Woods Hole Oceanographic Inst. And Canada’s Fukushima InFORM announced the first traces of Fukushima Cesium detected at the North American Pacific shoreline. There was considerable Press coverage in Japan. The amounts detected are 1.4 Becquerels per ton of water (~0.0014 Bq/liter) for Cesium 134, and 5.8 Bq/ton (~0.0058 Bq/l) for Cs-137. For comparison, Canada’s limit for drinking water is 10,000 Bq/ton. Below are summations the respective Woods Hole and InFORM announcements, followed by examples of the type of coverage given by the Japanese Press. Links are provided.

  • Woods Hole Program Chief Ken Buessler said this is not unexpected, “Today’s report is not alarming at all. It’s kind of to be expected. We knew four years later it would be reaching our shoreline, and we had seen it offshore, and these numbers are quite small. As an example, even if they were twice as high and I was to swim there every day for an entire year, the dose I would be exposed to is a thousand times less than a single dental X-ray.” The discovery was made from a sample taken at Ucluecet, on the west coast of Vancouver Island, on February 19th.  http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/fukushima-radiation-measured-on-b-c-shore-for-1st-time-1.3022565
  • InFORM says the sample from Ucluecet and its analysis were part of its monitoring program. They agree with Woods Hole that the discovery was not unexpected, and, “These levels of 137Cs and 134Cs are well below internationally established levels that might represent a danger to human or environmental health.” They also point out that the detected level of Cesium is within the expected range. http://fukushimainform.ca/2015/04/06/fukushima-contamination-detected-at-shoreline-in-british-columbia/
  • Some of the Japanese Press makes their coverage on the discovery objective. NHK World says the detected levels are “well below the internationally set level at which human and marine life can be affected.” Jiji Press says “The detected amount of radioactivity is ‘well below internationally established levels of concern to humans and marine life,’ according to the institute [Woods Hole].” http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150407_16.htmlhttp://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2015040700346
  • Other Japanese Press sites make statements seemingly intended to maintain public radiation angst. For example, Japan Today says the levels are “too low to pose a significant threat to human or marine life”, meaning that some risk allegedly remains. Perhaps the most provocative spin comes from Jim Corbett’s Fukushima Update, which says, “those of us in the alternative media have been warning about this for years and yet the msm [main stream media] is still taking the ‘nothing to see here’ position even when the proof has been handed to them on a silver platter. And what’s the lesson we can learn from this for today? Throw out your TV and don’t eat the fish!” Fukushima Update is published out of Tokyo, and touts itself as having “neither a pro- nor anti-nuclear agenda and no axes to grind”.  http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/radiation-from-fukushima-disaster-detected-off-canadas-coasthttp://fukushimaupdate.com/radiation-from-fukushima-has-reached-the-bc-coast/

Now… back to Fukushima.

  • Tepco considers evaporation and deep geological release for tritiated water. Hundreds of thousands of tons of contaminated water have been successfully run through the multi-step radionuclide removal processes at F. Daiichi. The only radioisotope that remains in these liquids is Tritium. Although Tritium is biologically innocuous at even the highest concentrations found at the plant site, fear of radiation and its significant negative impact on the market for seafood has local fishermen fighting against releasing the harmless waters into the sea. A general lack of trust in the company and the government exacerbate the situation. Tepco has already considered the costly process of stripping the Tritium from the waters using a technology developed by the Kurion Company. Now, natural evaporation and deep geological release are being pondered, in addition. But, experts experienced in these matters have their doubts with the evaporation notion. Tepco’s American advisor Dale Klein says the evaporation method was successfully used after Three Mile Island, but the volumes involved were much, much less than with Fukushima, “They have huge volumes of water so they cannot evaporate it like they did at Three Mile Island. If they did it would likely be evaporated, go out over the ocean, condense and fall back as rainwater. There’s no safety enhancement.” He adds that Tepco must eventually make an unpopular decision on what to do with the waters. US NRC Chairman Stephen Burns hs visited Japan and  agreed with Klein, saying, “I think they [Tepco] will need to make that decision.” http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/04/08/japan-fukushima-water-idINKBN0MZ0X620150408
  • Japan’s Business Federation (Keidanren) calls for up to 25% nuke generation. Keidanren surveyed 169 companies in January and February, with 88 replies. They found that 80% expect to lose profits if the current increases in electricity rates continue. To stop this foreboding trend, the companies said the government should introduce energy-saving products and expedite the restart of nuclear plants. What might happen if the current cost-trend continues? 56% said they would have to reduce domestic operations and 43% said they would consider moving overseas. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/keidanren-survey-businesses-affected-adversely-by-rising-power-rates/
  • Industry Minister Miyazawa doubts Japan’s renewable energy goals. The Environment Ministry has said that renewables can provide up to 35% of Japan’s energy demand in the future. Miyazawa has his doubts because of the high cost of electricity produced from renewables. The Environment Ministry has cautioned, however, that their projection has not considered the feasibility of Japan producing the kind of technology needed to achieve the 35% goal. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html
  • Tepco announces their newest robot will soon examine inside the unit #1 Primary Containment Vessel. It will be the first visual, thermal, and radioactive survey within the PCV. Radiation levels inside the PCV prohibit people from going inside, so a special robot that can change shapes to fit through tight confines has been developed. The robot will take its snake-like form and pass through a pipe to get inside the containment. It will then transform to its rectangular configuration and move around the reactor vessel pedestal on the first floor personnel grating. It will cover about 270o of the space. A Tepco official says the robot will not be able to go inside the pedestal below the RPV because the access is under water. The linked Tepco handout has pictures of the robot and numerous graphics to show what is planned. The linked Mainichi Shimbun article is representative of coverage by the Japanese Press.  http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2015/images/handouts_150406_01-e.pdfhttp://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150407p2g00m0dm031000c.html
  • Nearly 40% of Fukushima Prefecture’s new radiation monitors experienced start-up problems last week. Two of the glitches resulted in devices reading about 1,000 times higher than what was actually the case. The two are located in Minamisoma and Date. It is not felt that the devices themselves were the cause of the problem. Rather, the data transferal system was at fault. The prefecture says they waited on reporting the readings because the system was in a test phase and they wanted to see whether or not the fata was reliable. Due to the recent furor over Tepco’s non-reporting of radiation fluctuations in F. Daiichi rainwater run-off, a prefectural representative said, “We thought we would make a public announcement after investigating the cause [of the high readings]. We should have done so at the time we were first aware of the abnormality.” http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150408p2a00m0na010000c.html
  • An old nuclear accident worst-case scenario is unearthed in Tokyo. The Foreign Ministry had a worst-case-scenario study run in 1984 after Israel had bombed a reactor construction site in Iran. The speculative conclusion was that if a similar bombing occurred on a Japanese nuke and caused a prolonged full-station blackout, Hydrogen generated by the overheated core could cause an explosion that could compromise the primary containment, potentially killing 18,000 people due to radiation exposure of there was no evacuation. The Tokyo Shimbun says the findings were kept secret to prevent provoking antinuclear sentiment in the public. Hideyuki Ban of the antinuclear Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center said, “The report should have not been held secret. [The government] should publicize it and consider how it can protect [nuclear power plants].” http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/04/08/national/1984-report-warned-attack-nuclear-power-plant/#.VSUj6KMcQdU
  • Discover Magazine asks if low-level radiation is good for people. The article focuses on the phenomenon of hormesis with low level radiation exposure. Evidence showing a clear threshold level of exposure exists, below which there are no biologically observable adverse effects (NOAEL). However, exposures below NOAEL show slight, statistically-evident beneficial effects. The Discover article explains the possibility in understandable fashion. http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/crux/2015/04/06/small-radiation/#.VSWvLFyWEyG