• On Monday, 200 pages from the TEPCO accident procedural manuals used for Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant were made public by NISA. The manual was originally given to NISA by TEPCO with nearly everything blacked out. This submittal was unedited. As it turns out, NISA finds nothing in the manuals that indicate any of the procedures were violated by the operating staffs of units 1 through 4. TEPCO has maintained that they did not anticipate a complete loss of electrical power for extended periods, so there were no procedures for such extreme accident conditions. The manual verifies TEPCO did not envision a prolonged power failure. Thus, the manual itself was completely useless when all power sources were actually lost. The company assumed that in a serious situation, existing emergency power sources were sufficient in order to vent pressure from the reactor and containment vessels, as well as power emergency pumps, coolers and condensers. (Mainichi Shimbun; JAIF)Instructions in the manuals were all based on the assumption that two backup direct current batteries at unit 1 would keep working throughout any emergency. But, the batteries were knocked out by seawater when the monster tsunami struck. The manuals also failed to instruct workers to manually open critical valves normally powered by electricity to relieve excessive pressure in the containment vessel. The DC batteries were supposed to supply power to operate the valves. TEPCO’s over-confidence in the batteries convinced them that manual valve-operating procedures were unnecessary. (Japan Times)

    While this announcement is treated as something specific to TEPCO by the Japanese Press, there is no reason to believe any of the Nuclear Power Station accident procedural manuals in Japan addressed a prolonged electrical blackout prior to March 11. Have any nuclear utilities in Japan revised their emergency procedural manuals to address a prolonged station blackout since then? This is an issue that cries out for investigation.

  • Masahiro Fukushi, professor of radiation science at Tokyo Metropolitan University, says the recent discoveries of localized hot spots hundreds of kilometers from Fukushima may well be the tip of the radiological iceberg. He said that more hot spots can be found where rainwater accumulates, like the drainage ditch in Kashiwa, and urged the public to take readings of similar places in their neighborhoods on their own, instead of waiting around for the government’s “plodding” surveys. He used side ditches, openings near downspouts and soil under evergreen trees as examples. Fukushi added, contamination in much of Kashiwa is higher than other parts of the Tokyo metropolitan area, so the mini hot spot wasn’t a surprise, “If the (cesium) detected was 100 times higher than the amount measured [elsewhere] by the science ministry, then it’d be strange. But in this case, it’s just four or five times, so you should not be surprised.” Fukushi further pointed out Kashiwa’s residents should not worry about the new hot spot. “The highest radiation reading at the site was 15 microsieverts per hour, which is unlikely to harm anyone because most people will be unlikely to stand around the site for extended periods,” Fukushi said. “Even if a person walked through the site on every day (since March 11), the total exposure dose should not be a cause for fear.”
  • Two more hot spots were discovered more than a month ago and reported today. Both are at schools in Chiba. The first is at Abiko Municipal Daiichi Elementary School where tree roots had worked their way into a drainage ditch, partially blocking flow. The places where the roots penetrated the concrete ditch provided leakage paths into the surrounding soil. The second is at Abiko Municipal Namiki Elementary School, where the area used to bury swimming pool sludge was found to have a higher-than-normal radiation field. Both schools have cordoned off the locations and await instruction on what to do. (Mainichi Shimbun)
  • TEPCO has posted Plutonium concentrations in the sea-floor off shore from Fukushima Daiichi. Isotopes of the element have been detected, however TEPCO notes, “Detected density of Pu-239 and 240 from September 8 to 25 are within the range of past analyses in the sea around Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station and Fukushima Daini Nuclear Power Station. Therefore, this cannot be judged to be caused by the nuclear accident of this time.”
  • TEPCO’s most recent posting of airborne radioactivity at the property boundaries of Fukushima Daiichi no longer show detectable Cesium. This good news could be a result of completing the enclosure around reactor building #1, but there is no mention of the possible relation in TEPCO’s Press site.
  • The mayors and other officials from 15 communities that host nuclear power plants met in Tokyo. The main subject of discussion was the possibility if restarting nukes idled since March 11. Some municipalities want restart of reactors to benefit their economies, if their safety is confirmed. But others remained cautious, preventing the association from reaching a consensus. One representative noted the cause of the Fukushima accident has not been confirmed. Another said neither the central government nor power utilities have clarified their policies on the future of nuclear power in Japan. (JAIF)
  • This year’s annual food safety exhibition in Tokyo has a new line of items on display…radiation detection equipment. While the vendors maintain the models can be bought and used in the home, all monitors are clearly industrial-sized. The lowest cost detector is listed at 675,000 yen ($9,000). Demonstrations included having a mock assembly line run packaged food through a detector which could fully scan 5 packages a minute. (NHK World) Clearly, fear of radiation is becoming a lucrative business in Japan.
  • Citizens’ group “Kibo-no-Bokujo — Fukushima Project” (ranch of hope — Fukushima project) wants the ~2000 cattle now roaming wild inside the 20km no-go zone to be used for research on the effects of radiation exposure to large mammals. The government has been “culling” the cattle (euthanizing) for months, but the group wants this stopped. They also want to be able to feed and care for the cattle through the upcoming winter.