Posts Tagged nuclear crisis

Earthquake not a factor in Fukushima accident

The tsunami of 11 March was the ‘direct cause’ of the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, concluded an official investigation report. It dismissed the idea that earthquake damage was a major factor in the accident.

A safe emergency shutdown was achieved within seconds of the magnitude 9.0 earthquake, said the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Investigation Commission composed of experts independent of plant owner Tokyo Electric Power Company. Control rods were fully inserted within seconds and all 13 diesel generators started as per design when tremors disconnected the grid connection. Instrumentation was working correctly, as were cooling systems.

What was the cause, then?

Within an hour of the earthquake, however, almost the entire site was submerged to a depth of up to nine metres by a series of tsunami waves. Over about ten minutes these flooded six of the diesels and ruined the supporting equipment of another six. Only one diesel unit survived and this was used alternately to maintain essential systems at units 5 and 6 – using one of only three power distribution panels that had not been submerged. Some 36 other distribution panels throughout the emergency diesel generator system were made useless by water.

via Earthquake not a factor in Fukushima accident.

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US envoy: Tokyo didn’t take charge when crisis hit – Yahoo! News

“There was nobody in charge. Nobody in the Japanese political system was willing to say, ‘I’m going to take responsibility and make decisions,'” said Maher, who coordinated U.S. offers to help Tokyo deal with the crisis.

“Nothing was taking place at Fukushima Dai-ichi in terms of the government solving the problem” until about a week later when Tokyo and Washington launched a joint task force, he told a news conference.

via US envoy: Tokyo didn’t take charge when crisis hit – Yahoo! News.

VOA’s article seemed to show Maher and the U.S. in a rather self-serving light. This Yahoo article adds a few details, that’s all, including this TEPCO statement:

Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Wednesday that the reactors are still leaking small amount of radiation — about one 10-millionth of the amount released after several explosions in mid-March that eventually forced about 100,000 people to evacuate their homes. TEPCO and the government say they plan to bring the reactors to a stable shutdown state by early January.

Maher said he sympathized with Japanese evacuees and expressed optimism that their communities could be cleaned up and restored.

“It can be done,” he said, adding that it requires a huge expenditure and a very “decisive approach.”

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Japan city declares nuclear Decontamination Month – Yahoo! News

“We decided that we could not sit by and wait until Tokyo figured out what to do,” said town official Yoshiaki Yokota. “It’s an enormous task, but we have to start somewhere

via Japan city declares nuclear Decontamination Month – Yahoo! News.

More evidence that the tsunami/earthquake/nuclear disaster is forcing people to act without waiting for official permission. More evidence that this disaster is simply too big for a government to manage. According to Hayek (links directly to pdf file) and others, an economy is too big for any individual or group of individuals (yes, even Japanese with computers) to manage. Perhaps it has always been true that efficient management of the country was always beyond the grasp of the government, any government. Perhaps it is just becoming obvious to many now, because this disaster is so huge and complex.

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Former US Diplomat Criticizes Japan Nuclear Response | Asia | English

Interesting article by VOA’s Steve Herman, tho perhaps not for the reasons Maher hopes.

A former high-level U.S. diplomat, who was posted in Japan for many years, is speaking out about Tokyo’s initial response to the Fukushima nuclear crisis.He is also revealing the level of concern that was expressed behind closed doors in Washington at that time.

After a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and historic tsunami battered northeastern Japan on March 11 a veteran U.S. diplomat, who had just been removed from the top post on the island of Okinawa, was among those put in charge of a crisis task force in Washington

Kevin Maher says American decision-makers quickly realized there was little reliable data coming from their Japanese counterparts about the Fukushima-1 nuclear power plant. “There was a point where we told the Japanese government, ‘Look you guys got to take this seriously. This is a real serious situation. The government needs to respond to this.’ And, I think the [Japanese] government eventually came to that conclusion, itself,” he said.

via Former US Diplomat Criticizes Japan Nuclear Response | Asia | English.

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Japan to sack top officials over nuclear disaster – Yahoo! News

Will this do any real good? Or is it just whitewash, to try and recover lost public trust? Will it work to do even that, I wonder?

TOKYO Reuters – Japan will replace three senior bureaucrats in charge of nuclear power policy, the minister overseeing energy policy said on Thursday, five months after the world’s worst atomic crisis in 25 years erupted at Fukushima.

The move comes as Prime Minister Naoto Kan calls for enhanced nuclear safety accountability and an overhaul of Japan’s energy policy, with the aim of gradually weaning it off its dependence on nuclear power as public safety concerns mount.

It also follows a series of scandals in which government officials in charge of safeguarding the operations of nuclear power plants tried to influence public opinion on atomic energy.

Trade Minister Banri Kaieda, who played a key role in handling the Fukushima crisis, vowed to carry out major changes in the ministry’s personnel, including the three top officials. Kaieda has also said he intends to eventually step down to take responsibility for missteps.

“I’m planning to breathe fresh air into the ministry with a large-scale reshuffle,” Kaieda told a news conference. “I’ll have new people rebuild the ministry.”

via Japan to sack top officials over nuclear disaster – Yahoo! News.

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Doubting Assurances, Japanese Find Radioactivity on Their Own –

OMG! Japanese people are starting to take things into their own hands! It’s TEOTWAWKI (the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it)!!!

“… as the government fumbles its reaction…” As I’ve written before, here and here, it’s not fumbling.

So starting in April, Mrs. Okoshi began using her dosimeter to check nearby forest roads and rice paddies. What she found was startling. Near one sewage ditch, the meter beeped wildly, and the screen read 67 microsieverts per hour, a potentially harmful level. Mrs. Okoshi and a cousin who lives nearby worked up the courage to confront elected officials, who did not respond, confirming their worry that the government was not doing its job.

With her simple yet bold act, Mrs. Okoshi joined the small but growing number of Japanese who have decided to step in as the government fumbles its reaction to the widespread contamination, which leaders acknowledge is much worse than originally announced.

via Doubting Assurances, Japanese Find Radioactivity on Their Own –

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#Fukushima Teacher Pressured to Resign Over His Effort to Protect Children from “Invisible Snake” (Radiation) | EX-SKF

We humans are so susceptible to words. First read this headline (and the article, if you want). Sounds like a clear-cut case, doesn’t it? Teacher tries to warn his students about radiation risks. School authorities don’t like it because it “creates fear/panic” (the big no-no). Teacher “quits”, or was he pushed?

Fukushima Teacher Muzzled on Radiation Risks for School Children

via #Fukushima Teacher Pressured to Resign Over His Effort to Protect Children from “Invisible Snake” (Radiation) | EX-SKF.

Here’s another take: Prof. Lenz at Aoyama Gakuin University points out:

As far as I can tell from the article, all he had to face was the fact that pupils and their parents asked him to spend less time on the subject in class. Since he was hired to teach Japanese literature, I think that is a reasonable request. He can alert anybody all the time he wants when classes are finished, but it is somewhat strange to think he is entitled to use his pulpit as a Japanese literature teacher to spread his (misguided) views.

You may need to read the article again to find where and how Prof. Lenz got this interpretation.

Now read the headline again: Fukushima Teacher Muzzled on Radiation Risks for School Children.

Of course, they could have run with “Fukushima Teacher refuses to teach Japanese literature: insists on talking about radiation”. I wonder why they didn’t?

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#Radioactive Compost Has Been Sold in 23 Prefectures | EX-SKF

So you thought caesium in beef was the worst there is to worry about? Silly you!

It’s attracting far less attention, but the radioactive leaf compost is getting to be like the radioactive beef.First, it was 20,000 bags sold in Akita. Then, an unknown number of bags sold in Tottori link in Japanese. Now it turns out 200,000 bags of the radioactive leaf compost from a retailer based in Gunma Prefecture have been sold at least in 23 prefectures, Tottori included, at the retailer’s 166 outlets throughout Japan.Home gardeners in 23 prefectures ended up irradiating their garden soil.From Mainichi Shinbun Japanese 7/28/2011:

via #Radioactive Compost Has Been Sold in 23 Prefectures | EX-SKF.

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Too little, too late? Radiation survey meets skepticism / Fukushima Pref. residents asked to recall diet, activities from 4 months ago : National : DAILY YOMIURI ONLINE The Daily Yomiuri

FUKUSHIMA–Worries about health problems stemming from radiation leaked from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant have not eased among residents in Fukushima Prefecture.Although the Fukushima prefectural government has decided to carry out health checks on all of the about 2 million residents in the prefecture, some experts have questioned whether exact radiation exposure can be tested four months after the crisis broke out.

The prefectural government also plans to closely examine internal radiation levels taken in through food, targeting about 200,000 people from evacuation areas. However, it is likely that very little radioactive material will be detected, according to experts.

In addition to the fact that ingested radioactive material is carried out of the body in urine, radioactive iodine has a half-life of just eight days.

Makoto Akashi, executive director of the National Institute of Radiological Sciences, said: “I don’t think radioactive iodine will be detected. It’s likely that [prefectural] residents were not exposed to high levels of radiation, but I don’t think it’s possible to make a precise estimate of their radiation exposure.”

via Radiation survey meets skepticism / Fukushima Pref. residents asked to recall diet, activities from 4 months ago : National : DAILY YOMIURI ONLINE The Daily Yomiuri.

So is this too little, too late? Or is it just whitewash, to show that the government “is doing something”? Or is it genuinely a good idea? And who will pay for all this?

“What? Do I have to write in this much detail?” asked Makiko Kowata, 37. Kowata has been taking shelter in the city of Fukushima after evacuating from Namiemachi, located within the no-entry zone around the crippled nuclear power plant…. Kowata has to write what she did for the two weeks after the disaster minute-by-minute. She also has to write the amount of vegetables, fruits and milk she consumed through the end of March.

“I don’t remember what I did four months ago. If the government planned to conduct this research, it should’ve told us earlier. Then I would have recorded [what I ate and where I went],” she complained.

Although she said the health check is necessary for children, “I wonder if precise radiation exposure can be estimated through this kind of questionnaire.”

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Meltdown: What Really Happened at Fukushima? – Global – The Atlantic Wire

Meltdown: What Really Happened at Fukushima? – Global – The Atlantic Wire.

An interesting article that doesn’t answer it’s own question but provides some new (to me anyway) info, although it tends towards TEPCO-bashing, but then that sells and anyway they probably deserve it, although I still think the people on-site are heroes.

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