Fukushima Accident Updates (Blog)

Your most reliable source of objective Fukushima News... summaries of news reports in Japan's Press on Fukushima Daiichi, often mis-stated as a nuclear disaster.

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July 1, 2022

  • Part of Okuma Town has some of its evacuation order rescinded. The co-host community for F. Daiichi has been under the order since the March, 2011 nuke accident. The order was lifted for about 20 percent of Okuma Town's "difficult-to-return" zone on Thursday. This is the second “difficult to return” zone with the order lifted this month. Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Koichi Hagiuda said, "Ending restrictions on an area, which used to be downtown (Okuma) before the disaster, will be a significant first step in reconstruction." https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20220628_19/ - https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2022/06/e96af5c6ecfb-japan-oks-return-to-nuclear-plant-host-town-for-1st-time-in-11-yrs.html

  • Britain lifts its F. Daiichi import restrictions. British PM Boris Johnson said, “...finally, we are able to have Fukushima-origin products all over the shops in the U.K." Farm products including mushrooms from Fukushima, Miyagi and seven other prefectures had been subject to the restrictions. https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2022/06/05d8df3e62cd-britain-to-lift-import-restriction-on-food-products-from-fukushima.html

  • Electric utility share owners want nuke restarts to abate summer power shortfalls. A Chubu Electric Power Co. shareholder said, “If the plant (Hamaoka) had been brought back online, consumers' concerns about power shortages might have been eased. A spike in electricity rates as a result of a surge in fossil fuel prices could have been avoided as well.” Kyushu Electric Power Co. president Kazuhiro Ikebe says, “Nuclear energy can play a big role when power supplies are tight.” Japan is currently experiencing a major heat wave, causing a major shortfall in power supply. https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14656785

June 24, 2022

  • More on Japan's Supreme Court denial of government responsibility for the F. Daiichi accident. The court said the earthquake was “beyond expectation”. The most extreme quake supported by scientific evidence was Richter Scale 8.2, while the actual quake was 7-8 times more powerful at Richter Scale 9.0. It was estimated that such a quake could produce a 15.7 meter tsunami hitting the plant site out of the southeast, with an epicenter somewhere between Sanriku and Boso. The actual tsunami produced a greater surge along the Tohoku coast, with a maximum surge of 19 meters. The court ruled on whether or not the accident could have been averted if protective actions based on the prediction were taken. The decision said protective actions for the 8.2 quake and tsunami would not have been sufficient for the actual quake and tsunami. Legal expert Shinsuke Toyonaga said, As opinions were divided among the judges, the ruling may well have been decided within the limits they were able to draw together. But the top court, as the court of last resort, should have given a collective view on major points of contention, including the long-term evaluation.” A former judge countered with, The latest ruling has assessed too strictly whether the consequence could have been avoided or not. Given the risks of a nuclear power plant, there was a possibility of ampler measures than suggested by the provisional calculation was taken. Therefore, I would have to say that the top court has not considered the matter sufficiently.” Japanese law requires the company owning the plant having an accident to compensate damaged parties, whether or not the severity of the accident could have been anticipated.https://japannews.yomiuri.co.jp/society/general-news/20220618-38959/ - https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20220618/p2a/00m/0op/014000c

  • Fukushima Governor Uchibori responds to a public opinion poll concerning F. Daiichi wastewater. Specifically, 47.3% of the respondents said the prefecture's efforts had not improved public understanding. Thus, the prefecture would continue to make efforts to provide accurate information.” Uchibori suggested that the poor level of understanding may be due to emergence of new rumors and misinformation. He added that dispelling fears and misinformation—including those overseas—was a high-priority prefectural issue. He wants to “eliminate those concerns, working in cooperation with the national government.”https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/news/5984

June 17, 2022

  • Japan's Supreme Court absolves the government of F. Daiichi accident blame. The court finding says the government "was highly unlikely to have been able to prevent the flooding" of the plant, even if it had exercised its regulatory powers over TEPCO to take preventative measures because the scale and direction of the actual tsunami differed from estimates. Thus, the accident could not have been avoided even if seawalls were built to protect from the theoretical worst-case tsunami, citing a 2002 seismic study's estimate. The decision effectively quashed a four civil suits brought by more than 3,600 citizens that had to evacuate by government mandate. However, the decision does not forgive Tepco of responsibility. The company was ordered to compensate the plaintiffs in March to the tune of about $10.5 million. Of course, the plaintiffs were unhappy with the courts. Plaintiff lawyer Izutaro Managi angrily said it was unacceptable and the court should read the decision to the people of Fukushima. How this will impact the (Aside – if Tokyo cannot be found legally culpable, how can Tepco be held responsible of malfeasance?) https://japannews.yomiuri.co.jp/society/crime-courts/20220617-38551/ - https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2022/06/e3802f4efbc6-breaking-news-japans-top-court-rules-state-not-liable-for-fukushima-disaster.html - https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20220617_24/ - https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20220617/p2g/00m/0na/034000c (The above references represent the dozens of news outlets posting on the decision.)

  • Another “difficult-to-return” area will have its evacuation order rescinded. This time for a portion of F. Daiichi co-host Okuma. This covers about 3.2 square miles of the town. The area covers a needed train station and the roads leading to it from outside the town proper. The Order will be lifted on June 30. Mayor Jun Yoshida said, "We hope that the removal (of the evacuation order) will lead to further progress in the town's reconstruction process." https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2022061600879

June 10, 2022

  • Despite Japan's business community's support, nuke restarts move at a snail's pace. Utility companies have applied for 27 nuke unit safety inspections, But, only 10 have actually restarted, and some of them are currently idled by order of the Nuclear Regulation Authority. Seven others have been bogged down with local issues that stand in the way. For the other 10, the blame is squarely on the NRA for unnecessarily protracted reviews on the startup requests, mostly to have anti-terrorism facilities completed. The ruling Liberal Democratic Party and Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) are literally fed up and have formally called for immediate restart of those units where safety has been assured through meeting or exceeding the NRA regulations. NRA Chair Toyoshi Fuketa sheepishly retorts with the old NRA line,We cannot allow any compromise on safety. We can never neglect the confirmation of safety by hurrying.” He constantly promises to improve the speed and efficiency of the screening process, but literally nothing has been done to show that it is actually happening. https://japannews.yomiuri.co.jp/science-nature/science/20220608-35679/

  • Prime Minister Kishida calls for a clean energy strategy with “the maximum utilization” of nukes. This is part of Kishida's “new capitalism” concept. Industry Minister Hagiuda said, The clean energy strategy aims to make the most of everything we can use, including nuclear power, to respond to circumstances, such as the Ukraine crisis and the energy supply shortage, on condition that nuclear energy is safely used.” Electricity prices have risen to all-time highs because of Russia's invasion of the Ukraine. The trend will continue as long as the NRA and local politics keep nukes idled. https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14636067

  • PM Kishida tells Katsurao residents when their local evacuation order will end... 8am on June 12th. He says, "I am glad, from the bottom of my heart, that I can tell you right here the decision to lift the order. The government will continue to tackle reconstruction of Fukushima responsibly, keeping firmly in mind that the elimination of the evacuation order is not an end goal but a start."http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=1109

  • Will reopened Fukushima areas need sustained federal support? The Mainichi Shimbun says “yes”. On June 12th, a small portion of Katsurao will be the first area designated “difficult to return” to reopen. Only eight of the 82 people evacuated in 2011 plan to return. As such, they will have little-to-no medical or commercial facilities at their disposal. A formal plan of action seems prudent. One local official puts it this way, “It's important to properly support the lives of people who have returned. We want to move forward one step at a time from there."https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20220610/p2a/00m/0op/013000c

  • Mihama unit #3 to restart two months ahead of schedule. It restarted for the first time last June, but the NRA shut it down after four months for not being able to meet the mandated deadline for implementing anti-terrorism measures. The designated safety facility will be ready to go around August 12th. It was originally scheduled to begin operation on October 20th. Kansai Electric, which owns the unit, stated “We will operate our nuclear plants in a safe manner while considering current challenges in the power supply and demand." https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2022/06/a031a57f82df-aging-fukui-nuclear-unit-to-restart-in-aug-2-months-early.html

May 27, 2022

There were two detailed postings by Tepco about its detailed robotic probe around the F. Daiichi reactor pedestal of Unit #1.

  • May 19th – A detailed inspection around the Unit #1 pedestal began on March 14th, but was terminated and rescheduled because of too much turbidity in the water and a sudden drop in water level due to a March 16th earthquake. The investigation restarted on May 17th after the water had cleared sufficiently and earlier technical problems were resolved. Videos taken by the submersible robot (ROV) revealed no major damage to the pipes and vales of the Unit #1 auxiliary cooling water system or the primary recirculation system (PLR). A number of deposits were found, but none seemed to be comprised of resolidified corium (mixture of melted fuel and structural metals). A radiation monitor on the ROV recorded the exposure levels at many locations around the pedestal. While the radiation levels near the in-place technology around the pedestal, actual exposures to technicians were very low. May 17 – 0.56 milliSieverts (56 millirems) and May 18 – 0.19 mSv (19 mrem)... both of which were well below the assumed exposure of 300 mrem per day per person. Numerous pictures were included in the posting. https://www.tepco.co.jp/en/hd/decommission/information/newsrelease/reference/pdf/2022/reference_20220519_02-e.pdf

  • May 23rd – A second investigation began on May 19th, looking at the pedestal opening and PLR system jet deflectors. As with the earlier look-see, there were a lot of deposits, but nothing resembling resolidified corium. May 20th and 21st had measurements taken of the neutron flux in these two areas, but the readings were not posted because analysis and assessment had yet to be completed. The investigation culminated on May 23rd. Similar to the earlier look-see, numerous new pictures were posted. Additional cumulative exposures to the operators of the ROVs (there were four) were May 19 – 120 mrem, May 20 – 13 mrem, and May 21 – 21 mrem. There was no change in the condition of pipes and/or valves since the first investigation, two days earlier. Thus, it is safe to assume that conditions have stagnated, and (judging by the amount of dust-like sedimentation) have remained so since soon after the accident itself. https://www.tepco.co.jp/en/hd/decommission/information/newsrelease/reference/pdf/2022/reference_20220523_01-e.pdf

. . .

  • On May 18th, a brief but poignant report was published in the Sage Journal on Dose Response (https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/15593258221103378 ). It concludes that the risk perception of low dose radiation has been greatly exaggerated. It boldly statesthere is no evidence that radiation is a carcinogen below some threshold.” Further “Unfounded suppositions about enhanced aggressiveness of malignancies may be conductive to overtreatment.”

May 20, 2022

The visit to F. Daiichi by IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi sparks a virtual tsunami of Japanese Press articles, all but one of which stop short of saying the release of wastewater has zero risk to anyone. The following are representative of the reporting...

There is one news report not associated with the Grossi visit...

  • A date for the end of Katsurao's evacuation order for the Noyuki District is posted. Tokyo's disaster response headquarters and Katsurao Village jointly said the restrictions will be lifted on June 12th. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2022051600897

May 13, 2022

Only one bit of new news, this week...

  • Some of Katsurao Village will have its evacuation order lifted in three weeks. The Noyuki District, which covers about 20% of the town, is planned to have its order rescinded on June 5th. It is significant because this will be the first lifting of an evacuation order located inside a “difficult to return” zone. It will allow eight persons from four eager families to go home. They will be briefed on the situation by authorities on Sunday. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20220513_30/ 

May 6, 2022

  • Despite some neighboring naysayers, Fukushima agricultural exports have risen above the 2011 level. Officials say the growth is due to increased rice shipments to Singapore and Hong Kong. The export total through March 2022 was about three times the level immediately before the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. Exports sharply dropped after the quake/tsunami largely due to fears about contamination from the F. Daiichi accident. Given this sharp increase, officials now focus on increasing shipments to the United States, which removed its restrictions last fall, but the market has yet to recover. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=1104

  • IAEA says there will be only a limited impact with the planned release of treated F. Daiichi wastewaters. Their February task force says residual radioactive isotopic concentrations are “far below the Japanese regulatory limits”. However, the agency has refrained from calling the release safe. Its final decision is planned for just prior to the actual start of the releases. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2022043000330

April 29, 2022

  • Tokyo says that F. Daiichi wastewater discharges will have limited consumer impact. A government survey of consumers shows that only 14.7% will stop buying Fukushima food items once the releases begin. 13.3% say they are already doing it. Surprisingly, the percentage of Koreans avoiding Fukushima foods appears will drop once the releases begin. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2022042700484

  • Tepco posts photos of efforts to improve the areas around F. Daiichi discharge facilities. Part 1 shows the arrival of a large”shield machine”. Part 2 shows off shore work being done by a sea-going crane. https://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2022-e/202204-e/220425-01e.htmlhttps://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2022-e/202204-e/220425-02e.html

  • Tepco announces that the F. Daiichi wastewater tanks may not be full until the fall of 2023. The original estimate was for the fall of 2022 The reason is that the amount of contaminated water is less than had been the case previously, and new tanks were added. The company plans to start the sea discharge in the spring of 2023. https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14609795

  • Only 61% of the people in Japan know that wastewater at F. Daiichi continues to increase. Further, only 43% know about the plan to begin ocean discharges to mitigate the situation, in 2023! On the other hand, as much as 83% of people outside Japan know about the on-going wastewater buildup, and 56% were aware of the discharge plans! These numbers were generated by Tokyo's Reconstruction Agency surveys. https://japannews.yomiuri.co.jp/society/general-society/20220428-23767/

April 22, 2022

  • The disposal of Japanese radioactive equipment becomes an issue. It is estimated that more than 50,000 tons of it may eventually exist. It might be sent overseas for disposal, which challenges the current ban of such exports. Critics oppose the idea and want the stuff recycled. The materials in question include steam generators from Pressurized Water reactor units, feedwater heaters, and casings used to store and transport used nuclear fuel. A Kansai Electric official says, "It is virtually impossible to dispose of the waste domestically. The regulatory reconsideration is a gleam of hope for the waste issue that is at a dead-end.” Nagasaki University professor Tatsujiro Suzuki says, "This is what you get when the state has failed to seriously discuss what to do with waste. It is sheer irresponsibility when looked at from the principle that disposal must be done in one's own country." https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2022/04/35db6ff5b51f-tons-of-japanese-nuclear-waste-may-be-destined-for-overseas-disposal.html

April 15, 2022

  • The town of Tomioka starts “stays” allowing evacuated residents to spend overnight in their homes. The area affected surrounds Yomiuri Station on the Joban Line of the East Japan Railway. Only 11 people from 9 displaced families have applied for the opportunity, out of the pre-evacuation population of more than 3,500. This part of Tomioka affected by the “stays” covers about 5 percent of the town. When the evacuation order is lifted later in the spring, some 95% of Tomioka will be open for repopulation. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2022041100927 - https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20220411_15/

  • The NRA is set to approve Tepco's release of F. Daiichi wastewater. The Nuclear Regulation Authority has been inspecting Tepco's release plans for months. Tepco promises to only release the liquid that has been diluted with raw seawater to make the Tritium concentration less than one-fortieth of Japan's overly-restrictive limit for the isotope. A draft inspection document will be posted next month. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20220415_32/

  • Fukushima-area fisheries remain opposed to the planned wastewater release. On April 12th, Industry Minister Koichi Hagiuda says Tokyo will “take effective measures to curb expected reputational damage to fisheries products while hearing input from the fisheries industry.” But fisheries head Hiroshi Kishi said he and other officials of the federation are expecting additional assistance on top of that. Tokyo promises a “supersize fund” to cover the losses. But Kishi says the fund is a measure to sustain the fishing business, but does not address reputational damage. Hagiuda responded that there will not be a second fund because, The government has already set aside 30 billion yen and we believe that it is fairly large.” https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14598159

  • Local citizens are skeptical about the planned wastewater release. They allege that the decision for the release was hasty and was made before understanding was gained with the public. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2022041300563

  • Tepco announces that the construction of a cover over F. Daiichi unit #1 has begun. Work began on the 13th of April. The cover itself will be supported by the reactor building's outer walls, that survived the Hydrogen explosion. All work is being done by remote control to minimize exposure to workers. Details on the work and pictures are to be found here... https://www.tepco.co.jp/en/hd/decommission/information/newsrelease/reference/pdf/2022/reference_20220413_01-e.pdf

April 8, 2022

April 1, 2022

  • Tepco plans a look inside F. Daiichi RPV #2 within three years. Reactor Pressure Vessel #2 is being considered because robotic surveys have progressed better in unit #2 than units #1 & #3. This will be the first internal look at one of the three RPVs that experienced meltdown in March, 2011. It is believed that the corium (mixture of formerly molten fuel and structural metals liquefied by by the heat of the meltdown) for unit #2 is contained inside the RPV. The internal look will be either by robotic or otherwise remote controlled camera. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20220401_05/

  • The IAEA checked screening for F. Daiichi wastewater. They plan to post a formal report on their findings in about two months. IAEA Deputy Director General Lydie Evrard said, "The NRA (Japan's nuclear watchdog authority) has demonstrated to the agency task force that they are committed to a regulatory approach in line with the international safety standards." Tokyo and Tepco plan to dilute the treated water to levels below national regulations and will be discharged into the ocean in the spring 2023. Samples of treated water were taken by the IAEA team, to be analyzed by an IAEA facility to verify Tepco's data. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20220325_36/ - https://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2022-e/202203-e/220325-01e.html

  • It looks like four Japanese nukes will face further restart delays. They are Onagawa #2, Genkai #3 & #4, and Takahama #3. The delay for the Onagawa unit is due to being unable to meet the deadline set by the NRA for anti-terrorist upgrades. The Genkai units' delays are also due to not being able to meet the deadlines set by the NRA, and incidents at the construction sites for their anti-terrorist facilities. The Takahama delay is due to discovery of unacceptable decay in four steam generator pipes. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20220331_13/

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