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Fukushima 107... 11/28/16-12/26/16


December 26, 2016

  • Tepco releases a video of drilling through the unit #2 Primary Containment wall. The drilling unit is shown being positioned by remote control, and ends with a brief view of the actual drilling. Unfortunately, there is no explanatory handout and the video has no sound. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/news/library/archive-e.html?video_uuid=e5z65pib&catid=61785  In addition, there is a picture of the cap on the hole that was drilled. (Incorrectly titled “Freezing condition of the Landside Impermeable Wall”)  http://photo.tepco.co.jp/library/161226_01/161226_01.jpg

  • Used fuel removal for Unit #3 is officially postponed. The transfer of 566 fuel bundles to the ground level spent fuel storage facility was scheduled to begin in January, 2018. But, clearing away debris has taken longer than expected, and refueling deck radiation levels have not dropped as much as hoped. A new timetable will be posted in a few weeks. It was initially projected that the bundle removal project would begin in 2015. However, rumors of radioactive dust stirred up by the debris clearing being carried to local rice paddies by the wind, forced major delays. As time passes, radiation levels constantly diminish, which will be considered when making the new schedule. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201612230043.html 

  • Violent protests occur in Taiwan over possibly lifting the post-Fukushima food ban. President Tsai Ing-wen proposed three public hearings to debate whether or not to continue banning foods shipped from Fukushima, Ibaraki, Gunma, Tochigi, and Chiba prefectures. Ing-wen wants to lift the bans on all but Fukushima. However, the powerful Kuomintang Party (KMT) carefully planned two public demonstrations on Christmas Day to oppose rescinding any of the bans. Hundreds of protestors physically clashed with police at the hearing venue in Taipei City. A large sign called Ing-wen “Japan’s servile follower” and demanded her immediate resignation. KMT members inside the facility pounded on tables and shouted in order to disrupt proceedings. KMT Vice Chairman Hau Lung-bin argued that Sunday’s hearing was “illegal” and “meaningless” because the government had already planned to ease the ban. He says relaxing the ban is a bargaining chip for a new trade deal with Japan. KMT legislator Wang Yu-min said the government cannot ensure absolute safety of the foods from the five prefectures because some soy sauce had recently entered Taiwan illegally. The KMT said 10,000 people were prepared to march on the Ministry of Finance Building should the second scheduled public hearing be held, so Ing-wen cancelled it. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/12/25/national/politics-diplomacy/taiwan-hearing-japan-food-ban-canceled-erupting-chaos/#.WF_gbNK7odU -- http://focustaiwan.tw/news/asoc/201612240008.aspx

December 22, 2016

  • Tepco posts a Press handout on the cover for unit #3 fuel bundle removal. There are a few excellent pictures of the “stopper” being delivered by sea. The “stopper” appears to be the main supporting structure for the domed roof. The images also reveal that the inner quay’s barricading is not compromised when materials shipped by sea are off-loaded from barges. https://www4.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2016/images/handouts_161220_01-e.pdf

  • Fukushima InFORM’s 2016 biotic monitoring shows no radioactive Cesium from Fukushima. Specifically, no detectible Cesium-134 was found in 123 salmon specimens, nor the meat of scallops, mussels, oysters, and clams. Although tiny concentrations of Cs-137 from post-WWII weapon’s testing were identified in nine of the salmon, the levels were so miniscule that the nine fish had to be scanned for six hours in order to find anything. InFORM plans to freeze-dry future samples in order to make the gamma-spectrometry periods much longer, lowering the minimum detectability level. With shellfish, the meat was not only devoid of detectible Cesium radioactivity, but also the shells. However, the levels of naturally occurring Potassium-40 were easily detected in the shellfish meat at 90 mSv/kilogram. https://fukushimainform.ca/2016/12/20/2016-biotic-monitoring-results-no-fukushima-contamination-detected-in-salmon-or-shellfish/

  • Hiroshima University pledges increased medical support for Fukushima’s Futaba Region. Early next year, the university will begin support for local healthcare activities, in partnership with Fukushima Medical University. The Futaba region comprises eight communities, all of which were either partially or fully evacuated by Tokyo mandate in 2011; Futaba, Hirono, Namie, Naraha, Okuma, Tomioka, Katsurao, and Kawauchi. All but Katsurao and Kawauchi are coastal and suffered severe tsunami damage, injuries, and deaths. Hiroshima University will also assist in establishing a regional medical center. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=769

  • Two more new technology programs are planned for Fukushima recovery. One is a testing area for “autonomous driving” in Minamisoma, and the other is a drone testing base in Tamura City. Both cities suffered mandated evacuations in 2011. The autonomous driving program will be run by the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, with a planned five kilometer route using a driverless bus in 2018. The route will be through the Odaka District, which had its evacuation order lifted last July. The drone testing will be run by Keio University, and train students at Tamura’s Funehiki High School to safety fly the drones. The project could begin as soon as next spring to make home deliveries for the elderly and assistance in land surveys. It is hoped that the two programs will stimulate repopulation of formerly evacuated areas, which has been disappointing up to now. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=768 -- http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=767

  • A Tokyo government committee submits a new policy report for Fukushima recovery. For one thing, up to 2.4 trillion yen for compensation pay-outs will be covered by fees charged to electricity suppliers using Tepco’s power grid. At this point, 65 trillion yen has been doled out in compensation, with 28 trillion for personal indemnification and 32 trillion to corporations and property owners. (The current exchange rate is roughly 118 yen per USD) Every yen was to be repaid by Tepco, but Tokyo now admits that the burden is probably too great for any single utility to overcome. In addition, Tokyo will pay the bill for decontaminating the seven municipalities where repopulation is delayed because they are considered to have radiation levels that are too high. This decision is in response to PM Shinzo Abe’s statement that he wants all related cabinet ministers “to cooperate to set out a concrete path to help Fukushima achieve reconstruction as soon as possible." The 2017 budget will allocate about $250 million for the first year of the decontamination effort. However, the $36 billion already spent will be billed to the Tepco. Finally, the panel states that Tepco should work to improve “profitability” to pay for the Tokyo-mandated recovery costs. This includes the to-date cost of decontamination, decommissioning the plant, and most of the compensation payments. The current estimate of the total cost stands at ~180 billion USD. Other policy measures include continued support for Fukushima companies affected by the nuclear accident, measures to quell misinformation about radiation, and steps to prevent bullying of school children evacuated from Fukushima.  https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20161220_33/ -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20161222_21/ -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003417790 -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016122000532 -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016122000430

  • Non-Tepco employees at F. Daiichi give highly positive ratings on their working environment. Over all, more than 90% of the responses to ten questions about the work environment rated either good or reasonably good. The survey was offered to nearly 7,000 non-Tepco workers between August and October of 2016, and almost 6,200 responded. Only usability of break rooms and health care measures showed a small drop in popularity since the last survey, run the first half of 2016. https://www4.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2016/images/handouts_161222_01-e.pdf

  • Japan and Great Britain sign a nuclear energy memorandum of understanding. The MOU opens the door for Japanese companies to build nuke plants in Great Britain. It also allows for Japan to be involved in British decommissioning, decontamination, research and development, and security measures. Tokyo is considering state-backed financial assistance of up to $85 billion for nuke plant construction in Great Britain. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2016/12/450615.html

  • It’s official; the Monju fast breeder (FBR) will be fully decommissioned. This occurred despite continued opposition by Fukui Governor Issei Nishikawa. Tokyo also said it will supervise the scrapping of Monju and development of FBRs will continue. Nishikawa remains at-odds with the plan. He demanded that Tokyo get consent of the local governments around the Monju site before beginning the decommissioning. A senior ministry official said, “There has been a certain level of progress,” before the decision was made, and that local communities would be informed of the condition of Monju. But, Nishikawa insists that “the government is not reflecting enough on their actions regarding Monju” and the “the decommissioning is unacceptable without local understanding.” He added that the government’s promise to handle the decommissioning is not convincing, “The explanation is inadequate, and cannot be accepted whatsoever.” It seems the main reason for Tokyo’s decision is financial. The estimated cost of decommissioning is $3.2 billion, while the projected bill for upgrading the facility to meet Japan’s new regulations is $4.6 billion. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003419927 -- http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/ministers-decide-to-decommission-monju-over-three-decades-requiring-usd3-2-billion/

December 19, 2016

  • Fukushima Prefecture will allow some evacuees to live in public housing after 2018. Many evacuation orders are scheduled to be lifted next year, disqualifying thousands of evacuee families from public housing after April, 2018. However, those with work and/or school commitments beyond the 2018 termination date in their new locations may be able to move into vacant public housing units. Removal of an evacuation order does not guarantee that they can make an immediate, permanent return home. The government will accept evacuees on a priority basis if there are empty public housing units available. There are almost 5,000 such units under construction and should be open beginning in March, 2018. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=765

  • Tokyo is set to revise the Act on Special Measures for Fukushima Reconstruction and Revitalization in order to build reconstruction bases in “difficult-to-return” zones. It is hoped the amendment will enacted into law next spring after a formal Cabinet decision is made and Diet approval occurs. The plan will also allow government subsidies for reconstruction programs mandated by the Prime Minister and preferential tax treatment to encourage businesses in the affected municipalities. The program will affect “difficult-to-return” zones in Minamisoma City, the towns of Namie, Futaba, Okuma and Tomioka, and the villages of Katsurao and Iitate. Construction is already planned for April. All living restrictions are to be be lifted five years later. Current Fukushima reconstruction law does not allow for bases of this type in “difficult to return” locations. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=763

  • Namie’s recovery and repopulation is threatened by too little money and too few evacuees who want to return. The town has plans to stimulate its economy by creating a robot testing facility, a robotics research center, a base for renewable energy, and a memorial park. But, without guaranteed financial aid from Tokyo, there is no certainty that these projects will be completed. The main problem is the town’s tax base. The population was almost 20,000 before 3/11/11, but the Tokyo-mandated evacuation of the entire community has cut residential tax income in half, and proposed tax waivers to induce repopulation will diminish it even more. Corporate tax revenue has taken a similar hit. Tokyo says it will subsidize Namie’s plans, but only until April 1, 2020. With only 20% of the current evacuees saying they will return home, the town’s financial future looks dim. Namie Mayor Tamotsu Baba said, “The financial resources we’ve lost due to the disaster are excessive. We desperately need the central government to continue its support.” Another official said that if the current grants are stopped in 2020, it will mean that Tokyo has abandoned Namie. Meanwhile, reconstruction minister Masahiro Imamura has said, “We must make the area attractive, so that people want to return there. I want to do everything I can to make it easy to go back.” http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=766 -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/10/26/national/social-issues/namie-radiation-evacuees-fear-return/#.WFfoQ9K7odU

  • A Tepco employee is given workman’s compensation for F. Daiichi exposure. The 40-year-old man was part of the operating staff combating the full station blackout. The Labor Ministry has found that the career nuclear worker qualifies under the blue law we have detailed since October, 2015. (http://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/fukushima-commentary/fukushima-commentary-23.html) The statute states that if someone is exposed to at least five millisieverts in one calendar year and contracts cancer more than a year there-after, the person is entitled to compensation benefit. The first two grants were to men who have leukemia. This latest one is a man with thyroid cancer. In all three cases, no diagnostic connection between the exposure and cancer has been made by a licensed physician. The Tepco employee incurred nearly 140 mSv of exposure since the onset of the March 2011 nuke accident. One Press outlet (Asahi Shimbun) says 40 mSv of exposure was internal. Regardless, Japan’s most antinuclear popular Press outlets are making the incorrect statement that the workman’s comp award is an actual diagnosis. The Ministry stressed that the 5 mSv criterion is merely a yardstick for establishing whether or not compensation should be granted. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20161217/p2g/00m/0dm/025000c -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/12/17/national/tepco-workers-thyroid-cancer-recognized-work-related/#.WFVEkdK7odU -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201612170027.html (Comment - The average exposure of an American to a combination of natural and medical radioactivity is roughly 6.2 mSv per year. Clearly, the Labor Ministry blue law criterion of 5 mSv/yr is deeply flawed!)

  • Tokyo announces it wants to decommission Monju Fast Breeder, angering the Fukui governor. The government presented Governor Issei Nishikawa with its official policy document, and his response was, "We will never accept this. We demand that the government look again at it and reconsider it." The prefecture stands to lose a lot of money if Monju is decommissioned, and the people of Fukui don’t want to lose it. Tokyo says they would like to transform Monju into a research facility to support a future fast breeder project in Fukui. But, it seems the governors and many influential residents want assurance that these future plans will come to fruition. Joint research from France’s ASTRID and Japan’s “Joyo” demonstration reactors could produce a similar level of knowledge and experience as that obtained from Monju, thus making a future Fukui project unnecessary. Science Minister Hirokazu Matsuno and Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko informed Governor Nishikawa of the plan today in Tokyo. Tokyo says the roadmap for a final fast breeder project is scheduled for 2018. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20161219_26/ --  http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/national-government-says-monju-to-be-decommissioned-prefecture-reacts-angrily/  --http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/12/19/national/plan-decommission-monju-meets-fierce-local-criticism/#.WFfkVtK7odU

December 15, 2016

  • All Fukushima seafood has been below radiation limits since April, 2015. In fact, species tested in November including bass, rockfish, and flounder, showed no traces of radioactive Cesium at all. The absence of detectible Cesium is the first time since the March, 2011 Fukushima accident. Fish were taken from 30 locations within a 20 kilometer radius of F. Daiichi, mostly within hundreds of meters of the shoreline at a depth of five meters. Fukushima Prefecture officials attribute the change to fish passing the Cesium through their bodies over time, and a whole new generation of each type being born that grew in waters free of problematic Cesium concentrations. The initial tests in 2011 showed 90% of all fish caught off the prefecture had greater than the national limit of 100 Becquerels per kilogram. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201612060039.html

  • Kagoshima Prefecture will likely approve a panel to review emergency plans. Antinuke Governor Satoshi Mitazono recently submitted a budget proposal for the group to the prefectural assembly, and the vote will come within the next week. The panel will consist of twelve members, including nuclear experts, seismologists, and volcanologists. The main purpose is to insure the emergency evacuation plans are as good as might be needed in the unlikely event of a Fukushima-level accident at Sendai station. The committee will also address “disseminating information that can be easily understood by prefectural citizens.” An approval of nuclear plant operations is not on the agenda. Though Gov. Mitazono opposes Sendia’s operation, a majority favoring nuke operations exists in the assembly and a recent election of a pro-nuke mayor to host city Satsumasendai, make his antinuclear agenda unwieldy. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003404121

  • Another Fukushima evacuee student gets bullied. The Tokyo junior high school student was intimidated by other students and made to pay a total of $87 for sweets, drinks, and other foods, beginning in the summer of 2015. What began as name calling, the taunting escalated to insults and threats before the extortions began. Tormenters also stole his textbooks and damaged them before placing them where they could be found. The student says, “Since my elementary school days, I have been bullied on the grounds that I am an evacuee. I was not able to tell that to anybody. It was painful. I thought that if I can silence [them] with money, I will do it.” The school’s principal said, “It is regrettable that bullying existed at this school. I will do my utmost to prevent it from happening again.” 15 students have been investigated, and three have admitted to their wrong-doing. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201612130064.html

  • A new study indicates that social bullying is very common in Japan, and adults are to blame. Lund University professor Antoinette Hetzler and the National Institute for Educational Policy Research compared the nature of bullying between Sweden and Japan. The study covered hundreds of 6th & 8th grade students in both countries, from 2013 to 2015. More than 40% of the Japanese boys and girls were bullied during that period. Mitsuru Taki of the National Institute for Educational Policy Research, believes adults could be to blame. He says, “Japan, which has experienced school violence in the past, tends to take a firm stance on physical attacks, but regarding social abuse, children must feel that it’s OK to exclude others or talk behind their backs because adults are doing it too. One such example is bullying children evacuated from the Fukushima nuclear disaster by saying, ‘You’re receiving cash compensation, aren’t you.’” http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201612140049.html

  • Kyodo News reports that an “antinuclear” disaster drill was run at the Yokosuka naval base, Kanagawa Prefecture. Apparently, participating “officials” came from the US Navy, Japan’s Foreign Ministry, and the US Embassy. Details are lacking in the report, but the news outlet mentioned that the USS Ronald Reagan was docked at the base. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2016/12/449276.html

 

December 12, 2016

  • For the first time, Tokyo will pay for decontamination in Fukushima’s no-entry locations. Up to this point, Tepco has been held responsible for all decontamination expenditures. However, next April, Tokyo will pay for de-con work in areas that will remain off limits for prolonged periods. The government’s rationale for the change is that Tepco is already compensating those who were told to leave their homes by the government. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20161209_09/ In addition, the Industry Ministry plans to have more than $20 billion in evacuee compensation costs paid by electricity users. This will increase the typical monthly bill between 15 and 17 cents. Beginning in 2020, the electric utility companies will be able to add the payments to their “wheeling charges” covering transmission systems.  http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20161210/p2a/00m/0na/002000c

  • Sendai unit #1 goes critical, and Japan’s second-most-popular Press outlet makes a minor protest appear significant. Sendai #1 reached its self-sustaining chain reaction at 10am on Friday. Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman Shunichi Tanaka said, “The reactor has already been operated without problems. I expect the power company to do its utmost so that there will be no problems after this restart, too.” The first trickle of power to the grid occurred Sunday. While all news outlets announced the criticality milestone, the Asahi Shimbun focused primarily on a small gathering of protesters at Sendai station, reporting, “Groups of protesters, including local residents, rallied against the restart and held placards in front of the Sendai plant Dec. 8. The resumption of operations was particularly harsh for the anti-nuclear activists because they thought they had elected a leader who would shut down the plant. But Kagoshima Governor Satoshi Mitazono kept his voice low and avoided giving any direct responses to media questions about the restart.” Sendai Unit #2 will be shuttered for its first refueling/maintenance outage on Friday, December 16th. (Comment - If there were a significant number of protesters, most news outletss would have reported on it. Only the Asahi did!)   https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20161209_16/ -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20161209_16/ -- http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/sendai-1-restarted-kagoshima-governor-effectively-accepts/

  • The Industry Ministry further raises the cost estimate for Fukushima decommissioning. At the end of November, the Economy Ministry announced a $175 billion guesstimate. Now, The Industry Ministry says it will be more like $200 billion. The estimated cost breakdown is about $80 billion for reactor decommissioning, at least $79 billion for compensation, and the rest for less expensive subjects like building the interim storage facility for rural decontamination debris. The Industry Ministry also said that TEPCO should eventually be responsible for all decommissioning costs, though Tokyo is providing temporary support. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003397547

  • The Industry Ministry says some of the 2020 “World Robot Summit” will be held in Minamisoma City. It will be the first such robotic event in the world, and scheduled to coincide with the 2020 Olympics. The main focus of the summit will be held at an Aichi Prefecture airport, off Nagoya, in October, 2020. There will be six competitive events. This will be not only for nuclear accidents, but also for non-nuclear calamities such as traffic tunnel collapse. In preparation of accidents at petrochemical complexes, participants will compete in robot performances, including industrial equipment checks, parts exchanges, and searches for persons in need of rescue. With tunnel accidents, judging will include capabilities to collect information, rescue people, and remove stalled motor vehicles. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=761

  • Barely detectible Fukushima contamination reaches American shores. The concentration of radioactive Cesium-134 for January-February samples taken in Oregon was 0.3 Becquerels per ton of seawater. (Woods Hole Oceanographic) One sockeye salmon taken in Canada in 2015 had 0.07 Bq/kg of Cs-134. (Fukushima InFORM) Detecting levels this miniscule takes a long, long time because radioactive decays don’t happen very often. The salmon decay rate is one radioactive emission every 15 seconds, and the ton of seawater has one emission every three seconds. Though the risk of the detected activities is reported as “miniscule”, USA Today, the Associated Press, CBS, NBC, UPI, and Oregon Public Broadcasting lit up the discovery in bold headlines. The pictures that ran with some articles were inappropriate. The OPB showed a February 2016 shot of a news media tour of F. Daiichi with the reporters all wearing full protective gear and face masks! The UPI article showed the Japan Self Defense Force stripping topsoil in Tomioka in 2011, again all wearing full anti-contamination gear! To make matters worse, the script below the UPI image says F. Daiichi is in “Okuma Prefecture”, which doesn’t exist! https://fukushimainform.ca/2016/11/15/pushing-the-limit-fukushima-fingerprint-isotope-found-in-salmon-from-2015/ -- http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2016/12/09/fukushima-radiation-has-reached-united-states-shores/95188478/ -- http://www.cbsnews.com/news/radiation-from-japans-fukushima-nuclear-disaster-detected-on-oregon-shores/ --  http://www.opb.org/news/article/japan-fukushima-radiation-united-states-west-coast/ -- http://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2016/12/12/Fukushima-radiation-reaches-United-States-shores-for-first-time/8491481288714/ -- http://nypost.com/2016/12/09/radiation-from-fukushima-disaster-reaches-the-us/

December 8, 2016

  • Kyushu Electric restarted Sendai unit #1 today. The unit was the first to be restarted following the Tokyo-mandated nuclear moratorium, and this marks the end of the first refueling and maintenance outage following more than a year of unblemished full-power operation. Control rods are being slowly moved upwards, allowing nuclear fuel to be uncovered and pre-criticality fissioning to occur. Criticality is expected on Friday and initial power generation on Sunday. A declaration of commercial operation will follow, once the approval of the Nuclear Regulation Authority is granted. It is important to note that Kagoshima’s antinuclear governor is reported to have given “de-facto” permission for the restart. Earlier this month he said, "I have no legal power (to decide) on the restart of the reactor," which the Press interprets as permitting the restart.
    http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2016/12/448030.html -- http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20161208/p2g/00m/0dm/080000c

  • Japan’s National Nuclear Union appeals to Tokyo for accelerating nuke restarts. They met with the ruling Liberal Democratic Party and stressed the importance in developing understanding of the public with respect to the need for restarts, and safety surrounding them. In addition, the union announced that a national petition supporting restarts has collected 200,000 signatures. Former Science Minister Akito Arima stressed that stable, affordable electricity is essential because Japan has little energy self-sufficiency and a significant outflow of national wealth is occurring due to the slow progress of nuke restarts. The LDP’s Hiroyuki Hosoda responded, “For the moment, there is no other choice for Japan but to depend on nuclear-fission energy.” He added that nuclear experts “not to be fearful but to have courage,” while seeking public understanding. Another LDP representative, Hirofumi Takinami, said much of the sluggishness in restarts is the fault of the Nuclear Regulation Authority in prolonging examinations. He announced he was preparing a bill to revise the law that established the NRA in the hope of removing some of the unnecessary obstacles. Mayor Hiroo Shinada, of Kariwa Village (home to the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear complex, scolded the news media for simplistically connecting local support for restarts with the recovery of local economies, saying, “Residents have studied very hard about energy issues, which are part of national policy. We understand the importance for everyone.” The meeting occurred on December 1st, but none of the popular Press in Japan reported on it. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/national-nuclear-union-hands-statement-on-npp-restarts-to-ldp-executive-council-chairman-hosoda/

  • Japanese companies are prepared to invest in Areva; France’s nuclear giant. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. and Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. Are ready to take a 10% stake in the financially-challenged company that will total hundreds of millions of dollars. As major shareholders of Areva, MHI and JNFL hope to receive orders for nuclear power plant projects in emerging countries and strengthen cooperation with the firm in nuclear fuel cycle projects. Areva’s performance has deteriorated due to sluggish demand for nuclear power plants and other reasons that include problems with construction of nukes in Finland. The company reported an after-tax loss of more than $2 billion last year. Areva is currently undergoing a government-spurred reorganization that will spin off some nuke processing into a new company. A few Chinese companies are expected to also invest in Areva because the French firm is trying to establish a business foothold in Asia. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003395295

December 5, 2016

  • A volunteer group finds ocean fish near F. Daiichi safe to eat. The group, called "Iwaki Kaiyo Shirabetai Umi Labo" (Iwaki marine investigative squad ocean lab), formed three years ago because they didn’t trust the information released by the government or Tepco. The highest radioactivity they have detected thus far was a flounder registering 138 Becquerels per kilogram in July, 2014. However, all of the fish taken “lately” have been well below the 100 Bq/kg limit. One very old flounder surprised everyone. Group representative Riken Komatsu said, "This is the first time for us to check such an old olive flounder, and I thought there would be dozens of Becquerels detected. The result was lower than I had imagined and I feel relieved." http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20161205/p2a/00m/0na/022000c

  • Cooling water flow was briefly lost at unit #3. The cause was a worker losing balance in full anti-Cs and breaking the switch lever for the unit’s water injection pump. He was also carrying some equipment which made his walking through the 2.8 feet-wide aisle past the control panel difficult. The Mainichi Shimbun said that although there was “no radiation leak or overheating of the core, or any injuries, the incident was a reminder that Fukushima's decommissioning work is running on a very fragile system.” http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20161205/p2g/00m/0dm/079000c

  • A home improvement center opens in Tomioka to promote repopulation in the spring. Tomioka was wholly evacuated by Tokyo mandate in 2011. Daiyu Eight Co. of Fukushima City opened its hardware shop, called “Daiyu Eight Sakura Mall Tomioka Store,” inside a commercial complex on November 23. Three other businesses opened November 25th, providing foods - including noodles, full meals, and prepared dishes. All have the hope that resumption of operations will encourage evacuees to return home. Supermarket chain York-Benimmaru Co. and Sapporo-based drugstore chain Tsuruha Co. are scheduled to open outlets next spring. This will bring all businesses in the complex back into operation. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=758  

  • Engineering students compete in a robot contest for Fukushima decommissioning. Fifteen teams from 13 national institutes of technology took part in Naraha Town on Saturday. Robots developed by the students traversed a steep stairway and took a video of a high place, modelled after actual buildings at F. Daiichi. The devices had to show ability to operate via cables because radio waves cannot penetrate the thick concrete walls in the reactor buildings. The organizers, including the Science Ministry, hope interested companies will begin joint research projects using the students' designs. “Decommissioning work may give you a negative impression. But it is the same as space development in that both of them challenge unknown fields,” said Shigekazu Suzuki, associate professor of mechanical engineering at the National Institute of Technology. A team from the Osaka Prefecture University College of Technology won.  http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20161203_25/ -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201612040025.html

  • Tokyo could extend its de-facto nationalization of Tepco well into the future. The Industry Ministry presented the plan at a meeting of their expert panel on Tepco reforms and related issues. The ministry announced creation of a new fund to cover the exorbitant cost that continues to inflate. Part of it will come from electricity customers, regardless of whether or not they have changed suppliers. The ministry also hinted at taking over the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa station to effect restarts. The ministry plan says, the government will "without hesitation enlist cooperation from other power companies toward the plant's restart" and not wholly entrust the K-K unit’s restarts to Tepco. http://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/Policy-Politics/Government-to-stay-involved-in-Fukushima-plant-decommissioning

  • Stories continue about Fukushima evacuee students being bullied. On Friday, the latest report concerned a fourth grade homeroom teacher using the term “kin”, which is not uncommon for students to use as a term of endearment. An alternative meaning for the term is “germ”, which is the way the student eventually took it. The student, whose family voluntarily evacuated Fukushima Prefecture after 3/11/11, said that after hearing of recent news reports where other evacuee students were being called the same thing, he became offended and could no longer attend school. The teacher said he heard some students use the term “kin” and thought it was meant as a show of friendliness. He said that the term comes from Anakin Skywalker of the Star Wars movies. School officials in Niigata said the teacher’s use of the term was inconsiderate, regardless of intent, and told him to formally apologize to the student and his family. Unfortunately, Japan’s most popular Press outlets failed to post the teacher’s comments. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20161202_30/ --  http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201612020060.html -- http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20161202/p2g/00m/0dm/082000c

December 1, 2016

  • Voluntary Fukushima evacuees oppose the March expiration of free housing. They submitted a petition to Tokyo’s Upper House, signed by 200,000 people, to have their allowance be extended. In June, 2015, the Fukushima prefectural government decided to end the subsidy for voluntary evacuees. The decision also affects those whose evacuation orders were lifted in 2014. The government has held numerous sessions since last December for low-income families to get other rent subsidies, but many evacuees feel the end of the free rent period is hasty. On the other hand, officials of towns where evacuation orders have been lifted feel the time has come to cease the subsidies. Kawauchi Mayor Yuko Endo said, “Assistance measures by the central and prefectural governments cannot continue forever. We might as well take a step forward to rebuild our livelihoods.” About 900 Kawauchi residents remain in voluntary estrangement from their homes.  Naraha Mayor Yukiei Matsumoto said, “More than five and a half years have passed [since the nuke accident]. It’s time for every one of us to think about standing on our own two feet.” Only about 10% of Naraha’s population has returned since all restrictions were lifted Sept. 4, 2015. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201612010006.html

  • The Kagoshima’s governor’s antinuclear platform is called a “mere publicity stunt.” Governor Satoshi Mitazono garnered the antinuclear vote while campaigning for office by pledging to create an “expert panel” concerning the safety of the operating units at Sendai station. The panel has not been created, as yet. Now, former supporter Yukio Taira, chief of a Kagoshima labor union federation, says, “What he had done over the past months now appears to be a mere publicity stunt. He is breaking the campaign promise if he allows the resumption of the [Sendai unit #1] without obtaining the conclusion of the panel.” Tiara ran for governor until last July, when Mitazono proposed to shutter the Sendai nukes. It is widely believed that this was the primary reason why he won the election. Soon after election, he demanded an immediate halt to Sendai operations. But, Mitazono found he has no legal power to make it happen. Mitazono persuaded Kyushu Electric to carry out extraordinary earthquake safety inspections during the current refueling outage. He says he will request to the prefecture’s assembly in mid-December to form the investigative panel. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201611290066.html

  • Ten Tsuruga unit #2 workers were splashed with mildly radioactive water. Fifteen workers were in the process of preparing to drain water from a pipe connected to a coolant storage tank. All were wearing full anti-contamination clothing, including helmets, gloves, and goggles. When a bolt was loosened on a valve, about 160 liters of mildly radioactive coolant splashed over most of them. News reports say four were sprayed from head to foot, and six were “partially soaked”. However, if they were really soaked, they would have received detectible exposure to the water with a radioactive concentration of 1,700 Becquerels per liter. But, plant owner Japan Atomic Power says none were exposed; not even the few that got some of the water on bare facial skin. The anti-contamination clothing must have been water-repellant. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0003380300

  • Toshiba points to China and India for multiple nuclear orders. The Danny Roderick, the president and CEO of the company’s Energy Systems & Solutions unit, plans to market their latest AP1000 nuclear plant. He says the recent election of Donald Trump in America created a more hospitable environment for energy companies. Roderick said, "I think Mr. Trump is much more supportive of thermal energy, and he has shown support for nuclear energy. I think that's probably the single biggest policy difference [from President Barack Obama]." He identified China as Toshiba’s “most important thing right now.” He speculated that China expects to eventually build 180 to 200 nukes, which would account for around 30-40% of the future global market. Roderick also mentioned the recent nuclear trade deal between India and Japan might result in ordering as many as six new units. http://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Companies/Toshiba-aims-to-nail-down-multiple-nuclear-orders-in-China-India

  • Reports of the demise of the Monju fast breeder project may be premature. Japan’s Press has pronounced the project doomed for months, led by the unabashedly antinuclear Japan Today and Japan Times. But, recent developments, completely ignored by the mainstream news outlets, shows that the popular Press has not provided the whole story. Governor of Monju’s home Fukui Prefecture, Issei Nishikawa, met with MEXT and METI ministers to discuss the fate of Monju. The ministers said they were following the recommendations of the Nuclear Regulation Authority by shifting control of Monju away from JAEA because of inadequate maintenance and management capabilities. MEXT Minister Hirokazu Matsuno also said that most of the project delays since 2011 have been due to increased regulatory burdens, adding nearly $5 billion to the cost. This led to announcing the possibility of scrapping the entire project and starting anew. However, the minister pointed out that the Press overlooked the fact that Japan “needs” the Fukui research facility and its staff in order to continue Tokyo’s policy of promoting the nuclear fuel cycle. Governor Nishikawa agreed that the nuclear fuel cycle is important to Japan, but he fears that Tokyo might suddenly sacrifice Monju, leaving his prefecture “high and dry”. He want Tokyo to sufficiently consider their actions and make reasonable explanations about whatever decisions may be in the offing. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/fukui-governor-exchanges-views-on-fbr-monju-with-meti-and-mext-ministers/

November 28, 2016

  • A UN official says a Fukushima accident cancer rise is “inconceivable”. Malcolm Crick, secretary of the U.N. Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), said there should be no rise in the rate of cancer occurrences stemming from the accident. His panel has studied the data on radioactive substances released into the atmosphere, ocean and rivers, their effects on food, and human exposures. He added that the incidence of thyroid cancer among Fukushima children greatly differs from the Chernobyl case. In Fukushima, the use of more sensitive diagnostic procedures has found tiny thyroid anomalies that have actually reduced the possibility of future thyroid cancer morbidity, no matter what the cause. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=755

  • More evidence for Fukushima having no effect on North America’s coast. Analytical results of British Columbia’s shellfish meat and salmon reveal an absence of radioactivity from the Fukushima accident. Four types of mollusks taken from BC’s aquaculture regions - Pacific Scallop, Pacific Oyster, Northern Blue Mussel, and Manila Clam - were chosen for analysis because studies have shown that bi-valves bioaccumulate cesium at rates faster than many other sea organisms. Sockeye salmon were taken from Vancouver Island locations. The results assure that shellfish and salmon are safe to market and consume. In all cases, Cs-137 was detected, but no Cs-134. This assures that all Cesium in the meats came from post-WWII nuclear weapon’s tests, and not Fukushima Daiichi. https://fukushimainform.ca/2016/11/24/results-from-2016-inform-biotic-monitoring-shellfish-and-vancouver-island-salmon/

(Comment – In both of the above, we have information of considerable significance that promises to alleviate radiophobic angst in Japan and around the world, but the mainstream Japanese and international Press have completely ignored it!)

  • The NRA judges domestic nuclear components to be safe. Recently, doubts were cast about the strength of equipment made for a French nuclear plant by the Japan Casting & Forging Corporation (JCFC). The claim alleged there was too much carbon in the steel, making the components too brittle to be safe. The Nuclear Regulation Authority investigated and said it was “unlikely that any of the products” used by 11 Japanese units “contained carbon concentrations higher than prescribed limits” for safety-related systems. Thus, there is no possibility of “weaker-than-expected performance”. JCFC-manufactured vessel heads fare on eleven units at seven Japanese nuclear stations. No problems were found with any of them. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/nra-ascertains-domestic-npp-components-to-be-sufficiently-strong/  

  • Fukushima accident recovery cost estimates soar. The Economy Ministry speculates the final expenditures to be roughly double the initial projections. The ministry says it could be 20 trillion yen (more than $175 billion). 40% is projected for compensation payments to state-mandated evacuees, as well as affected business and property owners. New decontamination cost forecasts are between 20 & 25% of the total. The rest is expected to be due to decommissioning of the six units at F. Daiichi. The new, larger projections are due to the increased number of people eligible for damages and greater costs for rural decontamination work, neither of which was fully foreseen when the initial estimates were made. http://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/Economy/Fukushima-decommissioning-costs-to-soar

  • A new Fukushima-related thyroid cancer fund offers financial aid to fifteen prefectures. The money will come from the private 3.11 Children's Fund for Thyroid Cancer, offering up to $1,800 to anyone who was aged 25 or under at the time of the nuke accident and has since been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, including suspected cases. The prefectures, including Tokyo, were selected in accordance with various atmospheric dispersion models for the spread of radioactive iodine. All currently-qualified persons will receive a lump sum of $900, beginning next month. Larger amounts may follow depending on individual factors. Fukushima has screened nearly 400,000 children who were aged 18 or younger in March, 2011. 175 have having confirmed thyroid anomalies (microscopic nodules) that may or may not be malignant. Of the 175 found to have the nodules, one case has been diagnosed as malignant. Further, none of the children in Fukushima Prefecture aged 10 and under at the time of the accident have any such anomalies. Nonetheless, the foundation's Ms. Hisako Sakiyama says young people in northern Japan will have to live with the risk of cancer for many years, so the foundation wants to provide money for diagnosis and treatment, as well as psychological support. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20161128_17/ -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2016/11/446184.html

  • A new Fukushima evacuee student bullying case crops up in Tokyo. A junior high student described his becoming the target of harassment while attending two elementary schools in the capital. He says, “Unless a person who experienced it speaks up, a true picture of bullying cannot be conveyed to the public. I was under the impression that I was not equal to my peers as I was an evacuee at my elementary school.” He was called a “germ”, told that everything he touched was “contaminated”, and chided because his family was granted rent-free housing by the government. However, the bullying stopped once he entered Junior High. The student’s family is voluntary evacuees. A Tokyo evacuee group says they have at least five other complaints on record. Group leader Yuya Kamoshita said evacuee students are called “dirty” because they come from Fukushima Prefecture, and asked school officials to make a “firm response” to bullying. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201611270040.html

  • Last week’s Tohoku aftershock quake renews nuclear angst in the Kansai region, because of the Mihama station’s unit #3’s recent licensing extension. The Japan Times article moans that “Residents need to live with the fact that they are close to the Fukui reactors.” The article doubts about emergency evacuation plans are behind the concerns. What seems to be missing are the undeniable facts that last week’s aftershock did absolutely nothing of consequence to the Tohoku nukes, that the 3/11/11 mega-quake caused no safety compromises to any nukes on the Tohoku coast, and the Mihama unit is has a large containment building that was lacking at Fukushima Daiichi. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/11/27/national/fukushima-aftershock-renews-public-concern-restarting-kansais-aging-nuclear-reactors/#.WDrejtK7odU

  

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