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Friday, February 17, 2017

☢ [2017] Chinese Embassy Issue Radiation Warning ☢

The Chinese Embassy in Japan have issued a radiation warning over Fukushima radiation last Sunday, February 2017 causing some panic in China. But in Japan, everything went on normally, tourists and residents remain largely unaffected by the radiation matter.

In recent years, as the popularity of Japan as a tourist destination increases, Chinese people have
developed a love-hate relationship with their neighbor. Any political rift or societal change between the two countries can cause large-scale effects

Fukushima China Syndrome
Fukushima China Syndrome
An update of an old issue in Japan has sent ripples across the East China Sea to shake China. After Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) announced it's latest analysis of the inside of its crippled nuclear plant in Fukushima that showed the radiation level there has seemingly now risen from 73 sieverts per hour to 530 sieverts.

A lethal radiation dose is considered to be around 10 sieverts exposure for only a few minutes! With a slow death to follow from radiation sickness..

However the news of Fukushimas deadly 530 sievert radiation record that might I add puts the 1986 Chernobyl disaster to shame have been traveling fast on the Chinese Internet.

Last Sunday, the Chinese Embassy in Japan issued a safety warning in reaction to this announcement, telling Chinese citizens to manage their travel plans to avoid potential radiation risks that may come if nuclear material leaks out into the surrounding environment. The warning caused even more discussion and when rumors started spreading, many Chinese became worried, some even canceling their trips to Japan.

Business as usual

A couple of weeks after the news came out, people in Japan seemed as calm and reserved as ever. There are still many Chinese tourists on the streets and in shops. According to Chinese tourism agencies, their business has been basically unaffected.

The director of a large Chinese travel agency told the Global Times last Sunday that Fukushima wasn't a regular travel destination for Chinese tourists anyway, and the company doesn't offer any travel packages there.

Li Dan, manager of a branch of the Beijing-based Tianping International Travel Agency, said that there haven't been any tour groups traveling to Fukushima since the 2011 earthquake and resulting tsunami. She also said that even tourists who travel independently do not usually go to Fukushima.

Last week, Will Davis, a member of the American Nuclear Society, refuted claims that radiation levels are soaring at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant as "demonstrably false." In a post on the society's blog, Davis wrote that the readings have not changed and that TEPCO's reported 530 sieverts per hour estimate was not "unimaginable" or particularly worrying.

His argument is that rather than a real increase from 73 to 530 sieverts, the 530 reading is simply a more accurate estimate of the radiation level at a particularly affected area that has remained relatively unchanged over the past few years.

Compared with China, news of the radiation levels in Fukushima has not generated much discussion in Japan. The responses from the media or public to the Chinese safety alert are also few.

For people living in Tokyo, three hours' drive from Fukushima, life has continued as usual. While they feel a little concerned whenever such reports come out, they are not actively worried in their daily lives, several Japanese white-collar workers said.

For people trying to get their lives back to normal in the affected area, their biggest headache and frustration is the bad reputation and rumors that dog their agricultural products.

In supermarkets, consumers who are concerned about radiation contamination choose more expensive products from different areas over cheaper product from Fukushima. Local residents, NGOs and governments are still working to scrub the stain off the reputation of food produced in Fukushima.

"I am concerned about the long-term effects on our bodies," said Zhang Chen, a sociology student at Sophia University of Tokyo. "Even if they were to call off the alert, I would still be worried." Despite these concerns, she said she would continue to stay in Tokyo for the time being and try finding a job in Japan.

Meanwhile, several Chinese residents in Japan the Global Times interviewed expressed their faith that the Japanese government and media would keep people accurately updated on the Fukushima situation and any potential dangers.

Zhao Xue, a Chinese woman who works for a Japanese company in Tokyo told the Global Times she hasn't seen much focus in the newspaper headlines concerning this matter, the big stories recently are Trump and Toshiba's financial problems.

"Why would we panic over something like this? It's an updated version of old news," she said.

Others said as long as one stays out of the evacuation areas the Japanese government designated around the nuclear power plant, one has nothing to worry about. Besides, Tokyo is more than 300 kilometers from Fukushima and as so little radiation can reach there, there's nothing much to do besides go on with one's daily life.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

[ART] What's Next Fukushima

Some nice looking art made by paintedtrains displaying tsunamis and the most recent nuclear disasters with the words "What's Next?".

Fukushima Art by paintedtrains
Art by paintedtrains - For more go to Instagram @paintedtrains

paintedtrains on Instagram

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

☢ [PHOTOS] After Chernobyl Rural Life Vanished ☢

30 years after the Chernobyl disaster it's shadow still lies heavy over Belarus. No other country was hit so hard. 70 percent of the radioactive fallout landed there, and one in five residents suddenly found themselves on poisoned land. Entire villages were buried in the ground to prevent people from returning. The disaster destroyed an entire rural culture.

Chernobyl Radiation Warning Sign
Chernobyl Radiation Warning Sign - Photo by Beatrice Lundborg

Anna-Lena Laurén and Beatrice Lundborg
Text and Photo by Anna-Lena Laurén and Beatrice Lundborg
The following text originally written by Journalist Anna-Lena Laurén have been translated from Swedish to English.

It is important to look for the apple trees. Where there's apple trees, there have once been a home.

Buried under the soil, overgrown with hazel bushes and newly planted pines.

The only thing that stands upright in this former village is a silver statue of a Soviet soldier, he stands at attention at the entrance as a kind of absurd symbol of a past buried under last year's dry leaves and pine plantations.

Chernobyl Apple Trees
Chernobyl Apple Trees - Photo by Beatrice Lundborg
Sometimes you find small hills in the countryside. There lies the demolished remains of a house. Or "chutar", as they say in these parts - a Belarus peasant cottage with spacious porch, worn stairs and ornate window frames.

I try to imagine how it once was out here. The cottages, barns, sheds. The sandy village road, which continues to the cemetery a short distance away. The graves are still there and every year villagers from Starinka gather there in early May to celebrate radunitsa, the Orthodox Church holiday when honoring their dead by eating and drinking on the grave yard. Sometimes even dance and sing to. Fistfights also occur. This is a region where the relationship with the ancestors and family's land is concrete and tangible, the ground and the trees are considered to be inspired, to leave them is like leaving a man. Not to speak of burying them.

"I'll tell you how our grandmother said goodbye to our house. She bowed to the barn. She went around and bowed to every apple tree. And when we left our home our grandfather took off his hat."
From: "Pray for Chernobyl" By Svetlana Aleksijevitj

In hundreds of Belarusian villages the farming community survived and remained well into the 1980s, despite the forced collectivization. Many had never left their home and among the elderly, it was still not unusual to not be able to read and write. April 26, 1986 catapulted this archaic society into the atomic age when the Chernobyl nuclear power plant exploded two hundred kilometers to the south.

The wind was blowing to the north and 70 per cent of the radioactive fallout ended up in Belarus, a country with more than ten million inhabitants. Over two million people were exposed to radioactive fallout, over twenty percent of the country's territory were soiled. There was no other country than Belarus that was proportionally hit so hard by the Chernobyl disaster.

In the buried village of Starenka where we now are the measuring instruments, known as a dosimeters, are showing that the dose is 3.2 microsieverts per hour. As a comparison, the Japanese authorities after the Fukushima accident evacuated residents from areas with a radiation higher than 3.8 microsieverts per hour. In Sweden it is considered 0.1 to 0.3 microsieverts per hour to be normal background radiation. In Belarus levels seen at 0.2-0.4 are now normal, according to our local guide.

Starenka located in the so-called "zone", 600-kilometer-wide area affected by radioactive fallout from the Chernobyl disaster. Here on the Belarusian side, where most of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone is located a total of 70 villages have been buried.

The area is in turn subdivided into several zones. On the map it looks like a patchwork quilt. In the deep red zone, nothing appear at all, the radiation level is too high. In the red zone the levels are so high that no one is recommended stay there, but many have returned. In a third zone, the authorities have declared safe even when the radioactivity is elevated. The authorities say they monitor the situation. The fourth zone is located at the tip and have slightly elevated radioactivity.

South Belarus Towns Deserted
South Belarus Towns Deserted - Photo by Beatrice Lundborg

"During the war, every fourth Belarusian died, today every fifth now live on contaminated land."
From: "Pray for Chernobyl" By Svetlana Aleksijevitj

Shortly after the disaster, thousands of evacuated people chose to move back to the zone. They simply could not stand to not live in their own homes and villages. One of those who from the beginning refused to move is 63-year-old Nina Perevalova that we found in the abandoned village of Dubna. Like many other older people who have chosen to stay in the empty villages, she believes that the evacuation was unnecessary.

Nina Perevalova
Nina Perevalova - Photo by Beatrice Lundborg

Everyone that left these parts have died. They were promised compensation and went away. They saw it as an opportunity to make money. But they were not happy in their new home and now most of them are dead. We who stayed are still alive on the other hand.

Nina Perevalova goes back and forth between the cabin and the hen house, cattle shed and pigsty. She's practically wearing galoshes, woolen sweater and a green jacket. Red plaid skirt, purple scarf on the head. Actually, she has no time to talk to us, she has chores to attend to and sticks hear head into the cabin and commands her husband to come outside.

Nina Perevalova
Nina Perevalova Photo by Beatrice Lundborg

Kolja! Come out, we've got guests!

Mykola Nikitenko, 58, an unemployed tractor driver. Sometimes he works as a day laborer on construction sites, otherwise he lives off the garden, his pets and his wife's pension. He does not regret the decision to stay, even though they have been left alone in the village.

Here lived some fifty families before the disaster. We had a private shop and nearby there was a collective farm where a large part of the inhabitants worked. Over there was a road... and that's where one of his neighbors had his garden, Nikitenko said, pointing to an overgrown field.

Mykola Nikitenko
Mykola Nikitenko - Photo by Beatrice Lundborg
Of fifty households there remains only three. Four, five buildings remain, the rest ageing slowly but surely. Houses leaning and gray are the remains on both sides of the village road, they resemble old people who rely on a cane. The logs are gray with age, many houses have no roofs. Others have already fallen over and lies helpless on the ground, eventually becoming the piles of boards where people provide themselves with firewood.

The remaining houses have tin roofs that often goes almost to the ground. They look ancient, part of the landscape, brown and gray with beautiful, ornate window frames painted in bright green or sky blue. Nina Perevalovas and Mykola Nikitenkos house is simple, run-down and poor but impeccably well maintained - from the house to the roost to the pigsty and the sheep house is neat and tidy, everything has its place.

Birdsong sounds everywhere and hazel thicket have small green leaves. Up in a telephone pole there are birds. It is now spring, intense spring. Around one of the fallen houses small white and gray kids are leaping up and down of what is left of the timber wall. Nina Perevalova speak with them. She talks constantly with all their animals and calling them by name - pig named Vaska, the fearless gray hen Sivka and favorite price Gorka.

Fallen Houses
Fallen Houses - Photo by Beatrice Lundborg

This is my baby. Gorka, my little man .... Gorka my golden boy, says Nina Perevalova and scratches a kid area behind the ear.

Then she looks up.
I drink goat milk, gathering berries and mushrooms in the forest, growing in the kitchen garden. We have pigs and chickens. We are doing well. Only sore legs. Maybe it has to do with Chernobyl, what do I know? Everything was better and everyone was happier when we did not know anything about this radiation!

She invites us in the hall and pours fresh goat milk in a tin mug. I drink a sip, it tastes good. Then I set the cup back on the table. Our instruments have shown the normal radiation levels in this village, but I can not bring myself to drink up. After reading about how tired these villagers are and other precautions I feel ashamed before Nina Perevalova, but she says nothing. By all accounts, she is accustomed.

When they last came here and measured how much radiation we have in the body, I had exceeded the norm. My husband had however completely normal levels. He drinks horilka (moonshine). It is said to be good against radiation.

Natalia Krivosjejeva
Natalia Krivosjejeva - Photo by Beatrice Lundborg

"I want us to move. But my husband a lumberjack refuses."

A dozen kilometers further away is Sytjyn, another village which was evacuated after the disaster. A few years later, people began to move back and for two years life started to return and the village was rebuilt. But then it was emptied for the second time when unemployment drove people to move away. Today, all the houses are deserted - all but one with intense cobalt blue paint and a handrail made of birch trunks. It houses the unemployed postman Krivosjejeva Natalya, 40 years.

I was ten years old when they evacuated us to a neighboring village, Maksimovskij. But it never felt like home there. The worst thing was not even the horrible, crude damp apartments, but we were shunned by locals. They called us "Chernobyltsi" and felt that we were a health risk. They did not talk to us. We had a serious food shortage in Belarus and they were furious at having to share the bread shipments with newcomers. Their disdain I will never forget, says Natalia Krivosjejeva and wipes away a tear.

Eight years after the evacuation, she returned as a newlywed to Sytjyn. The only thing which by then remained of the family's house was a bare stone base.

- The house had been newly built, it was valuable and was simply stolen, dismantled piece by piece. We moved into the empty library instead and I got a job as a postman in the neighboring village. But now my employment have been revoked and we are the last family who still live in this village. It's very sad to be a young person that does not have someone to talk to! I want us to move. But my husband is a lumberjack and refuses, Natalia regrets.

Natalia Krivosjejeva
Natalia Krivosjejeva - Photo by Beatrice Lundborg

She is angry with herself because she and her husband have been waiting too long with the decision to leave.

All the other returnees have left our village. There are no buses here anymore, the line has been completely unprofitable. We can not afford a car, we can not even afford to have a pig for it needs food! We have no electricity or water, I wash clothes by hand. Look at my hands! says Natalia Krivosjejeva and holds out her rough hands.

Natalia does not think very much about the radiation. She and her husband live of their garden and self-catering, like most others in the zone. According to the dosimeters the radiation is at a normal level next to the house, but if you drive a few kilometers away then the radiation is significantly higher. Also, if you live in an area that is permitted in the zone, then some contaminated areas can lie next to you because the zones merge into one another.

Dead towns
Dead towns - Photo by Beatrice Lundborg

"They told us that we could drink the milk of our cows and eat vegetables that we grew. We did this for three years. Then they announced suddenly that we could not eat or drink anything."

Some seventy kilometers further away is a small community with the optimistic name Majsk. The houses there do not resemble the old Belarusian peasant cottages. They are white, modern two-story-straight rows, surrounded by square, fence enclosed gardens. Majsk is one of the villages that was rebuilt on a so-called safe area, which residents themselves scoff at.

Look how it's burning over there on the other side of the field. That area is radioactive, there we can not go. But every spring and summer fires occurs and the radioactivity spread. We must not go into the woods and pick berries and mushrooms. Everything is dangerous. We are completely surrounded by radioactive areas, we are like on an island. What life is that? exclaimed Olga, a thirty year old art teacher who is about to rake the yard.

Her mother glares angrily at us.

We have received orders not to speak to journalists! We are just to keep our mouths shut. I worked at the collective farm in the four years after the disaster. I stood in the field and sowed and breathed in the dust, breathing in all that came out of the earth. Then it turned out that the area was one of the worst polluted by radiation and we moved here. Have we received any compensation? No. Because now we all live in a safe area!

She stops to rake and goes off furiously toward the potato patch behind the house.

All residents of Majsk originally came from a village named Tjudjany, an area the Soviet authorities first considered as safe. Therefore, the inhabitants were sent back home after the first evacuation, just four years later they were evacuated again to the newly built city Majsk - which turned out to be completely surrounded by radioactive soil.

They told us that we could drink the milk of our cows and eat vegetables that we grew. We did this for three years. But then they announced suddenly that we can't eat or drink anything. Clearly many are furious, but what good did it do? Now we live in an ill-chosen location, but what should we do? Where are we moving? Chernobyl has destroyed our lives, says Olga in the same tone as stated by many others I encounter.

People here often don't even regret it happened. They simply state it.

Olga say they have health problems, particularly pain in the joints. It's one symptom that is common among people who live in or near the radioactive zone.

But you can not prove that it has to do with Chernobyl. My children go to school here, they get iodine tablets, and free trips to a sanatorium twice a year. It's the only compensation we get to live next door to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, says Olga, who do not want to be photographed or say his real name.

On the other side of the field is a memorial with a small plaque:

"Here stood the village Tjudjany, with 137 families and 323 inhabitants. Buried in 1999. "

Pavel Moisejev
Pavel Moisejev - Photo by Beatrice Lundborg
Our institute has absolutely no interest in concealing the presence of cancer, the opposite. We need all the resources we can get.

Thyroid cancer has soared in Belarus since the Chernobyl disaster. According to Pavel Moisejev leading the State Institute for Cancer Control in Belarus, the figures are quite clear. In 1990, the number of thyroid cancer cases in Belarus was 1.2 per 100 000 inhabitants, in 2014 it was 18.3. It is mainly children who are affected - and especially girls.

Large amounts of radioactive iodine was released into the atmosphere after the disaster. It affects the thyroid. For some reason, girls and women are more susceptible to radioactive contamination. We have not found an explanation for this. Luckily thyroid cancer is usually curable if detected in time, says Pavel Moisejev.

He receives us at the State Belarusian Center for Cancer Research located in Lesnoj, a leafy suburb of Minsk. Here is the country's largest cancer hospital with 832 hospital beds, all of which are occupied when we visit the center. It is not only thyroid cancer that is increasing in Belarus - all forms of cancer has become more common. But according to Pavel Moisejev there is no scientific evidence of a Chernobyl connection, except in the specific case of thyroid cancer.

Moisejev is aware that many belarusians have stopped believing the authorities regarding Chernobyl. He raises his hands.

Guess if I constantly hear that ... I'm just saying what we on a scientific basis can establish! Our institute has absolutely no interest in concealing the presence of cancer, the opposite. We need all the resources we can get. Belarus is undergoing an economic crisis, but we have just built two new research centers and is building a new clinic. The construction will be completed, despite the fact that the state has much less money now. Today we have the resources in a completely different way than before. Our research is the best among all former Soviet countries.

While Moisejev notes that all diseases from Chernobyl's wake are still not known. As for metals like cesium and strontium with thirty years half life.

Radioactive iodine, cesium and strontium were released in large quantities. We do not yet know what consequences it can have - perhaps we'll know in 20, 30 or 50 years.

Only time will tell.

A person who has devoted his life to researching the consequences of the Chernobyl are Juryj Bandazjeŭski. He founded the country's first Chernobyl Institute in Gomel in 1989, one of the largest cities next to the so-called zone. Bandazeŭvski criticized the authorities for not taking the implications seriously and was jailed in 2001, accused of taking bribes from students. Amnesty International considered that the charges were fabricated and appointed Bandazjeŭski a prisoner of conscience.

Four years later he was released and Bandazjeŭski received temporary asylum in France. Today he is researching in Ukraine and I interview him on skype.

Since 2014, we examine children in two regions outside Kiev where there was radioactive fallout, Ivanovskij and Poleskij. Every year we have investigated 4000 children aged between 3 and 17 years. Their general health is poor, 80 percent have various types of heart problems. The mortality in both heart disease and cancer is very high in this area, especially among young working-age people, says Bandazjeŭvski.

He would not comment on the situation in Belarus, because he can no longer work there. What he does want to make clear is that the EU - which admittedly is funding his research - have not taken the consequences of the Chernobyl seriously. Ukraine does not have the resources to invest in research and Belarus is a dictatorship, critical researchers run into major problems.

Research funding should be earmarked for each region and are not be given as lump sums to various authorities. Actually, there should in general not live any children in these areas. We can only imagine the long term effects on their health, and we need much more research. This requires, in turn, more resources to investigate each child individually and accurately determine which factors are interrelated, says Juryj Bandazjeŭski.

Accurate knowledge of how things fit together is something that Chernobyl disaster victims have pondered much over the past thirty years. At first they believed the authorities - which then turned out to lie systematically. Then they started to draw their own conclusions, which in turn led to hysterical rumors.

Today many victims fell a strong sense of still being deceived. They still do not know exactly how polluted the land is, or how sick they are. One only guess and wonder.

Mykola Rasiuk and wife Valentina
Mykola Rasiuk and wife Valentina - Photo by Beatrice Lundborg

Mykola Rasiuk was thirty years old when he drove along the road that is still called "Road of Death" - the road that led out from Pripyat, a model Soviet town next to Chernobyl in the current Ukraine. He drove past the nuclear power plant that was in flames. Above it hovered raspberry-colored clouds. People opened the windows, watched and admired.

When we arrived at the ferry a lot of fish had lost their ability to swim and floated up on the beach. People were fishing with their bare hands... no one understood how dangerous it was. We drove on to dacha and suddenly I was hit by a terrible headache. I stepped out of the car and vomited, and when we arrived, I drank a liter of vodka. Since then I have been living. But many of my friends and relatives are sick or dead, says Mykola Rasiuk.

His wife Valentina Rasiuk worked in a factory that made radios in Pripyat, Mykola worked as an electrician. Pripyat was founded next to the brand new Chernobyl nuclear power plant. It had been built in 1977 and was considered to be the safest in the world. When the accident occurred, very few understood that the whole area had become dangerous to live in.

I was worried for my relatives and friends who worked at the nuclear plant, that they had been injured during the accident. Not for one second I thought of the radiation. It was only when we came to the relatives of Kiev we understood what it was about. They said we would take iodine - something that we had not even heard of. The authorities did not even tell us that the children should not play outside! said Valentina Rasiuk.

Mykola Rasiuk
Mykola Rasiuk - Photo by Beatrice Lundborg

From Ukraine the Rasiku family decided to move back to their home country Belarus.

When we got to Mogiljev people said to us that we had five years to live. How would you take it? I thought mostly about the children, I wished that the kids could grow up and become adults, says Valentina Rasiuk.

The children survived. By now the couple have lived in Mogiljev for over twenty years. Both their parents were however left in the so-called zone and died early.

Each anniversary of Chernobyl the city authorities make a speech. It's always about the same thing - the heroes who saved us from danger. Never about how many people got sick and died or had their lives ruined. I have requested the floor several times, I have tried to share Svetlana Aleksijevitjs "Prayer for Chernobyl" - but they throw me out by force and now they won't even let me in at the memorial, said Mykola Rasiuk.

The State Institute for Cancer Research in Minsk says that it is not possible to establish any link between the Chernobyl disaster and any other cancer than thyroid cancer. Rasiuk just scoff when I say it.

We who have our roots in the zone have our own statistics. Every spring we go back to our home village to honor our dead on radunitsa. We meet, eat, drink and remember. We count how many are there and how many people have died. We look for ourselves what's really is going on.

Before the interview ends Rasiku pours Belarus balm, traditional herb liqueur in small crystal glasses. He raises his glass.

Cheers we are alive anyway.

Photo by Beatrice Lundborg

Chernobyl radiation map 1996
Chernobyl radiation map 1996

Please note that the towns named in this story can no longer be found on google maps due to the areas being too radioactive for humans.

Friday, March 18, 2016

☢ [Video] Declassified CIA Briefing for Reagan on the Chernobyl Disaster ☢

This is supposedly a declassified CIA video briefing made for President Reagan on the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, dated late April or early May 1986.

1986 CIA Historical Chernobyl Briefing for Ronald Reagan
Declassified CIA Historical Chernobyl Briefing
Somehow all this sounds strangely familiar, it's almost a mirror of a current ongoing disaster...

However the actual cause and events described in this briefing was far from the truth at the time to what was really going on at the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant.

The video was declassified and released 2 Nov 2011 at the "Ronald Reagan, Intelligence, and the End of the Cold War" symposium at the Reagan Presidential Library.

From symposium notes: "This was the first time the Agency used videos on a regular basis to deliver intelligence to the policymaker, and this collection marks the first substantial release of such material in one of the CIA's historical collections."

Monday, March 14, 2016

☢ [Video] Fukushima 2020 Olympics ☢

Japan's minister in charge of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Toshiaki Endo wants qualifiers to be held in Fukushima Japan. 

Japans 2020 Olympic Minister Toshiaki Endo
Japans 2020 Olympic Minister Toshiaki Endo
The proposal is for Fukushima to host 5 new Olympic sports including Baseball and Softball.

Toshiaki Endo says "I think disaster hit regions can host a number of qalifiers, these could be based in Fukushima."

"If qualifiers can be held in other regional areas as well, the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics will be an event for all of Japan."

Also in the video
I'm going to bring to light the Monju Fast Breeder Reactor Troubles before I give you the normal Fukushima update tonight. Today's Headline News from NHK .

Fukushima Radioactive Headines Sep 30th 2015 Dana Durnford Radioactive Heartless Monster I mean IAEA hates Japanese.

Up To 100% of No. 2 Reactor Fuel May Have Melted A group of researchers says it is highly likely that 70 to 100 percent of fuel has melted at one of the Fukushima Nuclear Reactors.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

☢ Fukushima No Place for Man or Robot ☢

The robots sent into the nuclear power plants to find highly radioactive fuel at Fukushima's nuclear reactors have all “died”. The subterranean "ice wall" around the crippled plant meant to stop groundwater from becoming contaminated has yet to be finished with some experts saying they have little hope in it ever being finished.

And authorities still don’t even know how to dispose of the highly radioactive water stored in an ever mounting number of tanks around the site that are now starting to leak more and more. The authorities ongoing solution to the radioactive water problem to try and cool the reactors have so far been to dump it all into the Pacific Ocean.

Fukushima No Place for Man or Robot
Fukushima No Place for Man or Robot

Five years ago, one of the worst earthquakes in history triggered a 10-metre high tsunami that crashed into the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station causing multiple meltdowns. Nearly 19,000 people were killed or left missing and 160,000 lost their homes and livelihoods.

Today, the radiation at the Fukushima plant is still so powerful it has proven impossible to get into its bowels to find and remove the extremely dangerous blobs of melted fuel rods. The radiation is so powerful that experts can only guess at what depth the melted corium fuel now is located.

So far the official reports are that the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco), has made some progress, such as removing hundreds of spent fuel roads in one damaged building. But the technology needed to establish the location of the melted fuel rods in the other three reactors at the plant has not been developed.

“It is extremely difficult to access the inside of the nuclear plant," Naohero Masuda, Tepco's head of decommissioning said in one interview. "The biggest obstacle is the radiation.”

The fuel rods melted through their containment vessels in the reactors, and no one knows exactly where they are now. This part of the plant is so dangerous to humans, Tepco has been developing robots, which can swim under water and negotiate obstacles in damaged tunnels and piping to search for the melted fuel rods.

But as soon as they get close to the reactors, the radiation destroys their wiring and renders them useless, causing long delays, Masuda said. 

Each robot has to be custom-built for each building.“It takes two years to develop a single-function robot,” Masuda said.

Irradiated Water

Tepco, which was fiercely criticized and still is for its handling of the disaster, says conditions at the Fukushima power station have improved dramatically. Radiation levels in many places at the site are now as low as those in Tokyo. But words like those do not speak much comfort for a disaster site know as being one of the worst nuclear disasters since Chernobyl in Ukraine 30 years ago,

More than 8,000 workers are at the plant at any one time, according to officials on a recent tour. Traffic is constant as they spread across the site, removing debris, building storage tanks, laying piping and preparing to dismantle parts of the plant.

Much of the work involves pumping a steady torrent of water into the wrecked and highly radiated reactors to cool them down. Afterward, some of the radiated water is then pumped out of the plant and stored in tanks that are proliferating around the site while the rest of the radioactive water is flushed out into the Pacific Ocean.

What to do with the nearly million tonnes of radioactive water is one of the biggest challenges, said Akiro Ono, the site manager. Ono said he is “deeply worried” the storage tanks will leak even more radioactive water into the sea - as they have done several times before - prompting strong criticism for the government.

The utility has so far failed to get the backing of local fishermen to release water it has treated into the ocean.

Ono estimates that Tepco has completed around 10 percent of the work to clear the site up - the decommissioning process could take 30 to 40 years. But until the company locates the fuel, it won’t be able to assess progress and final costs, experts say.

The much touted use of X-ray like muon rays has yielded little information about the location of the melted fuel and the last robot inserted into one of the reactors sent only grainy images before breaking down.

The Great Ice Wall

Tepco is building the world’s biggest ice wall to keep groundwater from flowing into the basements of the damaged reactors and getting contaminated.

First suggested in 2013 and strongly backed by the government, the wall was completed in February, after months of delays and questions surrounding its effectiveness. Later this year, Tepco plans to pump water into the wall - which looks a bit like the piping behind a refrigerator - to start the freezing process.

Stopping the ground water intrusion into the plant is critical, said Artie Gunderson, a former nuclear engineer.

“The reactors continue to bleed radiation into the ground water and thence into the Pacific Ocean,” Gunderson said. "When Tepco finally stops the groundwater, that will be the end of the beginning.”

While he would not rule out the possibility that small amounts of radiation are reaching the ocean, Masuda, the head of decommissioning, said the leaks have ended after the company built a wall along the shoreline near the reactors whose depth goes to below the seabed.

“I am not about to say that it is absolutely zero, but because of this wall the amount of release has dramatically dropped,” he said.

Japan faces 200-year wait for Fukushima clean-up
The Times of London, Mar. 27, 2015
The chief of the Fukushima nuclear power station has admitted that the technology needed to decommission three melted-down reactors does not exist, and he has no idea how it will be developed. 
In a stark reminder of the challenge facing the Japanese authorities, Akira Ono conceded that the stated goal of decommissioning the plant by 2051 may be impossible without a giant technological leap. 
“There are so many uncertainties involved. We need to develop many, many technologies,” Mr Ono said. 
“Forremoval of the debris, we don’t have accurate information (about the state of the reactors) or any viable methodology…
Japan may be obsessed with robots
The Telegraph (UK), Mar 26, 2015
But it is a British company that has solved the “impossible” problem of visualising the radiation leaks inside the crippled reactor buildings at Fukushima.
State-of-the-art British imaging technology has been deployed at Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant to overcome problems that Japanese engineers declared to be insurmountable… 
The system is able to create a real-time, three-dimensional image of the area being surveyed and identify “hot-spots” of radioactivity. More than four years after… radiation levels within the structures remain too high for humans to enter. 
That has severely hampered efforts to clean up the site. Experts have already estimated that process will take three decades but progress to date has been slow. TEPCO was only able to confirm on Thursday (Mar 2015) previous suspicions that nearly all the fuel from the No. 1 reactor at the plant has melted and fallen into the containment vessel. 

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Geiger Counters - Radiation Detection Meters - Handheld Radiation Detector

When it comes to radiation detection meters you really have a wide field of gadgets to choose from, however radiation detectors are the most common to use. First of all if you need to know what type of radiation you are looking for. There are Alpha, Beta and Gamma radiation detectors. And also there is neutron emission of nuclear radiation. And all these different types of emissions have radiation detectors for a specific type of radiation that you can buy radiation detector for. Some also measure both Alpha and Beta. Others detect Alpha, Beta and Gamma. While others let you measure Beta and Gamma radiation.

What most people have use for though are Dosimeters you can buy a handheld radiation detector pretty cheap that are good addition to a survival kit. There are different kinds that you can use that will detect radiation. There are radiation badges that will tell you when radiation become high. Workers at nuclear power plants use these to inform them of how much radiation they have been exposed to. Now also children in the Fukushima prefecture have each been given a radiation badge so they know if they are exposed to radiation. Some come in the shape of a pen that you can carry in your pocket while other are made more compact so that you can attach them to your keychain. And then you have what is called a personal radiation monitor. These are also called Dosimeters and also normally called Geiger counters. Although not all use the Geiger-Muller Tube for the radiation detection some use a semiconductor instead. These and mostly the older geiger counters seen are pretty big to carry around, so they might not be best suited for a survival situation where you only need to carry the most important things. However if you have land and want to check radiation around the property and drinking water then these are the geiger counters to get because they are very well built units.

These are the once that you normally see people use. They have different units of radiation detection, because when it comes to radiation there are many standards used. some give the measurements in Rads, while other use Sieverts. Some have the maximum radiation value for the measured radioactivity quite low but they will still give you an idea of the amount of radiation in the area. With the units ranging from between background radiation 0.001 mSv/hr all the way up to 10 Sv/h. Normally a dosimeter will measure radiation in micro siverts per hour. If you were to walk into one of the reactor units at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant you probably would get an error reading from your dosimeter because the radiation levels are so high there.

Note that some places outside the exclusion zone in Fukushima that are too radioactive for people to live in have areas where the radiation levels are above 30 Sv/h. So if you are in a area that have high radiation the radiation detectors would also there go off the scale. However Geiger counters or radiation detectors are still favored as general purpose alpha/beta/gamma portable radiation detectors and radiation detection equipment, due to their low cost and robustness. Most come with an LCD Display that show you the radioactivity in the area. Nowdays you will even get alarm sound and the possibility to connect the device to a computer. Either with a Infrared, Bluetooth or USB connection.

So if you look at the radiation detectors for sale that have this, then these radiation detection meters will allow you to make maps of contaminated areas that show where the radiation is high and low. This also will help you to see which areas are becoming more contaminated over time. With several nuclear reactors in the US and around the world located near fault zones that makes it a danger if a big earthquake would hit the area there is always a good choice to have a radiation dosimeter avaliable. I'm sure many in Fukushima would have been grateful to have dosimeters avaliable at the time of the disaster and I am sure you to would be grateful to have a geiger counter handy when you need one.