Public Spin On Fukushima Coming Undone

TEPCO’s efforts to avoid outside inspections of the unit 1 reactor have caught up with them. After it was recently pointed out to the Diet that TEPCO had lied to the investigation committee last year in an effort to avoid an inspection, now it appears one is pending.

The Diet has asked the new nuclear regulator to conduct an inspection of the isolation condenser system in unit 1 and they appear ready to do so:

If the condensers are found to show damage consistent with shaking in an earthquake there would be case for higher standards in nuclear plant design—with important implications for existing reactors built to lesser tolerances. But the Nuclear Regulation Authority chairman warned against premature conclusions. “We will not pre-judge the investigation,” Tanaka said. He added that an investigation “is essential if we are to learn full lessons from the Fukushima nuclear accident.” “We are now discussing how to approach it,” he said.”

The possible damage to the isolation condensors would prove that the earthquake caused part of the damage to the reactors, rather than the tsunami as TEPCO has claimed. The inspections appear at least planned and TEPCO’s reputation takes yet another hit.

TEPCO made a very odd somewhat related statement to NHK recently regarding unit 4. They declared unit 4 to be stable and presented a “outside expert” as proof they were telling the truth this time. TEPCO refuses to say who this outside expert is, the person’s credentials or their relationship to TEPCO. Again TEPCO finds the worst possible way to deal with an issue.

Questions about thyroid exposure program

More questions are being raised about the accuracy and reliability of the thyroid testing being done by the Japanese government. The estimates and ratios being used are now being challenged by various experts. One issue is the iodine 131 data immediately after the accident is lacking. People were not testing for iodine exposure immediately after and data for iodine 131 levels in the environment were not collected.

This has forced researchers to rely on other data and try to make assumptions on the iodine exposure to humans. One method being used takes a cesium 137 level and attempts to estimate an iodine 131 ratio based on that. Another method involved using a small group from Iitate and Kawamata who received iodine 131 scans in late March 2011 and base estimates for exposure for others off of this.

Based on these two efforts the government has used a 3:1 ratio for their estimated doses for humans. This is critical since most of the government testing has relied on these assumptions. The NRA came up with far different ratios:

The Nuclear Regulation Authority and other sources have said the iodine-to-cesium ratio was 10:1 in airborne materials spewed out by the Fukushima reactors. The corresponding ratios in soil are believed to have been 10:1 northwest of the nuclear plant and 50:1 south of the plant.

The internal iodine to cesium ratio found in 50 researchers who were tested after being in the area near the reactors during the initial disaster were found to be between 1:1 and 50:1 with a median value of 11:1. Hirosaki University found even more different ratios where people had less than 1:1 ratios in a group they tested from Namie in April 2011.

These various experts called for more understanding of the issue and questioned using one dose ratio for all people when there is clearly a wide range in both the environmental ratios and human ratios. This throws all of the government testing into question. It appears that individual exposure varies even more widely than previously thought based on location and date during the disaster. So declarations by the Japanese government and WHO that no people were significantly exposed may have been premature.

Yamashita is out

Mainichi is reporting that Dr. “100 mSv” Yamashita has resigned his position within the Fukushima Health Survey. The report mentions concerns over secret meetings and some other questionable opaque actions as part of the reason for the resignation.

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