Fukushima Commentary (blog)


Fukushima Commentary

These postings address four questions. What Japanese decisions border on the irrational? Is the Fukushima accident ongoing? Does Fukushima have the potential for world-wide apocalyptic disaster? Are the Fukushima radiation levels health-threatening?

"Fukushima : The First Five Days"...a book taken from the records kept by the operating staff at Fukushima Daiichi during the first crucial days of the crisis. It is now available at all E-book outlets. For the PDF and bundle... (click here)

NEW E-BOOK - "Kimin: Japan's Forgotten People" - the untold story of Japan's 300,000 tsunami refugees, ignored by the world's news media. for Availability... (click here)

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January 28, 2015

Japan’s NRA chief is right: Tepco should release water ASAP

On January 21, Chairman Shunichi Tanaka of the Nuclear Regulation Authority spoke about the worker safety issue at Fukushima Daiichi following the death of a contractor employee. The employee slipped and fell from the top of a ten-meter high tank while helping secure the top cover of the container. Tanaka said one of the causes was Tepco continually building more and more tanks to store contaminated and decontaminated waters. He reiterated his opinion, made a few days earlier, that fully treated water should be released to the sea, as long as all radio-isotopic levels are below permissible limits.

Tanaka’s original statement caused a negative outcry from some of the public, and Fukushima fishermen, who did not want the releases to happen. The public reasoning was that even if contamination is well-below national standards, some radioactivity could remain and any detectible amount is unacceptable. The fishermen balked at Tanaka’s suggestion because any release to the sea could further damage the sale of Fukushima seafood in the marketplace.

After Tanaka’s January 21st restatement of his position, members of the public and Press in attendance shouted their continued disapproval. He responded with anger, “Even if a person dies?” He then turned to the Tepco Chairman and said,“It is important to listen to public opinion, but human life must not be lost for the sake of echoing public views. You are not yet demonstrating appropriate determination.” (1)

It should come as no surprise to regular readers of these blogs that this writer is not a big fan of Tanaka. However, in this case I must give him a hearty “well done”! About half of the 400,000 tons of wastewater stored at Fukushima Daiichi has been run through the multi-system decontamination process and cleansed to a purity approaching near-laboratory quality. Tepco has already said that any release will be run through mobile Strontium absorbers one final time to insure that the only radio-isotope remaining is Tritium, which is part of the water molecule itself. As I have written on many occasions, Tritium is biologically harmless.

To make the outcry from the public and Press even more ridiculous, Tepco has self-imposed limits that are ten to 15 times lower than Japan’s ultra-conservative drinking water standards. Further, this water will be released into the Pacific Ocean; not into a drinking water supply! And, no one drinks seawater, anyway! It seems that some segments of the Japanese public and Press believe that miniscule hypothetical risks are more important than human life!

Is Tepco taking heed of the NRA Chair’s admonition? It seems not! It appears Tepco is entirely comfortable with building more and more storage tanks, at considerable cost. They have ceased all decommissioning and recovery work at F. Daiichi until all worker safety considerations are checked and all contractors are fully trained in safety. This is also costing considerable time and money. However, the loss of life, as well as subsequent expenditures for upgraded worker safety, could have been easily avoided if Tepco had shown “appropriate determination” a long time ago and discharged the fully treated waters to the sea.

Yes…I’m mad as a wet hornet about this, and have been since word of the employee’s unfortunate demise hit the news last week. I called for Tepco to begin discharges to the sea in my September 27 Commentary; “A Plea to Tepco and Tokyo: Just Do it!” (2)  NRA Chair Shunichi Tanaka is telling Tepco to do the same thing., and start the discharges as soon as possible, before someone else gets hurt.

References:

1 – Fall of Worker: NRA Chairman Urged TEPCO to Release Water to the Sea; http://www.jaif.or.jp/english/news_images/pdf/ENGNEWS01_1421903957P.pdf

2 - http://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/fukushima-commentary-17.html

January 25, 2015

245th Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers

The Hiroshima Syndrome’s Fukushima Commentary is proudly hosting the 245th Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers. This week’s edition includes articles by Dan Yurman, Dr. Gail Marcus, Dr. Jim Conca, Meredith Angwin, Rod Adams, Steve Alpin and Brian Wang. 

Here’s the Fact or Fiction (?) quiz for this week… Enrico Fermi received the Nobel Prize in 1942 for his important work on the world’s first man-made nuclear reactor, CP1 (The Chicago Pile).

Now…for this week’s Blogs. To read the full articles, please click on the individual links. Blog topics for this edition include… Governors of Idaho better learn about used nuclear fuel, seven blogger’s unabashed opinions on closure of Vermont Yankee, Google’s shift on renewables, the moon really is a planet, a behind-the-scenes look at the shady source of the standard-setting model for radiation exposure, the latest events in China, and ruminations made in a cold Canadian tent.

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From Dan Yurman’s Neutron Bytes – (2)

Want to be governor of Idaho? Better learn about spent nuclear fuel

Idaho Governor Butch Otter seems to have forgotten what his predecessors fought to achieve. Two former governors of Idaho, and the incumbent, have gotten involved in yet another serious dust up over spent fuel and the Department of Energy’s (DOE) laboratory located at the eastern edge of the state. http://neutronbytes.com/2015/01/18/want-to-be-governor-of-idaho-better-learn-about-spent-nuclear-fuel/

(and)

French Energy Minister Royal reverses course on Hollande’s plan to close reactors

In a reversal and repudiation of French PM Hollande’s politically-expedient deal with Greens last October to begin phasing out French nuclear reactors, Energy Minister Segolene Royal said the country would commit to two paths to sustain nuclear energy for electrical power generation. First, state-owned EDF would invest in safety upgrades and other improvements to existing reactors to give some units life extensions of up to 60 years. Second, France would commit to a construction program of a “new generation of reactors” to replace older units when they reach the end of their service lives. http://neutronbytes.com/2015/01/18/french-energy-minister-royal-reverses-course-on-hollandes-plan-to-close-reactors/

(plus)

Dan’s contribution to this week’s ANS Nuclear Café

Seven At One Blow

ANS Nuclear Cafe has had a series of three blog posts on "lessons learned" from the Vermont Yankee closure.  These posts were written by a total of seven pro-nuclear bloggers: their credentials are described in Dan Yurman's excellent post at his own blog.  http://neutronbytes.com/2015/01/21/seven-at-one-blow/

(and) 

Thanks to Will Davis, the full trilogy of postings from Nuclear Café can be found at these three links… http://ansnuclearcafe.org/2015/01/19/reflections-on-vermont-yankee-1/ ; http://ansnuclearcafe.org/2015/01/20/reflections-on-vermont-yankee-2/ ; http://ansnuclearcafe.org/2015/01/21/reflections-on-vermont-yankee-3/

 

From Dr. Gail Marcus’ Nuke Power Talk

Google and Renewable Energy: A Retreat?

There seems to be a reorientation of Google's widely advertised plans of a few of years ago to develop renewable energy technologies. They are reportedly now looking at a broader mix of energy options.  Although they don't appear to be looking at nuclear power, their acknowledgement of the limitations of renewable technologies provides yet another indication that turning to renewables is not going to be as easy as some have proclaimed. http://nukepowertalk.blogspot.com/2015/01/google-and-renewable-energy.html

 

From Forbes Magazine’s Dr. Jim Conca

Attention QVC Shoppers, The Moon Is A Planet

QVC shopping network host Shawn Killinger and designer Isaac Mizrahi argued over whether or not our Moon was a planet. It was hilarious. But, it was comforting to see an honest, spontaneous scientific discussion due to the curiosity of two people.  The public can be forgiven for not knowing an inside debate within the scientific community of the kind that doesn’t get aired very often. In fact, our Moon is a planet, albeit a minor one. There are 28 planets of all sizes within the orbit of Pluto. http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2015/01/21/attention-qvc-shoppers-the-moon-is-a-planet/

 

From Meredith Angwin’s Yes Vermont Yankee – (2)

Meredith’s posts of the ANS Nuclear café series on Vermont Yankee (above). She says the bloggers make a case that the plant closed due to politics, not economics.

Bloggers Analyze Vermont Yankee Closure: Series Starting at American Nuclear Society

http://yesvy.blogspot.com/2015/01/bloggers-analyze-vermont-yankee-closure.html#.VMK03ihNnA5

(and)

American Nuclear Society Blog: Second Part of Analysis on Vermont Yankee Closing 

http://yesvy.blogspot.com/2015/01/at-american-nuclear-society-blog-second.html#.VMK0QyhNnA4

(plus)

The Vermont Yankee Series Expands. The "Attitude Post" and more 

http://yesvy.blogspot.com/2015/01/the-vermont-yankee-series-expands.html#.VMUy0yhNnA4

 

From Rod Adams’ Atomic Insights

Suppressing Differing Opinions to Promote “No Safe Dose” Mantra

Dr. Ed Calabrese published new installments in his effort to reveal the methods used by the 16-member Genetics group of the 1956 National Academy of Sciences’ Biological Effects of Atomic Radiation committee, which altered history. Chaired by the man who approved their research grant requests during the period from 1932-1959, the group effectively shifted radiation risk assessment from the threshold model to a “no safe dose” model. Using original, archived source material which included direct correspondence among committee members, Calabrese uncovers how the committee produced a report designed to influence national policy and standard-setting by using a process that carefully selected desired answers, eliminated work that provided a greater range of uncertainty, and failed to report the existence of documented dissent. http://atomicinsights.com/suppressing-differing-opinions-promote-no-safe-dose-mantra/

 

From Steve Alpin’s Canadian Energy Issues -

Some un-frozen thoughts on humanity, progress, and the dangers of pretending we can run an electricity grid with power that can’t prevent water from freezing

Shivering in his tent in minus-30° C (minus-22° F) at four a.m. in an Ontario campground last Saturday, Steve Aplin ruminated on claims that solar power can run the Ontario electricity grid. His contemplations continued through Tuesday’s State of the Union speech by American President Obama. http://canadianenergyissues.com/2015/01/23/some-un-frozen-thoughts-on-humanity-progress-and-the-dangers-of-pretending-we-can-run-an-electricity-grid-with-power-that-cant-prevent-water-from-freezing/

 

From Next Big Future by Brian Wang – (2)

China's biggest reactor operator will put five nuclear reactors into operation this year 

China's biggest reactor operator, China General Nuclear Power Group CGN), will put another five reactor units into operation this year, company executives said, adding that they remain confident in the sector's growth despite approval delays. http://nextbigfuture.com/2015/01/chinas-biggest-reactor-operator-will.html

(and)

EMC2 Chief Scientist presents a path to Electrostatic Nuclear Fusion

It has been noted that EMC2 Fusion would need at least $100 million in funding and seven years to get to a breakeven nuclear device. The high-pressure confinement, also known as high-beta confinement, is what's described in the ArXiv paper. One of the keys to solving that problem was to do away with the joints between the reactor's rings. However, the test device did not demonstrate the neutron production that would be required for an actual fusion reaction. http://nextbigfuture.com/2015/01/emc2-chief-scientist-presents-path-to.html

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Fact or Fiction (?) quiz answer – Fiction. Fermi did win the Nobel Prize, but it was not in 1942 and it had nothing to do with the Chicago Pile. Actually, he won the prize in 1938 for his demonstrations of the existence of new radioactive elements produced by neutron irradiation, and for his related discovery of nuclear reactions brought about by slow neutrons". http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/1938/

January 9, 2015

Japan NRA Chief makes no sense about nuke restart safety

Japan’s chief nuke watchdog says 2015 will be a crucial year for nuke safety. Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman Shunichi Tanaka made his first Press statement of the year on January 6th. He said restarting nukes face particularly dangerous risks of accidents. Tanaka gave two reasons for his statement. First, the units have been idled for a long time. Second, they have a lot of new safety equipment never used before. (1)

Both of his reasons make little or no sense.

Yes, the 48 mandated-idled units have not run in a long time, the most recent shutdowns being the two Oi units in September of 2013. Many others have been off for two years or more. Tanaka makes it seem that all idled units have been left alone and the crews have taken a “Well, we’re shut down. Who’s got a deck of cards” attitude. As a veteran of 15 years in construction and commercial operation of an American nuke, I know that Tanaka’s implied concept is simply not the case.

All of the currently-idled nukes were either already in a refueling outage or subsequently went into one when shut down by Naoto Kan’s moratorium. With any refueling outage, considerable activity occurs to insure that a subsequent start-up will occur safety and expeditiously: e.g. systems are tested, planned maintenance is performed as scheduled, and operation’s systems are kept in peak condition. Since this is actually an extended refueling outage with respect to the systems needed for restarts, the passage of time should not make future nuke restarts any different than the routine startups experienced after every refueling period.

With respect to Tanaka’s second reason, the new safety equipment for each Japanese nuke has essentially nothing to do with the operating systems on any of the 48 units. They are not involved with actually restarting the units. The new safety equipment is specific to making sure another prolonged full-station-blackout, a-la Fukushima Daiichi, does not happen again. The emergency systems are there to keep emergency electricity flowing into a plant in the event that another beyond-worst-case natural disaster happens. The equipment has nothing to do with routine startup and operation of the power plant.

Thus, we need to ask; what would possess Tanaka to believe these two things? I can only think of two possibilities. One is that he isn’t knowledgeable in power plant operations. Although he has nuclear engineering credentials and a long history in nuclear academia, his resume’ does not include any power plant operating experience. It seems he has university and research-level reactor experience, but that is a far cry for a large power plant reactor’s operations. I like to say it’s as different as operating a compact car versus a top-fuel dragster. It would be nice to think Tanaka understands operations at nuclear power plants, but his statements indicate otherwise. 

The second possibility is that he thinks he’s demonstrating informational transparency. But, does this include making inexperienced suppositions that can only increase fear in a largely naïve public? I think not. In the words of a famous (now deceased) American sportscaster, “Tell it like it is!” That’s transparency in a nutshell. Don’t tell it like it isn’t! Tanaka’s notion of “particularly dangerous risks of accidents” due to nuke startups is anything but a demonstration of transparency.

To the contrary, it’s a demonstration of naivety.

December 28, 2014

241st Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers

The Hiroshima Syndrome’s Fukushima Commentary is proudly hosting the 241st Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers. This week’s edition includes articles by Dr. James Conca, Dr. Gail Marcus, Meredith Angwin, Dan Yurman, Brian Wang, Rod Adams, and Will Davis.

Here’s the Fact or Fiction(?) quiz for this week… The first reactor to operate outside of North America occurred on Christmas Day?

Now…for this week’s Blogs. To read the full articles, please click on the individual links. Blog topics for this edition include… no danger with hacking into South Korea’s nukes, the benefits of low-carbon technologies, the financial consequences of closing Vermont Yankee, why Yucca Mountain spent fuel repository might not be out of the woods, best-case predictions for nuke startups in China and restarts in Japan, closure of Vermont Yankee makes no environmental sense, nuke plant controls for operation cannot be hacked, and the total lack of international news coverage on the end of Fukushima #4 fuel transferals.

*              *              *

From Forbes Magazine’s Dr. James Conca

Hacking of South Korean Nuclear Reactors Poses No Danger

Last week, an anti-nuclear group began releasing information it hacked from a South Korean company that operates several nuclear power plants, demanding that the company take their nuclear plants offline by Christmas. Or else! The only problem is -there’s nothing important that you can hack at a nuclear power plant. http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2014/12/24/hacking-of-south-korean-nuclear-reactors-poses-no-danger/

Three postings from Nuke Power Talk by Dr. Gail Marcus

Views on the EPA Carbon Rule: Support from Outside the Nuclear Industry

The responses of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) and Edison Electric Institute (EEI) to the proposed EPA rule on carbon emissions.  Both of these groups expressed strong objections to the limitations the proposed rule places on the nuclear contribution to a state’s electricity supply.  What is particularly important about these comments is that neither group has nuclear power as its primary responsibility, so the opinions they express should be fair and balanced with respect to all power sources. http://nukepowertalk.blogspot.com/2014/12/views-on-epa-carbon-rule.html

(and)

Brookings Energy Study: Comparing the Net Benefits of Low-Carbon Technologies

A study by Brookings that comes to the conclusion that the net benefits of nuclear, hydro, and natural gas plants outweigh the net benefits of wind or solar plants. Brookings is a group whose studies are widely cited by all sides of the spectrum, even though it is generally considered "left-of-center."  Therefore, having a report coming to this conclusion from such a group is very significant. http://nukepowertalk.blogspot.com/2014/12/brookings-energy-study.html

(and)

Gas Leaks: Is natural Gas as Clean as We Thought?

Dr. Marcus found a study that indicates the emissions from natural gas plants may be higher than previously assumed.  Although this appears to be a theoretical study and more investigating is needed for some of their observations, it is particularly interesting to see that study immediately after one that concluded that nuclear, hydro, and natural gas had the highest net benefits. We all know that the prospects for increasing the supply of hydroelectricity significantly are limited, so if natural gas also is found to have more negative effects than we'd thought, it looks like the signs point ever more strongly to nuclear power.  http://nukepowertalk.blogspot.com/2014/12/gas-leaks.html

From Northwest Clean Energy by John Dobken

Cold Weather is just fine for Columbia Generating Station

For nuclear plants, cold weather means higher efficiency: more power is produced per day. John Dobken of Columbia Generating Station explains the increased winter efficiency. Columbia Generating Station is Nuclear Energy and it is reliable in winter! http://northwestcleanenergy.wordpress.com/2014/12/23/cold-weather-is-just-fine-for-columbia-generating-station/

Two posts from Yes Vermont Yankee by Meredith Angwin

The High-Cost Consequences of New England's Energy Choices

Meanwhile in New England, closing Vermont Yankee is a major factor that is increasing electric bills and decreasing grid reliability. The post has an amusing illustration, but it's not a fun post. Perhaps it is simply a warning. http://yesvy.blogspot.com/2014/12/the-high-cost-consequences-of-new.html

(and)

For Christmas: Muddling Through or Hanging a Star

By next week’s blog Carnival, Vermont Yankee Nuclear Plant will be closed forever.  Meredith Angwin writes about the sorrow within this otherwise-joyful season. The WWII Christmas song, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, has similar mixed feelings. Perhaps we can hope to "muddle through somehow" (original words to the song). http://yesvy.blogspot.com/2014/12/for-christmas-muddling-through-or.html

Two posts from Neutron Bytes by Dan Yurman

Just when you thought Yucca was dead, more trouble

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission published the fourth in a series of volumes on its monumental safety evaluation report (SER) for the proposed permanent geologic repository for spent nuclear fuel. It says the Department of Energy lacks complete jurisdiction over the site and doesn’t have the necessary water rights to run it. U.S. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), who never cared a fig about the NRC’s safety reports, said in response that the Yucca Mountain site would never be opened for business. His obsession with the facility mirrors that of the fictional Captain Ahab’s quest for the white whale Moby Dick. Except, in this case, the Jungian “terrible mother” portrayed in Herman Melville’s ocean-going saga is a desolate rock formation in the middle of the great American desert. You can forget about the NRC’s waste confidence decision putting to bed the disputes 20 year license extensions and spent fuel. An environmental group in Missouri may have spooked the agency over the decision to grant one to Ameren’s Callaway reactor. It appears the spent fuel monkey wrench is still around raising the question of how much confidence the NRC has in its own rule. http://neutronbytes.com/2014/12/21/just-when-you-thought-yucca-was-dead-more-trouble/

(and)

Pro-Nuclear Twitter Feeds

This page is an informal directory of pro-nuclear Twitter feeds collected as a result of people letting me know they want to be listed here. These are people who view nuclear energy as a positive source for good and the betterment of the human condition on the planet. http://neutronbytes.com/pro-nuclear-twitter-feeds/

Two posts from Next Big Future by Brian Wang

China could start about 12 nuclear reactors by the end of 2015 and 20 over the next 30 months

China started up three reactors this past year, but it looks like the number due to come on-line by mid-2017 could be considerable. http://nextbigfuture.com/2014/12/china-could-start-about-12-nuclear.html?m=1

(and) 

Japan could restart 9 nuclear reactors in 2015, 10 in 2016, and 12 in 2017

Cantor Fitzgerald forecasts that 32 Japanese reactors will ultimately be restarted by 2018. David Talbot, with Dundee Capital Markets, largely echoes those thoughts. http://nextbigfuture.com/2014/12/japan-could-restart-9-nuclear-reactors.html?m=1

Two posts from Atomic Insights by Rod Adams

Should groups that celebrate loss of 600 MWe of reliable, ultra-low emission nuclear be called “environmental?”

The impending closure of Vermont Yankee makes no environmental sense. Rod states, “…groups that celebrate the loss of facilities like Vermont Yankee after working hard to ensure their untimely demise should never be referred to as ‘environmental.’ They have proven by actions that they care little about the effects their actions have on the cleanliness and sustainability of the environment that supports their fellow human beings.” http://atomicinsights.com/groups-celebrate-loss-600-mwe-reliable-ultra-low-emission-nuclear-called-environmental/

(and)

Prevention is Easier and Less Painful than Cure – Keep Vermont Yankee Operable

Closure of Vermont Yankee makes no economic sense, either. Recent reports by Franklin Regional Council of Governments, University of Massachusetts, and New England Public Radio, are just some of the bodies that feel the nuke closure is a big mistake. There is still time to correct this mistake, if Vermont and Entergy have the fortitude to do it. http://atomicinsights.com/prevention-easier-less-painful-cure-keep-vermont-yankee-operable/

From Atomic Power Review by Will Adams

News from Korea leads at year's end

Wide coverage of computer hacking at Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power is examined and put in perspective. The hackers, even with the apparent high level of skill used in these attacks, cannot access by internet or radio or short wave or any other interactive means any of the control and monitoring equipment for the nuclear reactors.Design Certification for the Korean APR1400 has also restarted. http://atomicpowerreview.blogspot.com/2014/12/news-from-south-korea-leads-on-wires-at.html?m=1

From The Hiroshima Syndrome’s Fukushima Commentary by Leslie Corrice

The end of the unit #4 fuel transfer isn’t newsworthy outside Japan

Les was in no way surprised that the antinuclear voices did not acknowledge that unit #4 fuel transfer went without a hitch. But, completely ignored by the international Press? It seems good news about nuclear energy is not newsworthy. http://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/fukushima-commentary.html

*              *              * 

Fact or Fiction(?) quiz answer – Fact.

The first reactor start-up outside of North America occurred on December 25, 1946. It was in the Soviet Union and designated “F-1”.  This was a test (demonstration) unit and did not produce electricity. I found this little nugget in a Nuke Power Talk blog by Dr. Gail Marcus, posted December 7, 2011… http://nukepowertalk.blogspot.com/2011/12/nuclear-power-anniversaries.html

December 24, 2014

The end of the unit #4 fuel transfer isn’t newsworthy outside Japan

For nearly two years prior to Tepco beginning the transfer of fuel bundles from unit #4 at Fukushima Daiichi in December of 2013, the international Press provided coverage of wild speculations on what might go wrong with the effort. Antinuclear organizations regularly chirped about worst-case scenarios, many of which provoked fears of nigh-apocalyptic consequence for all of Japan, if not the world. It was scary, and fear sells. Press coverage of these wild speculation was good for business.

Well, the project is done. None of the supposed problems manifested. But other than the Japanese Press, World Nuclear News, and blogs like this one, there has been nothing about this significant milestone out of the antinuclear persuasion or in the international Press.

I expected the antinuclear groups and their prophets of doom to ignore the end of a year of uneventful fuel movement. They never admit when they have been wrong (which they almost always are), and anything that might appear positive to their rank-and-file followers is avoided like the plague. Back in the mid-1980s, a co-worker sarcastically offered, “The (insert antinuke group name here) treats their followers like mushrooms. They feed them crap and keep them in the dark.”

But, I did not expect abject snubbing by all of the international Press!  Are they treating the public of the world like mushrooms, too? Not reporting on the end of the unit #4 fuel transfer is a prime example of how negative or potentially scary topics about Fukushima Daiichi make headlines, but nothing bad actually happening just doesn’t seem to qualify as being “newsworthy”. It’s as important to the news media as John Q. Public walking the dog. Wait…I take that back. Dog walking occasionally gets coverage. Worst-case speculations that do not happen never gets coverage.

Another instance of this prejudicial practice occurred a few months ago, concerning the child thyroid tests being performed in Fukushima Prefecture. The initial finding that more than 40% of the children were found to have nodules or cysts considered significant (greater than 0.5 centimeters in diameter), about 100 being dubbed “pre-cancerous”, and more than fifty having surgery to remove the suspect thyroid anomalies, made headlines around the world. However, Fukushima University subsequently ran the same testing procedures on more than 6,000 children from three prefectures hundreds of kilometers distant. The researchers found that all three distant prefectures had significantly higher rates of the same thyroid anomalies than the Fukushima kids. In other words, Fukushima children probably have the lowest child thyroid anomaly rate in Japan! (see - http://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/fukushima-child-thyroid-issue.html) Was this reported by any of the international Press? Absolutely not. They didn’t even have the human decency to bury it among the back-end human interest stories!

I was in no way surprised that the antinuclear voices did not acknowledge that Fukushima children actually have less thyroid problems than the rest of Japan. They can’t feed that sort of thing to their mushrooms. But, completely ignored by the international Press? It’s nauseating and repulsive.

When will this odious practice end? Not until the antinuclear lemmings realize their paradigms of nuclear energy doom are as empty as inter-galactic space. Not until the TV news viewers and newspaper readers demand that it stop! But, I’m not holding my breath. Significant fractions of the people of the world like the scary stuff, even if it’s twisted disinformation, misinformation and/or outright fabrication. It’s titillating, and titillation sells. So what if it turns out to be entirely wrong? That’s just not newsworthy.

December 16, 2014

Is the Japan election a nuclear restart mandate?

Sunday’s national election for Japan’s Lower House (i.e. House of Representatives) was carried mightily by PM Shinzo Abe’s LDP (Liberal Democratic Party). Some internet sources are calling this a mandate for restarting Japan’s currently-idled nukes, which has been echoed in a few international Press outlets. While a small fraction of Japan’s largely-liberal Press have tried to make the impending nuke restarts an election outcome issue, the bulk of the election’s Japanese Press have focused on other topics and essentially left the restart issue in the lurch. It is this reporter’s opinion that the lower house election changes nothing with respect to nuclear issues inside Japan.

Here’s why…

The Lower House election was called by PM Abe because of wide-spread negative Press over several controversial moves made by his administration. Abe’s reforms include the recent passage of Japan’s first national security legislation since WWII, the weakening of the yen in order to stimulate foreign investment, and a sales tax in April that flattened the public’s spending. Another sales tax increase is proposed for next year, bringing an additional wave of criticism with it. Abe called for the “snap election” to seek a “renewed mandate” for continuing his administration’s reforms, hoping to counter news media criticism.

On the surface, the election was a landslide victory for the LDP and its coalition partner party, the Buddhist-backed New Komeito. But, it actually made little difference in the political demographic within the Lower House. The coalition already held a 2/3 majority, allowing it to chair all seventeen standing committees in the House. This virtually assures the continuation of smooth passage of all bills at the committee level before being put to a vote in the chamber. It also allows to Lower House to over-ride decisions made in the upper house (i.e. Senate). It further means Abe will remain as Prime Minister, which is not a surprise to anyone.

The Yomiuri Shimbun reports that number of representatives from the ruling coalition increased by only one, and stands at 326 of the 475 seats. One the other hand, only about 55% of all eligible voters actually voted, which was the lowest ever. Most news outlets say the election outcome was largely due to voter apathy. In addition, the LDP garnered only 48% of the total votes cast. As a result, the largely liberal Press is taking a “ho-hum” attitude to the election results. Mainichi Shimbun says the LDP victory is a “mandate that lacks any sense of exaltation”, Japan Times called it a “hollow victory”, the Diplomat dubs it an “ambiguous mandate”, and many other outlets say Abe won by default since there were no other viable parties presenting better options. The Asahi Shimbun went so far as to dub the snap election and abrupt move that caught the opposition parties off-guard, and “the political equivalent to Japan's surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on Dec. 7, 1941.” It thus seems the Japanese Press’ liberal demographic will likely continue its anti-Abe agenda. This indicates that very little has changed with respect to Japan’s socio-political landscape.

The same can be said about the issue of restarting Japan’s nukes. As was the case before Sunday, restarts will only occur after all new guidelines created by the Nuclear Regulation Authority have been met or exceeded and local public approval has been garnered. Progression toward the inevitable resumption of nuke operations will continue to limp along at a snail’s-pace. To be blunt, nothing will change on the nuclear front due to the election. To speculate otherwise seems unwarranted, either from a pronuclear or antinuclear stance.

It cannot be realistically denied that as the qualified nukes come on-line… one or two at a time with each station’s restart separated from the next by several months… Japan’s treacherous trade deficit will be lessened. This will surely bolster Abe’s effort to affect an economic recovery, but it will be a slow process. Despite a few Japanese news sources reporting to the contrary (e.g. Japan Times, Kyodo News), there is no reason to think the timetable for restarts will speed up or the number of nukes allowed to come on line will swell because of a Lower House election that did nothing more than maintain the status quo.

November 19, 2014

Fukushima Wastewater; Some Good News

The Japanese Press routinely reports on sudden increases in wastewater radioactivity at F. Daiichi. However, they fail to report on what is going right. Tepco has posted a small mountain of wastewater and atmospheric radiation data since early in 2012. (1) One person has written and said it’s all “gibberish” because there is so much of it. It takes someone with a radio-chemistry background, and a considerable amount of patience, to sort it all out. From time to time, I try to do just that for everyone.

One wastewater topic I follow concerns the radioactive concentrations in the four turbine building basements at F. Daiichi of most concern (units 1-4). Un-reported by the Press is the fact that the levels of Cs-134, Cs-137, and Beta radiation emitters in the basements is steadily dropping for more than a year. While it is a slow process, it seems that Tepco’s effort to lower these concentrations is working. Here’s a data breakdown (with specific page links)…

A. Units #1 & #2 –

May 22, 2013… http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2013/images/tb_water_130531-e.pdf (Beta activity was not posted until November of 2013) -

unit #1 - Cs-134 at 1,700 Bq/ml, Cs-137 at 3,700 Bq/ml

unit #2  - Cs-134 at 17,000 Bq/ml, Cs-137 at 36,000 Bq/ml

January 15, 2014… http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2014/images/tb_water_140124-e.pdf (this is the most recent posting by Tepco I can find) -

unit #1 - Cs-134 at 1,000 Bq/ml, Cs-137 at 2,700 Bq/ml, and Beta at 3,900 Bq/ml

unit #2 – Cs-134 at 6,800 Bq/ml, Cs-137 at 17,000 Bq/ml, and Beta at 69,000 Bq/ml

B. Units 3 & 4 –

February 7, 2014… http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2014/images/tb_water_140225-e.pdf  -

Unit #3 - Cs-134 at 7,500 Bq/ml, Cs-137 at 19,000 Bq/ml, and Beta activity at 58,000 Bq/ml

Unit #4 – Cs-134 at 1,900 Bq/ml, Cs-137 at 4,500 Bq/ml, and Beta at 9,200 Bq/ml

October 21, 2014… http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2014/images/tb_water_141118-e.pdf -

Unit #3 – Cs-134 at 6,100 Bq/ml, Cs-137 at 20,000 Bq/ml, and Beta at 40,000 Bq/ml

Unit #4 – Cs-134 at 120 Bq/ml, Cs-137 at 360 Bq/ml, and Beta at 590 Bq/ml

For the 8 month period depicted for units 1&2; the unit #1 levels have dropped over 40% for Cs-134 and 27% for Cs-137. For unit #2, Cs-134 dropped 54% and Cs-137 by 53%. For the 8 month period relative to units 3&4; unit #3’s Cs-134 diminished by about 25% and Beta activity by 45% The numbers with unit #4 are literally eye-popping; Cs-134 activity dropped nearly 94%, Cs-137 by 92%, and Beta activity by more than 94%! Of course, unit #4 did not have a meltdown and does not need to cool the damaged fuel (or corium) we have in the other three units. Regardless, all decreases are much greater than can be attributed to radioactive decay. Tepco should be commended for their wastewater decontamination effort.

Does this equate to a significant success story? Without a doubt! Does the Japanese Press consider it newsworthy? I guess not.

References :

1- the Tepco radiological data and archives are entitled Handouts at Press Conference can be found here… http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/index-e.html

November 16, 2014

235th Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers

The Hiroshima Syndrome’s Fukushima Commentary is proudly hosting the 235th Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers. This week’s edition includes articles by John Dobken, Meredith Angwin, Dan Yurman, Rod Adams, Will Davis, Brian Wang, Robert Hayes, and Leslie Corrice.

Here’s the Fact or Fiction(?) quiz for this week… Wilhelm Roentgen’s picture of the bones in his wife’s hand was the first x-ray photograph ever taken. Fact or fiction?

Now…for this week’s Blogs. To read the full articles, please click on the individual links. Blog topics for this edition include… A congresswoman endorses small nuclear reactors, energy’s role in Vermont’s gubernatorial election, the story of the Fukushima accident is now in print, energy deals between China and the USA, nuclear safety should be based on science, and an important podcast by radiation experts.

From Northwest Clean Energy (2) by John Dobken -

State Senator Sharon Brown Endorses SMRs for a Clean Energy Future

http://northwestcleanenergy.wordpress.com/2014/11/12/state-sen-sharon-brown-endorses-smrs-for-a-clean-energy-future/

(and)

Columbia Generating Station sets personal best for longest generation run

 http://northwestcleanenergy.wordpress.com/2014/11/13/columbia-generating-station-sets-personal-best-for-longest-generation-run/

From Yes Vermont Yankee by Meredith Angwin

Energy and the Vermont Election

http://yesvy.blogspot.com/2014/11/energy-and-vermont-election.html#.VGiteyhCrA4 

From Neutron Bytes by Dan Yurman (2) –

On the Brink: The Inside Story of Fukushima Daiichi

http://neutronbytes.com/2014/11/15/on-the-brink-the-inside-story-of-fukushima-daiichi/

(and)

How one of Japan’s leading newspapers came to grief getting the story wrong

 (same Link as above – scroll down)

From ANS Nuclear Café (2)

Root Cause of Vogtle and VC Summer Delays

 http://ansnuclearcafe.org/2014/11/12/root-cause-of-vogtle-and-vc-summer-delays/

(and)

Thorium Shines Brightly at ANS Winter Meeting 

 http://ansnuclearcafe.org/2014/11/14/thorium-shines-brightly-at-ans-winter-meeting/

From Next Big Future by Brian Wang (3) –

Big Climate Deal Between US and China Would Require China to Build 1000 Gigawatts of Nuclear or other zero emission energy by 2030

 http://nextbigfuture.com/2014/11/big-climate-deal-between-us-and-china.html

(and)

Supercritical Water-Cooled Reactor

 Supercritical-Water-Cooled Reactor (SCWR) are high temperature, high-pressure, light-water-cooled reactors that operate above the thermodynamic critical point of water (374°C, 22.1 MPa). http://nextbigfuture.com/2014/11/supercritical-water-cooled-reactor.html

(and)

Russia will build eight more nuclear reactors in Iran

 http://nextbigfuture.com/2014/11/russia-will-build-eight-more-nuclear.html

From NewsOK Contributor Robert Hayes

Scientifically safe 101

 http://newsok.com/article/5367634/?no_cache=1&no_edit=1

From The Hiroshima Syndrome’s Fukushima Commentary by Leslie Corrice –

Podcast on radiological protection makes perfect sense

 http://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/fukushima-commentary.html

*                      *                      *

Fact or Fiction(?) quiz answer – Fiction.

The x-ray picture of Bertha Roentgen’s hand was certainly one of the first, but probably not THE first x-ray picture taken by Wilhelm Roentgen. It seems that he had taken an x-ray photograph of his own hand more than a month before making the famous picture of his wife’s hand. The picture of his wife’s hand was shared with colleagues and became the popular “first x-ray” image found in most historical sources. It is not known what happened to Roentgen’s picture of his own hand. http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/30693/title/The-First-X-ray--1895/

November 14, 2014

Podcast on radiological protection makes perfect sense

On October 14th, the World Nuclear Association posted a podcast concerning the issue of radiological protection. (1) Or rather… a collaborative statement on what has happened in the recent past that sent the wrong message to the public – specifically, the unfortunate message sent to the Japanese people due to their government’s mandated evacuation following the Fukushima accident. WNA assembled four of the world’s most prestigious experts on the subject and literally turned them loose on each other. But remarkably, they were clearly all on the same page and sent out a powerful message – reactive philosophy relative to radiation issues is a disaster, and those who really know what the truth need to become pro-active.

The link is at the end of this commentary, but I feel it is important to summarize what I believe are the most critical of the ideas presented in the podcast. Why? Because most people don’t think they have time for a 46 minute devotion of their life for this. I strongly urge that everyone…EVERYONE…reading this MAKE the time. This is incredible stuff. Hey, I had an epiphany or two along the way. Give yourself the opportunity to do the same.

  • We have met the enemy, and it is us. With official groups reacting to radiological incidents/accidents by saying “we’ll make it safer”, the public rationally believes the subject of the problem must necessarily be unsafe. This is not only the fault of government regulatory bodies, but also the fault of the so-called “industry” involved. We should be asking - are we really making things safer, or are we merely making it seem that way? IF something is already inordinately safe, it makes no sense to say that it can be made safer! Thus, being reactive and cowering in a state of mea culpa is NOT the way to go.

  • There WILL always be radiological incidents made to seem significant by the press and vote-hungry politicians. They WILL receive Press coverage. Instead of waiting for the foreseeable to happen and re