Friday, 19 September 2014

Fukushima radiation damages rice genome

After the Fujushima catastrophe, this rice was grown nearby by IAEA to test methods of soil decontamination.

Research on the biological effects of radiation near the Fukushima nuclear disaster site finds a powerful response in rice seedlings, writes Gregory McCann. The discovery will do nothing to boost consumer confidence in resumed rice exports from the Fukushima region.

2011's Fukushima disaster continues to taint the Japanese environment. And now it is rice itself - the dietary staple of Japan and other countries across south and east Asia - that's taking the hit.

A study in the American Genetic Association's Journal of Heredity examines the detailed genetic alterations of the all-important young rice plant when exposed to low-level radiation - that emitted by the Fukushima nuclear plant a year after the disaster.

Previous experiments had provided evidence of "ultralow-level gamma radiation triggering changes at the molecular level in the multi-layered defence / stress-related biological processes in rice leaves".

The Fukushima disaster presented an opportunity to confirm these findings outside the laboratory. This was especially important since the ultralow dose of radiation the researchers desired to study could not feasibly be replicated in a lab setting.

The result? Multiple modes of cellular response were observed, ranging from the triggering of DNA repair mechanisms, to oxidative stress, often culminating in cell death.

Alteration to the East's dietary staple
Working in collaboration with the Society for Radioecology, the researchers took two week old plants and exposed them to the environment with more than 100 times the natural background level. This was on a farm 31 kilometres from the reactor explosions in 2011.

Crucially, there was no direct contact between the studied seedlings and the contaminated soil so as to witness only the effect of radiation still present in the atmosphere. The exposed plants received a dose of radiation eighty to one hundred times greater than background.

The tips of plant leaves, unlike those of the control plants, dried and withered and this damage continued even after the plants were removed from the studied farm.

Over the test period, genetic alteration affected many aspects of gene function including "DNA repair, antioxidant defence, photosynthesis, secondary metabolism and cell death".

The study demonstrated that many different types of genetic material are altered or induced by gamma radiation. Some such alterations are unique to radiation but others are shared with responses made to other stresses, such as weather conditions.

The scientists noted both early and late alteration, for example one protein that was induced strongly at six hours is implicated in cell death. The collected data suggest a multi-faceted effect on the rice's 'self-defence mechanisms'.

The study did not attempt to answer the question of dose-dependency, which is to say the relationship between alteration and radiation dosage, rendering the study more qualitative than quantative.

The repercussions of a lost confidence
The findings possess a special significance, as the report keenly presses, because rice is the essential Asian foodstuff. As the report pithily puts it, "rice is life".

That is not to say that Fukushima, or nuclear crises in general, pose an existential threat to Asia's paddy fields - but that rice contamination is an issue of concern to the entire country.

It is this emotive quality to the contamination that has damaged consumers' confidence in the region's rice, and driven farmers to distraction in their efforts to reassure them.

Farmers, desperate to restore their product's image, have looked to strategies as varied and bizarre as applying to their fields powdered scallop shell, liquid potassium and the mineral Zeolite, which can absorb radioactive caesium with mixed results.

The report emerges as Japan resumes the export of rice from the Fukushima area, which began last month (August 2014) having been banned in 2011. Officials have sought to assuage fears of continued contamination through rigorous testing before shipments are sent to market.

Much of the newly exported rice derives from Sukagawa, some 60 kilometres from Fukushima power plant. The study, however, took place at a farm only 31 kilometres away from the crippled nuclear facility.

A strong economic incentive exists to resume a semblance of normality since, prior to the 2011 disaster, Fukushima sent over 100 tonnes of agricultural products abroad. While the export of rice is only now restarting, 2012 saw the resumption of trade in peaches and apples from Fukushima.

Source: Ecologist


Thursday, 18 September 2014

Fukushima fishermen against water release plan


Fishermen have voiced opposition to a plan for well water from around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant to be dumped into the ocean.

About 90 fishermen attended a briefing held in Iwaki City in Fukushima on Thursday by Tokyo Electric Power Company.

The plan involves removing radioactive particles from the water before discharging it, and is part of TEPCO's efforts to reduce the buildup of contaminated water at the site.

Company officials said they would only release decontaminated groundwater after tests confirm radiation levels are below safe levels.

Many fishermen said they are not convinced about the safety of water to be released into the sea. They said it could still be contaminated to a certain degree.

They said if problems occurred and highly contaminated water were accidentally released, the negative media coverage would destroy Fukushima's fishing industry.

TEPCO has agreed to a request by fishermen to hold another briefing, as not all the fishermen who wanted to attend could get into the meeting space.

One of the participants said the electric power company should do more research and present data that will be more convincing to fishermen.
Source: NHK

TEPCO: Groundwater bypass helps lessen waste water


The operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant says the strategy to pump up groundwater before it reaches the plant has been effective in reducing contaminated water.

Tokyo Electric Power Company has been struggling with a buildup of radioactive water at the plant due to the inflow of groundwater that amounts to about 400 tons a day.

As one of the ways to combat this, in May TEPCO started pumping up groundwater on the hillside of the plant to prevent it from reaching the contaminated reactors and other buildings.

They call the method a "groundwater bypass" and have discharged 36,000 tons in to the sea since May.

The operator on Thursday said the measure may by decreasing the buildup of radioactive water at the plant by 50 to 80 tons per day.

Engineers calculated the figure by excluding the estimated effect of rainfall from the increased volume of contaminated water in the reactor and other buildings and wastewater tanks.

TEPCO also says the groundwater levels at three monitoring points near the pumping sites have been lowered by 20 centimeters compared to before the plan was implemented. It says it will continue to monitor the effect of the bypass operation.

The operator is also considering pumping up contaminated groundwater around the plant and discharging it to the sea after purification.

But local fishermen are against it due to concern about the operation's safety and how negative public perception might affect their business.
 Source: NHK

INCINERATION facility is under construction at Fukushima Daiichi site

INCINERATION facility is under construction at Fukushima Daiichi site

TEPCO plans to do a test run from January to March next year, and start its operation by the end of March, 2015.

Plant worker: 
"The site has been overflowing with wastes like Tyvek and Masks. Where can you dump them? There is no place, isn’t it? So they want to reduce the volume by burning them.
I wonder if radiation will be leaking from it and if the smoke is safe?"

"We will install a filter to prevent radiation from leaking. "

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Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Medesis Pharma solves nuclear contamination???

The treatment administered orally is a micro-emulsion "water in oil" 
composed of three lipids and a purified extract of nettle 

September 15, 2014
Written by Armelle Bohineust , translated by D'un Renard

Allied to the CEA (French Atomic Energy and Alternative Energies Commission ), the French biotechnology company Medesis Pharma is developing a treatment to protect people exposed to radioactivity.

Soon a mean to protect the population against nuclear contamination, whether a Fukushima type or attack? This is the project of the French biotechnology company Medesis Pharma combined with the CEA.

They filed a joint European patent and develop products capable of extracting plutonium from infected persons.

Medesis uses the nanotechnology Aonys, transporting metal ions into the body.
The treatment is a microemulsion "water in oil" given orally, consisting of three specific lipids identified in research conducted between 1992 and 1997 on a purified extract of the antidiabetic plant, nettle.

Inhaled with an individual spraying inhaler, the product passes through the mucosa, joined the lymphatic and blood circulation and penetrates all cells.

Administered for several weeks Aonys is gradually decreasing the amount of radioactive toxins in the body.

Established in 2003 near Montpellier, and also based in Montreal, Canada where it has installed some of its research team in the Neomed Institute, Medesis began working with CEA in 2004 and has already raised 15 million euros.

Bipolar patients
Biotech plans to raise additional funds to launch the development of a pharmaceutical product removing plutonium from the body. It could be commercialized by 2017 and will be followed by products for cesium and uranium, says Jean-Claude Maurel, President Medesis. Targeting the US market, where they are supposed to stockpile drugs to protect civilian populations living near nuclear power plants. "We just need a stock to cover the needs of the population within a radius of 30 km around the plant, which is the emergency accident evacuation zone.

For example, the area around the Bugey nuclear power plant in France encompasses 700,000 people, "says the founder of Medesis. The value of one million doses amounting to almost € 60 million, the company expects a strong increase in its turnover, estimated at "several hundred million" in the first two years marketing of this product. "We'll be the first to launch such product of individual spray type for the removal of plutonium and cesium, but also uranium, for which no treatment exists to date," explains Jean-Claude Maurel.

Using the same technology, which allows administering metal ions at very low doses, Medesis Pharma is developing treatments for neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington's disease.
End of 2014, the biotech will launch its Phase 2 clinical development of a product containing lithium, used to treat bipolar patients. "Another market of several hundred million euros", according to Jean-Claude Maurel.

Source: Le Figaro (Economy)

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Over 2 Trillion Becquerels of Radioactive Waste Flowed from Fukushima Plant into Pacific in Just 10 Months

By David Gutierrez
September 15, 2014
At least 2 trillion becquerels’ worth of radioactive material flowed from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean between August 2013 and May 2014, plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has admitted. The rate of release was 10 times higher than TEPCO’s pre-meltdown threshold for radioactive material.

A becquerel is a unit for measuring radioactive material that corresponds to one unit of radioactive decay per second. It is a way of describing how much radiation is being emitted by radioactive material, in contrast to measuring the mass or volume of the material itself, the energy carried by the radiation or the biological impact of exposure.

Radioactive sludge accumulating in bay
In March 2011, the Fukushima plant suffered multiple meltdowns triggered by a massive earthquake and tsunami. Since then, TEPCO has struggled to contain the flow of radioactive water away from the plant. Currently, radioactive water is known to be leaking out of reactor buildings and downstream into the ocean. It is also suspected to be leaking into the ground from the plant, and flowing underground to the ocean from there.

TEPCO estimates that this water has been carrying 4.8 billion becquerels of strontium-90 and 2 billion becquerels of cesium-137 every day, based on measurements taken near the water intakes for reactors 1 through 4. This means that in the 10 months from August to May, the plant emitted 1.46 trillion becquerels’ worth of strontium-90 and 610 billion becquerels of cesium-137, totaling 2.07 trillion becquerels of radioactivity released into the ocean.

This astonishing amount of radioactivity is actually an improvement over the first two years following the disaster. Between May 2011 and August 2013, 10 trillion becquerels of strontium-90 and 20 trillion becquerels of cesium-137 flowed into the bay, for a total of 30 trillion becquerels. The improvement does not mark an improvement in TEPCO’s containment methods, however, but is a result of the concentration of nuclear material at the plant decreasing over time.

Water flowing away from the plant enters the bay, where it can then spread into the open ocean. This bay contains a port that is used by the plant to transport materials and equipment.

So much radioactive material has accumulated along the mud of the sea floor at this port that TEPCO is now pursuing a plan to coat the sea floor with cement, to prevent the material from migrating deeper into the ocean.

This may make it impossible to ever dredge the port and remove the radioactive material.
“The first priority is to keep the material where it is,” said a TEPCO official. “No decision has been made on whether to recover the [radioactive] mud at some point in the future.”

Radioactive swamp
TEPCO has already coated several other sections of sea floor, near the outlets of tunnels used to release the radioactive water used to cool the plant immediately following the meltdown.

Work has already begun on a project to coat 50,000 square meters of sea floor near the quay with a cement mixture. The remaining 130,000 square meters will also be coated in several smaller segments. Every part will then be re-coated, to ensure durability of the barrier.

Meanwhile, radioactive water continues to accumulate on-site, with both rainwater and groundwater continually seeping into the failed reactors and becoming contaminated. TEPCO has been attempting to pump this water out and store it in tanks all over the site, but numerous leaks have caused so much water to spill out that Kyoto University professor Hiroaki Koide has described the plant as a radioactive swamp.

TEPCO has also attempted to dispose of some of the water by directly discharging it into the Pacific Ocean, violating its own standards for safe radiation exposure levels.

Source: Global Research

IRID Admits Fukushima Unit 1 Fuel May Be Outside Of Containment

The head of IRID made this interesting admission during the fall meeting of Atomic Energy Society of Japan last week. He admitted that the melted fuel for unit 1 is outside the pedestal and could possibly be outside of containment.

He cited this situation as being one of the reasons they are looking into alternative methods of fuel extraction, not just TEPCO’s initial idea of extraction through the reactor vessel. He did state that they think units 2 and 3 are less likely to be outside of the pedestal structure but didn’t elaborate why they consider these other units to have different behaviors.

Work will be under way within the year to try to insert Hitachi’s shape changing robot into the containment structures of the three units that had meltdowns. This effort should gather critical information on the fuel location and condition of the containment structures. IRID and a number of the prime contractors at Daiichi have been focused on the more complex work to deal with the reactors since 2013.

This admission by IRID may be part of an evolution of the need to finally admit information about the state of the reactors in order to deal with decommissioning them. Our early research indicated this condition at unit 1 was the case as far back as 2012. Since IRID’s task is to actually deal with the problem they have the need to be honest and provide reliable information that can be acted upon.

Source: Fukuleaks

Ocean hits record high for radioactive Strontium at all 6 locations near Fukushima reactors — Levels up to 20 times higher than reported last week

TEPCO Prompt Report of Result of Analysis, Sept. 10, 2014:
This newly published data shows record levels of Strontium-90 have been detected at all 6 seawater monitoring locations in front of the destroyed reactors. At 3 of 6 locations levels are around triple the previous record set last year.

Yet a report released by TEPCO days later on Sept. 12, 2014 claims: “Results indicate efforts to protect water are succeeding… inside the port area, concentrations of radioactivity have been steadily decreasingStrontiumnearest the reactors… show levels of 70-100 Bq/LStrontium 90 has been reduced to approximately a third of earlier levels [and] are projected to further reduce… Strontium 90 outflows to one-fortieth of the current estimated amount of outflow.”

According to a TEPCO document from last month: “Groundwater around reactor buildings (Unit 1 to 4) is confirmed to contain radioactive materials which have mixed with rainwater having been contacted with contaminated debris left on the ground surface due to the accident… contaminated water in the buildings theoretically does not mix with the groundwater flowing around the buildings.”

Source: Enenews

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Thinking of Purchasing a Geiger Counter?

By Nan Bhajani Tierra

From my perspective there are 5 and *ONLY 5*  geiger counters  that we should be recommending for citizen monitoring: the Inspector (USB, Alert V2 and Exp), the Mazur PRM 9000 (*not* the PRM 8000), the Atomic Dave made geigers (provided that you order one with the more sensitive pancake geiger mueller tube), the Gamma Scout, and the Soeks. That is it - no others have passed the test of time, reliability and accuracy. I strongly urge each and every one of you to be clear with folks about this when they consider purchasing a geiger counter.

My personal order of preference is as follows - with the Mazur PRM 9000 and the two Inspectors in a near-tie but the PRM 9000 has superior internal software capabilities:

1. Inspector USB (comparable to the Mazur PRM 9000)
2. Mazur PRM 9000 (comparable to the Inspector USB)
3.  Inspector EXP and Inspector Alert (slightly less capable in terms of internal software)
3. Atomic Dave's pancake geiger mueller tube models
4. Gamma Scout
5. Soeks

The Inspectors, Mazur PRM 9000 and Atomic Dave's geiger counters are all made in the US. The Inspector USB and EXP are made on The Farm, an intentional community in Tennessee - which has a long history of nuclear activism, and The Inspector Alert V2 is made in California by former members of The Farm in Tennessee.  Atomic Dave's meters are made in California.

The Gamma Scout is made in Germany.  Bionerd on You Tube uses a Gamma Scout - you can check her You Tube page for more info if you like (She is crazy, however - I do not endorse the carelessness that she embraces in proximity to nuclear materials.)

The Soeks is made in Russia. 

 I strongly recommend that *no one consider any other brand or model of geiger counter* as your 1st geiger counter - other than the 5 noted above.

Here are the manufacturers websites:

Inspector USB

Inspector Alert V2:

Inspector EXP with *external probe*:

Mazur 9000

Atomic Dave is a small time custom builder in California:

Atomic Dave's email:

Gamma Scout:


Yoshida’s call on seawater kept reactor cool as Tokyo dithered

Firetrucks pour water and seawater into reactor 1 at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant on March 16, 2011.

This is the sixth in a series on the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe based on the accounts of people who struggled to contain the crisis in its early stages. Job titles and ages are as of March 2011.

When the No. 1 reactor building exploded at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear complex on March 12, 2011, blowing its concrete roof high into the sky, the employees were traumatized.

Still, the officials at Tokyo Electric Power Co. knew they had to continue injecting water into its reactor, which had lost all cooling ability after the massive earthquake and tsunami the day before robbed the power plant of all electricity and several backup generators.

At the time, Tepco was running out of fresh water to cool the reactor and had decided to use seawater that had pooled inside a large pit near the No. 3 reactor after the tsunami. Then planned to pump the water all the way over to the No. 1 reactor using three firetrucks.

They needed the help, however, of the Ground Self-Defense Force troops who had arrived at the plant in their own firetrucks. GSDF officer Yuichi Sato, 22, headed over to the pit for a second time later in the evening.

About 90 minutes before, he had been driving toward the pit when the hydrogen blast, set off by gas generated by the reactor’s melting nuclear fuel rods, gutted the No. 1 reactor building, hurling tons of debris into the air.

A chunk of steel frame from the building smashed into the passenger-side window of the truck, breaking the arm of Hiroyuki Ogawa, the 50-year-old chief of Tepco’s firefighting unit, who was guiding them to the site.

Sato, a member of a GSDF artillery regiment based in the prefecture, said he was afraid that another explosion might take place but knew he had to do his job.

The GSDF firetruck was supposed to pump seawater out of the pit and pass it to another GSDF firetruck, with Tepco’s firetruck later injecting it into the overheating reactor.

But heated exchanges broke out between officials from Tepco and one of its affiliates over who would run Tepco’s firetruck.

“Are you telling us to go? Can you guarantee our lives will be protected?” an official of affiliate Nanmei Kousan Co. shouted at Tomoyuki Arai, who had taken over as Tepco’s firefighting chief after Ogawa was injured. Arai was asking the affiliate to provide more manpower because the job of operating the firetrucks belongs to Nanmei and Tepco employees aren’t trained to run them.

Arai said he could not guarantee their safety, but added, “If we don’t go, things will get worse.”
A team including Arai and a Nanmei employee eventually left for the No. 1 reactor’s turbine building. As they approached it, their dosimeters climbed, warning of hazardous amounts of radiation in the area.

After Arai’s team replaced the hoses damaged by the hydrogen explosion, the three firetrucks were connected by 300 meters of hoses.

It was 7:04 p.m. when they started pumping the seawater into the reactor. But unknown to Sato and Arai, there was another struggle developing between the plant’s emergency response office and members of the prime minister’s office in Tokyo.

Given the critical need to inject seawater into the overheating No. 1 reactor, plant chief Masao Yoshida, 56, was in for a surprise when he was ordered over the phone to suspend the operation.
“Stop it immediately,” Ichiro Takekuro, a senior Tepco official who had been dispatched to the prime minister’s office to provide explanations on technical issues, said around 7:20 p.m.

“Why?” asked a defiant Yoshida. The plant was finally in a position to continuously inject water into the reactor and yet Takekuro, who had once been the head of Tepco’s nuclear division and knew better than anyone that the reactors needed to be cooled as soon as possible, was telling him to stop.
“Shut up! The prime minister’s office keeps on pestering me,” Takekuro, 64, said, before hanging up the phone without listening to what Yoshida had to say.

About 20 minutes before the call, Takekuro had explained to Prime Minister Naoto Kan that it would take more than an hour and a half to switch from freshwater to seawater injection at the reactor.
Kan, 64, told Takekuro in the meantime to consider whether there was a possibility of “recriticality” taking place. Kan was referring to a phenomenon in which melted fuel rods resume a chain reaction if seawater is used.

“I wanted him to consider the possibility because I was told that there was time before the seawater injection,” Kan later said.

Takekuro was aware that mixing boric acid with seawater could prevent recriticality, but before telling the prime minister about it, he learned from Yoshida by phone that the seawater injection had already begun.

Thinking that he could not tell Kan that reactor cooling operations with seawater had already commenced, Takekuro ordered Yoshida to stop the operation.

Yoshida was fuming after the telephone conversation. He could not understand why a decision by someone who was not at the site was being given priority. Dissatisfied, he consulted Tepco’s head office in Tokyo through a real-time teleconference.

The head office said the utility had no choice but to follow the order. Yoshida was told he should cease injecting seawater and describe the injections that had already taken place as having been done “on a trial basis.”

Yoshida could not understand what was wrong with seawater injection and turned to Shiro Hikita, 56, his most trusted subordinate, who knew all about the structure and design of the reactors, for a second opinion.

Emboldened by Hikita’s assurance that there was no problem, Yoshida then approached the Tepco employee who was supervising the seawater injection operation and whispered, “I will put on an act. No matter what happens, you must not stop injecting the water.”

Later, at 7:25 p.m., Yoshida said during a teleconference that the “trial” seawater injection would be temporarily halted on the prime minister’s order, but was expected to resume soon because Takekuro was negotiating the issue in Tokyo.

Hundreds of people at the plant’s emergency response office and senior Tepco officials in Tokyo believed the injection had been halted.

At 8:10 p.m., Yoshida declared that the seawater injection would “resume” following approval by the prime minister’s office. But the operation had never actually been suspended.
“I felt that, in the end, it had to be my decision. There was just no time for debate,” Yoshida later told a subordinate.

About two months after the nuclear crisis unfolded, media reports quoted government sources as saying Kan ordered the suspension of seawater injection. Opposition lawmakers then criticized Kan for intervening in Tepco’s efforts to contain the crisis.
Kan, however, denied giving such an order.

“I knew that water had to be injected, be it seawater or any kind of water. I was not informed that seawater injection had begun in the first place, so I could not have ordered its halt,” he said.

Source: Japan Times