Japan Nuclear Disaster: Update # 36: Sushi Recommendations

One of the interesting items we have this week is a study by Greenpeace in which various organisms from the sea near Fukushima were sampled for radioactive isotopes. Let's take a closer look.

The data in the table provided (see the first item in Ana's feed for the link) show the amount of radiation (radioactive decay) by isotope type per kilogram of plant or animal tissue from various samples. On the higher end is a fish with 357 bq/kg of radiation and some seaweed with 190 bk/kg.

What does this mean? Hard to say. I can tell you this: A normal human has about 4,000 or more bq (in total for the human) of radiation primarily from the most common source of radiation (radioactive potassium) So if Greenpeace had sampled a typical human not from a radioactive region they would get a result of about 4,000 bq total. Say a human weighs 70 kilos. That means the human being sampled would yield about 50 bk/kg. So the radioactive fish is about 7 times more radioactive than a human, and the plant almost 4 times as radioactive. A concern here would be where on the food chain one is, if radioactive isotopes are being concentrated through trophic activity (things eating things). Also, a concern would be how long this radioactive stuff will be radioactive.

Regarding the second question first, roughly half the radioactive material found in the Greenpeace samples has a half life of just over 2 years, but the rest has a half life of 30 years. Regarding trophic level, note that among the less radioactive samples both fish and seaweed have similar amounts, but among the more radioactive samples, it is the fish (which are trophically higher than plants) that have more, which simply indicates that the samples could be revealing things about a real biological system (subject to revision). In other words, were the reverse true, I'd be scratching my head and not because of dandruff.

The most radioactive fish is a Rockfish, which is an opportunistic carnivore often feeding on other things that eat things and sometimes things that eat things that eat things, and they are probably relatively long lived. In other words, rockfish are high on the food chain and would be expected to concentrate radioactive isotopes that are in the environment. The next highest fish in terms of contamination is the halibut, which is also a carnivore, but eating more crustaceans and probably not as high on the food chain. A kind of cod, with a similar diet to halibut is next. The lowest in terms of radiation is a kind of mackerel, which probably eats pelagic crustaceans (shrimpy things that float around near the surface) which in turn eat plankton. This would be the lowest on the food chain of the sampled fish, but also the highest in the water column. So, it might be hard to tell the difference here between how high something is on the food chain and how high (top feeder) vs low (bottom feeder) the fish is in the water column. My sushi recommendations? Surface feeding low-torphic level short lived fish. From the Atlantic Ocean.

None of these samples were particularly close to the power plant, some were purchased from markets some taken directly from the sea. The plume of radiation from the plant is rather large.


Scan Ana's feed for a lot more on contamination issues.

And as these data become available we also see bans on Japanese produce being lifted for US military commissaries. The effects of food bans are being explored, and radioactive contamination is being found in novel places such as industrial waste.

News regarding nuclear plant incidents, construction patterns, and potentials in the US, as well as further conversations about nuclear safety, are all over Ana's feed. And it's OK, the IAEA has a plant to make reactors safe. They also have this barn door they intend to close. The plan will be voluntary, of course.

Meanwhile at the reactors, water has been used to cool them down to the point where the hot spots are only barely boiling and bubbling. In other words, we are still in a state where Step One control over the situation has not yet been achieved, even though it was declared achieved weeks ago. It is now expected that cooling below boiling levels may be achieved by some time next year.

It does appear that rainwater is passing more or less feely into the lower levels of the nuclear power plant where it interacts with uncontrolled globs of nuclear material, then presumably disappears from the planet all on its own. Or perhaps it flows into the nearby sea. They're still working on that.

I want to take a moment to express my very sincere thanks to Analiese Miller for the tremendous work she does in putting together this feed. I know that she's been very busy with other things over the last few weeks and that this has been an extra burden on her. You are awesome, Ana.

Ana's Feed

Evaluation on the Environmental Consequences in Japan of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Accident -Greenpeace International, Sept. 8

Fission Stories #57: Near-Miss at Perry -All Things Nuclear Blog, Sept. 13

  • On April 25, 2011, the NRC dispatched a Special Inspection Team (SIT) to the Perry nuclear plant in Ohio in response to an event three days earlier involving radiation exposure to workers performing maintenance. None of the workers received a radiation dose exceeding federal limits. But the NRCs SIT found that this outcome was due more to luck than to skill.

Institute probing radioactive contamination of Fukushima forests -Kyodo, Sept. 15

Ban on some Japanese foods being lifted at commissaries -Stars and Stripes, Sept. 15

  • Commissary customers will be seeing more Japanese produce on the shelves since the U.S. military started lifting food bans put in place following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
  • Food deliveries from 26 food producers in northern Japan were suspended due to a range of health concerns, including the proximity of some processing plants to the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear reactors, which were severely damaged by the quake and tsunami. The suspended producers among 60 that deliver to U.S. bases make a variety of foods ranging from baked goods and eggs to fresh fruit, vegetables and processed items.
  • Within the past two weeks, the Department of Defense has lifted a ban on apples from Amori Prefecture in the northern part of Japans main island of Honshu, according to the Japan District Veterinary Command, which is responsible for food safety on U.S. bases.
  • Lt. Col. Margery Hanfelt, commander of the veterinary command, said her personnel are working to approve more foods for consumption on U.S. bases.

The Souths Nuclear Revival? -Scientific American, Sept. 15

  • After attending a nuclear fuel symposium a few weeks back, I felt it time to examine whats occurring in my own backyard in this regard. What I learned is that Georgia, with its two pending nuclear reactors, may serve as the countrys litmus test for the nuclear renaissance.
  • Currently, there is only one commercial reactor under construction in the U.S., and thats the Watts Bar Unit 2 reactor in Tennessee. This project began decades ago, but paused in the 1980's for about 20 years because of decreasing electricity demands. The reactor is now expected to go online in 2013.
  • The countrys first newly designed nuclear reactor Westinghouse Electric Co.s AP1000 pressurized water reactor is now awaiting approval by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Two of these are scheduled to be built at Plant Vogtle, which is located about 160 miles southeast of Atlanta, Ga., near Waynesboro. Construction should begin in the early days of 2012 as long as Southern Company receives a Combined Construction and Operating License from the NRC, which will be discussed in a couple of weeks on Sept. 27.

Tepcos Fuksuhima Dai-Ni Will Be Decommissioned, Mainichi Says -Bloomberg, Sept. 15

  • Tokyo Electric Power Co. will need to decommission its Fukushima Dai-Ni nuclear power plant, the Mainichi newspaper reported, citing Japans trade and industry minister Yukio Edano.
  • The government is unlikely to get agreement from residents of Fukushima prefecture to restart the Dai-Ni station, Edano told the Mainichi.
  • The Dai-Ni plant is located to the south of the Fukushima Dai-Ichi station, which has been emitting radiation since March 11 when an earthquake and tsunami knocked out cooling, causing three reactors to meltdown. The Dai-Ni station was also shut down in the disaster.

Nuclear plant firms adopt landmark code of conduct -Nuclear Daily, Sept. 15

  • The world's nuclear power plant exporters announced Thursday a first-ever code of conduct, which they hope will raise safety standards, prevent proliferation, and enhance environmental protection.
  • In a year in which an earthquake and tsunami in Japan triggered the worst nuclear crisis in decades and called the future of the industry into question, the firms agreed to six principles addressing everything from physical safety and security to ethics and compensation for damage in the event of an accident.
  • And while the agreement is voluntary and not legally binding, signatories are embracing a system that, if adhered to, will force states like Iran to comply with a key international nuclear treaty and commit to purely peaceful purposes for atomic power.
  • The agreement was finalized earlier this year after an arduous three-year process aimed at nailing down corporate standards and nuclear responsibility.

What price safe and secure nuclear power? -Guardian, Sept. 16

  • Is a safe nuclear industry possible? Yes, I would say. The question is whether it is likely.
  • So an analysis published on Friday which sets out how to make the global nuclear power industry safe is important, not least because it is written by neither industry-linked figures or green campaigners.
  • It is in one of the world's top scientific journals, Science, and written by two heavyweights with decades of experience, both at Harvard University: Matt Bunn, and Olli Heinonen, who spent 27 years at the International Atomic Energy Agency including five years as Deputy Director General.
  • I'll run through the paper in a bit of detail (as it is behind a paywall). The pair start by saying the Fukushima disaster in Japan "revealed technical and institutional weaknesses that must be fixed around the world. If nuclear power is to grow on the scale required to be a significant part of the solution to global climate disruption or scarcity of fossil fuels, major steps are needed to rebuild confidence that nuclear facilities will be safe from accidents and secure against attacks."
  • "Will Fukushima lead to new action to strengthen the global nuclear safety and security system?" they ask. "So far, the signs are not promising."
  • They acknowledge that new reactor designs with automatic safety features may reduce risks, but say: "For the next few decades, most nuclear energy will be generated by the hundreds of reactors that already exist and those that will be built with existing designs. Hence, the near-term focus should be on upgrading safety and security for existing and planned facilities and building institutional approaches that can find and fix the facilities that pose the highest risks."
  • They propose actions in six areas.

Japan Evacuees Angered by Tepco Red Tape -Bloomberg, Sept. 16

  • Evacuees from around Tokyo Electric Power Co.s wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant said the companys 200-page package for compensation claims is outrageous and needs to be simplified.
  • The utility known as Tepco started sending out 60,000 application forms this week to those forced to evacuate after the plant started belching radiation in March. The package includes three forms that need to be filled in, one of which has 56 pages. A 156-page explanatory booklet completes the bundle of documents, while claimants are required to submit receipts and other records to support claims.
  • Its outrageous. Who would think of getting receipts when living in an evacuation shelter? said Reiko Hachisuka, 59, who owns a flower shop and house about 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) from the plant and is living in a temporary dwelling. Tepco must make the forms much simpler.
  • If someone affected by the accident doesnt have receipts, we will deal with it on a case-by-case basis, Naoyuki Matsumoto, a spokesman for the utility, said.
  • Evacuees are also asked to send certificates from doctors and employers to validate medical conditions and claims for lost income.

Edano says Fukushima Daini nuclear power plant's resumption difficult -Mainichi News, Sept. 16

  • Japan's new industry minister Yukio Edano said Thursday it will be difficult to restart the Fukushima Daini nuclear power plant, in addition to the Nos. 5 and 6 reactors of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant, as local residents are unlikely to approve the resumption.
  • In an interview with Kyodo News and other media organizations, Edano said that winning approval of local municipalities where idled reactors are located is a "precondition" for their reactivation.
  • Tokyo Electric Power Co., which operates the two nuclear power complexes in Fukushima Prefecture, plans to scrap the troubled Nos. 1-4 reactors of the six-reactor Fukushima Daiichi plant, and Edano had earlier said when he was chief Cabinet secretary in the wake of the start of the Fukushima nuclear crisis that the remaining Nos. 5 and 6 reactors will likely be decommissioned, too.
  • Asked if he still believes so, Edano said, "I do not believe that we can obtain local approval" in both cases.

Cesium found in industrial waste -NHK, Sept. 16

  • Industrial waste at 6 incineration facilities has been found to contain radioactive cesium at levels that exceed the government-set limit for disposal.
  • Following the nuclear accident in Fukushima, the ashes of garbage from private homes were found to contain levels of radioactive cesium, well above the limit of 8,000 becquerels per kilogram. The contaminated garbage was treated at waste disposal plants in the Kanto and Tohoku regions.
  • The Environment Ministry had asked 16 prefectures in the Tohoku, Kanto and Koshin-etsu regions to examine ashes from woodchips and other industrial waste.
  • Out of the 110 incineration facilities tested, levels of radioactive cesium exceeded 8,000 becquerels per kilogram at 4 sites in Fukushima Prefecture and one each in Iwate and Chiba prefectures. The highest measurement was 144,420 becquerels per kilogram at one facility in Fukushima.

Radiation fears, shipment bans, weigh heavily on mushroom pickers, growers -Mainichi News, Sept. 16

  • The ban on wild mushroom shipments from 43 Fukushima Prefecture municipalities announced on Sept. 15, paired with widespread radiation fears, is discouraging pickers from their usual mushroom-hunting trips into the woods.
  • The ban came after wild mushrooms containing cesium beyond the legal limit of 500 becquerels per kilogram were found in the prefecture. Tawny milkcap mushrooms containing cesium over the legal limit, meanwhile, have also been found in Takahagi, Ibaraki Prefecture, endangering mushroom-picking in that region as well.
  • In the town of Tanagura in Fukushima, tawny milkcap mushrooms picked this month were found to contain 28,000 becquerels of cesium, or 56 times the legal limit. The town is famous for matsutake mushroom hunting between the end of September and late October each year.
  • The town holds an annual mushroom festival in October, and the festival is a big draw for the matsutake mushrooms in Japanese sake on offer, as well as a bingo game offering expensive locally harvested matsutake as a major prize. The events were canceled this year amid radiation concerns, leading an official of the town's tourism association to say, "We wonder if we can hold such events next year."
  • Tanagura is about 70 kilometers from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power station, and it has atmospheric radiation of about 0.2 to 0.3 microsieverts per hour.

Fukushima Evacuees to Return to Exclusion Zone to Check Property -Bloomberg, Sept. 16

  • About 20,000 families from the exclusion zone around Japans wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant will be allowed to return to their homes from Sept. 19 to collect belongings and check their properties.
  • They will be permitted to return in their own cars for the first time, said Masato Kino, spokesman at the Emergency Response Headquarters in Fukushima prefecture. In previous visits residents were taken on buses under tight restrictions.
  • A majority of evacuees have said they want to return by their own means, Kino said.
  • They will be returning to the 20-kilometer (12-mile) exclusion band around the Tokyo Electric Power Co.s crippled nuclear power plant, parts of which are highly contaminated. The Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant has been spewing radiation since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami caused three reactor meltdowns.
  • Returnees will be required to go in pairs for a four-hour visit, said Hiroyuki Wada, a national government official involved in the response to the crisis. Tokyo Electric will provide equipment including dosimeters and protective garments at two checkpoints that will be opened for the trips.
  • Cars will have transceivers attached before they enter so their movements can be monitored.
  • In the first week, 700 cars will be allowed to enter the zone, Kino said. They will be decontaminated at the boundary of the zone.

'Good Luck' cards from Germany arrive at Fukushima school -Kyodo, Sept. 16

Most core detectors found damaged at Fukushima No. 1 reactor -Mainichi News, Sept. 16

  • Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Friday most of the detectors lying below the pressure vessel at the No. 1 reactor of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant that check the condition of the control rods have been found damaged.
  • The damage – mostly burnt wiring or electrical shortages – is believed to have been caused by the intense heat in the wake of a core meltdown.
  • The utility conducted current tests on the detectors, which each cover 97 control rods, and found only one detector functioned normally, it said.
  • Junichi Matsumoto, a senior official at the utility, said he believes the detectors suffered such damage as both pressure and temperatures exceeded the given design limits for the pressure vessel.

TEPCO injecting more water into 2 reactors -NHK, Sept. 16

  • The operator of the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is injecting more water into 2 of the plant's reactors in an attempt to lower their temperatures below 100 degrees Celsius.
  • As of 5 AM Friday, the bottom of No.2 reactor measured 114.1 degrees Celsius and that of the No.3 reactor 103.3 degrees. The temperature at the No.1 reactor was 85.3 degrees.
  • Earlier this month, TEPCO began boosting injections of cooling water into the No.2 and No.3 reactors by using overhead pipes in addition to the pipes on the reactors' sides, to see if this would help lower temperatures.
  • As the new method showed some benefits, TEPCO began on Friday afternoon to increase the water flow by one ton to a total of 7 tons per hour for the No.2 reactor, and by 5 tons to 12 tons per hour for the No.3 reactor.

80 Bavarian Opera members refuse to tour in Japan on radiation fears -Kyodo, Sept. 17

Insurers discuss scrapping liability coverage for Fukushima plant -Asahi, Sept. 17

  • Nonlife insurers are leaning toward ending liability coverage for the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, which would complicate compensation payments if another emergency unfolds and render the plant's reactors "illegal."
  • "The insurance contracts are targeted at nuclear reactors that are operating normally and are not leaking out radioactive substances," said a senior official at a major nonlife insurer. "It will be difficult to renew the contract under the current circumstances."
  • The contract with Tokyo Electric Power Co. for the stricken Fukushima No. 1 plant expires in January.
  • Private contracts by nonlife insurers are designed to cover compensation for nuclear accidents that are not caused by natural disasters. If the contract is discontinued, the Fukushima facility will become Japan's first nuclear power plant to go uninsured against such accidents.

Tepco plans to sell 280 properties to raise 200 billion -Japan Times, Sept. 17

  • Tokyo Electric Power Co. is planning to sell 280 properties to raise 200 billion in cash for use in compensating people affected by the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant crisis, sources close to the matter said Friday.
  • The properties include its headquarters building, dormitories and recreation facilities, the sources said.
  • It also plans to sell and then lease back its head office building so it can continue using it.

Former judges say court cases involving nuclear plants were hard to judge -Mainichi News, Sept. 17

  • Amid the current spate of lawsuits seeking shut downs of nuclear power plants after the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant, the Mainichi interviewed 10 former judges who handled past lawsuits that dealt with the safety of nuclear plants.
  • Almost all the ex-judges talked about how hard it was to treat nuclear energy issues in court, and one judge said that after the Fukushima crisis he now feels he did not take the dangers of nuclear plants seriously enough. In none of the cases did the judges rule in favor of the residents who filed them.
  • Some judges, however, predicted that after recent events, courts will be more critical of the government and power utilities that operate nuclear power plants.
  • The 10 former judges were among 36 contacted by the Mainichi who were involved with 14 major nuclear-related lawsuits. It is unusual for former judges to reveal their personal thoughts on their past cases.

Head of nuclear watchdog criticizes TEPCO over blacked-out documents -Mainichi News, Sept. 17

  • The head of a government nuclear watchdog has criticized Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) for not being transparent enough, after it submitted documents earlier this month that were mostly blacked out.
  • "Why don't they release all the information? There are problems with TEPCO's attitude toward providing information," Hiroyuki Fukano, 54, head of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA), told the Mainichi in an interview on Sept. 16.
  • The documents in question include an operation manual for responding to nuclear accidents.
  • "NISA has still not received the manual (in full)," Fukano said. "It is our job to investigate problems such as why the emergency condenser (for cooling the No. 1 reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant) didn't work properly, and the operation manual serves as a base for such investigations." Fukano indicated that NISA will request non-blacked out documents from TEPCO.
  • Regarding the current state of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant six months on from the start of the crisis, Fukano said, "Although conditions have stabilized, there are still large amounts of radioactive water at the site, and we can't say the situation is under control. There are still many problems to tackle."

Austrians slam reported Czech nuclear plans -Nuclear Daily, Sept. 17

  • Austrian politicians reacted angrily to reported plans by the Czech Republic to vastly increase its nuclear energy to account for 80 percent of its electricity production.
  • Austria, which abandoned nuclear power more than 30 years ago, is extremely sensitive to its neighbours' atomic ambitions, particularly as regards the Czechs, who have a nuclear plant of questionable safety just across the border.
  • Austrian parties across the political spectrum from the Greens to the far right have slammed the moves, with Christian Democrat Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger calling on Prague to rethink.
  • Vienna "will use every political and legal means to counter the Czech nuclear plans," he warned.

Water leak shuts down reactor -herald-palladium, Sept. 17

  • The Palisades nuclear power plant was shut down Friday afternoon after a water leak of more than 10 gallons per minute was detected in the system that cools the plant's nuclear reactor.
  • The plant was shut down shortly before 3 p.m. because the leak exceeded the plant's technical specifications, spokesman Mark Savage said. The plant filed a notification of an "unusual event" with the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
  • The likely cause of the problem is a leak on a valve in the primary cooling system, but that won't be known for certain until workers can get in and do a thorough evaluation, Savage said.
  • The Palisades plant is owned by Entergy and has one 798-megawatt reactor. It began electrical production in 1971, and its extended NRC license allows it to operate until 2031.

Tepco scraps plan to hike power charges 10 to 15% -Japan Times, Sept. 18

  • Tokyo Electric Power Co. has decided to scrap its plan to raise electricity charges 10 to 15 percent from next April amid increasingly harsh criticism by government officials and the public, company sources said Saturday.
  • Tepco, which operates the crisis-hit Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, had planned to raise charges to partly offset the trillions of yen it has to shell out in compensation payments over damages from the nuclear accident.
  • Tepco had informally told a government committee that has been assessing the utility's assets and costs about the plan to raise charges by up to 15 percent for three years.
  • But committee members decided they would not allow Tepco to hike electricity charges unless it considered cost-cutting measures, such as reducing pension payments and employees' salaries.

Future radiation levels forecast on electronic map -NHK, Sept. 18

  • The map was made by a research group led by Professor Isao Tanihata at Osaka University's Research Center for Nuclear Physics.
  • The group calculated estimated radiation levels at each of about 2,200 points over the next 5 years based on data released by the education and science ministry.
  • By using Google Earth services, the group forecast the level at individual sites and point of time with a bar graph. Possible changes in level naturally caused by rain and wind and the decontamination effort are not included.
  • For example, the map shows that a radiation level of 4.36 microsieverts per hour detected in June in Kawamata Town about 30 kilometers northwest of the troubled plant will fall to 1.75 microsieverts 5 years later.
  • Professor Tanihata hopes that the map will help state and local authorities to work out a specific plan to decontaminate areas to get people to return to their hometowns.

Another Reason Not to Trust Your Goverment - Inferior Survey Meter -EX-SKF, Sept. 18

  • A sort of "Shadenfreude" for citizens and particularly parents whose own radiation measurements were ridiculed and discredited by the authorities as "amateurish", "prone to mistakes", "using cheap and inaccurate Chinese-made survey meters", etc., etc..
  • Misato City in Saitama Prefecture is in the "corridor" of the radioactive plume that reached from the north and continued on to eastern part of Tokyo and western part of Chiba.
  • After concerned parents finally persuaded them to measure the radiation levels in schools within the city, the city government started to measure, using Hitachi Aloka TCS-161 which wasn't working too well. Then the city government upgraded the survey machine to Hitachi Aloka TCS-172B on September 6.
  • Lo and behold! The radiation levels in school yards jumped; at several schools they more than doubled.
  • According to Misato City website, here's the survey on August 29 on the left, measuring radiation in the middle of the school yards using the old machine. At these schools, school yards are dirt. The survey on September 12, using the new machine is on the right. The numbers are in microsievert/hour:

Cesium detected in 4% of tested rice -NHK, Sept. 18

  • Preliminary tests have been completed in 7 prefectures, but not in Fukushima or Miyagi.
  • The main test is being conducted in 17 prefectures, and has been completed in more than half of them. Radioactive materials were detected in rice harvested in 22 locations. But the highest level detected so far is 101.6 becquerels per kilogram, or one fifth of the government's safety limit.
  • With the preliminary and main tests combined, the results are known for more than 60 percent of the test locations. Radioactive materials have been detected in 94 locations, or 4.3 percent of the total.
  • Shipments of rice have started in municipalities in 15 prefectures, including all 52 municipalities in Chiba Prefecture.

Experts say Fukushima 'worse' than Chernobyl -Al Jazeera, Sept. 18

  • At least one billion becquerels of radiation continue to leak from Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant each day even though it is now more than five months after the March earthquake and tsunami that damaged the facility.
  • Experts say that the total radiation leaked will eventually exceed the amounts released from the Chernobyl disaster that the Ukraine in April 1986. This amount would make Fukushima the worst nuclear disaster in history.
  • Al Jazeera correspondent Steve Chao reports from Tokyo.

Local governments in Fukushima experiment with radiation-removing techniques -Mainichi News, Sept. 18

  • Local governments in Fukushima Prefecture are experimenting with efforts to remove radioactive material spread from the crippled nuclear power plant following a request by the national government.
  • In August, the national government asked that local governments handle decontamination work in areas with under 20 millisieverts of radiation per year.
  • "This is too dangerous for regular people to do," muttered Hisashi Katayose, chief of the prefecture's nuclear energy safety department, as he watched on.
  • "Decontamination work requires incredible money and patience," says Katayose. "The national government and Tokyo Electric Power Company should take responsibility for it, rather than leaving it to local governments."
  • Giving the Fukushima Prefectural Government advice on decontamination work is Hiroshi Kurigami of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA). "They should approach it in the same way as cleaning a house," he says. According to Kurigami, in addition to wearing masks and gloves to reduce radiation exposure, those doing decontamination work should work from top to bottom, the same way that those dusting a room should.

French Nuclear Plants Need Seismic-Risk Corrections, JDD Reports -Bloomberg, Sept. 18

  • Frances nuclear safety authority, which is auditing reactors for risks linked to earthquakes, flooding and power blackouts, has sent follow-up letters to eight nuclear plants asking for more than 200 corrective actions, Le Journal du Dimanche reported.
  • Autorite de Surete Nucleaire has sent the follow-up letters to the plants of Golfech, Civaux, Cattenom, Flamanville, Penly, Gravelines, Saint-Alban and Le Blayais, the JDD said.
  • Electricite de France SA, which operates Frances nuclear reactors, is working to meet the regulators demands, the JDD reported, citing Jean-Marc Miraucourt, head of nuclear engineering at the company. France has 19 nuclear plants, JDD said.

Siemens to quit nuclear industry -BBC, Sept. 18

  • The move is a response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan in March, chief executive Peter Loescher said.
  • He told Spiegel magazine it was the firm's answer to "the clear positioning of German society and politics for a pullout from nuclear energy".
  • "The chapter for us is closed," he said, announcing that the firm will no longer build nuclear power stations.
  • A long-planned joint venture with Russian nuclear firm Rosatom will also be cancelled, although Mr Loescher said he would still seek to work with their partner "in other fields".
  • Siemens was responsible for building all 17 of Germany's existing nuclear power plants.

Weeks after quake, town near nuclear plant remains rattled -USA Today, Sept. 19

  • At the Sweet Delights Bakery, amid the aroma of fresh biscuits, talk turns to an unprecedented U.S. nuclear event that happened near its doorstep.
  • "You can't not think about it," says customer Roger Tignor, about the recent magnitude-5.8 quake that jolted the North Anna Power Station 11 miles away.
  • "I was and am still worried," manager Shamara Hunter says, shaking her head. Tim Shelton, who's lived in this small rural town 66 years, isn't: "God's got it under control. What happens, happens."
  • Some Mineral residents don't believe Dominion's assurances. "A lot of people think they've hid stuff from us," says Hunter, the bakery manager. "Even if they're not good to go, they won't tell us."
  • Rebecca Sparks, who works at the town's Barber Shop, says she's not nervous: "I believe they'd tell us if there was a problem."
  • At the Talk About Nails salon, customer Brenda Quarles says she knows a lot of people who've worked at the plant. "One friend said they were a little shaken up there" after the quake, she says. Quarles didn't give it a second thought, saying, "There's nothing we can do about it."

Fukushima protesters urge Japan to abandon nuclear power -Guardian, Sept. 19

  • The protesters, who included residents of Fukushima prefecture, called for the immediate closure of all of Japan's nuclear reactors and a new energy policy centred on renewables.
  • The demonstration was the biggest the country has seen in years. Police said 20,000 people had taken part, while media reports put the number as high as 60,000.
  • Among the protesters were the Nobel literature laureate Kenzaburo Oe, musician Ryuichi Sakamoto and actor Taro Yamamoto, who was forced to leave his production company earlier this year because of his opposition to nuclear power.

Noda to stress need for nuclear plants at U.N. -Japan Times, Sept. 19

  • Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda is set to emphasize the continuing need for nuclear power in Japan and will pledge to ensure the highest level of operational safety at an upcoming U.N. conference, a draft of his speech obtained Sunday says.
  • Noda will adopt a different position than his predecessor, Naoto Kan, who sought to reduce reliance on nuclear power in light of the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant.
  • The draft says that Noda will tell a high-level U.N. meeting on nuclear safety and security Thursday that Japan will "raise the safety of nuclear plants to the highest level."
  • Noda will also say, "There will be a continuing necessity to secure nuclear energy that is safe and more reliable," while promising a thorough investigation into what caused the world's worst nuclear accident in 25 years and to fully disclose the information.

IAEA to adopt action plan to ensure reactor safety -NHK, Sept. 19

  • The voluntary plan calls for the agency to send inspectors to reactor operating nations to check the safety of their reactors at least once over the next 3 years, to be followed by regular inspections.
  • The plan also calls on relevant governments to set up rapid-response teams to deal with nuclear emergencies in efforts to strengthen their nuclear crisis control.

Japanese nuclear energy experts discuss Fukushima -NHK, Sept. 19

  • Japanese experts on nuclear energy are discussing ways to contain the nuclear accident in Fukushima at their first conference since the accident.
  • The Atomic Energy Society of Japan started a 4-day conference in Kitakyushu City, southwestern Japan, on Monday.

Japan May Consider Convention on Nuclear Liability, Hosono Says -Bloomberg, Sept.19

  • Japan may consider adopting a international convention that defines liability in the event of a nuclear accident, said Goshi Hosono, Japans minister in charge of cleaning up the Fukushima Dai-Ichi reactor meltdowns.
  • There is a need to look into the possibility of becoming a party or concluding the convention on supplementary compensation, Hosono said in a press briefing at the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna. We should take it up as an important political agenda item.

Fukushima evacuees drive to homes in no-go zone -NHK, Sept. 19

  • A 66-year-old man returned with his wife from Chiba Prefecture near Tokyo. He said he had borrowed a truck from an acquaintance so he could get his bed.
  • The vehicles will be tested for radioactive contamination when they come out of the no-go zone. They will be decontaminated if the amount of radioactive substances exceeds new and stricter limits.
  • Home visits in private vehicles are due to continue until late November.
  • Kawauchi Village Mayor Yuko Endo said it is sad that people have to go through tests and procedures just to go back to their own homes.

Japanese town seeks a transplanted future -Washington Post, Sept. 19

  • The town of Futaba is either a place without people or a group of people without a place. Japans nuclear disaster contaminated the towns 20 square miles, leaving the land uninhabitable, perhaps for decades. The disaster also forced the evacuation of 7,000 people from the town, with many of them still living at an abandoned high school more than 100 miles from home.
  • For months, those people waited to hear about their chances of returning home. But now that a return to Futaba on the doorstep of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant seems almost inconceivable, town officials have recently posed a new scenario: Theyd like to rebuild Futaba somewhere else.
  • What we are trying to do is unprecedented, said Oosumi Muneshige, a chief assistant to the mayor. Were looking for a place where everybody can live together basically a reconstruction of what we had before.
  • The possibility of reestablishing a town on new land, perhaps in a different prefecture (or state), creates a tangle of legal and funding questions that the central government has yet to sort through. But for evacuees, the possibility also reflects a welcome alternative to the purgatory of the past six months.

Japan to offer products from disaster areas as ODA -NHK, Sept. 19

  • Japan's Foreign Ministry hopes to use products from the country's northeast that was hit by the March 11th quake and tsunami to aid developing countries.
  • The Foreign Ministry filed a budget request worth more than 220 million dollars with the government, which is working on a third supplementary budget bill for fiscal 2011.
  • The Ministry says it wants to use part of the requested budget, worth about 65-million dollars, to buy industrial products, including wheelchairs, and marine food products made in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima Prefectures, to provide them free of charge to developing countries.
  • The Ministry says it hopes the program will also help stop radioactive-related rumors from affecting shipments and sales of those products overseas.

TEPCO compensation hotline overwhelmed by 3,000 complaints per day -Japan Today, Sept. 19

  • Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) on Sept 12 began procedures to pay compensation to victims of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident by sending out application forms, but its call center has been overwhelmed with complaints, pouring in at a rate of over 3,000 per day, company officials said.
  • The main complaint is that the forms are too difficult to understand, NHK quoted a TEPCO official as saying. The forms come with a massive 156-page manual. Although TEPCO has not released all the details, other frequent inquiries include: How do I complete the payment request form? and I am having a hard time understanding the manual, NHK reported.
  • In response, TEPCO issued a statement to the media in which it said that it will endeavor to treat all persons claiming compensation in a fair and just manner, and that it will respond to all inquires very carefully. TEPCO also said it will consider how to improve its documentation.

Residents furious over 60-page application, 160-page manual for TEPCO compensation -Mainichi News, Sept. 20

  • Residents affected by the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant are furious after learning they will have to wade through a 60-page application form – accompanied by a 160-page manual – to seek compensation from the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO).
  • The company, which on Sept. 12 started sending out documents for individual compensation claims for the period between March and August, says its careful explanation of the process resulted in a large amount of documentation. However, this hasn't appeased residents.
  • "One can only assume it's to prevent people from billing them," one resident commented.

Fukushima evacuation warnings to be lifted -NHK, Sept. 20

  • The government's evacuation advisories in areas 20 to 30 kilometers from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant may be lifted by the end of the month.
  • Residents of 5 municipalities that are mostly in the zone are required to be prepared to evacuate quickly in case of emergency.
  • Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura announced on Tuesday that the 5 municipalities have all submitted their own recovery plans, and he thinks conditions to lift the advisories have been met.
  • He said the government will hear views from the Nuclear Safety Commission and then is likely to decide to lift the advisories by the end of September.

Fukushima's neighbors lobby in U.S. against nuclear energy -CNN, Sept. 20

Protesters voice distrust, concern in huge anti-nuclear rally in Tokyo -Mainichi News, Sept. 20

  • When tens of thousands of people marched through central Tokyo on Sept. 19 in the country's largest anti-nuclear demonstration since the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, there were a variety of reasons for people to be there – fear, anger, loneliness, longing for home, and distrust just a few of them.
  • "I want to see everyone involved in this – even people outside of Fukushima," said Kenichi Yamazaki, 65, a former teacher from the city of Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture.
  • Following the explosions at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), Yamazaki evacuated to Kawasaki in Kanagawa Prefecture together with his wife, daughter and grandchild. His son-in-law, a firefighter, is still working in the prefecture. "We want to return," he says, "but thinking of my 1-year-old grandchild, we can't live there until the city is decontaminated."
  • "I never thought that at this age I'd be away from home," Yamazaki added as he made his way to the demonstration parade. "I'm concerned and sad, but unless we get involved in action, nothing will ever change."

Hosono tells IAEA that Japan will have 'safer nuclear future' -Japan Today, Sept. 20

  • Japans minister in charge of handling the Fukushima nuclear crisis told a gathering of the U.N. atomic agency Monday his country would have a safer future.
  • I am convinced we will definitely overcome this challenge and find a prosperous, safer nuclear future, Goshi Hosono said at the 151-nation International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA)s general conference in Vienna.
  • He said Japan would benefit from the lessons learned from the March disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, when an earthquake and tsunami knocked out cooling systems, releasing radiation as reactors suffered meltdown.
  • Hosono said in Vienna he was aware that many individuals are critical regarding nuclear power … I think it is important that we are mindful of various views.
  • He added: In Japan, there is a kind of consensus that we would like to reduce the dependency on nuclear power. But the speed and the method by which that would be achieved, to attain such a target has yet to be identified.

Hosono: Cooling down to be achieved this year -NHK, Sept. 20

  • Hosono said that decontaminated water has been successfully used to cool down the troubled nuclear reactors, bringing the temperature close to 100 degrees Celsius. He also said spent nuclear fuel pools have been cooled in a stable manner.
  • Hosono also said the spent nuclear fuel has been steadily cooled and will fall below 100 degrees by the end of this year, instead of early next year as initially predicted.
  • When the reactors and spent fuel have been cooled below 100 degrees, radiation emissions can be kept very low.
  • The minister also said Japan will work with the IAEA to remove radioactive materials from areas near Fukushima Daiichi.

IAEA to send experts to Japan -NHK, Sept. 20

  • Hosono said Japan needs international experience and expertise in order to make progress in the removal of radioactive materials in areas near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
  • He also asked the IAEA for advice regarding stress tests for nuclear reactors in preparation for their restart after checkups. Amano said the agency will help.
  • After the meeting, Hosono said Japan is removing radioactive materials on a scale that no country has ever experienced.
  • He went on to say his country will seek advice from the IAEA on how to win public support for the restart of its safety-checked nuclear plants until its new nuclear safety agency is established.

Hosono seeks US, French help to scrap reactors -NHK, Sept. 20

  • Japan's cabinet minister in charge of the nuclear disaster has asked the United States and France for help in scrapping the reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.
  • Hosono asked the US and French officials to help with essential work after the cold shutdown, including scrapping the reactors, decontaminating soil and disposing of radioactive waste.
  • The officials responded positively.

TEPCO:Groundwater may be flowing into plant -NHK, Sept. 20

  • The Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, says a large amount of groundwater may be entering the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
  • TEPCO says it has found that 200 to 500 tons of what is probably rainwater that seeped into soil may be entering daily through cracks in walls into the basements of buildings housing reactors and turbines.
  • The utility says it's worried that this will increase the amount of highly radioactive water in the basements.

A new plan set to reduce radiation emissions -NHK, Sept. 20

  • The Japanese government and the operator of the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant say they will install new devices to reduce the amount of radioactive substances released into the air.
  • They will install new devices at the NO.1, No.2 and No.3 reactors to take contaminated gases out of the reactors using filters. They plan to start installing the devices next week.
  • TEPCO also plans to complete the construction of a giant polyester shield over the No.1 reactor by mid-October.

Nuclear experts rethink their future -NHK, Sept. 20

  • Japan's nuclear energy experts are discussing how complacency contributed to the accident at the country's Fukushima Daiichi power plant. They started a 4-day conference on Monday. It is their first major gathering since an earthquake and tsunami triggered a nuclear crisis.
  • Professor Hisashi Ninokata of the Tokyo Institute of Technology is leading the Atomic Energy Society panel that's investigating the Fukushima accident.
  • He told a morning session that experts placed too much confidence in Japan's nuclear power generation and created a nuclear safety myth.
  • One participant said the Fukushima disaster occurred because experts did not address the safety risks they knew existed. Another said nuclear officials should cultivate a culture that is more open to public dialogue.
  • Atomic Energy Society President Satoru Tanaka said experts did not question nuclear safety, even though they had numerous opportunities to do so. The University of Tokyo Professor argued the Society shares responsibility for failing to correct the rigid views of the government and nuclear industry. He promised to continue improving the way experts interact with the public.

Secrecy in black ink: Redactions speak volumes about those doing the censoring -Mainichi Perspectives, Sept. 20

  • There is no more expressive a text than one that has been blacked out. I am, of course, speaking of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant accident manuals and other documents submitted to a Diet science committee earlier this month with the vast majority of the content hidden by black blocks and lines. The black ink secrecy speaks volumes about the nature of the organization that submitted them – plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO).
  • The redaction of the Fukushima plant manuals brings to mind another instance of the application of so much black ink to written texts: Japanese school textbooks at the end of World War II.

U.K. Needs Windfall Tax on Nuclear Plants, Coalition Party Says -Bloomberg, Sept. 20

  • The U.K. should introduce a windfall tax on existing nuclear power stations to claw back additional profits, the Liberal Democrat party said.
  • The party, the junior partner in David Camerons coalition government, passed a motion today at its annual conference in Birmingham, central England, calling for the money raised to be used to help Britains 5 million fuel-poor households.
  • The motion, which is not binding on Energy Secretary Chris Huhne, a Liberal Democrat, calls on the government to introduce a windfall tax on operators of existing nuclear power stations, recovering through taxation the profits they make solely as a result of the introduction of the carbon price floor from April 2013.

Police say fire at office of Vt. nuclear plant was arson; plant in fight to stay open -Washington Post, Sept. 20

  • Someone set an early morning fire at the corporate offices of a nuclear power plant that is fighting to stay open, police said Tuesday.
  • No one was injured, but the building that houses offices for the Vermont Yankee plant was unusable because of smoke, fire and water damage, a spokesman for the plants owner said.
  • Police said in a news release that a window at the corporate offices in Brattleboro was broken and investigators determined the fire was arson. They would not provide more details.
  • There was no damage to the plants lone reactor, which is about seven miles south of the office building, in the town of Vernon.
  • The corporate building includes a basement with testing laboratories. It houses the plants communication equipment and its public and government relations offices.

Regulator to discuss Dominion nuclear plant Oct 3 -Reuters, Sept. 20

  • The U.S. nuclear safety regulator will give more insight on Oct 3 into what inspectors found at a Virginia nuclear plant that was only 12 miles from the epicenter of last month's historic East Coast earthquake.
  • The preliminary inspection results, to be presented at a public meeting in Mineral, Va., may give insight into how long it will take for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to give the green light to Dominion Resources (D.N) to restart its North Anna power plant – a plant the company has said sustained no significant damage during the quake.
  • It's the first time an operating U.S. nuclear plant has sustained an earthquake that exceeded its design parameters, and the regulator has said it is unclear what Dominion will be required to show to resume operations.

French union calls power workers to stage strike on Sept 22 -Reuters, Sept. 20

  • France's CGT union called on Tuesday for power workers to stage a strike, including carrying out cuts in electricity production on Sept 22, to improve the status of subcontractors in the nuclear sector, the union said.
  • While EDF workers are civil servants with a job for life, subcontractors who carry out 80 percent of the maintenance on nuclear power plants have fewer benefits.

Fennovoima to pick nuclear site after court ruling -Reuters, Sept. 21

  • Finland's supreme administrative court overruled appeals over a nuclear reactor project by Fennovoima, clearing the way for the nuclear power consortium to announce a new site.
  • Fennovoima, led by German utility E.ON's (EONGn.DE) Finnish subsidiary, said on Wednesday it will announce the new site in a few weeks following the court decision. The two candidate sites, Pyhajoki and Simo, are both in northern Finland.
  • The plan shows that Finland is staying its course in pursuing cheap electricity despite the disaster in Japan in March and Germany's decision to phase out nuclear power.
  • Environmentalists said they would take their complaint to the European Union.

TEPCO plans to cut workforce -NHK, Sept. 21

  • The utility needs to implement cost-cutting measures in order to be able to pay compensation to people affected by the accident.
  • On Tuesday, TEPCO President Toshio Nishizawa told a government panel inspecting the firm's financial situation that it will cut 3,000 to 5,000 employees.
  • But Nishizawa explained that the downsizing will not take place until about 3 years from now because TEPCO needs staff to deal with compensation procedures.

TEPCO sets standard for compensating entrepreneurs -NHK, Sept. 21

  • The Tokyo Electric Power Company says the amount of compensation for farmers, fishermen, manufacturers and tourist businesses will be calculated in principle based on last year's sales or shipments.
  • Compensation for individuals and companies that had to suspend business due to evacuation is to be determined by subtracting material costs from last year's sales.
  • Profit loss due to radiation-related rumors is to be partially compensated.

TEPCO considers cutting pensions to pay compensation -Japan Today, Sept. 21

  • Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) is considering cutting the pensions of employees and retirees in a bid to raise funds for compensation to be paid to those affected by the crisis at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. TEPCO Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata said Tuesday that the move may be necessary depending on the findings of the government panel currently examining the utilitys assets.
  • TEPCO is facing massive compensation claims, expected to total several trillions of yen. As part of the compensation plans, the government will pitch in an initial 2 trillion yen in the form of special government bonds to help the utility.
  • The Diet in early August, passed a law to create a state-backed entity that would help TEPCO pay the compensation bill for the disaster. The government has agreed to help TEPCO compensate evacuees and other victims, conceding in the law that the state is partly responsible because it has promoted nuclear energy for decades.
  • According to Japanese law, TEPCO needs the approval of two-thirds of its retirees and current employees who are paying pension premiums in order to slash premiums.

Fukushima nuclear plant on typhoon alert -NHK, Sept. 21

  • Efforts to install steel plates at the plant's water intake area and to decontaminate seawater have been halted for fear of storm surges. Strong winds have forced the suspension of work to cover the No.1 reactor building.
  • Outdoor piping and pumps for injecting water into the reactors have been secured with ropes to keep them from being knocked over by strong winds.
  • Rainfall of up to 250 millimeters is expected in the area, but the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, says there is no risk of radioactive wastewater overflowing from the reactor turbine buildings.

Expert urges checks of reactor interiors -NHK, Sept. 21

  • An expert commenting on the accelerated plan to contain the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant says the interior temperatures of the damaged reactors need to be checked.
  • Masanori Naitoh, director in charge of nuclear safety analysis at the Institute of Applied Energy, was speaking to NHK about the revised timetable for bringing the plant under control.
  • Naitoh said that TEPCO is now only measuring temperatures outside the reactors. But he said that it needs to be confirmed through simulation that temperatures inside have fallen below 100 degrees.
  • He said it also must be proven that there are no risks of a recurrence of nuclear reactions, even though such possibilities are low.

Reactor 2 Containment Vessel May Have Had a Hole Right After March 11 Earthquake -EX-SKF, Sept. 21

  • The simulation done by Yasuteru Shibamoto, researcher at Japan Atomic Energy Agency, shows that the Containment Vessel of Reactor 2 at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant may have been damaged, and had a hole about 7.6 centimeters in diameter right after the March 11 earthquake.
  • It is the first time that the degree of damage on the Containment Vessel is estimated in numbers. It was announced on September 21 at the fall conference of the Atomic Energy Society of Japan in Kitakyushu City.

Fukushima plant workers to be eligible for free cancer exam -Kyodo, Sept. 21

Fukushima evacuees weigh risks of return -Japan Times, Sept. 21

  • Kimie Furuuchi recently received a letter encouraging her to come home. Signed by the mayor, it began, "Dear Minamisoma Evacuee. . . ."
  • "We are trying to create the environment where all evacuees can come back to Minamisoma as soon as possible," the letter stated.
  • Furuuchi thought it seemed premature. Government authorities and radiation experts kept saying that her old city could become safer, but almost nobody said it was safe. The ambiguity meant that Furuuchi, like tens of thousands of others who fled their homes after the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear disaster in March, had to weigh the comfort of a homecoming against a danger she could not quantify.
  • As the government prepares this month to lift the "evacuation preparation zone" the ring just beyond the 20-km no-entry radius the long-term viability of a region depends on people returning to their towns and accepting the risk.
  • Furuuchi and her three teenagers have lived since April 3 in Chiba Prefecture. The elder two like city life even more than they expected. And when the family visited Minamisoma in early August, they agreed that the things they loved about it were gone. Fewer played outside. Nobody visited the beach. The main shopping street had become a glum passageway of shuttered storefronts.
  • But for Furuuchi, Minamisoma also offers one thing that Chiba has not yet given: a job. The hospital where she worked has been calling; they want her to return. Furuuchi doubts it's safe to go back, but recently she pulled her kids together and said, "Let's talk about the best way to decide."

Actions speak louder than words over cold shutdown goal for Fukushima nuclear reactors -Mainichi Perspectives, Sept. 21

  • Achieving a "cold shutdown" of a nuclear reactor is not difficult as long as the reactor is not broken. A cold shutdown is defined by experts as a situation in which nuclear reactors whose operations are suspended are being stably cooled down and the temperatures in them are kept below 100 degrees Celsius.
  • However, it is no easy task to achieve a cold shutdown at the tsunami-hit Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant where fuel has melted and holes have developed in damaged reactors.
  • The lifting and reviewing of evacuation advisories depends largely on whether the cold shutdown of the stricken nuclear reactors can be achieved. Therefore, the government should specifically explain the conditions of the reactors and risks involving them to the public.

Noda plans reactor restarts in spring -Japan Times, Sept. 21

  • Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has said he intends to reactivate some of the country's idled nuclear reactors as early as next spring, in a bid to avert a massive power shortage that could deal a potentially fatal blow to the economy.
  • Noda's comments, made during a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, are the first time the prime minister has disclosed a time frame for the reactors' controversial restart.
  • "If we don't begin to reactivate (the reactors) that we can from spring through next summer, there could be a power shortage that could bring down Japan's economy," Noda was quoted as saying.
  • He dismissed the views of some analysts who claim that the economy could survive next summer without reactivating any reactors, saying "that (scenario) is not possible."

Scottish nuclear fuel leak 'will never be completely cleaned up' -Guardian, Sept. 21

  • Radioactive contamination that leaked for more than two decades from the Dounreay nuclear plant on the north coast of Scotland will never be completely cleaned up, a Scottish government agency has admitted.
  • At a board meeting in Stirling on Tuesday, the Scottish government's environmental watchdog opted to encourage remediation "as far as is practically achievable" but to abandon any hope of removing all the radioactive pollution from the seabed.
  • Tens of thousands of radioactive fuel fragments escaped from the Dounreay plant between 1963 and 1984, polluting local beaches, the coastline and the seabed. Fishing has been banned within a two-kilometre radius of the plant since 1997.
  • The most radioactive of the particles are regarded by experts as potentially lethal if ingested. Similar in size to grains of sand, they contain caesium-137, which has a half-life of 30 years, but they can also incorporate traces of plutonium-239, which has a half-life of over 24,000 years meaning that is the time period for half of the material to break down.
  • The particles are milled shards from the reprocessing of irradiated uranium and plutonium fuel from two long-defunct reactors. They are thought to have drained into the sea with discharges from cooling ponds.
  • In 2007, Dounreay, which is now being decommissioned, pleaded guilty at Wick sheriff court to a "failure to prevent fragments of irradiated nuclear fuel being discharged into the environment". The plant's operator at the time, the UK Atomic Energy Authority, was fined 140,000.

Poland presses on with nuclear power debut -Nuclear Power Daily, Sept. 21

  • Poland is pressing on with its nuclear power debut by launching a technology tender valued at 25 billion euros ($34 billion) later this year, the state-owned energy group Polska Grupa Energetyczna (PGE) said on Wednesday.
  • "The tender to choose a technology provider will take place in the fourth quarter of this year," Marta Lau, PGE spokeswoman told AFP in a recent interview.
  • Poland, which joined the EU in 2004, currently depends on coal for 94 percent of its electricity and is bound by the bloc's climate package to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020 compared to the 1990 level.
  • To feed its growing economy's appetite for energy, it has opted to build the two atomic power facilities by that deadline.

A Giant Nuclear Project Awaits Its Federal Loans -NYT, Sept. 22

  • The loan guarantee will come in phases, the first of which will begin when the Southern Company gets a license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to build and operate twin Westinghouse reactors. It had hoped that this would happen this fall, but it may slip into next year.
  • Southern and its partners have invested $3.5 billion so far in that project, which is supposed to cost $14 billion. The reactors, Vogtle 3 and 4, will be the first of their type in the United States, although four are in advanced stages of construction in China.
  • Work so far includes construction of two very big yet precise holes in the ground, plus a giant building where big sections of the plant will be pre-assembled so they can be lowered into place by the worlds largest crane, and giant pipes to bring in cooling water from the Savannah River.
  • None of that work is what the Nuclear Regulatory Commission calls safety related, so it was allowed to proceed. Still, if a license is not issued soon, the company will ask for permission to begin work on one element that is indeed safety-related: the plants concrete-and-steel basemat, the companys chief executive, Thomas A. Fanning, said.
  • The license sought from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission would be the first of its kind. Companies that built the existing adjacent plants, Vogtle 1 and 2, got construction permits and then had to prove after construction was completed that their plants were safe.

Radioactive iodine spread south of nuclear plant -NHK, Sept. 22

  • The science ministry sampled soil at 2,200 locations, mostly in Fukushima Prefecture, in June and July, and created a map indicating the extent of the radioactive contamination as of June 14th.
  • Officials were able to obtain data for iodine 131 at only 400 locations, because of its short half-life of 8 days.
  • The latest map shows that iodine 131 spread northwest of the plant, just like cesium 137 as indicated on an earlier map. But the substance was also confirmed south of the plant at relatively high levels.
  • The researchers found that accumulation levels of iodine 131 were higher than those of cesium 137 in coastal areas south of the plant.
  • Ministry officials say clouds that moved southward over the plant apparently caught large amounts of iodine 131 that were emitted at the time.

TEPCO To Sprinkle Low-Contamination Water from Reactor 5 and 6 Turbine Bldgs in the Fuku I Compound -EX-SKF, Sept. 22

Business leader asks for nuclear plant resumption -NHK, Sept. 22

  • A business group leader in the Kansai region has asked the government to quickly resume operations at suspended nuclear power plants as a way to resolve continued power shortages in Japan.
  • The head of the Kansai Economic Federation, Shosuke Mori, made the request when he met with Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura in Tokyo on Thursday.

Prosecutors accept complaint against antinuclear actor Yamamoto -Kyodo, Sept. 22

  • Prosecutors in Saga Prefecture in southwestern Japan have accepted a criminal complaint against actor Taro Yamamoto on suspicion of trespassing and interference with public duty when he entered a local government building to file an antinuclear power protest.
  • A 27-year-old man filed the complaint against Yamamoto, 36, and several others over a July 11 incident at the Saga prefectural offices, where the people demanded along with about 150 activists that the local government not allow the restart of two idled reactors at the Genkai nuclear power station.
  • They handed a letter of request to a prefectural official and left the building after Saga Gov. Yasushi Furukawa declined to meet with the group.
  • The man, who lives in Kyoto, calls for severe punishment in the complaint, according to sources at the prosecutors' office.

Experts say courts will judge safety standards more strictly following Fukushima crisis -Mainichi News, Sept. 22

  • Courts will judge the safety of nuclear power more strictly in anti-nuclear power station lawsuits in the wake of the Fukushima crisis, legal experts say.
  • One of the experts, lawyer Hiroshi Kaiho, who as a judge dismissed a lawsuit demanding that operations at a nuclear power plant be stopped 18 years ago, admits that he underestimated the risks involving nuclear power plants at the time.
  • "I noticed my awareness of the danger of nuclear power plants wasn't severe enough after seeing an actual nuclear plant accident," says Kaiho.
  • Many lawyers who were involved in anti-nuclear plant lawsuits said the Fukushima nuclear crisis will largely influence rulings on similar lawsuits that are being tried now.
  • "As the government is set to stiffen regulations on the safety of operations at nuclear power plants, it's inevitable for courts to evaluate more severely the danger of such plants," says Sueo Kito. He headed a legal team for plaintiffs in the appeal trial of a lawsuit demanding that operations at the No. 3 reactor at the Fukushima No. 2 Nuclear Power Plant be shut down. The suit was dismissed by a high court.
  • A plaintiff in the suit against the No. 1 reactor at the Fukushima No. 2 power plant, who has been taking shelter since the disaster, urges judges to take the opportunity of the crisis to recognize their role to protect the lives of all members of the public.
  • "Frankly speaking, I feel like suing the courts that failed to fulfill their responsibility as part of the judicial branch of the government," says Atsuo Hayakawa, 71. "I'd like them to be aware of their role as the guardian of the Constitution and to protect our lives," he says.

Citizen Science -Scientific American, Sept. 22

  • After the March 11, 2011 earthquake and resulting radiation leak at Fukushima Diachi in Japan it became clear that people wanted more data than what was available about the earthquake, resulting tsunami and damage to nuclear power facilities. Through joint efforts with partners such as International Medcom and Keio University, Safecast has been building a radiation sensor network comprised of static and mobile sensors actively being deployed around Japanboth near the exclusion zone and elsewhere in the country.
  • Safecast is a non-profit group building Geiger counters, measuring radiation levels and making the data available to the public through maps, a Web site and data feeds to citizens, scientists and the public. Safecast is releasing data openly and pushing the Japanese government as well as universities and researchers to share their medical, sensor and other data. Open data is a very important trend and pushing people to release their data instead of just their results and findings is essential and adding a new layer of robustness in research that the Internet and data science enables.

Full text of Noda's speech at U.N. meeting on nuclear safety -Kyodo, Sept. 22

We Must Cooperate on Nuclear Safety -NYT Op-Ed, Sept. 22

  • A nuclear accident anywhere has the potential to be a nuclear accident everywhere. That is why it is encouraging that the United Nations this week is examining the lessons and implications of the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Japan, the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.
  • What we need now are tough, system-oriented safety standards and much closer cooperation between countries and their regulators. The United Nations should also urge its members to forge a balance between national sovereignty and international responsibility, when it comes to nuclear safety. Radiation fallout doesnt discriminate or care about national boundaries.

IAEA adopts action plan for nuclear safety -NHK, Sept. 22

  • The International Atomic Energy Agency has unanimously endorsed an action plan on nuclear safety at its annual general conference in Vienna.
  • The plan calls for sending IAEA inspectors to member countries to evaluate the safety of nuclear plants at their request. It also requires the signatories to quickly organize a response team after a nuclear accident.
  • Some countries, including Germany, which has voted to scrap nuclear power, wanted the safety evaluation to be mandatory.
  • Others, such as the United States, insisted that it be voluntary. Ultimately, that view won the day.

Analysis: Fukushima to slow, not stop, nuclear growth -Reuters, Sept. 22

  • Japan's Fukushima nuclear accident six months ago sparked doubts about the future of nuclear power across the globe and especially in Europe, highlighted by Germany's decision to quit the energy source and Italy's referendum to ban it for decades.
  • But in a sign that the worst such disaster in a quarter of a century may slow rather than stop nuclear energy growth, other big economic and political powers used a U.N. meeting this week to reaffirm their commitment to atomic energy.

Government Researchers: Hydrogen Gas Generation by Radiolysis In Reactor SFP May Have Led to Explosion -EX-SKF, Sept. 22

  • The article by Mainichi Shinbun on September 13 (linked below) summarizes the findings well enough. According to the article, the government researchers at Japan Atomic Energy Research and Development Agency and at Tokyo University announced the result of their analysis that the explosion of Reactor 4 reactor building at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant on March 15 may have been caused by a large amount of hydrogen gas produced by water radiolysis - dissociation of molecules by nuclear radiation in the Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool.

Gov't to probe quake's effects on Fukushima nuclear plant -Kyodo, Sept. 22

Maehara speaks out for continued export of nuclear reactors -Japan Times, Sept. 23

  • Drawing on its technology and experience, Japan should continue to export nuclear reactors despite the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant, ruling party policy chief Seiji Maehara said Wednesday.
  • "I think trust in the safety of Japanese nuclear power plants hasn't wavered," the Democratic Party of Japan lawmaker said in a group interview with the Japan Times, citing ongoing talks with Vietnam, Hitachi Ltd.'s talks with Lithuania and the power plant venture between Hitachi and General Electric Co.

Nuclear engineering students unsure of Japan's nuclear future -Mainichi News, Sept. 23

  • A growing number of students in the field of nuclear engineering want to see Japan's dependence on nuclear power reduced, according to a survey conducted by the Mainichi Shimbun.
  • The results were obtained from polls taken of 50 randomly-selected nuclear engineering students out of the 230 who attended an Atomic Energy Society of Japan (AESJ) conference in the Fukuoka Prefecture city of Kitakyushu from Sept. 19 to 22.
  • Six of the 50 respondents told the Mainichi that they plan to change their career paths. One student in his second year at Kyushu University master's program expressed disillusionment. "We'd been told repeatedly in our classes that nuclear power was 'safe,' so I feel let down," he said. He has secured employment in a different field.
  • During a session at the AESJ conference to discuss the future of nuclear power, many students said that they had trouble staying motivated about engaging in the field of nuclear power.
  • Thirty-one students said, however, that their plans to go into the nuclear power industry remained unchanged.

Markey Calls for Scrutiny of Nuclear-Power Loan Guarantees -Bloomberg, Sept. 23

  • Congress should examine whether the U.S. nuclear industry pressed lawmakers and the Energy Department to alter loan-guarantee requirements for reactors, Representative Edward Markey said.
  • I urge you to commence hearings into the implementation of the nuclear power plant loan-guarantee program, including an $8.3 billion award to a subsidiary of Atlanta-based Southern Co. (SO), Markey said today in a letter to House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, a Michigan Republican.
  • The nuclear industry successfully pushed to put reimbursement for private investors ahead of taxpayers in the event of a bankruptcy or liquidation, said Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat. The Energy Department agreed in 2009, he said.

Noda tells U.N. Japan will provide accurate info on nuclear crisis -Japan Today, Sept. 23

  • Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said Thursday that Japan was working to complete the cold shutdown of the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant by the end of the year and promised that Japan would disclose to the international community all information related to the accident in a swift and accurate manner.
  • Addressing a special meeting at the United Nations General Assembly, Noda conceded that Japan had overestimated its preparedness for tsunamis. He said the emergency electrical supply and pumps needed to cool the reactors at Fukushima should not have been located where they could be submerged by the incoming sea water.

UN to study implications of Fukushima accident -NHK, Sept. 23

  • The United Nations says it will conduct a study on the implications of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident.
  • UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon issued a chairman's summary after a high-level meeting on Nuclear Safety and Security in New York on Thursday.
  • Ban noted that people near the Fukushima Daiichi plant are living in fear of the effects of radiation. He said the United Nations will survey their health.

SSE pulls out of UK nuclear consortium -Reuters, Sept. 23

  • Utility Scottish and Southern Energy said it has pulled out of its UK nuclear new build consortium, raising concerns investors may see the British nuclear industry as unattractive despite government efforts to provide incentives.
  • The Scotland-based utility, which operates around 2,500 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy assets, said it wanted to focus on green energy and gas-fired power plants – technologies with which it has more experience.
  • "We have concluded that, for the time being, our resources are better deployed on business activities and technologies where we have the greatest knowledge and experience," said Alistair Phillips-Davies, SSE generation and supply director.
  • The announcement deals a blow to the British government which wants to see a series of new nuclear plants in operation by 2025 and tried to reassure investors Britain was a safe market by offering policy changes to reward generators of low-carbon energy.
  • "It sends a big signal to the government saying: 'Look you've got to give us more security'," said Karen Dawson, director in the energy sector at consultancy PwC.

Fukushima evacuee makes anti-nuclear speech in NY -NHK, Sept. 23

  • A farmer in Fukushima Prefecture has urged people around the world to get rid of nuclear power plants, saying there is no such thing as safe nuclear power.
  • 53-year Sachiko Sato from Kawamata Town spoke at a gathering in central New York on Thursday. The event, organized by a US anti-nuclear group, was attended by about 70 people.
  • Sato said the nuclear accident changed her life totally and that she wants people to know the hardship she has gone through after being forced to abandon her farmland.
  • Sato called on people all over the world to work together to get rid of nuclear plants, saying that when one thinks about the future of children what they have to do is clear.

N-payment terms unveiled / TEPCO likely to draw fire for setting limits on compensation -Yomiuri, Sept. 23

  • The base amount of compensation is calculated according to sales and operating profits from last fiscal year.
  • It includes fixed expenses, such as depreciation costs and rental fees for production equipment, but exempts transportation costs and sales commissions.
  • Compensation for damage from harmful rumors about radiation is calculated by multiplying the base amount by the percentage that income has decreased.
  • However, TEPCO will cut compensation for tourist and service businesses, on the premise their income would have dropped even if the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant did not occur, due to the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and other reasons.
  • Compensation was to be reduced 20 percent for tourist businesses and 3 percent for those in the service sector. However, companies forced to suspend their operations due to government evacuation orders are eligible for the full base amount of compensation.

Noda tells U.N. end to nuke crisis in sight -Japan Times, Sept. 23

  • Noda explained that he visited the Fukushima No. 1 power plant earlier this month to get a closer look at the reactor buildings.
  • "This very fact demonstrates the steady progress in our efforts to bring the accident under stable control," he said.
  • In his closing remarks, Noda said he is confident Japan will overcome the nuclear crisis and there will be a time when Fukushima will be remembered as "the place where, through people's strong will and courage, a new era was opened for the future of humankind."

It Is More Than 40,000 ppm Hydrogen Gas, not 10,000 ppm Inside Reactor 1 CV Pipe -EX-SKF, Sept. 23

  • Just last night I reported on the hydrogen gas detected inside the pipe leading to the Reactor 1 Containment Vessel. TEPCO, according to the report and by their own press conference, said the density was "over 10,000 ppm".
  • Well. It was an understatement if the worker who tweets from Fukushima I Nuke Plant is correct. He says they went back to test the locations again with the meter that can measure up to 40,000 ppm. The meter maxed out.
  • It is over 40,000 ppm, or over 4%.

Hydrogen detected in pipe at Fukushima No. 1 reactor -Yomiuri, Sept. 24

  • Hydrogen has been detected in a pipe at the No. 1 reactor at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, but there is no possibility it will cause an explosion "in the immediate future," the plant's operator said Friday.
  • According to Tokyo Electric Power Co., hydrogen of at least 10,000 parts per million was detected at two spots in a pipe passing through the containment vessel on the reactor building's first floor. This concentration was higher than TEPCO had anticipated.
  • Although TEPCO is not certain how much hydrogen is still inside the vessel, the utility believes it is possible the concentration of the highly flammable gas is higher than had been assumed.

Fukushima finds cesium in Nihonmatsu rice, to hold more tests before shipment decision -Mainichi News, Sept. 24

  • The Fukushima Prefectural Government said on Sept. 23 that it had detected 500 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram – the government-set allowable limit – in a sample of "Hitomebore" rice collected in Nihonmatsu's Obama district. It will greatly increase the number of testing locations there for a second test to decide whether to allow shipments of rice from the city.
  • After discovering radioactive cesium in the rice crop from the city, Nihonmatsu became the first area to be designated a "priority test area," which means the local government will increase the number of locations in the city where rice crops are tested for radioactive substances before deciding whether to allow shipments.
  • Early-season rice from across Fukushima Prefecture was already previously approved for shipments, and some municipalities have started shipping their regular season rice. The test results from Nihonmatsu have again stirred worries among farmers and others about effects on Fukushima products' reputation.

Japan finds rice needing thorough radiation test -Reuters, Sept. 24

  • The government introduced inspection guidelines in August, with preliminary tests followed by more before approving shipments.
  • If preliminary tests found rice to contain radioactive caesium levels of 200 becquerels per kg or more, the crop will be tested more thoroughly before approvals are made for shipments.
  • If the level of caesium in rice exceeded the government-imposed cap of 500 becquerels per kg, shipments from locally produced rice will be halted.
  • So far, no rice crop has been banned for shipments.

Fukushima municipality heads concerned over lifting of evacuation advisory -Kyodo, Sept. 24

  • Heads of five municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture affected by the ongoing nuclear crisis have aired concerns over the government's plan to lift its evacuation advisory in the event of an emergency, saying not enough has been done to ensure the safety of residents.

2 on govt. compensation panel worked for research unit with power company ties -Mainichi News, Sept. 24

  • Two members of the government's Dispute Reconciliation Committee for Nuclear Damage Compensation assumed top posts at the Japan Energy Law Institute, which relies on the country's utility firms for its funding, and received monthly payments of about 200,000 yen each, it has been learned.
  • The dispute reconciliation committee is tasked with making the policy for compensation to be paid by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) for damage caused by the disaster at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant. The nine-member panel was established under the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology in April. A ministry official working in a section dealing with compensation procedures defended the committee, saying, "Committee meetings have been open to the public, and I cannot imagine they would take a position unfairly slanted to TEPCO. Neutrality is being maintained."

Hydrogen accumulates in pipes at Fukushima's No. 1 reactor -Asahi Shimbun, Sept. 24

  • TEPCO said it is investigating the possibility that hydrogen has also accumulated in a similar manner at the plant's No. 2 and No. 3 reactors.
  • TEPCO said most of the accumulated hydrogen was generated by a reaction under high temperatures between water vapor and the surface of nuclear fuel rods that were exposed after water was lost following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
  • Even now, the damaged reactors may be generating small amounts of hydrogen as water decomposes through irradiation from the melted fuel rods.
  • TEPCO has been pumping nitrogen into the No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 reactor containment vessels to drive out hydrogen from their interiors. The injection of nitrogen is also intended to create higher pressure levels than those outside to prevent oxygen in the air from entering the containment vessels.

TEPCO: It May Be 100% Hydrogen Gas Inside the Pipe Connecting to Reactor I Containment Vessel -EX-SKF, Sept. 24

  • Concerning the detection of hydrogen gas in more than 1% concentration inside the pipe that connects to the Containment Vessel of Reactor 1 at Fukushia I Nuclear Power Plant, TEPCO announced on September 24 that it is highly probable that almost all the gas inside the pipe is hydrogen gas. TEPCO's Matsumoto said in the press conference, "Since there is no source for sparks, it cannot be said that there is a high risk of explosion immediately".
  • According to TEPCO, they measured the gas at the pipe exit several times in the afternoon of September 23. Each time, the result showed "flammable gas including hydrogen gas, over 100% ". The company plans to use the instrument that only measures hydrogen, in order to accurately measure the concentration of hydrogen.

TEPCO can't identify flammable gas in pipe at Fukushima nuclear reactor -Japan Today, Sept, 25

  • Flammable gas has been detected inside a pipe linked to a nuclear reactor at Japans crippled Fukushima atomic power plant, its operator said Saturday.
  • Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) was unable to identify the gas but nonetheless said it was unlikely there would be an explosion in the reactor.
  • But a TEPCO spokesman said workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant measured a 100% flammable gas in a pipe connected to the power stations No. 1 reactor.
  • It is not clear exactly where and how this gas was created, the spokesman told AFP. We are considering ways to deal with it.
  • It is likely that we will continue the survey the gas to identify it and use nitrogen to bring its level low enough to avoid explosions, he said.

Safety limit radioactive cesium in Fukushima rice -NHK, Sept. 25

  • Pre-harvest tests are currently being carried out in nine prefectures in Tohoku and Kanto regions.
  • Following the discovery of the high level radioactive cesium, the prefectural government has increased the number of places being tested within the city from 38 to about 300.
  • On Saturday, the Nihonmatsu City government held an emergency meeting with officials from the prefectural government.
  • As some farmers have already started to harvest their crop before the results became available, it was decided that they would store their crop ahead of the post-harvest tests.

Residents near Fukushima nuclear plant make own radiation map, clean contaminated areas - Mainichi News, Sept. 25

  • Residents in this city, some areas of which fall within the 20-kilometer no-entry zone from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, have organized a council to measure radiation levels and remove radioactive material spread from the power plant.
  • The council has also published a radiation map that is twice as precise as the one released by the government, making it the most up-to-date and detailed radiation map available for the area.
  • "We can't keep on relying only on the government," Kisao Watanabe, 70, the chairman of the council, said. "We decided to do what we could by ourselves, hoping we can return to normal life as soon as possible."

March quake linked to active seabed fault -Japan Times, Sept. 25

  • A new study indicates the Great East Japan Earthquake may have been caused by an active fault in the seabed a finding that contradicts the prevailing view that such faults aren't directly involved in ocean trench temblors.
  • A group of researchers from Japanese universities including Toyo University and Hiroshima University has concluded that a 400-km fault line off the northeast coastline may have been responsible for the magnitude 9.0 earthquake that devastated the region March 11.
  • "To make quake predictions more realistic, information regarding active faults in the seabed should be taken into account," said Takashi Tanaka, a professor emeritus at Hiroshima University, who participated in the study.

Author: Analiese Miller

Date: September 27, 2011

HTML generated by org-mode 6.30c in emacs 23


More like this

The radiation at the Fukushima plants has gone up, rather than down, since June. This may be because contaminated water has become more concentrated due to evaporation. The release of radiation from the plant into the air continues, although a covering over Reactor 1 is almost completed. The…
The latest update on the crisis in Fukushima. The hot spots are everywhere. Be careful where you step! But first, we'd like to introduce the handy-dandy Fukushima Post and Ana's Feed search engine. This search engine will return results from this series of posts we've done. This is a good place…
The International Atomic Energy Association issued its last report on Fukushima on June 2nd and appears to not be keeping their web site up to date any more. This is the last time I'll be checking with them unless I hear otherwise. The email scandal reported last time continues "Analysts say the…
Because the situation is alarming. There is still a great deal of uncertainty about where the melted-down fuel at Fukushima I's reactors is resting. TEPCO and various NPA's have insisted all along that they know where it is, and everything is under control. The most recent information from TEPCO…

Thank you for keeping us updated on the situation.

By Gray Falcon (not verified) on 28 Sep 2011 #permalink

The (arbitrary?) limit above which food may not be sold/released for consumption here is Germany is 800 Bequerels per Kg, afaik.

This limit was applied after Chernobyl to mushrooms, venison, wild pigs etc. from e.g. the forests of Bavaria.

Since the beginning of the disaster we got different information. Now we find out what was true and what is not. At the beginning we got a lot of conflicting information about the state of radiation in Tokyo. Some of them are good, but some of us worried.

check this out!!aki

I can think of no reason why trophic level would matter for radioactive isotope contamination. If anything the higher the trophic level the better because there will be some decay and some dilution at each trophic level with standing biomass at time of contamination, so there will be a delay for the isotopes to reach equilibrium (where isotope in equals isotope out).

Without a mechanism to actively concentrate what ever isotope is present, there isn't a mechanism for trophic level to affect radioactivity concentration.

This is not the case for other types of contamination. PCBs are lipid soluble and so concentrate in body fat but because they are pretty inert, they accumulate over time. They concentrate going up the food chain because they are absorbed like fat but not excreted or metabolized. Methyl mercury is also lipid soluble and concentrates at the top of the food chain. Top ocean predators (like killer whales and dolphins) can have levels of mercury that are acutely toxic.

The major isotope of concern, cesium is an alkali metal like potassium. There already is cesium in sea water, about 2 ppb.

I oversimplified somewhat. There are two things going on: Bioaccumulation and bioconcentration. Both happen and both have been measured in marine organisms as well as terrestrial organisms. Bioaccumulation is the first order collection of isotopes by a heterotroph eating plants or primary consumers ... like if a fish ate all those plants which are very low level, the fish would accumulate isotopes in its tissue. One of the principles working there is that non-H2O components are incorporated in tissue while the H2O is passed on, but there are other factors as well if a radioisotope is incorporated in tissue differentiated. Iodine concentration in thyroids is bioaccumulation.

Biomagnification is where this works up trophic levels, with a substance not just passing through or dispersing but being concentrated. For reasons that are not entirely clear fish accumulate cesium more effeciently than they excrete it, so it builds up in muscle tissue. This might also be true in marine inverts. Porbably, though, inverts are mainly accumulating, an then fish magnifying. Trophic level magnification factors are between about 2 and 3 times per level.

Greg, there already is cesium in sea water. There is no biological mechanism to differentiate radioactive cesium from non-radioactive cesium.

Do the non-radioactive cesium levels in fish increase over their lifetime? That is what would have to happen if cesium was not excreted.

Cesium is very different than iodine. Iodine is concentrated and bioincorporated into thyroid hormones and is held extremely strongly. But sea water has 50 ppb iodine. Radioiodine exposure on land is very different than exposure in sea water because the background level of iodine on land and in the land food chain is very low.

I found this which in chapter 8 shows a modest ~10 to 20x increase in Cs concentration when fish were held in constant concentrations in sea level. I think these were growing fish. At some point the Cs concentration has to reach steady state and that steady state represents the normal accumulation of CS and the ratio of radioactive to non-radioactive Cs in the water and food.


Just as iodine loading can be used to block radioiodine takeup, Cs loading could be used to block radiocesium takeup. There are also some drugs that cause Cs to be excreted. They were used in Brazil when people found a Cs radiotherapy unit, opened it up, and used the glowing powder as makeup.

Fresh water animals are very different because the background of non-radioactive minerals in fresh water is very low.

I think the bioaccumulation of Cs is very different than things which actually do bioaccumulate (like PCBs, methyl mercury). There concentration per trophic level is appropriate because the excretion of PCBs is much smaller than absorption.

Cold blooded organisms also don't eat as much, so bioaccumulation is not as much of a problem as with top mammalian predators.

Maybe we are not disagreeing so much about what happens as disagreeing about terminology.

I'll send you some references when I'm on the computer that has them. Cesium is in seawater, but if a significant amount of that cesium is a radioactive isotope then that would do it.

I assume cesium in general does bio accumulate simply because we KNOW the radioactive cesium does, because it has been measured and documented. This is a different system than pcb acting as lipids, but it does appear to happen. Were not arguing about terminology here.

To me, the term "bioaccumulate" means that the concentration in the organism is higher than in the food/environment that the organism is in. To say something has bioaccumulated, you need to know what the concentration was in the environment/food through which the organism became contaminated.


It is pretty obvious that the fish have become contaminated with radioscesium, but for there to be bioaccumulation the radiocesium has to be selectively concentrated over non-radioactive cesium which I don't think happens.

For radioactive contaminates, what is important is the concentration of radioactive atoms relative to non-radioactive atoms. Here is some data on Japanese fish from 1996.


This is important because if organisms high in the food chain become highly contaminated is it because there is a large amount of contamination in the environment, or is it because the radiocesium got concentrated as it moved up the food chain.

Fish probably mostly get cesium through their gills and not through their food. They regulate their ion balance, they don't accumulate sodium because the sodium concentration in fish tissues is lower than that of sea water. Cs acts like potassium. Radiocesium can be mobilized by addition of non-radioactive cesium.


This is in fresh water which doesn't have the cesium level of sea water.

Important seminal paper: McCreedy, Clark D Et Al. 1995. Bioaccumulation of cesium-137 in yellow bullhead catfish.... . Environmental toxicology and chemistry 16:2

The other dozens of papers: http://goo.gl/9xrxi

"Knowledge and documentation of the levels of radioactive contamination in fish stocks important to Norwegian fisheries is of major importance to Norwegian consumers and fish export industry. In the present study, the bioaccumulation of caesium-137 (137Cs) has been investigated in marine food webs in the Barents and Norwegian Seas. The contents of 137Cs in the different organisms were generally low (<1 Bq kgâ1 wet weight), but a marked bioaccumulation was apparent: The concentration of 137Cs was about 10-fold higher in the harbour porpoise Phocoena phocoena, representing the upper level of the food web, than in the amphipod Themisto sp., representing the lower level of the food web. The Concentration Factors (CF=Bq kgâ1 wet weight/Bq lâ1 seawater) increased from 10±3 for a mixed sample of krill and amphipods to 165±5 for harbour porpoises." Heldala et al 2002

"The long-distance migrations of commercial fish in the arctic seas may lead to the biological transfer of artificial radionuclides from highly contaminated local zones in the arctic seas to remote non-contaminated areas. Based on experimental data the dynamics of 137Cs bioaccumulation in fish from the Barents Sea (arcto-norwegian cod) was analysed. It was demonstrated that the 137Cs concentration factors for arctic fish were not constant, but gradually changed from 28 ± 5 in 1979 up to 182 ± 48 in 1992 with a slow decrease in subsequent years. The conclusion reached was that the radionuclide 'concentration factor' approach to the prediction of arctic fish contamination was not very applicable. An original calculation method is proposed for modelling the dynamics of radioactive contamination of fish, with consideration of fish feeding behaviour, growth and seasonal migrations. Results of the computer simulation of the fish contamination in the Barents Sea after a hypothetical accidental release of 1 TBq of 137Cs from the radioactive waste dumping site are presented."

Skwarzeca et al 2001

And I know nobody mentioned Plutonium, but just for fun (and it has info on different tissues, which is intersting):

In this paper, the results of 238Pu and 239+240Pu determinations in four representative species of Baltic fish collected in Gdansk Bay: flounder, herring, cod and sprat, are presented and discussed. The plutonium isotopes are amongst the more radiotoxic nuclides. In the marine environment, the highest concentrations of plutonium are found in the sediments, but the complex biogeochemical cycle of the element means that it is also found in all other compartments. The activities of the fish samples were measured using alpha spectrometry and the concentrations of plutonium 238Pu and 239+240Pu were estimated for particular organs and tissues and the whole body. The 239+240Pu concentrations for fish species were: flounder 0.94 mBq kgâ1 w.w., herring 2.22 mBq kgâ1 w.w., cod 2.35 mBq kgâ1 w.w. and sprat 0.33 mBq kgâ1 w.w. On the basis of the 238Pu/239+240Pu activity ratio in the organs and tissues, the proportion of Chernobyl-derived plutonium in the Baltic Sea was calculated. The lowest values of Chernobyl plutonium were accumulated in flounder stomach, herring skin, cod intestine, the highest in cod gills and skin.

Skwarzeca et al 2001

All three of those are cited in the above linked list of journal articles.

I have seen statements that Cesium has a very short biological half-life in humans, and thus does not bioaccumulate to a significant degree. Is this not the case?

I'm a Japanese and am really depressed after watching the interactive sea contamination map...
There are almost no restrictions of fishes and vegetables in Japan. It's so horrible.

Eamon, depends on the isotope. The isotope in question here has a half life long enough that it will be there for much of a human's life time.


my understanding is that 'half-life' applies to the time for the radioactivity in a substance to decrease by half, and 'biological half-life' is the time required for a body to expel half of the substance. You seem to be talking about the former, but for exposure I think the latter is the vital factor - for if Cesium isotopes don't reside in the body for long then we'd have to consider them less hazardous to humans than if they resided for a long time.

Eamon, the biological half life for cesium is unknown. The measurements reported here are probably of persistent cesium ... i.e., in the tissues until the organism decomposes or is digested. My mention of half life here is, as you say, of the radioactive variety.