Special Report: Fukushima Media & Social Media Summary – 27 March 2011

by TRG Alerts Admin on March 27, 2011

Fukushima Media & Social Media Summary – 27 March 2011

Produced by The Rendon Group


  • TEPCO officials retracted an earlier report, which stated radiation levels around the No. 2 reactor were 10 million times higher than normal. (Daily Mail, Sky News)
  • Japanese workers are pumping radioactive water out of the plant. (AP)
    • Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) reported there was virtually no chance of radioactive water flowing into the sea. (Reuters)
    • TEPCO detected high radiation levels in puddles at the No. 2 reactor. (Yomiuri)
  • Workers began to pump fresh water into reactors 1-3 as worries increased that the use of salt water could lead to corrosion damage or dangerous accumulations of salt. (CNN)


  • Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano announced that former Transport Minister Sumio Mabuchi would become PM Kan’s special advisor for the nuclear crisis. (Nikkei)
    • Edano said it was “difficult” to predict the end of the crisis. (Nikkei)
  • TEPCO President Masataka Shimizu, last seen at a press briefing on 13MAR, missed work for several days during the crisis due to stress-induced fatigue. (Sankei)
  • Active Fault and Earthquake Research Center Head Yukio Okamura said TEPCO ignored his 2009 warnings of potential tsunami damage to the Fukushima plant. (DPA)
  • NISA deputy director Hidehiko Nishiyama stated there is a strong possibility water is leaking from reactor 2. (Washington Post)
  • A Kyodo News survey showed 58% of respondents disapprove of the government’s response to the nuclear crisis. (Kyodo, Xinhua)
    • The survey showed PM Kan’s approval ratings improved by 8 percentage points to 28%. (Kyodo)


  • Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, stated the nuclear crisis could go on for weeks, if not months. (Reuters)
  • A US Navy barge, bound for Onahama port in Fukushima Prefecture, will deliver fresh water to pump into reactor 1. (Yomiuri)
  • China’s National Nuclear Emergency Coordination Committee reported a slight rise in radiation levels, which they attributed to events at Fukushima. (CNN)
  • Japan’s crisis has sparked further international opposition to nuclear power.
    • More than 200,000 people turned out on the streets of Germany for the “Fukushima Warns: Pull the Plug on all Nuclear Power Plants” protest against nuclear power. (AP)
      • Over 100,000 protesters were present in Berlin.
      • The rally was sponsored by environmental lobby group BUND.
    • Protesters marched against nuclear power in Rome. (EuroNews)
    • Greenpeace announced it would begin monitoring radiation levels around Fukushima.
      • Greenpeace’s Jan van de Putte said, “Since the beginning of the Fukushima nuclear crisis, the authorities have consistently appeared to underestimate both the risks and extent of radioactive contamination.”  (New Zealand Herald)
    • A recent poll found that 89.5% of Thais are opposed to nuclear power. (DPA)

Key Themes

  • Users tweeted about the reported spike of radiation to 10 million times normal levels.
    • Twitter users quickly spread the news that these earlier reports were incorrect.
      • Users tweeted that TEPCO officials mistook Cobalt-56 for Iodine-134, which lead to erroneous radiation readings.
      • Some users have sarcastically noted that the real radiation levels are said to be only 100,000 times higher than normal.
      • A number of users started using the hashtag #incompetence when talking about the mistakes.
  • Users have shared reports on radiation levels in the sea around Fukushima.
    • The linked reports state the level of radiation in the water is between 1,250 times and 1,850 times greater than normal.
  • Japanese users retweeted a 1995 documentary titled “Nuclear Ginza”, which features men discussing the serious injuries they sustained from radiation sickness.
  • Some users expressed worries about food contamination in Japan.
    • Users retweeted a Japanese research report that drinking beer or red wine will mitigate the effects of radiation poisoning.
    • Japanese users expressed unease regarding how cow milk could be contaminated, while it remains safe for women to breastfeed their children.
  • Greenpeace Japan criticized TEPCO for its comments stating reactor 2 had core damage but was stable.

Key Communicators

  • Brian Dunning @BrianDunning – Science journalist; hosts Skeptoid; tweeting Fukushima developments.
  • Joseph Cirincione @Cirincione – President of the Ploughshares Fund.
  • World Nuclear News @W_Nuclear_News – An organization that provides news to the nuclear industry and the public. They have been providing original commentary and news aggregation.
  • Greenpeace @Greenpeace – International environmental group, they are opposed to nuclear power and have been critical of the Japanese response to the crisis.
  • IAEA @IAEAOrg – The latest news and updates from the IAEA.  A firsthand source of information on the crisis at Fukushima
  • Page van der Linden @PlutoniumPage – Writer focusing on national security, nuclear proliferation, arms control.  She has supplied expert commentary on events at Fukushima.
  • Sanjay Gupta – @Sanjayguptacnn – CNN reporter and doctor; reporting on location in Japan.  He has been reporting on dangers of radiation.
  • Danielle Dellorto – @DanielleCNNProducer for CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.  She provides commentary similar to that of Gupta, but often supplies her own observations.
  • Amb. John Roos – @Ambassador Roos United States Ambassador to Japan. Tweeting in English and Japanese, he provides information both on the nuclear disaster and the tsunami recovery efforts.

Key Hashtags

  • The most popular hashtags were:
  • Many relevant Japanese hashtags also used the Roman alphabet to spell Japanese words:



  • Liveblogs and News
    • CNN liveblogged radiation levels around the Fukushima plant for 27MAR.
    • Green Action Japan, an environmental group affiliated with Greenpeace, continues to frequently post wire reports and original reporting on the events in Fukushima.
    • The IAEA is issuing updates of the situation at Fukushima on both its blog and Facebook.
    • Nuclear Science and Engineering at MIT has been releasing updates on the situation at Fukushima.
  • Analysis
    • Will Davis, of Atomic Power Review, expressed concern that TEPCO was reporting the presence Iodine-134 in reactor 2. Davis stated the presence of Iodine-134 implied uncontrolled fission occurred within the reactor.
    • Peter Wynn Kirby, of The Daily Beast, worried that those contaminated by radiation could face future discrimination.
    • World Nuclear News stated that NISA told TEPCO to improve its radiation monitoring after two workers received radiation burns from working in ankle deep radioactive water.
    • Jeffrey Lewis, of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, has been issuing analyses of TEPCO information updates on his blog Arms Control Wonk.
    • Blogs discussed the United States’ nuclear security.
      • Kingston Reif, writing for the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation’s blog Nukes of Hazard, criticized Congressman Paul Ryan (R-KY) for his cuts to nuclear security.
      • In an opinion piece in the Huffington Post, Joe Cirincione and Paul Carroll of the Ploughshares Fund argued that an independent body, such as the National Academy of Sciences, should conduct a review of nuclear safety in the US.



  • Media reported on radiation levels in the immediate vicinity of the Fukushima plant.
    • Authorities retracted a report that radiation levels were 10 million times higher than normal in water inside the No. 2 reactor’s turbine building. (NHK, Nikkei)
    • Authorities detected radioactive iodine-131 at a concentration 1,250 times the legal limit in seawater close to the drain outlets. (Yomiuri, Fukushima Minyu)
    • TEPCO detected high radiation levels in puddles at reactor 2. (Yomiuri)
    • As of 1300ET on 27MAR, there has been little criticism of TEPCO.
      • An unnamed TEPCO official argued that the data should have been released, even if it was wrong, to avoid accusations of a cover-up. (Asahi)
  • Media reported on radiation levels in the air and water in eastern Japan.
    • Radiation levels fell in the air in Fukushima Prefecture and the Kanto region. (Asahi)
    • A water purification plant in Kanamachi, Tokyo, reported it did not detect radioactive iodine in water taken from the Edo River. (Yomiuri)
    • Another purification plant in Hachinohe, Aomori Prefecture, also reported it did not detect radioactive iodine or cesium in its waterworks. (Daily Tohoku)
    • Kanto authorities began removing restrictions on drinking water. (Asahi)
  • Media reported on the health and safety of emergency workers and local residents.
    • Three workers exposed to radiation will be discharged from the hospital after doctors found no adverse health problems. (Jiji, Yomiuri)
    • 10-20 thousand people remain within the 30-kilometer evacuation zone. (Fukushima Minpo)
      • Over 1600 people remain unaccounted for within 20 kilometers, though authorities found only 12 bodies. (Yomiuri)
  • Media reported on TEPCO’s response to the nuclear crisis.
    • Fire trucks continued to pump fresh water into reactors 1 – 3. (Asahi)
    • TEPCO is proceeding with plans to pump water via emergency electricity machinery. (Asahi)
    • TEPCO suggested cutting its press conferences to twice a day, but backed down after protest from Fukushima political journalists. (Sankei)
  • Opinions and Editorials
    • Media expressed exasperation with the crisis response.
      • A Yomiuri Shimbun editorial described the response to the crisis as “one step forward, one step back,” and called on the government to specify an evacuation zone.
      • A Mainichi Shimbun editorial implied there is no quick fix to the Fukushima crisis, and a “long battle” remains.



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