Posts Tagged Speedi

Japan nuke holdout resolved to stay –

Update: YouTube video of interview with the man added. 2011.09.03.

Amazingly, there is still one man living in the nuclear no-go area in Fukushima.

Nearly six months after Japan’s catastrophic earthquake and tsunami, the 53-year-old believes he is the only inhabitant left in this town sandwiched between the doomed Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power station to the north and another sprawling nuclear plant to the south…

Matsumura is an anomaly in a country where defiance of the government is rare and social consensus counts above everything else. Yet, Matsumura’s quiet civil disobedience speaks loudly of the dilemma facing the more than 100,000 silent “nuclear refugees” who were displaced by the March 11 disaster.

I admire his courage, or is it stubbornness? And his decision to stay seems to be based on moral principles. However, when it comes down to it, he’s living on handouts, on tax-payers’ generosity. He cannot make a living by selling his crops and is unlikely to in the future. He doesn’t seem to have thought of that: “As a heavy rain began to fall, he walked down an overgrown mountain path to his rice paddy. He pulled up a plant by its roots, twisted it between his fingers then tossed it into an irrigation ditch with a resigned sigh. There will be no cash crop this year. Or maybe ever again.”

On the other hand, it speaks well of the Japanese police (and society generally) that he hasn’t been forcibly abducted by heavily armed SWAT teams, or bombed by a drone for his failure to capitulate to the authorities:

Officers are sent into Tomioka each day to search for burglars or violators of the keep-out order. By law, anyone caught inside the zone can be detained and fined.

But authorities mostly turn a blind eye to Matsumura, though he says he has been confronted by the police a few times. If there are other holdouts, they have escaped detection…

via Japan nuke holdout resolved to stay –

[yframe url=’’] (mouse-tip to EX-SKF for the video link). Read the rest of this entry »

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It wasn’t our fault! It wasn’t our fault!!! – Japan utility knew of tsunami threat: government – Yahoo! News

So the blame shifting continues.  Does anyone really think this exculpates the regulatory agency?  “OK, here’s the deal: you tell us what safety procedures you think you ought to implement, and we’ll mull them over and tell you to implement them. Or maybe we’ll just skip the mulling. Save time. I hate reading, anyway.” (“Despite taking part in the Hamaoka drill, Kan admitted he didn’t understand how SPEEDI worked or how valuable the data was.” From AP Impact: Japan ignored own radiation forecasts). 

But now, of course, the regulatory body has moved to MEXT, so that will solve all the problems. There will never be any more fudging of responsibilities now. We can all sleep soundly in our beds.

TOKYO – Japan’s nuclear regulator said Wednesday that the operator of a crippled nuclear plant knew it might be hit by a far bigger tsunami than it was designed to withstand.

The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said the operator informed it just four days before Japan’s massive March 11 earthquake and tsunami that waves exceeding 10 meters 33 feet could hit the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant.

The plant was only designed to withstand a tsunami about half that height.Agency officials said Wednesday they recommended that Tokyo Electric Power Co. take measures to prepare for a bigger tsunami but did not give specific instructions.

via Japan utility knew of tsunami threat: government – Yahoo! News.

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Wall Street Journal: How the Japanese Government Failed Residents of Namie, Fukushima | EX-SKF

“We assumed the authorities would tell us….” I can imagine these words on Japan’s tombstone…

“It never occurred to us radiation would come our way,” says Hidehiro Asada, a 43-year-old owner of a lumberyard who was in the crowd. “We assumed the folks from the town or the prefecture would tell us if it was dangerous for us to be there.”

via Wall Street Journal: How the Japanese Government Failed Residents of Namie, Fukushima | EX-SKF.

And here’s another epitaph: “‘nobody wanted to be associated with such fearful decisions.'” Could this near-pathological desire to avoid responsibility in this country be in any way related to a culture that decreed “taking responsibility” meant “committing hara-kiri”? Nah! Ya think?

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Not the dumbest NYT article ever | Lenz Blog

Regarding the Speedi data fiasco, Prof. Lenz has some useful comments. It’s a short blog entry and I’ll re-post it in its entirety.

But it comes close. The irrational fear crowd just got big play in the New York Times.

They make a lot of noise about the fact that the SPEEDI computer simulation data was not released in early days. This is of course old news, and the idea that the Japanese government is in the business of hiding facts about radiation was not convincing when that particular story came up earlier.

What makes this whole article so extraordinarily stupid is the fact that they spend four pages writing on the evil information hiding policy of the Japanese government, and how lots of people were irradiated because of that, without ever bothering to tell us what level of radiation actually was released in the places and times in question.

I assume with four people researching this story and several months of time they might be able to find out. But no, they hide this vital fact.

Without that, no one can fact check their accusation of “additional damage”. Maybe that is the point.

They also mention that Prof. Kosako wanted the unreliable computer simulation data published immediately. The thing one needs to remember about him is that he resigned from his post as a government advisor because no one listened to his idea that 1 millisievert per year was the right standard to act on in this crisis.

Since that standard is wrong by about three orders of magnitude, I for one think it is a good thing that no one listened to him and that he is out of the way right now.

via Not the dumbest NYT article ever | Lenz Blog.

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AP IMPACT: Japan ignored own radiation forecasts – Yahoo! News

More on the SPEEDI system that provided key information but no-one passed it on.

Reports from the forecast system were sent to Japan’s nuclear safety agency, but the flow of data stopped there. Prime Minister Naoto Kan and others involved in declaring evacuation areas never saw the reports, and neither did local authorities. So thousands of people stayed for days in areas that the system had identified as high-risk, an Associated Press investigation has found.

Here is a revealing quote:

A senior member of Kan’s crisis team, Nuclear Safety Commission chief Haruki Madarame, went so far as to say the SPEEDI data was no better than “a mere weather report.”

He said the predictions were of no value because they lacked accurate radiation readings. Some of the system’s monitoring capabilities were compromised by the tsunami and ensuing power outages, and the utility that runs the Fukushima plant, TEPCO, did not provide readings of its own.

But SPEEDI officials say Madarame’s position reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of what their system is designed to do.

So here is one philosophical position: you cannot act unless you have all the data. Empiricism. But in a humanitarian emergency, you have to make decisions often without adequate data.

When the amount of radioactivity that has been leaked is known, that is entered into its system, along with weather and terrain data, and a hazard map is generated. If the amount is not known — as was the case with Fukushima — a standard and relatively low value of one becquerel is used.

While that won’t show the actual radiation risk, it will show the general pattern and direction of the plume. Then when the size of the leak becomes known, the map can be updated. If the actual leak turns out to be 100 becquerels, for example, the results would be multiplied by 100.

That technique allowed SPEEDI to produce reports hours before officials began venting disabled reactors — when there would have been less radiation to measure outside the nuclear plant even if the system’s monitoring equipment had been working perfectly.

In the Fukushima case, later data proved the forecasts to be highly accurate. Most of Namie, for example, has since been declared too dangerous for habitation.

“We are offended by allegations that SPEEDI failed to function the way it was supposed to,” Akira Tsubosaka, a senior official in charge of operations, told the AP. “SPEEDI was not used to determine evacuation zones. It should have been.”

The Yahoo! article provides more evidence that the present crisis is showing government up to be inadequate to deal with the mass of data and decisions that need to be made.

The Japanese network — built in 1986 at a cost of $140 million (11 billion yen) — is known as SPEEDI, short for the System for Prediction of Environment Emergency Dose Information. It has radiation monitoring posts nationwide and has been tested in a number of drills, including one the prime minister led for the Hamaoka nuclear facility just last year.

Even so, according to the prime minister’s office, Kan and his top advisers never asked for or received the data. Despite taking part in the Hamaoka drill, Kan admitted he didn’t understand how SPEEDI worked or how valuable the data was.

“I had no idea what sort of information was available,” he told Parliament on June 17. “I didn’t know anything about it then, and there was no way I could make a judgment.”

But there were people who understood the value of the data and of the Speedi system.  Kan  doesn’t even understand how it works or what the data is telling him! It was surely for this kind of reason that he hired science advisors like Toshiso Kosako. Why was he not in the loop? Did he not know about Speedi? Maybe he forgot his secret password?

This Madarame guy is beginning to seem a bit of a menace. The Speedi data was sent to his agency and stopped there.

via AP IMPACT: Japan ignored own radiation forecasts – Yahoo! News.

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Anger in Japan Over Withheld Radiation Forecasts –

From the NY Times

More embarrassing revelations keep coming out one after another. The NYTimes article is long, but well worth reading. It is not inspiring. It gives more glimpses into the reality of Japanese political and bureaucratic culture. There seem to be very few people with any clear ethics, other than the usual one of protecting the group or organization.

Given no guidance from Tokyo, town officials led the residents north, believing that winter winds would be blowing south and carrying away any radioactive emissions. For three nights, while hydrogen explosions at four of the reactors spewed radiation into the air, they stayed in a district called Tsushima where the children played outside and some parents used water from a mountain stream to prepare rice.

The winds, in fact, had been blowing directly toward Tsushima — and town officials would learn two months later that a government computer system designed to predict the spread of radioactive releases had been showing just that.

But the forecasts were left unpublicized by bureaucrats in Tokyo, operating in a culture that sought to avoid responsibility and, above all, criticism. Japan’s political leaders at first did not know about the system and later played down the data, apparently fearful of having to significantly enlarge the evacuation zone — and acknowledge the accident’s severity.

In interviews and public statements, some current and former government officials have admitted that Japanese authorities engaged in a pattern of withholding damaging information and denying facts of the nuclear disaster — in order, some of them said, to limit the size of costly and disruptive evacuations in land-scarce Japan and to avoid public questioning of the politically powerful nuclear industry. As the nuclear plant continues to release radiation, some of which has slipped into the nation’s food supply, public anger is growing at what many here see as an official campaign to play down the scope of the accident and the potential health risks.

Seiki Soramoto, a lawmaker and former nuclear engineer to whom Prime Minister Naoto Kan turned for advice during the crisis, blamed the government for withholding forecasts from the computer system, known as the System for Prediction of Environmental Emergency Dose Information, or Speedi.

“In the end, it was the prime minister’s office that hid the Speedi data,” he said. “Because they didn’t have the knowledge to know what the data meant, and thus they did not know what to say to the public, they thought only of their own safety, and decided it was easier just not to announce it.”

The computer forecasts were among many pieces of information the authorities initially withheld from the public.

Meltdowns at three of Fukushima Daiichi’s six reactors went officially unacknowledged for months. In one of the most damning admissions, nuclear regulators said in early June that inspectors had found tellurium 132, which experts call telltale evidence of reactor meltdowns, a day after the tsunami — but did not tell the public for nearly three months. For months after the disaster, the government flip-flopped on the level of radiation permissible on school grounds, causing continuing confusion and anguish about the safety of schoolchildren here in Fukushima.

Speedi had been designed in the 1980s to make forecasts of radiation dispersal that, according to the prime minister’s office’s own nuclear disaster manuals, were supposed to be made available at least to local officials and rescue workers in order to guide evacuees away from radioactive plumes.


via Anger in Japan Over Withheld Radiation Forecasts –


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