• JAIF’s weekly posting of units 1 through 3 RPV parameters show a continuing cooling trend. #1 and #3 are at 72 oC and unit #2 is at 81 oC. The total volume of water which has been decontaminated stands at 135,000 tons. Surprisingly, total waste water volume remaining to be treated has dropped to 78,000 tons, which is 2,000 tons less than has been reported for more than a month. The reason for the decrease is not given. SPF temperatures all remain in the 25 oC range, holding steady. Total cooling flow being injected to the three RPVs remains at 575 tons per day.
  • A “hot spot” below the outlet of a school’s roof drainage pipe in Tokyo has been removed. The soil beneath the drainpipe at Higashi-Fuchie Primary School in Adachi Ward was dug up and bagged, and the sealed bag buried deeply at another location. The soil was removed down to a depth of 10 centimeters (~4 inches), which is double the depth of Japan’s soil decontamination guideline. The digging and bagging turned into a serious news media photo-op. Regardless, the contact exposure level dropped from ~4 microsieverts/hr to ~0.13 microsieverts/hr as soon as the soil was removed. Radiological surveys taken all over the school’s property show the same 0.13 microsievert level, which could be the school’s natural background level. (Yomiuri Shimbun)
  • Japan’s Nuclear Safety Commission has drafted a proposal to expand the evacuation guidelines for nuclear emergencies. Existing plans suggest a mandatory “precautionary” evacuation radius be decided upon through discussions between plant management and local officials at the early stage of the emergency. The new plan calls for areas within 5 kilometers of plants as precautionary action zones, where residents need to immediately evacuate when an accident is declared. In addition, the current guideline for a 10 km emergency planning zone (EPZ) where residents are told to stay indoors and take thyroid-blocking medication, will be stretched out to 30 kilometers (UPZ). (NHK World, Mainichi Shimbun)
  • TEPCO says they ran a probabilistic study on earthquakes and tsunamis in 2006. It predicted there was a 10% chance of a design-basis 5.7 meter tsunami for Fukushima Daiichi at some point in the following 50 years. The study also said there was a 1% chance of a tsunami greater than 10 meters. TEPCO felt the 1% chance was too unlikely to invest capital in upgrading physical protection and/or emergency power reliability systems. In addition, TEPCO did not want to upset residents living near the plant and was worried about the impact expensive tsunami countermeasures might have on other nuclear utilities. (Japan Times)
  • Yomiuri Shimbun says that some private companies in Fukushima Prefecture may be artificially inflating the costs of decontaminating buildings, “Reports are emerging of companies charging exorbitant prices for decontaminating homes in Fukushima Prefecture.” The Yomiuri says one company is charging 1 million yen (~$11,500) per home, which has spurred some formal complaints to the local governments. Local officials feel the cost should be between 200,000 and 300,000 yen per home.
  • The first of a six-part Mainichi Shimbun hindsight editorial on the Fukushima accident asks, “Did we promptly deliver accurate information that could save the lives of the public?” The implication is that initial news reports were inadequate, blaming the error on a combination of nuclear naivety plus TEPCO and NISA being less than transparent. The Mainichi feels Japan’s news media was too trusting of TEPCO and NISA during the early days of the accident. On the other hand, buried in the article we find that maybe TEPCO and NISA were not the informational culprits, after all. The Mainichi reports Koichiro Nakamura, then-deputy director-general of NISA, was suddenly replaced by a new press officer after suggesting a meltdown at unit #1 was possible. The new press officer refused to comment on meltdown possibilities, saying, “We can’t discuss anything until the Prime Minister’s Office has made an announcement.” The Prime Minister took control of all information flow early on March 12, so who is really to blame for informational opacity? TEPCO and NISA were certainly no angels, but a guilty finger points at P.M. Naoto Kan!

Hiroshima Syndrome update…

  • Greenpeace is once again promoting their detectable-is-dangerous mantra, this time over fish being sold in Japanese markets. They bought 60 “products” from markets across Japan, and found detectable radioactive Cesium in 34 of them. As a result, Greenpeace demands all fish foods have radiation levels displayed on their packages and show where the fish were caught! None of the samples came anywhere near the Japanese safety limits and all but two were below the government’s minimum detectable level of 50 becquerels. Greenpeace allegedly had their samples analyzed at a lab that detects Cesium in 10-times lower concentrations. “Although the levels were far lower than the government’s standard, 10 or 20 becquerels have a huge meaning for parents of little children and pregnant women,” said Wakao Hanaoka, who is in charge of marine ecology issues at Greenpeace-Japan. Greenpeace also contradicts itself by purporting their demands will reduce rumors, when in fact they actually promote the proliferation of detectable-is-dangerous superstitions. (Japan Times; Japan Today)