Rabu, 11 April 2012

Fukushima updates - Japan watch continues.....



Yasumi Iwakami Tweets About His Recent Health Problems After His Visit to #Fukushima I Nuke Plant in February

(and boy he received some nasty tweets in response...)

Yasumi Iwakami is arguably one of the best known independent journalists in Japan covering the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant accident, particularly among net users. I happened on Iwakami's live netcast of TEPCO press conferences on his USTREAM channel very early on in the crisis, and have followed him and his reporting since.

He was one of the independent journalists allowed inside the plant compound in February this year on the second plant tour for the press (first one was in November last year). And ever since, he seems to have been plagued with one health discomfort after another. He tweeted about them on April 10, and someone compiled a "togetter" - a string of tweets.

First, the translation of Iwakami's 15 tweets as they appear on the togetterwith Iwakami's express permission to translate:
ご心配を皆さんにおかけしているので、中間報告をしておきます。これまでの経過をかいつまんで言いますと、2月20日、福一入構取材の翌々日から、腹痛と 下痢、その後、発熱にも見舞われ、虫垂炎との診断を受けました。5日間の絶食療法のあと、回復。虫垂炎は、一過性の病気かと思いましたが…

As I've been having you worried, I thought I'd give you a progress report. First, to tell you about what has happened so far: on February 20, two days after reporting from Fukushima I Nuke Plant, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Then I started to have fever, and was finally diagnosed as having appendicitis. After 5-day fasting treatment, I recovered. And I thought appendicitis was a transitory (one-time) illness. But then...

My diarrhea continued even though I continued to take medicine to control intestinal function, and I had occasional fever. This weekend, I was knocked down by the 4th fever in a month and a half. I consulted my doctor about my poor physical health in March, and we decided to test for tumor markers and do the colonoscopy. Yesterday evening, my doctor explained to me the result of the tests.

大腸ファイバーで発見されたポリープの生検の結果は、悪性ではなく良性。「腺腫」の第三段階。このポリープと下痢は別物で、医師の診断は過敏性腸症候群。 原因は「ストレス」との診たて。今日ものどが痛み、熱が出ているが、これは風邪。なぜこんなに頻繁にひくのか、と問うと…

The biopsy of the polyp found in the colonoscopy turned out be benign, not malignant. It was "adenoma", so it was the third stage [there are 5 stages]. This polyp and diarrhea were not related, according to my doctor, and his diagnosis was "irritable bowel syndrome". The cause was "stress". I had a sore throat and fever that day, but that was a common cold, according to the doctor. When I asked him why I was having a cold this often...

原因は「免疫力の低下」。そのそもそもの原因は、またまた「ストレス」との診断。何でもかんでもストレス、という説明は納得がいかない。ストレスフルな生 活はこれまでもずっと続けてきた。一時的に体調を崩すことがあっても、こんなに連続して崩れっぱなしという経験はない、と言うと…

His answer was "weakened immune system". What caused it? "Stress", he said. I wasn't convinced with his explanation that everything was caused by stress. I have had a stressful life all this time. So I told him that I had never had a string of ill health like this before, though I did fall ill occasionally.

主治医いわく、「ストレス耐性には、閾値がある。あるレベルを超えると耐えきれなくなる」と。気になるのは、やはり、福一入構取材で浴びた放射線の影響。この点に関して、私の主治医は徹頭徹尾、否定的だった。My doctor said, "There is a threshold to stress tolerance. Once people cross that threshold they succumb to stress." It was the effect of radiation I had been exposed to by entering and reporting from Fukushima I Nuke Plant that concerned me. But my doctor had been totally negative on that.


He had said to me repeatedly, "Effect of radiation has nothing to do with your ill health. It's only the thyroid that is affected by radiation exposure, and that has been medically proven." Then, when he explained the test results to me yesterday, he said, "According to the result of the test for tumor markers, there is an abnormality in the thyroid. You need a more thorough examination."

甲状腺 意表を突かれて言葉が出ない。そこ 甲状腺以外の腫瘍マーカー検査項目はすべて正常値。甲状腺の検査項目、サイログロブリンだけが基準値を若干オーバー。「放射線の影響が出るのは甲状腺だけ」と断言していた主治医との間で、気まずい空気が。

Thyroid? I was speechless at this unexpected announcement. Other tumor markers were all normal. For markers for thyroid, thyroglobulin was slightly above the reference value. We felt awkward; he was the one who had declared to me that it was only the thyroid that would be affected by radiation exposure.

検査機関から返されてきた検査報告書にも、「甲状腺炎や甲状腺腫の可能性もありますので、甲状腺の画像検査をお受けください」と書かれている。つまり、こ れは被曝の影響ということだろうか? その問いには主治医は直接答えず、「数値も、若干のオーバーですから、深刻に考えずに」と。

The test report from the lab stated, "Since there is a possibility that it is thyroiditis or goiter, please have [ultrasonic echo] diagnostics done on the thyroid". Did this mean it was the result of radiation exposure? My doctor didn't answer my question directly, but said, "The number is only slightly above the reference range, so don't take it too seriously."

私としても、福一入構取材で浴びた放射線との因果関係を強調したいわけではない。むしろ影響などない、と考えたい。影響があっては困るし、だいたい、自分 だけが具合悪くなるなんてこと、あるものか、と心のどこかで思ってきた。福島へまたこれから何度も取材に行きたいと思ってきた。しかし…It's not that I want to emphasize the causal relationship between [my ill health] and the radiation exposure from reporting from Fukushima I Nuke Plant. I'd rather think there is no effect. I don't want that effect. Somehow I'd always thought it would not be possible that I would get sick. I wanted to visit Fukushima again and again and report. But...

現時点では、私の体調不良の原因はストレスおよび免疫力の低下、放射線被曝との因果関係は「わからない」「不明」ということ。それが、医師の診断。「百人 百話」の取材を通じて、福島の方々から、鼻血、下痢、発熱、倦怠感、皮膚炎、動悸など、数々の体調不良を訴える声を聞いてきた。

For now, the reasons for my ill health are stress and weakened immune system. Whether that has anything to do with radiation exposure is "unknown", or "not clear", and that is the diagnosis of my doctor. Through my report of "100 stories from 100 people", I have heard about many instances of ill health from people in Fukushima: nosebleed, diarrhea, fever, fatigue, dermatitis, heart palpitation, etc.


I think I finally understand the helpless feeling these Fukushima people must have when they tell me about their ill health. What is the cause? What can we do to improve the condition?

断っておくが、私のかかりつけの主治医はよい方である。親切だし、説明も明晰である。放射線被曝の影響を小さく見積もるのも、それが現代医学の体系を学ん だ成果であって、個人的な偏見ではない(はず)。「50歳を過ぎたら、体力がガクッと落ちるもんですよ」というのも、真実に違いない。

To be fair, my doctor is a good doctor. He is kind, and he explains things clearly. He underestimates the effect of radiation exposure, but that is the result of having been trained in the modern medicine and not his personal prejudice (I think). It must be true when he says, "If you go past 50 years of age, your physical strength suddenly collapses".

さて、ではこれからどうするか。原因が何であれ(加齢も疲労もストレスも放射線被曝も全部加わっているかもしれないが)、被曝してしまった放射線を今さら取りのぞけるものでもない(東電の線量計では、僕の浴びたのは74マイクロシーベルト)。Well then, what should I do? Whatever the cause (aging, fatigue, stress, radiation exposure all combined, maybe), it's not that I could remove the radiation that I've already been exposed to. (According to the dosimeter from TEPCO, my exposure was 74 microsieverts.)

結局、できることは、自身の免疫力を上げることしかない。ストレスを減らすこと、休養と睡眠を充分にとること、食養生をすること(これが難しい)。検査も 怠らないようにしよう。地道に養生することだ。主治医には「カラオケで歌でも歌ってください」と言われた。まあ、それもありだろう。

In the end, all I can do is to strengthen my immune system. Reduce stress, enough rest and sleep, and eat healthy food (this is difficult). I'll make sure I get tested regularly. Patiently nursing myself back to good health is what I should do. My doctor said to me, "Go to karaoke and sing." Well, that too.


It so happens that I will interview Mr. Matashichi Oishi at 2PM tomorrow. He is a former crew member of Daigo Fukuryu-Maru, who was irradiated [near Bikini Atoll]. And the day after tomorrow, I will interview Shuntaro Hida, on the completion of "Nuclear Scar" (核の傷, movie). As you know, he is a medical doctor who was exposed to radiation in Hiroshima.
To this togetter, there are many, many comments ridiculing and taunting Iwakami. Just one or two example would suffice to get the gist of them:
Oh I see. He hasn't gotten enough victims of radiation, so he's claiming he's one of them.

He brought it on himself. Looking at these comments here, it's so apparent how much Mr. Iwakami is hated, what sinful things he has done...
I don't know where this vitriol is coming from. As with other prominent journalists and researchers, experts on Fukushima, I don't agree with Iwakami 100% on many issues, but without doubt he is one of the most dedicated journalists tirelessly covering the plight of people in Fukushima, incompetent handling of the accident and the aftermath by TEPCO and the government.I think Hayakawa got it right when he said this is a war, that there are two very distinctive groups of people in Japan whose take of the nuclear accident and outlook on life after the radiation contamination are so vastly different that there is no ground for compromise.



Tokyo Metropolitan Government Is Now the Largest Shareholder of TEPCO

Yomiuri Shinbun (4/11/2012) reports:

It has been revealed that the Tokyo Metropolitan government, who was the third largest shareholder of TEPCO, is now the largest shareholder.


The largest shareholder Dai-ichi Life Insurance Company and the second largest shareholder Nippon Life Insurance Company both sold part of its TEPCO holdings by the end of March [end of the fiscal 2011]. The Tokyo Metropolitan government is not happy that TEPCO has raised electricity charges for large business customers, and has said it will exercise the shareholder's right to propose in the shareholders' meeting at the end of June, adding to increasingly confrontational situation between TEPCO and the Tokyo Metropolitan government.


At the end of September last year, the top three shareholders of TEPCO were: Dai-ichi Life Insurance (3.42%), Nippon Life Insurance (3.29%) and Tokyo Metropolitan government (2.66%).


Dai-ichi Life and Nippon Life proceeded to sell the shares as the share price of TEPCO significantly dropped.

東京都は、猪瀬直樹副知事が大口向け料金値上げに反発し、東電に徹底したコスト削減を求めている。猪瀬氏は3月の都議会で「株主提案権を行使して、株主総会の場で東京都の意見、提案を表明していく」と述べた。Within the Tokyo Metropolitan government, Vice Governor Naoki Inose is particularly displeased with the rate hike for big businesses, and is demanding further cost cut from TEPCO. Mr. Inose said during the March Assembly, "We will exercise the shareholder's right to suggest, and express the opinion and make suggestions as the Tokyo Metropolitan government in the shareholders' meeting."
Well, confrontation goes only so far, I'm afraid. As the readers of this blog know, the Iwate disaster debris burning project of Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara benefits TEPCO's subsidiary Tokyo Rinkai Recycle Power Company as it has been "selected" as the only company able to burn the flammable debris in a quantity specified in the bidding document (100 tonnes/day minimum).

Tokyo burns Iwate's debris which is less contaminated than Miyagi's at a dedicated industrial waste incinerator at the TEPCO subsidiary, and burns more contaminated Miyagi's debris at incineration plants that usually only burn household garbage and are situated in the middle of the residential areas. Make sense, doesn't it?

For this government to criticize TEPCO is like "the pot calling kettle black" to say it in English; to say it in Japanese, in literal translation, "eye mucus laughing at snot".

The Tokyo Metropolitan government is also said to be loaded with TEPCO's corporate bonds. The bonds issued by power companies are the debt secured by the company assets. TEPCO has 5 trillion yen (US$62 billion) in debt outstanding. A tiny drop in a bucket, though, compared to what the Japanese national government owes (depending on the statistics, anything from 600 trillion yen just counting the long-dated national bonds to over 1,000 trillion (or 1 quadrillion) yen counting in the debt by prefectures and municipalities, short-dated notes and debt secured by the government).




"Telephone Game" over #Fukushima Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool

It all started with the editorial that appeared on Japanese Mainichi Shinbun on April 2, 2012.

In the column titled "Spent Fuel Pool Up in the Air" (「風知草: 宙に浮く燃料プール), the columnist Takao Yamada wrote:
「福島原発事故独立検証委員会」(いわゆる民間事故調)報告書は、原発事故の「並行連鎖型危機」の中でも4号機プールが「もっとも『弱い環』であることを 露呈させた」と書く。政府がまとめた最悪シナリオ(同報告書に収録)も4号機プール崩壊を予測。さらに各号機の使用済み燃料も崩壊し、首都圏住民も避難を迫られるというのが最悪シナリオだ
Here's my translation, as carefully as I can:
The report by the "Independent Investigation Commission on the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident" (so-called "Minkan Jikocho" [private investigation commission]) says that the Spent Fuel Pool of Reactor 4 has turned out to be the "weakest link" in the "parallel chain-reaction crises" of the nuclear plant accident. The worst-case scenario compiled by the government [the administration] (which is included in the report by the private commission) assumed the collapse of the Reactor 4 Spent Fuel Pool. According to this scenario, the spent fuel [Spent Fuel Pools?] in other reactors would then collapse, and the residents in Tokyo Metropolitan areas would face evacuation [or be forced to evacuate].
Here's how Mainichi Daily translated this paragraph (from this site, as Mainichi Daily doesn't have the link to the article any more):
A report released in February by the Independent Investigation Commission on the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident stated that the storage pool of the plant’s No. 4 reactor has clearly been shown to be “the weakest link” in the parallel, chain-reaction crises of the nuclear disaster. The worse-case scenario drawn up by the government includes not only the collapse of the No. 4 reactor pool, but the disintegration of spent fuel rods from all the plant’s other reactors. If this were to happen, residents in the Tokyo metropolitan area would be forced to evacuate.
The problem is the last sentence. Up to the sentence, it seems a faithful translation of the original Japanese. But the last sentence can be construed as if it were the opinion of the columnist, while in the original Japanese it is clear that the columnist is citing the scenario that the Kan administration received from the head of the Atomic Energy Agency of Japan.

The overseas sites which relies on the English-language news coming out of Japan did seem to take the Mainichi Daily's sentence as the opinion of the columnist, and ran with it.

At the site that I took the Mainichi Daily's quote, the article title is "It's Not Over: Government Plans for the Worst: Forced Evacuation of Tokyo". The article says:
Even more alarming is that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and other agencies have warned that the nuclear storage pools (the containment units that are being used to cool the nuclear fuel) have been damaged and may collapse under their own weight.

Such an event would cause widespread nuclear fallout throughout the region and force the government to evacuate the nearly 10 million residents of Tokyo and surrounding areas, a scenario which government emergency planners are now taking into serious consideration.
From what I can tell, this claim is based only on the Mainichi Daily's article, on that particular sentence. On the assumption that if the government had the worst-case scenario it must be planning for the worst-case. Well. No, it wasn't planning for anything. But that was known only in Japan and to the readers of this blog.

Then, there is a site that links to the above site, and the title of the article is "Fukushima Forcing Tokyo To Evacuate!" The content of the article is even more escalated:
If the storage pool were to fracture, the nuclear fuel would immediately heat up and explode. Radioactive fallout would be dispersed over a wide and uncontainable area. At this time now, the Japanese government are creating blueprints for forcibly removing 39 million people from the Tokyo metro-area.
This site also has the information that I have no idea where he got from, right before the above paragraph:
They have been incarcerating residents in psychiatric hospitals when they voice concerns about their radiation contact.
The sad thing about all this is that the Japanese government does not have any plan. If it does, it's been extremely good hiding it for more than one year. On receiving the worst-case scenario from the head of the Atomic Energy Commission in late March, 2011, the Kan administration decided to keep it hiddenand banish from their memory so that they didn't need to plan for any such scenario. It remained hidden, off the official government document list, until January this year. If you read Japanese, here's the scenario.
Gresham's Law. Or Telephone Game. Either way, It's harder and harder to get the real information, not easier, after more than 1 year since the accident started.



Title: Interview with Arnie Gundersen
Source: The Radio Ecoshock Show*
Date: April 10, 2012
At 1:30 in
Annie Gundersen, Fairewinds Associates: The Unit 3 fuel pool should also be a concern to policy makers.
At 11:00 in
Gundersen: Unit 3 is worse [than No. 4]. It’s mechanically its rubble, the pool is rubble. It’s got less fuel in it. It faces the same problem. Structurally the pool has been dramatically weakened. And, god nobody has even gotten near it yet.
Listen to the broadcast now by clicking here
Download the broadcast: Right-click here and choose ‘Save as’ or ‘Save link as’

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