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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March 22, 2019

  • Evacuation orders might be lifted next month for parts of Okuma and Futaba, the first for the F. Daiichi co-host towns. The schedule for rescinding the orders is intended to coincide with opening the new Okuma town office. Hideo Yura, deputy chief of the Local Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters said, "The town authorities intend to synchronize the removal of the evacuation order with the opening ceremony as much as possible." Okuma Mayor Toshitsuna Watanabe said, "We would like to see the evacuation order lifted as soon as possible in order to take a step forward toward our town's rebirth." The districts to be affected are Nakayashiki (11 households) and Ogawara (129 households). 21 of the households already have overnight privileges. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=942
  • Japan’s opinion on nuclear energy seems to be changing. Japan Atomic Energy Relations Organization (JAERO) released the results of a nuke opinion survey taken last October. While most said nuclear was “unsettling” and/or “dangerous”, other opinion options signaled a positive shift may be happening. The “not reliable” notion fell from 30% to 22%, and those of the “bad” opinion fell from 19% to 12%. Further, those feeling future energy sources will include nuclear rose by 5.5% Whether or not this will continue cannot be determined. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/jaeros-recent-public-opinion-survey-on-nuclear-energy-support-rises-somewhat-for-restarting-npps/
  • A Fukushima elementary school graduates its first class since the nuke accident. Unfortunately, it will be its last! Five students were graduated from Yamakiya School in Kawamata. Because there are no other students remaining at the school, it will close next week April. At the ceremony, Principal Jindo Saito said, "All of you have unyielding perseverance. I want all of you to hold on to your love for Yamakiya." Meanwhile, an elementary school in Iitate graduated 14, and will not close! Fourteen elementary or junior high schools in Kawamata, Tomioka, Namie, Iitate and Katsurao, reopened in April 2018. It seems only the Yamakiya School will not continue to operate. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019032200737 -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201903220060.html
  • On March 18th, Tepco announced that the amount of “treated water” at F. Daiichi is now more than a million tons. Further, the company says there is no room to add more empty tanks to accommodate additional wastewater. A spokesperson said, “There’s no more vacant space available, so it’s becoming difficult to secure enough tanks.” Chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, Toyoshi Fuketa, presaged a possible release by saying, “We are entering a period in which further delays in deciding what measure to implement will no longer be tolerable.” The maximum volume that could be stored at the site is 137 million tons. The major issue is residual Tritium, which cannot be removed per existing technology (filtration or adsorption). Although detectibly radioactive, the Tritium is biologically innocuous. Most of the stored wastewater could safely by released to the Pacific Ocean, but fear of damaging rumors keeps it from happening. Tetsu Nozaki, head of the fisheries cooperative, says the release “will have a devastating effect on fishing in Fukushima”. It should be noted that nearly 120,000 tons of the wastewater has been run through a Strontium removal system to remove any residual Sr-90 from the water, and could be released immediately were it not for rampant radiophobia!  http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0005616178 -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201903190042.html -- https://www7.tepco.co.jp/wp-content/uploads/handouts_190318_02-e.pdf
  • Tohoku Electric plans to donate $3.58 million to a local community, but denies it is a “payoff” to restart a nuke at Higashidori Station. The funds will be donated through the corporate version of a hometown tax payment system. The system allows people to give part of their taxes to a local government of their choice. The corporate version allows companies to reduce their corporate and other tax payments if they donate to local governments projects. Satoshi Shimoyashiki, vice manager of Tohoku Electric’s Aomori branch, says, “We decided to provide this form of cooperation because co-prosperity with local communities has been part of our management philosophy since the founding of our company.” Higashidori Mayor Yasuo Echizen added, “We believe that Tohoku Electric decided to support the village's regional revitalization projects.” http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201903200054.html

March 15, 2019

Monday March 11 marked the 8th anniversary of The Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, along with the F. Daiichi accident. Numerous articles were posted by the main news outlets in Japan.

  • NHK World – At a memorial service in Tokyo, survivors and family members spoke about their losses, and coping with the aftermath. Masaaki Konno from Miyagi Prefecture said: "I couldn't find any trace of my mother...there remains a gaping hole in my soul because of the regret, the feeling of powerlessness, the sadness, agony and despair of not being able to find her.“ Kaneko Takahara from Fukushima Prefecture said, "Our hopes had been taken away by the earthquake and by the long evacuation.” Imperial Prince Akishino said, "It is important that we all continue to unite our hearts to be with the afflicted for many years to come, to ensure that none of those who are in difficult situations will be left behind, and that each and every one of them will be able to regain peace in their daily lives as soon as possible.” https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190311_32/ -The Nuclear Regulation Authority urges staff to speak up about things that seem wrong!   Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa addressed about 330 employees on Monday said NRA employees are deluding themselves if they believe Japan will not be hit with another nuclear accident. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190311_20/ - Although the on-going build-up of F. Daiichi waste water continues to hound the NRA, it says the water can be treated and safely released into the ocean. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190311_38/
  • Jiji Press – Prayers for victims of the quake and tsunami are said in Tokyo. The government hosted the service at Tokyo’s National Theater. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, "Steady progress has been made on reconstruction efforts in disaster areas." https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019031100887 – Prospective Bureaucrats tour Fukushima to reduce unfounded rumors. Entitled Hope Tourism, University students on a track to political careers are shown the realities of reconstruction from the 2011 tragedy. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019030600967 – Fukushima’s governor vows to revitalize all evacuated areas! Governor Masao Uchibori said, "The prefecture will work together with the central government, local authorities and related organizations to revive all such areas while respecting local municipalities' plans as much as possible." https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019030900548 - Local farmers and fisheries in Miyagi Prefecture join forces to speed up reconstruction. The Miyagi firms have seen a steady recovery, but hope to accelerate the process. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019030800657 – Creation of new Fukushima industries experiences delays. The national project (Fukushima Innovation Coast Concept) began in 2014, but has traveled a rough road while trying to meet some overly-ambitious goals. A prefectural official said, "The project covers a wide range of fields and involves new challenges." https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019030900553 – There are about ~52,000 people who officially remain evacuees from twelve prefectures. More than 32,000 are from Fukushima. The official death toll, including “disaster-related” injuries, now stands at 22,100! https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019031000429 – (comment) Although it should come as a surprise to no-one, Jiji Press broadcasts that the number of students in the old no-go zone “dives”. It has been known since the living restrictions began being lifted several years ago! The number of citizens returning to their homes is a considerable minority, so why should Jiji make it seem so shocking? https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019031300954
  • Asahi Shimbun - A Tokyo librarian moved to Fukushima to help recovery. Megumi Higashiyama remembers how fear almost kept her away, but the 28-year-old librarian visited Tomioka and saw library workers cleaning books and discarding other ones and overcame her fear. She recalls, “I thought Fukushima’s issues are not what only the local people should tackle… I wanted to walk along the path where the town is getting back to a normal daily life.” http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201903110044.html - The U.K. and Japan are studying Fukushima radioactive particles. It is dubbed a forensic investigation! Japan Atomic Energy Agency is collaborating with British scientists to understand the particles collected within the restricted zone around F. Daiichi. JAEA’s Dr Yukihiko Satou explained, "The particles were fundamentally extracted from those attached to soil, dust and debris", encased in protective tape, and accelerated to near-light speed at Britain’s Diamond Light Source synchrotron. Team leader Tom Scott of Bristol University says the particles resemble pumice and "Studying... this glassy matrix tells us how available within the environment they are." http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201903090019.html
  • Mainichi Shimbun – At the Tokyo 8th Anniversary memorial service, PM Abe said his government will "will continue to undertake reconstruction work with a commitment to providing seamless support through the various stages of livelihood rehabilitation and further accelerate the reconstruction work." Prince Fumihito said, "I am deeply concerned for the physical and mental health of the afflicted people, especially the elderly, who become more vulnerable year by year." https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20190311/p2g/00m/0na/017000c - The Mainici also posted a photo gallery remembering the Great East Japan Quake and Tsunami… https://mainichi.jp/english/graphs/20190311/hpe/00m/0na/002000g/1 - The average age of citizens returning to communities where living restriction have been lifted remains high. This suggests that younger people tend to shun returning home. More than 45%of the returnees in 9 such communities are over the age of 65. However, this is less than the 49% over 65 in August 2017, indicating that reluctance on the part of the younger demographic may be slowly waning.  https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20190312/p2a/00m/0na/016000c
  • Japan Times – The Times ran a series of five articles on the so-called aftermath of the 2011 calamity. Two of them contain information not found in the previous listings… The current amount of treated contaminated wastewater now totals about 1.1 million tons. More tanks are planned for construction to hold an additional 270,000 tons. This should allow for up to five years capacity if the current radiophobic stranglehold on innocuous release to the Pacific Ocean continues unabated. Akira Ono, president of Fukushima No. 1 Decontamination and Decommissioning Engineering Co., says, “Space isn’t a big issue at this point in time, but five or 10 years from now, after we’ve started removing the melted fuel debris, we’re going to need facilities to store and preserve it.” https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/03/07/national/eight-years-triple-meltdown-fukushima-no-1s-water-woes-slow-recede/#.XIqpN6OP59B – Japan’s nuclear industry continues to languish. With the ridiculously slow pace of restarting perfectly safe nukes, the industry hoped “it could export its way out of trouble.”Since 2016, most of Japan’s nuclear export projects have failed or halted.  This indicates that the nuclear export industry cannot elude the stigma of Fukushima. Thus the question: Is nuclear power still good business for Japan? https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/03/11/business/aftermath-fukushima-triple-meltdown-japans-nuclear-industry-faces-fierce-headwind/#.XIqpCaOP59B
  • Japan Today – Fukushima fishermen continue to cower under the dark clouds of unfounded rumors. Fishermen remain vehemently opposed to releasing reprocessed water - deemed harmless by the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) - into the ocean. Tetsu Nozaki, head of the Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Associations, said "That would destroy what we've been building over the past eight years." https://japantoday.com/category/national/Eight-years-on-contaminated-water-remains-big-problem-for-Fukushima-clean-up - Japan Today dubs the 2020 Tokyo Olympics the “Reconstruction Olympics”. The news outlet isn’t buying Tokyo’s plan to showcase post-disaster recovery at next year’s games. Japan Today erroneously asserts that “Japan ordered more than 140,000 people to evacuate when the Fukushima Daiichi reactors went into meltdown.” The truth is, as has been reported here for eight years, that the number of Tohoku citizens ordered to evacuate by Tokyo is more like 75,000. The article largely focuses on one voluntary evacuee’s verbal angst…one who fled Fukushima City, well-beyond the Tokyo-mandated no-go zone. https://japantoday.com/category/national/fukushima-evacuees-resist-return-as-'reconstruction-olympics'-near  (This is indicative of Japan Today’s incessant negativism the past few years, and why this reporter has shunned adding the news outlet’s reporting for the past four years.)
  • Japan News (Yomiuri Shimbun) – The News reports that there are pending issues that are slowing quake and tsunami recovery. While more than 90% of residential land development and 98% of the rebuilt homes have occurred, social isolation continues to plague the returnees. Evacuees have not returned to their former dwellings, which were lost to the two-pronged natural disaster. The problem exists because they now live in “relocation sites”. Plans to re-socialize these unfortunates have not gone well. Further, the quaint charm of the former seaside communities has been lost. As time passes, the return to pre-disaster society threatens to become a “passing topic”. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0005598145
  • The International Press focuses almost entirely on Fukushima, and ignores the earthquake and tsunami’s aftermath – Reuters focuses on the wastewater buildup at Fukushima Daiichi. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-japan-nuclear-water/eight-years-on-water-woes-threaten-fukushima-cleanup-idUSKCN1QP0MA?feedType=RSS&feedName=healthNews&fbclid=IwAR1Caarzu5duQbGeW3dYeHxQO7PJg-Dis06VEEMJY-9XdkOGhGULFtwxwjY The Guardianrues the low percentage of people who have returned home after evacuation orders were rescinded. It looks at some of those who have returned, many who are glad they did. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/mar/10/fukushima-eight-years-on-evacuees-come-home?fbclid=IwAR1ef0uWxAUu_yRhZG-qw61lT2-W99W0xDnul-w7DzdLX6UyLRbtGqLEHQw – Clean Energy dot Org. reviews the sensationalist book written by former disgruntled Nuclear Regulatory Commission head, Gregory Jackzo! The review is written by anti-nuclear radical Don Safer, posted by an equally-biased Sara Barczak of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. https://cleanenergy.org/blog/fukushima-nuclear-accidents-8th-anniversary-book-review-an-alarming-inside-view-from-the-top-of-the-nuclear-regulatory-commission/ - International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War obverts its anti-war focus to smear the 202 Tokyo Olympics. Its article’s headline says it all… “Tokyo 2020 – The Radioactive Olympics”. The piece takes elaboration, exaggeration, and the long-passé idea of a military-industrial complex to the extreme! https://globalethics.files.wordpress.com/2018/07/ippnw-2018-07-11-tokyo-2020-the-radioactive-olympics-en.pdf

Here’s some news other than the 8th Anniversary focus –

  • A Yamaguchi court shoots down a suit to stop operation of Ikata unit #3. A Hiroshima court issued an injunction against the unit in December, 2017, citing an alleged risk posed by the unlikely eruption of Mt. Aso caldera, some 130 kilometers distant. The decision was overturned last September, and unit #3 was restarted. It has operated safely at full power since then. Undeterred, local activist fanatics filed suit challenging the government’s risk estimates, arguing that a pyroclastic flow reaching the nuke station was not impossible. Judge Akira Onose said the possibility of a major eruption during the reactor's operating life is low, and the NRA’s safety standards are adequate. Plant owner Shikoku Electric posted the following, "We find the decision appropriate. We will ensure safe and stable operation while keeping in mind that there is no end to efforts to improve safety." https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20190315/p2g/00m/0dm/069000c
  • A study claims that up to 70% of the Cesium released from F. Daiichi in 2011 remains in Fukushima’s forests. Japan Atomic Energy Agency completed the four-year survey in 2016, for forests in Kawamata Town and Kawauchi Village. Radiophobic concerns are based on the assumption of a spread to surrounding farms and residential properties. Researchers have found that 90% of the residual Cesium is now in the forest soil, up to a depth of about 4 inches, effectively containing it. Also, only about 0.1% of the surface residuals spread outside the area each year. In addition, the Cesium concentration in nearby rivers is less that one Becquerel per liter…one-tenth of Tokyo’s legal limit for drinking water! Concerns linger because a freshwater trout was found to have a Cesium concentration above 100 Becquerels per kilogram…Tokyo’s official limit. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190313_03/
  • Three former Tepco executives make a final plea to absolve them of criminal blame for the Fukushima accident. They are allegedly responsible for the deaths of 44 hospital patients and 13 others because evacuation efforts were inadequate to protect the citizens from such a massive seawater surge. The three reiterated their lack of guilt for the umpteenth time. Their lawyer said, "There was no (rational) predictability of massive tsunami and it's obvious that they are free from blame.” The plaintiff’s legal team said Tepco’s pre-2011 estimate of a massive tsunami was unreliable, and that if the three operating units had been shuttered as little as five days before the tsunami, the accident would never have happened. They demand each executive serve a five-year prison term. The verdict will be rendered next Tuesday, March 19th. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019031201049 - http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201903130041.html - https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20190312/p2g/00m/0dm/058000c

March 8, 2019

  • Tests of new robot designs for disaster-response include one shaped like a snake. The test was on Tuesday at the Fukushima Robot Test Field in Minamisoma. Developed by Tohoku University, the robot slithered across rubble using body vibrations and climbed stairs by floating on air jets. Primarily designed for finding missing people in collapsed buildings, it is capable of being used in other disaster-related situations. Tohoku University Prof. Satoshi Tadokoro said, “It’s important to carry out robot tests at facilities designed to reproduce a power station and other buildings.” http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0005578294
  • Fukushima Dr. Sae Ochi hopes memories from the 3/11/11 triple calamity remain for the future. She maintains that such memories could give future Japanese some hindsight lessons. She feels this has happened to date, but should become forgotten lore. Especially in the case of medical lessons learned. In mid-January she found that 1,249 papers were published in English which included the phrase “Fukushima nuclear accident”, and many more in Japanese-only. However, when these documents are identified as “medical papers”, some of the population says the authors are merely seeking fame by using their patients as guinea pigs! Others say that the authors are using the plight of patients in order to maintain their academic standing! Dr. Ochi explains that such papers are invaluable as a legacy extended to future generations and the prevention of post-calamity discrimination. Further, maintaining these documents will unquestionably save future lives. These are but a few of Dr. Ochi’s important observations. Reading her entire posting should be a must for all who care. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/memories-and-studies/  
  • An F. Daiichi official says the recent robotic look at the rubble inside the unit #2 pedestal is “big progress”. Tepco’s Decontamination and Decommissioning Engineering Co. President Akira Ono said that last month’s investigation “marked big progress that allows us to plan our future activities better." He added that the company needs to learn more before the unit #3 spent fuel can be removed from its fuel pool. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019030700641
  • Removal of used nuclear fuel from unit #3 is further postponed. Transfer of the 566 bundles, both used and unused, was scheduled to begin later this month. Tepco says the delay is due to problems with the newly-installed fuel handling technology. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190307_32/
  • The percentage of people that avoid Fukushima foods remains significant, but drops to an all-time low. A survey run by the Consumer Affairs Agency shows that as of March 6th, 12.5% of the populace continues to Fukushima products due to on-going concern that they might contain some nuke accident contamination. Remarkably, nearly 45% of the respondents said they were not aware that that all foods from the prefecture are tested for radioactive content! http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201903070041.html
  • Evacuees remaining in temporary housing are down to 3%. There are still 3,418 people in prefabricated housing units, out of the peak number of 116,565 in March, 2012. This covers Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima Prefectures. The intent was to find permanent places to settle by March, 2013, but the delay has been due to slow construction of public housing and Tokyo’s persistence in keeping nuclear evacuation orders in place. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019030600490
  • On Thursday, Jiji Press began its “8 Years On” press coverage. The 8th anniversary of the great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami occurs on Monday, and the news outlet got the jump on the other news media in Japan. First, Fukushima elementary schools are teaching students about radiation. This is intended to give the kids correct information to combat persistent rumors and prejudices. Tomioka Town Principal Shuichi Iwasaki says that radiation is invisible, so his students are taught how to measure it in the surrounding environment. Next, Jiji tells about the efforts of fishermen and public officials promoting products in Japanese cities and those abroad. Last year, safe catches off the prefectural coast totaled 4,010 tons, about 15% of the pre-nuke accident level. In the past four years, only one fish was found to contain internal contamination above the national limit. Finally, Naraha and Tomioka Towns are trying to plan for the inevitable end of the massive financial grants they have received from Tokyo. The monetary flow will cease when both F. Daiichi and F. Daini are fully decommissioned. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019030600848 -- https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019030600510 -- https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019030600483
  • Here’s the Friday postings from Jiji Press – The plan to use soil from decontamination efforts is facing considerable public opposition. The Environment Ministry proposed uses many months ago and wanted to begin a feasibility study. However, the public comment period required before beginning such a project has spawned submittals of heavy opposition. Another article says support for small businesses in the Tohoku Region must come quickly or they will have to close. President of the Corporation for Revitalizing Earthquake-Affected Business Takao Mastsuzaki says businesses in disaster areas "are starting to shut because they have no future prospects," and "the number of bankruptcies may grow." He adds that bakeries and barbershops are perhaps at the greatest risk. Finally, Jiji reports that holding of traditional festivals and other such events is at risk. They could disappear due to population losses and few people returning when evacuation orders are rescinded. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019030601012 -- https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019030800381 -- https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019030700524
  • Just about all of the other early articles about next week’s 8th anniversary of the nuke accident are skewed to the negative. The Asahi Shimbun says that while some evacuees have returned home, “The scars of that awful time are difficult to erase, and plain to see in so many ways.” In another article, The Asahi implies that the anticipated 40 year decommissioning timetable will be difficult to maintain, “Already, more than one-fifth of the 30 to 40 years estimated for the work has passed without any discernible leap forward on the issue…The path to decommissioning bears all the signs of being long and bumpy.” In addition, the Asahi continues to remind its readers that “no decision has been made on where to store and dispose of the fuel debris even if the company manages to remove the stuff.” Meanwhile, Jiji Press focuses on the financial plight of the Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima residents having trouble repaying emergency relief loans. Out of the initial wave of some 28,000 loans, about 1,703 have failed to meet the first repayment deadline in March, 2018. Nearly 1,600 of them were in Miyagi Prefecture. In Sendai City, loan delinquencies of $5.8 million existed as of December, 2018. Further, NHK World renews concerns about the copious number of giant bags with contaminated debris stored throughout Fukushima Prefecture. 17% of the material has been moved to temporary storage adjacent to F. Daiichi station. But, more than 100,000 locations near homes and other public places continue to have numerous bags present. The Environment Ministry hopes to double the amount transferred to the Okuma/Futaba facility over the past year! http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201903050058.html  -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201903060056.html -- https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019030401054 -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190307_09/
  • Five utilities will loan Japan Atomic Power $2.6 billion to pay for Tokai nuclear Power plant safety upgrades. Tokai nuclear station is just northeast of Tokyo. It is expected that criticism of the planned loan will be considerable. Tepco will be the major participant by reportedly providing $1.9 billion. Tohoku Electric will loan $210 million out of its cash reserves, with Kansai, Chubu, and Hokuriku Electric Companies funding the remainder. The risk centers on JAPCO getting permission to restart from local communities. http://nuclearstreet.com/nuclear_power_industry_news/b/nuclear_power_news/archive/2019/03/05/five-utilities-to-loan-japan-atomic-power-_2400_2.6-billion-030501?fbclid=IwAR3gQs3pGUVv1S_2V9C4Q1kr1Us0DDREQtx6HaNlYPBrNBW26zEUZLY4TFk#.XIAiBKOP59C
  • The Nuclear Regulation Authority closely watches an undersea volcano near Sendai Station, Kagoshima Prefecture. The fear is that pyroclastic flows could engulf the nuke and spew catastrophic levels of contamination into the sea and air. The Aira Caldera, as it is known, erupted about 30,000 years ago. Such an eruption is believed to occur once every 10,000 years, at any one of the numerous calderas that exist in and near Japan. Sendai owner-operator Kyushu Electric has run extensive analyses on the possibility and says a catastrophic eruption with the Aira Caldera is “extremely unlikely”. Kobe University professor Yoshiyuki Tatsumi says predicting an eruption is extremely difficult, “You could make a rough guess that there is a magma reservoir at such and such a location… but monitoring of detailed changes is a difficult affair.” http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201903030001.html

March 1, 2019

  • The current radiation levels inside the F. Daiichi unit #2 pedestal have been reported. Tepco reported the readings to the Press, yesterday. The general area exposure levels are between 6.4 and 7.6 sieverts per hour beneath the bottom of the Reactor Pressure Vessel. The readings increased as the probe came closed to bottom head of the RPV, and decreased with distance, as should be suspected. There were a few local readings as high as 43 sieverts per hour in close proximity to physical objects (structures), probably due to accumulated contamination. The air temperature is steady at about 72 degrees Fahrenheit. During the press notification, Tepco said the device planned to remove some small pieces of rubble in October will not be the one used to take the recent radiation readings and pictures of the corium/debris rubble bed. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190301_03/
  • The Cesium internal contamination levels of fish inside and near the F. Daiichi break-wall have been posted for January. Seven Marbled Sole were taken inside and near the port entrance. Ttwo had internal contamination levels above Japan’s 100 Becquerels per 100 kilogram limit. The highest was 646 Bq/kg of total radioactive Cesium. Both also showed the presence of Cs-134, the Fukushima accident “signature” isotope. In addition, ninety-five fish of numerous species were caught outside the port area and analyzed. Only five revealed the presence of isotope Cs-137, with the highest at 5.3 Bq/kg. None of the fish had detectible Cs-134. https://www7.tepco.co.jp/wp-content/uploads/handouts_190226_02-e.pdf -- https://www7.tepco.co.jp/wp-content/uploads/handouts_190226_02-e.pdf
  • Reopened schools near F. Daiichi are having low enrollment issues. Eight elementary and six junior high schools have reopened in Katsurao Village and four other municipalities. One school has only five students and six teachers. While this is an ideal student/teacher ratio, it is far short of what will be needed to keep the doors opened. Millions of dollars have been spent to refurbish and modernize the facilities, but enrollment has actually declined in the schools opened in 2017. This trend may well continue. If it does, some of the schools will be forced to shut down in 2020. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201903010026.html

February 22, 2019

  • The January 21 report of a Fukushima child getting a 100 mSv thyroid exposure may be in error. On February 19th, Tokyo announced it cannot confirm the “child of 100 mmsievert (millisievert)”, and that “this report has been lowered”. The referenced article says the reporter found that even a 100 mSv exposure cannot be linked to thyroid cancer, and “The lack of consideration for human rights and secondary damage promotion of victims Is.” (sic) The equipment used to scan the child’s thyroid in 2011 has a history of being inaccurate. Actually, the instrument is supposed to be used only for external exposure, and should not be used to estimate internal dose. https://gendai.ismedia.jp/articles/-/59878?fbclid=IwAR0sDzZAc3WEIOlXxk5xOVE3ebux_RKk7aekPCu1x6iqf200wC2Sv8POH8o (in Japanese. Please us any digital program to translate. This reporter used Bing. We could find this information nowhere else.)
  • F. Daiichi host town Okuma says it will lift the evacuation order for two districts. The town government, in abstentia, says that radiological conditions have improved to the point that the restriction can be rescinded. Mayor Toshitsuna Watanabe said, “I want to explain the town’s stance in such a way that residents will fully understand.” Another official added, “Radiation levels have declined sufficiently” to lift the evacuation order. It is expected that somewhere between 1,000 and 3,000 people will return to the Ogawara District. No estimate is available on the other district. The exact date of the lifting will be decided next month. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201902200049.html
  • Another court orders Tokyo and Tepco to pay additional compensation to evacuees. Yokohama District Court awarded 152 plaintiffs a combined #3.78 million in damages. The original filing was made by 175 plaintiffs asking for a combined #50 million. 50 of the successful plaintiffs evacuated voluntarily, while the rest fled due to Tokyo mandate. The plaintiffs came mostly from Minamisoma City and Namie. While many of the awarded plaintiffs were happy that the court found in their favor, almost none found the less-than-10% amount of money to be sufficient.  https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190220_25/ -- https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2019/02/2e82e4f259b3-govt-tepco-again-ordered-to-pay-damages-to-fukushima-evacuees.html -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201902200063.html

February 15, 2019

  • Tepco finds that much of the meltdown debris in unit #2 can probably be removed for analysis. On Wednesday, the company’s new robotic investigation probe first entered the Reactor Building. Its telescoping arm was then extended through a PCV penetration pipe, and subsequently into the pedestal, under the damaged Reactor Pressure Vessel. At the end of the probe was an investigation unit consisting of a camera, light, radiation monitor, and pincer-like grips. The pincers could grip the pebble-like debris, in most cases, and move them to another position. Although Tepco first announced that contact with the corium pieces was made at six locations, the posted video shows that 10 places were examined. Gravel relocation was successful in all but three cases. Three times, the pieces were too large and/or too heavy for the tongs to move, resembling solidified lava. Tepco spokesman Katsuyoshi Oyama said, "As we have found that we can move (some deposits), we proved that extracting fuel debris is possible. But for objects that cannot be grasped, we need to develop new equipment." None of the moveable materials were extracted from the inner pedestal, but it is planned to happen in the near future. One very positive outcome is that the start date for initial debris removal has not been changed, scheduled for 2021. One revelation is that some 237 tons of corium is believed to remain inside the unit #2 RPV, and about 880 tons total remain inside the three damaged units. NHK world has posted the seven minute video of the excursion taken by the investigation unit’s camera. It must be noted that the Japan News posting (Yomiuri Shimbun) contains a very misleading statement, “At one location, the deposit had solidified and could not be moved.” Actually, all of the material was solidified, and the piece in question was too large and too heavy (more than 2 kg) for the probe to handle. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/tepco-makes-contact-with-debris-at-fukushima-daiichi-2/ -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190214_38/ -- https://www7.tepco.co.jp/wp-content/uploads/handouts_190213_01_e-1.pdf  -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0005544134 -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20190214/p2g/00m/0na/002000c
  • Tepco will begin dismantling the exhaust gas stacks at F. Daiichi #1 and #2 in May. The original schedule was for the onset to occur in March. The stack’s pillars have fractured and deformed above the 66 meter mark. Thus, the upper half of each 120-meter pillar will have to come off. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/dismantling-of-exhaust-stack-at-fukushima-daiichi-1-and-2-to-start-in-may/
  • Kyushu Electric decides to decommission Genkai unit #2. The 559 MWe Pressurized Water Reactor began operation in 1981 and could have continued until 2041 under Japan’s largely-arbitrary 60 year licensing limit. The main issue was not the unit’s age, relatively low output capacity, or the licensing limitation. Rather, the existing plant site is too small to accommodate the newly-mandated counter-terrorism facility. Unit #2 has been off-line since January 2011 due to Tokyo’s de-facto nuclear moratorium following the accident at Fukushima Daiichi. It will be the 11th Japanese unit to be decommissioned as the result of Japan’s new, more stringent nuclear safety requirements. Units #3 and #4 were restarted last year and each currently produce 1180 MWe of pollution-free electricity. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190213_35/ -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20190213/p2g/00m/0na/050000c
  • Kansai Electric Company delays safety improvement completion dates. The affected units are Takahama #1 & #2, and Mihama #3. All three units have cleared their required post-Fukushima safety examinations, and have also been granted 20-year licensing extensions. The 9 and 10 month extensions for the Takahama units to verify sufficient room for equipment and materials needed to effect the enhancements. The Mihama #3 delay is due to additional reinforcement of the spent fuel pool. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/kansai-ep-reviews-and-pushes-back-completion-dates-for-safety-improvement-work-at-three-npps-granted-extended-lifetimes/

February 8, 2019

  • Tepco plans to begin another fuel debris retrieval test next Wednesday. A new robotic probe will be inserted into the F. Daiichi unit #2 pedestal, under the damaged reactor vessel, to examine what is thought to be fuel debris, mixed with other component pieces. The probe has a telescoping arm that can be extended 15 meters with a pincer-like tip that will touch and pinch the material on the floor of the pedestal. If moveable, some of the debris could be moved to a new location, showing that collection and retrieval is possible. The first samples are expected to be taken beginning next October. Even if the material cannot be moved, the information gained by the test will prove invaluable.  https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190208_01/
  • Chugoku Electric Company is investigating into the use of artificial intelligence to detect signs of problems in and around nuclear reactors. The system is intended to help solve a current shortage of experienced operators, as a result of the de-facto nuclear moratorium following the accident at F. Daiichi in 2011. Some 3,500 data points will be technologically monitored to detect abnormalities with pressure, temperature, equipment vibrations, and the such. The data points are being selected based on the roughly 4,000 trouble reports that have been posted from Japanese nukes. The system is intended to enhance operator awareness, and not take operational control away from experienced operators. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190203_06/
  • A spill of radioactive substances occurred at a facility north of Tokyo. The incident was at Nuclear Fuel Cycle Engineering Laboratories in Tokai Village, Ibaraki Prefecture. The facility was previously used to produce nuclear fuel and is currently being decommissioned. None of the facility workers were contaminated and no off-site airborne radioactivity was detected. It seems the spill occurred when a container was removed from a sealed glove-box in order to wrap it in plastic bags. It is felt that the first bag had a hole in it. Preventative measures are being re-evaluated by the JAEA. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190131_37/ -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190208_30/
  • Fukushima’s governor promotes the prefecture’s food in Hong Kong. The City-State imposed restrictions on the import of Fukushima products in 2011, which (for all intents and purposes) remains in-place. Masao Uchibori is the first Fukushima governor to visit Hong Kong since the 2011 2011 quake/tsunami disaster and subsequent nuclear accident. He met with Japanese food industry association officials and a Hong Kong official in charge of import regulations. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019012600103
  • Tepco posts the latest results of internal contamination of nine fish caught inside the F. Daiichi break wall during the month of December. While eight of the fish tested contained various levels of Cesium isotope 137, five showed no Cs-134 – the “fingerprint” isotope for Fukushima contamination. One of the two sea bass taken within the break wall showed no detectible Cs-137 or Cs-134. https://www7.tepco.co.jp/wp-content/uploads/handouts_190128_04-e.pdf
  • The on-line sale of depleted Uranium and yellowcake raises a kerfuffle in Japan. It appears the material was bought through an internet auction. The material was confiscated by Tokyo Metropolitan Police and sent to the Japan Atomic Energy Commission for verification. The JAEA sys it is “very likely” depleted (less than 0.7% U-235) Uranium and yellowcake. Japanese law disallows sale of nuclear source material without a license, punishable by either a $10,000 fine or a one year prison sentence. The seller of the several grams of material agreed to voluntary questioning and said the stuff was procured legally from an overseas website. The concern is that a substantial quantity of the material could be used to fabricate a “dirty” bomb. Professor Mitsuru Fukuda of the Nihon University said that with a dirty bomb detonation "People's concerns would rise and economic activities could stop. Even a tiny amount of material with low radioactivity could have a major impact on society." While the transacted material tests as being radioactive, the specific radio-isotope has yet to be determined. Nuclear expert Masaaki Iwaki says the suspect materials should be clearly identified, but appear to be substantially low in radiation compared with U-235. He added that ingestion of the suspect material is unlikely to damage human health. https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20190131/p2a/00m/0na/001000c -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190131_08/ -- https://japantoday.com/category/crime/police-questioning-people-involved-in-online-uranium-sale-in-japan -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190131_19/

January 24, 2019

(No update was posted on January 17th  because of a dearth of Fukushima information over the prior seven days)

  • A leak of tritiated waste water at F. Daiichi draws very little Japanese Press coverage. A storage tank filled with waste water stripped of all contamination except Tritium has lost about 300 tons over the past two years. Water from a then-unknown source was discovered in an underground tunnel on January 10th. Officials have since traced the source to a storage tank, the level of which has dropped about 1.7 meters (~300 tons) since November 2016. Water in the tank has an activity of 120,000 Becquerels per liter, which is double the national limit for release to the environment. The leak was so slow that the four-times-daily level measurements failed to detect it. Water in the tunnel is well-below the Tritium-based limit. It is surprising that this has only been reported by NHK World since any and all contaminated leaks since the 2011 nuke accident have garnered considerable press coverage, no matter how small they were. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190124_02/
  • Fukushima City students have been developing dishes using Fukushima produce to promote prefectural recovery. The project began on December 16th, but this is the first press reporting on it. It is hoped the children learn about local agriculture in order to make plans to assist Fukushima’s recovery. Project director Kimio Suzuki says, “I am convinced that the experiences of thinking about and taking actions to better their hometown will serve as a driving force for these children in the future.” One student reports, “I now understand the thoroughness of the (city and prefecture’s) decontamination and inspection processes. I am amazed by the different efforts done up until this point.” http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=934
  • A Fukushima village farmer resumes raw milk shipments. Farmer Tetsuji Sakuma said, "We want it to grow to an industry that supports our village by delivering safe and secure fresh milk to consumers. We would like to encourage dairy farmers in the disaster-affected areas." Since having to abandon his herd in 2011, he has questioned whether or not he did the right thing. Reopening operations has helped him to deal with his regrets. Sakuma Dairy in Katsurao village is first in its community, and the third inside the Tokyo-mandated evacuation zone, to restart operations. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=932
  • Was an eleven year-old girl thyroid-contaminated at-or-above the national limit before being evacuated from Futaba in 2011? The National Institute of Radiological sciences says it was possible. The thyroid exposure limit is 100 Becquerels. The NIRS says it was told about the possibility some two months after the F. Daiichi accident, but did not act on it because the monitoring equipment was not trustworthy. The girl was playing outside when the atmospheric releases began. No other child has been reported to have an absorbed exposure of more than 35 Becquerels, but the Japanese Press feels compelled to post coverage on any-and-all child thyroid contamination possibilities, no matter how unlikely. Allegedly, a Fukushima technician scanned her neck area on March 17, 2011, and detected 50,000-70,000 counts per minute. However, no documentation can be found to support the allegation. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190122_02/ --  http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201901220056.html


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