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Fukushima Accident Updates (Blog)


February 23, 2017

  • Unit #2 radiation readings have puzzled experts (including this reporter). Estimates of radiation levels using light anomalies transmitted by cameras were 2-3 times greater than the readings made by an actual radiation detector last week. The first on January 30th was 530 Sieverts/hr, and the second on February 9th was 650 Sv/hr. Both assumptions received wide Press coverage. February 16th, the radiation monitor on the Sasori robot registered 210 Sv/hr. The difference between the early radiation estimates and actual readings have Japan’s academia stumped! All of the extreme radiation levels were outside the thick, steel-reinforced concrete pedestal that bears the weight of the several hundred ton Reactor Pressure Vessel (RPV). The few estimates gleaned from inside the RPV pedestal varied between 20 and 50 Sv/hr. It should have been the other way around! The highest radiation levels should have been inside the pedestal, directly under the RPV. Several entirely speculative assumptions assume a partial melt-through of melted fuel mixed with structural metals within the fuel core of the RPV. University of Tokyo’s professor of nuclear materials Hiroaki Abe said, “If nuclear fuel debris had splattered around, the radiation levels at the central area below the pressure vessel must be extremely high. In addition, deposits on the rail would have taken the shape of small pieces if they were, in fact, flying nuclear fuel debris. The findings are puzzling.” http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201702190042.html

  • Human remains are found in Fukushima evacuation zone tsunami debris. Two municipalities’ shores being scrutinized are Tomioka and Namie. Three objects appearing to be human bone have been found in Tomioka. 180 people are taking part in the search, including police, firemen, and residential volunteers. Soils left behind by the tsunami are being dug up and examined, looking for clues as to what happened to the prefecture’s many victims still listed as missing. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=787

  • Tomioka will have medical services six days per week, beginning in April. Parts of the wholly-evacuated town will have Tokyo’s evacuation order lifted on April 1st. A clinic, now operating 3 days per week, will expand its hours to five days/wk. The clinic opened in October on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. It add Tuesdays and Wednesdays in April, and the clinic’s Dr. Akira Isaka will also see patients on Mondays. All of this in anticipation of former residents returning home after April 1st. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=785

  • A small locker room fire at a Tepco nuke station makes headlines. Smoke was seen coming from a service building at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa (K-K) station in Niigata Prefecture. Tepco, owner of the facility, said it was in a staff locker room and extinguished quickly. The company said no radiation was released because the building had nothing radiological. K-K units #6 & #7 are being screened by the Nuclear Regulation Authority for pre-restart safety compliance. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170223/p2g/00m/0dm/083000c

  • Ohi units #3 & #4 pass NRA safety screenings for restart. A thirty-day period for public comment begins today. Official approval for restart is expected on-or-after March 24th. The plants’ staff are now ready to increase tsunami protective walls and install hydrogen mitigation equipment. Two future hurdles to be surmounted are gaining local approval, and a district court order to not restart. In order to be legally binding, the injunction must be finalized through the Nagoya High Court. Kansai Electric Power says we could see the units restarted as early as this coming autumn. The NRA has now found 12 units at six nuclear stations meeting Japan’s post-Fukushima safety standards. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170222_18/ -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201702220063.html -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2017022200472

  • A part-time English teacher is reprimanded for remarks made to a voluntary Fukushima evacuee student. In 2014, the teacher at Kwansei Gakuin University found that a student was from Fukushima Prefecture. He turned off the lights, saying he wanted to see if the student glowed in the dark. The student reported the incident to the university counselling center last April, saying she found it difficult to attend classes and could not get enough credits to pass. The teacher’s pay will be withheld for three months and his contract will not be renewed. The teacher said he thought he was making a joke, but is now deeply remorseful. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170221_80/ -- http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170221/p2g/00m/0dm/069000c

  • Greenpeace makes a final attempt to scare Iitate’s evacuees away from repopulation. The antinuclear bastion’s official report is entitled House Case Studies of the Current Situation and Potential Lifetime Radiation Exposure in Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture. The basis for the appeal to not repopulate is the assertion that radiation levels are still too high for public safety. Greenpeace Japan’s Ai Kashiwagi said, “The relatively high radiation values, both inside and outside houses, show an unacceptable radiation risk for citizens if they were to return to Iitate. For citizens returning to their irradiated homes they are at risk of receiving radiation equivalent to one chest X-ray every week. This is not normal or acceptable.” Greenpeace says returnees will have exposures between 39 millisieverts and 183 mSv over a seventy-year lifetime. Jan Vande Putte of Greenpeace Belguim says, “[Tokyo] has failed to provide estimates of lifetime exposure rates for Iitate’s citizens, nor considered how re-contamination from forests will pose a threat for decades to come. In the real world of today, and for decades to come, there is and will be nothing normal about the emergency radiological situation in Iitate.” Aside - Nowhere in the report is it mentioned that millions of people in the world live healthy, productive lives with lifetime exposures of over 3000 mSv over 70 years of natural background radiation. - End aside. The report also makes numerous negative comparisons to Chernobyl. http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/press/releases/2017/Greenpeace-exposes-high-radiation-risks-in-Fukushima-village-as-government-prepares-to-lift-evacuation-order/ -- http://www.greenpeace.org/japan/Global/japan/pdf/NRN_FINweb4.pdf  

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. Beginning in 2017, posts will occur weekly.

The are three regularly-updated pages concerning widely-reported Fukushima issues on this site; Fukushima Evacuee Compensation Payments (updated monthly), Fukushima Child Thyroid Cancer Issue and Is There Fukushima Radiation on North America’s West Coast? (both updated when new information is available)

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February 16, 2017

  • The radiation level in the unit #2 PCV is actually 210 Sieverts/hr. The reading was transmitted by Tepco’s “scorpion” robot before it became stuck and had to be abandoned. The device had been inserted through the unit #2 Primary Containment Vessel (PCV) wall using the same pipe opening as with two prior investigations. The scorpion moved much further than the “cleaner” robot had reached last Friday. Upon nearing the entrance to the pedestal, the device became stuck on the Control Rod Drive rail. For some currently unknown reason, the crawler belt on the scorpion’s left side could no longer move the robot. However, the camera on the robot worker quite well and transmitted new images to the operators. Further, the robot’s radiation monitor recorded an actual area exposure level of 210 Sieverts per hour, much less than half the estimated localized exposures reported over the past two weeks. However, none of Japan’s Press outlets included the actual radiation level in their reports. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2017/images/handouts_170216_01-e.pdf -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170216_34/ -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2017/02/459048.html -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco

  • Prior unit #2 radiation estimates are literally the converse of what was expected. Late last Thursday, Tepco posted a Press handout of the investigation inside and outside of the unit #2 pedestal area at Fukushima Daiichi. Everyone, including the most antinuclear bastions, expected to find radiation levels inside the thick concrete and steel reactor vessel support pedestal to have radiation levels significantly higher than outside, in the PCV annulus. However, Tepco’s graphic on page 10 of its Press handout reveals that the now-infamous 530 Sievert/hour estimated radiation level is outside the pedestal, while the level inside is but 20 Sv/hr. This dichotomy has yet to be resolved. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2017/images/handouts_170209_01-e.pdf

  • A 650 Sv/hr radiation level was estimated inside F. Daiichi unit #2 PCV last Friday. Visual images that indicated a localized area exposure level of 650 Sv/hr was provided by the “cleaner” robot that was extracted from the unit #2 PCV Friday due to a radiation-induced camera glitch. This is about 120 Sv/hr more than the 530 Sv/hr estimate that set the world’s Press on its ear! The estimate was gained by analysis of video footage and the frequency of light “flickers” on the images. To some government officials and at least one Tepco “official”, this was a confirmation of the first estimation. Others (including this reporter) have taken a wait-and-see approach. Regardless, the extracted robot cleared about one-fifth of the area planned for a “scorpion” robot to be inserted into the PCV. It will be equipped with an actual radiation monitoring device in order to produce actual radiation readings. Tepco posted a Press release the once again insisted that “there is no reason to believe that the level itself has increased or "spiked," as some reports suggested.”  http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2017/images/handouts_170209_01-e.pdf -- http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2017/1375551_10469.html -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/02/10/national/high-radiation-readings-at-fukushima-no-2-reactor/#.WJ3ah9K7odV

  • Japan’s largest newspaper wants Tokyo to rethink post-Fukushima radiation standards. Japan News (Yomiuri Shimbun) says, “Radioactivity standards that demand there be zero risk of harm to human health need to be revised based on scientific data.” The Nuclear Regulation Authority has submitted a bill to the Diet (congress) to remove the congressional restriction on the Radiation Council to hold discussions on revising standards without an inquiry from a ministry. If passed, the council will be able to conduct its own investigations and deliberations based on its own scientific understanding. The Democratic Party of Japan, in power in 2011-2012, set vastly different exposure standards from those held by the rest of the world. The DPJ inflicted Japan with unrealistic and non-science based exposure limits and food activity restrictions that have ham-strung recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of 2011. The food restrictions have severely damaged Japan’s food export industry and negatively impacted the nation’s economy. NRA chair Shunichi Tanaka insists that the time has come to bring science-based rationality to setting radiation standards, “It’s important to bring them in line with international levels.” The Yomiuri adds “The standards should be reviewed swiftly. It is time to rethink policies decided at a time when the entire nation was engulfed by apprehension.” http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003511587

  • The F. Daiichi “Ice Wall” has lowered groundwater in-leakage by two-thirds. Unreported in the Japanese and international news outlets, Tepco’s October-December 2016 quarterly report includes the following significant statement, “It reports that the frozen state of the soil is being maintained, and that the amount of water pumped up daily has declined from 429 cubic meters to 140 cubic meters.” The posting points out that groundwater influx had been more than halved between the beginning of 2016 and November of last year by freezing only those portions of the inland side of the wall allowed by the Nuclear Regulation Authority. However, when the NRA told Tepco to go ahead and freeze the seven sections the agency had disallowed, the in-leakage was reduced from 207 tons/day to about 140 tons/day by the end of December. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/betu17_e/images/170210e0101.pdf (Comment - We do not expect Japan’s doggedly antinuclear news outlets to report something as positive as this…they never do! However, the lack of NRA and Tepco focus on this success story is curious, to say the least.)

  • The East Japan Railway Company says they will resume services to Namie before the evacuation order is lifted on April 1st. The 8.9 kilometer Namie-Odaka portion was severely damaged by the earthquake of March, 2011, leaving problems such as positional distortions of bridge piers and rail dislocations. All of the section has been repaired and is ready to be re-opened.  http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=783

  • The Asahi Shimbun says that signs of progress are visible at Fukushima Daiichi. Japan’s second-largest newspaper reports on a Tepco Press tour of the station. The reporter tries hard to keep readers on edge - such as the highest radiation reading while on tour would have taken the visitors to the 1 millisievert goal for public exposure in five hours - but conceded that working conditions have greatly improved. It is significant to point out that the F. Daiichi unit #1 manager’s statement on the working environment is buried at the very end of the article. He said, "Workers can move around in light clothing at about 90 percent of the plant site."  http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201702130029.html

  • Kagoshima experts confirm Sendai Station’s safety inspection results. The Prefecture’s Governor Satoshi Mitazono was elected last year on the promise to have the two operating Sendai nukes inspected by his hand-chosen experts to decide whether or not safety had been compromised by a severe earthquake last year in neighboring Kumamoto Prefecture. Kagoshima Committee Chair Hiroki Miyamachi said his group could not draw conclusions, but can merely discuss their findings with the governor for his consideration. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/kagoshima-experts-committee-confirms-sendai-1-inspection-results/ (Comment – Yet another example of the disinterest the Japanese Press has in reporting non-negative nuclear energy news. The meeting of Kagoshima Prefecture’s committee was February 7th, but no Press coverage appeared. Fortunately, the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum has done the right thing.)

  • Riken research institute says they will experiment with transmuting high level nuclear waste into valuable commodities. The method is called “modern alchemy”. The work will be overseen by The Shinzo Abe Cabinet wing called ImPACT (Impulsing Paradigm Change through Disruptive Technologies). Using an accelerator at the Riken Nishina Center for Accelerator-Based Science, scientists will bombard a radioactive used nuclear fuel isotope, Palladium-107 (Pd-107), with deuterons and transmuted to non-radioactive Pd-106. Pd-106 is used in dentistry, jewelry, and exhaust gas purification. If successful, the door will be open for the transmutation of other waste isotopes into non-radioactive form that will benefit mankind. ImPACT manager Reiko Fujita said, “We are still at the basic research stage and are far from [putting it into practical use. We will, however, move a step forward if we manage to obtain data through our experiment.” http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170211/p2a/00m/0na/010000c (Comment - Used nuclear fuel fission products are mostly rare earths and semi-precious metals, with half-lives (t1/2) less than five years. After 50 years of storage, these elements could be used for human betterment. The problem is the ~5% of fission products with t1/2 greater than five years. If Riken is successful, then fission products in used fuel will no longer be stigmatized as waste.)

February 9, 2017

  • Safecast says “radiation levels at Fukushima Daiichi are not rising.” Safecast is a citizen-based, science-friendly network created after the Fukushima accident to try publish from a source that is not government or industry-based. Though many, if not most news outlets have said radiation levels at F. Daiichi have “spiked” in unprecedented fashion, Safecast reports “That’s not what the findings indicate, however… Safecast’s own measurements, including our Pointcast real-time detector system, have shown radiation levels near Daiichi to be steadily declining… While 530 Sv/hr is the highest measured so far at Fukushima Daiichi, it does not mean that levels there are rising, but that a previously unmeasurable high-radiation area has finally been measured.” http://blog.safecast.org/2017/02/no-radiation-levels-at-fukushima-daiichi-are-not-rising/

  • Fellow nuclear energy blogger (and friend) Will Davis is recognized as a “U.S. expert”. Will posted “Radiation Levels Not ‘Soaring’ At Fukushima Daiichi” on the American Nuclear Society website. (http://ansnuclearcafe.org/2017/02/07/radiation-levels-not-soaring-at-fukushima-daiichi/#sthash.gLRkguYr.bP8a5bDJ.dpuf ) Japan’s Kyodo News picked up on Will’s article and posted a report on it entitled “Fukushima radiation levels ‘not soaring,’ U.S. expert says”. To your Fukushima reporter’s memory, this is the first time any of Japan’s popular Press outlets has recognized any of America’s knowledgeable nuclear bloggers for the expertise we all share. Three Cheers for Will! Let’s hope this opens the door for the rest of us to get our deserved appreciation in Japan! http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2017/02/457779.html

  • Tepco’s plan to deploy its “scorpion” robot inside unit #2 next week may be optimistic. The robot, “Sasori” is designed to provide temperature, radiation, and visual data, in a high radiation environment. However, it might succumb within two hours to the radiation exposures estimated by last week’s initial inspection, plus there could be problems with traversing the scattered debris on the platform below the Reactor Pressure Vessel (RPV). Further, operators of Sasori must be careful to not fall into the large hole in the platform or the big area where the grating seems to have severely slumped. Tepco says they must consider whether or not more preparations will be needed before Sasori is inserted into the pedestal interior. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170203_09/

  • Today, Tepco sent a robot inside unit #2 pedestal to clear away debris, but it had to be retrieved due to camera problems. The device was intended to clear a path for the “scorpion” robot (above). After moving about a meter along an equipment rail, one of the robot’s three cameras began sending darkened images. The operators decided to remove it from under the reactor before it became blinded. Analysis of the images resulted in an estimated localized radiation field of 650 Sieverts per hour. However, as the robot moved deeper into the pedestal and further under the RPV, the estimated radiation levels dropped. This is most puzzling because the radiation level should increase as it moves further under the bottom head containing the re-solidified mass of corium. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170210_02/ -- http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/cleaner-robot-pulled-fukushima-reactor-due-radiation-45375904

  • Japan’s Press outlets used the unit #2 radiation estimate to increase FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt). An Asahi Shimbun’s headline on Friday was “Radiation level in Fukushima reactor could kill within a minute”. The Asahi also found someone at Tepco who said, “The holes (in the platform) were likely made when the melted nuclear fuel fell from the pressure vessel and melted the grating,” in an attempt to “prove” that the RPV had a “melt-through”. Aside - To the contrary, the images provided by Tepco indicate that a catastrophic “melt-through” never happened. Some of the molten material may have seeped through the Control Rod Drive Mechanism (CRDM) housings and weakened the metal grating below enough to cause collapse, but a catastrophic melt-through did not occur. – End aside. Professor Fumiya Tanabe says the high radiation level will increase the time needed to decommission F. Daiichi, “We have few clues on the exact locations, the sizes and the shapes of the nuclear fuel debris,” thus, “Work to decommission the plant will require even more time.” In parallel, The Japan Times stated, “The searing radiation level, described by some experts as ‘unimaginable,’ far exceeds the previous high of 73 sieverts per hour at the reactor.” (emphasis added) But, since no-one is going in there… http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201702030064.html -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/02/03/national/tepco-finds-gaping-hole-grate-containment-vessel-potential-fuel-debris-fukushima-no-1-power-plant/#.WJSCE9K7odV

  • Three more Fukushima communities will remove mildly radioactive dirt from ditches. Though tens of kilometers outside the plume pathway, Iwaki City, Fukushima City, and Nishigo Village will use nearly all of the state’s more than $500,000 subsidy to cleanse their ditches of mildly radioactive sediment. The subsidy was created by the Reconstruction Agency in 2016 to eliminate ditch sediments that have detectible F. Daiichi contamination below national limits. The municipalities face the possibility that they will have no place to dispose of the collected material because of rumors and unreasonable fears.  http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=782

  • Tokyo lowers the radioactive limit for Fukushima soil re-use. We have reported on The Environment Ministry’s intent to make solidified road embankments using rural soils if the activity is less than 8,000 Becquerels per kilogram. Minamisoma Mayor Katsunobu Sakurai took exception to the ministry decision, and wanted to know why Tokyo was not using the 3,000 Bq/kg standard declared in 2011. Sakurai said, "If they don't use the 3,000 Becquerel limit, it is inconsistent. It doesn't make sense for a ministry that is supposed to protect the environment to relax the standards it has set." The Ministry responded that they will only approve soil re-use if the radioactivity is below 3,000 Bq.kg. All materials intended for usage have been scanned and found to be below 2,000 Bq.kg. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170206/p2a/00m/0na/009000c

  • Some Japanese nuclear facilities have yet to be completely waterproofed. The Nuclear Regulation Authority says 10 such facilities have yet to complete work to prevent large inflows of water due to torrential rains or tsunamis. The agency has given the station owners one year to finish the required waterproofing. The Fukushima accident could have been averted if Tepco had waterproofed their emergency power supply units, thus the new post-accident regulations require it. The NRA has increased its scrutiny on waterproofing because several tons of rainwater run-off got into a building for unit #2 at Shika station last September. A lighting switchboard was shorted out. Water was also found in an underground cable trench. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170208_24/ -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2017020801030

  • Former PM Junichiro Koizumi says $1.8 million (200 million yen) will be donated to USS Ronald Reagan sailors by April. Some of the Reagan crew have filed suit claiming that their current maladies are due to their trivial radiation exposures in 2011. Koizumi wants to defray their medical bills. He boasts, “I initially hoped to gather 100 million yen by the end of March, but the target was surpassed last year.” An unabashed antinuclear fanatic, the former PM says he will not stop his crusade until Japan is nuclear-free. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201702030052.html

February 2, 2017

  • Fukushima unit #2 may have experienced some corium drip-through with the Control Rod Drive Mechanism (CRDM) housings. Corium is solidified melted fuel mixed with other core internal metals. On Monday, Tepco posted a Press handout with the first images of the underside of the Fukushima unit #2 Reactor Pressure Vessel (RPV). 1. Some Japanese and international press outlets said one of the images shows a clump of what might be melted fuel on the work platform below the CRDMs (control rod drive mechanisms), but there was nothing in the Tepco handout to confirm or deny it. The handout says that the CRDM housing, Position Indicator Probe cable (PIP), and other control rod drive technology visible to the camera “remain at the original positions”. A Tepco official said it could due to corium falling from the CRDMs. He also said that it could be melted paint, cable coverings, or pipe wrappings. Today, Tepco posted a new Press handout with images that appear to show the possibility of corium having escaped the RPV and caused some of the platform grating beneath the RPV to have fallen to the bottom of the pedestal area. 2. The Press handout states, “…it was found that a portion of melted fuel might have …fallen inside the pedestal.” An overlapped set of images show deposits hanging like icicles from the central CRDM housings, and a missing 10 square-foot portion of the worker platform beneath the “icicles”. There also appears to be some build-up of what might be residual corium around the periphery of the missing grating. This could make an inspection of the entire underside of the RPV with a “scorpion” robot problematic.  (1)http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2017/images/handouts_170130_02-e.pdf -- (2)http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2017/images/handouts_170202_01-e.pdf

  • Some of Japan’s Press reported on today’s handout, and headlined on the measurement of a 530 sievert-per-hour radiation field at a “concrete cylinder” immediately inside the opening to the pedestal. Jiji Press explained that this was an estimate made from “flickers” on the camera images made by radiation. Tepco stressed that the high radiation announcement is an estimate, and not a reading by an actual radiation monitor. Regardless, if confirmed, the radiation level will be the highest yet measured at F. Daiichi since the March, 2011, accident. The Mainichi Shimbun and Kyodo News also report that there is another hole on the platform, in addition to the one identified in the Tepco Press handout. This second hole allegedly measures 2 meters in diameter. However, the Press handout has nothing about the second hole in the platform. However, Jiji Press says this could well be a distortion in the grating caused by the severe heat radiating down from the bottom of the RPV. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2017020201313 -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170202_31/ -- http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170202/p2g/00m/0dm/087000c -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2017/02/456777.html  

  • Tokyo offers to lift the Namie evacuation order. Tokyo’s Local Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters has asked the Namie Town assembly if they would agree to removing living restrictions for two of the three zones that comprise the municipality; one that is located along Namie’s Pacific shoreline, and the next area immediately to the west. Tokyo has suggested that the evacuation orders be lifted at midnight, March 30/31. Each of the two zones had pre-accident populations of nearly 3,000 residents. The “difficult to return” zone covering about two-thirds of the town’s land area with a population of just over 1,100, will remain a “no-go zone”. Town officials and other interested parties were briefed on Tokyo’s request on January 18th. The officials are in the process of briefing the full town assembly and village office to find out if Tokyo’s request will be accepted. Osamu Goto, deputy head of the emergency task force, told the meeting attendees, “An environment where townspeople can resume daily living in Namie is in place on the whole. It is important to advance our reconstruction efforts to a new stage.” http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=776

  • Fukushima peach exports for 2016 exceed 2010. Last year’s overseas peach exports totaled nearly 31 tons, which is greater than the 24 tons the year before the nuke accident. It far surpassed the 2015 total of 10.5 tons. Fukushima Peach exports rank second of all Japanese prefectures. Credit for the recovery is given to increased efforts on the part of the governor’s direct promotion to Southeast Asia. This new record was set despite on-going bans of Fukushima foods by Hong Kong and Taiwan; the main consumer markets for the peaches before 2011. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/exports-of-peaches-from-fukushima-exceed-those-prior-to-earthquake/

  • Fukushima ice cream sales have improved since the nuke accident. While the market for all other foods produced in the prefecture remain depressed due to consumer radiophobia, one dairy company has not experienced the same fate. Rakuounyugyou’s Rakuou Cafe au Lait ice cream has seen a 10% increase in demand since 2011. A company official says, “Word of our ice cream has also been spread by our fans. We are so grateful that we are reduced to tears. We exercised trial and error because we absolutely didn’t want to disappoint fans of our Cafe au Lait.” The creamy confection is available throughout the prefecture, and also in Tokyo. The company is located in Koriyama. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201701290010.html

  • Only 13% of evacuees in re-opened communities have gone home. The data comes from a survey of five communities re-opened between April, 2014, and July, 2016; Tamura, Minamisoma, Kawauchi, Katsurao, and Naraha. Japan’s Press says the reason is that parents fear exposing their children to radiation. The combined evacuation population was nearly 19,500 before 3/11/11. Since all living restrictions were lifted, only about 2,500 have returned to their homes. If the Press is right, radiophobia runs rampant among the Fukushima evacuees. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170129/p2g/00m/0dm/047000c -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2017/01/455972.html

  • Fukushima’s governor takes umbrage with Tokyo’s opinion on prefectural recovery. Reconstruction Minister Masahiro Imamura said, “If this is a marathon, Fukushima’s recovery is 30 kilometers into the race.” In other words, nearly three-fourths of the way to the finish. However, Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori refuted the minster, saying, “Some regions in the designated evacuation zones are not even at the starting line. Even in the areas where the designation is already lifted, recovery has only just begun.” Another Municipal official also took offense to the catch-phrase “Fukushima First” used by Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike and recently by US President Donald Trump. The official said, “It is not a very good catchphrase to use here as it reminds us of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.” Yet another complained, “I would like him to be more sensitive about expressions he uses.” http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201701300051.html

  • 4,200 people participate in a Satsumasendai evacuation drill. 1,600 local residents and members of 180 organizations within 30km of the Sendai nuclear station joined in the mock nuclear accident drill. The scenario began with a strong hypothetical earthquake that knocked out all electricity at the station, and subsequently one of the units released radioactive material. Another Fukushima official also took offense to the catch-phrase http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2017012800201

  • Toshiba announces withdrawal from the nuclear plant construction business. The company says it will no longer take new nuclear construction orders due to the large financial write-down it recently announced. The company’s chairman is expected to resign. Toshiba says it will spin off its electronic chip business into a new company to cover the write-down. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2017/01/455951.html

January 26, 2017

  • Fukushima residents had 4 times less radiation exposure than initial estimates. This was published in the prestigious Science Magazine on Monday. The report says, “…scientists analyzing the thousands of citizen readings have come to a surprising conclusion: The airborne observations in this region of Japan overestimated the true radiation level by a factor of four.” Kathryn Higley, a certified health physicist at Oregon State University, says “The work [these] researchers are doing is extremely important … [because] it is logistically challenging to sample and monitor every potentially exposed person.” The data comes from Date City, 60km northwest of F. Daiichi and located directly in the path of the 2011 accident releases. Mayor Shoji Nishida began the data acquisition, explaining, “We decided that we should not depend on the national government and that we had to take our own independent actions.” He allocated a billion yen (~$10 million) to start the project in May, 2011. Initially, personal dosimeters were issued to 9,000 children and expectant mothers, but was expanded to the entire 65,000-person population in 2012. More than 52,000 agreed to participate and report their readings every 3 months. Fukushima Medical University radiologist Makoto Miyazakihas analyzed the 5+ years of data and concludes that the actual exposures were roughly 15% of what airborne monitor-based estimations were indicating. It is possible that a considerable portion of the region’s rural decontamination may not have been necessary. http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/01/fukushima-residents-exposed-far-less-radiation-thought?utm_source=newsfromscience&utm_medium=facebook-text&utm_campaign=fukuradiation-10647 -- http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1361-6498/37/1/1/meta

  • A Naraha dairy farm ships milk to market. Nearly all of the town was forced to evacuate by Tokyo in 2011. The evacuation order was lifted in September, 2015, and the restriction on marketing dairy products was lifted last month. The first milk from a previously mandated evacuation zone was shipped on Tuesday. All of the 400kg of product was found to have no detectible radioactivity. "We were able to start operating this farm again with the support of so many people," said farm operator Hiroaki Hiruta. "I want to pay a debt of gratitude by making good milk. Today marks the starting line. We want to continue producing safe and delicious milk." http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170124/p2g/00m/0dm/080000c -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201701240041.html

  • False rumors continue to hurt the market for Fukushima food. For example, bulk Fukushima rice sells at more than 8% below the national average, in a market already cramped by diminishing demand. Some Fukushima farmers have resorted to producing animal feed rice, barley, wheat, and soy because Tokyo will subsidize them. One farmer said, “We have no choice but to make animal feed rice, to which the state supports you with a good sum, rather than produce rice as a staple food, whose price remains sluggish.” To help combat inaccurate information flow, Tokyo will formally get involved for the first time. The government will earmark 4.7 billion yen for rumor control and investigations into whether or not delivery of Fukushima foods is being refused by retailers. A Ministry of Agriculture official said, “We will put our efforts into getting rid of harmful rumors by strengthening the brand equity and reliability of Fukushima product.” http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003473803

  • Tepco releases images from inside the piping penetration through unit #2 PCV. We reported on the company successfully drilling through the primary containment vessel (PCV) wall on December 26th. A small video camera was inserted and pictures inside the bored hole were posted. A robot eventually be sent through opening, move down the CRD exchange railing, and traverse the work platform below the unit’s control rod drive (CRD) housings that extend below the reactor vessel (RPV). The hole bored through the thick steel-reinforced was tested for accessibility, and found to be free of obstruction. An 11cm in diameter guide pipe for the self-propelled robot will be slid through the bored hole and down CRD exchange rail, terminating at the surface of the work platform. It is hoped the robotic camera will allow visual inspection of the CRDMs and determine whether or not corium (re-solidified fuel mixed with other reactor internals) actually penetrated the RPV bottom head via the CRDM housings (also known as “stub tubes).  http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2017/images/handouts_170126_01-e.pdf

  • The unit #3 used fuel removal timetable is changed again. Tepco has pushed back the prospective date for removing the 566 used (spent) fuel bundles from March 2018, to late 2018. Tepco says it is due to needing more time for decontamination and debris removal than had been previously anticipated. The company also plans to install lead plates on the destroyed refueling deck to further minimize employee exposures during the fuel transfer. Unfortunately, the Associated Press has posted a version of the Tepco announcement containing misleading information. For example, it says Tepco plans to “…move tens of thousands of fuel rods out of the way…” before moving the corium debris in the lower reaches of the building. In truth, each fuel bundle is comprised of about 100 uranium pellet-filled tubes, and may be what the AP reporter believes are fuel rods. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170126_30/ -- https://www.yahoo.com/news/utility-delays-removal-spent-fuel-132827354.html

  • High winds topple a crane at Takahama station. The upper portion of the 350 ft. crane fell on top of several structures for unit #2, including one housing the spent fuel storage pool and another the unit’s main control room. The 220 ton device was being used to upgrade unit #2 to meet Japan’s beefed-up post-Fukushima safety regulations. The crane was not in operation because a storm warning had been issued. NHK World video showed some damage. The Nuclear Regulation Authority reported that wall panels inside the building had moved. Although nothing of consequence seems to have happened, Japan’s Press made it seem much more significant than it actually was.  Regardless, Kansai Electric and the NRA made the perfunctory “no radiation was released” statement to the Press. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170121_17/ -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2017012100215 -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003474342 -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201701210039.html

January 19, 2017

  • No Fukushima radioactivity was found in Alaskan fish for 2016. The results were released by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation. The data was similar to that of 2015. However, this was the first time a field-deployable gamma spectrometer was used, supplied by the US Food and Drug Administration. This device could be used during a nuclear emergency to effect rapid analyses of environmental samples. Alaska’s DEC says they will continue seafood monitoring through 2017, and possibly beyond. https://fukushimainform.ca/2017/01/13/updated-no-fukushima-radiation-found-in-2016-alaskan-fish/

  • Here’s a correction on last week’s Kyodo News report on Fukushima seafood contamination. Kyodo said that 95% of the more than 8,000 fish tested had contamination levels that were “hardly detectible”. Japan’s Atomic Industrial Forum reports, “…radioactive cesium was not detected (i.e., less than the detection limit value) in 8,080 specimens, or some 95.0 percent of the total.” Not detected is considerably different from hardly detectible. JAIF adds that the specimens were taken from the Pacific Ocean within a 20 kilometer radius of F. Daiichi. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/all-fukushima-seafood-tested-in-2016-falls-below-cesium-standard-value/ (Comment – With severe radiophobia infecting millions of Japanese, it is imperative that popular news outlets report accurately. Kyodo News ought to post a correction.)

  • Japanese flounder are thriving in Fukushima’s off-shore seawater. A new scientific report in Fisheries Oceanography states “…the waters off Fukushima have effectively been serving as a marine protected area (MPA) for Japanese flounder since the FNPP accident.” The report adds, “These findings indicate that the effective MPA has not only influenced the abundance of Japanese flounder but also the abundance of other commercial species.” The increases in flounder abundance have been at least two-fold, and may possibly have increased by a factor of six! An article on the report in Hakai Magazine says the phenomena mirrors what has happened to wildlife populations within the Chernobyl exclusion zone where “thriving wildlife populations in the absence of people and are “struggling to find” effects of the radiation on wildlife…”  http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/fog.12179/full -- https://www.hakaimagazine.com/article-short/radioactive-refuges

  • More rural debris is no longer designated as radioactive waste. The Environment Ministry has lifted the designation for about 200 kilograms of the material stored in Yamagata Prefecture. The reason for the declassification is that recent monitoring proved that the wastes are well-below the government standard of 8,000 Becquerels per kilogram. The private company storing the material can now dispose of it as general waste. This is the second instance of rural debris contaminated by Fukushima isotopes has been declassified. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170117_13/

  • Fukushima Prefecture plans on doing more to quell unfounded radiation rumors in the marketplace. Many Tokyo retail outlets continue to shun selling foods from the prefecture. As a result, Fukushima is considering an independent campaign to show these skittish food retailers that they are making a mistake. The prefecture wants to set up (corners) at supermarkets to disperse Fukushima foods using several marketing tactics such as free giveaways, sales subsidization, free tastes of the foods, and food lotteries for consumers. If Tokyo supermarket chains refuse to offer these safe foods, then Fukushima Prefecture will do it for them. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=770

  • METI proposes that Tepco set aside funds for decommissioning F. Daiichi. The Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry will submit a draft bill to Japan’s Diet (congress) making the companies responsible for nuke accidents pay all costs for station decommissioning. Funds will be regularly deposited by the “organization” (in this case Tepco) and approved annually by the industry minister. Moneys will subsequently be withdrawn according to a plan created jointly by the organization and METI. All withdrawals must gain the minister’s OK. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/01/14/national/law-make-tepco-retain-money-decommissioning-costs/#.WHovEtK7odU

  • The NRA approves the safety upgrades for Genkai units #3 & #4. The Nuclear Regulatory Authority issued its preliminary assessment in November, where post-Fukushima safety measures were accepted but a few additional measures needed to be taken based on submitted public comments. These measures were addressed satisfactorily. However, restarts cannot occur until final equipment designs are approved, inspections passed, and local government permissions are garnered. The final assessment of the NRA was issued Wednesday (yesterday) after more than 4,200 public comments were studied. The NRA concluded there was nothing new concerning regulatory compliance in the comments. There are now ten nuclear units that have met regulatory standards and are capable of safely restarting, with two operating (Sendai 1, Ikata 3), one in its first refueling outage (Sendai 2), two that would be operating if it weren’t for a court injunction from a neighboring prefecture (Takahama 3 & 4), and five in the process of making final preparations for restart.  https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170113_37/ -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170118_15/ -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003466628 (Comment - An excellent graphic depicting the ten in-compliance units can be found with the above Japan News article.)

  • Toshiba Corps. Debit from American nuclear business could exceed $6 billion. While the obvious bottom-line reason is regulatory Fukushima-phobia, Japan News merely says, “Behind the massive loss is a surge in nuclear plant construction costs in the United States.” Specifically, post-Fukushima construction cost surges with four under-construction nuclear units. Last year, Toshiba’s equity capital stood at $3.16 billion, thus the company has experienced a debt problem. The company is considering several options to off-set the problem, including spinning off its flash memory division and accepting business investment from outside the firm. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003469226

  • Numerous cracks have been found in the reactor building walls of Onagawa unit #2. This may have dropped the “rigid structural integrity” as much as 70%. Tohoku Electric is pursuing restart of the unit, but the NRA says they must inspect the cracking before the company can begin repairs. The news report does not make a distinction between the Primary Containment (PCV) and the outer reactor building, but it appears the cracks are not in the PCV. The earthquake design criterion for the structure is 594 gals, but the 3/11/11 quake subjected the station to a ground acceleration of 607 gals. Thus, the crack are likely the result of the temblor. Onagawa was hit by the most severe ground motion of any nuke on the Tohoku coast because it was closest to the quake’s epicenter. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201701180054.html

  • Another report on hardship with voluntary Fukushima evacuees is posted by Japan Times. In this one, a parent who evacuated from Koriyama, 55 km west of F. Daiichi and dozens of kilometers from the Tokyo-mandated evacuation zone, says their daughter developed nosebleeds and diarrhea over the nuke accident, so they fled to Kanagawa which is 250km from F. Daiichi. The father remains in Koriyama to run his restaurant, but their separate living locations could not provide enough income to live their preferred lifestyles without their 90,000 yen per month housing subsidy. Housing subsidies for voluntary evacuees end April 1st. A Fukushima official said, “The environment (in Koriyama) is safe for leading a normal life and that means we are no longer in a position to provide temporary housing.”  http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/01/17/national/thousands-fukushima-evacuees-face-hardship-housing-subsidies-slashed/#.WH4jYdK7odV -- https://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/fukushima-voluntary-evacuees-to-lose-housing-support?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2017-01-18_AM

  • Ventilation ducts in control rooms are inspected without removing insulation. Allegedly, integrity checks made without removing the insulation are not “detailed” enough for the NRA. It was found that most nukes inspect control room ventilation without taking off the insulating materials. It is based on finding a 12 inch-by-40 inch opening in a duct at Shimane unit #2, which was reported to the NRA. Other levels of degradation have been discovered in the past with Shika unit #1 in 2003, resulting in Hokuriku Electric Company replacing the ductwork. One un-named NRA official fears that the same problem may place unit #2 in violation of regulatory standards. It is suspected that the salt air-generated corrosion from turbine-generator condenser cooling may be the reason for the problem. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/01/15/national/running-blind-pipe-checks-nuclear-control-rooms-conducted-without-removing-insulation/#.WHt4z9K7odU

 

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