Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Simple Error or Calculated Revisionism?

I was reading a Mainichi news story this morning on airborne radiation levels near Fukushima Daiichi, which remain quite elevated.

What struck me about the reported story is the assertion that the government set the radiation exposure level at 1 millisievert a year after the accident:
Airborne Radiation Near Fukushima Nuke Plant Still Far Higher Than Gov’t Max. (Jan 18, 2018) The Mainichi https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20180118/p2a/00m/0na/020000c
Following the March 2011 triple meltdown, the government set a long-term radiation exposure limit of 1 millisievert per year, which breaks down to an hourly airborne radiation dose of 0.23 microsieverts.  The NRA took airborne radiation readings in the Fukushima Prefecture towns of Futaba, Okuma, Namie and Tomioka, and the village of Katsurao. The highest reading registered in the previous year's survey was 8.89 microsieverts per hour, in Katsurao.
What I find confusing and disconcerting is the fact that the government set the radiation level after the accident at 20 millisieverts a year, not 1.

Was a simple error involved in the reporting here? Or is revisionism under way?

One way I've seen propaganda operate over the last five years is for an untruth to be planted and repeated over and over again until it becomes part of the public record as a "truth."

Yet, the 20 millisievert a year limit has circulated widely in the media as well and will be difficult to replace (e.g., see here https://theconversation.com/acceptable-risk-is-a-better-way-to-think-about-radiation-exposure-in-fukushima-56190).

Was this an error or is it something else entirely?


Monday, January 22, 2018

Fukushima Unit 2 in the News Again

TEPCO tells us they have identified the remains of "part of a nuclear fuel assembly" scattered at the bottom of unit 2's containment vessel:
CHIKAKO KAWAHARA January 20, 2018 Melted nuclear fuel seen inside No. 2 reactor or at Fukushima plant. The Asahi Shimbun http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201801200017.html

A remote-controlled camera captured what appears to be melted fuel inside a reactor of the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said. The released footage showed pebble-like nuclear fuel debris and part of a nuclear fuel assembly scattered at the bottom of a containment vessel, located just below the pressure vessel.

Where is the rest of the fuel?  

Fukushima's reactor 2 held quite a bit more than a single fuel assembly. According to a November 16 report by TEPCO titled, ‘Integrity Inspection of Dry Storage Casks and Spent Fuel at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station,’ as of March 2010 the Daini site held 1,060 tons of spent uranium fuel. The total spent uranium fuel inventory at Daiichi in March 2010 was reported as 1,760 tons. The 2010 report asserts that approximately 700 spent fuel assemblies are generated every year. The report specifies that Daiichi’s 3,450 assemblies are stored in each of the six reactor’s spent fuel pools. The common spent fuel pool contains 6291 assemblies.

Unit 2 has been in the news. Last February, Akio Matsumura described a potential catastrophe at Unit 2:
Akio Matsumura (2017, February 11). The Potential Catastrophe of Reactor 2 at Fukushima Daiichi: What Effect for the Pacific and the US? Finding the Missing Link, http://akiomatsumura.com/2017/02/the-potential-catastrophe-of-reactor-2-at-fukushima-daiichi.html, accessed November 20, 2017

It can hardly be said that the Fukushima accident is heading toward a solution. The problem of Unit 2, where a large volume of nuclear fuels remain, is particularly crucial. Reactor Unit 2 started its commercial operation in July 1974. It held out severe circumstances of high temperature and high pressure emanating from the March 11, 2011, accident without being destroyed. However, years long use of the pressure vessel must have brought about its weakening due to irradiation. If it should encounter a big earth tremor, it will be destroyed and scatter the remaining nuclear fuel and its debris, making the Tokyo metropolitan area uninhabitable.

Unit 2 has been in the news because of persistent high radiation levels. In Feb 2017, TEPCO reported measuring radiation levels of 530 SIEVERTS AN HOUR (10 will kill you) and described a 2-meter hole in the grating beneath unit 2's reactor pressure vessel (1 meter-square hole found in grating):

Radiation level at Fukushima reactor highest since 2011 disaster; grating hole found. The Mainichi, February 2, 2017, http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170202/p2g/00m/0dm/087000c

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The radiation level inside the containment vessel of the No. 2 reactor at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex stood at 530 sieverts per hour at a maximum, the highest since the 2011 disaster, the plant operator said Thursday.

Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. also announced that based on image analysis, a hole measuring 2 meters in diameter has been found on a metal grating beneath the pressure vessel inside the containment vessel and a portion of the grating was distorted.

...The hole could have been caused by nuclear fuel that penetrated the reactor vessel as it overheated and melted due to the loss of reactor cooling functions in the days after a powerful earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011 hit northeastern Japan.

According to the image analysis, about 1 square meter of the grating was missing. 

This extraordinarily high radiation in unit 2 was reported by the Japanese media in January 2017 as presenting a barrier to the decommissioning timeline:

MASANOBU HIGASHIYAMA (January 31, 2017) Images indicate bigger challenge for TEPCO at Fukushima plant. The Asahi Shimbun, http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201701310073.html

If confirmed, the first images of melted nuclear fuel at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant show that Tokyo Electric Power Co. will have a much more difficult time decommissioning the battered facility.

The condition of what is believed to be melted fuel inside the No. 2 reactor at the plant appears far worse than previously thought.

...High radiation levels have prevented workers from entering the No. 2 reactor, as well as the No. 1 and No. 3 reactors at the plant.


Looking back at testimony by Masao Yoshida, Fukushima's plant manager, and media coverage of that testimony, I see that unit 2 was identified as posing the greatest immediate risk, although the explosion at unit 3 was clearly larger (this discrepancy is perplexing).  Here is an excerpt of the testimony published by the Asahi Shimbun:
Yoshida feared nuclear 'annihilation' of eastern Japan, testimony shows. (September 12, 2014) THE ASAHI SHIMBUN http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201409120034

Plant manager Masao Yoshida envisioned catastrophe for eastern Japan in the days following the outbreak of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, according to his testimony, one of 19 released by the government on Sept. 11. . . .

. . . In his testimony, Yoshida described the condition of the No. 2 reactor at the Fukushima plant between the evening of March 14, 2011, and the next morning: “Despite the nuclear fuel being completely exposed, we’re unable to reduce pressure. Water can’t get in either.”

Yoshida recalled the severity of the situation. “If we continue to be unable to get water in, all of the nuclear fuel will melt and escape from the containment vessel, and radioactive substances from the fuel will spread to the outside,” he said. Fearing a worst-case scenario at the time, Yoshida said, “What we envisioned was that the entire eastern part of Japan would be annihilated.”
You can read more excerpts from the 400-pages of testimony published by the Asahi Shimbun, which both applauds and critiques the panel investigation of the disaster that produced the testimonies:
The Yoshida Testimony: The Fukushima Nuclear Accident as Told by Plant Manager Masao Yoshida The Asahi Shimbun http://www.asahi.com/special/yoshida_report/en/

Although the panel interviewed as many as 772 individuals involved, it failed to dig deep into essential aspects of the disaster because it made it a stated policy that it would not pursue the responsibility of individuals.
What is true about unit 2? Yoshida provides this account from the article cited immediately above:
At around 6:15 a.m. on March 15, 2011, four days after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami, a round table presided by Yoshida in an emergency response room on the second floor of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant’s quake-proof control center building heard two important reports, almost simultaneously, from front-line workers.

One said that pressure in the suppression chamber, or the lower part of the containment vessel for the No. 2 reactor, had vanished. The other said an explosive sound had been heard.

Question: Well, this is not necessarily in the No. 2 reactor, but sometime around 6 a.m. or 6:10 a.m. on March 15, pressure in the No. 2 reactor’s suppression chamber, for one thing, fell suddenly to zero. And around the same time, something ...

Yoshida: An explosive sound.


Friday, January 19, 2018

7 Strategies for a Radioactive Wasteland

One of the commentators at this blog observed that there is a concerted effort underway to turn the world into a radioactive wasteland, if we've not already achieved that outcome.

I agree and have outlined here the 7-point strategy aimed at this outcome:

1. Strategy One is to reinvigorate uranium mining:
Uranium Miners Pushed Hard for a Comeback. They Got their Wish. (2018, January 13). The New York Times https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/13/climate/trump-uranium-bears-ears.html

But now, emboldened by the Trump administration's embrace of corporate interests, the uranium mining industry is renewing a push into the areas adjacent to Mr. Holiday's Navajo Nation home: the Grand Canyon watershed to the west, where a new uranium mine is preparing to open, and the Bears Ears ...

2. Strategy Two is to use propaganda to persuade public that nuclear is "clean" and necessary for fueling electrification (as in electric vehicles)

3. Strategy Three is to promote modular nuclear reactors as a safe and green innovation and to subsidize their development, regardless of cost and lack of long-term nuclear waste storage. Strategies Two and Three are illustrated in this article, especially in the byline and first paragraph:
UK government to release funding for mini nuclear power stations. (2017, December 3). The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/dec/03/mini-nuclear-power-stations-uk-government-funding
Up to £100m expected to be announced in effort to make UK leader in technology and provide fresh source of clean power. Ministers are expected to back the first generation of small nuclear power stations in Britain with tens of millions of pounds this week, in an attempt to give the UK a competitive edge on the technology and provide a new source of clean power....  their backers pitch them as a cheaper and quicker way to generate the new, low-carbon power the UK needs.  Rolls-Royce has been publicly and privately lobbying the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) over its SMR design, which it positions as an industrial opportunity for Britain that would generate thousands of UK jobs. The firm argues that with electric cars likely to drive up future energy demand, the reactors will become a vital part of national infrastructure.

4. Strategy Four is to render invisible the entire supply-chain pollution created in the process of producing, utilizing and disposing of nuclear fuel and to raise radiation exposure levels so that the costs for expected nuclear accidents are reduced:
EPA (2017, September ) Protective Action Questions and Answers for Radiological and Nuclear Emergencies: A companion document to the US Environmental Protective Agency Protective Action Guide (PAG) Manual. EPA-402/K-17/002. Available, https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2017-07/documents/pags_comm_tool_p9.pdf
See my blog post here https://majiasblog.blogspot.com.es/2017/10/the-sociopaths-have-won-epa-changes.html
EPA abandons major radiation cleanup in Florida, despite cancer concerns. http://www.publicintegrity.org/2014/01/30/14190/epa-abandons-major-radiation-cleanup-florida-despite-cancer-concerns

[Excerpt] The Environmental Protection Agency is walking away after a decades-long battle with Florida politicians and industry officials over cleaning up phosphate-mining waste in an area that could expose more than 100,000 residents to cancer-causing radiation levels. 

Under a decision quietly finalized two weeks ago, the federal agency will leave it to state officials to decide the fate of the sites in and around Lakeland, an approximately 10-square-mile residential area midway between Orlando and Tampa. 

However, Florida officials have long argued that the affected area need not be cleaned up in the absence of radiation levels well above what EPA policy would normally permit. 

The decision not to enforce the usual federal rules could have far-reaching implications for how the United States deals with future radioactive contamination anywhere across the country — regardless of whether it is caused by conventional industrial activities or illicit radiological weapons, critics say.[end]

5. Strategy Five is to fail to acknowledge the problems of accumulating radioactive contamination in fresh and sea water caused by failed nuclear reactors and other industrial and/or natural occurrences. We see this strategy deployed in a range of contexts, from plans to dump tritiated Fukushima waste-water into the ocean to disregard of growing uranium contamination of drinking water:
Uranium in drinking water. EWG https://www.ewg.org/tapwater/contaminant.php?contamcode=X006#.WmI7NnlG0XQ
Japan’s nuclear watchdog urges discharge of Fukushima radioactive water into ocean (13 Jan, 2018). RT https://www.rt.com/news/415786-fukushima-dump-radioactive-water-watchdog/

6. Strategy Six is to promote "small" scale, "flexible" nuclear weapons as an appropriate offensive weapon:
Gordon, Michael R. (2018, Jan 16). US Plans New Nuclear Weapons. The Wall Street Journal, A1, A3.

7. Strategy Seven is to increase global tensions and direct public anxiety toward clearly defined "rogue" enemies in order to deflect attention from the pillaging and raping of the environment and our health underway. See here for discussion https://majiasblog.blogspot.com.es/2018/01/dr-strangelove-indeed-trump-promotes.html

If you are not already located in a radioactive wasteland, you will be soon.

Bioaccumulation: Cesium is One Among the 1000 Radionuclides Unleashed by Fukushima Now Bioaccumulating in Flora and Fauna http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2014/11/bioaccumulation-cesium-is-one-among.html

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Now this is simply getting weird

First Hawaii received a false alarm about incoming ballistic missiles, then Japan when a NHK broadcaster inadvertently issued a similar false alarm:
Anna Fitfield (2018, January 16). First Hawaii, now Japan sends a false alarm about incoming North Korean missile. The Washington Post,

SEOUL — Japanese public broadcaster NHK mistakenly sent an alert Tuesday warning that North Korea had fired a missile, just days after a similar mistake caused panic in Hawaii.

Unlike in the Hawaii case, however, this error took only five minutes to correct.

“NHK news alert. North Korea appears to have launched a missile,” NHK said in a notification sent through its app to mobile-phone users at 6:55 p.m. Tokyo time. “The government J-alert urges people to take shelter inside buildings or underground.”
It seems very, very strange for this error to be repeated in such a short time frame. I read comments at news reports covering these false missile alerts and most of the commentators either thought the alerts were tests of the population's reaction or were evidence of a propaganda strategy aimed at heightening fear in the general population.

Of course, I have no idea what is true. I do know that the Arizona Department of Emergency Management's public affairs official visited my crisis communications class last semester and I strongly doubt that department would make the same sort of error given their level of professionalism and their daily communications with other public affairs emergency management personnel across the nation.

The official explanations for the false reports are, in my opinion, suspect or, alternatively, reveal profound incompetence in crisis communications.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Last Moments are a WAKE UP CALL PEOPLE!

I cannot get the experience of the people in Hawaii out of my head. I cannot imagine what it would be like to receive emergency broadcasts announcing incoming ballistic missiles.

There would be no place to escape or hide. No time to reach family members at work or school.

What would go through your head? What would your thoughts be?

I cannot imagine the experience of thinking you and your loved ones are going to die imminently because some insane psychopaths are intent on destroying the world.

Wake up people. Its time to take to the streets for de-nuclearization! For peace! For survival!

Saturday, January 13, 2018


38 MINUTES for some people to get the error message! "Ballistic missile threat inbound"

'This is not a drill': Hawaiians get false alert of missile attack due to worker's pushing 'wrong button' (January 13, 2018). Yahoo. Available, https://www.yahoo.com/gma/not-drill-hawaii-residents-wake-false-alarm-imminent-190106351--abc-news-topstories.html
"this is not a drill, take an immediate shelter"

Friday, January 12, 2018

Climate Change and Nuclear Armageddon

I've had a busy week, ending with a workshop on climate change.
I never had the opportunity at the workshop to share my thought on the "climate change" paradigm:

Although I think climate change is an important and pressing issue, I find it an inappropriate trope for encapsulating the human made apocalypse that seems to be right around the corner, and that apocalypse looks most likely to be nuclear.

And, of course, I find it quite interesting that climate change and atmospheric testing are never spoken in the same sentence, although it was the Cold War scientists who studied fallout that produced so much of what we know about the world's atmospheric activities (a.k.a., "climate").

Climate anonymizes and disassociates the destruction wrought by deliberate human exploitation and destruction.

Not a whole lot of interest in tales of nuclear Armageddon I'm afraid. Too controversial, which may be why the academic literature that does exist on nuclear tends to be very high quality.

Climate is palatable. Nuclear a lot less so. Perhaps most significant of all is the fact that climate change gives us time. We have the illusion of the possibility of control. Not so with nuclear anymore I'm afraid.

A commentator at this blog left a link to a story addressing escalating concerns about an inadvertent nuclear war, launched either by malicious hackers or malicious presidents. The first link is to a Chatham House report documenting the risks of a nuclear cyber-attack while the second link is to the news coverage of an outright rebellion by former nuclear launch officers:
Beyza Unal and Patricia Lewis (January 2018). Cybersecurity of Nuclear Weapons Systems Threats, Vulnerabilities and Consequences. Chatham House, https://www.chathamhouse.org/sites/files/chathamhouse/publications/research/2018-01-11-cybersecurity-nuclear-weapons-unal-lewis-final.pdf

Craw, Victoria (Jan 12, 2018). Nuclear launch officers write open letter about President Trump, amid claims cyberhacks could lead to ‘unintended’ nuclear launch. News.com.Au. Available, http://www.news.com.au/world/europe/nuclear-launch-officers-write-open-letter-about-president-trump-amid-claims-cyberhacks-could-lead-to-unintended-nuclear-launch/news-story/31e82d4451a4d398a7fce3b7e785dbde#.cgf1v

SEVENTEEN former nuclear launch officers have signed an open letter calling for President Trump’s access to the “proverbial red button” be restricted amid fears his “petulant mood swings” could lead to a nuclear strike.

It follows a similar letter calling for restrictions on the nuclear chain of command written while Trump was on the campaign trail. One year into the presidency, the nuclear officers say “the reality of this presidency is worse than we feared.”

...“We and our nation cannot abide being hostages to the mood swings of a petulant and foolish commander-in-chief. No individual, especially Donald Trump, should hold the absolute power to destroy nations. That is a clear lesson of this presidency and one that we, as former stewards of the launch keys, embrace with full conviction,” the group said.
No entity, including a president, should hold the absolute power to destroy nations.

However, Emergency Powers are used by too many politicians and juridical types to afford individuals with the power to destroy nations. I discussed this in a post here on the emergency powers acts http://majiasblog.blogspot.com/2016/05/emergency-powers-under-crises.html

Yet, this fundamental contradiction in our western democracies posed by emergency powers is largely unknown to citizens.  Just as the relationship between atmospheric testing and climate has been dis-associated, so also has the rise of executive power been dis-associated with tyranny.