Fukushima 116... 3/1/18-4/26/18

April 26, 2018

  • Tepco posts unit #2 damage pictures, and unit #3 damage graphics, indicating no bottom head melt-throughs. The unit #2 pictures show that nearly all control rod drive mechanisms appear to be in place, which would not be the case with a melt-through. However, the debris scattered on the floor of the pedestal interior indicates some drip-through around the CRDMs seems plausible. The unit #3 graphics depict much more damage than unit #2’s pictures, but, again, there seems no evidence of catastrophic melt-through. If the debris bed on the floor of the pedestal had been molten at the time of the accident, there large amount of metallic devices sticking out of the bed would have melted into the corium mass. Further, the graphics indicate that the debris bed amassed atop the workers platform. If that debris were corium, the platform would at least have holes through it, if not be completely lost. Rather, some of the metallic devices in the bed are shown to protrude beneath the platform, which would not be the case had there been a catastrophic bottom-head melt-through.  http://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2018-e/201804-e/180426-01e.html -- http://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2018-e/201804-e/180426-02e.html
  • Fukushima exports its largest amount of agricultural products since records were first kept. Governor Masao Uchibori said that 210 tons of produce was shipped out in 2017.  In 2010, the year before the Fukushima accident, the prefecture export 153 tons, but fell to near zero in 2011. Uchibori stressed that safety measures in the prefecture have been highly evaluated, and that quality and good taste are well-recognized, resulting the swelling exports. But, he frankly acknowledged that fear and misinformation concerning the prefecture’s products persist. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/fukushima-exported-record-level-of-agricultural-products-last-year/
  • The ice wall and sub-drains have drastically reduced the generation of contaminated water. On March 1st, Tepco told the Press that these counter-measures are the main reason that the rate of contaminated water production has dropped from 490 tons per day down to less than 110 tons per day. This is well below the 2020 target of 150 tons per day. As a result, the level of water inside the ice wall to drop 4-5 meters below the exterior groundwater level. The ice wall has almost fully frozen, except for some “very deep sections”. Otherwise, the daily groundwater influx would be much less. In addition to the ice wall and subdrain system, the surface of the ground around the four damaged units has been paved to keep rainwater from exacerbating the problem and groundwater bypass has been moved further from the basements. In addition, the seaside impermeable wall has prevented groundwater from entering the port area (quay), which is open to the sea. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2018/1487320_15409.html
  • As of Monday, April 23rd, the amount of groundwater influx had dropped to 93 tons per day. Most of it comes from basement in-leakage and rainwater, with about 10 tons per day from groundwater drains. https://www4.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2018/images/handouts_180423_01-e.pdf
  • The new 24-hour hospital in Tomioka has started accepting patients. This is the first such facility to open inside the Tokyo-mandated evacuation zone since 2011. The hospital has 30 beds, 21 doctors to insure round-the-clock care, and a heliport for patient airlifting. It is located about 10 kilometers from F. Daiichi. The hospital director says the facility will provide medical support to local residents and plant workers. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180423_15/
  • Tokyo orders student background checks at research reactors in Japan. Background investigations will be required for teachers and guards who are able to enter restricted areas where nuclear materials are kept. The Nuclear Regulation Authority is set to require the checks to prevent terrorism. However, critics are concerned that the more-stringent policy could hurt researcher’s motivation and discourage new student enrollment. The affected facilities include the research reactors of Kyoto University, Kindai University, and the Oarai Research and Development Institute. https://japantoday.com/category/national/gov't-to-mandate-background-checks-on-students-at-research-reactors

April 19, 2018

  • Japan’s first self-driving bus operates at Fukushima Daiichi. The French-made vehicle will eventually provide passengers with a choice of pre-programmed routes. It uses GPS to navigate. It can carry as many as 15 people with a maximum speed of ~10 miles per hour. The bus has sensors to keep it from getting too close the pedestrians or other vehicles. The bus is currently running a one kilometer route between the F. Daiichi station and the employee “rest facility”. Plant official Tetsunori Kobayashi says the bus is supporting decommissioning work using new technology. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180418_30/
  • The possibilities improve for Kashiwazaki-Kariwa restarts because Niigata Prefecture’s antinuclear governor will resign due to a sex scandal. On Tuesday, Governor Ryuichi Yoneyama admitted that he paid money to and bought gifts for a college coed in return for sex. Today, he admitted that he paid several women nearly $300 per meeting, possibly violating Japan’s Anti-Prostitution Law. He met them through a dating site. Yoneyama won the governorship in 2016 on a largely antinuclear platform, in staunch opposition to restarting any of the KK units. He has repeatedly said he cannot decide on the operation of the K-K station until the prefectural government completes its assessment of the Fukushima accident. Spurred by this announcement, Kashiwazaki Mayor Masahiro said, “I will ask the new prefectural governor to start discussions on the restart as early as possible. In the NRA, excellent experts gave the green light to the two reactors after repeated discussions. It [would have been] impossible for the prefectural government to make its own judgment [on the restarts] by holding only several meetings a year.” The two K-K units cleared the Nuclear Regulation Authority safety screening in December. PM Shinzo Abe supports restarting K-K units 6 & 7. Each is a 1315 MWe Advanced Boiling Water Reactor system. Tepco needs the K-K units operating to begin paying off the enormous debt incurred since March, 2011.  https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2018/04/98170af362c2-update1-governor-quits-over-sex-scandal-affects-nuclear-reactor-restart.html -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201804190046.html (Comment - we have suspected that Yoneyama was intentionally delaying the prefectural investigation into the F. Daiichi accident as a stalling tactic. It now seems that Yoneyama had no intention of ever completing the study! Holding but “several meetings a year” would have delayed restarts until after all seven units had passed Japan’s arbitrary 40-year licensing limit. In other words the now-humiliated governor was effecting a ban on nuclear energy in his prefecture.)
  • Tepco apologizes to the family of a suicide victim, and the mainstream Press ignores it. On April 5th, three senior Tepco officials apologized to the grand-daughter of Fumio Okubo, who killed himself over the Tokyo-mandated evacuation of Iitate Village. This followed the awarding of about $145,000 damages by a Fukushima court on February 20th. One of the Tepco officials said, “We profoundly regret forcing Fumio-san to make such a heart-wrenching decision and we are terribly sorry. We will reflect on ourselves.” Fumio’s grand-daughter said, “I think grandpa must be glad to have you come all the way to Iitate where he lived until after turning 100.” http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=888

April 12, 2018

  • Fukushima Prefecture prioritizes export markets to boost sales in five product categories. The markets have been selected based on export results, import restrictions, and the extent of harmful rumors. The five product categories are (1) agricultural produce, (2) processed food, (3) alcoholic beverages, (4) seafood and (5) craftwork. The list includes Southeast Asian countries for rice, fruit and other agricultural products, as well as the United States, Hong Kong and Taiwan for alcoholic beverages such as Sake (rice wine). The prefecture will increase the amount of product information sent to the markets and boost production and distribution systems. The effort will be supported by the central government ministries and related agencies to try and ease import restrictions, if not eliminate them. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=886
  • Nuclear energy will remain in Japan’s energy mix through 2050. It will be part of the country’s long-term policy to reduce carbon emissions, along with a substantial increase in renewable sources. But, Japan says it will continue to reduce nuclear energy production. A government panel reports, "Japan will keep the policy of lowering its dependency on nuclear power generation as much as possible while seeking to expand economically independent and carbon-free renewable energy." On the other hand, the country will strive to eliminate all “thermal” (fossil-fueled) energy production. No numerical benchmarks were included in the report. https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20180410/p2g/00m/0dm/063000c
  • Arbitration ends between Tepco and 15,000 residents of Namie. The town’s evacuation order ended on April 1, 2017. All residents continue to receive ~$950 per month for mental anguish. Namie filed a petition with the Nuclear Damage Compensation Dispute Resolution Center in 2013 to have the compensation increased. In March, 2014 the Center offered a 50% increase, which the town accepted. But Tepco balked, arguing that such a change would set a precedent for all Tokyo-mandated evacuees. The Resolution Center has tried to arbitrate a settlement acceptable to both parties for three years. Friday, the Center gave up! The claimants are now considering a lawsuit. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180406_21/
  • A Tepco employees testifies that executives nixed bolstering tsunami protection for F. Daiichi in 2007. The statement was made at a trial of three Tepco officers claiming professional negligence causing death and injury. The employee was part of an internal assessment group tasked with estimating the height of a worst-case tsunami. The group submitted a maximum estimate of 15.7 meters, essentially the same as what hit the nuke station on March 11, 2011. The employee testified, "I thought that TEPCO should take the assessment into consideration in taking (earthquake and tsunami) countermeasures, as the assessment was supported by prominent seismologists." He submitted the assessment to Tepco Vice President Muto, who called for the document to be re-assessed for correctness. The employee also said, "I thought they (Tepco) would consider taking tsunami prevention measures, but they changed policy unexpectedly and I lost heart." The reason for the Tepco executives rejecting the tsunami estimate will be the focus of future hearings. https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20180411/p2a/00m/0na/018000c -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201804110051.html

April 5, 2018

  • School reopens in Iitate Village for the first time in seven years. The community’s Tokyo mandated evacuation order was lifted one year ago. Students have been attending classes in Kawamata Town and Fukushima City. Mayor Norio Kanno said he has been waiting for this day for a long time. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180401_16/
  • A new emergency hospital opens in Tomioka Town; the first inside Fukushima evacuation zone. To date, several clinics have reopened, but no full-service hospital.  Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori said, "I expect the new hospital to play a central role in local medical services and for the safety" of residents and workers in the region. The facility will begin accepting patients on April 23rd. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2018040100351
  • Prize-winning novelist Miri Yu will open a bookstore in repopulating Minamisoma. The bookstore will be named Full House, which is the title of one of her books. It is located in the Odaka District, which had its evacuation order removed July 2016. The district has a current population of about 2,500, which is well-below the pre-2011 level of 13,000. Yu hopes that her bookstore will bring more people back to Minamisoma, “I hope people here can start anew mentally by picking up a book. Those who live in the district lost their books [to the earthquake and tsunami]. Books really are a door to another world, so they can take people’s minds off the troubles of the real world.” http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0004344279
  • Japco gives more communities control over reactor restarts. Japan Atomic Power Company wants to restart Tokai unit #2, a 1060 MWE boiling water reactor facility near Tokyo. The company has agreed to seek restart approval from five communities within the 30 kilometer emergency planning zone, in addition to the host community, Tokai. They are Hitachi, Hitachinaka, Naka, Hitachiota and Mito, in Ibaraki Prefecture.The agreement with the municipalities was signed on Friday. The six local governments can give their opinions on reactivation or any licensing extension, and demand explanations from Japco. In addition, the communities can press for more safety systems than the post-Fukushima regulations require. This is the first time communities other than the host have been granted restart approval rights, however the agreement is not legally binding. https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20180330/p2a/00m/0na/003000c -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201803300032.html
  • A non-radioactive steam leak at a nuke plant makes headlines across Japan. It occurred Friday at freshly-restarted Genkai unit #3. The leak was from the deaerator, a device that removes dissolved gasses from the feed water supplied to the steam generators. Pressurized Water Reactor plants have a primary system where water flows through the RPV (Reactor Pressure Vessel), picks up heat, and becomes radioactive as it passes through the fuel core. The hotter water is used to heat a secondary system that produces steam to drive the turbine generators. Because the radioactive water never comes in contact with it, the secondary system’s steam is not radioactive! The leak was from a one centimeter hole in a pipe, which was sufficient for the plant’s operators to shut down the unit. It had achieved 75% power in its startup. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2018033100050 -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180331_09/ -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20180331/p2g/00m/0dm/002000c  (Comment – Once again, each report asserts that the leak was from the reactor! It was not! The leak was from the deaerator, which is entirely separate from the actual reactor. The reactor is a singular device, not the entire steam generation system. For the seven years we have followed the F. Daiichi accident, the “reactor” has been presented as the entire unit! We have thought the continual posting of this incorrect statement was due to ignorance on the part of the Press. They have had more than enough time to get it right, but they continue with the misinformation, nonetheless!)

March 29, 2018

  • Genkai unit #3 resumed operation on Friday, March 23. It is the seventh Japanese unit restarted out of the post-Fukushima nuclear moratorium. Genkai units #3 and #4 have been a focus of antinuclear activism because some of the fuel is pluthermal MOX – made from recycled used fuel bundles. MOX is a mixture of Uranium and Plutonium. Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko said, "(The restart) holds significance from the point of promoting so-called pluthermal power generation and recycling nuclear fuel." Around 100 local residents flocked to the Genkai station in protest of the restart. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/seventh-npp-restarted-genkai-3/ -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180323_22/ -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20180323/p2g/00m/0dm/052000c
  • Ikata unit #2 to be decommissioned. Shikoku Electric Company made the decision on Tuesday. The 566 MWe unit will reach the end of its 40 year license in 2021. The company has decided that the cost of meeting Japan’s new safety standards (~$1 billion) could not be recouped by bringing 566 MWE unit back on line, even if granted the 20 year licensing extension. Governor Tokihiro Nakamura of Ehime Prefecture said understood the decision because the added costs would have also adversely affect his constituency. Unit #1 previously suffered the same fate. Unit #3 was restarted in 2016, but a court handed down an injunction in December of last year, and cannot be restarted until an appeal is heard. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180327_17/ --  http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0004332213 -- http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/ikata-2-npp-to-be-decommissioned-would-not-be-profitable-beyond-forty-years/
  • Russia ends its ban of Japanese marine products, but Fukushima is required to provide safety certification with its seafood. Prohibitions relative to Iwate, Miyagi, Yamagata, Chiba, and Niigata Prefectures have been completely lifted. Fukushima marine products must have an inspection certificate proving that the foods must have below-standard levels of cesium 137, cesium 134 and strontium 90. Further, inspections for those isotopes must occur when the products are brought into Russia. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/russia-lifts-bans-on-marine-products-from-japan-those-from-fukushima-still-require-additional-documentation/
  • Fukushima evacuees win another lucrative mental anguish case. The Iwaki branch of the Fukushima District Court ordered Tepco to pay $5.8 million dollars to 213 plaintiffs. The court said Tepco failed to take preventative action that could have mitigated, if not avoided, damage to the units at F. Daiichi. The payments are due to “loss of one’s hometown” and mental anguish due to concerns about exposure to low level radiation. This is the seventh time a court has awarded damages to Fukushima evacuees beyond the compensation already given out by Tepco and Tokyo. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201803230033.html

March 22, 2018

  • US ambassador William F. Hagerty visits F. Daiichi. He offered words of encouragement to the workers at the nuke station. Hagerty said, "What you are doing here to rebuild Fukushima and the Tohoku region is remarkable, and I look forward to returning in the months and years to come as I continue as U.S. Ambassador to Japan to see your progress, and get to know more of the people here and learn about your courage and resilience." http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/announcements/2018/1481632_15434.html -- http://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2018-e/201803-e/180316-01e.html
  • Tokyo and Tepco join with four other utilities to oversee completion of Higashidori station. Construction has been halted since the nuclear moratorium began in 2011. It is expected that finances needed to finish the plant and upgrade safety systems to meet Japan’s post-Fukushima standards will be shared by all parties, as well as providing collaboration on skills needed to operate the unit #2.  The original plans were for three new units – two belonging to Tepco and one to Tohoku Electric Co. The first Tepco unit is the one under construction. It is a 1385 MWe Advanced Boiling Water Reactor system. Tohoku’s first unit, an 1100 MWE BWR, was operating at the time of the Fukushima accident and has been shuttered since the onset of Japan’s nuclear moratorium. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0004308154
  • The Genkai Town Assembly asks Tokyo to approve new nuclear construction. The assembly now proposes the government include nuke construction in the Strategic Energy Plan. The National Nuclear Community of Tokyo has asked municipalities with nukes to request Tokyo for construction of new or replacement units. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/genkai-town-assembly-approves-proposal-seeking-new-npp-construction/
  • 30% of the businesses inside the evacuation zone have reopened. The Fukushima Federation of Societies of Commerce and Industry surveyed the 30-kilometer radius around F. Daiichi in order to derive the statistics. One Federation representative tried to explain why the percentage is so low, "There are few residents, and along with anxiety over whether or not business will be able to turn a profit, it is also hard to secure young workers." One supermarket operator said, "If people don't return, then it's difficult to secure enough employees and impossible to run a business." In a few of the municipalities that had mandated evacuations, but the restrictions lifted, the percentage is dismal – only about 1% for Namie and 13% for Tomioka. However, Iitate has had it better with a 31% reopening rate. https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20180321/p2a/00m/0na/004000c
  • The Nuclear Regulation Authority is beefing up its staff to deal with lawsuits filed against the state. The NRA secretariat will increase its office of litigation to 22 in April. Currently, there are 17 in the office, which has been constantly expanded from the original five when the NRA was established in 2012. The NRA is facing total of 45 suits, 29 of which were filed by over 10,000 plaintiffs. One official says they will be hiring a prosecutor who is an "an expert on administrative cases who can exercise leadership" with the litigation staff. The secretariat also faces 16 other lawsuits, including those filed by residents trying to stop restarts or construction of nuke plants. It is probable that even more suits will emerge at more and more nukes are restarted. https://japantoday.com/category/national/regulator-to-increase-staff-to-respond-to-fukushima-nuclear-lawsuits
  • A suit against Oma nuclear station is rejected by a district court. The suit was filed by more than 1,100 plaintiffs. The Hakodate District Court shot down the filing because the plant is under construction and the safety screening by the NRA is not complete. Presiding Judge Chikako Asaoka said it is "difficult to assess the particular risk of a severe accident right now… "It's not reasonable for a court of law to conduct safety examinations without waiting for the NRA screenings." The construction site lies about 23 kilometers south of Hakodate across the Tsugaru Strait.The plaintiffs challenged the NRA’s adequacy because the Oma plant will run entirely on MOX fuel containing recycled reactor-grade Plutonium. They argued that the plutonium makes the reactor much more dangerous and would have increased accident risks. The plaintiffs say they will appeal to a higher court.    https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180319_22/ -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0004314227 -- https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2018031901112
  • A petition to halt restarts of Genkai units #3 and #4 is rejected by Saga court. The Saga District Court said the NRA’s safety standards are “scientifically reasonable”. Both units have passed the NRA screenings for resuming operation. The court could not find any major errors or lack of necessary elements in the NRA’s screenings, stating “They are reasonable as they are compiled on the basis of the latest science and technology standards.” The plaintiffs argued that the NRA earthquake methodology is flawed, and the Mt. Aso volcano – 130 kilometers away – could erupt and trigger Genkai meltdowns. The court concluded, “It has been confirmed that there exists no big magma deposit less than 10 kilometers deep in the caldera that may cause a catastrophic eruption. [And] there exists no recognizable, specific danger concerning that.” Unit #3 is expected to restart later this week. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0004316345 -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201803200038.html -- https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2018032000569
  • The on again, off again American lawsuit by USS Ronald Reagan sailors in on again. There are now about 200 plaintiffs demanding a total of $1 billion in damages. The lawsuit was filed last Wednesday with federal courts in Southern California and the District of Columbia by participants in the U.S. forces' Operation Tomodachi.  A similar suit was rejected by the federal court in California in January. The plaintiffs claim the nuke accident was due to flawed design and improper management by Tepco. They also claim that exposure to low level radiation has caused a myriad of health issues and mental anguish, for which there should be compensation. https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20180320/p2g/00m/0dm/023000c
  • A Tokyo court awards $566,000 in compensation to voluntary evacuees. The money will be divided among 42 individuals, all now living in the Tokyo area. The original filing included 47 plaintiffs, only one of which was from the Tokyo-mandated Fukushima evacuation zone. The plaintiffs had asked for nearly $6 million, but the court reduced the amount down to that specific to mental anguish caused by the plaintiff’s evacuation and relocation. http://www.asahi.com/special/paradise-paper/en/ -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20180316/p2g/00m/0dm/070000c
  • Many still-estranged Fukushima evacuees continue to experience mental problems. One expert says, "The problem will remain unresolved until they restore stability in their living situations." Suicides remain a problem. According to the government, the number of suicides in Fukushima, Miyagi, and Iwate Prefectures by the end of 2017 totaled 200 individuals - Ninety-nine in Fukushima, 53 in Miyagi, and 48 in Iwate. The number is higher for Fukushima because of the nuclear evacuation, which compelled people to flee much further inland than with the other two prefectures. Shinichi Niwa of Fukushima Medical University said, "It (the number of suicides) stands out among those in their 50s and 60s, who are the chief providers of families." https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2018031901069

March 15, 2018

The seventh anniversary of the Fukushima accident occurred on March 11th. This year is very different. There have been relatively few seventh anniversary articles.

First, something positive…

  • Fukushima InFORM has a seventh anniversary article on North American radiation monitoring. The peak Fukushima sea-water contamination level has been 8 to 10 times less than the peak levels recorded due to atmospheric nuclear weapons testing in the 1950’s and 1960’s. InFORM reports, “Levels measured now and predicted to arrive along the coast in the future will not approach levels known to represent a significant risk to the health of marine organisms or human beings,” and, “Our coastal ecosystem and food supply are not at risk from these low levels of radioisotope contamination.” With respect to contamination of Pacific Salmon and other food fish, InFORM says, “The ionizing dose from consuming these fish is insignificant relative to other sources of ionizing radiation dose experienced by members of the public in North America. No measurable health impacts are expected.” The group’s bottom line reads, “Consistent with model predictions and the measurements made by scientists around the globe, the FDNPP accident will not have measurable negative impacts on North America’s marine ecosystems or public health. Levels of contamination are simply too far below those known to represent a threat to wildlife or human health.” https://fukushimainform.ca/2018/03/09/update-on-fukushima-monitoring-activities-in-north-america-7-years-on/

Now, the reports of a negative nature…

  • A seventh anniversary summation of the latest post-accident mortality data is provided by NHK World. Most of the article will not surprise regular readers of this news-blog. One significant exception is the Reconstruction Agency reporting that at least 3,647 evacuees in 10 prefectures have died due to health problems and other reasons. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180311_04/
  • 40% of the Fukushima evacuees in Niigata Prefecture have no intention of returning home. The most-cited reason for their refusal is fear of health effects from detectible residual contamination, followed by concerns about the future of children and a lack of available jobs. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2018031200252
  • “Wastewater” stored at F. Daiichi tops a million tons! However, the news report fails to mention that some 850,000 tons have been decontaminated by the site’s purification systems and could be harmlessly released to the sea, if not for phobic fear of all detectible radiation. But, the article does say that the rate of buildup has slowed since the ice wall has been completely frozen. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco

We found only one tsunami disaster aftermath article…

  • Negative feelings towards the new Pacific-bordering sea walls are not uncommon. Initially, most survivors wanted the high sea walls to replace the breakwalls that failed to protect the city. But, as time has passed, some have become critical because they allege they were not consulted enough when the wall was in the planning stage. Others say the wall will damage the tourism business. A Rikuzentakata resident complains, "It feels like we're in jail, even though we haven't done anything bad." On March 11, 2011, nearly 2,000 of his neighbors died. One tourist says, "About 50 years ago, we came up here with the kids and enjoyed drives along the beautiful ocean and bays. Now, there’s not even a trace of that.” To counter such objections, the new wall in Kesennuma has windows in it to provide a view of the sea. But one resident who lost his home and brother to the black water surge complains, “They're a parody. It's just to keep us happy with something we never wanted in the first place." Near end of the article one person who sees the Kesennuma seawall as a benefit, I can't say things like 'the wall should be lower' or 'we don't need it’. It's thanks to the wall that I could rebuild, and now have a job." https://japantoday.com/category/national/wider-image-seven-years-after-tsunami-japanese-live-uneasily-with-seawalls

Now, for some other Fukushima news…

  • Yesterday, Oi unit #3 was restarted. It is the sixth unit to emerge from Japan’s nuclear moratorium. Control rods were sequentially raised from their fully-inserted status until a self-sustaining chain reaction (criticality) occurred. Criticality was achieved in the wee hours of this morning. Initial power generation is expected on Friday. Full commercial operation is expected in early April. Oi unit #4 is planned to restart in May. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180314_33/ - https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20180314/p2g/00m/0dm/091000c - https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2018031400952
  • Millions of Japan’s consumers remain hesitant to buy Fukushima food. Though it is the lowest percentage in the last five years, it reveals that unfounded radiophobia and distrust of scientific evidence continues to plague Japan’s marketplace. 12.7% of the respondents to a government survey say they avoid Fukushima foods, regardless of safety checks. An official with the Consumer Affairs Agency said the findings "reveal a weakening sense of wariness over radioactive substances contained in food, and that a cautious feeling toward products from disaster-affected areas is also diminishing." He feels the problem is that public information on tests for radioactive materials in the food have not reached everyone. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=884
  • Fukushima’s governor calls lifting of restrictions on marketing flounder “regrettable”. Governor Masao Uchibori admits that the fish are rigorously screened for radioactive contamination and a local restaurant has had a favorable response. However, the head of the local Fisheries Association called the cancellation of restrictions “sad news”, prompting the governor’s objection. While Japan’s screenings are known to be more than satisfactory, public trust in the results is another matter. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180313_09/
  • A Kyoto court awards more than $1 million to Fukushima evacuees. Of the 174 plaintiffs in the case, only 110 were found worthy of compensation. 64 were rejected. The ruling makes both Tepco and Tokyo mutually responsible for paying the fine. Presiding Judge Nobuyoshi Asami said that to some extent the government was able to foresee the tsunami of 3/11/11 and should have compelled Tepco to take adequate preventative measures. He said, "It is highly likely that the accident could have been avoided if the state had exerted its regulatory authority over Tepco by the end of 2006." The court also said their decision was influenced by the possible danger of low level radiation exposure because, "Its impact on human health is unclear as many factors (about the danger) are still scientifically uncertain." The plaintiffs in the Kyoto suit evacuated from Fukushima, Miyagi, Ibaraki, Tochigi and Chiba Prefectures. https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2018/03/9e947a2a1349-update1-govt-tepco-ordered-to-pay-damages-to-fukushima-disaster-evacuees.html -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201803150056.html
  • Transuranic particles are found outside the F. Daiichi plant site, inside the Fukushima nuclear exclusion zone. Researchers report they have discovered Uranium embedded in Cesium micro-particles several kilometers from F. Daiichi. Dr. Gareth Law of The University of Manchester and an author on the paper, says: "Our research strongly suggests there is a need for further detailed investigation on Fukushima fuel debris, inside, and potentially outside the nuclear exclusion zone… further work will enhance our understanding of the long-term behavior of the fuel debris nano-particles and their impact.” Dr. Satoshi Utsunomiya, Associate Professor at Kyushu University (Japan) led the study. He highlights that: "Having better knowledge of the released micro-particles is also vitally important as it provides much needed data on the status of the melted nuclear fuels in the damaged reactors. This will provide extremely useful information for TEPCO's decommissioning strategy." https://m.phys.org/news/2018-02-evidence-nuclear-fuel-fukushima.html

General comment – In the seven years we have dutifully reported on F. Daiichi, last year was the first that donations were actually less that the cost of maintaining this site. Please donate this year! – End comment. 

March 8, 2018

  • Alaskan fish remain free of Fukushima contamination. Testing for radioactive Cesium between 2014 and July 2017, none of it has been detected. The species taken from the Bering Sea have been Pollock, Pacific Cod, Halibut, Herring, Sockeye & Chinook salmon, and Chum. The minimum detectible concentration (MDC) for radioactive Cesium in Alaska is three Becquerels per kilogram. The American limit for radioactive Cesium is 1,200 Bq/kg. More sensitive analyses run by Fukushima InFORM have an MDC of 0.1 Bq/kg. A typical reading on Alaskan species is 0.2 Bq/kg for Cesium 137, which is the level of nuclear weapon testing in the 1950s and 60s. https://fukushimainform.ca/2018/03/06/no-fukushima-contamination-in-alaskan-fish-2017-update/
  • An Ibaraki professor voices pleasant surprise at the rate of Fukushima soil recovery. Kiichi Nakajima says, "The agricultural sector in Fukushima has entered a recovery phase except in areas near the power plant and heavily contaminated locations. I thought recovery would take at least a decade, but it came unexpectedly early." He added that this “should be made widely known around the world.” https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2018030700681
  • Tokyo says the F. Daiichi ice wall has reduced the influx of groundwater, but more needs to be done. A Tokyo-commissioned panel said the ice wall has reduced the influx into the basements of units #1 through #4 by more than one-half. Current estimates are at 95 tons per day of rainwater and groundwater. Before the wall was built, the influx was about 400 tons per day. To reduce it further, the panel suggests repairing existing roofs for rainwater prevention and other in-leakage points with the basements. The influx needs further reduction to support removal of damaged fuel debris from Reactor Buildings #1 through #3. https://japantoday.com/category/national/fukushima-plant-ice-wall-partly-reduces-radioactive-water
  • Japan’s nuclear watchdog says the Fukushima accident is not over, referencing the remaining decades-long task of F. Daiichi decontamination and fuel debris removal as the reasons for his foreboding statement. Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa said attitudes concerning the NRA have changed for the better, but the public should not forget what happened in March, 2011. On the other hand, he added that there is nearly zero risk of any new problems outside the physical boundary around the nuke station. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180307_37/
  • Fukushima peaches are number one in Southeast Asia for the second year in a row! Exports to Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia, increased to 48 tons in 2017, up 57% from 2016. The biggest importer was Thailand, with more than 31 tons, which was a 50% increase. Malaysia imported 15 tons (a 72.5 % increase) and Indonesia brought in 1.5 tons (a 57% increase). A Fukushima official said, “The efforts of people involved, including producers, farm co-ops and importers, have produced good results. We will continue working on developing effective sales channels to win the support of overseas consumers.” http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=882
  • A second-generation Hiroshima Hibakusha (A-bomb survivor) fights Fukushima prejudices. Yuji Morii, 48, oversees construction and management of waste-water storage tanks at F. Daiichi. He he wants to erase the biases toward the Prefecture, which has suffered considerably from unfounded rumors for nearly seven years. Yuji’s father was exposed to Hiroshima bomb-spawned radiation, and has suffered needless discrimination ever since. Yuji hid his heritage to avoid being showered with heartless comments. He began working in the main office of a Tokyo-based construction firm in 1994, and made his first visit to F. Daiichi in 2012. After several years of seeing and hearing about the discrimination inflicted on Fukushima residents caused by radiation rumors, Yuji transferred to the plant site in 2016. None of the 200-odd tanks he has overseen have leaked. Yuji says, "If there is trouble, then it breeds unnecessary anxiety, and we can't let that strengthen biases (toward Fukushima). Working consistently will lead to rebuilding trust. Fukushima has granted me an opportunity to come face-to-face with my own identity as a second-generation Hibakusha." https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20180305/p2a/00m/0na/010000c
  • Most Fukushima accident responders have not had their free medical checks. Roughly 20,000 workers worked at the station during the nine months following the unit #1 explosion. The Radiation Effects Research Foundation planned to have 80% of the people checked for the long term effects of low level radiation exposure, but only about 7,000 have taken advantage of it. The program began four years ago. 35% have not answered calls to take a screening, 17% have refused take the check-up, and 8.5% cannot be reached. Reasons for non-compliance vary. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180306_21/
  • The rate of anxiety about radiation in Fukushima Prefecture goes up. There had been a slow, steady downward trend in recent years, but there has been an upswing in worries about radiation over the past year. 66% of the population is concerned, up from 63% a year ago. Twenty-one percent say they are “very much” concerned and 45% say they are worried “to some degree”. In addition, 52% say they are not confident that the course of recovery had been “set”. Further, 75% of Fukushima residents oppose the restart of idled nuclear units, which is greater than the national average of 61%. Also, 67% of the Fukushima populace oppose diluting the tritium-laced wastewaters and releasing to the sea, but 87% said they feel anxiety about sea contamination if and when it happens. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201803050049.html
  • Fukushima’s government says they might cut radiation checks on some of its rice in 2020. Currently, all rice is scanned for contamination. None of the commodity has failed to meet national standards (100 Becquerels per kilogram) for three years. If that record continues two more years, 47 of the prefecture’s 59 municipalities will end blanket monitoring and instead shift to random checks. On the other hand, all rice from the 12 municipalities that comprised the old “no-go” zone will continue to be scanned beyond 2020. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0004279793
  • The Okuma government will set up a municipal real estate office. There is no realtor in the town, so the municipality will set up “Okuma Town-Building Public Corporation” for consultations and referrals regarding residential and business use of land. In addition, the office will handle vacant houses and offices to be rented or sold. The corporation is scheduled to open up April 1st in Iwaki City, 40 kilometers south of Okuma, to support completing a reconstruction hub at some point in 2019. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=881
  • Some 73,000 evacuees from the Tohoku region have yet to return home. Roughly 50,000 of them are Fukushima Prefecture residents. The rest are from Miyagi and Iwate. While the total number remains great, it has dropped by about 50,000 over the past year. 53,000 Tohoku evacuees are living in temporary housing, municipality-funded private residences, or welfare facilities. The rest are staying with relatives or friends. Remaining evacuees from Miyagi and Iwate face “soaring land prices” that hinder their ability to build new homes, thus prolonging their refugee status.  https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180307_34/ -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0004286488
  • Japan’s nuke utilities have spent more than $47 billion on idled units since 2011. Some companies have restarted nukes and are recovering financially. But Hokkaido, Tohoku, Tokyo, Hokuriku, Chubu and Chugoku electric power companies and Japan Atomic Power Co. have yet to experience restarts and must recover expenditures through customer billing. Paperwork has been submitted to the NRA to restart 18 idled units, but 15 other restart-worthy units have not had restart requests filed as yet. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201803080090.html

March 1, 2018

  • Fukushima flounder is sold overseas for the first time since 2011. No flounder has failed the radiation tests over the past three years, so about 100 kilograms of the fish is being shipped to Japanese restaurants in Thailand. Kanji Tachiya, head of the Soma Futaba fishermen’s cooperative, said, “The export is encouraging news to us local fishermen as we are hoping to resume full-fledged fishing operations soon.” Sato Suisan is the the local company that bought the stock. Company president Yoshishige Sato said, “I would not like people in Thailand to miss out on the chance to eat the fish.” http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201803010046.html
  • Fukushima Prefecture makes anime films to counter unfounded rumors overseas. This is part of the continuing effort to expand international markets for the prefecture’s farm products and seafood. Five anime “film shorts” promote the safety and quality of Fukushima foods, depicting high school girls playing the roles of foods working hard to have the best taste. The films will not only be in Japanese, but also English, Chinese, Spanish and French versions, to be shown in March at an event in Hong Kong. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180228_28/
  • The World Trade Organization rules South Korea’s ban on Japanese food imports “unjustifiably discriminate”. The WTO recommended corrective action by S. Korea. It also said the South Korean ban was “unnecessarily restrictive against trade”. The WTO finding is equivalent to a lower court ruling. However, S. Korea says it will appeal the decision and will not lift current restrictions until the appeal is ruled on. The S. Korean government says it will “strive wholeheartedly for the protection of safety, not allowing any food products contaminated by radiation whatsoever to be placed on South Korean dinner tables.” The restrictions not only apply to Fukushima Prefecture, but also to Aomori, Iwate, Miyagi, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma and Chiba. Actually, the WTO decision was announced last October, but the report itself was not made public until now. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/wto-ruling-sides-with-japan-against-south-korean-ban-on-japanese-marine-products/
  • The Fukushima ice wall plus the sub-drain system have reduced groundwater influx by more than 80%. The Japanese Press reports that the wall has had as “limited effect”. Regardless, groundwater incursion into the four turbine basement was more than 500 tons per day before the two systems went into operation. It is now less than 100 tons per day.  https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180301_26/
  • A Fukushima child thyroid cancer activist group says that nearly 10% of those diagnosed with the anomalies have suffered recurrence. The group alleges that the Fukushima government has ignored the issue of thyroid cancer recurrence. All those with the recurrent lesions and/or cysts have undergone second operations. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180301_24/  The group fails to mention is that the rate of recurrence is typically much greater, and can be as much as 30%. https://www.cancercenter.com/thyroid-cancer/stages/tab/recurrent/
  • The Mainichi Shimbun reports the only 4% of the children in the evacuation zone will return to school in April. Nine municipalities had restrictions lifted by last spring, but only a small number of families have repopulated in four of them. Namie community had the largest pre-accident school population of the communities mentioned in the article, at 1,440. Only 10 will return in April, and formal decontamination will not start until May. Tomioka, with 1,204 pre-accident students will only have 16 returning. It should be noted that the two community’s schools are reopening for the first time since 2011! https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20180228/p2a/00m/0na/014000c (Comment - The percentage is decidedly skewed by the fact that the two municipalities most-recently having restrictions lifted, Tomioka and Namie, have much larger pre-accident populations than other districts. Communities with their restrictions lifted much earlier have had a slow, steady stream of returning families, such as Odaka (20% repopulation) and Naraha (30% repopulation). These communities are conspicuously missing from the Mainichi article.)
  • A Tepco employee says he was told to reduce the pre-accident tsunami projection. This was part of testimony he presented at a trial in Tokyo District Court concerning accident culpability of three Tepco executives. He said he made the projection in 2003. He was told to use a different methodology supplied by the company. He declined to change his results. He added that his estimate for a worst-case tsunami was 15.7 meters, which was roughly the case with the one that hit F. Daiichi in 2011. He could not recall anything else about the incident. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180228_33/ 
  • Greenpeace Japan continues to promote Fukushima phobia! The activist group says their surveys in Iitate and Namie reveal that contamination levels may be increasing due to influx from the local forests. The range of contamination was between 0.2 and 0.8 microsieverts per hour. While this is essentially harmless, the group points to the target decontamination level of 0.23 mSv/hr and calls it a national limit. One house in Iitate showed a contamination level higher than last year, which seems to be the reason for the sensationalist headline. Buried in the article is the fact that five other houses have shown no such increase.  https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2018/03/71822ef06714-fukushima-village-radiation-still-above-govt-target-after-cleanup.html 


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