Fukushima 108 ...12/29/16-2/9/17

February 9, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 2, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 26, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 19, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 12, 2017

  • F. Daiichi host town, Okuma, will be partially reopened in 2017. Okuma shares hosting the station with Futaba. The entire town has been evacuated since 2011, but most residents will be allowed to return home for restricted visits in the spring. The order will be rescinded in the Ogawara and Nakayashiki Districts of Okuma which are designated "restricted residency" and "evacuation order cancellation preparation" zones. This will affect up to 384 residents. Decontamination was completed in March, 2014, and basic services such as water and electricity are restored. Okuma is planning to build a new town hall, a seniors' home, and public housing for some 3,000 persons, in a 40-hectare Ogawara district "recovery base".    http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170107/p2a/00m/0na/008000c

  • Iitate Village continues to prepare for repopulation. The latest move has been holding the first Coming-of-Age Day festivities since 2011. The event signifies reaching 20 years; the “age of majority” when young people officially become adults. All of Iitate has been a “no-go” zone since 2011, but living restrictions will be lifted for about 90% of the land area by April 1st. Thus, the Village feels it is time to restart formal celebrations. 61 young people were made “shin-seijin”; literally meaning “new adults”. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201701090038.html

  • A Fukushima laboratory says all 2016 seafood was below national radioactive limits. 8,502 specimens were analyzed in 2016, and 8,080 were at a radioactive Cesium level that is “hardly detectible”. The remaining 422 were well-below Japan’s 100 Becquerel per kilogram limit for marketing and consumption. Kyodo News has been the only major Press outlet to report this.  http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2017/01/453112.html

  • Sendai #1 goes commercial, and the Japanese Press ignores it. At 3:30pm on January 6th, the NRA approved a certificate of compliance officially making the unit commercial. Sendai #1 became the first Japanese nuke to qualify for commercial status following a regularly scheduled refueling and maintenance outage, since the de-facto nuclear energy moratorium was begun by Japan’s antinuclear Prime Minister, Naoto Kan, in 2011. The results of all safety inspections for both Sendai units will be shared with antinuclear Kagoshima Governor Mitazono on February 7th. While Mitazono‘s publicity-stunt attempt to have both units shuttered until he felt they were safe enough for operation was followed closely by Japan’s popular Press, the commercial operation milestone was totally disregarded. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/sendai-1-npp-shifts-to-commercial-operation/

  • The Institute of Energy Economics forecasts a 2017 nuclear energy upswing for Japan. IEEJ says that as more nukes restart, Japan’s dependence on fossil-fueled power will drop. While new wind and solar, plus continued energy conservation will also help decrease reliance on fossil fuels, the major impactor will be nuclear. In fact, the percentage of electricity from burning fossil fuels should drop below 90% for the first time since 2011. Five nuke units have been approved for restart by the end of 2016, and IEEJ foresees as many as another 9 units resuming operation in 2017. On the other hand, there could be as few as two new restarts this year (low-restart scenario). While the most optimistic possibility would be thirteen new restarts (high-restart case). However, IEEJ opts to project a restart number somewhere between the two cases. IEEJ concludes that nuclear power “will play an important role in achieving the 3E’s (energy security, economy and environmental protection).” http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/ieej-releases-2017-energy-outlook-sees-important-role-for-nuclear-power-in-achieving-3es-of-energy-security-economy-and-environmental-protection/

  • Voluntary Fukushima evacuees will get extended free housing from nine prefectures. Fukushima government housing subsidies for the voluntaries ends April 1st, affecting roughly 26,600 persons in more than 10,000 households. Of that total, nearly 14,000 persons in more than 5,000 households currently reside outside of Fukushima Prefecture. Tottori Prefecture will provide housing for low-income households, while Hokkaido, Nara, Ehime, and three other prefectures will waive rent for households living in prefecture-run housing units. In addition to these subsidies, Kyoto will exempt rent for prefecture-run units for up to six years, and, Niigata will give each low-income family 10,000 yen per month to help keep children in their current schools. The Tottori government says that voluntary evacuees now living in the prefecture want to stay there, but feel anxiety about their future housing costs. Thus, the prefecture has decided to make their permanent residence possible. Iwate Prefecture is also considering voluntary evacuees housing subsistence because Tokyo has not adequately addressed the issue. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170106/p2a/00m/0na/007000c

  • The NRA blocks the Environment Ministry from using low level radioactive soils for road bases. The Nuclear Regulation Authority says the ministry cannot approach the NRA Radiation Council to determine standards for using decontamination soils registering less than 8,000 Becquerels per kilogram. The NRA says the paperwork submitted to gain permission to consult the Radiation Council contains insufficient information. The NRA requested the ministry to provide a detailed explanation on how such soil would be handled, management of the reused soil, the duration of monitoring after use, and how it would prevent illegal dumping. An NRA official explained, "We told the ministry that unless it provides a detailed explanation on how contaminated soil would be used and on how it will manage such material, we cannot judge if its plan would be safe.” http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170109/p2a/00m/0na/012000c

  • Tokyo NPO staffers donate $102,000 to Imari for having an antinuclear mayor. As non-profit organization employees, they can have part of their income tax diverted to favored local governments; the Furusato nozei (Hometown tax) system. When Yoshikazu Tsukabe became mayor using an antinuclear platform opposing the restart of a Genkai station unit in Saga Prefecture, the JBC CSR fund earmarked Imari as a Furusato nozei community. The fund provides scholarship money for worthy student’s whose families are financially limited. Imari will use the windfall to buy local beef which will be donated to 223 scholarship winners, including 129 affected by the Kumamoto earthquake last April. Upon receiveing the donation, Mayor Tsukabi reinforced his antinuclear persuasion, “Once the nuclear power plant is restarted, it will be difficult to stop again. As the plant’s operations are suspended now, it is time to switch to anti-nuclear policies.” http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201701080018.html

  • A nuclear plant project in Turkey is criticized for not using Japanese earthquake design criteria. The future Sinop station on the Black Sea is using Turkish design criteria, which is much less severe than that required in Japan. Japan’s lateral ground movement criteria similar geology is 500 gals, while the criteria in Turkey is but 400 gals. Kyodo News alleges that using the Turkish criteria is a “possible attempt to reduce construction costs.” The project will be a joint Japanese/French undertaking between Mitsubishi and Areva, respectively. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2017/01/452641.html

January 6, 2017

Japan’s largely antinuclear Press seems to have difficulty finding negative F.Daiichi stories. As those who regularly read this newsletter/blog already know, most of what is happening with Fukushima Daiichi is quite positive and not reported in most Japanese and international Press outlets. Thus, negative issues from the past are being rehashed whenever possible. Here are a few examples…  

  • Jiji Press says the “Fate of Fukushima No. 2 nuclear plant remains unknown”. The reason for resurrecting this old issue is a Dec. 21st Fukushima prefectural assembly vote calling for Tokyo to demand that Tepco immediately commit to decommissioning the four units. Fukushima’s General Assembly voted on eventual decommissioning of F. Daini in 2011. However, the new resolution is because demands made by local communities “have been ignored by the central government”. Tokyo says that until the in-principle 40-year lifetime has been reached by the four nukes, the decision on when to make a formal decommissioning policy is entirely up to Tepco. The prefecture argues that a recent minor power outage at F. Daini has rekindled nuclear meltdown fears. Restarting F. Daini is certainly not an option, considering that it cannot happen unless local (Naraha and Tomioka Towns) and prefectural governments extend express permission.  http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016123000515

  • Tepco pursues agreement on Kashiwazaki-Kariwa (K-K) restarts with the Niigata governor, and most Japanese Press outlets make it a leading article. Governor Ryuichi Yoneyama told Tepco that prior investigation into the causes of the 2011 F. Daiichi accident are unconvincing and “It will be difficult to approve the restart as long as (the causes of) the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant are not verified. In the present circumstances, I cannot accept the restart.” He says he will set up a process of verification that will require Tepco to provide more information than had been the case to date. In addition, he requires confirmation of the K-K evacuation plans. Yoneyama estimates that his demands will probably take several years to be satisfied. The governor was elected last October due to a staunchly antinuclear campaign, thus his stalling tactics are not unexpected. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20170105_21/ -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201701050067.html -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2017/01/452300.html

Now, here is one F. Daiichi-related report that is new…

  • Japan, America, and China may cooperate to build nukes in Turkey. Toshiba/Westinghouse is working with China’s State Power Investment group to potentially win an order for four third-generation pressurized water reactor units. A consortium source says the deal with Turkey could be cut sometime in 2017. Toshiba/Westinghouse will provide the technology, and China will be the source of funding. This should overcome any financial hurdles that would be presented by Turkish investors, especially in a politically precarious country. The concern in Japan is that China could acquire knowledge of advanced reactor plant design that might boost China’s competitive abilities on the world market. One Japanese government official acted shocked at the announcement, saying, “We weren’t asked anything in advance.” China and Japan are major economic competitors in Asia, and currently at-odds over Senkaku islands ownership in the East China Sea. On the other hand, Toshiba/Westinghouse believes it is unreasonable to keep the new technology to themselves. With new nuclear construction looking unlikely in Japan, Toshiba sees this as a viable option for staying in the competitive mix. http://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Deals/Toshiba-teams-with-Chinese-firm-on-Turkish-nuclear-plant-bid

December 29, 2016

  • Nuclear Regulation Authority data on Pacific Ocean radioactivity indicates that Tepco’s efforts to stop contaminated groundwater outflow has been successful. The NRA has posted their “Current Information on Radioactivity in Seawater” since early November. (Listed as “F1 Issues” on the NRA home page) Since November 6th, the agency has been posting seawater data from three points, along the shoreline; two on the south side of Fukushima Daiichi station, and one to the north side. All of these analyses show no detectible radioactive Cesium coming from the power plant! In addition, numerous analyses taken within two kilometers off-shore of F. Daiichi, have been devoid of detectible radioactive Cesium from the nuke station since October 24th. Why the NRA, Tepco, and Japan’s popular Press have been neglecting to report on this regular, continual listing is a mystery! https://www.nsr.go.jp/english/ -- http://radioactivity.nsr.go.jp/en/contents/12000/11622/24/Sea_Area_Monitoring_201601125.pdf

  • Tokyo allows Tepco to freeze the remaining “ice wall” sections. The Nuclear Regulation Authority says the ice wall is not abating groundwater buildup between the fully frozen seaside section and the shoreline’s steel and concrete impenetrable barrier. Thus, the NRA decided to allow Tepco to begin freezing the remaining openings on the landside ice wall, which the NRA has refused to permit being solidified from the beginning. Commissioner Toyoshi Fuketa said, “The frozen wall on the mountain side will not be able to block groundwater because the wall on the seaside was also unable to do so. It will not be very dangerous to freeze the wall on the mountain side as long as the work is carried out carefully.” Consistent with its “worst case scenario agenda”, the NRA was concerned about the wall totally blocking groundwater from the landside, hypothetically causing the water level inside the wall becoming too low and allowing contaminated water inside the basements to flow out, instead of in. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201612270056.html But, Tepco’s regular ice wall status reports continually state that the ice wall is not supposed to abate buildup of groundwater outside the wall. Rather, Tepco’s posting says, “The purpose of the Landside Impermeable Wall construction lies not in freezing soil to form an underground wall but in keeping groundwater from flowing into the reactor/turbine buildings and preventing new contaminated [ground]water from being generated.”  https://www4.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2016/images/handouts_161222_02-e.pdf

  • Ten more thyroid anomalies are diagnosed in Fukushima Prefecture. This brings the total number of people with precancerous nodules to 145, out of more than 380,000 screenings since 2011. Fukushima Medical University, which is running the study, says that there is no connection with the 2011 nuclear accident for a variety of sound reasons. Details on this new report are sketchy, but Japan’s Press calls the ten new cases “thyroid cancers”, and downplays the possibility of “excessive diagnosis” not requiring surgery to remove the tiny nodules. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20161228/p2a/00m/0na/008000c

  • A Tokyo District Court says “no” to Tepco’s antinuclear shareholder’s suit to publish nuke accident transcripts. Transcripts of testimony given by 240 people to the Diets have been made public. About 550 other testimonies have not been released because the questioning was conducted on condition that it would not be used to assign blame. The only testimonies made public are those from witnesses who have agreed to the release. The antinuclear minority of Tepco shareholders filed with the court to make the government release all testimonies, regardless of agreement between parties. Presiding Judge Akihiko Otake said, “If the records are disclosed, it would be extremely difficult to gain cooperation from related parties in future investigations.” The rebuffed plaintiffs vow to appeal to a higher court. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/12/27/national/court-denies-disclosure-tepco-officials-testimony-fukushima-crisis/#.WGKva9K7odU


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