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A trip to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant: Full-body suits and three layers of socks

This article is just another slick piece of propaganda, downplaying the dangerosity of the situation, a situation still not resolved that after  9 years of lies and cover-up, still not under control.

Among the many B.S.  a very good example of its deceitful spin: ” Tepco officials later showed me containers of crystal clear water that had been through ALPS. They said it would be safe to release the liquid into the environment after mixing it with fresh water to meet regulations.”

Sorry Mister, crystal clear water does not make it safe when you’re talking about radioactive water, because remember radiation is invisible. Invisible indeed are the various types of radionuclides contained in that “crystal clear water” that they intend to dump into our ocean. Because as TEPCO admitted last year, their ALPS failed to remove  all the Cesiums, Strontium and others, beside Tritium…

The Olympics are near… So the spinned propaganda is up in all japanese media trying to make us all believe how good everything is at Fukushima Daichi nuclear plant, and in contaminated Fukushima prefecture and Tokyo…

 

Employees of TEPCO wearing protective suits and masks are seen inside a radiation filtering  ALPS at tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, JapanEmployees of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. wear protective suits and masks inside a radiation filtering Advanced Liquid Processing Systems (ALPS) at the tsunami-crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in January.

Feb 5, 2020

OKUMA, FUKUSHIMA PREF. – Reuters was recently given exclusive access to the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, where three reactors melted down in 2011 after a powerful earthquake and tsunami overwhelmed the seaside facility.

It was my fourth visit to the plant since the disaster to report on a massive clean-up. Work to dismantle the plant has taken nearly a decade so far, but with Tokyo due to host the Olympics this summer — including some events less than 60 km (38 miles) from the power station — there has been renewed focus on safeguarding the venues.

Nearly 10 years into the decadeslong clean-up some progress has been made, with potentially dangerous spent fuel removed from the top of one damaged reactor building and removal underway from another.

But the melted fuel inside the reactors has yet to be extracted and areas around the station remain closed to residents. Some towns have been reopened farther away but not all residents have returned.

This time I was taken to the site’s water treatment building, a cavernous hall where huge machines called Advanced Liquid Processing Systems (ALPS) are used to filter water contaminated by the reactors.

 

Reuters journalist Aaron Sheldrick wearing a protective suit, visits the Tokyo Electric Power Co's (TEPCO) tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma townJournalist Aaron Sheldrick visits the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

On my first visit in 2012 I had to wear full protective gear put on at an operations base located in a sports facility about 20 km south of the nuclear plant called J-Village, where the Olympic torch relay will start in March. Then I was taken to the site by bus.

This time I was driven by van from a railway station in Tomioka — a town that was re-opened in 2017 — about 9 km away, with no precautions. More than 90 percent of the plant is deemed to have so little radioactivity that few precautions are needed. Nevertheless, reporting from there was not easy.

Before entering the plant itself, which is about the size of 400 football fields, I was asked to take off my shoes and socks, given a dosimeter to measure radiation levels, three pairs of blue socks, a pair of cloth gloves, a simple face mask, a cotton cap, a helmet and a white vest with clear panels to carry my equipment and display my pass.

I put on all three pairs of socks and the rest of the gear given to me, later including rubber boots. I was to change in and out of different pairs of these boots many times — I lost count — color coded according to the zone we passed through, each time putting them in plastic bags that would be discarded after use.

After reaching the ALPS building in a small bus, I was decked out in protective equipment, a full-body Du Pont Tyvek suit along with two sets of heavy surgeon-like latex gloves that were taped fast to the outfit.

I also had to put on a full-face mask after taking off my glasses since it would not fit otherwise and told to speak as loudly as possible due to the muffling effect of the gear.

Will you be able to see?” asked one official from Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., the plant’s operator. I nodded with as much conviction as I could muster and we entered the building, which was quite dark, making it even harder to see.

 

An employee of Tokyo Electric Power Co's uses a geiger counter next to storage tanks for radioactive water at tsunami-crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Okuma town, Fukushima prefectureA Tepco employee uses a geiger counter next to storage tanks for radioactive water. 

In the ALPS building I was taken up and down metal stairways that passed around piping, machinery, testing stations, changing in and out of the rubber boots as we crossed yellow and black demarcations, warning signs everywhere for areas that could not be entered.

As well as being dark, it was surprisingly quiet, given the machinery. My dosimeter alarm kept going off as the radiation levels rose. Tepco officials later showed me containers of crystal clear water that had been through ALPS. They said it would be safe to release the liquid into the environment after mixing it with fresh water to meet regulations.

About 4,000 workers are tackling the cleanup at Fukushima, including dismantling the reactors. Many wear protective gear for entering areas with higher radiation.

The plant resembles a huge construction site strewn in areas with twisted steel and crumpled concrete, along with cars that can no longer be used, while huge tanks to hold water contaminated by contact with the melted fuel in the reactors increasingly crowd the site.

Some wreckage is still so contaminated it is left in place or moved to a designated area for the radiation to decay while the important work on the reactor buildings is underway.

As we moved back into the so-called green zone we passed through a building where I was to take off the protective gear in a precise order in stages, with each piece going into a particular waste basket for each item. Gloves were first, then the facemask, after which the suit and socks were taken off at different locations until I was left with one pair for passing back through the various security cordons.

I was then given my external dosimeter reading, which was 20 microsierverts, about two dental x-rays worth.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/02/05/national/fukushima-no1-nuclear-plant-trip/?fbclid=IwAR296KIn5lW-tvFkB12QN0hnMQrcyNbsblJCJrijZehyWmo87WnsEK3DgoQ#.XjsO5iNCeUl

February 6, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

Convenient Acccounts of Fukushima Radiation Exposure Ignore Glaring Issue

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Every time I read something about the Fukushima disaster my blood pressure rises.

For example, recent efforts to represent (hypothesized) remnants of melted fuel rods in unit 2 as evidence of containment is revealed as misleading when one considers the size of the reactor (larger than a bus) and the amount of fuel contained within unit 2’s:

Justin McCurry January 30, 2017, Possible nuclear fuel find raises hopes of Fukushima plant breakthrough. The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jan/31/possible-nuclear-fuel-find-fukushima-plant

Operator says it has seen what may be fuel debris beneath badly damaged No 2 reactor, destroyed six years ago in triple meltdown

Hopes have been raised for a breakthrough in the decommissioning of the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant after its operator said it may have discovered melted fuel beneath a reactor, almost six years after the plant suffered a triple meltdown.

Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) said on Monday that a remote camera appeared to have found the debris beneath the badly damaged No 2 reactor, where radiation levels remain dangerously high. Locating the fuel is the first step towards removing it. The operator said more analysis would be needed before it could confirm that the images were of melted uranium fuel rods, but confirmed that the lumps were not there before Fukushima Daiichi was hit by a powerful earthquake and tsunami on 11 March 2011. 

The amount of fuel contained of fuel in those reactors was substantial. If TEPCO had found all, or most, of the melted reactor fuel they would know it.

According to a November 16 report by Tepco titled, ‘Integrity Inspection of Dry Storage Casks and Spent Fuel at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station,’[i] as of March 2010 the Daini site held 1,060 tons of spent uranium fuel. The total spent uranium fuel inventory at Daiichi in March 2010 was reported as 1,760 tons. The 2010 report asserts that approximately 700 spent fuel assemblies are generated every year.[ii] The report specifies that Daiichi’s 3,450 assemblies are stored in each of the six reactor’s spent fuel pools. The common spent fuel pool contains 6291 assemblies. The amount of MOX fuel stored at the plant has not been reported.

I suspect that TEPCO knows that most of the fuel is gone from unit 2’s reactor containment and that what remains is a fraction of the total load, which was either dispersed in the explosions or has left the building.

But what bothers me even more than obfuscation around missing fuel are misleading accounts of radiation exposure.

Case in point:  The article published in CNBC below last week alleges that Fukushima radiation exposure was “far lower” than previously found:

Robert Ferris. Jan 24, 2017. Fukushima radiation levels far lower than previously thought, study finds. CNBC.Com, http://www.cnbc.com/2017/01/24/fukushima-radiation-levels-far-lower-than-previously-thought-study-finds.html

Radiation levels remaining from the 2011 disaster at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant appear to be a small fraction of what previous measurements suggested, according to a recently published study that followed levels in tens of thousands of people living near the site of the accident.

Science magazine highlighted the research Monday, calling it the first study to measure individual radiation levels in locals following a major nuclear disaster. The study was published in the peer reviewed Journal of Radiological Protection in December.  

I’ve seen this type of headline before so I was immediately suspicious. I pulled up the journal article and found a glaring issue that problematizes the validity of this conclusion that radiation levels were lower than previously calculated.

Here is the glaring issue ignored in the CNBC’s optimistic headline: The radiation monitoring badges were provided to residents in August of 2011. The disaster and radiation exposure began March 11, 2011.

Consequently, RESIDENTS WERE NOT GIVEN BADGES TO MEASURE EXPOSURE UNTIL FULLY 5 MONTHS AFTER exposure, a fact that is acknowledged in the title of the research article but ignored in the news coverage:

Makoto Miyazaki and Ryugo Hayano. 2017. Individual external dose monitoring of alltizens of Date City by passive dosimeter 5 to 51 months after the FukushimaNPP accident (series): 1. Comparison of individual dose with ambient dose rate monitored by aircraft surveys. J. Radiol. Prot. 37 1(http://iopscience.iop.org/0952-4746/37/1/1) http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1361-6498/37/1/1/pdf

For the measurement of individual external doses, Date City distributed individual dosim-eters (radio-photoluminescence (RPL) glass dosimeters: Glass Badge) to kindergarten-, elementary- and junior high school-children in August 2011. The target group was subsequently enlarged as the production capacity of the supplier increased, and the measurements are still ongoing

How is it possible to conclude that exposure was lower than previously thought when the evidence for that claim is generated from a study that excludes the first 5 months of exposure?

Truth has an especially slippery feel when it comes to Fukushima….

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REFERENCES

[i] It is worth noting that although this report was produced on 10/26/2010, the file properties indicate the document was modified on 3/13/2011: Integrity Inspection of Dry Storage Casks and Spent Fuels at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station (16 November 2010), http://www.nirs.org/reactorwatch/accidents/6-1_powerpoint.pdf

[ii] Integrity Inspection of Dry Storage Cask.

http://majiasblog.blogspot.fr/2017/02/convenient-acccounts-of-fukushima.html

 

February 1, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

What is True?

What is true about Chernobyl’s legacy? I offer two competing accounts.

The first account describes Chernobyl as a “wildlife wonderland”:

Karin Brulliard. April 26, 2016. 30 years after Chernobyl disaster, camera study captures a wildlife wonderland. The Washington Post https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/animalia/wp/2016/04/26/30-years-after-chernobyl-disaster-camera-study-captures-a-wildlife-wonderland/?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_evening

Anecdotal reports of wildlife doing well in the ruins of Chernobyl have been controversial. Some scientists argue that the disaster has taken a deleterious toll on fauna, causing genetic damage and population declines. A study published last fall, however, backed up the idea of the fallout zone-turned-enchanted forest with data from helicopter observation and animal tracks. They pointed to flourishing animal populations.

The big picture of these pictures? According to Beasley, it’s that radiation does not seem to have kept wildlife from self-sustaining and spreading out across the Belarus evacuation zone. He said he expects another camera trap study being carried out in the Ukraine half of the zone will find the same thing.

I wondered what study “published last fall” backed the idea that the “fallout zone-turned-enchanted forest” had a flourishing animal population. It was apparently Dr. James Beasley’s (from the University of Georgia). He has quite a record of funding from the US Departments of Energy and Defense and is currently a consultant for the IAEA on Fukushima.  I recommend looking at his cv http://srel.uga.edu/facstaffpages/CVs/beasleyCV.pdf.  There is no information available about his methodology in the publication, which is a “correspondence” here: http://dx.doi. org/10.1016/j.cub.2015.08.017.

In contrast to Dr. Beasley’s glowing account of “fallout zone-turned-enchanted forest” there is Dr. Tim Mousseau’s account of transgenerational effects that include reduced sperm count and smaller bird brains. 

I had the opportunity to listen to Dr. Mousseau describe his research and his extensive field work capturing, sampling and releasing a range of animals in the Chernobyl and Fukushima zones. He is a very careful and methodical scientist who is not funded by US government agencies or the IAEA. He and his research partner have concluded that animals are not in fact adapting to radiation-contaminated zones ( see academic study here  ). Dr. Mousseau describes his findings here:

Timothy Mousseau. April 25, 2016. At Chernobyl and Fukushima, radioactivity has seriously harmed wildlife. The Conversation, https://theconversation.com/at-chernobyl-and-fukushima-radioactivity-has-seriously-harmed-wildlife-57030

…in the past decade population biologists have made considerable progress in documenting how radioactivity affects plants, animals and microbes. My colleagues and I have analyzed these impacts at Chernobyl, Fukushima and naturally radioactive regions of the planet.

Our studies provide new fundamental insights about consequences of chronic, multigenerational exposure to low-dose ionizing radiation. Most importantly, we have found that individual organisms are injured by radiation in a variety of ways. The cumulative effects of these injuries result in lower population sizes and reduced biodiversity in high-radiation areas….

Radiation exposure has caused genetic damage and increased mutation rates in many organisms in the Chernobyl region. So far, we have found little convincing evidence that many organisms there are evolving to become more resistant to radiation. You decide what is true.

http://majiasblog.blogspot.fr/2016/04/what-is-true.html

April 30, 2016 Posted by | Fukushima 2016 | , , , | Leave a comment