Posts Tagged radioactivity

Fukushima media coverage ‘may be harmful’ – health – 30 August 2011 – New Scientist

One report, in UK newspaper The Independent, quoted a scientist who predicted more than a million would die, and that the prolonged release of radioactivity from Fukushima would make health effects worse than those from the sudden release experienced at the Chernobyl nuclear reactor in Ukraine.

“We’ve got to stop these sorts of reports coming out, because they are really upsetting the Japanese population,” says Gerry Thomas at Imperial College London, who is attending the meeting. “The media has a hell of a lot of responsibility here, because the worst post-Chernobyl effects were the psychological consequences and this shouldn’t happen again.”

Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency report that the release of radioactivity from Fukushima is about 10 per cent that of Chernobyl. “There’s very little leakage now,” says Thomas. “The Japanese did the right thing at the right time, providing stable iodine to ensure that doses of radioactive iodine to the thyroids of children were minimal,” she says.

Thomas said that Japanese researchers attending the meeting are upset too. “They’re saying: ‘Please tell the truth, because no one believes us’.”

via Fukushima media coverage ‘may be harmful’ – health – 30 August 2011 – New Scientist.

Not sure about the wisdom or practicability of “We’ve got to stop these sorts of reports coming out”, but I sympathize with the sentiment. The Japanese government has also tried doing the same thing, or at least trying to keep track of what is be written on the Internet, and then trying to counter the mis-information. The trouble is, no-one trusts the government!

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Radioactive Rice to Come? Rice Growing in a Rice Paddy with 35,000 Becquerels/kg of Radioactive Cesium? | EX-SKF

The transfer factor from the soil to rice is considered to be about 0.1. 35,000 becquerels/kg in soil may result in 3,500 becquerels/kg of harvested rice, 7 times the provisional safety limit which is already far too loose for the staple like rice.

I’ve found the video clip for this part. It’s the rice paddy in Fukushima City. Fukushima City was OUTSIDE the evacuation zone of any kind, so the soil was apparently never tested by the prefectural government. The reporter asks the question in English, with a Japanese interpreter.

Japanese people who watched the video or knew about it from Kino’s tweets are thanking ZDF for having shown up and asked questions at the press conference. It’s been a very long time any foreign media showed any interest in these conferences given by TEPCO/government on Fukushima I Nuke Plant and radiation contamination.

I hope more foreign media (not their Japanese bureaus) will come and ask hard questions.

35,000 becquerels/kg of cesium in soil would translate into 2,275,000 becquerels/square meter (35,000 x 65), which is way above the forced evacuation criterion in the Chernobyl accident (1,480,000 becquerels/square meter).

via #Radioactive Rice to Come? Rice Growing in a Rice Paddy with 35,000 Becquerels/kg of Radioactive Cesium? | EX-SKF.

When the Japanese reporters start asking tough questions, that will be a trend-marker.

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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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Nuke plant worker mum about own exposure to fallout | The Japan Times Online

The “faceless Fukushima 50”, they’ve been called. They’ve also been banned from talking to the media, although some are obviously defying the ban (or is this a deliberate leak?).

I haven’t been keeping a beady eye on non-Japanese media reports about these, so I’m not sure how they have been reported, but no doubt there will be (or perhaps have been) the usual, predictable slew of “Cover-up!! Government lies!!!”-type articles. It sells newspapers and attracts eyeballs, which is what “media” is all about.

A group of Japanese women I spoke to recently about the “faceless Fukushima 50” did not jump to this conclusion. What was their conclusion? That TEPCO was not revealing names in order to protect the workers. After all, everyone is guessing that the workers have been exposed to high levels of radiation. What happens to them after they come home? If they try to change jobs? Chances are high that they will be ostracized.

Voice of America reporter Steve Herman, who traveled around the quake-hit area for 7-10 days after the earthquake and whose reporting focused on the Fukushima nuclear crisis, tweeted on his return to Tokyo that everyone was glad to see him back but no-one wanted to hug him!

Imagine how it might be for those TEPCO workers if they were “outed”.

I have no evidence to prove that this is, in fact, TEPCO’s motivation for keeping their workers anonymous. However, if my past experience is any guide, the typical, Western, knee-jerk conclusion is wrong, more often than not, when it comes to interpreting Japanese behaviour. The parameters are different.

This Japan Times article says Murata has stayed at the plant since March 11, but an earlier Japan Times article (April 3) reported “In regular rotation, groups are bused out to three-day shifts of punishing work at the water-logged, radiation-spewing complex.”

“I can’t tell you. It’s personal information,” said Yasuki Murata, a 44-year-old worker from the plant’s planning and public relations section, batting away repeated questions about his radiation exposure in an interview Wednesday.

Since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami crippled the plant, causing it to spew radioactive materials into the environment, Murata has been staying on the plant’s premises in a two-story quake-proof building whose few windows are covered with lead plates to keep out radiation.

via Nuke plant worker mum about own exposure to fallout | The Japan Times Online.

TEPCO workers in happiers days

TEPCO workers in happier days (click photo for source)

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In Japan, evacuees direct anger at nuclear-plant owner Tokyo Electric Power Co. – The Washington Post

Last Thursday, I saw a morning tv show which had as a subtitle “people’s fury”. Japan is the country of guarded language, so when the word “fury” is used, it is not used lightly.

“High blood pressure? We’ve all got high blood pressure,” said Maruzoi, a 57-year-old construction worker who now sleeps on a piece of cardboard in a gymnasium. “I feel nothing but anger.”

via In Japan, evacuees direct anger at nuclear-plant owner Tokyo Electric Power Co. – The Washington Post.

It will perhaps surprise Western observers that only now is anger or fury surfacing. Does this not prove that the Japanese are, in fact, docile sheep, meekly obeying authority no matter incompetent that authority is?

No, it doesn’t. The Japanese have their own ways of complaining and expressing anger. Direct expressions of anger are not only frowned on but they are counter-productive. The Japanese know, from long experience, how to make effective complaints. Direct outbursts of anger are rare and they are generally seen as ineffective. The only time I’ve seen it in public, on TV, is an emotional outburst by a young child at a public meeting between residents of Minamata and the Chisso Corporation: “Are you guys even human?!” he screamed at them. The corporate suits at least had the humanity and good sense to say nothing but sit with bowed heads and take it.

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Iodine-131 found in groundwater | The Japan Times Online

This is unbelievable, although not entirely unexpected. I recall those workers who were hospitalized due to excessive radiation: it appeared they had ignored their dosimeters. My foot. They probably did not have dosimeters and the blame was shifted on to them.

Tokyo Electric Co. came under further fire Friday after it was revealed that many of its employees at the damaged Fukushima No. 1 power plant have been working without the protection of dosimeters. It also said radioactivity in groundwater under the compound spiked.

via Iodine-131 found in groundwater | The Japan Times Online.

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2011/04/02 18:06 – Source Found For Toxic Leaks From Japan Nuclear Plant

TOKYO Dow Jones–A source of highly radioactive water escaping into the ocean from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant was identified Saturday, but authorities werent able to say if the discovery will stop the ongoing contamination that has already spread 40 kilometers 25 miles into the open seas. Tokyo Electric Power Co. 9501, the operator of the plant, said it has found a 20-centimeter crack in a two-meter-deep chamber holding cables for the No. 2 reactor, which is believed to be leaking highly toxic water from its nuclear core.

Workers found that the conduit, which has radioactive water that is 10-20 centimeters deep, has airborne contamination of more than 1,000 millisieverts an hour, a highly dangerous concentration. The contamination level of the actual water wasn’t immediately available. That high a level of radioactivity has also been found in a trench used to carry cables and various piping for the No. 2 unit.

Authorities have said such highly toxic water must be originating from the reactor’s damaged fuel rods, but they haven’t been able to trace the exact reason for the leakage. While they believe the pressure vessel and containment vessel are structurally sound, they admit there could be leakage where pipes enter the vessel.

The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said that the crack would be sealed using concrete.

For more than a week, they have been preparing to drain radioactive water from the turbine-room basements of the three units so that they can restore the pumps used for cooling the reactor cores. But they first need to find suitable storage tanks. They have been transferring water from the condenser units in the turbine room so they can be used to store that water from the basement, at least some of which is believed to be heavily contaminated.

As the plant officials search for suitable storage space for the water, the city of Shizuoka, 160 kilometers to the south, said Friday that it had offered to lease a 450-foot-long barge that can hold 10,000 tons, or 10 million liters, of water. The shallow draft would allow the vessel to dock adjacent to the plant to ease the transfer of water. Another barge with fresh water from the U.S. military arrived at the site Friday to assist in the cooling operations.

via 2011/04/02 18:06 – Source Found For Toxic Leaks From Japan Nuclear Plant.

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Two different sources, two different stories. Which to believe?

Workers at the disaster-stricken Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan say they expect to die from radiation sickness as a result of their efforts to bring the reactors under control, the mother of one of the men tells Fox News

via Japans Nuclear Rescuers: Inevitable Some of Them May Die Within Weeks –

On the other hand, speaking of the development of super drugs to tackel radiation sickness, this story says,

 it is unclear whether anyone in Japan, even workers at the Fukushima plant, have been exposed to enough radiation to warrant such treatments.

via Nuclear Crisis Adds Urgency to Develop Radiation Drugs –

Which to believe?

All one can reasonably do is remain open to the possibility that either one may turn out to be true or more accurate than the other. We just have to wait until more data is available. Neither article provides any data to support its contention (the first article is simply reporting an interview with the mother of one of the workers).

The conditions in the Fukushima nuclear plant do not sound good, and the details mentioned in the Fox news article had previously been reported on Japanese TV (I saw them on Mino Monta’s morning show, 5:30-8:30 Mainichi Broadcasting: みのもんたの朝ズバッ!)

Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency says that workers were only eating two basic meals of crackers and dried rice a day, and sleeping in conference rooms and hallways in the building.

According to Kaieda, not all of the workers had apparently been provided with lead sheeting to shield themselves from potentially radiation-contaminated floors while sleeping.

Mino Monta had on his show on Thursday morning a former TEPCO worker (BTW, “TEPCO” is known in Japan as “To-den” (pronounced “taw den”, a shortening of Tokyo Denryoku; no-one understands me when I say “Tepco”).

 This young man explained, in addition to the above, that

  • the reason for the meagre diet is not just shortage of supplies, but also because the sewage system is not working properly: it help prevent toilet overflows, in other words!
  • those “radiation suits”? They’re not. They are just work overalls. They’re made of nylong, and as far as protection from radiation is concerned, one might as well be naked. 

Beat Takeshi, on his show, listed some demands. Amongst them were, “drop this stupid dual  50 Hz/60Hz system nonsense” and “give all the Fukushima plant workers National Medals of Honour”.

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2011/03/31 13:00 – No Immediate Plan To Expand Evacuation Zone Despite IAEA Findings: Edano

(2011/3/31 11:36 is the time stamp for the (original?) Japanese article. Nikkei English articles do not have a time stamp.)

TOKYO (Dow Jones)–Japan has no immediate plan to expand the evacuation zone around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant despite finding higher-than-permitted levels of radiation in a village 10 kilometers away from the current zone, chief government spokesman Yukio Edano said Thursday.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said overnight that one of its teams had detected radiation from cesium-137 that is double their recommended limit in the town of Iitate, 40-kilometers northwest of the Daiichi plant.

The IAEA said the sampling was done from March 18-26 in nine municipalities.

However, a spokesman for the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said at a morning news conference that authorities are reviewing whether to evacuate residents from the town.

via 2011/03/31 13:00 – No Immediate Plan To Expand Evacuation Zone Despite IAEA Findings: Edano.

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原発建屋に布、汚染水回収にタンカー案 政府が検討  :日本経済新聞

Looks like they’re going to go with the tanker plan, according to Edano’s announcement today, March 30th, a.m.:


via 原発建屋に布、汚染水回収にタンカー案 政府が検討  :日本経済新聞.

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