Thursday, July 28, 2011

Fukushima Daiichi Information Distribution Restrictions

The Davistown Museum is having difficulty contacting for the purpose of having the Nuclear Information Handbook available and for sale in Japan. Assistance from any interested visitors to this blog would be welcomed.

We also haven't heard back from any of the Japanese media we have contacted about a variety of questions we have about the Fukushima Daiichi accident, its current status, or the irregularities in the monitoring and reporting of its source term. Any leads on Japanese media contacts who may be willing to report on the accident status or the lack of adequate radiological monitoring would be welcomed.

Another unaddressed issue: we have printed and distributed a number of op-eds and comments on the liability of the General Electric corporation and their obligation to provide some compensation to impacted Japanese communities and families due to the glaring design flaws at the Fukushima Daiichi reactors. These design flaws have received wide media attention in the United States (but not in Japan?) No US or Japanese media reporters have made the connection between the subprime reactor designs and the obligation of General Electric to establish a victim's compensation fund similar to that established by BP after the Deep Well Horizon debacle in the Gulf of Mexico. Comments on this issue are solicited.

A continuing controversy: why haven't Japanese, American, and European media reported on the increasing unavailability of information about the continuing real time radiological releases from all seven meltdown events? The technology to measure accident site emissions in becquerels/hr or becquerels per cubic meter of air contamination has been available for more than half a century and is utilized at all US reactors to measure airborne emissions from reactor operations. Atmospheric background radiation is typically 10 microbecquerels per cubic meter or less. Why is TEPCO reluctant to provide to the Japanese media timely information about the airborne emissions from each meltdown event?

A related question: isn't the systematic collation of accident release data a matter of A) honor, B) legal obligations, and C) a practical necessity given TEPCO's obligation to monitor and mitigate accident releases? What validity does their "roadmap to a closed-loop cooling system and a cold shutdown" have if the public does not have access to this data?

A final related question: will the information blackout in Japan about the ongoing accident emissions also characterize US media reporting in the event of a future meltdown in the US?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Quote of the day

From the Wall Street Journal, July 19, 2011:

TOKYO—Local officials in Fukushima prefecture said on Monday that 411 more cattle potentially contaminated with radioactive cesium have been shipped around Japan, a development sure to fuel food-safety fears.

The prefectural government said the additional beef cattle found to have eaten contaminated rice straw came from seven farms in six municipalities in the prefecture, bringing the total number of potentially contaminated cattle shipped from Fukushima for
consumption to 554. Some of Japan's biggest supermarket chains have sold beef from the cattle.

The local government added that the rice straw had tested at up to 690,000 becquerels per kilogram, more than 500 times the
government's safety limit...

It still isn't clear whether contaminated feed necessarily contaminates beef from the cattle that eat it...

Japanese authorities already said Sunday that they intend to ban cattle shipments from Fukushima prefecture, and possibly wider areas, as more animals have been identified as having consumed feed contaminated with radioactive cesium released from the nuclear power plant.

Besides Fukushima, radioactive cesium-contaminated rice straw has been found in Miyagi prefecture, north of Fukushima, and Niigata prefecture, at farms supplied with Miyagi-produced straw.

The assertion that it isn't clear whether contaminated feed necessarily contaminates the beef from the cattle that eat it echoes the widespread belief that cataclysmic climate change has nothing to do with human activities. The discovery of 690,000 Bq/kg of Cs-137 in rice straw, the peak value in approx. 50 samples, illustrates the unavoidable reality that Fukushima Daiichi-derived radioactive fallout is in the same order of magnitude as that generated by the Chernobyl accident. The Wall Street Journal article provides no information about the testing locations in the Fukushima prefecture where contaminated rice straw has been monitored. The ongoing controversy of contaminated beef highlights the necessity of much more comprehensive monitoring of pathways to human consumption of Fukushima Daiichi-derived contamination, especially of the indicator nuclides I-131, Cs-134, and Cs-137.

TEPCO and NISA monitoring data, available at, provide ongoing measurement of soil contamination around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station as measured in Bq/kg of soil. Air contamination is measured in microsieverts/hour and indicator nuclides in seawater as measured in Bq/cubic centimeter.

On July 4th, TEPCO reported radiocesium in wet soil on a reactor facility playground at 440,000 Bq/kg, again reflecting Chernobyl order of magnitude deposition levels. The highest air contamination levels on the reactor site are reported near the main building with dose rates on July 21st running between 315 to 333 microsieverts per hour. Other onsite locations reporting radiation dose rates of 30 to 33 microsieverts per hour at the main gate and 12 to 13 microsieverts per hour at the west gate. In contrast, normal background radiation dose rates are 0.27 to 0.7 microsieverts per hour. The radiation dose rate at the main building is about 1/7th of the peak value reported near the administration building on March 21, 2011 of 2,015 microsieverts per hour. TEPCO data, therefore, indicates significant radiation releases from all 7 accident sites are continuing with little or no variation in dose rates. The data reported by TEPCO and NISA graphically illustrate what is not being reported:

  • An ongoing release profile of the emissions from each fuel meltdown site as measured in Bq/hour. This provides much more accurate information about the status of these ongoing releases than ambient radiation dose rates.

  • A correlated emissions release profile consistently lacking in TEPCO monitoring is the measurement of airborne plume activity as expressed in Bq/cubic meter. Typical baseline airborne contamination levels range from 0 to 10 microbequerels per cubic meter. TEPCO reports airborne activity in locations well away from the seven point sources in Bq/cubic centimeter (a reporting unit 1 millionth of a Bequerel per cubic meter). The use of this much smaller reporting unit is a tip off of a major nuclear accident in progress.

  • TEPCO airborne dust nuclide analyses for radiocesium reports radiocesium contamination slightly above 1.0E-05 Bq per cubic centimeter in late May rising slightly in early June before falling in mid-June and rising again in late June. According to the data provided by TEPCO there didn't appear to be any significant drop off of Cs-137 contamination levels in airborne dust before early July, when data is no longer available. The TEPCO data can also be restated as measured in microbequerels per cubic meter, i.e. slightly above 10 microbequerels per cubic meter. This is only slightly above background levels. If this is uniformly the case, why are background radiation dose rates running so high near the main building, and what are the actual background radiation dose rates and emission levels at and above the seven meltdown sites? Obviously more information is needed.

  • Among the most notable deficiencies in TEPCO and NISA monitoring reports are the lack of a comprehensive radiometric survey of Cs-137 deposition levels in all prefectures in Japan. This information would shed much more light on the likely extent of contamination in cattle feed throughout Japan.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Deception on the public broadcasting network

On July 13th, the National Public Broadcast program "It's Your World" replayed a June 14th program entitled "Powering America: Does Nuclear have a Future?" featuring Thomas Isaacs, Per F. Peterson, and V. John White. While the program made a number of interesting points pertaining to the future of nuclear power, particularly with respect to the likelihood of the future construction of much safer reactors characterized by passive reactor design where no water injection is needed to maintain cooling, the program was particularly unnerving in its failure to address two major controversies pertaining to the accident in Japan. These controversies are highlighted in our publication Fukushima Daiichi: Nuclear Information Handbook as well as in our publication announcement packet.

The design flaws in General Electric's boiling water reactors that played a major role in the Japan accident should be a major concern for all American citizens living downwind from America's 35 boiling water reactors. The accident in Japan graphically illustrates the vulnerability of aging nuclear reactors to meltdown accidents due to a combination of normal equipment deterioration such as steam tube deformation and sludge deposits in fuel assemblies and the startling design flaws illustrated by the Japan disaster. No mention was made of these issues in the broadcast.

Even more disconcerting was the failure to address the ongoing controversy pertaining to the lack of real time monitoring of the emissions that continue to characterize the accident in Japan. The technology to monitor these emissions as measured in becquerels per hour or becquerels per cubic meter has been available for almost a half century. The program focused on the lack of public trust for nuclear power in the future and inadvertently made a major statement fostering such mistrust by failing to discuss the need for a comprehensive survey of the source term releases of the Japan accident. Currently a comprehensive ground deposit survey is entirely lacking as are accurate weekly reports about contamination in the Japanese food supply. The hope for accurate monitoring symbolized by NISA's initial comprehensive reporting of ambient radiation levels as expressed in microsieverts per hour has since been compromised by a gradual reduction in reporting of monitoring data that would allow a reasonable evaluation of the status of an accident that may continue indefinitely.

Pers Peterson did mention the ongoing problem of the generation of large quantities of radioactive water, but otherwise avoided terminology such as nuclear accident, nuclear meltdown, and, especially, multiple interlocking meltdown event (MIME). The main question raised by this program is: in the case of a future meltdown event and quick release accident at a US boiling water reactor, will the reactor licensee, as well as the NRC, also withhold accurate information about the total amount of radioactivity released during the accident scenario? One would never know from listening to this deceptive program that the amount of radiation released from the Fukushima Daiichi accidents (7) is significantly larger than that released from Chernobyl.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Kirkus Review of Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Information Handbook

A review of the Pennywheel Press publication, "Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Information Handbook" may be found here.