Floating Japanese Debris Rapidly Approaching Hawaii

According to reports, some 5 to 20 million tons of debris – fishing boats, furniture, refrigerators –sucked into the Pacific Ocean in the wake of Japan’s earthquake and tsunami that happened on March 11 are currently floating rapidly across the Pacific.

Researchers from the University of Hawaii have been tracking the wreckage and they estimate that it could approach the United States’ West Coast in the next three years.

University of Hawaii researcher Jan Hafner told Hawaii’s ABC affiliate KITV.”We have a rough estimate of 5 to 20 million tons of debris coming from Japan,”

According to reports, crew members from the Russian training ship the STS Pallada “spotted the debris 2,000 miles from Japan”, after passing the Midway islands sometime last month. “They saw some pieces of furniture, some appliances, anything that can float, and they picked up a fishing boat,” according to Miss Hafner. The boat was some 20-feet long, and was painted with the word “Fukushima… That is actually our first confirmed report of tsunami debris…”

But even more grisly are the predictions of U.S. oceanographer Curtis Ebbesmeyer, who is expecting human feet, still in their shoes, to wash up on the West Coast within three years.
‘I’m expecting parts of houses, whole boats and feet in sneakers to wash up,’ Mr Ebbesmeyer, a Seattle oceanographer who has spent decades tracking flotsam, told MailOnline. (The Blaze)

Virginia Shuts Down Reactors After Summer Quake

Taking notes from Japan, perhaps. Two Virginia nuclear reactors have been shut down since an earthquake hit the state in August; an event which thankfully caused little damage.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s review, however, is continuing and the agency hasn’t decided whether the reactors at the North Anna Power Station in Mineral, Virginia should return to service.

The reactors are some eleven miles from the quake’s epicenter. Seismic vibrations from the 5.8-magnitude earthquake last summer caused the reactors to shut down. The NRC is holding a public hearing on Nov. 1 at Louisa Middle School in Mineral to discuss the status of the review. The plant is located some fifty miles northwest of Richmond, the Virginia capital.

In an interview after the meeting, Leeds said that there is no timetable for making a decision on restarting the plant. NRC spokesman Scott Burnell said later on that it would be reasonable to expect a decision before the end of November.

Apparently, the earthquake caused the ground to shake more than the North Anna plant was designed to withstand, exceeding its “design basis”, which was a first at an operating nuclear plant in the United States. The company says that lack of damage from the earthquake shows that the plant’s seismic capability is even higher than that design basis.

Last Friday, a coalition called Beyond Nuclear said it had filed a petition with the NRC requesting that the agency suspend the plant’s operating license until several enforcement actions are taken.

Nuclear Energy Protest in Tokyo

Waving banners and chanting “Sayonara nuclear power”, tens of thousands of people marched in central Tokyo recently to call on the Japanese government to jettison all atomic energy in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear accident.

The peaceful demonstration indicates how deeply a Japanese public sphere long -accustomed to nuclear power was affected by the March 11 crisis, when a deadly tsunami caused core meltdowns at three reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi complex.

The accident – the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl – caused the spewing of radiation across a wide part of northeastern Japan, forcing the evacuation of some 100,000 people and raising fears of contamination in everything from fruit and vegetables to water and fish. Police estimated the crowd at the protests was some 20,000 people, organizers, however claim there were three times that many people.

In addition to fears of radiation, the Japanese public and corporate world have had to deal with severe shortages of electricity amidst the sweltering summer heat after more than 30 of Japan’s 54 nuclear reactors were shut down to undergo inspections.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, who took office earlier in the month, has said Japan will restart reactors which have cleared all the safety precautions. He also insists that the country should reduce its reliance on atomic energy and explore alternative energy.

Prior to the recent disaster, the earthquake-prone country derived 30 percent of its electricity from nuclear power. However, Japan is also a resource-poor nation, making it an increasingly hard and time-consuming process to invent and discover viable forms of alternative energy.

Prior to the march, the protesters gathered in Meiji Park to hear speakers address the large crowd.

Those Japanese citizens who were evacuated from around the plant remain uncertain about when, if ever, they will be allowed to return to their homes.

An AP-GfK poll showed that 55 percent of Japanese citizens are in favor of reducing the number of nuclear reactors in the country; while some35 percent want to leave the number about the same. Four percent want an increase while 3 percent want to eliminate them entirely.

“The poll, which surveyed 1,000 adults between July 29 and Aug. 10, had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.8 percentage points…” according to Associated Press.

According to an AP article, Japanese author, Kenzaburo Oe, who won the Nobel literature prize in 1994 and has campaigned for anti-nuclear and pacifist causes addressed the crowd. He and musician Ryuichi Sakamoto, who composed the score to the movie “The Last Emperor,” were among the demonstration’s most famous and notable supporters.

Japan’s Radioactive Beef

Japanese Radioactive BeefWorry regarding radiation-tainted beef intensified in Japan on Sunday as officials struggled to determine the problem’s scope and prevent further contamination of the meat supply.

The government is readying itself to suspend cattle shipments from Fukushima amidst a growing number of cows that eat rice straw containing high levels of radioactive cesium. This straw was harvested from rice paddies in the prefecture after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami almost wrecked cooling systems and released radiation from the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant.

Chain operator of the supermarket giant, Aeon Co. says more than 703 pounds of this meat ended up at 14 of its outlets in Tokyo.

Aeon says it will protect consumers by strengthening its radiation testing systems for beef.

Kohei Otsuka, senior Vice Health Minister said the government could consider expanding the expected cattle restriction beyond

Fukushima. These comments came a day after Fukushima’s government said 84 head of cattle shipped from five farms were fed contaminated straw.

This issue first came up on July 8, when the Tokyo Metropolitan Government told the press it detected radiation in beef originating from a farm in Minami Soma, 16 miles north of the crippled nuclear plant.

National and local government officials say they are trying to trace the location of the suspected meat and will be improving safety checks.

Geothermal Japan

After its nuclear disaster, Japan is looking into other sources of energy, including geothermal energy which uses heat from the earth’s core to generate electricity.

Geothermal JapanThe virtue of nuclear power was put under inquisition after earthquakes and tsnuamis rocked Japan last March leaving the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in dire peril, with workers fearing for their health.

Now, as Japan begins considering alternative energy sources, geothermal power has taken its place in the spotlight. Hot springs could supply a portion of Japan’s power, partly because the energy is generated by fault lines beneath the earth.

Feasibly, Japan could replace all its planned nuclear stations over the next decade with geothermal energy. But not everything about geothermal energy is necessarily heaven sent. Harnessing the energy is quite costly, and there are concerns about possible earthquake damage. In addition to these concerns, the best geothermal resources in Japan are located in the country’s prized national parks. However, as the nation moves further away from nuclear power, they will continue on the quest for additional sources of energy, and hot springs just might be part of the solution.

Californians Need Not Be Alarmed by Japanese Emitted Radiation

According to federal and state officials, the diminutive traces of radiation from Japan’s damaged nuclear plant that reached the west coast pose no health risk.

The doses of radiation a person normally receives from bricks, rocks, (yes rocks and bricks emit radiation) and the sun are 100,000 times the dose rates detected at a California and Washington monitoring stations.

Worries that Japan’s nuclear disaster was creating an international crisis grew as a radioactive plume, released from the Fukushima Dai-ichi, reached Southern California last Friday. The radiation, though, mostly dissipated by the time it reached the U.S. coastline.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, miniscule amounts of the radioactive isotopes iodine-131, iodine-132, tellurium-132 and cesium-137 had made their way to a Sacramento monitoring station tied to the U.N.’s Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization, however, the readings were far below levels that pose legitimate health risks.

A detector at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Washington State earlier this week also detected trace amounts of xenon-133 – a gas produced during nuclear fission – the DOE said.

In a joint statement, the Department Of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said the doses of radiation people generally get from the surrounding environment are 100,000 times greater than those detected at the two monitoring sites.

Japan Devastation

Japan has declared a state of emergency at a second nuclear plant, affected by the recent earthquakes, one of which, 8.9 magnitude – the largest in Japan’s recorded history – causing a series of vicious tsunamis. As a result, higher-than-permitted amounts of radioactivity were measured.

At two plants, authorities used sea water to cool a reactor, preventing a meltdown. However, attempts to cool the reactor at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, failed.

Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yukio Edano, fears a hydrogen explosion could occur at Unit 3 of the latter plant, near its nuclear complex.

More than 170,000 people were evacuated as a precaution, but the Japanese government says the radioactivity released so far into the environment is so meager it does not pose any health threats.

A total meltdown would release uranium and other dangerous contaminants into the environment, posing major health risks, such as at Trinabol.

No less than 160 people, including 60 elderly patients and medical staff, and 100 others evacuating by bus, might have been exposed to radiation. The severity of the exposure is not clear.

More than 1,400 people were killed and hundreds more missing, however, police in one of the worst-hit areas estimated a toll that could eventually top 10,000.

In total, six reactors, three at the Dai-ichi complex and three at a nearby complex were affected. Today, Japan, who was devastated in the major urban centers of Nagasaki and Hiroshima, when the United States Air Force dropped atomic bombs in 1945, has a total of 55 nuclear reactors spread across 17 nationwide complexes.

Japan Has Some New Ideas for Reducing C02 Emissions

It was reported in the British newspaper the Daily Telegraph that the Japanese government has launched a campaign which encourages people to get to bed and get up extra early in order to cut-down household carbon dioxide emissions.

The Environment Ministry unveiled the Morning Challenge campaign, basing it on the premise that swapping late night electricity for an extra hour of morning sunlight could significantly reduce the carbon footprint of that nation.

If everyone goes to bed and gets up one hour earlier, a typical family can reduce its carbon dioxide footprint by 85kg a year. That is quite a feat.

“Many Japanese people waste electric power at night time, for example by watching TV until very late…But going to bed early and getting up early can avoid wasting electrical power which causes carbon dioxide emissions. If people change their lifestyle, we can save energy and reduce emissions.”

Well, the campaign also suggests that people take advantage of an extra hour of morning sunlight by improving their lifestyles through activities such as running, doing yoga and eating a nutritious and well-balanced breakfast.

This is the latest initiative in tackling climate change by the Japanese environment ministry, which is challenged with the task of reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 25% from 1990 levels within the decade-to-come.

Actually, it was the same government department which launched the high profile Cool Biz campaign five years ago, which encourages workers to wear short-sleeved shirts and offices not to turn air con lower than 28 degrees during the summer.

And On the Eighth Day, Japan Invented See-Through Frogs and Goldfish

Japanese scientists have developed goldfish whose beating hearts can be seen through their translucent scales and skin. The developing of transparent creatures, such as the new goldfish and the frogs which were developed in 2007, are part of efforts to reduce the need for dissections.

Associate Professor in the department of Life Science at Mie University, Yutaka Tamaru said:

“You can see a live heart and other organs because the scales and skin have no pigments, you don’t have to cut it open. You can see a tiny brain above the goldfish’s black eyes. Having a pale colour is a disadvantage for goldfish in an aquarium but it’s good to see how organs sit in a body three-dimensionally…as this goldfish grows bigger, you can watch its whole life…We are making progress in their mass-production. They are likely to be put on the market next year.”

The fish are expected to live up to roughly 20 years and might grow as long as 25 centimeters (10 inches) and weigh more than two kilograms (5 pounds).

The group of Japanese researchers who announced in 2007 that they had developed see-through frogs said that they plan to start selling them soon. The frogs have skin which is transparent from the tadpole stage.

“We are making progress in their mass-production. They are likely to be put on the market next year”

said Masayuki Sumida, professor at the Institute for Amphibian Biology of Hiroshima University.

Sumida said see-through tadpoles and adult frogs would be available in the beginning of next year in Japan for laboratories and schools and as pets, with a price tag below 10,000 yen (110 dollars) each.

Food Buffs on Your Honey Moon, This One’s for You

I found this list floating around that was just too…unique to pass up. Recommended foods to eat “just once before you die”, or in my words, to serve to your loved on as a once-in-a-lifetime gift. “Just once,” probably because they are unavailable in your local Winn Dixie, America’s supermarket every day, or whatever the slogan is these days. That, and these foods you can only find in places that don’t exactly attract much tourism or interest other than college students who want to go to whacked-out places and help out the destitute brutalized under an endless slew of dictators that keep launching coups every other week.

“Before you die,” maybe because these places aren’t so safe. Well, maybe I exaggerate. But the food’s great!

fried spiderThe first is fried spider. You can find these in a wonderful place called Cambodia, usually in the news for bad things, but spider season is out and you better go try some. The spiders are eaten in a town called Skuon, and they are as big as your hand. They’re bred in spider farms that consist of holes in the ground. Once they’re no longer alive, they are breaded with monosodium glutamate (MSG – you can find bags of this stuff in Chinatown, flavor enhancer that gives you headaches), sugar and salt. They’re then fried with garlic until the legs get crispy. Eat the head and the legs. Stay away from the abdomen. At least that’s what the locals say.

fuguThe next one is Fugu, which you can find in Japan. Granted, ever since World War II ended, Japan has been a pretty upstanding country. No dictators there. Just poisonous fish. The Fugu fish, what we know as a blow fish, is so poisonous it can kill 30 men with its liver and ovaries, where the poison, tetrodotoxin, is produced. I can’t kill anyone with my liver and ovaries, which makes me feel kind of left out. But anyway.

Eating fugu is only advisable in the absolute best restaurants of Tokyo, because it can only legally be prepared by a licensed chef, who we may remind you basically has your life in his hands as he cuts away blow fish livers and ovaries and DOES NOT EAT THEM. The best part of the experience of this daredevil delicacy is the sensation on the tongue given by small amounts of tetrodotoxin and won’t kill you.

Third, we have a Chinese Century Egg. China, not so good on the human rights or environment or democratic freedoms, but good on the Century Egg, which is basically an egg wrapped in clay, salt, and lime juice. It’s then wrapped in straw and aged for a few months. The yolk turns green and the white turns brown, which is similar to when you stick an egg in a crockpot for a day. Sam I Am would be proud of you for trying it.

Finally, El Salvadorian Iguana meat. Don’t know much about El Salvador, other than that its class gap is enormous and it gets hit by hurricanes every 20 minutes. They say iguana tastes like chicken but tougher. I wouldn’t know, but if I ever wanted to find out I can just pick one up from my backyard. That is if I can catch it.