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Fukushima 104...8/29/16-9/22/16


September 22, 2016

  • Fukushima InFORM says trace-levels of Pacific coastline radioactivity are peaking. The concentration of the F. Daiichi “fingerprint” isotope, Cs-134, has “increased considerably” since 2014, but this is nothing to worry about. The level has gone from barely detectible in off-shore locations in 2014, to no more than 3 Becquerels per cubic meter (ton of seawater) in 2015. The trend indicates “…that the smearing effect will continue to disperse the plume and that we are approaching the maximum.” However, concentration in Vancouver ocean water will probably double in 2016, and perhaps triple before it begins to decline. But, InFORM points out that these levels are nothing to worry about because will be hundreds of times less than Canada’s 10,000 Bq/m3 limit for drinking water. https://fukushimainform.ca/2016/09/20/september-2016-informal-update/

  • The number of “farm inns” near the F. Daiichi’s evacuation zone is increasing. There are 24 of these inns in the Towa district of Nihonmatsu, roughly 40 kilometers from F. Daiichi, a few km. from the border of the mandated evacuation zone. Visitors may work on the farms and partake in cuisine grown there. The program is intended to assure Japanese citizens that Fukushima farm produce is safe to eat. The city’s farmer population dropped about 50% over the past half-century. However, the increase in necessary lodging for people working within the evacuation zone has spurred having these inns. To date, only about 1,000 people have taken advantage of the opportunity, but it is expected that those numbers will swell. It is hoped the inns will counter unfounded rumors that persist throughout Japan. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160921/p2a/00m/0na/016000c

  • Namie cattle are now being used to study the effects of low-level radiation exposure. The article has been released by the Associated Press. Roughly 200 are tested every three months. Researchers draw blood, collect urine, and check for unusual lumps or swollen lymph nodes. This is point at which objective reporting dwindles and makes in accord with the AP’s on-going antinuclear agenda. The report contains numerous misstatements, exaggerations, and negative innuendos. For example, the article states that the animals live in “radioactivity that is 15 times the safe benchmark.” The article is referring to the ultra-conservative Tokyo guideline for decontamination, which is not a benchmark for safety. Further, the article also says Namie is “…a ghost town with no prospect of being habitable for years,” even though 87% of Namie’s former population has been allowed to make visits and over-night stays at their homes since 2014. For these people, the remaining restrictions will be lifted by Tokyo in six months. http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/cows-fukushima-radiation-zone-find-purpose-science-42269800

  • F. Daiichi staff prevents groundwater overflow caused by Typhoon Malakas from reaching the sea. The company held a Press conference on September 21st, and provided pictures of the F. Daiichi staff’s efforts. http://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2016/201609-e/160921-02e.html -- http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2016/images/handouts_160921_01-e.pdf However, Japan’s popular Press made it sound as scary as possible. Japan Times said the situation was “raising fears of tainted water flooding out to the plant’s port area.” The Asahi Shimbun said, “there is a possibility that some of it spilled into the sea,” and later adds, “…most of the water may have poured into the sea…” As it turns out, only one of the numerous piezometers for measuring groundwater level indicated a rise to 3cm above ground-level, but Tepco pointed out that there is a much higher wall around it so there is little chance that any of the water made it to the sea. A Tepco official said, “We will analyze the seawater because we cannot determine whether groundwater containing radioactive materials has actually leaked.” None of these reports mention that the entire shoreline is covered by an impermeable wall that virtually assures there will be no outflow to the sea. Further, there is no mention of the actual contamination level in the one suspect piezometer, though it is dubbed “tainted”. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/09/21/national/typhoon-rain-raises-tainted-fukushima-plant-groundwater-near-surface/#.V-JmPNLr0dU -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201609210047.html

  • Tokyo forms another Tepco reorganization and management committee. The committee will be overseen by the Industry Ministry. It will study to what degree Tokyo should be helping TEPCO pay for decommissioning costs at F. Daiichi, as well as focus on managerial restructuring of the company’s business. Central issues concern the ever-increasing costs of decommissioning F. Daiichi and providing generous compensation to the government-mandated Fukushima evacuees. The panel’s plan is expected to be submitted by the end of March. The ministry has picked prominent business leaders as members of the committee, including Akio Mimura - chairman of the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry - and Yoshimitsu Kobayashi - chairman of the Japan Association of Corporate Executives. Company president Naomi Hirose will attend committee meetings as an observer. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/meti-to-discuss-ways-to-support-tepco-in-decommissioning-fukushima-daiichi/ -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016092000659 -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2016/09/434807.html

September 19, 2016

  • Japan creates laser technology to break up solidified corium. Corium is the re-solidified material resulting from meltdown of a nuclear fuel core. Removal of corium from F. Daiichi units #1, 2, & 3, is a problem because of the inaccessible locations of the material due to the high radiation levels in each containment (PCV).The Japan Atomic Energy Agency, Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy Ltd. and Sugino Machine Ltd. have jointly developed new laser technology that could possibly solve the problem. On September 8th, the three-party group said the technology is ''highly adaptable to decommissioning work'' because water can be sprayed to prevent contaminated dust from dispersing while the laser beam moves and cuts the debris. The dense, extremely hard corium beds need to be crushed into small pieces to effect removal and eventual disposal. The technology can cut up any thickness of the debris regardless of conditions inside PCVs, in both water-filled and dry spaces. The laser system promises to be less problematic than drills and other cutting tools for remote-control in narrow spaces, eliminating problems such as being jammed or damaging of cutting edges. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=726 (Comment – this is yet another example Japan’s popular Press ignoring something important because it can’t be spun in a negative fashion.)

September 15, 2016

  • Tepco begins disassembly of F. Daiichi unit #1’s prefabricated outer enclosure. The enclosure was erected in 2011 to stanch the release of atmospheric radioactive isotopes. It has been a complete success. Now, it is time to disassemble the structure in order to remove debris from the March 12, 2011, hydrogen explosion. This must be done to eventually move the used bundles in the spent fuel pool to the ground-level storage facility. The roof was removed last year, with the final section taken off on October 5th. After nearly a year of following ultra-cautious procedures, the first side-wall panel was removed on September 13th. It weighed 20 tons and covered nearly 400 m2. A Fukushima prefectural official said, “Steady progress is necessary in reconstruction, but we hope they will carry on the procedure with safety as the No. 1 priority.” Tepco will use tarpaulins to prevent release of airborne radioactive materials after the enclosure is fully disassembled. Tepco and Tokyo have set a 2020 target date for used fuel removal. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2016/1323201_7763.html -- http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2016/images/handouts_160913_01-e.pdf -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201609130070.html

  • Tepco posts the contamination level in the unit #1 & 2 common exhaust drain sump. The depressurizations of March 12 (unit 1) and March 13-14, 2011 (unit 2), resulted in large volumes of radioactive gasses flowing up and out of the common stack. The sump collected any condensation left behind by the exhaust gasses. The water in the pit is nearly two feet deep. Samples were taken by F. Daiichi staff and found to have the following radioactive isotopic concentrations: gross Beta activity is 6x107 Becquerels per liter, Cesium-134 is 8.3x106 Bq/l, and Cs-137 is 5.2x107 Bq/l. https://www4.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2016/images/handouts_160913_02-e.pdf

  • The plan for the licensing extension of Takahama units #1 & 2 is made public. The plan was reported to host Fukui Prefecture on September 8th. Each of the two PWR units has an output rating of 826 MWe. The major parts of the plan includes (1) installation of additional shielding inside the containment vessels, (2) replacement of refueling water tanks, (3) additional fire protection, (4) relocation of the seawater intake facility for Unit 2, and (5) installation of digital control panels. Work will begin in February and should end in November, 2019. Station owner Kansai Electric Co. said, Kansai EP reiterated, “From the perspective of the ‘3E+S approach’ (energy security, economic efficiency, and environmental protection plus safety), nuclear is a key power source. We will continue promoting it as the core of our business at power plants whose safety has been confirmed by the government, including those in operation for more than 40 years.” Takahama units #3 & 4 restarted earlier this year, but a court in a neighboring prefecture filed an injunction forcing both to be shut down because Japan’s new regulatory system cannot provide absolute assurance that no nuke accidents will ever happen again. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/kansai-ep-releases-plan-to-improve-safety-of-takahama-units-12-eyeing-sixty-years-of-operation/

September 12, 2016

  • Fukushima Medical University finds no connection between thyroid cancer and the nuke accident. Professor of Epidemiology Tetsuya Ohira reported, “At the present stage, we have found no evidence pointing to any relationship between More than 300,000 children have been screened with state-of-the-art ultrasound technology. The children’s records were divided into three groups; (1) those in which one percent or more of the people had an external radiation dose of 5mSv or more, (2) those where 99.9% or more of the people had an external radiation dose of 1mSv or less, and (3) all others. Less than 0.01% of the children tested positive for thyroid anomalies in all three groupings. The similar rates between the three exposure groups showed there was no correlation with the nuke accident releases. Professor Ohira explained, “We had already released findings on the prevalence of thyroid malignancies or possible malignancies by area, including Nakadori, Aizu and Hamadori. This time, we divided the municipalities by radiation doses for comparison. What is significant is that there was no difference by area or individual.” The team also reported that 112 of the cohort were found to have nodules that tested positive for carcinoma. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/external-radiation-exposure-found-to-be-unrelated-to-prevalence-of-thyroid-cancer-in-minors-aged-18-and-younger/ -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201609100031.html

  • A fund is started to support to the families of Fukushima children with positive screenings. The “3/11 Children’s Fund for Thyroid Cancer” will begin accepting donations on September 20th. The money is intended to cover medical expenses for child thyroid cancers in Fukushima and neighboring prefectures. The fund hopes to give each family $500 (50,000 yen). Lawyer Hiroyuki Kawai says, “They are struggling to pay medical bills. I don’t think ¥50,000 will be enough for them, but they are impoverished and are struggling, and even that amount will be of help.” Kawai conveniently overlooks the fact that all thyroid exams and medical expenses are covered by Fukushima Prefecture. He also fails to acknowledge that all but one of the positive tests are indolent (not malignant) and probably never develop into full-blown thyroid cancer. Japan Times says 380,000 Fukushima children have been tested since 2011, but does not say where they got the number from. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/09/09/national/fund-started-help-fukushima-thyroid-cancer-patients-cover-expenses/#.V9KkmdLr0dU

  • Namie evacuees are allowed to go home for short stays. Namie was ordered to become a ghost-town by Tokyo in 2011, under the antinuclear regime of PM Naoto Kan. The limited “short stay” program began September 1st. Just over 300 residents applied for permission to exploit the opportunity, but only a few actually did it during the first two days. The stays only allow the residents to go home for several hours per day. One resident said, "The special stay program is important to pave the way for reconstruction." Namie Mayor Tamotsu Baba said, "I hope townspeople will stay at their homes, remembering the town's atmosphere before the disaster." http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=722 (Comment – once again, the Japanese Press at-large ignores a positive news story. It was only carried by Fukushima Minpo, which is circulated only in Fukushima Prefecture.)

  • 99.9% of Japanese foods were well-below national standards for radioactivity in 2015. Seventeen northern prefectures have had their farm and marine products tested since the nuke accident. A Food Safety Policy Division official said, "The cesium levels of 99.99 percent of vegetables, tubers and roots have dropped below 25 becquerels. There must be farm products for which we can scale down inspections if cultivation management continues to be carried out properly as in the past." A non-profit group official said, "No matter how you look at it, it is excessive to inspect all cattle. Even if the scope of inspections is scaled down, there will be no change in risks involving beef." Many feel that since the risk of cesium contamination is extremely low, funds for tests should be used for fighting disease-causing germs of a much higher risk.  Japan’s radiocesium limit of 100 Becquerels per kilogram is ten times lower than the European Union, and 12 times lower than America’s 1,200 Bq/kg standard. More than 260,000 items were tested in 2015, and only a smattering of wild vegetables, meats, and seafood failed to pass the test. Of the 264 items that failed, 259 were wild mushrooms, freshwater fish, and other “hard to control” foodstuffs. None of the seafood taken from waters offshore from Fukushima Prefectures were above-standard. Regardless, food producers continue to complain about public radiophobia hurting business. One said, "We are still suffering from groundless rumors." http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160909/p2a/00m/0na/023000c

  • Nearly 200,000 tons of F. Daiichi’s stored water has been stripped of radioactive Strontium. More than 720,000 tons have been run through the multi-stage purification system (ALPS), but detectible levels of Sr-90 remain after the process. Tepco added a Strontium-stripping technology to allay public fears. Once stripped of SR-90, all that remains is biologically-harmless Tritium. While scientific evidence shows that the Sr-90 stripped water should be discharged to the sea, local fisheries fear that unfounded rumors would further damage the market for seafood. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/betu16_e/images/160909e0101.pdf

  • Governor Satoshi Mitazono told Kyodo News he will might annul his demand to shutter Sendai station. Kagoshima’s governor said, "Thinking realistically, time is short before (the reactors will go through) regular checkups," during which the “concerns” of his supporters can be addressed. Meanwhile, Japan’s largest newspaper says these concerns lack proof. The Yomiuri Shimbun says Mitazono’s shuttering demand have no specificity as to where quake-induced safety problems might exist. Thus, his actions are judged to be “demagogic” – appealing to popular prejudices rather than rational argument. The Yomiuri asks, “Isn’t Mitazono himself fanning the flames of fear among local residents? Isn’t he trying to suspend the plant’s operation for reasons not based on relevant information?” The newspaper says the governor’s actions are “nothing but a political maneuver, apparently with opponents of nuclear power plants in mind.”  http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2016/09/433086.html -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003208802

September 8, 2016

The status of the Fukushima Daiichi “ice wall” has been a major news story this week. The Press claims the wall is failing due to accelerated rainwater run-off. Tepco’s regularly-posted data on in-ground temperatures show that the run-off has caused some superficial thawing. Obviously, Japan’s Press continues to doubt Tepco’s honesty.

  • Actual F. Daiichi “ice wall” data reveals it is not melting. Over the past weekend, Japan’s Press made it seem as if the frozen earth wall surrounding the basements of F. Daiichi’s four damaged units was melting due to the series of typhoons that have struck the Tohoku coast. However, the data posted on 8/25 shows that melting occurred only at the surface, and the rainwater had absolutely no impact at depth. More than 95% of the already frozen locations showed little or no surface thawing. Most of the remainder show it in the top meter of the 30-meter wall. A few of the locations on the inland stretch softened deeper than one meter, with two of the more than 1,500 locations down to five meters, and one spot to a depth of nine meters. In other words, none of the F. Daiichi ice wall has not come close to fully melting. Once again, we Japan’s Press has exaggerated to the maximum.  https://www4.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2016/images/handouts_160825_01-e.pdf   The 9/8/16 postings show that all twenty of the readings in strategically-placed “temperature monitors” are now below 0o Celsius. Only the few locations near one of land-side wall sections where freezing is not allowed by Tokyo is thawed to a depth of more than six meters. All other locations seem to have recovered from the temperature dips experienced with the most recent typhoon. https://www4.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2016/images/handouts_160908_01-e.pdf

  • Also in the above link, we find that the injection of concrete into the slowly freezing locations is working. One of the five former problem locations is now fully frozen, and the other four are steadily showing a steady trend which is approaching 0oC. Unfortunately, none of Japan’s Press outlets have reported this.

  • The Mainichi Shimbun believes the “ice wall” resembles a “bamboo screen”. In complete disregard for the data showing the thawing of the ice wall is superficial (above), the Mainichi says, “The ice wall has holes in it.” There are generally two reasons behind the editorial. First, “There has been almost no drop in the amount of radioactive water produced.” But, the Mainichi fails to believe Tepco’s continual posting that the ice wall is not supposed to stop the production of contaminated water because nearly all of it comes from leaks out of the reactor cooling systems. Second, a bevy of mostly-anonymous “experts” are evoked. One un-named person says, "TEPCO's claim that the ice wall is highly effective at blocking the water flow is utterly bankrupt." Nagoya Professor Akira Asaoka, is even more provocative, "The ice wall isn't really a 'wall' per say, but more like a bamboo screen, which has gaps. It's obvious that the ice wall's ability to block water is poor.” In both cases, the actual intent of the barrier is completely ignored. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160907/p2a/00m/0na/011000c

On Wednesday, lead stories in all of the Japanese Press outlets we scan on a daily basis give the antinuclear Kagoshima governor free publicity. In our last posting, (9/5/16) we covered Kyushu Electric Co.’s respectful rejection of the governor’s unprecedented demand to shutter two perfectly-safe nukes because some of his constituents don’t believe Sendai #1 & 2 were unaffected by an earthquake centered 100 kilometers away, and 50 times weaker than the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011. A few Japanese news outlets covered the Kyushu Electric rejection. However, the governor’s immediate re-demand has been reported by all news outlets. There can be little doubt that Wednesday’s Press conference held by the governor was pre-planned and well-orchestrated in order to cater to the antinuclear agenda held by all Japanese news media. Here are a few examples…

  • The Asahi Shimbun says the governor was “stung by an earlier rejection”. Governor Satoshi Mitazono said, “As the governor, I have to protect the safety of residents,” and told Kyushu Electric to “make a bold decision [to immediately shut down Sendai station]. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201609070038.html

  • Japan News [Yomiuri Shimbun] reported that the governor’s demands are due to some local residents “are voicing concerns about evacuation in case of an emergency.” Mitazono demanded that Kyushu Electric “consider and report on measures to help secure roads for evacuation…” http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003198683

  • Jiji Press reported the governor said, "I request again that the reactors be stopped as soon as possible for renewed (safety) checkups and verifications."  Then Jiji cites Kyushu Electric’s President Maichiari Uriu’s response, "We would like to review your request from the standpoint of lessening local residents' anxieties and enhancing the safety and credibility of the nuclear power plant." http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016090700391

Now, for some other Fukushima and related news…

  • Former USNRC Chair Dale Klein says Japan should release all purified F. Daiichi water to the sea. He calls for a controlled release, meaning it should be done at a relatively slow pace. Unfortunately, Klein feeds the Press’ continual fixation on the unfounded fear of a large accidental release when he says, “It is much better to do a controlled release in my view than to have an accidental release. I get nervous about just storing all that water when you have about a thousand tanks. You have all the piping, all the valves, everything that can break.” All that remains after full treatment of the water is biologically-innocuous Tritium, a naturally-occurring isotope of Hydrogen. Klein admits that a rapid release “will not be a safety issue, but it will be an emotional issue. A lot of people are not going to know what tritium is and they’re just going to perceive that the water is glowing in the dark.” http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-09-05/treated-fukushima-water-safe-for-release-tepco-adviser-says  (Comment – Catering to unfounded fears and misconceptions only insures their continuation. IMHO, just do it! When nothing negative happens, the public will understand there is nothing to fear and the Tritium issue can be put to bed.)

  • A former prime minister calls PM Shinzo Abe a “liar” about Fukushima safety. Former PM Junichiro Koizumi blasted current PM Shinzo Abe over his 2013 remark that the situation at Fukushima Daiichi was "under control," calling it a "lie." Koizumi made his claim to about 180 journalists at a Press conference held by Tokyo’s Foreign Correspondence Club of Japan. Koizumi said Abe’s claim of control at F. Daiichi was an “outright lie” intended to help get Tokyo to 2020 Olympics. He also attacked Japan’s nuclear industry, saying, “The nuclear power industry says safety is their top priority, but profit is in fact what comes first.” In addition, Koizumi voiced his continued support of US sailors’ claims of radiation-caused health effects from very minor exposures during the US Navy assistance in the 2011 “Operation Tomodachi”. Koizumi shared his reason for helping the ~400 US sailors, “I’m not a doctor, but using common sense one can infer their conditions were caused by radiation, since strong and healthy sailors just don’t find tumors or suffer from conditions like nasal hemorrhages.” (Aside – That’s right. He is not a doctor! If he were, he would realize that there is no medical or scientific basis for the sailors’ claims. - End aside) He has set up a fund to provide the sailors with enough money to allegedly pay medical expenses, hoping to raise $1 million. He says he has already garnered $400,000. Koizumi is fanatically antinuclear, arguing that his support for nukes during his term as PM from 2001-2006 was because the industry lied to his government about safety. He lamented, "I became ashamed how I had believed such lies. They said Japan was safe. And that simply was not true." http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201609070073.html -- https://www.navytimes.com/articles/sick-us-sailors-and-marines-who-blame-radiation-get-support-from-japans-ex-leader -- http://www.foxnews.com/health/2016/09/07/japans-ex-leader-backs-sick-us-sailors-who-blame-radiation.html (Comment - The Associated Press’ giving Koizumi free publicity is not a surprise. The AP has exposed its decidedly antinuclear underbelly since well-before the Fukushima accident. However, Navy Times giving Koizumi coverage is a total disappointment considering the US Navy has repudiated all of the sailor’s claims.)

September 5, 2016

  • Ten percent of Naraha’s population has returned home. Tokyo’s evacuation order was rescinded last year, allowing the pre-evacuation population of over 7,000 to return. Only 681 have taken advantage of the opportunity, but it is a start. A town official said, “We expect the town’s population to go up in steps.” Mayor Yukiei Matsumoto says the town may have been overly optimistic, “With our expectations, we somewhat inflated the repatriation goal,” but he expects accelerated repopulation once more infrastructure is effected. Naraha’s radiation level is actually only half of that in the prefectural capital, Fukushima City – 0.1 micro sievert per hour vs. 0.23 µSv/hr. But, residents still say they fear residual F. Daiichi radiation, especially with respect to children. One Naraha grandfather said, “Work is still under way at the plant to prepare for decommissioning, and we are concerned about radiation exposure. We cannot encourage our grandchildren to return.” More than half of those who have returned are age 65 or older. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201609050042.html

  • NHK World says F. Daiichi fuel remains molten, which is not true. Internationally-popular NHK World makes the following statements, “Japan's academic societies are soliciting robot technologies that will allow direct surveying of molten fuel in the crippled nuclear reactors in Fukushima,” and, “Removing the molten fuel is considered the most difficult step in dismantling the plant.” In fact, NHK used the term “molten fuel” four times in the brief article. Nowhere is it stated that the formerly melted fuel re-solidified once cooling water flow was re-introduced in units #1, 2, & 3 by March 15, 2011!! NHK is usually reliable with its Fukushima reports, but they dropped the ball on this one. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160904_12/

  • Japan’s Press fixates on F. Daiichi ice wall melting due to typhoons. The Asahi Shimbun reports that typhoons hitting the Tohoku coast this summer have caused some surface melting of the frozen soil surrounding the four damaged units at F. Daiichi. The newspaper makes it sound as if the entire project is a failure when it says, “TEPCO admitted the underground wall of frozen dirt is not working.” However, that’s not what Tepco actually said. The company reported that partial melting happened at two sections of the more than 1,000 refrigerant pipes in the earth. In addition, the newspaper posts that the minor, largely superficial melting allowed contaminated groundwater to leak from around the building basements and flow into the Pacific. But, Tepco actually said in might have caused some of the groundwater to move “toward the sea” – not into it. Also, a less than three inch temporary rise in groundwater level at the steel and concrete, sea-side impermeable wall is made to seem as a precursor to a catastrophic outflow into the ocean. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201609020020.html

  • American Dale Klein criticizes the obsession with Tepco’s non-use of the word “meltdown”. Beginning in June, Japan’s Press and some Tohoku governments have loudly complained because Tepco followed Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s March, 2011 order to not mention the word in Press conferences. Dale Klein, head of Japan’s Nuclear Reform Monitoring Committee, told Japan’s Press, “They [Tepco] were trying to bring the reactor into a safe situation. Their focus was on safety or safe operation, not necessarily a choice of words.” Klein added that the US NRC “typically do not use the word meltdown.” Japan’s Press says Klein is downplaying the issue - making it seem less important than it should be. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/09/03/national/expert-plays-tepco-presidents-order-not-use-term-meltdown-2011-nuclear-crisis/#.V8rCBdLr0dU (Comment – The obvious reason behind wanting the word “meltdown” used during a nuke plant crisis is so that paranoiac residents can flee at first flinch. It doesn’t matter whether or not the local public is really endangered. It doesn’t matter that the chaotic nuclear evacuation caused more deaths than the tsunami in Fukushima Prefecture. It seems that many public officials and Japanese Press outlets condone public over-reaction.)

  • Kyushu Electric Co. rebuffs the governor’s demand for immediate shutdown of Sendai #1 & 2. On August 26, Governor Satoshi Mitazono of Kagoshima Prefecture directed the utility to suspend operation of Sendai units #1 & 2. He said that an increasing number of his constituents were afraid an earthquake, centered more than 100 km away, had compromised safety. Further, the plant staff’s inspections during operation were insufficient to allay the fears. Today, Kyushu’s President Mishiaki Uriu gave the governor a written reply, respectfully declining to comply with Mitazono’s demand. Uriu said that special inspections would take place for each unit during the scheduled refueling and refurbishment outages in October (unit 1) and December (unit 2). In addition, the governor’s stated concerns will be addressed by increasing quake observation points, improve the utility’s public disclosure of information, and add more vehicles to the public evacuation fleet. Mitazono said he found Kyushu Electric’s reply regrettable, and added a new demand to the mix, “I want you (Kyushu Electric) to renounce the belief that nuclear plants are safe.” http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160905_20/ -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003194869

  • An Ikata nuke plant evacuation drill is successful. 400 volunteer Ikata residents tested the plans to gather at Misaki Port on the peninsula (Cape Sada) to await maritime evacuation. All of the volunteers arrived at the nearby assembly point within an hour of the start of the drill. Actual ferrying of the people to Oita Prefecture across the Sato Inland Sea was successfully tested last November.  Ikata unit #3 restarted August 12th, and has been running at full power for nearly three weeks. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016090400123

  • The NRA posts its decision on burial of high-level nuclear waste. The Nuclear regulation Authority says radioactive debris resulting from nuclear unit decommissioning must be buried at least 70 meters deep for 100,000 years. Conclusive data shows that used nuclear fuel bundles decay to below naturally occurring Uranium levels in about 500 years…not 100 centuries. Thus, the decision follows the NRA’s typically over-reactive and absurdly conservative socio-political agenda, catering to the Press at-large and millions of Japanese experiencing extreme radiophobia; believing that even the most miniscule level of radioactivity is a certifiable death threat. The NRA has radioactive wastes divided into four categories, depending on radiation levels; extremely high, high (L1), comparatively low (L2) and extremely low (L3). The NRA decision applies to L1 material, which is largely used nuclear fuel bundles that are not recycled. The nuclear utilities will be responsible for managing the disposal for 300-400 years, and Tokyo for the remainder of the 100,000 year period.  http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201609020034.html

  • Some 1,300 of Japan’s antinukes gather in Niigata Prefecture to protest the governor’s decision to not seek re-election. Governor Izumida has continually asserted that the causes of the Fukushima accident must be verified before he would ever allow resumption of operations, openly ignoring the numerous studies that have already occurred since 2011. The antinuclear stalwarts want Governor Hirohiko Izumida to rescind his decision to not run for re-election. They feel he is the “last bastion” against restart of two Kashiwazaki-Kariwa units. As with all national elections since March, 2011, the antinukes want to make their nuclear-critical agenda the no.1 issue. The organizing committee’s formal declaration says, “We will make the issue of the nuclear power plant the biggest point of contention,” and they will “not allow candidates” to conceal the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa restart issue. The only apparent candidate is not overtly antinuclear, and anyone who is not blatantly antinuclear is labeled a pro-nuke in Japan. Nagaoka mayor Tamio Mori is the candidate, and says, “I will strictly examine it [the K-K restart] based on protecting the security and safety of people in the prefecture.” But, this is not fanatic nuclear-phobes attending the gathering. A Niigata City resident made this obvious by saying, “It will be a problem for me if there are no candidates I can vote for based on my thoughts against the reactor restarts. I want a political situation in which we can choose a candidate [who is antinuclear].” The Nuclear Regulation Authority is currently screening the restart. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201609040026.html

September 1, 2016

  • Almost 100% of Fukushima rice harvested in 2015 had no detectible contamination. Of the more than 10 million bags tested that year, 99.99% contained no detectible radioactive Cesium. None of the few with detectible radiocesium exceeded the national marketing standard of 100 Becquerels per kilogram. 2015 was the first harvest where no tested bags exceeded the limit. Fukushima Prefecture found 71 bags (0.0007%) over the limit in 2012, 28 bags (0.0003%) in 2013 and two bags (0.00002%) in 2014. The prefecture says one reason for the historically-low percentage of above-standard tests is the use of potassium chloride-based fertilizer that retards absorbance of Cesium. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=719

  • 99% of Fukushima-area fish and shell-fish have no detectible F. Daiichi radioactive Cesium. In Tepco’s latest monthly data posting, only one of 89 caught fish showed barely detectible Cesium-134; the “fingerprint” isotope for F. Daiichi contamination. The one stone flounder recorded less than one Becquerel per kilogram above minimum detectability. The fish was taken 15 kilometers from F. Daiichi, offshore of Odaka ward in Fukushima Prefecture. Meanwhile, five of the seventeen fish caught inside the F. Daiichi break-wall contained detectible Cs-134, but only two (a marbled sole and a greenling) contained more than the 100 Bq/kg limit for marketing in Japan. https://www4.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2016/images/fish02_160824-e.pdf -- https://www4.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2016/images/fish01_160824-e.pdf (Comment - It is important to note that the limit for radio-Cesium contamination in the United States is 1,200 Bq/kg.)

  • Okuma Town will offer its municipal property for the temporary contaminated rural waste facility. Okuma is one of the two F. Daiichi host communities, along with Futaba. The town office says they will offer 95 hectares of municipally-owned land to the Environment Ministry for the interim storage site. This will be about 10% of the total Okuma land area that Tokyo wants to use for the facility. The town expects to show the plan to the municipal assembly in September and then explain it to townspeople. Among the land plots to be offered to the ministry are schoolyards, including a 1-hectare tract inside the Fureai Park Okuma sport facility, as well as community halls and municipal housing. The ministry says they would like to purchase the land once the formal offer is made, but the Town office has yet to decide on a leasing option which will allow the property to be re-used after the 30-year facility closes. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=720

  • A miniscule cooling water leak at Ikata unit #2 makes headlines. Ikata #2 staff found a three centimeter long crack on a pipe. Owner Shikoku Electric Company says that about 10 milliliters (one-third ounce) of radioactive liquid had oozed from the crack. Tests show that the leaked water contained boric acid, which is used in reactor coolant to assist in power-level control. Unit #2 has been shuttered since January, 2012. Unit #3 is currently at full power and preparing for commercial operation, but the company says there is no indication of a similar issue there. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160901_27/

  • Is being antinuclear more important than a governor’s possible political impropriety? It seems to be that way with Japan’s Press. Niigata Governor Hirohiko Izumida announced he will not seek a fourth consecutive term in office, citing his displeasure with the Niigata Nippo, a local daily newspaper, over a dispute involving a shipping company funded by the prefecture. However, Japan’s Press makes the fact that the governor is antinuclear the lead in the posted articles. For example, the Mainichi Shimbun headline reads, “Niigata Pref. nuclear power opponent governor won't stand for re-election”. Another news outlet, Japan Times, runs the headline, “Governors’ moves muddle reactor restart bids”. Even the nuclear-neutral Yomiuri Shimbun makes the governor’s antinuclear stance the focus of its report. Why are they shifting journalistic focus? Because the only other person to have declared himself a gubernatorial candidate is Nagaoka Mayor Tamio Mori, who is said to be pronuclear. Thus, the prefecture’s antinuclear demographic is scrambling to find an opponent to Mori that will support their “no-nukes” agenda. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160831/p2a/00m/0na/008000c -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/08/31/national/governors-moves-muddle-reactor-restart-bids/#.V8bUzNLr0dU -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003184399 

  • At long last, a Japanese news source posts a wholly-objective report on the Kagoshima governor wanting to immediately shut Sendai station. Japan Atomic Industrial Forum reports that Gov. Satoshi Mitazono claims that “safety in the event of an earthquake had not been fully ascertained.” However, JAIF states the Nuclear Regulation Authority has inspected and reasserted that the Kumamoto earthquake in April in no way compromised safety at Sendai. In fact, NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka responded to the Governor’s plea to shut down the station until another inspection can be effected, saying, “What would be inspected again?” JAIF adds that all safety inspections can be made with equal confidence if the plant is operating or not. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/kagoshima-governor-asks-for-temporary-suspension-of-operation-of-sendai-npps/

August 29, 2016

  • F. Daiichi prepares for Typhoon Lionrock. The storm has winds of 140 km/hr, producing high wave action and torrential rains. Tepco staff is securing cables and hoses while awaiting the brunt of the typhoon, which is expected to hit tomorrow. All work with cranes will be suspended, as well as efforts in the port area. If the storm stiffens, all other outdoor work could be cancelled. Portable pumps are being installed to keep groundwater levels from increasing. Plant staff is also double-checking the new rainwater drainage channel that sends run-off to the inner port and the barriers around contaminated water storage tanks. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160829_22/

  • Fukushima Prefecture opens two bus stops inside Iitate village, which remains under Tokyo evacuation mandate. Most of Iitate will have its living restrictions lifted in March and residents are allowed to stay at their homes on a “trial basis”. So, the bus company has opened the stations to facilitate repopulation. The bus line runs from Fukushima City and Kawamoto Town to Minamisoma City, on the coast. The route has been passing through Iitate, but no stops have been part of the line until now. Iitate resident Masui Shoji, who has exploited the opportunity to go home with her husband, said, “Now we can go to the Haramachi district (of Minamisoma) in a casual manner” to go shopping. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=715

  • Kagoshima’s governor calls for shuttering Sendai units #1 & #2. Governor Satoshi Mitazono met Kyushu Electric Company president Michiaki Uriu on Friday and submitted a formal request, which said, "As an operator of nuclear power plants, the company has a duty to sincerely listen and response (sic) to the concerns of local residents. The company should temporarily suspend the nuclear plant and re-examine safety." Mitazono says his constituents are worried about two operating Sendai units because of the April Kumamoto Earthquake. He wants the nukes shut down and a complete check of all safety equipment before subsequent restarts. Mitazono demanded that Kyushu Electric “respond to the anxiety of people in the prefecture [over nuclear power generation].” Kyushu Electric and the Nuclear Regulation Authority have reported that the quake had absolutely no impact on the Sendai units. In fact, Katsumi Matsuura of the NRA said there have been no safety problems at Sendai station and the agency has no plans to respond to the governor’s request. Kyushu Electric’s formal response is not likely until next month. It is also expected that the company will respectfully decline the governor’s request because shutting them down now makes little sense since both units are scheduled for refueling outages in October and December, respectively. It is important to note that Mitazono is a former commentator for decidedly-antinuclear Asahi TV. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160826_24/ -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201608260058.html -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016082600602 -- http://www.reuters.com/article/us-japan-nuclear-kyushu-elec-pwr-idUSKCN1110WH (Comment - The Japanese Press makes it seems that regulations require the outages in October and December. Nothing could be further from the truth! Japan’s nukes are designed for partial refueling every thirteen months. It’s a technological requirement. Politics has nothing to do with it. Unfortunately, Reuters also gives the same incorrect impression in its report.)

  • On Saturday, Japan’s largest newspaper was sharply critical of the Kagoshima governor. The Yomiuri Shimbun suggests Gov. Mitazono is merely appealing to antinuclear forces that supported his election. The news outlet asks, “Is it acceptable for Mitazono to merely emphasize ‘anxiety’ as the reason?” The Yomiuri answers its own question, saying, “It is beyond our comprehension that Mitazono has not explained in concrete terms what dangers the nuclear power station poses. The Nuclear Regulation Authority has already screened all of the items that he said were in need of verification and confirmed their safety. The jolts observed on the premises of the Sendai power station during the Kumamoto Earthquake were far smaller than the figures assumed in evaluations of seismic capacity. No abnormalities with the equipment and facilities were found even in the inspection conducted by Kyushu Electric immediately after the earthquakes.” The Yomiuri has a circulation of over 14 million. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003177778

  • Two major drills prove public evacuation is safe and workable. More than 7,000 residents from within 30 kilometers of Takahama station participated in an evacuation drill on Saturday, including Fukui and Kyoto Prefectures. Roughly 2,000 people in also took part destination-prefectures Shiga and Hyogo. Participants living within 5 kilometers of Takahama station immediately left their homes upon being told a hypothetical earthquake had cut off all power to the nuke. Those in a 5-30 kilometer radius sheltered until an imaginary radioactive plume had passed, and then they began their evacuation. This was the first nuclear evacuation drill to include more than one prefecture. On Sunday, another drill was successfully staged for the Oi nuclear station. About 1,700 persons were involved. Only residents of Fukui Prefecture within 30 kilometers of the nuke were involved. Small parts of Shiga and Kyoto Prefectures are in the Emergency Planning Zone, but evacuation plans for both have yet to be completed, so they did not take part.  http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160827/p2a/00m/0na/011000c -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003178439 -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016082700226 -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016082800113

  • Tepco apologizes to Niigata Prefecture for concealing the “meltdown” term during the first weeks of the Fukushima accident. There is little doubt that the company was ordered to censor the word by then-PM Naoto Kan, but Tepco has nonetheless been taking the heat in the Press. Tepco’s Executive Officer Takafumi Anegawa met Niigata Governor Hirohiko Izumida and apologized for not having presented a report based on adequate investigation. Gov. Izumida said information on meltdowns is critical for residents living near nuclear power plants to decide whether to flee or not. Niigata Prefecture is about 100 kilometers west of F. Daiichi, and well-outside the government-mandated evacuation zone. However, the governor has refused to discuss restarts at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa station until he is satisfied that a full Fukushima investigation has been done. A joint Niigata-Tepco investigation will begin in about a week. Izumidi said it is too soon to discuss resuming operations at K-K without this essentially-redundant review of the accident. The company needs to restart at least two K-K units to greatly assist the dire cash-flow problem caused by recovery from the F. Daiichi accident and Tokyo’s nuclear moratorium. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160825_21/

  • A Fukushima City home was built atop bags of contaminated rural waste. The couple who built the home say the bags cannot be removed because the house might end up leaning. The owners believe the city is at fault for providing them with inaccurate sketches of the property. The couple says, "Far from admitting responsibility and apologizing, they haven't even tried to examine the site. They have also been reluctant to release information, and have acted extremely insincerely." The drawings showed the buried bags were located away from the center of the plot. The owners avoided the indicated burial spot when they built in 2013, but the bags were actually nearer the center of the land. A city official commented that the decontaminated soil was supposed to be removed quickly and the officials had not expected it to be there until the time a land transaction was made and a home built. The news report failed to state the radiation levels and the contamination concentration of the bagged material. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160829/p2a/00m/0na/011000c

 

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