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Fukushima Accident Updates (Blog)

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

There are three regularly-updated pages on this site concerning popular Fukushima issues; Fukushima Evacuee Compensation Payments (updated monthly), Fukushima Child Thyroid Cancer s and  Fukushima Radiation on North America’s West Coast? 

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Fukushima: The First Five Days... taken from the hand-written staff records at Fukushima Daiichi the first five days of the crisis. Fukushima : Available here and all E-book stores. Click here for more...

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January 11, 2018

  • The $5 billion “Operation Tomodachi” lawsuit is dismissed! The suit was filed in a United States court last August by 157 plaintiffs, including crewmembers of the USS Ronald Reagan, claiming mental and physical damages from F. Daiichi accident radioactive releases. Tepco says the suit was turned down by the California court last Friday citing a lack of authority to try the case! The court hinted that it does not prevent the plaintiffs from re-filing with a modified complaint that would allow the claim to be heard.
  • Japan’s nuclear watchdog says the wastewater at F. Daiichi should be released to the sea after treatment and dilution. More than a million tons of coolant have been stripped all radioactive isotopes but biologically-innocuous Tritium, which cannot be removed because it is part of the water molecules themselves. Nuclear Regulation Authority Chair Toyoshi Fuketa has told Naraha Mayor Yukiei Matsumoto, "We will face a new challenge if a decision (about the release) is not made within this year. It is scientifically clear that there will be no influence to marine products or to the environment." He advised Tepco to make the right choice soon because it could take 2 or 3 years to prepare the harmless release. Fuketa has said this a few times before, but unbridled radiophobia has kept it from happening.
  • A new telescoping device will look underneath the unit #2 RPV pedestal. Last July, a submersible robot provided images of the underside of unit #3 Reactor Pressure Vessel and its CRDMs (Control Rod Drive Mechanisms). It is hoped the new probe will provide similar scanning of the underside of unit #2 RPV and CRDMs. The device consists in an external telescopic “guiding pipe”, with its final section holding two miniature cameras, a dosimeter, and thermometer. One camera can be pan-tilted 120o vertically and 360o horizontally, and can be lowered by a power cable. The investigative tools can absorb up to 1,000 Gy of radiation exposure. The last unit #2 excursion sent mechanized robots inside the unit #2 Primary Containment (PCV), but blocking debris and higher-than-expected radiation fields resulted in the probe not being able to enter inside the pedestal. The new device was shipped to F. Daiichi on December 22, 2017, and is expected to be used at some point in January-February of this year.
  • A Tokyo antinuclear group formally proposes a government bill to stop nuke restarts and abolish nuclear energy. Headed by fanatic ex-Prime Ministers Junichiro Koizumi and Morihiro Hosokawa, the group includes activists and scholars who also have the samedevoted opinion. Koizumi said, “We will definitely abolish all nuclear plants in the near future with support from a majority of the public.” He then followed with the opinion that the Japanese public will be “awakened” if the bill is introduced into the Diet, assuming nuclear energy will be quickly abolished. The group will submit the bill to the minority Constitutional Party of Japan and perhaps the tiny Hope Party. Lawyer Hiroyuki Kawai made the group’s singular aim clear, “The name of the game is the immediate halt on nuclear plants!” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the government support for nuke restarts “will not change”, however, "We will also seek to lower the dependence on nuclear power as much as possible by maximizing the use of renewable energy and the thorough implementation of energy-saving measures." --

January 4, 2018

  • Fukushima farmers consider an international system to thwart false rumors. They will look to certification through the Good Agricultural Practice system (GAP), recommended by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Fukushima Prefecture has designed its own version, dubbed FGAP, which adds countermeasures for detecting radioactive contamination. The prefecture will cover all costs associated with gaining FGAP certification. The Farm Ministry calls GAP an “effective method to raise [consumer] confidence.”
  • Tepco investigates the possibility of joint refueling and maintenance outages. Japanese BWRs need to be shut down every 13 months to exchange a third of its used fuel bundles for new ones and effect planned maintenance. Tepco believes that collaborating with other utilities using BWRs could end up improving efficiency and save some money for everyone. It is possible that similar partnerships with PWR-based companies could also be efficacious. Some immediate candidates for regular outage collaboration include Chubu Electric, Tohoku Electric, Japan Atomic, and Hokuriku Electric Power Companies. The concept of joint operating management of new nukes, such as Higashidori Station in Aomori Prefecture, is also being considered.  
  • The New York Times posts a Fukushima article fraught with avoidable errors. Early on, the piece alleges that 16,000 people have died due to the nuke accident. Actually, 1,600 Fukushima residents died due to the earthquake, tsunami and chaotic evacuation. Also, there were 16,000 confirmed deaths along the entire Tohoku coastline due to the earthquake and tsunami, not the nuke accident! The Times next suggests the Fukushima City baseball games are being used to make visitors overlook the “extensive damage” caused by the nuke accident on the Pacific coast. Actually, the extensive damage on the coast was caused by the quake and tsunami, not the nuke accident. In addition, the report says there are 120,000 residents “who still cannot – and may never – return to their homes.”  The number still officially barred from their homes is actually in the 25,000 range. At least the Times cited Governor Uchibori, who said he could not “find any negative point” about the decision to have Fukushima City host some of the games… but it is buried deeply in the article. Another mistake is found in the explanation of a posted picture, which says a majority of Namie Town’s pre-accident population have refused to return home and “asked for their homes to be demolished instead.” Actually, there are 8,700 Fukushima homes scheduled for demolition. 7,000 are along the prefecture’s Pacific coastline, caused by the 3/11/11 quake & tsunami, not by the nuke accident! Several hundred of them are in Namie. Such shoddy reporting is inexcusable, especially for a Press outlet as highly respected as the Times.
  • One of Japan’s minor antinuclear political parties gets free promotion from the Asahi Shimbun. Touted as “the main opposition party” to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP) plans to introduce a bill to the Tokyo government (Diet) to abolish nuclear energy and wholly rely on renewables to cover the lost base load. The bill is believed to focus on helping utilities decommission existing nukes and create jobs in host communities to cover the loss of nuclear plant employment and tax income. One caveat is that nukes will be allowed to operate if Japan was faced with a cut-off in fossil fuel imports. Aside – the CDP is the “main opposition party” by a grand total of five seats in the Diet, outnumbering the now defunct “Party of Hope” 55-50. PM Abe’s “Governing Coalition” holds sway with 313 of 465 possible seats. The Asahi touts a decided minority only because it is antinuclear. – End aside.

December 28, 2017

  • Tritium and radioactive strontium in Fukushima-area fish are barely detectible. Tritium levels in the muscle of three flatfish caught between July 21 and September of 2017 is lower than the concentration in the surrounding seawater. In fact, no organically-bound Tritium was detected. The Strontium-90 found in the muscle of five angel sharks was less than a Becquerel per kilogram, with the lowest being 0.013 Bq/kg.
  • Rural decontamination begins in Futaba, which co-hosts F. Daiichi. This is the first “difficult to return zone” to have such work done. At present, the cost of clean-up and infrastructure repair will be borne by Tokyo. Futaba town mayor Shiro Izawa said, ”We want you to carry out the work, while thinking about the feelings of the citizens who are waiting for the day when they can return. Feeling progress in procedures toward reconstruction through the construction would help stimulate the motivation of town people to return here." A partial lifting of the evacuation order is expected in 2020, and a full rescinding in 2022.
  • The NRA approves restarts for Kashiwazaki-Kariwa units #6 &#7. On Wednesday, the Nuclear Regulation Authority unanimously endorsed the safety upgrades mandated by Tokyo’s much-improved nuclear safety standards. This is the first restart approval for Tepco, and the first for Boiling Water Reactors. The NRA acknowledged the large number of negative public comments submitted since October, but found that they were essentially unfounded because the safety inspections for the K-K units were far-more-stringent than the new regulations call for, largely because the station is owned and operated by Tepco. All Japanese popular Press outlets erroneously state that the two ABWR (Advanced Boiling Water Reactor) units are the same as the three that suffered meltdowns at F. Daiichi. But, they are not! The operating and safety systems are more forgiving than the four damaged F. Daiichi units. Plus the containment structure is much larger and far-more robust than those for F. Daiich1 units #1 through #4. Regardless, this brings the number of nuclear units approved by the NRA for restart to fourteen. -- --
  • A smattering of protestors opposed the NRA approval of K-K restarts. NHK World estimated that “about 20” people demonstrated outside the NRA headquarters in Tokyo. Two issues were central to their displeasure. First, they believe Tepco is unfit to operate reactors in Japan. Former Kawasaki public official Yoshinari Usui said, "Tepco has no technical qualifications to run a nuclear power plant after causing such an accident. The restart of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa units is totally unacceptable."  Second, they believe the “victims” of the accident have not been given relief, despite each of the more than 75,000 mandated evacuees having already received more than $700,000 in personal compensation and property owners substantially more! One protestor even chided the NRA approval, saying "It is not a technical or scientific assessment, but a political one." -- --
  • A Prolonged delay in restarting Kashiwazaki-Kariwa #6 & #7 will cost locals more than $10 million! Annual grants for hosting nuke stations are currently at more than 1.2 billion yen per year; currently $10.7 million. Co-host communities Kashiwazaki and Kariwa stand to lose a combined $4.45 million and Niigata Prefecture $6.6 million per year if restarts are delayed by nine months after the NRA fully certifies resumption of operations. The most-probable hold-up will be Governor Ryuichi Yoneyama, whose independent investigation into the cause of the F. Daiichi meltdowns will take two to four more years. He acknowledges the NRA approval of plant safety, but refuses to agree to restarts until his independent review is completed, "I have no intention of objecting to the decision by the NRA. [But] Our examination will never be affected” by NRA approvals of plant operations. --  
  • Shikoku Electric Co. has filed an objection to the Hiroshima court injunction against the operation of Ikata unit #3. The unit has been in a refueling and scheduled maintenance outage since October. The court rendered its injunction based on the hypothesis that a worst-case eruption of Mt. Aso on neighboring Kyushu Island could cause a Fukushima-level nuclear accident. Lava fragment 90,000 years old were used as the most compelling evidence. On the other hand, Shikoku Electric says the evidence supplied to the court by the company was not used in the case, so it has asked that the enactment of the court order be suspended. Regardless, it appears that the anticipated February restart of Ikata #3 could be in jeopardy.
  • Former PM Junichiro Koizumi continues his fanatic antinuclear crusade. Now, he promises to announce a “bill” next month to abandon nukes and pursue natural energy. Koizumi’s “bill” comes from Genjiren, an antinuclear-pro-natural energy confederation. Koizumi hopes to ask current Diet members to formally present the “bill” to the Lower House. Koizumi demands that all idled nukes not be restarted and replaced by renewables. He often asserts, "Japan can get along with zero nuclear power plants."

December 21, 2017

  • Naraha’s population has increased to 30% of its pre-nuke accident level. This fact is buried in a Japan News (Yomiuri Shimbun) article on the illumination of holiday lights. The article says, “As of last month, the population of the town was only around 30 percent of what it was before the disaster.” The 2010 census lists the town population at 7,700, and the October 2016 listing shows 976. However, at 30%, the current population is about 2,300. This means that roughly 1,400 people returned home over the past 13 months, and the body of the Japanese Press has disregarded it! -- –-,_Fukushima  (Once again, we have a significant news story concerning Fukushima recovery completely ignored by the Japanese and international Press, simply because it promises to make the repopulation situation look much less dismal than what has been reported to date!)
  • One Canadian Salmon has been found to contain a trace of Fukushima Cesium. The concentration is 0.07 Becquerels per kilogram of Cs-134 (the Fukushima “fingerprint” isotope) and 0.51 Bq/kg of Cs-137. This is more than 1,700 times less than Canada’s “action level”, and has essentially no known health risk. The salmon was one of nine selected from the 123 biotic monitoring samples initially tested by Fukushima InFORM in 2016. After initial 6-hour analysis identified traces of Cs-137 in the nine fish, and extended 2-week analysis was performed on each. The longer monitoring period allowed detection of the tiniest trace of Cs-134, if it was actually present. This is analogous to extending exposure time on a camera to enhance image details in low-light conditions. The InFORM article reads, “So, rest easy the next time you wish to enjoy seafood. It continues to be a healthy component of the normal diet. Bon appétit!”
  • Fukushima Sake sees a significant upswing in exports. The 169 kiloliters exported in fiscal 2016 was an increase of 30% over fiscal 2015. It was also double the amount shipped in 2012. In fact, the 2016 sales topped 216 million yen for the first time! The prefecture believes the upswing was due to a concerted effort in dispelling harmful rumors. The country with the greatest increase in Fukushima Sake imports was the United States, which more than doubled from 2012. The prefecture plans to further extend rumor control worldwide, and see what effect it has.
  • The second annual robot competition is held in Naraha. The first contest last year witnessed none of the contestants traversed the obstacles in total darkness, which is one of the requirements. In addition, radio waves were often unsuccessful in penetrating thick concrete walls, and those that overcame this problem kept participants from meeting time limits! There were two terrains: (1) A mockup staircase had to be climbed while carrying a 5 kilogram object, off-load it, and return to home within a specified time, and (2) finding an object left in an unknown location, traversing uneven terrain. The results were much better this year, with three teams completing the stair-climbing competition, and two teams successfully traversing the uneven terrain. The over-all winner was Nara Hairo-Robocon Club of the National Institute of Technology, Nara College, which won the MEXT Minister’s award.
  • The worst Fukushima food phobia seems to be in Asia. This was discovered by a survey of 12,500 people in Japan and around the world by the Tokyo and Fukushima Universities. More people in Asia said they are “worried about agricultural products from the prefecture” than the United States or Europe. Taiwan had the highest percentage at 81%, followed by South Korea (69%) and China (66%). On the other hand, the negativity was 56% in Russia, 55.7% for Germany, 40% in France, 36% in the United States, and 29% for Great Britain. Surprisingly, “only) 30% 0f Japan had the concern! This suggests that the more aggressive transmission of Fukushima Food product monitoring in Japan might need to become the case around the world. Naoya Sekiya of Tokyo University said, “It is necessary to more aggressively transmit information about the system of examination for radioactive substances and their results.” Ryota Koyama of Fukushima University echoed his words, “(it is) important for the government to explain to foreign countries in a careful manner what has changed between right after the nuclear accident and the present. The prefecture and other parties concerned, building on that, should push ahead with exploitation of new markets, branding and other efforts.”
  • Hitachi’s head says Japan should be bullish on nuclear power. Hitachi President Toshiai Higashihara believes nuclear ought to be Japan’s baseload power source, “We need to consider issues such as the environment, stable energy supply, and securing manpower for reactor decommissioning in a comprehensive manner. Nuclear power should be the country’s baseload power source.” When asked about a possible global nuclear realignment with Toshiba and Mitsubishi, he said, “It’s not something that one single manufacturer should think about. It requires discussion as the issue concerns global energy policy.”
  • Kansai Electric Company consider decommissioning Oi units #1 & #2. The final decision will be announced at the company’s Friday Board meeting. These will be the first large, gigawatt-rated nukes to be scrapped in Japan. Both were placed in operation in 1979, and will reach the in-principle 40-year licensing limit in less than two years. The problem with the two large units is their containment system; both are the ice-condenser type. Some 1,250 tons of block ice are inside the containments to be used to quench any steam released from the primary system during an accident condition. The Nuclear Regulation Authority has not yet created new safety regulations for ice condenser containments, and it is expected that the time table for making the rules will be lengthy and result in not allowing the unit’s operation enough time to recover the costs of meeting the new rules. The company plans on upgrading seven units at three stations: Oi, Mihama, and Takahama. The total cost of upgrades to meet Japan’s current regulations is estimated at about $7.4 billion. --

December 13, 2017

  • A Japanese court hands down an injunction against the restart of Ikata unit #3. It was issued Wednesday, and reverses a lower court ruling issued in March. The reason for the injunction is the remote possibility that pyroclastic flows from a volcanic eruption (Mount Aso) on the neighboring island of Kyushu could reach the nuke station and cause the release of radioactive contamination. Presiding Judge Tomoyuki Nonoue said the location of the plant is at fault and the NRA has not properly assessed the risk to residents from volcanic eruptions. He explained that a nuke “should not be allowed” to be sited where the Ikata station is located, the risk of a pyroclastic flow reaching the plant “cannot be judged to be small enough.” The rationale behind the decision is geological evidence for a major eruption every 10,000 years! Unlike a few past antinuclear court rulings in Japan, the judge did not find the NRA standards to be irrational or unreasonable. This surprised an electric company official, who said, “The court accepted the new safety standards but ordered the suspension of the reactor’s operation.” Ikata #3 was scheduled for restart in January, but cannot be restarted before September 30, 2018, under the ruling. - -
  • Japanese experts say volcanic eruptions cannot be predicted, but disagree on the Hiroshima court injunction. Hokkaido University Professor Tadashi Narabayashi says, "Stopping (reactor) operation based on personal rights requires an imminent danger. It's difficult to say that the chance of a cataclysmic eruption, which is thought to happen only about once in 10,000 years, meets that definition. The Ikata plant's No. 3 unit is protected from falling volcanic material and has an enhanced reactor core cooling system, so there is simply no probability of an incident that would endanger the lives of the people in the city of Matsuyama or Hiroshima." But, magma specialist Yoshiyuki Tatsumi of Kobe University disagrees, saying, “There is about a 1 percent chance of a cataclysmic eruption in Japan in the next 100 years, so mathematically speaking, one could happen at any time. At present, we do not know what kinds of signs would portend such an eruption. It is also unknown how much magma has built up under Mount Aso (in Kumamoto Prefecture), so the government needs to strengthen its observations there among other measures."
  • A business leader says Japan needs to expand nuclear stations or build new ones. Sadayuki Sakakibara, Chairman of the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) made this statement when he visited Ikata station on Shikoku Island. After a tour of the station, he said, “As an important source of energy, we will continue to utilize nuclear power plants. We need to explore the expansion of existing facilities and building new plants as future options. It seems (Shikoku Electric) is implementing thorough measures taking in lessons from the Fukushima nuclear plant accident.”
  • A seven percent fall-off in planned nuclear restarts could cost Japan more than $20 billion. Tokyo’s goal is for nuclear to have 20-22% of Japan’s power sources by 2030. However, that goal might fall well-short, and only provide about 15%. The Industry Ministry has found that promotion of conservation measures has kept demand at a 2013 level, which has been the basis for the 2030 goal for nuclear. Renewables are projected to be at 22-24%, and thermal (fossil fueled generation) at about 56%. The Central Research Institute of the Electric Power Industry (CRIEPI) of Japan has posted two alternative scenarios and their possible impact on Gross Domestic Product. If nuclear only realizes 15%, and the short-fall made up by LNG, real GDP would drop by more than $22 billion. If the short-fall was covered by renewables, the GDP drop would be nearly $24 billion. 
  • Another former Fukushima worker is granted workman’s compensation for radiation exposure, and the Press treats it as a diagnosis. The worker had spent 19 years at F. Daiichi before leaving in 2016. During his tenure, he received an exposure of 99.3 millisieverts (9.9 Rem), which the Ministry of Health finds to be sufficient to have contributed to the worker’s diagnosis of Leukemia in February. He was exposed to 96 mSv after the onset of the nuclear accident. The Ministry says the exposure level exceeded 5 millisieverts per year multiplied by years of employment, thus the cancer can be linked to his work at the nuclear power station. The rationale comes from the 1976 Industrial Accident Compensation Insurance Act, which is a revision of original worker’s accident insurance law of 1968. -- --

December 7, 2017

  • Fukushima’s rural contaminated waste facility could be completed in 2021. This means that most, if not all bags of material spread over the prefecture will be interred in the facility by that time. The volume could be as much as 12.5 million cubic meters. The main hold-up in completing the project has been procuring the remaining private property, but the steps necessary to acquire the remaining land is now well underway. About 45% of the necessary land acquisitions have yet to be completed. Contracts for obtaining the remaining properties have been “concluded” and are expected to be signed by property owners in the near future.
  • Tepco posts a detailed handout of unit #3 reactor vessel CRDMs. The Control Rod Drive Mechanisms extend from below the vessel’s bottom head. Unfortunately, the handout is entirely in Japanese, but three posted images are worthy of viewing. Two images show damaged CRDM guide tubes, and the other the area near a CRDM housing.
  • Radiation testing on Fukushima rice to be cut back. The scale-down is because none of the prefecture’s rice has failed the National limit since 2015. The annual cost of the program has been ~$53 million. Instead of testing each and every bag of rice produced, 47 of the 59 municipalities that grow rice will only have to scan representative samples. The other 12 communities surround the F. Daiichi station. The decision on the specific date of the scale-back will be decided in February.
  • There is a dearth of knowledge about Fukushima foods overseas. Fukushima University researchers held an online survey of ten countries, including China, South Korea, the United States, Britain, and Germany. While 30% of Japanese consumers worry about Fukushima foods, 80% in Taiwan, 70% in South Korea, and 60% in China have the same concerns. What’s worse, 30-50% have worries about all Eastern Japan foods! Significant percentages of these nation’s consumers are unaware of Japan’s radiation testing program and stringent limits on radioactivity.
  • The Industry Ministry will investigate into the possibility of building more nukes. The full-fledged discussions will be held next year. The driving issue is the target of and 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Nuclear plants release zero GHGs during operation. Panel member Masahiro Sakane has said, "We need to address both nuclear power and global warming issues to reach a conclusion." The current goal is some 30 nukes in operation by March, 2031. But to reach the GHG target by 2050, many more nukes will be needed. 
  • Canada’s radiation monitoring network is detailed on Fukushima InFORM. An explanation of the three network system and a map of the numerous monitoring locations is provided at the following link…

November 30, 2017

  • An American scientist says Japan should release purified Fukushima wastewater to the sea. Dr. Jim Conca explains that the waters run through the Cesium absorption system have been stripped of all other isotopes to well-below Japan’s limits for open release. The niggling problem is essentially harmless Tritium that cannot be removed because it is part of the water molecules, themselves. Tritium is merely a hypothetical carcinogen, but has not caused it in humans, even with an activity level of 37 million Becquerels. Japan’s government and radiological scientists know this, but Japan refrains from making the releases now because of public radiophobia that could doom Tohoku region fisheries.
  • None of the fish within 20 km of Fukushima have detectible Cesium-134 in their flesh. Cs-134 is the universally-recognized “fingerprint” of Fukushima contamination. Ten of the 100 fish sampled from outside the Fukushima break-wall had detectible Cs-137, with the highest concentration of 23 Becquerels per kilogram in a Japanese Angel Shark. The limit for Cs-137 is 100 Bq/kg, which is ten times less than anywhere else in the world. Three fish were caught within the Fukushima break-wall, and none of them had detectible Cs-134. All analyzed fish were caught between October 3rd and October 27th. --
  • Japan’s Press asserts that the Fukushima ice wall is “not living up to high hopes”. Supposedly, there is the sharp increase in rainwater that flows into the building basements during rain storms. However, a quick look at the record reveals a steady drop in the influx until the last week of October, 2017. Inordinately heavy and persistent rainfall due to two typhoons plagued Japan’s main islands for two weeks. As a result, the rainfall flow into the building basements briefly jumped by a factor of five; from about 70 tons per week up to more than 400 tons/week. Currently, the influx is back to the original level. The Asahi ignores this data. -- (this week’s data on water flowing into the buildings)
  • Japco applies for a 20-year licensing extension with Tokai unit #2. This marks the first Boiling Water Reactor application for the extension. The first three have all been Pressurized Water Reactor systems: Takahama units #1&2 and Mihama unit #3. The safety screening by The Nuclear Regulation Authority for Tokai #2 is nearing completion. Thus, with the resumption of operation next year, Tokai #2 could operate until the end of November of 2038. --
  • Japan’s largest newspaper calls for objectivity on the restart of Tokai unit #2. The Yomiuri Shimbun (Japan News), with a combined morning and evening circulation of over 14 million, admits that the resumption of operations will not happen before several hurdles are overcome. Perhaps the most difficult will be gaining enough capital to pay for safety up grades required by Japan’s post-fukushima regulations. It is estimated that the cost will be about 180 billion yen; more than $1.6 billion USD. The problem is that Japco has no power plants other than nuclear, and all of them are inactive due to the post-fukushima nuclear moratorium. Other issues to be addressed are specific to restarting boiling water reactor systems, which has not occurred as yet. Then there’s the problem with getting local approval, and not just from the host community. Tokai Mayor Osamu Yamada said, “Local governments are called on to establish workable evacuation arrangements. Overall judgment [on whether to allow restarting the plant] is still in the making.” If you think the Yomiuri is less than objective, compare it to the historically antinuclear Mainichi Shimbun (morning circulation of 4 million), which says “…there appears no prospect that the plant can be restarted…”  Regardless, the road to restart will be dicey in Fukushima-phobic Japan. --
  • The Asahi Shimbun, with a daily circulation of more than 11 million, posts about the debate between science and public opinion. The news outlet calls it a stalemate “rooted in a fundamental conflict between science and human nature. The focus is largely on whether to continue increasing the storage of purified water at Fukushima Daiichi, but contains biologically innocuous radioactive hydrogen (Tritium) in its water molecules. The Asahi utilizes its typical FUD-fest (Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt) by creating images of catastrophic consequences if another millennial  earthquake would strike, dumping a million tons of detectibly radioactive water into the Pacific ocean! But, if the waters are slowly released over a period of months or years, the local fishermen cry loud and long that it would ruin their already crippled business. The Asahi says (correctly) that the seafood-from-Fukushima market is already hurt by fear of the possibility of contamination, even though none has been found to be above Japan’s ridiculously low radiation standards for years. The problem is that one consumer in five doesn’t believe the seafood is safe, even when shown it has passed all safety checks. The Hiroshima Syndrome and its radiophobic corollary reign in Japan.
  • The Yomiuri cries out for using decontamination soils wisely. More than 230,000 cubic meters of soils have already been brought to the site, primarily from temporary storage location at schools. It is expected that another 500,000m3 will be brought in by the end of March. Removal of all bags from school grounds is scheduled by the end of 2018. By lifting this psychological burden, it is hoped that more and more evacuees will return home. Only about half of the privately owned tracts of land in the 16 hectare location have been procured by Tokyo. The Yomiuri wants the government to expedite get the rest of the land by informing the owners of the necessity for the facility. The newspaper also want the volume of buried material to be minimized. Radioactivity in the wastes has diminished with the passage of time, so only the soils more radioactive than the minimum should be interred in the facility.   
  • Fukui Prefecture’s governor approves the restarts of Oi (Ohi) units #3 & #4. Governor Issei Nishikawa announced, “I have agreed to the restart after taking into account the position of the Oi town government and Fukui prefectural assembly, as well as the response by the central government and the operator of the plant concerning our request to have an interim storage site for spent nuclear fuel to be built outside the prefecture.” Resumption of operations has been previously approved by the host community of Oi and the prefectural assembly. In addition, a prefectural “expert panel” on nuclear safety gave the restarts a green light. The approval was given despite a Fukui court order to not restart Oi #3 & #4 is still in place, although the decision has been appealed to a higher court. Unit #3 could be restarted in January, and unit #4 in March. Owner Kansai Electric Company adds that when the units restart, they will lower the cost of electricity. -- --
  • Japan’s Kobe Steel scandal will set back restarts of four nuclear units. The owners of the plants want to take the extra time to make sure that all safety materials do not contain any of the questionable material. The four units are Ohi #3 & #4, and Genkai units #3 & #4. The previous restart dates for them were January for units #3 and March for units #4. Now, the restarts will happen two months later. --
  • On a contrary note, the governor of Shiga Prefecture opposes restarts of the Oi units. Governor Taizo Mikazuki explained, “We’re not in an environment that allows us to agree to the restarts of the reactors, in view of persistent concern among the residents of our prefecture.” But, both nuke units are not in Shika Prefecture! They are in Fukui Prefecture. The reason is because a small fraction of the 30km Urgent Planning Zone for Oi station is in Shika Prefecture, and the governor feels obligated to cry foul!

November 23, 2017

  • The large crane for unit #3 fuel removal is lifted onto the refueling deck. The crane will be used to lift casks filled with used nuclear fuel bundles. (photos only)  The unit #3 refueling deck is briefly opened for the News Media. On Tuesday, the Industry Ministry and Tepco guided reporters on a deck tour. The deck was clear of debris and the radiation levels were a relatively miniscule 0.08 millisieverts per hour. This is 10,000 times lower than just after the nuke accident of 3/11/11. At the edge of the refueling pool, the level rose to 0.7 mSv/hr. Even at this very low exposure level, workers are allowed to be there for no more than two hours. This exemplifies the ridiculous exposure limitations placed on Tepco staff. Anything less than 100 mSv total exposure is scientifically agreed to be not hypothetically hazardous!
  • The first bags of rural radioactive debris arrived in Okuma last Friday. The facility was formally opened October 29th, but receipt of the initial materials lagged by nearly three weeks. The Environment Ministry, which runs the operation, says it could take six years to bring in all 170,000 tons of debris from the myriad of temporary storage sites in the prefecture. Minister Masaharu Nakagawa said, "(The state) will continue giving first priority to securing safety and properly carry out the disposal with our best efforts to win local confidence.” Originally proposed to be run privately in 2013, Tokyo decided to assuage local concerns by nationalizing the site.
  • Demolition work in Fukushima Prefecture is progressing. Of the nearly 12,000 houses scheduled for demolition in the evacuation zone, about 8,700 (70%) have been scrapped as of October 11. Most of those demolished (~7,000) have been in the coastline communities devastated by the 3/11/11 tsunami: Minamisoma, Naraha, Tomioka, and Namie. The numbers of scheduled demolitions slowly increases as people repopulate. This is because hundreds have not returned home since the evacuation orders were rendered, and many are now living far away from their pre-calamity homes. Further, the number of demolitions will surely escalate even more when evacuation orders are lifted for Okuma and Futaba. An Environment Ministry official commented on the relatively slow progress over the past few years, "We have to undertake demolition work while securing safety amid progress in the permanent return of evacuees. But we want to complete the work as soon as possible."
  • Japan Atomic Power has borrowed money from its decommissioning fund. The Industry Ministry requires nuclear power plant operators to annually accumulate funds to cover the estimated costs of decommissioning nukes. Japco should now have about $1.6 billion set aside, but “a person familiar with the situation” says the company has “diverted the majority.” Japco does not deny some financial diversion, but says it has “used the money appropriately in light of various circumstances and future forecasts.” To recover from the financial crunch caused by Japan’s nuclear moratorium, Tokai unit #2 and Tsuruga unit #2 must eventually be restarted. The Tsuruga unit will reach Japan’s essentially arbitrary 40-year licensing limit next November, so Japco has applied for a 20-year extension. An over-riding problem is that the Nuclear Regulation Authority has labeled a geologic fault under Tsuruga #2 as being active, thus restart is problematic, at best. The company wants to build two 1538 MWE Advanced Pressurized Water Reactors at Tsuruga station to further ease its financial burden.
  • The IAEA gives a good safety assessment to Kashiwazaki-Kariwa (K-K) units #6 & #7. In its 2015 report, the International Atomic Energy Agency identified 15 areas for improvement, reflecting Fukushima lessons learned. The 2017 report shows that eight of the issues have been resolved and the other seven have experienced satisfactory improvement. The IAEA concludes that Tepco has clearly made efforts to improve safety with respect to the two K-K units.
  • An expert panel in Fukui Prefecture confirms the safety improvements at Oi nuclear station. The panel’s report says the safety measures for Oi units #3 & #4 have been secured. Fukui Governor Nishikawa said, "I came to understand that the reactors' safety has improved since they were reactivated in 2012." He is visiting the plant to verify the report.


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