Fukushima Commentary

Fukushima Commentary

These postings generally 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... http://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/fukushima-the-first-five-days.html

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. Available at Amazon/Kindle. http://www.amazon.com/Kimin-Forgotten-Leslie-E-Corrice-ebook/dp/B00GMPBSTO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1384733832&sr=8-1&keywords=Kimin%3A+Japan%27s+Forgotten+People  and Barnes & Noble (Nook) http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/Kimin--Japan-s-Forgotten-People?keyword=Kimin%3A+Japan%27s+Forgotten+People&store=book 

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April 11, 2014

Arnie Gundersen’s Fukushima hot particle myth

Hot particles are produced by nuclear weapon detonations, and do not come from nuclear power plant accident releases. However, prolific antinuclear pundit Arnie Gundersen is making a concerted effort to have the world think that hot particles also come from nuke plants, especially Fukushima Daiichi. His latest “evidence” comes from a professional civil engineer in Massachusetts who has been trying for three years to use this contrived hot particle notion as a basis for getting a PhD…without success. Further, Gundersen makes one of the most convoluted conspiracy theory claims to yet come out of the Fukushima realm of distorted journalism.

A hot particle is a tiny, discrete radioactive fragment measuring less than 1 millimeter in size and can cause extremely high exposures to localized areas in a short amount of time. It is produced by the shattering of materials that are either naturally radioactive or have become radioactive by exposure to neutron radiation. Hot particles are almost always associated with nuclear weapon detonations, but can be caused by machining, cutting or grinding radioactive metals. (1)  With bomb blasts, the earth and any structures beneath the explosion are literally pulverized. With bombs, the cloud of pulverized material is blasted upwards and engulfed by the intense field of neutrons in the expanding fireball. Neutron is the only type of radiation that can make non-radioactive substances radioactive. This is called “neutron activation”. This is how the pulverized particles thrown up by the blast become highly radioactive. Included in the cloud are tiny fragments of the Uranium or Plutonium core of the bomb itself, and become a part of the hot particle matrix. Most of the hot particles are too large and too heavy to be carried very far by the wind. Nearly all of them fall out of the dissipating cloud within 50 kilometers of the blast’s center. The smaller hot particles, no more than 1 mm in size, can be carried up to 100 kilometers. (2) Also, by definition, hot particles are not soluble; they cannot dissolve in water.

Hot particles emit Alpha (α) radiation. Alpha particles (they are not “rays” like gamma and x-ray radiation) are actually the nuclei of helium atoms with two neutrons and two protons, but no electrons spinning about the nucleus. This is a form of radiation that cannot penetrate much at all and even the most powerful α cannot make it through a single sheet of toilet tissue. Hot particle α radiation cannot go through skin and irradiate living tissue. Thus, hot particle exposure is primarily specific to the skin due to the rain-out of the material from the high-altitude cloud of material. For the most part, hot particle research has focused on Uranium and/or Plutonium metal fragments found downwind of bomb blasts. It is unusual to find fission products in hot particles, and only in tiny concentrations relative to the matrix of activation products and/or bomb core fragments. The only nuclear accident that has previously been connected to hot particles is Chernobyl, which was caused by a massive steam explosion immediately followed by at least one significant hydrogen detonation sufficient to dislodge the 1,000 ton upper biological shield which fell into the reactor compartment itself and crushed the core. But, the Chernobyl hot particles were found within the 30 kilometer evacuation radius, almost entirely tiny Uranium and Plutonium fuel fragments, and in miniscule concentrations. For all intents and purposes, hot particles are quite specific to bomb blasts and facilities that process nuclear materials for bombs.

Ever since the Fukushima accident resulted in traces of Plutonium isotopes found outside the site’s property boundary at F. Daiichi, Arnie Gundersen has been spouting that hot particles were expunged and could be found far, far away. In October of 2011, a civil engineer from Massachusetts, Marco Kaltofen, posted the claim that he had found Fukushima hot particles in American soils and in various dust filters from Japan. (3) Kaltofen has been trying to use his findings to get a PhD, but has not been successful. Regardless, Gundersen has recently posted a new Fairewinds video featuring Kaltofen called “The Hottest Particle”, (4) and makes two preposterous claims. First during the introduction, Gundersen says if it was produced in Japan “the State Secrets Law would likely prevent us from issuing this video.” Second at the end of the video, Gundersen says “Fairewinds has long said that there will be significant increases in cancer in Japan as a result of the Fukushima Daiichi accident, and this video describing just one hot particle confirms our worst fears.”

In the first case, Japan’s new secrecy law would not prevent the video from being disseminated. There are a myriad of antinuclear websites in Japan (not to mention the majority of the popular Press) that have gone further over the edge that this convoluted video. Perhaps the most bizarre claim was made by a Tokyo professor who claimed the aftershocks at F. Daiichi in 2011 were not aftershocks at all. He claimed they were really hydro-volcanic explosions deep in the earth caused by molten Fukushima cores burning their way into underground aquifers, and Tokyo was covering it up. There have been a number of other such preposterous claims released to the Japanese internet since then, all of which are at least as provocative as Gundersen’s hot particle fantasy, and none of them were stopped by Tokyo! Besides, the only aspect of nuclear power plants which seems applicable to the secrecy law would be plant security measures to stop terrorists and such. Gundersen is actually making a veiled appeal to common conspiracy theory, and does no more than cement this observer’s view that he is nothing less than a street corner prophet.

The second claim of verification of a future cancer epidemic in Japan deserves a deeper look. To begin, Gundersen’s “expert”, Marco Kaltofen, changes the definition of hot particle to fit his agenda. He defines them as highly radioactive dust particles from a nuclear accident. He adds that if they are carried by the air, they must be included in internal exposure estimates, even if they are not ingested. The “hottest particle” he focusses on is not a fragment caused by an explosion of any kind. He found a clump of dust inside a vacuum cleaner bag sent to him from a home about 460 kilometers southwest of F. Daiichi. Kaltofen says this one glob is so radioactive that the full bag registered 300 Becquerels of activity. By using a crude partitioning methodology and an Exacto-knife, he found the dust clump which he says measured so highly that if there were a kilogram of it, the activity would be 40 million-trillion Becquerels. He says the dust clump by itself has a 70% chance of killing a person ingesting it.  

The “hottest particle” was said to contain mostly three isotopes Cs-134, Cs-137, and Radium-226. Of course Cesium isotopes do not qualify as actual hot particle constituents because they are fission products, and not due to neutron activation. Further, they do not emit Alpha radiation. They give off weak Betas and Gammas. On the other hand, Ra-226 doesn’t qualify either because it is (1) naturally-occurring and found everywhere around the world, (2) is a highly unlikely isotope to be released from a nuclear reactor meltdown, and (3) is too heavy an isotope to be carried more than a few kilometers regardless of weather conditions. Kaltofen also mentions there was some Cobalt-60, which is also naturally-occurring and not produced by nuclear reactor fuel fissioning. Plus, he says there is “a whole zoo of isotopes that you’ll probably never hear about on CNN but you’d have to be a physicist to understand.” Regardless, the “hot dust clump” he picked from the vacuum cleaner bag in no way qualifies to be a hot particle by anyone’s definition other than the Kaltofen and antinuclear fear-salesmen like Gundersen.

Let’s face it, the dust clump was probably squeezed together by numerous vacuuming operations over a period of weeks and concentrated by the process itself. For all we know, the clump was compacted by Kaltofen’s makeshift Exacto-knife procedure. In addition, the huge activity number cited by Kaltofen (4X1019 Becquerels) is an enormous extrapolation. There would have to be an entire kilogram of the stuff to reach that huge activity level, however it is but one tiny glob. What the dust clump itself has for specific activity is not stated. Clearly, Kaltofen uses the all-too-routine posting of a huge, (in this case) concocted number to make it seem extremely significant. No wonder he has not been granted a PhD in the last three years! This is a clear case of pseudo-science.

Now, here’s the part that really sets me off. Gundersen ends the video by saying, “It is solid scientific material like this that you will not see or hear via traditional news stories, TEPCO, or the IAEA. Fairewinds has long said that there will be significant increases in cancer in Japan as a result of the Fukushima Daiichi accident, and this video describing just one hot particle confirms our worst fears.” (Emphasis added) First, the video as evidence is about as solid as overly-cooked noodles…if that. Second, the reason you don’t find this anywhere else is because it is absolute balderdash. The Press around the world might have a strong antinuclear agenda, but they draw the line at pure nonsense. And, finally, Kaltofen’s folly in no way confirms Gundersen’s worse fears for a major cancer increase in Japan’s future. But, it does confirm that Gundersen will grasp even the most flimsy straw to try and keep his fantastic Fukushima forecasts alive.

References –

1 - http://health.phys.iit.edu/archives/2010-May/028745.html  

2 - http://www.iaea.org/Publications/Magazines/Bulletin/Bull404/40405084346.pdf 

3 - https://apha.confex.com/apha/139am/webprogram/Paper254015.html 

4 – http://fairewinds.org/hottest-particle/

April 5, 2014

Harvey Wasserman goes over the edge…Again!

Harvey Wasserman has made a career out of condemning nuclear power. He is unabashed in his use of the “cherry-picking” strategy to provide alleged evidence for his speculations, exaggerations and outright confabulations. Wasserman has fine-tuned his rhetorical methods for more than three decades; ever since the Three Mile Island accident in 1979. But now, he has coined a phrase likely to become the new buzz-word with the antinuclear demographic around the world…nuclear omnicide. In other words, Wasserman has a new term to use when spouting that nuclear energy threatens the existence of the human race.

In his latest diatribe, “The Nuclear Omnicide”, Wasserman pulls out all the stops, citing so many traditional antinuclear arguments that it would be counter-productive to refute them all. However, there are two that bear serious attention.

The first concerns an article recently posted in the Smithsonian Magazine (he calls it a “Smithsonian report” to make it sound more impressive), Forests Around Chernobyl Aren’t Decaying Properly. The article concerns a March, 2014 report by infamous antinuclear “researcher” Timothy Mousseau entitled Highly reduced mass loss rates and increased litter layer in radioactively contaminated areas. It matters not that the Mousseau paper drips with questionable methodology and pre-conceived agenda. Undaunted, Wasserman proclaims it to be undeniable proof that Chernobyl contamination (and, by association, any releases from nuclear plants anywhere) has disrupted the typical cycle of decomposition of detritus on forest floors. He cites Nuwer as saying, “Decomposers—organisms such as microbes, fungi and some types of insects that drive the process of decay—have also suffered from the contamination. These creatures are responsible for an essential component of any ecosystem: recycling organic matter back into the soil.” It doesn’t matter that Nuwer (and Mousseau) did not test for any possible cause(s) of the alleged reduction in decomposition, and merely assumed it is due to Chernobyl contamination – guilt by association, if you will. It matters not that Mosseau and company is using Chernobyl as a convenient scapegoat. Regardless, this is where Wasserman dives over the edge. He concludes “The microorganisms that form the active core of our ecological bio-cycle have apparently been zapped, leaving tree trunks, leaves, ferns and other vegetation to sit eerily on the ground whole, essentially in a mummified state.”


The biological effects of radiation exposure have been studied for more than a century, with the most intense research having occurred over the past three decades. Adverse impacts on forest detritus has never been connected to radiation exposure before. Plus, the connection alluded to by Wasserman (via Nuwer and Mosseau) would surely have been noticed in forested, well-populated locations around the world with much, much higher natural background levels than what is the case with the forests around Chernobyl; locations such as the coast along the beaches of Brazil, The Kerala region of India, and the region around Ramsar, Iran. If the forests in those locations were in any kind of mummified state, surely someone would have noticed by now.

It is routinely touted in the popular Press, and always trumpeted by the antinuclear sector, that we really don’t know the risks of low level radiation exposure. In a way, it’s true. If there are no risks (which increasingly seems to be the case) then we will never know the risks. We’ll just keep looking and looking until who-knows-when before it is no longer an issue. But, instead of leaving it at that, pundits like Wasserman continually come up with speculations on new, fantasy-based assumptions of radiation hazards. Radiation is the world’s boogie man. Next thing we know, Wasserman will try to make a connection between radiation and zombies!

It should be noted that the Mosseau report says nothing about the forests being in am mummified state. It says that the amount of detritus found through his convoluted methodology shows a reduction of up to 40% in some locations. In fact, the notion of mummification isn’t even remotely implied. Wasserman made that allusion up. 

Before addressing the next point, I want to cover a commonly-used rhetorical tactic employed by antinuclear pundits like Wasserman. It’s called “cherry-picking”; the selective choosing of evidence to support an argument. When used honestly, cherry-picking provides the audience with the best-possible information that coincides with the writer’s perspective, which frees them from the tedious reading of a long, exhaustive citation. The abbreviated citation should be entirely in context with the source reference. However, many antinuclear writers will cherry-pick convenient citations and use them entirely out of the context with the references they came from. But, the most extreme violation of the practice seems to be what I call “triple dot cherry-picking”. In this case, the citation only the most convenient parts of sentences which are plucked out and reassembled by connecting the fragments with the triple-dot, “…”.

Let’s see how this ploy can be used to inveigle the audience. If a person might write “This or that is something I would never, under any circumstances, do”, by chopping out the unwanted part of the statement and re-connecting the remainder we get “This or that is something I would…do.” The actual implementation of triple-dot rhetoric employs much more subtlety in order to make the ploy believable, otherwise the reader will see what is being done and possibly reject the whole thing. But, I think elementary example I have used gets the point across. Cherry-picking out of context with the referent is dishonest, to say the least.

Wasserman’s second gross use of the printed word concerns a cherry-picked quotation by former Navy nuclear czar, Hyman Rickover. As a former Navy nuclear sailor who served under the Admiral’s regime, including but one very brief encounter during a training exercise, I take the most extreme umbrage with this one. First, Wasserman took the Rickover “quote” from…uh…um…he never cites his source. This is red flag #1 – we can’t say whether or not it is verifiable or fabricated. Second, let’s assume it came from another notorious antinuclear cherry-picker who did post something like this in 2010 – Karl Grossman. If this is, in fact, where Wasserman got it from, he literally cherry-picked the cherry-picker. (Rather than extend this Commentary to unwieldy length, please compare and contrast references #1 and #4 listed at the end) Grossman’s use of Rickover’s words is entirely out-of-context. They were actually taken from a 300 page congressional transcript of the Admiral’s testimony before congress after he was forced to resign at the age of 82.  The vast majority of his testimony concerned nuclear weapons, and not nuclear power plants. In fact, when he was asked, “In view of the experience with Three Mile Island and the other accidents and mishaps, do you believe that civilian nuclear reactors can be operated safely?”, Rickover responded “Absolutely, sir.” Clearly, Grossman’s use of Rickover’s testimony to make it seem decidedly antinuclear is dishonest, in itself. (For a more complete breakdown of Grossman’s misuse of the testimony, see Rod Adam’s Admiral Rickover’s Final Testimony to Congress, below) To reiterate, Rickover’s cited testimony concerned bombs and their fallout…not nuclear reactors. And the several instances of triple-dot rhetoric in Wasserman’s essay drops it even deeper into the realm of deceit.

Wasserman not citing the source of his Rickover “quote” is bad enough. Use of triple-dot cherry-picking makes it even worse. But, when we look at what Rickover actually said, in context with the reference, we find rhetorical skullduggery at its worst. Wasserman alleges that Rickover said, “But every time you produce radiation, you produce something that has life, in some cases for billions of years, and I think there the human race is going to wreck itself, and it’s far more important that we get control of this horrible force and try to eliminate it.” What Rickover actually said was, “Ultimately, we will need nuclear power because we are exhausting our non-renewable energy resources; that is, coal and oil.” He then briefly shifts to the subject of radiation and the need to control it. Soon, he returns to the subject of fossil fuels and says, “There are, of course, many other things mankind is doing which, in the broadest sense, are having an adverse impact, such as using up scarce resources. I think the human race is ultimately going to wreck itself. It is important that we control these forces and try to eliminate them.”

In other words, Wasserman entirely misquoted the Admiral, and it can in no way be unintentional! Wasserman didn’t even have the journalistic decency to place his fabricated “But, every time you use radiation, you produce something that has life” in brackets, or use the triple-dot ploy. This is not merely well-crafted disinformation… it is evil personified.


1 – Wasserman, Harvey; The Nuclear Omnicide; http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/04/02/the-nuclear-omnicide/?utm_source=feedly&utm_reader=feedly&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=the-nuclear-omnicide

2 – Nuwer, Rachel; Forests Around Chernobyl Aren’t Decaying Properly; http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/forests-around-chernobyl-arent-decaying-properly-180950075/?no-ist

3 – Mosseau, Timothy, et. al.; Highly reduced mass loss rates and increased litter layer in radioactively contaminated areas; http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00442-014-2908-8 (abstract only; report behind pay wall)

4 – Grossman, Karl; The Push to Revive Nuclear Power; November 8, 2010. http://karlgrossman.blogspot.com/2010/11/push-to-revive-nuclear-power.html  

5 – Adams, Rod; Admiral Rickover’s Final Testimony to Congress; November 10, 2010 http://atomicinsights.com/admiral-rickovers-final-testimony-to-congress/

March 28, 2014

The Quake/Tsunami’s Third Anniversary

Miyagi Prefecture’s coastline was one of the most tsunami-devastated regions of March 11, 2011. One of the most-often mentioned communities is Sendai City, where many heart-wrenching videos were shot by people at the airport using their smart phones. The world watched as the sea-surge overwhelmed the off-shore tsunami barrier and swept away tree groves planted to protect people from that kind of disaster. The water did not stop, it did not even slow down. It simply kept coming, devouring fields and homes and streets, pushing ever-deeper inland. Over 1,300 residents died and thousands more were made permanently homeless by the raging torrent. Three years have passed and nearly all of the debris and hardened mud left by the tsunami have been removed. What is left is a virtual no-man’s land devoid of human life. A few new anti-tsunami sea walls are being built through government funding, and new wave-mitigating trees have been planted, but the towns and residences that once filled the coast are not being repopulated. Some refugees live in cramped temporary apartments hastily built by the government, while others have relocated to locally-funded housing units further inland. Yet more have given up and moved to other parts of Japan out of frustration. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140312p2a00m0na003000c.html

The situation in Sendai is representative of the entire 400 kilometer coastline, stretching from southern Fukushima to northern Iwate Prefectures. More than 450,000 people fled the coastline and over 300,000 lost everything to the relentless seawater onslaught. About 20,000 are listed as killed or missing by the Tohoku region police. It is estimated that 267,000 remain refugees; numbers that include roughly 70,000 people who remain estranged from the Fukushima nuclear evacuation zone. 97,000 Tohoku refugees now live in make-shift housing units, most of were built for nuclear evacuees. Most, if not all devastated communities suffer from a slow rate of reconstruction and an ever-increasing exodus of former residents. On the third anniversary, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged greater help to the refugees, "We are entering the fourth year [since the tsunami]. I want to make this a year in which [people] can achieve greater reconstruction than before." But, his words are little solace to those who remain homeless and hopeless. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140310p2g00m0dm045000c.html

Disaster support workers say survivors find it difficult to seek help in a country that generally stigmatizes mental suffering and prizes quiet stoicism. Tsuyoshi Akiyama, the chairman of the Japanese Society of Psychiatry and Neurology’s disaster support committee, says, “Japanese hesitate to use mental health support - not only mental health support, but support in general.” In other words, the existing disaster refugees are culturally conditioned to suffer in silence, especially those not from the nuclear evacuation zone. One prime example is the town of Rikuzentakata, Miyagi Prefecture, where approximately 2,300 were killed on that fateful day; fully 10% of the city’s population. The city itself was literally “wiped off the map”. (Wiped off the map: The moment apocalyptic tsunami waves drown a sleepy coast town") Some 5,000 Rikuzentakata refugees remain in temporary shelters with their lives literally on hold. Most of the tsunami debris has been removed, replaced by an overgrown no-man’s land where the community once stood. At night, darkness and eerie silence envelops everything. Now, three years after their day of horror, frustration is causing resentment between those who had the means to rebuild homes inland, and those who could not afford it themselves. Ayako Sato, a psychologist hired by the Rikuzentakata city board, says, “In the first year, there [was] a collective feeling of working together, of overcoming this together. In the second year, everyone wants to help each other because everyone suffered a loss in the disaster. But by the third year, you start to see a rift in living standards. People drift apart.” The number of those who have developed mental health problems is not known. City Hall lists the number of post-disaster suicides at three. It is a dire and depressing situation. Rikuzentakata Mayor Futoshi Toba, who lost his wife in the tsunami, says the city must do what it can to rebuild, “There are people who feel better when they speak to someone, and then there are those who feel more traumatized when they remember the past.” http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/tsunami-survivors-suffer-in-silence-three-years-after-disaster?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2014-03-09_PM

All along the ~100-mile Miyagi coast, giant sea walls are slowly rising, designed to protect the region from being wrecked by another tsunami. Most of the cost is being paid by Tokyo. However, some Japanese don’t like it, including the Prime Minister’s wife! Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture, is having a 17-foot high sea wall erected, but many residents are upset with it. Fisherman Makoto Hatakeyama said, “We love this scenery and we’re worried about the environmental impact of sea wall construction, which would affect my livelihood.” But, Kesennuma official Mitsutaka Kodama from Miyagi’s harbor restoration department says that protecting the coast is more important. “Residential areas and evacuation routes must be protected by high walls.” At Oya Beach, Miyagi, residents don’t like the idea of a 30-feet high wall because it would block the view of the sea. Oya Beach was a seaside resort before 3/11/11. Local resident Tomoyuki Miura said, “Lots of us went to the shore, locals and out-of-towners alike. It was the pride of our community.” Oya dissidents wanted the government to consider other alternatives. Finally, the plans were changed to instead erect a 14-feet high barrier. The fact that the 3/11/11 tsunami was over 21 feet high seems to have been forgotten.

Japan’s First Lady Akie Abe supports the Kesennuma tsunami wall dissidents. She says that while the plans meet government standards, she feels the planned wall might not protect the community from worst-case waves. Plus, it will harm the natural ecosystem and make the beaches unattractive.  “While I do understand that seawalls need to have a certain height, I couldn't see how standards for the size of the construction were decided. The massive seawalls would work against local needs by destroying an ecosystem and creating unattractive areas where people can't see the ocean. They are costly and I don't think the government should build what is more than necessary.” The Miyagi governor,   Yoshihiro Murai, disagrees and told Mrs. Abe why. He said he saw many who lost everything and doesn’t want his people to ever suffer like that again. But, the First Lady responded, "Not everyone agrees with the project. Even if the seawalls offer safety to towns, it would be meaningless if they became unappealing to young people and drove them out of the towns." She says none of the Kesennuma residents have told her they want the wall, so she must support those who have said they are against it. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140312p2a00m0na014000c.html (Comment - Clearly, Mrs. Abe has fallen prey to the “squeaky wheel” school of politics. She was in Tokyo at the time of the tsunami and did not experience the pain and suffering of the victims first hand. Thus, she is rejecting the opinion of someone who did; the Miyagi governor.)

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Not all of the third anniversary reports were as gloomy or short-sighted as those above. Two stand out, in this writer’s opinion. The first concerns the Miyagi town of Onagawa. Before addressing the third anniversary Onagawa report, some background seems important. The town was perhaps the closest to the 3/11/11 earthquake of any along the Tohoku coastline and experienced what some sources say was the worst ground movement of any location in Japan. The town is squeezed between the foothills of nearby mountains and the sea. Thus, the majority of the more than 11,000 people living there were clustered within a kilometer of the sea. Onagawa was also the first town to be struck by the tsunami. The peak water surge was more than 15 meters (~fifty feet) high, engulfing everything within a kilometer of the shore. 1,300 Onagawa residents are listed as dead or missing, which is more than a tenth of the pre-disaster population.

The town is also host to the Onagawa nuclear station. The station was built with a shore-line sea wall more than 14 meters (46 feet) above mean sea level, and was hit by a 13 meter-high wave, so it was virtually unaffected by the tsunami. However, hundreds of people living near the station fled there after the earthquake, fearing a tsunami was on the way. All of them were spared the mortal impact of the sea-torrent, although all of them had their homes completely swept away. Nearly all stayed at the station for the first week after the catastrophe, fed and bedded as guests of the Tohoku Power Company. Many stayed longer, until they could find suitable temporary housing elsewhere. Although the Onagawa station proved that well-designed nukes can withstand the worst Mother Nature has to offer, precious little has been reported in the Press about this incredible success story.

The Kesennuma third anniversary story concerns an architect, Shigeru Ban, who designed and built a 189-unit apartment facility for refugees on a city sports complex. The units are tiny, ranging between 200 square feet and 400 ft2,but people taking refuge there find them comfortable and efficiently-built. The apartments contain shelves and adjustable-height tables to allow effective use of space, bringing praise from the evacuees. As a result, Ban has received the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140325p2a00m0na007000c.html

The second un-gloomy report concerns the Kamaishi Hikari seafood processing factory of Toni, Japan. The entire Toni port was obliterated by the tsunami. There are about half of Toni’s 1,800 remaining residents living in temporary housing, but many have left or plan to leave because they cannot afford to wait for the help promised by Tokyo after 3/11/11. More than 25,000 emergency housing units were promised for the refugees along the coastline, but (as those who follow Fukushima Accident Updates already know) only about 2,000 have been built, about the same number languish in partial completion. The remaining more than 20,000 promised units are unstarted due to administrative hang-ups and lack of funds.

Kamaishi Hikari only employs 25 people, but it does provide a place where hundreds of local fishermen sell their catches of octopus, squid, salmon and mackerel at above-scale prices. Company head Shoichi Sato says, “I need to be able to pay the fishermen more for their fish, or they won’t manage to stay in business. That’s apart from making any money here ourselves.” The processing facility seems to be the only Toni business that has restarted in the last three years. Businesses throughout the Tohoku region face many obstacles to recovery including shortages of financing and construction workers and materials, lengthy delays in administrative approvals, and overburdened transport networks. With the seafood company, it was the Qatar Fund Foundation and other philanthropic groups that provided funds to buy equipment and give advice on how to best run the new business. However, Mr. Sato says they got “zero” help from Tokyo because the government refuses to subsidize new businesses. In addition, it took the prefectural government over a year to approve Sato’s little factory, which uses an innovative freezing process to package fish, seafood and seaweed for direct sales to a Tokyo supermarket and a sushi chain.

The problems overcome by Sato are all-too common with respect to Tohoku recovery. In Miyagi, only 18 of the 142 ports wiped out in the disaster have reopened. If the roadblocks and delays that face tsunami-devastated Tohoku were happening to Fukushima evacuees, the Press would be all over it like white on rice. But, because it is not a Fukushima nuclear-related issue, it has been ignored until now. Hopefully, articles like the two above will begin to bring the kind of Press focus the tsunami victims deserve. Otherwise, the tsunami refugees will forever be known as Kimin - Japan’s forgotten people. http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/tsunami-wrecked-fishing-ports-find-new-life?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2014-03-17_AM

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Below is a comment from a reader of this piece...

Really? Dying for a view of the sea? Dying for the ecosystem? What do tsunami's do to the ecosystem? It's natural, right? Like botulism toxin? Have a teaspoon of that with your designer coffee!

Every one of these loons should be marched though Fudai to see the difference a seawall can make in saving 3000 lives, their home, and their businesses.

"The huge sea wall and floodgates took 12 years to build and had been widely regarded as a £20million folly. But today one former Japanese mayor is being hailed as a savior after the grandiose construction allowed his small town escaped the devastation wrought by the March 11 tsunami. In the rubble of Japan's northeast coast, Fudai stands as tall as ever after. No homes were swept away. In fact, they barely got wet. The 3,000 residents owe their lives to the late Kotaku Wamura, who lived through an earlier tsunami and made it a priority of his four-decade tenure as mayor to defend his people from the next one."


Some issues may have 50 shades of gray. This isn't one of them. There's black and white. Kill the people. Save the people. Pick one. The Japanese government should give Kotaku Wamura their highest possible posthumous award, somewhere along the lines of a USA Congressional Medal of Honor or a Nobel Peace Prize. Rarely does one man's leadership single handedly save 3000 lives. Numerically, that's like a reverse September 11, a reverse Pearl Harbor! Where is Wamura's due recognition? Where is his bigger than life statue?

March 23, 2014

201st Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers

The Hiroshima Syndrome’s Fukushima Commentary is proudly hosting the 201st Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers. This week’s edition has articles from Gail Marcus, Jim Hopf, Will Davis, Brian Wang, Rod Adams, and (yours truly) Les Corrice.

Here’s the Fact or Fiction (?) quiz for this week…Albert Einstein was forced to leave high school (Luitpold Gymnasium in Munich, Switzerland) early due to poor grades. Fact or Fiction? The answer is at the end of the listed blogs.

Now…for this week’s Blogs. To read the full articles, please click on the individual links. Blog topics for this edition include – USNRC’s Commissioner Magwood moving to OECD/NEA in September, Part II of “Persistent Prejudice Against Nuclear”, the CAP and Power Demonstration Reactors, China’s new push to develop Thorium-fueled reactors in ten years, and much more.


From Nuke Power Talk

New Director-General for the OECD/NEA: USNRC Commissioner Magwood to Take the Post

This week's news included the announcement that William Magwood, currently a Commissioner at the NRC, will be taking over the position of Director-General of the OECD/NEA this coming September.  At Nuke Power Talk, Gail Marcus (who worked for Magwood while he was at DOE, and who also worked at the OECD/NEA) comments on the NEA and some of the challenges ahead, as well as on the impact of his departure from the Commission. http://nukepowertalk.blogspot.com/2014/03/new-director-general-for-oecdnea.html


From ANS Nuclear Café – (2)

Persistent Prejudice Against Nuclear—Can Anything Be Done? Part 3

Jim Hopf explores the prospects for challenging the biased and unfair treatment of nuclear energy under current policies and regulations—in court. http://ansnuclearcafe.org/2014/03/18/persistent-prejudice-against-nuclear-can-anything-be-done-part-3/


Eisenhower’s Atomic Power for Peace III: CAP and Power Demonstration Reactors

Some seem to believe the government funded all the early nuclear power development in the US – which is not at all the case. Part 3 of Will Davis’ “Eisenhower's Atomic Power for Peace” series looks at two programs begun in the mid-1950s to help launch the era of commercial nuclear power reactors—the Civilian Application Program, and the Power Demonstration Reactor Program http://ansnuclearcafe.org/2014/03/20/eisenhowers-atomic-power-for-peace-iii-cap-and-power-demonstration-reactors/


From Next Big Future – (2)

China targets new molten salt thorium nuclear reactors by 2024 with war-like pressure to accelerate solution to killer air pollution

The deadline to develop a new design for thorium nuclear power plants has been brought forward by 15 years as the central government tries to reduce the nation's reliance on smog-producing coal-fired power
stations. A team of scientists in Shanghai had originally been given 25 years to try to develop the world's first nuclear plant using the radioactive element thorium as fuel rather than uranium Researchers say they have been given a new time-table of ten years. http://nextbigfuture.com/2014/03/china-targets-new-molten-salt-thorium.html


Two Sendai nuclear reactors placed on priority screening list for reactor restarts in Japan

Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) placed two reactors operated by Kyushu Electric Power Co on a list for priority screening at a meeting of officials reviewing restart applications. Kyushu Electric's Sendai reactors are located about 980 kilometers (600 miles) southwest of Tokyo, on the third-largest island of the Japanese Archipelago. Regulators will now draft an official approval document for the shutdown Sendai reactors, with input from local communities, which may take as long as four weeks. Further inspections and maintenance work will be required before restarting a plant. http://nextbigfuture.com/2014/03/two-sendai-nuclear-reactors-placed-on.html


From Atomic Insights – (2)

Why is Radiation Biology Funding Disappearing?

You might be surprised to find out that the Department of Energy’s low dose radiation program, started in earnest more than a decade ago, has been essentially defunded. Since nuclear energy and other radiation-related technology have been under severe attack from competitive technologies for the past 50 years, I am suspicious of the motivations that led to decision to defund the program. http://atomicinsights.com/radiation-biology-funding-disappearing/


Ambulance-Chasing lawyer Taking Advantage of US Sailors

On March 19, 2014, Democracy Now aired a segment titled Fukushima Fallout: Ailing U.S. Sailors Sue TEPCO After Exposure to Radiation 30x Higher Than Normal, during which they gave a tort attorney a microphone with which to spout his nonsense about supposed health effects suffered by sailors who participated in Operation Tomodachi. However, there is plenty of evidence contradicting the absurd claim that the illnesses were caused by exposure to radioactive material. http://atomicinsights.com/ambulance-chasing-lawyer-taking-advantage-us-sailors/


From The Hiroshima Syndrome’s Fukushima Commentary

Fukushima Third Anniversary: International Press

The International Press has commemorated the third anniversary of the Fukushima accident with its usual negativity and appeal to uncertainty and doubt. We’ll first look at some important items that have been neglected or overlooked by the Japanese third anniversary Press, followed by common negative threads that run through the international reports, and finish with reports on former Japanese Prime Ministers who follow the antinuclear persuasion. http://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/fukushima-commentary.html


*     *     *


Fact or Fiction (?) answer –


Einstein’s academic record at the Gymnasium was outstanding, but he left the highly competitive school 1.5 years early. Here’s why - the Einstein family’s electrical manufacturing enterprise failed, first in Munich and then in Italy, where the family moved after the first business failure. They were soon followed by their son, who hated the Luitpold Gymnasium. A family friend, Gustav Maier, felt Albert was worthy of collegiate studies even though he was two years younger than the minimum age for matriculation, so he wrote to the Federal Technical Institute in Zurich, Switzerland, and argued the Einstein was a “wunderkinder” and deserved to be considered, at the very least. Albert subsequently applied to the prestigious Institute. The exam had to be filled out in French, the primary spoken language of Zurich. Albert received a failing grade because he was not fluent in French. The above sequence of events may have led to the misconception that Albert Einstein flunked out of school. It seems he could be viewed as a “drop-out”, of sorts, but he did not fail any prep school classes. One other possible source of the misconception might be that his grades from the last year at the Gymnasium were the numerical opposite of the previous 2 years. Einstein had a grade of “1” in math for two years, the highest possible score. But the school changed their grading system his last year there. A “6” was then the highest possible grade, which was the lowest one the year before. Of course, Albert got a “6”, which some history buffs have misrepresented as a failing grade. http://www.albert-einstein.org/article_handicap.html -- http://www.nytimes.com/1984/02/14/science/einstein-revealed-as-brilliant-in-youth.html?pagewanted=1



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