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Fukushima 101...5/30/16-6/23/16


June 23, 2016

Japan’s Press continues to focus on the “meltdown” issue. Tepco’s current president says one thing, and the majority of Japan’s Press outlets twist it into something decidedly different. Perhaps the most extreme “spinning” comes from outside Japan, with the Associated Press…

  • Tepco apologizes for its delay in acknowledgment of meltdown. The company admitted that its leadership during the March, 2011, nuclear crisis had intentionally avoided using the term “meltdown”. President Naomi Hirose said, "We deeply regret that our previous leadership failed to live up to the standards of transparency and thoroughness that we strive to meet today. We sincerely apologize for it." This seems to conform to the Yomiuri Shimbun editorial we covered in our previous update; then-PM Naoto Kan’s order to stop using the term “meltdown” should have been ignored by Tepco. In addition, Hirose said it is natural for the public to interpret the decision to follow Kan’s orders as a cover-up, "It's natural for the public to regard the delay in the disclosure as an attempt to cover up the meltdowns, and I deeply apologize for that." http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2016/1300509_7763.html -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016062100639 -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160621_35/

  • Many Japanese Press outlets say the Hirose admitted a Tepco cover-up. The Mainichi Shimbun and Japan Times twist the Tepco president’s above statements into, "It is extremely regrettable. People are justified in thinking it a cover-up." Both popular Press outlets say the Tepco-funded investigative panel report points a guilty finger at then-PM Naoto Kan for ordering the ban of the term “meltdown”. However, they stress that the precise identification of the person who passed the mandate on to Tepco officials is not given in the report, and both Kan and his Chief Secretary, Yukio Edano, says it is a sham. In fact, Kan believes the panel finding is an attempt by Tepco and the current ruling party to sling mud prior to the Upper House election. Edano says the DPJ will consider legal action. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160621/p2g/00m/0dm/079000c -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/06/21/national/tepco-head-apologizes-311-ban-issued-meltdown/#.V2kscylf0dV

  • The Associated Press further contorts Hirose’s statements into a false citation. The AP says,  "I would say it was a cover-up.” It further tries to absolve then-PM Kan’s culpability in the matter by saying there is no proof that Tepco was muzzled because Kan denied the allegation. The AP subsequently purports, “The report found that Shimizu's instruction to avoid using the term "meltdown" delayed full disclosure of the plant's status to the public, even as people who lived near the plant were forced to leave their homes, some of them permanently unable to return,” to make the speculated cover-up seem egregious and unconscionable. http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/japan-utility-delay-declaring-meltdown-cover-40008157

Here are some other updates…

  • A researcher in Minamisoma says the world needs to know the realities of Fukushima. While a graduate student at Edinburgh University, Claire Leppold thought she understood what Fukushima accident had done to its neighbors. In February, 2015, she attended a guest lecture by Fukushima researchers. She found that her previous conceptions may have been wrong. So she set a goal of actually going to Fukushima to prepare her Master’s dissertation. It happened. But, she has not left. She is now a researcher at Minamisoma Municipal General Hospital. She writes, “…one of the most unexpected parts of this experience has been the confrontation between what I thought I knew, and the reality which I found.” She says the second-biggest thing she has learned is the damage caused by misinformation, “I never saw the actual results of misinformation until I moved to Fukushima. Now, I see them everywhere.” She goes on to detail how unfounded fear of radiation and wild rumors deeply damage people, then states, “…it is of paramount importance to be aware that misinformation carries consequences. Unfounded ideas have led to suffering, and misinformation is one of the biggest things to overcome for the future of Fukushima.” Her repot should be read by everyone! http://www.huffingtonpost.jp/claire-leppold/fukushima-and-the-art-of-knowing-en_b_10537440.html

  • All Fukushima school lunches found safe for the 4th straight year. The prefecture’s education board announced that samples of all 2,669 lunches served in 2015 were well-below the 100 Becquerel per kilogram national standard for Cesium. In fact, only two of the samples had any detectable radiocesium. One was 1.01 Bq/kg (Iwaki City) and 1.14 Bq/kg (Yanaizu Town). A prefectural official said, "We have been able to confirm the safety of school meals. We would like to continue monitoring in municipalities and at schools that desire testing." http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=685

  • Takahama units #1&2 have a number of hurdles to surmount before restart. The biggest technological hurdle is upgrading facilities and system, including installation of nearly 8,000 kilometers of fire-resistant cables. In addition, the tops of the two primary containment buildings must be covered in cement, new emergency response and control facilities must be finished, and, state-of-the-art control room panels must be installed. This will cost about $2 billion USD to complete. In addition, it is likely that Japanese antinuclear activists will petition the courts to stop the restarts. Takahama units #3&4 are currently shuttered because of a temporary injunction granted by the Otsu court in neighboring Shiga Prefecture, and residents of 14 prefectures have filed a petition with Nagoya District Court to bar restart of units #1&2. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003030608 -- http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160621/p2a/00m/0na/015000c -- http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/nra-approves-extensions-of-operating-periods-to-60-years-for-takahama-1-and-2-the-first-for-aging-reactors/

June 20, 2016

On Friday, Japan’s Press fixated on whether or not deposed Prime Minister Naoto Kan banned use the term “meltdown” on March 14, 2011. The day before, a third-party investigative panel said Tepco officials were told to ban the term by the PM’s office. This is not a new revelation; in July, 2012, Tokyo’s Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Committee (NAIIC) said the same thing. Although the evidence makes the charge remarkably clear, Japan’s largely antinuclear Press seems committed to making it a mere “he said…she said” debate. Here’s some examples…

  • The Mainichi Shimbun says that when Tepco released images of the first hydrogen explosion on March 12th “…Prime Minister Naoto Kan and other government officials were furious. Shimizu was called to the prime minister's office on March 13 and was told to contact the office in advance when announcing important accident information.” In addition, the Mainichi reports, “The removal of a senior official of the then Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency from a public relations position on March 13 after he acknowledged a core meltdown in a news conference without first contacting the prime minister's office, is also thought to have influenced TEPCO.” The Mainichi adds that then-Minister Banri Kaieda told a Tepco employee, "There doesn't appear to be a clear definition of a core meltdown, so let's make it the melting of fuel pellets," and a fax was distributed within the company saying, "'Melting of fuel pellets' is to be used. This is because 'core meltdown' conveys the image that the whole core has melted, like the China Syndrome." http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160617/p2a/00m/0na/013000c

  • Naoto Kan denies he ordered the “meltdown” term banned. Kan says he never ordered Tepco to stop saying it, and further that he never told the now-defunct regulatory agency (NISA) to muzzle itself. Kan says that the new investigative panel was chosen by Tepco, so their allegation is biased. He alleges that his innocence is proven by the tele-conference recordings during the nuclear crisis. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160617_23/

  • Kan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yukio Edano, says they never muzzled Tepco. He told a Press conference on Friday, "The fact that I or then-Prime Minister (Naoto) Kan ordered or requested then-President Shimizu to avoid using the term 'meltdown' under any circumstance does not exist.” Edano echoed Kan’s argument that the panel cannot be believed because it was set up by Tepco. He says the panel report defame Kan, the DPJ, and himself, and, the release was scheduled to influence the impending Upper House election. Edano is thinking about pursuing legal action against Tepco and the panel. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160617_20/ -- http://www.businessinsider.com/ap-japan-lawmaker-denies-pressuring-tepco-not-to-say-meltdown-2016-6

  • TEPCO says it will continue the third party investigation in parallel with another panel set up by Niigata Prefecture. Tama University Professor Yasuhide Yamauchi, a member of the Niigata panel, says they want to find out why the term "meltdown" was not used, its impact on society, and whether the omission was intentional. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160617_12/

  • Japan’s largest newspaper says Tepco should have ignored PM Kan’s order. The Yomiuri Shimbun says, “…the [panel’s] probe revealed that TEPCO was paying too much attention to the Prime Minister’s Office’s intentions in responding to the accident.” The newspaper says Tepco was at fault for allowing itself to be muzzled by the prime minister’s office, because the company’s primary responsibility to the public is full, transparent disclosure. Thus, “The operator cannot avoid criticism for having betrayed local residents with this decision. This kind of stance taken by the utility has caused increasing distrust of nuclear power plants.” http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003026750

Now, here’s some other Fukushima-accident and related news…

  • Kawauchi Village wants to further subsidize single-parent families. The municipality hopes this will boost repopulation. The village is offering up to $8,000 for each family of four that returns, to help buy a car and/or cover other expenses. This will be in addition to the huge compensation paid-out by Tepco every month of more than $8,000 each for every man, woman, and child. One town official said, "It's possible to live more comfortably in the rural village than in Tokyo and other urban areas." At this point, 60% of Kawauchi’s pre-evacuation population has returned. About 40% of the returnees are listed as elderly. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160619/p2a/00m/0na/004000c

  • Tokyo lifted marketing restrictions on Fukushima flounder on June 9th. Flounder is a leading food-fish on the Japanese market. Test catches will be made and the flounder checked for radioactivity level to insure that it does not exceed Japan’s 100 Becquerels per kilogram criterion for Cesium. The prefecture surveyed radiocesium content in a total of 1,078 samples of the fish species between March 2014 and May 2016. The results of the survey showed an average concentration of 9.7 Bq/kg, and none topped the 100 Bq/kg limit. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=681

  • The Environment Ministry a 5,000 to 8,000 Bq/kg as a formal limit for reuse of contaminated soils. The proposed policy specifies the levels of radioactivity in soil allowed for reuse, as well as how to use recycled contaminated soil. The levels are designed to keep workers’ exposure at 1 millisievert or less per year. The soils will be used for road embankments, then covered with uncontaminated earth, sand, and asphalt. The ministry says the average level of soil contamination is “6,000 Bq/kg or less.” If road embankments are covered with more than 50 centimeters of uncontaminated earth, sand and other materials, additional radiation exposure to residents in the neighborhood can be restricted to 0.01 mSv/yr or less. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=680

  • NRA allows licensing extension for Takahama units #1&#2. The Nuclear Regulation Authority unanimously accepted an extension of up to 20 years on the condition that operator Kansai Electric Power Company carry out reinforcement work on aging pipes that fail to meet earthquake safety standards. Both of the units were first operated 40 more than years ago. Kansai Electric began checking on possible degradation of plant systems in December, 2014. After finding everything meets the NRA’s regulations, they applied for the extension in April, 2015. Kansai Electric wants to restart the units in October, 2019. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160620_17/ -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016062000566

  • American TV personality Daniel Kahl reports that convenience stores aid disaster recovery. Roughly 2,000 convenience stores were damaged by the earthquake and tsunami in the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011, most opened within two weeks. However, a few of the stores remained opened as soon as the ground stopped shaking. Kahl says, “After the tsunami, convenience stores in this region played a critical role in helping people get back on their feet. But that was only possible because of the incredible devotion of the employees and the managers of each and every shop.” http://www.nhk.or.jp/japan311/tmrw3-conv.html

  • The temporary court injunction against Takahama 3&4 is upheld. The “stay-of-execution” request was filed by Kansai Electric Company in March. Interestingly, the Otsu court that dismissed the Kansai motion is the one-and-same that granted the injunction request on March 9th. In fact, it is the same presiding judge, Yoshihiko Yamamoto, as the March injunction. In Friday's decision, the court said it "cannot conclude that (the reactors) are safe, merely because they have met new regulatory standards on nuclear power plants." Kansai Electric said, "It is very regrettable that the petition for stay of execution was not approved," saying its safety measures are thoroughly proven and the court's decision lacked scientific basis and technological understanding. The injunction has cost the company 300 million yen ($2.88 million) in losses daily. Unfortunately, the annulment plea filed by Kansai Electric will also be heard by Yamamoto’s court, making a successful reversal of the injunction questionable. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201606170022.html -- http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160617/p2g/00m/0dm/039000c -- http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/otsu-district-court-upholds-temporary-injunction-against-takahama-34-keeping-it-closed/

June 16, 2016

  • Tokyo’s evacuation order is lifted for all of Kawauchi Village. The full cancellation of the mandate has been a sporadic process, with most of the village re-opened in October, 2014. But the two eastern-most districts – Ogi and Kainosaka – remained restricted until Tuesday. Only 51 people lived in the districts before the 2011 evacuation, so only a handful are expected to make a quick return. Those continuing their estrangement complain that the forests are not decontaminated, going shopping or seeing a doctor will be difficult, and they are skittish about the effects of low-level radiation exposure. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160614_02/m

  • Fukushima Prefecture petitions Tokyo to upgrade recovery and restoration. The petition calls the five-year period starting in 2016 as "the moment of truth". It says large sums of money should be designated in the national budget for measures related to the recovery, including reactor decommissioning, water decontamination, rebuilding the lives of evacuees, and dispelling false rumors. The prefecture also wants Tokyo to listen to local residents concerning revision of the geographical areas designated as “difficult to return” zones. Finally, the prefecture wants continual upgrading of the working conditions at F. Daiichi, and further improvement in information disclosure. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/fukushima-prefecture-presents-petition-to-government-concerning-recovery-and-restoration/  

  • Fukushima peaches are selling very well in Thailand. Following Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori’s visit to the country on June 7th, orders for the fruit rose from 1.3 tons in 2015, to more than 20 tons for this year. The governor said, “Not only does this mean that many Thai people will get the chance to enjoy delicious Fukushima peaches, but it also ought to have the knock-on effect of introducing the fruit throughout the whole Southeast Asian region. Besides being safe, they are all delicious and will bring smiles to people’s dinner tables.” http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/peaches-from-fukushima-selling-well-in-thailand-thanks-to-governors-visit/

  • Tepco’s 2011 delay in reporting Fukushima meltdowns was due to Prime Minister “pressure”. Aside - This is a further verification of this writer’s reporting five years ago. – End aside. The conclusion comes from an investigative panel set up by Tokyo. The third-party commission is yet another in a five-year history of panels set up to investigate Tepco’s handling of the nuke accident. Here’s the finding… then-Tepco president Masataka Shimizu told a company vice president not to use the words "core meltdown” in a news conference 3 days after the accident onset. Shimizu told the panel he was instructed to do this by the office of then-PM Naoto Kan. However, the panel has not involved the office staff of the deposed PM, and Tepco officials could not remember which person in Naoto Kan’s staff passed along the order. They can only say the ban was conveyed through a public relations officer. Regardless, it is clear that the order to not use the term “meltdown” came from the PM and was intended to downplay the severity of the situation. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160616_32/ -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2016/06/416780.html 

June 13, 2016

  • Katsurao Village had its evacuation order lifted on Sunday. It is the fourth municipality in the old “no-go” zone to be allowed unrestricted repopulation. This will make it possible for 1,347 of the 1,466 evacuated residents to return to their homes, without limitations. The restriction remains in place for nearly 120 former residents because radiation levels are high. Local officials say they will do what they can to get medical facilities and shops opened. Some villagers have already returned, while some say they are waiting until the infrastructure is re-started. Others say they have no desire to return because they worry about the radiation. The Asahi Shimbun puts as negative a spin on the good news, focusing on the fact that only 10% of the former residents have returned. In addition, half of the rice paddies are filled with bags of rural radioactive debris, about which the Asahi says local officials “…have no idea when the waste can be moved out of the village for permanent storage. The staunchly antinuclear newspaper focused on the estimated radiation levels posted in 2012, while ignoring the fact that the current actual readings are much less than half of the 2012 estimates. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160612_04/ -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160612_13/  

  • The mayor of Katsurao says they will create a new village. Mayor Masahide Matsumoto spoke village officials on Monday. He said the decision to repopulate was made difficult because many former residents fear radiation exposure, however the resumption of farming is an encouraging sign. One village official said she wants to support both those who return to the village and those who stay away for a while longer. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160613_23/

  • Much of Katsurao’s tap water now comes from wells. When Tokyo’s evacuation order was issued in 2011, all tap water came from a mountain-fed stream. However, prospective returning residents feared that the stream could have contamination in it, so the Village began switching over to ground water at least 10 meters deep. About 40% of the homes in Katsurao now have well water. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160613_16/  

  • Tepco runs drills to assemble Unit #3 radioactivity containment cover. The structure has been fabricated at the Onahama facility in Iwaki City. It is an arched design, 54 meters tall, 57 meters long, and 19 meters wide. It has eight sections that will be slid over the part of unit #3 containing the Spent Fuel Pool where 566 used fuel bundles are stored. (specifications per World Nuclear Association) Tepco staff have been practicing installation of the cover, and the Japanese Press was allowed to witness the procedure on Friday. After practice sessions are complete, the metal structure will be disassembled and sent to F. Daiichi by ship. It has been built to relieve local fears of small amounts of radioactive material being released during the removal of used fuel bundles. Tepco hopes to have the cover in place soon so they can begin transferring the used fuel to the ground-level storage facility that already holds the ~1500 used and unused bundles from unit #4. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160610_34/ --  http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS-Tepco-readies-to-install-unit-3-cover-1308155.html

  • An ex-NRA official says the agency needs to revise seismic safety regulations. Former Nuclear Regulation Authority commissioner Kunihiko Shimazaki says the regulations underestimate the severity of quakes that might affect nuclear plants. He believes the design-basis modeling for safety standards is inadequate based on his assessment of April’s Kumamoto earthquake on Kyushu Island. Shimazaki asserts, “The NRA has to be aware that the current screening procedures have shortcomings,” and it is “very dangerous to keep using the method.” Shimazaki was in charge of NRA quake and tsunami assessment before stepping down in September, 2014. Aside - Shimazaki has been a severe critic of Tokyo’s earthquake predictions since he left the NRA, and has appeared as a witness for plaintiffs suing Tokyo and Tepco over the F. Daiichi accident. - End aside. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/06/13/national/former-nuclear-regulatory-body-official-calls-for-review-of-safety-screening-method/#.V16zSylf0dV

  • Okuma offers municipal land to Tokyo for rural waste storage. Okuma shares hosting of F. Daiichi with Futaba. The town assembly approved the move on May 31st. Futaba is considering something similar. Okuma Mayor Toshitsuna Watanabe said, "We will convey our policy in a few days to the Liberal Democratic Party's prefectural chapter, which earlier requested the offer of town-held land." Okuma owns 95 hectares and Futaba 70 hectares of land skirting F. Daiichi, where Tokyo has decided to have a 30-year storage facility. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=677

  • Ikata unit #3 is ready for restart. The completion of pre-service inspections opens the way for resumption of operations. The advancement in protection against tornadoes and tsunamis has been considerable. For example, withstanding winds with speeds up to 360 km/hr (~225 miles/hr), including double-walled steel sheeting around a water tank that supplies emergency cooling systems. Some additional work continues to upgrade protection against terrorist incursions. The unit has already received local approval for restart. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/shikoku-electric-completes-seismic-work-and-tornado-measures-at-ikata-3/

  • 33 people file lawsuit to shutter Japan’s only operating nukes. The suit was filed in Fukuoka District Court, Kagoshima Prefecture, by residents from ten prefectures. The plaintiffs claim that the NRA illegally approved restart of Sendai units #1&#2 because new government regulations to prepare nuclear plants for disasters are insufficient and risks of volcanoes were underestimated. The suit also claims regulations are not based on scientific knowledge. A Kagoshima City plaintiff said a nuke accident would produce effects from radioactive substances for decades, which she says is unacceptable. Another suit was filed in the same court in 2014 to try and stop restart of the two nukes, but it was dismissed by the district court. An appeal to a higher court was also rebuffed. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160610_27/ -- http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160610/p2a/00m/0na/012000c

June 9, 2016

  • Iitate evacuation to end March 31, 2017. Tokyo has informed the village assembly of their intent to lift the evacuation advisory for all but the Nagadoro District. The entire municipality was subject to the Tokyo-mandated evacuation order in March, 2011. Last June, decontamination was completed in the village residential areas. The exposure level is currently 0.8 microsieverts per hour. This equates to 0.7 millisieverts per year, which is less than Japan’s decontamination goal of one mSv/yr. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002997896

  • Tokyo considers using rural radioactive soil for road building. Soils that have decayed below the 8,000 Becquerels per kilogram national standard will be used. The material will be covered with uncontaminated soil and topped with asphalt. The total top coverage will be between 50 and 100 centimeters (20-40 inches). The Environment Ministry estimates that the radiation level above the finished roads will be less than 0.01 mSv/yr. They plan to begin a verification project in Minamisoma as early as this summer. The material will also be used for raising the ground level in the construction of roads, seawalls, railways and other public works projects. The ministry says they expect public outcry if and when the Fukushima soil is used in other prefectures. A ministry official said, “Fierce resistance would likely arise if the contaminated earth were used in prefectures other than Fukushima Prefecture.” http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002999444 -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201606080056.html

  • All tsunami debris has been removed from the Fukushima evacuation zone. Tokyo the material had been shipped to temporary storage sites by the end of March. The debris included vehicles, logs and concrete fragments from the eleven evacuated municipalities. The materials will be either incinerated or recycled. However, Tokyo needs to continue disposal of the 8,400 homes damaged by the tsunami. Only about 3,000 of them have been demolished and the debris shipped to state-designated sites. Of the evacuation zone’s estimated 1.16 million tons of tsunami materials, about 820,000 tons has been handled. It is also noted that the total estimated tsunami debris for the entire prefecture was 4 million tons. 3.72 million tons have been disposed of. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=679

  • Tepco posts its latest Press handout on expanding ice wall operation to 95%. A graphic shows where there will be designed non-frozen gaps on the landside (west) to accommodate Nuclear Regulation Authority fears of dropping the groundwater level too low. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2016/images/handouts_160606_01-e.pdf

  • Fukushima InFORM posts the latest data on Pacific Ocean testing, and still no Fukushima Cesium. Their website says, “Results from 34 samples, collected in December – March, did not find any of the Fukushima fingerprint isotope, Cs-134, in coastal waters.” However, the concentration of Cs-137 continues a slow but steady increase, though still below 2 Becquerels per liter; roughly 5,000 times less than Canada’s drinking water standard. With respect to Pacific biota, Salmon tested in 2015 showed no Cs-134. There were typical levels of Cs-137 from nuclear bomb testing in the 1950s, at less than one Bq/kg. https://fukushimainform.ca/ 

  • Fukushima InFORM has posted a summary of international standards for Strontium (Sr-90). The article was spurred by a recent Associated Press report stating that farms near Chernobyl are marketing milk which has Sr-90 concentrations roughly 10 times greater than the national standards in Belarus. The author, Dr. Jonathan Kellogg, says he was initially alarmed by the AP report, but his fears were quelled when he found that the 3.7 Bq/liter limit in Belarus was eight times less than Canada, 13 times less than Japan, and more than 40 times less than the United States. Dr. Kellogg says, “I’ve learned that not all [national] limits are equal.” After comparing the Belarusian limits to the rest of the world, he provided a detailed explanation on how limits are set, stressing that they are all highly conservative. Dr. Kellogg points out that Japan’s arbitrary lowering of the limits for food radioactivity in 2012 was supposed “to provide a generous safety margin. [But] the new limits are based on the false assumption that most food products are contaminated with cesium following the [Fukushima Accident].” Regardless, a poll showed that 76% of Japan’s population still felt foods near F. Daiichi were unsafe, three months after the standards were revised. Thus, Dr. Kellogg feels that “…these varying thresholds from one nation to another do cause some concern among the public.” https://fukushimainform.ca/2016/06/06/radiation-and-food-safety-a-story-of-standards/

  • A Japanese Plutonium shipment arrives safely in the United States. The 331 kilogram transfer is part of anti-terrorism measures agreed upon at the 2014 security summit. A local citizen’s group, Savannah River Site Watch, said plutonium arrived at a US Dept. of Energy facility in South Carolina on Saturday. Governor Nikki Haley opposes the receipt of the Plutonium, and said in a written statement to DOE chief Ernest Moniz, “It is imperative to the safety of our citizens and our environment that South Carolina not allow this to happen.”  Because the Savannah facility wasn't operational by a Jan. 1 deadline, the federal government was supposed to remove 1 metric ton of plutonium from South Carolina or pay daily fines for "economic and impact assistance" — up to $100 million yearly — until either the facility meets production goals or the plutonium is taken elsewhere for storage or disposal. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160607_21/ -- http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/japanese-plutonium-arrives-sc-haleys-objections-39655553

  • Japan’s antinuclear Press resurrects the Fukushima child thyroid cancer issue. Although only one of the 131 cases of thyroid anomalies was found to be malignant, the Press treats all of them as full-blown cancers. One of the prefectural medical review officials said, “It is difficult to conclude that thyroid cancer cases found so far were caused by the nuclear disaster. There were a spate of thyroid cancer cases in children aged between zero and 5 years in Chernobyl, but there is only one case in Fukushima Prefecture. That does not immediately lead to the conclusion that (the thyroid cancers in Fukushima Prefecture) were caused by radiation.” Further, Hokuto Hoshi, head of the panel and a senior member of the Fukushima Medical Association, said it is unlikely that any of the anomalies were caused by Fukushima accident radioactivity, but, “Concerns have been growing among Fukushima residents with the increase in the number of cancer patients. We’d like to further conduct an in-depth study.” None of the children from the latest screening were under the age of five in March, 2011, and their “tumors” ranged in size between 5.3 millimeters and 35.6mm. The highest estimated thyroid exposure to any of the children was 2.1 mSv, which is many times less than the Chernobyl exposures that were linked to thyroid cancer. More than 300,000 Fukushima children have been screened with state-of-the-art ultrasound beginning in 2011, and 173 have tested positive for the thyroid anomalies. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201606070042.html -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/06/07/national/30-fukushima-kids-diagnosed-thyroid-cancer-second-check-upping-total-131-radiation-unlikely-cause/#.V1a7qylf0dV -- http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160607/p2g/00m/0dm/011000c  (For a full, objective account of this issue, please go to our dedicated webpage “Fukushima Child Thyroid Cancer Issue” at http://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/fukushima-child-thyroid-issue.html)

  • The Associated Press exploits one of the tested children. The AP makes it seem that there is some kind of muzzling of the kids who have tested positive, and this 21-year-old woman is the first to go public. The AP asserts that the Fukushima child thyroid cancer rate is “many times higher than what is generally found, particularly among children”, and the children keep their mouths shut because a Fukushima-exposed individual “carries a stigma in the only country to be hit with atomic bombs.” They also say “some researchers believe the prefecture’s high thyroid-cancer rate is related to the accident”, even though there has actually only been one speculative report published by a long-time antinuclear Japanese epidemiologist who has had absolutely no involvement with Fukushima Medical University’s thyroid screening program. At least the AP reports the young woman saying, “I can speak out because I'm the kind of person who believes things will be OK." http://finance.yahoo.com/news/woman-breaks-silence-among-fukushima-thyroid-cancer-patients-070035067.html

June 6, 2016

  • Japanese researchers find no negative health effects in Fukushima field mice. The study was run because due to previously published reports of negative biological effects in Fukushima fauna allegedly caused by low level radiation exposure. The prior reports claimed morphological abnormalities in butterflies, low blood counts in wild monkeys, reduced fecundity in the goshawk, and lowered abundance in bird populations. A team of experts at the National Institute for Environmental Studies in Onagawa, Ibaraki Prefecture, collected field mice from inside the Fukushima plume pathway and two distant prefectures to establish whether or not low level exposure from the 2011 nuke accident had caused damage to the animals; specifically with the testes and spermatogenesis. They found there was no discernable connection between the radiation and negative effects in Fukushima mice during 2013-2014, even though some of the mice had more than 4,000 Becquerels per kilogram of Cesium in their systems. http://www.nature.com/articles/srep23601

  • PM Shinzo Abe visits towns to be repopulated in June. He inspected the villages of Kawauchi and Katsurao. Katsurao residents told Abe that Tokyo should support former evacuees who decide to return, and do whatever is needed to resume farming and other businesses. Abe said that the desire of residents to return home is the driving force for reconstruction, so he will do his best to restore community ties and vitality. Abe told reporters that he is very concerned about the areas still posted as being unfit for return, and he will push for accelerating decontamination work. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160603_39/

  • Tepco’s latest data on the Fukushima Daiichi ice wall shows that the entire seaside portion has frozen. The few locations where freezing has yet to occur are near the parts of the system that the Nuclear Regulation Authority would not allow to be operated for fear that groundwater level inside the wall would drop below turbine basement levels and result in an uncontrolled release of contamination to the environment. Regardless, none of the Japanese Press has reported this – not even the more objective outlets – although it is clear from pages 12 and 13 of the attached link that all of the shoreline side is frozen. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2016/images/handouts_160602_01-e.pdf

  • Tepco begins operation of most of the remaining ice wall sections. Liquid refrigerant is now being circulated through 95% of the in-ground pipes sunk down to 30 meters. In addition, workers began injecting cement into the gravel-impregnated soils around the few pipes where the soil has not completely frozen. These locations are part of the north and south portions of the 1.5 kilometer wall. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160606_28/

  • NHK World reports that a leak from unit #2 possibly contributed to the reactor’s fuel damage. The leak is believed to have been in the emergency cooling system known as RCIC (Reactor Core Isolation Cooling), which is driven by steam from the RPV. According to operator records recorded during the accident, RCIC stopped operating at around 1:25 am on March 14th. The plant staff could not inject more cooling water until about 6pm on the 14th, after the RPV had been depressurized. Tepco believes the leak worsened the loss of RCIC, and may have accelleratedm core uncovery on the morning of March 14th. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160605_02/

  • Tokyo intentionally withheld its March, 2013, report on Chernobyl health effects. The study was authorized under the regime of the deposed Democratic Party of Japan, and budgeted by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) in November, 2012. The MEXT report rebuffed two highly-publicized European studies claiming far-greater Chernobyl health effects than IAEA and WHO. Both were widely circulated in Japan after the Fukushima Accident. The MEXT report focused on blood and lymphatic disorders, analyzing whether dose assessments were carried out and actually linked to health damage. The study concluded that there was no scientific reason to establish a relationship between exposures and health damage due to the 1986 Chernobyl accident. The report also said there were no reputable resources with which to link negative biological effects to the levels of exposure in the Ukraine. The MEXT department in charge of the report was transferred to the Nuclear Regulation Authority in April, 2013, and the NRA buried it in the congressional library by way of the Environment Ministry. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160604/p2a/00m/0na/006000c

  • Tokyo’s leading antinuclear group posts a backgrounder for stopping nuke restarts through the court. The Citizen’s Nuclear Information Center (CNIC) describes the two types of litigation that are possible. One is administrative, where the government is the defendant and the plaintiffs demand that approval for operation be annulled. The other is civil, where the owning company is defendant and plaintiffs call for termination of construction or termination of operations. If and when either type of case is rejected or annulled, the plaintiffs can appeal only if the decision might violate a Supreme Court precedent. Because these legal actions can take many years to be tried, CNIC summarizes the way to have a lower court order a provisional injunction to put an immediate, albeit temporary stop to operations, even if the plant is already operating. CNIC points out that if a provisional injunction is overturned, the utility can sue the plaintiffs for incurred losses. To date, there have been no court cases in which a ruling or judgment permanently suspended the operation of nuclear power plants or nuclear fuel cycle facilities, or affirmed the invalidity of a nuclear reactor construction approval. NRA-approved Takahama units #3&4 are currently barred from operation due to a provisional injunction. http://www.cnic.jp/english/?p=3404

June 2, 2016

  • An interim report on Tepco’s muon scan of unit #2. Muons are elementary sub-atomic particles, similar to electrons, but with a different mass. They are generated by cosmic rays interacting with atmospheric particles. They literally inundate the surface of the Earth. Muons pass through most materials without interaction, but are sometimes deflected by thick, dense materials. Thus, detectors can map the location of the dense objects inside structures, which proved successful with imaging the interior of unit #1 reactor pressure vessel (RPV). The unit #1 scan more than six months to record a reasonably confident image. The scanning equipment for unit #2 was started on March 22nd. The picture generated since then is incomplete, although the outer light-bulb-shaped walls of the primary containment are visible. One of the more important discoveries, at this point, is that the bottom head of the RPV will be included in the final image. The geometry of the scan with unit #1 did not allow the bottom head to be visible. It is hoped that the unit #2 scan will provide clues as to whether or not some of the corium melted through and dripped onto the concrete base-mat below it, before solidifying. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2016/images/handouts_160526_01-e.pdf

  • JAIF posted an interview with Okuma Town Mayor Toshitsuna Watanabe. He says recovery has been slow, but steadily progressing. His town has drawn up a new reconstruction plan and general strategy, which is encouraging. Watanabe added that it has been difficult to maintain a sense of community due to the prolonged Tokyo-mandated evacuation, but his administration has funded many citizen events to keep residents in touch with each other. He laments that Tokyo has yet to establish policy on Okuma’s decontamination and other needs for repopulation, and he is not optimistic that the government will do anything soon. On another issue, Watanabe understands the difficulty Tokyo must be having in trying to get ownership of the property for the temporary low level waste storage repository in Okuma, given that there are 2500 owners that need to be satisfied. On a positive note, the mayor feels that the new construction of 750 housing units for F. Daiichi workers, which could bring as many as 3,000 people to the Ogawara district, will encourage former residents to eventually return, once Tokyo allows it. Okuma has received support from all over Japan, but Watanabe says, “…we should not let ourselves become conditioned to receiving such support and help. Ultimately, we must be independent. Some citizens have achieved that, but others, so far, not at all.” http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/vol-5-special-interview-with-toshitsuna-watanabe/

  • Tepco is given permission to expand the F. Daiichi ice wall. Tepco will also be allowed to pour cement into the gravel-impregnated ground where soil around a few of the refrigerant pipes has not fully solidified. The Nuclear Regulation Authority allowed 55% of the in-ground barrier to groundwater flow to begin operation in March. The about half of the system had been held in abeyance due to NRA fears of groundwater level inside the barrier getting too low and contaminated water in the four turbine basements flowing out. To date, Tepco has shown that it can maintain the groundwater level such that the NRA fears should not happen. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160602/p2a/00m/0na/011000c 

  • Another suit against a nuke restart is filed. Residents of Shikoku Island are seeking an injunction against resumption of operations with Ikata unit #3, which is presently undergoing a final safety inspection for a possible July restart. The suit demands that Shikoku Electric Company suspend all plans to reactivate Ikata-3 because of last month’s severe earthquake on nearby Kyushu Island. The residents claim there is a geologic connection between a tectonic line five kilometers from Ikata station, and the fault that caused the Kyushu quake. They claim the safety of an Ikata station nuke cannot be assured because the power company has not presumed the possibility of a significant quake in the near future. This is the second such suit filed by Ehime Prefecture residents since the restart of Ikata #3 was announced.  http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2016/05/414251.html -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160531_33/  (Comment - The suit completely ignores the fact that the operating nukes on Kyushu Island experienced no impacts whatsoever from the severe quake that seriously damaged more than 1,000 buildings in Kumamoto City and killed nearly 50 people. Further, the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake was about 50 times more powerful than the Kyushu quake, and did nothing to any of the nukes along the Tohoku coastline.)

May 30, 2016

  • Tepco posts the latest progress report for its three nuke stations. The handout covers F. Daiichi, F. Daini, and Kashiwazaki-Kariwa (K-K) stations. At F. Daiichi, freezing of the land‐side impermeable wall pipes has begun, “significantly” reducing the amount of contaminated water inflow into the buildings from groundwater. In addition, shifting the outlet of drainage channel K to the barricaded inner harbor (quay) and steady improvement of the on-site working environment are addressed. At F. Daini, risks with spent fuel pools have been reduced by sealing-off gates to prevent outflow of potentially contaminated pool water. At K-K station, safety measures for earthquakes and tsunamis, as well as hypothetical worst-case nuke accidents, have been upgraded. In addition, emergency response capabilities have been improved through repeated emergency training of personnel. Finally, the Nuclear Safety Reform Plan, focusing on Tepco management, has improved safety awareness, technical capability, and promotion of dialogue with workers and local officials. This last area of concern has been spurred by recent allegations of a Tepco cover-up of a delay in announcing meltdowns at F. Daiichi in 2011.  http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2016/1292843_7763.html -- http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/betu16_e/images/160530e0101.pdf

  • A Fukushima professor says unfounded fear of radiation impedes recovery. Dr. Fuminori Tamba, associate professor at Fukushima University, revealed his experiences with Fukushima citizens over the past five years. In 2011, severe anger and deep distrust with Tepco and Tokyo were the norm with Fukushima’s population. The company and the government were unprepared to respond to the public in 2011, and there was no coordination between national and local administrators, resulting in differing opinions on what to do. Tepco and Tokyo assumed defensive postures that made the situation worse than it might have been. Tamba says that after five years “an environment has gradually been created in which both sides can calmly discuss how to face the realities of the region instead of blaming each other for them.” Not that the public has forgiven Tepco for lack of adequate tsunami protection… they haven’t. But, the company’s willingness to squarely face the situation and meet the public face to face has gradually improved the communication environment. Tamba thus has great optimism, “Currently, Fukushima bears the weight of unfounded fears and rumors, as well as important experiences fading from memory. Instead of waiting for attention, I want to tell others that Fukushima itself is an originator of new culture and new values, able to serve as a driving force for Japan and a light for the world, as an interesting place.” http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/vol-4-special-interview-with-dr-fuminori-tamba/

 

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