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Ready for another game of "Where's the Fukushima Radiation?"  

Four months after what Japan has admitted has been the largest release of radiation from a nuclear plant in history, the global radiation monitoring efforts continue to be ad hoc, uncoordinated, and spotty.

Thanks to Mo Hong'e , editor of XinHuanet English Language News, reports Pacific waters off Japan's Fukushima clearly affected by nuclear crisis: China's oceanic administration, we are hearing about these tests done by the Chinese. But, we now have to wonder why we have not heard continuous similar reports from the Japanese, and the International Atomic Energy Agency?

BEIJING, July 31 (Xinhua) -- Waters in the Western Pacific region east and southeast of Japan's Fukushima are "clearly affected" by the radioactive materials leaked from the crippled nuclear power plant in Fukushima, according to a statement from China's State Oceanic Administration on Sunday.

Initial tests of samples collected from these areas show that radioactive cesium-137 and -134, as well as strontium-90 can be found in all water samples, the statement said.

The statement said that under normal conditions, cesium-134 cannot be detected in sea waters, and that the maximum amounts of cesium-137 and strontium-90 detected in the samples are 300 times and 10 times, respectively, of the amounts of natural background radiation in China's territorial waters, the statement said.

Fortunately, radioactive materials in air samples were measured at normal  levels, presumably due to faster rates of dispersion.  

After a brief period of conspicuous announcements of a new dedication of transparency, after criminally negligent levels of initial cover-ups of the radiation being released after the March 11, 2012 triple meltdowns at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant, it looks as if Tepco's, and Japan's public relations departments are back in charge of radiation reports.

By that, I mean lets look more carefully at this report more carefully.

First, it comes from a Chinese newspaper, not a Japanese newspaper.

Second, this is an ad-hoc, investigation that sounds more like a pilot proposal for a modern day remake of Gilligan's Island Television comedy,  rather than a coordinated systematic global radiation monitoring effort, of the sort Japan, and the IAEA would want to stake their international credibility, and trust to their names.  

Please note, I mean no criticism of this much appreciated, and valuable research study, and report by the Chinese, but rather, I am making a sharp criticism of Japan, and the International Atomic Energy Agency, who we should have heard similar reports from already -- whose rotating director, is now a member of the Japanese nuclear community, who has been accused of a conflict of interest, in the front pages of the Wall Street Journal.

The 18-day voyage, which ended on July 4, monitored waters of 25.2 square kilometers, and the monitoring team collected air, water and biological samples from the spot areas, the statement said.

In this last month, we've also read reports of a Fukushima teacher resigning after being pressured by the school principle not to talk to the school children about radiation.

We've also seen several straight weeks of reports of cows fed contaminated beef, shipped to market, and only being detected by independent testing in the downstream consumer chain.

And, independent testing by citizens finding hotspots in Fukushima City, 10 to 30 times what is being reported by the government censors, as well as controversy in the international community, as well as from parents as to whether the entire city should have, or should be evacuated.

This tragic accident was unfortunate and unprecedented, and has raised questions about the integrity and competence of Japan's government, and nuclear industry, as well as the IAEA,  and whether of not they can, and should be allowed to continue to operate such dangerous technology.

Rather than dealing with these questions in a way that restores international confidence, Japan, Tepco, and the IAEA, are now compounding their initial errors, in the way they  handing, and reporting the monitoring of radiation in the aftermath.

Sadly, it appears as if big and important lesson have not yet been learned from this accident.

This is an enormous loss of face, and trust, for all of us, throughout the world, Japan, and the nuclear industry.

And, it is not yet clear, how, where,  when and by whom, these lessons will be learned.

Originally posted to Japan Nuclear Incident Liveblogs on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 03:23 PM PDT.

Also republished by Progressive Policy Zone and Nuclear Free DK.

Poll

Has the behavior of Tepco, Japan, NRC, and the IAEA restored your confidence in our national, and global oversiight, management , communication, and accountability of the nuclear industry, and radiation release accidents?of rf

1%1 votes
83%45 votes
5%3 votes
0%0 votes
3%2 votes
5%3 votes

| 54 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Thank you for this important report of a topic (5+ / 0-)

    which has certainly taken a back seat to more abstract situations - and their future, highly verifiable impacts - as of late.  As if we're waiting to see how badly our own, virtual fallout will be upon the USA population . . . while those already being touched are living with a long-term exposure we can only guess will negatively impact their ability to lead robust, healthy lives.

    "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

    by wader on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 03:33:33 PM PDT

    •  Thank you, wader. I value your supportive (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wader, Tinfoil Hat

      comments, especially at this time, when I am consciously raising my level of published concerned about the behavior, integrity, and responsibility of Tepco, the Japanese government, and the IAEA.

      These are serious allegations, that people like myself do not make lightly.

      I appreciate this endorsement from someone like yourself, who is widely known, and respected as a pillar of the Daily Kos community, for even much longer than the six years I've been here.

      And, your long standing contributions to the OND series have always been accurate, and fully documented, something I have been inspired by, and aspired to.

      So, I hope you have noticed that my many diaries on these complicated issues, have withstood the test of time.

      As, as I know, I was the first to here to raise questions about the transparency, and accuracy of the Japanese reports, that were fully documented, as well as the first to report the INES 7 issues.

      I have been cautious, and even perhaps, too cautious, as I also struggled, like many here, withholding adding my name to alarming reports that were not rigorously documented, although, sometimes generally true.

      BTW, some of these reporters were banned here, despite the fact, that  some of their problematic reports, and overall suspicions proved to be correct, in the end.

      This does not excuse all of their behavior in the pie fight that ensued, that I staid out of,  and were the primary reasons for their banning, however, since we've accepted the apologies, and forgiven those who were  on the other side, who were too conservative, perhaps, we should consider similar amnesties, on the other side. Some of these more conservative folks were just as ungracious, pie fights, just a lot more academically sophisticated in the way they fought the battles.

      However, I digress.  My main point is to confess that I have been trying to maintain a fine Goldilocks like balance between not being too strident, alarmist, or disrespectful, on one hand, and also not being too cautious, and fail a moral test of the "duty to warn" when aware of shortcomings in Tepco's and the Japanese Government, the Japanese people, and people of the world should have be warned off.

      I feel now, perhaps, I've fallen short of the later goal, and apologize to everyone, to the extent this has been the case.

      I have the impression that you are one of the people who have been paying attention to these efforts, so I always feel relieved, and my self-confidence strengthened when I see your name among the those recommending my posts.

      And, as always I appreciate any feedback from you, and all other readers, on how I can improve these reports to meet these aspirations better. Including everything from spelling, style, tone, aggressiveness, and anything else that will improve these efforts to enhance our global common good.

      Thank you, wader.  

      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by HoundDog on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 04:18:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Ugh, disgusting. (3+ / 0-)

    It makes me wonder when this sewage is going to travel across the Pacific Ocean and hit the US coast line.

    I wonder how pissed the government will be in China when people start dying of radiation sickness.

    Maybe wars of the future - not so distant, either.

  •  So what (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Blubba

    is the normal radiation level of seawater?

    Without that information, it's impossible to tell whether this is important or not.

    (Is it time for the pitchforks and torches yet?)

    by PJEvans on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 04:04:33 PM PDT

    •  It's not the radiation (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RWood

      it's the radionuclides; long-lived insidious poisons which bio-accumulate in predator species.
      Notice how Japan, the NRC, and IAEA always focus on brief exposures of external radiation to adults as their means of determining "safe" exposure levels. They studiously ignore pregnant women, children, and the very long term (and difficult to quantify and track) dangers of consumed and absorbed radionuclides.
      What's normal? Well, that's a number that's constantly trending upwards, isn't it? Just as the rate of cancer mortality is several times greater now than it was 100 years ago.

      "Our answer is more democracy, more openness, more humanity." ~Norwegian PM Jens Stoltenberg

      by Andhakari on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 11:45:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    HoundDog

    We need a worldwide citizens' radiation monitoring network in order to check on whatever the "authorities" are doing (or not).

    Solar is civil defense. Video of my small scale solar experiments at solarray.

    by gmoke on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 04:52:07 PM PDT

    •  I agree gmoke. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gmoke

      Building this infrastructure will require significant investments of time, intention, self-education, research methodology, financial investment, and collective management.

      But, sadly, existing regulatory mechanisms, international  agencies, governments, have demonstrated that they can not be trusted.

      The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

      by HoundDog on Sun Jul 31, 2011 at 05:31:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Infrastructure (0+ / 0-)

        There are two citizens' monitoring networks that I know of - one around TMI in PA and another around Seabrook in NH and MA.   I think they already have the methodology and self-education pieces worked out.  Another is being built out of the Tokyo Hackerspace with the cooperation of Keio University.  

        Solar is civil defense. Video of my small scale solar experiments at solarray.

        by gmoke on Mon Aug 01, 2011 at 12:19:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Problems with Xinhuanet report and more (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kumaneko

    The link you posted to the news report seems to be broken so I can't read it to see the levels of radioactive contamination of cesium and iodine the people who announced the results actually found.

     As for reports about seawater contamination analyses by Japanese sources they have been posted on the webat roughly weekly intervals in several places pretty much since the accident, absent some days when the weather was bad and the ships carrying out the sampling and testing couldn't operate.

     TEPCO concentrate their sampling and reporting efforts close to the plant itself, especially around the intake and outflow channels at the shoreline normally used for cooling water. Here is the site report for 31st July, for example. They also carry out sea sampling further off and also down the coast. Here are the reports in English for that sampling operation.

     MEXT is a Japanese government organisation covering scientific and enviromental matters. Here is their list of open-sea sampling reports. They sample a wider area around the Fukushima site between 80km and 200km away, carried out on a roughly weekly basis. They take samples both at the surface and at a depth of 100 metres.

     There have been other seawater sampling reports published and you can find them on the Web on the MEXT site and other places but many of them are historical reports or one-offs, not useful to show any trends or long-term concentrations of the radioisotopes in question.

    •  Thank you, nojay (0+ / 0-)

      As someone who lives in Japan and is more directly affected by the Fukushima situation than 99% of the people writing here, it's nice to see a dose of reality dousing claims that the Japanese government is doing little or nothing in the way of reporting radiation levels. Sure, they could be doing more, as could TEPCO and the IAEA, but diaries like these that make vague claims that they're not doing enough annoy me, especially when it becomes apparent that the writer hasn't done the research and checking that nojay did to find out what's really happening.

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