Fukushima 109

March 23, 2017

A Tepco robot found no evidence of a melt-through with unit #1 PCV. In addition, unit #1 containment radiation levels are at least 27 times less than unit #2. The planned four day robotic inspection was actually extended to five days. Here’s the day-by-day breakdown…

  • F. Daiichi staff first inserted the “scorpion” robot into unit #1 on Saturday. The highest radiation reading registered by the robot was 7.8 Sieverts per hour. A radiation measurement in the water below, at about one meter above the base-mat, was 1.5 Sv/hr. Images captured by the robot’s camera show no debris on the walkway surrounding the Reactor Pressure Vessel’s pedestal. Regardless, habitually antinuclear Japan Times headlines that the radiation is “lethal”. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2017/images/handouts_170319_01-e.pdf -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/03/19/national/robot-makes-foray-reactor-1/#.WM_S79K7odU

  • On Sunday, the Asahi Shimbun reports that the clarity of the water is remarkable. There is no evidence of solidified corium (an admixture of nuclear fuel, control rods, and core support materials) in the PCV outside of the pedestal. Tepco reports nothing new on the second day of the project. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201703200028.html --

  • On Monday, Tepco updated their Press handout with a new “high radiation” reading of 12 Sv/hr, and a number of images of the PCV base-mat floor. There was no indication of corium, anywhere! Also, the handout included a graphic of the PCV and pedestal. The graphic shows that the basement floor under the PCV is 10.2 meters thick! (25 feet) This reporter understood that it was about half that thickness. I stand corrected! http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2017/images/handouts_170321_01-e.pdf

  • On Wednesday, Tepco released data and images recorded during the Tuesday excursion. Radiation readings close to the opening to inside the pedestal varied between 8.2 and 10 Sieverts per hour above the stagnant water. Readings deep in the water varied between 3.0 and 7.4 Sv/hr.  Oddly, the highest above-water reading was at the same location as the lowest below water-level reading! No evidence of corium was seen at all four monitoring points, which remains mysterious considering unit #2 and its considerable debris field. There is little doubt that unit #1 suffered much more fuel damage than unit #2, and is the one reactor pressure vessel most likely to have experienced some degree of melt-through. Sand seems to have built up on small parts of the PCV floor and on a few underwater pipes, but a Tepco official says, “Judging from the radiation level, there is a high possibility that what is piling up on the pipes is not nuclear fuel.” https://www4.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2017/images/handouts_170322_01-e.pdf -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201703220046.html

  • On Thursday, Tepco posted the day-five data and images. There is still no evidence of corium in the PCV. The “D2” location is right at the CRDM hydraulics opening through pedestal wall, but no evidence of corium was found. It is interesting, however, that the above-water and submerged radiation levels are essentially the same at D2, and the submerged reading at point DO is greater than the above-water level. At all other locations over the past five days, the above-water levels were two-to-four times the submerged readings. It is important to note that the Press handout shows the contamination levels in the Pacific just outside the port break-wall. There is nothing detectible. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2017/images/handouts_170323_01-e.pdf

Now, for some other Fukushima news…

  • An AP Fact Check article says “Fukushima radiation not cause for alarm in US”. Late last year, the discovery of trace levels of Cesium-134 in a singular salmon in Canada led to viral scare-mongering. One story carried the headline, “Fukushima Radiation: Your Days of Eating Pacific Ocean Fish Are Over, Or Worse." Canadian ocean research scientist John Smith said the "crazy low levels" of cesium found in the salmon were suspected all along. Concerning the internet-based scare-mongering, he said, "This has been going on since the beginning of the Fukushima accident. All this kind of fake news and scary news." http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/ap-fact-check-fukushima-radiation-alarm-us-46206740

  • Tokyo’s Reconstruction Minister says improved radiation rumor control is a must! Masahiro Imamura said there is much incorrect information being circulated about contamination of agricultural, forestry and fisheries products from Fukushima Prefecture. This fake news might also be the reason behind the spate of student evacuees being bullied in their new schools. He asserted, “We’ll strengthen information-sharing about radiation. All government agencies should jointly work to compile and launch a campaign for that purpose, while obtaining cooperation from private companies. This is an issue for not only children, but adults. We’ll prepare documents and other materials that are easy to understand in order to eliminate prejudice against evacuated people.” http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/03/21/national/reconstruction-chief-praises-efforts-tohoku-flags-information-campaign-radiation-risks/#.WNEmZ9K7odU

  • 80% of voluntary evacuees have no intention of going home; i.e. 3,722 out of 4,673 households contacted by Fukushima Prefecture. 794 households say they plan to return. On the other hand, of the 4,010 households that evacuated inside the prefecture, 67% (2,674) said they want to eventually go home. One official says, “Their [those outside the prefecture] resolve to stay away from the prefecture is firm due to concerns about radiation and other factors in the first place. In addition, it appears that they don’t have good access to information on what is going on in the prefecture.” http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201703220058.html

  • Tokyo and Tepco are ordered to pay evacuee damages by a Gunma court. The Maebashi District Court says both are liable to pay $335,000 for distress caused by failing to adequately protect the nuke station from a 15 meter tsunami. Judge Michiko Hara says a 2002 research report said there was a 20% chance of a beyond-design-basis tsunami by 2032, and ruled that Tepco could easily have taken preventive measures. Further, the government could have ordered TEPCO to do it but didn't. The awarded amount is about 4% of what the plaintiffs sought. The suit was filed by 137 Fukushima evacuees living in Gunma Prefecture, but only 62 will get any money. The ruling said the “emotional distress” payments already issued to Tokyo-mandated evacuees far exceeded any award the court could justify. Also, the court issued awards based on five categories of distress and whether or not fleeing Fukushima Prefecture was justifiable. 19 mandated and 43 voluntary evacuees qualified for a variety of financial awards. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170317_24/ -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2017031701071 -- http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170318/p2a/00m/0na/010000c -- http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170318/p2a/00m/0na/017000c  (Comment – It should be noted that this reporter came to essentially the same conclusion of Tepco and Tokyo culpability in the 2011 E-book “Fukushima: the First Five Days”.)

  • The Mainichi Shimbun says Tepco will decommission Fukushima Daini #1, but the company says the report is not true. The Mainichi claimed that the company “informally decided to decommission the No. 1 reactor at its Fukushima No. 2 (Daini) Nuclear Power Plant.” The newspaper added that unit was the most heavily damaged by the tsunami of the four at the station. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170317/p2a/00m/0na/024000c Tepco told Reuters that the report had no basis, and unit #1 only suffered minor damage. https://www.yahoo.com/news/tepco-denies-plans-scrap-reactor-plant-close-crippled-023657745--finance.html On a related note, Fukushima Minpo reported that 80% of all Fukushima municipal assemblies want all nukes in the prefecture decommissioned. Tepco and Tokyo have yet to make a formal decision on the future of virtually intact Fukushima Daini nuclear station. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=799

  • A tiny university research reactor will restart in April. The moratorium on nuke plant operations, rendered by Tokyo in 2011, also applied to collegiate research and training reactors. The Kindai University reactor has passed its Nuclear Regulation Authority safety checks is expected to resume operation in April. It has a maximum output of one watt. This will be the first non-power plant reactor to restart since 2011. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170318_10/

March 16, 2017

  • Many Fukushima evacuees are not going home in order to get free housing for as long as possible. The town was ordered to evacuate by Tokyo in 2011. The evacuation order was fully lifted last year, but only a small fraction of the former residents have repopulated. 58% of all Naraha evacuees say they plan on permanent repopulation! Fukushima Prefecture found that 665 households, or 57.9% of the 1,149 families who responded, plan to return home after their free housing ends in March, 2018!! http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=796 

  • Tepco postpones its first robotic probe into the unit #1 Primary Containment. The company had planned to insert a “scorpion” robot into the PCV on Tuesday, but a failed camera caused the delay. The camera was going to monitor the scorpion’s path as it began its insertion. It is not the one on the robot. The scorpion is supposed to move upon a walkway outside the reactor vessel’s supporting pedestal, take pictures, and measure radiation levels It will also lower a dosimeter & underwater camera into the PCV basement water. Today, Tepco reported the problem is a broken cable connected to the camera. The company says it might take several days to replace the cable.  http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2017/03/463558.html -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170314_31/ -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170316_04/

  • PM Shinzo Abe plans to remove all Fukushima evacuation orders by April 1, 2022. On Sunday, he told reporters, "The government is resolved to fully lift the evacuation order (for the no-go zones) even if a number of years take place." During his Iwate visit to mark the sixth anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011, Abe thus re-emphasized his determination to achieve the reconstruction of areas affected by the quake, tsunami, and nuclear accident. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2017031200457

  • Fukushima’s governor over-reacts to PM Abe’s opinion on the status of nuke accident recovery. On Saturday, the prime minister said that infrastructure is mostly restored and evacuation advisories in the former “no-go zone” are being lifted in stages. He said, “I feel that the rebuilding process in Fukushima has entered a new stage with the lifting of evacuation orders for various parts of the prefecture."  Governor Masao Uchibori took immediate umbrage, “I felt at odds (with his speech) as a Fukushima resident. Fukushima Prefecture has been suffering from tremendous damage [which] is ongoing, not in the past tense. This is an accident that does not exist in the past tense, but in the present progressive form.  Fukushima Prefecture has experienced enormous damage from a terrible nuclear accident that is unprecedented in the world. It is not possible to avoid using the important and significant terms of the nuclear plant accident or nuclear power disaster." http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2017031300995 (Comment –Uchibori’s gross exaggeration that Fukushima is a “terrible nuclear accident that is unprecedented in the world” can only feed the fires of false rumoring.)

  • Agricultural and fishery product bans remain in place in 33 countries. Many of these countries have continued the restrictions to avoid political criticism. Last November, Taiwan said it will consider relaxing its ban which resulted in intense opposition from the powerful Kuomintang Party. China’s ban is largely due to heightened public concern over food safety, including worries about radioactive substances in what is being marketed. However, Fukushima peach shipments to Thailand and Malaysia have prefecture officials hoping it will impact other bans. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2017031300683

  • Japan’s Atomic Industrial Forum posts the current status of pre-restart safety checks for nukes across Japan. The Nuclear Regulation Authority has accepted applications for 26 nuclear reactor units. JAIF provides a summary of the status of the examinations of the three Boiling Water and five Pressurized Water Plants that have made the most progress in getting approval from the NRA.  http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/current-status-of-nras-npp-regulatory-compatibility-examinations/

  • The Mainichi Shimbun’s latest poll of opinions concerning nuke restarts shows that 55% say no! Only 25% are in favor of getting the safety-approved units back on line. In addition, the survey shows that 47% are also concerned about Tokyo using tax money on Fukushima decontamination. Further, 70% of the respondents believe that interest in disaster-hit areas has waned since 2011. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170313/p2a/00m/0na/006000c

  • The NRA Chairman fuels the Fukushima rumor mill. He said problems stemming from the 2011 Fukushima accident have increased and grown in complexity over the past 6 years. This leaves the door wide open to speculations that the nuke accident continues to get worse. Tanaka also said that most evacuees have not gone home because of anxiety about F. Daiichi’s damaged reactors, lack of local jobs and schools, and health concerns; i.e. low level radiation exposure. He also noted that those who have fled the prefecture experience false rumors, discrimination, and bullying. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170310_35/

  • Former PM Koizumi continues his antinuclear crusade. In Sapporo the die-hard antinuclear politician revealed his conceptual Achilles Heel.  He said, "Nuclear power plants will become a negative legacy for future generations. (Japan) can become a much better country with zero nuclear power plants, harnessing natural energy” if renewable energy technology greatly advances! http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170312/p2g/00m/0dm/056000c

March 9, 2017

Once again, Fukushima Prefecture’s Fukushima Minpo posts the news that the rest of Japan’s news outlets either overlook or ignore. Here’s the latest…

  • Tomioka town will open its schools in April 2018. More than three-fourths of Tomioka will have its Tokyo evacuation order lifted next month. Opening the schools is one of the infrastructural items that returning residents desire. Town officials wanted to open schools concurrent with the evacuation order being rescinded, but agreement on the part of the mayor did not occur until the end of last month. This was too late to find enough teachers and other staff for an immediate reopening. The school board says it will survey residents in order to ascertain how many plan on actually returning home and make use of the schools. There were about 1,400 students in Tomioka before March 11, 2011. Temporary schools now operating for evacuees in Miharu town will be closed in March, 2022. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=793

  • More than 12,000 evacuees still live in “makeshift” accommodations. This is almost 43% of the evacuees still living in Fukushima Prefecture, up from nearly 39% a year ago. Coincidently, the percentage of elderly people in temporary housing units has risen to more than 40%, and is expected to rise as people return home to the four municipalities to be reopened April 1st. Care facilities for older people have only been able to find 75% of the advisory staff needed to meet the anticipated demand. The prefecture will keep the free-of-charge units open until the end of March, 2018. On a related note, the total number of evacuees living inside and outside the prefecture dropped below 80,000 for the first time. The above data run was compiled through February 20th. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=792

Now, for the rest of the Fukushima updates…

  • Tepco will send an investigative robot inside unit #1 PCV next Tuesday. The pre-investigation handout from Tepco was posted today (see link below). It is interesting to note that page 11 has a clear alert - in red boldface - stating that any extremely high radiation reading “…does not mean that a new event has occurred but rather that the area has not been investigated (before)…” Whether or not it will prevent the popular Press from creating misleading headlines similar to those with the unit #2 investigation, remains to be seen. As of this morning, only Kyodo News has mentioned the pre-investigation handout, and the scheduled date for sending the robot into the PCV. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2017/images/handouts_170309_01-e.pdf -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2017/03/462752.html

  • Snopes quashes false claims that Fukushima Cesium in Canadian salmon poses a health risk. The source of the fake news is identified as a story published February 10th in OrganicAndHealthy.org., stating, “Bad news for everyone – the first radioactive salmon have been found in British Columbia…[note the plural verb].”  Snopes retorts, “A single salmon found in the Osoyoos Lake in British Columbia in 2015 (first reported in November 2016) had low but detectable levels of the radioactive isotope cesium-134, universally acknowledged as a marker for Fukushima radiation. This single fish, whose radiation levels were well below any metric used by any government agency to gauge exposure risk, remains the only salmon specimen to test positive for Fukushima radiation in North America; the actual amount of radiation you would be exposed to from this fish — should more exist — would be roughly equal to the amount you would get from eating any salmon as a result of naturally occurring radioisotopes.” http://www.snopes.com/radioactive-salmon-fukushima/ -- http://archive.is/4Kfp4 (OrganicAnd Healthy.org) 

  • Naohiro Masuda, head of decommissioning for Fukushima Daiichi, says great progress has been made. As the sixth anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami approaches, he explained why the current situation is not dire. He said radiation from the crippled reactors is no longer having an impact outside the plant, plus evacuees are returning to their homes as decontamination work reduces exposure levels below thresholds of actual harm. At the power plant, radiation levels are so low that almost all of the 6000 workers need only wear typical construction site safety gear; the exception being those working in the near proximity to the three reactors that suffered meltdowns. Masuda added that contamination levels just offshore remain below the limit for drinking water set by the World Health Organization. http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/03/evacuees-move-back-fukushima-cleanup-faces-daunting-obstacles

  • After the April 1st lifting of evacuation orders, 70% of the original “no-go zone” will have been reopened. Of the five municipalities already allowed to repopulate, only about 15% of the 20,000 affected persons have gone back home. Many of those who remain estranged (voluntarily) say they are concerned about radiation exposure and infrastructure restoration.  http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2017030700929

  • The percentage of Fukushima evacuees not planning to repopulate continues to climb. Tokyo’s Reconstruction Agency and “other institutions” polled evacuees from five communities; Tomioka, Futaba, Namie, Kawamata, and Iitate. 62.3 % said they did not wish to go back home; 6.6% percent more than last year’s survey. However, Kawamata and Iitate had only 31% who said they are not planning to repopulate. Many said they are concerned about the quality of health care, others complained that life would be inconvenient, and some said they are satisfied with having settled elsewhere. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170308_01/

  • The Yomiuri Shimbun breaks the current “good news” Press blackout in Japan. On Monday, the Yomiuri covered the reopening of government facilities in Tomioka town for the first time since 2011. The government has been functioning out of Koriyama, some 60km distant. 80 officials came to the Tomioka office to address needs of those returning to their homes with the April 1st lifting of Tokyo’s 2011 evacuation order. Since many, if not most, of the town’s evacuees will remain voluntarily estranged after the order is rescinded, the temporary office in Koriyama will remain open. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003560282

  • Nearly 50% of the Fukushima adult evacuees say they have been harassed. NHK news and Waseda University polled households from four Fukushima municipalities. Of the 741 respondents, 334 said they felt harassed or were otherwise emotionally distressed. 274 said the harassment was often due to their compensation payments. Other causes for the aggravation were merely the status of being an evacuee (197 cases) and accusations of being contaminated by fallout (127). The survey indicated that adult evacuees are harassed as much as the children. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170309_06/

  • Genkai unit #3 & #4 restarts are approved by the local mayor. Hideo Kishimoto, the mayor of home community Genkai in Saga Prefecture, said, "While taking the assembly's approval seriously, I decided to accept the government's policy." There are seven other municipalities within the 30km evacuation planning zone that have yet to vote on the issue. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2017/03/462327.html

  • Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima Prefectures have hired local lawyers on a temporary basis to coordinate rights claims connected with purchasing land plots for moving resident living space, and responding to complaints about compensation. 19 have been hired since 2011, each staying on the job for 2-3 years. Currently, Iwate and Fukushima employ one lawyer each, and Miyagi has two. “Legal responses became smoother, and the situation has sped up reconstruction work,” a Fukushima official said. The Japan Legal Support Center of the Justice Ministry has set up local offices in the three prefectural capitals, known as “Houterasu”. In addition, satellite offices were established in seven locations, mainly near the coast which was devastated by the quake and tsunami. The number of cases the Houterasu handled have increased every year since the program’s creation 2012. 54,575 cases were addressed in 2015; an increase of nearly 6% from 2014. The special measures law allowing the Houterasu will expire next March. It is likely the satellite offices will be closed if it is not extended. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003557501

  • A free-lance journalist in Japan says the phrase “voluntary evacuees” must end. Writer Chia Yoshida says the term is disingenuous because it is often understood to mean that those who fled the prefecture from outside the Tokyo-mandated evacuation zone did it “in a selfish manner”. A fellow journalist suggested replacing the phrase with “domestic refugee”. Tokyo pediatrician Makoto Yamada says misunderstanding of the situation with voluntary evacuees has caused recent revelations of bullying cases across Japan. He believes that a more objective understanding of the voluntary evacuee situation would have stopped bullying before it started. https://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/fukushima-evacuees-face-tough-decision-as-housing-aid-ends?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2017-03-02_AM

  • South Korean Fukushima-phobia causes Jeju airlines to cancel flights to the prefecture. The decision is due to the airline’s staff complaining they did not want to be exposed to Fukushima radiation. Fukushima Airport is 40 kilometers from F. Daiichi, which is too close for Jeju’s skittish employees. Exacerbating their phobic fears has been the recent reports of the high radiation levels detected inside the unit #2 pedestal area. It makes no difference that the current radiation levels at Fukushima Airport are lower than levels in S. Korea’s capital city; Seoul. http://www.ibtimes.com/fukushima-news-amid-nuclear-reactor-radiation-fears-south-korea-abandons-japan-2500303?hl=1&noRedirect=1

March 12 2017

Fukushima 6-years-on: Part 1

Japan’s Press subverts Fukushima repopulation

In the six years since the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, Japan’s popular Press has effectively disrupted the efforts of Tokyo Electric Power Company and the Tokyo government to return the Fukushima evacuation zone to some semblance of normalcy. By April 1st, 70% of the 2011 “no-go” zone will have been re-opened for repopulating, but only about 15% of the original population has exploited the opportunity. Every step of the way, the Press has accentuated the negative and done its best to eliminate the positive when it comes to the situation with Fukushima’s Tokyo-mandated and voluntary evacuees. With all the broadcast doom and gloom, it’s no wonder repopulation has taken way, way too long, and only a small fraction of the evacuees who are allowed to go home have actually done it.
Japan’s popular Press never forgets to remind their audience that there are “experts” who say repopulation is hasty, and radiation levels are too high for absolute safety. Reporters seek out the most radiophobic evacuees, broadcast their radiophobic fears, and make it seem as if all 80,000 Tokyo-mandated refugees have the same level of mortal angst. Almost every article says most, if not all refugees shun going home over concerns of radiation exposures that have never been conclusively proven to hurt anyone; as if it is OK to cower in fear of the radioactive bogeyman! Further, uncertainty and doubt are evoked by speculating that the land area which will remain off-limits “may never be inhabitable” (example from Japan Today; March 9th); the very same assumption that for many years was continually applied to the locations to be re-opened on April 1st. Clearly, the main body of Japan’s Press does not want evacuees to return home, doing its best to maintain a ready-made source of heart-rending articles.
It must be said that Japan’s largely antinuclear Press occasionally stashes something positive deep in an article steeped in the “don’t go home” agenda. For example, a recent report in the highly-popular Asahi Shimbun headline - Poll: At least 20 years to regain lifestyle, half of Fukushima says. (http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201703030048.html) In it we find, “When asked about the timing of lifting the evacuation order [on April 1st], the most popular answer, from 40 percent, was that it was an appropriate decision. However, 19 percent said it was ‘too soon,’ while 22 percent said the order ‘should not be lifted in the first place.’ Nine percent said it was ‘too late.’  
Nearly 50% of the respondents believe the current removal of evacuation orders is either “appropriate” or “too late”. Only 41% said repopulation was not appropriate. For first time, a decidedly antinuclear news outlet reveals that the “yeas” outnumber the “nays” with respect to allowing people to repopulate! Why have other popular news outlets overlooked, or otherwise ignored this little nugget? Almost all others, save one (below), continue to trumpet the “inappropriate” and “too soon” conceptions, seemingly to convince evacuees that they should not repopulate.
Only one news outlet has continually told the whole story with full objectivity; Fukushima Minpo. Minpo is only circulated in Fukushima Prefecture, so its actual range of impact is minimal. Over the past six years, this reporter has not seen a Minpo report posted anywhere outside Fukushima Prefecture. Some of Minpo’s nuke accident reports are gloomy, too be sure. Not everything is peaches and cream. But many articles, if not most, show that the evacuation zone is not a death-ridden, Chernobyl-like no-mans-land! Most of the evacuees are far from miserable, and living rather comfortably in their new locations thanks to the obscene amounts of money ceded to them in compensation (>$9,000 per month to every man, woman and child evacuee). While not a panacea by any stretch of the imagination, it’s not hell-on-earth either!
It should be pointed out that Minpo has no cross to bear, and is in no way connected to Tepco or the Japanese government. While a subsidiary of sorts to Kyodo News, Minpo does its best to maintain the highest degree of independence from its parent publication. In the best of all possible news worlds, Minpo’s articles would be broadcast across the globe. Why is this not happening? That’s a question not easily answered.
As I prepared to post this Op/Ed piece, I scanned today’s Japanese news outlets (as I always do) and found a new Minpo posting of considerable significance. It says that 58% of all Naraha evacuees plan on permanent repopulation! Most of the municipality was ordered to evacuate by Tokyo in 2011 because it is located within a 20km radius of F. Daiichi. However, almost all of the town’s 7,000 residents fled regardless of physical location. The town’s evacuation order was fully lifted last year, but only a small fraction of the former residents have repopulated. Now we know why. Fukushima Prefecture polled the 1,958 households in free housing and found that 665 households, or 57.9% of the 1,149 families who responded will return home, but only after their free housing ends in March, 2018! This poses the obvious question – how many evacuees other former no-go zone have also not exploited the opportunity because they are getting free housing? How many will return when the subsidy expires next year? http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=796
Here’s a list of other Minpo reports concerning Fukushima evacuees over the past half-year, which all other news outlets have shunned like the plague…

…and that’s just in the last six months!

News outlets, other than Minpo, should be taken to task for only reporting the articles of gloom, and eschewing stories that might run counter to the “don’t go home” agenda. What is the Japanese and international popular press afraid of? The truth?


March 2, 2017

  • The mayor of Tomioka approves the April 1st end to Tokyo’s 2011 evacuation order. Mayor Koichi Miyamoto announced his decision on February 17th. He said the town’s committee discussed permanent returns, and other parties noted sufficient improvement in the living environment. Koichi added, “Further continuation of the evacuation will make it difficult to connect our hometown to the future.” After April 1, only one small “residency restricted” zone will remain. Formal Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters agreement on the order’s termination is expected. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=788

  • The April 1 end of evacuation orders will affect 32,000 evacuees. Four municipalities will see the order’s ended; almost all of Iitate and Tomioka, the seaside districts of Namie, and the last section of Kawamata that did not have the restrictions removed. On the other hand, the homes of some 24,000 evacuees will remain under Tokyo’s 2011 evacuation order. It is unknown if former residents will take advantage of this because the last six years have witnessed many laying down new roots in their current locations. Others are reluctant to return because they feel insufficient infrastructure exists. And, of course, the deeply radiophobic will remain estranged. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201702280051.html (Comment - The Asahi Shimbun does its best to spin this as negatively as possible. But, it is nonetheless one of the first “good news” Fukushima reports to be posted by Japan’s second-largest newspaper. Also, the Asahi’s map of the areas to be unburdened is quite good.)

  • Fukushima school lunches registered less than detectible radioactive Cesium for 2016. A one Becquerel per kilogram minimum detection requirement is self-imposed by the prefecture. Japan’s national standard is 100 Bq/kg, which is the most restrictive in the world. 3,486 lunches were tested from local schools in 26 municipalities and 17 prefectural schools. The schools wanting the government to scan their lunches voluntarily submited cooked food samples. Fourteen lunches were found to have detectible Cesium in 2012, six in 2013, and two in 2015. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=790 (Comment – This has not been reported by Japan’s popular Press. Only the prefecture’s newspaper – Fukushima Minpo – has posted the information. The volume of good news that has gone unreported across Japan and around the world continues to grow.)

  • Namie fishermen return to their home port of Ukedo. On Saturday, February 26, fishing boats re-entered the port to restore facilities damaged by the March, 2011, tsunami. The port was originally home to more than 80 boats, but those returning are optimistic. One fisherman said, “We would like to make today the starting point for making this port as vital as before.” All Namie residents were ordered by Tokyo to evacuate in 2011, however coastal areas will have their orders rescinded on April 1. Fisherman Tomio Sato said, “I believe things will be restored sometime in the future.” http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003543343

  • Fukushima’s fisheries will reduce its “no-fishing” zone by 75%. The Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Associations announced that the current 20km “no-fishing” radius around F. Daiichi will be reduced to 10km in April. The Association explained the reason for the change is because the amount of contamination leaking to the sea has been greatly reduced by Tepco. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2017/02/461003.html

  • Tokyo will cover 30% of the compensation payments made to mandated Fukushima evacuees. The remaining 70% will be borne by Tepco and six other utilities owning operating nuclear plants as “general contribution costs”. The current total of paid-out compensation is ~7 trillion yen. The Asahi Shimbun says the estimated total may eventually reach 8 trillion yen! This does not include provisional pay-outs for psychological duress. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201702270056.html - http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/comp/images/jisseki-e.pdf

  • Most Fukushima evacuees say they face bullying. The Asahi Shimbun contacted 348 persons, but only 184 responded to the questionnaire. 33 said they or family members have been bullied, 81 said they had heard of people being bullied, and the rest said they had not experienced such mistreatment. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201702260027.html

  • A two men have been arrested for bribery connected to Fukushima decontamination. Yuji Suzuki of the Environment Ministry accepted social and financial perks through Mikio Kosugi, former president of a company contracted to take part in the prefecture’s rural decontamination effort. Fukushima and Tokyo police found that Suzuki was entertained at hostess bars and given a free trip worth about $1,750. The ministry regrets the scandal and promises to tighten measures to prevent bribery schemes. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170302_30/

  • Another cancer patient sues Tepco. A Hokkaido resident with bladder, stomach, and colon cancers, has filed a lawsuit against Tepco because he worked at Fukushima Daiichi for a while and believes it caused the cancers. He applied for workman’s compensation, but was denied. The legal team writes, “It’s rare for a person to develop three types of cancer at almost the same time and it should be considered that exposure to radiation had something to do with it.” They seek $580,000 in damages. https://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/ex-worker-at-fukushima-plant-seeks-compensation-for-cancer?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2017-03-01_AM

  • Planning for nuclear waste disposal reveals a Japanese cultural phenomena. Nuclear Waste Management Organization of Japan (NUMO) is studying scientifically promising sites, suitable for deep geological disposal of high level radioactive waste (HLW). However, terminology used to keep the public informed has caused problems. NUMO has made numerous public information presentations across Japan, but continued public opposition to NUMO’s preliminary efforts indicates that scientific terminology may be a cause. Osamu Tochiyama of NUMO says presentations should be made with language that is not easily misunderstood or open to being misrepresented. For example, the terms “mapping” and “suitable” used when explaining identifying local geological and environmental characteristics, can be taken incorrectly. She says using less technical terminology could be the key to overcoming public opposition. He also said that this may be a particularly Japanese semantic issue. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/slow-progress-in-selecting-candidate-sites-for-geological-hlw-disposal-modification-of-terms-considered-for-semantic-reasons/

  • Tepco is admonished by the NRA for overlooking earthquake data.  I was discovered that a building formerly considered for an emergency operation’s center at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa station was not fully investigated for worst-case earthquake stability. Nuclear Regulation Authority Chair Shunichi Tanaka met with Tepco’ President, Naomi Hirose, and rebuked the company for not fully appreciating the anxieties its mistakes can engender, no matter how minor they might be, “TEPCO needs to learn from other electric power companies, but its stance is insufficient. As the company lost public trust due to the accident (at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant in March 2011), it needs to make much greater efforts than others. But it is not doing so.” Inadvertently proving the NRA’s point, the Asahi Shimbun reported on the meeting with an article rife with hyperbole designed to make Tepco seem an uncaring group of bumbling idiots. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201703010074.html

  • Japan’s deposed Democratic Party (DP) has tabled plans to create their antinuclear energy policy. The DP wanted an election platform containing the demand for full cessation of nuclear energy by 2030. But, severe opposition from trade union officials within the party made that untenable. Energy committee chair Koichiro Gemba said Friday, “Our final goal is to compile policy promises for the next House of Representatives election, and so we will continue debates until the next general election.” The minority party says that an attempt to reach a consensus could make internal opposition a severe problem before the next party convention. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003543070

February 23, 2017

  • Unit #2 radiation readings have puzzled experts (including this reporter). Estimates of radiation levels using light anomalies transmitted by cameras were 2-3 times greater than the readings made by an actual radiation detector last week. The first on January 30th was 530 Sieverts/hr, and the second on February 9th was 650 Sv/hr. Both assumptions received wide Press coverage. February 16th, the radiation monitor on the Sasori robot registered 210 Sv/hr. The difference between the early radiation estimates and actual readings have Japan’s academia stumped! All of the extreme radiation levels were outside the thick, steel-reinforced concrete pedestal that bears the weight of the several hundred ton Reactor Pressure Vessel (RPV). The few estimates gleaned from inside the RPV pedestal varied between 20 and 50 Sv/hr. It should have been the other way around! The highest radiation levels should have been inside the pedestal, directly under the RPV. Several entirely speculative assumptions assume a partial melt-through of melted fuel mixed with structural metals within the fuel core of the RPV. University of Tokyo’s professor of nuclear materials Hiroaki Abe said, “If nuclear fuel debris had splattered around, the radiation levels at the central area below the pressure vessel must be extremely high. In addition, deposits on the rail would have taken the shape of small pieces if they were, in fact, flying nuclear fuel debris. The findings are puzzling.” http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201702190042.html

  • Human remains are found in Fukushima evacuation zone tsunami debris. Two municipalities’ shores being scrutinized are Tomioka and Namie. Three objects appearing to be human bone have been found in Tomioka. 180 people are taking part in the search, including police, firemen, and residential volunteers. Soils left behind by the tsunami are being dug up and examined, looking for clues as to what happened to the prefecture’s many victims still listed as missing. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=787

  • Tomioka will have medical services six days per week, beginning in April. Parts of the wholly-evacuated town will have Tokyo’s evacuation order lifted on April 1st. A clinic, now operating 3 days per week, will expand its hours to five days/wk. The clinic opened in October on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. It add Tuesdays and Wednesdays in April, and the clinic’s Dr. Akira Isaka will also see patients on Mondays. All of this in anticipation of former residents returning home after April 1st. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=785

  • A small locker room fire at a Tepco nuke station makes headlines. Smoke was seen coming from a service building at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa (K-K) station in Niigata Prefecture. Tepco, owner of the facility, said it was in a staff locker room and extinguished quickly. The company said no radiation was released because the building had nothing radiological. K-K units #6 & #7 are being screened by the Nuclear Regulation Authority for pre-restart safety compliance. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170223/p2g/00m/0dm/083000c

  • Ohi units #3 & #4 pass NRA safety screenings for restart. A thirty-day period for public comment begins today. Official approval for restart is expected on-or-after March 24th. The plants’ staff are now ready to increase tsunami protective walls and install hydrogen mitigation equipment. Two future hurdles to be surmounted are gaining local approval, and a district court order to not restart. In order to be legally binding, the injunction must be finalized through the Nagoya High Court. Kansai Electric Power says we could see the units restarted as early as this coming autumn. The NRA has now found 12 units at six nuclear stations meeting Japan’s post-Fukushima safety standards. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170222_18/ -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201702220063.html -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2017022200472

  • A part-time English teacher is reprimanded for remarks made to a voluntary Fukushima evacuee student. In 2014, the teacher at Kwansei Gakuin University found that a student was from Fukushima Prefecture. He turned off the lights, saying he wanted to see if the student glowed in the dark. The student reported the incident to the university counselling center last April, saying she found it difficult to attend classes and could not get enough credits to pass. The teacher’s pay will be withheld for three months and his contract will not be renewed. The teacher said he thought he was making a joke, but is now deeply remorseful. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170221_80/ -- http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170221/p2g/00m/0dm/069000c

  • Greenpeace makes a final attempt to scare Iitate’s evacuees away from repopulation. The antinuclear bastion’s official report is entitled House Case Studies of the Current Situation and Potential Lifetime Radiation Exposure in Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture. The basis for the appeal to not repopulate is the assertion that radiation levels are still too high for public safety. Greenpeace Japan’s Ai Kashiwagi said, “The relatively high radiation values, both inside and outside houses, show an unacceptable radiation risk for citizens if they were to return to Iitate. For citizens returning to their irradiated homes they are at risk of receiving radiation equivalent to one chest X-ray every week. This is not normal or acceptable.” Greenpeace says returnees will have exposures between 39 millisieverts and 183 mSv over a seventy-year lifetime. Jan Vande Putte of Greenpeace Belguim says, “[Tokyo] has failed to provide estimates of lifetime exposure rates for Iitate’s citizens, nor considered how re-contamination from forests will pose a threat for decades to come. In the real world of today, and for decades to come, there is and will be nothing normal about the emergency radiological situation in Iitate.” Aside - Nowhere in the report is it mentioned that millions of people in the world live healthy, productive lives with lifetime exposures of over 3000 mSv over 70 years of natural background radiation. - End aside. The report also makes numerous negative comparisons to Chernobyl. http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/press/releases/2017/Greenpeace-exposes-high-radiation-risks-in-Fukushima-village-as-government-prepares-to-lift-evacuation-order/ -- http://www.greenpeace.org/japan/Global/japan/pdf/NRN_FINweb4.pdf  

February 16, 2017

  • The radiation level in the unit #2 PCV is actually 210 Sieverts/hr. The reading was transmitted by Tepco’s “scorpion” robot before it became stuck and had to be abandoned. The device had been inserted through the unit #2 Primary Containment Vessel (PCV) wall using the same pipe opening as with two prior investigations. The scorpion moved much further than the “cleaner” robot had reached last Friday. Upon nearing the entrance to the pedestal, the device became stuck on the Control Rod Drive rail. For some currently unknown reason, the crawler belt on the scorpion’s left side could no longer move the robot. However, the camera on the robot worker quite well and transmitted new images to the operators. Further, the robot’s radiation monitor recorded an actual area exposure level of 210 Sieverts per hour, much less than half the estimated localized exposures reported over the past two weeks. However, none of Japan’s Press outlets included the actual radiation level in their reports. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2017/images/handouts_170216_01-e.pdf -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170216_34/ -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2017/02/459048.html -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco

  • Prior unit #2 radiation estimates are literally the converse of what was expected. Late last Thursday, Tepco posted a Press handout of the investigation inside and outside of the unit #2 pedestal area at Fukushima Daiichi. Everyone, including the most antinuclear bastions, expected to find radiation levels inside the thick concrete and steel reactor vessel support pedestal to have radiation levels significantly higher than outside, in the PCV annulus. However, Tepco’s graphic on page 10 of its Press handout reveals that the now-infamous 530 Sievert/hour estimated radiation level is outside the pedestal, while the level inside is but 20 Sv/hr. This dichotomy has yet to be resolved. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2017/images/handouts_170209_01-e.pdf

  • A 650 Sv/hr radiation level was estimated inside F. Daiichi unit #2 PCV last Friday. Visual images that indicated a localized area exposure level of 650 Sv/hr was provided by the “cleaner” robot that was extracted from the unit #2 PCV Friday due to a radiation-induced camera glitch. This is about 120 Sv/hr more than the 530 Sv/hr estimate that set the world’s Press on its ear! The estimate was gained by analysis of video footage and the frequency of light “flickers” on the images. To some government officials and at least one Tepco “official”, this was a confirmation of the first estimation. Others (including this reporter) have taken a wait-and-see approach. Regardless, the extracted robot cleared about one-fifth of the area planned for a “scorpion” robot to be inserted into the PCV. It will be equipped with an actual radiation monitoring device in order to produce actual radiation readings. Tepco posted a Press release the once again insisted that “there is no reason to believe that the level itself has increased or "spiked," as some reports suggested.”  http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2017/images/handouts_170209_01-e.pdf -- http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2017/1375551_10469.html -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/02/10/national/high-radiation-readings-at-fukushima-no-2-reactor/#.WJ3ah9K7odV

  • Japan’s largest newspaper wants Tokyo to rethink post-Fukushima radiation standards. Japan News (Yomiuri Shimbun) says, “Radioactivity standards that demand there be zero risk of harm to human health need to be revised based on scientific data.” The Nuclear Regulation Authority has submitted a bill to the Diet (congress) to remove the congressional restriction on the Radiation Council to hold discussions on revising standards without an inquiry from a ministry. If passed, the council will be able to conduct its own investigations and deliberations based on its own scientific understanding. The Democratic Party of Japan, in power in 2011-2012, set vastly different exposure standards from those held by the rest of the world. The DPJ inflicted Japan with unrealistic and non-science based exposure limits and food activity restrictions that have ham-strung recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011. The food restrictions have severely damaged Japan’s food export industry and negatively impacted the nation’s economy. NRA chair Shunichi Tanaka insists that the time has come to bring science-based rationality to setting radiation standards, “It’s important to bring them in line with international levels.” The Yomiuri adds “The standards should be reviewed swiftly. It is time to rethink policies decided at a time when the entire nation was engulfed by apprehension.” http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003511587

  • The F. Daiichi “Ice Wall” has lowered groundwater in-leakage by two-thirds. Unreported in the Japanese and international news outlets, Tepco’s October-December 2016 quarterly report includes the following significant statement, “It reports that the frozen state of the soil is being maintained, and that the amount of water pumped up daily has declined from 429 cubic meters to 140 cubic meters.” The posting points out that groundwater influx had been more than halved between the beginning of 2016 and November of last year by freezing only those portions of the inland side of the wall allowed by the Nuclear Regulation Authority. However, when the NRA told Tepco to go ahead and freeze the seven sections the agency had disallowed, the in-leakage was reduced from 207 tons/day to about 140 tons/day by the end of December. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/betu17_e/images/170210e0101.pdf (Comment - We do not expect Japan’s doggedly antinuclear news outlets to report something as positive as this…they never do! H