News updates 25-26 Apr, 2011

Hot debris hampers reactor repairs A contamination map revealing radiation levels at about 150 places in the Fukushima No. 1 power plant was released Saturday by troubled Tokyo Electric Power Co

Workers locked in battle at Fukushima, exposure to radiation rising

Quake- and tsunami-stricken city starts project to employ beleaguered local residents

Life in the shadow of a nuclear disaster

Thousands of colorful donated toys from Japan and overseas were brought to the Tokyo Toy Museum in Shinjuku Ward on Sunday to be packed by nearly 100 volunteers for distribution in the disaster-hit Tohoku region.

Do non-scientific folk beliefs about disasters have something to teach?

Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant must be shut down

Gov. reform panel examines proposal to hike sales tax to 15%

How debt, tax hike will affect reconstruction 

The Straits Times – Why Japan is rich despite huge debts

Decentralizing Tokyo may save the nation


The concentration of money and power in Tokyo is to a degree unthinkable in the United States. — Edward Seidensticker

After March 11, Japan must reconsider its energy options


Viewed from abroad, there is no doubt that Japan is suffering an unmitigated disaster

41% of local gov’ts undecided on future of nuclear power plants

Who pays for the nuclear nightmare?

Human cost of nuclear power too high-German minister(4/23)

Gov’t to help TEPCO pay for nuke crisis damages if survival at risk

For some Kamaishi residents, rail tracks led to safety(4/23)

Disaster expert seeks better tsunami defense

Lesson from the past: Edo era roads, towns built just out of tsunami’s reach

Building hospital ships for disaster response


At this page in history where the world thinks Japan is down, the nation could regain maritime pride and meaningful status by building hospital ships for disaster response.

Chernobyl nuke cleanup to be costly for decades

Official arrogance of Chernobyl


Chernobyl’s real lesson is not about nuclear plant safety. It is about official indifference to suffering, and a cult of secrecy that shares information only among a narrow elite

Task for post-disaster politics

Japanese politicians should be aware that anger and disappointment are mounting among victims of the March 11 triple-disaster, including victims of the nuclear crisis

Worries about new card

In 2015, the government hopes to introduce a “common number” system under which people will be issued an electronic card for taxation and social security purposes

Heat exchanger for No1 reactor considered

Tokyo Electric Power Company is thinking about setting up a heat exchanger to hasten the full-scale recovery of the cooling system at the Number 1 reactor of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

TEPCO says 70 percent of the fuel is apparently damaged and 6 tons of water per hour is being injected into the reactor.

In order to cool it under more stable conditions, TEPCO wants the water level in the containment vessel to reach the height of the fuel rods

At present, the water level is estimated to be about 6 meters from the bottom of the containment vessel.

Two plans have been considered to cool the vessel, one uses sea water, the other air.

To avoid the risk of further damage from possible aftershocks TEPCO is favoring the water system.

It says the pipes which connect the containment vessel and the heat exchanger must be quake protected. In addition, radioactive substances must be removed before pouring contaminated water into the heat exchanger.

These tasks should be done inside the nuclear reactor building but as the level of radioactivity is too high for human entry, many problems remain before the heat exchanger can be set up.

Monday, April 25, 2011 06:00 +0900 (JST)

Quake protection considered for No.4 reactor

Street Performance held to aid quake-hit area

SDF to conduct 3rd massive search operation

Anchored by community spirit / Village’s determination to recover inspires N.Z. woman to stay put (Apr 25)

Movers turn away evacuees / People told to relocate get cold shoulder from moving firms (Apr 25)

Sharing disaster-area workers’ emotional, mental load (Apr 25)

Atmospheric radiation leak underestimated (Apr.25)

Data released by the government indicates radioactive material was leaking into the atmosphere from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in early April in greater quantities than previously estimated.

Radioactive material was being released into the atmosphere from the plant at an estimated rate of 154 terabecquerels per day as of April 5, according to data released by the Cabinet Office’s Nuclear Safety Commission on Saturday.

The NSC previously estimated radiation leakage on April 5 at “less than 1 terabecquerel per hour.”

Iodine-131 and cesium-137 were released into the atmosphere that day at the estimated rates of 0.69 terabecquerel per hour and 0.14 terabecquerel per hour, respectively, the NSC said.

Emissions are converted into iodine-131 equivalents for assessment on the international nuclear event scale (INES), to arrive at the total 154 terabecquerels per day, the nuclear safety watchdog said.

One terabecquerel equals 1 trillion becquerels.

On April 17, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. said in its plan for stabilization of the crippled reactors it would not start to get radiation leakage under control until the plan’s fourth month of implementation.

This would mean 10,000 terabecquerels of radioactive substances would be released into the atmosphere from the plant during the coming three months, according to simple calculations based on the estimated emission rate as of April 5.

Emissions in that three-month period alone would therefore exceed the level necessary for a Level 6 severity rating on the INES, the globally accepted measure for evaluating nuclear accidents.

The ongoing crisis at the Fukushima plant has been rated a maximum Level 7 on the scale, which was established by the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in 1992.

The total amount of radioactive material discharged from the plant from March 11 to early April was estimated between 370,000 and 630,000 terabecquerels, according to government sources.

The commission, however, said the figures were estimates only, “with a considerable margin of error.” Radiation levels around the six-reactor complex have been slowly falling, it said.

(Apr. 25, 2011)

Recent electricity shortages faced by Tokyo and its vicinity after several power plants were damaged in the Great East Japan Earthquake have shed light on the weaknesses of the nation’s power distribution systems.

Ten electric power companies have virtual monopolies in their respective regions, and this small country is divided into two zones with different power frequencies. These are points on which Japan’s power industry differs from its counterparts overseas.

Japan’s electricity history began in 1886, seven years after Thomas Edison put electric light bulbs into practical use.

Under the modernization policy of the government during the Meiji era (1868-1912), factories sprang up across the nation, along with demand for electricity to power them. This led to the birth of hundreds of small and midsize electricity suppliers.

In the Taisho era (1912-1926), these smaller utilities merged or were taken over until only five were left. During this realignment, Toho Denryoku emerged as the leader. The firm was led by Yasuzaemon Matsunaga, who was nicknamed the “king of electric power.” Toho Denryoku was a predecessor to today’s Kyushu Electric Power Co., Kansai Electric Power Co. and Chubu Electric Power Co.

But in the early Showa era (1926-1989) when the military gained power, the government in 1939 established a state-controlled company, Nippon Hassoden K.K. (Japan Electric Generation and Transmission Company), to control the power supply

KEPCO to freeze reactor replacement at Mihama写真付き記事(04/24)

Excerpts: Kansai Electric Power Co. will suspend its plan to replace the No. 1 reactor at the Mihama nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture with a new reactor on the premises, sources said April 22.

The No. 1 reactor has been in operation for more than 40 years. KEPCO will not revise its replacement policy, but it has decided that more time is needed to gain the understanding of local communities in Fukui Prefecture given the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

In June 2010, KEPCO announced plans to decommission the Mihama No. 1 reactor and replace it with a new reactor.

The utility company will now review the original plan, including the announcement of how long the No. 1 reactor will stay in operation.

Site studies for the construction of a replacement reactor have been suspended following the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11 and the subsequent nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant. Plutonium-thermal power generation was scheduled to start at the Takahama plant, also in Fukui Prefecture, before the end of the year, but is also likely to be postponed…

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