Fukushima Commentary 19...5/8/15- 8/2/15
August 2, 2015
271st/272nd Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers
The Hiroshima Syndrome’s Fukushima Commentary is proudly hosting this week’s edition of the Carnival of Nuclear Bloggers. Actually, it covers the past two weeks of blogs. This time, we have postings by Dr. Gail Marcus, John Dobken, Meredith Angwin, Rod Adams, and Brian Wang.
Here’s the Fact or Fiction (?) quiz for this week… United States’ nuclear power fleet set a capacity factor record in 2014.
Now…for this week’s Blogs. To read the full articles, please click on the individual links. Blog topics for this edition include… July’s nuclear energy anniversaries, Arnie Gundersen’s lack of fact with Washington’s Columbia nuke station, why Vermont’s renewable goals will only work if everyone moves to the city, the DOE advocates fossil fuels by trying to close Diablo Canyon, and Asia has plans for several new nukes.
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From Dr. Gail Marcus’ Nuke Power Talk –
Nuclear Anniversaries – July: A Busy Month
From Northwest Clean Energy Blog with John Dobken –
The Errorists are at it again
From Meredith Angwin’s Yes Vermont Yankee –
The green Vision for Vermont: We Can’t Be Rural
From Rod Adam’s Atomic Insights –
FOE continues promoting fossil fuel by trying to force Diablo Canyon closure
From Brian Wang’s Next Big Future –
More Nuclear Reactors completed and planned for South Korea, China and Iran
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Fact or Fiction (?) quiz answer – Fact.
In 2014, US nuclear power plants had an average capacity factor of 91.8%, the highest level ever recorded. Capacity factor is the ratio of its actual output over a period of time, compared to its potential output if it operated continuously at 100% of its design over the same period of time. Typically, the most reliable calculations are over a one year period. The 2014 record was higher than the 90.9% figure in 2013 and well above the 2012 capacity factor of 87%, which was the lowest in a decade. The most probable reason for the 2014 figure is a shortening of average time of shutdown for refueling. It was 46 days in 2012, but lowered to 37 days in 2014. It should be mentioned that nukes always have the highest capacity factor of all power generating sources; geothermal is #2 at ~70%, followed by coal, natural gas, hydroelectric. Wind and solar bring up the rear at less than 30% each. http://www.platts.com/latest-news/electric-power/washington/us-nuclear-plants-set-capacity-factor-record-21884126
July 15, 2015
Tokyo owes Naraha Town a huge apology
On September 5th, the town of Nahara, Japan, will be re-opened for full repopulation. On March 12, 2011, the Tokyo government, under now-deposed Prime Minister Naoto Kan, ordered an evacuation of all people within a 20km radius of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear station. About 90% of Naraha is within the 20km radius, so the entire community was emptied and remained a virtual no-man’s land until this year. The Sept. 5th lifting of all restrictions on the residents will mark the first full repopulation of an entire municipality within the Tokyo-mandated exclusion zone.
It is expected that only about 20-25% of the estranged residents will actually go home, based on the repopulation levels of re-opened residential areas outside the exclusion zone. Some people say they will stay away because not all social and medical infrastructures will be in full operation. Others say they fear the low levels of radiation that remain detectible. There those who are concerned that the huge government-mandated subsidies given to the evacuees end, forcing many to find jobs that may not yet exist. But, the most commonly-voiced reason for staying away is a lack of trust in the central government.
To be blunt, Naraha should have been unconditionally re-opened more than four years ago. The population has suffered reprehensible and absolutely avoidable angst for far, far too long. There is only one entity responsible for this, and it is not the owner of Fukushima Daiichi….Tepco is the willing pawn of this travesty. The burden of guilt totally falls on Tokyo, and its well-past time they owned up to it!
The initial evacuation order in 2011 made some sense, if only as a precaution against the weather patterns changing and carrying concentrated amounts of F. Daiichi airborne contamination to the community. Naraha stretches between 10km and 20km directly south of F. Daiichi. The prevailing winds blow east, west, and occasionally to the north. Winds blowing in a southerly direction are quite unusual, thus the potential for it was unlikely. Due to brief meteorological shifts, some contamination actually made it to Nahara over the first two months following the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. But, the drastic reduction in releases from F. Daiichi after April, 2011, made it unlikely that anyone would have been at risk even if the winds constantly blew directly over Naraha for an extended period.
By late summer of 2011, estimated exposure levels across Naraha Town were projected. The average was in the one microsievert per hour range. That equated to a bit less than 9 millisieverts per year for anyone remaining outdoors 24 hours per day, every day. Anyone with an iota of radiological understanding knows that the roofs and walls of homes, no matter how thin, reduce radiation levels. It’s called shielding. People spend most of their lives inside their homes. Thus, if the estimated outdoor exposure levels (largely taken by monitoring devices hanging below helicopters) were correct, the typical resident of Nahara would have experienced an exposure of about 6 mSv/yr. This is the naturally-occurring exposure level of millions of Americans living on the Colorado Plateau, where life expectancies are a bit greater than the rest of the US, and cancer rates are statistically lower. In other words, Tokyo could have safely lifted the evacuation order for Naraha within six months of forcing the population of about 7,700 to leave.
But, it didn’t happen.
As time passed, the exposures measured at ground level in 2012 indicated that actual exposures were much lower than those conservatively estimated. It turned out that the outdoor exposure levels were (on the average) about 0.5 µSv/hr, a bit more than half of the initial estimates. This equated to 4.4 mSv/yr, which is considerably less than natural background levels on the Colorado Plateau. It was unequivocally… unquestionably… absolutely safe for everyone in Naraha to go home in the summer of 2012.
But, again, it did not happen.
Expensive and arguably unnecessary decontamination efforts in the town, rainfall flushing, and natural radioactive decay have lowered the current average levels to about 3 µSv/hr, or roughly 2.5 mSv/yr…which is actually equal to the average natural radiation exposure routinely experienced by every man, woman, and child around the world! There is absolutely no risk to anyone from Naraha, if they go home. But, again, polls run by national newspapers and Tokyo government groups indicate that the overwhelming majority have no intention of returning.
Most say it is because they don’t trust the government. The former political regime under Naoto Kan and the Democratic Party of Japan was roundly voted out of office more than three years ago. The old administration proved itself financially and socio-politically inept before the quake and tsunami of 2011. The recovery efforts promised to the 250,000 homeless refugees from the 400 kilometer coastline never materialized. Then, the frustrated and outraged Japanese public gave them the old heave-ho. The subsequent regime under current PM Shinzo Abe was shackled with many lame-duck policies from the DPJ, including the continued enforcement of the ridiculously-low goal of lowering exclusion zone radiation levels to one mSv/yr or less.
The one mSv goal was invoked by the DPJ because using the international guideline for repopulation of 20 mSv/yr was vehemently attacked by Japan’s politically-active antinuclear demographic and the nation’s largely-antinuclear Press. The DPJ, under Kan and his successor Yoshihiko Noda, kept lowering the decontamination goal until the antinukes and the Press backed off. Clearly, political expediency for the doomed regime was more important than scientific truth. The current government has been shackled with trying to right the radiological ship, swing back to the 20 mSv/yr guideline, and allow people to safely go home. It has taken more than 3 years, but it seems they have finally arrived at a semblance of reality.
So, how can they persuade the majority from Naraha to overcome their distrust of Tokyo, and their paranoiac fear of medically-innocuous low level radiation, and go home?
Tokyo must make a full, unequivocally apology to the people of Naraha Town. The government needs to admit that repopulation was not only safe and possible four years ago, but the extended duration of mandated exclusion over that period was (for all intents and purposes) entirely political. The one mSv/r goal for decontamination was entirely the result of the old regime making a last-ditch effort to politically survive. The prolonged evacuation of Naraha was entirely the fault of Tokyo. The prolonged estrangement of Naraha was entirely due to a government too afraid of the Press to tell it like it actually was.
The protracted evacuation of Naraha Town is one of the most severe socio-political blunders of the 21st century. It is time for the current government to proffer the most copious volume of mea culpa apologies possible. Will a full, formal apology change the minds of the people of Nahara so they will go home? That’s a matter of speculation. But, it would certainly do more good than harm.
July 1, 2015
What If There had been No Fukushima Accident?
On March 11, 2011, the entire coastline of the Tohoku Region of Japan was devastated by the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. Tohoku is comprised of several prefectures, including Ibaraki, Fukushima Miyagi, and Iwate on the Pacific Ocean. The earthquake of 9 Richter-scale caused no nuclear emergency at any of the four stations along the shore, including Fukushima Daiichi. It was the subsequent tsunami which triggered the Fukushima nuclear accident. While the impact of Fukushima has been a regular issue with the Japanese Press, little attention has been given to the severe plight rendered by the tsunami along the 400 kilometer coastline.
Recently, Nippon.com posted two reports on the situation with the town of Onagawa (1,2), which was the community closest to the earthquake’s off-shore epicenter. Onagawa nuclear station was the closest land-site to the epicenter at about 72 kilometers. (2) The typical wave depth measured along the 400 kilometer Tohoku coastline was between 5 and 7 meters. But, Onagawa town itself was literally demolished by the violent tsunamic surge, which reached the mind-boggling height of about 20 meters. It suffered the most massive water-rise of any community along the Tohoku coast. This was because the town is surrounded by a continuous ridgeline, causing the tsunami’s in-surge to literally pile up and raise its peak depth considerably. Further, the shoreline forms a virtual funnel into the Onagawa port area, further amplifying the wave’s intensity. All town residents were rendered homeless and 827 of the towns nearly 10,000 residents died.
On the other hand, the tsunami’s depth at the Onagawa nuclear station reached a peak of about 15 meters because there was no natural topography to swell the wave’s intensity. The nuke is roughly 10 kilometers southeast of Onagawa Town, and is actually located inside the border of Ishinomaki City. It is on a peninsula jutting some ten kilometers into the sea. Onagawa station had a 14 meter-high seawall surrounding it. While some of the tsunamic surge spilled over the barrier, it was sufficient to prevent severe flooding. All safety systems functioned perfectly and no nuclear accident occurred.
Onagawa station and Fukushima Daiichi both use Boiling Water Reactor technology. F.Daiichi was built more than a decade before the first unit at Onagawa and the GE design had been plainly copied by Toshiba, which built the Onagawa units. Thus, the technological similarities between the two nukes are considerable. In addition, both stations were hit by the same level of tsunami - ~15 meters. If is safe to say that it was Onagawa’s much more robust tsunami protective barrier kept it from having an accident similar to F. Daiichi.
With this all in mind, the Nippon.com article gives us what is essentially the first opportunity to ask a question; what if there had been no nuclear accident at F. Daiichi? What if Tepco had built a seawall of the same robustness as the barrier at Onagawa? The current situation with respect to Onagawa might provide at least part of an answer.
It is critical to be reminded that with Onagawa on 3/11/11, hundreds of local residents fled to the nuke station seeking shelter. They were given relief, allowed to stay in the station’s gymnasium, provided free bedding, and were given free food and water to sustain them for as long as they needed. Nearly all of these residents lost everything to the black water surge. Their homes and all belongings were swept away. Many too advantage of the station’s generosity for more than two weeks.
It is likely something similar could have happened at F. Daiichi, if their tsunamic protection had paralleled Onagawa. The Fukushima Prefecture coastline was pummeled by the tsunami, with many thousands of homes and businesses destroyed or swept away. There can be no doubt that F. Daiichi would have taken in all local residents seeking refuge, providing them with the same support as the refugees who fled to Onagawa.
What would the situation with Fukushima be like today, more than four years later, if there were no nuke accident? There is no reason to think it would be much different from what we find in Onagawa Town. At Onagawa, it took two years to cart away the mountains of debris left behind by the giant waves. Rebuilding of the town and the seaport could not begin until the tsunamic residuals were removed. The town’s main transportation artery, the JR Ishinomaki Railroad, was destroyed. It took four years to repair it and rebuild the Onagawa station on a massive artificial mound as high as other natural bluffs where buildings were flooded, but not swept away. The town’s fishing business has made a strong comeback, with 2014 being as lucrative as before the disaster. Perhaps the greatest boost to the fishing business was a $20 million cash influx from Qatar.
On the other hand, most other Onagawa infrastructure remains in the recovery condition. Few homes have been rebuilt and the main shopping plaza has only begun construction recently. Many lots that had held homes and other buildings remain empty. Only 7,000 of the town’s residents have stayed in temporary living conditions in the hope of going back. Government-funded temporary homes have been built for only 2,100 people. Mayor Suda Yoshiaki says permanent public housing projects could take more than four years to complete. Much of the delay has been due to landowners being reluctant to sell their property. For all intents and purposes, the town’s rebuilding has only just begun, spurred by the railroad’s reopening in March of this year.
Asu e no Kibō, a nonprofit organization whose name means “hope for tomorrow,” has been coordinating the restart of businesses and running employment training for two years. Its leader, Komatrsu Yosuke, says “Onagawa has strong community ties and a culture where veterans boost the younger generation. This has been very heartening.” This has much to do with why Onagawa is one of the foremost communities in the tsunamic recovery along the Tohoku coast. Most other communities lag far behind.
The recovery of Onagawa Town has been slow and agonizing. Mayor Suda Yoshiaki was asked if his town’s path to recovery was coming into focus. He said,” No, that’s still to come,” largely due to delays in building public housing and lack of money.” Suda explained that the town’s annual budget during recovery is about $300 million; six times what it was before 3/11/11. He said the tax money from the Onagawa nuclear station would be a big help if it were operating. If Tokyo shifts the financial burden for reconstruction to local communities, which is being considered, restarting Onagawa’s nuke will be even more important.
Many of Onagawa’s on-going issues virtually mirror those regularly reported in Japan’s Press concerning Fukushima. One positive difference is the recovery of the Onagawa fishing business. However, there are many difference that are stark and disturbing. While it is true that the homes of several thousand Fukushima residents were swept away by the tsunami, most of the residences of Fukushima’s more than 70,000 mandated evacuees are still there. Some are in disrepair, but the majority are ready to welcome their people home. The only exceptions are with the F. Daiichi host towns of Okuma and Futaba – a combined population of 17,000 – which remain under the no-return restriction ordered by Tokyo, and the hundreds (thousands?) of homes swept away by the tsunami within the 20 kilometer-radius exclusion zone.
In addition, temporary living quarters are provided free for all mandated evacuees, at government expense. More importantly, more than $45 billion has been paid to these people in individual and property compensation, not to mention the $1,000 per month mental anguish rewards paid to every man, woman, and child. Free rent subsidies continue to be given to the ~25,000 voluntary Fukushima evacuees scattered all over Japan. These compensations will run through March, 2017.
However, the typical Onagawa refugee receives less than five hundred dollars a month in government-funded subsistence, and this is due to run out next March. Across the vast expanse of the tsunami-flooded Tohoku coastline, more than 18,000 were killed and roughly 250,000 refugees made instantly homeless by the giant waves. 230,000 remain estranged to this day. In Fukushima Prefecture, more than 1,500 were killed by the massive sea-surge, and there is no doubt that the thousands made homeless by the tsunami would still be dispossessed if the nuclear accident had never happened. The exact number of tsunami-spawned homeless in Fukushima has not been posted by Tokyo or Fukushima Prefecture.
While there are many similarities between Fukushima-today and Onagawa-now, there are also important differences. A major difference is that Fukushima evacuees are being treated far better by Tokyo than those in Onagawa Town or almost everyone else in the Tohoku region displaced by the tsunami.
In addition, the road to repopulation for the majority of mandated Fukushima evacuees is shorter than the one facing Onagawa refugees, because the restrictions will be lifted for some 50,000 by March, 2017.
The bottom line is this - if there had been no nuclear accident, the future faced by Fukushima’s tsunami refugees would probably be little different than those still displaced from Onagawa. This fact should always be kept in mind.
1. – A Tohoku Town Returns to Life; Nippon.com; June 19, 2015. http://www.nippon.com/en/in-depth/a04302/
2. – Rebuilding Onagawa; Nippon.com; June 29, 2015. http://www.nippon.com/en/in-depth/a04305/
3. - Japan Earthquake & Tsunami of 2011: Facts and Information; Live Science.com; May 7, 2015. http://www.livescience.com/39110-japan-2011-earthquake-tsunami-facts.html
June 21, 2015
266th Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers
The Hiroshima Syndrome’s Fukushima Commentary is proudly hosting this week’s edition of the Carnival of Nuclear Bloggers. We have postings by Dr. Jim Conca, Dan Yurman, Gail Marcus, Meredith Angwin, and Leslie Corrice.
Here’s the Fact or Fiction (?) quiz for this week… The second-largest nuclear power station in the world is located on Lake Huron.
Now…for this week’s Blogs. To read the full articles, please click on the individual links. Blog topics for this edition include… Israel’s flirtation with a weapon of mass destruction, France’s nuclear fleet approaches a crossroads, the hidden danger of fact-resistant people, antinuclear reports that contain easily-corrected errors, and the Associated Press’ latest use of FUD.
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From Dr. Jim Conca of Forbes Magazine – (2)
Israel Experiments With A Weapon Of Mass Disruption
Pope Francis Talks Climate Change, Shocks Religious Right
From Dan Yurman’s Neutron Bytes -
France's nuclear destiny depends on rescuing Areva
From Dr. Gail Marcus’ Nuke Power Talk –
The Hidden Danger
From Meredith Angwin’s Northwest Clean Energy and Yes Vermont Yankee -
Northwest Clean Energy
How to be an “Errorist”
Yes Vermont Yankee
There is an emergency plan (Guest post by Howard Shaffer)
From the Leslie Corrice’s Fukushima Commentary –
Fukushima Uncertainty and Doubt Reign Supreme with the Associated Press
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Fact or Fiction (?) quiz answer – Fact.
The Bruce Station on Lake Huron is the second largest nuclear power station on Earth. It is located on a 2,300 acre site and has a maximum total electrical capacity of more than 6,300 Megawatts. Bruce Station provides more than 40% of the electricity used in Ontario. The largest nuclear station in the world is Kashiwazaki-Kariwa in Japan, with a total electrical capacity of over 7,900 MWe. Kashiwazaki-Kariwa is currently idled due to Japan’s nation-wide nuclear moratorium. http://www.brucepower.com/ -- http://www.brucepower.com/about-us/
June 14, 2015
Fukushima Uncertainty and Doubt Reign Supreme with the Associated Press
The Associated Press affiliate Japan Today is one of the major English news sources in Japan. Its antinuclear agenda has been obvious to this writer since I began following Japan’s Fukushima accident news in March, 2011. However, the June 12th posting, Gov't OKs long-term Fukushima cleanup plan despite unknowns (1), one of its most error-filled to date. Not only does it preach the antinuclear dogmas of unbridled uncertainty and doubt, but it contains an incredible amount of misinformation and incorrect statements used to support the article.
The report concerns the freshly-revised roadmap for the decommissioning of Fukushima Daiichi. The opening blurb says, “The Japanese government on Friday approved a revised 30- to 40-year roadmap to clean up the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant, but many questions remain.” This is followed by the obligatory reminders of the March, 2011 accident and the need to remove damaged fuel. Unfortunately, the confabulatory offal soon follows.
The first tainted statement goes thusly, “Experts believe melted fuel had breached the reactor cores and mostly fell to the bottom of the containment chambers, some possibly sinking into the concrete foundation.” First, the fuel is the reactor core. It cannot breach itself. I guess they mean “breached the reactor vessel”. On the other hand, the notion of the cores sinking into the concrete foundation is nothing more than fantasy. Nobody, other than a few foreign antinuclear prophets of doom, has said any melted mass actually breached the vessel’s bottom head and sunk into the base-mat below. The statements literally drip with uncertainty.
This is but the tip of the redolent iceberg. Four “uncertainties and questions” follow. The first concerns the removal of used nuclear fuel from units #1, #2, . The article says, “…they [fuel bundles] need to be removed to free up space for robots and other equipment to go down to the containment chambers.” This is pure hogwash. The spent fuel pool is completely outside the Primary Containment Vessel. The fuel in the SFP in no way, shape, or form, has anything to do with access to the PCV. But, this gross error is immediately followed with another, “…the building roofs must be taken off and replaced with a cover that prevents radioactive dust from flying out.” Actually, the temporary enclosure around unit #1 reactor building needs to be disassembled, but there is no roof at all over unit #3 and unit #2’s reactor building is completely undamaged. For units #1 and #3, a fuel-removal structure will be needed, similar to the one used to defuel the SFP for unit #4. Unit #2 has an essentially undamaged, already-installed fuel transfer system for used fuel removal that will be more than sufficient to empty the SFP. Two entirely incorrect statement that transcend uncertainty and doubt, and take us into the realm of fiction.
The next topic is entitled “The Melted Fuel”. In this case, there may well be currently unanswerable questions, but they get spun into something beyond the truth. It says, “The biggest questions are where the melted fuel is and in what condition.” Hey…hello! The fuel is fully melted in unit #1; that IS the condition. It is not entirely unknown. The fuel core may have fully melted in unit #3 and (probably) partially melted in unit #2. Again, these conditions are fairly-well known…not completely unknown. Also, the location of the fuel in each is not unknown. With unit #1, it’s inside the Primary Containment, either pooled up in the bottom head of the RPV or else piled up on the floor of the PCV directly below the RPV. The same goes for unit #3. Unit #2, it is probably still inside the RPV. Regardless, Japan Today makes it seem like some big, horrific mystery that smacks of the unrealistic “melted into the earth” fiction preached by many antinuclear sources.
The real problem is whether or not the melted fuel can be recovered by filling the PCVs with water. However, this option is not in order to keep the melted fuel cooled. It’s to use the water as a highly effective radiation shield! A foot’s thickness of water reduces radiation levels by a factor of 10. Two feet drops it by a factor of 100. Keeping the melted fuel cool has nothing to do with why the principle methodology is submergence! It’s to reduce the radiation exposures to the workers who will be doing it.
The third item is entitled “Contaminated water”. While admitting that the massive volume is being run through “treatment machines to remove most radioactive elements”, the article abruptly conjures up visions of radioactive harm by saying, “Water leaks pose environmental concerns and health risks to workers.” However, the environmental concerns from leaks of treated waters are entirely hypothetical. In addition, any leaks can only get as far as the wholly-barricaded inner port. It’s going nowhere else. And, what in tarnation does the contaminated water pose as a health risk to workers? Only those who ascribe to the non-scientific, fundamentally alarmist notion of no safe level of radiation, or the more irrational notion that detectible equates to inordinate danger, would believe the treated wastewater stored at F. Daiichi poses any real risk to the people working there.
The last item is entitled “radioactive waste”. It says Japan has no plan for the waste that comes out of the plant. A kernel of truth transformed into something entirely misleading. The material will either be buried at F. Daiichi or shipped to a geological repository. However, the antinuclear activists of Japan have been well-trained by foreign experts in socio-political obfuscation; how to keep either of these things from happening. Japan Time’s bottom line is that “…finding waste storage site is practically impossible considering public sentiment.” And, “This raises serious doubts about whether the cleanup can be completed within 40 years.” The appeals to uncertainty and doubt are obvious.
Japan Today makes the decommissioning processes seem hopeless, when the opposite is the reality. However, we can be confident on two points concerning the future. Japan Today will certainly do everything it can to keep fear of the unknown alive in Japan. The future is necessarily uncertain, and Japan Today uses this fact as if it is only applicable to Fukushima decommissioning. Secondly, we can surely doubt whatever rhetorical ploys the news outlet uses to try and “prove” its undeniably antinuclear agenda.
(End note – The same reporter posted a nearly identical report with the Associated Press on Saturday. (2) The preamble to the four main points is abbreviated from the Japan Today article, but the myriad of technical mistakes remain.)
June 12, 2015
Do the Japanese People Really Oppose Nuke Restarts?
On June 8th, the Mizuho Information & Research Institute of Japan released the results of a consumer poll taken in February, 2015. One of the questions concerned whether or not the respondent would use nuclear-generated electricity if the costs were the same or less than they were in February. 67% said “yes”. Only 32% replied in the negative.
Over the past year, all, and I mean ALL, Press polls had at least 60% of the respondents saying they opposed restarts. These poll results are used ubiquitously by the Japanese news media when anything having to do with restarts is reported. For example…the PM Shinzo Abe regime says Japan should have 20-22% nuclear generation to reduce the high cost of fossil fuels imported to off-set the post Fukushima moratorium. Abe’s position is constantly followed with a blurb essentially saying “…despite most Japanese opposing… (and etc.)”.
How can Japan’s Press say most people oppose nuke restarts when a scientifically valid poll shows just the opposite? Here’s how.
The vast majority, if not all of Japan’s Press-based polls are not scientific. They are necessarily biased, though it is not necessarily intentional. It is the nature of the beast which makes the biases manifest.
First, Press polls are inescapably voluntary. No matter how large the potential numerical base might be – and with each of the top five Japanese media outlets, we’re talking millions – those who agree to take part are primarily those with the strongest feelings concerning the issue at hand. The decision to participate is largely an emotional judgment. In the case nuclear restarts, those against the idea will certainly have greater incentive to take part in the poll, than those who favor resumption of operations.
As often as not, those who voluntarily participate are in the minority. If a newspaper’s circulation is several million, but less than 2,000 respond to the query (which is typical in Japan), it can only be said that the results merely reflect those in the most-motivated demographic. In Japan, nuclear energy polls tend to prompt participation from those who hold to the antinuclear persuasion. Meanwhile, the pronuclear and nuclear-neutral demographic refrain from participation.
Secondly, the results of Press polls often do not reflect the opinions of the vast majority of their readers/viewers… i.e. in some cases those who choose to not participate can be assumed to disagree with the posted poll outcomes. This is the “nonresponse bias”; those who decline participation may have markedly differing opinions from those who agree to take part. Thus, it is misleading to suggest or imply that the results of voluntary Press polls actually reflect the opinion of the majority of their readers/viewers, when it is possible the results do just the opposite. It does make sense, however, to assume that the majority might disagree with the results of a voluntary Press poll. In addition, Japanese who support restarts are inescapably subject to ridicule from the vocal, numerically significant minority.
It should also be noted that Japanese who support the perceived status quo will usually not get actively involved in any controversy; it’s ingrained in the culture.
There is also what I call the “press agenda bias”. We should ask… what is the Press outlet’s routine perspective on an issue, and what type of readers/viewers does it attract? If the media source is skeptical, it will unquestionably attract a preponderance of skeptics as readers/viewers. If the Press outlet is generally liberal, it will attract liberals (and vice-versa). A 2012 news media survey found that 47 of the 50 most popular Press outlets in Japan said they were antinuclear. However, the few that responded otherwise were only less skeptical than the majority, so they judged themselves to be objective and devoid of bias. However, the fact is that all Japanese press outlets have continually reminded their readers/viewers that most Japanese oppose restarts based on Press polls. The new evidence showing this may not be true strongly suggests a universal antinuclear agenda across Japan’s major news media outlets. They all have nuclear energy biases, regardless of the results of the 2012 survey.
One closing note… I’m continually searching for news outlets in Japan that continually exhibit objective content in their nuke news reports. Sadly, I have only found one (that posts in English) – Fukushima Minpo. It is a local newspaper, distributed only in Fukushima Prefecture. The newspaper’s philosophy is stated thusly, “Fukushima-Minpo Co. aims at creating the best local newspaper in Japan through accurate and speedy news coverage as it works to achieve its mission as a public organ.” In four years, they have demonstrated that they mean what they say. It is not one of the top 50 news outlets in Japan, but it is the one source of Fukushima news to be trusted.
May 31, 2015
262nd/263rd Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers
The Hiroshima Syndrome’s Fukushima Commentary is proudly hosting this week’s edition of the Carnival of Nuclear Bloggers. We have postings by Dr. Jim Conca, Dr. Robert Hayes, Dan Yurman, Meredith Angwin, and Rod Adams.
Here’s the Fact or Fiction (?) quiz for this week… In a speech to the National Association of Science Writers, New York City, September 16th, 1954, then-AEC Chairman Lewis Strauss said nuclear energy would become “too cheap to meter”.
Now…for this week’s Blogs. To read the full articles, please click on the individual links. Blog topics for this edition include… nuclear waste is no threat to Lake Huron, nuclear and hydroelectric are environmentally friendly, Idaho’s battle over small amounts of used nuclear fuel, disturbing trends in Vermont and New Hampshire, and six decades of learning about fast reactors.
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From Dr. Jim Conca (2) –
(at Forbes magazine)
Panel Says Canada Should Bury Nuclear Waste Near Lake Huron
(and at Reboot Illinois)
Bills in General Assembly good for Illinois nuclear power, clean energy
From Dr. Robert Hayes at Science 2.0 –
Environmentally Friendly Electricity Production: Nuclear and Hydroelectric
From Dan Yurman at Neutron Bytes (2) –
Neutron Bytes - Dan Yurman
Idaho's big battle over a small amount of spent nuclear fuel
Areva's reactor division goes on the auction block
From Meredith Angwin...two from Yes Vermont Yankee and one from Northwest Clean Energy –
The Government Chooses the Electricity Supplier: Disturbing Trends in Vermont and New Hampshire
Vermont Did Lead the Way (Guest post by George Clain)
A pretty remarkable moment in Salem
From Rod Adams at Atomic Insights -
Integrating six decades of learning about fast reactors
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Fact or Fiction (?) quiz answer – Fiction. Here’s what Strauss actually said, “It is not too much to expect that our children will enjoy in their homes electrical energy too cheap to meter, will know of great periodic regional famines in the world only as matters of history, will travel effortlessly over the seas and under them and through the air with a minimum of danger and at great speeds, and will experience a lifespan far longer than ours as disease yields and man comes to understand what causes him to age.” (emphasis added) Many historians say Strauss was actually referring to the promise of fusion-generated power, not fission. Regardless, his speech says nothing about the promise of nuclear energy, regardless of the source. http://www.thisdayinquotes.com/2009/09/too-cheap-to-meter-nuclear-quote-debate.html -- http://atomicinsights.com/too-cheap-meter-its-now-true/
May 10, 2015
260th Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers
The Hiroshima Syndrome’s Fukushima Commentary is proudly hosting the 260th edition of the Carnival of Nuclear Bloggers. This week we have postings by Dan Yurman, Dr. Gail Marcus, Guy Page, Meredith Angwin, Mark Reddemann, Dr. Jim Conca and Leslie Corrice.
Here’s the Fact or Fiction (?) quiz for this week… The atomic nucleus was discovered in May of 1911 by Ernest Rutherford.
Now…for this week’s Blogs. To read the full articles, please click on the individual links. Blog topics for this edition include… Areva is having a cascade of crises, some disconcerting signs of things to come, the need to keep existing power sources, Indian Point fire gets typical antinuclear responses, Columbia Generating Station sets a new record, and a man who has lived inside the Fukushima evacuation zone for three years.
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From Neutron Bytes –
Can Areva survive a cascade of crises?
From Nuke Power Talk –
Projecting the Future: Some Bad Omens?
From Yes Vermont Yankee – (2)
Slow Renewable Growth Means We Must Retain Existing Power Sources
(A guest post by Guy Page of Vermont Energy Partnership) http://yesvy.blogspot.com/2015/05/slow-renewable-growth-means-we-must.html#.VU90jnqRlig
Transformer Fires? Erosion-Corrosion? Recent Events at Indian Point and Vermont Yankee
(Repost of a 2010 article showing how nuclear critics make mountaions out of molehills) http://yesvy.blogspot.com/2010/11/transformer-fires-erosion-corrosion.html#.VU_q06McQdV
From Northwest Clean Energy Blog –
The commitment we made
(Guest post by Mark Reddemann, CEO of Energy Northwest) https://northwestcleanenergy.wordpress.com/2015/05/09/the-commitment-we-made/
From Fukushima Commentary –
Macchan – the animal lover who lives inside the Fukushima evacuation zone
From Jim Conca at Forbes Magazine –
When Should A Nuclear Power Plant Be Refueled?
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Fact or Fiction (?) quiz answer – Fiction? In a way yes…and in a way, no. We’ll let you decide.
In 1909, Rutherford noticed scattering when he bombarded gold foil with Alpha particle radiation. He asked his student, Ernest Marsden, to measure the angles at which the scattering occurred, especially to find out if any actually scattered backwards. Rutherford did not expect Marsden to find any backwards scattering, but it would test the bright young man’s experimental skills. Though unexpected, Marsden found that many Alphas did seem to scatter backwards. Literally in disbelief, he repeated the experiment many times before feeling confident enough to share his observations with Rutherford. Rutherford took more than a year to publish on Marsden’s work because it suggested that the prevailing atomic model of JJ Thompson was incorrect and would surely lead to wide debate. Rutherford submitted his paper to Philosophical Magazine in March of 1911, and it was published by the Journal in May of that year. http://www.aps.org/publications/apsnews/200605/history.cfm
May 8, 2015
Macchan – the animal lover who lives inside the Fukushima evacuation zone
I have all the respect in the world for people who love animals. I live with three cats, and we are the best-possible friends. Animals love humans that care for them, and the love goes both ways.
A Fukushima resident (Tomioka Town) loves animals. So much, in fact, that he has wholly ignored the Tokyo mandated evacuation order and has lived within the “no-go” zone for nearly three years, about 6 miles from Fukushima Daiichi. He tends to the animals that survived abandonment resulting from the evacuation order of 2011. His name is Naoto Matsumura. He calls himself “Guardian of Fukushima’s Animals” on his Facebook page.
One might think that a man this bold, literally thumbing his nose at the establishment, would be something Japan’s largely-liberal Press would devour like a hungry wolves. However, the opposite seems to be the case, and it’s same with the major news outlets around the world. Information on this remarkable man can only be found on “second-level” news sources such as the Good News Network, VICE.com, Wamiz (an animal news site) and Mirror.com. The Mirror dubs Matsumura “Last Man Standing” and VICE labels him “Radioactive Man”. I’ll refer to him by his chosen nickname – Macchan – which seems to mean “friend”.
Macchan defied government orders in 2012 intending a brief visit at his Tomioka home to check on his farm’s dogs. He was surprised that no-one tried to stop him at the border of the exclusion zone. He ignored the warning signs and crossed the invisible border. Once he arrived at his empty home, he was struck by the plight of the abandoned neighborhood pets and decided to remain and tend to all of them; including cats, ducks, pigs, ostriches, cattle, and a pony. The animals thrive today because of Macchan. He comes and goes from the no-go zone because there are no laws forbidding him to do it. He manages to pay for needs of the animals, and himself, through personal savings and donations he gets through his web page.
He and his family evacuated to Iwaki when Tokyo ordered everyone to leave, but he eventually returned to Tomioka. Not because of a sentimental yearning to go home. Not because of a middle-aged man’s stubborn refusal to change. He simply could not leave his beloved farm animals unattended. When he first fed his own dogs, others ”started going crazy” so he fed and watered them too. Macchan recalls, “From then on, I fed all the cats and dogs every day. They couldn’t stand the wait, so they’d all gather around barking up a storm as soon as they heard my truck.”
There are many questions we might ask concerning his decision to live in the zone and take care of the abandoned animals.
Is he being stubborn? Perhaps, considering what Macchan told one reporter, “I was born and raised in this town. When I die, it’s going to be in Tomioka.”
Is he concerned that the radiation exposure he is getting will eventually harm him? Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAEA) examined him and said he might be the most radioactive man in Japan. Macchan said, “[JAEA] told me that I wouldn’t get sick for 30 or 40 years. I’ll most likely be dead then anyway, so I couldn’t care less.”
Does he ever worry about the radiation? “I got used to the radiation. It’s not like I can see it, after all,” he says. Macchan adds that others who come and go from the no-go zone stop worrying about it, as well.
Why isn’t he afraid of radiation, like the vast majority of Fukushima’s evacuees? Macchan waxes nostalgic, “I was scared at first because I knew the radiation had spread everywhere. The next thought in my head was that if I stayed too long I’d end up with cancer or leukemia. But, the longer I was with the animals, the more I came to see that we were all still healthy and that we would be OK.”
Does he have a Geiger counter to monitor his exposure? Macchan answers, “Needles on the Geiger counter never stop moving, so if you brought one with you then you might still care. That’s why I don’t carry one. Even if I had one, I wouldn’t use it.”
One reporter brought a Geiger counter along for an interview with Macchan. Inside his house, the device read 2 microsieverts per hour. Outside, the reading was seven µSv/hr. Even though he lives in a place that exceeds Japan’s severe radiation exposure limit of 0.6 µSv/hr, Macchan is undeterred. One Kyoto University doctor said it is inconceivable that a normal person would live inside the no-go zone, but Macchan is anything but normal.
How does Macchan’s average exposure compare to the high natural radiation levels in the world. Tokyo researchers have found that the maximum amount of time the average farmer spends outdoors is about 8 hours per day. Using these values, Macchan would be getting about 88 µSv/day, or roughly 32 millisieverts per year…well-above Japan’s evacuation tipping point of 20 mSv/yr. However, Macchan’s annual exposure compares closely with the highest recorded populated beach areas of Guarapari, Brazil and Kerala, India, both at 35 mSv/yr. Further, Macchan’s annual dose is nearly eight times lower than what we find in Ramsar, Iran, which has a whopping 260 mSv/yr. In all three cases, the populations have no higher cancer incidences or death rates than their fellow countrymen. Thus, we can safely say that Macchan has nothing to worry about.
What does Macchan envision for the future? He says, “Animals and humans are the same… it could provide good experimental data for comparison with humans. If the animals survive, then there’s nothing to worry about. But, if the animals start giving birth to deformed young a few generations down the line, then things could get crazy.”
No matter what happens “down the line”, it seems Macchan will be there to witness it.
1. Radioactive Man; VICE America; http://www.vice.com/read/radioactive-man-japan
2. Last Man Standing: Fukushima animal lover stayed behind after nuclear disaster to feed abandoned animals; Mirror, UK; http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/last-man-standing-fukushima-animal-5338383
3. Four years after Fukushima, just one man lives in the exclusion zone – to look after the animals; Wamiz, UK; http://wamiz.co.uk/naoto-matsumura-macchan-fukushima-animals/
4. Just One Man Remains in Fukushima Radiation Zone – He’s Feeding All the Animals Left Behind; Good News Network; http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/just-one-man-remains-in-fukushima-radiation-zone-hes-feeding-all-the-pets-left-behind/