The latest reports coming from Japan indicate that the current nuclear emergency is not as great as some people had feared it might be.
Despite some media reports: there have been no reactor explosions. Period.
Radiation levels are falling, according to the most recent news release by the Japanese government.
I realize you, those who have seen the images must be very concerned. The conclusion from the data obtained or confirmed is that it is expected that the condition of the [Unit 3] containment vessel remains sound, as I said earlier. The pressure inside containment vessel is stable. At 11:13, the pressure inside containment vessel was 380kPa; at 11:55, it was 360kPa. As I suggested earlier, these figures go some way toward confirming the station director's assessment that the reactor remains sound.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano - Press conference,
Monday, March 14 at 00:40am, 2011
[complete news release reproduced below]
The Safety at Nuclear Installations division at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) web site seems to be having problems due to capacity problems. This is the latest news I can find which cites the IAEA:
15 Mar, 2011, 11.01AM IST,AFP
No indication of Japan nuclear reactor meltdown: IAEA
VIENNA: The UN atomic watchdog said Monday that it has no indication at the current time of a possible meltdown at the earthquake-hit nuclear reactors in Japan.
"We have no indication of fuel that is currently melting at this point," said James Lyons, director of the Safety at Nuclear Installations division at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The current situation at the quake-damaged Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan was a "very dynamic situation," Lyons said at a news conference.
This is an update to my previous report and the comment thread of updates, links and reader's contributions: Japan's Nuclear Emergency - The Straight Goods.
In my original post I merely re-published news releases from TEPCO without comment. I felt there was no need to link to the many badly written or even biased media stories which my readers were no doubt already aware of. Please note that the news releases which I re-published were, for much of the world's media, the only source of information on which to base their wild speculations. I merely published their major source data.
The greatest problem with ordinary journalism is that only rarely will a journalist point the reader to the source of his or her information. If they gave that information, then their readers could check the facts - but perhaps that is exactly why they don't give out that information. In science, anyone who makes a habit of not citing sources will not long retain a good reputation.
I have posted a comparison between two news reports near the bottom of this article. Please judge for yourself which is likely to be more factual.
Before I move on to the latest information, I wish to remind my readers of the widespread devastation wrought by the earthquake, tsunami and aftershocks. The media coverage focussed on the nuclear emergency seems to have distracted people from the wider tragedy. Please support the Japanese people who have been hit hard by donating to whichever relief fund you trust most to actually provide help.
Urgent (on the incident regarding Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant)
Tuesday, March 15 at 11:00am
1.Areas in which counter-emergency measures should be taken:
- Residents staying within a 20-kilometer radius from the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station, Tokyo Electric Power Co.,Inc. (TEPCO) (continuation)
- Residents staying in the area from 20-kilometre to 30-kilometer radius from the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station, Tokyo Electric Power Co.,Inc. (TEPCO) (NEW)
- Residents staying within a 20-kilometer radius from the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station, Tokyo Electric Power Co.,Inc. (TEPCO) shall be evacuated.(continuation)
- Residents staying in the area from 20-kilometre to 30-kilometer radius from the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station, Tokyo Electric Power Co.,Inc. (TEPCO) shall stay inside the houses or buildings. (NEW)
Observe directions by the relevant authorities if such directions are given.
Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary
Monday, March 15 at 06:45am, 2011[Provisional Translation]
With regard to the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plants, Prime Minister Kan went to TEPCO to figure out the current situation again, and some new developments that I did not have during my last press conference came to light. I would like to report on these as soon as possible to the people of Japan.
In the Unit 2 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, damage has been observed to the suppression pool, a slightly protruding section connected to containment vessel that condenses water vapor into liquid water. However, the readings of radiation levels in the surrounding area have shown no sudden rise, and are not at values that would represent a threat to the people's health.
All the same, we intend to take swift action in response to this situation. As I need to take orders from the Prime Minister at TEPCO, I need to leave you soon. If you have just one or two questions, please go ahead.
Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary
Monday, March 14 at 04:16pm, 2011[Provisional Translation]
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY EDANO: I will now give a report on the latest situation as we understand it so far.
First, an update on developments following the hydrogen explosion in the Unit 3 reactor at the TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. As you know, we have been announcing the monitored radiation levels in the area around the power station. At present, no unusual readings have been detected. The work of supplying water to the reactor was interrupted for a time as a result of the explosion, and a team of people on the scene are working at present to restart this process. As of now, the latest data is stable for all reactors, and we are working on a long-term recommencement of water supply operations.
Following the explosion in Unit 1 and Unit 3, the cooling system stopped in another reactor, Unit 2 and water levels are falling. Therefore adding to Unit 1 and Unit 3, where water supply operations were already underway, and preparations for injecting sea water into Unit 3 are underway.
Regarding those people who were injured in the explosion, the four individuals attached to the Self-Defense Forces suffered only light injuries and we have received reports that they have already returned to their units. The remaining seven individuals, who are affiliated with TEPCO, received injuries of varying degrees of severity. We understand that one of these individuals is seriously injured. Early reports suggested that the person in question was still conscious, and no further information has come in since then. As far as the people still inside the 20km evacuation zone are concerned, our instructions for them to take refuge indoors were lifted at 14:12, and we are now urging them to recommence evacuation of the area as soon as they possibly can.
I believe there has already been an announcement to this effect from the Bank of Japan, but we have received a report that a decision has been taken by the Monetary Policy Meeting to expand the funds available for the Bank's asset purchase program from \5 trillion to \10 trillion.
Regarding the fire on the premises of the Tohoku Electric Power Company's Haramachi Thermal Power Station, it is our understanding based on a report issued to the prefectural authorities by the Minami Soma fire department at 15:30 that a crane inside the power station collapsed and that the crane's fuel has ignited. The fire department is currently fighting to prevent the fire from spreading.
With regard to contingency funds to cover the cost of material assistance, the government will provide 30.2 billion yen entirely at national government expense as an initial measure to cover food, water, blankets, medicine, and other daily necessities. A cabinet order approving this measure will be issued at the following round robin Cabinet meeting later today.
Reports suggest that the situation in the affected areas is extremely severe, particularly for those who have been forced to evacuate their homes. The prime minister expressed a strong desire to visit the afflicted areas himself in order to gain a first-hand understanding of the situation and the difficult conditions faced by those in evacuation centers. Following consultations with parties in the affected areas, however, it was decided that it would not be easy to accommodate a visit of the prime minster at this stage, given that the ongoing assistance and rescue operations still underway. For the time being, we have decided that the most effective approach is for us to continue to make effort to respond to the needs of parties in the afflicted areas based on accurate information we receive from them.
Press Conference by the Chief Cabinet Secretary
Monday, March 14 at 00:40am, 2011[Provisional Translation]
CHIEF CABINET SECRETARY EDANO: This is a report on the latest situation in the Unit 3 reactor at the TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, where an explosion is confirmed to have taken place at 11:01 today.
And I realize you, those who have seen the images must be very concerned. The conclusion from the data obtained or confirmed is that it is expected that the condition of the containment vessel remains sound, as I said earlier. The pressure inside containment vessel is stable. At 11:13, the pressure inside containment vessel was 380kPa; at 11:55, it was 360kPa. As I suggested earlier, these figures go some way toward confirming the station director's assessment that the reactor remains sound.
The results show of monitoring radiation levels are: A reading of 50μSv/h was observed. A reading of 50μSv/h was taken in the service hall inside the power station at 11:37, and at 11:44 a reading of 20μSv/h was recorded at the main entrance. There has been no notable change observed.
In the off-site center roughly 5 kilometers from the station, a reading of 1μSv/h was recorded at 11:36. This is approximately the same figure as was recorded the previous day. None of these readings suggests the presence of large amounts of radiation.According to the reports we have received, none of the data from any of the monitoring points suggests problems with neutron radiation. We have also confirmed that the central control room is intact.
In regard to water injection to the Unit 3 reactor, reports that workers were evacuated while this work was in process are accurate. At the moment, we are grasping the situation to determine at which stage the efforts and operations of visual confirmation of the ongoing water injection can be carried out.
We have received reports that six people were injured. Despite what was reported in some quarters, I have spoken directly with TEPCO head office and the director of the power station to confirm the situation, and neither has reported any missing personnel.
In terms of the evacuation situation, I referred earlier to a "small number of people" still evacuating the area. This may have been a slightly inappropriate choice of words. As of 12:30, around 500 people are still in the process of evacuating the 20km zone around the power station.
To repeat: In light of the data I have just provided, it is the opinion of experts and others monitoring the situation that this event was an occurrence similar to the hydrogen explosion that took place in the Unit 1 reactor the other day, and that the condition of the containment vessel remains sound and risk of a large-scale release of radioactive materials is low at the present time.
As regards the 500 or so people still within the 20km evacuation zone, our instructions remain for them to wait indoors. We will make a decision on the timing of their evacuation from the area once we have obtained more data and other information.
That is all from me for now.
Sorry-I have a correction to make
I said that the measurement at the off-site center had been made at 11:36. I should have said 12:36.
Current links to updates:
official statements and reports are now available from -
the Japanese government site: kantei.go.jp
NISA - Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency
Japan Meteorological Agency
Press releases have been citing Japan's Act on Special Measures Concerning Nuclear Emergency Preparedness Article 15. The act can be downloaded as a pdf from NISA.
Act on Special Measures Concerning Nuclear Emergency Preparedness
A recommended article about how nuclear reactors are built and what that implies in the current emergency: https://morgsatlarge.wordpress.com/2011/03/13/why-i-am-not-worried-about...
- Japanese: http://bravenewclimate.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/fukushim_explained_japanese_translation.pdf
- German: http://www.bodenseepeter.de/2011/03/14/warum-ich-wegen-der-japanischen-kernkraftwerke-nicht-besorgt-bin
- Spanish: http://fullmyhenxu.wordpress.com/2011/03/13/por-que-no-estoy-preocupado-sobre-los-reactores-nucleares-de-japon/
( Hat tip to Dennis Argall for pointing me to the article above.)
Wikipedia has a very good entry on the Fukushima 1 (Daichi) incident which is frequently updated: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fukushima_I_nuclear_accidents
A frequently updated Japanese news site (English language) - http://english.kyodonews.jp/
Two news stories compared.
I am fond of saying to my readers: "Don't take my word for anything. Please check my sources."
I offer these two news stories as an example of the wide disparity between original stories and later re-tellings.
Japan PM to nuclear power firm: "What the hell's going on?" -KyodoThe original story:
TOKYO, March 15 | Tue Mar 15, 2011 6:29am EDT
(Reuters) - Japan's prime minister was furious with the power firm at the centre of the nuclear crisis for taking so long to inform his office about a blast at a stricken reactor plant, demanding "What the hell is going on?".
Kyodo news agency reported that Naoto Kan also ordered Tokyo Electric Power Co on Tuesday not to pull employees out of the Fukushima plant north of Tokyo, which was badly damaged by last week's earthquake and has been leaking radiation.
"The TV reported an explosion. But nothing was said to the the premier's office for about an hour," a Kyodo reporter quoted Kan telling power company executives. (Writing by Jonathan Thatcher; Editing by John Chalmers)
Kan raps Tokyo Electric's handling of nuclear crisis
TOKYO, March 15, Kyodo
Prime Minister Naoto Kan on Tuesday strongly criticized Tokyo Electric Power Co. for its handling of the earthquake-stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
''The TV reported an explosion. But nothing was said to the premier's office for about an hour,'' a Kyodo News reporter overheard Kan saying during a meeting with executives of the power company at its head office. ''What the hell is going on?''
Kan strongly ordered the company not to withdraw its employees from the power plant, which has been facing a series of problems since Friday's massive quake, ranging from explosions to radiation leaks.
''In the event of withdrawal from there, I'm 100 percent certain that the company will collapse,'' Kan said. ''I want you all to be determined.''
Front page image source: Wikipedia.
The National Cherry Blossom Festival is a spring celebration in Washington, D.C., commemorating the March 27, 1912, gift of Japanese cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the city of Washington. Mayor Ozaki donated the trees in an effort to enhance the growing friendship between the United States and Japan and also celebrate the continued close relationship between the two nations.