May 31, Tuesday

Posted by Chika On 2:55 PM
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beetles show us
a way to the future -
ganbaro Fukushima

Radiation zone farmer grubs his way to survival

Masanao Usami tosses over a container the size of a wine case and carefully spreads the contents that fall out, including tree bark, dead leaves and warm soil.
He is inside a warehouse surrounded by empty tobacco farms but no one is in sight.
"This one appears ready for shipment. It will develop into an imago by the summer," he says, as he picks up what looks like a giant gnocchi.
They wriggle. But the creeping beetle grubs are one of the few selling items being shipped out of the nuclear crisis-hit region in Fukushima Prefecture.

"Sales of beetle grubs are up 300 percent this year,"
Usami said of the popular seasonal pets.

Usami's beetle grub-filled warehouse is in the city of Tamura about 33 km away from the leaking Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. The southeast region of the city is within a 20-km radius from ground zero, making it part of the government's nuclear no-go zone.
. . . . snip
"A beetle kit includes five grubs, instruction books, bedding material and other necessary items. They sell for ¥3,000 each," Usami said.
As expected, some customers expressed concern about purchasing beetles from the region. So Mushimushi Land decided to call in a team from Fukushima University and give the grubs radiation checks ... and the insects were confirmed to be safe. According to radiation activity checks from that day, the beetle grubs, as well as their bedding materials, the warehouse and even the beetle droppings, did not go above 0.3 microsievert per hour. That level does not pose any harmful effect on humans, Fukushima University experts confirmed.

"We got a lot of orders from the Tokyo area this year.
It is pretty amazing," Usami said.
source : Japan Times .


Gabi reports:

I was out most of the time.

. . . . . at 4:36
Earthquake M 5.0, off the coast of Ibaraki

. . . . . at 21:21
Earthquake M 5.2, off the coast of Iwate


Bulletins from NHK Online
source :

Monday, May 30, 2011 22:25
High radioactivity levels at No.1 reactor

The operator of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has reported high levels of radioactive substances in water that has accumulated in the basement of its Number 1 reactor.
Tokyo Electric Power Company says a water sample taken from the reactor building's basement on Friday contained 2.5 million becquerels of radioactive cesium-134 per cubic centimeter. It also detected 2.9 million becquerels of cesium-137 and 30,000 becquerels of iodine-131.
The levels are almost the same as those already measured in contaminated water in the basement of the Number 2 reactor's turbine building.
Water contaminated with highly radioactive substances has flooded the reactor building's basement, apparently after leaking from holes created in the reactor's pressure and containment vessels in the fuel meltdown.
Under the utility's plan to bring the plant under control, a circulatory cooling system is to be installed to decontaminate radioactive water and use it as a coolant.
TEPCO says it will examine ways to decontaminate the water, as its radiation levels are too high for workers to approach.

. . . . .

Tuesday, May 31, 2011 06:03
S&P downgrades TEPCO rating
US rating agency Standard & Poor's has lowered its credit rating of Tokyo Electric Power Company by 5 notches, citing huge losses and compensation payouts for damage caused by the nuclear accident at its Fukushima plant. ...
In response to the Standard & Poor's rating cut, TEPCO says it takes seriously the downgrading of its credit rating. It says the company will strive to contain the situation at the Fukushima plant while it continues efforts to streamline its management and restore the confidence of financial markets.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011 06:03
TEPCO tackles increasing contaminated water
The operator of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi plant says water accumulating in the basement of the No. 1 reactor building is contaminated with highly radioactive substances. The utility is battling to stop further leaks as the rainy season approaches.
Tokyo Electric Power Company detected 2 million becquerels of radioactive cesium per cubic centimeter of water in the basement of the No. 1 reactor building.
It speculates that radioactive substances from the melted fuel have leaked from the pressure vessel encasing the reactor core.
Large amounts of contaminated water in the plant's buildings are hampering efforts to contain the situation.
TEPCO has created a map showing the distribution of contaminated water at the plant to prevent a recurrence of the accident in March, where 3 workers were exposed to radiation by stepping in contaminated water in the basement of the No. 3 reactor's turbine building.
Rain showers that began Sunday are causing the water levels in the No. 2 and 3 turbine buildings to rise at a faster pace of 3 to 4 millimeters per hour.
The company plans to set up a cooling system to circulate decontaminated water back into reactors. The system is expected to be set up in July.
Until then, the utility needs to come up with measures to prevent further leakage, such as transferring the water to a new storage site.
Seawater purifiers to be set at Fukushima plant
The operator of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says it will install equipment to purify highly radioactive seawater near the reactors' water intakes.
Tokyo Electric Power Company says it will start work on Tuesday to install seawater purifiers, which use the mineral zeolite to absorb radioactive cesium.
The utility previously built undersea silt barriers around the water intakes for the No.2 and 3 reactors after highly contaminated water was found to be leaking into the sea.
But radioactive substances exceeding the government-set safety limits are still being detected both inside and outside the barriers.
To stop contamination entering the sea, TEPCO decided to install new equipment to decontaminate seawater.
It is planning to draw and treat a maximum of 30 tons of water per hour from inside the silt fences, where radiation levels are higher, aiming to reduce contamination in the water outside the fences.
The company says the equipment will be installed around the intakes of the No.2 and 3 reactors, and it will begin preliminary operations as early as Thursday.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011 09:59
TEPCO studies workers' iodine consumption
The operator of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant says 2 workers believed to be contaminated with radiation took iodine tablets just once, 2 days after the quake.
The Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, found that the pair may have been exposed to radiation exceeding the safety limit of 250 millisieverts set for emergency situations by the government.
TEPCO said the men, one in his 30s and the other in his 40s, worked in the control rooms of the Numbers 3 and 4 reactors after the accident.
Radiology experts who examined the workers have questioned whether the timing and level of iodine dosage was appropriate.
TEPCO says it is checking how often other workers took the tablets.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011 10:55
Japan's April jobless rate worsens to 4.7%
Japan's unemployment rate in April worsened by 0.1 percent from the previous month.
The internal affairs ministry on Tuesday reported that the seasonally adjusted jobless rate was 4.7 percent.
The number of people with jobs stood at a little less than 60 million, with about 3 million unemployed.
The figures exclude households in quake-hit Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate prefectures. These usually account for about 5 percent of all households in the survey. Due to the earthquake and nuclear accident in March, the survey was not conducted in the 3 prefectures.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011 12:32
Rain increases radioactive water at nuke plant
Heavy rain has increased the volume of highly radioactive water building up inside the disaster-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
Contaminated water already floods the basements of the turbine and reactor buildings, partly due to water injections to cool down the reactor cores.
Tokyo Electric Power Company, now says water levels rose faster on Monday as rain poured inside the badly damaged buildings.
In the basement of the No.1 reactor building, radioactive water rose by 37.6 centimeters during the 24 hours through Tuesday morning.
At the No.2 reactor, the level of water rose by 8.6 centimeters in an underground tunnel extending from the building.
The water in the tunnel's shaft is now only about 39 centimeters below ground level. The utility is speeding up work to seal the opening.
TEPCO is planning to decontaminate and recycle the radioactive water as coolant for the reactors. But the system won't be in place until July at the earliest.
In the meantime, the utility is studying steps to prevent rainwater from seeping in. It will also consider new storage sites to which the contaminated water can be quickly transferred as the rainy season approaches.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011 12:50
TEPCO begins live video stream from Fukushima
TEPCO has begun live-streaming video of the disabled Fukushima nuclear plant through the company's website.
The real-time footage comes from a camera installed about 250 meters northwest of the No.1 reactor.
The No.1 to No.4 reactors can be seen in the webcast.
TEPCO had until now been uploading still pictures shot from the southern side of the plant once every hour.
It began the video service on Tuesday in response to many requests for live images of the reactors.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011 14:42
Government tells TEPCO to test more workers
The Japanese government has instructed the operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to immediately test more workers for possible internal exposure to radiation.
This comes after high levels of radioactive substances were found in the bodies of two workers. Their total exposure may have exceeded the safety limit of 250 millisieverts, which has been established as the ceiling amount for emergencies.
The two men worked in the control rooms of the No.3 and 4 reactors at the plant. They reportedly said that they were not wearing protective masks when a hydrogen explosion occurred on March 12th.
The labor ministry instructed the Tokyo Electric Power Company to test several tens of workers who were also in the control rooms.
The ministry says these workers may have inhaled high levels of radioactive substances.
A series of worker safety problems at the Fukushima Daiichi plant has recently come to light. Some workers were found to have been engaged in their jobs without carrying dosimeters, and two female TEPCO employees were exposed to high levels of radiation which exceeded the safety limit.
On Monday the government told the power company and its subcontractors to take thorough measures to ensure the safety of their workers.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011 15:46
114,000 lose jobs in 3 disaster-hit prefectures
A government survey shows that more than 114,000 people have lost their jobs since the earthquake and nuclear accident in the 3 main affected prefectures.
The labor ministry says that as of last Thursday, public job placement offices in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures had issued jobless certificates to 114,608 people. The documents are necessary to apply for unemployment payments.
49,851 of the jobless are from Miyagi, 40,644 from Fukushima and 24,113 from Iwate prefecture.
Of them, 73,385 people have been granted unemployment benefits.
The number is about 3 times larger than the same period last year in the prefectures.
The ministry says the real number of unemployed may be much higher, as many of those who are out of work have not reported their situation.
The ministry is calling on businesses in the disaster-hit areas to hire more people.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011 17:28
Fukushima cleanup could cost up to $250 billion
A private think tank says the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant could cost Japan up to 250 billion dollars over the next 10 years.
The estimate is part of the Nuclear Safety Commission's ongoing survey of opinions on the disaster from nuclear and other experts.
Kazumasa Iwata 岩田一政, president of the Japan Center for Economic Research, gave the estimate on Tuesday.
He said the costs of the accident could range from nearly 71 to 250 billion dollars. The figure includes 54 billion to buy up all land within 20 kilometers of the plant, 8 billion for compensation payments to local residents, and 9 to 188 billion to scrap the plant's reactors.
Iwata said a drastic review of the government's nuclear energy policy is necessary to fund the cleanup.
He said the government could channel about 71 billion dollars to the necessary fund over the next decade by freezing research and development projects linked to the nuclear fuel cycle.
Another 150 billion could come from Tokyo Electric Power Company's reserve fund, and the government's nuclear energy-related budgets.
The Nuclear Safety Commission plans to continue interviewing experts over the coming months, and to incorporate outside ideas in future debates on nuclear energy.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011 18:48
Oxygen cylinder bursts near No. 4 reactor
An oxygen cylinder has burst at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. But the plant operator says the blast caused no damage to the plant's facilities, and no injuries.
At around 2:30 PM on Tuesday, workers reported hearing a loud noise like that of an explosion at the south side of the plant's No. 4 reactor.
The Tokyo Electric Power Company says unmanned heavy machinery removing debris at the site damaged the cylinder, causing it to burst.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011 19:04
TEPCO makes provisional payments to the affected
The operator of the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has started paying provisional compensation to farmers and fishermen affected by the disaster.
Tokyo Electric Power Company says it paid damages of 500-million yen, or about 6.2-million dollars, on Tuesday to groups of farmers, including dairy farmers, and fishermen in Ibaraki and Tochigi prefectures to compensate for their losses from halted shipments.
TEPCO says they have claimed damages totaling about 136-million dollars for the losses they incurred due to shipment restrictions imposed by the central government.
Tuesday's compensation marks the utility's first payments to the affected farming and fishing sectors.
The utility plans to make similar payments to such groups in other prefectures, including Fukushima.
TEPCO also plans to start making provisional compensation payments on Wednesday of up to about 30,000 dollars each to severely affected small- and mid-sized businesses.
The utility firm says it has so far paid provisional compensation, totaling 580-million dollars, to about 50,000 affected households that have been forced to evacuate.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011 19:04
Cooling system being tested at No. 2 reactor
The operator of the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has installed a circulatory cooling system at one of the plant's crippled reactors.
The Tokyo Electric Power Company started trial operation of the system at the No. 2 reactor building on Tuesday.
The utility has been pumping about 50 tons of water into a used fuel pool in the building every few days.
The pool's temperature is around 70 degrees Celsius, apparently producing steam that is filling the building and resulting in a humidity level of 99.9 percent. The humidity and high radiation levels have been hampering repair work at the site.
The new system is to pump water out of the pool to a heat exchanger and return the water to the pool as coolant.
The firm says it plans to bring the pool's temperature to around 40 degrees Celsius in a month through the system.
TEPCO hopes to reduce the humidity level before installing equipment to remove radioactive substances in the building.
The cooling system is the first to be completed at the plant. The firm hopes to start operating similar systems at the plant's No. 1 and 3 reactors in June, and at the No. 4 reactor in July.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011 19:06
Auto exports post worst fall in April
Japan's auto exports in April dropped at the fastest pace on record. Carmakers had to slash production and exports, due to parts supply disruptions following the March 11th disaster.
The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association says April exports of cars, trucks and buses totaled 126,000 units, down 67% year on year. This marks the biggest decline for any month of the year since the association began tracking exports in 1971.
Shipments to all regions went down. Those to North America plunged 69%, the largest fall for the month. Asia showed a drop of 60% and Europe, 57%.
The association predicts that exports will continue to fall for the rest of the year.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011 19:39
Guidelines set for rumor damage compensation
A government panel reviewing compensation for the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant accident has set guidelines on payments for so-called rumor-induced damages and mental suffering of evacuees.
According to a directive hammered out on Tuesday, farming, fishing and tourist industry claimants are eligible to be compensated in cases where radiation rumors are confirmed to have caused loss of business income.
Rumor-induced damages are defined as losses incurred due to consumers not buying goods and services, or clients canceling transactions, whether due to rumor-based fears or to avoid real risk. This is because the difference between the two reasons is difficult to determine.
The guidelines say all edible farm and marine products from areas where shipments have been banned could be covered by compensation.
Loss of income from reduced trade and price drops, as well as fees for radiation checks demanded by the purchaser, could be counted as damage.
For tourism, the guidelines say only businesses based in Fukushima Prefecture are eligible for compensation over canceled reservations. But the panel has yet to determine how to calculate the amount of payments.
Guidelines for other industries and regions will be set after further analysis.
The panel also says evacuees forced to spend long periods outside their homes may be compensated for mental suffering.
It had initially agreed to divide damages into 4 stages depending on where the evacuees were placed. But it backtracked after local governments complained of unfairness.
In April, the panel filed damages guidelines for people who were forced to evacuate by government order from around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011 19:57
New reactor postponed at Shimane nuke power plant
The Chugoku Electric Power Company says it will postpone the start of the commercial operation of a new reactor at the Shimane nuclear power station without setting a timetable.
The utility said on Tuesday that additional safety measures are needed to start the Number 3 reactor being constructed at the plant.
The company had planned to put nuclear fuel rods in the reactor and start a test operation in June, and make it commercially operational in March next year.
Following the accident at the Fukushima plant, the utility faces the need to build seawalls that can withstand 15-meter-high tsunami waves and to think of ways to prevent the inundation of reactor buildings.
The utility also said a problem with a device for moving control rods in the reactor was discovered last November. It said the defect has remained unsolved, because the device's maker in Ibaraki Prefecture was affected by the March 11th disaster.
The power company said it would be difficult to gain local understanding for starting the commercial operation of the new reactor without solving these problems.
It gave no timetable for the start of the operation, citing a lack of a work schedule.


Voices from around

. Daily Radiation Levels .  

. . . . .

Japan Times :

Exposure of Tepco pair exceeds limit

Two Tepco employees at the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant may have absorbed several hundred millisieverts of radiation, breaking the government's new limit for the crisis.

Heavy rains trigger tsunami-zone landslide alert
Heavy rain triggers landslide alerts in areas damaged by the March 11 quake and tsunami, adding a new dimension to the dangers.

Evacuee housing units shy of target
The government admits failure in its effort to get 30,000 temporary housing units built for evacuees by the end of May but vows to forge on.

Evacuees long for hometowns
Temporary dwellings lack character, appeal of

Land minister Akihiro Ohata in early May said the government will construct temporary housing for all March 11 evacuees in time for the Bon holidays in mid-August. But speaking to those already living in such accomodations in Fukushima Prefecture makes it clear such housing units are not homes, and rebuilding their lives will take more than providing a roof over their heads.

Kan foes in DPJ set to join ouster ploy

Raise sales tax in stages, advisers tell Kan reform council

Ibaraki to check radiation at beaches
The Ibaraki Prefectural Government will check radiation levels at 17 beaches starting in June to allay fears related to the nuclear crisis in adjacent Fukushima Prefecture, Ibaraki Gov. Masaru Hashimoto said Monday.
The move comes after the central government and Fukushima Prefecture decided last week to monitor radiation at seaside and lakeside beaches from June. The Iwaki Municipal Government in Fukushima also said last week that it will forgo the opening of nine beaches in the city this summer.
With the swimming season set to begin in July at most beaches, the Ibaraki government plans to measure radiation in sand and seawater at its beaches twice in June and once in July to ensure they are safe for public use, local officials said.

A G8 vote of support for Japan

Disaster volunteers find plenty to do in Fukushima


An oil spill and a small explosion have caused limited damage — but no further radiation leaks — at the crippled nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Tuesday workers found an oil spill in the sea near reactors five and six, which were in shutdown when an earthquake and tsunami struck March 11. Cores melted at other reactors at Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, and workers have been trying to contain radiation leaks and restore control of the units since then.
TEPCO said the explosion at reactor four was likely from a gas tank and did not cause any additional radiation leaks. It said the oil spill was contained by a fence.
source :



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