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Storage tank leaks at Fukushima Daiichi plant



Workers at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant have found a leak of highly radioactive water from a waste water tank.

Its operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, says the water likely leaked from a seam of the tank.

The leaked water was spotted on Wednesday on the side of one of an array of steel tanks holding contaminated water that is continuously generated at the site.

TEPCO’s analysis found 590,000 becquerel per liter of beta-emitting radioactive materials in the water.

Tokyo Electric estimates that 32 liters of such highly radioactive water had trickled out, mixed with rainwater, and remained within a barrier around the tank.

Workers moved water in the tank to another one to lower the water level enough to halt the leak.

The leaking cylindrical tank is made by splicing steel plates with bolts. But they have had waste water leaks in the past from seams.

The operator has been replacing these leak-prone tanks with new seamless ones. But the increasing volume of waste water makes it difficult for the utility to completely do away with the old ones.

October 7, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Climate change could bring megadroughts to California

Looming megadroughts in western US would make current drought look minor. Warming temperatures and uncertain rainfall mean if more isn’t done to slow climate change, droughts lasting 35 years could blight western states, study says, Guardian, , 8 Oct 16, The harsh drought currently gripping California may appear trivial in the future as new research shows that the south-west US faces the looming threat of “megadroughts” that last for decades.

California is in its sixth year of drought, which was barely dented by rains brought by the El Niño climate event and sparked a range of water restrictions in the state. But warming temperatures and uncertain rainfall mean that if more isn’t done to slow climate change, droughts lasting 35 years are likely to blight western states by the end of the century, according to the study, published in Science Advances.


Such a megadrought would impose “unprecedented stress on the limited water resources” of the parched US south-west, researchers found, bringing conditions similar to the 1930s dustbowl to California, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah – but over a lengthier period.

Using a combination of temperature and precipitation models, the study predicts a 70% chance of a megadrought by the end of the century, should rainfall levels remain the same, with a 90% chance of an elongated drought should rainfall decrease, as most climate models forecast.

“We can’t rule out there could be a 99.9% chance of a megadrought, which makes it virtually certain,” said Toby Ault, a scientist at Cornell University and lead author of the study………

The new report does proffer a crumb of hope – if greenhouse gas emissions are radically cut then the risk of megadrought will reduce by half, giving a roughly 50:50 chance that a multi-decade stretch of below-average rainfall would occur this century.

But the research found that the emissions cuts would have to be far steeper than those agreed to by nations in Paris last year, where a 2C limit on warming was pledged……..

October 7, 2016 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

Fire destroys Fukushima nuclear disaster evacuee housing


Fueled by strong winds, fire engulfs temporary housing at the Yoshima industrial park in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, on Oct. 6, 2016.

IWAKI, Fukushima — A fire on Oct. 6 destroyed temporary housing for residents of Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, who evacuated here due to the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant disaster, police said.

The fire broke out at around 4:25 p.m. and destroyed 19 homes in four single-story, prefabricated wooden buildings at the Yoshima industrial park in Iwaki. According to prefectural police, a 16-year-old boy was treated for smoke inhalation. The Okuma Municipal Government will supply the five households that lost their residences with housing elsewhere.

There were 72 households living in 86 of the 31-building complex’s 122 residences. Some 90 percent of Okuma residents’ original homes are within a nuclear disaster no-go zone around the Fukushima plant, and it is unknown when those living in the Yoshima industrial park might be able to return to the town.

Sho Tsukamoto, 29, an employee of a construction company who lost his residence and his possessions in the fire, said, “I even lost the picture of my dead father and other photos of my family that I brought from Okuma.”

October 7, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment

Nuclear authority method may underestimate quake sizes: study


This May 2016 photo shows the stone wall of Kumamoto Castle that was damaged by the April earthquake.

A technique that estimates the scale of earthquakes announced by the Earthquake Research Committee in 2006 may be underestimating the size of earthquakes — a problem for the Nuclear Regulation Authority, which bases its earthquake resistance plans on the system.

Professor Kazuki Koketsu presented the results of his evaluation of the 2006 system at a research session of The Seismological Society of Japan on Oct. 5. Koketsu is a professor at the Earthquake Research Institute at The University of Tokyo and the head of the Subcommittee for Evaluation of Strong Ground Motion, part of the Earthquake Research Committee.

Koketsu compared the estimations of the 2006 technique and a 2009 method to the actual observed data from the magnitude 7.3 Kumamoto Earthquake in April.

While the 2009 technique predicted a magnitude of 7.0 to 7.2 for the active fault, the 2006 technique underestimated the possible magnitude as between 6.6 and 6.9. Koketsu concluded that the 2009 technique is more appropriate for estimating the scale of earthquakes.

However, the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) still uses the estimates of the strongest possible tremor made by the 2006 system as the basis for examining earthquake resistance design plans for nuclear reactors.

In response to Koketsu’s presentation, a representative of the NRA stated at a press conference held on Oct. 5., “We will begin discussion over whether we should adopt the 2009 system after the Subcommittee for Evaluation of Strong Ground Motion has coordinated its views on the matter.”

The 2006 technique bases its estimates on both the estimated length and breadth of active faults. In 2009, the Earthquake Research Committee released a new system based mainly on the length of faults in order to calculate the expected magnitude of quakes on as many active faults as possible in a short amount of time. In Koketsu’s study, the 2006 system miscalculated the length and width of the faults involved in the Kumamoto earthquake, leading to the underestimation of the scale.

While both techniques appear side by side in the research committee’s manual, the committee’s national earthquake scale prediction map for quakes measuring at least lower-6 on the 7-point Japanese intensity scale estimated to occur within the next 30 years along active faults are all calculated using the 2009 system.

October 7, 2016 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Ban on food from Japan’s radiation-affected areas remains: Taiwan FDA



Taipei, Oct. 6 (CNA) The food and Drug Administration (FDA) reaffirmed Thursday that there is no timetable for any lifting of a ban on food imports from five Japanese prefectures that were affected by radiation fallout from a nuclear power plant meltdown following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

“There is no timetable for any such opening,” FDA Director-General Chiang Yu-mei (姜郁美) told CNA.

She declined to comment on reports that Taiwan and Japan have reached an initial consensus on Taiwan’s opening to food imports from the five prefectures.

Taiwan banned food imports from Fukushima, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma and Chiba prefectures in the wake of the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant on March 11, 2011.

FDA Deputy Director-General Lin King-fu (林金富) said that food safety remains the primary concern, adding that the FDA will take stock of the management measures of other countries and continue to assess the situation.

Japanese media reported in May that Taiwan was planning to reopen to food imports from the five prefectures, but the reports were denied by the FDA. Reports resurfaced Thursday again about a lifting of the ban, and that formal opening could come early next year.

However, Pan Chih-kuan (潘志寬), an FDA food section chief, said that no related instructions have been received and that the assessment on Japanese food is still underway.

He stressed the three premises for opening — results of border inspection, monitoring results in Japan and the public’s attitude toward opening.

He said that since 2011, border inspections on 92,000 Japanese food items have been carried out, with 215 items found to contain a tiny amount of cesium. One item was found to contain the radioactive material in the past year.

October 7, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Climate change could become self perpetuating- danger in Indonesia’s peatlands, and fires

How the Earth will pay us back for our carbon emissions with … more carbon emissions, WP,   October 3 The really scary thing about climate change is not that humans will fail to get their emissions under control. The really scary thing is that at some point, the Earth will take over and start adding even more emissions on its own.

new study underscores this risk by looking closely at Indonesia, which has a unique quality — some 70 billion of tons of carbon that have built up in peatlands over millennia. In this, Indonesia is much like the Arctic, where even larger quantities of ancient carbon are stored in permafrost, and are also vulnerable.

global-warming1In each case, if that carbon gets out of the land and into the atmosphere, then global warming will get worse. But global warming could itself up the odds of such massive carbon release. That’s a dangerous position to be in as the world continues to warm.

In the new study in Geophysical Research Letters, a team of researchers led by Yi Yin of the French Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement look at the potential of peat bogs in equatorial Asia — a region that includes Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and several other smaller countries but is dominated by Indonesia and its largest islands, Borneo and Sumatra — to worsen our climate problems. It’s timely, considering that last year amid El Niño-induced drought conditions Indonesian blazes emitted over 1.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalents into the atmosphere. That’s more than the annual emissions of Japan (or, needless to say, of Indonesia’s fossil fuel burning).

And the research finds that over the course of this century, that could keep happening. “The strong nonlinear relationship found between fire emissions and cumulative water deficit suggests a high future risk of peat carbon loss due to fire given that future climate projections indicate a twofold increase in the frequency of extreme El Niño,” the researchers write.

The situation arises because of the unique qualities of peat: In peat bogs, wetlands accumulate large amounts of organic matter — dead plant life — over many, many years. If those bogs are then drained, and fires are allowed to burn on them and deep into them, then it is possible to light up huge stores of ancient carbon and to put it back in the atmosphere much more rapidly than the speed at which it accumulated originally……..

October 7, 2016 Posted by | climate change, Indonesia | Leave a comment