Fukushima, worse radiation than ever


This video from Japan says about itself:

Fukushima Unit 2 Scorpion Probe Dies But Sends Back Some Data

Feb 16 2017

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Japan: Fukushima’s high radiation wrecks robot

Saturday 18th February 2017

Nuclear disaster site’s clean-up hits big trouble

ROBOT probes sent into a wrecked Fukushima nuclear reactor suggest that the clean-up process faces worse than anticipated problems, the plant operator admitted yesterday.

Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) said that the remote-controlled “scorpion” robot had been sent into the Unit 2 reactor’s containment vessel on Thursday to investigate the area around the core that melted six years ago.

However, its crawling function failed while climbing over highly radioactive debris.

The robot, carrying a dosimeter, thermometer and two small cameras, transmitted some data and visuals but failed to locate melted fuel, which is key to determining how to remove debris from the reactor.

The robot was abandoned inside the vessel at a point where it won’t block a future probe.

Preliminary examinations in recent weeks have detected structural damage to planned robot routes and higher-than-expected radiation inside the Unit 2 containment chamber, suggesting the need to revise robot designs and probes. Similar probes are planned for the two other melted reactors.

A tiny waterproof robot that can go underwater will be sent into Unit 1 in the coming weeks, but experts haven’t yet worked out a way to access the badly damaged Unit 3.

The operator needs to know the melted fuel’s exact location and condition and other structural damage in each of the three wrecked reactors to assess the best and safest ways to remove the fuel.

Despite the incomplete probe missions, Tepco is sticking to its schedule to determine methods for melted fuel removal this summer before starting work in 2021, said spokesman Yuichi Okamura.

The company is struggling with the plant’s decommissioning, which is expected to last decades, following the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that led to the meltdown.

Tens of thousands of residents are still unable to return to their home because of high radiation.

Earlier this month, another robot, designed to clean debris for the main scorpion probe, had to return midway through because two cameras became inoperable after two hours when its total radiation exposure reached a maximum tolerance of 1,000 sievert. This level would kill a human within seconds.

Local servicemen may have radiation poisoning from Fukushima — San Diego City Beat, USA: here.

Japanese seabird conservation


This video says about itself:

14 September 2015

At Hakodate, Japan – After their early morning feeding, these seabirds are grooming their feathers and taking a rest, along that huge motionless breakwater.

From BirdLife:

Japan is home to one third of all seabirds – so we mapped its waters

By Alex Dale, 7 Feb 2017

Japan is known for its densely-populated cities, but some of its most vital areas for bird conservation are places where humans rarely venture – its marine waters.

A nation comprised of a chain of islands, Japan is blessed with a long and rugged coastline, which is home to a particularly high diversity of seabirds within Asia. Nearly a third of all known seabird species venture into Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone, which stretches 200 nautical miles from its coastline. These species includes all three North Pacific albatrosses, eight auks and eleven petrels and shearwaters.

As seabirds are one of the most threatened groups of birds worldwide, it’s no surprise that some of these species have been assessed by BirdLife as threatened, and are in urgent need of protection. These include the Short-tailed Albatross Phoebastria albatrus, listed as Vulnerable due to its extremely small breeding range, which is limited to several Pacific islands; Tristram’s Storm-petrel Hydrobates tristrami, which is threatened by predation by rats and cats introduced to the islands it breeds on; and Japanese Murrelet Synthliboramphus wumizusume, which is threatened by human disturbance by anglers at its breeding sites and accidental capture in gillnet fisheries, among other factors.

As you can see, Japan’s seabirds already face a complex web of threats, and the concern is that the ongoing expansion of offshore wind farms in and around the country could heap yet more pressure onto the most threatened species.> They are being built to meet a national need for renewable energy, one which has only grown following the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster of 2011. Clearly, there is a pressing need for Japan’s most vital marine sites to be properly monitored and protected.

However, this is currently not the case. The Japanese government has stated that 8.3% of the country’s waters are protected – but concerns have been raised about how effective this protection is for preserving the country’s marine biodiversity. For example, it includes marine areas that are locally managed by fisherman and so lack legal protection, and also marine areas that are indeed protected by national laws, but don’t contribute to marine biodiversity conservation. All in all, that 8.3% is not the be all and end all when it comes to protecting Japan’s seabirds.

But we have now taken an important first step towards improving protection for seabirds. In 2004, BirdLife International and its Partners initiated a project to designate sites that are important for coastal and marine conservation as Marine Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (Marine IBAs). This is part of an ongoing push that has created the largest global network of important sites for biodiversity. Using simple but robust criteria to identify these crucial sites helps inform decision makers by highlighting areas of land and sea most in need of protection.

To this end, the Wild Bird Society of Japan, (WBSJ, BirdLife Partner), and BirdLife International Tokyo have just completed identification of Japan’s 27 new Marine IBAs, adding to the 167 terrestrial or near-shore IBAs that were already recognised in 2004.

Seabirds are excellent indicators of the health of the marine environment’ explains Yutaka Yamamoto, Conservation Division Chief at WBSJ. ‘Identifying key seabird sites in Japan will inform marine conservation priorities and actions needed for the protection of our oceans.’

The results have just been published in a booklet that covers the new marine IBAs, including details for the breeding sites, threats, and biology on the 18 ‘trigger species’ for which sites were selected, and case studies about local communities working on seabird conservation. This includes several towns and villages where local conservation groups, fisheries associations, government, and seabird scientists are taking action to monitor and raise awareness about seabirds, and develop nature-based tourism. Kadogawa Town, close to the new Birou-jima Island marine IBA – which contains the world’s largest breeding colony of Japanese murrelets -, has even adopted the species as their town symbol.

Identifying Japan’s marine IBAs has been a long process involving many collaborators and a lot of data’, said Mayumi Sato, BirdLife Marine Programme Coordinator for Asia, ‘but it’s actually an initial step, and I am optimistic that it will help inform protection of many crucial areas of coast and sea. It gives me much hope to see local communities and fishers who are already active and working alongside government and scientists to promote and protect wildlife in these unique seabird sites.’

This important work was made possible thanks to kind funding from The Keidanren Nature Conservation Fund and from The Tiffany & Co. Foundation through a grant to American Friends of BirdLife International.

The booklet can be downloaded from The Wild Bird Society of Japan’s website.

Fukushima radiation worse than ever


This video from Japan says about itself:

The Radioactive Forest of Fukushima

27 January 2017

FULL Documentary 2017. The Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011 turned the surrounding towns into a desolate land, making the area into a “radioactive forest”. Without human presence, the land is roamed by wildlife like civets, macaques and wild boars. A project is underway to study the deserted areas by attaching a camera to wild boars to record the conditions of the former farmlands. 5 years after the disaster, we take a close look at how radiation has affected the wildlife, and what it entails for us humans.

From Kyodo news agency in Japan:

Highest radiation reading since 3/11 detected at Fukushima No. 1 reactor

The radiation level in the containment vessel of reactor 2 at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 power plant has reached a maximum of 530 sieverts per hour, the highest since the triple core meltdown in March 2011, Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc. said.

Tepco said on Thursday that the blazing radiation reading was taken near the entrance to the space just below the pressure vessel, which contains the reactor core.

The high figure indicates that some of the melted fuel that escaped the pressure vessel is nearby.

At 530 sieverts, a person could die from even brief exposure, highlighting the difficulties ahead as the government and Tepco grope their way toward dismantling all three reactors crippled by the March 2011 disaster.

Tepco also announced that, based on its analysis of images taken by a remote-controlled camera, that there is a 2-meter hole in the metal grating under the pressure vessel in the reactor’s primary containment vessel. It also thinks part of the grating is warped.

The hole could have been caused when the fuel escaped the pressure vessel after the mega-quake and massive tsunami triggered a station blackout that crippled the plant’s ability to cool the reactors.

The searing radiation level, described by some experts as “unimaginable,” far exceeds the previous high of 73 sieverts per hour at the reactor.

Tepco said it calculated the figure by analyzing the electronic noise in the camera images caused by the radiation. This estimation method has a margin of error of plus or minus 30 percent, it said.

An official of the National Institute of Radiological Sciences said medical professionals have never considered dealing with this level of radiation in their work.

According to the institute, 4 sieverts of radiation exposure would kill 1 in 2 people.

Experts say 1,000 millisieverts, or 1 sievert, could lead to infertility, loss of hair and cataracts, while exposure to doses above that increases the risk of cancer.

According to Tepco, readings of surface radiation on parts used inside a normally operating pressure vessel can reach several thousands sieverts per hour.

The discovery spells difficulty of removing the fuel debris to decommission at the plant. The government and Tepco hope to locate the fuel and start removing it in 2021.

In the coming weeks, the utility plans to deploy a remote-controlled robot to check conditions inside the containment vessel, but the utility is likely to have to change its plan.

For one thing, it will have to reconsider the route the robot takes into the interior because of the hole in the grating.

Also, given the extraordinary level of radiation, the robot would only be able to operate for less than two hours before it is destroyed.

That is because it is designed to withstand exposure of up to 1,000 sieverts. Based on the calculation of 73 sieverts per hour, the robot could run for more than 10 hours, but 530 sieverts per hour means it would be rendered inoperable in less than two hours.

Tepco has been probing reactor 2’s containment vessel since last week.

On Monday, it found a black mass deposited on the grating directly under the pressure vessel. The images, captured using a camera attached to a telescopic arm the same day, showed part of the grating was missing. Further analysis found the 2-meter hole in an area beyond the missing section on the structure.

If the deposits are confirmed to be melted fuel, it would be the first time the utility has found any of it at the three reactors that suffered core meltdowns.

The world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986 triggered core meltdowns in reactors 1 through 3. Portions of the core in each reactor are believed to have melted through their pressure vessels and pooled at the bottom of their containment vessels.

The actual condition of the melted fuel remains unknown because the radiation is too high to check it.

Meanwhile, a nuclear research organization unveiled on Friday a robot that will be tasked with surveying reactor 1 at the complex.

Tepco plans to send the robot into reactor 1 in March, while its survey plan for reactor 2 remains unclear because of the high radiation levels.

The stick-like robot is 70 cm long and equipped with a camera, according to the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning.

During a robotic survey in April 2015, the operator found no major obstacles in the path planned in reactor 1 but found water accumulating in the basement.

In the upcoming survey, it hopes to examine the water by deploying a camera and a radiation sensor.

The man blocking the world’s largest nuclear plant says he grew opposed to atomic energy the same way some people fall in love. Previously an advocate for nuclear power in Japan, Ryuichi Yoneyama campaigned against the restart of the facility as part of his successful gubernatorial race last year in Niigata. He attributes his political U-turn to the “unresolved” 2011 Fukushima Dai-Ichi disaster and the lack of preparedness at the larger facility in his own prefecture, both owned by Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings Inc.: here.

According to TEPCO, 8 Fukushima workers have developed leukemia; 5 workers have developed malignant lymphoma; and 2 workers have multiple myeloma: here.

Good Japanese murrelet news


This 2016 video is called Japanese murrelet Top #6 Facts.

From BirdLife:

Threatened seabird successfully breeds using artificial nests for first time

By Yoko Teshima, 23 Jan 2017

The Japanese Murrelet Synthliboramphus wumizusume is a small seabird with an equally small range to match; it can be found only in warm current waters close to Japan. The birds’ breeding range is even smaller still, concentrated mainly on the ground of rock reefs or isolated islands from Kanto region and to the west, where they make their nests in the crack of rocks. For the chicks, the stay on these uninhabited islands is a brief one; two days after hatching, the chick abandons the nest for the sea and is fed by its parents off the coast.

Little known about the species’ ecology because the bird lives at sea almost all year round. What we do know is that the population is decreasing rapidly, and as a result of these declines, the Japanese Murrelet has been designated as a Vulnerable species both by the Ministry of Environment of Japan, and by BirdLife International, who have assessed the species’ conservation status on behalf of the IUCN Red List.

The main causes of the decreasing numbers has been shown to be the deterioration of the breeding sites, disturbance by people, and predation of the adult birds and chicks and eggs by rats and crows. The latter threat is a result of human activity in the birds’ breeding range. When people came ashore, rats followed. When sport fishermen left baits and garbage behind, crows were attracted by the waste. In response to these declines, Wild Bird Society of Japan (BirdLife Partner) has been working for conservation of the Japanese Murrelet, with one of their main aims being designate a protected area of breeding sites and improve the environment of the sites.

In an attempt to improve conditions at the breeding sites, WBSJ has been developing prototypes of artificial U-shape concrete block nests since 2010. As the Japanese Murrelet had never been known to use artificial nests before, there was no prior knowledge of how to construct an artificial breeding site that would meet the Japanese Murrelet’s requirements, so WBSJ had to experiment with different designs . After six years of trial and error, finally chicks of the Japanese Murrelet fledged from three artificial nests in 2016. This successful achievement is a promising beginning in our ambition to increase the bird’s population by both creating artificial breeding sites, and improving the environment of the breeding sites.

Hironobu Tajiri, Ph.D, Manager, Preservation Project ,WBSJ said, “If we improve more artificial nests and standardize them, we could install them on islets where the bird population is decreasing or the bird can’t be seen. It could be possible to have breeding birds there again”.