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Contamination Spreads: Nelle's Fukushima Update Aug. 2, 2011

Japan Update August 2, 2011
by Nelle Maxey
Contamination everywhere in the news today. Here is the government's solution to the contaminated fertilizer (composted leaf mold or manure) issue. A little radioactive contamination is okay with them.

Govt sets new criteria for contaminated fertilizer:

Japan's government has laid down a new set of criteria for the use of fertilizers that may be contaminated with radioactive cesium.

On Tuesday, the agriculture ministry urged farmers not to use humus and compost that contain 400 becquerels of cesium per kilogram or more. It also called on them not to use livestock feed containing 300 becquerels of cesium per kilogram or more. For fish feed, the limit was set at 100 becquerels per kilogram.

The ministry says it will notify local governments how to measure cesium in fertilizers as soon as possible.

Last week, the agriculture ministry asked famers and fertilizer producers in 17 prefectures in eastern and central Japan to voluntarily
refrain from using or selling compost and humus made from fallen leaves possibly contaminated with radioactive cesium.

This was after humus shipped from Tochigi Prefecture was found to be contaminated with radioactive substances.
Tuesday, August 02, 2011 17:55 +0900 (JST)

Beef sales ban in a 4th prefecture.
Govt bans shipments of Tochigi beef cattle:

Japan's government has ordered Tochigi Prefecture to suspend its shipments of beef cattle due to fears of radioactive contamination.

The government ordered the ban on Tuesday after beef from 4 head of cattle shipped from 2 municipalities in the prefecture was found to contain unsafe amounts of radioactive cesium.

Cesium contamination was also detected in rice straw used to feed beef cattle in the prefecture.

Tochigi is the fourth prefecture ordered to suspend beef cattle shipments, following Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate.

The government says it will allow resumption of shipments if radiation levels of all beef from farms whose shipments and feed were  
contaminated, as well as beef from other farms, fall below the government standard.

Tochigi says it will test all of its beef cattle, but the prefecture ships up to 55,000 head of cattle per year, and fewer than 30,000 can  
be processed locally.

The government is to ask the prefecture to draw up realistic plans for resuming shipments, such as limiting the number of cattle to be shipped.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011 18:07 +0900 (JST)

Schizuoka becomes another prefecture to check for contamination in this year's rice crop.
Shizuoka begins checking rice for radiation:

Shizuoka Prefecture, central Japan, has begun checking locally grown rice for radiation to prove its safety.

The prefectural government brought 2 kilograms of rice in their husks from Kikugawa city to a private testing institution. The early-ripening variety of the rice will be harvested soon.

Shizuoka plans to announce the result of the test on Wednesday.

The farmer who provided the sample rice says he hopes the test will certify the safety of his product.

Shizuoka Prefecture is checking 36 food items including milk and wasabi horseradish. As for rice, the prefecture plans to inspect produce from 3 others areas in early October.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011 20:54 +0900 (JST)

More HIGH radioactivity readings at the plant (in Unit 1) are reported today.

High radioactivity level at reactor building:

The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says it has detected the highest confirmed indoor level of radioactivity at the facility since the March accident.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, said on Tuesday that the level in a room on the second floor of the Number One reactor building was 5,000 millisieverts per hour.

The utility restricted access to the room, saying it will consider measures to block the radioactivity and that it has no immediate plans
for operations needed in the room to bring the troubled reactor under control.

TEPCO says the level was detected because pipes running through the room were used to vent air containing radioactive substances from the reactor on March 12th.

On Monday, a level of 10,000 millisieverts per hour was detected near pipes outside the building.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011 20:24 +0900 (JST)

Energy News carried 3 stories related to these latest high radiation counts discovered at the plant.

This one is from Mainichi News:
TEPCO needs to check if high radiation doses are “spreading elsewhere” — Two more spots appear to be above 10 sieverts per hour, but no plans to actually take measurements:

This one is from Australia's ABC News:

10+ sieverts per hour means there is direct exposure to fuel rods: Australia’s former top radiation official

Quotes from Peter Burns, former chief executive officer of the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency
         “The levels reported of 10 sieverts per hour are very high levels and it’s going to be very difficult to manage workers going into those areas and doing operations.”

               “10 sieverts is actually a lethal dose of radiation. So you can’t afford to be exposed for more than a few minutes at those  

           “It means you’re directly exposed to fuel rods in the reactors or the spent fuel ponds very closely and while it’s possible to get to those levels it means there is very little shielding going on there.”

And this from the New York Times: Fatal Radiation Level Found at Fukushima Daiichi Plant

New York Times by Martin Fackler, August 1, 2011:
     The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant said Monday that it measured the highest radiation levels within the plant since it was crippled by a devastating earthquake. However, it said the discovery would not slow continuing efforts to bring the plant’s damaged reactors under control.

    The operator, Tokyo Electric Power, said that workers on Monday afternoon had found an area near Reactors No. 1 and 2, where radiation levels exceeded their measuring device’s maximum reading of 10 sieverts per hour — a fatal dose for humans. [...]

Finally the government begins to coordinate radiation monitoring.
Govt to conduct comprehensive radiation monitoring:

Japan's government has decided to start comprehensive radiation monitoring this year by coordinating organizations that have been
checking radiation levels since the Fukushima nuclear accident in March.

The government decided on the plan on Tuesday in response to criticism about difficulty in referring to results of such checks by various ministries, agencies, prefectural governments and utilities.

The plan divides monitoring activities into 6 fields including air, water, farm soil and grass, and food.

Organizations are to be in charge of monitoring and analyzing results in each field and proposing concrete measures.

The government is to set up about 250 monitoring points across the country and draw up maps showing radiation levels at children's facilities, such as schools and public libraries.

The science ministry is expected to set up a website to provide such data by mid-August.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011 19:33 +0900 (JST)

And on the political front, more past government/industry collusion revealed, local politicians and the public increase their demands, and Tokoyo University begins low level radiation health study.

Nuclear agency's meddling revealed again:

Another case of questionable conduct by Japan's nuclear regulator has come to light. A former official of the nuclear safety agency has admitted asking a regional utility to mobilize its people for a government symposium on nuclear power 5 years ago.

One of the agency's former section chiefs told NHK that he made the request to an executive of Shikoku Electric Power Company ahead of the symposium in Ehime Prefecture.

The former section chief said he pushed the utility to take part actively in the event by posing questions and expressing opinions. He  said he wanted its participation because opponents of nuclear power had prevented constructive debate at a similar symposium the previous year.

The former section chief denied that his aim was to manipulate public opinion. Still, Shikoku Electric mobilized retired employees and people from its affiliates, providing some of them with samples of the desired questions and opinions.

The theme of the symposium was the planned use of mixed uranium-and-plutonium fuel at the utility's nuclear plant in the  
prefecture. Back then, the company was waiting for local approval to start this method of power generation.

Earlier, another utility --- Chubu Electric --- reported that the nuclear safety agency had asked it to make sure that questions in favor
of nuclear power be asked at a government symposium in 2007.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011 09:39 +0900 (JST)

Hiroshima mayor to call for energy review:

Hiroshima's mayor will call on the Japanese government to review its energy policy in an annual peace declaration on August 6th, the day the city was hit by a US atomic bomb in 1945.

At a news conference on Tuesday, Mayor Kazumi Matsui said Japanese people have lost their trust in nuclear power amid the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

But the mayor said people are divided over whether to totally scrap nuclear power generation. He said it will be best for him to describe the situation realistically in the declaration.

The mayor of the other atom-bombed city, Nagasaki, already disclosed last month that he would urge the government to shift away from nuclear energy to safer sources in his annual peace declaration on August 9th.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011 14:10 +0900 (JST)

Court injunction sought against reactor restarts:

People living near 7 nuclear reactors in Fukui Prefecture, central Japan, have sought a court injunction against restarting them. The  
reactors are currently offline for scheduled maintenance.

Some 170 people, including residents of neighboring Shiga Prefecture, oppose the restart of 7 reactors at 3 nuclear power stations due to safety concerns.

They filed their petition with the Otsu District court in Shiga Prefecture on Tuesday.

In the petition, they argue that the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant has revealed flaws in the government's safety guidelines for nuclear power stations.
They express concern about the possible radioactive contamination of Lake Biwa in Shiga Prefecture if another nuclear accident occurs.
Japan's largest lake supplies drinking water for the Kansai region.

The petition argues that the reactors should not be restarted until the government sets new safety guidelines and carries out checks based on these guidelines to ensure that the reactors can be operated safely.

Kansai Electric Power Company, which operates the 7 reactors, has declined to comment, saying it has not read the petition.
Wednesday, August 03, 2011 00:49 +0900 (JST)

Hiroshima University to study low-level exposure:

Hiroshima University is to launch a study focusing on the health impact of exposure to low-level radiation.

The university has set up a committee of about 40 researchers to apply their knowledge to support people affected by the Fukushima nuclear accident. The university has been providing medical care to atomic bomb survivors.

The committee has 3 main themes: analysis of the impact of low-level radioactive exposure on human genes; medical response to internal exposure and exposure during an emergency; and support for a health survey conducted by Fukushima Prefecture.

The university says that when cumulative exposure reaches 100 millisieverts, the chances of developing cancer are said to rise by 0.5

It also says there is not enough data available anywhere in the world about an exposure to radiation below that level.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011 00:49 +0900 (JST)

SKF has many details and pictures on both the contaminated manure and leaf compost and on the high levels of radiation being measured at the site (including tweets from a worker at the site).

New Gunderson VIDEO
More of the presentations from Vermont have been released by Arnie Gunderson of Fairewinds Associates, released July 31, 2011:
Nuclear Power 101: Fairewinds Examines the Fundamental Advantages and Disadvantages of Splitting Atoms to Boil Water
Included in this presentation and PowerPoint is a discussion of how nuclear power plants work, how to cool a reactor during an accident, the effect of hot particles when inhaled, and concerns involving the long-term storage of nuclear waste. This presentation took place at the Nuclear Power Conference held at the University of Vermont July 23, 2011.

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