Posts Tagged VOA

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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Twitter / @Steve Herman: Plan to spray resin at Fukushima called off due to rain

Plan to spray resin at #Fukushima-1 to mitigate radiation spread canceled today due to rain.

via Twitter / @Steve Herman: Plan to spray resin at #Fu ….

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In Onagawa, Japan, residents are using the local nuclear plant as a shelter

Japanese Nuclear Facilities - from World Nuclear Association

Onagawa nuclear power station is owned by Tohoku Electric (Tohoku Denryoku). Slightly further north along the coast than Fukushima, it was also struck by the tsunami and earthquake.  An emergency was declared there March 13, due to triggering levels of radioactivity, but it was later deemed that the source of this was Fukushima’s reactor, not Onagawa.

VoA’s Steve Herman tweets:

RT @neiupdates: In Onagawa, #Japan residents are using the local #nuclear plant as a shelter.

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Govt may spray resin on N-plant / Sticky material should keep down radiation : National : DAILY YOMIURI ONLINE (The Daily Yomiuri)

Commenter on this blog, Aldritch Parsons, suggested on March 30 some kind of tent of dome over the reactors to contain or limit the diffusion of radioactive materials. And today, I read on the Yomiuri (via the very useful

The government will likely go ahead with a plan to spray resin inside the troubled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, which it hopes will contain the spread of radioactive substances, sources said Wednesday.

The government has begun full-fledged discussions on different plans to stop the spread of radioactive substances that have been leaking continuously from damaged reactors at the plant run by Tokyo Electric Power Co.

In addition to efforts to cool the reactors and spent nuclear fuel pools by TEPCO and the Self-Defense Forces, the government has asked for aid from private companies and other nations, including the United States, to deal with the accident.

It is believed spraying resin would minimize the spread of radioactive substances, which would allow repair work at the plant to proceed more smoothly, the sources said. Efforts to restore the reactors’ cooling functions have seesawed repeatedly, with the detection Wednesday of radioactive iodine-131 at levels 3,355 times the legal limit in seawater near the plant being the latest wrench in the works.

Spraying resin on debris inside the plant could begin as early as Thursday, the government sources said. The operation would last for about two weeks, they said.

The plan involves using a remote-controlled robot to spray resin over about 80,000 square meters inside the 120,000-square-meter facility. The areas to be sprayed were contaminated by radiation from debris scattered by several hydrogen gas explosions in the days after the March 11 earthquake.

via Govt may spray resin on N-plant / Sticky material should keep down radiation : National : DAILY YOMIURI ONLINE (The Daily Yomiuri).

And VOA’s Steve Herman, back in Seoul after 2 weeks covering the tsunami/earthquake/Fukushima disaster in Tohoku and Tokyo, tweets:

Officials: Unmanned, remote-controlled vehicle will spray the resin beginning Thursday “on a trial basis.”

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VoA’s Steve Herman leaves Japan

VoA’s reporter Steve Herman has left Japan and returned to his base in Seoul, according to his Tweet. I came to rely on his Twitter feed as source of up-to-date news and also links to related resources. I only follow 4 Twitter feeds. Steve’s is one of them.

On OZ1015 at 1205JST HND-GMP. Will continue coverage from Seoul & back in Japan in early April. @martyn_williams on ground for VOA.

Although he visited the Tohoku area, he was mostly reporting on the Fukushima nuclear crisis. He showed balls when he refused to stop recording an announcement by PM Kan to the foreign press corps. He was being asked to stop because of the rule that only those approved by the Kantei can do this.

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Fukushima faced 14-metre tsunami

Tokyo Electric Power Company has revised its estimated size of the earthquake and tsunami that hit the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

This is the third upward revision of tsunami’s scale since it disabled emergency power generators and heat removal pumps at Fukushima Daiichi on 11 March. The loss of these systems left units 1, 2 and 3 in severe trouble that has only stabilised after the write-off of the reactors, which are now being cooled by seawater injection. Some used fuel ponds at the site remain a serious concern and spraying to maintain water levels is ongoing.

In early statements, Tepco had said the tsunami was at least seven metres high. Later the company increased its estimate to ten metres at the Daiichi plant and 12 metres at Daini. Today’s figures describe a 14-metre tsunami at both plants. By regulation, the Daiichi plant was fully prepared for a tsunami of up to 5.7 metres. At Daini, ten kilometres along the coast, the design basis was 5.2 metres.

via Fukushima faced 14-metre tsunami.

Comment: While there is no immediate reason to doubt this, it should perhaps be pointed out that the larger the  tsunami wave, the less blame can be ascribed to TEPCO: “It was just so huge! How could anyone have predicted it?”

A recent article gives some perspective to this “14-metre” tsunami story which seems to partially exonerate TEPCO.

1) A researcher said Saturday he had warned two years ago about the possible risk of a massive tsunami hitting a nuclear power plant in Japan, but Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant crippled by the March 11 earthquake and ensuing tsunami, had brushed off the warning.

Okamura had warned in 2009 of massive tsunami based on his study since around 2004 of the traces of a major tsunami believed to have swept away about a thousand people in the year 869 after a magnitude 8.3 quake off northeastern Japan.

He had found in his research that tsunami from the ancient quake had hit a wide range of the coastal regions of northeastern Japan, at least as far north as Ishinomaki in Miyagi Prefecture and as far south as the town of Namie in Fukushima Prefecture — close to the Fukushima Daiichi plant — penetrating as much as 3 to 4 kilometers inland.

via Kyodo News: Researcher warned 2 yrs ago of massive tsunami striking nuke plant

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Radioactive Seawater Latest Woe for Battered Japan | News | English

Steve Herman, Voice of America reporter who is doing sterling work reporting on the Fukushima nuclear crisis from within Japan, tweets his latest report. 

 elevated levels of radioactive materials in sea water off Fukushima are raising concerns that Japan’s important fishing industry will be hit with an even deeper blow. Many fishing communities were destroyed or severely damaged by the March 11th tsunami triggered by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake.

The government ordered expanded testing of marine life and sea water to begin Wednesday.

Traces of external radiation from the damaged Fukushima-1 nuclear plant have already tainted raw milk and spinach, as well as tap water. Government officials and scientists say the levels, while significantly above normal, do not pose a threat to human health even if the contaminated food and liquids are ingested for a year.

via Radioactive Seawater Latest Woe for Battered Japan | News | English.

His writing, tho better than most, is still not free from the sensationalism and deceptiveness that characterises so much of the MSM these days, as you can see in the comments to the article. 

Here are a couple:

Samantha Atkins (USA)

Non story unless you say exactly how much radiation, from what sorts of material and of what types with what half lifes. It could range all the way from largely deadly to 10x above background (utterly negligible) and from thousands of years to about eight days (most common isotope of iodine). Either report enough to know what is meant or avoid the lurid headlines. Enough is enough.

John Reynolds (USA)

BigDad, I think they should just outlaw tsunamis and earthquakes. Not one life has been lost to the reactors.

(United States)

For weeks we’ve heard about all the seawater being sprayed on the nuclear reactors…where do you think it’s going when it runs off?

samiya hussein (england)

Make a pump,which can be detatched from the generator.Take the pump up in helicoptor,and pack ice around it,and place in large paper bag.lower the pump by cable into the chamber of rods,the heat will burn around the paper bag,and ice will melt,by this time the pump is in the chamber.Lower helicoptor,and attatch the cable to the generator switch on.Please pass on to japanese authorities.

Without real numbers “elevated numbers” can be minuscule. The reported milk and spinach “contamination” was so small you could eat and drink that for a year without problems. Many radioactive products die quickly like I131 some not. So let’s not panic. Check here: for Fukushima radioactive reports and live online Geiger counters in Japan and California. Most show only background radiation. So let’s not panic!

jim R (USA)

Please check out the MIT Nuclear website for some accurate information They have some very good explanations of the different areas of concern. Having a fuel melt down doesn’t necessarily mean you have a release of radioactive materials. As far as I can tell, what has happened that some of the radioactive isotopes in the form of gas were vented with steam.

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VoA report

A plug for Voice of America’s Steve Herman latest report: Japanese Engineers Prepare Damaged Reactors for Electrical Power.

I’ve been following his Tweets. They are very informative.

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Japan earthquake: Residents of Japan’s quake region wonder where the government is –

VofA reporter, who’s been in the Tohoku area since March 11’s disaster, teams up with LA journalist Barbara Demick on an article about Japanese tsunami survivors wondering where the government is. He mentions the yakuza who responded more promptly than the bureaucrats last time around, after the Kobe earthquake in 1995. The yakuza were in the news again recently for their efforts this time. They seem to have understood much more quickly than most, exactly what kinds of articles were most urgently needed by people in evacuation centres: The day after the earthquake the Inagawa-kai (the third largest organized crime group in Japan which was founded in 1948) sent twenty-five four-ton trucks filled with paper diapers, instant ramen, batteries, flashlights, drinks, and the essentials of daily life to the Tohoku region. (From The Daily Beast, Mar 19)

For Hamaguchi and others, this is looking familiar. After a major quake in Kobe in 1995, organized crime groups were handing out blankets and food within hours; the government dithered for days.

Afterward, officials vowed to speed up decision-making and marshaling of resources to stricken areas in times of crisis.

“The Japanese government should have learned from the Kobe earthquake that they would need help, but they didn’t,” Hamaguchi said.

Aware of the political sensitivity, the government’s senior spokesman told Japanese to be patient, and asked the rest of the nation to accept sacrifices.

“It could take a very long time to restore things in the disaster area to the way they were before,” said Yukio Edano, Japan’s chief Cabinet secretary, urging people in Tokyo and elsewhere to reduce their electricity consumption so more is available in the quake area.

via Japan earthquake: Residents of Japan’s quake region wonder where the government is –

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