Archive for the ‘Nuclear’ Category

TEPCO Fuel Removal Arcade Game

Step right up! Try your luck! No, that’s not carnie cant, it’s TEPCO yakuza-ing in more inexperienced workers with inadequate compensation to risk their lives to perform jobs that will affect all of Japan… and beyond. 1,533 fuels rods are to be removed from Unit 4’s unstable spent fuel pool (no word on how they will remove the damaged rods) – and they’ve already started with some of the 200 unused rods, i.e. a practice run. Considering TEPCO has done little right, even in covering up their blunders, it’s interesting the world is expected to simply watch and wait. Some are asking, is this a set-up for inevitable failure? Others are asking, is it even really happening? (TEPCO had been showing off this pristine fuel pool that we’re supposed to believe is Unit 4, even though it had reportedly been devastated.) If sociopaths, psychopaths, and narcissists ruled the world *ahem*, it might look something like this mess. Anyway, we utilized only a tiny bit of creative license in our artistic rendering: TEPCO’s Criticality Claw Crane Arcade Game. Step right up! Try your luck! Prizes stuffed with radionuclides – everyone’s a winner! File this under #ScaryAssShit

art by Kerin Morataya; concept Darby Romeo

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Rainwater Spikes Jan 8

Collected Rainwater January 8, 2012

Curious radiation spikes have been posted for Kauai the past few weeks. Yes, we’ve had pretty consistent rain. Yes, the jet stream has been paying us a visit. (For those out of the loop – or rely on mainstream media as their source of news – Fukushima is still leaking, upwards of 10 million bq of cesium per hour – that’s just the cesium!). Anyway, 100CPM is the alert levels, but according to one person – who has some sensitive equipment and has been doing readings since not long post-Fukushima – he caught many spikes, some actually over 800CPM. Is it a glitch?

Having just gotten a new loaner Inspector geiger counter I was all amped to play with it so I’d been doing my own readings over the course of a few weeks. All my timed counts (from 10 min to 24 hours) have been between 32-37CPM – pretty “normal” – and no spikes over 56CPM. That’s ambient air readings taken indoors (which is pretty open-aired – it is Hawai’i after all) and on the screened lanai.

Today it rained, again, so I decided to tackle some rainwater. Truth be told, I was more focused on my dog and whether or not she might chase after the chickens, so I didn’t do the timed count. Instead I just ran the counter for a few minutes. It fluctuating between 30-50CPM; spiking to 56CPM a bunch of times.

Radiation spikes iphone

Outdoor Air near iPhone

There was an hour or so break in the rain, during which time my boyfriend attempted to mow the lawn. I wanted to see if it kicked up any radionuclides. The counter was reading much higher than I’d seen since I’d had it, averaging between 50-64CPM. That’s when I realized I had it held near my iPhone. I ditched the phone and it went back to typical background levels. I later tested the phone and the 10 minute count showed 53CPM. Suffice to say, I’m not going to be eating my iPhone any time soon.

I decided a car swipe may be in order (see video below). Yes, yes, I know, water readings / car swipes can all be misleading. And as my detector does alpha, beta, gamma it picks up everything. The meter was spiking to 124CPM. I waited a few hours and did another 10 minute reading and got 39CPM for the average. Meaning its decay rate was quite rapid. Radon perhaps?

Thing is, our “natural” radon levels in Hawai’i, according to the EPA, are supposed to be low. (Well, here’s more of an explanation of radon in Hawai’i). So what’s the deal? While we’re on the subject, in case you didn’t know, it IS National Radon Action Month 😛

Some suggest the isotopes may still be Fuku Satan-spawn. Could this have anything to do with the wash-out and breakdown of other radionuclides? Uranium perhaps? We did have a huge Uranium-238 spike in Hawai’i (among other high radionuclide findings) post-Fukushima. They are finding uranium in people’s urine on the Big Island. Can the Geothermal be adding to the problem? Maybe a little depleted uranium weapons testing? Something else military-oriented like the missile tests they are conducting at the Sandia Kauai Testing FacilityIs there some relation to how radionuclides combine with the aerosols we are constantly being bombarded with (a la strontium, barium…) and / or military chaff (titanium, aluminum…)? Or is it simply a mix of volcanic rock, soil/gas pressure rises, and rain?

Also interesting perhaps to note, radon concentrations often increase with thunderstorms. Though there was little talk about it, cancer-causers Xenon and Krypton-85, which suggests nuclear fission, was released from Fukushima in amounts 2-3 times higher than Chernobyl. Krypton increases atmospheric electricity, and is considered by scientists to be an amazing weather modification element since it penetrates the entire atmosphere and persists for decades. Fact is, Hawai’i had consistent thunderstorms for about a year post-311. But that’s a whole other story….

Anyway, I suppose one of the main questions is, if we’re getting readings over the 100CPM “alert” level, regardless of the source, should we be concerned?

Note: Following day reading off a 2 foot square swipe off car = 96CPM. One hour later = 52 CPM.

Radiation CPM uSv:hr milli sieverts per year guide

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TEPCO announces joint venture with Duck Brand Duct Tape. New nuclear design duct tape will give you a fashionable quick seal to cover up even the most catastrophic nuclear disasters.

Since 3/11/2011, TEPCO has released an endless number of reports about leaks at Fukushima Daichi Nuclear Plant. Recently it was via an emergency email reporting a contaminated water leakage of 71,000,000,000bq/m3 (is it just me or are these numbers starting to look like/make as much sense as the national debt?). Not surprising – it’s not as if the piping is going to get better – the state of Fukushima will only decline and become more precarious over time. It’s just, we have this expectation that corporations at least make an effort to give us the pretty cover-up version.

But duct tape is amazing. I used it to fix about 90% of the repairs for my 1968 and 1980 Volkswagon Bugs. And you just never know when it’ll come in handy; an essential toolbox/emergency item – even at a nuclear plant!

Here, duct tape was used to attach a camera to a balloon which was deployed in an attempt to get a glimpse of the goings-on inside the Reactor 1 basement  (since it’s too hot for humans or robots). It was a failure & the balloon was recycled into radioactive water wings for kids. (Okay, just kidding, but for all we know it could have been!)

Despite the cliché visual of a surfboard covered in duct tape (all surfers have been there at some point or another), if there’s one things surfers eventually learn, it’s that duct tape is not waterproof. Yes, I can tie everything to surfing; and no, duct tape does not make for efficient ding repair. The foam still absorbs water and the board ends up heavy and waterlogged. The salt from the sea water eventually disintegrates the foam, which causes the fiberglass to “de-lam” (delaminate). (We can only imagine what the salt water pumped into the nuclear plant is now doing to the metal/piping systems.) Add the element of heat, and the degrading tape soon turns the surface of the surfboard into a sticky, goopy mess.

DISCLAIMER: We are not saying duct tape won’t work at a nuclear plant; we’re simply leaving that up to the… experts. But our recommendation to TEPCO is this:  For temporary fixes, surfers have learned, that bumper quality stickers actually work much better. So if you are seriously trying to do nuclear on a shoestring (and with all those politicians, contractors and CEOs to pay we assume you are) – go to your local surf shop (you probably have to drive a little more South these days) and ask if they have any free surf stickers.

TEPCO released a bunch of photos recently. Unfortunately, due to finincial contraints, they have had to trim down pay and benefits for the radiated drone worker bees and we assume the TEPCO graphic art department as well. This photo is but one example of how, when duct tape doesn’t work, you can always fix things in virtual reality.

Pretty certain we haven’t seen such badly photoshopped pictures since the early ’90s. The pixelated area is actually a loading bay, which we’ve seen in previous pictures (many of which were also edited in various ways).

Loading bay, loading bay, where’s the loading bay – ooh, there it is.

Godzilla and the “clone” tool are also good alternative distractions

Built on mud, this is the famed Reactor 4 building, bulging and cracking, with a spent fuel pool holding – give or take – 140,000 fuel rods on its “roof”. Anyway, unlike BP, who are much more efficient liars (it takes a renegade Russian sub and hurricane to uncover their cover ups), TEPCO simply admitted they did it:

(5)West wall (Exterior wall)

Photo taken on August 22, 2012

We had fabricated a part of the photo in terms of physical protection…

We replaced the photo for physical protection of nuclear materials…

We replaced the photo of which the fabrication may be taken inappropriate.

Immediately after ENENews called them out on it, the pixelated photo was removed and replaced with one that was cropped to exclude that area instead. (But there are a bunch more photos and videos with equally low-fi crops and edits).

The morals of this story: 1) Duct tape can seem like a good quick fix when you don’t want to spend time or money on real fixes. 2) The crop tool is more efficient and cost effective then the clone tool. 3) You don’t have to work too hard to cover up something that the media isn’t covering.

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The March 11th tsunami nearly destroyed the coastal city of Rikuzentakata in Iwate prefecture, North East Japan. In addition to 10% of the population and 80% of businesses, the disaster claimed 70,000 pine trees. The ones that weren’t initially taken out by the tsunami eventually died from the salt concentration that remained in the soil once the waters receded.

Salt water, used by smart people to kill weeds, is not a plus when it comes to plants you want to grow. In an article about the impact of tsunamis and salt water on agricultural land, Food and Agricultural Field Guide writes:

When salt concentrations in the soil are high, the movement of water from the soil to the root is slowed down. When the salt concentrations in the soil are higher than inside the root cells, the soil will draw water from the root, and the plant will wilt and die… The damaging effects of salt on plants are caused not only by osmotic forces, but also by toxic levels of sodium and chloride. Fruit crops and woody ornamentals are especially sensitive to high levels of these elements. Also, the high pH value (a measure of the acid/alkaline balance) caused by excess sodium may result in micronutrient deficiencies.

Had the trees been inundated with clean/rain water immediately after the tsunami hit, they might have been saved (perhaps eventually taking up the radionuclides and becoming a red forest a la the pines in Chernobyl). But since the ground also sank, the area essentially became a bed of seawater. All the trees in that forest died, except one, which became a symbol of survival known as “Kiseki no Ipponmatsu”, “The Lone Pine”, “The Tree of Hope” or “The Miracle Tree”.

The community did all they could to help the 270 year old tree, and though it didn’t look promising, early this spring there was restored optimism when new leaf growth was seen at the top of the pine. Unfortunately, in May they announced the tree was indeed dead and this July, they announced funds were being raised to “preserve it”.

Sounds like a nice idea, until you consider the price tag: ¥150 million ($U.S. 1.9 million) to cut down the tree, treat it with preservatives, insert a metal core and return it to the place it now stands. They even have a Facebook fundraising page to reach possible contributors around the world. By the end of July, about $50,000 had been raised, including money from the fiscally-challenged city’s budget.

Futoshi Toba, Mayor of Rikuzentakata, posted on his Facebook page:

This tree that has given us so much hope can no longer stand on its own, but we want to leave it as a symbol as we work towards recovery.

Preserving a dead tree as a symbol of hope… do we need to point out the irony? Is it a waste of breath to suggest that the money could be better spent on bringing tangible – as opposed to symbolic – hope to the survivors, particularly the children in Fukushima? 

We are all for the idea of anything uplifting the people of Japan but in this case, it seems more like an extension of the cover-up. Another deterrent to facing the reality of the situation; something governments and agencies do despite the needs or desires of the people they represent.

So, we came up with some more economical alternatives for the tree’s restoration. Perhaps the money saved could be used towards entombing the still leaking reactors, rebuilding the town or, better yet, helping relocate residents who live within 200 miles of the Fukushima Daiichi plant.


  • Get Christo to artistically interpret the lone pine with a backdrop recreating the thousands of dead pines a la his scene-scapes utilizing umbrellas, windmills, bolts of fabric….
  • Hire David Copperfield to make the tree appear and disappear. It would truly make a statement, that this is all just an illusion. They can make it an annual show and charge tourists for admission (since most residents don’t seem to have extra mad money lying around for dead tree expenditures).
  • Make a hologram of the pine like the Coachella 2Pac. Supposedly, that only cost a few hundred thousand dollars. In order to run it more cheaply and efficiently, you’d obviously use solar – not nuclear – power.
  • Shellac the tree. It’ll still rot inside, but it could be a symbol of the reactors as well, like the cosmetic “circus” tents they put up over Reactor 1; temporary cover-up, as the decay – and radioactive releases – continues. Or as someone commented “Just a sheet over a dead body… in the morgue called Fukushima.” Apparently something that actually blocked radiation was deemed too costly by TEPCO (secretly these actually pull radionuclides out a chimney and higher into air, away from plant). No, TEPCO has no FB fundraising page, but with the estimated cost of Fukushima being $10 trillion – 10 years worth of Japan’s national budget – that country will certainly need a Kickstarter. 
  • Build a wax fountain around the tree. (Kerin’s dad can provide you with specs/details upon request.)
  • Voodoo resurrection spell. This would potentially bring the symbolic tree, and all dead trees in the area, back to life. Unfortunately we run the risk they could resurrect as zombie trees (see: Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode “Forever”).
  • Create a psychedelic forest of H.R. Pufnstuf trees. They could inspire through song and dance (maybe combine with the voodoo resurrection and bring back Artful Dodger Jack Wild, which will certainly generate huge fan contributions towards the project).
  • Send in Long Island Medium, Theresa Caputo, to speak with the pine and get its point of view on the situation.
  • Make the tree bionic, as well as tsunami-proof. It can also fight Godzilla, stop earthquakes with it’s gynormous roots, double as an amusement park ride and suck up ionizing radiation from the atmosphere.
  • Have scientists clone it. They can’t get enough of that shit.
  • Incorporate the tree into the Space Elevator. That way, you can share a certain portion of the expenditures.
  • Post a petition to G-d. With social networking comes the unlimited online petitions. But have you ever signed a petition to G-d? If 1 million people sign the petition, G-d will be forced to resurrect the tree or suffer the wrath of internet activists.

In the end, perhaps we need to listen to those with a little more wisdom? From the Asia Sentinel:

[An] elderly woman who declined to be named suggested that the tree has served its purpose, and that it was time to move forward. ‘The lone pine tree has already been impressed on our minds, so I think it has fulfilled its role’.

Indeed. And wouldn’t it be a nice change of pace if logic played a role in the ongoing recovery efforts as well? Otherwise, our list may start sounding just as realistic as what the corporate / government maniacs have been proposing as solutions since 311.

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There’s much radiation on the brain lately – whether you are thinking about it or not. Fukushima radioactive particle releases are continuing despite being ignored by a majority of the population, and despite the reactors existing in some Fantasyland version of “Cold Shutdown” – a term which is soon to be redefined by the Japanese government after last week’s temperature increase (of course, breaking the thermocoupler is also an option).

In Hawai’i we get our fair dose when the jet stream cruises a more Southerly path, and becomes a mash-up of the worst kind, as it coalesces with tropical rain. On top of that, Surfrider and local residents are on the lookout for potentially radioactive debris that will eventually invade our shores. And we really don’t know how bad our imported sushi or locally caught fish (which like to cruise Japan and Alaska) actually is, because no one here tests it. The fact that Hawai’i milk post-311 tested the highest in the country for radioactive particles only insured that the EPA would discontinue testing of Hawai’i milk. (Don’t even get me started on Republican surfer / state senator Fred Hemmings’ campaigns to bring nuclear power to Hawai’i!).

image borrowed from Surfer Magazine

When I went to visit the mainland late January on a work/vacation – as we collect new material to push this ol’ blog into a new-fangled online magazine – I watched the buoys and checked the reports to see when I should schedule interviews and when it was more appropriate to head to the beach. Surfers always have their priorities in order. Though most of my stay is North of Los Angeles, I regularly hook up with my Redondo Beach surf cohort to carpool all the way down to San Clemente, in South Orange County, to enjoy Trestles, one of my favorite Southern Cali waves – crowded or preferably not.

So shortly after arriving, I hear the news that Reactor Three at the San Onofre nuclear plant is leaking. Immediately after the accident Edison issued a statement that said: “There has been no release [of radiation] to the atmosphere”, but that changed the following morning. And the reports set off the Spidey senses, as it’s reminiscent of the convoluted manner with which Japanese and U.S. officials have twisted data and minced words to make everything appear “safe” – no matter what, every single accident or incident is always declared “safe”. In this case the terminology regurgitated by the media was very scientific. In regards to how much radioactive particles were released via steam, the standard no threat/no harm vocabulary included: “tiny”, “very, very small”, and “minuscule”. Uh huh. So, since no amount is safe, we will have to figure out the math for that ourselves.

And while the one plant is leaking and SCRAMed, they find during a two month, 674 million dollar “face-lift” inspection of Reactor Two, that a huge number of brand new tubes, running between the heating elements and the turbines, were showing significant wear. Some 800 thinned by 10%, 69 thinned over 20%, and a few would have to immediately be replaced. These were tubes that were supposed to last 30-40 years. We won’t even get into how a worker falls into the reactor water, drinks the water, and is also immediately deemed “safe”.

A stupid way to boil water

Sporting the title of “worst safety record” of all U.S. nuclear plants, San Onofre sits just next door to Trestles. I used to do “surf safaris” and camp there as a teen, and the main thing we were concerned about was the rumor that tiger sharks liked to breed in the warmer waters around the plant. Honestly, I never really worried about the contamination levels in the air or water (though I would hold my breath as a kid as we drove by on the way to Sea World). It was only after Fukushima that I started looking at how a release from San Onofre might spread through Southern California, and how many of my friends could be affected.

“Charlie don’t surf, he’ll never learn.”  –The Clash  (“Charlie” still being slang for “the enemy”)

The issues in San Clemente have bred a community of hardcore activists, who over the years have rallied against numerous threats besides the nuclear plant, including military bases occupying the beaches, potential off-shore oil drilling, and other paved encroachments. The most famous protest though was/is from the perpetual threat of an illegal (as per CA Coastal Commission) Toll Road (see Save Trestles/Surfrider). A whole other story that doesn’t ever go away, despite seeming victories. When it comes to activists from that area, the term “no rest for the weary” certainly comes to mind. Let’s just say this: if you are heading to surf San Onofre or Trestles, on a nice off-shore day, and there is a steam release, I advise you not putting too much faith in the nuclear industry’s reports of “safe” or “tiny”. (Do they make surf dosimeters yet?)

San Onofre is a wash. The old plant, like many, is worn down, cracking, and things are only going to get worse. The cost of this temporary shutdown is $600,000 to $1 million per day. So why don’t they work to decommission the plant? Do they need the power that badly that it’s worth risking the population between San Diego and Los Angeles? Edison, the power company that owns the plant, has even stated they have “ample power reserve” without the plant operating.

San Onofre’s 2 reactors provide somewhere between 5 and 7% of California’s electricity, and each of them consumes somewhere close to 250 megawatts of electrical energy from the grid on a constant basis just to operate. Nobody ever seems to factor that in when they talk about why we need these monster nukes to supply the “demand.” –Daily Kos

Is there anything to learn from Fukushima? Duh!

The surfers in Japan treasured their Fukushima waves: “famous for clean water and uncrowded breaks.” As any surfer will tell you, surfing is how we make a connection with the ocean. It’s an intimate relationship. Today the surfers from Fukushima are sad for many reasons, but one of them is they will likely never connect with the ocean there again.

It’s curious that the accident at Fukushima has had relatively little influence in bringing about awareness and making serious efforts to shift away from nuclear power. Sure, Germany announced they would phase out their nuclear by 2022, and hopefully they’ll replace it with alternative, renewable power instead of relying so much on coal and oil. Switzerland, Spain, Mexico, and Israel may follow suit. But at the same time we have nuclear protesters getting beaten in India where five plants are planned; 21 new nuclear plants are being built in China; more planned for Korea, Poland; as well new-timers who were not deterred by 3/11 including Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Bangladesh, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Belarus (with Jordan and Saudi Arabia likely following suit in 2013); people in Japan are being shunned for protesting nuclear or speaking/blogging about the negative side-effects of radiation exposure; and President Obama, elected with the help of serious financial backing by tritium-lovin’ Chicago nuclear, is paying them back by opening the door for the first time in over two decades (since Three Mile Island) to the U.S. building new nuclear reactors (the new build in Georgia is already up to its neck in controversies). This after making a public address during the height of the Fukushima fears, that his Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future would set the goal of 80% clean energy by 2035. Oh crap, in his plan nuclear IS clean energy! Well, that and drilling the Arctic. Great Jehoshaphat!

After the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, Vietnam suspended its nuclear plans for more than a decade, but after the Fukushima Disaster, Vietnam is pushing ahead with plans to start construction of its first reactor in 2014. –Enformable

Just weeks after receiving a federal construction license and now being challenged in federal court – by a lawsuit boosted by this week’s revelations about the Fukushima disaster – the first US nuclear power project in decades is suffering persistent problems that have already caused eight months of delays and are driving up costs. Meanwhile, contractors are arguing between each other and the plant’s owner about who should absorb millions in cost overruns – giant corporations or taxpayers and electricity customers. –NCWarn.org

Obama’s actions are reprehensible not only after seeing the worst-case scenario play out courtesy of Fukushima, but also after witnessing numerous technical difficulties in just the past year at aging U.S. reactors. Isn’t it a better moment to upgrade, safeguard, and enforce stricter regulations at the plants we already have? The pro-nuclear stance always seems to ignore the sticky realities of nuclear including: the very high cost; the broken-down plants that need billions to get back online; the NRC granting extensions to every plant that applies, regardless of their condition; the need for better contingencies regarding emergency back-up power; their potential inability to withstand large earthquakes or flooding; and finally the fact the industry still hasn’t figured out how to deal with the associated nuclear waste (only 4,000 tons of high-level, radioactive waste is stored at San Onofre though, so no worries there!). Have you watched the French documentary Nightmare Nuclear Waste? It’s a few years old, but believe you me, little has changed.

“We know we face extinction if nuclear war ever begins. But we face the same extinction even if the bombs never fall. The production alone of nuclear energy and nuclear weapons is initiating the death crisis of our species.” –Dr. Rosalie Bertell

So for many surfers, it was a bummer to hear that they wanted to build a nuclear power plant at one of the best waves in the world, Jeffreys Bay. Would it be too much to ask to at least try decentralized power via solar first – I mean, if South Africa isn’t prime for some self-sufficient power alternatives, where is? Check out this short flick on the situation, J Bay Nuclear Plant, featuring Kelly Slater. And check out pro-surfer Kyle Theirmann’s Surfing for Change, which is devoted to fun and activism – nothing wrong with that!

“Authorizing construction of new nuclear reactors without first constructing a radioactive waste disposal facility is like authorizing construction of a new Sears Tower without bathrooms.” –Dave Kraft, director of Nuclear Energy Information Service

People who care, including every surfer in the world (um, there are a lot of us), should devote a small part of their lives towards protecting wetlands, shorelines, surfing and camping spots, from pesticides, herbicides, run-off, concrete… and definitely from the insanity of nuclear plants, especially those on fault lines, in tsunami/tidal wave/hurricane zones, and at our treasured surf breaks.

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There’s been little news regarding what coastal communities should expect as the debris from the March 2011 tsunami starts showing up on the shores of Hawai’i. As it hits Midway and makes its way down the island chain, we can’t ignore the reality: It is coming. Considering how many people chose Hawai’i as their vacation destination; how many billionaires chose it as their home (or second or third home); and that our current President is from Hawai’i, one might imagine that more action would be taken to prevent the trash from dirtying our shorelines in the first place. Will it carry radioactive materials? Will it have diluted enough to not have a major impact? How will it effect our beaches? The marine life? Surfrider is bringing together experts in the field of marine biology, marine debris and ocean currents for this conference, which will take place at Kauai Community College cafeteria on Saturday, December 10th from 9am-12pm. Everyone who lives in or visits Hawai’i, everyone who cares about the environment and oceans, should either be at this event or watch it streaming at Livestream.com/surfriderkauai.

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Testing south of Tokyo showing large amounts of radiation in car air filters. Burning of radioactive materials throughout Japan. Why? And how will the children be paying for this? If we’re not removing the kids from these contaminated areas, how can we protect them? Everyone on this planet should be seriously concerned about and proactive regarding this situation, as it has and will continue to effect us all.

(Pass this link on to friends living in Japan: Chris Busby Foundation for the Children of Fukushima http://bit.ly/rn1KkO)

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