Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Riots In China You Never Heard About

This is a story I have been meaning to get to for over a week. I've been lazy. But with the "China's Rise America's Fall" stories being so prevalent these days I thought some counter balance was in order. And what are the riots about? Inflation and wages.

Yesterday we reported news that has so far received almost no media exposure, namely that thousands of striking truck drivers had poured into Shanghai's Waigaoqiao zone, one of the city's busiest container ports, protesting over "rising fuel prices and low wages." Today, via Reuters, we learn that this situation has escalated materially, and progressed into violence: "A two-day strike over rising fuel prices turned violent in Shanghai on Thursday as thousands of truck drivers clashed with police, drivers said, in the latest example of simmering discontent over inflation. About 2,000 truck drivers battled baton-wielding police at an intersection near Waigaoqiao port, Shanghai's biggest, two drivers who were at the protest told Reuters. The drivers, who blocked roads with their trucks, had stopped work on Wednesday demanding the government do something about rising fuel costs, workers said." And while we have violent uprisings over austerity in Europe, now we have violent strikes over inflation in China?
So the next time you hear about the swift and painless ascent of China don't be so sure. At the very least it will not be painless.

Go to the article for more links. And don't forget the comments. Here is part of one I particularly liked.
by PulauHantu29

The PRC "injected" over $800 Billion (officially) into their economy, i.e., directly into their RE and stock market (na dinto the pockets of wealthy RE developers) and creating more Billionaires in China then in the USA in just two year! Add to that the trillions of "hot money" and those markets became a bigger Bubble then the USA subprime imo.

Last year I watched TV interview various people complaining about rising food and housing...the PRC CB did nothing.

Last November I watched PBS interview a Shanghai realtor who said "prices are rising over 8% per month"...the PRC CB did nothing. Rural peasants were complaing that food was too expensive. One old man said "green peppers rose 300% in one month" action was taken to curb the problem.

Now we have riots and protests and the gubberment there is behind the curve.
The net of the comments? A hard landing is predicted for China.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Friday, April 29, 2011

Fat City

In most other places in the world through most of history poor people were thin. Remember when Fat City used to be a good place? The poor in America are getting enough to eat. This is a miracle.

Inspired by the comments at Wal Mart CEO: "Shoppers Are Running Out Of Money"; There Is "No Sign Of A Recovery" and this video linked by a commenter.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Fukushima 28 April 2011

It has been a few days since my last round up and there have been some "events". But first a couple of videos of critical importance.

Radiation Safety has this report:
Radiation in the #1 building is at highest levels since the crisis

They don't even know the source of the newly-elevated readings
From the "They don't even know..." link:
“Tepco must figure out the source of high radiation,” said Hironobu Unesaki, a nuclear engineering professor at Kyoto University. “If it’s from contaminated water leaking from inside the reactor, Tepco’s so-called water tomb may be jeopardized because flooding the containment vessel will result in more radiation in the building.”
Ah yes. The water tomb. Not exactly Davy Jones' Locker. At least not intentionally. So what is this water tomb? It is an idea that has been around for a few weeks. It sort of goes like this: we will fill up the reactor vessels and containment vessels with water and all will be well. Brilliant idea to be sure. If the structures (at least the containment vessels) are intact and there are no further significant earthquakes. And if Recriticality and/or Core On The Floor are not problems. Of course the structures haven't been rigorously inspected. The radiation levels are too high. And earthquakes? Well that is a crap shoot. But the odds are up for a while. Aftershocks.

Evidence Of Recriticality - 19 April

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: Reactor 1 "Water Entombment" - Same News, Different Spin
Also, TEPCO disclosed on April 26 that the survey by the robots inside the Reactor 1's reactor building could not pinpoint the location of the damage on the Containment Vessel.
But no matter. TEPCO and NISA are going with their "accidental entombment" and about to gradually pour over 7,000 tons of water in the Reactor 1 Containment Vessel.
I wonder if TEPCO has a secret office working on this disaster. The Office of "With a Little Bit Of Luck We can Make Things Worse". And preferably avoid blame.

#Fukushima I Nuke Plant: 1120 Milli-Sieverts/Hr Inside the Reactor 1 Bldg, But "Water Entombment" Has Started Anyway
That high level of radiation would indicate the highly radioactive water from the Pressure Vessel may be leaking outside the Containment Vessel, but TEPCO has decided to go ahead with the plan.
I was always told that before you do anything it is wise to know what is going on. Lest you make things worse. What this tells me is that the Japanese believe they only have "very bad" and "much worse" choices. Or else they are idiots. You can't rule out that factor.

Workers locked in battle at Fukushima, exposure to radiation rising

I believe a workaround to the rising dose workers are absorbing has been found.
Japan's Ministry of Health to Get Rid of Annual Radiation Limit for Nuclear Plant Workers

The normal limit of 50 milli-sieverts per year is to be eliminated, but 5-year total of 100 milli-sieverts limit remains.

If the limit is eliminated, the workers who will have been exposed to the radiation of more than 50 milli-sieverts but less than 100 milli-sieverts at Fukushima I Nuke Plant will still be able to work at other nuke plants, as long as 5-year total remains under 100 milli-sieverts.

Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare is for the nuclear industry's health, labor and welfare. Of course, the argument is that unless these workers are able to maintain the power plants (there are 17 of them, with 54 reactors, according to this site), everybody's health, labor, and welfare will be threatened
You can go to the link for more links.

So what kind of workers are the Japanese getting?
Job offers come not from TEPCO but from Mizukami Kogyo, a company whose business is construction and cleaning maintenance. The description indicates only that the work is at a nuclear plant in Fukushima Prefecture. The job is specified as 3 hours per day at an hourly wage of 10,000 yen. There is no information about danger, only the suggestion to ask the employer for further details on food, lodging, transportation and insurance.
That is about $120 an hour given the current exchange rate. I might be tempted if it was an 8 hour day with 3 hours a day in the jump zone.

Radiation above safety limits detected in Fukushima fish, vegetable

Radioactive topsoil removed from school grounds
Workers are removing radiation-tainted topsoil from school grounds in the northeastern Japanese city of Koriyama. The city is about 50 kilometers from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The city began removing the soil on Wednesday at two of the 28 public elementary and junior high schools and daycare centers.

Radiation levels at one of the schools are higher than the central government's new safe limit for children playing outdoors. That limit is 3.8 microsieverts per hour. Other schools are close to the limit.
And of course everything is under control and there is no chance of further distribution of radioactives. Scrape once and forget it. Come to think of it given the logistics problems - parents - children - teachers - schools - they may have no good alternative.

TEPCO starts test for more water injection
Tokyo Electric Power Company has begun testing one of the damaged reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant to check its plan to submerge and cool the hot fuel rods.

The utility firm began pumping more water into Reactor Number 1 on Wednesday in order to monitor changes in the water depth in the containment vessel and check for leaks.

After increasing the amount of water from 6 to 10 tons per hour on Wednesday the firm says it has delayed further raising the amount injected due to data showing some instability in the state of the reactor.
Given that evidence of instability they are maintaining the injection rate at 10 tons an hour (roughly 2,500 gph).
The test is part of a plan to fill the Number 1 and 3 reactors' containment vessels with water by July, to cool the fuel rods in a stable manner.
Something in this explanation is not holding water. I'm wondering if the containment vessels will.

TEPCO: Water isn't leaking from No. 4 reactor pool. Well that is good to know. But they add this little tit bit at the end of their article.
The storage pool is to be reinforced by July.
Would that be reinforced or repaired? I suppose if you are not on site it would be hard to tell.

TEPCO to rid 200,000 tons of radioactive water. They plan on doing it by decontaminating the water.
On Wednesday, Tokyo Electric Power Company announced it would set up the treatment system to eliminate radioactive materials.

The utility firm says 87,500 tons of contaminated water has accumulated in the No.1 to 4 reactors.

It estimates that up to 200,000 tons of highly contaminated water will be produced by the year end if all the water used to cool the reactors becomes highly radioactive.

The company says it plans to start installing the system in early May and begin operating in June.

It hopes to dispose of 1,200 tons of highly contaminated water per day once the system is in place.
If the system works as planned it should be able to run the expected 200,000 tons of water through the plant in about 170 days. If it doesn't work as expected? There will be delays.

That ought to be enough to keep you depressed for a while.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Overheard At Zero Hedge

I was a little late to the show. But I did like the Zero Hedge preview.

While today's 2:15 pm FOMC press conference is still some time away, it is never too late to reserve your seats: the conference will be presented below live. We will liveblog the event in the off chance Bernanke says something that may be even modestly unexpected, such as the truth.
What happens when a government becomes so untrustworthy that you can't even believe the opposite of what it says?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Help Monitor Japan For Radiation

plutosdad at my post A Radiation Safety Expert Says - Tokyo Uh Oh left a link to the following post which I am going to repeat (most of it) here. I have no idea if these people are legit. But the idea is a good one.


This morning, my friend Sean Bonner e-mailed me this:

As you may or may not know I’ve spent the vast majority of the last month either in Tokyo or working with people in Japan on project I helped start called Safecast. Actually we just changed the name to Safecast, until last week it was called RDTN. We realized that the only information on radiation levels was coming from groups we couldn’t really trust, and decided we could do something better. Safecast has a goal of distributing geiger counters to people in Japan and creating an open data sensor network so anyone can access the information we gather with these devices. We’re also collecting data ourselves - if you have a few moments and want to read this post it’s a great example of what we’re doing right this second.

If you don’t have a few moments I’ll sum it up for you - we drove up to Fukushima and took readings at schools that are in the “safe” zone. At one of those schools we measured over 50 µSv/hr outside on a playground. To put that in perspective outside today in Los Angeles I measured 0.072 µSv/hr. We also gave some counters to volunteers in the area who will take readings and report back to us, and measured over 5000 different points during the trip. We hope to do this on a regular basis.

Anyway, what I’m asking for your help with is this:

We have a kickstarter and are more than halfway to our goal, but only have 11 days left to hit that mark. While donations are helpful, what we really need is awareness. We need more people to know about what we’re doing, we need more people to know they can help.

And that 50 uSV/hr reading? That translates into a 438 miliSieverts a year. That would be 43.8 REM for those of you more familiar with the old system. That is a very high dose even for plant workers who have accepted the risk. For civilians and especially children, that is a radiation level that is unacceptable except in small doses - on the order of a few hours a year. And that is not counting that the stuff is carried by the wind so it is ingestible. So it is possible to carry a dose with you even if you leave the area.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Radiation Safety Expert Says - Tokyo Uh Oh

A little bio of the radiation safety expert.

I am a licensed medical dosimetrist from the U.S. currently living in the Philippines. Given the recent extraordinary events unfolding in Japan, i've decided to express, to the best of my ability, the dangers associated with the nuclear powerplant crises in Fukushima and how it may affect the territory of the Philippines. After much discussion elsewhere, i have decided to basically live blog my observations and present them for those who are interested.
OK. Now how about Tokyo?
Much higher readings in parts of Tokyo vs a few days ago

According to a recent update from that facebook dude with his own personal geiger counter:
"2011-04-26 15:13: 0.716 micro-Sieverts/h. Location: Roof of Metropolis Office, Minato-ku, Tokyo. Conclusion: Elevated, but not dangerous."
His Digilert 100 unit is one of the most reliable geiger counters on the market. His readings are 18 times higher than Tokyo historical norms. On a yearly basis, this would yield 630 millirem from local background alone. People have to remember that the sources of these high readings are from inhalable and ingestible fission products - not from a temporary visit to a high mountaintop. They should be avoided as much as reasonably possible, and every action should be taken to prevent these levels of exposure from reaching young children and infants.

It looks like the recent change in wind directions really are starting to manifest in higher readings. I don't remember Tokyo reading this high since the initial massive discharge back in mid-March. Something tells me Tepco has been losing the fight big time recently but is not disclosing accurate dispersion and exposure data.

It's time for everyone to start paying close attention to regional and global wind forecasts again.
And that is the real danger of this stuff. It lingers in the body for weeks or decades depending on the isotope and the circumstances. And the extra internal dose is especially hard on the recently conceived and growing children.

Commercial nuclear plants are not nearly safe enough in my estimation. They need to be intrinsically safe. Which is to say they can survive a shutdown without electrical power indefinitely.

We shouldn't build any more of the old style plants except possibly for the Navy. Aboard ship in an emergency you have three shifts (actually 6 since watches are 4 hours) available instantly. Decisions will be made quickly. The captain expects it. He is a nuke too. Not only that he can order things done by the rest of the Navy. A commercial operation can not be run to that standard. It is not cost effective. Thus civilian plants need to be safer. And it wouldn't hurt if military plants improved as well. If that is feasible.

And another point worth emphasis. It is not over for Tokyo. Let us be conservative and say the increased radiation happened over a period of 5 days. Fifty days at that rate and Tokyo becomes an exclusion zone. About the beginning of July. Godzilla.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Foreign Policy

I'm having a discussion over at Zero Hedge with Crockett. We are looking at Ron Paul's idea of Foreign Policy. Needless to say - I'm not a fan.

Way ahead of you Crockett, my man. I already make my world conform to my desires. And I'm not unhappy with the results. International politics is a mugs game. Those who can play it well are thugs. Reality. You don't like it? Well the answer is to fix human nature. You up for it?

People are what they are. No amount of libertarian philosophy will change that. What do people really want? Liberty? Doubtful. The question on every man's tongue is a very old one "ubi est?" So I work for a little liberty at the margins. Ending the drug war is within reach. So I reach for that.

I used to have grand dreams for a country premised on Liberty. Now I'm willing to settle for movement at the margins. i.e. something that can actually be done.


My ideal foreign policy establishment:

A State Department run by Warmongers who are willing to settle for peace. And a War Department run by Peacemakers who are the most vicious warriors on the planet. The Marines get it. "No better friend, no worse enemy."

Ron Paul is a Peacemonger. They are most dangerous because they usually deliver the opposite of what they claim their aim is. This is my view:

Peace through superior fire power and the willingness to use it.

To be loved is a good thing. For the rest fear should suffice.

Of course domestic policy is different and there Paul shines. What he is unable to do is to reconcile the two systems. He wants the world to be a logical place. It isn't. Proof? There are Frenchmen.
Cross Posted at Classical Values

Monday, April 25, 2011

Too Radioactive To Fail

The Japanese Government is looking out for TEPCO (the utility company with a nuclear reactor problem).

Gov't to help TEPCO pay for nuke crisis damages if survival at risk

TOKYO, April 23, Kyodo

The government is arranging to help Tokyo Electric Power Co. pay for damages incurred from the nuclear accident at its Fukushima Daiichi power plant if it comes to a point where the company's survival is at risk due to ballooning compensation costs, government sources said Saturday.
Which is why in America (too) nuclear utilities are insured by the US Government. I wonder if the Government is too big to fail? The more you try to avoid failure of a system by deceit, lies, coverups, and prevarication the bigger the final failure.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Fukushima 23 April 2011

Yes. It has been a few days since my last update. The news from nuclear Japan is just so depressing. So let me have at it in no particular order.

Evacuation Zone Widened

The government on Friday added some towns outside a 20-kilometer radius of the crisis-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant to the list of areas covered by its evacuation directive due to concerns over high cumulative levels of radiation exposure.
The US Government has suggested an 80 Km exclusion zone for its citizens. But they have some where to go.

From the "it's about time" department.
The science ministry said Friday it will compile maps showing the extent of air and soil contamination as part of government efforts to enhance the monitoring of radiation levels and reevaluate evacuation zones around the crippled nuclear plant.
What is most worry some in these situations is the lack of timely trustworthy information. Like not updating the maps they do have.

International Agencies are also complaining that the data is sparse.
The chairperson of the International Commission on Radiological Protection says more checks are needed to measure radiation in the Fukushima area.

Claire Cousins told NHK that the Japanese government's decision to raise the permissible level of radiation from one millisievert to 20 millisieverts per year is in line with the levels set by the commission when dealing with emergency situations.

She said it is difficult to predict when people will be able to return to the evacuation zone, but suggested it may be a considerable length of time.

She said the area will need to be monitored to determine when it will be safe for people to live there again.
The old keep hope alive trick. In other news a no entry zone has been established around Fukushima. Just in case anyone was thinking of going home early.
A no-entry zone has been imposed for the area within 20 kilometers of the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

At midnight on Thursday, the off-limits zone was set up in 9 municipalities around the plant in line with a law governing disasters.

Authorities set up 75 checkpoints on the roads leading to the areas within the zone.

On Thursday night, before the no-entry zone was established, local residents were seen moving out of the zone in cars after being allowed to return temporarily to collect things left behind.
It will be decades at the soonest.

Radiation Safety Philippines has a nice roundup. Here are some of the links I found interesting.

Fukushima Fallout Detected In Korea

Fukushima nuke workers at risk of depression, overwork death. And that is not all. Evidently worker safety is not high on the list of priorities. But I'll get to that in a bit.

Invisible Deaths At Evacuation Centers
Sai kept eating and responding to her son even after she became unable to move. But she died 20 days after the disaster struck.

Her doctor listed the cause of death as disease.

Sai's case is one of the growing number of "invisible" deaths among evacuees who have died after developing illnesses or seeing their pre-existing conditions worsen following the quake.

But since they are not officially listed as disaster-related deaths, their surviving family members are ineligible for condolence money from the government.

As of April 18, only four evacuee deaths were certified as disaster-related in the stricken Tohoku region--three in Miyagi Prefecture and one in Fukushima Prefecture. They included one death in an aftershock.
No doubt there are similar events taking place due to the Fukushima evacuation zone. Disruptions cause death and not all of those deaths will be attributed to the disruption.

Heat stroke is affecting plant workers who are wearing suits in non air-conditioned areas.

There are more links at "Radiation Safety". Supposing that you are insufficiently depressed.

Continuity will become a challenge, and core Fukushima staff may have to be cycled out soon to due dose limit considerations

The Japanese have advanced managerial and human resource management techniques for dealing with such eventualities. They are planning to double the human body's ability to handle radiation exposure after all ready increasing it by a factor of 5 over US standards.
In order to stabilize the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant, the government is planning to raise the radiation exposure limit for the workers from the current 250 milli-sievert/year.

The radiation exposure limit for workers at nuclear power plants is 100 milli-sievert/year, but the limit has been raised to 250 milli-sievert/year to deal with the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident. According to the government sources, the higher limit is being considered because it is getting increasingly difficult to have enough workers to work on the plant. Also, the radiation inside the Reactor buildings is high, and the annual limit of 250 milli-sieverts may not be high enough to achieve the goals laid out by the TEPCO road map.

The international standard allows 500 milli-sievert/year in an emergency work, but it hasn't been decided how high the new limit will be. The government will carefully assess the timing of announcement, keeping in consideration the health concerns of the workers and the public opinion.

The work at the [Fukuhsima I] nuclear power plant requires skills and experience under harsh conditions, and securing workers has been a problem.
"Manage the news? Why of course not. We are just taking the views of the public into consideration. Isn't that how you do it in the US?" Afraid so pardner. Afraid so.

In the article "Doctor warns Japan nuke workers are at their limit". An excerpt from the article.
"Tokyo Electric Power Co, the plant operator, said 245 workers from the company and affiliated companies were stationed at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant Wednesday. Soldiers, firefighters and police officers also were at the site."

"The nuclear workers have been toiling around the clock to stabilize the plant. Tanigawa said they get little rest, no baths or fresh food and are under the constant threat of exposure to radiation, which remains so high in many places that robots are being used to take measurements."
There was a funny bit on how snoring causes lack of sleep (no hearing plugs on site?). And the not so funny part of the story: tired men make more mistakes. I think that can officially be considered "not a good thing".
"The workers, most of them middle-aged men, suffer insomnia and show signs of dehydration and high blood pressure, he said. One had gout. Tanigawa said he is concerned they may develop depression or heart problems."

"Tanigawa said the mental stress of the job is deepened by the fear of radiation exposure, the concerns of their loved ones — many don't want the men to stay on at the plant — and the fact that many of the workers themselves lost homes or family in the tsunami."
Radiation is a crap shoot. If in a given area there are say 100,000 radiation induced cancers a year from natural back ground radiation and an accident increases that to 110,000 radiation induced cancers a year (that differentiation is probably near the limit of detection). Every single one of those 110,000 will be sure that he would have lived longer were it not for the accident. Which is why acceptable doses must be kept so small. With one or ten excess deaths a year in that population those few are lost in the noise. Which is how it should be.

Some people are of the opinion that insufficient attention has been given to nuclear safety.
The two recent natural calamities that hit Japan -- the massive earthquake of 11th March and the subsequent tsunami -- not only resulted in massive loss of life and property damage but also resulted in the unfolding of the subsequent drama at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant that is still to be satisfactorily resolved.

The loss of emergency diesel power resulting in a loss of coolant at the plant, a partial meltdown of the fuel in the reactors there and the radioactive leakage from the site to the neighboring prefectures have all not only resulted in anxiety over the suitability of nuclear power in Japan but also cast a shadow over the global expectation of a nuclear renaissance.

Not unnaturally, in India, where there is a program of vigorous expansion of nuclear energy generation, this has resulted in some doubts over the wisdom of relying on nuclear power to solve national energy demands.

Before analyzing the safety and reliability of nuclear power, it is necessary to pause and examine what really happened and did not happen at Fukushima.

Notwithstanding the severity of the earthquake and the age of the reactor, nearing its nominal lifetime, there was no structural damage to the reactor installation as a result of either the earthquake or the tsunami.
The damage was all functional. Which is small comfort. What does it mean for the future: we can design reactors to withstand very severe events. What is lacking is a cooling mechanism that doesn't require electrical power. It is possible to design and build such a system. It is the only kind we should be building from her on out. I like to call it intrinsic safety. We need to get some.

Some on the citizens of Japan are mad as hell.
Kyushu Electric Power Co. will have to delay the restart of two nuclear reactors currently undergoing regular checks at its Genkai power plant in Saga Prefecture beyond May due to a lack of consent from the local community, the prefectural assembly chief said Friday.
In the US we would sic a zoning board on them. TEPCO has a similar problem.

Losses mount due to radiation radiation leakage.
A government panel agreed Friday to recognize financial losses caused by restrictions on shipments of farm products as damages from radiation leakages at the Fukushima Daiichi atomic power complex, government officials said Friday.
You think that is bad? The Japanese Government thinks a study of drinking water is in order. The government thinks a breast check is in order as well.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said Thursday he has urged the health ministry to investigate whether women's breast milk has been affected by radiation from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.
Now I have a commenter who is always complaining that I am overestimating the dangers of radiation. Let me just say here and now that I would be willing to give those breasts a taste test to make sure radiation hasn't affected the flavor. It is all about risk vs reward. To make that ratio work out for me I will only be testing C pluses and larger. With a stop limit at E plus. OK I'm picky. But you know how it goes. My risk - my reward. Free to choose. At this time I'd probably be more in danger from irate husbands than radiation in the milk. But still. And I could fix the radiation in the milk problem rather easily. Only test non-lactating women. But that might raise suspicions.

Well some one has done the proper test and the results are not looking good.
Breast milk from a woman in Chiba prefecture near Tokyo tests at 36.3 Becquerel

Something is officially wrong with Japan's official radiation numbers

Here's the deal: They tested a 120-130 milliliter sample of breast milk from this woman and discovered an amount of I-131 that is equivalent to a 36.3 Bq per kilogram concentration.

The safety limit is 100 becquerels per kg for tap water consumption by infants under 1 year old, but that is besides the point - if we evaluate the official I-131 readings in water from, officials will be hard pressed in explaining how she accumulated even this amount in her breast milk.
The site has the numbers.

What we are seeing is radiation hot spots. The question is where? Some where in the food chain? Somewhere local? Where you work? Hiding the decline will have short term benefits and long term losses. So it goes.

Japan Summer weather is nigh, and here's the change we can expect in wind direction. Inland then off to China (so to speak). The guy writing the article thinks that there will be no major problems if there are no major problems. Otherwise the opposite is true. Prediction is difficult. Especially about the future. Nice maps and graphics.

For the first time
Radiation levels of over 100 microsieverts per hour were measured at four locations 2 to 3 kilometers from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant from late last month, the science ministry said Thursday as it released such data for the first time.
Month old data is just getting out? Maybe the latest numbers are getting better? I would expect so providing we don't get a recriticality accident. Or an earthquake directly below the plants of sufficient magnitude given the current status of the plants. You know. Enough to stir the rubble.

This is the Joke Of The Day.
The Japanese government has expressed concern about the structural strength of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant's Number 1 reactor. It says the ongoing water injections may be making the vessel less earthquake resistant.

Tokyo Electric Power Company, or TEPCO, is planning to fill part of the containment vessel with water to cool the reactor.

TEPCO wants the water level to reach the top of the fuel rods in reactors one and three by mid July, so it can cool them under more stable conditions.

At the Number 1 reactor, where fuel rods are believed to be the most seriously damaged, six tons of water are being injected every hour.

TEPCO believes the water is vaporizing, then condensing in the containment vessel.
Let me get this straight. They are pumping 6 tons of water an hour (about 1,500 gallons an hour - 36,000 gallons a day) into the reactor vessel. Then the water condenses. And goes where? Re-evaporation and recondensation? Well it could be venting. Or it could be filling the lower levels of the plant. Or just trickling out to sea. Six tons an hour is going into the reactor vessel. It is coming out somewhere.

Robot video inside reactor buildings 2 & 3. More Robot Videos.

Isotope Data Suggests Ongoing Criticality in the junk piles.
During full-power operation, numerous "fission products" are in approximate steady-state equilibrium, meaning roughly equal becquerel of I-131 and Cs-134, with a slow buildup of Cs-137. But they all cease to be created when the reactors are scrammed. Japanese regulators NISA and MEXT seem oblivious of the mysterious fact that I-131 Bq "reactor density" is still often reported double the Cs-134/137 Bq. The TEPCO data suggest that fission is ongoing despite the reactor shutdowns. This is bad news.
Yes it is. H/T on the above link to Philippines Radiation Safety.

Isotope ratios in radioactive leaked water.

I've had enough. The most worrisome of these reports is the indication of ongoing criticality. If that is in fact happening (another month should give us definitive results) this accident will not be over any time soon. As in years to decades.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

I'm Mad As Hell And There Is Nothing I Can Do About It

H/T Zero Hedge

Friday, April 22, 2011

It Ain't Fair

If the government just stole all the rich people's money and gave it to me the world would be a much better place.

The trouble is they divide it among all the indolent slobs out there and I'm lucky to get a few bucks out of the rip off.

It ain't fair!

It's Getting Better All The Time

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Buy Fruit Win Laptop

The first mate bought me a box of Fruit Roll-Ups™ the other day which is how I learned that General Mills is running a promotion that is giving laptops to kids without cash in places like Haiti.

Helping to educate

In 2010, Fruit Snacks partnered with One Laptop Per Child, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide educational opportunities to the world’s poorest children.
I did a couple of posts on them a while back: One Laptop Per Child In Haiti and Smart Idea.

You can get more information on the promotion at

The official rules say they are giving away 2001 laptops. I assume this also means that an equal number will be donated to poor kids. But they are not specific about that in the rules.

And of course Amazon will sell you Fruit Roll-Ups™:

Fruit Roll-Ups Fruit Flavored Snacks, Strawberry, 4-Count Rolls (Pack of 18)

Note that the rules say that on average you have to buy 19,000 boxes of Fruit Roll-Ups™ to win one laptop. What are you waiting for?

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Fukushima 19 April 2011

Time for another update of the Fukushima Follies.

Gov't mulls raising consumption tax to 8% for reconstruction. But as is usual almost every where these days some are more equal than others. Japan studies easier capital rules for quake-hit banks and Japan mulls hiking power charges to help cover damages payments.

The government is considering increasing electricity charges to help cover damages payments to people who have suffered losses on the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant of Tokyo Electric Power Co., government sources said Tuesday.

It is planning to increase the tax on electricity source development, which is collected from consumers as part of electricity charges, and use the hike for providing a portion of the damages payments that TEPCO may not be able to shoulder, they said.
When was the last time a utility had to raise rates because of an accident at a natural gas or coal fired plant?

And it is not just Japan that is at risk. Tornado Forces Shut Down Of Two Reactors At 1.6 Gigawatt Surry Nuclear Power Plant
One of the more surprising victims of this weekend's dramatic tornado flurry that ravaged numerous states causing the deaths of 45 people, were two nuclear reactors operated by Dominion Resources in Surry County, Virginia on April 16. Luckily, it appears that the shutdowns have been contained. From Reuters: "Dominion Virginia Power said the two nuclear reactors at its Surry Power Station shut down automatically when a tornado touched down and cut off an electrical feed to the station.
I keep telling these guys that reactors designed without intrinsic safety are accidents waiting to happen. What do I mean by intrinsic safety? The reactor can cool down on its own without any electrical power. Only designs that meet that criteria should be approved for future construction.

Japan seeks 'calm response' to Fukushima accident at Chernobyl confab. Well sure. No point in getting people upset. With something like the truth.

Radiation inside Nos. 1, 3 reactor buildings up to 57 millisieverts. Which is 5.7 REM per hour. Which means that a worker can get the total allowed worker dose (5X higher than American limits) in under 5 hours.
The radiation levels inside the Nos. 1 and 3 reactor buildings at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant were up to about 57 millisieverts per hour as of Sunday, the government's nuclear safety agency said Monday, acknowledging that such a level imposes time constraints on restoration work that must be conducted there.
And of course that is just one measurement inside the buildings. There are no doubt hot spots where a worker has even less time to get something done. It appears that the Japanese only surveyed low radiation areas.
According to TEPCO, there were a lot of debris inside the Reactor 3 building, and the robots had a hard time moving forward and didn't go much beyond the door.

TEPCO also did the dust sampling.

Part of the reason why they had the robots enter through the north door was because of the high radiation level at the south door.

On April 16, the radiation level at the south door to the Reactor 1 building was measured at 270 milli-sievert/hr. The distance between the north door and the south door is about 30 meters, according to TEPCO. The radiation right outside the north door was also measured on April 16, and it was 20 milli-sievert/hr.

This was the first time the radiation level was measured inside the Reactor buildings (other than Reactor 4 building) since the March 11 earthquake.

The annual limit for radiation exposure for nuclear plant workers has been raised to 250 milli-sievert/year after the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident. Working in the Reactor 3 building for 5 hours would exceed that number.
Another minor obstacle for the workers.

Workers cannot approach reactor buildings.
At the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, high levels of radiation have kept workers from approaching the buildings housing the first 3 reactors, which lost their cooling functions in the March 11th earthquake and tsunami.

On Friday, the highest radiation level measured outside the double-entry doors of the Number 1 to 3 reactor buildings was 2 to 4 millisieverts per hour.

Radiation levels measured between the double doors of those reactor buildings was 270 millisieverts in the Number One reactor, 12 in Number 2, and 10 in Number 3.

The radiation level detected at the Number One reactor exceeds the national exposure limit of 250 millisieverts for nuclear contract workers.
Just another minor obstacle for the Japanese plan to have this disaster wrapped up in 6 to 9 months.

And speaking of obstacles for the workers. Even robots can't stand the working conditions.
TEPCO couldn't get enough data on the radiation level in the Reactor 2 building. Two remote-controlled robots went through the door to the Reactor 2 building on April 2. But after measuring 4.1 milli-sievert/hr near the door, the camera lens quickly became foggy due to high humidity (94 to 99%) and couldn't record the radiation level.
Too steamy? I wonder what constitutes a steamy novel for a robot? And did you know that robot is synonymous with serf? They are too dumb to know they are being exploited. Probably a good thing.

Recent wind patterns in Japan are likely to have deposited radioactive particles all over the country. How are the Japanese dealing with it? They are not reporting it. And there is confirmation of that stance. Gov't panel releases 2 of over 2,000 radiation dispersal estimates. Nothing to see here (because we won't let you). Move along.

In Japan the vegetables don't just get showers before they are measured for radiation. The must also get timely showers.
Professor Kunihiko Takeda of Chubu University says in his April 19 blog post that:
after the Fukushima I Nuke Plant accident the government suddenly changed the procedure to measure the radiation level in vegetables, and issued a notice that "the vegetables to be analyzed for radioactive materials should be taken out of the boxes, washed carefully under running water, and then analyzed."
Professor Takeda continues (my quick translation, not necessarily literal):
That caused the total loss of confidence in the safety of the vegetables.

The reason? It is easy to remove the radioactive materials on the vegetables when they are about to be shipped, soon after having been harvested. By the time they reach the consumers, it would be difficult to remove the radioactive materials as they stick fast on the surface or have penetrated inside the vegetables.

You can't trust the radiation level numbers on vegetables and other farm produce announced by the government.
There are all kinds of ways to fake the numbers. You just learned another one.

There are other concerns. Like plutonium in the sea.
The operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant says it will examine the seabed off the facility to ensure that no plutonium has leaked into the ocean.

Tokyo Electric Power Company said on Monday it will conduct the inspection as plutonium is heavier than other radioactive materials and could have accumulated on the floor.

Plutonium is a radioactive substance that could cause lung cancer if inhaled.

TEPCO detected earlier small quantities of plutonium in the soil around the plant. But it said the amount is too small to harm human health.
Unless it gets in the lungs.

The Japanese are concerned about the safety of their drinking water. A commission has been appointed to whitewash the issue.
Japan's health ministry is to set up a panel of experts to discuss ways to safeguard tap water from radioactive contamination.

The move comes after radioactive iodine at levels higher than national limits was detected temporarily in tap water in parts of Fukushima and Ibaraki prefectures amid the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant.

The ministry on Tuesday held a meeting of advisors including environment experts and water utility industry representatives to discuss countermeasures.

Some participants asked that tap water safety be promoted publicly whenever radiation levels are low. Others said water in rivers and reservoirs should also be tested for radiation.
Ah. Yes. Promote safety when radiation levels are low. When they are high? Don't mention it.

I have a policy these days of writing something happy after I do one of these updates. Otherwise the news is just too depressing.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Monday, April 18, 2011

Space - Offutt Air Base - Omaha Steaks - Donald Trump

Instapundit ran a blurb That reminded me of Offutt Air Base.

RAND SIMBERG IS live-blogging a space-law conference. “I’m attending the fifth annual conference on space law hosted by the law school at the University of Nebraska, which has a program in space law, partially sponsored by USSTRATCOM (fifty miles up the road at Offut AFB in Omaha).
Which got me to thinking of the Simon Family Reunion Dinner which was held at Offutt.

Now it gets interesting. I'm related (second or third cousins - same great grandfather) loosely to the Simons who run Omaha Steaks.
They began working in the only business they knew - the meat business. After employment in several markets in Omaha, they founded their own company in 1917. B.A. bought a building in downtown Omaha called, "Table Supply Company." He moved a cooler and a freezer into the building and on the front sign he moved the "CO" of company over to the right and inserted the word "Meat." Hence, the first name of the company, "Table Supply Meat Company."
I worked in my Dad's grocery store at 33rd and Lake in Omaha. From time to time (about every month or two) we would make a run to "Table Supply" to pick up something. So we knew that branch of the family but didn't do frequent business with them.

So yesterday the first mate is telling me that Bruce and Todd Simon were on Donald Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice".
Omaha Steaks will be featured on a new episode of Donald Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice" this spring.

The current fifth generation of family owners of the company, Bruce and Todd Simon, will appear in the episode scheduled to air April 17 on NBC. The Simons presented a challenge to the contestants on the show.
I had more interaction with Fred at the Reunion and old man Meyerson who used to sell me radio parts (the Meyersons were cousins) when he ran World Radio Labs in Council Bluffs, Iowa. The reunion was basically the children/grandchildren of grocers though. Ala Dobbie Gillis. I used to work for Janice Meyerson's (the opera star) father Meyer. I helped move about 15 tons of sugar into a 4 ft. high crawl space in a half hour on delivery day once. Meyer (Janice's father) allowed as to how that was an acceptable performance. High praise from Meyer. And Meyer used to have us over for Sunday dinners. A lot. Meyer would always light up a good cigar after dinner. I loved the smell.

I have had several of the Omaha Steaks $99 variety packs. My mom sends me one every now and then when they discount it below $50 in Omaha. Shipped in a foam cooler with dry ice. Neato. Thanks Mom!!11!! And I must say that as a son of a butcher, and once an apprentice butcher myself, the meat is excellent.

Amazon also has the Omaha Steaks The All American Combo.

And the Reunion Dinner? Catered By Omaha Steaks. With an open bar. Oh. Yeah!

You can watch the Celebrity Apprentice episode at Raising The Steaks. The Simons come on at about 8 minutes into the video. I sorta remember Todd and Bruce from the reunion.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Weather Over Japan 17 April 2011 To 21 April - Radioactive

Very nice map of the radiation plume from Japan. And you can pick your poison. I-131 or Cs-137. Plus you can make it go fast or slow and pick out individual frames. Frames 33 to 51 are quite interesting. "Loop" to get started. Tokyo will get smacked. As well as Osaka. Hot times.

Note also around frame 69 of the Cesium cloud. It looks like the island is cut in half by radiation. I was fooling with the Cs map and hit the Monday button. That came up as 00:00 UTC 18 April. Frame 54. Which is where the island cutting cloud starts. So it is starting as of now if the prediction is correct.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

69 Months And BTW Nice Hole You Got There

How about that hole? I think it is a case of more rubble, more trouble.

Video #2

Video #3

OK. By now you have seen the nice hole - you did look didn't you? So what about the 69 months? I'm afraid that is either a typo or a projection based on past performance. One or the other. What am I On about? TEPCO has a plan. A 6 to 9 month plan. Lucky numbers. If everything aligns.
TEPCO issues 6-9 month containment plan

The operator of the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant has issued a schedule for putting the crisis under control in 6 to 9 months.

The chairman of Tokyo Electric Power Company, Tsunehisa Katsumata, explained the plan at a news conference on Sunday.

The utility firm said a two-phase process is scheduled.
In the first stage over the next 3 months, it will build new cooling systems outside the Number 1 and 3 reactor buildings to cool down the nuclear fuel, and to ensure that radiation levels around the plant continue to decline.

The company says it will contain the radioactivity leakage from the Number 2 reactor by patching the damaged section.

In the second stage, TEPCO plans to lower the temperature of the nuclear fuel in the reactors to below 100 degrees Celsius to stabilize its condition.
Aside from the laugher of 6 to 9 months let us look at the bits I highlighted.

will build new cooling systems outside the Number 1 and 3 reactor buildings to cool down the nuclear fuel

Well we learn what is going on by reading between the lines. Fukuology. Don't say it out loud. You will be accused of bad manners. So what do we know? The current system has not stopped the spew of radiation for one. Steam (OK water vapor wise guy) appears to be lofting radioactives in the air. Given the wind patterns expected for the next few days that is going to be a problem. Dang. And "will build" in a high rad environment? Good luck with that.

will contain the radioactivity leakage from the Number 2 reactor by patching the damaged section

A concrete patch? That is a trick I'd love to see. If the patch is going hold in a high earthquake environment they are going to have to fill it with rebar and tie the rebar to the existing loose ends. A tough tedious job normally. In a high rad environment? Maybe they will just totally prefab a patch and glue it on at the site. If they can get a crane big enough to lift it on to the site.

But maybe I have it all wrong. Maybe they are going to patch the reactor and not the building. Uh. Where will they get the volunteers?

Robots are going to work at Fukushima. American robots. Thanks to Zero Hedge for the heads up about the videos.

TEPCO has a plan to reduce the radiation spew. Special Covers. More colloquially referred to as hats.
TEPCO also said it will put special covers on the heavily damaged outer buildings of the Nos. 1, 3 and 4 reactors as an emergency measure to prevent radioactive materials from spewing out of the buildings and contaminating the air and soil, with plans to complete the work in roughly six to nine months.

Over the medium term, however, the utility plans to cover the reactor buildings with concrete walls and roofs, it said.

The company said it will pour water into the structures containing reactor pressure vessels for the Nos. 1 and 3 reactors within roughly three months, while putting back into the pressure vessels any water that leaks out in the process.

For the No. 2 reactor, whose containment vessel is feared to have been damaged, the utility plans to seal with sticky cement a part in the vessel that is believed to have been breached. It hopes to begin cooling the reactor within roughly three months in the same manner as the No. 1 and 3 reactors.
Things that have been obvious for quite some time are now being admitted.

Here is a real howler Gov't to decide whether evacuees can return home after 6-9 months. I refuse to quote a bit of that fantasy. "...the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan's advantage...". Tell me about it.

ex-SKF has some thoughts about the "plan". This is a good one:
I'm reading the 7-page handout (in Japanese) that TEPCO distributed for the press conference that details out the specific tasks to achieve the goals (that they call "Steps 1 and 2"). So far I haven't find anything that is different from what TEPCO has been doing for the past month.
And so is this:
So what else will TEPCO and the national government be dribbling out, over the next 9 months? They will extend and pretend as long as necessary until the weary citizens and residents of Japan simply don't care any more, as they will let their children play in the contaminated school yards and eat contaminated vegetables and fish to support the farmers and fishermen, and tell themselves everything will be just fine.
Would they really do that? Depressing even to contemplate.

Here is another report of the plan (with video) that reprises past events.
Following the quake and tsunami, cooling systems broke down in reactors 1, 2 and 3. TEPCO workers have been pumping in cold water in an effort to keep them from overheating.

However, the water inside the reactors quickly becomes contaminated with high levels of radioactive substances. Due to possible structural damage in the quake, contaminated reactor water has been leaking into the basements of neighboring turbine buildings and service tunnels. This has impeded emergency repair work and created a disposal problem.

To best deal with the present circumstances, TEPCO plans to first pump contaminated wastewater outside the turbine buildings where it can be more safely cooled and filtered. Radioactive substances and salt are removed and a continuous supply of treated water is circulated to gradually cool down the reactors.
I guess reactors is the technical term. The uninitiated refer to them as piles of radioactive rubble.

It seems the plan has created a minor diplomatic row. Wait until they (the Japanese and the affected countries) have to deal with reality.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Wind Patterns Imperil Osaka

You have to go here to see the wind predictions for Japan for the next day or so. Tokyo will be getting winds from Fukushima. As will Osaka. And China. The site is continually updated so a given forecast might be up only a few hours. Catch it while you can.

H/T Radiation Safety Philippines

Palin In Wisconsin 16 April 2011

Is this a campaign speech or what?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Worms Schizophrenia

I was rereading my post Worms Autism and since I referenced one comment from here I thought I ought to read them all. Just in case I missed something interesting. And it looks like I did. Several somethings in fact. Let me start with a bit that interests me personally since I have a close relation with the problem.

A patient using whipworm to treat IBD/Ulcerative Colitis by Mike Luis

[Comment posted 2011-02-01 07:34:30]
Fascinating article. If the hygiene/old friends hypothesis stands correct about the rise of autoimmune diseases in developed countries/areas, and the connection between inflammation and autism is sound, then helminthic therapy holds potential to treat a huge amount of devastating conditions; IBD, Allergies, Asthma, MS, and now Autism, perhaps more. There is even literature on the potential effects on mental illness, such as clinical depression, as related to cytokines. I am a patient who has been using trichuris trichiura (human whipworm) to treat Ulcerative Colitis and have seen incredible success. I blog about my experience here.

Which led me to research cytokines schizophrenia.

Which led me to Cortisol and Cytokines in Chronic and Treatment-Resistant Patients with Schizophrenia: Association with Psychopathology and Response to Antipsychotics.
There is a complex bidirectional communication between the nervous, endocrine, and immune systems that can be demonstrated by the presence of shared neurotransmitters, hormones, and cytokines (Blalock, 1989; Haddad et al, 2002). Communication between these systems plays an essential role in modulating the adequate response of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis to the stimulatory influence of cytokines and stress-related mediators (Spangelo et al, 1995). Growing evidence suggests that, in addition to providing communication between immune cells, specific cytokines play a role in signaling the brain to produce neurochemical, neuroendocrine, neuroimmune, and behavioral changes (Muller and Ackenheil, 1998; Kronfol and Remick, 2000). Recently, studies have shown that the interface between these complex systems is impaired in schizophrenia (SCH, Altamura et al, 1999).
Go to the above link for more links. Way more links.

Here is another one.
Growing evidence suggests that the immune, endocrine, and nervous systems interact with each other through cytokines, hormones, and neurotransmitters. The activation of the cytokine systems may be involved in the neuropathological changes occurring in the central nervous system (CNS) of schizophrenic patients. Numerous studies report that treatment with antipsychotic drugs affects the cytokine network. Hence, it is plausible that the influence of antipsychotics on the cytokine systems may be responsible for their clinical efficacy in schizophrenia. This article reviews current data on the cytokine-modulating potential of antipsychotic drugs. First, basic information on the cytokine networks with special reference to their role in the CNS as well as an up-to-date knowledge of the cytokine alterations in schizophrenia is outlined. Second, the hitherto published studies on the influence of antipsychotics on the cytokine system are reviewed. Third, the possible mechanisms underlying antipsychotics’ potential to influence the cytokine networks and the most relevant aspects of this activity are discussed. Finally, limitations of the presented studies and prospects of future research are delineated.
Well isn't that interesting? So could worms treat schizophrenia? From my limited research all I can say is that no one knows. I did find a link to a now defunct www address that said, "I might try worms", but that is about it.

OK. What else did I find? Another comment that interests me since I know several people with the problem.
Yes, I have read similar about diabetes. by Jan-Olof Flink

[Comment posted 2011-03-23 08:52:27]
Amy Hendrickson asks in the comments if "anyone heard of worms being used to help people with diabetes?"

Yes I did read about that early 2009.
Anne Cooke, professor at Cambridge university and her team showed that they could stop diabetes in mice by giving them some kind of extract made from Schistosoma mansoni, the worm that causes bilharzia
That is quite suggestive. However, I have gone on long enough so I will let you so your own research.

I do like the idea of Dynamic Balance. Which is all you can have when everything is moving around.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Worms Autism

What exactly do worms have to do with autism? Good question.

As faithful readers know, in the first of my many previous lives I was occupied as a clinical psychologist (preparation for dealing with engineers [ain't it the truth - and I'm an engineer - ed.] on a full time basis in my current life). My training was heavily focused on autistic children at a time when the autism diagnosis was very new, and I remain to this day aware of many of the treatment modalities for the illness. When I came across the article that used the phrase “worms” and “autism” together, I was hooked.

The true story is about a family at wits end with an autistic teenager, a near-adult child who had descended into physical self-abuse, violent behavior, and the very real possibility of accidental death. The father, Stewart, began a systematic study of anything, including alternative therapies, that might have helped. Having tried everything from anti-psychotics to behavioral therapy to no avail, his thorough Internet search provided a glimmer of hope. Here is a lesson to be learned: It was a glimmer he could see that no one in the field of Autism research recognized.

The glimmer was work by a team of researchers at the University of Iowa on Crohn’s disease. Students of the autoimmune disease noted epidemiological evidence that people who emigrated from an undeveloped area such as India, where the disease is unknown, to the developed world (specifically, the U.K.) faced a serious and significant increase in the probability of developing Crohn’s. In addition, in the U.S., studies on children living in rural southern states where pig farming is common — as are the worm infections that come from living close to them — epidemiologists found no bowel disorders. As programs were implemented to stop the worm infections, autoimmune diseases became far more prevalent.

The great breakthrough came from wondering if, instead of looking for something in the environment that caused the disease, scientists should be looking for something that was missing, something that allowed the disease to thrive with its absence.

Armed with an assortment of indirect pointers, specifically an experimental treatment in Iowa that involved ingesting the ovum of porcine tapeworm, as a possible remedy for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, the father wrote a medical white paper that piqued the interest of researchers in his area. After spending years working with the FDA to obtain the permission to perform a clinical test on his son, the ovum were obtained and ingested. After a false start, the dosage was adjusted and within ten weeks the results were in. Obviously, I don’t have to go into details of the complete remission of symptoms; I wouldn’t be writing about it if it didn’t work famously. I will simply report that the autistic behavior simply went away.
How about that.

But that is only part of the story. The story of the initial failure is interesting in its own right. It illustrates how failure of an experiment does not necessarily mean failure of an idea.
After obtaining permission to administer the treatment from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under “compassionate use” rules, Stewart and Hollander navigated customs protocols to import OvaMed’s formulation of T. suis ova, called TSO. They had Lawrence drink a solution containing 1,000 of the roundworm eggs every two weeks for 5 months beginning in early 2006.

The results were beyond disappointing. Lawrence’s aggressive and agitated behaviors abated for just four days during the entire 20-week treatment period. “There were only those four days,” Stewart recalls. “Each day subsequent, he went right back to his old self.”

Stewart started looking at residential schools where Lawrence could live under the constant supervision of healthcare professionals. “We couldn’t live like that anymore. We were at our wit’s end,” he says.

But when Stewart contacted OvaMed’s president Detlev Goj to inform him of the dispiriting results, his hope was renewed. Goj told him that Lawrence’s response to the low dose of worm eggs—1,000 ova every two weeks as opposed to 2,500 in the promising Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis trials—actually fit the profile of a potential responder. He recommended that they give Lawrence 2,500 eggs every two weeks for a period and see what happened. Stewart relayed the information to Hollander, and they prepared to conduct another trial, this time at the full dose.
You know the end of the story, but I like this recounting of it.
The Johnson family anxiously awaited the effects of the full dose of TSO on Lawrence’s violent behavior. Within 10 weeks of the higher-dose treatment, the autistic boy stopped smashing his head against walls. He stopped gouging at his eyes. The paralysis and frustration that held him and his family prisoners in their own home lifted. The freak outs ceased. “It wasn’t gradations,” remembers Stewart, who had always kept meticulous notes on Lawrence’s disorder and the interventions they had attempted. “It just went away. All these behaviors just disappeared.” Elated, Stewart called Lawrence’s doctor, Eric Hollander. “He was stunned, because all of that behavior set was gone,” Stewart says. “He was speechless, as I was.”

Hollander and Stewart recognized the potential importance of Lawrence’s reaction to TSO, and after a year or so of closely monitoring the boy’s progress, the researcher asked Stewart to present their findings to his colleagues at the Seaver Autism Center during its annual conference in 2007. Stewart did so, and the team at the research facility, one of the most prominent in the nation, was intrigued. “They were very impressed,” Stewart recalls. “It was very well received."
So the research results were announced in 2007. Why haven't I heard of it?

There are a lot of interesting points in the comments. I liked this one.
helminthic therapy by Herbert Smith

[Comment posted 2011-01-31 23:17:46]
I wonder why Stewart Johnson doesn't try the longer living hookworms (Necator Americanus) and whipworms (Trichuris Trichiura). They are harmless in small numbers, don't reproduce inside the host either but they live between 2 and 5 years, so the child would not have to take TSO every 2 weeks and it's significantly cheaper.

I was able to put my severe Crohn's disease in remission by getting both of these organisms.
Obviously there is much more on the subject out there. Just Google worms autism.

You should also check out Worms Schizophrenia.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Fukushima 16 April 2011

Well our friends the Japanese have screwed the pooch again. They forgot to turn on the water.

"The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan emitted a new burst of radioactive material this week after a bungled cooling effort apparently affected spent atomic fuel in the site's No. 4 reactor cooling pond, the Associated Press reported."

"Workers were firing water into the pond from a distance in an effort to prevent the fuel from overheating and releasing radioactive contaminants, but fluid collecting in an adjacent flood control container triggered an incorrect warning that the pond had been filled. Personnel halted water transfers to the pool for a number of days in response to the warning, allowing heat and radiation levels to increase even though the fuel was thought to have remained submerged, Japanese Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency Deputy Director General Hidehiko Nishiyama said. Water spraying began again on Wednesday."
I dunno. When I was a Naval Nuke and we got into emergency situations (an unexpected scram say) we always sent a man to check that what our instruments were telling us was correct. Things like - is the emergency diesel generator actually running? Now maybe they were short handed (it was a commercial operation after all) when the accident started. But it is a month on. There should be plenty of hands on deck.

In other bad news it seems that they are worried about further earthquakes.
Acting on a government order issued on Wednesday in response to the more recent smaller earthquakes, Tokyo Electric Power began studying the ability of reactor structures at the facility to withstand additional tremors, Kyodo News reported. The company must inspect plant components and weigh repairs to any vulnerable areas, the atomic safety agency said.

Still, the operator warned it might not "immediately conduct an investigation" due to potential risks around areas slated for inspection (Kyodo News I).

Personnel were looking for damage to walls, floors or pipelines at the plant's main waste treatment area and in other sections where radiation-tainted water has collected, the Asahi Shimbun reported.

The primary worry, though, was the potential for new tremors to cut off electricity to pumps being used to move coolant into the site.
The "potential risks" for inspectors means very high radiation levels.

The Union of Concerned Scientists [pfd] (a bunch of lefties but occasionally their thinking is not corrupted by politics) in Congressional testimony asks why reactors have multiple levels of containment and the spent fuel pools are more or less open air.
After being discharged from the reactor core, the irradiated fuel awaits transfer to a federal repository, which does not yet exist. The United States has spent more than ten billion dollars on a proposed repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. The Department of Energy faces an immense engineering challenge siting a repository because that location must isolate irradiated fuel from the environment and inadvertent human intrusion for at least 10,000 years into the future, or merely 42 times longer than we have been the United States of America.

Between those two time periods—when irradiated fuel is treated as a highly hazardous material and nuclear plant owners and the U.S. government undertake expensive and extensive efforts to protect the American public from this material—irradiated fuel sits in temporary spent fuel pools with almost no protection. For unfathomable reasons, irradiated fuel is considered benign after it is taken out of the reactor core and before it is placed in a repository.

Today, tens of thousands of tons of irradiated fuel sits in spent fuel pools across America. At many sites, there is nearly ten times as much irradiated fuel in the spent fuel pools as in the reactor cores. The spent fuel pools are not cooled by an array of highly reliable emergency cooling systems capable of being powered from the grid, diesel generators, or batteries. Instead, the pools are cooled by one regular system sometimes backed up by an alternate makeup system.
They are a bit hysterical about 10,000 years. It is more like 500 years. In any case it is quite a long time for any civilization. We need to give these spent fuel pools a lot more attention. And protection.

The Japanese are getting something right. They are doing high level atmospheric monitoring.
Fukushima University is checking radiation levels high in the atmosphere to get a better grasp of the extent of contamination from the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

The university says it released a large balloon on Friday carrying a weather observation device called a "radiosonde" as well as radiation measurement equipment into the skies above Fukushima City.

It plans to gauge radiation levels and collect other data up to 30 kilometers above ground. Readings will be taken at intervals of 10 meters over a period of 20 days.
This will also give some idea of what potential there is for radioactive particle transport across the Pacific (a lot or a little). It would also be nice if they did some monitoring out to sea. Maybe as they get more organized they will do that.

As you might expect there are other problems. Like water water everywhere and no place to put it.
It is still difficult for the Tokyo Electric Power Company to determine when the work to restore reactor cooling systems at the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power facility will begin. The company says more time is needed to install makeshift water tanks in order to contain the highly radioactive water used to cool the reactors.

The contaminated water has pooled inside turbine buildings and tunnels, hampering efforts to restore reactor cooling systems. Removal of the wastewater is necessary before restoration work can begin.
Ah. Yes. Restoration work. Once they are set up the work is expected to go quickly. But they are quite far from being set up.
Japanese nuclear scientists say if a cooling system can be put in place at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, stabilizing its nuclear fuel could take another 3 months.

The deputy head of the Atomic Energy Society of Japan, Takashi Sawada, released the projection by an informal group of 11 society members on Thursday.

He said data published by Tokyo Electric Power Company shows that parts of the fuel rods in reactors 1 and 3 have melted and settled at the bottom of the pressure vessels.

He said if the ongoing water injections continue, the current situation can be maintained.

He said Tepco's most important task is to remove all the contaminated water and rebuild a cooling water circulation system.

He said once these jobs are done, stabilizing the nuclear fuels could take 2 to 3 months, if not longer.

But he warned that the situation could deteriorate if another strong earthquake knocks out power to the plant and makes it impossible to keep the nuclear fuel cool for 2 or 3 days.
Evidently they don't even need earthquakes. Operator error will suffice. And note the big IF.

It seems that there have been some bad feelings about the situation that the Government declined to announce.
"After the explosion of Reactor 1, we [the government, TEPCO] wanted to prevent hydrogen explosions but had no means of doing so. We thought it [hydrogen] leaked from the Containment Vessel and it was the core meltdown, but we just didn't feel like announcing that."
I have a bad feeling about that. What else are they failing to announce? It makes ya wonder. And worry.

Ever wonder what the TEPCO folks mean by low level radiation? I have. It appears we have an answer.
The amount of low level radioactive wastewater discharged to the sea this time was approx 9,070 tons from the Central Radioactive Waste Disposal Facility and approx 1,323 tons from the sub-drain pits of Units 5 and 6 (Unit 5: approx 950 tons, Unit 6: approx 373 tons). The total radiation discharged was approx 1.5 x 10^11 Bq.
I think we should do some math. Let us start with volumes - 9,070 Tons + 950 Tons + 373 Tons = 10,393 Tons. Multiply by 1,000 liters per ton (assuming fresh water) gives you 10,393,000 liters. Divide that into the amount of radiation and you get 14,433 Bq/l. Given the uncertainties 10,000 Bq/l is probably a good enough number. I wonder what they would consider "high level"?

I will have more gloom and doom for you when I do a post on what the radiation releases from Chernobyl have done to the health of the populations affected.

Revised: 16 April 2011 2157z

I did the calculations wrong. I forgot some 9,000 Tons of water. If you have an old copy, copy this one over it or save it for laughs.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Friday, April 15, 2011

Catching The Wave

Sounds pretty amazing to me. According to Carnot the efficiency of an ideal engine is 1 - Tc/Th. Where Tc is the exhaust temperature and Th is the burning temperature (this is somewhat simplified). The temperatures are absolute (i.e. Kelvin scale in the metric system). The Wave Engine according to some designs operates at a peak temperature of 1070°K with an exhaust at 300°K (room temperature roughly). So what is the ideal efficiency for such an engine? 1 - (300/1070) multiplied by 100 to get percent. And the answer is almost 72%. So a practical realization giving 60% efficiency is not unreasonable. That is about 83% of ideal. Not bad. In fact very good.

Some geeks (not as geeky as me) have a few words to say.
Mueller envisions his wave disc motor powering a generator, making it an ultra-light ultra-efficient hybrid electric vehicle. That’s a lot of ultras, but Mueller says he has the numbers to back it up. The wave disc apparently uses 60% of its fuel for propulsion, compared to 15% of fuel used for propulsion in conventional engines. And because the wave disc powered cars would be much lighter — perhaps 20% lighter — the fuel efficiency is even greater.

This all might seem very pie-in-the-sky, and that’s quite understandable. However, Mueller’s team has received $2.5 million in federal dollars from the Advanced Research Projects Administration – Energy (ARPA-E), which will be put towards creating a 25kw engine perhaps as early as next year. According to Mueller, that’s enough power to run an SUV.

I’m hoping Mueller’s checked his math on this, because I am very excited to have a car running on something as efficient as it is elegant.
Well I checked the math and it doesn't look out of the question. Some folks from Warsaw, Poland and Zurich, Switzerland [pdf] have checked the math with computerized flow simulations and think it looks pretty good. The concept goes back to at least 1906. So it is not a new idea. What is new is this particular realization. And of course we have computers for simulation and automated milling machines to make prototypes and small production volumes. Things not available in 1906.

Of course the engine is just the beginning. Once that is proved you have to design the whole hybrid drive train. And then you have to wrap an automobile around it. I don't expect to see them on the market as a production vehicle for about ten years. Unless some really big money (or the Japanese) get behind it.

Some more places to visit to get a handle on the technology:

Daily Tech

Green Cars

Cross Posted at Classical Values

Evidence Of Recriticality?

Radiation levels are rising in waste water samples taken from reactors #1 and #2 at Fukushima I.

TEPCO collected wastewater samples from the No.1 and No.2 reactors on Wednesday, and found that radioactivity levels had increased dramatically during the past week.

According to TEPCO, 400 becquerels of iodine-131 and 53 becquerels of cesium-134 per cubic centimeter were detected in the wastewater of the No.1 reactor. These levels are 6 times and 38 times higher than a week ago respectively. In the No.2 reactor, 610 becquerels of iodine-131 and 7.9 becquerels of cesium-134 per cubic centimeter were detected. These levels are 17 times and 8 times higher than a week ago respectively.
I see two main possibilities. Either they have cut water injection by at least a factor of 6 (actually 12 which I will explain in a bit) or those two reactors are sporadically critical.

The half life of Iodine 131 is 8 days. So if the water injection is constant you would expect to see 1/2 as much in the water after a week (not exactly but close enough). So the number reported is not just an increase of six times over the previous week but a factor of twelve over the expected number.

Of course this is an accident and there are a LOT of variables to consider - like maybe salt encrustations dissolved making more radioactives available to be dissolved in the water. Or maybe an earth temblor reconfigured the junk. Or maybe the junk has gone sporadically critical.

If they were giving out neutron measurements or Iodine 134 measurements or measurements of some other short lived fission fragment we would know a lot more. They are awfully sparse on details that would allow a definitive determination of what is going on. At this point I think the lack of critical (heh) details is intentional.

Unrelated Item Here

This bit of news is unrelated to anything else going on in the world.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Ground Water Radiation Rising

Radiation in the ground water at the Fukushima reactor site is increasing.

The concentration levels of radioactive iodine and cesium in groundwater near the troubled Nos. 1 and 2 reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant have increased up to several dozen times in one week, suggesting that toxic water has seeped from nearby reactor turbine buildings or elsewhere, Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Thursday.

The announcement came as the plant operator continued to grapple with pools of highly radioactive water found on the plant's premises, with the level of polluted water filling an underground trench edging up again after the company finished pumping out around 660 tons of water.

According to the latest findings, a groundwater sample taken April 6 near the No. 1 reactor turbine building showed radioactive iodine-131 of 72 becquerels per cubic meter, with the concentration level growing to 400 becquerels as of Wednesday. The concentration level of cesium-134 increased from 1.4 becquerels to 53 becquerels.
There is another possibility. Radioactive particles all over the site. It rains. The rain seeps into the groundwater. Of course there is plenty of water all over the site because of the need to pump water to keep the reactor cores (in and out of the reactors) cool.

H/T Zero Hedge

Earthquakes and Volcanoes

I'm falling behind the disaster predictions for Japan.

Japan's Meteorological Agency on Friday warned the country's 20 volcanoes has become alive due to the massive March 11 earthquake, and a study said earthquake over 9.0-magnitude might hit Japan.

The Agency said volcanic explosion occurred after earthquake several times in history and people should maintain vigilance against this tendency.

The number of earthquake above 6.0 M reached 77 on March. And 74 out of them occurred in quake-hit region, were aftershock. The number is 50 times over the same period last year.

The largest aftershock on April 7 hit Japan has killed 4 people, injured at least 166, and caused a power outage over 2.61 million households, according to Japan's police officials. The Meteorological Agency warned aftershocks above 6.0 M like the April 7 earthquake probably would hit Japan again.

Meanwhile, quakes of the country's 20 volcanoes occurred more frequently after the massive March 11 earthquake, especially, the Fuji, Hakone, and Aso-San.
The news is from Hong Kong which explains why the English in the above is a bit sketchy. Maybe my Unconfirmed Report is not so outlandish after all.