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Japan's Nuclear Crisis Keeps Going
April 17, 2011 8:19 PM   Subscribe

Reactor shutdowns nine months away: Tokyo Electric Power Co. announced Sunday that it will take six to nine months to complete a cold shutdown of the damaged reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant, while the United States proposed a daring plan to use a remote-controlled helicopter and cranes to pluck out their spent fuel rods... If all goes well, displaced residents from the evacuation zone should know within six to nine months whether they will be able to go home, trade minister Banri Kaieda said. [Previously] [Open MeFi pro vs. con nuclear policy thread]

The utility is pumping in water and venting off steam, a method called “feed and bleed.”

Spike in iodine levels may signal new leak

The Japanese government Friday (April 15) published a report on the discharge of more than 10,000 metric tons of low-level radioactive water from the quake-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex, in a bid to allay concerns among neighboring countries that it was spreading contamination into the ocean.

Melted fuel rod fragments have sunk to the bottoms of three reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant and could theoretically burn through the pressure vessels if emergency water-pumping operations are seriously disrupted, the Atomic Energy Society of Japan said Friday... The fuel rods are being cooled by tons of water that is being manually injected into the reactors and their spent-fuel pools by truck.

Nature Magazine: Fukushima set for epic clean-up

NRC report leaked to the NYT on April 4 mentions that due to an explosion way back at the beginning of the crisis, fuel rod fragments were ejected up to a kilometer from Daiichi, as well as between to reactor buildings on site.

The leaked NRC report can be found here (it's been inverted, presumably to foil Google's efforts to take it down).

Core of Stricken Reactor Probably Leaked, U.S. Says

“What would you do to help heal the Japanese landscape around the failing nuclear reactors?”

Packbot working inside the reactor building of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station Unit 3. (pictured on April 17, 2011)

TIMELINES and UPDATES
> The Fukushima I nuclear accidents (福島第一原子力発電所事故) are a series of ongoing equipment failures and releases of radioactive materials at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, following the 9.0 magnitude Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami on 11 March 2011.
> Accident timeline
> Status of the Nuclear Reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant (NYT) Explosions damaged four of the buildings, and fuel in the reactors and spent fuel stored in the buildings is presumed to have melted, at least partially, releasing radioactive materials.
> IAEA Fukushima Nuclear Accident Daily Update Log

RADIATION + FOOD SAFETY
> RDTN.org: Radiation Detection Hardware Network in Japan
> Current monitoring spots around Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station (pdf)
> Ibaraki & Tokyo Radioactivity [Detailed graph of rad levels Kanto and Kita-Kanto]
> Fukushima University creates radiation dispersion map
> Radiation factors hard to gauge; experts say rely on official data... "Just pointing a measuring device at your food before dinner is pretty much meaningless."
> MIT NSE Nuclear Information Hub
> Radiation Update: Is Japanese Seafood Dangerous?

NGO COVERAGE
> Green Action Japan (Kyoto)
> Greenpeace
> Citizen's Nuclear Information Center

OTHER LINKS
> Images of the Daiichi reactor buildings taken by T-Hawk drone aircraft
> Driving Through The Fukushima Exclusion Zone
> Here's a different reporter duo, this time who drive right up to the front gates of Daiichi.
> Fukushima local television (NHK, in Japanese)
posted by KokuRyu (501 comments total) 75 users marked this as a favorite

 


Twitter users I follow:

fleepcom
Daniel Garcia
Martyn Williams
原発News
Yuichi Kojima
posted by KokuRyu at 8:36 PM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]




This is a fantastic post, and thanks for putting it up. In related disaster news, yesterday's NHK news report mentioned that in Rikuzentakata, in Iwate (though not directly related to the ongoing nuclear crisis), the ground in the area had actually sunk by up to 70cm in some places, including along river banks and the coastline. The subsidence has led to fears of flooding during the upcoming rainy season (most of June, in Japan), since the river banks and flood walls have sunk, but the river and sea levels have remained the same. Furthermore, sea walls as well have been rendered less effective against future tsunami (those walls that are still standing, that is). It's going to be a long time before things resume any kind of normal here.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:40 PM on April 17, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Whelk's link is worth a read. If this summer is anything like last summer, Japan is in a lot of trouble. From the middle of July to the end of August, it rained on two days only, and temperatures were broke 35 degrees C for a record number of days in a row (something like 30 days, it was ridiculous). That, combined with power outages, could be deadly, possibly on the order of what happened in France in 2003.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:47 PM on April 17, 2011


Fantastic post KokuRyu. What a mess. I wish the drone photos came with more analysis. I can't tell what's cosmetic and what's serious. Then again, I'm pretty amazed that we're getting the raw images so early. I am anxious to see what the pack-bots photograph, especially if they get to the Torus.
posted by Popular Ethics at 8:52 PM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow, KokuRyu, many thanks for this exhaustive post.

That Driving Through The Fukushima Exclusion Zone video is eerie, and depressing as hell.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:56 PM on April 17, 2011


That warning melody played by their geiger counter or whatever it is...

creepy...
posted by jet_manifesto at 9:03 PM on April 17, 2011


Thanks for keeping this coverage alive.
posted by b1tr0t at 9:04 PM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


More developments on The Whelk's theme: TEPCO is actively working to prevent summer brownouts and recently announced it reached a projected 52 million kilowatts, 95% of the goal. Although, it still seems like supplying the full needs of Tokyo may prove impossible without some serious cutbacks on normal energy usage.

More links on Fukushima: Nuclear opponents have a moral duty to get their facts straight

Quake reporting watch
posted by shii at 9:07 PM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes, I agree -- eerie! That beeping and driving on and on through the deserted area - I couldn't stop watching. Where are those guys now? Why did they do that?!
posted by Surfurrus at 9:07 PM on April 17, 2011


Where are those guys now? Why did they do that?!

They're "freelance journalists"... I'll try to dig up where they publish, although the duo in the piece that ends with "Ava Maria" have done a film about Chernobyl.

What disturbs me about both videos is that the journos ventured to the very gates of the plant with virtually no protective clothing. They walked around in the debris field, and likely tracked radioactive contamination back into their car, and back to their homes.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:11 PM on April 17, 2011


shii, one thing that might help is companies like Sony, Toshiba, and others are discussing extending summer vacations to help ease the power supply problem. Most reports on this seem to say that while they'll be extending the summer vacation, to make up the missed days, they'll cancel some days off during cooler months (hence the negotiations with unions, rather than just an announcement of the plan).
posted by Ghidorah at 9:14 PM on April 17, 2011


This should be interesting:

NRC to Webcast Meetings on Japan Events (pdf)
posted by KokuRyu at 9:14 PM on April 17, 2011


Great job, KokuRyu.
posted by mwhybark at 9:15 PM on April 17, 2011


Re: Monbiot vs. Caldicott and his plea for the "moral duty to get facts straight"

Monbiot says: We know that the consequences of underplaying the dangers of radiation could be hideous, and I fervently hope that this has not happened ...

Nice. Let's all just hope?

Monbiot is not a useful source in this discussion; he doesn't address Japan's dilemma. He basically argues that nuclear power accidents will be far less damaging to the earth than the continued use of fossil fuels (Was he in Dubai with the IAEA?). In effect, he says there is no other choice but to produce more energy with one or the other (i.e., humans would never choose conservation or create other sources)
posted by Surfurrus at 9:28 PM on April 17, 2011


What disturbs me about both videos is that the journos ventured to the very gates of the plant with virtually no protective clothing.

I wondered about that, too. Great info, KokuRyu - thanks for all the background and the translations!
posted by Surfurrus at 9:30 PM on April 17, 2011


Apologies, KokuRyu - actually, I agree - it doesn't add anything to this discussion.
posted by Surfurrus at 9:45 PM on April 17, 2011


Monbiot is not a useful source in this discussion

Yeah, the energy policy discussion is over there. Plenty to discuss here as it is.
posted by b1tr0t at 10:05 PM on April 17, 2011


It sounds like the 6-9 month shutdown plan will mean maintaining the evacuation zone for at least as long. Seriously cleanup efforts will take many years beyond that. We're one aftershock or pipe failure away from more catastrophe. Even then the cold shutdown reactor will be entombed for a long time.
posted by humanfont at 10:07 PM on April 17, 2011


Even after the 6-9 months are over, and (hopefully) the reactors are dealt with, it will take a long damn time before refugees can go home. In the meantime, there's already been one reported case of student refugees being bullied in their new schools. It's unfortunate, but NIMBYism isn't a new thing in Japan, and I imagine we'll see more of this as time goes on.
posted by Ghidorah at 10:21 PM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


The "What would you do to help heal the Japanese landscape?" link is really somewhat interesting, if too short. It's intriguing to think about the use of mushrooms to soak up the radiation; I've heard that fungus has potential in that area, and can be really useful. I wonder if that's being seriously considered as an option – of course, there's a lot more to worry about at the moment, I imagine.
posted by koeselitz at 10:29 PM on April 17, 2011


Amazing post. Can't wait to check this stuff out when I get home.
posted by tumid dahlia at 10:33 PM on April 17, 2011


Nthing thanks for an awesome post!
posted by bessel functions seem unnecessarily complicated at 10:34 PM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nuclear opponents have a moral duty to get their facts straight

Nuclear proponents have a moral obligation not to shill their agenda in the middle of a disaster that leaves land uninhabitable, food poisoned, and hundreds of thousands of people homeless.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:45 PM on April 17, 2011 [15 favorites]


As do nuclear opponents.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:48 PM on April 17, 2011 [11 favorites]


Bravo KokuRyu, brilliant post. Thanks.
posted by nickyskye at 10:51 PM on April 17, 2011


If I could just interject a little perspective here.. not to diminish the seriousness of the reactor problems, but here is a current statistic.

Death toll from quake & tsunami: 13,802
Deaths from radiation: zero.
posted by charlie don't surf at 10:52 PM on April 17, 2011


I asked the mods to delete my previous comment (moderating my own thread) which they did, but would it be possible to discuss nuke vs no nukes in the existing thread?
posted by KokuRyu at 10:52 PM on April 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


Just want to chime in with my own kudos. Great stuff, and even though I've been semi-obsessively following this, a good bit I hadn't read yet. Thanks for taking the time to do a fantastic job.
posted by nevercalm at 10:57 PM on April 17, 2011


Good god, that video of the drive through the exclusion zone is creepy. You can see the cameraman, sometimes his bare hand, sometimes a glimpse of his uncovered face in the mirror. And all those animals - cattle, dogs in the street... It's heartbreaking. I can't believe that anyone would carry an alarm like that and ignore it. They were right about one thing, though - it's amazing that there are no checkpoints. I guess the government figures people will just stay out.

Still, even so, I'm somehow more comfortable than if the government were cracking down hard and not allowing any images of the zone.
posted by koeselitz at 10:57 PM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Death toll from quake & tsunami: 13,802
Deaths from radiation: zero.


So far.
posted by nevercalm at 10:58 PM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


An added thanks for this, KokuRyu. What a great source of information this post is.
posted by koeselitz at 10:58 PM on April 17, 2011


Thanks, KokuRyu.

Managing the Message to the Future

posted by Rumple at 11:25 PM on April 17, 2011


flapjax at midnite: "Wow, KokuRyu, many thanks for this exhaustive post.

That Driving Through The Fukushima Exclusion Zone video is eerie, and depressing as hell.
"

The dogs in that video... are they doomed? :'(
posted by IndigoRain at 11:26 PM on April 17, 2011


I know there is an aid organization that is going into the evacuation zone to rescue pets, it seems likely that the closer animals are to the Daiichi facility, the more likely it is they are going to have to survive on their own. I've seen photo essays of horses and cattle left in the exclusion zone that have died of hunger and thirst. Another issue is that the animals themselves carry radioactive contamination, as they consume irradiated fodder, water and trash in order to stay alive.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:33 PM on April 17, 2011


The dogs in that video... are they doomed?

Actually, I have heard here and there about some folks who've been actively rescuing abandoned animals in the general disaster zone, but I wouldn't imagine there's too much (or any) of that going on in the exclusion zone.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:34 PM on April 17, 2011


My heart breaks to think of those who had to leave their pets behind. :(

There are also cows in the video. How long can these animals survive (assuming they have food and water, and yes I realize the food and water are contaminated)? Are they already suffering radiation sickness or will that take more time?

Also, for a while as they got closer, the radiation levels went down. They went from 6 to 5 eventually down to 1.20, before spiking up to 11 and then 108. Why did the radiation levels go down for a while?
posted by IndigoRain at 11:38 PM on April 17, 2011


It took about 10 years to clean up Three Mile Island.
posted by stbalbach at 11:40 PM on April 17, 2011




It spreads mostly on the prevailing winds, I think, so you can expect mixed distribution.
posted by unixrat at 11:44 PM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


It took about 10 years to clean up Three Mile Island.

It took 11 years and 1 month:

Cleanup Lessons from TMI for Fukushima?
posted by yertledaturtle at 11:51 PM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


No deaths yet.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 11:53 PM on April 17, 2011


charlie don't surf writes: Death toll from quake & tsunami: 13,802
Deaths from radiation: zero.


Yeah, you know, I sure wish people would stop doing this.

First, it's insulting, because everyone knows this. Presenting these relative figures here is not going to make anyone go "oh my god, look at that! I had no idea!"

Second, it misses the point entirely about the very real and very grave threat of radioactivity. Generally speaking, it doesn't kill you immediately. It's much more insidious than that. It might just kill you nice and sloooow. It might just be responsible for all manner of birth defects. It might just disrupt the entire fabric of the society of those directly affected, who have to evacuate their homes (for some, that will be forever), deal with long-term illnesses, suffer traumatic stress, etc. etc.

Third, it's not as if the horrendous catastrophe that was the earthquake and tsunami makes it unnecessary or irrelevant to discuss the present danger with regard to the Fukushima disaster and radioactivity. Others here at this site have pointed to the magnitude of the quake/tsunami deaths (charlie don't surf, with his comment above, is far from the first) as if to say that we lack "perspective" (as he put it) if we are concerned about the Fukushima situation and nuclear power plants in general. We do not lack perspective. We can grasp that there are multiple dimensions to this catastrophe, thank you.

So really, can you folks inclined to do this comparison bit just stop now? That'd be just grand.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:54 PM on April 17, 2011 [30 favorites]


No deaths yet.

Whoa. That article is truly heartbreaking. Makes me hate TEPCO even more, if that were possible.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:58 PM on April 17, 2011


The “What would you do to help heal the Japanese landscape around the failing nuclear reactors?” in the OP brought tears of thanks and appreciation to my eyes.

Rebecca Black donated all proceeds from "Friday" to relief efforts in Japan.

If I could just interject a little perspective here.. not to diminish the seriousness of the reactor problems, but here is a current statistic.

Death toll from quake & tsunami: 13,802
Deaths from radiation: zero.


That is a surprisingly callous remark and doesn't sound to me like a well thought out perspective. Death is not the only consideration when it comes to assessing a catastrophe. It is a meanly expressed comment too in light of the 70,000 who have been relocated due to radiation, those psychologically hurt and thousands of farmers in the area around Fukushima who lost their living -dairy, vegetables/rice, fish; "the radiation is affecting the entire prefecture, which spans more than 5,000 square miles".

Radiation effects from Fukushima I nuclear accidents

Your comment is also incorrect. "five are believed to have already died and 15 are injured while others have said they know the radiation will kill them".

Then there are other impacts of the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster: Rescue workers discovered hundreds of dead elderly at several locations in Fukushima, Japan, post-nuclear explosion at the power plant area. Some of them have died from cold and hunger.

Mitsuhiko Tanaka says he helped conceal a manufacturing defect in the $250 million steel vessel installed at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi No. 4 reactor while working for a unit of Hitachi Ltd. in 1974. The reactor, which Tanaka has called a “time bomb,” was shut for maintenance when the March 11 earthquake triggered a 7-meter (23-foot) tsunami that disabled cooling systems at the plant, leading to explosions and radiation leaks....“Who knows what would have happened if that reactor had been running?”

From the latest Slate article: Fukushima's Bio-Robots According to the latest report, published yesterday in London's Financial Times, Japan has only two robots nominally designed for radiation, and they're sitting idle because neither can do anything useful at Fukushima. How could such a robotically advanced country be so unprepared?

posted by nickyskye at 12:24 AM on April 18, 2011 [8 favorites]


/closes old and busted archived post and opens new and shiny Fukishima post

Thanks, KokuRyu.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 12:25 AM on April 18, 2011


*and on posting, what flapjax said
posted by nickyskye at 12:26 AM on April 18, 2011


One thing about that article, flapjax. It is a little out of date, and at the least (and it really is the least), the two meals of calorie mate and instant rice thing ended a couple weeks back. There was enough outrage about that when it was first leaked, and supposedly the workers are all getting three squares a day, though there are still the issues of not enough dosimeter badges, safe sleeping quarters, and the general shittiness of Tepco.

And yeah, as Flapjax said, comparing the two catastropes isn't helping. The tsunami and the deaths it caused were relatively quick. The long term damage, the number of cancers, birth defects, and deaths caused by these reactors won't be known for a long, long time.

I mean, seriously, people trumpeting the lack of deaths (which is its own kind of weird: No one has died yet!), how comfortable would you feel moving to Fukushima right now? To within 30 km? 20? Closer? Not now? How about next year? Five years from now? What about the livelihoods of the people who can't go back? No deaths? How about the farmer that hung himself because, my god, who the hell was going to buy from him?

If you really, really want to compare the two, think of it this way: by the end of the year, people will have returned home to places like Rikuzentakata and Sendai. Some people who've been evacuated stand a pretty solid chance of never being able to return to their homes, of struggling through what's almost surely going to be the ridiculous task of finding out who the hell is going to compensate them for their land, their houses, which they're still liable for the loans on?

Or, y'know, what nickyskye said, but without links, and too much venom.
posted by Ghidorah at 12:28 AM on April 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


Cesium radiation plume here looks not so bad. This one (or click on the Cs-137.avi link) looks much worse. Both images created by the same scientist for the same site.

The DutchSinse vid about this topic.
posted by nickyskye at 12:51 AM on April 18, 2011


Owwh all those poor doggies :-(
posted by tumid dahlia at 12:56 AM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


The DutchSinse video has some misleading information related to xenon releases. Xenon isotopes are fission products that can be formed by a nuclear explosion, but in this case are resulting from nuclear chain reactions that are still happening in some of the fukushima reactors. probably reactor #2, from what i've been reading.

Also, the plume forecasts he's talking about are not necessarily what's actually going to happen. they are meant as references for people who need to actually go out and collect measurements to see whats happening.

Tokyo experienced some rainout a few days after the initial explosions where we saw a temporary increase in background radiation. As far as I know that hasn't repeated for us yet.

So before you freak about about the DutchSinse video, check geiger counter and contaminant measurements for your area. I think he's over reacting about contaminants in rain.
posted by mexican at 1:09 AM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks for your input mexican re the DutchSinse vid. I was hoping for some good education here.

Video Report (Press Briefing): Roadmap towards Settling Situation at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station(April 17)
posted by nickyskye at 1:14 AM on April 18, 2011


"Your comment is also incorrect. "five are believed to have already died and 15 are injured while others have said they know the radiation will kill them"."

Nickyskye, you know (I hope) that I totally respect you, but that link goes to a person reposting what they read in the Daily Mail, and, as I discovered in the last post (being an American in Japan, and not knowing my British publications), the Daily Mail is not exactly the most reliable media outlet. I haven't heard of any deaths yet from any reliable sources. I believe they will happen, of course, just that they haven't happened yet.
posted by Bugbread at 1:28 AM on April 18, 2011


also, my understanding is that the half lives of the xenon in the atmosphere are so short that except for the temporary minor increase in background radiation from rainout or other types of dispersement that it's not a big problem. most of it will be gone in about 2 weeks from creation and the rest in about 2 months. inhalation of the xenon isotopes is what you don't want to do, but this is apparently not all that easy to do. and even if you do manage to inhale some that doesn't slow down the time it takes to decay, so it will still be all gone in about 2 months.

cesium is something to be seriously concerned about, though. the cesium being released has something like a 30 year half life meaning that wherever it ends up, it will be there for a long time. cesium can get in your body if you eat foods contaminated with it. once inside it acts like potassium and gets in your muscles. from there it kind of hangs out and continues to irradiate your body from the inside.

tokyo had a bit of a cesium-in-the-water scare, probably due to rainout, a few weeks ago. since then contaminant levels have gone down and it doesn't look like cesium will be an ongoing problem for tokyo.

if you're further away from the fukushima reactors than tokyo I don't think there really much reason to get stressed about nasties headed your way, but don't take my word for it. i'm just a concerned tokyo resident and by no means an expert. look around for independent sources for background radiation levels and ground/water contamination test results in your area.

in addition to others, i like the hino geiger counter for tokyo background radiation levels and my man ken rockwell's geiger counter for levels in la jolla, CA.
posted by mexican at 1:35 AM on April 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


to worker deaths at fukushima #1, 2 workers appear to have been killed from being in the lower levels of one of the reactor building while they were being flooded by the tsunami. others have been hospitalized for acute radiation poisoning from wading around in highly contaminated water without adequate protective wear.

i don't think there's much doubt that a good number of the people working at fukushima 1 will develop cancers that kill them.
posted by mexican at 1:42 AM on April 18, 2011




Nickyskye: I can't find much in English about those guys, but there's a lot of Japanese stuff on them. They died from shock from excessive blood loss from multiple injuries, and their estimated time of death was 16:00ish on 03/11. From what I can gather, after the earthquake hit, they went to check that the equipment was safe, and they were killed by the ensuing tsunami. So, sure, people have died there, but, again, not from radiation. Yet.
posted by Bugbread at 2:00 AM on April 18, 2011


nickyskye, there have been deaths at fukushima 1 but none so far from radiation exposure. those deaths will come later. on preview: what bugbread just said.

as to the current situation, Arnie Gundersen's video updates have some of the most sober and detailed summaries i've found so far. Arnie has a detailed description of what's happening in reactor 2 and why. more at the fairewinds web site.
posted by mexican at 2:03 AM on April 18, 2011


mexican, So glad you posted the FaireWinds link. Arnie Gundersen rocks.

Japan in 1934.
posted by nickyskye at 2:13 AM on April 18, 2011


inhalation of the xenon isotopes

It's my understanding that inhaling radioactive noble gases isn't as much of a hazard as with most substances, because it doesn't bioaccumulate at all. Being noble, it doesn't bind to anything, so you should breathe it right back out again. It'll damage your lungs while it's in there, but it doesn't hang around.

cesium is something to be seriously concerned about, though

Yes, although I read a comment from a chemist that because it bioaccumulates in muscles, it's not as dangerous as many radioactive substances; muscles essentially never become cancerous. If you have a LOT, of course it'll cook everything around the muscles too, but a little bit may not be too bad.

The real worry is apparently strontium-90; that has a half-life of about 28 years, and acts chemically almost exactly like calcium, so it bioaccumulates in bones. And it's right next to your bone marrow and just about everything else important in your body. It's the gift that keeps on giving, and is apparently the primary reason Chernobyl is unlivable.

I've seen one report of strontium escaping, but I haven't seen any followups. If any serious amount of that got out, and if they can't clean it up, they could lose a large area around the plant for a long time. At 140 years, the remaining strontium will be at 1/32nd the level it is now -- probably livable again. At 280 years, it'll be at 1/1024th, almost certainly livable.

Long, long time in human terms, but it's far from the million-year timeframes you hear so frequently about nuclear waste.

I'm real worried about strontium. If that gets/got into the Tokyo water supply like the iodine did, oh god.

The iodine, while a nasty acute hazard, will be at 1/1024th of present levels in 80 days, and 1/1 millionth in about 5.5 months... it's completely horrible for awhile, but then it all goes away. Simply not being there for a few months takes care of any radiodine problems. It's a huge hassle, but it's relatively easy to deal with, just a matter of waiting it out. That's not true of cesium and strontium.
posted by Malor at 2:15 AM on April 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Radioactive strontium detected more than 30 km from Fukushima plant

Strontium 90 from the 50's in the USA is how I got an aggressive form and now late stage thyroid cancer.
posted by nickyskye at 2:24 AM on April 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


....and now I'm worried about summer.
That guy is an idiot. Well, at least in that blog post. He seems to think the Japanese don't have enough backup power generation capability to handle the loss of Fukushima #1. that's ridiculous. The Japanese shut down ALL of TEPCO's boiling water reactors a few years ago over fraudulent safety reports and no one ran out of electricity.

I saw that blog post linked somewhere else the other day and it annoyed me.
posted by delmoi at 3:29 AM on April 18, 2011


Delmoi,

The guy's not an idiot, he's not being ridiculous, and what he's saying isn't annoying. He thinks we don't have enough backup power in East Japan because we don't. You didn't see any of the discussion in the other thread where all us Tokyo residents were discussing the rolling power outages? Right now, power is sufficient because the temperature has warmed up, so people aren't using heaters, so the rolling power shortages have been called off, but the newspapers are full of articles about the upcoming power shortages this summer.

The government is calling for major power users (factories, etc.) to cut power usage during peak hours in the summer by 25%, for smaller companies to cut by 20%, and for individual residents to cut by 15%. Most of the stores in my town have their outside lights turned off. Escalators have been shut off at stations to conserve power. Vending machines are unlit, and all Coca-Cola vending machines will be cycled off during summer peak hours to cut power usage by 33%. TEPCO is scrambling to restore power stations that have been mothballed. Companies are buying their own power generators. Companies are working with their unions to shorten the May holiday (when A/C needs are low) and make up for it with additional days off in mid-summer. Companies are planning to have employees take weekdays off and work on weekends instead in order to more evenly distribute power consumption loads. Ditto with working nights, or early mornings.

Sorry, I realize you're not here, so this information isn't so available to you. I shouldn't be annoyed that you don't know this stuff, but for some reason your tone just grated.
posted by Bugbread at 3:47 AM on April 18, 2011 [8 favorites]


Bugbread: I do know that there are issues about conserving electricity in Japan right now, but the post was basically saying that the only real problem with the reactor going down was the loss of electricity, which is clearly not the case.
posted by delmoi at 3:49 AM on April 18, 2011


Thank you very much, KokuRyu. A wealth of links.

The videos of reporters driving through the exclusion zone (especially the first one) were interesting. Thanks to xkcd I now have a handy chart to remind myself that those dogs and cows were only getting a few times normal radiation. At the closest the reporters even got to the plant they were only getting the equivalent of a chest x-ray every 10 minutes. I wouldn't want to be working under these conditions but I don't think the reporters were in any real danger.
posted by chemoboy at 3:53 AM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


The Japanese shut down ALL of TEPCO's boiling water reactors a few years ago over fraudulent safety reports and no one ran out of electricity.

Funny, I don't remember them scramming all the reactors at the same time, with no warning, to redo the safety inspections. Cite plz?
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 3:53 AM on April 18, 2011


delmoi, bugbread, "That guy" is acclaimed sci-fi/fantasy/horror novelist Charles Stross, metafilter's own cstross.

That guy is an idiot. Well, at least in that blog post.

At most in that blog post. Not even in that blog post. I'm glad that people are working hard to prevent brownouts and that plans are in place to prevent them, but it's not crazy to worry that power shortages could cost lives.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 3:58 AM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Funny, I don't remember them scramming all the reactors at the same time, with no warning, to redo the safety inspections. Cite plz?
here's what Wikipedia says:
On August 29, 2002, the government of Japan revealed that TEPCO was guilty of false reporting in routine governmental inspection of its nuclear plants and systematic concealment of plant safety incidents. All seventeen of its boiling-water reactors were shut down for inspection as a result.
I did say boiling water reactors in my comment.
posted by delmoi at 4:00 AM on April 18, 2011


Delmoi: If you're aware that there are problems with electrical supply, then why did you say it was ridiculous to believe that there isn't enough backup power generation capabilities to handle summer demand?
posted by Bugbread at 4:02 AM on April 18, 2011


delmoi, my point is that the shutdowns done for re-inspection were, to the best of my memory, sequential and done with plenty of advance notice. Which doesn't match the current situation at all. Apples and oranges.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 4:10 AM on April 18, 2011


Tepco also had to shutdown the Kashiwzaki Kariwa nuclear power plant in 200y after an earthquake, and that plant is almost twice as powerful as Fukushima Dai-ichi. (50.8 GWh/year vs. 29.9 GWh/year). Did that result in thousands of people dying of heatstroke?
If you're aware that there are problems with electrical supply, then why did you say it was ridiculous to believe that there isn't enough backup power generation capabilities to handle summer demand?
This is the first paragraph in the post:
Unfortunately I was wrong about the likely death toll from the reactor outage at Fukushima Daiichi.

There's a very good chance that it's going to kill thousands of people — possibly more than the earthquake and tsunami combined.
That doesn't seem hyperbolic to you? That thousands of people, more then killed by the Tsunami are going to die due to brownouts, despite the fact that shutting down the larger reactor in 07 and 08 didn't result in any deaths (as far as I know)?

There is a difference between inconveniences and thousands dead due to heatstroke, as far as I can tell.
posted by delmoi at 4:10 AM on April 18, 2011


shutdown the Kashiwzaki Kariwa nuclear power plant in 200y

Er, Should say 2007, as well as a planned shutdown in 2008 for upgrades.
posted by delmoi at 4:13 AM on April 18, 2011


"That doesn't seem hyperbolic to you?"

No, it does sound hyperbolic to me. That's why I was asking why, if your complaint was with the claims being overblown (which I happen to agree with), why did you instead say that it was ridiculous to...

Maybe I'm not being real clear. To me, it seems like the initial discussion went this way:

Cstross: Factual claim A. Hyperbolic conclusion B.

Delmoi: That's stupid! Factual claim A is ridiculous!

Bugbread: No, factual claim A is true.

Delmoi: I know it's true, but that post was making hyperbolic conclusion B.

Bugbread: If your problem is with conclusion B, why did you say factual claim A is ridiculous?

Delmoi: Conclusion B doesn't seem ridiculous to you?
posted by Bugbread at 4:30 AM on April 18, 2011


Bugbread: what i wrote was:
That guy is an idiot. Well, at least in that blog post. He seems to think the Japanese don't have enough backup power generation capability to handle the loss of Fukushima #1. that's ridiculous.
I guess it comes down to what you think I meant by "handle". I didn't mean "not be inconvenienced by" I meant "Not have result in mass death".

Also, what you called "Factual claim A" (We are now heading into summer. And Tokyo doesn't have enough electricity to maintain power everywhere even in spring.) wasn't until the sixth paragraph in the article. The claim that thousands could die from a lack of power was in paragraph 2 (and implied in the first sentence). I also pointed out that the situation (the shutdown of reactors) is not all that uncommon over the past decade and hasn't resulted in mass casualties, as far as I know.
posted by delmoi at 4:52 AM on April 18, 2011


Ah, ok, if that's what you meant by handle, then we're groovy. I thought you meant that there were enough backup generators to "handle" (that is, "make up for") the loss in electrical generating ability of the Fukushima plants.
posted by Bugbread at 4:59 AM on April 18, 2011


Delmoi, one thing that you might not be aware of is that, when TEPCO first started the rolling blackouts, they did it with little or no warning, sometimes blackouts happened, sometimes they didn't, and when they blacked out an area, everything went dark. There were reports of hospitals and old folks' homes believing themselves to be safe from blackouts suddenly finding themselves without power. The rolling blackouts, if they happen (and are pretty likely to, it seems) will still be managed by the idiots who've brought us the lovely situation we're talking about in this thread. I have no confidence in TEPCO to manage rolling blackouts in any sane or rational way.

As for high numbers of fatalities due to heat, it has happened recently (France, 2003, as I linked above), and the heat here last year was absurd. Japanese houses are not insulated, and there were regular reports last summer of people falling seriously ill and/or dying from the heat nearly every day, and that was with full power. With any luck, we won't experience a summer as bad as the one last year, but if we do, it will be a very hard, and very unpleasant time.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:27 AM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


it has happened recently (France, 2003, as I linked above)

Most houses have no AC at all in France, that was an abnormal heatwave that people were totally unprepared for.
posted by delmoi at 5:33 AM on April 18, 2011


Yes, and last year was an abnormal heatwave that people were totally unprepared for here in Tokyo, and it was bad then. This summer, were that to happen again, it could potentially be just as bad as France in 2003. Again, last summer we had something like 30 days in a row where the temperature in Tokyo reacher higher than 35 celsius, with high humidity, but only two (short) bits of rain between the middle of July and the end of August.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:42 AM on April 18, 2011


This Powerpoint slideshow Anatomy of a Tragedy: Fukushima Dai-Ichi shows in detail how the Fukushima reactors worked under normal conditions, and then describes how the events of March 11 led to the currently unfolding crisis. (Via All Things Nuclear)
posted by KokuRyu at 7:44 AM on April 18, 2011 [3 favorites]




Can't find any English links yet, but the Nuclear Agency announced this morning that there was 20cm of standing water in the basement of reactor #4. This evening, they announced that 20 centimeters was actually an error, and the correct figure was 5 meters.
posted by Bugbread at 8:10 AM on April 18, 2011


Bugbread - that's not surprising. The flooded trenches are at the same elevation as the reactor basement, as shown here. If (big if) the source of the water is core-injection water overflowing from the reactor pressure vessel and/or containment (as opposed to flood water from the tsunami), you would expect the level to be even higher in the reactor building. In either case, the flooding will make it very difficult to assess the state of the containment vessels.
posted by Popular Ethics at 8:35 AM on April 18, 2011


Sorry. As shown here.
posted by Popular Ethics at 8:36 AM on April 18, 2011


Yeah, you know, I sure wish people would stop doing this.

First, it's insulting, because everyone knows this. Presenting these relative figures here is not going to make anyone go "oh my god, look at that! I had no idea!"


No, you're wrong. I routinely encounter people who are completely unaware there have been 13k deaths, and think people are dying now from radiation poisoning. They truly have no idea.

Even if you sent everyone back into the exclusion zone, and they died in droves due to radiation, that would never come close to the current death toll from the quake and tsunami (which is likely to end up somewhere around 20k). That far exceeds the IAEA/WHO projection of the death toll from Chernobyl (they say 9000).
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:56 AM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, that's just great, charlie. You keep on not surfing, man. You're doing a great job keeping us all informed.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:10 AM on April 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


Yeah, you're right, far more people have died as a result of the tsunami than have died so far as a result of the nuclear accidents in Fukushima. Not sure what your point is.

In regards to postulating body counts, etc, it's incredibly insensitive to do so.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:11 AM on April 18, 2011 [4 favorites]


An estimated 27 million Americans have thyroid disease, and about 13 million of them are undiagnosed. The risk of thyroid disease increases with age, and women are seven times more likely than men to develop thyroid problems.

... epidemic levels of thyroid cancer near the Indian Point nuclear reactors north of New York City. The only known cause of thyroid cancer is exposure to radiation (especially radioactive iodine). The U.S. rate of thyroid cancer has nearly tripled since 1980, the greatest increase of any cancer.

It seems logical there will be a thyroid cancer increase in Japan after the Fukushima catastrophe.

As an additional precautionary measure, we advise British nationals to remain outside a 60km radius (rather than the previous 80km radius) of the Fukushima nuclear facility. This is based on the latest scientific advice from the Scientific Advisory Group in Emergencies (SAGE).

Today's scheme to cool #Fukushima reactors: Air conditioning. via Steve Silberman on Twitter
posted by nickyskye at 9:17 AM on April 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


That far exceeds the IAEA/WHO projection of the death toll from Chernobyl (they say 9000).

That number is probably very low. More realistic is around 27,000 with one estimate at 250,000.
posted by stbalbach at 9:27 AM on April 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


The Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan has released only two computer-simulated estimates of radioactive substance dispersal since the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, although more than 2,000 of them were made, sources familiar with the matter said Monday. --- Huh, wonder why?

Remote-controlled robots have detected high levels of radiation inside the reactor buildings at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. ---- (Reading that I had one of those mid-century moments, when Gomer Pyle's "Surprise, surprise, surprise!" came unbidden into my mind.)
posted by nickyskye at 9:34 AM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


What happens to the packs of dogs and cattle left in the exclusion zone?
posted by codacorolla at 9:34 AM on April 18, 2011


What happens to the packs of dogs and cattle left in the exclusion zone?

The ones that ain't rescued? They gonna die like dogs. Or, cows. Depending.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:44 AM on April 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


I wonder how much Tepco can be trusted right now. We know of at least 2 instances where they intentionally withheld very important information: large scale release on 15/16th (close to 10% of Chernobyl release, there's no way they did not know) and pieces of fuel assemblies thrown out and about the plant area by explosions, which had to be bulldozed over. Other instances may have been due to confusion, disarray, conflicting readings and them having to concentrate all efforts on trying to control the reactors, but in these two cases it's very clear they were keeping the information back simply because it was bad news.
posted by rainy at 9:44 AM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


In regards to postulating body counts, etc, it's incredibly insensitive to do so.

That's what everyone is doing, this question is the subtext of much of this thread: how many deaths from long term radiation effects might occur? In any case, I suggest you take this issue up with the National Police Agency, which issued the statistics of 13.8k dead and an additional 14k missing.

codacorolla: What happens to the packs of dogs and cattle left in the exclusion zone?

I read a report from a farmer who was distressed to be forced to leave his dairy cattle behind. Without daily milking, the cows will become very sick. He has no way to return and feed or care for his cattle, and presumes they are dying.
posted by charlie don't surf at 9:47 AM on April 18, 2011




I wonder how much Tepco can be trusted right now.

it's not my intention to come off as a know-it-all or a smart ass, so please accept my answer at face value, based on an honest opinion, which is in turn based on what I've observed up until now: not at all. TEPCO should not be trusted. At all.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:50 AM on April 18, 2011 [5 favorites]


While I'm not saying that Tepco (or the government) is completely trustworthy, I think there are other factors at play:

- Tepco gets its information from engineers and scientists, who generally like to work in the realm of facts, rather than hypothesize. If they don't have the facts (even when it's pretty obvious what has happened, such as a hydrogen explosion), they are not going to make a definitive statement. It's a clash of communication styles.

- Tepco isn't monolithic. There are thousands of people working for it, many doing a great job, others with different perspectives and agendas, and the same could obviously be said for the Japanese governmment. Obviously there's been leadership challenges at Tepco over the past month, and I think it's confusion rather than outright deception that is responsible for a lot of the missing data.

There seems to be a real leadership crisis in Japan at the moment. At the same time, look at what happened in the US following Katrina, or, most recently, the BP disaster last year. It's not unique to Japan.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:51 AM on April 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's not unique to Japan.

True. I, for one, wouldn't suggest that it is.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:54 AM on April 18, 2011 [2 favorites]




I do trust them to the extent that their readings are basically correct (e.g. the ones they recently posted about rad levels near and inside reactor buildings, #4 SFP water reading, contamination levels of sea water near the plant, the fact that they plugged the leak to the ocean and that they suspect there may be more leaks that will be hard to find, etc). What I specifically don't trust them with is that if they were to get some really bad news, they'll release it promptly (within days rather than weeks). It concerns me that they might be sitting on some information right now that will only come weeks or months from now, similarly to the two instances I've mentioned above.

I don't think they will try to hide something that's a clear danger to people and that can be avoided or minimized by release of information, but if the danger is not clear or immediate, it's very possible they'll try to hide it as they did before.
posted by rainy at 10:22 AM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here's a good Japan Focus article about contradictory info released by the media, TEPCO and the government.

On the one hand, many local officials and residents in Fukushima insist that the situation is safe and that the media, in fanning unwarranted fears, are damaging the economy of the region.By contrast, many freelance journalists in Tokyo report that the central government is downplaying the fact that radiation leakage has been massive and that the threat to public health has been woefully underestimated.

One of the disturbing things about the crisis this Japan Focus report touches on is that school is in session in nominal hot-zones.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:28 AM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't think they will try to hide something that's a clear danger to people and that can be avoided or minimized by release of information, but if the danger is not clear or immediate, it's very possible they'll try to hide it as they did before.

Their credibility, in my mind, seems to be especially damaged by the fact that they were clearly encouraging the view in their public statements that containment was still intact, when we now know that active fuel rod components were jettisoned as much as a kilometer from the plant, as noted in the fpp:
NRC report leaked to the NYT on April 4 mentions that due to an explosion way back at the beginning of the crisis, fuel rod fragments were ejected up to a kilometer from Daiichi, as well as between to reactor buildings on site.
Back when there were so many of us taking comfort (or at least, advising others to take comfort) that, at least for now, reactor containment had been maintained, those claims were (as we now know) completely inaccurate if not fraudulent.

It's kind of hard to trust anybody involved in shaping and releasing official information during a crisis when the information later turns out to be so wildly off the mark (for reasons sinister or otherwise).
posted by saulgoodman at 10:52 AM on April 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


And now NY Times is reporting allegations of possible securities fraud at TEPCO--which might suggest (my own inference, not the NY Times) that some TEPCO executives were deliberately manipulating information releases in the aftermath of the crisis to blunt the impact on stock value so they or other major TEPCO shareholders could dump their holdings in the stock before its value bottomed out.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:01 AM on April 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Back when there were so many of us taking comfort (or at least, advising others to take comfort) that, at least for now, reactor containment had been maintained, those claims were (as we now know) completely inaccurate if not fraudulent.

If any fuel were ejected, it would not be from the containment vessel; rather if fuel were ejected (due, in this case, to a hydrogen explosion in #4 reactor building), it would have been from a spent-fuel pool. Although containment has certainly been breached in at least one of the reactors, the fuel assemblies (or what remains of them) are still contained by the core containment.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:12 AM on April 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


saulgoodman: we now know that active fuel rod components were jettisoned as much as a kilometer from the plant, as noted in the fpp

The NRC report cited in the FPP states that fuel particulates may have been ejected from the unit 3 or 4 storage pool. The purpose of the report was to prepare a list of recommended actions, and in that sense it was probably prudent to make that assumption based on the data they had on March 26th (which, importantly, isn't shared). It's too early to say "we know" fuel particles have been dispersed, and far too early to lay charges of a cover up.

As KokuRyu stated, it's more likely that there hasn't been time to confirm the readings, and, since they wouldn't require a change in response, TEPCO (and everyone involved now) has concentrated on more pressing concerns (cooling the spent fuel pools and cores, preventing a hydrogen explosion inside containment, and cleaning up the contaminated water on site so they can diagnose and restore equipment)
posted by Popular Ethics at 11:37 AM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fair enough, but maybe part of the problem is with the use of the term "containment," because most accounts at the time seemed to use this terminology loosely to refer to local containment of any radioactive material, not strictly to radioactive fuel materials in the reactors. I get that "containment" is used as a term of art, but the thrust of most of the reports I recollect had a distinct "phew! all radioactivity remains currently locally contained" character. Maybe they didn't know that either. But then there's that suspicious stock activity to look into, too.

Timing is everything both when it comes to managing the PR and stock market impact of bad news in these situations, so until there's a thorough accounting (and granted that'll still be a long time in coming if it ever happens), count me among the deeply skeptical (and among those saddened by the fact that the damage will long have been done by then).
posted by saulgoodman at 11:48 AM on April 18, 2011


The report specifically said that pieces of assemblies ended up between reactor buildings and had to be bulldozed over because they were giving off extremely high levels of radiation. This was pretty widely reported and Tepco has not denied this. It seems very likely to be true from everything we know.
posted by rainy at 11:49 AM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks for a great post-- this is why MetaFilter is my never-miss-daily-one-stop-shopping-spot for information. MeFi (and posts like this in particular) is really good for separating wheat from chaff in terms of news . . . I mean, it's great for all the slyt's and games and art and music and etc., but linkdumps like this are amazing.

Thanks for helping to bring me back up to speed!
posted by exlotuseater at 11:59 AM on April 18, 2011


(well, and the amazing and informative commentary as well)
posted by exlotuseater at 11:59 AM on April 18, 2011


And now NY Times is reporting allegations of possible securities fraud at TEPCO

The mystery trader was buying Tepco shares, not selling. In fact a lot of people have been buying Tepco, the volume on it is incredible, as are the daily swings (though it has flattened out the past few days). It's terrible to profit from the calamity, but considering TEPCO is Japans largest issuer of bonds ie. every retirement account in Japan has a stake in it, there is no way the government is going to let it die, politically speaking. I suspect some hedge funds are looking at it the same way, politics trumping economics, and profiting from it. There's still a huge risk, another earthquake or the meltdown gets a lot worse. Anyway the thing is down like 80%, this is an otherwise stable boring utility stock with huge assets and guaranteed income - and an unknown liability.If you think the govt won't let Tepco die it's probably a screaming buy, and someone's been buying up a lot at these prices.
posted by stbalbach at 12:26 PM on April 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


when we now know that active fuel rod components were jettisoned as much as a kilometer from the plant, as noted in the fpp

I'm on the fence with this. For one, the bulldozers weren't called for until a week after the major explosion, and something as major as the SFP being blowed up would have merited an actual mention by NISA sooner or later.

However, there are certainly a sufficient number of white rod-like things clearly visible strewn all over the place, but the fuel rods are bundled into assemblies (64 rods per box), and none of those are visible so I think the NRC report is not accurate.

The disaster response that first week focused on trying to refill #3's SFP -- with helicopters, riot trucks, military crash response trucks, and finally, the hyper rescue ladder trucks.

Oddly, these were spraying the *wrong corner* (NW) of reactor 3 (the SFP is in the S part of the building), but that was probably as close as they could get, given unit 4's problems and close proximity to unit 3.
posted by mokuba at 12:32 PM on April 18, 2011


The mystery trader was buying Tepco shares, not selling.

Well, yeah, but it's kind of hard to dump a bunch of shares in a stock without a buyer, and the article notes the buyer in this case appears to have been a somewhat shadowy hedge fund possibly connected to the Chinese government.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:42 PM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wait: let me revise that a little. The purchases may allegedly have been financed by the Chinese or other government, and/or through shadowy hedge funds (which is kind of redundant terminology since most hedge funds are a little shadowy being exempt from many of the disclosure requirements that apply to other kinds of funds as has been discussed around here for some time).
Regulators are also making informal queries to determine whether the government of China or any other country might have used its sovereign wealth fund to finance the purchases, although they could have been made by hedge funds, the senior executive said.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:47 PM on April 18, 2011


Obviously, this is all developing news/info, so it's not wise to draw any strong conclusions from what little information is available, but it's seldom advisable to be too credulous about the kinds of things some of us may be willing to do to protect our wealth.
posted by saulgoodman at 12:59 PM on April 18, 2011


Here's another fairly thorough summary of the accident progression (as of April 7) by Areva.

Most of the recent "developments" have really just been discoveries of the extent of the damage done before March 14. That said, the situation is still dicey (and leaky).
posted by Popular Ethics at 1:11 PM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


March 16 really.
posted by Popular Ethics at 1:32 PM on April 18, 2011


When reading their defensive and optimistic characterization of the accident's radiological impact, it is worth noting that AREVA is a French multinational that makes a lot of money from building nuclear reactors.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:12 PM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


BP: Where do you read defensiveness or optimism in that presentation? They don't present any disputed facts or make any projections as far as I can tell.
posted by Popular Ethics at 3:21 PM on April 18, 2011


When the Japanese government admits that the seriousness of the disaster merits a level 7 on the INES, it is defensive of a nuclear reactor manufacturer like AREVA to make their first comment in their slides about the environmental impact one that couches language to deny the scale of what the Japanese government admits. That's defensive, I'm sorry.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:57 PM on April 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Further, AREVA's characterization of contamination (of the exclusion zones, at least) is speculative and optimistic, to say the least. There's more there than just iodine. We simply don't know the extent to which there is cesium and strontium contamination that renders a wide radius of land uninhabitable for several generations. There is no mention of the radiological release into the surrounding ocean, nor of the effects that will have on the local ecology and food supplies.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:02 PM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


saulgoodman, Japan has a law that foreigners can't own more than 10% of a Japanese company (or at least the type of company Tepco is). So there is concern about that big purchase the week of April 3 since it may be enough to own > 10% at current valuation. Personally I suspect hedge fund(s) since this is a classic hedge fund kind of gamble, but not typical of sovereign funds which are more conservative. Make no mistake, whoever bought those shares is making a straight up gamble, the 600 million bet of a lifetime, because Tepco's liability is totally unknown at this point. The shares could drop to 0, or could rise up to 80%. As one Japanese broker said, it's risky to own it, it's risky not to own it.
posted by stbalbach at 4:08 PM on April 18, 2011


Uhgg. All this talk of hedge-funds and liability and financial projections...

I'm not naive, but it's still deeply unsavory.
posted by panaceanot at 4:17 PM on April 18, 2011


What are you on about? The slides are a time progression of what's already been observed, not what will happen.

Does this sound defensive:

Page 20/21: March 12, 13. First depressurization of containment. Release of noble gasses. Release of small amounts of cesium and iodine aerosols

Page 23: Damage to the unit 2 condensation chamber (aka wet well, aka containment) "uncontrolled release of fission products".

Page 32: says that if a zirc fire had started in the Unit 4 pool there would be "nearly no retention of fission products".
posted by Popular Ethics at 4:17 PM on April 18, 2011


My comments refer specifically to the content on slides 25 and 29, which make misleading and speculative statements about the scale and ongoing impact of the disaster.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:21 PM on April 18, 2011


Anyway, when people read an assessment of the environmental impact of the disaster, it is informative knowing where that assessment is coming from.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:22 PM on April 18, 2011


Page 25 has a bullet that says "Not chernobyl like", which is true, but probably a distinction without a difference. Page 29 has a bullet that says "20km away from the site: probably no permanent evacuation of land necessary". Perhaps that's a bit optimistic.

You can tarnish the whole presentation because of these two claims if you like, but you would be condemning an otherwise informative detailed and clear presentation of the facts so far.
posted by Popular Ethics at 4:34 PM on April 18, 2011


You are also correct that the presentation says nothing about the release of contaminated water from the flooded trenches. I suspect that wasn't known to the authors when the presentation was prepared, but either way, it's an omission for sure.
posted by Popular Ethics at 4:39 PM on April 18, 2011


you would be condemning an otherwise informative detailed and clear presentation of the facts

I think it's fine for AREVA to discuss how the reactor failed, and as far as the slide presentation goes, it does a decent job there. As far as the ecological and epidemiological consequences, perhaps AREVA should step away from that part and leave it to environmental scientists and medical professionals to discuss competently. There's a massive financial conflict of interest that is laid bare, IMO, by AREVA's use of language that effectively minimizes the scope of damage (whatever the motivation for doing so).
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:45 PM on April 18, 2011


When reading their defensive and optimistic characterization of the accident's radiological impact, it is worth noting that AREVA is a French multinational that makes a lot of money from building nuclear reactors.

They also make a lot of money processing Japan's spent fuel, and supplied the MOX in Reactor #3.

I dunno, looking at the AREVA slides makes my skin crawl, especially the little dots that signify radioactive contamination.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:44 PM on April 18, 2011


This image cheers me up a bit. If it's not actually a post-tsunami picture as claimed, please excuse me.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 6:45 PM on April 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Purposeful Grimace: that's almost certainly a post-tsunami pic. I've seen several news stories about construction crews making hot baths (onsen or sento) or about onsens in the area re-opening, to the absolute JOY of the people there. Many if not most Japanese people take a hot bath every single day, even in the summertime. It's like eating and breathing. The people in Tohoku have done without hot baths for a month, and I'm sure even showers are hard to come by. Plus it's been a chilly spring, so getting a hot bath really gives people a mental boost.
posted by zardoz at 6:55 PM on April 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


Blargh, meant to post the source: The Atlantic's Japan Earthquake: The Long Road to Recovery.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 6:58 PM on April 18, 2011


Last night's NHK News reported about the little ways in which life is getting back to normal, and they talked about how schools in Sendai were able, for the first time since the quake, to provide school lunches for the students. They showed the kids cheerfully tearing into sweet buns and small cartons of milk. They interviewed some of the kids, who were all extremely excited. One girl said that the food tasted better, since they were able to all eat together. I know it was intended to be uplifting, but it honestly made me a little teary.

Some friends of mine drove a truck of relief supplies from groups like Second Harvest up to Minamisanriku over the weekend, and the photos they took were stunning. One of them posted on Facebook that compared to what we've been seeing on TV, up close, the damage is much, much worse, and much more extensive.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:09 PM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ghidorah: How can the damage be worse? I've just been seeing huge expanses of rubble with maybe a single concrete building or landlocked boat to give a sense of scale. The only way I can imagine the damage being worse would be if there were huge bomb craters everywhere. And even that might not look worse, just different.
posted by Bugbread at 7:16 PM on April 18, 2011


He said it was just so much more overwhelming in person. With the footage we're seeing, the camera shows us a bit, pans a little, then cuts to something else. He said it's just everywhere, everything is gone or in shambles. It's basically the same thing as we've been seeing, just without the edge of the TV screen to cut it off, so it's more overwhelming.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:33 PM on April 18, 2011


Ah, ok.
posted by Bugbread at 7:34 PM on April 18, 2011


"Judging from difficulties experienced thus far [in efforts to bring the situation at the plant under control], I doubt that TEPCO can stabilize the reactors within nine months," said Ishikawa. "I think TEPCO also needs to review its organization, for example, by having someone who can exert strong leadership [to spearhead the timetable's implementation]."

Translated Daily Yomiuri article (the Yomi is a center-right newspaper in Japan aligned with industry).
posted by KokuRyu at 9:15 PM on April 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


Thanks for that link, KokuRyu.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:23 PM on April 18, 2011


Japan taps US robots for reactor cleanup help

Fukushima plant not to have meltdown if cooling continues: Edano

In Japan, the Vice President of the Tokyo Electric Power Company, Sakae Muto, says the Containment Vessel of Fukushima Reactor 2 is leaking, and has probably been damaged. But he added that no problems have been found with the spent fuel rods in Reactor 4.

Quake before and after, Flow of people in and out of Japan

For map geeks with Google translate or who can read Japanese, Emergency Mapping Team has some cool maps of the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear crisis.

Chart: Tokyo’s water gradually returning to normal

Ueno Zoo's hippo, injured when it fell down during the 3-11 quake, died from complications over the weekend. (article in Japanese)

"RDTN.org, grassroots effort to fund civilian radiation detection network in Japan, is looking for donations". Kickstarter.

Radiation measurement map for Japan

Over 80% of nurses & caregivers who were to move to Japan for work from Asia have cancelled plans, according to NHK. (article in Japanese) " the candidates came from the Philippines and Indonesia, fears of accidents and the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station"

RQ-16A T-Hawk is the type of drone used to film Fukushima.

A moving article: Conveying the Sadness in Japan’s Stoicism

Anybody know about the cool partitions at the evacuation centers? They're such a nifty design.

It cheers me to see Kyoto in pink (vid created by MeFite planetkyoto).
posted by nickyskye at 9:32 PM on April 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


But he added that no problems have been found with the spent fuel rods in Reactor 4.

Seriously? Is this a case of nobody looking? The damage to Reactor 4 was caused by something...
posted by Chuckles at 9:54 PM on April 18, 2011


Ueno Zoo's hippo, injured when it fell down during the 3-11 quake, died from complications over the weekend.

.

The zoo was in the middle of celebrating the 100th anniversary of the first hippo in Japan.
posted by stbalbach at 10:26 PM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks for that link, KokuRyu.

Oh, I have lots of bad news.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:32 PM on April 18, 2011 [3 favorites]


An earthquake and tsunami didn't stop the press. In Ishinomaki, Japan, the Ishinomaki Hibi Shimbun, the town's only newspaper, refused to be thwarted. Even though it had no power, staff hand-wrote papers for residents.
posted by nickyskye at 11:30 PM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ueno Zoo's hippo, injured when it fell down during the 3-11 quake, died from complications over the weekend.

Oh, I have lots of bad news.

I don't know, KokuRyu, nickyskye seems to be giving you a run for your money. You could always have a bad news contest! Seriously though, between the two of you, with regular doses of NHK at night, I feel like I have some kind of grasp on the situation. Thanks.

Note: Please don't have a bad news contest. The scarcity of beer makes drinking myself to sleep more and more difficult. I'd like to avoid crying myself to sleep, if that's okay.
posted by Ghidorah at 12:46 AM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, Ghidorah, are these increasingly empty beer shelves at the stores scary or what?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:49 AM on April 19, 2011


Downright terrifying. Luckily, when the hoarding began, I hoarded the necessities.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:15 AM on April 19, 2011


Meanwhile, back at Chernobyl...

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich appealed to the world community Tuesday for funds to help deal with the consequences of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster which he said had left "a deep wound" in his country.

Opening an international conference on Chernobyl against the backdrop of the Fukushima nuclear crisis in Japan, he said 740 million euros (649 million pounds) were needed from donors to build a new more reliable shell over the reactor which exploded in 1986, spewing radiation across Europe.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:06 AM on April 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


shorter: things are getting worse slowly.
posted by warbaby at 7:36 AM on April 19, 2011


Japan confirms a partial meltdown of the bars of units 1 and 3 Fukushima (Anybody have more data on this? Is it real or sensationalist bs?)

TEPCO starts moving highly radioactive water to storage facility

Radiation Skyrockets #Fukushima 4/19

Last night I dreamed about the fish near Fukushima being affected by the radioactive water being poured into the Pacific Ocean. Cancers on fish, sea otters, mutations. Fishzilla. I have a particular fondness for those wondrous unicorns of the sea, the cephalopods, and am worried about the effects of ionizing radiation on them. Maybe they were smart enough to take their iodide tablets in time? Or ate Reishi mushrooms from India?

Nuclear plant plans spark violent clashes in India

Nuclear plant sues Vt. to stay open

shorter: things are getting worse slowly.

My take on The Bad In Life is to choose my focus from the vast array of choices very carefully, look at The Bad with alert attention (as opposed to denial that The Bad exists, avoiding the nihilistic approach that the Bad Is Everything Always), feel my feelings about the situation, analyze details and overview, then work on or participate in constructive solutions with the hive mind interested in that topic. At the same time I marvel at the beautiful tenacity of lifeforce, the will to live, savor The Good and the treasure to be found in each day.

Japanese scientist creates radiation-absorbing powder

Russian scientists discover radiation- absorbing mineral
posted by nickyskye at 11:30 AM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Japan confirms a partial meltdown of the bars of units 1 and 3 Fukushima (Anybody have more data on this? Is it real or sensationalist bs?)

It's been widely believed (NRC, IAEA) for several weeks now that partially fuel rod melting has occurred, so this is nothing new.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:39 AM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fishzilla
posted by eye of newt at 11:54 AM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


Omg, that Fishzilla vid is awesome.

Reality based weirdness/horror: the ebb pull of the tsunami.

I want the relatives of these amazing, cute Japanese fish to be safe from radiation in the water.

/derail What's the story with all the white cars in Japan?
posted by nickyskye at 1:01 PM on April 19, 2011


I know many pro-nuke people complain it is irrational populist fear of radiation that makes nuclear power difficult to implement. However this might be more realistic reason:
The construction costs for reactors after Three Mile Island (1979), but before Chernobyl (1986) were 95 percent higher than those completed before Three Mile Island. That resulted in electricity costs that were 40 percent higher. The construction costs of the reactors constructed after Chernobyl were 89 percent higher than those completed between Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, which delivered electricity costs 42 percent higher. It’s not rocket science to realize that major disasters would cause extra safety costs, but that’s a massive leap.. the cause was a continued extension of the construction period and new design changes required by safety concerns.
In other words, every major disaster has ushered in new design safety measures, which has significantly increased the cost. We can expect the same after Japan, and most likely it will kill the economic viability of nuclear power in the near term: Nuclear Costs to Soar Post Japan Disaster.
posted by stbalbach at 2:18 PM on April 19, 2011 [2 favorites]


Arnie Gundesen's informative video today also includes his concern about the fish. "Gundersen Discusses Current Condition of Reactors, TEPCO Claim of "No Fission" in Fuel Pool, and Lack of Radiation Monitoring in Fish"
posted by nickyskye at 3:09 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]




Arnie Gundersen needs a break. His April 18th video from 1:47 -> 2:37 contained the following incorrect information,
"Unit 2 shows 300 degrees Fahrenheit or about 150 on the Centigrade scale inside Unit 2. That can't happen if it's water. In thermodynamics there's this thing called the steam tables and water at room pressure which is zero on these charts boils at 212. You can't have water or steam at 300 degrees when there's no extra pressure put on it.

Well what does that tell me? That tells me that what they're measuring at unit 2 is not water or steam at all, it's hot air or hot hydrogen and that's a problem. That tells me that unit 2 is not being cooled."
He's right about the water but steam does exist at 150C and 100kPa (Wolfram Alpha). And steam at 150C will cool anything at 151C or above.

---

nickyskye, thank you for the updates they've been very informative and I've loved Arnie's other videos but I think he's working too hard.

---

nickyskye in your earlier post I think it would have been better if you had made a clear distinction that thyroid cancer is just one of many thyroid diseases.

The back to back quotes "An estimated 27 million Americans have thyroid disease...The only known cause of thyroid cancer is exposure to radiation" is very misleading, especially when the destination site you linked to for the "27 million Americans have thyroid disease" quote is an article specifically about "hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism" not cancer.

---

FWIW hyper and hypothyroidism are IMHO over diagnosed. I'm not a doctor but Normal human body temperature ... is a concept that depends upon the place in the body at which the measurement is made, and the time of day and level of activity of the person. There is no single number that represents a normal or healthy temperature for all people under all circumstances using any place of measurement.

Body temperature varies. Blood sugar varies. But for some reason hyper and hypothyroidism are anathemas which must be medicated. (sorry for the rant I know too many people who are taking one pill or another to increase or decrease thyroid function and that strikes me as odd).
posted by ecco at 7:31 PM on April 19, 2011 [1 favorite]


He's right about the water but steam does exist at 150C and 100kPa (Wolfram Alpha). And steam at 150C will cool anything at 151C or above.

? Your Wolfram cite lists the pressure at 450kPa.
posted by mokuba at 9:55 PM on April 19, 2011


The Wolfram Alpha link has a phase diagram. Here's a larger image on which I added three lines.

One verticle line up from 150C.

One horizontal line from 100kPa through the dot labelled STP aka room pressure.

Where these two lines meet you'll see the phase diagram is clearly in the "gas" section. So water at 150C and room pressure is a gas.

The second horizontal line I added is from roughly 450kPa across to the original red dot next to the label "saturation curve".

That red point is the pressure at which Water at 150C transitions between water and gas.

In the Wolfram alpha query, I didn't specify a pressure, so it chose to list a pressure at which something interesting happens. Namely Water at 150C transitions between a gas and a liquid when it is under a pressure of 450kPa.
posted by ecco at 10:38 PM on April 19, 2011


I was listening to CBC Almanac, a noon-hour call-in show today. They interviewed someone from Vancouver now living in Fukushima (mp3; towards the end of the podcast) who says he doesn't want to leave, although he has a 2 year old son. Apparently the city (or is it rumour?) has cautioned people not to let children play outside in some playgrounds, so he says he will "be careful" about where he lets his son play, and will wash his son's hands off carefully when coming inside. What a way to live.

Fukushima University's radiation dispersal map (PDF, Japanese)

Just trying to figure out what it means...

The RDTN.org map has readings throughout Japan. On April 4, according to the RDTN.org map, Greenpeace took readings near Fukushima Station (about 65 kilometers northwest of Daiichi). One of the readings was 2.2 μSv/h (microsieverts per hour). According to Wikipedia, the average individual background radiation dose is supposed to be 0.23μSv/h, while the total average radiation dose for Americans is 6.2 mSv/year.

So, assuming someone spent 24 hours outside for 365 days a year, at Fukushima's 2.2 μSv/h rate, the annual dose would be something like 19.272 mSv for the entire year, or more than 3 times what Wikipedia says should be the annual exposure in the US. Am I out to lunch here?
posted by KokuRyu at 12:10 AM on April 20, 2011


Here's a one-year rad estimate for Fukushima. This Japan Focus article made me think about radiation exposure levels in other parts of Fukushima, especially the implications for children.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:13 AM on April 20, 2011


From the memail I just sent you, now with other thoughts and additional research: I wish I recorded the conversation with the Ukrainian guy I had in the waiting room of the thyroid cancer oncologist. He got thyroid cancer from Chernobyl's radiation.

Basically, any person under the age of 16 is more vulnerable than an adult to getting thyroid cancer from ionizing radiation.

Thyroid cancer only comes from different types of radiation, not only ionizing radiation. The only proven cause of thyroid cancer is radiation during childhood. But I'd say that child is already by now doomed to thyroid issues their whole life, even if not cancer and the thyroid impacts every aspect of life.

This Fukushima crisis has been a real education for me.

1. I didn't realize there is a difference in types of radiation, like that from ionizing radiation to non-ionizing radiation. Even in the ionizing radiation there are different capacities to do damage to the body, like with gamma radiation from cesium-137.

(Huh, whoda thunk

Uses of Cesium-137:

cancer treatment
measure and control the flow of liquids in numerous industrial processes
investigate subterranean strata in oil wells
measure soil density at construction sites
ensure the proper fill level for packages of food, drugs and other products.
Uses of Cobalt-60:

sterilize medical equipment in hospitals
pasteurize certain foods and spices
treat cancer
gauge the thickness of metal in steel mills.
)

2. Small doses of radiation are accumulative in terms of the effect on the body. So even if the dose is not enormous but small and repeated, a small dose repeated over time can have the same effect as a very large single dose.

3. That wind in the case of Fukushima can deposit ionizing radiation particulate matter in an uneven distribution. Some places around Fukushima are much more contaminated by radiation than others, even though they are farther away from the reactors.

4. That a child -or any being- may ingest ionizing radiation from dust or breathing as well as from milk, meat and vegetables. So even if the child washes their hands after playing outside, it's no guarantee a child of 2, whose hands are often on the ground - on everything- and then in their mouth that radiation in particulate form might not be ingested.
posted by nickyskye at 1:35 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Namely Water at 150C transitions between a gas and a liquid when it is under a pressure of 450kPa.

Physics was 20+ years ago now, but it's my impression that water at 150C and 1 ATM is going to be steam not liquid water.
posted by mokuba at 2:43 AM on April 20, 2011


Namely Water at 150C transitions between a gas and a liquid when it is under a pressure of 450kPa.
ecco at 11:38 PM

it's my impression that water at 150C and 1 ATM is going to be steam not liquid water.
mokuba at 3:43 AM


1ATM != 450 kPa
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 3:55 AM on April 20, 2011


Yeah, I'm getting a little confused by all this discussion of saturation curves and alpha queries and steam tables. Unless there's something really complex I'm missing here: water boils at 100C at regular room pressure. That's ordinary knowledge. The reactor is at regular room pressure. Hence, water at 150C in the reactor must be steam.

Is there a bunch of hidden complexity I'm missing here? It seems really common sensical. If we were talking about high-pressure chambers or vacuums or the like, I can see how it would be more complex, but at regular room pressure, we're talking stuff you learn from cookbooks, not advanced physics textbooks.
posted by Bugbread at 4:20 AM on April 20, 2011


Bugbread, maybe this wiki article on superheated steam might give you an idea of the complexities they're facing in the reactor vessels. It's very odd to think of any sort of steam as a "dry", for instance.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 4:29 AM on April 20, 2011


Earthquake-prone Italy scraps nuclear power preparations.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:43 AM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]




nickyskye - I think you mean well, but a lot of what your post is just inaccurate enough to nitpick. For instance:
Thyroid cancer only comes from different types of radiation, not only ionizing radiation. The only proven cause of thyroid cancer is radiation during childhood. But I'd say that child is already by now doomed to thyroid issues their whole life, even if not cancer and the thyroid impacts every aspect of life.
There's a lot packed into that paragraph. First of all, you can split radiation (which is far too broad a word imho) into two types: ionizing, and non-ionizing. Non-ionizing radiation (think radio waves) does not damage molecules and does not cause cancer by definition.

As for whether thyroid cancers are only caused by radiation, I'll leave that to an oncologist. The paper you listed is from a peer-refereed journal, but it's not widely cited.
(Huh, whoda thunk
Uses of Cesium-137:
Uses of Cobalt-60:
Yep. There's an interesting karma that ionizing radiation is used to treat cancer when it's known to increase the risk of cancer.

2. Small doses of radiation are accumulative in terms of the effect on the body. So even if the dose is not enormous but small and repeated, a small dose repeated over time can have the same effect as a very large single dose.
That's not quite correct. Although the risk of cancer from radiation damage increases more or less linearly with dose over short time scales, the time between exposures does matter. Your body has mechanisms for repairing DNA and killing off cancerous cells (remember, we're exposed to background radiation every day) if the damage is small and you give it time to heal. That's why Nuclear Energy Workers (NEWs) are given different safe limits for 1 year and 5 year exposures.
posted by Popular Ethics at 8:34 AM on April 20, 2011


Superheated steam and liquid water cannot coexist under thermodynamic equilibrium, as any additional heat simply evaporates more water and the steam will become saturated steam.

The thing is, there is no reason to assume thermodynamic equilibrium. In fact, there is a lot of reason to assume lack of equilibrium (which is bad..). Wherever the rods are exposed, they will be dynamically super heating the steam nearby...

I think the issue being raised is that super heated steam is much poorer at cooling than saturated steam. Cooling with super heated steam may be comparable to air cooling, I guess, where cooling with saturated steam might be several orders of magnitude better (the heat conducting into the saturated steam faster than it conducts into super heated steam, because saturated steam has a wet interface with the hot surface). The way Gundersen put it though... reads very strangely to me.
(I'm electrical, so maybe I'm missing something :P)
posted by Chuckles at 9:17 AM on April 20, 2011


Witness:Disaster in Japan (National Geographic)

Very intense National Geographic documentary of the March 11 Japan earthquake using cell phone footage.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:04 PM on April 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I hadn't seen this commercial yet. Geez, I'm so easily manipulated by the media. Something in my eye, brb.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 2:35 AM on April 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Man, if that got you, wait till you see the long-form Tokyo Gas commercial about bento.
posted by Bugbread at 4:01 AM on April 21, 2011


Nothing to do with the earthquake, but here it is.
posted by Bugbread at 4:06 AM on April 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Damnit, now simultaneously sniffling and starving to death. Curses!
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 4:30 AM on April 21, 2011


Popular Ethics, thanks for your assumption that I mean well. I do. Among the many things I love about MetaFilter is the hive mind's need here for intelligent and thorough accuracy. I wrote my comment in an insomnia grogginess, did not edit it well and I appreciate your pointing out the inaccuracies, especially of that first sentence: Thyroid cancer only comes from different types of radiation, not only ionizing radiation. I meant to write thyroid cancer only comes from ionizing radiation.

That is inaccurate, 25% of one type of thyroid cancer, medullary, is genetic.

The reason I am confident in saying that ionizing radiation is the cause of thyroid cancer is that in the 3 years since I was diagnosed with late stage, aggressive Tall Cell Variant thyroid cancer all the research I've done online, from the very simple Wikipedia etiology to all the various PubMed papers, the online groups run by different doctors etc I have only read that thyroid cancer is caused by ionizing radiation. This has been further confirmed when every single oncologist or endocrinologist I've been to (a dozen or so) has asked me what type of radiation I was exposed to as a child.

The numerous fellow survivors of thyroid cancer I've spoken to in waiting rooms or online has been a further validation of this. Thyroid Diseases and Ionising Radiation [pdf]

Now I understand ionizing radiation can cause cancer in adulthood too, especially women, not only in children. Risk to the Thyroid from Ionizing Radiation | Exposure to ionizing radiation in adulthood and thyroid cancer incidence | Risk of Thyroid Cancer after Childhood Exposure to Ionizing Radiation.
posted by nickyskye at 5:04 AM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]




There are several recent pictures from within Fukushima Dai-Ichi in this blog post that I haven't seen yet.
posted by planetkyoto at 6:23 AM on April 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


Aha. I wondered where this thread had gone.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:46 PM on April 21, 2011




That's a whole lot of seismic activity, And the big one is big.

I'd love to see this same animation during a "normal" period to have something to compare it to.
posted by Windopaene at 3:21 PM on April 21, 2011


Corroborating an earlier Japan Focus article:

Toyo Keizai Online reports serious radioactive contamination levels beyond the 30km evacuation radius around the Fukushima Nuclear Plant:

Meanwhile, Fukushima Prefecture measured the radiation levels at all its elementary and junior high schools on April 5-7. Results showed that over 75% of the monitored schools had radiation levels above the legal standard for a “radiation controlled area” – defined as an area where unnecessary human entry and radioactive exposure are to be prevented and avoided. Over 20% of the schools saw even higher radiation levels warranting “individual exposure control.” However, elementary and junior high schools in the area commenced the new semester on April 5, in spite of the greater health risks and vulnerability of children to radioactive exposure.

Original Japanese article here
posted by KokuRyu at 11:11 PM on April 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


Japan Earthquake Swarm Google Earth Animation

It seems like there are two types of people in Japan--the ones freaked out about the nuclear crisis and radiation, and the ones freaked out about the aftershocks. Count me in the latter. At least with the nuclear plant, there are a lot of people working very, very hard to get the job done. That doesn't necessarily equal success, not as fast as anyone would like, but still.

As for the earthquakes, no one is doing anything because no one can. Mother nature is in charge, and us puny humans crawling around on her thin, thin skin mean nothing to her. That's freaky to me. She don't give a crap about us.

Anyway, is it just me or are the aftershocks slowly but steadily moving southward, as in towards Tokyo? We had a pretty big jolt last night, it triggered the automatic TV alarm system. Even though the shaking was pretty minimal, I hadn't heard that goddamn alarm in several days, maybe more than a week. I suppose it's good for Tohoku and the nuclear plant; they sure as hell don't need the quakes, but just another reminder than things are still tense around here in Tokyo.

*knocks wood that the aftershocks continue to fade into relative insignificance.*
posted by zardoz at 12:28 AM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


There are also folks like me, who aren't worried about the nuclear crisis (much), or about earthquakes (much), but are very worried about their intersection. Every time there's a quake, I turn on the TV to see whether it negatively impacted the Fukushima plants.
posted by Bugbread at 12:55 AM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


zardoz, Bugbread, I'm know what you mean. The earthquakes do freak me out more, mostly because of their immediacy. If Fukushima is going to kill me, it'll take years, and in some sort of ostrich sense, it's less frightening. On the other hand, every quake makes me incredibly tense, just because I'm sitting there wondering if it's just going to keep getting stronger or taper off, and there's no way to know until it actually gets stronger or tapers off. There is nothing I can do (aside from huddle in fear or stand in the kitchen trying to make sure none of the cabinets decide to pop open), and it drives me sort of batshit.

As for the moving, from what I understand, it's just that the energy unleashed in the first quake was so powerful that pretty much all the other fault lines were jostled out of their state of vague equilibrium. The other lines (especially the Ibaraki/Chiba border) are all basically trying to settle back to their relatively normal state, which means tremors. They aren't traveling down to Tokyo so much as the eastern side of Honshu is settling. The settling is taking a while (which happens when the island moves several feet), the problem is that the while might well last until winter or even next spring.

But yeah, every decent sized quake has me checking to see what's happening with the reactors. It seems NHK is aware of the general mood about that, and pretty much right after the "no tsunami warning" update, they tend to cut to Fukushima and give an update.
posted by Ghidorah at 1:06 AM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm from Southern California, so earthquakes are as natural to me as the rhythm of the sea. I was really interested in particle physics in high school and momentarily considered the offer to go to the naval academy followed by assignment to a nuclear-powered ship. The way that TEPCO has handled this thing, flailing desperately the whole time, makes me believe that the spreading nuclear contamination is the bigger danger.

If I were PM I would have called the IAEA immediately after I heard of the nuclear accident and told them to get their best disaster team on charter jets to Japan NOW. Then I would have hung up the phone and called every tour bus company in Japan and sent them to the tsunami-hit towns to evacuate people from those towns to the World Expo sites in Nagoya and Osaka. Their town are GONE. it's not like Kobe, where they can rebuild a house. There's no electric lines, water, sewage, fire stations... All the infrastructure is GONE. I would create evacuation tent cities in the Expo sites instead of having all kinds of NPO's trying to truck stuff hither and yon.

Now tonight my wife tells me that DASH-mura is in the exclusion zone. bummer.
posted by planetkyoto at 3:24 AM on April 22, 2011 [3 favorites]


They're showing various "man-on-the-street" clips of residents of completely destroyed towns, who are proudly discussing how they want to go back to the devastated areas and build new houses. Not that they want to build new houses near the sites of their former villages, but on higher ground, where tsunamis won't reach, but in the exact place where they were before.
posted by Bugbread at 3:35 AM on April 22, 2011


Well, hopefully, that kind of breast-beating bravado will give way to more sober pragmatism. Also, it's impossible to ignore the reality that those towns are skewed toward older residents, as their kids have fled to more prosperous metropolises over the years. Many of those towns are going to have to be radically transformed into something else – eco-villages, company towns or what-have-you – if they stand a chance of attracting enough residents to be rebuilt FROM THE INFRASTRUCTURE UP.

Oww, part of my previous post got cut off in the copy-paste. I just explained that DASH-mura is rural farm in Fukushima where the members of a famous band film an ongoing show about the nitty gritty of farming, making things the old-fashioned way, cookking and folkcraft. It's very interesting and the elderly farmer is always schooling them in the ways of nature. They had to escape with the animals.
posted by planetkyoto at 6:40 AM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Epidemiologist, Dr. Steven Wing, Discusses Global Radiation Exposures and Consequences with Gundersen

All Levels of Radiation Confirmed to Cause Cancer.

Toyo Keizai Online reports serious radioactive contamination levels beyond the 30km evacuation radius around the Fukushima Nuclear Plant

Japan Expands Evacuation Zone Around Nuclear Plant

After midnight on Thursday local time, anyone found entering the area without permission could be fined up to 100,000 yen ($1,220) or detained for a maximum of 30 days. Previously, police had been unable to enforce the evacuation order for the zone, once home to about 80,000 people.

Results showed that over 75% of the monitored schools had radiation levels above the legal standard for a “radiation controlled area” – defined as an area where unnecessary human entry and radioactive exposure are to be prevented and avoided. Over 20% of the schools saw even higher radiation levels warranting “individual exposure control.” However, elementary and junior high schools in the area commenced the new semester on April 5, in spite of the greater health risks and vulnerability of children to radioactive exposure.

What?! Why are the kids allowed to be exposed?! That seems outrageous to me. Are they being used as guinea pigs for the nuke industry? As PR for the government?

Sounds like news that has come way too late. My heart goes out to the people who did not get far enough away in time.

Dr. Helen Caldicott on the Fukushima disaster.

Arizona milk and radiation levels. Response to/re the increased radiation level.

Japan announces huge disaster fund

Tepco Fails to Get Assurance on Restarting Second Fukushima Nuclear Plant
unless he is assured of their absolute safety

Safety guarantee in an earthquake/tsunami zone? Not going to happen. Or else it will all about bribes.

PackBot Camera: Powerful robot video from inside Fukushima reactors

Between the BP spill, fracking and the Tepco fiasco at Fukushima, the very cute Google Earth Day logo of paradise feels disturbingly off.
posted by nickyskye at 8:59 AM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


'Phaethon' manga warning of nuclear risks now available free online

A more than 20-year-old manga that warns against nuclear power generation has drawn hundreds of thousands of readers since being posted online soon after the crisis hit the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:42 AM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Are they being used as guinea pigs for the nuke industry? As PR for the government?"

Well, definitely not the first. Tepco does not have the clout to convince local school boards to hold school so they can run experiments on kids, plus I can't imagine what kind of experiment Tepco would want to run, anyway. They're greedy and incompetent, but not cartoon evil.

As for the second, I dunno. Possibly PR by the government, but not for the government. And definitely not the national government (if they were in a position now where they would be fine with increasing the likelihood of long-term health problems for PR purposes, they would be shrinking the evacuation radiuses, not expanding them and instituting fines for entering evacuation areas). However, it is possible that local governments, out of their desire for a rapid return to normalcy, are making dangerous decisions as PR for their cities / communities.
posted by Bugbread at 4:39 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have also pointed out that Iodine has a half-life of 100 days inside the body. Since we are talking about milk that is the half-life we should be discussing here, not the 8 day half-life outside of the body.

From nickskye's link above: Response to/re the increased radiation level.

Am I completely misunderstanding that claim or is he slinging some serious woo regarding the human body superseding the laws of physics?
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 6:50 PM on April 22, 2011


From the EPA

However, iodine-131's short half-life of 8 days means ...

In the body, iodine has a biological half-life of about 100 days for the body as a whole. It has different biological half-lives for various organs: thyroid - 100 days, bone - 14 days, and kidney, spleen, and reproductive organs - 7 days.
posted by nickyskye at 8:08 PM on April 22, 2011


is he slinging some serious woo

He isn't slinging woo, he just doesn't know what he is talking about. The half-life in the body is some measure of how long a specific dose of substance will remain in the body. The radioactive half-life is how long the atom remains radioactive. They are two completely different things.
posted by Chuckles at 8:13 PM on April 22, 2011


the atom a sample
posted by Chuckles at 8:16 PM on April 22, 2011


WSJ: Reactor Team Let Pressure Soar

The operator of Japan's nuclear plant let pressure in one reactor climb far beyond the level the facility was designed to withstand, which may have worsened the nuclear accident, The Wall Street Journal reported late Friday.

Japan's deadly game of nuclear roulette Additionally, on March 26 this year -- the eve of the 25th anniversary of the worst nuclear disaster in U.S. history, at the Three Mile Island plant in Pennsylvania -- the Radiation and Public Health Project released new data on the effects of that event. This showed rises in infant deaths up to 53 percent, and in thyroid cancer of more than 70 percent in downwind counties -- data which, like all that concerning both the short- and long-term health effects, has never been forthcoming from the U.S. government...

It is not a question of whether or not a nuclear disaster will occur in Japan; it is a question of when it will occur.


Asahi Bicycle Sales Double as Commuters Haunted by Quake Seek Alternative

Japan faces lengthy recovery from Fukushima accident

The workers, according to journalist Tim Shorrock, are referred to as "genpatsu gypsies" (nuclear gypsies) "because they often travel from plant to plant as needs for their services rise and fall. Their stories make some of the saddest tales of all in the Japanese nuclear industry."

Nuclear Gypsies – The subcontractors who do the dirty work

Sunflowers to clean up radioactive soil at Fukushima

Tepco prez, Akira Takashi Shimizu, apologizing

Tokyo Takes Over PR From Plant Operator

Chemist: I Can Clean Fukushima Water Faster
posted by nickyskye at 9:35 PM on April 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh, so it's a scare tactic. Since the vast majority of iodine 131 that's being eliminated in 100 days will have decayed into harmless, non-radioactive iodine. Correct? Which is what bothers me about this All Levels of Radiation Confirmed to Cause Cancer link. "Even exposure to background radiation causes some cancer." If just being alive causes cancer in some, isn't that an evolutionary dead end? Do I increase my risk of cancer if I eat a diet rich in bananas, potatoes, kidney beans, nuts, and sunflower seeds? This isn't me being flip about people with cancer, it's me being bothered by what I consider attempts to frighten the poop out of people with crap science reporting.

On preview, I don't mean eating Fukushima sunflower seeds. Just the regular ones.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 9:38 PM on April 22, 2011


That whole "biological half-life" thing is immensely confusing, and the argument that "that's what we should be discussing" indicates he doesn't know what it means.

If my understanding is right:

Radioactive iodine has a half-life of 8 days. That means every day 8.3% of it turns into non-radioactive iodine.
Iodine (radioactive and non-radioactive) has a biological half-life of 100 days for the body as a whole. That means every day, your body will get rid of 0.7% of the iodine in the body (both radioactive and non-radioactive).

So (plugging a bunch of numbers into Excel), if, for example, you swallowed 100mg of radioactive iodine one day, the radioactive half-life figure would lead you to believe that in 8 days, your body would have 50mg of radioactive iodine. But in reality, since your body is also shedding iodine (the "biological half-life" part of the equation), after 8 days your body doesn't have 50mg, but actually 47.59mg.

My guess is that he believes that "biological half-life" means something like "biological radioactive half-life"; that somehow the radioactive half-life of iodine changes when inside the body, which would result in higher radioactivity numbers. In reality, if you factor in bio half-life, you get (juuuuust slightly) lower numbers than if you look at radioactive half-life alone.
posted by Bugbread at 9:44 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Radiation and Risk

From Cancer.org Still, most scientists and regulatory agencies agree that even small doses of ionizing radiation increase cancer risk, although by a very small amount. In general, the risk of cancer from radiation exposure increases as the dose of radiation increases. Likewise, the lower the exposure is, the smaller the increase in risk. But there is no threshold below which ionizing radiation is thought to be totally safe.

Radiation and Health
posted by nickyskye at 11:39 PM on April 22, 2011


There's no safe level of tetraethyl lead, or asbestos ingestion, yet we contaminated hell out of environment to use our cars. Your office printer/copier emits carbon nanoparticles. The drive home is your highest risk activity.

Fukushima radiation adds negligible additional risk for most of us in the west. IMO iananp etc.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:48 PM on April 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


But there is no threshold below which ionizing radiation is thought to be totally safe.

I'm sorry, I'm really not going for dickish but that statement is scaremongering. You might as well say "You cannot live on this planet for even one second without increasing your risk of cancer." The Radiation and Risk link spells it out a little better, but I'm still left thinking that I could have smoked at least a carton of cigarettes given how many dental x-rays I didn't have in my twenties.
/hamburger

iananp

My brain parsed that as "I am not a napkin", which immediately morphed into "I am not a wet nap". I don't know why; there are no wet naps in my house, I have no children and I haven't eaten greasy food with my fingers in at least a week. But for one shining, scintillating second I was sure that you, five fresh fish, were not a wet nap. Now, of course, doubts have crept back in.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 12:38 AM on April 23, 2011


Meanwhile in Kyoto...(my sakura vid for this year)
posted by planetkyoto at 6:51 AM on April 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


5.6 quake in Fukushima tonight, but no tsunami warning and no damage reported yet in the city or at the nuclear plant.

My acquaintance who works on a satellite uplink truck made a panorama photo of damage at Sendai Airport today. The airport was inundated by the tsunami and has recently reopened.
posted by planetkyoto at 7:46 AM on April 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Official: Japan nuke plant won't reopen

Lots to do before evacuation / 6,000 people, 10,000 cows, town offices, other facilities must leave

TEPCO mulls sinking walls around Japan reactors

Earthquake briefly cut off US military computers (isn't that a Tommy Lee Jones movie?)

Japan evacuees berate nuclear firm head

that statement is scaremongering

Since it's from Cancer.org, it's likely to be based on science, which is not to say, imo, that facts cannot be manipulated. Sometimes facts can be scary and the consumer (although isn't it tricky/rotten that patients are considered consumers?) of ionizing radiation products, whatever they are (from dental x-ray to mammogram), needs to make an educated choice about how much ionizing radiation they want to include in their life when the result may be cancer.

From the physics department of Idaho State University..... in the US, the current death rate from cancer is approximately 20 percent, so out of any group of 10,000 United States citizens, about 2,000 of them will die of cancer. Second, that contracting cancer is a random process, where given a set population, we can estimate that about 20 percent will die from cancer, but we cannot say which individuals will die. Finally, that a conservative estimate of risk from low doses of radiation is thought to be one in which the risk is linear with dose. That is, that the risk increases with a subsequent increase in dose. Most scientists believe that this is a conservative model of the risk.

In the UK one in four people die of cancer.

Cancer Causes and Risk Factors

FDA claims no need to test Pacific fish for radioactivity

Read more: http://www.adn.com/2011/04/16/1813982/fda-claims-no-need-to-test-pacific.html#ixzz1KNQZWVZg

One of the things I've learned reading about the Fukushima crisis is that the Big Biz aspect of the nuclear industry - as it once was in the Big Biz tobacco industry's impact on health in the USA- has not been transparent in their communication with the public and it's up to the public to do something about this with their vote, pressure on politicians as discussed well in the Arnie Gundersen video.
posted by nickyskye at 1:40 PM on April 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why is there suddenly a lot of stories re "they waited too long to open pressure valves in #1, leading to hydrogen explosion"? Explosion at #1 was a minor event - it only blew off the cladding panels. It neither released a lot of radiation nor caused structural damage. Am I missing something here?
posted by rainy at 2:35 PM on April 23, 2011


rainy, Maybe because the information was withheld from the public until now? Investigating culpability? And because: The question of timing is critical. Because the earthquake and the tsunami knocked out the Fukushima Daiichi plant’s ability to pump fresh water into either the reactors or the spent fuel pools — potent sources of radioactive material as they heated up — plant operators eventually had to improvise. And mounting radiation levels hampered workers’ ability to enter the plant, gauge the damage and contain the crisis.

It's because of the Big Biz protecting itself rather than protecting the public maybe?

The question is whether they waited too long before pumping seawater into the plant, a measure that would ruin a valuable investment.

Bid to 'Protect Assets' Slowed Reactor Fight
posted by nickyskye at 3:09 PM on April 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nickyskye: Sure, the ionizing radiation danger safety is factual and true, but one could likewise factually say that there are no sports which are completely free of the likelihood of serious injury or death, or that no level of bacteria is completely safe, or countless other similar statements. The reality is that pretty much everything in the world has a non-zero risk of resulting in death. The question is not whether it carries a risk, but how much of a risk. If someone plopped a kilogram of plutonium in front of my house, or a single atom of plutonium, or if my house had zero plutonium in front of it but had a staircase to get up to the second floor, one could completely accurately describe all three conditions as possessing the threat of death. What's important is how much, not the presence or absence. Despite the fact that all three could kill me, I'd feel comfortable with a single atom of plutonium, and comfortable with a staircase, and immensely uncomfortable (to put it mildly) with a kg of plutonium.
posted by Bugbread at 3:44 PM on April 23, 2011


nickyskye: it's almost the opposite of that - their choice was to vent which would release radiation into the air (that was before evacuation afaik), or to risk that seals may be broken and hydrogen gets into secondary containment building and then explosion damages their building. For that matter in hindsight that decision seems to have been a good one because in #2 hydrogen exploded somewhere inside primary containment and this apparently caused most of the release of radiation.

These news stories also vaguely mention that decision to delay venting might have lead to other problems down the line. But without specifics it's hard to say how this aligns with what we already knew. Maybe there's something related to the first explosion they still haven't told us?

The whole thing is still very murky.
posted by rainy at 4:07 PM on April 23, 2011


Why is there suddenly a lot of stories re "they waited too long to open pressure valves in #1, leading to hydrogen explosion"? Explosion at #1 was a minor event - it only blew off the cladding panels. It neither released a lot of radiation nor caused structural damage. Am I missing something here?

From what I've read, the hydrogen explosions in the buildings spread contaminated debris (ie, fallout) over a wide area and were responsible for the radiation spikes in Tokyo etc in March. As well, hydrogen explosions caused significant damage to some of the spent fuel pools, and likely ejected spent fuel to locations around the plant, as well as up to a kilometer from the plant.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:49 PM on April 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


KokuRyu: yes, but the stories are about explosion that blew off cladding on unit 1.
posted by rainy at 5:36 PM on April 23, 2011


(although isn't it tricky/rotten that patients are considered consumers?)

No. The term "consumers" is one deliberately selected for its lack of bias or judgement. It's a health industry standard term, and one that benefits patients/victims/people.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:47 PM on April 23, 2011


Now that we've got most of the huge contagious diseases under control (in the west), there are only two things likely to kill us: accident and our own body turning against itself.

A whole lot of people are going to die from causes related to obesity: diabetes, coronary stuff, respiratory issues, etc. Those of us who avoid those problems get whacked by cancer most of the time.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:49 PM on April 23, 2011


KokuRyu: yes, but the stories are about explosion that blew off cladding on unit 1.

Well, hard to say why the stories are focusing on Unit 1. Could be because it's a complex story (4 reactors + 4 spent fuel pools - 1 reactor vessel out of service), plus there really hasn't been a coherent narrative, although both the IAEA has been posting almost daily, detailed status reports on each reactor.

Still, the explosion that blew the cladding on Unit 1 almost certainly ejected radioactive debris into the atmosphere. Where did the iodine and cesium that is now creating hot spots in Fukushima, Ibaraki, and Chiba come from? Where did the iodine spike in Tokyo drinking water come from? Unit 1 must have played some part.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:03 PM on April 23, 2011


A whole lot of people are going to die from causes related to obesity: diabetes, coronary stuff, respiratory issues, etc. Those of us who avoid those problems get whacked by cancer most of the time.

There seems to be some pretty fucked up stuff going on in Fukushima in regards to "acceptable" radiation levels. The Japan Federation of Bar Associations has issued an statement questioning the Japanese government's decision to raise the acceptable level of radiation exposure from 1 mSv/yr to 20 mSv/yr.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:08 PM on April 23, 2011


raise the acceptable level of radiation exposure from 1 mSv/yr to 20 mSv/yr

So this would be the equivalent of the entire Japanese populace receiving three barium enemas a year? I can think of an effective advertising campaign against this raising of exposure regulations.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 6:46 PM on April 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


That means every day 8.3% of it turns into non-radioactive iodine.

No, 8.3% of it turns into stable Xenon.

Earlier today I realized that if the decay product was also bad, then the biological half life being so long would be a very bad thing. Since the decay itself is the actual source of trouble, the long biological half life is just pretty bad...

Like, all the radioactive iodine you ingest is likely to decay while in your body. If the biological half life was on the order of 8 days, you could reasonably expect that some would pass through harmlessly (the intended effect of iodine pills)...

Anyway, it is a little more complicated than "he doesn't know what he is talking about", but only a little.
posted by Chuckles at 7:54 PM on April 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


If the decay product is xenon, that's not a bad thing for you. Hell, they use xenon as anesthetic in Europe.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 8:09 PM on April 23, 2011


If the decay product is xenon, that's not a bad thing for you. Hell, they use xenon as anesthetic in Europe.

The decay product is xenon plus the emission of a gamma ray, proton, or something other energetic particle. It is the energetic emission that is problematic because that energetic particle has a chance of bumping some chemical in your body out of alignment. Sometimes those bumps are harmless, other times they trigger cancer.

So if the biological half-life was a small fraction of the radioactive half life, then you would be in better shape because your body is likely to get rid of the radioactive stuff before it radiates.
posted by b1tr0t at 9:03 PM on April 23, 2011 [3 favorites]


from NHK:


The operator of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says that concrete debris emitting a high level of radiation has been found near the Number 3 reactor.

Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, says its workers detected radioactivity of 900 millisieverts per hour being emitted from a 30-by-30 centimeter concrete fragment, 5 centimeters thick, on Wednesday.

The workers were using heavy equipment to remove rubble near the electrical switchyard.

TEPCO says the workers were exposed to 3.17 millisieverts of radiation during the clean-up and the concrete block has been stored safely in a container with other debris.

The utility believes the contaminated fragment could be part of debris scattered across the compound as a result of a hydrogen explosion at the Number 3 reactor.


They've also released a chart of the plant site annotated with radiation levels. Anyone got a link to that?
posted by rainy at 9:37 PM on April 23, 2011


So what parts of the plant would be expected to have 900msi concrete? What did it flake off of?
posted by five fresh fish at 9:46 PM on April 23, 2011


They've also released a chart of the plant site annotated with radiation levels. Anyone got a link to that?

The Tepco English site is pretty comprehensive, maybe the chart is there someplace. The IAEA page also lists any new detailed information. Cryptome tends to post that sort of info as well.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:47 PM on April 23, 2011


rainy, you asked for a chart annotated: here is an image of it at the very beginning of the video.
TEPCO map shows contaminated areas

TEPCO: Highly radioactive concrete fragment found vid

Fukushima Radiation Comparison

but one could likewise factually say that there are no sports which are completely free of the likelihood of serious injury or death, or that no level of bacteria is completely safe, or countless other similar statements.

It seems like your intention is to dismiss any meaning of the ionizing radiation risk or to say that ANYthing is a risk so why talk about risk at all. I don't think that's wise. There are others, like Arnie Gundersen or epidemiologist, Dr. Steven Wing whose opinion differs from yours. I agree with them.

No. The term "consumers" is one deliberately selected for its lack of bias or judgement. It's a health industry standard term, and one that benefits patients/victims/people.

However, a consumer makes a choice about something to buy. A patient is dealing with a possibly life or death situation about which they may know very little, experience very little choice making power (especially if it's a medical emergency or critical health situation) and are dependent on those who are educated, ie doctors. If the patient is called merely consumer, then the term for doctor should be appropriately adjusted (diminished disrespectfully) to salesperson or vendor.

Magnitude 6.0 off Japan coast

Geiger Counters Unlikely to Detect Radiation in Food, Water

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: 154 Terabecquerels Per Day, Every Day
(Correction: The previous estimate was 1 terabequerel per hour, not per day. So, per day would be 24 terabequerels.)


In trying to understand Japanese people better I have really enjoyed Brucelno's Youtube channel.
posted by nickyskye at 10:46 PM on April 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


"It seems like your intention is to dismiss any meaning of the ionizing radiation risk or to say that ANYthing is a risk so why talk about risk at all.

No, it's the exact opposite. EVERYTHING is a risk, so just saying "it's a risk" isn't enough. What's important is to talk about how much risk there is.
posted by Bugbread at 1:52 AM on April 24, 2011


how much risk there is

Heh. Ionizing radiation is riskier to health than sports.
posted by nickyskye at 1:58 AM on April 24, 2011


Heh. Ionizing radiation is riskier to health than sports.

Just to reiterate what I think Bugbread is saying, everything is a risk. It doesn't help me to say that ionizing radiation is riskier than sports. You're just scaring me. You might as well tell me that there's spider eggs in my toothpaste. What I (and the vast majority of people who wouldn't know a becquerel from a baguette) really need to understand is how much ionizing radiation, absorbed in what fashion (ingested internally, inhaled, passing exposure, background radiation), is riskier than what sport? Is sitting in my aunt's upstairs living room in her house that hasn't had radon mitigation done in the basement riskier than my weekly four-person Scrabble tournaments?

That's why (for me) that Radiation and Risk link above was so very helpful, it compared the relative risks of different activities to various radiation exposures. I keep referring back to it for most of these stories on Fukishima. I obviously don't want to be exposed to any extra ionizing radiation, but I when I can relate exposure to an understood risk, I'm much less inclined to be irrationally frightened.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 4:20 AM on April 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


How do you compare the two? "1 atom of plutonium is more dangerous than American Football?" "1 ton of uranium is more dangerous than ping-pong?" Saying "ionizing radiation is riskier to health than sports" is a meaningless statement.

Maybe it's because I'm pretty (physically) close to the situation, but for me it's a big deal if some event or decision raises my chance of getting cancer by 0.00001% or 90%. To just sweep them both together as "any amount of ionizing radiation is bad - you just got a higher chance of getting cancer" means I should be equally scared of going swimming in the ocean near Fukushima, taking a flight back to America, or going camping on Friday.
posted by Bugbread at 4:22 AM on April 24, 2011


On this topic, Primordial fear: why radiation is so scary.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 5:21 AM on April 24, 2011


Exactly, that's why I think comparing ionizing radiation to sport is ridiculous.
posted by nickyskye at 10:45 AM on April 24, 2011


nickyskye: to be fair, it does depends on numbers. For example, if natural background radiation varies from 2 to 3mSv a year, and let's say I'm 500 miles from Fukushima, and normally my town's level is 2.4/year but due to the accident it will be 2.4000001 for the year, it's effectively an increase within safe levels, even though theoretically you could say even .0000001 increase is not absolutely safe - it's just not enough of a danger to pay any attention to. So, I think they should qualify the danger with some numbers, otherwise it tells us nothing as to how we should balance it against other risks in life.
posted by rainy at 2:18 PM on April 24, 2011


Nickyskye: "Compare" is a strange word. It can mean "point out similarities" (comparing George Bush to a chimpanzee, comparing radiation to sport), and it can mean "discussing relative amounts of some factor" (comparing the prices of houses in Alabama and New York). I agree that "comparing" the two is silly in the second sense, but that's not what I was doing. I disagree that "comparing" the two is silly in the first sense. Saying that they had a similarity, not discussing the degree of similarity.

But if you find the sport analogy to be getting in the way of understanding what I'm trying to say, let's forget it. How about bacteria? That's a much closer analogue.

There is no level of bacteria that is "safe", as far as I know. A single germ is going to be more dangerous than no germs. But germs are everywhere. You cannot live without encountering millions upon millions of them, every day. What is important to know is not whether any particular doorknob you touch or glass of water you drink has any bacteria in/on it (of course they do, germs are everywhere), but how many bacteria. Did you touch a doorknob with 4 germs on it, or did you touch a doorknob which someone with ebola just finished spitting blood all over? That's what important.

TV commercials point out that towels have germs, and sofas have germs, and chairs have germs. That's totally true, but it's fear-mongering nonetheless. It's said to make you want to buy their germ-killing product despite the fact that the towels and sofas and chairs have germs which increase your chance of getting sick by a mere 0.0000001%. Sure, they're being totally accurate in saying it's a "greater-than-zero" percent, but fear-mongering doesn't always mean "lying".

And, again, I want to point out that I'm not saying "everything is risky, so why talk about risk?" I'm saying the opposite. Just saying "it's risky" is not enough, because that encompasses everything from a lonely airborne virus to someone sneezing full-force directly in your face. I'm saying "what's important when discussing risk is to discuss specific amounts".
posted by Bugbread at 2:51 PM on April 24, 2011 [3 favorites]


Memorial services for Japan's tsunami victims combined with protests

118 medical facilities wrecked in 3 tsunami-hit prefectures

There is still a custom of exhibiting self-control at Hanami, but now people's sentiments have changed. People are starting to say "Let's Hanami! Drink sake from the Tohoku area! Matsuri (festival) is a kind of prayer, too much control may shrink the economy more!"
posted by nickyskye at 3:10 PM on April 24, 2011


otherwise it tells us nothing as to how we should balance it against other risks in life.

Yes, rainy, scientists need to explain radiation in ways that the public can make sense of it in practical terms. I do think the Big Biz aspect of the nuclear industry has not been transparent with the public about many aspects of reactors, the dangers or the information is so tangled or confusing that people generally cannot make sense of it.
posted by nickyskye at 3:13 PM on April 24, 2011


There is still a custom of exhibiting self-control at Hanami

Ha, that's not my impression of hanami. I've been to three in the Tokyo area and what I saw was a lot of people sitting on blue plastic tarps drinking beer and sake, eating great food and generally getting totally shitfaced. Men sneaking off to pee in the shrubbery, the line for the women's bathroom being some ~300 people long. Towards the late afternoon many people taking "naps" on their tarps. Maybe it's different in smaller towns?
/derail
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 3:52 PM on April 24, 2011 [1 favorite]




Thanks, nickyskye, for the wealth of links you've continued to provide in this thread.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:19 PM on April 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Purposeful Grimace: The person's English isn't so great, but they're not talking about "customs", really. They're saying that since the earthquake, people refrained from, basically, having fun, feeling it would be bad to have parties when people up north were suffering. Now people are starting to resume having fun, spending money, and getting the economic ball rolling again.
posted by Bugbread at 4:20 PM on April 24, 2011 [1 favorite]



Thanks, nickyskye, for the wealth of links you've continued to provide in this thread.


Agreed. Your aggregating skills are without peer. Thank you so very much, nickyskye.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 4:22 PM on April 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ahh, thank you for the clarification, Bugbread.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 4:22 PM on April 24, 2011


oh yay, thanks guys. :) My heart is broken about the devastation in Japan. Finding links and bringing them here to share feels like the only practical thing I can do to help apart from donating to Red Cross in Japan, which I already did. I worry that this posting of links may not be welcome by the mods. If that is the case please do let me know and I'll refrain.

Shamestream media is not putting much focus -hardly any- on the catastrophe in Japan now and I think that's a big mistake. It's one world, this crisis in Japan has impacted and will impact the entire planet for decades. I think the people of Japan would benefit by knowing that the planet cares by the topic being covered until recovery has taken real root.

More about that Tepco radiation reading map but not actual link to the map.

Undersea robots fail to locate any bodies during search

Workers locked in battle at Fukushima, exposure to radiation rising

Yeah, I really wondered how this mega-catastrophe would impact the hikikomori generation. 'Hikikomori' disorder could complicate Japan quake recovery. Interesting article in Wired here. (Huh, interesting thing I learned today about Japan: honne and tatemae)

Proposal for a Skilled Veterans Corps to install an alternative cooling system at the Fukushima-Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant

Japan's tsunami waves top historic heights

Man who escaped death in tsunami remembers wife's parting words of thanks
posted by nickyskye at 5:03 PM on April 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


Nth thanks nickyskye for the wealth of great links! honne and tatemae is new to me, too. It reminded me of the ideas of "on and giri" from a novel by Pelevin where giri was compared to the russian giri - heavy weights, dumbbells.
posted by rainy at 5:26 PM on April 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


From the Wikipedia article on honne and tatemae: "Debate over whether tatemae and honne are a uniquely Japanese phenomena continues in the West, especially among those in the anthropological and art fields."

Ok, Mefites, here's a little psych survey. Below is a list of hypothetical situations. After each situation are two possible choices. Pick which of the two choices you are most likely to actually take in your real life.

1) Your boss calls you into a meeting. You don't like having to go to the meeting, and you don't like the people at the meeting.
Choice A) You tell your boss that the meeting is a waste of time, and you tell the people at the meeting that you hate them.
Choice B) You attend the meeting, lay low, and quietly count the minutes until the damn meeting is over.

2) Your significant other has decided to take up drawing as a hobby. They spend several hours on a drawing, and then show it to you and ask what you think. The drawing is horrible.
Choice A) You tell them that the drawing is horrible, that they're wasting their time, and that they have no skill.
Choice B) You make some kind of gentle, wishy-washy affirmation, not showering it in praise, but not pointing out that it's a piece of shit, either.

3) Your best friend, who you really like, has shown you a picture of his kid, and said "isn't she cute?" The problem is, that is one ugly kid.
Choice A) You say "No, she's ugly."
Choice B) You say anything other than "No, she's ugly".

If you answered B to any of the questions above, and are not Japanese, there are some anthropologists and artists who would argue that you are lying, as what you have answered is something that is uniquely Japanese.

I mean, seriously. Arguing that honne and tatemae are of greater importance in Japan than in America? Sure, I can buy that. But arguing that they are uniquely Japanese?
posted by Bugbread at 9:26 PM on April 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


All this talk of honne and tatemae reminds me of a saying that I thought was Japanese but I can't find a cite for it so I'll just call it an Asian adage. It says that a person has three faces. The outermost face is for the general public's consumption. The face behind that is only for your family. The innermost face is seen only by you, and is never meant to be seen by anybody else. Does this ring a bell with anyone?
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 10:12 PM on April 24, 2011


I've never heard that, and googling in Japanese isn't turning up anything, but after English googling, I suspect that you're mixing two things: the Japanese honne/tatemae thing, and another idea, ascribed variously to Sanskrit, the Tarot, and the CEO of AT&T, that everyone has three faces: the face others see, the face they themselves think they have, and then their true face.
posted by Bugbread at 3:30 AM on April 25, 2011


"Honne" and "tatemae" are useful concepts, but most Japanese people are perfectly capable of expressing what they think.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:54 AM on April 25, 2011


Radiation from fish and lobsters near the U.K.’s biggest nuclear polluter suggest radioactive material dumped into the sea from Japan’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi power plant isn’t a long-term health threat, scientists said.

Hard to say what a long-term health threat is, versus what is not, but Bloomberg is one of the few foreign news services that has invested in their presence in Japan (so it's probably worth reading).
posted by KokuRyu at 10:56 AM on April 25, 2011


Atmospheric radiation leak underestimated

Radioactive material was being released into the atmosphere from the plant at an estimated rate of 154 terabecquerels per day as of April 5, according to data released by the Cabinet Office's Nuclear Safety Commission on Saturday.

The NSC previously estimated radiation leakage on April 5 at "less than 1 terabecquerel per hour."

Iodine-131 and cesium-137 were released into the atmosphere that day at the estimated rates of 0.69 terabecquerel per hour and 0.14 terabecquerel per hour, respectively, the NSC said.


Unfortunately they don't say how the radiation was being released.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:35 PM on April 25, 2011




On a kinda associated note, tonight's Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations" episode was filmed in Hokkaido just a few weeks prior to 3.11.11. On the Travel Channel, 9 pm E/P.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 5:43 PM on April 25, 2011


From NHK:

The utility company says the water level in the tunnel of the No. 3 reactor rose to 99 centimeters below the surface as of 6 PM on Monday. That passes the level at which TEPCO plans to remove the water, but it has yet to secure storage space.

TEPCO says a survey last Thursday found an increase in the density of radioactive substances in the water in the basement of the No. 4 reactor's turbine building.

The company says the levels of cesium-134 and 137 increased about 250-fold and iodine-131 increased about 12 times compared with one month ago.
TEPCO says contamination of this level requires them to prioritize the transfer or disposal of the water.

The water level in the No. 4 reactor's turbine building rose by 20 centimeters in 10 days.

TEPCO says water used to cool the No. 3 reactor could be leaking into No. 4 as their turbine buildings are connected.

posted by rainy at 6:29 PM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


From a very long bloomberg story with some new details:

Tepco engineers were unable for the next two hours to get readings for how much water was covering the fuel rods in the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors, according to a data sheet obtained by Bloomberg News. Once readings were available, they showed that water levels held steady through the night, an indication the batteries were working.

The No. 1 reactor, water levels began dropping in the early morning of March 12. At 8:36 a.m., the reading showed zero centimeters as the fuel rods began to emerge and come into contact with the air. Within four hours, 1.7 meters of fuel rods were exposed.

posted by rainy at 6:34 PM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dammit, metafilter keeps losing parts of my comments. That's already 3rd time this happens.. Anyway, in that same story they are saying radiation levels went up to 1Sv on two separate times somewhere near the reactors but they don't say where exactly and for how long.
posted by rainy at 6:36 PM on April 25, 2011


That Bloomberg article was great. One line that illustrates the power of the quake is that Jqpqn is now 3.6 meters closer to the US after the quake. I mean imagine if you and everything around you were picked up and thrown ten feet left. That is an amazing amount of force.
posted by humanfont at 7:29 PM on April 25, 2011


imagine if you and everything around you were picked up and thrown ten feet left.

I was hoping that was what would happen with Obama's election.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:14 PM on April 25, 2011 [2 favorites]


Radiation map of Fukushima nuclear plant created by Tepco [pdf]

"The map shows some 150 highly radioactive “hot spots” for workers to avoid, says Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) which owns and operates the plant devastated by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Radiation levels from debris range up to 900 millisieverts an hour near reactor number 3."

The latest excellent Arnie Gundersen video at FaireWinds: "Fairewinds Calls for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to Delay Licensing Until Fukushima Lessons Are Evaluated". Wise and, imo, critically meaningful advice. Contact our political representative and ask for a freeze on licensing for nuclear plants and an independent agency to come in and evaluate the nuclear plants in the USA.

Something Odd Is Happening at Reactor Number 4

TEPCO: Radiation From Fukushima May Be Worse Than Chernobyl

Ready For Tonight's Fukushima Water Level Update? Radiation Data Not Included - 25/04/11

Map details radiation at N-plant site

Malnutrition rife in quake zone

High radiation levels detected at Fukushima grounds a month after explosions

High Levels of Cesium Detected in Soil 4km from Fukushima Nuclear Plant

Japan’s Earthquake Rebuilding Costs: 20 Trillion Yen

World marks Chernobyl under shadow of Japan

Radiation in Fukushima parks, schoolyards limits playtime

Fukushima: (UPDATE) Cattle on Abandoned Ranch Starve to Death, No-Go Zone Leaves Volunteers Helpless | Here is a web site to collect signatures to save Fukushima farm animals.

Radiation infographic
posted by nickyskye at 9:55 PM on April 25, 2011 [4 favorites]


Radiation in Fukushima parks, schoolyards limits playtime

A few choice quotes from the article:

Some areas of dirt and sand at the parks have been covered with plastic sheeting in order to prevent radioactive dust from becoming airborne.

The prefectural government advises playground users to wash their hands and faces after using the areas, and to gargle.

posted by KokuRyu at 10:10 PM on April 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


The prefectural government advises playground users to wash their hands and faces after using the areas, and to gargle.

I think I remember this from old Civil Defense films. "When you see the flash, duck and cover...and gargle."
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 11:29 PM on April 25, 2011


Purposeful Grimace, a bit of cultural baggage goes with the wash hands and gargle. Students are taught to wash their hands and gargle every time they come back inside the school, get home, pretty much any time there's a sink nearby. The belief is that, like washing the hands to avoid germs, gargling cleans out the throat and prevents sickness.

In Japan, washing your hands and gargling is like remembering to take your vitamins/drink orange juice in the States. Obviously, the efficacy of it is questionable, but it gives people some feeling that they can do something to help protect themselves.
posted by Ghidorah at 12:34 AM on April 26, 2011


Is Chernobyl a Wild Kingdom or a Radioactive Den of Decay? Adam Higginbotham of Wired presents a the background and personality behind the scientific dispute over how harmful Chernobyl has been to the local ecology.
posted by Popular Ethics at 6:54 AM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]




By the way, anyone got definitive information on how did Dai-ni (and other plants in the area) avoid loss of cooling - were generators and electrical switchboards and pumps on higher ground, waterproof, or is the whole plant on higher ground?
posted by rainy at 12:28 PM on April 26, 2011


nickskye:Oh man Popular Ethics, that mutant pig fetus image on the front page of that link was gnarly.

Yeah, I think wired is being a bit reckless with that cover image for the sake of attracting readers. You can find birth defects in any population that will set off our disgust reflex (especially conjoined twins, like in that image). The important thing is the *rate* of defects, and what its effect on the population is. I think the rest of the article treats the (still unanswered) question fairly.
posted by Popular Ethics at 1:28 PM on April 26, 2011




for most people radiation is easy to ignore because it is not visible. So the gnarly pic is likely a way to make the effects of this invisible thing visible.

Radiation is an easy thing to be scared about because it is not visible (whether it's warranted or not). The gnarly pic is likely a way to alarm people so they'll read the article.
posted by Popular Ethics at 2:14 PM on April 26, 2011


Heh, you and I "see" things differently.
posted by nickyskye at 2:30 PM on April 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's unfortunate that no journalist asked them about Dai-ni because the question of how it was able to deal with the Tsunami will clear things up as to whether they could have / should have implemented the same safety design changes at Dai-ichi.
posted by rainy at 3:11 PM on April 26, 2011


It just occurred to me that one macabre parallel between Fukushima and Chernobyl is that two people died on the day of accident at the site in both cases. Or was it 3 at Fukushima? (one person found immediately and two more at the turbine hall recently?)

Trivia: Chernobyl roughly means "A dark/black happenstance" in Russian. Might have been better to build it at a "Happy Sunshine Lollypop valley".
posted by rainy at 3:20 PM on April 26, 2011


Tepco To Flood Damaged Reactors With Water

This has been in the works for over a month now, and was mentioned in the NRC reported leaked to the NYT.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:36 PM on April 26, 2011


"Trivia: Chernobyl roughly means "A dark/black happenstance" in Russian."

I was under the impression that it meant "wormwood" (the stuff absynthe is made with). Investigating a bit more, it appears to be so. According to a poster on a thread on the Straight Dope, "The actual spelling of the location in Ukraine is Chernobyl', i.e. a 'soft' sign at the end. (For all you non-Slavic language speakers, a soft sign is a silent letter, indicating a change in the pronunciation of the preceding consonant.) Hence it doesn't mean "was black", since that translates as cherno byl (no soft sign)."
posted by Bugbread at 5:33 PM on April 26, 2011


Bugbread: yes, it doesn't mean "was black", which would be "Byl Cherniy", with Byl ending in hard l. However, Byl' can (a bit archaically, but fairly common) mean "happening, happenstance". There's a related word "Byl'ina" - Saga, Epic story. The only word for wormwood I know is Polyn'. Chernobyl' may be an Ukrainian word for wormwood?

Anyway, there's really no words in Russian that would sound much more ominous and foreboding than Chernobyl' (even before the accident).
posted by rainy at 5:50 PM on April 26, 2011


Bugbread: sorry, missed your link. It appears to also be a fairly uncommon term for a kind of a wormwood while Polyn' is a common term for all wormwoods.
posted by rainy at 5:53 PM on April 26, 2011


Yeah, I should have mentioned that. It's definitely not the main word for "wormwood" (or googling it would be way easier, and result in a lot less end-of-times crazy Christian cult websites).
posted by Bugbread at 6:09 PM on April 26, 2011




In this new tsunami video, can somebody who speaks Japanese tell me if the man hanging onto the wire was saved?
posted by nickyskye at 12:52 AM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thursday night on Discovery, Nuclear Nightmare: Japan in Crisis. I am hopeful that it will be full of useful information but hey, Disco Chan has not been turning out quality programming for a while now. Although their program on the quake itself had some decent moments.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 12:55 AM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


"In this new tsunami video yt , can somebody who speaks Japanese tell me if the man hanging onto the wire was saved?"

The guy who posted the video says he saved the guy, and one of the commenters says "I'm a friend of the guy who posted the video, and he, together with his dad, saved the guy".
posted by Bugbread at 1:09 AM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's a relief, Bugbread. Does anyone know if that guy hanging from the wire is the same guy you momentarily see at 1:15 rodeoing what looks to be part of a building down the street?
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 1:18 AM on April 27, 2011


Thanks Bugbread for the good news about the man. A relief to know.
posted by nickyskye at 1:44 AM on April 27, 2011


Estimates for fuel rod damage were changed from 70, 30, 25 percent to: 55, 35, 30 for reactors #1,2,3 respectively (by Tepco).
posted by rainy at 3:38 AM on April 27, 2011


According to this bloomberg story, robots detected up to 1,120 mSv/hr levels in building #1. This means they probably won't be able to flood #1 containment with water as planned recently.
posted by rainy at 3:59 AM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fukushima operator starts test-drowning damaged reactor

What would a Chernobyl or Fukushima disaster at Indian Point mean? Didn't know 1 in 3 Americans live within 50 miles from a nuclear plant.
posted by nickyskye at 9:38 AM on April 27, 2011


Fukushima city removing schools' topsoil

This is in areas outside of the nuclear exclusion zone.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:58 PM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


'Fukushima - gross miscarriage of radiation science'. Really outrageous.
posted by nickyskye at 11:44 PM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


'Fukushima - gross miscarriage of radiation science'. Really outrageous.

Tepco lied/withheld vital information? This is my surprised face.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 12:20 AM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, you can be outraged without being surprised. Look at any MeFi political thread. Very few surprised people, very many outraged people.
posted by Bugbread at 12:24 AM on April 28, 2011


I'm outraged and surprised. Listening to the Chernobyl video it's astounding how many of the same mistakes, same lies, same games, same secrecy now in Fukushima that put so many children in harm's way, how many lives in danger, how the head of the plant did not communicate in a timely way with the government. Why weren't lessons learned?! Yes, outraged and surprised, Both.
posted by nickyskye at 12:47 AM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]




Greenpeace marine radiation monitoring blocked by Japanese government

Isn't this report a little facile? Doesn't an "exclusion zone" mean one is excluded? Couldn't the Japanese government be doing this to limit their liability by Greenpeacers down the road when they develop cancer/radiation exposure diseases? Are there other international NGO's being allowed in the exclusion zone to carry out testing?
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 2:24 AM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Greenpeace wants to monitor 12mi from the plants, right? That would be in the "exclusion zone". While I really wish Greenpeace were allowed in, I understand the predicament the government is in. Like most governments, there are paternal laws, which forbid you from doing stuff for your own good (helmet laws, seatbelt laws, etc.). So they've got laws saying "Don't get close to this ongoing nuclear plant, it's really dangerous. You're not allowed to go give yourself cancer, even if you want to." With laws like that, when people ask to be allowed in, your hands are kinda tied.
posted by Bugbread at 2:30 AM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Uh...jinx.
posted by Bugbread at 2:30 AM on April 28, 2011


'Fukushima - gross miscarriage of radiation science' . Really outrageous.

I would take anything RT and Arnie Gunderson say with a grain of salt; a double combo of both is like some sort of feedback loop of hysteria.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:55 AM on April 28, 2011 [2 favorites]


Maybe somebody should tell the fish being fed to the Japanese and soon to the rest of the world to stay out of the exclusion zone. Or tell the fish that have been in the eclusion zone to stay there and not swim elsewhere?

I can understand an exclusion zone on land but going for a couple of hours within the 12 miles international fishing limit to test marine life? That seems unreasonable control by the government, especially when the fish - seaweed used for food etc- are travelling through the marine exclusion zone.

It would seem logical that it's important to know the route in the sea of the radiation leaving Fukushima.
posted by nickyskye at 1:34 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


KokuRyu, why would you express such contempt in using the word "hysteria" in referring to Arnie Gundersen? If anything he seems to be very level-headed, rational, emotionally stable in his communication of science based information, down to earth. He's one of the few credible scientists talking about Fukushima, sharing information with the public in a compassionate and wise way.

What is this fear of having strong feelings about this catastrophe anyway? There are healthy times for strong feelings.

As for my own strong feelings, for God's sake who are the idiots letting children play in radioactive playgrounds around Fukushima? Are these people homicidal? Do they not know about cancer? Do they want a lifetime of misery for their children?! Did they never hear about Chernobyl? Gundersen is right about a child not being able to handle an adult dose of radiation. Parents of those children around Fukushima need to save their children's lives, get them away immediately. Now!

Learning about the various governments' secret keeping the The True Battle of Chernobyl, like at 1:17 and that 8 million people are now living in contaminated areas in the Ukraine, Russia and Byelorussia (1:21) makes my blood boil.

It is pathetic and intensely aggravating to me that people need to be placated with infantilising psuedo 'calming' just so as to avoid a raise in their blood pressure or anxiety level. Massive damage by radiation impacting millions of people is a cause for profound concern and yes, even agitating anxiety to motivate people to take appropriate action, including getting away from the danger immediately.

Before this week I didn't know about Valery Legasov, the investigator into the Chernobyl catastrophe who committed suicide. "It was implied that his suicide was at least partly due to his distress at not having spoken out about these factors at Vienna, the suppression of his subsequent attempts to do so, and the damage to his career that these attempts caused. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists also stated that Legasov had become bitterly disillusioned with the failure of the authorities to confront the design flaws."

When Chernobyl blew there should have been tremendous agitation in the local residents. People should have been evacuated instantly, not the patriarchal, deadly "everything is okay", "no need to worry", "everything is fine", "nothing serious". It was not okay and it will not be okay for a long time. According to Gorbachev, in the Ukraine it will likely not be okay for 800 years (1:25:45 in the True Battle Of Chernobyl) and that seems likely to be the case for Fukushima too.

After watching The True Battle Chernobyl I now consider Dr. Hans Blix' participation in the denial of damage, the manipulated 'calming' of the public about the radiation from Chernobyl to be participating in mass murder.

Fear of the truth, trying to "calm" people into denial about the reality of what was actually going on at Chernobyl is exactly what caused so much harm and, ultimately so much public complacency -corporate malice- that ended in the catastrophe of Fukushima.
posted by nickyskye at 1:37 PM on April 28, 2011


"It would seem logical that it's important to know the route in the sea of the radiation leaving Fukushima."

To my knowledge, the government hasn't said that no-one, including forces dispatched by the government, may go into the exclusion zone to test, it has said that random folks (like Greenpeace) cannot.

Think of it like a crime scene: it's cordoned off with tape, and people are forbidden from entering. But it would seem logical that it's important to look for clues to the murder. That's why police go in and take photographs and search for evidence. The fact that they keep amateur photographers from entering crime scenes doesn't mean that they have no photographers on the scene.

Now, you may argue that they don't have enough investigators, and that they're not doing a thorough enough investigation. That seems eminently possible to me. But the solution is not "just let random folks in to do testing", but "send in enough investigators, and do a thorough investigation".

"What is this fear of having strong feelings about this catastrophe anyway? There are healthy times for strong feelings."

That's a straw man. KokuRyu isn't saying that he's scared of strong feelings, but of hysteria. Hysteria are feelings so strong they make one illogical. I would hope that everyone, no matter how bad a situation gets has a fear of hysteria. Illogic is bad. Now, you disagree that Gundersen and RT are being hysterical. There's where you and KokuRyu are disagreeing, not about whether it's ok to have "strong feelings about this catastrophe". You're arguing against KokuRyu about something he's not actually saying.
posted by Bugbread at 4:00 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


nickyskye, no one here is doubting the amount of passion you have expressed regarding Fukushima; nor are they anything but awed at your skills in composing posts chockablock with information, useful information. Some of us have taken small exception with some of the factual reporting from several sources presented in your posts. You cannot be responsible for editorial content and in almost all cases the article itself presented information that shouldn't have been neglected in the "one bad apple" scenario.
Two things that I haven't seen much reporting on that directly impact Fukushima v Chernobyl comparisons is that Chernobyl didn't have an earthquake/tsunami that moved most of the population closest to the radioactive fallout further away from the danger zone since their homes and places of business were destroyed. Could more have been moved faster with a larger exclusion zone? Most assuredly, and I expect investigations into these matters when the immediate situation is more under control. That is cold comfort for the people exposed but it is a huge difference between Chernobyl and Fukushima.
The other thing that is vastly different in the two incidents is that the prevailing winds in Japan run at this time of year mostly NW -> SE or W -> E, which would leave the majority of of the other islands, Honshu and the residential centers of Fukushima less affected. Yes, there were two days when some amount of radioactivity went over Chiba and Tokyo, which raised the radioactivity of the local water supply but they quickly (two days, IIRC) returned to baseline.
Please continue doing exactly what you're doing and please understand that when someone is not quite in lockstep with you that they have their own reasons and fears to deal with and still try to make cogent comments in here.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 4:19 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's not a crime scene, except as an example of Tepco and the Japanese government's collusion with Tepco. They're the criminals if the metaphor of crime scene is to be used. So it's logical, rational, practical, reality based thinking to want to examine what these criminals, who have a long history of lying and putting millions of people's lives in danger are not telling the public, whose lives are being impacted.

I'm profoundly grateful to Greenpeace for their interest and determination to make the Fukushima marine situation more transparent.

this "crime scene" is an area that impacts millions of people, the entire planet, for decades. Maybe even hundreds of years. And Greenpeace are not "random folks".

Accusing Gundersen of nything to do with hysteria is grossly wrong.

Culture of Complicity Tied to Stricken Nuclear Plant

Tepco Postpones Latest Plan to Tame Nuclear Plant

Asbestos, Japan tsunami's other hidden danger
posted by nickyskye at 4:21 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Purposeful Grimace, I appreciate your tone of support, however I'm not interested in anybody being in lockstep with me. I am interested in the truth and clarity.
posted by nickyskye at 4:24 PM on April 28, 2011


Gundarsen's strong opinions and his agenda of self-promotion are a little off-putting. Sure, I watch his latest videos to get his side of things, but I kind of wish he was a little more... measured.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:33 PM on April 28, 2011


KokuRyo when has, in your opinion, Gundersen had an "agenda of self-promotion"? And exactly how is he supposed to be more "measured"?

He's not self-effacing enough? Not whispering his opinions, not obsequious enough?

At this time there is not a single other nuclear scientist stepping forward into the public eye with their opinions, experience, thoughts, ideas, concerns. Gundersen's opinions are certainly respected in every journalist's article that I've read, so I really don't see where you are getting this idea that he's participating in a "feedback loop of hysteria".

In my estimation he is a voice of sanity, understated, soft-spoken and highly experienced for decades, with an insider's perspective on both the science and the business of the nuclear industry.

His agenda, as far as I can understand from reading it, is a very necessary one in a corrupt industry of being a whistleblower.
posted by nickyskye at 5:02 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


Gundersen obviously does have an agenda of self promotion, otherwise he wouldn't be all over the media the way he is. Meanwhile, he does seem to be a measured and reasoned voice on the subject. Calling his statements hysterics seems way way off.
posted by Chuckles at 5:47 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


A person may be in the media, have an opinion on something, be a person requested to express his expert opinion without having an agenda of self promotion.

Latest radiation infographic

Kids in the radiation danger zone.

All those farmers around Fukushima are screwed.
posted by nickyskye at 6:00 PM on April 28, 2011 [1 favorite]


when has, in your opinion, Gundersen had an "agenda of self-promotion"? And exactly how is he supposed to be more "measured"?

The first Gunderson video I saw had him analyzing a pixelated photo of the Unit 4 spent fuel pool. He declared that the picture proved the pool was empty and the fuel was dry. I spent a half hour looking over that same video (and annotated frames), and frankly it does not show exposed fuel like he claimed, and other information has since contradicted the claim.

Arnie's columns make me a little uncomfortable for this reason. He comes across as absolutely confident in things other experts are reasonably uncertain about. And because everyone is anxious to have their fears confirmed, he's able to grab headlines. I'm not accusing him of outright fear mongering, especially as he might be proven right (for some of it), but the more expertise you have, the more responsibility you have to be clear about what you know and what you don't.
posted by Popular Ethics at 7:39 PM on April 28, 2011


So he had an opinion. Seems it was basically correct too. And because you could not interpret a photo on your computer screen as well as a man who made nuclear reactors his entire professional life, got a closer look at the image, was willing to put his opinion on the line to the entire science world, this makes you "uncomfortable"?

He's not the only one who thought Unit 4 pool was dry: "U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko said in Washington on Wednesday that all the water was gone from the spent fuel pools at Unit 4 of the Fukushima Dai-ichi complex, but Japanese officials denied it."

Huh. "World Nuclear News coverage - The Japan Atomic Industry Forum reports that the level of water in unit 4's fuel pond is low and damage to fuel stored there is suspected. Efforts are underway to refill the pool, including an abandoned attempt to douse the building with water from an army helicopter, hoping to get some to go through the damaged building."
posted by nickyskye at 8:01 PM on April 28, 2011


If Gunderson used the word "opinion" more, I'd be happier. But instead he's overstepping his knowledge and being credited as a primary source when he's working with the same material you and I have.

Clearly the fuel rods were exposed at some point, otherwise there would not have been a hydrogen explosion. But there's a difference between "low water level" and "pool is dry", and there's a difference between "damage suspected" and "this video clearly shows".
posted by Popular Ethics at 8:37 PM on April 28, 2011


Why would you assume "he's working on the same material you and I have" when he's a professional in the nuclear industry as an expert with decades of experience? I do not make that assumption, please don't make it my behalf.
posted by nickyskye at 8:55 PM on April 28, 2011






Gundersen has, for the most part, been a fairly measured voice, and for the most part he's also been right. However, his company does specialize in providing expert witnesses in lawsuits against the nuclear industry, so he's hardly unbiased. On top of that, there have been questions that he's inflated his resume. Obviously that last link comes from a nuclear industry blogger, so should be taken with a grain of salt, but that doesn't mean Gundersen isn't also coming at things with an agenda.

I think "hysterical" is too extreme a word to use on Gundersen, but I think it would be a mistake to assume that either side in the nuclear energy debate is being 100 percent objective.
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:08 AM on April 29, 2011


...that doesn't mean Gundersen isn't also coming at things with an agenda.

At this point, if you're not coming at nuclear power with an essentially anti-nuke agenda, you're essentially an enemy of humankind. That's right. You're an enemy of common sense and healthy life on this planet. Cause there's no more justifying this shit.

For reals.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:29 AM on April 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I agree, flapjax; I'm just saying that in some cases, zeal for the agenda can get in the way of science, and that can cut both ways. I actually haven't seen much of that from Gundersen, although I have seen some of that from Helen Caldicott in her debate with George Monbiot (whose own misuse of facts is even worse; fewer 50 deaths from Chernobyl? Really, George?).
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:54 AM on April 29, 2011


Yes, there are certainly no signs of hysteria in this thread.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:31 AM on April 29, 2011


you're essentially an enemy of humankind

Thanks, I'm out of this thread in that case. And flapjax at midnite, I would think that even you would admit there's still a need for nuclear reactors for the production radionuclides and radiopharmaceuticals. Or not. Maybe you'd like to walk through a couple of oncology wards explaining to the patients there that they're also "enemies of humankind."
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 12:43 PM on April 29, 2011


I'm genuinely sorry for unintentionally provoking this discussion about nuclear hysteria, and if it helps, I retract the use of the word "hysterical".

Whatever else, Arnie Gundarsen has no more access to information than the rest of us; in fact, one of the most frightening aspects of this crisis is that nobody knows exactly what's going in the reactor buildings.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:29 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


In a disagreement, it's important to keep track of what is actually said.

The points I was discussing were not that Gundersen is a saint or has no agenda. The specific points were KokuRyo's responses to this RT video: 'Fukushima - gross miscarriage of radiation science'

I would take anything RT and Arnie Gunderson say with a grain of salt; a double combo of both is like some sort of feedback loop of hysteria

and that Gundersen has an "agenda of self-promotion" ^

Rewatching the video it is obvious to me neither RT nor Gundersen is being hysterical nor trying to generate hysteria in a collusive "loop" with RT. Nor do I think Gundersen has an agenda of self promotion. Everything stated in the video sounds science based in a rational, soft-spoken, sanely considered way in light of the reality that is the Fukushima catastrophe.

In my opinion, the consumers who made these nuclear plant owning corporations rich end up being seriously ripped off. The price the consumers pay ultimately ends up being their livelihoods, their health and, for many, their lives. All those who lived around Pripiyat and now Fukushima exclusion zone had their homes, farms, communities ripped apart by the nuclear plant's catastrophic failure . No house rebuilding for them, no returning to their property like those people who survived the devastation of the tsunami.

The taxpayers, who are treated with contempt by these corporations that control the nuclear plants, who are lied to, betrayed in their trust, end up footing the bill in every way, not just in money but in cancer, a ruined environment and more.

I agree in particular with the conclusion of that video, that the costs to humanity, including the financial costs, are too great and there needs to be, must be a better way to create energy other than with nuclear reactors, especially ones near a very populated city.
posted by nickyskye at 3:18 PM on April 29, 2011


Arnie Gundarsen has no more access to information than the rest of us

What?! It's not merely about mere access to information or mere data it's about understanding the information and data. Are you a nuclear scientist? A professional in the nuclear industry for decades?

He has a masters degree in nuclear plant cooling towers, exactly the issue at hand in Fukushima, had professional experience assessing Three Mile Island, a nuke industry mess also similar in some issues to Fukushima. Nuclear reactors and issues connected with them have been this man's professional life for 39 years. He has access to people in the nuclear industry as he's mentioned in his videos, who he has discussed Fukushima with, inside and professional information about how these plants work.

Just as if a non-pathologist looks into a microscope. They may see the microbes or molecules but not comprehend them in terms of the impact of disease. The access to information is the same, the meaning, practical comprehension and advice about what to do in relation to that information is what's significant.
posted by nickyskye at 5:42 PM on April 29, 2011


Well, he obviously knows more about nuclear power than I do, my point is that he does not have good access to information - nobody does, except for perhaps Tepco and the Japanese government (and the American government, which is conducting drone flights overhead) and none of them are sharing info. And, like I said, no one knows what is going in any of the four reactor buildings.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:07 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


And, like I said, no one knows what is going in any of the four reactor buildings.

How can you say that KokuRyo when there is information coming out about the reactors all the time, discussions among scientists around the planet.

What do you think "knows what is going on" means? What are you trying to say? That Tepco is so deceitful or secretive about the information/images/radiation map that nobody but Tepco "knows what is going on"?
posted by nickyskye at 6:38 PM on April 29, 2011


One of the major challenges is that, due to exposed spent fuel rods, and highly radioactive contamination, no one can venture very far into the reactor buildings. There may likely be a mass of corium in the basement of no.2, or there may not... nobody really knows, because no one can get near enough to tell, and the instrumentation is broken. While some of the assessments are based on observation, much of tje narrative comes from analyzing radioactive emissions to try to figure out tje state of the spent fuel rods and reactor cores, and then extrapolating how they came to be that way. So, nobody really knows what's going on.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:50 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ah, "what's really going on" means for you the specifics of knowing if there is a mass of corium in the basement No. 2 and getting info from now broken instruments.

That is about the future of Fukushima. Will there be another explosion or explosions and where from? And how to end further damage by the broken/damaged reactors.

There are also other aspects of knowing what's going on, like about what has already happened and the meaning of that for people/living creatures/the environment immediately impacted. Yes, analyzing radiation emissions. Around the planet. The nuke plant has exploded twice, radioactive water is pouring by the ton into the Pacific contaminating marine life for a large distance and 150, 000 people have had to flee the radiation around Fukushima. Tepco and the government have repeatedly lied, the children around Fukushima are not being protected fro the radiation that is known to be a cause of thyroid cancer.

Not continuing in creating any more nuclear plant catastrophes is another aspect of "what's really going on".

Government Adviser Quits Post to Protest Japan's Policy on Radiation Exposure for Fukushima Schools

Japan prime minister's nuclear adviser resigns

The nuclear accident and natural disaster have forced the evacuation of more than 150,000 people from their homes.

Dow Jones: A special advisor to the Japanese government on radiation safety resigned Friday, saying that he was dissatisfied with the handling of the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Toshiso Kosako, a professor at the prestigious University of Tokyo, said at a news conference that the prime minister’s office and agencies within the government “have ignored the laws and have only dealt with the problem at the moment.” Holding back tears, he said this approach would only prolong the crisis.


Thousands of animals still waiting to be rescued in the 20km evacuation zone in Fukushima
posted by nickyskye at 8:10 PM on April 29, 2011


Government Adviser Quits Post to Protest Japan's Policy on Radiation Exposure for Fukushima Schools

According to Mrs KokuRyu, who follows this stuff more than I do, Tokyo University, because of its funding from the Japanese government and Tepco, is generally supportive of the Japanese government's revised radiation exposure standards, so the fact this person has resigned can be seen as being significant. However, according to Mrs. KokuRyu, this may be more political than scientific - the adviser is trying to wound an already wounded ruling clique.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:49 PM on April 29, 2011


Of course, the plus side of Kosako's resignation is that it raises the issue of government sanctioned 20 mSv levels.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:54 PM on April 29, 2011


Please thank Mrs KokuRyu for her opinion. It's always interesting to get glimpses of complex political motivation. Thanks for sharing that.

Yet another amazing tsunami video. Sendai airport.

Is Princess Beatrice wearing a nuclear reactor torus style on her head?
posted by nickyskye at 9:43 PM on April 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Possibly. Princess Michael, on the other hand, appeared to go in a different direction with this RADAR antenna.
posted by infinitywaltz at 10:39 AM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


And I think what Kokuryu and I mean by saying that Gundersen doesn't have access to any special information is that he's analyzing the same official information releases and YouTube videos and the like as the rest of us, albeit from a background informed by his own education and experiences in the industry.
posted by infinitywaltz at 10:41 AM on April 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well said!
posted by KokuRyu at 11:20 AM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh yay finding good communication ground. :)
posted by nickyskye at 12:02 PM on April 30, 2011


Chernobyl's legacy: no likely return to normality and a never-ending bill
Chernobyl has brought greater cancer risks, economic hardship and homes uprooted – and no one can predict when it will end
posted by KokuRyu at 12:52 PM on April 30, 2011


Huh. Nothing to do with the Japanese nuclear crisis, but in the "general interesting nuclear links" vein:

US Capitol and Library of Congress buildings give off radiation 65 times higher than EPA safe limits
posted by Bugbread at 2:46 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well yeah. A lot of bio-hazardous waste comes out of the mouths of politicians. heh

Radiation map around Fukushima which indicates where elementary schools are | Related: Japan's top nuclear man resigns over Fukushima

Still a lot of earthquake action going on in the Ring of Fire (a nifty video visual of the locations of the earthquakes). Yesterday Sakurajima blew again.

Found on Twitter, Fukushima Whistle Blower vid. wish I could understand what's being said in Japanese, if it's bs or reality based. Any Japanese speaker's opinions would be appreciated.

Recent vid of Ibaraki ~ Minami Souma, Soma City, Fukushima Prefecture. - What an immense cleaning up task it is.

"I created Japan clock as reminder, that life goes on. And time heals. I’m sure Japanese people would be strong and will have great future. I was inspired with Japanese flag, blood drops and circles on the water. Clock made of thin plastic plates. There is opportunity to write notes on the clock’s surface."

This is mind-blowing and a real surprise: Currently nearly 25%, 1 in every 4 dollars spent by the US Department of Energy is spent on nuclear-waste cleanup, an understandably widely underreported fact, and arguably the most pressing environmental problem in the United States.
posted by nickyskye at 3:44 PM on April 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Found on Twitter, Fukushima Whistle Blower vid yt . wish I could understand what's being said in Japanese, if it's bs or reality based."

It's reality based, but it isn't saying anything new. The first half is a review of what's happened, and the second half is about past whistle blowing, up to around 2006. Important, of course, but nothing which hasn't already been made public, long before the earthquake.
posted by Bugbread at 4:02 PM on April 30, 2011


Ah, thanks Bugbread. :)
posted by nickyskye at 7:29 PM on April 30, 2011


Between disposal costs and disaster cleanup costs, I can't see how costs have been greater than benefits. I suspect the projections were rather more optimistic than warranted.

I suspect cargo-container sized plants are next. Smaller disaster footprint. Easier to undisaster. Still got the storage/disposal problem.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:13 AM on May 1, 2011


Luckily, it turns out that many of our fears have been unfounded. The tsunami did not actually occur. It was all media trickery and CGI.
posted by Bugbread at 1:06 AM on May 1, 2011




I mean, I can't see how benefits have exceeded costs. Otoh, how else would Japan fulfill its energy needs?
posted by five fresh fish at 8:35 AM on May 1, 2011


Some (rare) good news on a controversial issue: No significant damage to fuel at Unit 4.
posted by Popular Ethics at 9:43 AM on May 1, 2011


Interesting blog from March 14th. The Architects knew that Japan has regular Tsunamis, so did the Regulators! and yet they put the "EMERGENCY" Diesel Generators underground! knowing full well that Diesel Generators don't work that well submerged!

"It looks like there was a serious failure in the risk analysis, design, and approval process on this point. The designers and regulators knew that Japan is located on multiple fault lines and is subject to major earthquakes. They also knew that earthquakes can cause a tsunami. The designers nonetheless chose to build a nuclear reactor directly on the coastline and to site all of their backup generators in a location that could be swamped by a tsunami about 20 feet high, and regulators approved this plan. It appears that no meaningful changes were made after the 2004 Indonesian earthquake generated tsunami waves up to 80 feet high, which should have been a wake-up call to operators of coast-side nuclear reactors worldwide that earthquakes can generate giant waves. Now we’re seeing the results."
posted by nickyskye at 3:12 PM on May 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Six wind farms were given six-figure payments to switch off their turbines because the Scottish grid network could not absorb all the energy being produced.

News like that makes me think there really are other viable alternatives to nuclear energy.
posted by nickyskye at 5:37 PM on May 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Six wind farms were given six-figure payments to switch off their turbines because the Scottish grid network could not absorb all the energy being produced.

If only we could store that (unpredictable) extra power without making it even more ridiculously expensive.
posted by Popular Ethics at 7:35 PM on May 1, 2011


Could be, Joe in Australia. And I might agree with you. So now that you have his Twitter feed, you can enlighten him.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 4:40 AM on May 2, 2011


Erm, wtf happened there?
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 4:41 AM on May 2, 2011


Mods, please delete these last three posts. Save me from my own dumbassery, thx.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 4:45 AM on May 2, 2011


Experts Divided Over Safety of Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant


New York City, the nation's most densely populated county, stands just 24 miles downwind from the Indian Point nuclear power plant, making it the closest and largest city to an atomic facility in the United States.

Indian Point, owned by New Orleans, La.-based Entergy Corporation, has been plagued by a laundry list of safety violations and close calls.

Last year, 600,000 gallons of boiling radioactive water escaped as steam through an open valve. In a separate incident an electric transformer exploded. The reactor's cooling system has pushed nearby water temperatures up 15 degrees in the surrounding Hudson River on several occasions, causing massive fish kills. And back on 9/11, terrorists flew a fueled jet right by the nuclear plant as they followed the Hudson River to the World Trade Center.

Despite its problems, the importance of Indian Point is hard to dispute.

It provides up to 30 percent of New York City's and adjoining Westchester County's energy needs. That is enough, energy experts say, to power 2 million residences, Metro North commuter trains and the New York City subway system. And it does this without burning the fossil fuels that contribute to global warming.

A study released in 2008 by seismologists at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory reveals that Indian Point sits astride a previously unidentified intersection between two active seismic zones — the Ramapo that runs from Eastern Pennsylvania to the mid-Hudson Valley and a previously undetected Stamford-Peekskill line.

The study calculates a 1.5 percent chance that a 7.0 magnitude earthquake could occur within the next 50 years. That would be a force 32 times the amount the Indian Point reactors were designed to withstand.

The Japan crisis appears to be exacerbating these concerns.

NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko advised American citizens living within 50 miles of the Fukushima Daiichi complex to evacuate. This 50-mile distance applied to Indian Point would include nearly all of New York City. It would require evacuating an estimated 20 million people, the combined populations of New York City and the suburbs surrounding Indian Point.

Both sites rely on similar fail-safe mechanisms in the event that control rods used to power the plants and pump cooling water shut down. Japan's six reactors relied on 13 backup diesel generators. Indian Point's two units have 8 backup generators, Nappi said. The Fukushima and Indian Point plants maintain onsite spent fuel rods that contain used radioactive fuel. These spent rods along with the active uranium rods that power nuclear plants must be kept in cool water to prevent a meltdown.

There are, however, substantial differences between the plants.

Indian Point units 2 and 3, built in 1974 and 1976, use a Westinghouse pressurized water design that generates steam to spin turbines that generate energy. (Indian Point 1 began operating in 1962 and was decommissioned in 1974.) The Fukushima reactors, in contrast, were built in the 1960s and depend on boiling water.

More importantly, the Fukushima reactors, unlike those at Indian Point, rely on American-made General Electric Mark 1 steel and concrete vessels to contain the nuclear fuel rods that power the plant. These Mark 1 vessels, nuclear experts say, are not as strong and are more likely to crack than containment vessels made later.

..
In addition, Indian Point houses its spent fuel rods almost entirely below grade along the Hudson River making it difficult for water to seep and stay out.

Moreover, no one predicts a tsunami, the final event that destroyed the Fukushima reactors, to happen on the Hudson River.

But Phillip Musegass, program director for Riverkeeper, said that "worst-case scenario" disasters cannot be ruled out and "and must be planned for.



Sorry for the long extract -- I think this is very interesting. I live close to this plant.
posted by rainy at 11:15 AM on May 2, 2011


Physicians for Social Responsibility, a U.S. nonprofit organization of medical experts, has condemned as "unconscionable" the Japanese government's safety standards on radiation levels at elementary and junior high schools in nuclear disaster-stricken Fukushima Prefecture.

"(Twenty millisieverts) for children exposes them to a 1 in 200 risk of getting cancer. And if they are exposed to this dose for two years, the risk is 1 in 100. There is no way that this level of exposure can be considered 'safe' for children," the statement said.

Fukushima parents dish the dirt in protest over radiation levels

Furious parents in Fukushima have delivered a bag of radioactive playground earth to education officials in protest at moves to weaken nuclear safety standards in schools.

Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and other environment and anti-nuclear groups submitted a petition against the regulations. They accused the Nuclear Safety Commission of meekly accepting the new safety limit after just two hours of closed-door discussions with government officials.
posted by nickyskye at 11:27 AM on May 2, 2011


Radiation leaks from fuel rods suspected at Tsuruga plant.

Huh, why in Tsuruga on the other, non-tsunami impacted side of the country? That's weird.

Kan Admits Failure to Address Nuclear Problems as Another Plant Leaks

What's going on?
posted by nickyskye at 2:26 PM on May 2, 2011


Is your food safe? Its really hard to find links, most mainstream press is not reporting but there are some worrying few links...

Milk (2600% above regulatory limits) and confusing rainwater radiation test by UC Berkeley

Advisory from EU on radiation contamination of milk no longer negliable
posted by zia at 2:27 PM on May 2, 2011


Good thing I drink negligible milk.

Yogurt, cheese, veg, and fruit, though… all of which tend to concentrate it. Ugh.

I wonder if my square foot gardens should be under glass.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:01 PM on May 2, 2011


I wonder if my square foot gardens should be under glass.

Probably not a bad idea. Might wanna rethink those five fresh fish, too.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:04 PM on May 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


That might be leaning too far into the panicky hysteria end of the scale, though.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:06 PM on May 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


More on food safety:

Europe

Milk in USA (CALIFORNIA, WASHINGTON STATE, ARIZONA, ARKANSAS, VERMONT AND HAWAII)
* http://enenews.com/radioactive-cesium-levels-continue-rise-milk-san-francisco-bay-area
* http://www.baycitizen.org/japan-disaster/story/government-under-fire-radiation-milk/1/
* http://www.foe.org/FDA-comparison-radiation-milk-everyday-exposures-called-improper
* http://www.enewspf.com/latest-news/health-and-fitness/23337-more-stringent-coordinated-fukushima-fallout-monitoring-needed-to-determine-radioactive-iodine-risk-to-us-milk-and-water.html
* http://enenews.com/cesium-137-levels-in-vermont-milk-at-66-of-maximum-contaminant-level-allowed-by-epa
* http://enenews.com/arkansas-milk-300-above-epas-maximum-contaminant-level-11-days-ago
* http://enenews.com/cesium-iodine-hawaii-milk-both-600-above-epas-maximum-contaminant-level-61-pcil-total-beta-particles
* http://enenews.com/phoenix-milk-exceeds-epas-maximum-contaminant-level-for-radioactive-iodine-131
* http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2011/0331/Radioactive-milk-found-on-West-Coast-but-levels-are-minuscule
* http://enenews.com/cesium-134-and-137-found-in-organic-milk-near-san-francisco-first-time-radioactive-cesium-found-in-us-milk-supply
* http://www.naturalnews.com/032048_radiation_milk.html


EPA raising legal limits ala Japan?

Leafy greens tested in UC Berkeley
posted by zia at 10:22 PM on May 2, 2011




Hadn't seen either of those YT clips, nickyskye. Wow. Thanks for those.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:33 PM on May 2, 2011




There are some damn scary potential outcomes given information like that.

So, corium? I'm thinking unlikely: it would be (sorry) blindingly obvious.

Material ejecta from stored rods? Rods were exposed, etc. Seems likely. Enough for a large perimeter — magnitudes beyond a "plant accident."

Humongous poisoning of the ocean? Oh, my, yes.

The horrifying thought is that dumping to the ocean may have been the best they could do.

This is indeed pretty much the worst possible catastrophe. There are very limited ways in which it could get worse. Ugh.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:25 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


...damn scary potential outcomes

fff, forgive me, but I can't help noticing that you sure have changed your tune since vociferously and repeatedly accusing me of undue fear, panic, hysteria, etc. I just want to say: glad to see you're seeing the light, man.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:17 PM on May 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


From nickyskye's link above, Radiation forecasts in Japan kept secret to avoid “panic in the whole of society”
May 3rd, 2011 at 09:31 AM
:

The accident response headquarters, formed jointly by the government and the plant’s operator Tokyo Electric Power Co, said Monday that roughly 5,000 estimates of how radioactive substances would disperse had been made since the beginning but they had not been made public, Kyodo said. The secrecy was to avoid “panic in the whole of society”

That actually sounds pretty prudent to me. These were estimates. Knowing them probably wouldn't have saved any lives but would have put some at risk with panicky citizens fleeing from one part of the country to another because of a "forecast". I would be kind of surprised if there hadn't been some modeling done before and after the disaster to show what possible outcomes would exist in the case of certain accidents. Also, I hate sounding like a Tepco shill. I would not be averse to some Tepco heads on pikes around Edo Castle.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 1:10 AM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'd like to know how to quantify the trade off between avoiding panic and allowing greater exposure to radioactive fallout in the Kanto region. On Mixi and 2chan, there were discussions in the week after March 11 (the week when 3 of the 4 reactor buildings exploded) that Kan avoided going out in the rain at all costs (remember later on he also called off a trip to the tsunami zone because of rain) and that Edano sent his family to Singapore (Tepco CEO Shimizu sent his wife to Singapore).

There are radioactive hot spots all over Kanto, notably in Kashiwa, and even in Shinjuku. Although there is a lot of radiological information out there, it all seems pretty ad hoc, and there seems to be very little soil monitoring going on. I think the scale of the disaster (the nuclear accidents in this case) is just too big for most people to comprehend and deal with (kind of like climate change). I'm not saying that Tokyo is a nuclear wasteland, but there are likely significant risks in some cases for children and pregnant mothers.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:24 AM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I can't help noticing that you sure have changed your tune since vociferously and repeatedly accusing me of undue fear, panic, hysteria, etc.

No, I have not. You have repeatedly made any number of claims founded on things you imagined or invented out of wholecloth.

I've been waiting for actual facts to arrive.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:18 PM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've been waiting for actual facts to arrive.

Well, good for you, mister fish! Why, you've been the voice of reason here, and this foolish, tinfoil-hat wearing wingnut salutes your clearly superior take on this whole situation. I'm humbled and in awe, really.

Although saying "damn scary potential outcomes" sounds, well, a wee bit fear-mongery to me. Just sayin'. But hey, as an officially designated Panicky Overreactor (look! here's my fff Seal of Hysteria!), I've got no problem with that. You realize of course that that statement represents a projection into the future, a possibility, a potential. Not yet an "actual fact". See, I've been doing the same, since about, oh, March 12 or so. I just got there before you. You're catching up! You're learning!

Anyway, perhaps next time you won't be as smug, judgmental and self righteous in accusing others of panic, fear-mongering, hysterics, whatever. I believe that perhaps you've grown a little: grown wiser, perhaps, in the ways of government and utility-company coverups, underreporting and so forth. And as much as you deny it, your recent comments show that in fact you have. I know it hurts to have to admit it. Do your best, though. You're among friends.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:53 PM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Believe whatever you want, fool.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:47 PM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Heh heh! "Fool", eh? Ooh, you're really making some incisive points now! I am devastated by your powers of argument!

And delighted to see that you've lowered yourself not only to my level of panic and hysteria (shame on you!) but also my (admittedly unfortunate) name calling! You're on a roll, mister fish!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:51 PM on May 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Haha! And a favorite for the "fool" comment from ol' George himself! That was fast and... furious! Hee hee! They're comin' outta the woodwork!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:54 PM on May 5, 2011


Seriously, you two... get a room!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:55 PM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


You three, honestly. Please let it die.
posted by cortex at 4:57 PM on May 5, 2011


Just for emphasis: knock it off and take mod concerns to the proper venue.
posted by jessamyn at 5:16 PM on May 5, 2011


Worker must risk re-entering reactor 1 (from Nature.com)

Workers have entered the buildings that house the damaged unit 1 reactor at Fukushima nuclear power plant. They probably haven't stuck around for very long, robot scouts have shown dangerously high radiation levels inside the building. ....At the moment, the reactors are being cooled by water, which is injected directly into their cores. That water becomes contaminated and then leaks out into the surrounding environment, creating a big radioactive waste problem.

In other news. Justin Beiber's crew doesn't want to go to Japan

...the traitorous crew pointed out that Avril Lavigne and Slash, of all people, had canceled their Japan tours. Braun fired back that Maroon 5 hadn’t canceled theirs. The two sides are still at loggerheads, and the status of Bieber’s Japan tour is up in the air. A bunch of cowards, all of them! Japan has had a terrible spring and Japanese tweens deserve to see the Bieber.
posted by humanfont at 6:12 PM on May 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mrs. KokuRyu, who is a huge Loudness fan (and belongs to the fan club) is saying that Akira Takasaki doesn't want to travel to Tokyo because of radiation fears (Loudness is based in Osaka, another reason to love the Kansai region of Japan).
posted by KokuRyu at 8:11 PM on May 5, 2011


I'd like to know how to quantify the trade off between avoiding panic and allowing greater exposure to radioactive fallout in the Kanto region.

Sorry for not replying earlier, KokuRyu. The ideal trade-off would be some number of estimates <5000. By that metric you'd have pretty much the whole country covered in some radiation warning or another. That would be why you wouldn't announce it, the SNR would be too high for even the biggest brains to educe safe havens. Hence panicky citizenry flowing from one place to another, based on rumor and innuendo.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 8:54 PM on May 5, 2011


...panicky citizenry flowing from one place to another, based on rumor and innuendo.

Well, as they say, calmness goes out the door when radiation comes innuendo.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:16 PM on May 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, as they say, calmness goes out the door when radiation comes innuendo.

You know execrable puns are the enemy of humankind, don't you?
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 9:28 PM on May 5, 2011


Yeah, sure. Tell it to Groucho Marx.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:03 PM on May 5, 2011


That would be why you wouldn't announce it, the SNR would be too high for even the biggest brains to educe safe havens. Hence panicky citizenry flowing from one place to another, based on rumor and innuendo.

I just want to know what the "white smoke" is that the IAEA says, with each report, is wafting out of the reactors. Isn't there a more scientific name? Isn't anyone trying to figure out what the hell it is?
posted by KokuRyu at 11:28 PM on May 5, 2011


You got the scare quotes wrong.

White "smoke" continues to be emitted from Unit 2 and Unit 3. There was no more white "smoke" seen emanating from Unit 4 as of 21:30 UTC on 25 April or from Unit 1 as of 21:30 UTC on 30 April.

Not that it means a damn thing. Semantically, the only thing that fits the profile of white "smoke" would be steam. Every other source that I can think of in a reactor that could possibly make white "smoke" would have exhausted itself by now. Looking at NHK video of the site at the "smoke" and its dissipation pattern makes me think steam. I've seen the smoke from steel smelting, it's a gray or yellowish color and it hangs in the air much longer than the stuff coming out of Dai-Ichi. So that eliminates the containment vessel. I've only seen one, very tiny amount of a radioactive substance ignited and it burned rather like magnesium. Big (for the size of the source) billowing cloud of white smoke that took the hood a bit of time to clear. Scared the crap out of me. Stupid nuclear chemists.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 11:47 PM on May 5, 2011




Video of Toshiso Kosako resignation: senior nuclear adviser to Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan submitted his resignation on Friday, saying the government had ignored his advice and failed to follow the law.
posted by nickyskye at 12:50 PM on May 6, 2011


Tsunami warning lifted following new Japan quake
posted by nickyskye at 12:56 PM on May 6, 2011




Regarding the three reactors at Hamaoka that the government wants shut down, do these two statements sound really, really fishy in that story?

Chubu Electric Power Co. said in a statement it will "swiftly consider" the government's request.

Trade Minister Banri Kaieda argued Chubu's safety measures were "not enough" without elaborating further.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 12:57 PM on May 6, 2011


"fishy", heh, apropos in light of the radiation potential damage to the Pacific. Definitely fishy.

Uh oh, PG, you having "doubts"? heh ;-) You think it's a conspiracy? I guess that doubting thing is contagious, lol

Yeah, that "swiftly" adverb gave me a little dose of quizzical too.
posted by nickyskye at 1:13 PM on May 6, 2011


Chubu Electric Power Co. said in a statement it will "swiftly consider" the government's request.

Trade Minister Banri Kaieda argued Chubu's safety measures were "not enough" without elaborating further.


English-language news services do a terrible job of translating Japanese bureaucratic-speak. The original Japanese is often vague in the first place, but as a translator I've always tried to recreate the actual meaning or intent, and really try to avoid doing a direct translation, which is often next to useless.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:20 PM on May 6, 2011


Uh oh, PG, you having "doubts"? heh ;-)

Aw, come on, that's hardly fair. I have had doubts about many parts of this narrative. Review my comments and see. I've also read every one of the links in this thread and the previous one. But I refuse to become hysterical or buffaloed by media reports that I view as fear-mongering. I can't stand sloppy science reporting. And so when you post a link dump, you'll notice that I only comment on the stories that I consider to be containing errors. That's a tacit admission that I agree with or am at least amenable to the concepts presented in the others. Remember what I said about lockstep? There is more than one side to this or any other story. And looking into the other side does not make me a Tepco apologist. It's healthy skepticism.

KokuRyo, that Trade Minister, that's MITI, right? Aren't they the most powerful ministry in Japan? Should I be regarding his statement in a different light because of this?
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 2:06 PM on May 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Actually, it's called METI now. I don't know much about Japanese politics or stupid bureaucrat tricks, but this Mainichi article has better quotes.

Basically, the situation is, there could be a large earthquake off Honshu's central eastern seaboard (the so-called "Great Tokai Megaquake") literally at any time. There's a couple of problems: a) Hamaoka nuclear plant is apparently built above a fault, and the bedrock is fractured b) in the case of the shutdown, the tsunami defences are, as Kaieda and other VIPs noted, not sufficient.

If there was an earthquake and a tsunami there is a good chance there could be a repeat of Daiichi.

So, I don't think much Kremlinology-type dissection of ministerial remarks is needed.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:45 PM on May 6, 2011


Hamaoka nuclear plant is apparently built above a fault, and the bedrock is fractured

Do these electric utility companies try to find the most unsuitable site for their nuclear plants? I tried to find a hydrology/soils report for Hamaoka but if it's out there, it's not available in English.

From nickyskye above (geddit?)

Japan wants 3 reactors closed while seawall built

Prime Minister Naoto Kan said at a news conference Friday evening he requested the shutdown for safety reasons, citing experts' forecast of a 90 percent probability of a quake with magnitude of 8.0 or higher striking central Japan within 30 years.

I don't follow all the latest trends in seismology but if they're able to predict with 90% certainty within the tiny (in geological time) window of 30 years, they're fucking geniuses. But I can't find another case of such precise predictions being issued by any other quake-related agency. So I'm hopeful that they can indeed do this and simultaneously wondering how much woo was involved with this prediction. Curiously, where were these incredibly precise earthquake predictions for the Great East Japan Earthquake (conspiracy!)? Where were they for the 8.11.2009 quake? Or the 3.14.2010 quake? (And to think, prior to 3.11.2011, 6.6 and 6.1 magnitude quakes were considered major seismic events.)

There doesn't appear to be any MOX at Hamaoka, which has to be a very small consolation. And only two active reactors. Finally, just to keep my conspiracy cred current, remember this gem from wiki lo these many days ago?
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 6:26 PM on May 6, 2011


I believe one of the reasons that nuclear power stations in Japan are often located in risky places (ie, near major faults) is that it has been very difficult to find communities willing to host these facilities. So what you get are clusters of nuclear power plants in the same location, such as six reactors at Daiichi, seven at Kashiwazaki in Niigata; the Wakasa Bay region in Fukui Prefecture is home to at least 15 reactors (including the fatality damaged Monju fast breeder in Tsuruga) at 5 facilities in a 50 kilometer stretch of coast just over a mountain range from Lake Biwa, Japan's largest lake and the source of drinking water for millions of people in the Kansai region.

Another factor is that Japan has a lot of earthquakes, everywhere.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:40 PM on May 6, 2011


You know, I just wrote what I considered to be a pretty good post detailing how the zaibatsu had evolved into the keiretsu, and how the government has been intertwined with them since the Meiji Restoration. I then branched off into how Tepco, although not a direct subsidiary of any of the current keiretsus, is still dependent upon them for their continued success. I showed how the revolving door worked for upper management of these companies, from Todai to the Diet to the various Boards of Directors. Never the front man, and thus never elected or facing an outside audit. Working in the shadows, generating concensus months and years before the public ever learns of their decisions. So many flawless citations of the collaboration and corruption extant in the current government/big business relationship. At least an hour's worth of work. Ahh, it was a thing of beauty.

But unfortunately, I updated to Firefox 4 last night. And the morons over at the Mozilla Foundation have decided that the context menu was too staid, too prim after countless iterations of Firefox. So they switched the positions of the "Open Link in New Tab" and the "Open Link in New Window" buttons. I tried to open a link in a new tab but instead it popped up a new window, which I then closed, irritated by this flaw for the hundredth times since I installed it. Except I closed the wrong goddamn window. And even though it saved my tabs, my beautiful, beautiful masterpiece was gone, like tears in the rain.

So now I am disconsolate and unable to bring forth a new post. I require ice cream, and possibly sprinkles. You'll just have to fill in the blanks yourself. AVENGE ME
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 12:34 AM on May 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


Aww. Surely a lot of us have been there. I'm sorry. Hugs.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:37 AM on May 7, 2011


Thanks, five fresh fish. Now here's my derail of the day, how to fix this stupid decision by Mozilla.

Easy method:

Go here, download and run the options in the Add-ons section from the Tools tab. Drag context menu items to where you want them, or just delete them to reduce irritation.

Slightly more involved method, stolen directly from Mozilla:

This code in userChrome.css will move "Open Link in New Window" to the top of the context menu.

@namespace url("http://www.mozilla.org/keymaster/gatekeeper/there.is.only.xul"); /* only needed once */
#contentAreaContextMenu > * { -moz-box-ordinal-group: 2; }
#context-openlink { -moz-box-ordinal-group: 1 !important; }

Geez I ate a lot of ice cream last night.
/derail
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 12:40 PM on May 7, 2011


I just received a package of shinchas, directly ordered from Japan, carefully checking that the types of tea I ordered are not grown anywhere near Fukushima. I don't know if this speaks more to my confidence that the other areas of Japan are not affected or to my addiction to senchas. I suspect if the last senchas in the world were grown exclusively in #1 containment unit I would say my good-byes to friends and family and keep despondently drinking them.
posted by rainy at 1:18 PM on May 7, 2011 [1 favorite]




200-year-old soy sauce maker in disaster area recovers key ingredient

Subarashii !
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:47 PM on May 7, 2011 [1 favorite]




/derail
Today I learned the word for terrific (great) in Japanese: subarashii. Thanks flapjax :)

So fun. Is that part of the name for Subaru? (quick google, "Subaru is the Japanese name for the Pleiades star cluster, which in turn inspires the Subaru logo and alludes to the six companies that merged to create FHI." ooh that's nice)
posted by nickyskye at 7:49 AM on May 8, 2011


Thanks flapjax :)

Any time, nickyskye! But no, I don't think there's any connection between Subaru and subarashii.

And thank you for educating me on the origins of the word subaru! Who knew it was a star cluster!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:52 AM on May 8, 2011


Manning had access to insecure information. It is not reasonable to believe the mission was moved up because material accessible to tens of thousands of low-level workers was leaked.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:29 AM on May 8, 2011


For those with access to Financial Times (I think the free account will suffice):

How Fukushima failed

Which is a decent narrative summary of the first few weeks of the disaster but unfortunately, there's no mention of the events or handling since.

I really hope that a pair or trio of journalists somewhere is following this thread and slowly going through all the leads to build an expose on what has happened beyond "OMG, radiation leak!"
posted by tksh at 8:39 AM on May 8, 2011






I doubt the world is going to abandon nukes. Best we can hope for are the bin-sized, neighborhood-powering ones. Self contained, fail safe, and if they go sideways, we lose a neighborhood instead of an entire coastline.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:33 PM on May 8, 2011




Now that Japan is letting go of some of its nuclear reactors, perhaps Russia will supply the oil via Sakhalin?

I have no doubt that Russia would love to sell Japan some oil. I think the Japanese might have a problem with purchasing from the Russians. Especially since 2007, when: As of 18 April 2007 Gazprom have taken a 50% plus one share interest in Sakhalin II by purchasing 50% of Shell, Mitsui, and Mitsubishi's shares.

Japan to Aging Nuke Plant: Shut Down

That's basically the same story as your previous link, Japan wants 3 reactors closed while seawall built, but with a headline that makes it sound like they're ordering a permanent shut down.

Also, aging is probably incorrect terminology, since the oldest reactors on the site, #1 and #2, are already in cold shutdown. Reactor #3, built in 1986 and currently shut down for maintenance and inspection, is still well within its thirty year operating life. Reactors #4 and #5 were built in 1993 and 2005, respectively. Reactor #6 is still under construction. Supposedly the Hamaoka site is built to withstand an 8.5 magnitude earthquake and a 8m (26 ft) tsunami.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 4:13 PM on May 8, 2011


Supposedly the Hamaoka site is built to withstand an 8.5 magnitude earthquake and a 8m (26 ft) tsunami.

Which, in a 9.0 quake, ain't good enough.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:04 PM on May 8, 2011


Which, in a 9.0 quake, ain't good enough.

You make it sound like we should be expecting 9.0 quakes all the time.

Lemme quote me, from one of my earlier posts:

(And to think, prior to 3.11.2011, 6.6 and 6.1 magnitude quakes were considered major seismic events.)

According to earlier posts in the other thread, reactor construction was based on 100 year seismic predictions. It was posited by other people that there was a cyclical 800 - 1100 year earthquake/tsunami timeline. Cyclic. Japan just had their earthquake that (kinda) fits in that timeline. So what's your point?
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 5:26 PM on May 8, 2011


"And thank you for educating me on the origins of the word subaru! Who knew it was a star cluster!"

Surely you know this song, specifically the part from 0:30, right? Perhaps you thought it was a song about cars?

(Although I know that Subaru means the Pleiades, I still think of the car instead every time I hear that song)

Now that you know Subaru, their logo probably makes a lot more sense.
posted by Bugbread at 5:26 PM on May 8, 2011


Japan just had their earthquake that (kinda) fits in that timeline.

Actually, Tokyo can expect a mega-quake (circa 9.0) any moment now (for the next 30 years)... The 3.11 Tohoku quake was just an added bonus that changed nothing. There is also supposed to be a Tokai mega-quake at any moment now (for the next 30 years), plus a To-Nankai mega-quake off the coast of Mie and Wakayama.

I think the point is, no one believed there could be a once-in-a-millenia mega-quake and tsunami when they planned and built Japan's nuclear infrastructure in the 1960s and 1970s. We now know Japan (same as much of the US Pacific Northwest, and Canada's West Coast) is living on borrowed time.

So, actually, until they happen, we should be expecting 9.0 quakes all the time. The Big One that takes out Tokyo will happen in our lifetimes, if not tomorrow.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:34 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


So, actually, until they happen, we should be expecting 9.0 quakes all the time. The Big One that takes out Tokyo will happen in our lifetimes, if not tomorrow.

I have tried repeatedly to find a scientific basis for this idea. I know Kan said it in newspaper interviews but I cannot find the paper that relates to these findings. If you know of its location, please post it. I cannot believe, absent scientific evidence, that the earth has suddenly shifted into a geologic era of constant 9.0+ earthquakes.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 5:56 PM on May 8, 2011


This 2006 report puts the likelihood of a major quake in the Kanto region at 30%.

Here's a Wikipedia article that discusses the basics of a Tokai quake, with citations. Here's another Wikipedia article that discusses the basics of a potential Nankai quake.

About.com has a pretty nifty article as well:

The Hanshin-Awaji earthquake was magnitude 7.3. Kanto was 7.9. But at 8.4, the Tokai Earthquake will be substantially larger.

Historical studies have capitalized on records of the tsunamis caused by past Tokai earthquakes. New methods allow us to partially reconstruct the causative event from the wave records.

These advances allowed Tsuneji Rikitake to conduct a reassessment (PDF) of the Tokai Earthquake in 1999. Using several different methods, he gauged the quake to have a probability of 35 to 45 percent of occurring before 2010.


Bear in mind that no one is saying that we've suddenly entered a new era of 9.0 mega-quakes. It's just that there always has been recognition that there is a high probability of a mega-quake striking the Kanto/Tokai region, but nobody has really taken those predictions seriously until now.

I can probably look around for more research if you like. As a matter of fact, a friend of mine is a earthquake specialist and works for the Geologic Survey of Canada. He completed part of his PhD at Tokyo University, and actually wrote a paper discussing the probability of a mega-quake off of Sendai (his wife's mother lives near the airport at Natori and narrowly escaped the tsunami). Anyway, he asserts that there could be an earthquake in Tokyo any day now. I'll see if he can point me to any research.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:09 PM on May 8, 2011


So what's your point?

That people don't know what the fuck is gonna happen when it comes to earthquakes. That regardless of predictions, a 9.0 quake did happen. And may well happen again. No matter what you personally believe.

That's my point.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:14 PM on May 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


KokuRyu:

I don't think Purposeful Grimace was doubting the likelihood of a major quake, but the scale of the quake. I know I've heard for years that the Kanto region is about due for a big quake, but I've never heard that it is about due for a 9.0+ quake.

Looking at the links you sent, the Nankai and Tokai pages shows no quakes of 9.0+ in recorded history (going back at least 1300 years). The PDF file is pretty long, so I haven't combed through it, but does it address 9.0+ quakes, or is it just about huge (8.0+) quakes?

And Flapjax, before you go jumping on me like you're jumping on Purposeful Grimace, let me make it clear that I'm not doubting that it may happen. I know it may happen. I'm just curious about the evidence for it being likely to happen. That's all.
posted by Bugbread at 9:14 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


One thing worth thinking about with regards to the Tohoku quake and the predicted Tokai quake is that they're not even on the same fault line. The Tokai quake is predicted based on a lot of factors, especially historical accounts. It's basically a 'go off every X years' fault, and it's overdue. One of the worries is that the massiveness of the Tohoku quake may well be setting the Tokai quake up.

Of course, Fuji is supposedly a 300 year volcano, and we're well past the 300 year point. If Fuji ever gets around to erupting again, it'll be less than pleasant. Years ago, the forecast I saw was no gas, electricity or water in Kanto for a week. No trains, no planes. Up to a foot of ash (which regardless of what hollywood would have you believe, is not soft and fluffy) covering out to Chiba, Ibaraki, Saitama, Gunma, and so on. And, of course, all of those little towns (or giant cities) at the foot of Fuji would have some issues to deal with.
posted by Ghidorah at 9:16 PM on May 8, 2011


Looking at the links you sent, the Nankai and Tokai pages shows no quakes of 9.0+ in recorded history (going back at least 1300 years). The PDF file is pretty long, so I haven't combed through it, but does it address 9.0+ quakes, or is it just about huge (8.0+) quakes?

Actually, you're right. I thought about that as I was posting, but hit "post comment" anyway. Although I'm aware that a 9.0 quake is an order of magnitude larger than a circa 8.0 quake, an 8.0 quake is going to cause pretty major damage anyway.

As for Mount Fuji, apparently hot spring (Atami, etc) around the base of the mountain have increased in temperature by couple of degrees since the Tohoku quake...
posted by KokuRyu at 9:31 PM on May 8, 2011


And Flapjax, before you go jumping on me like you're jumping on Purposeful Grimace...

That weren't no jumping on, brother Bugbread. When I've jumped on, you'll know it.

I'm just curious about the evidence for it being likely to happen.

Could anyone present evidence, one way or another, with the necessary certainty? Given the gravity of the potential consequences? I reckon not. Can we not at this point err on the side of caution and say that it's likely enough to happen so that Japan should start seriously rethinking its relationship with nuclear power? But, hey, never mind the 9.0 number. Just because some company shill or some too-cozy-with-industry-for-comfort government official says plant X or plant Y will safely withstand an 8.5 or so, that don't mean I believe 'em. Maybe, just maybe I would, if it was like the old days, and whoever assured us something was safe would obligingly give us the ol' hara kiri when it turned out he was wrong. If they were willing to stake their life on it. But all there'll be is some bowing and honto ni gomenasai from whatever fat cat (whose wife and kids will already be in Singapore) shows up on the evening news, interspersed with footage of another 20 or 30 or 50,000 people who have to abandon their homes and eat their onigiri on gymnasium floors. And risk cancer. Etcetera.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:41 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh man, I come back to this thread and you people are talking about the Tokai and Fuji erupting and I'm going back to FREAK OUT mode.

breathes in, breathes out Ok, that's better.

From what I understand, this recent Sendai quake either didn't affect the impending Tokai quake, OR it has accelerated the timeline of the Tokai; no one is saying that the Sendai quake has somehow relieved pressure anywhere, except maybe Sendai.

It's funny how the lack of aftershocks for the past two weeks or so (in Tokyo anyway) has put quakes in the back of people's minds. But lest we forget that we can expect more aftershocks, and big ones too for the next *checks calendar* 9 months or so. M6 and M7 quakes of one minute plus.

It's worth noting, though, that the quakes themselves generally don't do much damage, even in the big Kanto quakes of the past. The real danger comes from tsunami and fires after the fact. The Kanto quake of 1923 happened around noon when people were cooking lunch, and subsequently a lot of fires broke out, killing thousands and destroying countless buildings. Modern buildings are arguably far more fire-resistant than the all-wooden buildings from earlier times, but this is still a hazard. Not much more you can do to avoid 20-meter tsunamis other than not live along that coastline. But ultimately, these two factors have killed far more people and caused more damage than any kind of building collapses.

Wouldn't it be great if seismologists came up with a way to plant explosives at certain depths in the crust, then detonate them in a way (here's where I wave my hands a lot) that creates teeny tiny earthquakes? So instead of a big M9, you get a thousand M3s that no one really cares about. Must. Write. Screenplay...
posted by zardoz at 9:43 PM on May 8, 2011


"Could anyone present evidence, one way or another, with the necessary certainty?"

Well, I was asking out of curiosity, so, yeah, it's pretty easy to present evidence for my "necessary certainty". "Here's a PDF, and here are a few other mentions in a couple of non-fringe websites" would totally do it. Heck, even "here's a single PDF from a first-world country's national seismic agency" would do it. It's not like I'm going to use the info to decide whether or not to build a nuke plant. I'm just some guy, using the information to satisfy curiosity. My evidentiary standards aren't that high.
posted by Bugbread at 9:53 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's not like I'm going to use the info to decide whether or not to build a nuke plant. I'm just some guy...

Haha! And a damn smart guy, too, I might add! But that is what we're talking about here, though, right? Whether or not to build nukes? And/or whether or not to start shutting 'em down?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:57 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks for that, KokuRyu, especially the pdf. I had not realized that the idea of a Kanto fragment, separate from either the Pacific, Eurasian and Phillipine plates, had ever been proposed. I'm still analyzing the paper but this is the sort of reading that I enjoy. I'll post a summary as soon as I can formulate one. The one thing I know straight off is that I'm going to have a hell of a time deducing whether or not the 3.11.2011 event increased or decreased the strain on the Tokai segment.

That people don't know what the fuck is gonna happen when it comes to earthquakes. That regardless of predictions, a 9.0 quake did happen. And may well happen again. No matter what you personally believe.

You know, flapper me old son, I've gone to great lengths not to use my personal opinion as the basis of my posts on this subject. I've done my best to present rational and reasoned statements, without resorting to fear-mongering. So your statement regarding my beliefs is rather confusing. Bugbread hits it right on the head with this statement:

I don't think Purposeful Grimace was doubting the likelihood of a major quake, but the scale of the quake. I know I've heard for years that the Kanto region is about due for a big quake, but I've never heard that it is about due for a 9.0+ quake.

So if you want to start your second round of "fuck you, no fuck you" rants in this thread, come at me bro. But I'd just as soon return to rational and level-headed discussion, if you're capable of that.

On preview, the historical record that KokuRyu and Bugbread both reference would make the Hamaoka plant's 8.5M seismic rating seem adequate. But with six tsunamis in the period dating from 684CE taller than its 8m seawall, that would be a great reason for the Japanese government to request that they idle the reactors until a larger seawall is in place.

On second preview, is it enough to anticipate just nuclear plant/tsunami events, flapjax at midnite? Or do you also have contingency plans for various asteroid strikes that are also likely enough to happen? Could it be that you're using this tragedy to mount your hobby horse against nuclear power?
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 10:06 PM on May 8, 2011


The one thing I know straight off is that I'm going to have a hell of a time deducing whether or not the 3.11.2011 event increased or decreased the strain on the Tokai segment.

Besides my friend at the Canadian Geological Survey, I have another friend (also an earthquake specialist) who works for NIED Japan. He just published a paper about the Nankai subduction zone in Science.

I'll ask these guys what they think.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:29 PM on May 8, 2011


I've gone to great lengths not to use my personal opinion as the basis of my posts on this subject.

So your statement regarding my beliefs is rather confusing.


Perhaps your confusion is based on not remembering what you wrote. You know, the thing that I was responding to. That would be this:

I cannot believe, absent scientific evidence, that the earth has suddenly shifted into a geologic era of constant 9.0+ earthquakes.

I'll stop short at bolding the word "believe" though. I don't think that's necessary.

However, I enjoyed the cute little graphic you linked to there!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:31 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, I don't recall anyone mentioning in this thread that they believed that the earth has suddenly shifted into a geologic era of constant 9.0+ earthquakes. Did someone say that?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:34 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Also, I don't recall anyone mentioning in this thread that they believed that the earth has suddenly shifted into a geologic era of constant 9.0+ earthquakes."

No, but what KokuRyu was saying before is that not only have we just had a 9.0, but that we were overdue for another 9.0+ in Tokyo, and a 9.0+ in Tokai, and a 9.0+ in To-Nankai, which is what Purposeful and I were curious about. No, that's not literally "constant", but going from never before having had a 9.0+ in Japan (at least, not in the 1,300 years or so of historical info available) to now expecting to have three more any day now is pretty close to "a geological era of constant 9.0+ earthquakes". KokuRyu then realized that the stuff he posted was about massive, horrible, mega-earthquakes, but not 9.0+ earthquakes.

You know, I'm starting to get a little confused about what the hell we're all arguing about. We all seem to be agreeing that:
  • There will probably be big earthquakes in the future.
  • They are overdue, and could happen at any time.
  • The reactors look like they couldn't stand up to even a predicted level of earthquake, let alone a bigger-than-expected earthquake.
But, for some reason, we seem to be violently disagreeing about...something.
posted by Bugbread at 10:51 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


On second preview, is it enough to anticipate just nuclear plant/tsunami events, flapjax at midnite? Or do you also have contingency plans for various asteroid strikes that are also likely enough to happen?

Yes, it's enough. They're far likelier than asteroid strikes. Or, didn't you know that?

Could it be that you're using this tragedy to mount your hobby horse against nuclear power?

Could it be that you're venturing into the area of petty personal attacks with this statement, PG, and straying from your self-proclaimed high standards of reason and rationalness? Should I now accuse you of mounting a pro-nuke hobby horse? Your claim to keep the discussion on high ground has just been the victim of your own little tsunami, there. Washed away.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:54 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure why an anti-nuclear power viewpoint is a hobby-horse, especially if you happen to live in Tokyo, much less Tohoku. The entire approach to the March nuclear accident has been one of triage and risk management. Some people (mostly children at this point in time) will be affected by heightened radiation levels in Fukushima prefecture, as well as Tochigi, Chiba, Gunma, Tokyo and Kanagawa. It is a choice the government has made in order to facilitate other choices (avoiding uprooting about a million people in Fukushima and Koriyama, avoiding disrupting tsunami relief efforts, avoiding government responsibility for paying damages, etc).
posted by KokuRyu at 11:18 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure why an anti-nuclear power viewpoint is a hobby-horse

Characterizing it such is a patronizing way of belittling the political viewpoints of others, of casting them as unreasonable fanatics, fear-mongerers, etc. And accusing those who hold anti-nuke political views of "using" the current tragedy to their own presumably selfish and narrow political ends is another dishonest, underhanded tactic we see with depressing frequency.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:40 PM on May 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I cannot believe, absent scientific evidence, that the earth has suddenly shifted into a geologic era of constant 9.0+ earthquakes.

Are you deliberately attempting to misinterpret my statement to fit your narrative? Was I presenting this as a fact?

Also, I don't recall anyone mentioning in this thread that they believed that the earth has suddenly shifted into a geologic era of constant 9.0+ earthquakes. Did someone say that?

Covered by Bugbread.

Yes, it's enough. They're far likelier than asteroid strikes. Or, didn't you know that?

Nuclear accidents caused by tsunamis are more likely than asteroid strikes? Based on what statistical inference?

Could it be that you're venturing into the area of petty personal attacks with this statement, PG

Yeah, flapjax, that's a personal attack. Seriously. So very personal. You should flag it. It couldn't possibly be a response to this statement:

But that is what we're talking about here, though, right? Whether or not to build nukes? And/or whether or not to start shutting 'em down?

Because jeebus knows that you're the most qualified person in here to define what we can and can't talk about in this thread. When other people in the thread observe that you're coming off as fighty, you might want to step back and consider that.

Kokuryu, that was regarding quantifying risk from all factors, not just one. I personally don't like nuclear power nor would I want to live by it. But the nuclear accidents that have occurred before 3.11 don't have much commonality with each other, apart from the fact that they involved nuclear power. And I agree that the stakes from an accident involving radiation are much higher than from conventional sources. But if you look at the number of deaths vs amounts of power generated, nuclear is the lesser evil. So far. I stated upthread that I can't understand how they can't make a reactor safer if the will was there.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 11:43 PM on May 8, 2011


Holy shit, flapjax, how DO you get that third nail in?
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 11:44 PM on May 8, 2011


Holy shit, flapjax, how DO you get that third nail in?

All due respect, you're really veering here. Your recent comments addressed to me are all far fightier than anything I addressed to you. Perhaps you need to take your own advice and step back a bit.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:50 PM on May 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Perhaps not. But I am going to stop answering you. Maybe you could do the same?
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 11:54 PM on May 8, 2011


Both of you are getting fighty as hell. Fighting about who is fightier is counterproductive, and can result in the types of paradoxes they use to destroy robots in Star Trek (When you win an argument that the other guy is fightier, then by winning the argument, you have proven yourself fightier, which means you're wrong, so you lose the argument, so the other guy wins, so by winning he has proven himself fightier, which means he's wrong, so he loses the argument, so you win...etc. etc. forever infinity).
posted by Bugbread at 11:55 PM on May 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Fighting about who is fightier is counterproductive

Like I said, Bugbread, you're a damn smart guy!

I am going to stop answering you. Maybe you could do the same?

Why yes. Yes, I could do the same.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:58 PM on May 8, 2011


zardoz: Wouldn't it be great if seismologists came up with a way to plant explosives at certain depths in the crust, then detonate them in a way (here's where I wave my hands a lot) that creates teeny tiny earthquakes? So instead of a big M9, you get a thousand M3s that no one really cares about. Must. Write. Screenplay...

Induced seismicity.

Enhanced geothermal systems (EGS), a new type of geothermal power technologies that do not require natural convective hydrothermal resources, are known to be associated with induced seismicity. EGS involves pumping fluids at pressure to enhance or create permeability through the use of hydraulic fracturing techniques.

Hydraulic fracturing, aka fracking, is considered to be the source of the hundreds of earthquakes in Arkansas. ("Arkansas Earthquakes increase from 179 a year to OVER 600 in 2010"). 'Fracking' Disposal Sites Suspended, Likely Linked To Arkansas Earthquakes.

Hydraulic fracturing for stimulation of oil and natural gas wells was first used in the United States in 1947.[17][18] It was first used commercially by Halliburton in 1949,[17] and because of its success in increasing production from oil wells was quickly adopted, and is now used worldwide in tens of thousands of oil and natural gas wells annually.

Just googled hydraulic fracturing Japan and it looks like it's being thought about.

Huh, who knew rainfall near a mine could produce earthquakes. The things one learns in a tsunami/nuclear reactor thread.
posted by nickyskye at 7:34 AM on May 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Nuclear reactions in reactor 2 likely continued for ~12 days after 2011 03 11 via slashdot.

So "glass half full": That's a bit of good news for the one month anniversary, reactions seemed to have stopped.

"Glass half empty": There were reactions after shut down.

Pick your glass.
posted by ecco at 9:50 AM on May 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nuclear reactions in reactor 2 likely continued for ~12 days after 2011 03 11

Maybe more interesting is the stuff about the fuel pool at unit 4.

But then there is the comment at the bottom.... Who knows..


Much easier to figure out though, how high was the tsunami that hit Fukushima? That article says this
About an hour later, however, the facility was struck by a tsunami with waves up to 5 meters in height.
If it was really 'only' 5 meters high there, well... The highest waves on the day are said to be in the 10-20m range (well, a lot more complicated than that), if they got away with only 5m and still had these problems, that must be a colossal screw up somewhere in the system.
posted by Chuckles at 10:55 AM on May 9, 2011


I've linked to a photo either in this thread or the other one, but 10-15 meter waves hit Daiichi.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:05 AM on May 9, 2011


5 meters almost certainly refers to above ground at the site, not above sea level.

What they are saying about #4 pool is interesting in view of recently released photos and videos of the pool. Is there an inconsistency here? Perhaps there was a tiny spot of localized criticality that stopped quickly once assemblies were pushed apart by heat?

Another detail is that they say there were hydrogen explosions in 1,3 and 4 while in fact #2 also had a hydrogen explosion.
posted by rainy at 11:35 AM on May 9, 2011


One of the challenges (and there are a lot of challenges) of the long, drawn-out and complex nature of the accident at Daiichi is that it's going to be difficult to construct a narrative of what actually happened. Information gets changed, gets lost, gets replaced by new and contradictory information...
posted by KokuRyu at 11:42 AM on May 9, 2011




Chubu Electric has decided to shut down the Hamaoka power station.

I particularly liked this: "The Nagoya-based firm is also studying if it can be held responsible by shareholders if its earnings take a hit from Kan's shutdown request, which is not legally binding."

You know, I'm not going to go out on a limb and say that the people who run Hamaoka are great and selfless human beings, but it is nice to see people deciding to do something right which may cause repercussions from shareholders, and then figure out whether or not their shareholders will screw them, instead of basing their decision on whether or not their shareholders will screw them.
posted by Bugbread at 5:13 PM on May 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Chubu Electric has decided to shut down the Hamaoka power station.

Really welcome news. But there's something now I'm wondering about: it's my understanding that Hamaoka sits right on top a a fault line. Why is a tsumami the only consideration here? Won't a major earthquake centered there have likely enough disastrous effects on the plant (like, break it and make it go kablooey, to get scientific) to make them consider just shutting it down, period?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:03 PM on May 9, 2011


Sometimes the information reads like several long lists. Background and context are rarely offered, including possible health risks.

Every day, reporters stand in line for about a dozen handouts, packed with details and numbers, including lists of radioactive isotopes sometimes disturbingly over legal limits.

They ask questions — about radiation exposure levels at the region's schools, compensation Tepco must pay the residents, how much reactor core damage is suspected.

posted by KokuRyu at 8:30 PM on May 9, 2011


Wouldn't it be great if seismologists came up with a way to plant explosives at certain depths in the crust, then detonate them in a way (here's where I wave my hands a lot) that creates teeny tiny earthquakes? So instead of a big M9, you get a thousand M3s that no one really cares about. Must. Write. Screenplay...

Thousands of M3s aren't going to release anywhere near as much energy as an M9. An M4 or M5, maybe.

Further, the M3 that you feel from explosives will be the energy released by the explosion, not the energy due to plates slipping against each other. An M4 feels like a heavy truck rumbling by, so you are going to have to do some serious, nuclear-grade, damage to move the earth. And that puts you back where you don't want to be.
posted by b1tr0t at 9:42 PM on May 9, 2011


A joint survey conducted by the Japanese and U.S. governments has produced a detailed map of ground surface radioactive contamination within an 80-kilometer radius of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant:

After the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, those living in areas with more than 555,000 becquerels of cesium-137 per square meter were forced to relocate. However, the latest map shows that accumulated radioactivity exceeded this level at some locations outside the official evacuation zones, including the village of Iitate and the town of Namie.

“I am surprised by the extent of the contamination and the vast area it covers,” said Tetsuji Imanaka, assistant professor of nuclear engineering at the Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute. “This (map) will be useful in planning evacuation zones as well as the decontamination of roads and public facilities.”

posted by KokuRyu at 10:37 PM on May 9, 2011


It should be noted that the Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute probably receives no government research funding because of KyoDai's sometimes critical stance on nuclear power.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:39 PM on May 9, 2011


Slightly off-topic, but back when the nuclear situation first became evident, but way before it had reached critical levels (the day after the quake, to be precise), I made a comment making fun of fact that English-language reports were throwing around the expression "Japanese Chernobyl", not in the sense that "this may develop into Japan's Chernobyl" (which it did), but in the sense that it was already Japan's Chernobyl (which it wasn't yet). It was a fair statement, at the point that I made it. But I find it strange that it's still getting favorites, even now.
posted by Bugbread at 12:24 PM on May 10, 2011


In light of the enormity of the tsunami and the 9.0 earthquake it would seem likely that a nuclear base, right on the edge of the ocean would be massively damaged. The land that was hit by the tsunami was utterly devastated. So a nuclear plant, yikes. Most people don't know all the details about how a nuclear reactor is supposed to go into cold shutdown.

The worst case scenario was immediately considered by many and as far as nuclear reactor catastrophes the only adjective people have that means "gigantic nuclear reactor mess of historic dimensions", is the word Chernobyl. Like the Cthulu or Bogeyman of nuclear reactor messes, lol. I also posted a link early on to the Fukushima mess which likened it to Chernobyl and that was immediately attacked - at length- as impossible, unreal, crazy to suggest such a comparison. There were a tremendous amount of fancy mathematical reasons why it could not possibly be that bad, which turned out to be incorrect. Not that the math was wrong but that Fukushima is another complex situation.

In a way it doesn't serve to compare the two, Fukushima with Chernobyl. But in the general vernacular or historic memory there has, until now, only been Chernobyl as a concept for something this horrible when it comes to nuke disasters.

The day after the tsunami and the one following, March 12 and 13, when Fukushima blew, twice, there were a lot of people on the web who speculated this was a major source of concern, in spite of the government assurances. Japan nuclear crisis: Timeline of official statements

Confusion and suspicion can make for greater fear. Even more panic. I do wish both the Japanese government and Tepco had tried to be more transparent, allowed people to have reasonable fear, respond appropriately, intelligently, rather than doubt the source of critical information.

RT video with Dr Robert Jacobs : A small group of evacuees have briefly been allowed inside the exclusion zone around Japan's damaged Fukushima nuclear plant. For the first time, the government gave permission for short visits so people could gather belongings and check on their properties. Meanwhile, a recent map of contamination released by Japan shows high levels of radiation well outside the evacuation zone. Dr Robert Jacobs can help shed more light on this. He's a Research Associate Professor of Nuclear History and Culture at the Hiroshima Peace Institute.

Sounds from that video that Reactor #4 building is leaning and in danger of falling. Work started to shore up building. That building has a much larger quantity of spent fuel rods.

Re the radiation map: “I am surprised by the extent of the contamination and the vast area it covers,” said Tetsuji Imanaka, assistant professor of nuclear engineering at the Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute. “This (map) will be useful in planning evacuation zones as well as the decontamination of roads and public facilities.”

The map confirms in greater detail what was already known: most of the leaked radioactive material went to the northwest, with relatively high amounts reaching areas slightly outside of the 30-kilometer evacuation zone. Iiitate, which is outside the original evacuation zone, yet is covered with a streak of red on the map, is in the process of being evacuated.

Ouch, it looks like Iitate needs to be evacuated. It is 40 kilometers to the northwest.

UPDATE 1-Tepco may report net loss of $12.46 bln for FY2010 - Nikkei
posted by nickyskye at 12:47 PM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


"I also posted a link early on to the Fukushima mess which likened it to Chernobyl and that was immediately attacked - at length- as impossible, unreal, crazy to suggest such a comparison. There were a tremendous amount of fancy mathematical reasons why it could not possibly be that bad, which turned out to be incorrect. Not that the math was wrong but that Fukushima is another complex situation."

Do you remember a poster named EtherealBligh? I really liked him, but a lot of MeFites found him completely exasperating. The reason I liked him (and others didn't) is that he was very, very precise and detailed in what he said. He laid out the background for what he was about to say before saying it. It made every comment of his a little novella, but if the format didn't bother you, then he was admirably precise.

I think a lot of the reason we have friction (on this topic, and others, but specifically in ongoing-situation issues) is that people value brevity more than precision. I don't think I was one of the people who argued that your position was impossible, unreal, or crazy, but maybe I was. If I was, what I probably should have said (and what the people in that older thread were (hopefully) thinking) was that "given the information we have, the conclusions in that link seem unwarranted, but were there to be other facts which have not yet been presented, they might be valid." That's a lot less snappy than "Those conclusions are unwarranted", though, so people don't say it much.

I think the turning point in the discussion came with the information that there was nuclear material in storage pools. Once that was placed on the table, people's opinions (including my own) changed.
posted by Bugbread at 1:21 PM on May 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


No this is heartening news for a politician. Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan said Tuesday that he will give up his salary until the nuclear crisis in the country is over.

YAY, I really respect that. Good move Naoto Kan.

people value brevity more than precision

Aww thanks dear Bugbread for saying what you did. So nice of you. :) Yes, I have irritated a number of my dear MeFite friends for being long winded and wanting more information to come out on both the Fukushima and OBL issue, for having doubts about the mainstream press information and wanting more sources of information to come into the informational equation than the official or corporate skewed pr.

I feel very badly that I exasperate anyone.

On occasion, waiting for information to come out ends up being warranted. Fukushima is just such a situation.

The more it came out about Tepco's history of misdeeds and the governments complicity, the less likely what they said seemed credible and the more likely the radiation was worse than they were saying. That is just what happened at Chernobyl, which I had just been studying on my own before the Fukushima disaster happened.

Yes, well Ethereal Bligh, with whom I was in telephone conversational touch and considered a friend, was/is way better educated and way smarter than I am about many things. I wish I could compare my verbosity with his, LOL, but I cannot. He was/is a brilliant thinker.

I'm long winded because I'm a slow thinker, LOL, a person who mulls, gathers info slowly from many sources before coming to a conclusion. On occasion I have my doubts and stick with them, usually without voicing them, until figuring out what's what. Unfortunately for my MeFite friends, I have voiced my slow witted doubts here on the blue about both Fukushima and OBL.

In future, I'll try not to voice my doubts because I really don't have the ability to argue well at all, and knew that all along. All I can offer are links to information, other people's thoughts, with which I hope to make civil conversation and be educated.
posted by nickyskye at 3:05 PM on May 10, 2011


* Drat, meant to write Now this is heartening news
posted by nickyskye at 3:06 PM on May 10, 2011


It was a fair statement, at the point that I made it. But I find it strange that it's still getting favorites, even now.

People cling hard to what they want to believe. Could be one reason.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:18 PM on May 10, 2011


Japan is going toscrap all plans for new reactors. Kan announced that the plan from last year to bring nuclear power generation up to cover 50% of Japan's power needs is now off the table.

The NYT article mentions him saying that Japan will need to work on developing renewable resources and conservation. I'm interested in seeing where this will lead, and maybe it will turn out for the best. It's going to be a while, though, before this stuff (wind, solar, geothermal?) is up and running and meeting demand. If I wasn't embarrassed enough by earlier predictions, I am now, and I thoroughly retract my initial prediction (which I made before hearing about the tsunami or Tepco) that everything in Kanto would be back to normal by about March 15th, or the Tuesday after the quake.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:53 PM on May 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Japan's Prime Minister Naoto Kan said Tuesday that he will give up his salary until the nuclear crisis in the country is over.

Japan is going toscrap all plans for new reactors.


OK, Kan is my new hero. I mean, really. This is some of the most unexpected, radically progressive shit from a Japanese politician ever. EH. VER.

I am really impressed.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:18 PM on May 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Kan is not a very competent leader, but, unusually, his heart is often in the right place. His image may be slightly marred by the fact that after railing against the LDP for having so many politicians who weren't paying their pensions, it was discovered that he himself wasn't paying either, but that said, he was the one who, when appointed Minister of Health, led an investigation that turned up documents fingering the Ministry of Health as implicable, despite the Ministry having claimed for the past seven years that no such documents existed.
posted by Bugbread at 5:35 PM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, he has a checkered past, for sure. But by god if he ain't redeeming himself here and now with these actions and statements. The guy is really cutting through some bullshit and entrenched power here, and I hope he gets wide popular support in his efforts.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:39 PM on May 10, 2011


I'm surprised by your reactions. It certainly didn't take much to turn those frowns upside down.

Me, I'd prefer to see docs released, see some serious public inquiries into The State of Nuclear Plants, maybe see some TEPCO executives go to jail…

What sort of cesium was found beyond the exclusion zone—eg. chunks of rod, or single atoms from rainfall/fallout? And how much—should the exclusion zone be expanded? How many people were within this area at the time of the event?
posted by five fresh fish at 6:03 PM on May 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised by your reactions. It certainly didn't take much to turn those frowns upside down.

Oh, don't worry, mr. fish, my frown ain't upside down just yet. Still plenty to be very unhappy and deeply concerned about. But I am happy about Kan's pronouncements, no doubt about that.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:19 PM on May 10, 2011


OK, Kan is my new hero.

I don't know, it seems as though the longterm outlook for the Japanese economy is pretty dire.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:44 PM on May 10, 2011


the longterm outlook for the Japanese economy is pretty dire.

In related news: water, wet. Fire, hot. Seriously, though, Japan's economic outlook has been dire for so long, if it suddenly started looking up, everyone would wander around wondering what to do. It certainly looks worse, and all signs point to a temporary* 3% bump to the consumption tax to help pay for the disaster. Every time they've done anything with the tax (introducing it, raising it from 3 to the current 5%), the economy has stalled again. Raising the tax to 8% will kill any kind of consumption. Of course, they could cut back on some of their Overseas Development Assistance (ODA), like, say, the billions they pay to countries to get them to vote in favor of whale hunting, but that's not likely to happen.

So, yeah, dark times ahead. But times have been dark. We're getting used to it. Having most of the lights off (in the actual reality of day to day life, not metaphorically) is kind of nice.


* Temporary? Hahah. Ha. Hahahahahaha.
posted by Ghidorah at 11:08 PM on May 10, 2011


I guess my point was that after the decision to close down Hamaoka, the power cuts are going to deal a body blow to Japanese industry, and the jobs are not going to come back. As well, back in March and early April, it was quite astounding to hear politicians and Tepco leadership propose long-term rolling blackouts for industry. Japan needs jobs and revenue to get through this crisis.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:45 AM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was also going to say that if Kan is your hero, what is he going to do about raised safety limits for radiation in parts of Fukushima outside the evacuation zone, especially schools, etc. That's pretty fucked up.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:47 AM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's pretty fucked up.

Hey, agreed, absolutely. But really, I'd think that my "my new hero" comment would be taken in the spirit of "hey, this is some really great and very unexpected stuff he's doing and saying" and not "oh god, this guy is the Second Coming, all our problems are solved". I mean, he's a politician, fer chrissakes, not a messiah. But good grief, look what he's done over just the past, what, 3 days? He suggested (which, coming from the PM, in Japan, is akin to an order) that Hamaoka be shut down, then he announced he'd forego his PM salary until the crisis is "resolved", then he announces that plans for new nukes will be scrapped, and actually invokes the word "conservation" (gasp!), along with mentioning alternative and renewable energy strategies... I mean, my god, you don't think that's pretty fucking amazing?

And though I wouldn't put money on it, at this point I wouldn't be all that surprised if he does address the raised acceptability levels in some way or another. It's entirely possible that he won't, but even if he doesn't, I will still remain impressed and pleased with what he's done these last few days.

I also think that in light of the current nuclear crisis, it is just astonishingly refreshing to see that economic concerns do not every single time and in every single situation imaginable trump environmental and health concerns. It's a myopic focus on the economy the economy the economy and the economy that's led us to the current malaise, after all, and we need to start really talking and acting as though there are actually other matters of concern. My whole life I've been hearing the same litany, the constant drumbeat that the economy is always of paramount importance: more important than the environment. That's got to change, at least a little.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 8:12 AM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Interesting Cryptome post about the shutdown of Yucca Mountain and potential accumulation of nuclear waste, with a link to a full US government (GAO) pdf report on the situation.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:35 PM on May 11, 2011


Interesting article on what KokuRyu mentioned, on where Japan goes from here, and what will happen to the economy.

The fishing/seafood industry, as mentioned in the article, is pretty seriously screwed. There was a segment on the news the other night showing a man in Ibaraki talking about his abalone (which I guess can be farmed indoors, which I hadn't known) farming operation, talking about how the damage to his shop has set him back three years. In the drained, empty tanks, you could see dead abalone, which at wholesale, Tsukiji prices sell at $50 a pop. Even if he manages to pay for repairs, he won't be able to actually start selling for another 3 years.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:32 PM on May 11, 2011


Japan's government is planning to inject about $62 billion into a fund to help Tokyo Electric Power compensate victims of the crisis at its nuclear plant and save Asia's largest utility from financial ruin.
posted by nickyskye at 8:16 PM on May 11, 2011




Choice quote from Ghidorah's Hiroko Tabuchi article above:

“What are the new industries that will support Japan’s future? That’s the question Japan must ask as it rebuilds,” said Ryutaro Kono, economist for Japan at BNP Paribas.

That's what I was getting at when I was talking about the Hamaoka plant shutdown dealing a body blow to Japanese industry.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:23 AM on May 12, 2011


Edible critters, many of them starving, in exclusion zone - up to 20 kms- to be slaughtered.

Evacuees who made brief home visits to their village in the no-entry zone around the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant Tuesday found it an exhausting experience, and some of them were far from happy. In a test case for planned home visits by other evacuees, the government allowed 92 people from 54 households of Kawauchimura to return home for two hours to pick up personal belongings. About 27,000 households are permitted to make such visits. (Yomiuri)

Storyteller works to cheer Japan tsunami victims

The Unite For Japan website has raised over $300,000 for relief efforts.
posted by nickyskye at 10:30 AM on May 12, 2011


Tepco: Fukushima Fuel Rods Are Fully Exposed

The implication is that most of the fuel rods have melted in No. 1, and there are also holes in the reactor vessel; highly radioactive coolant water that has been in contact with this lump of melted "corium" is leaking out of the holes, and will make cleanup more difficult (than it was already).

Engineers have no way of observing the inside of the reactor vessel, and are instead extrapolating conditions, and the other reactors (2, 3) may be in the same condition, or they may not.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:42 PM on May 12, 2011 [1 favorite]




nickyskye, thanks for that last article. I've noticed an increasing media black out on fukushima and its very frightening. Now they are stopping the testing, and its even more scary.
posted by zia at 12:58 PM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


So true, zia. The only decent updates I can find are via Twitter, which I think is, frankly, an outrage.

The latest Arnie Gundersen video. One yikes after another.

Japanese authorities admit nuclear reactor had meltdown, ABC Radio, May 13, 2011

TEPCO says water has leaked from one of the reactors, exposing fuel rods and trigging their meltdown. The news doesn't get any better with seawater samples near another reactor showing levels of radioactive caesium at 18-thousand times the legal limit.

Off the Scale: Radiation in No. 1 reactor building exceeds 1,000 millisieverts per hour — Levels too high for Geiger counter to measure May 13th, 2011 (In Japanese)

Fears that Reactor No. 3 “which contains MOX plutonium fuel, may have also suffered a meltdown” May 13th, 2011
posted by nickyskye at 5:51 PM on May 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


sigh...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:58 PM on May 13, 2011


Aww, flapjax. Sending you a hug alll the way from New Yawk.

Researchers- Hawaii may get hit with trash from Japans tsunami
posted by nickyskye at 6:54 PM on May 13, 2011


Children Don Masks, Hats in Fukushima as Radiation Looms

This is unconscionable to put these children's lives in danger of a lifetime of misery by cancer and radiation side effects!
posted by nickyskye at 10:31 PM on May 13, 2011


Again, I must again suggest following this thread and others at Physics Forum.

It is now well over 7,000 posts... and growing...
posted by PROD_TPSL at 9:06 PM on May 14, 2011


As I was saying upthread about the plant to shut down Hamaoka only until they get a new seawall against tsunami in place: Why is a tsumami the only consideration here? Won't a major earthquake centered there have likely enough disastrous effects on the plant (like, break it and make it go kablooey, to get scientific) to make them consider just shutting it down, period?

Well, whadda ya know... maybe it wasn't just the tsunami that's at the root of Fukushima's problem. Key facilities in Fukushima plant could have collapsed before tsunami.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:28 AM on May 15, 2011 [2 favorites]




Those ten lessons are brilliantly said.
posted by nickyskye at 11:33 AM on May 15, 2011


Highly radioactive substances detected in Tokyo — Higher than what was found near Fukushima plant

Private testing finds high concentration of Plutonium in soil over 30 miles from Fukushima — “Very high radiation that is very different to what the gov’t released”
May 15th, 2011 at 02:06 AM
(In Japanese) | Translation via yakiniku at Physics Forum

Arnie Gundersen was totally correct in what he said about the kids needing to get further away from Fukushima.

Today the IAEA has finally confirmed what some analysts have suspected for days: that the concentration per area of long-lived cesium-137 (Cs-137) is extremely high as far as tens of kilometers from the release site at Fukushima Dai-Ichi, and in fact would trigger compulsory evacuation under IAEA guidelines. …

[I]t is now abundantly clear that Japanese authorities were negligent in restricting the emergency evacuation zone to only 20 kilometers from the release site.


“Very high levels of contamination” far away from Fukushima exclusion zone — More than double amount Soviets set for “relocation” at Chernobyl
posted by nickyskye at 12:02 PM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Private testing finds high concentration of Plutonium in soil over 30 miles from Fukushima — “Very high radiation that is very different to what the gov’t released”
May 15th, 2011 at 02:06 AM


That article seemed incredibly fishy, and googling around has shown that there are quite a few other people who agree. An unnamed food manufacturer has performed plutonium testing, and found insanely high levels of plutonium, but has decided not to announce it yet, as the effects would be too great. This was not reported by a whistleblower, but announced by the unnamed food manufacturer.

What?

An anonymous food manufacturer announced that it was not announcing that it had found high levels of plutonium in dirt? And what they were testing wasn't food or food products, but dirt? And they were testing for plutonium? Which, I guess, makes them really really cautious (no food manufacturers are testing for plutonium). Except: why are they testing? If they were testing in order to determine if it were safe to sell their product, well, that makes sense...Except they aren't going to announce what they announced, because of the effect it would have (on business)? So if they performed testing, and plutonium levels were low, they'd sell their product. On the other hand, if they performed testing, and the plutonium levels were high, they'd still sell the product. The only difference is that, while selling the product anyway, they've gone through the trouble and expense to amass evidence against themselves in the case of a future lawsuit.
posted by Bugbread at 2:20 PM on May 15, 2011


I'm really impressed by the high quality of filtered links we're being provided.

Why, I feel as if I can trust MetaFilter as much as I trust TEPCO!
posted by five fresh fish at 2:45 PM on May 15, 2011


While I agree with Bugbread's comment above about the Tokyo plutonium link looking very fishy, and that nickyskye probably shouldn't have linked to it here, one thought certainly came to mind upon reading this comment:

I'm really impressed by the high quality of filtered links we're being provided.

Why, I feel as if I can trust MetaFilter as much as I trust TEPCO!


I'd like to counter that little bit of viciousness with a hearty thank you to nickyskye for her tireless efforts here over recent days. She has provided us with a multitude of links relevant to the unfolding catastrophe. Comparing her efforts here to TEPCO's history of lies, obfuscation and under reporting, based on one questionable link, is not only mean spirited but also just flat out wrong.

Metafilter user five fresh fish owes her an apology.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:33 PM on May 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


Thanks flapjax.

You know fff, I put links up because they seem to have interesting information and are related to the Fukushima crisis, which has been horribly neglected by the mainstream press in the West, not because I think - or know- the articles are Gospel or The Ultimate Truth. MetaFilter is a place to share links and discuss them. It's possible to disagree with something or point out information in a civil way, in the spirit of friendly conversation, rather than with insults and meanness.

Maybe more information will come out to validate or negate that article in the coming weeks? I certainly hope it is negated. If you have a link negating the article, please, by all means, do share it. :)

Fukushima’s No 3 reactor has been of particular concern as it contains plutonium-uranium mixed oxide fuel or MOX, and would release highly toxic plutonium in the event of a meltdown.

And, guess what? There's been a partial meltdown in Reactor 3. So maybe it has been released?

TEPCO trying to “prevent re-criticality” at Reactor No. 3 — Temperature soaring in pressure vessel, up over 100°F in 24 hours even after increasing water injection
posted by nickyskye at 5:45 PM on May 15, 2011


flapjax at midnite: “I'd like to counter that little bit of viciousness with a hearty thank you to nickyskye for her tireless efforts here over recent days. She has provided us with a multitude of links relevant to the unfolding catastrophe. Comparing her efforts here to TEPCO's history of lies, obfuscation and under reporting, based on one questionable link, is not only mean spirited but also just flat out wrong.”

Hear, hear. I haven't commented here in weeks, but I read this thread every day; and one of the big reasons is nickyskye's regular roundups of interesting things about this from around the internet. I don't think it's fair at all to suggest that that's being done as some kind of propaganda thing; she's got her opinions, and she's expressed them, but she also hasn't hesitated to post important things she might disagree with or on which she doesn't have an opinion. And I, for one, respect and value that.
posted by koeselitz at 6:43 PM on May 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


It would be great if the "pro-nuclear" folks could actually provide some insight into what's happening in Fukushima, rather than declaring that cars and coal kill more people every day. A couple of people asked for more information about the implications of a meltdown, and none of the "pro-nuclear" folks had anything to say, other than that the end of nuclear power will cause famine and strife. It makes me wonder if the "pro-nuclear" people actually understand the basics of nuclear power.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:17 PM on May 15, 2011


Well said, KokuRyu. Really, whether they are pro or con nuclear energy, it would be constructive if somebody knowledgeable offered their thoughts on what the meltdown implications are/might be at this stage.

According to Kent Hansen, a nuclear systems engineer at MIT, there are 10 or 12 different designs for containment vessels in the world, and the Fukushima facility uses one of the earliest designs.
posted by nickyskye at 7:34 PM on May 15, 2011


I'm sorry; I should not conflate behaviors in the bin Laden thread with behaviors in this thread. I apologize for that. I should have assumed the best.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:35 PM on May 15, 2011


Out of curiosity, do these "pro-nuclear people" have names?
posted by five fresh fish at 7:39 PM on May 15, 2011


My "behaviors" in any thread have always been to participate in a civil conversation, whether I agree or disagree with the person posting a link, comment or the content of a link.
posted by nickyskye at 7:42 PM on May 15, 2011


Out of curiosity, do these "pro-nuclear people" have names?

Any of the folks who attempt to divert the discussion of what is happening at the Fukushima reactor complex into a discussion about how nuclear energy will save the world.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:37 PM on May 15, 2011


I saw the reports last week that #1 had a full meltdown. Since then I've been waiting for the IAEA to say something. Their last update was on the 11th and so far they've had nothing to say. I've been relying on them as a fair broker of information.

Knowing only that 1) water level in #1 was well below the fuel assembly and 2) there hasn't been a big change in the temperature, I'll make the uniformed wild-ass guess that the meltdown happened about or shortly afterwards the hydrogen explosion. Likewise, the leak in the vessel probably happened at the same time.

I don't know of a previous full melt-down, so it's anybody's guess where we go from here. If it's all in a pile of "corium" at the bottom of the vessel, it could hardly get any worse. It's definitely a whole new ball game. Any planning so far didn't take this into account, so there's bound to be a period while they try to come up with a new plan.

I'm going to wait and see what the IAEA has to say about it.

In other news, the guy at the feed store tells my sister they ship a lot of alfalfa to Japan. Now that they are slaughtering a lot of the herds he's worried that much of this year's export crop will go unsold. He was saying that he's never paid so much for hay.

On the other hand, once they get the herds reestablished, there may be an increased demand for clean fodder. According to the intertubes, exports are about 5% of production. I'd guess the high prices are partly due to rising fuel costs.
posted by warbaby at 8:40 PM on May 15, 2011


Tepco is saying the fuel started melting about 5 hours after earthquake and melted completely or almost completely after about 16 hours.

They also say it is in a pool of corium at the bottom, but that's ok because it's being cooled by the water that can only gather at the bottom because of leaks.

This is not the worst that can happen. The worst would be if cooling process is disrupted and fuel goes critical or otherwise heats up and gets in contact with water in the basement and causes a new explosion, which would be much dirtier than previous ones if much of fuel pours out of containment. Hopefully none of this happens but they're not exactly on top of things right now..

In related news, they detected radiation levels of up to 2,000 mSv in reactor building 1, which makes it very dangerous / nearly impossible to work in those areas (although some parts of the same building have relatively low radiation levels).
posted by rainy at 8:49 PM on May 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Heap, not pool of corium. It's not liquid.

I said hardly get any worse. We've already been through a period without cooling at the beginning of the disaster. Now they're injecting nitrogen and have some cooling.

Though at this point, there's always a worse case, but this is pretty worse. It could get worser, but doesn't look like it now. But we're running out of degrees of worse.
posted by warbaby at 9:06 PM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, I meant it's in a shape of a pool, but cooled down - then again it's not really clear if water gets enough contact to cool it throughout. It might be still melted at the center for all we know. They're measuring the temperature of outer side of containment, they can deduce that water has some cooling effect but they don't know how much water is at the bottom and how much it can cool before leaking out.

There was time without cooling in the beginning but they were able to restore cooling before fuel melted through the containment - that's the key thing. Hydrogen explosion in outer containment is much better than steam explosion in the basement.
posted by rainy at 9:38 PM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


More on the implications: never mind the 9 months, a cold shutdown is going to be nearly impossible.
posted by warbaby at 10:00 PM on May 15, 2011


Reactor No. 1 core had total meltdown and uranium fuel may be outside containment building — Nuclear reaction could have restarted

Meanwhile, the Disaster at Fukushima Continues, The Atlantic, May 16, 2011 [Emphasis Added] As Nature News’ Geoff Brumfiel reports, workers went into the unit recently “to recalibrate some of the sensors on the reactor.” Much to their surprise and dismay, they found that the core experienced a total meltdown. The zirconium alloy tubes that hold the uranium fuel pellets during normal operation all warped and the uranium is now lying at the bottom of the pressure vessel, or possibly even outside of it in the basement below or outside the concrete containment building. With all the fuel piled up at the bottom, there is some danger that the nuclear reaction could have restarted. As of now, engineers on the scene aren’t sure what happened.

Understanding the complete meltdown at Fukushima unit 1, Nature.com, May 13, 2011

[...] Reactor restart? [...]

Some have theorized that with all the fuel at the bottom of the vessel, unit 1 may have actually restarted its nuclear reactions. If that had happened, the fuel would be pumping out some portion of its normal 1380 megawatts of thermal power—probably enough to melt through the thick steal reactor pressure vessel. It would have dropped onto a concrete slab below (the basemat), where it would have hopefully been spread out, effectively diffusing the chain reaction. [...]

[A] note from the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum (JAIF) quotes Banri Kaieda, the nation’s Economy, Trade and Industry Minister, as saying that it is “a fact” that there were holes created by the meltdown. That would likely mean at least some of the uranium fuel is now lying on the basemat below, or perhaps even outside the concrete containment. [...]

Cesium found near drainage gates at Reactors No. 5 and 6

Tokyo Electric Power Company says it measured 200 becquerels of cesium-134 per cubic centimeter on Sunday morning near the water intake of the No. 3 reactor. The level was higher than on the previous day, when it was 2,300 times the legal limit. [...]

TEPCO also reported 2,100 times the legal limit of radioactive iodine was found in seawater near the water intake of the No. 2 reactor. Three points among four research areas along the shoreline also exceeded the legal limit. And 1.7 times the legal limit of Cesium was found close to drainage gates near the No. 5 and No. 6 reactors.

Japan extends the exclusion zone around Fukushima, ABC Australia, May 16, 2011

After the operator of the plant, TEPCO, told the Japanese people that things were stabilising at Fukushima, it’s now clear they knew far less about the situation than they were willing to admit.

Moody’s cuts TEPCO credit rating after today’s news about Reactors No. 2 and 3, saying damage at plant “appears worse than previously indicated” May 16th, 2011 at 10:28 AM

Japanese authorities admit nuclear reactor had meltdown, "A meltdown of the fuel makes cooling very difficult," says nuclear expert Nobuyuki Mizuno.

Large amount of saltwater found in Reactor No. 5 at Hamaoka nuclear plantTrying to stop reactor from eroding

UCB Food Chain Sampling Results for fruits and vegetables in Northern California
posted by nickyskye at 9:27 AM on May 16, 2011


Just in case anyone's interested, here is the latest email from the US embassy to us folks living in Japan (please note that the embassy's messages have consistently been stricter than the Japanese government's position):
May 16, 2011

This Travel Alert replaces the Travel Alert for Japan dated April 14, 2011. The U.S. Government is updating its recommendation on the safe use of the Tohoku Expressway and the Tohoku Shinkansen Railway through the 50-mile evacuation area. Using the same analysis we would use in a similar situation in the United States, the U.S. Government believes it is safe for U.S. citizens to use the railway and expressway for transit through the area. Other portions of this Travel Alert remain unchanged from the Alert published on April 14. This Travel Alert expires on July 15, 2011.

Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant

The assessment of technical and subject matter experts across United States Government agencies is that while the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi plant remains serious and dynamic, the health and safety risks to areas beyond the 50-mile evacuation zone, and particularly to Tokyo, Nagoya (Aichi Prefecture), Yokohama (Kanagawa Prefecture), nearby U.S. military facilities, and the prefectures of Akita, Aomori, Chiba, Gunma, Iwate, Nagano, Niigata, Saitama, Shizuoka, Tochigi, and Yamanashi, and those portions of Fukushima, Ibaraki, Miyagi and Yamagata prefectures which are outside a 50-mile radius of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant are low and do not pose significant risks to U.S. citizens.

This analysis takes into consideration both various age groups and the classification of the severity of the situation at Fukushima Daiichi as a Level 7 event by the Government of Japan, which reflects what has transpired since the initial incident and the potential long-term effects in the area surrounding the plant.

This assessment reflects inputs from our national laboratories as well as the unanimous opinion of the U.S. scientific experts on the ground in Japan. Furthermore, they are consistent with practices that would be taken in the United States in such a situation. Based on the much reduced rate of heat generation in the reactor fuel after one month of cooling and the corresponding decay of short-lived radioactive isotopes, even in the event of an unexpected disruption at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, harmful exposures to people beyond the 50-mile evacuation zone are highly unlikely, and there would be a significant amount of time to best assess any steps that might have to be taken.

The situation at the plant is dramatically different today than it was on March 16, when we saw significant ongoing releases of radioactivity, the loss of effective means to cool the reactor cores and spent fuel, the absence of outside power or fresh water supply for emergency management, and considerable uncertainty about the condition of the site. Today, while the situation remains serious, and there is still a possibility of unanticipated developments, cooling efforts are ongoing and successful, power, water supply, and back-up services have been partially or fully restored, and planning has begun to control radioactive contamination and mitigate future dangers. Our coordination with the Japanese is regular and productive, and we have a greatly increased capacity to measure and analyze risks.

On April 14, 2011, the Department of State lifted Voluntary Authorized Departure, allowing dependents of U.S. government employees to return to Japan.

Out of an abundance of caution, we continue to recommend that U.S. citizens avoid travel within the 50-mile radius of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant. U.S. citizens who are still within this radius should evacuate or shelter in place.

Though the U.S. Government is not currently making changes to its recommendation to avoid travel to the 50-mile radius, we are updating the recommendation on the safe use of the Tohoku Expressway and the Tohoku Shinkansen Railway through the 50-mile evacuation area. These transport routes are currently open to public use. The U.S. Government believes it is safe for U.S. citizens to use the railway and expressway to transit through the area. This updated decision is based on measurements taken by U.S. Government scientists; more information may be found at the Department of Energy website, http://blog.energy.gov/content/situation-japan/.
posted by Bugbread at 12:53 PM on May 16, 2011




nickyskye, i just reposted the nature.com link in the other thread...
posted by KokuRyu at 1:11 PM on May 16, 2011


Ah, I didn't realize there was a new thread. I think I'll be moving there, then.
posted by Bugbread at 1:18 PM on May 16, 2011




Not exactly sure what this is, but if you speak Japanese, you might be able to make heads or tails out of it.

NHK Special 1-6 network map made radioactive contamination from nuclear accident two months

NHK ETV Special "create a network map of radioactive contamination" of the video and more
posted by nickyskye at 6:52 PM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hi nickyskye, the videos are pretty interesting. I'll try to create a short gloss sometime in the next day or so (when I get some sleep!)
posted by KokuRyu at 10:33 PM on May 16, 2011








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