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Fukushima 110

April 6, 2017

  • The Fukushima “ice wall” is doing its job, and the Japanese Press ignores it! Tepco’s April 3rd posting reveals the amount of groundwater pumped into the basements from the drainage system dropped below 100 tons per day back in October. It remained a steady until December 3rd when the Nuclear Regulation Authority allowed Tepco to freeze the six remaining openings in the ice wall designed to curtail the in-seepage. The rate of influx has dropped steadily since then. The March 30th data point for the in-flow is somewhere between 10 and 20 tons per day. All of Japan’s popular Press outlets have neglected to report this fact. When a massive change in the in-flow peaked in September, the Japanese and international Press broadcasted widely that the ice wall had failed. Aside - In an ideal world, they would admit they were wrong. But, there’s been no interest in good news about Fukushima since 3/11/11. Why should that penchant change now? – End aside.

  • The long-awaited lifting of many Fukushima evacuation orders began Friday. The order was rescinded for Kawamata Town, Namie Town, and Iitate Village on Friday, and Tomioka on Saturday. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said areas subject to the evacuation order have dropped 70% since 2011; from 1,150 to 370 square kilometers. At the same time, the number of people subject to on-going evacuation orders has decreased from 81,000 to 24,000. Tokyo says it will work to restore infrastructure and encourage job-creation by attracting companies to the re-opened areas. Previous lifting of evacuation orders have witnessed low repopulation percentages. It seems the trend could continue. Only 33% of Iitate evacuees say they want to go home, 13% for Namie and 44% for Kawamata. -- --

  • A Tokyo Minister is chided for saying voluntary evacuees should take responsibility for their 2011 decision to flee. Tokyo’s Democratic Party of Japan regime gave them stipends to pay for their housing since 2011, but that ended over the weekend. Reconstruction Minister Masahiro Imamura says that the central government is no longer obligated to finance voluntaries, “They are responsible for their lives. They can file a lawsuit or do other things [if they disagree with the central government’s position].” He added that the government has done all that it could to help voluntary evacuees, but the time has come to stop relying on government handouts. The Press responded with outrage. One reporter accused the government of shirking its responsibility. The minister responded, “We are taking responsibility. Stop being rude!” Then another reporter bellowed, “You’re the one who’s causing problems for the evacuees.” Imamura became angry and told the reporter to “Shut up!” The minister later apologized for being emotional, but said voluntaries fending for themselves is an “objective statement”. As if on cue, Tokyo’s minority antinuclear lawmakers were sharply critical of Imamura’s banter with the reporters, and some called for the minister’s resignation. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga defended Imamura, saying he would continue to carry out his duties as reconstruction minister. --  --

  • The extensive FMU child thyroid screening program is alleged to be defective by a doctor employed by the 3.11 Fund for Children With Thyroid Cancer.  Dr. Hisako Sakiyama says a child discovered to have the disease was missed by the Fukushima Medical University team, and claims that this “major problem” shows that the FMU thyroid screening program is flawed. The 10 year-old boy had thyroid surgery at FMU last year, but it did not show up in the latest thyroid screening data because the diagnosis and surgery was not made by the research group. Regardless, the objecting doctor says the oversight is intentional and proves proves there is a connection between the nuke accident and child thyroid cancers, "It is very puzzling how they would not want to come forward with the case. There is no reason to outright deny the link" of the thyroid cancer cases and Fukushima radiation. Japan’s Press says this contradicts the government’s position that no child below age five at the time of the accident contracted thyroid cancer from the releases, thus bringing the thoroughness and transparency of the screenings into question. FMU says it stands by its program, and will not comment on individual cases due to privacy concerns. FMU spokesman Seisho Tanaka said those who had tested negative might develop cancer after the initial screening and seek medical treatment outside the established process. FMU has screened roughly 385,000 Fukushima Children. --

  • There will be no appeal of the latest court decision allowing Takahama restarts. Last month, the injunction prohibiting the safe operation of Takahama units #3&4 was overturned by the Osaka High Court. The only recourse left to the plaintiffs and their lawyers is appealing to Japan’s Supreme Court. However, they say they will not pursue that path because they feel their case would probably be rejected again and it could sway the courts hearing the remaining antinuclear filings in Japan. The plaintiff’s lawyers say the plaintiffs will be supporting a separate case that is pending.

  • More than 20% of a new Soma-Fukushima City expressway opens. The free road will be nearly 46 kilometers long when completed. The now-open section is 10.5 km long and will be named “Abukuma-Higashi (east) Road”. At an opening ceremony, Minister Keiichi Ishii said the government will seek to complete the entire freeway by March 2021. There are four more sections that remain to be finished. The expressway will connect the capital city to the Tohoku coast at Soma City, on the Miyagi border just north of Minamisoma City.

  • Groups of Fukushima Prefecture natives living in Europe try to dispel radiation rumors. They will hold a “summit” on June 3rd in Amsterdam. The groups will attempt to create a joint effort to deflect false rumors about their home prefecture. They hope to improve sales of Fukushima food products. Current plans include the introduction of the Kitakata and Shirakawa ramen brands at events in Europe ahead of the Olympic baseball and softball competitions. Promotion of sake is also planned, capitalizing on Fukushima's honor as the region with the largest number of new brands awarded the Gold Prize among Japan's 47 prefectures in the Annual Japan Sake Awards.

March 30, 2017

  • The injunction against Takahama restarts is reversed. On Monday, the Osaka High Court reversed last year’s Otsu lower court’s estoppel order relative to the operation of Takahama units #3 & #4. Presiding Judge Ikuo Yamashita stated, “It cannot be said that there was a convincing explanation that the nuclear reactors are unsafe.” The court explained that post-Fukushima safety measures were "not unreasonable" because they were based on the "latest scientific and technical knowledge" reflecting the Fukushima accident. Kansai Electric says they will restart Takahama operations as soon as possible, but the company is not yet able to make a prediction as to the date. The high court's decision completely dismissed the Otsu District Court's provisional injunction, and fully upheld the new regulatory standards. The Otsu court said that Tokyo and Kansai Electric both felt that they could overlook risk, no matter how small and found it unacceptable. In fact, anything other than zero risk was intolerable. But, the high court found that logic to be, in itself, unacceptable, and challenged the plaintiffs to prove flaws in the new regulations that compromised realistic safety. Judge Yamashita asserted, "It's inappropriate to demand the absolute safety of atomic power stations” when it is permitted for all other forms of technology. He added that the factors related to the occurrence and development of the Fukushima accident have been make clear, thus there is no basis for the argument that the cause of the accident has not been clarified. -- -- --

  • The losing plaintiffs in the (above) Takahama decision are “furious”. Yoshinori Tsuji says that the high court merely “rubber stamped” Tokyo’s policy of restarting reactors, "The decision was unjust as the high court took [only] the policies of the central government and the utility into consideration. The high court took a decidedly different stance from the district court with regard to listening to the people's voices. Shame on them." Lawyer Kenichi Ido added that the 400 page ruling merely copied the opinions of Kansai Electric and Tokyo, while ignoring the concerns of local residents. It is expected that the plaintiffs who made the original filing in a Shiga Prefecture court will appeal to Japan’s Supreme Court.

  • A Hiroshima court refuses to issue an injunction against operation of Ikata unit #3. The court says the anti-seismic design criteria is appropriate, that Shikoku Electric Co. used reliable data in its quake calculations, and that there is nothing irrational about the Nuclear Regulation Authority’s safety standards. Presiding Judge Shigeyuki Yoshioka called Shikoku Electric’s geological survey “meticulous”, and there is nothing unreasonable about the NRA’s approval for restart. Thus, the rights of the four plaintiffs were not likely to be violated. The plaintiffs live in Hiroshima and Matsuyama Cities, which are more than 100 km and 50 km from Ikata station, respectively. There are at least three more filings against Ikata operations that remain to be adjudicated. --

  • Tepco posts its final Press release and handout on the unit #1 robotic investigation. The Press handout is more detailed than to ones released during last week’s probe. For example, the opening for the PCV d4rain sump was expected to show evidence of the diffusion of solidified fuel debris, but images captured by the robot’s camera don’t seem to show any corium. However, Tepco stops short of saying no corium is in the sump area. Chief Decommissioning Officer Naohiro Masuda says it will take more time to draw any firm conclusions. A reason for the hesitation is that floating material in the PCV basement water obscures photography, to some degree. Regardless, some conclusions can be drawn with confidence, such as the existence of deposits on some piping and the floor of the PCV that are not disturbed by raising and lowering the detection device. Tepco says the exact nature of the deposited material needs to be ascertained. Also, a complete rundown of radiation levels in the examined locations is included. --

  • The Asahi Shimbun says some Nuclear Regulation Authority members are skeptical about the results of last week’s successful unit #1 robotic probe. An unidentified “senior member” of the NRA said, “We should come up with a method that will allow us to investigate in a short period of time and in a more sensible way.” The reason for this statement is the robot probe not showing any corium (solidified melted fuel). It was expected that the images would show at least some corium, especially with the unexpected clarity of the water in the bottom of the Primary Containment (PCV). The Asahi article repeatedly implied that the robotic venture was as much a failure as the robot incursions in unit #2, earlier this year. But, does the clear lack corium mean the unit #1 investigation was a failure?

  • Tokyo and Tepco appeal last week’s court ruling that they must pay damages to a group of Fukushima evacuees in Gunma. They say that the Maebashi District Court decision is unacceptable. The plaintiffs demand compensation for mental distress over evacuating their homes and loss of livelihoods.

  • The Asahi Shimbun admits that pre-repopulation decontamination will be finished in nine of the eleven Tokyo-mandated evacuation communities by April 1st. It also states that the estimated exposures for “difficult-to-return” zones are “more than 20 millisieverts”, and no longer “more than 50 millisieverts”. Of course, the newspaper infers that the end of decontamination will not end public angst, “Despite the cleanup project, many evacuees will likely remain anxious about radiation exposure when they return because forests and woods except for those close to residential areas have not been decontaminated.”

  • Japan Times feeds the fire of radiophobia. Its article titled Radiation brings fear, and kids let it all out, begins with the following scare-mongering statement, “Radiation is a fearful thing. Colorless, odorless, undetectable except by special instruments, it’s one of those evils you can dismiss from your mind altogether, until the special instruments start registering. Then suddenly it’s everywhere, or seems to be — a ubiquitous and ineradicable contaminant.” Later, the Times asserts, “Radiation, unseen, unheard, is the most fearful of stalkers.” The report itself actually focuses on name-calling and bullying experienced by the children of Fukushima evacuees. Some bullies brandish imaginary guns and say “bang, bang”, an off–shoot of a new, popular taunt, “Fukushima kids won’t live past junior high school anyway, so you may as well die now.”

  • The Mainichi infers that all former no-go zone evacuations plans to be completed before repopulation occurs. Although there are Tokyo-based plans for both the 5km and 5-30km planning radii, local planning is remiss in five communities. One Katsurao representative says, "…there are only two officials in charge of the matter. We don't have expert knowledge (about nuclear evacuations) and we can't handle it with all the other work we have to do. Neither the state nor the Fukushima Prefectural Government is giving us advice." An Iitate official complains, "It's difficult to make a plan before examining how many residents will come back." Tokyo points out that lifting evacuation orders is allowed if state planning is completed… which it is! 

  • A February symposium on radiation exposure was held for returning Iitate evacuees. The impact of fear-mongering by activists inside and outside Japan is obvious and saddening. One resident said, “Experts say radiation doses don't affect us as long as we stay home. But I wonder about the quality of my life if I can neither go to the mountains nor the river.” One doctor proposes that Fukushima residents become the new Hibakusha, the term that designates atomic bomb survivors in Japan, “Offering appropriate health management and medical benefits (for the disaster victims who have been exposed to radiation) is the government’s minimum responsibility just like it issued ‘Hibakusha’ (A-bomb victims) health books in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The government should take measures that help residents who had been burdened with unnecessary risks.”