Fukushima Accident Updates (Blog)

Your most reliable source of objective Fukushima News. No "spins"...just summaries of news reports in Japan's Press, which calls the Fukushima accident a nuclear disaster. Post are made weekly on Thursdays.

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September 13, 2018

  • The NRA Chairman rejects the idea that the recent Hokkaido blackout would have been averted with Tomari restarts. Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa of the Nuclear Regulation Authority said such comments about the unrestarted Tomari nuke units fail to consider “Confirming the safety of a nuclear plant and ensuring the power supply are two entirely separate issues. The NRA’s judgment will not be affected by other considerations.” The three units at Tomari are currently being examined by the NRA for compatibility with the new regulatory standards. Some experts feel, however, that restarting the reactors would be acceptable out of human necessity, with examinations continued “in parallel.” However, federal and local political bodies avoid the issue early restarts. The dilemma is a question of prudence. What is more acceptable? Continuing the current process for restarts, or implementing a more responsible energy policy? https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/nra-chairman-rebuts-idea-that-hokkaido-blackouts-could-have-been-averted-had-tomari-npps-been-restarted/
  • The NRA Chairman defends his wait-and-see position on F. Daiichi unit#3 wastewater.  After two days of public hearings on the issue, Fuketa said, “Given that a precise process (of hearings) is proceeding, we are waiting to make a judgment.” Some are concerned about the damage of unfounded fears and rumors by the offshore disposal of tritiated water. Many others believe the water should remain stored for the time being while new treatment technologies are being sought. Fuketa added that it is natural for people to feel psychological resistance to once-contaminated things, even after those things had been cleaned. In addition, he recognized that people were concerned about unfounded fears and rumors. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/nra-chairman-worried-that-tritium-water-storage-would-complicate-fukushima-daiichi-decommissioning/
  • The Tritiated water hearings took place in Tomioka Town, Koriyama City, and Tokyo. Experts from Japan’s Agency for Natural Resources and Energy (ANRE) were heard. There was strong opposition by some of the participants against the offshore release of the tritium. Their reasons ranged from fear that it would only worsen the damage from unfounded fears and rumors, to adverse effects on health and to concern about who would be held responsible. On the other hand, some criticized the hearing venue itself. One complaint was that the hearings “should not be used as a pretext to proceed with pre-assumed offshore release,” and that “the issue should be considered nationally, and opinions from overseas should be heard.” There were also opinions on how to form a consensus, including holding a referendum in the surrounding municipalities before tritium water is discharged, corresponding to the distrust in the government. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/explanatory-meetings-and-public-hearings-held-on-handling-of-tritium-water-in-tomioka-koriyama-and-tokyo/
  • F. Daiichi will be reinforced against tsunami. Tepco wants to avoid another possible mega-tsunami from causing the leakage of highly radioactive water accumulated in the basements of units #1 through #4. The company announced its plan at a meeting of with the NRA on Friday. Research shows such a quake could send tsunami of more than 10 meters into the nuke station and cause highly radioactive water to gush out. Tepco will seal the building entrances and other openings to keep radioactive water from being released, plus extend existing sea walls. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180914_29/
  • The NRA criticizes Tepco’s delays in spent (used) fuel removal from F. Daiichi unit #3. Tepco says the cause of the delays is lax quality control of facilities and equipment. The removal of the used fuel bundles was supposed to begin in November, but the company now says it will be difficult to start the work as planned due to a series of problems with facilities and equipment. The NRA says Tepco’s over-all quality control system is “low”, beginning with top management. The company promised to find the cause of the problems and effect prompt resolution. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180914_31/

September 6, 2018

  • A powerful earthquake in Hokkaido causes Tomari station to lose all off-site power. At 3:07 am this morning, a quake measuring 7 on the Japanese intensity scale struck the northern island of Hokkaido, causing a major blackout. Nearly 3 million homes lost power. Tomari station was also struck by the island-wide blackout, so six emergency diesels automatically started to supply the station with all the power necessary for cooling all there reactors and spent fuel pools. The diesels kicked in so quickly that there was no measurable change in spent fuel pool water levels. No release of radioactivity has occurred. In addition to Tomari, all fossil-fueled power plants and hydro-electric units were knocked off the grid, resulting in the blackout. The only power to the island came from interconnections with Honshu’s electric grid. Power was restored to Tomari by 1pm through the Honshu connection and restarts of hydro plants. By 9pm, some of the fossil-fueled units were restarted, so some 412,000 homes had power. The industry ministry says that about 1.2 million home should get power back by Friday morning. 25 mobile generators have been deployed and it is expected that another 150 mobile units will be sent to Hokkaido from other parts of Japan. First priority to use the mobile generators to power hospitals across the island. The quake has killed at least 9 people, injured more than 300, and has caused another 36 people to be unaccounted for. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180906_16/ -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0004713745 -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180906_16/ -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180906_33/ -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180907_02/ -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20180906/p2g/00m/0dm/082000c
  • The Nuclear Regulation Authority instructs nuke plant operators to install atmospheric monitoring systems for radioactive plumes. Government grants are available to pay for the monitors placed inside the 30 kilometer emergency planning zones around the nuke stations. The monitors will provide plume updates every 10 minutes. Each EPZ will have up to 48 monitors; 3 each at 16 locations. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201809040018.html  
  • Fukushima residents voice strong objections to Tokyo saying the Tritium-laced waste waters at F. Daiichi should be released to the sea. Fishermen and local residents vehemently oppose the government’s plan to discharge the mildly radioactive water, saying it will damage a number of industries. The residents also blasted the Industry Ministry and Tepco for allegedly “misleading” the public by failing to disclose that radioactive substances, such as strontium, remained in the water to be discharged. Aside – The announcement of these trace amounts has been public knowledge for several months. – End aside. Although Tokyo says they will have all the stored water re-run through the purification system to remove the trace levels isotopes other than Tritium, such as Strontium, the nay-sayers were still up in arms. One said, “The (negative) influences of the measure will reach a wide range of fields, including not only the fishery industry but also tourism and restaurant businesses.” Another said any release of the Tritiated waters would strike a “devastating blow” to the prefecture’s fishing industry, “If the water is discharged in large quantities, it will inevitably cause confusion in Japan and abroad and lead to damage from groundless rumors.” The NRA says the discharge of the waters, after dilution, is the only feasible way to stop the constant buildup. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201808310042.html
  • A former F. Daiichi worker dies of cancer, and his lifetime exposure is played by the Press as the reason for his demise. NHK World and Japan Today say the government “acknowledges” this, and the Mainichi Shimbun reports that the man’s cancer was indeed work-related. All news outlets are calling this the first death actually cause by Fukushima radiation exposure. The man’s lifetime exposure over a period of 28 years as a professional in radiation detection was 195 millisieverts. At F. Daiichi, he was exposed to nearly 110 millisieverts between March, 2011 and September, 2015. The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare decided that the worker qualified for workman’s compensation under Japan’s ridiculous blue law on the subject, on September 4th. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180905_31/ -- https://japantoday.com/category/national/japan-acknowledges-first-radiation-death-among-fukushima-workers -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20180905/p2a/00m/0na/004000c  (Comment – Residents of Ramsar, Iran, are routinely exposed to 250 millisieverts every year, and show no significant health differences from people who live in normal background areas. This important fact is always overlooked by Japan’s largely antinuclear Press! https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11769138 ) Addendum - the following link is for Dr. Jim Conca's Op/ed piece in Forbes showing why the worker's cancer death could not possibly be due to his Fukushima exposure. https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2018/09/06/no-the-cancer-death-was-probably-not-from-fukushima/#7385a69721b5
  • A Tokyo court accepts a written statement by a former Tepco executive relative to an on-going negligence trial. The official says his boss abruptly postponed tsunami prevention measures at F. Daiichi 1 in 2008. The statement was made by Kazuhiko Yamashita and read aloud in court on September 5th. To prove negligence, prosecutors are trying to show that the top executives could have predicted the height of the tsunami that swamped the plant, and upgraded tsunami protection accordingly before the march 11, 3011 natural disaster caused a full-station blackout. Yamashita says that the upgrades were at-first approved by the three former Tepco executives on trial, but later delayed the implementation of the measures. Instead of sworn testimony, the court allowed the written statement because “(Yamashita) is not in a condition able to testify at the court.” http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201809060062.html

August 30, 2018

  • A public hearing was held concerning the Tritium-laced water stored at F. Daiichi. A panel of government experts discussed how to deal with the problem in Tomioka Town on Thursday. Roughly 100 residents and heads of stakeholder organizations attended. Among the possible options to dispose of the tritium-laced water, the government says diluting and releasing it into the sea is the quickest and most inexpensive way. But, local fishermen fear that the progress made since fishing resumed could be undone if the release happens. On the other hand, an Osaka participant supported the dilute and release option. More hearings will be held in Koriyama and Tokyo on Friday. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180830_17/
  • A double nuclear accident drill was held in Fukui Prefecture. The two day drill was simultaneously coordinated between the Ohi and Takahama stations, which are 13 kilometers from each other. Tokyo’s Cabinet Office planned the exercise to prepare for accidents striking multiple locations at the same time. The hypothetical scenario was a severe earthquake resulting in both nuke stations being blacked out, all cooling systems being lost, and the subsequent environmental release of radioactive substances. Roughly 21,000 people participated in the exercise. The 1,600 people who live within 30 kilometers of the stations were evacuated by bus or private vehicles to test the effectiveness of evacuation plans. Those moved to neighboring Kyoto Prefecture were scanned for radioactive contamination. Data from the drill will be used to upgrade the existing evacuation plans. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180825_15/ - https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180826_19/  - https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2018/08/e25eab5cdb7f-update1-govt-conducts-evacuation-drill-for-multiple-nuclear-accidents.html
  • Fukushima’s “radiation boy” statue is removed from public view. Fukushima City Mayor Hiroshi Kohata says it was done because the statue causes the misconception that the city is contaminated. He said, “I sincerely apologize to people who have been saddened or discomforted (by the statue). We set up the statue as a symbol of people striving for reconstruction but have come to judge that the statue is not accepted by many citizens. We’ve judged that it is too difficult to continue to display such a controversial work as a symbol of the desire for reconstruction.” The 6.2 meter statue named “Sun Child” was made by contemporary artist Kenji Yanobe to express his wish for a world free of nuclear disasters. He said, "(The removal) is truly regrettable, but I thought we shouldn't provoke a confrontation anymore among people inside and outside the city." Of the 110 public responses concerning the statue, 75 wanted it removed and 22 did not. The question of what to do with the statue will not be easily answered because the city has no municipal art museum. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0004693866 - https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2018/08/9b560c15c4ec-controversial-fukushima-statue-of-child-in-radiation-suit-to-be-removed.html
  • Tepco plans to begin training in trial operations for de-fueling the unit #3 Spent Fuel Pool. On August 10th, the company told the Nuclear Regulation Authority that actual fuel bundle removal could begin by the end of the year. On August 6th, President Akira Ono of the Fukushima Daiichi Decontamination & Decommissioning Engineering Company said that the workers can now wear ordinary clothing or use light protective equipment in most 96% of the area, thanks to efforts reducing radiation levels. Besides alleviating the physical burden on the workers and improving their efficiency, being able to wear less-cumbersome outfits facilitates ordinary communications between them. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/preparations-continue-to-remove-spent-nuclear-fuel-from-unit-3-at-fukushima-daiichi/
  • The removal of fuel bundles from the Monju Fast Breeder reactor begins. Japan Atomic Energy Agency has plans to relocate 530 used fuel bundles from sodium-based storage to a water pool by December 2022. The reactor is currently ear-marked for decommissioning. One bundle a day will be relocated to minimize the possibility of a violent sodium-water reaction. JAEA also plans to remove 760 tons of uncontaminated sodium from a secondary cooling system by year-end. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2018083000598
  • Dr. Jim Conca answers the question, “How far do we need to run if a small modular reactor melts down?” He says no one needs to run because SMRs cannot melt down, and further that any plausible emergency condition would not release environmental contamination beyond the property boundary. Jim brashly states, “You can just stand there at the fence and watch what’s going on.” America’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission essentially came to this conclusion while evaluating a Tennessee Valley Authority application for a site permit! https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2018/08/29/how-far-do-you-have-to-run-after-a-small-modular-nuclear-meltdown/#5c3857b77393
  • The Tokyo government holds public briefings on the disposal of highly radioactive nuclear waste. The Agency for Natural Resources and Energy has so far held 55 briefing sessions in the capitals of prefectures that may be geologically suitable for such a repository. Participants question whether or not high-level nuclear waste can safely be stored in earthquake-prone Japan. They are also concerned about how local people's opinions may be reflected. Although no municipality suitable for the repository has agreed to it, the briefings covering some 900 communities will continue. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180827_27/

August 23, 2018

  • Tokyo will not remove the installed public radiation monitors in Fukushima Prefecture. Nuclear Regulation Authority section chief Shoji Takeyama, told the Prefecture this on Wednesday. There are roughly 3,000 monitors located across the prefecture, costing the NRA about $4 million a year. The agency had said they would remove 2,400 on the devices through the next 3 years, but caved to the complaints of local residents. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180823_12/
  • Japan’s sweltering heat wave has raised heat-stroke concerns at F. Daiichi. A manager of sub-contractor IHI Construction told his workers, “Please limit your efforts to shifts of less than 90 minutes” in order to better manage the heat. IHI builds the large tanks for storing waste waters. The personnel must hydrate themselves while working, but many do not due to wearing required protective clothing and having to remove it in order to hydrate at water stations. Junichi Ono, the head of the IHI Plant Construction’s task force, said, “We need to pay attention because we work in a humid environment.  If a worker falls sick, we will lose valuable time taking that person to the doctor.” On-going efforts to protect personnel have dropped the number of heatstrokes from 23 in 2011 to 6 in 2017. Although this year has been one of unprecedented heat, only four cases of heatstroke have occurred. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201808180033.html
  • F. Daiichi will have stronger tsunami protection. The upgrades are intended to prevent contaminated water in building basements from being spilled into the Pacific Ocean. Tepco will accelerate the schedule to block openings on the surface and the buildings’ ground floors. The new schedule is due to a December earthquake assessment the says a 8.8 Richter Scale quake is “imminent”. The resulting tsunami could reach a peak of 10.3 meters, which is nearly two meters higher than the ground elevation above sea level. There is about 50,000 tons of contaminated water in the basements of units #1 through #4. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0004670847
  • Tepco looks to create a consortium of key nuclear industry companies for maintenance and management services and decommissioning. The desired companies are Chubu Electric Power Co., Hitachi Ltd. and Toshiba Corp. The intent is to streamline operations and safety management, which promises to reduce costs for everyone. In addition, the consortium could discuss possible construction of new nuclear plants in the coming years. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201808220046.html
  • The costs of making nuclear anti-terrorist upgrades are steep. NRA-mandated measures will have a price tag of at least $40 billion. Nuke operators must construct a facility to cool reactors via remote control in the event of a terrorist attack or an aircraft smashing into a plant. The upgrades are required to make the upgrades within 5 years of clearing NRA safety regulations. Currently, six of the 11 nuke companies have yet report on their anticipated costs, so the total price tag will probably be a lot more. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201808230044.html  
  • Small-to-trace amounts of radioactive isotopes in F. Daiichi’s fully-treated waste waters make headlines. The reason is continuing radiophobic “concerns” by local fishermen and local residents. Allegedly, only the residual Tritium in the waters is of continuing concern. Also, the complainers say the 920,000 tons of stored water is not being checked for radioactivity once the water is safely in storage. https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2018/08/e52ba157d49a-treated-water-at-fukushima-nuclear-plant-has-radioactive-substances.html  (Comment - Stories like this serve no purpose other than keep the radiophobic demographic on edge!)
  • United Nation’s rapporteurs tell Tokyo to better protect workers at F. Daiichi from radiation exposure. The 3 independent “experts” appointed by the UN Human Rights Council jointly issued a statement on Thursday, August 16th. The report says workers are "being exploited and exposed to toxic nuclear radiation" and says they are deeply concerned about "possible exploitation by deception regarding the risks of exposure to radiation" and "the adequacy of training and protective measures." Lawyer Baskut Tuncak says their concerns have not been dispelled by the Japanese government. Tokyo has lodged a protest over the rapporteur’s report! https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180817_80/

August 16, 2018

  • Fukushima holds an international forum on decommissioning F. Daiichi. On August 5th and 6th, domestic and foreign experts shared information on available technology and talked with local residents. It was the third such forum to be held. The first day focused on allowing locals to “know, talk, and question”, interacting with the experts. The second day was largely a technical session concerning remotely-operated and robotic technology, both in Japan and available from overseas sources. The experts came from around the world, including Dr. Jeff Griffin from Savannah River National Laboratory in the United States. The need for international cooperation was stressed both days. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/international-forum-on-decommissioning-fukushima-daiichi-highlights-remotely-operated-systems/
  • A large statue of a child wearing Anti-Cs is unveiled and sparks local criticism. The 6.2-meter statue called Sun Child was made by contemporary artist Kenji Yanobe to express his wish for a world free from nuclear disasters. It is designed to show that the air in Fukushima Prefecture is free of radioactivity. Yanobe apologized on his website for the sharp criticism his creation induced. He said, "I wanted to make a work that encourages people (in Fukushima)...and made the statue of a child standing up bravely and strongly against any difficulties it faces.The clothing looks like protective gear, but it is also armor to confront major issues and, being like a space suit, it also carries a futuristic image." Criticisms included the statue giving the impression that everyone in the prefecture has to wear Anti-Cs, and the artwork is “unscientific”! Yanobe responded, "I should have paid more attention to the fact that accurate knowledge about radiation is needed much more now than before the disaster." https://japantoday.com/category/national/child-statue-in-protective-suit-in-crisis-hit-fukushima-criticized
  • Last Friday (Aug. 10) Chucogu Electric Co. applied for an NRA safety examination regarding Shimane unit #3. Shimane #3 is nearing the end of construction, at more than 93% completed. Work on the 1,373 MWe Advanced Boiling Water Reactor system  began in 2005, but construction was halted for several years following the accident at F. Daiichi. Requests for permission to operate were submitted to Shimane Prefecture and Matsue City in June and July. This is the second-such request for a safety screening on new nuke construction, following the one submitted relative to Oma unit #1, submitted in 2014. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/chugoku-electric-applies-for-shimane-3-safety-examination-second-for-a-reactor-under-construction-after-ohma-npp/

August 9, 2018

  • Japan will not raise the cap on nuclear financial compensation funds. Currently, nuclear station owners must have a roughly $1.2 billion fund set aside in the unlikely event of a major nuclear accident. The Japan Atomic Energy Commission has been pressured to raise the limit, but an expert panel has decided it would not be needed. However, the draft report keeps operators' current unlimited liability for compensation that is stipulated in the law on compensation. The public comment period will last for 30 days, and the final report is expected as soon as October. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2018080700265
  • Tepco temporarily ends the sale of Fukushima Daiichi souvenirs. Last week, the company began offering plastic folders with images of the four units which suffered damage on 3/11/11. The folders drew a considerable social media outcry, so Tepco pulled them off the shelf. They had been on sale for F. Daiichi visitors and workers at the station. Nay-sayers claim selling them was insensitive, especially to those forced to evacuate their communities. However, there were a number of people who thought the sale of the souvenir folders was appropriate. One said the merchandise could help visitors remember what they saw at the plant. The company is reviewing the large number of comments and will then decide whether or not to resume sales. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180809_38/

August 2, 2018

  • Fukushima’s J-Village has returned to being Japan’s national soccer training center. A high school “friendly” match marked the reopening on July 28. Since the 2011 nuke accident, it has served as a base for accident recovery activities, including personnel contamination checks, worker decontamination, donning anti-contamination clothing, and the distribution of personal dosimeters. The facility was Japan’s soccer training center from 1997 until 2011. J-Village Vice President Eiji Ueda said, “I am grateful especially to the devoted efforts of those involved in the work (to return the facility to soccer training).” He hopes the return of soccer training will help dispel on-going fears of lingering Fukushima accident radioactivity.  Though primarily focused on the 2020 Olympics, the J-Village will also be the site of training for the 2019 Rugby World Cup. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/j-village-stadium-to-revert-to-original-role-as-soccer-training-center-having-contributed-to-the-stabilization-of-fukushima-daiichi/ -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0004620584
  • (More on last week’s Fukushima ambassadors…) Three teenage Fukushima Reconstruction Ambassadors visited Taiwan to share insight on earthquake recovery. They met with the Mayor of Hualien, Taiwan, which suffered a major earthquake in February. Fukushima Minpo’s Jun Sakuma read a prepared message, which included, "The power of young people and strong bonds will help us open the way for a bright future whatever hardship we may face." Reconstruction ambassador Yumeka Ichijo , a 17-year-old, said, "I was surprised to find post-quake recovery well under way in Hualien, and would like to report on the present situation back at school." The ambassadors also met with students from Taipei Municipal Minquan Junior High School.  http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=906
  • Tepco will open a nuke accident and recovery museum in Tomioka town. It will open in late in November. The facility that will become a museum is now being used as a base for visitors to the plant site. The museum will have 1,900 m2 of floor space.The second floor will be devoted to the accident itself, recreated as a drama, and lessons learned from the experience. The first floor theme will be decommissioning of the reactors. A life-sized cross-section image of a reactor will be displayed so that visitors can see how a robot moves inside the reactor during a probe. Tepco says there will be no admission charge. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180730_18/
  • Namie resumes its annual samurai parade. The parade was part of the annual Soma-Nomaoi festival that has been postponed since 2011. Mounted warriors represented five hometowns covering the Soma-Nakamura domain that ruled northeastern Fukushima Prefecture. It was the first time the parade had been held in eight years. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201807280033.html
  • Tepco considers decommissioning some of the units at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa station. The company responded to a request from one of the host municipalities saying it is too risky to operate all seven units at the station. Kashiwazaki Mayor Masahiro Sakurai wants Tepco to only restart units #6 & #7, which have passed the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s safety screening. Tepco says they will consider it. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180802_36/
  • The plan to use floating wind turbines to supply Fukushima Prefecture is failing. The windmills are being operated on a trial basis before diving into the full-fledged government-backed program. Theoretically, the windmills should produce a 30% capacity factor (the ratio of actual output to the maximum possible). Only one of the three test units has reached that level of reliability. Only the 2 MWe unit reached the desired capacity factor with 34%. The 5 MWE unit attained a CF of 12%, and the 7 MWe unit only a CF of 2%. The Industry Ministry says the reason for the tiny 7 MWe turbine CF is defects in the gearbox and “other parts”. Whether or not to commercialize the existing units will depend on their profitability. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201807290001.html
  • The full relocation of Iwate and Miyagi prefecture disaster victims should be complete in 2020. Prime Minister Abe said, "Securing homes is an important step toward reconstruction. We'll do all we can so people no longer have to live in temporary housing.” The government has designated fiscal 2016-2020 as a period for the reconstruction and revitalization of disaster areas after a five-year intensive reconstruction period. As for revitalizing livelihoods, Abe said, "We'll continue to support livelihood reconstruction with full force." https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2018080201015

July 26, 2018

  • Fifteen new “Fukushima Reconstruction Ambassadors” begin their work. The students were selected by Fukushima Minpo Company to visit parts of Japan and other countries to bring global attention to the prefecture’s post-2011 reconstruction. Minpo’s Masayuki Hanami told the new envoys, “We would like you to convey your thoughts to many people at home and abroad, build a network of acquaintances and expand infinite possibilities.” Senior rumor control official Akiyoshi Usami briefed the group on the current status of earthquake, tsunami, and nuke accident recovery. The group’s duties are expected to begin very soon. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=903
  • Tepco has decided to begin damaged nuclear fuel recovery with unit #2. The work will be done through existing piping penetrations, previously used the make video and radiation level inspections. Unit #2 has been selected as the first of the three severely damaged units because there is much less physical damage inside the Reactor Pressure Vessel pedestal, allowing an easier time in accessing the debris bed in the bottom. Technicians will use a rod-shaped device equipped with a camera, LED light, and an apparatus to grab the debris. They will be able to determine the condition of the debris bed to see if it is fused together or not. Granular material can be grabbed by the probe and removed, if small enough to fit through the piping penetration. The work is planned to begin before the end of March, 2019. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180726_42/ -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201807260065.html
  • Another Fukushima beach reopens. Haragamaobama beach in Soma had between 30,000 and 50,000 visitors per year before the quake and tsunami of 2011. Anti-tsunami levees have been rebuilt and tsunami debris removed. Water quality checks have found that radioactivity is well-below Japan’s standards. The beach is only the fourth to reopen out of the 18 swimming beaches in Fukushima Prefecture. https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2018/07/2140bb33c29c-beaches-ravaged-by-2011-tsunami-open-to-public-1st-time-in-8-years.html
  • (More on the F. Daiichi Tritiated water issue, post 7/19.) On July 13, the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy (ANRE) discussed the F. Daiichi Tritiated water issue. The volume of the stored liquid was about 1,050,000 cubic meters (tons). Additional capacity was about 320,000 m3. Building the additional tanks in order to reach that capacity could interfere with damaged fuel removal, adding new spent fuel storage facilities, and other decommissioning work. It was agreed that there are two NRA approved options: either releasing to the ocean or evaporation. Three other options were addressed, but they would require additional NRA approval before implementing. Since the situation with storage capacity approaches the critical point, the two NRA-approved options will be focused upon. ANRE also discussed draft materials explaining the societal effects of unfounded fears and rumors.  http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/anre-to-hold-explanatory-meetings-and-public-hearings-on-handling-of-tritium-water/
  • A court rejects a damages suit filed by families of fishermen subjected to fallout from the 1954 Bikini Atoll H-bomb test. The suit alleged that Tokyo hid key records about the exposure. The Kochi District Court’s Presiding Judge Osamu Nishimura said, “We cannot conclude that the state persistently gave up providing support and conducting health surveys to hide the radiation exposure.” Plaintiff’s lawyer Morimitsu Kajihara, said, “We can't accept the decision which didn't acknowledge the (state's) responsibility for neglecting the fishermen." The plaintiffs wanted $680,000 in damages, claiming negligence on the part of both the United States and Tokyo by ceasing the investigation after the 60-year statute of limitations expired, while additional evidence still needed to be examined. https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20180720/p2g/00m/0dm/066000c
  • Former Prime Minister, and current antinuclear fanatic, Junichiro Koizuma, continues his crusade. He has criticized the current PM Abe administration for its pro-nuclear energy stance and called for the policy to be made an election issue when Japanese go to the polls next year. He is touring Japan trying to unite all opposition (minority) political parties and make nuclear energy the most important issue in future elections. At a recent news conference, he said, “When I met Prime Minister Abe, I repeatedly told him, ‘Don’t be fooled by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (which is in charge of energy policies).’ But he only smiled! Though five years have passed (since I announced my anti-nuclear stance), Abe is still unaware (of the problems of nuclear power generation). It isn’t possible any more for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to end nuclear power generation. He did not try to do so, even though he could have.” http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201807240057.html
  • CNN says that there might be minute traces of Fukushima radioactive particles in California wines. A French team has been monitoring California wines from before and after the March 2011 nuclear accident at Fukushima Daiichi. To no-one’s surprise, some Cesium-137 was found in the post 2011 wines that exceeded the bomb fallout levels in the pre-2011 wines. However, the levels are too low to be a safety concern. https://www.cnn.com/2018/07/23/health/california-wine-radioactive-fukushima-trnd/index.html

July 19, 2018

  • A government panel will hold hearings in August on releasing harmless Tritiated water. Another hearing will be held in Tokyo to gather public opinions. Nearly 900,000 tons of this water are currently languishing in massive storage tanks on the premises of F. Daiichi Station. Tritium is the radioactive isotope of hydrogen, and as such is a physical part of the water itself. Thus, it is almost impossible to separate the radioactive water molecules from the non-radioactive. Aside - While biologically innocuous, Tritium causes dread in the minds of millions of radiophobic Japanese. - End aside. Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa has said the only and best option is releasing the water into the sea after reducing the concentration of Tritium. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180713_40/
  • A small minority of Tepco shareholders seek a court injunction to block company support of the restart of Tokai unit #2. Aside – Soon after the F. Daiichi accident, a few anti-nuclear customers bought shares of Tepco stock in order to obstruct the company’s nuclear business, driving up costs. – End aside. Earlier this month, the NRA unanimously found that the unit meets or exceeds Japan’s new safety standards. Three of Tepco’s numerous shareholders filed the request for injunction in Tokyo District Court. They argue that operating Tokai #2 will never allow the company to recover its investment because Tokai’s operator, Japan Atomic Power Company, is currently running in the red due to the national nuclear moratorium. The also feel that Tepco’s attention to Tokai #2 will reduce its ability to safely deal with F. Daiichi decommissioning. The plaintiffs’ lawyer says Tepco will be throwing money down the drain. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180713_06/
  • An evacuation drill for Tokai unit #2 was held on Monday. Some 400 residents of Tokai village participated. This was the first such “out-of-village” drill for the area surrounding the nuke station. The drill scenario was a severe loss of water from the spent fuel pool. Unit #2 has passed its safety examination with the NRA on June 4th. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2018071600497
  • The NRA approves placing partially used and unused fuel bundles from one reactor unit into another. The Press calls this “reuse”, which is misleading. There are 264 partially used, but not exhausted, bundles inside units #1&2, and another 216 unused bundles stored in their fuel pools Both units will be decommissioned. All of this useful fuel can now be transferred to operating units #3 & #4. The NRA will give its formal approval after hearing opinions from the Japan Atomic Energy Commission and other concerned parties. https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2018/07/f2c53652b99d-japan-oks-reuse-of-nuclear-fuel-from-scrapped-reactors-for-1st-time.html
  • A long-time antinuclear voice says Japan should not reduce its domestic Plutonium stockpile by manufacturing MOX fuel. MOX is a mixture of domestic Plutonium with standard Uranium fuel. Alan J. Kuperman of the University of Texas says the concept contradicts his opinion on the matter. He says making MOX is it is impossible, counterproductive, slow, and unsuitable for most domestic Plutonium. What he refuses to admit is that MOX fuel has been fabricated for more than 30 years and used extensively. He further exaggerates the cost of MOX, uses hyperbole to magnify the hypothetic risks, and overlooks the fact that domestic Plutonium is worthless as a weapon’s material because of the fact that there’s simply too much non-fissile, neutron-scavenging Pu-240 and Pu-241 in the matrix. Kuperman is coordinator of the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project and a vocal anti-nuclear opponent of MOX fuel for many years. https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2018/07/f91d38319475-refiling-opinion-how-not-to-reduce-japans-plutonium-stockpile.html

July 12, 2018

  • Japan’s Olympic torch relay will begin in Fukushima Prefecture on March 26, 2020. The Olympic Games’ coordination council decided today at a meeting in Tokyo. The torch relay will last 121 days, traveling through all 47 prefectures until the Games’ opening ceremony on July 24, 2020. The specific route within prefectures will be decided by a local committee yet to be established. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0004579149
  • Fukushima rice wine wins a prestigious international award. Okunomatsu Adatara Ginjo has won the International Wine Challenge's Champion Sake award for 2018. Representative Director of Okunomatsu Sake Brewery Co. Joji Yusa said, "We're in our 302nd year in business, and we've received such a big prize for the first time. We're deeply honored. "We suffer from bad rumors, but we'll produce good sake that will be enjoyed widely." There were 1,639 brands entered in the competition. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2018071200306
  • About half of Fukushima’s residents do not want government radiation monitors removed. Tokyo In a poll run by Fukushima Minpo (the Prefecture’s daily news) and Fukushima Television, it was found that 46% of the respondents are opposed to Tokyo removing 2,400 area monitor located throughout the prefecture. A Nuclear Regulation Authority official explained the reasons for removal, “We believe that continuous measuring is unnecessary in areas where dose rates are low and stable. The equipment requires huge maintenance costs. We have to effectively use the limited amount of funds.” The resident dissenters say they need peace of mind during decommissioning of F. Daiichi, won’t feel safe if the devices are removed, and need to confirm the safety of children. It turns out that 25% of the respondents are in favor of the NRA removing the monitors, 23% say they are indifferent, and 6% say they “don’t know”. Of those favorable, many feel the monitor are no longer needed, and others say the devices contribute to harmful rumors. Of those opposing the move, one said the idea is “out of the question”! The Aizu-Wakamatsu city government says, “There are citizens who are concerned about the radiation’s potential impact on their health and possible accidents that could happen during decommissioning work, and such people can feel relieved by visually checking dose rates constantly with monitoring systems.” The prefectural government says it is “calling on the central government to proceed with the plan while winning consent from residents at the same time.” The announcement was made July 2nd. Other than Fukushima Minpo, it seems only the Asahi Shimbun posted on it.  http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=901 -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201807090004.html

July 5, 2018

  • The injunction against restarting Oi units #3 & #4 is reversed. On July 4th, the Nagoya High Court reversed the May 2014 order of the Fukui District Court to prohibit operation of the units. Antinuclear groups have been coordinating their efforts across Japan for several years, filing numerous lawsuits for temporary injunctions prohibiting restarts. Unless an order of injunction is issued by the Supreme Court, nukes are allowed to operate. Antinuclear groups have thus pursued a “provisional disposition” as a tactic to delay nuke operations as soon as the decision is rendered. Presiding Judge Masayuki Naito said, "Although it is possible to scrap nuclear power generation itself in light of the Fukushima nuclear plant accident, making such a decision is beyond the role of the judiciary, and it therefore should be left for politics to decide." Resident’s lawyer Hiroyuki Kawai deplored the decision, "It is the worst possible court ruling we can think of."   http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/court-of-second-instance-approves-operation-of-ohi-npps/ -- https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2018/07/58dd34c484b3-update1-court-rejects-suspension-of-oi-nuclear-power-plant.html
  • Tepco prepares for resumption of construction at Higashidori Station, Aomori Prefecture. Company President Tomoaki Kobayakawa says, "As we restart the (Higashidori) project, I want to make sure that a new plant would excel in safety. The geological survey is a very significant step to move forward on the joint development of Higashidori." Tepco envisions resumption of construction of the first 1385 MWe Advanced BWR around 2021, with a second to begin being built at some point thereafter. The site also has an idled nuke owned by Tohoku Electric Company. It is an 1100 MWE BWR that began operation in 2005, but has been shut down due to the Tokyo moratorium since 2011. https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2018/06/e6cd4468167a-tepco-willing-to-resume-higashidori-nuclear-plant-construction.html
  • Fukushima Prefecture wants to supply locally-grown products, including rice, cucumbers, tomatoes, and peaches, to the athlete’s village for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics. The prefecture will embark on a campaign focusing on catering companies to buy Fukushima-produced food for athletes and other participants. Meals at the athletes' village will be selected by the Tokyo 2020 Games organizing committee. All foods must have the Good Agriculture Practice (GAP) food safety certification. Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori says, "We will make efforts to increase GAP certification and, while publicizing the safety of our food, have our farm produce enjoyed by people from Japan and abroad during the Tokyo Olympics." http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=900
  • A robotic probe has entered the F. Daiichi unit #2 refueling deck and found radiation levels that are too high for humans to work, by Japan’s stringent exposure standards. Last month, TEPCO effected a 35 m2 opening in the wall of the building in order to use a camera-equipped robot to make a detailed map of exposure levels on the deck. Levels of up to 59 millisieverts per hour were identified, which exceeds the 50 mSv annual exposure limit. Because of this, Tepco says they cannot let people work on the refueling deck. How the defueling of unit #2 spent fuel pool will be performed has yet to be determined. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20180702_35/
  • Tokai unit #2 passes the NRA’s safety standards. The Nuclear Regulation Authority announced its decision on July 4th. Tokai #2 is the 15th unit to have met Japan’s post-Fukushima accident regulations, and the third Boiling Water Reactor. The nuke still needs to clear two more NRA screenings by November when it reaches its 40 year licensing limit, otherwise it could face decommissioning. Ibaraki Governor Kazuhiko Oigawa told reporters, "I want to closely monitor the remaining screenings. I call on the NRA to conduct strict examinations." https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2018070400751 -- https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2018/07/2ea49c56d936-nuclear-watchdog-oks-restart-of-aging-nuclear-plant-hit-by-tsunami.html


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