Radioactive material down to 1/100 (Yomiuri Apr 27) The amount of radioactive material emitted from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant has decreased to about one hundredth of the level recorded earlier this month, the Cabinet Office’s Nuclear Safety Commission has said.

The commission also said Monday the concentration of iodine-131 in seawater sampled near the plant had dropped to below the government-set limit for the first time since surveys on March 21. However, the panel said high amounts of radioactive material were still being emitted by the plant run by Tokyo Electric Power Co., at about 10 billion becquerels per hour.

Robot ‘Quince’ to investigate nuclear plant (Yomiuri Apr 27)

A robot will be used to investigate hard-to-reah places at the crippled Fukushima No 1 nuclear power plant, according to the head of robotics at the unified command headquarters dealing with the nuclear crisis.

The robot-originally developed by researchers at organizations including the Chiba Institute of Technology and Tohoku University for work in disaster areas–has been converted to investigate conditions at the nuclear plant. The plan was announced Sunday by University of Tokyo Prof. Asama, who is in charge of adopting robot technology at the headquarters set by the government and Tokyo Electric Power Co., operator of the nuclear plant.

The robot called Quince, can be used to collect information in dangerous situations such as terrorist attacks using chemical weapons. Equipped with several tracks, the robot is 66 centimeters long, and 48 centimeters wide.

The four small tracks on its sides make it one of the top machines in the world for maneuvering over rubble and difficult terrain, according to Tohoku University Prof. Satoshi Tadokoro. It has not been decided how many robots will be used, the institute said.

Japan seen tapping foreigners for nuclear crisis review »

TOKYO, April 27 (Reuters) – Japan, stung by international criticism of its handling of a nuclear crisis, will likely include foreign experts in a review of the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant, an aide to the prime minister said on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Naoto Kan has promised an eventual review of the crisis, in which cooling functions at the nuclear power plant in northeast Japan were knocked out by a 15 metre (49 foot) tsunami on March 11, leading to leaks of radiation into the air and sea.

“Of course we will have Japanese experts but it’s highly possible that we will have foreign experts take part in the review,” Goshi Hosono, special adviser to Kan, told a news conference.

“We must make sure that the results of the review are acknowledged by the international community given that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and others have been keen for this.”

Critics say that Japan was too slow to disclose detailed information immediately after the quake and tsunami that crippled the plant and that it was also late in informing neighbouring countries when it released radioactive water into the sea earlier this month.

The head of the IAEA, who flew to Japan shortly after the crisis broke out, told Kan at the time that foreign countries were calling for more information and details.

Hosono said the government was committed to timely and detailed disclosure, and that it would be responsible for overseeing a plan by the plant’s operator Tokyo Electric Power Co to stabilise the reactors. [ID:nL3E7FH02P]

Tokyo Electric has been accused of downplaying the dangers and ignoring warnings about the risk of a quake and tsunami striking the plant, as well as reacting poorly to the damage.

The government will also review the role and structure of the country’s nuclear regulators in its inspection of the crisis, Hosono said.

“Is it appropriate to have the Nuclear Industrial Safety Agency act as a regulator under the umbrella of the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy, which promotes nuclear energy policy?” he said.

“I also have serious doubts on whether the role of the Atomic Energy Commission, an organisation that makes proposals on regulations, is sufficient.” (Reporting by Chisa Fujioka)

School topsoil to be removed in Fukushima

The city of Koriyama in Fukushima Prefecture plans to remove radiation-tainted topsoil from school grounds to allow children to resume outdoor activities.

Koriyama City, some 50 kilometers west of the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, will start taking away the top one to 2 centimeters of topsoil from schoolyards this weekend. The institutions subject to the measure are 15 elementary and junior high schools and 13 nursery schools.

The city plans to allow these schools to restart using their grounds for up to one hour daily after confirming their safety by measuring radiation.

The city has restricted outdoor activities at public schools since the central government announced its radiation safety limit for schools last week.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011 14:27 +0900 (JST)

TEPCO to fill No.1 reactor with water

The operator of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has checked the interior of the No.1 reactor for leaks, before increasing the level of water in order to cool the fuel rods.

Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, plans to finish filling the No.1 and No.3 reactor containment vessels by mid-July in order to submerge the fuel rods and cool them down stably.

The utility is currently pumping 6 tons of water per hour into the No.1 reactor. Some of that water is turning into steam, then turning back into water and pooling inside the containment vessel.

The water is now believed to be about 6 meters deep.

In order to submerge the fuel rods, TEPCO must pump more water into the vessel and make the pool about 18 meters deep.

On Tuesday, the utility sent remote-controlled robots inside the reactor building to check for leaks and other damage. No major problems were found.

TEPCO plans to increase the amount of water being fed into the reactor to 14 tons per hour starting on Wednesday, on an experimental basis.

Workers will monitor changes in temperature and pressure to see whether the reactor container can safely hold the water, while robots will enter the building again to check for leaks.

The government’s nuclear safety agency says TEPCO also needs to determine whether a water-filled reactor container can withstand strong aftershocks.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011 19:01 +0900 (JST)

[Related: Nuke agency says water may be leaking from No. 1 reactor container (Mainichi Apr 26)| TEPCO filling containment vessels; experts raise doubts(Asahi 04/26)]

Radioactive water carried from No.2 reactor

The operator of the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has said it is giving top priority to transferring highly contaminated water from the No.2 reactor.

Radioactive water in reactor buildings and other areas of the plant is hampering work to bring the accident under control.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, says the radiation level in a tunnel at the No.2 reactor is especially high, and is transferring the water to a temporary storage site.

Bur the firm has also found high levels of radioactive substances at the site of the No. 4 reactor.

Last Thursday it detected 8,100 becquerels of cesium 137 and 7,800 becquerels of cesium 134 per cubic centimeter in the water in the turbine building’s basement. The radioactive levels were about 250 times higher than a month before.

TEPCO says the contaminated water levels are rising.

At the No.3 reactor, the contaminated water level in a tunnel is also rising. The firm says the water was 98 centimeters from the top of the tunnel as of Tuesday morning.

TEPCO sets one meter as the limit at which it should begin removing contaminated water, but it has not yet found a location to transfer the contaminated water to.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011 19:27 +0900 (JST)

High concentration of radioactive water found in Fukushima’s No. 4 reactor (Mainichi, Apr 26)

A concentration of radioactive water in the basement of the No. 4 reactor’s turbine building at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant became abnormally high, reaching a maximum of 250 times normal monthly levels, according to Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) on April 26.

Radioactive water may be leaking from the basement of the nearby No. 3 reactor’s turbine building and the water level there is on the rise, TEPCO sources say, as the ongoing crisis at the power plant continues following heavy damage by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami and subsequent explosions.

The concentration of radioactive water in the No. 4 turbine building is lower than that in the No. 1, 2 and 3 reactors, but TEPCO has been unable to secure a place to move the contaminated water.

TEPCO separately announced on April 26 that it will start preparatory work to decide if it will fill the No. 1 reactor’s containment vessel with water to stabilize its reactor core, a procedure known as a “water tomb.”

On April 21, TEPCO took samples of residual water in the basement of the No. 4 reactor’s turbine building to check the concentration of radioactive materials per square centimeter.

The utility found that the samples contained 8,100 becquerels of cesium-137 (half-life about 30 years) and 7,800 becquerels of cesium-134 (half-life about 2 years), up about 250 times from the previous survey on March 24. Also found in the fresh samples were 4,300 becquerels of iodine-131 (half-life about 8 days), about 12 times higher than the March probe.

The depth of water as of 7 a.m. on April 26 stood at 1.15 meters, up 25 centimeters from April 13.

The turbine buildings of the No. 3 and 4 reactors are connected through an electric product room, where power panels and other equipment are located, leading TEPCO officials to speculate that water being pumped into the No. 3 unit is believed to be leaking into the No. 4 unit through a cable gap and other reasons.

“We haven’t detected any leak of water into the outside of the No. 4 turbine building but we need to quickly secure a place to transport it,” a TEPCO official said.

Resin spraying starts at nuclear plant

At the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant, workers have begun spraying a chemical hardening agent to prevent the spreading of radioactive dust.

Radioactive dust is scattered on the plant’s compound as a result of hydrogen explosions at 2 of the plant’s 6 reactors in March.

The plant’s operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, says 3-week test-spraying of the agent proved that it keeps radioactive dust from being blown away.

TEPCO plans to spray 1-million cubic meters of the agent on the 500,000-square-meter compound by the end of June.

The test-spraying was done by workers using a hose, but a remote-controlled vehicle will be used for further spraying to minimize workers’ radiation exposure.

The spraying is to be followed by work to cover reactor buildings with huge filter sheets to prevent further releasing of radioactive material into the environment.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011 18:34 +0900 (JST)

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Q&A What’s going on at Japan’s damaged nuclear power plant? (Reuters, Apr 27 permanent link)

Experts: Quakes increased before March 11 disaster

Experts say increased seismic activities in the Pacific Ocean in recent years may have been a sign of the massive quake of March 11th.

The Coordinating Committee for Earthquake Prediction, which consists of experts from universities and research institutes, met on Tuesday to discuss last month’s quake and tsunami. A Tohoku University research group said seismic activities started to increase off eastern prefectures from Miyagi to Ibaraki about 3 years before the massive quake.

Nagoya University Professor Koshun Yamaoka said research by a national institute shows that the focuses of small quakes in the 2 days before March 11th gradually moved closer to the focus of the massive earthquake.

Professor Yamaoka said these seismic activities may have been an indicator of the mega-quake that followed.

The Geospatial Information Authority of Japan said coastal areas of Miyagi and Chiba prefectures sank during the huge quake, but some rose 5 to 8 centimeters afterwards. The authority said tectonic plates have continued to shift since the massive quake.

CCEP Vice Deputy Chairman and Tohoku University Graduate School Professor Toru Matsuzawa told reporters that relatively big earthquakes struck off Japan’s northeast during a short period in the past, but the huge quake was beyond prediction. He said his group will closely monitor seismic activities and tectonic movements.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011 06:29 +0900 (JST)

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Fukushima farmers protest near TEPCO headquarters

Governor inspects Onagawa nuclear power plant

Officials of the Miyagi prefectural government have conducted safety checks at Onagawa nuclear power plant, which shut down automatically following the March 11th earthquake and tsunami.

A group of about 15 officials, including Governor Yoshihiro Murai, visited the plant located in the prefecture on Tuesday. The plant is operated by Tohoku Electric Power Company.

All 3 reactors at the plant remain shut down, and one of 2 power cables linking to the cooling system generator at the No.2 reactor has been rendered useless due to flooding.

Murai inspected the damage, and asked utility officials about safety measures at the plant

See also Japan Times: Governor inspects Tohoku plant

“…But unlike Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power station, scene of the nation’s worst-ever nuclear crisis, Tohoku Electric Power Co.’s Onagawa plant is now deemed in stable condition.

Murai said, “I want to check what kind of measures (Tohoku Electric) is going to take as I’ve heard many worries expressed about whether everything is OK with the Onagawa plant.”

Prefectural officials said it was rare for a governor to make an on-site inspection of an atomic power plant.

After the visit to the Onagawa power station, which straddles the town of Onagawa and the city of Ishinomaki, Murai, Ishinomaki Mayor Hiroshi Kameyama and Onagawa Mayor Nobutaka Azumi are expected to call on Tohoku Electric to maintain thorough safety measures for the facility, the officials said.

Nobuaki Abe, vice president of Tohoku Electric, said, “Taking the accident at the Fukushima plant seriously, we will take all possible measures.”

Power for cooling lacking: Nuke plants’ backups fall way short (Japan Times, Apr 27)

Most nuclear reactors in Japan would fail to achieve a stable condition in the event that all regular power sources are lost, even though plant operators have prepared new backup power sources as well as electric generators amid the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, according to utility industry sources.

The possibility of a failure to secure the safety of the reactors is because the backup power sources do not have enough capacity to operate all of the devices needed to keep the reactors cool.

Many reactors still effectively have no alternative power source should emergency diesel generators fail to work, as was the case at the Fukushima plant after it was hit by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami on March 11.

The government’s nuclear regulatory body has instructed plant operators to prepare for a possible loss of power, such as by securing vehicle-mounted power sources, to prevent another disaster. At Fukushima, the power grid and most of the emergency diesel generators were knocked out by the quake and tsunami, resulting in the loss of the reactors’ key cooling functions.

The 10 firms that own nuclear plants and the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, which is in charge of the Monju prototype fast-breeder reactor, said they have now deployed power-supply vehicles and portable power generators.

But utility sources said the power supply can only run measuring gauges and small-scale water injection devices. “They are far from being described as backups to emergency power generators,” one of the sources said.

It was only Tokyo Electric Power Co. that said it can keep cooling four of its operating reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power station in Niigata Prefecture by using one 4,500-kw power-supply vehicle and four 500-kw ones.

Among the operators that have not secured sufficient backups was Japan Atomic Power Co., which said it needs about 3,500 kw to safely keep cooling its No. 2 reactor at the Tsuruga power station in Fukui Prefecture, but only has deployed a 220-kw and a 800-kw power-supply vehicle.

The company is trying to secure three 1,825-kw power-supply vehicles with the hope of deploying them by around next March, the sources said.

Chubu Electric Power Co. has installed nine more diesel power generators for its five reactors, including two reactors that are in the process of being scrapped, at its Hamaoka plant in Shizuoka Prefecture. The plant is at risk of being hit by a big earthquake expected in the Tokai region.

But the diesel generators, which have been placed on higher ground so they would not be affected by tsunami, have only a small power capacity, so the utility plans to locate three gas turbine generators at the site, the sources said.

Hokkaido Electric Power Co. has also deployed one 3,200-kw power-supply vehicle at its Tomari power station, but the capacity is not enough to achieve stable shutdown of the reactors and it plans to add a second vehicle within two years, the sources said.

Meanwhile, to release information in a more unified manner on how Japan is dealing with the country’s worst nuclear disaster, the government and Tepco on Monday held a joint press conference for the first time.

The utility, the government’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, the Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan, which is another oversight body, and the science ministry have separately held press conferences, but Goshi Hosono, Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s special adviser, said he wants to avoid inconsistency or overlapping in the information released from various sources.

NGOs call for a nuclear-free society (Kyodo, Apr 27)

A group of 87 nongovernmental organizations in Japan reiterated calls to achieve “a nuclear-free society” on Tuesday, the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, as the country continues to grapple with the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant.

“We will launch a large national action” seeking the permanent closure of the Fukushima No. 1 and neighboring No. 2 plants, cancellations of the nuclear fuel recycling program and new reactor construction plans, as well as the shutdown of aging reactors, the NGOs said in their joint statement.

“As a first step we are issuing this joint statement today, 25 years after the Chernobyl accident,” it noted. “And we will propose a process for achieving a steady phase-out of nuclear energy” so the Earth will not be further subjected to radioactive contamination and radiation exposure.

On the state of the Fukushima No. 1 plant, the statement said the reactors there “have not achieved cold shutdown. The situation continues to be unpredictable.”

The No. 4 reactor of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded on April 26, 1986, and remains the world’s worst nuclear accident.

Too many volunteers to put up

SENDAI — Nearly 90 percent of volunteer-staffed disaster relief operation centers in severely affected Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures are limiting their intake of volunteers due in part to difficulty finding them accommodations, a Kyodo News survey showed Tuesday.

Some volunteer centers said they are shying away from accepting new workers as concerns grow over traffic jams ahead of the Golden Week holidays from late April to early May, according to the survey.

Of 65 operation centers, 56 are restricting the participation of volunteers, for example, by accepting only local residents.

“We have an oversupply of volunteers. It’s even difficult to find accommodations for them,” a volunteer center official said.

Increases in unpaid helpers “could cause confusion, including with the transportation situation” ahead of the long holiday season, as roads have already been jammed in parts of the areas stricken by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, an official at another center said.

However, some observers criticize such moves, saying communities should make the most of the benefits offered by volunteers.In a separate move, the National Police Agency will start examining the mental conditions of about 10,500 officers, some of whom witnessed traumatic sights during rescue operations in the disaster-hit areas, in order to address their so-called critical incident stress.

The agency will send clinical psychotherapists next month to care for the officers in the three prefectures

Moving away, staying together / 1,400 households in Miyagi Pref. willing to relocate inland en masse (Apr.27 DY)

About 1,400 households in nine coastal areas in Miyagi Prefecture that were pummeled by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami are considering shifting en masse to inland parts of the prefecture, according to a Yomiuri Shimbun survey.

Many of the households’ rice and vegetable fields suffered extensive salt damage due to the massive tsunami, and many of the residents remain terrified that another tsunami could strike the region.

The nine areas are in four coastal cities. About 180 of the households from three of the areas–Higashi-Matsushima, Natori and Kesennuma–have already decided to relocate.

These households hope to take advantage of a Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry project to facilitate the relocation of disaster-stricken residents, using national government subsidies. The four city governments and the prefectural government intend to support the envisaged relocation.

Desalting of tsunami-hit rice paddies begins (NHK Apr 26)

TEPCO boss wanted use of SDF plane / Minister nixed March 11 plan to rush to HQ (Yomuiri Apr.27)

Tepco said likely to survive crisis: Legal loophole may keep power provider roughly intact

“… Tokyo Electric Power Co. will probably survive and might even prosper. Plenty of companies have emerged from past major disasters — even self-inflicted ones.

Just think back a year to the Gulf of Mexico oil gusher, one of the world’s biggest environmental calamities.

The share price of the culprit, BP PLC, has largely recovered since the April 20, 2010, explosion, which spilled more than 200 million gallons of crude oil in the four months it took to cap the burst Deepwater Horizon well 1.6 km beneath the sea.

Despite an estimated $40.9 billion in costs from the disaster, the energy giant is forging ahead with new ventures and seeking to explore again in the Gulf of Mexico, after a moratorium on deep-water drilling was lifted in October.

Tepco’s path to recovery looks somewhat less certain, but analysts say the position it holds make the government likely to do what’s necessary to keep it afloat — even if in a new guise. For one, Tepco is the main source of power for the Tokyo region — home to 30 million people and a heartland of manufacturing.

“Government support will be forthcoming because Tepco is really too big to fail,” said Thomas Grieder, analyst for Asia-Pacific energy at IHS Global Insight.

That’s not to say the utility won’t end up paying in some form for the radiation leaks and other disruptions from its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, which was wrecked by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that killed an estimated 27,500 people.

“For Tepco, this is obviously going to have a very long-lasting financial impact, and also hurt its reputation as a leading electricity generator,” Grieder said.

Investors dumped ¥1.06 trillion of its shares last month, though its share price has recovered slightly since.

Tepco has sought a ¥2 trillion loan to help tide it through the initial emergency. Last week, the company said it expects to pay ¥50 billion ($600 million) in initial compensation to the nearly 80,000 residents who were evacuated from near the plant due to radiation leaks.

Investment bank Merrill Lynch estimated Tepco could face compensation claims of ¥2.4 trillion to ¥3 trillion if the nuclear reactors are brought under control in six months — the speediest scenario under the company’s timetable. Claims could rise to ¥10 trillion if that process takes two years.

The utility faces many trillions of yen more in costs in the time it will take to clean and close the plant.

Tepco has laid out a blueprint for getting Fukushima No. 1’s overheating, leaking reactors into a cold shutdown within six to nine months, but regulators say prospects are uncertain.

The company will likely seek limits on its liability based on the 1961 Act on Compensation for Nuclear Damage. It exempts plant operators from paying compensation for accidents caused by a “grave natural disaster of an exceptional character or by an insurrection.”

Unlike BP, Tepco has few overseas assets it can sell to raise cash, and its leeway for raising already high electricity rates is constrained.

The company has said it is considering job cuts and other moves to reduce costs.”

Tepco nixes new hiring, cuts pay across board (Japan Times)

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Monday it has scrapped its plan to hire new employees who would have started work next spring amid the ongoing nuclear crisis at its troubled Fukushima No. 1 power plant…

Faced with the prospect of massive compensation costs linked to the accident, Tepco also said it will cut the annual remuneration for board members and wages for employees, and slash some ¥54 billion a year…

It is the first time since 1951 for the utility to forgo new hiring. In February, the company said it would hire 1,100 graduates and received applications from around 6,500.

Under the plan, compensation for the chairman, president, vice president and managing directors will be cut by 50 percent. It will also cut by 25 percent the annual salary for employees in management posts, and by 20 percent the annual pay of rank-and-file employees.

“We will consider and implement drastic steps to cut costs without exceptions by streamlining our business management and to secure enough funding,” President Masataka Shimizu said in a press release.

Tepco’s 19 board members, excluding outside directors, received a combined ¥698 million in annual remuneration in fiscal 2009, according to a financial statement filed with the government for the fiscal year through March 2010.

That puts the average annual remuneration per board member at about ¥37 million.

Tepco’s labor union said it has accepted the pay cut because the union “has taken seriously the fact that many evacuees are forced to live in shelters and (the nuclear accident) has had a serious social impact.

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TABLE-Japan nuclear plant (Shikoku to shut) Excerpt follows »

Shikoku Electric Power Co said it would shut its Ikata No.3 reactor on April 29 for planned maintenance. It expects to restart power generation at the reactor around July 10, although it may be delayed in view of the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi plant following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, it added.

After the shutdown of the unit, 22,973 megawatts of nuclear power generation capacity, or 46.9 percent of Japan’s total, will be in operation, Reuters calculations show.

Japan’s nine utilities and a wholesaler have 54 nuclear power generators for commercial use, with a total generating capacity of 48,960 megawatts. The table below shows the latest operational status of Japan’s nuclear power plants, according to Reuters compilations based on each firm’s …More »

Nissan May output to hit 90% of predisaster goal (Apr 27) | Restaurant sales fall record 10.3% (Apr 27)  | Dai-ichi Life faces ¥179 billion loss(Apr 27) | Disaster darkens fisheries’ decline(Apr 26) | Quake renders 90% of fishing boats in 3 prefectures unusable (Mainichi Apr 27)

Gov’t not to adopt daylight saving time due to high costs, confusion (Mainichi Apr 27)

With the nuclear crisis at the radiation-leaking Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant ongoing, the government has been considering implementing such arrangements nationwide as part of energy saving measures during summer when electricity consumption tends to rise due to the use of air conditioners.

The sources said, however, the government is now seeing the plan as unrealistic because it will cost a huge amount of money to set clocks ahead for all computers and production machinery in Japan, and could create confusion in society.

Instead, the government will continue to urge Japanese companies to take necessary steps on their own.

Among manufacturers, Panasonic Corp. and Sony Corp. are considering having business hours start earlier than usual to limit electricity consumption in the aftermath of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

During a press conference on Tuesday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano responded negatively about the introduction of summertime working hours, and said, “It is realistic for each company and industry to discuss it and come up with ways that will have little impact on their business.”

The government plans to check for radioactive contamination in grass for livestock in the eastern half of Honshu to prevent contaminated beef or milk from entering the market amid the continuing crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, officials said Tuesday.

The Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry has set allowable radioactive contamination levels for grazing grass and asked 16 prefectures to check fields in areas where higher-than-normal levels of atmospheric radiation have been detected, they said.

The 16 prefectures include Fukushima, where radioactive substances have leaked from the Tokyo Electric Power Co. plant crippled by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. The others are Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi, Akita, Yamagata, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, Saitama, Chiba, Tokyo, Kanagawa, Yamanashi, Nagano and Shizuoka.

The ministry will ban the use of overly contaminated pastures and farmers will get redress.

The allowable levels are 300 becquerels of radioactive cesium per kilogram of grass for cows and beef cattle, and 70 becquerels of iodine in grass for cows.

Medvedev proposes nuclear plant safeguards (Apr 27, NHK) | Ban Ki Moon calls for nuclear safety (NHK) | Remembering Chernobyl 25 years on (NHK) | 5,000 protest in Shibuya against nuclear power generation(Asahi 04/26)

Gov’t, TEPCO under fire as they hold first joint news conference since disaster (Mainichi)

DPJ legislators openly launch campaign to force Kan to step down | Kan under pressure over DPJ’s poll stumble

Upgrade nuclear plant safety against disasters, cyber-attacks(Asahi Editorial 04/26)

In Japan’s Insular Nuclear Nexus, Safety Is Left Out (IHT, Apr 26)

Families want answers after 45 people died following evacuation from Fukushima hospital 

Japanese orders for noodles, water soar in South Korea (Asahi 04/24)

Computer makers pushing easy ways to save electricity(Asahi 04/26)