contained 0.82 becquerels per square meter of plutonium-238 and a total of 2.5 becquerels of plutonium-239 and -240.
  • The ministry had collected soil samples at 100 locations within an 80-kilometer radius of the plant in June and July.
  • Experts say that if plutonium is inhaled or ingested, it remains in the body for a long time and can cause cancer.
  • But ministry officials say that possible exposure to the detected plutonium is believed to be very low.

Nihonmatsu City launches decontamination section -NHK, Sept. 30

  • The city is about 50 kilometers from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Relatively high levels of radiation have been detected in parts of the city.
  • One township recently found radioactive cesium in pre-harvest rice at levels as high as the government’s safety limit.
  • The new section is to measure levels of radioactive substances in soil, well water and crops, and draw up a decontamination plan for the city.

Eight prefectures eyed for radioactive dumps -Japan Times, Sept. 30

  • The Environment Ministry has revealed a controversial plan to build temporary storage facilities for soil contaminated with radiation from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in eight prefectures in the Tohoku and Kanto regions.
  • The eight are Fukushima, Iwate, Miyagi, Tokyo, Chiba, Tochigi, Ibaraki and Gunma, Vice Environment Minister Hideki Minamikawa told reporters Wednesday after visiting Fukushima Prefecture for talks with local leaders.

Highly toxic plutonium detected in soil 45 km away from Fukushima nuclear complex -Mainichi News, Oct. 1

  • It is the first discovery of the highly-toxic radioactive substance outside the nuclear plant since the outbreak of the disaster in mid-March. The ministry also said radioactive strontium was detected in a wide swath of Fukushima Prefecture within a radius of 80 kilometers from the troubled nuclear power plant, underscoring the fact that the nuclear crisis has been affecting wide areas.
  • Namie registered the highest density of plutonium-238 with 4 becquerels per one square meter of soil. The combined density of 15 becquerels of plutonium-239 and -240 was detected in one square meter of soil in Minamisoma, while 0.82 becquerels of plutonium-238 was detected in one square meter of soil in Iitate. The ministry said, “The radiation levels of the plutonium are not high enough to affect human bodies.” The half life of plutonium-238 is 88 years. Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) had previously explained that plutonium is heavier than radioactive cesium and therefore it is difficult for the radioactive substance to travel to distant places.
  • Meanwhile, the ministry said it had detected radioactive strontium-89 in nearly half of the locations inspected, including Shirakawa, about 79 kilometers from the nuclear plant. Because the half life of strontium-89 is only about 50 days, the ministry concluded that all the findings of the radioactive substance were linked to the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Namie registered the highest level of radiation, with 22,000 becquerels per one square meter of soil. Noting differences in distribution between the plutonium and radioactive cesium from the Fukushima nuclear power plant, the ministry plans to carry out more inspections because strontium can easily builds up in bones.

Decontamination efforts accelerate in Fukushima -NHK, Oct. 1

  • Municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture affected by the nuclear accident in March are stepping up efforts to decontaminate public buildings and restore key infrastructures.
  • The move comes after the Japanese government lifted an evacuation advisory on Friday for 5 municipalities located between 20 and 30 kilometers from the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
  • The city of Minamisoma has placed priority on removing radioactive substances from public facilities such as parks, schools and roads.
  • Contractors are replacing surface soil with uncontaminated soil. But they say it’s becoming difficult to procure the necessary amount of soil due to increasing demand.

Los Alamos under renewed environmental scrutiny -AP, Oct. 1

  • Although lab officials downplayed the fire danger at the time, Phelps said the waste and contaminated buildings at the 63-acre site known as Area G definitely pose a safety threat to northern New Mexico.
  • As a result, Gov. Susana Martinez and the Citizens Advisory Board have increased pressure on the National Nuclear Safety Administration, which runs the lab for the Department of Energy, to accelerate removal of thousands of barrels of plutonium-tainted waste stored in Area G, the lab’s last active dump site. Those barrels gained national focus when the state’s largest ever wildfire forced a nearly weeklong evacuation of both the lab and the entire town of Los Alamos.
  • Martinez sent lab officials a letter asking that they reprioritize their cleanup plans, which are laid out in a consent order with the state requiring remediation of 90 percent of toxic waste on lab property by 2015 at a cost of some $2 billion.
  • That consent order covers 33 underground canals of radioactive waste below the barrels, but not the barrels, which are awaiting transfer to the Waste Isolation Pilot Project in southern New Mexico. A record 170 shipments of the legacy waste from the nation’s premier nuclear weapons facility were taken to WIPP in the fiscal year that just ended, but the equivalent of some 40,000 barrels remain.
  • Worth told the board their recommendations are being heard and taken seriously, noting that President Obama’s budget request this year for lab cleanup “was more than we ever expected.”
  • Congress, however, has cut the Los Alamos cleanup request for $358 million to $185 million, raising the question of the lab’s ability to meet the consent decree.

Hinkley Point protesters hold Bridgwater march -BBC, Oct. 1

  • Campaigners against plans for a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point have held a march and rally in Bridgwater.
  • The Stop Hinkley campaign group wants to stop preparation work being carried out on the Somerset site.
  • The nuclear power station has yet to be granted permission from the government, but preparatory works have started.
  • Mike Harrison, from EDF Energy, said of the protest: “Obviously there’s a little frustration because it means we’ve got to take out extra measures but I think we’ve got to respect people’s rights to have their views and opinions.
  • “There are a lot of people in the local area who work in the power station, there’s a lot of positive public opinion for what we’re doing.”

Free farm opens for Fukushima evacuees -NHK, Oct. 1

  • The 1,000-square-meter farm in Kazo City is located near an evacuation center housing people from Futaba Town.
  • In a ceremony on Saturday, Futaba Mayor Katsutaka Idogawa said he was glad that the farm was opened with the support of many people.
  • After the ceremony, about 20 people planted about 50 broccolis.
  • Many of the evacuees are farmers, and the land is being made available to them for free.
  • The displaced farmers plan to give the vegetables they harvest to other evacuees.

Fukushima plant crisis could erupt if water injection stops for 38 hrs -Kyodo, Oct. 1

Fukushima studies ways to spot contaminated beef before slaughter -Kyodo, Oct. 1

TEPCO Now Says There Was No Hydrogen Explosion at Reactor 2 -EX-SKF, Oct. 1

  • Details of an interim report by TEPCO’s internal “Fukushima nuclear accident investigation committee” (headed by Vice President Masao Yamazaki) were revealed.
  • The committee reversed the company’s position that there had been a hydrogen explosion in Reactor 2, and now concluded there was no such explosion. As to the tsunami that triggered the accident, the committee says “it was beyond expectations”; of the delay in initial response to the accident, the committee concludes “it couldn’t be helped”. Overall, the report looks full of self-justification. TEPCO plans to run the report with the verification committee made of outside experts before it publishes the report.
  • So then what does TEPCO now think happened in Reactor 2 in the early morning on March 15? Yomiuri doesn’t say in the article text, but at the bottom of the illustration that accompanies the article it says: “There was no explosion, but a possibility of some kind of damage to the Containment Vessel.”

Fake questions on N-energy / Report finds 7 cases of events staged to promote nuclear power -Yomiuri, Oct. 2

  • A panel has confirmed seven instances of the government arranging to have people attending symposiums on nuclear energy ask questions that favor nuclear power generation.
  • The panel has learned that NISA asked electric power companies to arrange the staged actions in favor of nuclear power plants at symposiums related to Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Genkai plant, Shikoku Electric Power Co.’s Ikata plant and Chubu Electric Power Co.’s Hamaoka plant.
  • According to the final report, the chief of NISA’s nuclear safety public relations division met with officials of Tohoku Electric Power Co. prior to three explanatory meetings for local residents for the Onagawa nuclear power plant on Oct. 28 and 29, 2006.
  • The NISA official told company officials, “People connected with Tohoku Electric Power should attend the meetings and voice their opinions.”
  • As the seats at the explanatory meetings were divided into blocs, the official asked the utility to plant people in each bloc who would ask question that favored nuclear power generation.

Majority of N-crisis evacuee households report health, financial woes -Yomiuri, Oct. 2

  • More than 70 percent of households from Narahamachi, Fukushima Prefecture, say their health has deteriorated during their time as evacuees, according to a recent survey by the Narahamachi municipal government.
  • Most of the town is located within the no-entry zone around the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. More than 60 percent of the households said their family’s income had decreased after the Great East Japan Earthquake.
  • The town government sent written inquiries to all 2,900 households from the town in August. A total of 1,995 households, or 68.8 percent, gave valid responses.

Civic group to collect signatures for referendums on nuclear power -Kyodo, Oct. 2

School buildings decontaminated in Fukushima -NHK, Oct. 2

  • Twelve elementary and junior high schools in Minami Soma City will restart classes on October 17. The government lifted an evacuation advisory on Friday for areas outside the 20-kilometer no-go zone around the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
  • On Sunday, more than 70 teachers and parents worked to decontaminate classrooms and the gymnasium at Ohmika elementary school, located about 21 kilometers from the nuclear plant.
  • Parents wearing masks sprayed detergent over windows and walls of the gymnasium and then wiped it off with rags.
  • In classrooms, they used vacuum cleaners and brushes to clean up dust piled on window frames.

Former advisory zones face multiple obstacles -Yomiuri, Oct. 2

  • Although the government has lifted the designation for emergency evacuation preparation zones that included all or part of five municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture, a host of obstacles remain before evacuees can return.
  • Decontamination of areas contaminated with radioactive materials is one major obstacle that the five municipalities–Minami-Soma, Tamura, Hironomachi, Narahamachi and Kawauchimura–face in their rehabilitation.
  • Restoration of local infrastructure is another key factor for the reconstruction of the areas.
  • Furthermore, there are not many schools that will be able to reopen soon, there is a shortage of doctors and nurses, employment is expected to remain a problem and many shops are not ready to open.

Anti-nuclear rallies staged across US -NHK, Oct. 2

  • In New York City, people gathered at a park along the Hudson River to participate in a rally organized by a civic group.
  • The group is demanding the shutdown of the 40-year old Indian Point nuclear reactors in New York State. Roughly 20-million people live within 80 kilometers of the facility, which is located close to 2 earthquake fault lines.
  • Some said the accident in Fukushima changed their opinions about nuclear power and they now think a meltdown could happen anywhere.
  • Others said radiation released into the environment is not just a tragedy for Japan but a problem for the entire international community.

TEPCO finds own nuclear accident manual useless -Kyodo, Oct. 2

No explosion at No. 2 reactor / TEPCO: Only 3 hydrogen blasts occurred at Fukushima N-plant -Yomiuri, Oct. 3

  • The panel, chaired by TEPCO Vice President Masao Yamazaki, devoted pages of the draft to defending the utility’s handling of the crisis, such as saying that TEPCO could not reasonably have anticipated the size of tsunami before the disaster. The panel also said the company’s slow initial response to the nuclear disaster could not be avoided.
  • According to TEPCO, the first hydrogen explosion took place in the No. 1 reactor building on the afternoon of March 12, followed by an explosion at the No. 3 reactor on the morning of March 14.
  • Early on the morning of March 15, TEPCO confirmed the sound of an explosion, and then found damage in the No. 4 reactor building.
  • The power company also confirmed that pressure in the No. 2 reactor’s pressure suppression pool, which is the lower portion of the reactor’s containment vessel, dropped significantly immediately after the sound was heard. So the company concluded that explosions must have occurred almost simultaneously at the Nos. 2 and 4 reactors, and the government reported the same conclusion to the International Atomic Energy Agency in June.
  • However, the panel studied a seismometer at the plant and found only one explosion tremor recorded at 6:12 a.m. that day. Based on analysis of the tremor, the panel concluded that the explosion occurred at the No. 4 reactor.
  • However, due to the fact that the pressure at the No. 2 reactor’s pressure suppression pool dropped around that time, the panel said the reactor’s containment vessel may have sustained other damage. The interim report did not further explain the damage or its cause.

Miyagi begins testing debris for radioactivity before sending it to other prefectures -Japan Today, Oct. 3

  • The Miyagi prefectural government has started started testing debris from the March 11 tsunami for radioactivity in Ishinomaki City in a bid to assure other prefectures that it is safe to store the rubble for incineration.
  • Officials on Saturday examined a massive mountain of rubble, said to weigh about 1.5 million tons, NHK reported Sunday. They checked the debris for cesium and other other radioactive elements.
  • On Friday, the Tokyo metropolitan government said that it had agreed to take 1,000 tons of mostly wood and metal debris next month from disaster-stricken Iwate Prefecture’s Miyako City and that it was also in talks with the Miyagi prefectural government to accept debris from there, too.
  • However, the Tokyo metropolitan government said Saturday that it had received more than 200 complaints from residents by phone, fax and on its website, opposing the decision due to fears that radioactive substances will escape into the air if contaminated debris is burned, NHK reported.

Radioactive waste piles up at Fukushima nuclear plant as disposal method remains in limbo -Mainichi News, Oct. 3

  • According to TEPCO, radioactive waste as of Sept. 27 included 210 Kurion-made vessels (a total of about 307 cubic meters) with each vessel measuring 0.9 meters in diameter and 2.3 meters in height and 581 cubic meters of sludge via the Areva unit.
  • The radioactive waste has been kept at a temporary storage site on the premises of the Fukushima plant, which was heavily damaged by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, and subsequent hydrogen explosions and meltdowns. But TEPCO has been unable to fully grasp the details such as the types and the concentration of nuclear materials.
  • Professor Akio Koyama at Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute says, “The density of high-level decontaminated water is believed to be a maximum 10 billion becquerels per liter, but if it is condensed to polluted sludge and zeolites, its density sometimes increases by 10,000 times. The density cannot be dealt with through conventional systems.”

Those Who Fled Fukushima in Panic Made a “Rational Decision”, Says Government -EX-SKF, Oct. 3

  • The Ministry of Education’s committee to discuss the compensation for Fukushima residents who evacuated from Fukushima on their own has decided to compensate those who fled Fukushima right after the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident because “to flee in a panic is rational”. The committee has postponed the decision on the compensation for those who evacuated much later.
  • Never mind that it was the national government and the Fukushima prefectural government who were spreading baseless rumors of safety right after the accident. Too bad for the residents who were lulled by the soothing words of Dr. “Damashita” (deceitful) Yamashita and did not get the hell out. Or those who thought they were acting rationally by not panicking.

Hinkley Point power station blockaded by anti-nuclear protesters -Guardian, Oct. 3

  • More than 200 people are blockading a nuclear power station in protest at plans to build new reactors at the site.
  • Members of several anti-nuclear groups that are part of the Stop New Nuclear alliance say they are barring access to Hinkley Point power station near Bridgwater, Somerset, in protest at EDF Energy’s plans to renew the site with two new reactors.
  • The new reactors at Hinkley would be the first of eight new nuclear power stations to be built in the UK.
  • Stop New Nuclear spokesman Andreas Speck said: “This is the start of a new movement. We intend this day to be a celebration of resistance against the government and EDF Energy’s plans to spearhead the construction of eight new nuclear power plants around the UK.
  • “This blockade shows that people who understand the true dangers of nuclear power are prepared to use civil disobedience to get their voice heard.
  • “The government has hoodwinked the public into believing that we need nuclear power to keep the lights on. But this is totally untrue.”

Cleanup plan for abandoned US mine -World Nuclear News, Oct. 3

  • The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced a plan to clean up the Northeast Church Rock Mine – the largest and highest priority abandoned uranium mine on Navajo land.
  • The Northeast Church Rock mine was operated by United Nuclear Corporation as a uranium ore mine between around 1967 and 1982. It included an 1800-foot (550-metre) deep shaft, waste piles and several surface ponds. The mine adjoins a uranium mill site.
  • Under EPA oversight and in conjunction with the Navajo Nation’s own environmental protection agency, General Electric conducted two previous cleanups at the site to deal with residual contamination, including the removal and rebuilding of one building in 2007, and the removal of over 40,000 tonnes of contaminated soil in 2010.
  • The latest cleanup effort will involve the removal of some 1.4 million tonnes of radium- and uranium-contaminated soil, which will be placed in a lined, capped facility. The multi-year cleanup – which will be conducted in several phases – will allow unrestricted surface use of the mine site for grazing and housing.
  • Between 1944 and 1986, nearly four million tonnes of uranium ore were mined from Navajo land under leases with the Navajo Nation. Over 500 abandoned uranium mines now exist on the land. Since 1994, the EPA’s Superfund Program has provided technical assistance and funding to assess potentially contaminated sites and develop a response. At the request of the US House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, in October 2007 the EPA developed a coordinated five-year plan to address uranium contamination in consultation with Navajo Nation EPA.

TEPCO forecast 10-meter tsunami -NHK, Oct. 3

  • Government documents show that the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant predicted in 2008 that a tsunami over 10 meters high could hit the plant, which was only designed to withstand tsunami of 5.7 meters. But it failed to report this to the government until just before the March 11th disaster.
  • TEPCO official Junichi Matsumoto says the company did not feel the need to take prompt action on the estimates, which were still tentative calculations in the research stage.
  • But a Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency official says it is regrettable that TEPCO did not start work on its tsunami measures right after it made the estimate 3 years ago. He said TEPCO should have called on experts to discuss its calculations in public.

Govt to check radiation levels outside 20km zone -NHK, Oct. 4

  • The Japanese government says it will check the radiation levels in the environment at 5 municipalities outside the 20-kilometer no-entry zone around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
  • The decision follows a move last Friday to lift an evacuation advisory for the 5 municipalities, which are mainly located in the ring between 20 and 30 kilometers from the plant.
  • A government nuclear accident taskforce will conduct studies on the environment in the municipalities at their request.
  • The taskforce will use a device onboard a vehicle to measure radiation levels on the roads. Unmanned helicopters will be used in hilly places, where vehicles cannot enter.
  • It will also examine the density of radioactive substances in wells and springs at 4,000 spots, as well as in streams, rivers and reservoirs at 19 places.

TEPCO report faults operating manual; disputes hydrogen explosion -Japan Today, Oct. 4

  • According to Fuji TV, the manual apparently gave no instructions on what to do in the event that the system’s emergency diesel generators failed to come online – a worst case scenario that was realized following the tsunami.
  • The document also states that there was no hydrogen explosion at the No. 2 reactor’s suppression pool, which contradicts previous reports that there were hydrogen explosions at the reactors after they went into meltdown.

TEPCO ordered to draw up safety guidelines -NHK, Oct. 4

  • The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says it wants TEPCO to set down the specific post-emergency nuclear safety protocols that will direct its work over the coming 3 years.
  • The agency says the key objective will be to prevent any additional discharge of radioactive substances and to drastically reduce radiation levels at the plant.
  • It says TEPCO should identify ways to pinpoint and control radioactive hot spots, and take steps to prevent hydrogen explosions.
  • The agency also wants the utility to report by mid-October how it aims to secure safety while using decontaminated water to cool down the reactors.

TEPCO demands only 50% disclosure of manuals -NHK, Oct. 4

  • The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency later instructed TEPCO to submit the originals for 3 types of manuals for accidents of varying scale. The agency also asked the utility how much of the contents could be made public.
  • TEPCO now says that about 50 percent of the material should remain secret. It also says it wants to disclose just 10 percent of a manual for dealing with serious accidents.
  • TEPCO says this is because the manuals contain information covered by intellectual property rights. The company also says its manual for dealing with serious accidents includes information on important facilities. It says the documents cannot be made public because such facilities could become potential targets of terrorist attacks.

Genkai No.4 nuclear reactor stops operation -NHK, Oct. 4

  • A reactor at the Genkai nuclear power plant in western Japan was shut down automatically on Tuesday, following a technical glitch with the unit’s cooling system.
  • Kyushu Electric Power Company, the plant’s operator, says no one was hurt and there have been no changes in radiation levels monitored near the plant.
  • The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says the Number 4 reactor at the plant stopped operations at around 1:40 PM on Tuesday, after abnormalities in the steam condenser of its cooling system were signaled by equipment.

Report of long-range plutonium find tardy -Japan Times, Oct. 4

  • The science ministry was tardy when it reported last week for the first time that traces of plutonium fallout were found outside the Fukushima No. 1 power plant’s compound through tests conducted in June, a nuclear expert said Monday.
  • It is not clear what caused the plutonium, a heavy element, to drift so far.
  • “The results came too late. The government should have conducted the tests much earlier,” said Michiaki Furukawa of the nonprofit Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center, a noted antinuclear group based in Tokyo.
  • “Plutonium won’t do harm unless it gets into people’s bodies. And from the amount detected, (that) possibility is very low. People shouldn’t be concerned about it,” said Furukawa.

Schools in crisis-hit Minamisoma to limit outdoor activities to 2 hours -Kyodo, Oct. 4

Thyroid gland irregularities found in young evacuees from Fukushima -Kyodo, Oct. 4

METI to punish officials over manipulated nuclear symposiums -Kyodo, Oct. 4

Irate Fukushima residents want compensation for all nuclear disaster evacuees -Mainichi News, Oct. 4

  • The government’s Dispute Reconciliation Committee for Nuclear Damage Compensation decided last month to make TEPCO, the operator of the crippled nuclear power plant, compensate those who had evacuated within about a month of the outbreak of the nuclear crisis. The panel, in the meantime, postponed its decision on whether those who had evacuated thereafter would be entitled to compensation, saying the issue would be discussed later.
  • About 120 evacuees from Fukushima gathered in Tokyo on Oct. 3 to demand the government panel stop drawing a line between those who had evacuated within one month of the accident and those who had voluntarily evacuated later.
  • “Was it based on a first-come-first-served basis?” one evacuee asked. Another pointed out: “It was only recently that we came to learn the facts about contamination.”
  • Chikage Kanno, a 46-year-old housewife from Fukushima, said, “We felt insecure immediately after the accident. But we decided to stay because we trusted the government and TEPCO which kept saying, ‘It’s all right’.” It was in late August that Kanno eventually evacuated to a housing complex for public servants in Kyoto with her two daughters, aged 7 and 13.
  • “We stayed home immediately after the nuclear accident because we tried to act in a levelheaded manner. I feel sorry for my children, who could be affected by the crisis, and what’s more, we can’t receive compensation,” she lamented. Kanno and her family have faced an extra financial burden from moving homes and their life spanning two areas.

Thyroid gland irregularities found in young evacuees from Fukushima -Mainichi News, Oct. 4

  • The Japan Chernobyl Foundation and Shinshu University Hospital did blood and urine tests on youngsters aged up to 16 including babies under the age of one for about a month through the end of August in Chino, Nagano, when the children stayed there temporarily after evacuating from Fukushima.
  • As a result, one child was found to have a lower-than-normal thyroid hormone level and seven had thyroid stimulation hormone levels higher than the norm. The remaining two were diagnosed with slightly high blood concentrations of a protein called thyroglobulin, possibly caused by damage to their thyroid glands.
  • “At present, we cannot say the children are ill but they require long-term observation,” said Minoru Kamata, chief of the foundation. No clear link has been established between the children’s condition and the radiation from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, according to the nonprofit organization.

Science minister vows to expand scope of radiation checks around Fukushima plant -Mainichi News, Oct. 4

  • Science Minister Masaharu Nakagawa said Oct. 4 that the government would inspect wider areas for radioactive substances following the recent discovery of highly toxic plutonium over a wide swath of Fukushima Prefecture.
  • Nakagawa told reporters after a Cabinet meeting on Oct. 4 that the government would also expand the scope of inspections to check for specific types of radioactive substances spreading from the troubled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant.
  • On the recent discovery of highly toxic plutonium in soil over a widespread area in Fukushima Prefecture, Nakagawa said, “The number of checkpoints is limited to 100. We will start gathering information on diffusion of types of radioactive substances that could affect the assessments of radiation exposure.”
  • Nakagawa also said the government would thoroughly conduct inspections on radioactive strontium, which has been detected in Fukushima Prefecture soil. The government will consider producing a new map showing the distribution of radioactive substances, he added.

Radioactive ash causes Kashiwa incinerators to shut down -Japan Today, Oct. 4

  • Authorities in Kashiwa City, Chiba Prefecture, said Tuesday that levels of radioactive cesium found in ash from garbage disposal facilities can no longer be contained and stored, causing garbage incineration plants to be temporarily shut down.
  • In July, the Kashiwa municipal government detected 365 to 70,800 becquerels of cesium per kilogram in radiation checks conducted at two incineration plants and one final disposal facility. Since then, Kashiwa had been storing ash containing 8,000 becquerels per kilogram or more of radioactive materials in temporary storage, based on Environment Ministry guidelines that forbid the dumping of contaminated ash in landfills. Authorities say it is Japan’s first plant closure due to radioactivity.
  • According to a Fuji TV report, authorities plan to burn the remaining garbage at newer and more efficient plants that they hope will release a lower concentration of radioactive ash. The city plans to demand financial compensation from Tokyo Electric Power Company for the extra costs involved.

_________________________________________

David J. Rowan, Joseph B. Rasmussen. 2011. Bioaccumulation of Radiocesium by Fish: the Influence of Physicochemical Factors and Trophic Structure. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, 1994, 51:2388-2410, 10.1139/f94-240

Abstract: Although many measurements have been made on radiocesium levels in water and aquatic biota, no agreement has been reached regarding the factors affecting bioaccumulation of these radionuclides. With monitoring data from countries that operate nuclear facilities and data from the primary literature, we explored the chemical and ecological factors that determine the bioaccumulation of radiocesium. Using log-linear regression we found that the bioaccumulation of 137Cs by fish was a negative function of both dissolved potassium and suspended sediment concentration, and a positive function of temperature. Important ecological factors were the trophic level of the fish (piscivores bioaccumulate more than plank-tivores and benthivores), and the length of the food chain as reflected by the ratio of piscivore yield relative to net primary production. Fish from softwater drainages, which make up a large portion of northern Europe and Canada, are more vulnerable to radiocesium contamination than fish from hardwater sedimentary drainages, because these waters are extremely low in potassium and suspended sediment, and their watersheds are less efficient in retaining radiocesium. High dissolved potassium, short food chains, and the much greater volume and mixing potential of the ocean make marine fish less vulnerable to releases of radiocesium.

McCreedy, Clark et. al. 2009. Bioaccumulation of cesium-137 in yellow bullhead catfish (Ameiurus natalis) inhabiting an abandoned nuclear reactor reservoir. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry. Volume 16, Issue 2, pages 328-335, February 1997

Abstract: Bioaccumulation of 137Cs was investigated in yellow bullhead catfish (Ameiurus natalis) inhabiting an abandoned reactor reservoir, Pond B, Savannah River Site, Barnwell Co., South Carolina. We collected fish by trap-netting, and determined ages from pectoral spines. Muscle and other tissues were assayed for 137Cs by NaI-scintillation. Muscle 137Cs was unrelated to sex (p = 0.859) or mass of fish (p = 0.224), but was related to age (p = 0.036). Examination of least-squares means suggested that 137Cs in muscle increased up to about age 3, but did not increase with greater age (means for 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 year olds were 2,630, 3,011, 3,513, 3,417, 3,599, and 3,339 Bq/kg, respectively). A modified Richards model showed equilibrium 137Cs concentration in muscle (3,625 Bq/kg) was acquired in approximately 2.4 years. Growth differed between sexes (p < 0.001), and the time to asymptotic body mass was longer than the time to attain equilibrium 137Cs concentration. Males attained an asymptotic mass of 577 g in approximately 6.3 years; females attained an asymptotic mass of 438 g in approximately 5.9 years. The cumulative 137Cs burden of the population was 4.9 × 106 Bq, representing <0.001% of the 137Cs inventory of the reservoir. Concentration of 137Cs varied among tissues (p < 0.001), with gill and muscle the lowest and highest (634 and 3,712 Bq/kg, respectively). Concentration of 137Cs in ovaries declined with increasing ovary mass (p = 0.001; r2 = 0.60). Until equilibrium is attained in these fish, 137Cs concentration is directly related to increasing age rather than size.

Topcuoǧlu, S. 2000. Bioaccumulation of cesium-137 by biota in different aquatic environments. Chemosphere. Volume 44, Issue 4, August 2001, Pages 691-695

Abstract: Macroalgae, isopods and fish species were exposed to 137Cs in brackish and sea water conditions for 18 days to determine radionuclide concentration factors. The concentration factors of 137Cs in brown shrimp and polychaete species were also investigated under brackish water conditions. At equilibrium, the concentration factors in macroalgae, isopod, fish, brown shrimp and polychate samples were found to be 2.5, 33, 2, 16 and 11 at 16°C in brackish water conditions, respectively. The accumulation rate in macroalgae species was influenced by temperatures between 6°C and 16°C. The bioaccumulation of 137Cs in isopods at low salinity regime was increased significantly. At the same time, the bioaccumulation rate in macroalgae species also showed slight increase at low salinity. On the other hand, the bioaccumulation rate of 137Cs in the fish species in sea water was higher than in brackish water.

Zhao, X et al. 2001. Biomagnification of radiocesium in a marine piscivorous fish. Marine Ecology Progress Series. Vol 222: 227-237.

ABSTRACT: Radiocesium is the only trace element apart from Hg that may be potentially biomagni-
fied at the top of the marine planktonic food chain. We quantified the assimilation efficiency from ingested prey, uptake rate from the aqueous phase, and efflux rate of radiocesium in a marine piscivorus fish (the mangrove snapper Lutjanus argentimaculatus). Aqueous 137Cs exhibited an approximately linear uptake pattern over a 4 d exposure period, and was immediately transported to the muscles. The calculated uptake rate constant (0.00145 l g-1 d-1) was independent of the ambient Cs concentration. Salinity variation appeared to have no influence on the 137Cs influx within the range of 20 to 30 psu, but the influx rate increased when the salinity was further reduced to 15 psu. The assimilation efficiency in fish ingesting different prey (copepods, Artemia, clam tissues, and herbivorous fish), measured by a pulse-chase feeding technique, ranged between 78 and 95%. The efflux rate constant of 137Cs in fishes following uptake from the dissolved and dietary phases ranged between 0.020 and 0.023 d-1. The higher efflux rate in marine fishes compared to those in freshwater fishes may have been due to the ionic regulation in marine teleosts (e.g., high excretion rate to counteract the high ambient K+ concentration). Using a simple kinetic model, we show that the dietary uptake of 137Cs plays a dominant role when the concentration factors of 137Cs in prey range between 50 and 100. At a lower value for the concentration factor (10), 137Cs bioaccumulation in fish is dominated by uptake from the aqueous phase. The predicted trophic transfer factor (concentration in the predator to concentration in the prey) in the predatory fish ranges between 1 and 4.4 (with a median value of 2), and is consistent with the field measurements of trophic transfer factor of 137Cs in the piscivorous fishes in both marine and freshwater systems. Thus, the biomagnification of 137Cs in marine predatory fishes is largely caused by the extremely high 137Cs assimilation from ingested prey,
despite the relatively high efflux rate of 137Cs compared to those measured in freshwater fishes.

Comments

  1. #1 Timberwoof
    October 5, 2011

    Do you mean radionuclide or radio-nucleotide?

    C-13 is a radionuclide (a radioactive isotope) of C-14, not a radio-nucleotide (a nucleotide containing one or more radioactive isotopes).

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    October 5, 2011

    Damn you autocorrect! I mean radioactive isotopes.

    C-13 is not a radionuclide or a radioactive isotope, or even a radio-nucliotide. C-14 is a radioactive isotope of C.

  3. #3 Timberwoof
    October 5, 2011

    My turn to say oops. C14 and C13 are nuclides of C12. C14 is the radionuclide.

  4. #4 Greg Laden
    October 5, 2011

    C12 and C13 are isotopes of each other. C13 and N14 are isotones. C-14 is a cosmogenic nuclide and radioactive isotope of C. YC-14, on the other hand, is an aircraft.

  5. #5 Eric Lund
    October 5, 2011

    Fluoride gets incorporated in tooth and bone because it substitutes for Calcium.

    I’m not sure what you meant here. Fluoride would be a substitute for chloride (F and Cl are halogens, which prefer -1 as an ionic charge state), not for calcium, which prefers +2. However, the mechanism you specify works for strontium, which is directly below calcium in the periodic table. That is why Sr-90, a common fission product with a sufficiently long half-life to bioaccumulate, is a concern. I’m not sure about strontium’s toxicity otherwise, though in general most metals in and below that row of the periodic table are bad news.

    Cesium and potassium are both alkali metals, so I see how that substitution might work, though since they are two rows apart (rubidium is in between) it may not go as smoothly as Sr for Ca or F for Cl. Metallic Cs is definitely more reactive (in that column the heavier elements are more reactive than the lighter ones), so it could be toxic by that route as well, not to mention the heavy metal issue.

  6. #6 Joffan
    October 5, 2011

    While it’s always amusing to have an explosion video of a non-explosion, that particular video is of reactor building 3. Which I hope you already knew. Reactor building 2 wasn’t destroyed, of course, as the webcam will confirm.

    I believe Timberwoof’s original point is that you repeatedly have “radio-nucleotide” in the first para where you mean “radionuclide”. (Perhaps you corrected one instance…)

  7. #7 Greg Laden
    October 5, 2011

    Sorry, I should have been more clear about the explosion. The question is weather or not the explosions at 1 and 3 damaged the reactor at 2.

    Eric, right, I was thinking of strontium. Fluoride does something totally different.

  8. #8 John Pointer
    October 12, 2011

    Plant shit off because of quake vibration, not power loss -MSNBC Nightly News, Sept. 28
    Not sure if you meant “Shut Off” or not (does it matter?)
    Have you seen any articles in regards to the fuel rods having melted into the ground at Fukushima? Keep up the outstanding work.
    JP

  9. #9 Lane Tschoepe
    May 27, 2013

    J’ai lu les blogs (comme celui-ci), pour diverses raisons. Je commente sur certains d’entre eux parce que: