• NHK World tells us that the “chief” of the Fukushima power plant didn’t know a backup cooling system for one of the plant’s reactors was manually shut down on March 11th. Plant manager Masao Yoshida was not told the system had been shut down to prevent it from possibly being damaged. An un-named worked revealed this to the government’s fact-finding panel investigating Fukushima. Yoshida said his not being told was a significant error.
    The report has caused serious speculation. University of Tokyo Professor Koji Okamoto said the reactor must have lost all cooling functions due to the stoppage, and the failure of communication may have made the accident worse by delaying orders for water injections and government evacuations of nearby residents. We can’t judge the validity of Okamoto’s speculation since the report doesn’t say which of the three units is being referred to. We need to know which unit it is because two plants (#2 & 3) seem to have had two systems operating at the time. Regardless, this is the only evidence of operator error in the current Fukushima accident record.
  • Japan Times reports TEPCO’s latest Fukushima airborne activity numbers show a decrease by a factor of seven orders of magnitude (ten million) compared to the releases occurring between March 12 and March 16. It should be noted the current release rates are estimated, leaving the door open for yet more negative speculation. This is because the continuing emissions are from the externally-decimated reactor buildings of units 1 and 3 and there’s no way of measuring the actual release volumes. It could be anywhere between 100 and 200 million becquerels per hour (2×108 Bq/hr). Regardless, by simply “doing the numbers”, the release rates on the identified March days must have been ~10 million-million-million Bq/hr (1×1013). At 2×108 Bq/hr, the resulting radiation field is roughly 0.4 millisieverts/year. This is comparable to the estimated Japanese national background average of 1 msv/yr.The becquerel-based numbers are impossible for any human mind to comprehend, but as is often the case with nuclear phenomena, the units being represented are very, very tiny. In nuclear statistics, big numbers often mean little consequences when they are compared to real world experience. Leaving these incomprehensible numbers without using real world experience to define them, can do no more than amplify existing fears. The only real-world concept mentioned in this report is the comparison to natural background radiation levels. Why not just say “current releases produce exposures at about 40% of natural background”, and leave the unimaginable, terrifyingly-enormous numbers out of the mental equation?
  • NHK World says the new waste water clean-up system at Fukushima Daiichi has ended its test phase and is now in full operation. There are presently two systems cleaning up the waste waters located in the basements of units 1 through 4. Regardless, the first system continues to be bashed almost every day by the Press (not just NHK) for not living up to pre-operational expectations. What is most interesting, it seems all Press outlets fail to report that as of Aug. 16, 50,000 tons of waste water had been de-conned by the first system. In addition, only Yomiuri Shimbun reported that the week of Aug. 10-16 witnessed a near-flawless system efficiency of 88% which cleaned up more than 8.000 tons for the first time…at the end of a lengthy first-system-bashing diatribe. Or, is that confusing the issue with facts?
  • Japan’s Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) has announced the creation of a detailed radiation exposure map of the entire evacuated area around Fukushima Daiichi. Readings were taken at one meter above ground level by slow-moving vehicles which recorded data every 10 seconds. JAEA reports that readings fluctuated by as much as a factor of ten between locations as close as 100 meters apart, showing the precise location collection areas of contamination due to rainwater run-off and topography. The agency also says they monitored from every road and highway in the evacuated areas.To say that we want to see that map is an understatement. All contamination and radiation exposure maps have been largely theoretical, up to this point. Real-time, real-world data should be a significant improvement in deciding who can go home and who should not.
  • The international French news service, AFP, has posted an article which may well amplify the scandal surrounding the Japanese government deleting a website-posting of all Fukushima child thyroid examinations performed in March. An official interviewed by AFP spoke on condition of anonymity. He said the data showed that 44.6% of the children examined had “some” radioactive Iodine in their thyroids. He emphasized that none of the detected levels exceeded health standards, and none of the children were in any way at risk. When asked why the data has been withheld, he said, “No child had shown contamination levels beyond the safety limit,” adding that posting such results served no useful purpose.What!? No useful purpose? And, deleting the data served what useful purpose?
  • On what seems to have been an otherwise “slow nuclear news day”, Yomiuri Shimbun posted yet another article on local government reluctance to re-start idled nukes. Some of the Prefectural governor’s quotes include…”Unless the central government firmly sets out [the nation’s energy policy for the future], local governments remain helpless,” said Genkaicho Mayor Hideo Kishimoto…Niigata Gov. Hirohiko Izumida said that stress tests to check reactors’ resistance to severe accidents would “merely be a psychological placebo. The accident at the Fukushima No. 1 plant should be analyzed first, and we’re not yet at the stage of discussing whether to restart [idled] reactors.”In other words, nothing new to report on restarting idled Japanese nukes.
  • For three months, the news media has mentioned that not everyone has evacuated the designated areas outside the 20km no-go zone. Asahi Shimbun posted an article concerning one of them. It begins, “Yoshiaki Shoji, 78, and his wife Toshiyo, 75, refuse to budge: It’s as simple as that.” Shoji says, “ At my age, it would be much better to live in this place until I die (rather than move elsewhere).” And, the couple are not alone. There are enough anti-evacuees in Shoji’s village, Iitate, that the municipal government has kept their offices open in order to maintain public services, including the police. Shoji says staying in his home was never a difficult decision because he feels the radiation levels around his home are not serious enough to affect his health. His main problems are mundane…no open markets (he drives to Date City for groceries), no newspaper (he goes to Kawamata village every day), and no mail. And, since most others have fled the town, Shoji feeds ten abandoned cats a day. “It is worse than in wartime,” Shoji quipped. He also points out, “The buzz of cicadas and the beautiful local mountain scenery have not changed. The only thing that is different is people. The fields and animals have been abandoned by the villagers. It is very, very sad.”
  • Finally, for those who doubt that the Hiroshima Syndrome causes serious psychological damage, please read the following article posted in the Mainichi Shimbun… http://mdn.mainichi.jp/mdnnews/news/20110819p2a00m0na016000c.htmlUnbridled fear of radiation, largely due to ignorance of the most ubiquitous phenomena in the universe, is causing serious health problems relative to Fukushima. It was only a matter of time before one of the news media outlets in Japan caught onto it.