Radiophobia has struck 500 kilometers from Fukushima. 50 angry residents have loudly protested Osaka Prefecture’s decision to accept and dispose of tsunami rubble and debris from the Tohoku region. Why? Because it might have radiation from the Fukushima accident, of course. The Osaka Prefectural government decided to hold an open discussion concerning their plans to insure no Fukushima-tainted tsunami materials would be brought into Osaka, with local residents in attendance. However, soon after the meeting began on Thursday, a few loud members of the audience disrupted the proceedings. “You should launch an open debate forum,” and, “Are you planning on exposing us to radiation?” angry residents called out.. The audience became so unruly that the meeting was closed and will resume only after it is decided whether or not future discussions will be open to the public. Thus, it is no longer sufficient for a governmental body to insure that no detectable Cesium or Strontium isotopes will penetrate their boundaries. It seems fear of the fear of radiation is now creeping into the fray, and the news media is there to let the rest of the country know about it. A tiny minority of vocal radiophobes in Osaka (50 out of a population of ~4 million) essentially refuse to participate in tsunami recovery support. None whatsoever! And we thought the Japanese people were one of the most caring societies in the world.

Today’s updates…

  • With the unexpected shutdown of the Mihama #2 nuclear plant on Thursday, Japan now has 85% of its nuclear capacity idled and none will be restarted before next spring…or maybe not before next summer…or maybe never. (JAIF)
  • JAIF’s latest periodic posting of Fukushima Daiichi parameters shows the amount of waste waters remaining in the units 1 – 4 basements has dropped some 3,000 tons since Monday. No reason is given, but this is the first significant change in the volume of untreated waste waters since the inflow of groundwater was discovered in early November.
  • Out of the ~2 million residents of Fukushima Prefecture who have been screened for radiation exposure, only ten are known to have received 10 millisieverts or more. 98% received exposure below 5 millisieverts. Out of the 1700 people initially evacuated from within 3km of Fukushima Daiichi between March 11 and March 12, 1,100 received exposures below the forthcoming one millisieverts limit, which goes into effect this coming spring. (JAIF)
  • Masao Yoshida, plant manager at Fukushima since the accident began March 11, resigned due to health reasons last week. We now know the health problem is esophagus cancer, which was diagnosed nearly 5 years ago. (Asahi Shimbun) Esophagus cancer has never been medically associated with very low level radiation exposure. However, all Japanese news reports mention Yoshida’s exposure record at Fukushima since working there (~70 millisieverts), in detail. The close juxtaposition of his cancer diagnosis with his exposure history in the stories, plus the level of radiological ignorance in Japan, will surely result in some (if not many) subsequent articles claiming his cancer might be due to his accident exposure.
  • Earlier this week, the largest supplier of baby formula in Japan discovered barely-detectable levels of Cesium in their product and stopped all distribution. The lightly-laced powdered formula has been disposed of and none has reached the marketplace. However, the numerous news media reports concerning the situation has been made it yet another example of rampant radiophobia. For example Japan Times writes, “Although experts stressed that such levels would not harm the health of babies even if they continued drinking the contaminated dry milk product, mothers with young kids weren’t ready to breathe a sigh of relief yet — instead expressing a sense of distrust in dairies.” Ai Tatsuno, a mother of four who moved to the distant island of Okinawa in March due to radiophobic panic, said she no longer trusts Meiji, “I’ve been careful in purchasing baby formula manufactured before March 11. Now I might quit and use soy milk and other products for my children.” In other words, it’s no longer just the government and TEPCO who can’t be trusted…the dairy industry is now a part of the radiation conspiracy!
  • Because their storage capacity for decontaminated waste waters is being approached and may be satiated in March, TEPCO has announced it is considering discharging some of the decontaminated water into the sea. The waters are no entirely devoid of Cesium and Strontium isotopes, but the levels are close to the national standard. Regardless, the announcement of this potential decision has brought loud and long protests from a national fisheries association chairman, Ikuhiro Hattori. He said consumers will stop buying fish after a discharge of radioactive water, even at levels below the government level. (NHK World) On Friday (today) TEPCO says they have decided to not make the discharge. They will they and find an alternative. TEPCO points out the already decontaminated waters in question would have been run through another filtration unit before discharge to insure the Cesium/Strontium levels would be well below national seawater standards. The fisheries maintain the public would still refrain from purchasing Fukushima-area fish because they don’t trust the government and the radioisotopes would still be detectable. (Asahi Shimbun)
  • Verifying an assumption we have held for more than six months, it seems the Japanese government and their puppets in the nuclear industry superficially used the lessons learned from Three Mile Island’s 1979 accident in making safety system or attendant regulatory decisions. Now, they are looking deeply into those lessons learned in the hope of finding information to help mitigate the recovery from the Fukushima Daiichi accident. (Mainichi Shimbun) It’s about damn time!
  • America’s increasingly anti-nuclear Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman, Robert Jaczko, has once again unilaterally gone to the popular Press in order to give his personal agenda first light. He is worried that U.S. nuclear plant operators have become complacent just nine months after the nuclear disaster in Japan, and will push for new regulations to insure that it does not happen. Jaczko said his believed “problems” were serious enough to indicate a “precursor” to a performance decline. “We need to make sure that [nuclear] licensees continue to do the right thing for safety. That’s the No. 1 thing going forward,” Jaczko said. “There are some things we want to keep an eye on to make sure we are not seeing really true declines in performance.” (Japan Times) Isn’t this the same guy who guaranteed that the unit #4 spent fuel pool was dry and burning on March 16? The same man too arrogant to admit his error when the rest of the NRC retracted his gross error in July? Now he wants to make costly regulatory changes because of yet another spate of speculation.