• Japan’s Science Ministry says the radiation levels within 80 kilometers of Fukushima Daiichi have dropped 40%. Readings were taken 1 meter from the ground on November 16. These were compared readings taken Nov. 5, 2011. The Ministry says the reductions are due to a combination of things. First, half of the decrease is due to the radioactive decay of the Cesium contamination. Cs-134, comprising about half of the total for the element, has a 2 year half-life. Thus Cs-134 decay was about a third of what existed in 2011 due to natural decay. The Cs-137 isotope has a 30 year half-life, so its rate of decay had not changed much over the year. Secondly, rainwater had surely washed off the Cesium-laden dust that settled on buildings and has seeped deep enough into soils so that the relatively weak radiation was shielded. Also, decontamination efforts on roadways, parking lots and parks have certainly contributed to the drop. The initial survey was in June, 2011. The decrease over the first five month period was 21%, with rainwater-flushing causing about 60% of the decrease and Cs-134 decay about 40%. The Ministry also reported that all areas outside the 80km radius were below the 1 millisievert per year national standard. (Mainichi Shimbun; Asahi Shimbun)
  • Japanese experts and Tokyo officials remain upset with last Friday’s World Health Organization report. The WHO said that while the chance of cancer was small, there was elevated risk nonetheless. The Environment Ministry told the public the report did not reflect “reality” and called for Fukushima residents to remain calm because WHO intentionally exaggerated. A ministry official said, “Their calculations were made based on the assumption that people continued living inside the evacuation zone and ate banned food. But there are no such people. [While] experts are still divided over ways to calculate the impact of limited levels of radioactive exposure over a long period, it is incorrect to think that residents will develop cancer in these ratios.” Makoto Akashi of the National Institute of Radiological Sciences is upset over the WHO announcement. He said, “It’s utterly hypothetical. It can increase peoples’ fears as they just see the findings. I’m not seeking underestimation, but I’m very angry at seeing the (WHO) raising fears by overestimating data.” In response, WHO’s director for public health, Maria Neira, said, “This is the first report of international effort, the first comprehensive assessment done at a global level of what’s happened. We hope the report will be used for future health needs and to help policy makers and health authorities to anticipate which actions are needed and which ones can be taken.” Meanwhile, the world’s leader in antinuclear fear-mongering, Greenpeace, says the WHO report underestimates the actual risk of low level radiation exposure thus the population’s risk is much higher, especially with little children. (Japan Today; Jiji Press)
  • The total exposure to F. Daiichi workers in 2012 was only 25% of that recorded in 2011. The unit used is called the “man-sievert”. The average exposure for a group is multiplied by the number of individuals in the group and the result is given in units of man-sieverts (manSv). Tepco reports the collective exposure for F. Daiichi workers in 2011 was 247 manSv, but for 2012 it was 60 manSv. Other nuke stations in Japan logged up to 46 manSv in 2011, the year before the current moratorium was invoked by the Naoto Kan government. Thus, the 60 manSv at F. Daiichi for 2012 is remarkable considering the severity of the accident on 3/11/11. Tepco also reported that no plant worker exceeded the state-mandated exposure limit 50 millisieverts per year. The average exposure of the more than 12,000 workers at F. Daiichi in 2012 was 4.6 mSv. The highest was 46.6 mSv. In 2010, the year before the 3/11/11 tsunami caused the accident, Tepco reported the station’s collective dose at 15 manSv. (Japan Times)
  • 22 million Japanese are at risk if another 3/11/11 tsunami happens. Nagoya University’s Disaster Mitigation Research Center reports that 22 million people live in places less than 5 meters above sea level. The average tsunami height measured along the Tohoku coast in 2011 was 4.5 meters. Nobuo Fukuwa, professor of environmental and safety management at the Center, said, “Low-lying lands are at risk not only for tsunami, but also for tidal waves, the strong tremors of a quake and liquefaction.” Tokyo has the largest number of people living in a vulnerable location at about 3.5 million, followed by Osaka (3 million), Aichi Prefecture (1.75 million) and Chiba Prefecture (1.44 million). The center also estimates that people subject to a tsunami as high as 20 meters includes nearly one-half million residents in Shizuoka, 380,000 in Mie and 140,000 in Kochi Prefectures. The majority of the at-rick locations fall along the eastern Japanese coastline which runs parallel to off-shore subduction zone faults that can produce massive tsunamis. Japan’s west coast has few such faults so there are but about a million of the at-risk residents living there, mostly in Niigata Prefecture. Regardless, a full 17% of Japan’s population is at-risk. For comparison, the Center pointed out that only 7% of the populations of Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima Prefectures lived at or below 5 meters above sea level, and the tsunami killed 20,000 and made 250,000 permanently homeless. (Asahi Shimbun)
  • Antinuclear activists continue to hold weekly protest demonstrations in Tokyo. The protests focus on Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s offices. While the numbers attending are dwindling, the vigor and anger shown by the remaining protestors remain high. Protestors shout chants of “Get rid of nuclear power plants” and “Don’t restart them”. Demonstrators also say they will never lose their anger because the Liberal Democratic Party now rules Japan, and the LDP is blamed for making japan nuclear energy-dependent in the first place. The coordinating body, the Metropolitan Coalition Against Nukes says the demonstrations will continue every Friday until nuclear energy is abolished in Japan. (Kyodo News)
  • Although this should come as no surprise to regular readers of Fukushima Updates, Kyodo News reports that the restart of any shuttered nukes in 2013 is unlikely. Kyodo News ran a survey of all nuke stations and merely “proved” what should have been intuitively obvious to the most casual observer, considering the NRA’s new regulations will not become law until July at the earliest. Thus, when the two operating Oi station units shut down for refueling in September, Japan will once-again be nuke-less and plunged into yet-another power shortage.

This week’s Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers is hosted by Brian Wang of the Next Big Future website. Topics include – The climate crisis can be cured by nuclear energy, the IAEA commitment to Fukushima Daiichi decommissioning, a review of Meredith Angwin’s new book Voices for Vermont Yankee, why the Hanford, Washington radioactive leaks have nothing to do with nuclear power plants, an overview of the tsunami protection being built at nukes in Japan, and much, much more. Here’s the link – http://nextbigfuture.com/2013/03/carnival-of-nuclear-energy-146.html