Fukushima 128... 12/4/2020-12/11/2020


 December 25, 2020

  • Resolidified fuel removal from F. Daiichi unit #2 is further delayed due to COVID19. The Industry Ministry says the robotic arm that will be needed for the careful process has had its development stalled in England due to pandemic cutbacks. Tepco had planned to perform robotic arm experiments in Britain in August, but the plan has been suspended and will resume after the device has been transported to Japan. A Ministry official says, “"We will put safety first and make efforts to ensure that the delay of the process will be limited to around a year." The device is expected to arrive in Japan in April for further development. Unit #2 did not suffer a hydrogen explosion and must have the least damage of the three units that suffered meltdown, making it less problematic for the defueling process. Of the three units containing reactors with damaged fuel cells, robotic surveys have shown the most detailed images and data from inside that building. It is now hoped that the work can begin in 2022 instead of next year. https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/12/4e2ce29b334c-melted-fuel-removal-from-crippled-fukushima-reactor-to-be-delayed.html -- https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020122301000 -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201223_05/
  • Namie rice harvest is the first since the 2011 tsunami. The coastal evacuation order was lifted three years ago, and it has taken this long to restore the farmland. A Miyagi Prefecture company planted 24 hectares this past spring, leased from local farmers. 100 kilograms of the product have been put on sale at a roadside rest area. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201219_18/
  • An IAEA monitoring team is ready to support the release of mildly radioactive wastewater from F. Daiichi, if and when it happens. International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Rafael Grossi said, "We can cooperate if the government of Japan so decides and invites us. We could cooperate in the whole spectrum of the operation, before, during and afterwards. Regulated discharge to the open sea or evaporation, are technically feasible" and "in line with the current practice and best practices internationally." The Innocuous release is being delayed due to radiophobic local opposition and neighboring countries like South Korea and China. On Sunday, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said that the government can no longer put off the decision. Grossi also spoke in a positive fashion about geological burial of high level nuclear waste, citing the new facility in Finland. https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/12/b739b01e6cf5-iaea-ready-to-send-monitor-team-for-fukushima-water-release.html
  • How safe will the wastewater release from F. Daiichi be? Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute is checking the San Onofre (SONGs) facility’s environment to find out. It has had “liquid batch releases” to the Pacific Ocean for many years. To insure reasonable transparency, California’s Surfrider Foundation acts as an external, independent testing option, just to be a watchdog. While San Onofre was operating, all water quality testing was done by Southern California Edison. The releases from the facility are piped more than a mile offshore at a depth of about 50 feet. It must be “purified” and diluted before release, just as will be the case with the fluids from F. Daiichi. The volume for this year has been about 200,000 gallons. At no time did the contamination level exceed regulatory limits. Concerning the radiological impact, Wood’s Hole‘s senior scientist, Ken Buessler, said, “You could still swim or surf every single day for an entire year and the dose effect of the additional radiation is about a thousand times smaller than a dental X-ray.” Southern California Edison adds thatSCE has been safely cleaning and discharging these liquids for more than 50 years with no measurable impact on the environment! https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-12-01/songs-surfrider?fbclid=IwAR2zCuOHfugRRx6QAnA287tQMS-vREEvrNRd6wyJemRXBlP1OnUDguUveQE
  • Meanwhile, Mutsu Mayor Soichiro Miyashita continues to take umbrage with siting a used nuclear fuel facility in Aomori Prefecture. Now, he argues that his community is "not a nuclear dumping site" and there is "no need" for Mutsu to accept the spent fuel from across Japan. Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan (FEPC) vice chair Shimizu Shigenobu responded, "We want to move forward with considering (the plan) while we make efforts to gain understanding from local residents." Miyashita maintains that the facility has been “imposed” on his town and other more appropriate locations should be considered. He believes that the Mutsu facility will not be a temporary location, as it has been purported, but rather a permanent storage site. https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20201219/p2a/00m/0na/012000c

December 18, 2020

  • Tokyo will give about $19,000 to families that return to evacuated Fukushima towns. Businesses that reopen will get roughly $38,000. The incentive program will start next year. Eleven of the communities were ordered to flee by the central government, while another, Hironomachi, was evacuated by order of the town government. The money is intended to increase the rate of repopulation since only about 20% have returned since evacuation orders were rescinded. In order to qualify, the residents must agree to live at the locations for at least five years. The maximum amount for returning home is for those who have relocated in other prefectures. Tokyo hopes that the money will cause 300 people to return the first year of the subsidy. Other monetary incentives will be given to promote town development and area revitalization. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14031389
  • The government will remove the two remaining wind power units off the shore of Futaba. The reason given is lack of financial profitability due to a poor operating record. Three units were built beginning in 2012 to demonstrate renewable power feasibility. It was literally a pipe dream. Capacity factors for wind turbines must be at 30% or more to make a profit. None of the units came close to that! Capacity factor is the ratio of actual electrical output over a given period of time compared to the maximum output over that period if the unit operated at 100% all the time. The wind units off Futaba had capacity factors that varied between 4% and 36%. Local people complain that taxpayer money has been wasted and an investigation should happen. The cost of the project was more than $550 million. https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/12/cb1e52acc2bc-govt-to-pull-out-of-60-bil-yen-wind-power-project-off-fukushima.html
  • Japan’s FEPC says twelve units using pluthermal nuclear fuel is possible Pluthermal fuel (MOX) is comprised of recycled uranium and plutonium extracted from used fuel bundles. The Federation of Electric Power Company’s original goal was to have as many as 18 units running on MOX bundles by 2015. At this point, only four units are using MOX fuel. But, FERC maintains the original goal is still possible. In order to meet that goal, nuke utilities need to agree to the mutual usage of the recycled fuel. Currently, plans to recycle the used fuel and fabricate new fuel bundles are a matter of individual utilities using only their own spent fuel. By combining their efforts, the cost of the fuel will be mitigated. Presidents of nine electric power companies that operate nuclear plants, such as Japan Atomic Power Co., are scheduled to meet to approve the pluthermal vision. Exacerbating the planning is a sudden two-year delay in finishing the Rokkasho nuclear fuel project, which has already passed the Nuclear Regulation Authority safety inspection. Instead of a 2022 start-up, it will begin operation in 2024.  https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201217_32/ -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14013780 --  https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201216_35/ -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201216_22/
  • The NRA is inspecting the Japan Atomic Power Company for evidence of malfeasance. Allegedly, the company rewrote safety review data to have Tsuruga unit #2 restarted. This is a rare procedure for the nuke watchdog. NRA Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa explained, "We hope to clarify the Japan Atomic Power's vision through the inspection." At issue is whether or not a fault line under the unit’s reactor building is active. During an administrative safety review, the NRA found about 80 data alterations and/or deletions in the company’s official documents. https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20201214/p2a/00m/0na/012000c
  • Hokkaido communities formally object to requests to apply for preliminary studies concerning locating nuke waste storage sites near them. The Shimamaki village assembly passed an antinuclear waste ordinance to prevent said waste from passing through their town. The vote was four to three, with the assembly president abstaining. Supposedly, potential host site Suttsu refused to hear the Shimamaki opposition, which infuriated some to the town’s assembly. One opposing assembly member said, “Suttsu was not even going to listen to (opposing voices). It has to be stopped completely before moving from the first stage to the next.” He takes umbrage with Suttsu Mayor Haruo Kataoka for overriding local opposition and offering the town as a candidate for nuclear waste storage. It seems that three other communities are in agreement with the Shimamaki ordinance. In addition, the Furubira town assembly approved an opinion paper saying nuclear waste should not be brought into the northern island of Hokkaido at all. The first stage can be carried out without the consent of local governments, but the second and third stages must have local agreement. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14025336

December 11, 2020

  • A Fukushima wild mushroom harvester questions Japan’s overly-strict contamination standards. Tanagura resident Tsutomu Jinno says he never thought nearby wild mushrooms would be restricted because the town is 80 kilometers from F. Daiichi. He was wrong. The fungus absorbs radioactive Cesium at a high rate and literally stores it for long periods of time. Matsutake mushrooms are renowned for their great taste and unique aroma. They are considered a delicacy. But because of Japan’s overly-restrictive contamination limit of 100 Becquerels per kilogram, they cannot be harvested and eaten. Mr. Jinno collects as many as he can, they throws them away to limit the illegal practice. He says, “Honestly, it is painful to throw them away.” He wonders if the limit might be overly-restrictive. Koriyama Professor Hiroi Masaru suggests this might be the case, “Strict standards are necessary for foods we eat on a daily basis, such as rice, but we only consume mountain vegetables or wild mushrooms several times a year. The current radioactive levels would cause almost no harm.” In addition, International food standards tell us that 1000 Bq/kg or less is safe to consume. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/backstories/1401/
  • The NRA takes issue with last week’s Osaka court ruling on KEPCO nuke restarts. The court order prevents restart of Kansai units #3 & #4 allegedly because the Nuclear Regulation Authority violated its own safety regulations by not considering the most extreme hypothetical earthquake, far worse than anything ever occurring in Japan, and ”only” using the “average” of the data behind the regulations. A lawyer for the plaintiffs posited, “It is extremely significant that the court pointed out that the central government had ignored the very rules it created.” The court’s decision threatens to shutter all of Japan’s nukes. After a day to consider the outrageous ruling, an NRA earthquake expert said, “We were confident about the results of our screening, so it is a shock to have that rejected.” Another NRA official says, “If we took into consideration all possible factors, we would end up reaching a calculation for a phenomenon that would never occur.” Although the ruling stands for the time being, the NRA has no plans to review their regulations. An NRA source said, “This is still at the court of first instance.  It will not mean an immediate review of how the basic earthquake ground motion is calculated. It is too early to say this will affect other screenings because the Supreme Court has not yet finalized the ruling.” http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13992247
  • The NRA says Japan’s first MOX fuel fabrication plant meets regulatory safety standards. Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd’s (JNFL) Rokkasho unit formally passed NRA review on December 9th, after nearly seven years of deliberations. It is located in Aomori Prefecture.  By doing this, the  NRA says it meets or exceeds all stipulations in the Law for the Regulation of Nuclear Source Material, Nuclear Fuel Material and Reactors (the Reactor Regulation Law). The facility will recover uranium and plutonium from used nuclear fuel and refabricated as mixed uranium-plutonium oxide (MOX) fuel for use in light water reactors (LWRs). NRA Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa referred to a MOX supply-and-demand balance presented by the Japan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC). This means that used fuel reprocessing and MOX fuel fabrication ought to be treated concurrently so that safety and resistance to nuclear proliferation were “both enhanced.” In October, the NRA endorsed draft certification documents showing the plant cleared the screening requirements adopted after the 2011 F. Daiichi accident. The unit is scheduled for completion in the first half of 2022. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/japans-nra-recognizes-compatibility-of-jnfls-mox-fuel-fabrication-plant-with-new-regulatory-standards-approving-changes/ -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201209_32/ -- https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020120900861
  • Japan’s Federation of Electric Power Companies considers joint use of a temporary used fuel storage facility. The Mutsu unit is co-owned by Tepco and Japan Atomic Power Company (JAPCO). It is located in Aomori Prefecture and scheduled to open in 2021. Originally intended for only Tepco and JAPCO used fuel storage, the F. Daiichi accident greatly reduced the potential influx of used fuel bundles. Thus, there should be room to accommodate fuel bundles from other companies for a fee. Some of the fee-based fuel bundles are expected to come from Kansai Electric Company, which is being pressured by Fukui Prefecture to identify a candidate site for its spent fuel storage. it is a condition for local authorities to decide whether to approve the restart of the Takahama units #1 & #2 and Mihama unit # 3 reactor. All three have exceeded Tokyo’s largely arbitrary 40 year operating limit. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020121100148

December 4, 2020

  • An Osaka court hands down a potential landmark by rejecting Japan’s revamped nuclear safety rules. The decision, if it is not struck down, could have far-reaching implications. The NRA uses the same method to judge the safety levels of all other nukes. The ruling made the roughly 130 plaintiffs virtually giddy with joy. They argued that Nos. 3 and 4 units of Kansai Electric Power Co.'s Oi nuclear station in Fukui Prefecture are vulnerable to a major earthquake. Presiding Judge Hajime Morikagi said the Nuclear Regulation Authority's safety screening "has errors and flaws that should not be overlooked", suggesting a quake far greater than what the NRA believes is possible. Plaintiff lawyers say the decision resulted from "sincere and serious deliberations." As a result, they demand the immediate abolition of all "dangerous" nuclear units in Japan. To the contrary. NRA Lawyers responded that the plaintiffs’ arguments are “something they came up on their own and not based on scientific knowledge. We believe we were unable to earn the court's understanding regarding our claims. We will have discussions with the ministries and agencies concerned and respond accordingly.” Plant owner Kansai Electric Company posted that decision was "extremely regrettable and totally unacceptable." The court interprets a recent NRA regulatory provision saying the screening guidelines should account for variability due to various calculation methods. The plaintiffs say safety measures must be based on the most extreme earthquake conceivable for the region, and the NRA’s current calculation method merely produces an “average” for the regulatory design basis. Both Oi units are currently shut down for refueling and scheduled maintenance. They may restart if the NRA appeals the decision. Regardless, the ruling applies to all units in Japan until such time as it is struck down.  https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020120400954 -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/13989665 -- https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2020/12/8c717cf8568d-urgent-japan-court-nullifies-approval-of-oi-nuclear-reactor-safety-steps.html -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20201204_27/ (The court decision is immediately the lead story through-out Japan’s news outlets. The above-listed references seem to embrace the range of Press coverage.)
  • Many voluntary evacuees are paying the price for their radiophobic decision to flee. Some 40 % of Fukushima evacuees are making less than $29,000 per year, which is considered low income in Japan. A survey held by Kwansei Gakuin University's Institute of Disaster Area Revitalization, Regrowth and Governance found that 75% of the low income respondents were From Fukushima Prefecture. Of them, 60% evacuated voluntarily! Before the nuke accident, average income was about $38,000 annually. 90% of the voluntary single-mother evacuees are included in the low income demographic. Close to 70% of respondents said they had no intention of returning home. Gakuin University’s Shigeki Yamanaka, says,, "Single-mother evacuees …have to take on two or three jobs. There needs to be a basic income system guaranteeing a minimum income for people who evacuate in a nuclear disaster, as well as a fund to support those people." https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2020120100633 -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20201128/p2a/00m/0na/013000c

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