PEER REVIEW: Member Responses To Questions About

Symposium Responses
We sent out a series of questions via email and also posted on the group live blog asking members their thoughts on a few questions.
The questions were posted a day before we had issues with the live blog so if you missed seeing them or responding to them please still do, we want everyone’s input.
You can either email you thoughts to info@fukuleaks.org/web and Nancy can add them here,  you can post on the live blog at hipchat or post them here in the comments.

These are the questions we posed to help get conversation going but please don’t limit your responses or ideas to just these questions.

What do you think are some of the group’s accomplishments? (big, small etc)
What are some of the major things we have learned about the humanitarian aspect of the disaster?
What are some of the significant technical things we have learned?
Are there some individual incidents or moments that stick out in your head?
What else?

Peter:
What do you think are some of the group’s accomplishments? (big, small etc)
….keeping readers abreast with the best available information and educating readers about the effects of ionizing radiation.
What are some of the major things we have learned about the humanitarian aspect of the disaster?
….that the government was unprepared and naive about the severity of the accident.
What are some of the significant technical things we have learned?
…..that no technology is safe, certainly not nuclear power reactors.
Are there some individual incidents or moments that stick out in your head?
…the worried face of a young mother.

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Marie Rich:
This is what has struck me throughout this catastrophe: At the very beginning, nuclear ‘experts’ were calling us alarmists for even suggesting that the units could melt , let alone any kinds of explosions. When the tsunami hit, it compromised every system in the plant, yet the experts were saying that redundant systems and safety design would contain the problem. They either were lying, or there was a major failure of imagination. The tsunami literally washed away, submerged, or contaminated with seawater/sand/mud the very hand tools and resources that operators needed for even normal operations, let alone disaster. The experts could only ‘see’ the situation as a white paper, so to speak. Then came the radiation releases, but the experts said “no big deal”, it’s low(ish) and only around the immediate vicinity of the plant grounds. Then came the hydrogen explosions, spewing much higher radiation over a very large swath of land. As has become evident, the experts, TEPCO, and the government outright lied about the extent of contamination and danger. This was to avoid panic, but has led to high anxiety and distrust by the Japanese people towards those authorities/government. That is a sea change in Japan’s society, one not likely to be rectified for decades. Since the scope of the  disaster and the failure of the systems they had so much faith in has been exposed, the experts have re-framed their debate to the relative harmlessness of radiation, and the alarmism” of those who don’t want to eat, drink or breathe it. > If you’re losing the argument, change the topic.<

Ian:
Perhaps the most common thing done on the board has been vetting news and Fuku issues in real time, ie, as they come out.

We’ve done some useful analyses of Unit 4 and Unit 3. We could flesh these out a bit more to articulate “findings.” Peter and I fleshed out that the 15-country study involves an average dose of 2 mSv/y. Our Edano does continuous reactor-data monitoring, and has noted some evidence of quake-realted changes to at least Unit 1.

There are really countless instances of vetting of information on the board, ie, we constantly do research to support or refute statements about Fukushima and nuclear energy. Anyone who follows the board gets very objective output, despite that we mostly lean anti-nuke, we tear apart anti-nuke BS as quickly as pro-nuke BS, as it should be. That’s something that makes the board unique among related online venues.

So I wonder if, “What are your findings?” is exactly the right question. Or, it might be answered with a long list of things vetted where conclusions were drawn. Conclusions would be most formalized in simplyinfo reports. ~Ian

Nancy:
What do you think are some of the group’s accomplishments? (big, small etc)
The group has consistently known what was going on far ahead of government or TEPCO admissions.  We have been able to put together pieces of information ahead of the media, sometimes they never bothered with important facts about the disaster or the plant.  We were able to provide people with direct factual information  (radiation readings, plant status, etc.) when all other venues failed.  We have provided a fact check for much of the official claims. We have worked in depth on many issues, coming up with answers as a group due to shared resources and diverse expertise.

What are some of the major things we have learned about the humanitarian aspect of the disaster?
Government responses will be inadequate. Some parts of the Japan response were unique to that government. Others appear to be universal failings of government to respond properly as we saw the same inaction or poor response after other disasters. The dishonesty and negligence for public safety of the people in Japan was shocking. Sadly, I think people in the US and some other countries would be treated just as poorly in a similar disaster. The response by citizens has been quite amazing. It took some time for people in Japan to understand the disaster but as they did those groups have done far more than the government to respond to the disaster. International groups like Greenpeace, ACRO, CRIIRAD and CRMS have been key in assisting the Japanese people to get up to speed quickly to begin building their own systems. We need better international systems to respond to both nuclear disasters themselves and to help quickly with the needs of the people directly impacted by a disaster.

What are some of the significant technical things we have learned?
Details of unit 1’s early failure. Through various sources including worker statements and our analysis, that unit 1 failed before the tsunami hit and melted down quickly. We knew this before any officials would admit, some still won’t.
This is significant because it flies in the face of TEPCO’s claim and the talking point used by the US power industry that the tsunami did it all.
The relationship between subsequent earthquakes and increases in temperature and radiation in Unit 1. These are likely due to movement of corium or breaking open of crusting on corium caused by the shaking.
Details of unit 3’s explosion and how it may have transpired including theories on a steam explosion, expansion of the containment cap seal and the behaviors of MOX fuel in an accident including hot spots in the fuel and the potential to vaporize at relatively low temperatures during an accident.
The status of unit 4’s spent fuel pool. We expressed concerns about the lack of building stability below the fuel pool and had this problem confirmed by workers months before TEPCO publicly admitted there was a problem and eventually took action to shore up the pool.
That there may be a fissure running through the line of the reactor buildings as seen in photos of unit 1 before and after the fissure was filled in.

Are there some individual incidents or moments that stick out in your head?
Watching unit 3 explode – there was no video of Chernobyl exploding. Even after seeing unit 1 explode the intensity and size of the explosion of unit 3 was shocking.
People reaching out asking online for information as the disaster unfolded. It was surreal to be talking to people in Japan who could not get any information about the plants, radiation or their safety. They needed information to decide if they needed to evacuate their area and could not get it. They also needed basic understanding of radiation and how to protect themselves. Authorities and media just kept telling them everything was safe.
A photo of a woman sitting among the rubble.
A video of members of safecast showing some locals their radiation meter in the parking lot of a restaurant in Fukushima. They were telling the group of retirees that the level there was quite high. The people were absolutely shocked, they had no idea.

What else?
Those with online access reacted to the disaster quite differently than those without access. Older people and those not technically inclined were completely in the dark.
Language has been a major hurdle. It has impeded the flow of information and the ability of citizen groups to share their story and possibly get donations from outside Japan.
Differences in financial systems also has impeded the ability to bring donations in from outside Japan. There is a lack of a good international money transaction tool. Some used
Paypal but the lack of language translation made it hard for people on both sides to communicate and process transactions. Donation money frequently was and still is hung up in
larger charities not making it down to those on the ground doing the work.

Middle of Valley (Domenica):
Group accomplishments:

In a world where both need and success can be measured, the stats on the www.fukuleaks.org/web web site speak loudly for the value of timely and vetted Fukushima news that is not tainted by profit.  The site stats as of February 20, 2012:  Since May 2011, 751 articles have been published. Total views are 211,984.  The largest day brought 10,099 views on January 17, 2012.  The month with the highest volume saw 59,489 viewers. The average # of daily views in 2011 were 591 and in 2012 are 1,522. The group has roughly eight individuals who tweet SimplyInfo stories out to 1,098 followers.

Marie Rich 67
Nancy 163
Domenica 60
Bo 77
Stephanie Moss 28
Elaine Kirk 373
Majj 92
SimplyInfo1 238
TOTAL 1098

I find it amazing that a group of volunteers located in homes, on smart phones, and in offices (do we have folk in offices??) across the world, who share a deep concern, have successful organized their talents and have been able to vet, author and peer review Fukushima news for the SimplyInfo website for nearly a year.  The only glue holding the www.fukuleaks.org/web crowd together is a shared determination to provide reliable Fukushima news and to dispel rumors.


Dean:
What do you think are some of the group’s accomplishments? (big, small etc)

The SimplyInfo group has been able to come together from many walks of life and pool our
resources for the purpose of researching, sharing, evaluating, proving theories, searching for
true data. The group has been together since March 11, 2011 and has matured into a major
organization with dedicated members, each knowing each other’s strengths and capitalizing
on those strengths to make us a very successful group. The group and utilized every available
media to look for factual information and has established a huge data base of historical
information concerning the FUKUSHIMA DAIICHI nuclear plants and other nuclear plants
around the world.

What are some of the major things we have learned about the humanitarian aspect of the
disaster?
The magnitude of the earthquake was a shock to witness only to be followed by the
announcement of the nuclear reactor problems and then the tsunami. Three major disasters in
a row put the people of Japan as well as the rest of the world into shock. When the group first
came together we were busy trying to answer questions that came up in the blog room. Many of
us were focused in our areas of expertise and we quickly all realized the gravity of these events.
We began to see how miss information or no information was being given to the people of Japan
who were on the blog. There were families and people who needed information about where to
evacuate to, where to move to, decisions were being made immediately after so many visited
the room. I and the other people who were later to become friends and form the group were
sobered to realize that what we said could make cause life changing decisions. We saw where
the fukushima disaster demonstrated the necessity of forming united Global unity to deal with
humanitarian efforts.

What are some of the significant technical things we have learned?
Our group gathered the information necessary to detail what happened to unit 1 failure long
before other agencies in Japan or other countries. Many in the nuclear community were still in
denial and wouldn’t admit the severity of the accidents. The group went on to do the same with
units 2, 3 and 4 and also developing the same information on the earthquakes that followed.
The group detailed every event that happened at the Fukushima site and develop a database and
history from which many people visiting the web site could view. The group detailed the status
of the fuel melt (corium) and collected information daily on every available parameter to support
our findings. In addition, the same level of detail was performed on the spent fuel pools and
common fuel storage pool. The group identified the structural problems in spent fuel pool at the
unit 4 reactor well in advance of being discovered by the utility.

Are there some individual incidents or moments that stick out in your head?
The explosions of the reactors were shocking to see as was the damage from the tsunami on
critical systems needed in the time of the severe reactor accidents. The thousands of Japanese
people who visited the blog trying desperately to get information in order to know when to
take the Iodine pills or where to get them. We were able to intercept information concerning
evacuation routes and share with those who were leaving. The hundreds of photographs of
devastation and people stranded and left by their government.

Trying to bridge the barrier of the language and text interpretation. Ability to quickly build
charts, graphs, presentations etc. to share with the visitors. So many people with so many talents
and such differing knowledge base and the unity between every person.

This article would not be possible without the extensive efforts of the SimplyInfo research team
Join the conversation at chat.simplyinfo.org

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Nancy Foust

Editor, SimplyInfo.org

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