August 2011

News on the Fukushima Nuclear Crisis

“The Japanese people have a high level of knowledge, so I think information should be disclosed correctly and quickly so that the people can make judgments, especially the people here in Fukushima.”
Masao Hara, mayor of Koriyama (source: The New York Times).

10,000 mSv/h is the highest level of radioactivity detected (August 1, 2011) at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant on a pipe between the reactor buildings No. 1 and 2.
A maximum of 1,000 mSv/h was detected (May 21, 2011) outdoors in debris around reactor building 1, and of 4,000 mSv/h indoors. TEPCO data (source: NHK World).

Training of radiation measuring workers. Source: TEPCO, August 6, 2011


  • Fukushima media coverage ‘may be harmful’
    Andy Coghlan, New Scientist, August 30, 2011.

  • Simulation shows radiation may have reached 15 prefectures

    Simulation map of I-131 and Cs-137 spread from March 11 to 29, 2011. Source: Toshimasa Ohara, NIES

    Radioactive iodine and cesium from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant likely spread across a wide area encompassing Tohoku, Kanto and parts of Chubu, according to a simulation by the National Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES).

    In early May, the science ministry published the results of the System for Prediction of Environmental Emergency Dose Information (SPEEDI).

    Many of SPEEDI’s radiation monitoring locations recorded values close to the ones estimated by NIES’ simulation project. But the SPEEDI measurements were largely limited to an area close to the plant.
    Hirohiko Nakamura, Asahi Japan Watch, August 29, 2011.


  • Why the Fukushima disaster is worse than Chernobyl
    Japan has been slow to admit the scale of the meltdown. But now the truth is coming out.
    David McNeill, The Independent, August 29, 2011.

  • Fukushima accident released far more cesium than Hiroshima bombing
    Asahi Japan Watch, August 27, 2011.

  • People Are Suffering from Radiophobia
    Japanese scientist Shunichi Yamashita is a leading expert on the effects of nuclear radiation. In a SPIEGEL interview, he discusses his work in communicating the potential dangers of exposure to residents living near the Fukushima nuclear plant. The professor says many suffer from severe radiation anxiety.
    Interview with Shunichi Yamashita, conducted by Cordula Meyer, Spiegel International, August 19, 2011.

  • Fukushima radiation alarms doctors
    Japanese doctors warn of public health problems caused by Fukushima radiation.
    Dahr Jamail, Al Jazeera, August 18, 2011.

  • In Rare Tape, Fukushima Daiichi Chief Apologizes
    Scenes from inside Fukushima Daiichi exist but are rare enough. But scenes from within the ravaged Tepco plant featuring its general manager, Masao Yoshida, making a direct apology for the consequences of the March 11 disasters, along with several bows, are even rarer.
    Kenneth Maxwell, The Wall Street Journal, August 18, 2011.

  • Hot concern
    Japan risks another crisis over decontamination.
    The Economist, August 13, 2011.

  • Honda to improve robot to work at Fukushima
    Engineers affiliated with Honda Motor Co. are applying the technology in the Asimo biped robot for a new machine capable of working in areas of high radiation at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant where human workers dare not go.
    Yukio Hashimoto, Ashi Japan Watch, August 12, 2011.

  • Professor’s anger at lawmakers creates buzz on Internet
    An exasperated University of Tokyo professor who launched an angry tirade at lawmakers over the Fukushima nuclear crisis has become a hero to many on the Internet. Tatsuhiko Kodama, 58, who heads the Radioisotope Center at Todai, was called to provide expert testimony before the Lower House Health, Labor and Welfare Committee on July 27.
    The Asahi Shimbun, August 12, 2011.

  • Personal radiation dosimeters in high demand
    Responding to public anxiety about radiation exposure, a range of affordable household-use dosimeters has hit the market.
    Tetsushi Yamamura, The Asahi Shimbun, August 12, 2011.

  • Natural energy bill discussed
    The governing Democratic Party of Japan has agreed to accept opposition-proposed changes to a bill to promote renewable energy, including reducing the burden on large-lot electricity users. The passage of the renewable energy promotion bill is one of the conditions cited by Prime Minister Naoto Kan for his resignation.
    NHK World, August 12, 2011.

  • Japan ignored own radiation forecasts
    Japan’s system to forecast radiation (SPEEDI) threats was working from the moment its nuclear crisis began. As officials planned a venting operation certain to release radioactivity into the air, the system predicted Karino Elementary School would be directly in the path of the plume emerging from the tsunami-hit Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant. But the prediction helped no one. Nobody acted on it.
    Eric Talmadge and Mari Yamaguchi, Associated Press on CBS8, August 9, 2011.

  • Japan ignored own radiation forecasts

    Akira Tsubosaka, senior official of the SPEEDI
    Koji Sasahara, AP. July 19, 2011

    Japan’s system to forecast radiation threats was working from the moment its nuclear crisis began.
    As officials planned a venting operation certain to release radioactivity into the air, the SPEEDI system predicted Karino Elementary School would be directly in the path of the plume emerging from the tsunami-hit Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant.
    But the prediction helped no one. Nobody acted on it.

    Eric Talmadge and Mari Yamaguchi, Associated Press on CBS8, August 9, 2011.


  • Contaminated seafood and government cover-up at Fukushima
    A Greenpeace team of radiation experts has found high levels of radiation in seafood caught by Japanese fishermen off the coast of Japan. This, along with the news that the Japanese government covered up the true extent of radiation releases from Fukushima and so put people in danger, shows it is long past time that urgent, transparent action was taken by officials.
    Justin McKeating, Greenpeace, August 9, 2011.

  • Report suggests second meltdown at reactor at Fukushima plant
    According to a report by scientist Fumiya Tanabe, a second meltdown likely occurred the March 21 in the No. 3 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, a scenario that could hinder the current strategy to end the crisis.
    Tomooki Yasuda, Asahi Japan Watch, August 8, 2011.

  • Japan Held Nuclear Data, Leaving Evacuees in Peril
    A Japanese computerized early warning system started to generate maps projecting the trajectory of radiation plumes from Fukushima Daiichi plant within hours of the accident on March 11, but none of the maps were made available to the public until nearly two weeks later, endangering the evacuees in places unsuitable.
    Norimitsu Onishi and Martin Fackler, The New York Times, August 8, 2011.

  • Fukushima nuke crisis invoked at Hiroshima event
    Kan pitches new energy policy goals on bomb anniversary.
    Eric Johnston, The Japan Times, August 7, 2011.

  • Kan: No-nuclear generation society a gov’t policy
    After the 66th anniversary ceremony of the US atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Prime Minister of Japan Naoto Kan says he will promote the idea of a society without reliance on nuclear power generation, not as a personal assertion but as a government policy.
    NHK World English, August 6, 2011.

  • TEPCO may use ‘shower spray’ on troubled reactor
    Tokyo Electric Power Co. is considering changing the method of injecting water into the No. 3 reactor at its hobbled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant as the current system isn’t cutting it.
    Takashi Sugimoto, Asahi Japan Watch, August 5, 2011.

  • Japan’s Prime Minister Fires Three Nuclear Energy Officials
    Prime Minister Naoto Kan removed three top officials in charge of Japanese nuclear energy policy, taking aim at cozy ties between regulators and the power industry that were exposed after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant accident.
    Martin Fackler, NYTimes, August 4, 2011.

  • Japan sacks three nuclear power officials in shake-up
    Three men in charge of nuclear power safety and policy have been sacked amid the ongoing crisis at the tsunami-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.
    BBC News, August 4, 2011.

  • Japan Passes Law Supporting Stricken Nuclear Plant’s Operator
    Japan’s Parliament passed a law that will allow the use of public funds to shore up the company operating the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, and help it pay what is expected to amount to billions of dollars in compensation claims.
    Hiroko Tabuchi, NYTimes, August 3, 2011.

  • Natural energy sources a growth sector everywhere but Japan
    Japan is lagging behind the world in the development of electricity from natural sources and Softbank Corp. President Masayoshi Son wants to do something big to change that.
    Atsushi Komori and Harufumi Mori, Asahi Japan Watch, August 2, 2011.

  • Highest radioactivity level detected at nuke plant
    The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says it has detected 10,000 millisieverts (10 sieverts) of radioactivity per hour at the plant. The radiation level is the highest recorded at the plant.
    NHK World English, August 2, 2011.



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