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. Posts are made every week or two on Fridays

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September 13, 2019

The latest compilation of Fukushima compensation pay-outs to evacuees, property owners, and businesses, has been posted here… https://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/fukushima-evacuee-compensation-payments.html

  • Japan’s outgoing environment minister says dumping F. Daiichi’s treated wastewater to the sea is the “only option”. On Tuesday, the day before he was removed from office as part of PM Abe’s cabinet restructuring, Yoshiaki Harada said dilution and a controlled release is the only reasonable way to resolve the radiophobia-based issue. He stressed that it was only a personal opinion and should not be taken as government policy. He pointed out that the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s (NRA) position that dilution and open ocean release is scientifically appropriate. Harada stated, "Although I'm not (actually) the minister in charge, I believe there's no choice but to dump the water (into the ocean) and dilute it." Most of the million-ton volume currently stored at F. Daiichi has been fully-treated and stripped of all radionuclides Tritium, which is biologically innocuous. Tritium is a hydrogen isotope and part of the water molecules in the tanks. However, local fisheries believe the release would devastate the local fishing industry due to nation-wide radiophobia.  https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190910_35/ -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20190910/p2g/00m/0fp/085000c -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190911_42/
  • On Wednesday, new Environment Minister Shinjiro Koizumi denounced his predecessor’s opinion. He is fully opposed an essentially benign release to the sea and apologized to the Fukushima fishing associations for Harada’s opinion. Koizumi is the son of former PM Junichiro Koizumi who is fanatically opposing all things associated with nuclear energy. He is clearly in his father’s antinuclear camp! Fledgling Minister Koizumi was no sooner sworn in, when he met with the Fukushima fishery officials and governor to make a decidedly populist appeal to both parties. He also told Governor Uchibori that he will do his utmost to insure that all bags of contaminated soil and debris will be safely kept in the new, temporary storage sites in Okuma and Futaba, and that final disposal will occur elsewhere within the next 30 years. It should be noted that on Thursday, Koizumi told Reuters that he is in favor of the permanent closure of all nuclear power plants in Japan, regardless of the NRA’s expert decisions on safe operability! This would include the six nukes now safely operating in Japan. The NRA is overseen by the environment ministry. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190912_40/ -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190912_43/ -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201909120025.html
  • Japan and South Korea voicetheir F. Daiichi wastewater differences through the IAEA. The International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors is having a closed-door meeting in Vienna. S. Korea’s representative insinuated that Tokyo has been less than transparent on the F. Daiichi wastewater issue. In response, Japanese Ambassador Takeshi Hikihara responded that Japan has indeed provided all relevant scientific information in the most transparent possible way! Undeterred Seoul is going to raise the issue again at the IAEA annual meeting that begins Monday.  https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190910_30/
  • On Wednesday, the NRA made it official. The agency will formally re-open the investigation into the cause(s) of the 2011 nuke accident. The rationale is that time has resulted in a sufficient decay of on-site radiation levels at F. Daiichi to allow a more detailed examination into the failures of venting processes during the accident, ”among other questions”. The NRA’s 2014 report said the accident was caused by the massive tsunami resulting from severe subduction fault slippage 100 kilometers off shore. The post-accident investigation was cut short due to high radiation levels at F. Daiichi station. The NRA plans to provide support to the Natural Resources and Energy Agency, which is in charge of decommissioning. Tepco says, "If requested in the future, we would like to proactively cooperate in the investigation, such as providing necessary data." https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20190911/p2g/00m/0na/075000c -- https://japantoday.com/category/national/japan-regulator-to-re-investigate-fukushima-nuclear-disaster
  • The Japanese Atomic Industrial Forum Symposium in Tokyo addresses fear and misinformation concerning Fukushima seafood. The September 5th event looked at the reconstruction of Fukushima, as well as the role of nuclear energy in power supplies and environmental protection.  Kyoto Professor Lee Liao Yenpeng, from Taiwan, witnessed inspection of flounder caught 10 kilometers off-shore from the prefecture, and fsaw that no radioactive Cesium was detectible. He said this counters the general belief of the Taiwanese people and “It is important to convey the facts.” https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/symposium-in-tokyo-looks-at-taiwanese-energy-situation-and-discusses-fear-and-misinformation-about-foods-sourced-in-fukushima/
  •  A Canadian Professor at Fukushima University has taken on the burden of trying to correct specious reports about conditions in the prefecture. Erroneous articles about exaggerated damage from radioactive contamination are widespread on the internet. To reverse this negative situation, Professor William McMichael and his students are trying to do something positive! (video “Discovering the Real Fukushima” in English) https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/videos/20190911153027456/

September 6, 2019

  • The upper section of units #1&#2 exhaust stack has been removed. We announced the plans for dismantling the upper half of the stack last month. The process was delayed about a month when it was noticed the crane for the work was too short. A few subsequent equipment failures exacerbated the delay. Tepco made a video recording of the removal, but it has yet to be posted on-line!  https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190902_26/
  • All fish analyzed in July from within 20 kilometers of F. Daiichi have radioactive Cesium levels below the national standard of 100 Bq/kg. The 94 fish taken from outside the station breakwall had no detectible internal Cesium-134; the “fingerprint” isotope for F. Daiichi aqueous and atmospheric releases. https://www7.tepco.co.jp/wp-content/uploads/handouts_190828_02-e.pdf  Four of the fish taken from inside the breakwall had detectible Cs-134, but none of the 16 specimens were above the national standard. https://www7.tepco.co.jp/wp-content/uploads/handouts_190828_01-e.pdf
  • Fukushima peach exports are expected to be at a post-2011 high. The anticipated 50 tons of   shipments marks a 1.5 times increase over last year. About 30 tons have been already shipped to Thailand in 2019, and another 7 tons have been ordered by the SE Asian country. The peach season ends later this month. The prefecture has set an annual target of 500 tons of produce shipments beginning April 2021. 218 tons were exported last year! This good news is despite the persistent radiophobic food restrictions on Fukushima exports still ridiculously in-place in nearly two-dozen countries around the world! http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=961
  • Tokyo briefs foreign representatives concerning ultimate disposal of F. Daiichi’s stored wastewater. Government spokespersons spoke to diplomats from 22 countries on Wednesday. Yumiko Hata, an official at the briefing, said, "In order to prevent harmful rumors about the Fukushima Daiichi plant from being circulated, we believe it is extremely important to provide scientific and accurate information." The restriction on releasing the essentially harmless liquid is due to the detectible levels of Tritium (radioactive Hydrogen) contained there-in. Tritium is naturally-occurring and found in all water sources around the world. The main fear is that releasing the waste water will cause a disastrous radiophobic backlash on Tohoku region fisheries. None of the foreign diplomats challenged the information given to them, or protested the possibility of open releases, during the briefing. However, on Thursday, South Korea sent a written request to the IAEA asking the international nuclear watchdog agency to play an active role with the issue. The letter states that S. Korea has “serious concerns” about the environmental impacts of a controlled release to the ocean.  https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190904_30/ -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20190904/p2g/00m/0fp/070000c -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201909040052.html -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190905_41/
  • Tokyo will send officials to municipalities affected by the nuke accident to stimulate resumption of agricultural production. Beginning next April, one official will be stationed in each of twelve municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture. The move is intended to stimulate agricultural renewal on currently abandoned farmlands in conjunction with local and prefectural agricultural organizations. At the end of March, agriculture had resumed in only one-fourth of the farmland located in the communities before April 2011. https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/09/03/national/japanese-government-send-staff-disaster-hit-fukushima-towns-help-restart-farming-production/#.XXE4ny5KiUk
  • The Nuclear Regulation Authority will re-open its investigation into the cause(s) of the Fukushima accident. The initial study ended in 2014 with the publication of an “interim report”. NRA Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa revealed the restart plan on Wednesday. He said decontamination efforts have revealed an increase in areas with low radiation levels and decommissioning work has uncovered new data with respect to damaged reactor buildings. The new study is expected to result in a new, improved report in 2020. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190904_35/
  • A Japanese renewable energy supplier says it will file a lawsuit against Tokyo allowing customers to pay fees to cover the costs resulting from the 2011 Fukushima accident. The suit  will also demand removal of a consignment charge paid by alternative energy suppliers in order to use existing power lines. Current government plans to use the increased consumer fees to allow recovery of mandated victim compensation funding, beginning in 2020. Chiemi Kumano, director representative of Green Co-op Community, said, “It is very problematic that we are forced to pay unintended costs derived from the nuclear accident. If we allow such a practice, it will end up helping to preserve nuclear power.” Ryukoku University professor Kenichi Oshima added, “The central government used the logic that people are responsible for the liabilities from the nuclear accident, in deciding to impose additional compensation costs.” He said this logic is “far-fetched”! http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201909040059.html

August 30, 2019

  • Tepco says it will decide on the future of Kashiwazaki-Kariwa station once units 6 & 7 are restarted. The decision was given to Mayor Sakurai of Kashiwazaki in writing on August 26. The mayor had asked for the decommissioning plans for units #1-#5 more than 2 years ago, as a condition for approval of restarts for the other two units. The company says it wants to take a “hard look” at the future need for energy supplies before committing to K-K unit decommissioning. It explained that this path is socially responsible. Japan’s goal for 2040 is 40% non-fossil-fueled electrical supplies, including renewables and nuclear. Tepco also promises to give all information on K-K station operations to the public promptly and cooperate fully with prefectural officials. Units 2, 3 and 4 have not operated since July 2007 due a severe offshore earthquake, that year. Mayor Sakurai says he believes Tepco has presented the best plan currently available. However, he continues to hold back on giving Tepco his permission to restart units #6 & #7 because he is considering additional conditions on the resumption of station operation. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/tepco-to-decide-fate-of-kashiwazaki-kariwa-units-1-to-5-five-years-after-restarting-units-6-and-7/ -- https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0005963696
  • Four Japanese companies plan on a joint nuclear energy collaboration. The four are Tepco Chubu Electric, Hitachi, and Toshiba. The companies believe a joint venture will improve safety and economic viability. The most probable first step is completion of a nuke plant in Aomori Prefecture that was halted following the Fukushima accident. All affected nuclear units are Boiling Water Reactors, but decommissioning of the six Fukushima units owned by Tepco will not be part of the collaborative process. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190829_17/ -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201908290017.html

August 23, 2019

  • Fukushima decides to end the maternal health survey for adverse radiation effects in July of next year. The frequencies of birth defects, babies with low birth weights and other abnormalities have been about the same as the nationwide average. The national average of birth defects is about 3%. In 2011, Fukushima had a 2.85% defect rate, and 2017 had a rate of2.38%. The rate of post-partem depression with the mothers remains well-below the national average. The program will now focus on the real needs of expectant and nursing mothers. One official said, “Soon after the nuclear accident, mothers’ anxiety was severe, but the needs of expectant and nursing mothers have been changing. We shall improve consultation systems in cooperation with municipal governments, so that assistance can reach the people who need it.” https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0005952743
  • Okuma strawberries are going to market. They have been grown in a ~29,000 m2 indoor facility in the Ogawara district, where the evacuation order has been lifted. The computerized environment allows for year-round growth and reaping. About 10 tons are expected to be shipped this year. https://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0005950919
  • South Korea asks a Japanese envoy to explain the possibility of releasing Fukushima wastewater to the sea. Environmental affairs bureau chief Kwon Se-jung handed a document to Tomofumi Nishinaga on Monday. Nishinaga assured Se-jung that Japan will faithfully provide information to South Korea and the international community. Allegedly, Seoul is taking a hardline stance on the issue as a response to public concerns about the environment. Relations between South Korea and Japan are strained over contentious trade issues and the historical problem concerning WWII “comfort women”.  https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190819_20/ -- https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/08/19/national/south-korea-summons-japanese-diplomat-plans-fukushima-water/#.XV7Bo-NKiUl

August 16, 2019

  • Tepco gets tougher concerning Fukushima damages settlements. This has been noticed by lawyers and government officials. As a result, it is believed that dissatisfied damages claimants could face lengthy legal actions. Lawyers complain that some of their clients have already given up. In 2014, the company agreed to accept the government’s dispute resolution group’s decisions. The body has proposed settlements based on government disaster guidelines. However, Tepco refused to honor 49 settlement proposals in 2018, forty of which were claims of Fukushima residents. Prior to that, the only rejected claims were those made by Tepco employees. Tepco says the rejected settlements were outside government guidelines.  If they were paid, it would lead to a revision of compensation codes. https://japantoday.com/category/national/tepco-toughens-posture-toward-nuclear-disaster-damages-settlement  
  • The Asahi Shimbun says “Ballooning costs give lie to notion nuclear power is cheapest energy”. However, nowhere in the report are there actually any comparative cost figures relative to fossil fuel or so-called renewable sources. The justification for the assumptions is, “With the ballooning safety costs, the government’s argument that nuclear energy is cheaper than hydro power and coal is increasingly in doubt.” However, with no cost comparisons, the Asahi’s notion is similarly in doubt! http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201908120062.html

August 9, 2019

  • The latest figures on Fukushima evacuee monetary compensation (as of 8/2/10) is posted here… https://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/fukushima-evacuee-compensation-payments.html
  • Used fuel bundles removal will probably begin with unit #2 in 2021. The plan was released on Aug. 8 by the Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation (NDF). It reads, in part, "It would be appropriate for us to start with the No. 2 reactor. From 2021 we will begin extraction work from the No. 2 reactor. It will enable us to safely and reliably extract the debris, and allow us to obtain necessary information and experience for the subsequent expansion of work." It should be noted that a “submersion method” for fuel extraction has been considered to difficult and has too many possible technical issues to be used. One of the issues is the almost-impossible notion of recriticality by reintroducing water. Aside- the admixing of fuel, control rod material, and other formerly-melted materials makes this virtually impossible, but for some unstated reason it is treated asa possibility by the commission. - End aside! https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190809_06/ -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20190809/p2a/00m/0na/005000c
  • A relatively strong earthquake struck Fukushima Prefecture, but caused no damage to nuclear units. The 6.4 Richter Scale temblor hit last Sunday. It was sourced within the off-shore seabed at an approximate depth of 45 kilometers. No reports of major damage or casualties occurred. Tepco dutifully reported that there were no abnormalities at F. Daiichi or F. Daini nuke stations. https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2019/08/749a3bf09b4c-breaking-news-m62-quake-hits-off-japans-fukushima-weather-agency.html
  • Fukushima’s governor promotes prefectural foods in China. On July 3, Governor Masao Uchibori of reported on his business trip to the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting of the New Champions 2019, known as “Summer Davos” in Dalian, Liaoning Province, China. He met with representatives from around the world, including those from Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. It was his intent to promote Fukushima products and provide the current status of decommissioning the prefecture’s two nuclear stations. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/fukushima-governor-promotes-local-products-and-tourism/
  • Tohoku Electric Company applies for approval of decommissioning Onagawa unit #1. The 524 MWe unit is considered too small to surmount the technological and financial hurdles presented by Japan’s current regulatory system, within the largely arbitrary 40 year limit on licensure for operation. Onagawa #1 was commissioned in 1984. The primary technological challenges are enhanced safety, the number of years it had been in operation, and “issues related to power generation.” Decommissioning is expected to be completed in early 2054. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/tohoku-electric-power-applies-for-approval-of-onagawa-1-decommissioning-plan/
  • Tepco says they will run out of room for F. Daiichi wastewater in three years. At the current rate of build-up, all tanks will be full in the summer of 2022 and there will be no room to build more tanks after 2020. The problem is includes having to construct facilities for storing used fuel bundles from units #1, #2, & #3. A government subcommittee has reconvened to address the issue. Committee member Tokuhiro Yamamoto says, “As the decommissioning work will move forward, some space is needed to build the necessary facilities. Whether (the tanks) will eat up so much space that it drags down the decommissioning work needs to be considered. Various equipment and storage space are necessary. We will discuss how to make (more) storage space available.” While the committee approves the process of building more tanks, it needs to come to a binding decision on final disposal. Currently, there is about 1.15 million tons of detectibly radioactive water in some 1000 tanks at the F. Daiichi station, with nearly 150 tons being added daily. Current plans indicate that new tanks to be built will accommodate 380,000 more tons. All but about 100,000 tons contain only one radioactive isotope at a concentration above national limit – Tritium, which is essentially harmless. But, nationwide radiophobia prevents the harmless release of the volume to the Pacific. Meanwhile, typically alarmist Asahi Shimbun embellishes the waste water situation at F. Daiichi by saying it remains “out of control”, indicating that either Tepco is incompetent or simply doesn’t care. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190808_35/ -- https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019080800997 -- https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/08/09/national/treated-water-fukushima-plant-hit-storage-capacity-summer-2022-current-rate/#.XU2fb-NKiUl -- http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=959 -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201907280040.html
  • The IEEJ reports on Japan’s 2020 energy outlook. The Institute of Energy Economics, Japan, report focuses on three issues: the impact of nukes being unable to meet the government’s deadline for building remote control rooms to combat hypothetical terrorist takeovers, ever-increasing crude oil prices, and the negative impacts of on-going international trade wars. With the first issue, it is said that as many as four already restarted nukes could be shuttered in 2020. On a more positive note, as many as five other nukes could be restarted next year. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/ieejs-2020-economic-and-energy-outlook-compares-effects-of-completing-and-not-completing-anti-terrorism-facilities-at-japans-npps/

August 1, 2019

  • The Tepco board of directors approves scrapping Fukushima Daini. The decision was rendered at the board meeting on Wednesday (yesterday). Though mostly a formality, the more-antinuclear press outlets in Japan (not NHK) make it seem significant, and use it as an opportunity to remind their constituents of numerous negatives. Tepco announced their formal decision to decommission F. Daini last week. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190731_25/ -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20190731/p2g/00m/0dm/067000c
  • Fukushima’s governor has also made acceptance of Tepco’s decision official.  He also acknowledges that temporary, on-site dry cask storage for used nuclear fuel bundles is necessary while Japan wrestles with the permanent storage social issue (NIMBY). Governor Uchibori said, “The premise is that the nuclear fuel will (eventually) be transported out of the prefecture. Temporary storage for the time being is unavoidable.”  https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/07/31/national/fukushima-governor-accepts-tepco-plan-scrap-no-2-nuclear-plant-store-spent-fuel-site/#.XULoafJKiUl
  • The original off-site emergency center for F. Daiichi will be demolished next year. Little more than 3 miles southwest of F. Daiichi, it was intended to be a base of operations for local and Tokyo officials in the event of a nuclear emergency. However, the building was not air-tight, forcing it to be abandoned four days into the nuke accident. Unfortunately, the report was in the always-antinuclear Asahi Shimbun, which alleged that the demolition is part of a government conspiracy to downplay the accident and cover up the nation’s nuclear ineptitude. Actually, the Okuma town officials have asked that the facility be removed to make room for construction of a residential district in the area. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201907300032.html

July 26, 2019

  • A popular Fukushima beach reopens for the first time since 2011. Kitaizumi Beach in Minamisoma reopened Saturday. Soon after it opened, it was filled with families. One woman said, “I was relieved to see the beach crowded with people.” Her son said, “I couldn’t swim well because the waves were high, but I really enjoyed (my visit).”  An elderly Minamisoma woman said, “Seeing the sea makes me feel calm, and the sounds of waves help me forget negative things. I hope the number of visitors will recover to the pre-disaster level.” In general, the beach-goers hoped the reopening would go a long way to dispel radiophobic rumors! The Fukushima government confirms that radiation levels have returned to pre-disaster levels. https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/07/20/national/beach-fukushima-prefecture-reopens-first-time-since-2011-disasters/#.XTnokvJKiUl
  • The number of overnight visitors to Fukushima hits an all-time high! An all-time high of 141,350 occurred in 2018, smashing the old record of 128,490 in 2007.  Large increases in visitors from Thailand, Taiwan, and Vietnam were cited as important contributors. The data comes from the Japan Tourism Agency. Fukushima’s prefectural government points to non-tropical ”must-see” sights, such as seasonal flowers and autumnal foliage as significant tourist attractions. One official said, “We will spread the attractions of our tourism resources among travelers from abroad, such as specialty food, including peaches, and samurai culture as represented by the Aizu region.” http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=956
  • Fukushima’s last tsunami-damaged port reopens. Tomioka Port reopened today. Restoration work was delayed until the towns evacuation order was lifted two years ago. The event was marked by the return of five fishing boats that transferred to other nearby ports after the disaster. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190726_31/
  • A Kyoto mother’s group hosts a 3-week retreat for Fukushima kindergarteners and parents. This will be the third year for the program. The children will attend a Kyoto kindergarten, and facilitate communication between Kyoto and Fukushima mothers. For example, one Fukushima mother complained she does not dry clothes outside for fear that they will become radioactively contaminated. A program official said, "I've treasured words from a mom who told me that the experience of joining the program has become an amulet in her heart." https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2019/07/21e03971d7ad-mothers-group-in-kyoto-hosts-fukushima-preschoolers-parents-for-retreat.html
  • Tepco makes the decommissioning of F. Daini official! The company said they were going to do this since June, 2018. The announcement on Thursday made it certain! Tepco President Tomoaki Kobayakawa met with Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori for the public announcement. ,” Kobayakawa said, “There was no precedent for decommissioning four reactors, so we needed some time, but we have a pretty clear idea now. The region’s understanding and cooperation will be more important than anything else.” Uchibori added, “I take your decision very seriously. This is an important step toward the decommissioning of all reactors at nuclear power plants in this prefecture.” The only thing left is for Tepco’s Board of Directors approving it on July 31st. F. Daini is a four-unit station about 10 miles south of F. Daiichi and suffered very little damage in 2011, and is fully capable of restart. But, public and governmental demands for decommissioning have won the day. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0005896332  -- https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2019/07/e344e64406e2-tepco-says-will-decommission-fukushima-daini-nuclear-reactor.html -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201907250037.html (Nearly all Japanese News outlets covered the story. The three listed cover the range of reportage.)
  • A Japanese academic warns that pumping F. Daiichi waste water out to sea could take 17 years! This dire prediction was offered by Hiroshi Miyano, visiting professor in nuclear engineering at Hosei University, and head of the investigative committee on the decommissioning of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station at the Atomic Energy Society of Japan. He asked that his assumption be added to next month’s formal discussions on disposal of the 700,000 tons of mildly-radioactive liquid. It must be said that his outside-the-box conclusion is based on questionable assumptions concerning auxiliary seawater pump capacities for units #5 & #6! The combined outputs are 4600 tons per hour, which would make the discharge of the mildly radioactive waters significantly less, evn with worst-case dilutions added in! https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20190725/p2a/00m/0na/012000c

July 19, 2019

  • Namie gets a supermarket for former evacuees! A new Aeon market opened on Sunday, drawing some 300 shoppers on the rainy day. Although only about 1,000 evacuees have officially returned home, anticipated business gave Aeon confidence that the new market will be profitable. The owners expect about 450,000 shoppers each year of operation. Locally-brewed Sake and Fukushima seafood are included in the fare. An 89 year old shopper said, “I’m really thankful [for the store] because my wife can’t drive after she returned her license. It’s nice to be able to buy fresh vegetables.”  https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190714_14/  -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0005873767
  • Tepco is studying the cover over the unit #1 reactor well. There are actually three concrete covers over the well, one on top of the other. Each cover consists of three layers. It is believed that the hydrogen explosion of April 12, 2011 dislodged one or more of the layers, allowing a radiation streaming pathway. Radiation levels as high as 2.23 Sieverts per hour have been detected. The radiation stream should be either shielded or the dislodged cover put back in its place before starting to remove fuel bundles from the Spent Fuel Pool. 392 bundles are in the SFP. The specific start date will be made by the end of March, 2020. However, President Akira Ono of the Fukushima Daiichi Decontamination & Decommissioning Engineering Company said, “Depending on the technological strategy formulated by the Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation (NDF), a blueprint could be shown to a certain extent as soon as this summer.” It was also announced that fuel bundle removal from unit #3 SFP is planned for next year. Before that can happen, a second review of the situation must be completed and all loose debris on the fuel handling deck must be removed.   https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190717_36/ -- https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/tepco-to-use-robots-in-investigating-fukushima-daiichi-npps/
  • Japan insists that all food import curbs by other nations be abolished! The demand was made to the World Trade Organization on Thursday.  The WTO is meeting in Geneva, and the Japanese produce issue is an important topic. Japan assures everyone that its exported foods are safe, and challenges all foreign countries to send in their own inspectors! Of the 164 country membership, 22 continue import curbs. This includes China and the United States. Canada is perhaps the most supportive of Japan and imports Japanese food products at pre2011 levels. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190719_22/
  • Local feelings cloud the Fukushima voting arena. The upcoming House of Councilors election has revealed overlapping nuclear energy planks to their respective platforms. Both the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and opposition candidates agree that the prefecture must eliminate nuclear plants, and their respective positions differ very little. Masako Mori, the LDP's candidate, said, "I'm determined to push ahead with reconstruction following your requests steadily.  "I'll do my best to achieve the goal of decommissioning all nuclear reactors in the prefecture."  Sachiko Mizuno, 57, who is running as the opposition camp’s unified candidate, agreed, but added, “Reconstruction of Fukushima is still only half done,” and “the government “has not presented a road map for decommissioning all reactors (in the prefecture).” A major issue is the continuing living restrictions facing thousands of sill existent evacuees and the some 30,000 who live outside the prefecture. Even where restrictions have been curbed, returning home is not a glamorous option for many. One woman said, “The evacuation advisory has been removed, but I can’t return home. Only a few people have returned home, and I can’t live in my hometown as most of the residents are elderly people. Regardless of whoever wins, nothing will probably change in our situation.” As a result, polls indicate that voters are casting a cynical gaze on the election. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019071200713 -- https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/07/14/national/politics-diplomacy/fukushima-upper-house-candidates-face-cynical-voters-despite-anti-nuclear-platforms/#.XTDAk_JKiUl

July 12, 2019

  • The Reconstruction Agency will remain after 2021. The temporary law establishing the agency expires March 31st of that year. The decision was requested by the municipalities damaged by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami and/or negatively impacted by the subsequent nuclear accident. Continuation of the temporary law has been formally requested, led by representatives of Fukushima, Iwate, and Miyagi Prefectures. On July 3rd, for the first time, Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori urged temporary Reconstruction Minister Hiromichi Watanabe to create a full-time minister post for a successor Reconstruction Agency, headed by the Prime Minister. Uchibori said, "Fukushima's reconstruction will not end in 10 years. It is extremely important for the state (national government) to take the lead in securing a system and financial resources that enable prefectural people to make efforts for reconstruction with peace of mind." The Tokyo government seems to be in complete agreement. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=955
  • 44% of Fukushima residents feel the 2020 Olympics will evoke sympathy for the survivors of the 2011 disaster. Nearly 46% feel differently! Most of the dissenters base their feelings on the idea that not enough is being done, or will be done, to showcase their plight. They feel current plans for disseminating information before, during, and after the Games are not enough! http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=954
  • A high court upholds a lower court decision to allow two Genkai units to continue operation. The Fukuoka High Court rendered the decision on Wednesday. The suit was filed by 173 Japanese from 16 prefectures who believed the operation of the units posed an unreasonable threat to their health. They claimed the Nuclear Regulation Authority methodology for the unit’s ability to safely survive earthquakes and volcanoes is flawed, and that Kyushu Electric’s measures against catastrophic pipeline failure are inadequate. In June 2017, the Saga District court rejected the proposed injunction against operation of units #3 & #4, because the new standards were "reasonable" since they were based on the latest scientific knowledge. The plaintiffs appealed. In upholding the Saga court’s decision, Fukuoka High Court’s Presiding Judge Noriyuki Yamanouchi said, "I cannot recognize that the nuclear reactor facility lacks safety features and there are specific risks that could result in serious damage." Both units are currently in safe operation. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190710_31/ -- https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019071000920 -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20190710/p2g/00m/0na/054000c
  • Traces of radioactive Cesium returned to Japanese waters sooner than expected via a previously unknown route. This was found by a team comprised of the University of Tsukuba, the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology (JAMSTEC), and Kanazawa University. University of Tsukuba professor Michio Aoyama said, "That the cesium would come back in such a short time was unexpected. We've found a previously unknown route." On a positive note, JAMSTEC researcher Yuichiro Kumamoto said, "Because it has visualized ocean circulation, the results could be used in the future for predictions on issues such as climate change." https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20190708/p2a/00m/0na/015000c 
  • On a related note, the Chernobyl accident area will become an official tourist attraction. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a decree designating the area a tourist site due to a significant increase in popularity following the HBO "Chernobyl" miniseries. He said, "Chernobyl has been a negative part of Ukraine's brand. The time has come to change this." Zelensky added that the area is "a unique place on the planet where nature is reviving after a major technological catastrophe." Could this be a precursor to something similar for Japan in the future? Only time will tell! http://www.ktvu.com/news/chernobyl-nuclear-disaster-site-will-become-official-tourist-attraction-ukranian-president-says?fbclid=IwAR3sWdbU6Opxp8DXG5C9wWy_hd7PF-I-wp1p8Ty1e-GXsp9Tohp_cIgu90k


June 28, 2019

  • Only one fish species caught in the open ocean shows the F. Daiichi “fingerprint” isotope, Cesium-134. Of the more than 100 fish taken from the Pacific Ocean, only Schlegel’s Black Rockfish had detectible Cs-134 in it. The level was 6.7 Becquerels per kilogram, far below the legal limit of 100 Bq/kg. It was caught about 2 km off of Fukushima Daini, which makes the source of the Cs-134 a matter of debate. https://www7.tepco.co.jp/wp-content/uploads/handouts_190625_01-e.pdf  Only seven of the 24 fish taken from inside the F. Daiichi breakwall had detectible Cs-134. All concentrations of the isotope were well-below Japan’s 100 Bq/kg limit. Further, only four of the fish contained more than the legal limit for combined Cesium isotopic concentration (Cs-134 and Cs-137). https://www7.tepco.co.jp/wp-content/uploads/handouts_190625_02-e.pdf 
  • Tepco is forced to pay ~$3,000 to a former plant worker for not providing information on radiation exposure. The plaintiff demanded $100,000 in damages to health. Even though the judges found that the worker’s exposure of 16 millisieverts posed no health hazard, Fukushima District Court ordered the award because the worker had not been informed about the biological effects of radiation exposure. In addition, the court rejected two suits brought against F. Daiichi subcontractors because the responsibility for accident was solely in the hands of Tepco. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190626_34/

June 21, 2019

  • Researchers believe they have found a technology to effectively remove radioactive contaminants from soil. Team leader Professor Masahiko Matsukata of Waseda University claims this can reduce the volume of contaminated waste at a relatively low cost. An un-named chemical is added to the high pressure water flow used to cleanse the soil. Tokyo plans to transport the large volume of the material now in temporary storage to facilities designed to either recycle the soil or lower its radioactive concentration. The Waseda staff wants to use soils sent to the storage facilities to test the effectiveness of the technology in the field. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190618_25/
  • An industrial inspection robot is demonstrated by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The design was inspired by the F. Daiichi’s s post-accident needs. The robot is considered “anti-explosion”, intended to reduce the chances that it might produce sparks or heat that could cause an explosion or fire if it is operated in a flammable gas environment. It is intended for possible nuke accident uses, of course, but its more-regular use will be for patrolling other potentially explosive facilities such as oil refineries. This will reduce manpower needs and safety. The company has been working on such robotics following the Tokaimura criticality accident in 1999. The anti-explosive requirements not only follow Japan’s standards, but also those in Europe. The June 10th test not only accounted for functioning in high heat and high radiation environments, but also demonstrated the ability for remote control docking at an electricity charging station. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/mhi-tests-anti-explosion-robot/
  • Another lawsuit to stop restarted nukes is rejected. On Monday, June 17th, the Fukuoka District Court disallowed a suit filed by 33 members of the public claiming that restarting two units at the Sendai station placed Kagoshima residents at undue risk from an accident caused by volcanic eruption. The suit said that not all conceivable levels of volcanic fallout inflicted on a nuke were considered, but units #1 & #2 were restarted after satisfying Tokyo’s rigid post-Fukushima requirements. Regardless, the court found that the restarts were not illegal. Presiding Judge Moriharu Kurasawa explained, "Japanese laws on nuclear power do not go so far as requiring (regulators) to consider the impact of a catastrophic volcanic eruption that is impossible to predict and highly unlikely to occur.” He added that taking no action for a disaster that is beyond rational projections is entirely acceptable. The plaintiffs are considering an appeal, claiming (in the words of one litigant), “It is regrettable. The lessons of the nuclear accident (in Fukushima) have not been learned." Others said that any possibility of an accident, other than zero, should be unacceptable. Lawyer Yuichi Kaido said the decision means that another Fukushima-level accident is tolerable. The suit’s rejection parallels a Saga District Court decision rendered in March 2018! https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190617_29/ -- https://japantoday.com/category/national/court-rejects-call-to-revoke-approval-for-nuclear-reactor-restarts
  • Japanese news media claims Tepco caused unnecessary fear in Niigata Prefecture during a recent earthquake. A mistaken fax was sent to local governments saying there were quake-induced electrical problems at the shuttered Kashiwazaki Kariwa station during the June 18 temblor, affecting spent fuel pool cooling. However, it never happened! Kashiwazaki Mayor Masahiro Sakurai sent a staff member to confirm the fax with Tepco, and found it was incorrect. Tepco subsequently issued a correction. Regardless, Mayor Sakurai scolded station manager Chikashi Shitara, saying, “When a real earthquake is happening, not a drill, this is a massive error. It is extremely poor on their part to make errors in the most important and basic information at a time of crisis.” He added that he is more determined than ever to keep K-K station from ever having a restart. It turns out that an incorrect marking of a box on a fax form caused the hubbub! Tepco is trying to meet Japan’s new nuclear safety regulations in order to restart K-K units #6 & #7. https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/06/20/business/corporate-business/get-fax-right-tepco-workers-accidentally-spark-japan-nuclear-scare/#.XQzRtutKiUk -- https://news.yahoo.com/fax-bungling-officials-spark-japan-nuclear-scare-113810502.html;_ylt=A2KLfSV30QxdkucAW9NXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTByNXQ0NThjBGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwM1BHZ0aWQDBHNlYwNzcg--


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