Fukushima 124... 1/10/2020 - 3/6/2020


March 6, 2020

  • Part of Futaba’s Tokyo-mandated evacuation order is rescinded. The entire host community for F. Daiichi has been listed as a difficult-to-return (i.e. off-limits) zone since 2011. Lifting the order allows full operation of the town’s train station on the JR Joban line, although the return of residents is not expected until sufficient infrastructure has been restored. A town official said, "We are aiming to have the return of residents starting in the spring of 2022." 95% of Futaba remains restricted, but the partial lifting will accommodate the Olympic torch relay planned for March 26th. Olympic organizers have reported, "In addition to building excitement across the country ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Games and promoting the Olympic values, the Olympic Torch Relay aims to demonstrate solidarity with the regions still recovering from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami." Additional restrictions have also been lifted for parts of F. Daiichi co-host Okuma. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200304_07/ -- https://japantoday.com/category/national/japan-lifts-evacuation-order-for-part-of-disaster-hit-fukushima-town -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13185645
  • IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi supports releasing purified F. Daiichi wastewater to the sea. He says offshore release and atmospheric release of vapor are both technically feasible and “in line with international practice.” He cautioned that everyone maintain close cooperation with the IAEA in the attempt to curb unfounded fears and rumors. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/toward-understanding-on-disposal-of-the-treated-water-in-cooperation-with-the-iaea/
  • Canadian William McMichael brings students to Fukushima University to dispel misconceptions. He says, "I love Fukushima and couldn't accept the awful treatment the prefecture was receiving." He began the effort when he saw Press coverage of the disaster exaggerated the damage done, and said the region was uninhabitable and resembled ground zero after an atomic bomb was dropped. He says, "Fukushima isn't dead! I want people to know that they're looking ahead and moving forward." Unfortunately, his initial efforts in 2011 received essentially the same fake Press as the disaster itself. But, as time has passed, McMichael’s Hope Tourism program has grown in popularity and created ambassadors for Fukushima around the world. https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/03/228c61b5d796-canadian-leads-program-on-fukushima-for-overseas-students.html
  • Fukushima Prefecture is falsely depicted as deadly by an American sci-fi show. The series “Zoo” labeled the prefecture a “land of radioactive pollution”. One character says, “Fukushima? As in nuclear reactors, radiation leaks, and deadly fallout?” During the episode bats fly unusually high and horses turn violent due to the radiation. But, when the DVD of the show was made available in Japan, the misleading dialogue has been omitted. Why? The distributor said it is because of the sensitivities around the issue! https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020030500725
  • Japan’s Foreign Ministry will not sponsor a United Nations Hiroshima exhibit because it includes images of Chernobyl and Fukushima. The exhibit is scheduled to open on April 27. It has been organized by a confederation of A-and H-Bomb Sufferers Organizations and jointly hosted by Hiroshima and Nagasaki city governments for more than 15 years. The exhibit is shown in New York every five years, but this is the first time Tokyo has had problems with it. The Ministry’s reason is “one of three pillars of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty is the peaceful use of nuclear power,” implying that bombs should not be confused with reactors. Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said, “The issue has been under review accordingly by the ministry and I cannot comment on the exchanges with (the exhibit organizers) at this time.” http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13185549
  • Unfounded fears of Fukushima radiation continue unabated in South Korea. There is an historically poor bilateral relationship between Japan and Korea. South Korean President Moon Jae-in has voiced safety issues in the international community since he took office. He argues that Tokyo has not taken the hypothetical impacts on the human body and the marine environment if there is a wastewater release to the sea. Korea’s concerns have amplified since Tokyo announced a release to the sea was feasible, from the standpoint of safety. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020030401214

February 28, 2020

(The latest figures on government-mandated financial compensation to Fukushima evacuees is posted here… https://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/fukushima-evacuee-compensation-payments.html)

  • All restrictions on Fukushima fish shipments have been rescinded. This good news was rendered by Tokyo’s Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters on Tuesday. All 44 species are fully available to consumers without limitations for sale and consumption. A legal limit of 100 Becquerels of total Cesium per kilogram was invoked in June, 2012. By January of last year, only one species exceeded the limit… the stingray. However, none of the 1,008 stingrays tested since then have failed the assessment. As of January 23rd, tested stingrays showed no detectible Cesium-137 or Cs-134 (the so-called fingerprint isotope for accident-spawned contamination). In fact, none of the 43 fish taken within 20 kilometers showed any detectible Cs-134. Regardless of the legal restriction being lifted, The Fukushima Fisheries will voluntarily refrain from fishing the ocean within 10 kilometers of F. Daiichi. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020022501227 -- https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0006379345 -- https://www7.tepco.co.jp/wp-content/uploads/handouts_200226_01-e.pdf
  • The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency says the sea release of purified F. Daiichi wastewater is safe. Specifically, the isotopic limits set by Japan for discharge meet global standards. After visiting F. Daiichi on Wednesday, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said, "Whatever way forward must be based on a scientific process, a process which is based on a scientifically based and proven methodology. It is obvious that any methodology can be criticized. What we are saying from a technical point of view is that this process is in line with international practice." He added that this practice is common around the world even when the water is not then result of an emergency. The IAEA promises to provide whatever support Japan needs to make it happen. Meanwhile, a poll of Fukushima residents finds that 57% oppose releasing the wastewater to the sea. 31% support the release, which is the highest supportive percentage since the annual poll has been taken. https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/02/88570e0acba2-update1-iaea-chief-says-fukushima-water-release-plan-meets-global-standards.html -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13172248 (poll results)
  • Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority approves the plans for restart of Onagawa unit #2. Though the plant itself had little damage due to the March 2011 quake and tsunami, its being nearest the epicenter of the temblor (~100 kilometers) has made it difficult to convince the NRA and local officials that the plant is safe to operate. The NRA announced the decision on Wednesday, after reviewing the required documentation supplied by owner-operator Tohoku Electric Company and review of numerous public opinions. NRA Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa said that Tohoku Electric had “generally responded properly to the NRA’s requests.” Onagawa #2 is the second Tohoku-region BWR to be deemed safe according to the NRA’s stringent safety standards. The first was Tokai unit #2 in Ibaraki Prefecture. It should be noted that the Onagawa station was a safe haven for hundreds of local people during the 5-day blackout following the natural disasters, providing food, water, and bedding on-site and free of charge. Before restart can be allowed by the NRA, several safety upgrades must be completed, including a 29-meter high anti-tsunami sea wall. In addition, whether or not the unit will be approved for restart by local officials remains as an issue! https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200226_21/ -- https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/nra-approves-changes-to-reactor-installation-for-onagawa-2-under-new-regulatory-standards/

February 21, 2020

  • The new IAEA director will visit F. Daiichi next week. This will be International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi’s his first trip to Japan since he took office in December. Grossi will meet with Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi, Industry Minister Hiroshi Kajiyama, and visit the Fukushima Daiichi site during his stay. His main concern with F. Daiichi is the disposal of purified waste water. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200218_42/
  • The remote visual examination inside F. Daiichi Unit #1 containment will be delayed. The initial plan was to begin the inspection before the end of March. Last June, Tepco began drilling a ten-inch access hole through the inner containment vessel door.  Radioactive airborne contamination was generated. Airborne monitors detected the increase and the drilling was terminated. On January 14, the drilling resumed for about ten days to determine if new precautions could keep airborne contamination at bay. It has been determined that further precautions are warranted. The hole is needed to gather some resolidified debris from the inner containment, as well as allow inspection of the physical status of the inner vessel. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=994
  • Tepco is ordered to further compensate voluntary evacuees. The Fukushima District Court awarded local residents 50 plaintiffs, who admit their problem is fear of radiation, $108,000 more money for psychological damage. Mediators had previously recommended this sum as a settlement, but Tepco said they would not comply. Presiding Judge Toru Endo said voluntary evacuees live in a continual state of fear due to the prospect of radiation exposure, and should be compensated above and beyond the more than $3 billion already doled out to voluntary evacuees. The company is considering an appropriate response. Plaintiff’s Lawyer Yoshitaro Nomura condemned Tepco, saying, “Refusing the court’s settlement offer was outrageous. It amounted to ignoring the company’s responsibility for causing this unprecedented nuclear disaster.” http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13144481 -- https://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/fukushima-evacuee-compensation-payments.html

February 14, 2020

  • Tohoku Electric President Hiroya Harada says Onagawa unit #2 is “close to a major turning point toward restarting the plant.” He emphasized three “pillars” of leadership: nuclear safety, preparedness for severe accidents, and a trusting relationship with the local community. Nuclear Regulation Authority members asked Tohoku to make full use to the regulator’s new Corrective Action Program, scheduled for approval in April. President Harada pointed out that motivation and awareness with the staff at the nuke station continue to rise. Although much work still needs to be done, he feels all will be completed by March 2021. Onagawa #2 will probably be the first Boiling Water Reactor plant to restart since the 2011 nuke accident.  https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/nra-exchanges-views-with-tohoku-electric-president-who-says-major-turning-point-is-approaching-toward-restart/
  • The Tokyo Committee for the Olympics and Paralympic Games approves Futaba for the torch relay. The Fukushima prefecture’s government had requested the town to be part of the event. Formal Tokyo approval came today (February 14th). The Fukushima portion of the nation-wide Olympic torch relay will run for 3 days, from March 26th to March 28thhttps://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0006356028
  • More Fukushima residents want random monitoring rather than blanket radiological screenings of rice. Last year, the prefecture’s government decided to canvas the populace to see how making a shift to random screenings might be received. 1,334 residents were surveyed. 46% said they would favor the change, while 40% said they wished for the current practice of blanket monitoring to continue. One official stated, "We think the outcome has resulted from progress made in people's understanding of safety." As for those favoring blanket inspections, the official said the authorities "would like to keep sending out precise and careful information that will lead to the ensuring of confidence" in the safety of local rice. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=992
  • Reuters posts a report on a tour F. Daiichi. This was the reporter’s fourth such visit since the tsunami-caused accident in 2011. He stated that unlike his first visit many years ago, about 90% of the plant site has so little radioactivity, that full, whole body anticontamination togs are no longer required. However, he focused on his tour of the ALPS wastewater treatment facility where full protection is still mandated. The reporter’s ignorance concerning the significance between contamination and radiation itself is apparent. https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/02/05/national/fukushima-no1-nuclear-plant-trip/?fbclid=IwAR3PWxMjQtSk_YhKrkvVkSh28PityRt0hfnU5RiquN9PBm7Tg6f4e6Xv20c#.XkWgOjJKiUn
  • The NRA questions Japan Atomic Power concerning a geological data modification. Japco wants to restart Tsuruga unit #2, located in Fukui Prefecture. An NRA investigative panel says an active geological fault lies beneath the station, but Japco refutes the regulator’s claim. The NRA says some of the scientific data from test drillings has been deleted and replaced without explanation. The NRA says it is "unthinkable to modify or erase original data." https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020021401125

 February 7, 2020

  • Japan explained the merits of releasing purified Fukushima wastewater to foreign embassies on Monday. The government held a briefing at the Foreign Ministry in Tokyo for interested officials from foreign embassies. 28 officials from 23 countries attended. None of the attending officials voiced concerns about the possibility, including South Korea which had been verbally contentious about a release until now. Japan says the health risks to humans would be "significantly small", resulting in between 1/1,600th and 1/40,000th of natural exposure. https://japantoday.com/category/national/japan-tells-embassies-merits-of-releasing-fukushima-water-into-ocean -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20200203/p2g/00m/0na/065000c
  • A foreign expert says the unfounded rumors with F. Daiichi are due to “political intentions”. Lady Barbara Judge of England and Dr. Richard Lester of MIT proffered their opinions to Atoms in Japan. Lady Barbara is former chair of the UK Atomic Energy Authority and is currently deputy chairman of the Nuclear Reform Monitoring Committee, monitoring the safety efforts of Tepco. Judge pointed to Tepco’s overhaul of its safety culture after the F. Daiichi accident, and safety improvements due to the efforts of Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA).  Her words were echoed by Lester. In addition, Lady Barbara said, And although this is only my personal view, unfortunately, there appear to be political intentions behind the unfounded fears and rumors in the context of international relations.” (emphasis added) In addition, Lester added, “I want Japan to play an international role… I think Japan has become passive about nuclear power since the accident at Fukushima Daiichi… Importantly, in order to play a more proactive international role, Japan should jump into such discussions, rather than sit passively.” https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/interview-with-two-experts-former-ukaea-chair-says-political-intentions-exist-behind-unfounded-fears-and-rumors/ (Aside – Japan Atomic Industrial Forum is the ONLY outlet to report on these expert opinions! Further evidence of the Japanese Press’ antinuclear sympathies? No doubt about it! –End aside!)
  • Japan’s Environment Minister wants to expand the area where Iodine tablets will be distributed in advance of nuke accidents. On Tuesday, Minister Shinjiro Koizumi, son of former Prime Minister and fanatical antinuclear activist Junichiro Koizumi, voiced his official position on Tuesday. Current NRA guidelines call for the tablets to be disbursed out to 5 kilometers from a nuke station. The minister wants this expanded to 30 kilometers! This would increase the area of disbursal by more than a factor of nine! https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200204_28/
  • (Opinion alert!) The NRA says high radiation levels have been detected inside F. Daiichi Unit #2 Reactor Building, which should come as no surprise to anyone. On Tuesday, Tepco posted the results of a robotic monitoring of the refueling deck, above the damaged reactor, performed last Thursday. The highest reading was 683 millisieverts per hour. Why this is worthy of sensational Press headlines is a mystery to this reporter. It is actually a much lower reading than just after the accident in March, 2011! https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200204_41/

January 31, 2020

  • The Industry Ministry says releasing F. Daiichi’s purified wastewater to the sea is the best disposal option. A subcommittee has been considering a handful of possibilities for more than a year, but only two make “realistic”: release to the air and/or release to the sea. Both were seriously considered. Release to the sea will probably cause the greatest outcry (especially from the Fisheries) due to the spread of misinformation, but it would greatly reduce scientific and technical problems, such as how surrounding radiation levels might be affected by the very-low radioactivity of the Tritium contained in the liquid. In addition, the committee concluded that a sea release would result in about half the radioactivity added to natural background than an air release. Further, an aqueous release could be carried out “with more certainty”. Regardless, the committee said the final decision rests with the government… i.e. the Prime Minister and the Diet! https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020013100571 -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20200131/p2g/00m/0na/063000c
  • The F. Daiichi contaminated water purification system has treated a million tons of wastewater. The Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) passed the milestone on January 24th. The system captures 62 nuclides, except for Tritium, which is bound in the water molecules and thereby not possible for ALPS to remove. Though biologically innocuous,Tritium is detectably radioactive, which triggers Japan’s rampant radiophobia. ALPS began operation in March, 2013. The multi-stage process begins with Cesium absorption, followed by desalinization, reverse osmosis, and a final nuclide absorption system for the greater number of nuclides. Each ALPS system (there are at least two always running in parallel) has a 750 ton per day capacity. Early on, there were some operating glitches due to the uniqueness of the process, each of which made headlines in Japan. Antinuclear detractors called it a failure, but the unreported lack of problems over the past four years proves the process reliable and effective. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/alps-achieves-treatment-volume-of-one-million-tons-in-less-than-seven-years/
  • JAIF President Akio Takahashi calls the court order to shutter Ikata Unit #3 “quite regrettable”! The injunction mandated by the Hiroshima High Court on January 17th reversed an earlier High Court reversal of an  earlier-still lower court estoppel injunction. Takahashi inferred that the entire nuclear energy industry must be prepared  for such legal shenanigans and strive to better inform the public about the realities of nuclear power production. He stressed the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s scientific rationale for the unit’s safety. He also tossed a not-so-subtle barb at the NRA’s largely arbitrary limit of 40 years on nuke operations (with the possibility of 20 year extensions) by mentioning that the licenses for Turkey Pont Units 3 & 4  in America were extended to 80 years! He said this fact must be better “fed back” to Japan! Takahama also mentioned the economic advantages of extending lifetimes, per a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA). https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/jaif-president-takahashi-gives-press-briefing-describing-court-order-halting-the-operation-of-ikata-3-as-regrettable/
  • The Osaka High Court has rejected an appeal to shutter Ohi units #3 & 4! One person living in neighboring Kyoto Prefecture (the Ohi units are in Fukui Prefecture) had filed the appeal insisting that his livelihood and that of nearby residents were unacceptably at risk! https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200130_45/
  • Shikoku Electric decides to temporarily postpone the appeal of The Ikata #3 estoppel order! The reported reason is heightened public concern over reported problems at the station has risen to an “unprecedented level”! The governor says public distrust has placed him and the company in a tough situation. Governor Nakamura has asked that the head of the Shikoku Company’s nuclear power department be moved to Ikata Station and hold discussions with local residents. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200127_27/
  • A brief, inconsequential power interruption at Ikata nuclear station makes headlines. Unit #1 is being decommissioned and Unit #2 will be scrapped because the cost of upgrades to meet Japan’s new safety requirements could never be recovered. Unit #3 is currently idled for refueling. Regardless, a loss of off-site power for 10 seconds was reported last Saturday by Japan’s Press. The outage was so brief that the automatic initiation of emergency diesel generators did not occur! https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200126_09/
  • Two more perfectly safe reactors will be shuttered due to delays in finishing Tokyo-mandated anti-terrorist facilities. Takahama unit #3 must be shut down on August 2nd, for at least four months. Unit #4 will be shuttered October 7th, also for at least four months. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020012901237

January 24, 2020 

The latest monthly data on Fukushima evacuee compensation has been posted. https://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/fukushima-evacuee-compensation-payments.html

  • The 2020 Olympic Torch relay will include Futaba. While the entire town is currently under a Tokyo-mandated evacuation order, part of it is scheduled to be re-opened on March 4th. This will be well-before the ceremonial relay of the Olympic Flame begins from the Fukushima J-Village on March 26th. The route was formally approved by Fukushima’s torch relay committee on Wednesday. The route will pass through 25 Fukushima municipalities before it leaves the prefecture to traverse the other 46 prefectures of the island nation, culminating in Tokyo’s new Olympic stadium. Fukushima governor Masao Uchibori said that adding Futaba Town to the route sends a strong positive message to people inside and outside Japan. Both of F. Daiichi’s host towns -- Futaba and Okuma -- will now be part of the pre-Olympic mega-marathon of relays for the torch. The Olympic torch will arrive in Japan March 20th in Ishinomaki, and pass through Miyagi and Iwate Prefectures by train before arriving at the J-Village. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200123_31/ -- https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020012300706 -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20200118/p2g/00m/0sp/034000c
  • On January 17th, Tokyo decided to lift evacuation orders for parts Futaba, Okuma, and Tomioka Towns. This marks the first time lifting restrictions for any part of Futaba has been considered. It will positively affect 229 former residents in 75 households, and the new JR Joban train station. The Futaba restrictions will cease on March 4th, while sections of Okuma and Tomioka will experience the same on March 5th and 10th, respectively. Minister Kazunori Tanaka of the Reconstruction Agency said that this is a major step forward for Fukushima reconstruction and serves to refute unfounded rumors. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/evacuation-orders-for-futaba-okuma-tomioka-towns-to-be-partially-lifted-in-march-with-jr-joban-line-to-be-completely-reopened-for-service/
  • 10 kilograms of Fukushima’s specialty persimmons have been shipped to the United Arab Emirates. This is the first export of the fruit outside Japan since the March 2011 nuke accident. The dried fruit is considered a favorite in the UAE. The Japan Agricultural Cooperatives and Fukushima government hopes this will be a stepping stone for other Middle Eastern markets. Additionally, several hundred kilograms of the “ampo-gaki” fruit is planned to be shipped to Thailand this winter. 1,231 tons of ampo-gaki were shipped from the Prefecture in 2010. The crop totaled 930 tons in 2018. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=987
  • A Fukushima farming couple hopes to spur prefectural recovery with milk from Jersey cattle. Their farm is in Samegawa Village, some 100 kilometers from F. Daiichi. But, its reputation has been stigmatized because it is located in Fukushima Prefecture. The Jerseys are from a breed specific to the British Channel Islands and are known for a high-quality milk rich in crème. The farm is run by Daisuke and Nana Shimizu Daisuke says, "We want to be a symbol, a model, for children...who want to try their hand at dairy farming or agriculture." Jersey milk is considered a specialty since 99% of Japan’s milk comes from Holsteins. https://japantoday.com/category/national/feature-couple-dreams-of-revitalizing-fukushima-with-jersey-milk
  • The IAEA focuses on the importance of the NRA’s nuclear energy communication. On January 21, an eight-day mission by the Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS), a team of experts sent by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), ended. Team leader Ramsey Jamal, vice president of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), said Japan has made “quite significant improvement” in nuclear safety since the last IRRS visit, four years ago. One area stressed was improving training for regulatory inspectors and facilitating access to nuclear stations. However, Jamal added, “Although the independence of the regulatory body (i.e. the Nuclear Regulation Authority) should never be impaired, its communication with the industry contributes to nuclear safety” and could be improved. NRA Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa thanked the IRRS and said,  “…neglecting continuous improvement would never be allowed.” https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/finishing-mission-in-japan-iaeas-irrs-points-out-importance-of-nras-communicating-with-nuclear-industry/
  • Tepco expands its 40 years estimate for F. Daiichi decommissioning to 44 years. The revised schedule has four stages:  10 years for the first stage, 12 years for the second stage and 11 years each for the third and fourth stages. The first stage will focus on surveying radioactive contamination, the second on clearing equipment around the four damaged units, the third on the removal of the reactors, and the fourth on demolishing the reactor buildings. Tepco will submit its new plans to the Nuclear Regulation Authority after getting approval from the municipal governments of Tomioka and Naraha, as well as the Fukushima Prefectural Government. https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/01/23/national/tepco-fukushima-decommissioning/#.Xinx9DJKiUl
  • The head of the NRA defends its safety assessment of Ikata nuclear station, despite the recent Hiroshima High Court ruling that ordered closure of fully operational unit #3. The court said the unit’s operation poses an undue danger to local residents, and the NRA underestimated the impact of the eruption of a volcano some 130 kilometers away. It also said the presence of a fault line near Ikata needed more attention. NRA Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa defended the conclusions of the Ikata unit #3 safety assessment, but said he has no intention of interfering with the court's decision. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200123_13/

January 17, 2020

  • Tepco will increase the F. Daiichi staff. The company says the added manpower should preclude series of minor mistakes and related problems that occurred in 2019. Misconnected power lines caused a minor fire at the undamaged units #5 & #6 in June, and mechanical issues have delayed the removal of used fuel bundles from unit #3. Tepco feels these things happened due to a lack of human oversight. Adding another 90 persons to the existing workforce of about 1,000 is believed to be the solution. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200116_35/
  • Tepco believes some of the F. Daiichi ice wall coolant is leaking into the ground. The ice wall around the four damaged units at F. Daiichi has been retarding groundwater influx for four years. About a month ago, the amount of refrigerant in the system began to drop. Supply piping may well be leaking at three locations. More than 20,000 liters has leaked out, but the integrity of the wall itself has not been compromised. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200117_10/
  • Tohoku region sea species struggle to recover from the 2011 tsunami. Biologist Osama Miura of Kochi University has studied the mudflats of Sendai Bay since 2006. When he returned after the tsunami, he was shocked at the destruction. Many of his study sites had vanished. He studied the population of sea snails and their parasites. The snails began to return a year after the giant waves had struck, but their parasites took much longer to return. The fundamental health of the marine ecosystem can be determined by the abundance of trematodes… one of Biologist Omura’s parasites. Kevin Lafferty, a marine ecologist for the US Geological Survey says that trematodes are a useful indicator of food web integrity, “Host diversity begets parasite diversity because host diversity provides opportunities for a variety of life cycles to be completed.” The researcher’s studies show that the Bay is recovering, but ever so slowly. Now, the ecosystem is being threatened with an anti-tsunami wall. Miura laments, “I don’t like the destruction of nature, but on the other hand the people here also need protection, so it’s complicated.” https://www.hakaimagazine.com/news/japans-wildlife-is-still-reeling-from-the-2011-earthquake-and-tsunami/?fbclid=IwAR3Ep7ckhwvCkTw1v78tESQ-aC5G5_wgWD2AqGenvilpf4T07VChjGrqrhg
  • A depleted MOX fuel bundle has been removed from a Japanese reactor for the first time. MOX fuel is a mixture of fresh uranium and recycled reactor-grade plutonium. The bundle is one of 16 MOX bundles that will be removed from Ikata unit #3 during its current refueling and maintenance outage. Although the refueling of reactors with MOX bundles is actually quite common around the world, this is the first ever for Japan. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200114_32/ -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200114_32/ -- https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/01/13/national/control-rod-mistakenly-removed-reactor-ikata-nuclear-power-plant-shikoku-electric/?fbclid=IwAR2XQ_mYQgFUGKihVZ5UhYA7nZNXur4tXnvlkktzuUiIcjocpbvImuK-DlQ#.XiEjyv5KiUn
  • The Hiroshima High Court has once again barred Ikata #3 from operating. The court issued an estoppel order on the unit in 2017, but it was reversed on an appeal to the same court in 2018. Another appealed to the Iwakuni branch of the Yamaguchi District Court was rejected in March 2019, but the Hiroshima High Court has invoked yet another legal reversal!  Presiding Judge Kazutake Mori explained the new ruling, "Research on the active fault is insufficient and the Nuclear Regulation Authority's judgment that it is not a problem is incorrect. (Shikoku Electric) needs to also take into account less than catastrophic eruptions at the caldera of Mt. Aso.” (The 2018 and 2019 rulings verified that the safety considerations based on a worst case eruption were more than adequate.) Shikoku Electric’s response is, "The ruling is deeply regrettable and not one we can possibly accept”, and that they will immediately appeal. Industry minister Hiroshi Kajiyama added, "There is no change to the government's policy of reactivating" reactors that meet the new safety standards. Ikata Mayor Kiyohiko Takakado said, he has “no choice but to accept (the ruling”. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200117_28/ -- https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/01/d6cc992bcefd-update2-high-court-orders-shikoku-electric-to-halt-ehime-nuclear-reactor.html -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ202001170057.html  (All major news outlets covered this today. The few referenced here are representative of the whole.)
  • The total cost to implement post-Fukushima accident nuclear safety measures is estimated at $123 billion. The estimate has come from financial documents supplied by Japan’s 11 power companies with nukes. So far, about $50 billion has been invested in the 15 units currently approved for operation. $8 billion is estimated to decommission those units that the utilities believe would be too costly to  restart. These estimates do not include the costs of decommissioning the six units at F. Daiichi units #1 through #4.   https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/01/8722fafaff9b-costs-for-managing-japans-nuclear-plants-to-total-13-trillion-yen.html

January 10, 2020

  • The Fukushima evacuation zone is teeming with wildlife. Specifically, wild boar, foxes, macaques, raccoon dogs and rabbits. A study published in the Journal of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment by University of Georgia researchers shows wild animals have taken over. More than 100 cameras in three general zones, both inside and outside the “forbidden” areas. Georgia biologist James Beasley says, "Our results represent the first evidence that numerous species of wildlife are now abundant throughout the Fukushima Evacuation Zone, despite the presence of radiological contamination." Co-author Thomas Hinton of Fukiushima University echoed, "Based on these analyses, our results show that level of human activity, elevation and habitat type were the primary factors influencing the abundance of the species evaluated, rather than radiation levels." https://www.cnet.com/news/fukushima-nuclear-disaster-evacuation-zone-now-teems-with-wildlife/?fbclid=IwAR1NUyxCykfC99wPc_9flTzTgAwRpDrZvJfVrUOqxcHUPTdNPmZ2KSz7Z50 -- https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/01/200106124336.htm 
  • The Philippeans have relaxed restrictions on Japanese food imports. The island nation has eliminated the need for radiation test results for types of seafood and agricultural products from Fukushima and surrounding areas. Japan’s Foreign Secretary Toshimitsu Motegi said, "I look forward to safe Japanese food reaching many of the people of the Philippines." After the 2011 nuke accident, 54 countries invoked restrictions on Japanese food imports due to the possibility of accident-based contamination. With the Philippeans announcement, the number of countries still maintaining constraints is down to 20, which includes the United States. https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20200109/p2g/00m/0bu/084000c
  • The November data for contamination in fish taken within 20km of F. Daiichi has been posted. None of the 69caught outside the F. Daiichi port breakwall had detectible Cesium-134… the “fingerprint” isotope for the nuke accident. Only four of them had barely detectible levels of the Cesium-137 isotope, which is probably due to residuals from nuke weapons tests after World War II. Eight fish were taken from inside the port breakwall, and two showed detectible Cs-134. One of them had a total Cesium radioactive concentration higher than the Japanese standard of 100 Becquerels per kilogram. https://www7.tepco.co.jp/wp-content/uploads/handouts_191225_01-e.pdf -- https://www7.tepco.co.jp/wp-content/uploads/handouts_191225_02-e.pdf
  • Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority is accused of possibly violating Japanese Law. The NRA’s closed-door pre-hearing concerning Kansai Electric Company in 2018 may have usurped Japan’s Public Records and Archive Management Act. Minutes of the meeting were not recorded and all documents distributed to participants were destroyed. A related proposal was made public less than a week later, without reference to the earlier meeting in question. The Mainichi Shimbun, infamously for being openly antinuclear, says it has come across a copy of the pre-hearing agenda.  In response to the Mainichi allegation, an NRA representative said, "It was a brainstorming session in which participants spoke freely about the issues and their views, and in which no conclusion was drawn. The session does not correspond to a decision-making process as defined in the Public Records and Archives Management Act." It seems the news outlet isn’t buying it! https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20200104/p2a/00m/0na/013000c
  • Kansai Electric capitulates to NRA pressure to close two operating nukes later this year. Units #3 & #4 at Takahama Station, Fukui Prefecture, will be taken off line in August and October, respectively, because their NRA-mandated anti-terrorist facilities will not be finished by then. This is the second nuke utility to plan shutting down perfectly safe nukes because of not being able to meet NRA anti-terrorist facility deadlines. The other two are located at Kyushu Electric’s Sendai Station. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20200107_06/

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