I’ve added EX-SKF’s blog to my @Japan blogroll in the sidebar. He has updates on the situation in Fukushima, much of it translated from Japanese media sources, as well as the twitter feeds of a couple of workers inside the plant who have been there since 2011. His opinion is often critical, but usually thoughtful and thought-provoking. He often includes photos, videos and diagrams (many provided by TEPCO at press conferences, or posted on TEPCO’s Japanese website). I find these very useful to get a clear picture of what is going on.

Recently, he’s been blogging about U.S. political press announcements about Syria, but here’s an excerpt from a recent Fukushima one, which is what he mainly writes about.

“National Government at the Forefront” on Contaminated Water Problems at #Fukushima I Nuke Plant Means Committees, Teams, Groupsthat would make Sir Humphrey Appleby proud.

Now that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declared to IOC Commissioners who gave him the 2020 Summer Olympic in Tokyo that his government would be at the forefront in dealing with contaminated water problems, and that “the effect of contamination” carefully note the word “effect” was confined within the plant harbor to the great puzzlement of TEPCO who said they hadn’t advised Mr. Abe on anything, the government is in full gear – creating committees.

Let’s see. How many committees, teams, working groups are there on the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident?

He is not overly optimistic on the government “taking charge” of the Fukushima cleanup operation.

Other than the working group set up by NRA which actually is very useful in analyzing the situation and suggesting courses of action, the rest look like good venues for government officials, bureaucrats and university professors to earn extra per diem, and waste of resource for TEPCO who will have to send mid to high-ranking managers and prepare presentations to placate the officials and bureaucrats.

via EXSKF Coverage of Fukushima I Daiichi Nuclear Accident, Nuclear Disaster in Japan.

Below are some of his personal comments, which he usually appends after quoting (and translating, if the source is in Japanese) news sources.

First, from Sunday, September 8, 2013 | RO Waste Water Leak at #Fukushima: TEPCO’s Video of Tank Patrol by Workers (UPDATED)

If the national government is serious about tackling the problems at Fukushima I Nuke Plant, the very first thing they should do is to change this employment scheme of subcontracting pyramid which gives each layer profit by skimming off workers’ wages and gives the top contractor(s) plausible deniability that they do not know about work conditions of the workers in the lower layers of the pyramid and therefore they are not responsible for the workers.

But I fear the government is not serious, and only interested in evading their responsibility and finding others to blame for any failure, past, present, and future.

And from For Japanese Politicians, Contaminated Water Leak at #Fukushima Is All About “Who to Blame” (Other Than Themselves, Of Course)

What’s amazing to me personally is that after nearly two and a half years of abysmal track record of the national government when it comes to dealing with the nuclear accident and its aftermath (contamination, decontamination, compensating the victims, monitoring, etc.), many Japanese are still looking longingly to the national government for magical solutions.

“TEPCO cannot be trusted!” they say. But somehow they can still trust their government.

His is the only blog I read that told me about Syria’s nuclear research reactors.

If you are concerned about eating irradiated fish caught in the Pacific, you might want to read this post: Wednesday, September 4, 2013 | Woods Hole Q&A on #Fukushima Radiation and Fish

Ken Buesseler at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has been researching the marine life and how it is affected by the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident that has released significant amount of radioactive materials into the Pacific Ocean.

In late August/early September, there was a panic which was widely reported in both Japanese and English press along the lines of “1,800 millisievert/hour radiation that would kill one in 4 hours of exposure”. This EX-SKF found hilarious: Sunday, September 1, 2013  | RO Waste Water Leak at #Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Spot with 1,800 Millisieverts/Hr “Dose Equivalent” Found, Hilarity Ensued

After nearly two and a half years of attending TEPCO’s press conference, reporters in Japan seem almost willful these days to pretend they don’t even know the difference between gamma radiation exposure and beta radiation exposure to make their news more sensational in competition with the foreign media and blogs. They seem to pretend not to know what dose equivalent is.

1,800 millisieverts/hour is “dose equivalent at 70 micrometer”, to show the beta radiation exposure at very close proximity for particular organs – skin, and eye lens. Press releases and handouts for the press from TEPCO make it clear that it is dose equivalent, and they say so during the press conference. (Here’s the English email alert to the press on finding the spot with 1,800 mSv/hr beta radiation, from August 31, 2013.)

The “1,800 millisieverts/hour that would kill a person in 4 hours” would be gamma radiation.

In this case, RO waste water is extremely high in beta nuclides including strontium but not so much at all in gamma nuclides. You wouldn’t die just by being near this water for four hours.

1,800 millisieverts/hour dose equivalent for skin would be 18 millisieverts/hour effective dose, as tissue weighing factor for skin is 0.01.

According to TEPCO, 1,800 millisieverts/hour dose equivalent at 70 micrometer is almost all beta radiation, with only 1 millisievert/hour dose equivalent (at 1 centimeter) of gamma radiation.

Almost all Japanese media (except one article at Asahi) glossed over the fact that this “1,800 millisieverts/hour” was dose equivalent to indicate the effect on skin, and they all screamed “it would kill people in 4 hours”.

Many Japanese readers (I sure hope not most) continue to trust what the media says about Fukushima I Nuke Plant as long as it is bad and catastrophic. [Ed. my emphasis] Some of them immediately started to tweet and retweet, “Japan is finished, we all die!”. Judging from retweets of my tweet about the type of contamination of this particular water, they may not even know that the water that leaked had high beta but not much gamma nuclides.

1,800 millisieverts/hour dose equivalent is still very high, as the annual limit for equivalent dose for skin is 500 millisieverts. The same for lens is 300 millisieverts.

But to purposefully omit “dose equivalent” information from the original information from TEPCO and add sensational claim of killing one in four hours of exposure is another low for the media.

It is amazing reporting, actually, considering many reporters who attend the TEPCO press conference are quite knowledgeable and ask tough questions. What would be the point of bothering to attend the press conference, if they end up writing sloppy, loose articles like the ones they’ve written?

Here’s his summary of the water-treatment system in place at Fukushima: What’s in the RO Waste Water at #Fukushima I Nuke Plant?

Finally, here’s another fine article on the dangers of Fukushima, by a different blogger – Karl Denninger – which is somewhat technical but highly informative on exactly what the dangers are. Denninger lost patience with the scare-mongering and misleading articles which resulted after the latest “scare” (altho EX-SKF points out, the same thing happened a year ago and hardly anyone noticed). Here’s the link to Denninger’s article. He’s gone “dark” for September 11th as a protest (tho it’s Sep 12th here in Japan, it’s still 11th in most of the States), but should be back up tomorrow: Fukushima: Stop the Stupid!