The Fukushima nuclear power plant is leaking into the ocean, directly from the power plant, but also down the mountains via the rivers. We have great independent radiation maps on land by Safecast (JP), good sediment transports (rivers) maps by the CNRS (FR), and good simulation of ocean currents by NOAA (USA). A very important missing piece of the puzzle is a comprehensive map of seabed radioactivity. If we want the fisheries to re-open and swim safely in these waters, this information is crucial for everyone.
How to measure radioactivity on the seabed? Currently there are a few points being measured in strategic areas with Eckman bottom grab samplers. They are great machines but
mix surface sediment (more radioactive) and deeper sediment (less radioactive)
they let very thin particles sip out the jaws
they are quite expensive and bulky
We’re developing a rolling surface sediment sampler. A very low cost machine that you can operate at the end of a fishing rod from any boat that only captures a few millimetres of sediment surface (most recent and most radioactive). The bigger picture is to gather data and produce a map similar to Safecast on land, but for the seabed, by everyone for everyone.
How you can help
We are looking for a boat to test our idea.
Any boat. If you have a boat or know someone who can take us there, please let us know.We would love to sail along Japan east coast, for example from Iwaki to Sendai, in the legal waters of course.
The samples we collect would be time, depths and geo coded (with GPS) and made available to anyone who want to analyse and share publicly the results. We are working with SAFECAST and the French CNRS, extending their work in riverbeds into the ocean using their methods and instruments.
Dates : 2014/10/02 -10 and 2014/10/12 – 17 Money : we pay fuel, water, food so it is free for you.
Data : Public Domain
Please contact :
Cesar HARADA. French-Japanese Ocean roboticist, Former MIT Project leader, TED Senior Fellow. firstname.lastname@example.org Philippe COUTURE. French documentary Film maker, architect & permaculture researcher.
We’ll start by the fun stuff with good Ghanian music :) We were very much interested about the life of the Ghanian fishermen, so we just drove there and met a community of them near Axim. After a few minutes of discussion we asked if we could join them for a fishing experience and they accepted to take us out on the water. At rising sun, we pushed the vessel in the water on big steel rolls and wood boards, passed the wave breaking point, sailed to the fishing spot, deployed our nets, sailed back to shore, pulled the nets for a long time. I was surprised that even for pulling the nets back on shore, no mechanics is being used, it is all raw human power. The men were incredibly strong and pretty much risking their lives without any safety. The reason why we came to visit the fishermen, is because we wanted to know if their had been affected by the recently introduced offshore oil industry nearby. Thanks to Samuel Ainoosoa Kwesie for introducing us to the captain.
According to the World Bank Ghana is a relatively healthy democratic developing country with a good multi-party political system, freedom of press, a good education infrastructure, with a growing industrial, illegal mining (Ghana is one the top producer of gold), oil and growing population. The CO2 emission is in steady increase – not that this would be an index of sustainable growth rather the contrary- but indicates the country is increasingly active on the industrial, transportation and construction fronts. So overall Ghana is doing “well”. Still we found several important issues:
At the top of the hill above the fishermen’s village, there is… a chinese castle! SINOPEC is installing a large pipeline along the coastline.
Inside, a real garden of eden with multiple fountains. We were told that about 100 skilled chinese engineers and workers live here. Many Ghanians seem to be unhappy with the chinese presence and feel their natural ressources are being exploited by foreigners. As a half-asian person, I wonder why Ghanians do not build their own castles and garden of Eden… And why Ghanian authorities let chinese operate at a scale they do not feel comfortable with? Quickly after we got in, the SINOPEC security agents came, asked us to delete our photographs and leave.
Tullow is the largest Oil Industry operating in Ghana on the main Oil Field called the Jubilee Oil Field. We visited their headquarters and attempted speaking to their environmental department without success. We are in email communication now. Below are the concessions of the Jubilee oil & gas field:
According to the locals we met, the annual turnover of several of these companies are many times the turnover of the whole country of Ghana.
Ministry of Energy
Thanks to Faustine Araba Boakye of the International Clean Cooking Association, we were able to meet Kofi Agyarko.
EPA Environmental Protection Agency
At the EPA we were able to speak to Ebenezer K Appah-Sampong, Director Planning, Programming, Monitoring & Education.
Ministry of Fisheries
At the Ministry of Fisheries, we spoke to:
Director: Samuel Quartey
Director of Marine Fisheries: Mathilda Quist
Marine Fisheries Research Division: Paul Bannerman
Field researchers: Joseph Seboah, Richster Nii Amarfio, Noble Wadzah, George Awudi
On the wall of the Ministries of fisheries we could read some press cuts: the World Bank is running a program (among many in Ghana) worth US$ 53.80 million. It is labelled as “loan and credit“. Below is the program abstract:
The development objective of the First Phase of the West Africa Regional Fisheries Program Project is to support the sustainable management of Ghana’s fish and aquatic resources by: (i) strengthening the country’s capacity to sustainably govern and manage the fisheries; (ii) reducing illegal fishing; (iii) increasing the value and profitability generated by the fish resources and the proportion of that value captured by the country; and (iv) developing aquaculture. There are five components to the project. The first component of the project is good governance and sustainable management of the fisheries. This component aims to build the capacity of the Government and stakeholders to develop and implement policies through a shared approach that would ensure that the fish resources are used in a manner that is environmentally sustainable, socially equitable and economically profitable. The second component of the project is reduction of illegal fishing. The component aims to reduce the illegal fishing activities threatening the sustainable management of the country’s fish resources. The third component of the project is increasing the contribution of the fish resources to the national economy. The component aims to identify and implement measures to increase the benefits to Ghana from the fish resources, by increasing the share of the value-added captured in the country. The fourth component of the project is aquaculture development. The component aims to set the framework for increased investment in inland aquaculture. The fifth component of the project is regional coordination, monitoring and evaluation and project management. The component aims to support project implementation and regional coordination with the project, ensuring that regular monitoring and evaluation is conducted, and the results are fed back into decision-making and project management. Administrated by Berengere P. C. Prince.
The program started in July 2011 and will end in December 2017. This is a very important information. There is capital to carry on all these tasks, clear objectives and deadlines.
University of Ghana, Professor Christopher Gordon
Professor Gordon is the most scientifically educated and creative person we met in the country.
Prof Gordon mentioned that Protei might be an interesting device to deploy in Lake Volta, but also the many lagoons to study oxygen levels, redox potential, sedimentation and other environmental parameters. Lagoons tend to accumulate land-borne pollution in particular heavy metals from mining. We are interested to build a pilot proposal with Prof Gordon and use University of Ghana as our base when we come to Ghana. A topic that we are also interested is the interaction between the oil and the fishing industry when it comes to environment.
Center for Environmental Impact Analysis, Samuel Obiri
With the sharp mind of Samuel Obiri, an independent researcher, we wrapped all the discussions we had with the different ministries and stakeholders. Mr Obiri explained us what is the relationship between the scientific and the legal as well as the business sides of the oil exploitation in Ghana. We discussed the level of oil spill preparedness and the expected involvement of fishermen in the event of an oil spill.
An important observation was that
fishermen are currently the most at loss with the development of the oil industry and
if an oil spill was to happen, they would be on the frontline to clean up and suffer the heaviest health, mental, environmental social and economic damages.
In a very short amount of time, we have been capable of meeting most of the key stakeholders of the oil and the fishing industry, from ministry representatives to local fishermen, from University researchers to independent environmental consulting agencies. The challenges that Ghana is facing in terms of environmental impact of the oil industry, the apparent lack of preparedness to oil spill, the lack of environmental data about water quality and fish stock suggests that Protei could really make a difference in Ghana. The low cost, open source, modular, transparent nature of Protei appealed to all the people we talked to. There is therefore a case for coming back to Ghana with Protei.
The main difficulty now is the definition of a strategy for raising funds to address these issues.
If we run a pilot, which stakeholders shall we involve?
Academia: University of Ghana, ASESHI, OUWA, AITI, foreign Universities
Politics: EPA, Ministries of Food & Agriculture & Technology, Fisheries
Cape Town is a spectacular city. The mountains that surround the city. The beauty of the ocean. The powerful winds. Captured above by our wonderful media team having lots of fun at work.
First thing we did in Cape Town was to go and meet with Gabriella’s friend who owns a fashion shop called Unknown Union in the hip area of the city. At the entrance of the shop, we were so surprised to find the installation of a my friend Candy Chang “Before I die, I want to …” !
Every time I come across Candy’s work, it reminds me of the good times I had when I was living in New Orleans a few years back, living in the same street as Candy in the Bywater. It reminds me of my dreams, it reminds me that everyone has amazing dreams, and we’re all in this world to make them all happen…
The SAP pitch event
The pitch event went very well, additionally to our “classic” pitch we added a soundtrack that was emotional and I think it really worked !I love the idea of making a music hall instead of a pitch event :) We won the SAP pitch event in Cape Town and the reward was …
A diner in a chic restaurant with all mentors and special guests
We were very fortunate to share the table with this group of exceptional people. Many of which were our influential mentors.
Koeberg, Africa only nuclear power plant
We spent about 2 days investigating about Koeberg, Africa one and only nuclear power plant. We rented a car, drove there twice.
You may be positively surprised to hear that the levels of radioactivity that we measured around the nuclear power plant were acceptable. In fact we had higher levels in the center of Cape Town than close to the Koeberg plant. We measured levels on the beach, and in the water at about 1 meter underwater with the sensor we customised with Safecast for the Fukushima expedition. We were able to pay a little visit at the Koeberg Visitor Center and learn all about the plant and the technology they use. Many kids were also visiting. We were not allowed to approach the power plant closer than 2 kilometers. According to documentation in the plant, the cooling of the reactor causes the temperature of the sea to be significantly increased (up to 10ºC) outside the plant outake of water. It was surprising to see that the Nuclear power plant is installed in the middle of a natural reserve that is a highly secured perimeter. What it felt was that the natural reserve was more of an excuse to keep curious people and activist at a greater distance… I’m now curious about the radioactivity levels at Vaalputs in the Northern Cape where the used fuel is disposed.
The local makers
Thanks to our connexion Ralph Borland that we knew from the Science Gallery back in Dublin, we were able to have a really nice insight into the maker / designer culture of Cape Town.
We were introduced by Paul Mesarcik to the local designer / maker’s world.
Below Protei INC Art Collection very first acquisition !!! Who is the artist?
Thanks to Paul Mesarcik that studied electro-mechanics at Cape Town University, we were introduced to Dr Robyn Verrinder of the Research and Instrumentation, Departement of Electric Engineering of Cape Town University. We discussed with local researchers their their latest development in autonomous sailing robot. Above, a freshly build hull that is being compartmentalised and ballasted with fishing lead weights in the bulb. Quite a few researchers are now interested in developing autonomous sailing robots, this is the people we want to involve with Protei!
The Gangster Incubator
We were lucky to meet Marlon Parker (Facebook) of Rlabs who introduced us to many inspiring young people in a not very inspiring neighbourhood. They explained us about their community, the hope they found, how the access to technology helped them feel empowered to look a their future, how it re-enchanted their lives.
They just arrived from a 4 months journey the day before our departure from Cape Town! We had to meet!
The East African Marine Transect expedition is a not-for profit expedition that is managed and facilitated by Moving Sushi. Moving Sushi actions strong ideas by facilitating globally important marine-based scientific expeditions to explore the relationship between humanity, our marine environment, science, technology and how new knowledge is communicated and shared through open source channels.
They just completed 234 dives, were quite tired, and after sharing a quick breakfast they went back to unpack their boat.
Joe Heywood of North Sails
Our last encounter in South Africa was with Joe Heywood of North Sails. It was great sitting down with his family, sharing food and geeking about sail / rig designs. Thanks a lot for your precious advices Joe!
So now that Unreasonable At Sea is more than halfway through its voyage (it started January 9th in San Diego and ends April 25th in Barcelona) we decided to check back in with Epstein for a TechCrunch TV talk yesterday morning to see how everything is coming along. For starters, the Internet connection is actually pretty solid, as we were able to see in the quality of our Skype chat as he was aboard the Unreasonable At Sea ship in the Indian Ocean just off the coast of Mauritius. He told us that everything else is going just as swimmingly (sorry, I can never resist making some kind of water pun when writing about this endeavor.)
Watch the video embedded above to hear Epstein talk about the perks of the journey so far, how the startup folks are mingling with the Semester At Sea students aboard the ship (and getting some work out of them too), what the biggest lessons and surprises have been so far, and what’s in store for the rest of the journey ahead.
Before arriving in Maurice we did a lot of that: planning. That’s in my cabin, post-it notes under the higher bed. Work non-stop.
So when we got off the ship we had only one desire: use that energy to… climb the nearest mountain! We had only a few hours, so we just ran as fast possible there.
I must admit it was not the easiest climb- I lost my stamina staying on the ship for so long!
But that was worth the view!
The city looks super clean, in fact the only dirty-looking smoke was coming… from our ship!
Daniel and I had to do this: the butt-naked panoramic view. It’s a long tradition apparently. Check.
By chance we passed the “Radiation Protection Authority” office in Port Louis, we chatted with them, and you can tell by my big smile -while chatting with their official (off frame)- that there is nothing to worry about on the island :) Biggest radioactive sources are dentist cabinets where they do x-rays.
Unlike in India or Vietnam, we saw a group of people fishing directly in the sewage line!
Maurice, you are a wonderful island, you don’t need Protei do you?! Hehehe! Or maybe just for entertainment!
What we found was not that different at the DREAM HOTEL in Kochi ! ;) More lasers perhaps :)
We did our presentation in a campus that’s in the middle of the construction process. I felt great energy and excitement.
India opens its doors wide open to the Silicon valley spirit.
We dream of a day when the sun sets at dusk of the silicon valley it would rise to see the the dawn of a silicon coast in India. Team MOBME
Instead of diving into the “startup India” in Bangalore as Gabriella did (posts of Gabriella Levine 1, 2, 3 in Bangalore) , I focused on buying supply to build more Protei prototypes for the rest of the voyage. That means a lot of scooting around again.
I really enjoyed discovering indian ingenuity and all the local craftsmen.
I enjoyed the colourful markets…
But also noticed piles of detritus everywhere in the streets, that ends in the sewage, untreated. Many times we saw the public servants cleaning the congested sewage lines.
Very bad news for Kochi. It’s waters are devastated. I never saw darker waters. Water in public rivers is like ink!
That’s another part of the city. Same observation. Appalling.
We did not have / or taken the time to study in depth water pollution in India.
It is also revealing that it is a Chinese media NTDTV that seem to be concerned about pollution India, chinese acting as a regional environmental whistleblower, interestingly.
India is facing immense challenges when it comes to water quality. Its most sacred river is one of the world most polluted river. Are the gods polluting or are indians responsible for their sacred rivers?
To know why 1,000 Indian children die of diarrhoeal sickness every day, take a wary stroll along the Ganges in Varanasi. As it enters the city, Hinduism’s sacred river contains 60,000 faecal coliform bacteria per 100 millilitres, 120 times more than is considered safe for bathing. Four miles downstream, with inputs from 24 gushing sewers and 60,000 pilgrim-bathers, the concentration is 3,000 times over the safety limit. In places, the Ganges becomes black and septic. Corpses, of semi-cremated adults or enshrouded babies, drift slowly by. Source: The Economist on December 11, 2008
The world treasure Taj Mahal is bordered by the Yamuna river that western journalists have qualified as “a putrid ribbon of black sludge.”
Gabriella presented Protei in Bangalore and had a lot of positive response, in particular from game developers and mobile app developers that are very excited about Protei being used as an augmented reality networking game. Can you imagine? A regatta of Protei boats equipped with android phones, controlled via the web browser with real-time video feedback racing, collaborating to solve complex real-world issues! Having fun while collecting environmental data? Earning money from clean up in the water while playing, well that’s rather exciting to the people we met and to us.
India has a great entrepreneur movement and huge number of environmental issues. Can we pair these two together?
I found fiberglass, resin, wood, glue, plastic, microspheres and many other supplies to build more prototypes.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t allowed to get this fabrication supply on board. That was painful to spend so many days looking for these chemicals, parts, materials and not being allowed. Cannot wait to have our own workshop on land, manufacture Protei and come back to India where Protei is so needed! Good bye India, we’ll see each other again soon!
Let’s go straight to the point. Shwedagon pagoda is exquisite. The entire country seems to conspire to be a heaven for photographers.
The video above was made by our video Unreasonable Media team.
Where in the world do you get to see more gold? More delicate and intricate craftsmanship?
As many buddhas?
The visitors, mostly families, create an atmosphere that is so casual. Religion is really daily life.
A giant architectural complex that keeps growing, where prayers and the sound of hammers are in harmony.
The streets of Yangon are busy. The country just opened. It is hard to find an ATM, there are only a few of them in the entire country at this point. More than half of the women and men are wearing traditional cloth and many wear the Thanaka (face paint).
What will the beauty of Myanmar become? Will it protect its traditions or will walk in the steps of Vietnam or China, a race towards “progress”. It is hard to say. But the fever for modernity is not yet felt in the streets of Yangon.
One cannot ignore how much Myanmar has been suffering until very recently. Watching this film will certainly not give you the full picture, but I was touched by it. I recommend you watch it. I wonder what Myanmar will become in the years to come. It will change a lot. You must remember at least one name: Aung San Suu Kyi.
You do need to get off the ship to see that Burma is exporting wood. A lot of wood. Maybe loggers are in a rush before policy changes announced for 2014. In the mean time it is a very good business, They are loading wood in large ship night and day for export. The image underneath is a panoramic view from the ship.
It’s been six weeks since the mobile-accelerator program Unreasonable at Sea set sail on the MV Explorer for a four-month trip around the world, and as we promised, we’re checking in with our intrepid entrepreneurs. First up is Cesar Harada of Protei, who dropped us a line as he was departing Singapore.
Through Protei, Harada hopes to make an open-source sailing robot, or drone, that cleans up environmental waste. But he still has major challenges, which he hopes to tackle throughout the voyage. Not only is he aiming to crack the engineering puzzle that is building a shape-shifting hull, he wants to create a global community that develops the technology. He’ll also need to fine tune his technology, which has multiple applications — from cleaning up oil spills to plastic pollution and more.
“It is hard to think of a better place as the middle of the ocean with some of the world’s most notable entrepreneurs to reinvent how technology can connect us back with the environment in a meaningful and sustainable way,” he says.
Thus far, the CEO and his colleague Gabriella Levine have visited Hawaii, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Singapore and they’re currently are in Burma. Given Harada’s Japanese heritage — and the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that spurred a level seven nuclear crisis, the worst since Chernobyl — he was most eager to revisit his roots and start to apply his technology, which can also be used to clean up radioactivity.
“Half of my family lives in Niigata, and I was horrified [when the tsunami hit]. Hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated,” he recalls.
When the Unreasonable ship docked in Japan, Harada and his team built underwater radioactivity sensors in Tokyo. They then drove to Fukushima and immersed the instrument at the border of the exclusion zone to measure significant amounts of radioactivity on the seabed.
They also were able to meet with FuRo (Future Robotics Laboratory of Chiba University) that provides TEPCO, Japan’s national energy company, with “Quince,” the remotely-operated robot that was sent inside the damaged reactor for remote sensing and operations. “We are now integrating FuRo Electronics in Protei design and hope to come back as soon as we possibly can to deploy a fleet of Protei in Fukushima surrounding waters,” Harada says.
The community environment that the academic host company Semester at Sea fosters has been beneficial to Protei’s development, notes Harada. The term “We’re in the same boat” has taken on a whole new meaning, he adds. “We share meals. We work together. We celebrate our small victories together. We cheer each other up in hard moments.”
He’s also learning more about himself. “I like people, but it’s actually hard for me to really like people — until this trip,” says Harada. I usually focus on work. Yet, I’ve connected quite intensely with the mentors and the organizers.” The program also boasts 50 faculty members and 600 Semester at Sea students, with whom the traveling treps interact.
While prior to the voyage, Harada was focusing on Japan, it’s China that may have proven most impactful to Protei’s future so far. “We found amazing manufacturing partners in Shenzhen. We have seen that our technology is relevant for environmental measurement there, and we have found a place where we can scale Protei production.”
Following the voyage’s completion in May, Harada now plans to relocate Protei from his native Paris to Shenzhen, one of the world’s centers for electronic manufacturing.
Kristin Luna is a Nashville-based journalist who has written travel and news features for Newsweek, Forbes, Redbook, Self and countless others, as well as several guidebooks for Frommer’s. Kristin previously sailed with Semester at Sea in 2011 as the assistant field office coordinator. You can follow her global exploits via her award-winning blog Camels & Chocolate.
Singapore is a bubble. It is described as a “startup city” since its independence recognised in 1824. Singapore has been following its motto “Onward Singapore” to become the world 4th financial center, pretty impressive for a 710km2 territory. According to TechCrunch, Singapore has the best ecosystem for startups in Asia.
The event at the INSEAD was very impressive. Many important people came and we had great discussions and learning nuggets. Even more than Hong Kong did, Singapore presented itself as the platform to develop projects in East Asia. It is true that Singapore supports very effectively new comers when it comes to business. The government can easily become a real share-holder of your company which can potentially give you a lot of stability and growth but at the same time restricts your business reactivity / mobility.
We intended to put Protei in the water and immediately residents told us we would be fined the equivalent of 5000 USD for putting anything in the water without permission. I enjoyed our 38 hours in Singapore, but I cannot imagine living there or doing R&D in a place that is that so strictly regulated.
Singapore was also the opportunity to meet friends, here the amazing Dave Lim, TEDxSingapore organiser at the WWF supported Earth Hour headquarters that he directs.