Saturday, July 20, 2013

Japanese Upper House Election: Japanese Communist Party, Miyake and Yamamoto Attracting Huge Crowd on the Last Day of Campaign, Voting Has Started

(UPDATE 7/21/2013) Sure enough, both Taro Yamamoto and Japanese Communist Party won big in the election. See my new post.


The media has been hammering the idea for the past two weeks that the voter turnout will be a record low this time.

As many as 16,958 out of the total 48,777 voting stations in the country, or 35% of the voting stations, will close earlier than mandated by the law.

The crowd for the existing, mainstream parties (LDP, DPJ, Komei) did seem low during the election campaign. So much so that to sum up the election coverage, Kyodo News used the aerial photo of a large crowd outside the Shinjuku Station in Tokyo without naming the campaigner. The Kyodo article was mostly about LDP and Abe's promise. You would think the crowd was Abe's crowd.

Well, the photo turned out to be not LDP, DPJ, Komei, or Boy-wonder's dwindling party, but Japanese Communist Party.

From the tweet of JCP Chairman Kazuo Shii, who says 3,500 people stopped to listen to his party's last appeal:

There were many on Kyodo's site and on Twitter claiming it was the crowd for Taro Yamamoto. I retweeted one of such tweets, then my eyes got fixated with the three characters (小田急) in the upper left corner of the Kyodo photo. That's Odakyu Department Store, and that means the exit is Shinjuku West. After quick search I noticed that could only be JPC, and it was.

Asahi had this aerial photo of an even bigger crowd in Shibuya. Whose campaign was this? Taro Yamamoto and Yohei Miyake. But following Kyodo, Asahi didn't bother telling the readers whose campaign it was that attracted what Professor Yukio Hayakawa described as 10,000-strong crowd (Professor Hayakawa was right there in the crowd, according to his own tweet, and he says there were more people across the street):

(Image of Asahi Shinbun paper, from Professor Hayakawa's tweet)

Owly Images

(UPDATED with Numbers) Radioactive Cesium in Human Placenta After #Fukushima Nuke Accident Lower Than in Placentas During Atmospheric Testing and After Chernobyl, Japanese Researchers Say

(UPDATE at the bottom of the post)

Japanese researchers, including Dr. Makoto Suzuki, who went to Minamisoma City right after the March 11, 2011 disaster and the nuclear accident to help the local OB/GYN doctor Kyohei Takahashi care for pregnant women in the city and help deliver the babies, examined the placentas from 5 women within 50 kilometers from Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant and 5 women within 290 kilometers from the plant.

Their conclusion is that radioactive cesium concentration in the placentas from 10 women in Fukushima and eastern Japan who gave birth between October 2011 and August 2012 was much lower than in placentas in 1960s during atmospheric nuclear testing, and Italian placentas after the Chernorbyl accident in 1986.

From the abstract below, it is not known how many of the five placentas within 50 kilometers from the plant were from Minamisoma, if any. Much of Minamisoma City was designated by the national government as the area where pregnant women and children were not to supposed to live. But all the government did was to declare so, and there was no support whatsoever to the city or the residents. As the result, there were many pregnant women and children who remained.

Cities like Fukushima, Date, Koriyama, and others in Fukushima's Nakadori (middle third) were never evacuated, even though the levels of contamination turned out to be as much, if not more, than Minamisoma in Hamadori (ocean-third).

From Online Library at, Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Research, Early View published online on July 2, 2013, Abstract:

Radioactive cesium (134Cs and 137Cs) content in human placenta after the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident

Makoto Suzuki 1,
Hiroshi Terada 2,
Nobuya Unno 3,
Ichiro Yamaguchi 2,
Naoki Kunugita 2,
Hisanori Minakami 4,*

1 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Kameda General Hospital, Kamogawa, Chiba
2 Department of Environmental Health, National Institute of Public Health, Wako
3 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, School of Medicine, Kitasato University, Sagamihara
4 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Hokkaido University Graduate School of Medicine, Sapporo, Japan



The degree of contamination with radioactive cesium (134Cs and 137Cs) in the human placenta after the accident at Fukushima nuclear power plant (FNP), which occurred on 11 March 2011, has not been assessed.

Material and Methods

134Cs and 137Cs contents were determined in 10 placentas from 10 women who gave birth to term singleton infants during the period between October 2011 and August 2012 using high-purity germanium detectors for gamma ray spectrometry. Five women resided within 50 km of FNP (neighbor group) and gave birth by the end of February 2012, while the other five women resided within 210–290 km of FNP (distant group) and gave birth in July and August 2012.


All except one of the 10 placentas contained detectable levels of 134Cs and 137Cs, ranging 0.042–0.742 Bq/kg for 134Cs and 0.078–0.922 Bq/kg for 137Cs. One placenta from a woman living in Tokyo contained 0.109 Bq/kg 137Cs and no detectable level of 134Cs (<0.054 Bq/kg). 137Cs content was more than 0.2 Bq/kg in four and one placentas in the neighbor and distant groups, respectively. Conclusion Degree of contamination of the placenta with radioactive Cs was lower even in women who resided within 50 km of FNP compared to Japanese and Canadian placentas in the mid-1960s after repeated nuclear tests and in northern Italian placentas from 1986–1987 after the Chernobyl power plant accident.

Since I don't have access to the full paper, I do not know the numbers for the Japanese and Canadian placentas in mid 1960s and the Italian ones after the Chernobyl accident.


(UPDATE 7/21/2013) The actual numbers in the paper, and comment from anon reader. Thank you.

The numbers are :
location | 134Cs Bq/kg | 137Cs Bq/kg | 40K Bq/K
Minami-soma | 0.742 | 0.922 | 46.5
Iwaki | 0.549 | 0.648 | 59.3
Iwaki | 0.090 | 0.207 | 46.9
Iwaki | 0.268 | 0.302 | 51.9
Iwaki | 0.373 | 0.563 | 50.5
Mobara | 0.462 | 0.694 | 47.6
Kamogawa | 0.064 | 0.121 | 49.5
Tokyo | <0.054 | 0.109 | 49.8 Yotsukaido |0.042 | 0.078 | 50.9 Tateyama | 0.061 | 0.093 | 52.1

Hiroshima 1966-1970 | --- | 1.3 | ---
137Cs in food intake had 1.1 Bq/kg

Bolognia jun,1986 | --- | 4.2 | ---
Bolognia mar,1987 | --- | 11.5 | ---
Bolognia sep,1987 | --- | 6.6 | ---
137Cs in food intake had 15Bq/kg

Conclusion is mother contamination with Cs is equal to placenta contamination. Placenta is not a barrier for Cs.

Then they say that CS in placenta and food intake correlate. Based on whole body count results from Minamisoma (previously published by gov) Cs content ranged from 2.3-196.5 Bq/kg. Thus the study authors conclude that the mother participating in this study from Minamisoma did take care with food (meaning eat food from non-contaminated areas) since here placenta only had 0.9 137Cs Bq/kg . The authors finished with the statement that it is not part of this study to check for birth defects or other health effects in the babies (another study should do that).

My comment, as the study about Sr in baby teeth has indicated, it is more important where your food comes from than exactly where you are living. As the saying says: You are what you eat.

His last comment dovetails with the observation by one of the medical researchers I follow, Dr. Masahiro Kami. Dr. Kami has been working closely with doctors and researchers in Fukushima Prefecture, particularly in Soma City. I was struck by his recent tweets (here and here) about internal radiation exposure among residents in Hamadori, ocean-third of Fukushima Prefecture:


So far, countermeasures against internal radiation exposure in Hamadori has been a steller success. There is no scientific reason to evacuate from there. However, we find internal radiation exposure in some old residents at the level of wild animals. We need long-term countermeasures [against internal radiation exposure].


Internal radiation exposure in Fukushima Prefecture is reduced only because of great effort by the residents. Experts are also making steady effort. For example, Tokyo University of Agriculture has a permanent base in Tamano District of Soma City to support the management of food. If we let our guard down, internal radiation exposure will worsen. It was 12 years after the nuclear accident when internal radiation exposure was at its worst in Chernobyl.

Well, there may not be "scientific" reason to evacuate, but living in an environment where you have to watch every morsel for radiation exposure seems highly stressful. There is also a question of why the reason to evacuate should be "scientific".

Thursday, July 18, 2013

San Onofre Nuke Plant: Southern California Edison Serves Mitsubishi Heavy Industries with a Notice Seeking Compensation over Faulty Steam Generators

From Wall Street Journal (7/18/2013; emphasis is mine):

Owners of San Onofre Nuclear Plant Press Mitsubishi Heavy
Losses at Shuttered Plant Could Total More Than $4 Billion

The operator of the San Onofre nuclear-power plant took the first legal step Thursday to try to collect billions of dollars from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. over what it says was gross negligence in the design and manufacture of equipment that prompted the shutdown of the California plant.

Southern California Edison, a unit of Edison International of Rosemead, Calif., served Mitsubishi with a notice that it will seek compensation for the plant owners' losses through arbitration.Those losses include the value of the closed plant and other expenses and could total more than $4 billion.

SoCal Edison is majority owner and operator of the plant, which once produced enough power to light 1.4 million homes in Southern California and is located near the Pacific Ocean between San Diego and Los Angeles. The other owners are San Diego Gas & Electric Co. and the city of Riverside, Calif.

A Mitsubishi unit, Mitsubishi Nuclear Energy Systems Inc., designed and supplied the plant in 2010 and 2011 with the largest steam generators ever used at a U.S. nuclear facility, replacing older generators. But after the new equipment sprang a leak in 2012, SoCal found problems that it concluded were too pervasive to fix. Last month, it told U.S. nuclear regulators the owners had decided to retire the plant.

Frank Gillespie, a senior vice president of Mitsubishi's nuclear unit, said he believes the company's liability is limited to the $137 million value of equipment it supplied to San Onofre.

In an interview Thursday after reviewing the dispute notice, he said that Mitsubishi is sorry the owners decided to close the 2,200 megawatt plant. "Technically, it could have been fixed," he said. "But it could have been expensive."

SoCal Edison spokesman Janet Clayton said that although the contract between Mitsubishi and the owners limits liability, the owners don't think it applies because they think Mitsubishi is guilty of gross negligence, an accusation Mr. Gillespie disputed. SoCal Edison said Mitsubishi should have done more modeling and analysis of its steam-generator design to have anticipated problems and made corrections.

An arbitration panel will decide what level of compensation, if any, is due the plant owners.

The California Public Utilities Commission has opened an inquiry to determine what went wrong with the plant overhaul. Ultimately, the agency will decide whether to saddle customers of SoCal Edison and San Diego Gas and Electric with the cost of a plant from which they get no electricity or whether to assign some share of San Onofre's costs to the owners and to vendors like Mitsubishi.

Problems at the plant surfaced in January 2012. One reactor at the plant was shut down for refueling when the other reactor sprang a leak in a heat transfer tube—part of the steam generator system furnished by Mitsubishi—and was taken out of service.

Coming as it did after the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan, news that the leak involved the release of small amounts of mildly radioactive steam alarmed nearby residents. Many public officials called for the plant to be retired, not just because of the equipment problem but also because it sits near seismic faults that still are being mapped. The faults were unknown when the plant was built three decades ago.

Extensive tests ordered by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2012 revealed a serious problem with unusual wear in several thousand of the plant's roughly 10,000 steam tubes, which carry heat from the reactor to the equipment that makes electricity, as a result of vibrations within and between the tubes. Both Mitsubishi and plant owners agree the plant developed a problem with fluid-induced vibration. Mitsubishi has said the type of vibration hadn't been seen before and therefore the company shouldn't be blamed.

(Full article at the plant)

Mitsubishi's defense is almost funny. Of course that type of vibration hadn't been seen before, because there had been no steam generator that big. The steam generators built for San Onofre were one of the kind with 10,000 tubes, instead of normal 3,000 to 4,000 tubes.

It's somewhat akin to TEPCO and the Japanese government's claim that the earthquake like that had never happened before (at least not in their lifetime or the last 100 years), therefore they shouldn't be blamed for the nuclear accident caused by the disaster.

If the US NRC's opinion back in June 2012 is still valid, then Mitsubishi screwed up the computer modeling in designing the steam generator, grossly underestimating the speed of the flow inside the tubes.

But then, SCE was the one who gave Mitsubishi the spec, and SCE was the one who approved and accepted the final products. Gross negligence may be equally applicable to SCE.

For the whole saga of San Onofre and its steam generators, see my posts.

UK's Channel 4: Inside Fukushima's Nuclear Exclusion Zone - Futaba-Machi

Correspondent Alex Thomson and his crew enter the 20-kilometer exclusion zone (which by the way is no longer there, as even Futaba-machi has agreed to be reorganized into three different zones with three different criteria for returning residents) and visit Futaba-machi.

TEPCO allowed them to spend 5 hours inside the zone.

At the last checkpoint, policemen politely bow to their car.

It is a surreal scene.

8 minutes into the video, Mr. Thomson says TEPCO has finally admitted that contaminated water is flowing into the ocean. I don't think TEPCO has said anything of that sort.

There is not much in the way of story-telling, but you get to see the deserted town of Futaba and wonder if there is any point of promising the residents that they can return sometime in the future.

(UPDATED with Video) #Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Whiff of Steam from Reactor 3 Is "Rainwater Warmed on Containment Vessel Head and Evaporated", Says TEPCO

(UPDATE) TEPCO says the steam has stopped.


In their update of the steam seen coming from between the reactor well and the DSP (device storage pool/pit) of Reactor 3 at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, TEPCO says it was probably the rainwater that evaporated on contact with the Containment Vessel.

From TEPCO's email notice for the press, 7/18/2013:


Considering the result of the measurement [dust sampling, which showed no elevated levels of cesium or iodine] and plant parameters, we presume that the steam was generated when rainwater seeped in through the gap of the reactor well cover, got heated by the Containment Vessel head.

So, there is the CV head (cap), and it is warm enough to turn water into vapor, according to TEPCO. The temperature at the bottom of the Pressure Vessel inside the Containment Vessel, as of July 18, 2013, is about 40 degrees Celsius. (Hmmm... How warm could the top of the CV be?)

(UPDATE: TEPCO added the information of the temperatures at the top of Pressure Vessel inside the CV. See below.)

The company released the photos of the location on the operating floor of Reactor 3 (in Japanese only so far, so I put English labels). It's hard to see the steam in the still photos, but it is evident in the video (to be uploaded here later):

Larger photos:




Yohei Miyake Energizes Young (and Young at Heart) Voters for a Seat in Japan's Upper House

34-year-old Yohei Miyake is an highly popular and acclaimed reggae-rock musician in Japan. He's running for a seat in the Upper House of the National Diet for the Green party in the proportional representation part of the election.

Along with Taro Yamamoto, who is running from Tokyo, Miyake seems to be winning young voters and not-so-young voters who have never bothered with elections with the message he delivers with his guitar.

He speaks as he plays guitar, and occasionally breaks into singing - in the centuries-old Japanese tradition of emotive story-telling with a string instrument.

I've heard about him, but I never bothered to view his election appearances until one of my Twitter followers sent me a video with English subtitle. (Like, just now.)

I was shocked to see a nice-looking man who looks to have actually grown into adulthood, instead of simply getting old with the wrinkled face of an elementary school boy (like so many of politicians and so many of so-called elite bureaucrats and corporate executives in Japan).

I was shocked again when I saw a huge audience at the end of the video. You don't see that kind of crowd at campaign speeches by established parties.

From Miyake's appearance in Kichijoji, Tokyo on the first day of the election campaign on July 4, 2013, with English subtitle:

The large crowd doesn't necessarily translate into votes, but I sense the audience is feeling empowered by him, which is rare in Japan.

His official slogan at his official site says, "Turn all weapons into musical instruments." Being a musician myself, I'm all for that. I do not agree with many of his policies, but that doesn't really matter.

(In fact, I quite disagree with some of his policies, particularly one about consumption tax. He proposes tax on financial assets instead of consumption tax. That's Cyprus, and that's unfair double-taxation on people who saved their earnings post-tax, just because these people have bank accounts and investment accounts that are big enough for the government to plunder. I don't know what rate he is thinking of.)

Official blog (Japanese only):


Like Yamamoto's, Miyake's campaign organization is made up of all volunteers.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

(UPDATED) Just In from TEPCO: Whiff of Steam from Reactor 3 Operating Floor at #Fukushima I Nuke Plant

(UPDATE-2) From Ryuichi Kino's tweets (here and here), who asked TEPCO's PR:


The location of the steam is somewhere between the DSP and the Containment Vessel. Cannot pinpoint the exact location yet. TEPCO will notify if the stem stops.


The DSP is empty. [Kino thinks] the pool was filled with water, but TEPCO HQ says "We don't know for sure, after the hydrogen explosion. We don't know how much we can see".

I wonder if TEPCO will make the video available.

(UPDATE-2) TEPCO says it is rainwater evaporated on the CV. See my latest post.


(UPDATE-1) TEPCO says the steam is still being observed as of 1PM. No significant changes in plant parameters. The company says it has confirmed that there is no re-criticality happening.


From TEPCO's email notice to the press (7/18/2013), via TEPCO's tweet about 15 minutes ago (at 9:51AM):


Observation of what looked like steam near the center of the 5th floor of Reactor 3 (on the side of the Device Storage Pool) at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant


Today (July 18) at about 8:20AM, an affiliate company worker spotted what looked like steam floating near the center of the 5th floor of Reactor 3 (on the side of the Device Storage Pool) during video monitoring prior to the start of the debris removal work.


There is no significant change in the major plant parameters (temperature, pressure, xenon density).


There is no significant change in the measurements at monitoring posts and continuous dust monitoring.

What could be in there steaming? I don't know if there is anything in the DSP of Reactor 3. There shouldn't, as Reactor 3 was in operation when the earthquake hit on March 11, 2011. Reactor 4's DSP is filled with water, and it has the removed core shroud and other equipments.

Japan's Nuclear Regulatory Authority Investigates Faults Beneath Fast-Breeder Monju, Operator JAEA Insists They Are Not Active Faults

Nuclear Regulatory Authority's Deputy Chairman and seismologist Kunihiko Shimazaki is leading a team of experts to determine whether the 8 faults that run directly beneath the trouble-prone fast-breeder Monju in Fukui Prefecture are active faults.

Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) "operates" the fast-breeder reactor which is supposed to be the centerpiece of Japan's fuel cycle policy. In its 22-year history since the test run in 1991, Monju has managed to generate one hour worth of electricity.

The Abe administration insists the fuel cycle policy will continue.

JAEA is a government corporation under the Ministry of Education and Science and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry - i.e. a landing pad for the top bureaucrats with golden parachutes.

NRA's Dr. Shimazaki has not been political so far, and has practically said about another nuclear power plant in Fukui (Tsuruga Nuclear Power Plant) that the operator doesn't want to see active faults, therefore does not see the active faults which are apparent to him and his team of experts in two-day investigation.

I suspect it's the same thing at Monju.

From Asahi Shinbun (7/17/2013):

もんじゅ断層、現地調査を開始 原子力規制委

NRA starts field survey of faults at Monju


To determine whether there are active faults at Fast-breeder Monju (Fukui Prefecture) operated by Japan Atomic Energy Agency, Nuclear Regulatory Authority started the field investigation on July 17. If the faults are determined to be active, it is likely that Monju will be decommissioned, and the national government will be pressed to revise its fuel cycle policy.


4 members of the expert group including NRA's Deputy Chairman Kunihiko Shimazaki arrived in Fukui in the morning of July 17. They first investigated the location in Minaha-cho in Fukui where the known active fault, "Shiraki-Nyu Fault", which runs 500 meters west of Monju, is exposed. The group will determine whether the faults inside the Monju compound are active, after the two-day survey.


There are nine faults inside the compound, with 8 of them known to be directly beneath the reactor facilities. Experts have pointed out the danger of these faults moving if the Shiraki-Nyu Fault becomes active. In the survey, the longest fault "a-fault" will be the focus. JAEA insists that it is not an active fault, saying there is no evidence that it repeatedly moved in recent years.

By "recent years", JAEA means in the last 100,000 years or so. NRA has made it clear in its new "regulatory standards" that it will consider the last 400,000 years.

Location of the Shiraki-Nyu Fault and Monju, from Asahi Shinbun:

The Shiraki-Nyu Fault in Mihama-cho:

Even without any active fault, Monju should not be operating, for the simple reason that should the road (Route 141) become inaccessible, Monju would be utterly inaccessible except from the sea. Even the ocean access would be problematic after a big earthquake and tsunami:

View Larger Map

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

(OT) Asiana Airlines to Sue California TV Station for "Racist Fake Pilot Names"

According to CBS News (7/15/2013):

Asiana has decided to sue KTVU-TV to "strongly respond to its racially discriminatory report" that disparaged Asians, Asiana spokeswoman Lee Hyomin said. She said the airline will likely file suit in U.S. courts.

She said the report seriously damaged Asiana's reputation.

Here are the names that "disparaged Asians":

Captain sum ting wong (something wrong)
wi tu lo (way too low)
ho lee fuk (holy f..k)

From the comment section:

Asiana: Don't insult yourselves. Concentrate on flying airplanes safely. I can absolutely guaranty you that suing the media will not improve your reputation.

I find this also almost as hilarious as the names of the flight crew. I am an aircraft mechanic for a major airline and I have to say most of us laughed so hard when we saw this we all wanted to buy this NTSB intern a steak dinner. This is just good old fashion humor and was done wonderfully. I am worried that we as a people have become so judgemental that everything is offensive and everything is a law suit. it is my proffesional opinion that these names being in some way able to make Asiana look bad is a complete joke.

Every Asian I've talked to thought the KTVU report was very funny. Admittedly it's not a huge sample, one spouse (Cantonese), one dentist (1/2 Cantonese, 1/2 Japanese), and one dental assistant (Filipino). I need to talk to my niece when she returns from Korea, she flew out out on Asiana from SFO this past Saturday.

Asiana is free to sue KTVU, but it's ill-advised. They will draw more attention to themselves and further damage their reputation which was damaged not by a bogus report of pilot names, but by the actual pilots.

I think Asiana Airlines damaged their own reputation by crashing.

Yes, these names damaged Asiana's sterling reputation as a world leader in "almost landing planes"

What's not very funny is that a government agency like NTSB handling the on-going investigation of the crash lets an intern handle PR without supervision.

("Racism" the word by the way is very much loved in Japan; they love it so much that they use it in transliteration, as "reishizumu" (except, alas, the "r" sound that doesn't exist in Japanese except in some dialects with rolled "r" sound). I wonder how many know the word starts with "r" instead of "l".)

Tuesday Humors: Naoto Kan Sues Shinzo Abe for Defamation, Self Defense Force Dispels Baseless Rumors on Ibaraki Beach, NRA Starts Nuke Plant Inspection, TEPCO's Shares Jump 12% in One Day

You really can't take any of them seriously, can you?

Former Prime Minister Naoto Kan sues current Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for defamation, over Abe's email magazine's mention of Kan "stopping the injection of seawater into the reactor and later taking credit for seawater injection". According to Kan, that's patently false. Why is he suing Abe now, for the mail magazine article that appeared in May 2011? I suppose in Kan's mind the lawsuit should boost the chance of his party, Democratic Party of Japan, in the coming Upper House election (July 21 for most of Japan).

From Sankei Shinbun (7/16/2013; part):


Prime Minister Abe's mail magazine was distributed as of May 20, 2011. According to Prime Minister [Abe] wrote, "Following the manual, TEPCO was planning to inject seawater after the supply of fresh water depleted. However, it was Prime Minister Kan himself who stopped the seawater injection which had just started." Further, he wrote "[Mr. Kan's] advisors then spread the lie in newspapers and TV that injection of seawater was Prime Minister Kan's heroic decision."


Mr. Kan said [in the press conference he held in the Diet building], "The content is based on totally false information. The article has severely damaged my honor."

(Go ahead and laugh now.)

Next, Self Defense Force tanks and ship on the Ooarai beach in Ibaraki Prefecture. Saturday July 13 was the beach opening day for Ooarai in Ibaraki, the town become famous because of a popular "anime" based on the town.

To an outsider (including myself), the anime, "GIRLS und PANZER", is totally hilarious, totally detached from the reality-based world where everyone else lives but the Japanese in Japan. It is about a world where cute high school girls are well-trained and versed in "the way of tanks" (like "the way of tea" or "the way of flower arrangement").

Ooarai requested tanks and a training ship from Self Defense Force to attract more people to town on the beach opening day, as the town's beach is suffering from "baseless rumors". Self Defense Force obliged, as it wants to increase recruitment. So the event was a triple-win: Ooarai dispelling baseless rumors, anime fans getting to do their cosplay on the real tanks and real ship, and SDF promoting itself to the population.

See how they all enjoy the day on the beach... (Screenshots of a TV report of the event from this blog at 2ch; click to enlarge):

Next, Asahi Shinbun reports (7/26/2013) that Nuclear Regulatory Authority has started the examination and inspection of 10 reactors at 5 nuclear plants. They are:

Hokkaido Electric: Tomari Reactors 1, 2, 3
Kansai Electric: Takahama Reactors 3, 4, Ooi Reactors 3, 4
Shikoku Electric: Ikata Reactor 3
Kyushu Electric: Sendai Reactors 1, 2

(For the locations of these plants, see my post from July 5, 2013.)

According to Asahi, assessment of Ooi reactors won't be done while the faults inside the compound are being investigated, and assessment of Tomari Reactors 1 and 2 will be delayed as Hokkaido Electric wants Reactor 3 to be assessed first. (That's the reactor where use of MOX fuel is planned.)

So, there are 6 reactors to be assessed. Asahi says three teams will each assess two, three reactors concurrently, and one team is specialized in earthquake/tsunami assessment. There will be 80 people at Nuclear Regulatory Agency (secretariat of Nuclear Regulatory Authority) doing the assessment. And all this to be finished in about 6 months.

NRA spent less than 6 months coming up with the safety regulatory standards, and now will spend 6 months (or less, my guess) in applying the standards.

(You can laugh now.)

And last but not least, for no good reason that I could find, TEPCO's shares jumped 12.6% in one day on Tuesday in Japan. Contaminated groundwater found along the seawall must be bullish for the stock. After all, for a long time now, particularly in the US but also elsewhere, bad news is good news, and bullish for the stock market.

From Nikkei Shinbun, TEPCO's intraday chart (7/16/2013):

The 5-year chart shows a shallow cup and handle pattern, and if that plays out TEPCO's shares could be going over 1,300 yen:

"OT" humor: Russia's RIA Novosti reports (7/15/2013) that "US Urges Russia to Protect Reporters, Human Rights Activists", and "Putin Blasts US for Intimidation in Snowden Asylum Saga".

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Cesium-137 in Sediment in Lake Biel in Switzerland, Attributed in Part to Mühleberg Nuke Plant Located Upstream

The article attributes cesium-137 to discharge from Mühleberg Nuclear Power Plant.

From AFP, via Yahoo Malaysia (7/14/2013):

'Radioactivity found in Swiss lake' near nuclear plant

Scientists have discovered a radioactive substance in sediment under a Swiss lake used for drinking water and situated near a nuclear plant, the Le Matin Dimanche weekly reported Sunday.

While scientists cited in the report stressed there was no danger to human health, the discovery raises concerns about safety practices and a lack of transparency at the Muehleberg nuclear plant in northwestern Switzerland.

The plant is believed to have caused a spike in cesium 137 found in the sediment of Lake Biel and dating back to 2000 through the discharge of contaminated waste water into the Aar river that feeds into the lake, about 20 kilometres (12 miles) downstream, the weekly reported.

Geologists from Geneva University happened upon the spike while working on an unrelated research project in 2010, and chemists in the northern canton of Basel recently verified the findings, it said.

The Muehleberg plant is permitted to discharge water with very low levels of radioactivity subject to strict controls several times a year, according to Le Matin Dimanche.

Politicians and environmentalists however expressed outrage Sunday that the plant and nuclear inspectors had provided no information about the higher levels of cesium 137 released more than a decade ago into a lake that provides 68 percent of the drinking water to the nearby town of Biel.

"No one ever told me that there were abnormally high concentrations in the lake," Hans Stoekli, who served as Biel mayor from 1990 to 2010, told the paper, insisting that in light of the use of the lake for drinking water "the plant should have alerted us even in the case of minimal risk."

Environmental group Greenpeace voiced dismay at the news, urging the public prosecutor in the canton of Bern, where Biel and the Muehleberg plant are located, to investigate.

The group, which has long called for the plant's closure, also questioned in a statement how the Swiss Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate could have either missed the higher radioactive levels or decided not to inform decision makers or the public about them.

The Muehleberg plant, which came online in 1972, is 17 kilometres (11 miles) west of the Swiss capital Bern.

In the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan, the Swiss parliament approved a phase-out for the country's five atomic power plants by 2034.

As the article does not talk in numbers, I looked for the paper and found it: "Human impact on the transport of terrigenous and anthropogenic elements to peri-alpine lakes (Switzerland) over the last decades", by Florian Thevenon, Stefanie B. Wirth, Marian Fujak, John Poté, Stéphanie Girardclos, Aquatic Science, July 2013 (open access at It turns out that a cesium-137 spike was not just one time, but three different occasions:


Terrigenous (Sc, Fe, K, Mg, Al, Ti) and anthropogenic (Pb and Cu) element fluxes were measured in a new sediment core from Lake Biel (Switzerland) and in previously well-documented cores from two upstream lakes (Lake Brienz and Lake Thun). These three large peri-alpine lakes are connected by the Aare River, which is the main tributary to the High Rhine River. Major and trace element analysis of the sediment cores by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) shows that the site of Lake Brienz receives three times more terrigenous elements than the two other studied sites, given by the role of Lake Brienz as the first major sediment sink located in the foothills of the Alps. Overall, the terrigenous fluxes reconstructed at the three studied sites suggest that the construction of sediment-trapping reservoirs during the twentieth century noticeably decreased the riverine suspended sediment load at a regional scale. In fact, the extensive river damming that occurred in the upstream watershed catchment (between ca. 1930 and 1950 and up to 2,300 m a.s.l.) and that significantly modified seasonal suspended sediment loads and riverine water discharge patterns to downstream lakes noticeably diminished the long-range transport of (fine) terrigenous particles by the Aare River. Concerning the transport of anthropogenic pollutants, the lowest lead enrichment factors (EFs Pb) were measured in the upstream course of the Aare River at the site of Lake Brienz, whereas the metal pollution was highest in downstream Lake Biel, with the maximum values measured between 1940 and 1970 (EF Pb > 3). The following recorded regional reduction in aquatic Pb pollution started about 15 years before the actual introduction of unleaded gasoline in 1985. Furthermore, the radiometric dating of the sediment core from Lake Biel identifies three events of hydrological transport of artificial radionuclides released by the nuclear reactor of Mühleberg located at more than 15 km upstream of Lake Biel for the time period 1970–2000.

The researchers took the sediment core sample from Lake Biel and measured the radioactivity over several decades. The chart below, from the paper, shows the initial bump in cesium-137 in 1951, then a high peak in 1963, both from the fallout from atmospheric nuclear testing. After Mueleberg Nuclear Power Plant came on line in 1972, cesium-137 peaked in 1976, then in 1986 (Chernobyl fallout), and again in 2000.

According to the researchers, cesium contamination attributable to Muehleberg Nuke Plant occurred in mid 1970s, early 1980s, and 2000:

Additionally to the three 137Cs markers generally used for dating (1951, 1963 and 1986) European sediment records, the Lake Biel sediment core (BIE10-3) revealed two additional 137Cs activity peaks at 8.5 (41 Bq/kg) and 30.5 cm core depth (94 Bq/kg) (Fig. 2). On the basis of the 210Pb age model, these peaks are dated to 2000 and 1975. The peak dated to 1975 has been reported in a previous study and detected in several Lake Biel sediment cores, of which the nearest is only 300 m away from our site (Albrecht et al. 1998). This increased 137Cs activity was caused by higher radionuclide discharges of the upstream Mühleberg NPP due to the use of low-quality fuel rods between 1976 and 1978 (Albrecht et al. 1998). In addition, a small 60Co activity peak detected at 22.5 cm core depth is dated to 1984 on the basis of our 210Pb activity age model (Fig. 2). Albrecht et al. (1998) suggested that this peak was related to higher wastewater discharges from the Mühleberg NPP documented in August of 1982. The age difference of 1–2 years between the age model and the date of the known nuclear events lies within the error range of our age model (see next paragraph). Our results therefore confirm the previous identification of increased radionuclide discharge by the Mühleberg NPP in 1976 (137Cs) and 1982 (60Co). However, regarding the 1982 event, our data is not as definite as Albrecht et al. (1998, 1999) because 60Co, which was the only released radionuclide during this event, shows at present only slightly elevated activity in our Lake Biel record.

In the upper part of our Lake Biel sediment core, a small 137Cs activity peak dated to 2000 is for the first time revealed by this study (Fig. 1). The 60Co as well as the 210Pb in excess (obtained after subtracting the 226Ra activity to the total 210Pb activity) profiles demonstrate that this 137Cs activity peak was not caused by other processes, such as reworking of sediment containing Chernobyl-linked activity or changes in sedimentation rates which would appear in the 210Pb in excess profile. Therefore, this 137Cs activity peak that is not accompanied by a coeval 60Co peak can be explained by two possible causes: (1) only 137Cs radionuclides were released to the environment, or (2) the 137Cs was better scavenged by the minerogenic fraction than 60Co. Indeed, only 30 to 55 % of the discharged 60Co is transferred to Lake Biel sediments and the scavenging efficiency of 60Co is higher during the winter period than during summer, in spite of higher particle fluxes during summer (Albrecht et al. 1999). Thus, the found moderate 137Cs activity peak likely points to an additional and so far undetected release of liquid radionuclides from the Mühleberg NPP to the Aare River in the year 2000 ± 2. This discharge event could coincide with an event reported at the Mühleberg NPP on the 6th of June 1998, when an accidental opening of a steam-relief valve led to an emergency shutdown of the reactor (Prêtre 1999). Yet, the Swiss government monitors radionuclide activity in the air and water near the Mühleberg NPP, but registered values for 1998 are similar to those of previous years and lie all below 3 % of the legal limit (Prêtre 1999).

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Contaminated Groundwater Leak Caused by Construction of Impermeable Wall Along the Ocean?

I am still in the middle of trying to understand the whole picture, but there is a compelling argument (here (link in Japanese, post and comment section) and here) that construction of the impermeable wall along the ocean side, east of the turbine buildings at Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, may have caused and/or accelerated the leak of groundwater contaminated with high levels of tritium, strontium, and in one observation hole high cesium.

Construction of the impermeable wall started in early April this year, with steel pipe sheet piles driven into the pre-loosened soil using a vibratory hammer and a hydraulic hammer. Loosening of soil had started in June last year to prep the site for driving the steel pipe sheet piles using high-power hammer, probably to mitigate damage from the impact in the area probably already fragile from the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

From TEPCO's Photos and Videos, 4/2/2013:

At the end of April, they started to drive down the sheet piles in the sea right off the Reactor 1 turbine building. In early May, tritium levels inside the port started to increase.

The first section of the impermeable wall was finished by mid June, and that's when the samples taken from the observation holes dug to monitor the groundwater started to show elevated amount of tritium and all-beta including strontium, particularly in the observation holes No.1 (1-1, 1-2, and now 1-3).

From TEPCO's Photos and Videos, 6/26/2013, a section of the impermeable wall near Reactor 1-4 water intake:

From the same document, the location of the photograph in diagram:

The locations of groundwater observation holes, from NRA's document, with the finished impermeable wall marked in green:

I am still trying to understand the argument. I'll update.

But if they are right in their argument, will it be "soh-teh-gai" (beyond expectation) or "soh-teh-nai" (within expectation)? At this point, those who have followed the accident and have been attending TEPCO's press conferences are saying it's the latter.

(H/T TSOKDBA blog with meticulous, detailed study of the Fukushima nuclear accident, and the commenter "inja")