Fukushima 105... 9/26/16-10/27/16

October 27, 2016

  • Hitachi Ltd., Toshiba Corp., and Mitsubishi HI nuclear groups could merge. Hitachi President Toshiaki Higashihara broached the possibility of integrating the nuclear fuel businesses on Thursday. He said, "It's not just about [nuclear fuel]. The time will come when we need to think about the whole [of the nuclear power business]. Something like a tie-up with other players should be considered." All three nuclear companies have experienced a sharp decline in profit due to public safety concerns and more severe regulatory requirements following the nuke accident at Fukushima Daiichi. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2016/10/440951.html -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=ind&k=2016102700783

  • The Industry Ministry (MEXT) calls for a drastic reorganization of Tepco. Specifically, the Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., which is the title of the wholly-owned subsidiary of Tepco tasked with decommissioning Fukushima Daiichi. Tepco spends about $800 million per year on decommissioning, but a senior MEXT official said that could swell to several billion dollars per year. At that rate, the total cost of decommissioning could be more than $100 billion by 2050. In its present condition, Tepco could never handle the financial burden alone. MEXT convened an “expert panel” to study how to handle the spiraling costs of the decommissioning. Four proposals were considered: (1) Tokyo covering all decommissioning costs, (2) Tepco placed under state control and public funds used to cover costs, (3) Tepco liquidated and creditors asked to forgive the company’s incurred debt, or (4) further Tepco reform to handle the increasing costs by maximizing profits. The fourth proposal includes Tepco possibly spinning-off its nuclear energy business and making financial ties with other utilities that have nukes. Politically, the safest is proposal number four, and MEXT chose that one. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003306326 -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003306326

  • The Yomiuri Shimbun urges restarts of research reactors and construction of new nukes. It says, “The resumption of research reactors at universities and elsewhere is essential. Personnel education does not make any sense if it is done without experiencing the operation of a research reactor. The most important thing is to restart the operation of reactors whose safety has been verified.” Japan’s largest newspaper points to the recent commercial operation of Watts Bar unit #2 in the United States as an example for Tokyo to follow, thus “the construction of new nuclear reactors should also be considered.” In order to insure energy security, America is keeping nuclear in the mix at about 20%, which is similar to the energy policy projected by Tokyo. In addition, there is a strong antinuclear demographic in America, as also comparable to Japan. Yet, America is forging ahead. The Yomiuri wants Japan to follow suit. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003305863

  • Japan says most of the world’s energy demand increase by 2040 will be met by oil and natural gas. The major contributors to the increase will be China, India and ASEAN countries (Association of Southeast Asian Nations). Their combined growth will be six times Japan’s current rate of energy consumption. As a result, 78% of the world’s energy consumption in 2040 is projected to come from oil and natural gas. The projection was posted by the Institute of Energy Economics, Japan (IEEJ). Nuclear energy production is envisioned to increase by about 70%, but will remain at the current usage proportion of 11%. While installed capacity for nuclear will decrease for eight countries by 2014, new nukes will be introduced in 14 nations and new construction will expand in eighteen. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/ieej-asean-spotlighted-in-global-energy-supply-and-demand-outlook-to-2040/

October 24, 2016

  • The mass of Fukushima corium is estimated at 880 tons. Corium is the solidified remains of the Uranium cores and structural materials from inside the three Fukushima reactor pressure vessels (RPVs). Once Fukushima station was re-electrified, sufficient cooling water was injected into the three systems to quench the melted material and solidify it. Before the nuke accident, the three fuel cores had a combined weight of 257 tons. Computer data-crunching estimates that the combined mass of corium is roughly 880 tons. The program was developed by the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning (IRID). For units #1 and #3, their respective corium amounts are estimated at 30% fuel and stainless steel, and 40% concrete. For unit #2, the fuel and stainless component is assumed to be 70% of the corium. Muon scanning imagery was included in the IRID computer analysis. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=739

  • Natural radioactive decay greatly radiation levels in rural contaminated wastes. As a result, 77% of the materials stored in Miyagi Prefecture have radioactivity levels below the 8,000 Becquerels per kilogram standard. The prefecture wants to discuss disposal with the Environment Ministry because the levels of radioactivity below the limit. Tokyo is legally responsible for final disposal of the materials. The wastes were never designated as high-level radioactive material because the local communities did not want to generate the impression that the areas were dangerous. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20161024_11/

  • Futaba offers to build a common cemetery for up to 400 graves. It has been requested by townspeople possessing graves in tsunami-devastated locations and places where the interim rural radioactive waste storage site is to be constructed. The town presumes each grave plot will be 6 square meters. It will also build parking lots, restrooms and an "azumaya" rest house. Land purchases and development will begin in April, with plots to be sold later in 2017. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=741

  • The Fukushima “ice wall” is once again alleged to be failing. This time it’s The Nikkei; Japan’s leading financial news outlet. As with similar reports from other outlets, the Nikkei fails to identify the true root of the problem; the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s mandate to leave several large sections unfrozen to assuage speculations of a highly radioactive release to the sea. The openings are on the “landside” of the four damaged units, directly in line with the flow of groundwater from the inland mountains. A cursory inspection of Tepco’s weekly posting of the ice wall’s status shows that the entire wall allowed to be solidified by the NRA is now frozen. If the seven sections required to be left unfrozen by NRA were allowed to be solidified, there is every reason to believe the ice wall would be a huge success. The Nikkei also makes the mistake of stating that as water flows through the damaged units, it comes in contact with “molten nuclear fuel” and becomes contaminated. Of course, none of the material has been molten for more than five and one-half years! http://asia.nikkei.com/Tech-Science/Tech/Ice-wall-not-working-at-Fukushima-nuclear-plant -- http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2016/images/handouts_161020_01-e.pdf

  • An inland earthquake in western Japan has no impact on any of the coastal nuke plants. On Friday, a quake measuring at 6.6 on the Richter scale struck Tottori Prefecture. In an apparent attempt to limit public angst, the Nuclear Regulation Authority announced that there were no problems at the now-fully operating unit #3 at Shimane station, and also at none of the many long-dormant nukes on Japan’s west coast. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20161021_29/

  • Japan’s winter electrical reserve capacity places some prefectures at risk. The Agency for Natural Resources & Energy (ANRE) says there should be a roughly 3% reserve this winter, but says that conservation measures need to be continued, especially with Hokkaido Prefecture; the most northern of the major islands. The reserve level is at 3% because of the operation of two nukes at Sendai station and one at Ikata. The ANRE report warns that the future risk of electrical instability will increase without more nuke restarts. In the wake of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011, numerous fossil-fueled power plants that had been shut down for many years were brought back into service to supply the needed electricity. 7,940 MWe of this “thermal” capacity will be out of service this winter for much-needed maintenance and repairs due to aging and deterioration of equipment. This is 60% more than the 4,630MWe down for maintenance last summer. Another super-cold winter could stretch Japan’s reserve capacity to its limits. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/japans-energy-outlook-for-winter-capacity-reserve-margin-to-stay-above-3/

October 20, 2016

  • Fukushima’s governor touts his prefecture in Washington, D.C.  On Tuesday, Governor Masao Uchibori announced he will publicize specialties and attractions of Fukushima, such as sake and hot springs, in the United States. He wants as many Americans as possible to visit the prefecture and look at the current situation first-hand. Uchibori believes that person-to-person dissemination of information will boost the prefecture’s rehabilitation. He pointed out that contrary to popular notion, the prefecture is not a disaster zone. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016101900394

  • On Wednesday, Gov. Uchibori shared Fukushima’s “regeneration” story to the United Nations. He said, “The clocks in Fukushima have not stopped, the clocks are moving forward to accomplish Fukushima’s revitalization. When I am travelling overseas there are still a lot of people who think that nobody is living in Fukushima” which is “not true.” He stressed that evacuees are only about 5% of Fukushima’s population, and the remaining 95% are living normal lives. Uchibori explained what has actually happened over the past five years, “The Great East Earthquake and tsunami really helped to change our thinking, particularly in our understanding of how natural and technological hazards interplay, in the way we listen to and engage with our local communities and our local people in reconstruction efforts.” For example, new industry that has emerged in Fukushima since 2011 includes solar and wind power production, and especially robotics. The governor projected that Fukushima could well-become the world’s leader in an industrial robot revolution. https://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/fukushima-governor-showcases-post-2011-recovery-efforts-at-u-n?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2016-10-20_PM

  • Fukushima Saki is promoted in New York City. Nine Fukushima Saki brewers held a “tasting” in a city hotel on Wednesday, allowing local restaurants and shops offering rice wine a chance to enjoy their product. During the event, Governor Uchibori arrived and told attendees that Fukushima’s residents are smiling again. However, he noted that Fukushima Saki sales have been severely damaged by unfounded rumors about food safety that proliferate around the world. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20161020_27/  

  • JAIF President Takahashi says Japan’s radiation education needs upgrading. After WWII, it was taught in junior high schools, but was discontinued in 1980. The Ministry of Education (MEXT) resurrected the subject in 2008 and was brought to the classroom in 2012. MEXT’s published a “side reader” for students in elementary, junior high and high schools. Other groups involved since 2012 have been All Japan Junior-High School Science Education Research Group, the Fukushima Prefectural Board of Education, and the Atomic Energy Society of Japan’s Education Committee. However, young teachers were never taught the facts about radiation when they were going through school, so their knowledge is limited. They often do not cover the subject because it is not easy for schools to obtain radiation monitors and experimental materials for classroom demonstrations. Takahashi called for seminars held by the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum to provide teacher education and classroom supporty. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/message-from-jaif-president-takahashi-current-state-of-radiation-education-in-japan/

  • Japan’s no. 2 newspaper runs another poll showing the public continues to have an antinuclear bias. The Asahi Shimbun (circulation ~ 8 million) has run polls regularly since 2011 to find the public’s opinion on nuclear issues. The current one shows that 57% do not support restarts, while nearly 30% are in favor of it. 14% want nuclear energy abolished immediately, nearly 60% want it ended in the near future, and only 22% do not want it terminated at all. However, the Asahi ruled out the “other answers” and “do not know” responses, thus skewing the results. However, the survey revealed that younger people and males were more likely to support restarts than women and elderly. Specifically, 60% of males were in favor of restarts. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201610180076.html

  • A Kansai Electric Co. employee committed suicide over work related to the NRA screening of Takahama units #1 & #2. According to un-named sources, the person was a section chief dealing with the NRA’s screening of detailed designs for facilities and equipment for Tsuruga station needed to get a licensing extension. His work load began to grow in January, and peaked at 200 hours overtime in February. He killed himself in a Tokyo hotel in mid-April, during a business visit to the city. The suicide was judged to be work-related by the labor standards inspection office in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, on October 20th. Aside - Overwork-related suicides are in no way uncommon in Japan. In fact, it is so common that a Japanese word was created for it; karoshi. Last year alone, there were 1,456 legal claims of karoshi. - End aside. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016102000666 -- http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/04/04/death-from-overworking-claims-hit-record-high-in-japan/

  • Ex-PM Koizumi uses Niigata’s gubernatorial election to try and pump up his antinuclear agenda. At a Press conference he arranged for himself in Nagano Prefecture, former-PM Junichiro Koizumi wanted to know why Tokyo doesn’t just give up on nuclear energy. Niigata governor-to-be Ryuichi Yoneyama was narrowly elected into office over this past weekend. Almost immediately, antinuclear fanatic Koizumi goes to the Press and makes it seem that this singular political event should convince the national government to abandon its plans to restart nukes and make them at least 20% of Japan’s electrical source. He stressed that just a week before the Niigata election, all opposition parties united to support Yoneyama. Koizumi believes that if such a coalition occurred nationally “There’s no telling how the LDP [PM Abe’s party] will end up. They (the government) can eliminate nuclear power, so why don't they?"  http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20161019/p2a/00m/0na/019000c

October 17, 2016

  • Japan’s Press focuses on Niigata’s antinuclear governor-elect. Niigata Prefecture is home to the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa (K-K) nuclear station, owned by Tepco. Restart of units #6 & #7 is key to reversing the company’s downward financial spiral since the nuke accident. The former governor of Niigata, Hirohiko Izumida, said he would not consider restarts while Tepco remained as operator. He also criticized the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s new safety standards for not adequately reflecting Fukushima lessons-learned. Governor-elect Ryuchi Yoneyama also opposes restarts, saying that the units "can't be started without clarifying the cause of the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant. We can't approve a restart as long as the lives and livelihoods of prefectural residents can't be protected." He seemingly ignores the fact that the nuke accident has been exhaustively studied. It is important to note that Yoneyama has ran for political office four times in the past, never coming close to winning. Clearly, the antinuclear issue won the day. Most news outlets feel the election of Yoneyama is a severe set-back to PM Shinzo Abe’s national energy policy. The Asahi Shimbun says the election should compel Abe’s party, the LDP, to rethink its energy outlook. In addition, Tepco’s stock value on the Nikkei has dropped more than 7%, which indicates that Tepco’s financial recovery could be in jeopardy. The Yomiuri Shimbun and Mainichi Shimbun countered the journalistic onslaught. The Yomiuri urges Yoneyama to “calmly consider” his stance, while pointing out that the governor-elect was not taken seriously as a candidate until he waxed antinuclear. Both Press outlets indicate that Yoneyama’s position against restarts is less fanatic than his predecessor. The governor-elect is in favor of a compromise on the restarts, saying, "We can't have discussions with each other unless there is room for compromise with each other. We've agreed to place priority on dialogue over confrontation, and on bringing benefits to prefectural residents." The Yomiuri says the K-K restarts are “indispensable” to both Tepco and Tokyo, and adds that Yoneyama should respect the NRA’s decision on the safety of the two units. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20161017/p2a/00m/0na/005000c -- http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20161017/p2a/00m/0na/008000c -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201610170029.html -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003288105 -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016101700236

  • Restart of Kashiwazaki-Kariwa units #6 & #7 could also be delayed by new tsunami data. On October 13th, Tepco informed the NRA that the company needs to review its earthquake soil liquification analyses for the station’s tidal levees. The worst-case tsunami is projected at 7.6 meters, and the levees stand at 15 meters. However, severe soil liquification could possibly collapse the levees. Units #1 through #4 are built at 5 meters above sea level, and the other three units at a 12 meter elevation. If the levees collapse during a worst-case quake, the tsunami could engulf all of the lower four units. There are currently no plans to restart any of the four, but unit #3 is designated as the staff’s “emergency response location”. Tepco now wants the NRA to approve shifting the emergency hub to unit #5. But, unit #5 worst-case estimates of staff radiation exposures are for 70 millisieverts per week during a Fukushima-like crisis with units #6 & #7, which the NRA might not be happy with. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20161014/p2a/00m/0na/012000c

  • The World Cocktail Championships will use only Fukushima-grown apples. The competition begins in Tokyo on Tuesday. Several other types of fruit will be used, but apples will be only those grown in Fukushima. Tokyo bartender Yoshikazu Suda, director of the Bartender’s Association that is hosting the event, comes from Date City, which borders the Tokyo-mandated evacuation zone. He has been doing his best to promote produce from Fukushima Prefecture, but has not been successful in overcoming unfounded rumors. He feels the cocktail competition might help his former home. The apples will come from the Fukushima City farm of Chusaku Anzai. He says, “I want to convey the greatness of Fukushima fruit to bartenders from around the world.” Roughly 500 bartenders from 53 countries are expected to attend the competition. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/10/16/national/fukushima-apples-used-world-cocktail-championships-bid-repair-tarnished-reputation/#.WAN4fNK7odU

  • 20% of Fukushima municipalities have formalized disaster relief support for welfare centers. There are now municipal 51 welfare facilities for elderly and handicapped citizens, up from eleven before the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011. The push to increase the number of such centers stemmed from reports of deaths of elderly evacuees after the quake, tsunami, and nuke accident. Only a dozen the municipalities have formal emergency human support schemes in place and have made firm plans for acquisition of relief supplies should another extreme natural disaster take place. The low percentage is attributed to residential outflow and rural depopulation caused by both the mandated and voluntary nuke evacuations. Not knowing what the eventual municipal populations will be is the main roadblock. Population projections determine support necessities, like the number designated social workers, welfare specialists, and care-support providers to be dispatched in times of disasters. The PM’s Cabinet guideline calls for welfare shelters to designate one social worker for every 10 elderly evacuees, but many communities simply don’t have the numbers needed to comply. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=737

October 13, 2016

  • Removal of the upper-floor enclosure for unit #1 is complete. On October 7th, Tepco took off the last of the eight upper enclosure panels surrounding unit #1. Local residents and politicians were concerned that the work might stir up radioactive dust and be carried away from the F. Daiichi property by winds. No discernable changes in airborne radioactivity occurred at the station boundary with removal of any of the huge panels. The project began on September 15th and has progressed without a hitch. Removal of the eight bottom panels has already begun. https://www4.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2016/images/handouts_161007_01-e.pdf

  • The Press urges Tepco to accelerate water-purifying at F. Daiichi. Japan’s #1 newspaper (Yomiuri Shimbun) reports that purification systems are being doubled in order to decontaminate water at a higher rate, and larger storage tanks are being installed to replace the current 1,000 ton units. The Yomiuri wants the work done as quickly as possible. The Press outlet also wants Tepco (and Tokyo) to seriously consider ocean release. However, the Yomiuri falls into the same technological fallacy as the rest of the Japanese Press. It says that the radioactive water in the turbine building basements of units #1 through #4 is a “serious impediment to the work to decommission the plant.” However, the major impediment is radiation levels inside the reactor buildings caused by re-solidified corium (formerly melted reactor internals); not the radiation emitted by the water in the turbine basements. Regardless, the paper is right about a release of purified water to the sea. It will cause no actual harm to anyone or anything, but Tepco and Tokyo are loathe to do this unless they gain local approval. Aside – Gaining local approval seems to be a pipe-dream because of public radiophobia. – End aside. The Yomiuri finally points out that the rate of build-up will not be greatly reduced until the “ice wall” is fully frozen. But, the newspaper fails to mention it will not happen as long as the Nuclear Regulation Authority stubbornly refuses to let Tepco freeze the seven gaps the agency ordered to be left open in the wall. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003279580

  • Another family plans to sue Tepco over a Fukushima suicide. A woman in her 80s hung herself on March 26, 2013 in a housing facility rented for her by the prefectural government. Family members argue that the woman committed suicide because she and her husband were forced to evacuate from their home. The woman's daughter said, "If she had not been forced to evacuate, she wouldn't have killed herself." Tokyo ordered the woman and her husband to leave their Iitate home in April, 2011, as part of the mandated evacuation. After her husband died in August, 2012, she went into a state of depression. A Buddhist, she spent much time at their home altar saying things like, “I want to go to where he (her deceased husband) is soon." The suit will ask for over $600,000 in damages. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20161012/p2a/00m/0na/006000c

October 10, 2016

  • A storage tank’s radioactive water leak is fully contained at F. Daiichi. The leak was from one of the bolted-together tanks that are still being used. 32 liters (~8.5 gallons) seeped from a bolted seam, but was entirely contained by the coffer dam surrounding the cluster the tank is in. The tank holds mostly fully-treated water, but it contained some highly-contaminated residual water from its original content before the refilling. Thus, the water in the coffer dam tested out at 5.9x105 Becquerels per liter of Beta-emitting isotopes. Some of the bolted-seam tanks had leakage in the past, and Tepco has replaced as many as possible with all-welded seam tanks. But, making welded-seam tanks cannot keep up with the accumulation of contaminated water, so bolted-seam tanks are still needed. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201610070036.html

October 6, 2016

  • Fukushima radioactivity is not amplifying super storms on our oceans. The Daily Kos reports that the internet speculations of Fukushima intensifying typhoons and hurricanes are “nonsense”. The miniscule heat generated by the radioactive decay of Fukushima isotopes is 50 trillion times less than the heat deposited by our sun. Thus the article’s bottom line, “Suggesting that Fukushima energy is fueling cyclone activity is, scientifically speaking, silly. Friends don’t let friends do it.” http://www.dailykos.com/stories/2016/10/5/1578291/-Fukushima-FAQ-Are-Fukushima-Radionuclides-Causing-Super-Storms-in-the-Pacific-and-Atlantic

  • A clinic opens in wholly-evacuated Tomioka Town. Residents are currently allowed to make “temporary preparatory stays” in their homes before Tokyo’s evacuation order is lifted next spring. One of the needs for repopulation is a fully-operational medical facility. The Tomioka Clinic is headed by Satoshi Imamura, who treated patients injured by the Great East Japan earthquake of 2011, including emergency cases. However, he and his staff had to leave due to Tokyo’s mandated evacuation. He says his return to the community is great, “I felt nostalgic to have been able to see patients I used to treat. I expect to make the clinic a medical institution which local residents can rely on.” The clinic will be open three days per week during the “temporary stay” period, and five days per week after the evacuation order is lifted. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=735

  • Japan’s NRA approves the first-stage screening for Mihama unit #3’s restart, and the Japanese news media doesn’t like it. The Nuclear Regulation Authority has certified that the plans for the upgrade of Mihama #3’s safety systems meet the agency’s requirements for extending the operating license twenty years. The agency reports that Mihama #3 is compatible with Japan’s new regulatory system. The unit will reach the post-Fukushima 40-year licensing limit in December. The next step is for Kansai Electric Company to submit documentation on the deterioration of systems over the last 40 years and detailed plans to provide technological upgrades. The documentation needs to be approved by the NRA no later than November 30th or there will be no restart. The upgrades to meet Japan’s new safety regulations could cost $1.6 billion. Mihama #3 is an 826 MWe Pressurized Water Reactor unit. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20161005_25/ -- http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/mihama-3-npp-clears-compatibility-examination-with-new-regulatory-standards/

  • Japan’s Press uses the Mihama #3 decision to attack the NRA. The Mainichi Shimbun says the NRA’s approval of Mihama #3 makes the 40-year limit “look as if it lacks teeth…” The NRA has received nearly 1,400 public comments on the restart in September, and the news media uses some negative opinions to vindicate criticizing the NRA. The Yomiuri Shimbun (Japan News) says that some experts doubt the NRA’s methodology for assessing earthquake severity, “The experts, including former NRA Commissioner Kunihiko Shimazaki, recommended a different method used by the government’s Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion. But the NRA rejected the recommendation.” Perhaps the most extreme nay-saying comes from Japan Times. The Times said, “The ruling was certain to provoke questions in Kansai and elsewhere about whether the NRA is lax on safety concerns.” It speculates that local citizens groups will seek court injunctions to bar restart, and that Fukui Gov. Issei Nishikawa has voiced “concerns”. The Times even goes so far as to cite Greenpeace – which always supplies negative nuclear copy. Greenpeace’s Kirk Ulrich said Mihama No. 3 was like a vintage 1976 car that was driven for four decades but has sat idle for more than five years, and that restarting it now puts the lives of people in the Kansai region at risk, “Major safety components wear out, designs become outdated, and extended disuse creates yet another set of safety problems.” He also harped on the 2004 rupture of a non-radioactive Mihama #3 steam pipe in its turbine building which killed 5 workers, calling it a “major accident”. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201610060064.html --http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20161005/p2g/00m/0dm/074000c -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003262273 -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/10/05/national/nra-grants-aging-mihama-reactor-20-year-extension/#.V_UyGdLr0dU

  • Sendai unit #1 begins the first post-Fukushima refueling outage. The media circus spawned by demands for immediate shuttering of the two Sendai units by the new Kagoshima governor (and former Asahi TV news commentator) has put the shutdown in headlines across Japan. The following link is for perhaps the most objective of the numerous articles posted in Japan. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20161006_17/

  • Japan’s largest newspaper asks “Is medical radiation exposure being curbed?” The question would have been moot before the nuke accident of 2011. However, a mortal fear of radiation exposure has swept the land since then, affecting millions of Japanese. The medical community was eventually subjected to this angst, and Diagnostic Reference Levels (DRL) were established by Tokyo in June of 2015. DRLs are guidelines to prevent hypothetically unnecessary diagnostic medical exposures. Have DRLs reduced these exposures? The Yomiuri asked Reiko Kanda of the National Institutes for Quantum and Radiological Science and Technology. She says medical exposures were historically high and that doctors made it easy to receive an exam, but, “The nuclear accident in Fukushima Prefecture changed that completely, and many people in Japan became concerned about radiation exposure.” Kanda points out that following the “Japanese version” of DRLs is not mandatory, and getting medical practitioners to follow them has been slow. Hospitals where courses have been held on DRLs have begun to use DRL guidance, but most still use exposures and equipment that are pre-Fukushima. It should be noted that diagnoses rarely exceed 10 millisieverts (CT scan level), which is well-below the generally acknowledged threshold of harm of 100 millisieverts. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003251390

October 3, 2016

  • More evidence emerges for the Hiroshima Syndrome theory. Japanese epidemiologist Shigenobu Nagataki writes, “In order to distinguish atomic bomb sufferers from air-raid victims, radiation damage was adopted as the criterion for health support since that damage occurred only to the atomic bomb survivors… every successful legal trial aimed at obtaining relief for survivors used health damage caused by radiation as the main justification. Therefore, damage due to radiation could be misunderstood as representing the entire damage caused by atomic bombs and this misunderstanding could be the cause of the excessive fear of radiation that started in Japan and spread across the globe.” (emphasis added) http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(16)31728-7/fulltext?elsca1=etoc

  • The NRA will not allow Tepco to freeze the entire “ice wall” at F. Daiichi. The east side of the wall, parallel to the shoreline, has frozen. However, there are seven large gaps in the rest of the underground structure that the Nuclear Regulatory Authority refuses to let Tepco freeze. Thus, 95% of the western ice wall is frozen, but 5% remains untouched. The wall is intended to stanch the inflow of groundwater that moves through the soil from the west. Tepco wants to close the gaps, but the NRA’s Deputy Chair Toyoshi Fuketa said, “That’s out of the discussion… [Tepco] needs to come up with measures that do not rely on the ice wall and complete the removal of the tainted water from the building by 2020.” Thus, the NRA is the reason the project has not stopped groundwater from coming into the basements of units #1 through 4, at a rate of about 180 tons per day. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/09/30/national/tepco-admits-success-fukushima-ice-wall-still-unknown/#.V-5gPtLr0dU

  • Tokyo will likely extend its control of Tepco beyond April, 2017. The Tepco business plan of 2014 envisioned the company no longer needing government involvement in company operations. However, the delay in restarting the two newest Kashiwazaki-Kariwa (K-K) units has made that target date improbable. Currently, Tokyo has 50.1% of Tepco’s voting privileges through the state-backed Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corp. The Industry Ministry will begin consideration of extending the government’s support past the April 2011 target. The K-K restart is exacerbated by current Niigata Governor Hirohiko Izumida’s antinuclear insistence that Tepco has not fully examined the cause of the 2011 F. Daiichi accident. However, he will not seek re-election in October. The two front runners for his successor are former Nagaoka Mayor Tamio Mori, of the Liberal Democratic Party-Komeito ruling coalition, and Ryuichi Yoneyama, a 49-year-old doctor. Yoneyama says he agrees with the current governor’s position on K-K restarts. Tokyo policy makes it necessary for home prefecture approval before the resumption of nuke operations is allowed. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/10/02/business/japanese-government-considers-longer-support-tepco/#.V_EsINLr0dU

  • Tokyo considers placing a cap on nuclear accident liability. PM Shinzo Abe’s cabinet will give a plan for limited liability to an expert panel. The decision is expected to be rendered by March 31st - the end the current fiscal year. Subsequently, the Science Ministry will amend related laws accordingly. Because of the huge outlay of money inflicted on Tepco since 2011, with no viable end in sight, all Japanese utilities have been asking Tokyo to put a ceiling on liability expenditures. Buried within the proposal is one interesting caveat – if the upper limit is reached, the utility would have to pay additional costs if it can be proven that the accident is completely attributable to their actions. However, if an accident is caused by a natural disaster, such as a massive tsunami, coverage beyond the upper limit falls on both Tokyo and the utilities in concert. Some “experts” say a limit would make utilities less concerned about safety. Tadashi Otsuka, professor of law at Waseda University, said, “There is a possibility that those companies will place less importance on investing in safety measures.” http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201610020022.html (Comment - The March 2011 F. Daiichi accident was largely the fault of then-PM Naoto Kan’s order to delay depressurizing unit #1 until after a 3am press conference was held, and his additional order to have the 3km radius around F. Daiichi completely evacuated. This caused an ~8 hour delay in the venting operation. If not for the delays, low pressure water pumps could have cooled the reactor core, likely averting the subsequent hydrogen explosion and the melt-downs of units #2 & 3. Further, the exorbitant compensations paid to each Tokyo-mandated evacuee – running at more than $9,000 per month (not including free housing) for more than 5 years - was also one of the Kan regime’s ideas, made into law by creating the Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corp. The burden ought to have been placed squarely on Tokyo because the then-PM was clearly the culpable party. Such bungling of fiscal responsibility should never be allowed to happen again.)

  • A retail chain opens a mobile sales service in Tomioka Town. The Ito-Yokado Company’s Taira subsidiary, located in Iwaki City, sends a refurbished truck to a commercial lot in Tomioka on Wednesday’s and Fridays. It has some 500 items for sale, including boxed lunches, fresh meat, fish, vegetables, drinks, confectionery, toilet paper, kitchen goods, and clothing. Additional items may be ordered through the retail company and delivered on the next visit. The chain’s store in Tomioka, closed due to the evacuation order, is scheduled to reopen at some point after the living restrictions are lifted in April. Until then, the mobile service will try and fulfill the resident’s needs. On September 17th, Tomioka Mayor Koichi Miyamoto and Kuniaki Fukui, head of the Public-Private Fukushima Soso Reconstruction Joint Team, joined local officials in a ribbon-cutting ceremony marking the start of the mobile sales service. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=730

  • Fukushima fisheries have already brought in more seafood for 2016 than in all of 2015. This will make it the best year since the nuke accident in 2011. As of Sept. 22nd, the haul totaled 1,596 tons, climbing past 1,512 tons brought in last year. The prefecture says the increase is due to more fishermen partaking in the “test” operation, and a greater number of species allowed to be taken by the government. However, the total is only about 10% of the haul realized in 2010. The entire 2016 haul has tested below the national limit for radioactivity, which is 100 Becquerels per kilogram. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=731

September 29, 2016

  • Why the public debate on child thyroid screenings is complicated. On one hand, a Fukushima pediatrician’s group feels that future screenings should be voluntary, thus reducing the scale of the study. On the other hand, a group of residents opposes the pediatrician’s opinion and demands that the program maintain obligatory participation. When state-of-the-art child thyroid screenings began five years ago, there were essentially three purposes for it – identifying the effects of low-level radiation exposure, protecting the health of Fukushima residents, and lowering anxiety felt by the prefecture’s population. Over time these goals have become questions - can the program actually identify low-level exposure effects, are the screenings actually a health benefit, and does program alleviate apprehensions? Public dissatisfaction remains a significant problem, largely because of long-standing distrust of the government. One disgruntled resident said, “In the long run, the national government is inclined only to accept test results showing ‘no increase’ in cancer.” While the large-scale screening has shown no increase in child thyroid cancers, harmful rumors continue to circulate with negative effects on the mental health of many Fukushima residents. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/reaching-a-common-ground-on-thyroid-gland-screening/

  • Tepco reports that the replacement of old wastewater tanks at F. Daiichi is behind schedule. Bolted-together tanks were initially used to store the contaminated waters being produced inside the four damaged units at F. Daiichi. Some of the tanks leaked along the vertical seams, so Tepco was forced to use only welded-seam tanks. Replacing the more than 200 original bolted-together tanks has been going slowly. It was hoped that the replacement would be finished by the end of March, 2017. But, it now seems that the completion date will be sometime in June, 2018. More than 100 of the one-thousand ton bolted-together tanks still need to be exchanged. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016092800865

  • Hitachi, Toshiba, and MHI plan to merge their nuclear fuel businesses. The primary reason behind the proposed merger is financial. With the snail’s-pace restarts of Japan’s nuclear power fleet and successful international competition coming from China and South Korea, the three companies are experiencing cash-flow problems. By consolidating the three nuclear organizations, business efficiency will improve due to staff integration and closure of overlapping departments. Material procurement costs will also be lowered. One company executive said, "All Japanese reactor makers need to join hands to protect the country's nuclear technology." Chinese, South Korean and Russian rivals are actively expanding, so the Japanese must build a system to curb costs and maintain their business edge. Tokyo wants all of Japan’s nuclear manufacturing to be housed under one corporate roof. The merger of nuclear fuel operations will likely be the first step in realizing the government’s goal. The possible consolidation has international implications. Global Nuclear Fuel is jointly financed by Hitachi and General Electric Co., Nuclear Fuel Industries Ltd.’s major shareholder is Toshiba’s U.S. subsidiary Westinghouse Electric Co., and Mitsubishi Nuclear Fuel Co. is a venture involving MHI and Areva. Arrangements must be made to satisfy all parties involved. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003248663 -- http://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Companies/Japan-reactor-makers-consider-merging-fuel-units-to-counter-rivals

September 26, 2016

  • Canadian antinuke is found guilty of death threats to Fukushima research scientists. Dana Durnford was found guilty of criminal harassment in Victoria, British Columbia, last Thursday. Durnford broadcast that University of Victoria’s Jay Cullen and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s Ken Buesseler should be publicly executed for being part of an alleged international conspiracy to cover-up the effect of Fukushima radioactivity on the Pacific Ocean. Durnford was sentenced to three years’ probation. Jay Cullen said, “I expected and was pleased with the judge’s ruling. Mr. Durnford, on many occasions, threatened physical violence against scientists and others who have focused their attention and expertise to better understand how the Fukushima nuclear disaster has affected the marine environment and human health. Such behavior is criminal.” Ken Buessler said that threatening violence is “never an appropriate response to scientific findings you might disagree with.” Durnford spouts protestations on his website, saying that “They [the nuclear conspirators] bankrupted us in these court proceedings in order to silence us.” http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/09/23/national/crime-legal/canada-activist-found-guilty-harassing-scientists-fukushima-fallout/#.V-UmpdLr0dU

  • Most of Hirono Town’s voluntary evacuees plan on repopulating. Hirono is located south of Naraha, and is outside the Tokyo-mandated evacuation zone in total. Nearly all of the town’s 5,000 citizens initially fled following the 2011 Fukushima accident. About 45% of the voluntary evacuees have already returned home. Another 1,700 say they want to go home by next spring. Most say they will go home because their free temporary housing is expected to terminate by the end of March, 2017. Hirono Mayor Satoshi Endo showed the outcome of the town’s survey municipal assembly on Sept. 13. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=728

  • New Delhi holds a Fukushima Food Fair. A group of Fukushima expatriates held the event on Saturday at a Japanese school in the city to dispel false rumors about food safety. The rumors persist despite scientific data showing that there is nothing unsafe about the foods. Items on sale included freshly made rice balls, traditional potato stew, and peach juice, all made from Fukushima Prefecture produce. Proceeds will be donated to the areas devastated by April’s Kumamoto earthquake. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160925_01/

  • Cesium in Fukushima dam sediments causes anxiety in some residents. The Mainichi Shimbun calls the dams “de facto storage facilities for high concentrations of radioactive cesium…” The government says water in the dams is safe, but some people say that is a ploy to downplay what they feel is a real problem. Some sediment samples show radioactivity greater than the 8,000 Becquerels per kilogram national standard for radioactive waste disposal, but water-borne cesium activity is only one or two Bq/liter – well-below the drinking water limit of 10 Bq/l, which is the lowest Cesium standard in the world. Area radiation exposure levels around the dams are below 2 microsieverts per hour. But, some Fukushima residents want the sediments dredged out and buried elsewhere as radioactive waste. The government says the cost and effort o do this is not justifiable. The Ogaki agricultural dam is estimated to hold sediment containing 8 trillion Becquerels of cesium activity. A Namie official says worries about what might happen if the dam breaks, “…when asked what they [Environment Ministry] plan to do if the dams break, they have no answers. It's painful to us that we can only give town residents the answers that the Environment Ministry gives us…” Another official worries about consumer impact, "No matter how much they are told that the water is safe, will consumers buy agricultural products from Namie, knowing that there is cesium at the bottom of local dams?" http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160926/p2a/00m/0na/011000c

  • Tokyo may add more hurdles to Fukushima Daini restarts. Currently, government policy calls for the approval of host communities and host prefectures before restarts can happen. The new legislation would make it mandatory for F. Daini, and could possibly expand the number of required approvals to non-host municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture. Further, Tepco will have only three years after the legislation is approved to get it done. The new rule will be submitted to the Diet during its extraordinary session, which begins today. F. Daini lies within the 20-kilometer radius of F. Daiichi; the old “no-go” evacuation zone. F. Daini experienced no damage to any of the nuclear safety systems of its four units during the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of March, 2011. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/09/24/national/japan-mulls-legislation-requiring-local-government-approval-restarting-fukushima-no-2-nuclear-plant/#.V-Z9l9Lr0dV

  • Japan’s #2 newspaper calls for the public release of remaining Fukushima accident testimonies. After the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission report was published in 2012, calls for the release of the actual testimonies were rampant. Hundreds of hours of recordings and a myriad of transcripts were released. However, the testimonies of ~1,200 people have been kept under wraps, mostly because many were questioned on the condition that their input would not be made public. Many Japanese academics and some politicians feel that the remaining trove should be open to the public. Tokyo University Professor Kiyoshi Kurokawa chaired the NAIIC and wants all testimonies released, "It will be possible to learn about the background to the nuclear accident from new reports or books that are written based on the documents. A fundamental point to not repeating mistakes is to learn from one's past errors." One antinuclear lawmaker said, "Both the ruling and opposition parties are hesitant about releasing the documents because there is the possibility that they contain contents that are disadvantageous to the LDP, which had pushed nuclear energy, and the then Democratic Party of Japan, which had to deal with the nuclear accident." http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201609250019.html

  • The Spent Fuel Reprocessing Organization is approved by the Industry Ministry. It will be headquartered in Aomori Prefecture. The organization will be charged with the steady recycling spent fuel amidst the ever-changing business environment for nuclear power. Costs for its operation will be shouldered by a contributory system funded by all utilities with nuke plants. The actual recycling activities will to be run by Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. (JNFL), which has the necessary technology, human resources, facilities, and equipment. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/meti-approves-new-spent-fuel-reprocessing-organization/

  • The recent decision to scrap the Monju breeder project spawns another no-nukes rally in Tokyo. An estimated 9,500 people from all over Japan assembled to demand that all nukes be scrapped; not just Monju. Under a banner “No nukes, No war” - obviously spawned by the Hiroshima Syndrome - organizing committee official Hisae Sawachi said,  “Why don’t government officials have the courage to close down all the other nuclear power plants?” Journalist Satoshi Kamata said, “Unplugging Monju is just a starting point in ending Japan’s nuclear fuel recycling policy and the restart of nuclear power plants…” http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201609230047.html


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