Search This Blog & Get A Rife

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Japanese Porn King Worth $3.5 billion

Y'know what... I've had enough of the Dai-ichi disaster. Let's go in a different direction to end the year 2017.

Everybody knows it, but few are loathe to admit it publicly, but sex sells. It is, after all, the world's oldest profession, farmers included--and they're out standing in their field.

About 13 years ago, after joining a major telecommunications company, I was asked what sort of businesses the company should sink its teeth into next... and while some in the gathered thong, er throng said social media, others sports--both of which the billion dollar company did and continued to do, I said "pornography"... which garnered the necessary nervous chuckles as people wondered if this new hire was serious.

Noting the nervous chuckles, I laughed loudest, which made everyone else laugh loudly.

But deep down inside, I was laughing at the missed opportunity.

Back in 1989... just after I was accepted into the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme, I was interning with a daily newspaper around the Toronto area (I was in journalism school at the time).

After I wrote a feature article on a traveling exotic dancer and her tiger, I was approached by a magazine publisher who wanted me to come and write for his publication that would feature stories on exotic dancers around Canada... a minor magazine with great photo spreads amongst poorly written stories... but one that could have used my youthful penchant for being able to make anything interesting.... even naked women in a magazine when real naked women were parading around selling dances for $5 a song.

Along with the JET Programme offer, I had also earned a spot as an intern in the Toronto Star Summer Internship program, being the first non-university journalism student to enter this prestigious "club".

Legitimate journalism and a free trip to Japan, or spend my nights surrounding by naked women and Metallica music... what should a poor, virgin young man do?

Obviously I chose poorly, and did the legit journalism thing and Japan, which is why I'm here making the mundane nature of Japan more interesting for... what are we at... 3,400,000+ visitors to this blog?

I know... not bad... but still... perfumed, naked goddesses walking around as I interview one of their own as I travel across the entire breadth of this country (Canada)... that could have been the sweet smell of success... or at least suck sex.

How do I know that sex sells? I don't know... I had a collection of porno mags as a teenager, none of which I paid for, and scads of VCR tapes with all manner of porn, taped from other tapes... I never paid for a porno movie, and I don't know anyone who did... but someone must have.

Someone still is.

Meet Kameyama Keishi, 56, married and a father of two, who is the king of Japan's porn industry and who has a net worth of US$3.5 billion.

I, not surprisingly, do not have such a net worth. I am rich in the things that count, but that doesn't mean I'm happy about it.

Kameyama, meanwhile, is Japan's ninth richest man, who rides his bicycle to work.

I both respect and hate Kameyama already.

His one quirk (besides the bicycle to work thing), is that he doesn't allow anyone to take a photo of, or publish an image of his face. He apparently values his privacy... at $3.5 billion.

In the early days of adulthood, Kameyama had wanted to try his hand in many types of businesses, but for years his lack of capital and a decent business plan had him rejected for bank loans and frozen out of business deals.

Nowadays, Kameyama and his corporation has him considered to be an Internet pioneer, a role model, a growing media mogul and technology entrepreneur.

In 1980, Kameyama dropped out of accounting school, and was up for doing whatever it took to make money.

Odd jobs include being a semi-nude dancer at a gay Chippendale’s club even though he's straight, and a failed attempt to wash cadavers at a hospital... but like I said, he would do whatever it took to make money.

By the mid 1980s (and he in his late-20s), Kameyama owned several video rental stores... but when a huge chain of Blockbuster-like shops set up business, he decides he would stop renting videos, and start making them. 

He began by producing porno movies... a slight diversion he thought because he needed start-up money to produce mainstream non-porno movies.

“I didn’t get into the adult movie business because I was a fan,” says Kameyama, "but it was an experiment that worked, and once I had money, I wanted to try other things, too.”

The experiment lasted for three decades.

While he says he has only ever stepped onto an AV (adult video) set maybe twice at the most, neither does he watch his own movies.

Like any smart dope dealer, you never sample your own merchandise.

He was smart enough to know that pornography was something you produced and sold... just like any other product people use.

In 1998 he launched Japan's first web-streaming AV service, noting that DMM was already Japan’s biggest producer of pornographic movies.

He just gave people a single place to watch all those porno movies without having to put on pants and leave the house to go and rent them.

And, while Kameyama might be have been content to sit on his own Laurels (and whatever porno name you might come up with), he wondered... now that I have this mostly male audience right where I want them, what else could I sell them?

That's right... he began to lay his eggs in multiple baskets by diversifying.

His first diversification came in 2009 when he bought an online stock brokerage business that had been struggling, purchasing it on the cheap.

Now it could have continued its downward financial plunge, but Kameyama sunk $100 million into the business, overhauled it, and built it into Japan’s most popular platform for retail investors trading foreign currencies.

Sex and money...

From there, Kameyama branched out into more family-friendly ventures.

Recall that in the past, even though he might have had a great idea, that no one would listen to him? Well... Kamyama was and is listening.

He created Kame-Direct, an on-line submission sub-site on where anyone can try and sell him their idea or concept, product or even business. If you're selling, there's a chance Kameyama and DMM are buying.

Nowadays, Kameyama and DMM are involved in AV, a currency trading on-line platform, video games, an on-line English school, and solar farms.

And, while porn still sells, DMM harvest only one-third of its sales through porn... though that one-third still accounts for US$1.7 billion in sales.

In fact, DMM's revenues are growing at a rate of 30 percent every year... and while the porno industry isn't getting smaller, it is not growing at the same rate...

If you were to visit the DMM website (available in Japanese and English), you would find a buttload of interesting things that you might want to partake in.

I saw a platform selling robots... yeah the kiddie kind... but cool ones like Palmi, Chip, Tapia, and even a Stormtrooper (Star Wars) one. He doesn't make them, he just sells them as a wholesaler... I think. A one-stop shop of curious things people don't know they want until they see them.

There's still an X-rated adult site somewhere on the website, but it's not there at the forefront.

How popular is DMM? I don't know... there are 27 million registered users... but Kameyama is still riding a bicycle to work.

But that might be because he's cool... or maybe (as his interest in solar farms projects) he is into reducing his own carbon footprint.

Kameyama has only become a known entity over the past few years, revealing his name as a means of assuaging the public's fears that DMM was a yakuza storefront.

He is now a respected individual in Japan's business sector, having given speeches to Keio University to discuss his investments in Africa; was asked to write weekly columns for Bunshun Online, offering parenting and relationship advice.

And this past April, undergraduates surveyed by the Nikkei newspaper picked him as one of Japan’s top 100 employers, ahead of IBM and Google.

Not quite Elon Musk, Kameyama might try and start his own space agency - if some one came up with a good business plan for him to invest in.

And it all started with porn.

Actually, it all started with Kameyama's incredible drive.

With 3.4 million hits on this blog, people keep asking me why I don't monetize it.

To be honest, I'm driven to write - not to make money. I don't want writing to become a tedious affair. I do this for fun. I am unsure if having more money makes for more fun... but no... I'll keep my motives pure.

Andrew Joseph

Saturday, December 30, 2017

A Look Back At The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Of 2011 - Part 7

I am coming to the end of this look back at the Dai-ichi nuclear disaster at Fukushima in 2011.

Above is the water treatment facility located just outside of Reactor No. 4 - August of 2011. Hey, as long as it works, right? It doesn't.

We're on Part 7 today... so ya better read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 of this growing macro-series that delves into just how Japan was nearly irradiated in 2011 when the Dai-ichi (Big One) nuclear power generating station was swamped by a tsunami on March 11 of that year. You can read Part 1, HERE. Part 2 is HERE. Part 3 is HERE. Part 4 is HERE. Part 5 is HERE, and Part 6 is HERE.

After the 9.0 magnitude earthquake on March 11, 2011, the Dai-ichi facility automatically shutdown Reactors No. 1, 2, and 3. Emergency generators were now being used on Reactors No. 1, 2, and 3 to control the cooling and electronics about it.

Reactor No. 4 had its fuel rods removed (de-fueled) prior to March 11, and Reactors No. 5 and No. 6 were already in cold shutdown for a planned maintenance prior to March 11.

We're at April 1... apparently the temperature within Reactor No. 1 and No. 2 are now stable.

April 2, 2011... apparently yesterday was April Fool's Day.

Scientists find a 20-centimeter (eight-inch) crack near the water intake area of Reactor No. 2, which is leaking radiation-contaminated water at a rate of 1,000 millisieverts/hour.

They immediately begin to try and fill the crack to stop the water from leaking Buddha-only knows where it's leaking to... but the patch job fails.

Seawater samples outside the Dai-ichi facility show that the seawater has a contamination of radiation of only 7,500,000x the legal limit... so I guess we (and Buddha) now know where the leaking irradiated water is going to.

Surprise, surprise, the government says that people who have evacuated their homes in the area will not be allowed back for... well... they don't know how bloody long.

To make the seawater contamination worse, on April 4, TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power COmpany, owners of the Dai-ichi nuclear power generation facility and other similar plants) says it needs to dump 11,500 tons of low-level contaminated water into the sea to give itself more storage for the highly contaminated water. Damned if you do...

Their reasoning is, and it's actually good reasoning, is that the low-level water will be dispersed into the sea without causing major damage to the ecosystem. They hope.

On April 5, TEPCO manages to seal that crack at Reactor No. 2.

At the same time, TEPCO injects 6,000 cubic meters of nitrogen gas into Reactor No. 1 to try and prevent another hydrogen gas explosion.

Strangely, the United Nations says that the Dai-ichi nuclear accident should NOT have a serious impact on people's health. To me that sounds like they are kindda jumping the gun.

Still... it is obvious now that the entire Dai-ichi facility is a mess, and will have to be decommissioned, with Toshiba... the folks who built the reactor cores, saying that it's going to take about 10 years to decommission the entire plant... which is pretty optimistic, as we will find out later.

In fact, it's later, so I can tell you that it's going to be about 30+ years to decommission the site. Closer to 40 years, in fact.

It's not like people are able to know, right now, just how much damage there is to each reactor. Idiots.

And, just when you thought it was safe to go back into the heavy water around the reactors, on April 11, 2011... one month after the 9.0 magnitude earthquake that spawned the tsunami that knocked out Dai-ichi, guess what happens?

Yup... another earthquake... this one was only a 7.0 magnitude. For reference, the earthquake that destroyed Christchurch, New Zealand on February 22, 2011, was a 6.3 Magnitude quake... I like my Kiwis and Aussies, and while I know this wasn't the largest quake in the past seven years, I know people in Christchurch.

At Dai-ichi, it loses power again, which stops water from being electronically injected into Reactors No. 1, No. 2, and No. 3... for about 50 minutes... meaning those three reactors heat up again, burning off the water inside for 50 minutes... but luckily, it doesn't burn off enough to re-expose the fuel rods, meaning that none of the reactors achieve a partial meltdown again.

To make matters worse, if that's possible, the entire Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear accident is now rated a Level 7 on the International Atomic Energy Agency scale - which is as high as it gets, now ranking alongside Chernobyl as the only other accident to be rated Level 7.

With Dai-ichi, as time went on, and more facts were actually made available, the worse the actual disaster came to actually be. In other words, people were in a rush to say things, even before all the facts were known.

On the plus side, the radioactivity released during THIS disaster is only about 10 per cent of what was released at Chernobyl. Which is still effing awful.

By April 17, steel plates have been installed along with silt fences to prevent or at least minimize the amount of contaminated water leaking into the sea - they were placed on sides of Reactors No. 1, 2, 3, and 4, facing the water.

While inspection and recovery work continues at the site, on April 21, 2011, Government of Japan tells TEPCO they must make a payout equal to US$12,052 per household to the 50,000 or so homes in the area as reparations for the evacuation they had to undergo.

Now... that's not all they are giving them... it's just a payment... a sort of sorry for the inconvenience kind of payment.

Meanwhile, there's still the whole loss of home, school/education, job, livelihood thing going on, which must be worth more than $12,052/household. That amount doesn't seem to matter regardless of how many people were in the household, or had jobs... or had farms where the crops are lost, or animals are lost. Seriously... who was feeding the head of cattle over the past month? Stubborn farmers who wouldn't leave? And, what about the dangers to radiation they and the animals may have suffered.

To lessen the burden on TEPCO and the Government of Japan, Japan announces a new "acceptable level of annual radiation exposure"for elementary school students in Fukushima... wanting everyone to believe that 20 millisieverts is the new limit, just up a bit from 1 millisieverts.

Really, how naive do they think the sheeple are?

By May 28, 2011, Japan's education minister bows to pressure and says it has a new non-binding target to reduce radiation exposure of students in Fukushima Prefecture schools to one millisievert or less per year.

While that sounds great,it's just a pledge to try and reduce student exposure enough so that it is under 1 millisieverts/year... but since the radiation may still be around and airborne or in the ground, we're just going to try... because Buddha knows, in a non-binding agreement, you can't hold us to what we just said.

Oh, and "good news" (not), on May 27, approximately 50 metric tons of highly radioactive contaminated water leaks from a storage facility on site at Dai-ichi. It goes down, and into the ground, and probably escapes through cracks and enters the nearby sea.

By June 13, NISA (Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency) of Japan has upped it estimates of the amount of radioactive Iodine 131 that was released during the debacle... previously guessing only 370,000 tera-becquerels, to more than double that - 770,000 tera-becquerels.

By June 11, there are reports that there are burglars ransacking the evacuated homes within the 30-kilometer evacuation zone, proving that there are a$$holes in every country. Police, look for the guys who are glowing in the dark, or, hopefully dying of radiation sickness.

June 15... the Fukushima city government announces it will give dosimeters to 34,000 preschool, elementary and junior high school students. I assume this means just for those within Fukushima-shi, the capital city of Fukushima-ken (Fukushima Prefecture). Fukushima-shi, is a fair distance away from Dai-ichi, and outside the evacuation zone... so I guess that's a good thing to give the students.

And here's my favorite news clip from June 19, 2011: 300 seniors with Japan's Skilled Veterans' Corps offer to give their lives in the battle to bring Fukushima Dai-ichi under control.

Gee thanks, fellas... where the fug were you back in March and April when things were going to sh!t, and your willingness to sacrifice might have actually been considered noble?! You know that the battle to bring Dai-ichi under control is done, right?

Now it's just making sure the leaks are taken care off, and stuff like that. There's no need for 300 people to die on behalf of a nuclear disaster that didn't take any lives.

Uh... no one died right?

Weeeeeelllll... sort of.

It is true that no one "officially"died during the "release of radiation"...

... but people did die...

We still don't know who the 180 members of the Fukushima 50 were... but we do know that two years after this, at east two members came forth, having been diagnosed with bad cancers...

As well, there were a whole lot of suicides from people depressed over the whole radiation, tsunami-sweeping, and evacuation crap... one Fukushima cattle farmer hanged himself leaving a note that simply said "I wish there wasn't a nuclear plant".

Three years after the disaster first began, in March 2014, I previously wrote that "according to some official sources - and again, I doubt you'll ever get an exact number here, but some 1,656 people have died in Fukushima-ken from stress and other illnesses related to the disaster back on March 11, 2011."

It's the butterfly effect, where one thing can influence thousands of things even years down the line.

Okay... I'm getting down... Time to end this.

On the plus side, on July 24, 2011, some two thirds of people polled by the media, claim they want an end to all nuclear power in Japan.

I still take these things with a grain of salt... how many people were asked... and where were they asked.

Still... a giant wave of support (too soon?) soon begins to gather for the shutdown of all Japanese nuclear power generation plants.

Next, the last such article on Fukushima for a while, as I branch off into a different direction and try and clean up my "draft" folder.

Andrew Joseph

Friday, December 29, 2017

A Look Back At The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Of 2011 - Part 6

The Dai-ichi nuclear disaster is one of the biggest events to ever hit Japan - disaster-wise. Brought on by a March 11 9.0 Magnitude earthquake that spawned a tsunami wave of a height not observed except in major disaster movies... that breached the protective seawall in front of the nuclear power plant and caused all sorts of hell to be unleashed on the already reeling Japanese people in the northeastern part of Japan.

We're on Part 6 today - how long can this go on? Actually, quite a bit longer... but I may amend it it a bit so we're only doing the juicy bits... still, we're on March 24. Not quite two weeks after everything began.

For your refresher, I would suggest you familiarize with what has gone on before with Part 1, HERE. Part 2 is HERE. Part 3 is HERE. Part 4 is HERE. Part 5 is HERE.

After the 9.0 magnitude earthquake on March 11, 2011, the Dai-ichi facility automatically shutdown Reactors No. 1, 2, and 3. Emergency generators were now being used on Reactors No. 1, 2, and 3 to control the cooling and electronics about it.

Reactor No. 4 had its fuel rods removed (de-fueled) prior to March 11, and Reactors No. 5 and No. 6 were already in cold shutdown for a planned maintenance prior to March 11.

If you are up to speed, having read along as I publish these blogs, we are now on March 24. The relative calm of the past two days is about to be shattered. Oh... TEPCO is the Tokyo Electric Power COmpany, who own the Dai-ichi nuclear power generation facility and other similar plants around Japan.

Let's begin with Reactor No. 1:

The core of Reactor No. 1 nearly reaches 400°C (752°F). How hot is that? Well... the core's upper design limit is 302°C (575.6°F)
... so uh-oh.

Smoke is seen coming from Reactor No. 1.

And Reactor No. 2...

And Reactor No. 3...

And Reactor No. 4.

Have you heard about the Fukushima 50? Back on March 24, 2011, I wrote about who they are, and I'd recommend you give it a read: 50, but if you don't, I'll sum up and tell you that they are a group of 180 men, who enter the Dai-ichi reactor buildings 50 at a time for no more than an hour to try and get the reactors under control and working properly.

These "Fukushima 50" are volunteers, and are made up of low- and middle-ranking technicians, operators, soldiers and firefighters.

Their names, at the time, are shrouded in mystery - even to this day... but they are brave people... and that's the important factor here. That's a photo of them at the very top of this article.

We do know that at least one of the men has come forth claiming he was a Fukushima 50, and that he developed cancer a couple of years after volunteering.

Unfortunately, on this day, March 24, two of the Fukushima 50 are taken to hospital after being inside Reactor No. 3 too long, suffering from radiation burns.

These workers were trying to install electrical cables to provide power to different parts of the reactor when they walked through knee-high levels of irradiated water, seeping through their protective clothing, exposing them to 180 millisieverts of radiation for their one hour jaunt.

1 sievert of ionized radiation = 100 rems.
0.01 rem = an average exposure from a chest X-Ray.

1 sievert of exposure is supposed to mean a 5.5% chance of one's body developing cancer.

So... while they got a strong dose - perhaps getting about a 1 percent chance of developing cancer... but it was the radiation burns that are causing them the most problem now.

Reactor No. 3 (left) and Reactor No. 4... the cores are in those buildings (up front) that are badly damaged with their roof blown off.
Oh... and Reactor No. 4... it's getting hot in there again, as it burns off more and more of the cooling water around it causing more steam that's going to have to be vented... but really... the water levels are so low, that TEPCO has to inject 135 metric tons (148.812 US tons) of seawater.

How did it get so low? Shouldn't that be constantly monitored?

By the way... you know how TEPCO and everyone else has been pumping the readily available seawater into all of these reactors?

You know that has always been a last ditch effort... as seawater is corrosive, and in the long-term, it will have quite the negative impact on the containment vessels' ability to ... contain.

Hot Town, Summer In The City
March 25, the government of Japan advises (but does not enforce) residents living between 20 and 30 kilometers (12.43 - 18.64 miles) from the Fukushima power plant to consider voluntary evacuation.

Why would they do that if there wasn't already a clear and present danger?

The good news: Reactor No. 1 receives freshwater into it, rather than seawater.

Not the other reactors, however

Is it a coincidence, that Reactor No.1's temperature drops from 400°C (752°F) to a reasonable and safer 204.5°C (400.1°F). Maybe... the seawater may be corrosive, but it does not have a greater or less effect on temperature than freshwater... at least not to THAT extreme.

And, the bad... for some reason a pair of Japanese travelers to China, departing from Tokyo are found to be sick, suffering from very high and dangerous levels of radiation, and are hospitalized in China.

That's weird. Unless they were IN the evacuation zone area while the early crap was hitting Dai-ichi, there's no reason for them to be so affected... there's a bigger story here, but I don't have ANY answers for it without talking to those two people directly. And that ain't happening.

Still... a collection of radiation data from outside the facility shows the seawater collected to contain Iodine 131 - a very radioactive element - to be at 103.9x the safe and legal limit.

On March 26, 2011, Reactor No. 2 gets an injection of freshwater!

But... seawater collection from a site 330 meters south of Dai-ichi shows that yesterdays 103.9x legal limit of Iodine 131 is up to 1,250x the legal limit.

To me, that suggests that radiation from the reactors is seeping out from the supposedly contained facility at a faster rate... because the crack in some floor is getting larger... and/or because one of the reactors just got a boost of more water... whatever... something bad is leaking from Dai-ichi and leeching its way down and into the seawater in and around the facility.

At 1,250x the legal amount, we could be talking about an ecological disaster in the waters around Fukushima.

Cesium 134 is at 117.3x the legal limit.

Cesium 137 is at 79.6x the legal limit.

A few days later on March 28, 2011, TEPCO discovers water leaking INTO the turbine buildings of Reactor No. 1, Reactor No. 2 and Reactor No. 3 contain radiation levels as high as 1,000 millisieverts... which is to say that exposure to that amount of radiation is enough to kill a person within four to five hours.

I'm skipping a day, because while stuff happened, it wasn't epic. On March 30, guess what...

Smoke at Reactors No. 1-4... that's 1, 2, 3 and 4. But it's white smoke, not black. That's good right? Or is it a different type of bad?

Is it smoke or is it actually steam being vented? People say it's smoke, but people at that time are saying a lot of things. Take a grain of salt with this factoid.

Well... in Reactor No. 1, the water levels fall, so they pump freshwater in via electrical pumps (instead of fire trucks)... so at least things are getting back to their old self .. er, as far as electricity goes.

But why are temperatures rising in Reactor No. 2 again? Holy crap... they pump more freshwater in there, too!

And to end the month (March 31) on a high note, the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) of Japan says that water sampled near the plant's seawater discharge point contains 4,385x the safety level, which is an increase from the March 29 sample where it was only 3,355x above the safety limit.

That's all for today... after this, we hit April... and while it is inanimate, Dai-ichi continues to play tricks on the people around it, and causes concern of a very dangerous situation where Japan could be host to a new type of fish, that the 2D people of Springfield know as Blinky.

If you don't get that, you will tomorrow.

Andrew Joseph

Thursday, December 28, 2017

A Look Back At The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Of 2011 - Part 5

We're on Part 5 today... so ya better read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4 of this growing macro-series that delves into just how Japan was nearly irradiated in 2011 when the Dai-ichi (Big One) nuclear power generating station was swamped by a tsunami on March 11 of that year. You can read Part 1, HERE. Part 2 is HERE. Part 3 is HERE. Part 4 is HERE.

Even as I type this, I have no idea just how many parts there are going to be... this might be the last. We'll have to see.

After the 9.0 magnitude earthquake on March 11, 2011, the Dai-ichi facility automatically shutdown Reactors No. 1, 2, and 3. Emergency generators were now being used on Reactors No. 1, 2, and 3 to control the cooling and electronics about it.

Reactor No. 4 had its fuel rods removed (de-fueled) prior to March 11, and Reactors No. 5 and No. 6 were already in cold shutdown for a planned maintenance prior to March 11.

Other Than That, Mrs. Lincoln, How Was The Play?
It's now March 16, 2011, five days after the earthquake and tsunami.

Fukushima-ken's Dai-ichi nuclear power generating facility is in trouble.

And yet, believe it or not, on this date, nothing stupidly bad happens at the plant.

Yeah... the fire at Reactor No. 4 where the spent fuel storage pool is burning, might... I repeat, might have caused the release of radiation into the atmosphere yesterday.

TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power COmpany - they own the Dai-ichi facility and other similar power generation facilities) officials taking radiation readings near the plant (not inside), note that radiation emissions are now at 400 millisieverts/hour.

That doesn't sound so bad... what might a person be exposed to on average?

Well... without being near a nuclear reactor, we are exposed to some radiation everyday. In fact, the average person will be exposed to 2.4 millisieverts/year.

You'll note that average exposure rate is based on one YEAR, while the rate of exposure outside Dai-ichi is per HOUR.

Holy radiation suits, Batman! What the heck is a sievert?

Well, 1 sievert of ionized radiation = 100 rems.
0.01 rem = an average exposure from a chest X-Ray.

1 sievert of exposure is supposed to mean a 5.5% chance of one's body developing cancer.

So how much radiation went up into the air after the fire at Reactor No. 4?

400 millisieverts/hour... hmmm... so if someone was outside for three hours, they would be exposed to an amount greater than 1 sievert. That seems excessive.

And that's just from Reactor No. 4.

Just in case, people residing within 30 kilometers ( miles) of the Dai-ichi reactor are asked to stay inside for the next little while until the radiation levels go down. Oh... and just in case, some Dai-ichi staff are told to leave as well.

Also, TEPCO officials think that some 70 percent of the fuel rods at Reactor No. 1 have suffered damage... oh, and maybe 33 percent of the fuel rods at Reactor No. 2, as well... and sure, Reactor No. 3's core is probably damaged...  but on March 16, nothing really bad happened.

Strangely... things are reasonably good on March 17-20, as well.

Sure, the Japan Self-Defense Forces (自衛隊, Jieitai) are using their helicopters to dump seawater into Reactor No. 3 to keep its core from over-heating and causing a third hydrogen gas explosion... but radiation levels in and around Dai-ichi seem to be no higher than 170 millisieverts/hour... which ain't great, but it seems better than it did one day earlier at Reactor No. 4.

By March 19, cooling seawater is continuing to be dumped on Reactors No. 1, 2, and 3, while a  replacement diesel generator provides power to pump water into Units 5 and 6.

So at least we're not going to have any trouble over at Reactor No. 5 or No. 6.

No... really.

On this day, tested water in Tokyo - 225 kilometers south of Dai-ichi - have higher levels of radiation, but not enough to cause too much worry... until people hear about it. Panic!!! Run!!! Where???

Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain
On March 20, TEPCO is sure we're not going to have any problems with Reactors No. 5 and No. 6, as the pumps are doing their cooling work on the fuel rods... Really.

Reactor No. 2 is now getting power from the electrical grid outside... so, even though I wrote in Part 4 that TEPCO was (as of March 15, 2011) most worried about Reactor No. 2 because its coolant delivery system was damaged by the first explosion at Reactor No. 3, and it was not getting coolant into the reactor... well

... because its got power, TEPCO can now better monitor what's going on in Reactor No. 2.

Everything's coming up TEPCO.

On March 21, while off-site power has now been accessed by Reactors No. 1, 2, 5, and 6... uh... I think No. 4 is still on fire or smoldering... and No. 3... what's going on there?

Hmmm, when last we checked, the Japan Self-Defense Forces were using their military helicopters to dump seawater on Reactor No. 3...

Nope... that's not good... black smoke is seen rising up from the on-going collapse of the building housing Reactor No. 3... just to make sure, TEPCO tells everyone to evacuate the Dai-ichi facility... all of it.

Just for a little while.

Smoke rising up from the collapsed roof of Reactor No. 3. Worried that the core is on fire, TEPCO evacuates the building of people. Remember... you can NOT evacuate people... that causes them to die. You CAN evacuate a building (of people), however. That's one lesson we should all remember.
The Legal Amount
Another day, another day of playing with my hose... which is what I assume people are thinking but not saying at Dai-ichi.

March 22, people are still pumping seawater into Reactors No. 2, 3, and 4. In fact, if you look at the top-most photo, you can see water being pumped up and over into Reactor No. 4.

Oh... and TEPCO says that the wastewater samples taken in an area outside and to the south of Dai-ichi, it found that it contained radioactive iodine... at only 126.7x the legal amount.

Wait... there's more.

Cesium 134 exceeds the legal limits by 24.8x. Cesium has a radioactive half-life of two years.

There's still more... hold your radioactive horses... I mean dead horses.

Cesium 137 and its radioactive half-life of 30 years... well, that was found to exceed the legal limits by 16.5x.

On the plus side, electrical power is restored to all reactor control rooms in Reactors No. 1-6.

On the down side, with all that radiation around, people could probably provide their own power source.

The next day, March 23, 2011, ain't so bad for the facility, but it's terrible for Japanese economics... oh... and for babies, too.

Eleven types of vegetables from the Fukushima are are found to contain radiation levels far in excess of legal limits... which causes enough of a widespread panic amongst foreign consumers, that shipments are halted... even to other parts of Japan.

In Tokyo, the Tokyo Water Bureau says it has found that Tokyo tap water contains as much as 210 becquerels per liter of Iodine 131, which I admit I don't now exactly what it means... but the Bureau does, saying that that level is twice the recommended limit for infants.

Iodine 131 is a radioisotope with a very short half-life of 8.02 days - the shorter the half-life, the more radioactive it is, by the way.

While Iodine 131 is used in small doses as part of a thyroid cancer suppression, it is also one of the most-feared fission products when accidentally released into the environment.

So, baby... don't drink the Tokyo tap water.

Whose baby is that? What's your angle? I'll buy that bottled water.
What I would be very interested in, however, is what is the water quality like for the people living some 30 kilometers outside Dai-ichi, who have been forced to stay indoors lately... I would imagine it wouldn't be good.

Melancholy sigh...

Let's halt the blog for today... The previous day's news - as crappy as it sounds - isn't as bad as what we're going to be exposed to next, as things are about to get a whole lot hotter for the next little while.

Andrew Joseph
PS: On December 26, I happened to glance at the "drafts" I have semi-completed or just written a title for... and noted that I had 81 draft articles in there. As of December 27, 1:20AM, I have 80. While it's true that I always complete what I start--good news, ladies!--a lot of the one's I have as drafts are/were time-sensitive, or were simply ramblings (I don't drink anymore, so I don't have that excuse) that cast me in a light I care not to be cast in, or the topics just weren't that interesting to me, and thus I figured, not to you. Hey... I'm curious about almost everything, so if I can't generate interest myself... well... you know... bo-rrrrrr--innnnng.
PPS: I just have to find the time to delete them... but now I have work stuff I have to do... yes... I'm still on vacation... and that may be why I don't want some ramblings to be aired. That's also why I don't drink. I can. I just don't want to. Even though I probably should.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

A Look Back At The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Of 2011 - Part 4

Hopefully you read Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 of this micro-series explaining why Japan nearly went ka-blooey in 2011 when the Dai-ichi (Big One) nuclear power generating station was swamped by a tsunami on March 11 of that year. You can read Part 1, HERE. Part 2 is HERE. Part 3 is HERE.

After the earthquake, the Dai-ichi facility automatically shutdown Reactors No. 1, 2, and 3. Emergency generators were now being used on Reactors No. 1, 2, and 3 to control the cooling and electronics about it.

Reactor No. 4 had its fuel rods removed (de-fueled) prior to March 11, and Reactors No. 5 and No. 6 were already in cold shutdown for a planned maintenance prior to March 11.

This time around, we're going to look at Reactor No. 2, Reactor No. 3, and holy crap, Reactor No. 4... which should have been immune to the issues going on.

It's March 14, 2011 - three days after the earthquake and tsunami.

After a hydrogen gas explosion at Reactor No. 3, we discover that the explosion damaged the coolant water supply to Reactor No. 2.

By 1:15PM, thanks to the damage to the coolant system, the coolant system stops working all together at Reactor No. 2, which causes the water levels within the reactor to begin dropping.

Without the coolant system working, the reactor's core heats up, burning off the remaining water, turning it into steam, which as we have learned from Reactor No. 1 and Reactor No. 3 over the past few days, has led to venting issues and a hydrogen gas build-up and subsequent explosion that has damaged the crap out of the top of each reactor core building roof - one of which led to the now burgeoning issues with Reactor No. 2.

At 3PM, a large part of the area holding the fuel rods within Reactor No. 3 suddenly disintegrates dropping the fuel to the bottom of the reactor vessel. You can see it in the image at the top, slopping down as orange goo.

While this is bad, it has its pluses, as the fuel is now completely submerged by the remaining coolant waters withing the reactor core pressure vessel. Except where it has leaked out the bottom...

Back to Reactor No. 2...
By 6PM-ish, the water coolant levels within Reactor No. 2 have burned enough to where it is now just exposing the top of the fuel rods, meaning that if this continues, we're going to have another meltdown in another reactor.

By 10PM, because the coolant levels continue to drop, TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power COmpany, who own Dai-ichi and other nuclear power generation facilities) is now sure that Reactor No.2 is now within a partial meltdown as the core begins to melt.

Oh... yesterday's explosion to Reactor No. 3... well the president of the French nuclear safety authority, Autorité de sûreté nucléaire (ASN) believes that because it was such a large explosion, and that it damaged parts of Reactor No. 2, that it should be rated as a Level 5 - and accident with wider consequences, or a Level 6 serious accident on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (see below).

What A Difference A Day Makes
It's now March 15, 2011, and at 6AM, TEPCO says that an explosion damaged the 4th floor area above Reactor No. 4 Waitaminute! Reactor 4?

Reactor No/ 4 had been taken off-line waaaay before the earthquake and tsunami hit... surely it wasn't still hot?

Well... sorta.

It had already had its fuel rods removed, as part of a maintenance check. Yay!

However... they stored those fuel rods in a special pool... inside Reactor No. 4, but outside the containment vessels of the core.

Anyhow, there's a fire at Reactor No. 4.

How the fug did this happen? Was it some residual damage caused by the explosion at Reactor No. 3? That was two days ago... could there have been some internal electrical fire at Reactor No. 4 caused by the explosion?

That's my best guess... which will have to suffice, because, believe it or not, TEPCO isn't sure how Reactor No. 4 caught fire.

I know... reassuring. Not.

Again... Reactor No. 4 had been shut down before the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011. Before that date, the fuel rods - all of them - from Reactor No. 4 had already been transferred out of the core and placed within the spent fuel pool conveniently located on one of the upper floors of the Reactor No. 4 building.

Guess what.... Reactor No. 4 suffered an explosion that damaged the fourth floor rooftop.

Fire burning atop Reactor No. 4 at the Dai-ichi facility on March 15, 2011.
Again, TEPCO isn't sure what caused the explosion, but NISA (the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency was a Japanese nuclear regulatory and oversight branch of the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) thinks it was caused by hydrogen being created by the fuel rods in the spent fuel pond.

Ain't nothing safe?

The explosion ripped two holes in a wall of an outer building of Reactor No. 4.

It was reported, but not confirmed that water within the spent fuel pool was boiling... and because of the radiation being emitted by the fuel rods at Reactor No. 4, workers were not permanently stationed inside.

Regardless... no damage was found to have been done to the fuel rods in the spent fuel pond.

Luckily Reactor No. 5 and No. 6 were located farther away from the other reactors, so they should be safe, right?

Yes, I know I have re-used these images... but this one above does give you a sense of where the six reactors are located within the Dai-ichi facility.

Like Reactor No. 4, Reactors No. 5 and 6 were already shutdown well before the disaster of March 11... but while Reactor No. 4 had its fuel rods removed, Reactors No. 5 and No. 6 had their fuel rods in place.

But, as you can see from the image above... there a fair bit of distance between Reactors 1-4, and No's 5 and 6.

But... like all the reactors within the Dai-ichi facility, because of the lack of power that happened immediately after the disaster, and the back-up generators being swamped, all of the reactors faced problems because the cooling systems simply weren't working at 100% capacity... or even working well.

What's Going On At Reactor No. 3?
Glad you asked... because at 11AM on March 15, 2011, Reactor No. 3 suffered another explosion - that's two - probably because of the hydrogen gas building up and exploding again.

Or... it may simply have been caused by the explosion over at Reactor No. 4. No one is 100% sure.

Just like what happened at Reactor No. 3 at 2PM this afternoon, most of the fuel rods drop to the bottom of the Reactor No. 2 pressure vessel.

So... here's the 3/11... er, 4-11:
  1. Reactor No. 1... still hot, but seemingly under control.
  2. Reactor No. 2, whatever fuel was still in there has now dropped to the bottom of the reactor pressure pit... so at least it's underwater right? But what was so freaking hot that it melted out the bottom of the area holding up the fuel? And how has it leaked out of the reactor core?
  3. Reactor No. 3 - the fuel drops to the bottom of the pressure vessel, and hours later there's a second explosion, caused by... what did cause the explosion?
  4. Reactor No. 4 - on fire.
Also... Reactors 1 and 3 were continuing to add coolant mixture to the reactor vessels to try and keep the fuel rods from over-heating... with some success.

But... Reactor No. 2... since its coolant delivery system was damaged by the first explosion at Reactor No. 3, it was NOT getting coolant into the reactor... and therefore, of all of the six reactors at Dai-ichi, Reactor No. 2 could indeed be considered to be the one that is now causing TEPCO officials the greatest amount of alarm.

It's too hot for me - plus its 2:20AM on Tuesday... let's pick this up in another day or so.

By the way... at some point in time, I will also try and dig up radiation levels and amount of fissionable materials released by the Dai-ichi facility during its time of distress.

Andrew Joseph
Image at the very top from the Asahai Shimbun newspaper.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

A Look Back At The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Of 2011 - Part 3


Hopefully everyone had a good Christmas. I got a collection of a Scooby-Doo comic called Scooby-Doo Apocalypse... and that's it. We spent our money on the boy, my car, and my Internet bill (the boy).

Rogers Telecommunications had sent me a bill for $498.50... all based on Internet usage overage... but they were wrong. I called them up and pointed out their error, and they fixed it before any money was removed from my bank account. Disaster averted.

If only things were as simple for the folks of TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power COmpany) and their leaking Dai-ichi nuclear power generation facility back in March of 2011.

Hopefully you read Part 1 and Part 2 of this micro-series explaining why Japan nearly went ka-blooey in 2011 when the Dai-ichi (Big One) nuclear power generating station was swamped by a tsunami on March 11 of that year. You can read Part 1, HERE. Part 2 is HERE.

While the world reeled at the images hitting it from the tsunami that hit the northeast coast of Japan after being triggered by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake offshore - some 20,000 drowned or feared dead people, the events at the six-reactor Dai-ichi facility soon began to unfold.

For the record, Reactor No. 4 had its fuel rods removed (de-fueled) prior to March 11, and Reactors No. 5 and No. 6 were already in cold shutdown for a planned maintenance prior to March 11.

After the earthquake, the Dai-ichi facility automatically shutdown Reactors No. 1, 2, and 3. Emergency generators were now being used on Reactors No. 1, 2, and 3 to control the cooling and electronics about it.

But when the tsunami powered over the nearby protective seawall and struck the power plant, water poured over the site and down into its basement where TEPCO kept the back-up generators. Yeah... great play, Shakespeare.

Outside power to the facilities was lost about one hour after the earthquake hit... and since the basement area was flooded, and disabled 12 of the 13 back-up generators there, as well as the heat exchangers for dumping reactor waste heat and decay heat to the sea, the Dai-ichi facility was in trouble...

Reactor Units 1, 2, and 3 lost the ability to maintain proper reactor cooling and water circulation functions.

By the way... it's never, ever mentioned in the media, but the Dai-ichi facility is located in the town of Ōkuma (大熊町, Ōkuma-machi).

From Now On, Skipper, It Looks Like Smoooooooth Sailing
It's now March 13... two days after the earthquake and tsunami, and one day after Reactor No. 1 had melted down enough enough to cause an explosion and a release of radioactive materials into the air via a hydrogen explosion.

Surely the worst possible thing to happen has happened, right?

Nope. That's why I'm writing about what has become one of the world's worst nuclear accidents ever.

At around 2:42AM, on March 13, 2011, the high-pressure coolant injection system at Reactor No. 3 stops working all together... causing the water level within the nuclear reactor to start dropping as the heat turns the remaining water into steam.

By 7AM, the water level has dropped to where it is now exposing the upper level of the core... and two hours later, core damage begins - IE core meltdown - at Reactor No. 3.

At 7:30AM, TEPCO realized it was going to have to vent the radioactive steam from Reactor No. 3 to prevent another explosion - and did so at 8:41M and again at 9:20AM.

They said that "the amount of radiation to be released would be small and (be) not of a level that would affect human health."

In fact, Reactor No. 1 was also vented.

Reactors No. 1 and No. 3 are then filled with a mixture of water and boric acid (this is a well known and common thing in the nuclear reactor industry) in an attempt to cool the two reactors. Keep in mind that TEPCO are still working to contain Reactor No. 1 which had a hydrogen gas explosion yesterday, but that the core was still intact meaning it was also still producing heat.

Inside Reactor No. 2... TEPCO was concentrating a lot effort here, and felt that although pressure within its containment vessel was high, it was still stable. That's what TEPCO believed.

Also, at this time, the Japan Atomic Energy Agency said that Reactor No. 1 was rated as a Level 4 incident, which is described as an accident with local consequences only. The Levels are based on the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (see below).

What, Me Worry?
As noted above, by 9:25AM, TEPCO began to add a water and boric acid mixture pumped from a fire truck into Reactor No. 3... but the fact that the original water levels had been burned away before allowed the reactor core to get very hot.

Again... note that Reactor No. 3 (like No. 1 and 2) was already shut-off, but that a coolant was still required to keep the core from overheating.

While a lot of liquid was going into Reactor No. 3, it wasn't going in fast enough, as the core's heat was burning off the coolant faster than it was being added...

Hydrogen gas was building up inside the outer building of Reactor No. 3... just like what had happened at Reactor No. 1 yesterday... uh-oh.

By 1:12PM, TEPCO switched to injecting seawater into Reactor No. 3, and by 3PM the water coolant added was not actually rising, and that radiation within the containment vessel had increased.

Some at TEPCO thought this was incorrect, believing a gauge must be broken, because how could all this coolant be added and it still be two meters below the top of the reactor core?

Uh... because Reactor No. 3 is in meltdown? That's my conclusion.

TEPCO continued to push seawater into the primary containment vessel of Reactor No. 3 until 1:10AM on March 14, 2011... because they ran out of seawater at that time... which is nuts, considering there's an ocean right there... but it's not like TEPCO was running a hose from the ocean... rather it had reserves of seawater in a special reserve containment pool on the facility.

So... TEPCO had to resupply the seawater...

I don't know how they did that... I assume they ran a hose down to the ocean and refilled the reserve pool... but by 3:20AM, they continued to inject seawater back into Reactor No. 3.

I just want to note that for 70 minutes, no additional coolant was being added into Reactor No. 3 (because they ran out of seawater).

That's 70 minutes where the reactor is getting hotter and hotter, as it burns off more of the coolant already within the primary containment core... anyhow... hydrogen gas continues to build up.

Nothing Up My Sleeve - Presto!
... at 11:15AM on March 14... ka-BOOM!!

Reactor No. 3 exploded when the build-up of hydrogen gas ignited.

This explosion was stronger than the one at Reactor No. 1 on March 12, and was felt some 40 kilometers (25 miles) away, with 11 people injured.

Just like with the Reactor No.1 two days earlier, the top section of the reactor building was blown off... and just like with Reactor No. 1, the inner containment vessel of Reactor No. 3 did NOT crack open.

Four frames showing Reactor No. 3 exploding on March 14, 2011 at the Dai-ichi nuclear reactor in Ōkuma, Fukushima-ken.
Like I said... 11 people were hurt, but no one died: four TEPCO employees; three subcontractor employees; and four soldiers with the Japan Self-Defense Forces (自衛隊, Jieitai).

Those poor soldiers had just arrived on site to help spray the water into the reactors, and had just exited their vehicle when the Reactor No. 3 exploded.

Apparently no one at TEPCO had warned the Japan Self-Defense Forces that there was a chance of another explosion at the Dai-ichi facility... probably because they were busy trying to prevent the accident in the first place... but come on...

You Spin Me Right Round, Baby
Anyhow... Reactor No. 1 had been a part of a hydrogen gas explosion, likewise Reactor No. 3.

And... both reactor cores continue to be hot... and TEPCO continues to add cooling seawater to the reactor's primary containment vessels (No, 1, 2 and 3) to avoid a complete nuclear meltdown.

By the way... when the coolant has dropped to a level where the fuel rods are exposed, those fuel rods begin to melt... so at this time, we have a partial meltdown in both of those two reactors, and by doing so each continues to emit higher levels of radiation...

Fret not... the radiation is contained within the containment vessels.

Oh, snap! Every time they vent the steam... it is actually venting radioactive steam into the outside world.

Oh... and the explosion at Reactor No. 3... it damaged the coolant water supply to Reactor No. 2.

I know... everything from March 11 though March 14... it's a perfect storm... and it ain't over yet.

I need to stop and catch my breath.

By the way... in a case of spin-doctoring, because the explosion at Reactor No. 3 didn't cause it to crack like an egg, reports from TEPCO stated that no fissionable materials were ejected into the atmosphere, which I suppose is technically correct.

However... radioactive elements were ejected into the air as the hydrogen gas exploded, as that gas contained steam that was created from the cold water being burned off by the very hot and partial meltdown of the core... so radioactive materials were being expelled.

It just wasn't as bad as people feared... but it's still bad enough, because this is going to screw up the health of locals, as well as screw the Japanese economy, as no one will want to buy products from Japan for fear that it is irradiated.

Anyhow... that's where we're stopping for now...

Andrew Joseph
PS: While I knew that the last sub-hed: You Spin Me Right Round is by the group Dead Or Alive, I did not know it was from their 1985 album Youthquake... not quite like the earthquake that started all of this, but still an interesting coincidence.
Sadly, when I first saw the video for this song, I thought the lead singer was a really hot woman in an eye patch and a husky voice. At the end of the video, I corrected myself.

PPS: In my defense, I didn't have a very good TV back then.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas 2017!

Thank-you all for checking in here every once in a while!

Thanks to Vinnie for always providing me with edits to help keep me on the straight and narrow (honest and true), FFF just because, Rob and Chris at JW, Nigel and Julien for sending me topics, Pat for reading more than I expected... and everyone else... thank-you.

Oh... special thanks to Matthew Hall and Takako and their family, and to my buddy Mike Rogers... and to Tom Hall who is battling cancer. My thoughts are always with you, brother, and to your family.

Missing this year is Alice, whom I miss terribly, but I hope she is doing well and enjoying herself in Quebec right now, because that's where she always goes.

The year 2017 has been interesting. I assistant coached a kid's hockey team, and head coached a kid's Select baseball team - first time ever... lots of fun! The kids keep me young-ish, and it's a pleasure to give back the same way the adults did for me when I was a kid. If you have the time and the inclination, volunteers somewhere for someone.

It takes a lot of my time... time I'd have spent sitting on my butt... plus I get to yell to kids. Not at them - to them. I've learned a lot from them, and hopefully they learned a lot from me.

Writing-wise... it's been a lot of blog articles for Japan--It's A Wonderful Rife... not so much in quantity, as this is my lowest output of articles since 2010, but I've done more research into things this year. Plus there was all that coaching stuff.

I've also been putting out once-a-week articles for my Pioneers of Aviation blog, which, historically-speaking, is helping set history right... making sure misinformation is placed aside, and facts are brought back to the forefront. It's a blog on early aviation, using 1910 and 1911 trading cards as the basis, but still one that tries to inform and teach on a subject - pre-1919 aviation - that fewer and fewer people care about nowadays.

I don't fly... I have flown in airplanes, but it's not a passion. But I do have a passion for history, and the more I write about it, the more I learn and the more I love aviation.

This past month my wife was laid off, so money has been tighter than usual... but I'm not one to complain. I know there are people out there who don't have a roof over their heads, not enough food in their belly, and lack medications to help them get through the day. I'm just up to my ass in debt. No bid deal.

Oh... the day before my wife was laid off, my office was giving away a turkey or a ham. I told them to keep it and give it to a food bank (which was an option they provided). I could probably use that turkey now... but whatever... I'm sure someone else will appreciate it more. I don't need to make another notch on my belt.

I got my first ever portable phone this year... no one calls... but again, I got it to be able to better communicate with the baseball parents should the need arise. I play sudoku while sitting on the john at work. That's what I mostly use it for.

It's snowing outside as I write this, and bloody cold... about -10 with the wind.

My car's window is fixed... cost around $500.

My Internet bill came on the 22nd claiming I owed $280 extra... but after spending 50 minutes on the phone, I made them realize that they had made a mistake.

Always check your invoices.

Other than that... not much else going on... I'm doing plenty of writing... plenty of coaching (I think I did 140 hours of community service... you can't stockpile this can you?)... and still manage to find enough time to watch too much television. Heck, between January and September, I was playing Skyrim V on my PS3 a couple of hours a night every night.

I think I really need to sleep more. Maybe next year.

Until tomorrow, everyone play nice and enjoy your Christmas and/or Holidays.

Andrew Joseph
PS: The photo above is what I set up in 1990 for my first Christmas in Japan. And good grief, that's a real living Christmas tree. Ashley and I found a small shop in Ohtawara-shi that sold ornaments. No presents under the tree... but Santa was good that year because I was good that year. This year, I'm hoping I get a lot of coal... cause I'm freezing and I could use the coal as fuel... just start burning it here beside the keyboard here in this writing room of mine. Brrr.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town - The Japanese Connection

This past Saturday, after watching my son play a hockey game, we came home and there, on TV, was the final 15 minutes of a beloved children's classic movie: Santa Claus Is Coming To Town.

As the credits rolled, I saw a blatantly obvious Japanese name, and wondered just what the heck he had to do with this show, and one Internet rabbit hole later...

It was always my favorite of the Christmas kid's specials on TV - just because I loved to hear the phrase "Burgermeister Meisterburger" - that's him in the image above.  I also loved that song "Put One Foot In Front Of The Other (and soon you'll be walking 'cross that floo-oo-oorr)".. just going by memory here, as I haven't seen the whole movie in about 20 or 30 years.

Here we have Kris Kringle teaching the Winter Warlock how to put one foot in front of the other!
Santa Claus Is Coming To Town was broadcast first in 1970 - it's a stop-motion animated movie by Rankin/Bass Productions - a big company back in the day.

The film tells the story of how Santa Claus and several Claus-related Christmas traditions came to be, and is based on the hit Christmas song Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town  - introduced on radio by Eddie Cantor in 1934 - and the story of Saint Nicholas... though to be frank, while they explained how Kris Kringle became Claus, they never explained how he became Santa Claus.

Voce actors in the television special include: Fred Astaire as the narrator S.D. Kluger (aka The Postman), Mickey Rooney as Kris Kringle/Santa Claus, Keenan Wynn as the Winter Warlock, and Paul Frees in various roles.

The Winter Warlock - spectacular!
If you look at those names, today's youth might wonder who the heck everyone was - even people of my generation might wonder who some of them were.

Paul Frees - I know did voices for cartoons - he was Professor Ludwig von Drake (for Disney). Keenan Wynn, I didn't know (but I recognize his face), but he was a character actor in hundreds of movies. Mickey Rooney... I believe I got married in a chapel in Las Vegas - the same one he did for one of his many marriages. And Fred Astaire... he was a song and dance man extraordinaire.

So... Japan... the movie's puppet characters were designed by Rankin/Bass, but were built by the Japanese.

 Here's the Japanese link (all Japanese names are surname first):
  • Production Supervisor – Nagashima Kizo;
  • Character Model Sculptors – Komuro Ichiro (uncredited)/Kita Kyoko (uncredited)
  • Animation – Tabata Hiroshi (uncredited)/ Nakamura Takeo (uncredited)
Kita Kyoko working on Rudolph et al.

The Christmas special was created using Japanese stop motion animation called "Animagic".

In Animagic, the characters were all made of wood and plastic, and were animated via stop-motion photography.

Komuro Ichiro
And... just so you know, almost all of the Rankin/Bass animation shows were outsourced to five Japanese animation companies: Topcraft (they did Barbapapa), Mushi Production (the studio was headed by manga artist Tezuka Osamu - creator of Astro Boy), Toei Doga (currently doing Dragon Ball Super), TCJ (Television Corporation of Japan) - they did the Cooking Papa animated television show I used to watch in Japan on in 1990-1992, and MOM Production (run by Mochinaga Tadahito, a Japanese stop-motion animation pioneer).

The American company Rankin/Bass Productions, Inc. was founded as Videocraft International, Ltd. by Arthur Rankin, Jr. and Jules Bass on September 14, 1960.

Throughout the 1960s, the Animagic productions were headed by Japanese stop-motion animator Mochinaga Tadahito - most famously working as animation supervisor on Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Tabata Hiroshi working on models for Santa Claus Is Coming To Town.
Their traditionally cel-animated works were animated by Toei Animation, Crawley Films, and Mushi Production, and since the 1970s, they were animated by the Japanese studio Topcraft, which was formed in 1972 as an offshoot of Toei Animation.

When Topcraft went bankrupt in 1985,  Miyazaki Hayao, Suzuki Toshio and Takahata Isao bought the studio and changed its name to Studio Ghibli. You might know Studio Ghibli for Miyazaki's famous animated films such as Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and My Neighbor Totoro.

I have always loved the model work done on these old classics. Twenty years ago in Chicago, I had the chance to purchase a few of the original models used in the classic Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer show, but was a couple of hundred dollars short at that time. Trust me - if I had the cash - it was a cash deal - I would have bought it. I believe they were models made as seconds, in case one broke.

But the models created for Santa Claus Is Coming To Town are equally magnificent. Great work by Japanese model creators!

The photos I found showing the animators and modelers are all I could find (not of each)... and the people NOT shown are because I could not find an image on-line, or they were there but uncredited... which is a crying shame.

If anyone can find images of the Japanese animators/director listed above but not shown here - please share.

In the meantime... Merry Christmas.

Andrew Joseph
PS: Yes... I said I'd be doing some Fukushima disaster stuff... but I forgot what date it actually was... let's wait a few days before I begin again.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

A Look Back At The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Of 2011 - Part 2

Hi. Hopefully you read Part 1 of this micro-series explaining why Japan nearly went ka-blooey in 2011 when the Dai-ichi (Big One) nuclear power generating station was swamped by a tsunami on March 11 of that year. You can read Part 1, HERE.

The circumstances of nature, greed and stupidity made for a confluence of events that led us to what I am about to write now.

While the world reeled at the images hitting it from the tsunami that hit the northeast coast of Japan after being triggered by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake offshore - some 20,000 drowned or feared dead people, the events at the Dai-ichi facility soon began to unfold.

Something was amiss at the nuclear reaction facility.

As mentioned in Part 1, the back-up generators at the plant were now swamped underwater in the basement, and thus unable to help vent the heat being generated from the now shut-down six nuclear reactors.

For the record, Reactor No. 4 had its fuel rods removed (de-fueled) prior to March 11, Reactors No. 5 and 6. were already in cold shutdown for a planned maintenance prior to March 11 also.

After the earthquake, the Dai-ichi facility automatically shutdown Reactors No. 1, 2, and 3. Emergency generators were now being used on Reactors No. 1, 2, and 3 to control the cooling and electronics about it.

Why is there still heat being generated? Just think about you cooking something in an oven, turning it off and pulling out the meal... that oven remains hot for quite a while. The same thing is now going on at the Dai-ichi nuclear facility.

By the way... it's never, ever mentioned in the media, but the Dai-ichi facility is located within the land belonging to the town of Ōkuma (大熊町, Ōkuma-machi).

Power To The People?
After the tsunami hit, electrical power was lost at Dai-ichi. It also lost the ability to use its back-up generators... and really, you should read Part 1 to get the skinny on that.

TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power COmpany), a private company which owns the facility, began to realize that without power to vent the cores, a full-on meltdown could occur in each reactor, not to mention the possibility of radioactive fissionable materials possibly being released to the world outside the facility.

The Japanese government ordered an immediate three kilometer (1.86-mile) evacuation zone around Dai-ichi.

TEPCO tried to bring in replacement batteries and generators to provide power back to Dai-ichi, but were unable to for a while because of the damage caused in the local area by both the tsunami and earthquake, which had caused widespread damage along the coast.

When the equipment finally did arrive, TEPCO discovered to their chagrin that the connecting equipment needed was damaged in the basement flooding where the original back-up generators were. The new equipment could NOT be hooked up.

On March 12, 2011, the Japanese government ordered an extension of the evacuation zone to 10 kilometers (6.2 miles).

TEPCO, meanwhile was now trying to attach temporary electrical lines from the downed power grid outside the reactors to the reactor's cooling pumps... and while it worked, it was also a case of too little, too late.

The Core Of The Matter
Since there was no way to release the heat before this, the water that had been in place to cool the pressure valves had burned away turning to steam at Reactors 1, 2 and 3.

This hot steam surrounded the fuel rods in the shut-down reactor, and began to heat up the fuel rods. Ra-row, Raggy. (Uh-oh, Shaggy).

The hot steam reacted with the zirconian metal tubes containing the radioactive fuel causing a chemical reaction that created hydrogen gas.

Hot steam plus hydrogen gas caused the pressure within the nuclear reactor vessels to increase.

This caused the reactor to automatically open up its safety release valves to vent the pressure building up inside the core, which allowed the hydrogen gas to escape into the primary containment.

Can you feel the tension building? I'm typing as fast as I can, but I need to type even faster!

Now... there's still no electricity going into the facility to allow it to work properly.

The hydrogen being vented is normal. However, the hydrogen is supposed to pass through outside stacks that filter and or burn the hydrogen in a controlled manner before it enters the outside world.

But... no electricity... so the filters don't work.

So the hydrogen enters the second containment area of Reactor No. 1, where it combines with the air present... and then ka-BOOM!

The explosion blew apart the secondary containment building of Reactor No. 1, but the inner containment vessel was not breached.

So no major amounts of radioactive material was ejected. Just minor amounts. It's the same, but different.

Now, to be fair, TEPCO realizing it needed to cool down the reactor, pumped nearby seawater into the core, but by then the core had entered meltdown and was too damn hot effectively turning the seawater to steam adding to the problem of steam build-up. They had to try. It was just too late.

But why was it too late? See below in the Teaser...

That same day - March 12 - the same day the Japanese government called for a 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) evacuation zone, it now increased the evacuation zone to 20 kilometers (12.4 miles), with restrictions.

Sorry... but we'll have to wait until tomorrow to find out what happens next, over at Reactor No. 3.

Teaser: Did you know that because TEPCO was concentrating its efforts on Reactor No. 2, it let things get out of hand at Reactors No. 1 and No. 3? And how did that fire start at Reactor No. 4?


Andrew Joseph

Friday, December 22, 2017

A Look Back At The Fukushima Nuclear Disaster Of 2011 - Part 1

On March 11, 2011 @ 2:26PM Japan Standard Time (JST), about 80 miles off the eastern coast of northern Japan, a 9.0 Magnitude earthquake struck - what we now call the 2011 Tohoku earthquake.

While it was the strongest earthquake to ever hit Japan in recorded times, It was also the second strongest earthquake to rock the planet (based on recorded data, of course).

While Japan's strong building codes for earthquakes prevented more deaths from the quake, it was wholly-unprepared for what the earthquake spawned... a tsunami.

What we in the west used to call a tidal wave, the correct terminology is "tsunami". And, should there be multiple giant waves, the plural is still "tsunami". That's the way the Japanese use all plural forms - without the added "s" or "es".

It was about 55 minutes after the earthquake first shook, that the tsunami first crashed upon the coast of north eastern Japan.

No one can give an accurate measurement of just how high the tsunami was, but it is suspected that it may have reached a height of 40.5 meters (~133 feet) when it crashed onto Miyako in Tōhoku's Iwate Prefecture.

Over at Sendai Prefecture, after the wave it, the wave's water continued to wash inland for about 10 kilometers (6.2 miles).

The Protective Seawall
While the tsunami that hit Fukushima Prefecture was only about 12.2 meters (40 feet) high, the protective seawall that had been built to protect the coastline there was only 5.8 meters (19 feet) high.

That tsunami not only washed over the protective seawall, it destroyed it. That photo at the top... that is the tsunami wave hitting the Dai-ichi facility.

Why did that happen?

In Fukushima, a six nuclear reactor electricity power generation facility resided - the Fukushima-Dai-ichi (Fukushima Big One).

When the nuclear reactor power station was being built by owners TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power COmpany) in the 1960s, the architects building it had done some research and determined that there had never been a tsunami so high that a 5.8 meter high seawall couldn't stop it.

Of course... that was based on "recorded" history - whatever that means. At least they "thought" about the possibility of an earthquake causing a tsunami possibly breaching the protective seawall.

Thing is... in 2008, there was another study that looked a bit deeper into recorded history and surmised that an 1896 earthquake in the same region might actually have caused a tsunami to hit the coast at a height of 10.36 meters (34 feet).

But that couldn't happen again, right? And besides... the protective seawall was already built... what was anyone supposed to do? I'm being sarcastic. Of course, presented with that possibility of a higher tsunami striking, a higher seawall could have been built.

Apparently the research was presented to TEPCO, noting that perhaps they should address the seawall issue... but they determined that to do so would cost a whole lotta money... and, since the Japanese federal government did not tell them they had to, nothing further was done.

To be fair... how high a seawall should they have built, if they were going to do it? 12.2 meters (40 feet)? Would that have been enough? That 2011 tsunami height is still an estimate. Some peg the wave as having been a whole lot higher...

The Rooms Downstairs
Structurally, the Dai-ichi facility was built well enough to withstand a heavy earthquake - and on March 11, 2011, it did just that very well.

The structures housing the six nuclear reactors were built to 1960s specifications to prevent it cracking like an egg releasing its radioactive core.

Each of the six reactors possessed redundant safety systems that could assure the populace that in case of any type of emergency, any nuclear fission chain reaction within a reactor would and could be shut down quickly and efficiently. That's the good news.

Also, after a shutdown, there were many different systems set up to allow workers to remove the trapped nuclear decay heat from the reactors (in a safe manner) to prevent accidents from occurring.

Each reactor was set inside multiple containment barriers to stop radioactive materials from escaping into the environment.

Each reactor core was inside a steel pressure vessel which had water circulating around it to allow cooling. Each vessel was within a larger steel primary containment vessel.

All told... there were a lot of containment systems in place around the radioactive core.

So WTF happened?

The biggest problem in the design of the nuclear reactor, was its placement of emergency back-up equipment in rooms below... in the basement, if you will, of the nuclear reactor.

South of Unit 4 of the Dai-ichi nuclear facility, water from the tsunami swirls roughly around. If you look closely, against the door... you can see a vehicle smashed on its side pressed against the wall.
Imagine if you will, an incredibly high tsunami wave breaking over a not-so protective seawall, and then crashing into the nuclear reactor... while water likes to travel on top the ground, it also has no problem in traveling below it... such as into the basement rooms of the Dai-ichi nuclear reactor.

Even before the tsunami crashed into the Dai-ichi reactor, workers at the facility knew it was coming and quickly worked to shut down the nuclear reactors. Good.

The thing is, the reactors were still emitting heat (that's quite normal - it's like turning off a lightbulb after it's been on for an hour... if you touch it soon after, it's still pretty hot)... so they had to vent the heat... and to do that, they had to remove the nuclear decay for the short-term and the long-term, or the reactors could melt... you know... nuclear meltdown. That would be bad.

So what's the big deal? Just vent already.

So... the tsunami crashes into Dai-ichi... it knocks out the electrical power to the facility, as well as the electrical grid in the area around the facility... (which is strange to me, because it's using nuclear reactors to create electricity)... but whatever... the fact remains that the tsunami took out the power.

All the TEPCO workers had to do, however, was ensure that the back-up battery power comes on to make sure that the nuclear reactor heat venting can continue uninterrupted.

It's no biggie, power in the area had gone down in the past... and the back up generators had kicked in to provide electricity to the pumps, and to the valves, and all the other equipment in the nuclear facility.

Except that this time, as mentioned, the water from the tsunami poured down into the basement rooms of the Dai-ichi nuclear reactor... and made operation of the fuel tanks and generators impossible...
This is supposed to be a photo of the rooms under the Dai-ichi facility where the back-up generators et al are kept, seen here many days after the tsunami hit, still under a fair bit of water.

So... because someone - back in 1968 - decided that placing back-up equipment in a basement prone to flooding was a keen idea, on March 11, 2011, the Dai-ichi nuclear reactor no longer had a way to vent the heat building up in its nuclear reactor cores. That's frickin' bad.

And that, my friends, is what caused the Fukushima nuclear disaster to occur.

Yeah... an incredibly powerful earthquake... yeah, and incredibly huge tsunami... no one could have predicted... that except for those who had.

An incredibly short protective seawall - that could have been increased in height a few years previous... but... would it have been completed on time, even if it didn't cost too much money?

And how about the architectural design flaw that placed the emergency back-up power equipment in a basement that was prone to flooding?

There were a lot of things at play here... act of God, act of ignorance, and act of greed.

No one should blame TEPCO for the earthquake or tsunami, but blame can and has been laid squarely at the feet of the power generation company for its folly in the aftermath.

Over the next blog article or two, I'll try and better explain what happened next at the Dai-ichi nuclear power electricity generating facility in Fukushima-ken back in 2011.

Andrew Joseph
PS: I have not talked about loss of life, injuries or home, job or property. This article was just to better explain HOW Japan nearly suffered a nuclear meltdown in 2011. At the time it was happening, we knew what was going and even how it was occurring... but we did not know how it came to be.