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Fukushima 53...5/31/13-6/17/13


June 17, 2013

We resume our Fukushima Updates today, with a modification to our previous format. After each topic summary, the URLs for the article(s) will be posted. We hope you find this acceptable, and your feedback would be invaluable. Because of a death in the family (my mother), we have not posted this past week’s updates until today.

From today’s Fukushima-specific and related reports…

Other Fukushima news from this past week includes…

June 7, 2013

  • Radiation exposure levels inside the F. Daiichi exclusion zone have dropped to less than 25% of their Nov. 2012 values. The Nuclear Regulatory Authority says that initially 27% of the zone had exposure levels at or above 50 millisieverts per year. As of this past March 11, the 50 mSv/yr areas only covered 6% of the zone. The NRA says these figures will be used to revise repopulation and visitation restrictions, but no time-table was given for when this might happen. The difficult-to-return-to zones (areas of over 50 millisieverts per year) currently total about 320 sq. km in addition to the 3-km radius around the plant site. (Mainichi Shimbun)
  • Tepco says they will closely inspect the forty 500-ton tanks installed to hold the waste water removed from underground reservoirs. One of the tanks was slowly dripping along one of the horizontal seams on Wednesday. Total leakage was about one liter. The company says tank seams may be welded to prevent a recurrence. The NRA is involved with the wastewater buildup issue at F. Daiichi, and they are not happy with the resent leak. NRA Chair Shunichi Tanaka said, “The handling of the contaminated water is an extremely pressing issue. But the ongoing measures are still inadequate and uncertain. We must make sure that the contaminated water storage plans will not fall apart.” (Japan Today)
  • Decontamination is finished at nearly all schools not in Fukushima Prefecture. The Environment Ministry announced that 98% of the schools in 58 municipalities located in seven prefectures have been completed. This does not include schools inside Fukushima Prefecture. In addition, decontamination has been completed in 80% of parks and sports facilities. Home decontamination in the seven prefectures is at 25% and shows no improvement since 2012. This is because of a sharp increase in the number of homeowners who have demanded it be done. The criterion for home de-conning is quite liberal. If contamination is detectible and the owner wants it removed, the government adds the domicile to the list. (Jiji Press)
  • In response to Wednesday’s official announcement on Fukushima child thyroid cancers, The Asahi Shimbun has posted an article clearly intended to foment uncertainty and doubt. The article leads with the following, “Health experts are at odds on whether radiation from the Fukushima nuclear accident led to an unexpectedly high occurrence rate of thyroid gland cancer among children in Fukushima Prefecture.” In Wednesday’s news release from Fukushima University Medical School, the majority of experts reject speculations that radiation from the nuke accident caused the 12 cases of thyroid cancer found in 174,000 examined children. However, a minority think it’s too early to draw that conclusion based on currently available data. It seems The Asahi is making it seem like a major controversy, but it isn’t. In addition, The Asahi says the average incidence for Miyagi Prefecture (and three others) in 2007 was 1.7 per 100,000, implying that the official report is not giving a representative assessment. In response, the Prefecture says that high-precision testing of this sort has never happened before in Japan, so the comparison to past statistics should not be attempted. Nippon Medical School professor Kazuo Shimizu prefers to remain cautious, "With the data we currently have, there is no way of telling if radiation has had any impact. A large-scale study is necessary to test the thyroid glands of children in similar age brackets who were never exposed to radiation." Another voice of caution is Fukiko Kasuga of the Prefectural panel assigned to debate the findings of the University, "Comparison with doses is essential, so there should be more research emphasis on that front." Hardly a raging controversy.
  • The Fukushima panel created to debate medical findings related to F. Daiichi has axed four members. The four deposed individuals have been replaced by qualified people who are not affiliated with the University. This was done to show the panel’s goal has shifted from “alleviating anxiety” in the public, and to now "maintaining and promoting the health of prefectural residents into the future." One of the members removed from the panel is Shunichi Yamashita, a key researcher in the on-going radiation exposure studies at Fukushima University. The move is in response to allegations of distrust voiced by some Fukushima residents who feel the University teams are working on the assumption that there are no adverse health effects from the accident. Fukushima officials hope to establish an aura of objectivity and neutrality in its evaluation of the prefectural health survey. (Mainichi Shimbun)
  • Japan’s business lobby wants idled nukes restarted. Japan Business Federation Chairman Hiromasa Yohekura said restarting nuclear plants is necessary to insure a stable electricity supply for now and long into the future. He visited F. Daiichi on Thursday and pledged the organization’s support in decommissioning, "It is necessary to safely promote the decommissioning. We will draw on technology and knowledge of the Japanese business community so we can contribute to full-fledged reconstruction work." Currently, 48 of the nation’s fifty available nukes are shut down due to a national moratorium imposed by the government. (Kyodo News)
  • More than 150,000 Fukushima residents have received evacuation compensation for F. Daiichi. The 164,824 who qualify for compensation are mostly voluntary evacuees from outside the mandated exclusion zone. They have been given $10,000 per household. Another 11,000 have not filed for the lump-sum compensation for a variety of reasons. These people need to file before the 3-year filing statute expires next March. New renaissance Party head Hiroyuki Arai presented this data to the Fukushima government on Thursday. He claims, “TEPCO has taken no positive actions for encouraging people to file claims. Administrative bodies should turn to those who have yet to file claims and directly ask them if they wish to do so.” The Diet’s recent “Special Exemption Law” extends the statute for unmediated cases when the statute expires. It should be noted that the families who have not yet returned home receive a monthly living-expense subsidy for as much as $1,500. The $10,000 payment is in addition to the monthly stipend. (Japan Daily Press)
  • The NRA has once again revised their emergency evacuation rules. The new rules involve the issue of Iodine tablet distribution. “There has been a lot of interest in [rules regarding radiation] monitoring and distribution of iodine tablets among local residents,” said NRA Chair Shunichi Tanaka. “Now that the basic framework has been decided, I would like to see a follow-up [by related parties] in order for the measures to function properly.” The new rules call for distribution to everyone within 5 kilometers of a nuke station, but only after explanations by doctors for ingesting the medication and possible side effects. Sufficient supplies of the pills should be stored for distribution between 5 and 30km if an accident occurs and a release of radioactive material is probable. Iodine tablets saturate the thyroid gland and prevent irradiation of the gland from radioactive I-131. (The Japan News)
  • British columnist John Watson says “Japan's radiation disaster toll: none dead, none sick”, and the nuclear debate should not be based on “Fukushima fear”. He argues that F. Daiichi is a hypothetical disaster, whereas “The quake and tsunami damage is the real catastrophe.” For the full op-ed piece, go to http://www.theage.com.au/comment/japans-radiation-disaster-toll-none-dead-none-sick-20130604-2nomz.html

June 5, 2013

  • The discovery of trace levels of radioactive Cesium in the Fukushima Daiichi groundwater has dominated the Japanese Press. Across the board, the news media claims this reverses Tepco’s statement of two weeks ago which called the level of Cesium “negligible”. The actual concentration is so low that it could not be detected at the F. Daiichi plant site due to the relatively high background radiation levels caused by the March, 2011, accident. The background at Fukushima Daiini, 10 kilometers to the south, is much lower and allowed the staff to detect the tiny levels of Cesium in the samples. The levels detected (0.4 Bq/liter for Cs-137 and 0.22 Bq/liter for Cs-134) are well below Tepco’s self-imposed limit of 1 Bq/liter, the national standard of 10 Bq/liter for drinking, the legal limit of 90 Bq/liter for unrestricted release, not to mention international standards of ~1,000 Bq/liter. The scientific consensus says none of these limits will produce measurable health effects. Tepco says this new information should prove their “negligible” claim, but the Press is saying just the opposite. Regardless, this latest revelation by Tepco will further undermine Tepco’s credibility with the Press and much of the public, as well as diminish the possibility of getting local fisheries to approve pumping the harmless groundwater out to sea. [Mainichi Shimbun; Japan Real Time (WSJ-Japan); Japan Times; Japan Daily Press; NHK World; Tokyo Times; Kyodo News, and etc.]
  • Tepco has found a new leak at F. Daiichi. At noon on Wednesday, a worker noticed some water dripping from a storage tank connection at a rate of one drop every 3 or 4 seconds. Bolts on the dripping joint were tightened and the leak stopped. The tank is one of the new ones installed to hold the water being transferred from their underground reservoirs, two of which have been confirmed to have experienced leakage. There were no changes to the site’s radiation levels and there was no release to the sea. The total amount that leaked is estimated to be about one liter. The stored water has been stripped of its Cesium content, but contains detectible levels of 62 other radioactive isotopes. All of the 62 isotopes emit beta radiation. (NHK World; Kyodo News; Jiji Press)
  • Researchers at Fukushima University say they have confirmed 12 child thyroid cancers in the prefecture. Another 15 are suspected of having the cancer. The results are taken from the 174,000 who have had thyroid screenings since April, 2011. The researchers stressed the increase is not related to the F. Daiichi nuclear accident, but the news media makes it seem otherwise. Analogies to the more than 4,000 child thyroid cancers attributed to the Chernobyl accident in 1986 are literally rampant in the news. The panel said thyroid cancers from Chernobyl took 4-5 years to develop, so it is highly unlikely there would be anything Fukushima-related happening at this point. Hokuto Hoshi, the research leader and member of the Fukushima Medical Association, said these confirmed cases "so far do not say that [these are the] effects of radiation." None of the Press reports on Wednesday mentioned that similar child thyroid studies are being performed in three prefectures hundreds of Kilometers from F. Daiichi, and preliminary results show the frequency of child thyroid problems in Fukushima is the lowest of the four. No such child thyroid testing was done in Japan prior to 3/11/11. One Environment official said, “Fukushima’s survey examines people who have no symptoms across the board and it is hard to evaluate it because there are [as yet] no comparable data.” Panel member Kazuo Shimizu of Nippon Medical School added, "In a large-scale survey, we would expect to find this many cancer cases. But large-scale surveys are not normally conducted, and we can't draw comparisons." (Kyodo News; Japan Daily Press; Japan Times; Mainichi Shimbun)
  • Former PM Naoto Kan is in America, preaching the antinuclear gospel. On Tuesday, he spoke to a an activist in San Diego, California, near the San Onofre nuclear station, a two-unit plant manufactured by Misubishi Heavy Industries. The plant’s steam generators have leaked into the non-radioactive sides of the systems and the company has made major repairs toward restarting. Local activists are trying to stop the restarts. Kan was Japan’s PM at the onset of the F. Daiichi accident. Kan focused on the worst case scenario he had run at the time of the accident which would have required the evacuation of some 50 million people from Tokyo and surrounding areas. He said, "Only a nuclear accident could displace 40 percent the population...I concluded that the only way to contain this risk was to create a society that does not rely on nuclear power." He added he was ashamed of himself as a government apologist for the exporting of Japanese nuclear technology like that used at San Onofre. Kan also made a plea for a global network of antinuclear activists to share their experiences and ideas for renewable energy advocacy. Kan told NHK World that this was the first time he took part in an anti-nuclear power conference outside Japan. He said will accept offers to lecture on nuclear power and will work to end nuclear energy both at-home and abroad. He shared the San Diego dais with former USNRC Chair Gregory Jaczko and antinuclear luminaries Peter Bradford and Arnie Gundersen. (Mainichi Shimbun; NHK World; Japan Times)
  • Tokyo’s annual report on the environment for 2012 rated the F. Daiichi accident as the No. 1 on-going issue. It says the radioactive substances that remain in the environment, and their removal, is “a most pressing issue”. In addition, the report says government efforts to dispel fears and rumors about radiation exposure have failed. It urges Tokyo to create dialogue with the concerned public instead of making unilateral informational statements. In addition, t report prioritizes reconstruction and economic recovery following the tsunami. Environment Minister Nobuteru Ishihara said the report also cites efforts to build a rebuild a sustainable society. (NHK World)
  • On the other hand, the government’s 2013 white paper “Annual Report on the Environment” no longer lists nuclear energy as the biggest environmental issue. The 2012 report placed nuclear power safety at the top because “an issue for nuclear safety measures is how to define potential risks, since nuclear accidents can cause serious environmental contamination.” However, the 2013 white paper says progress made in decontamination and measures taken to alleviate public concerns over radiation exposure have lessened the situation. In addition, the white paper cedes the issue of nuclear safety to the Nuclear Regulatory Authority based on new regulations, thus the risks of using nukes for electricity is not included in this year’s edition. “We don’t want to give to the discussions a (one-sided) view (that the utilization of nuclear power contains risks). It is very difficult for us to express our views in the current situation,” a high-ranking Environment Ministry official said. (Asahi Shimbun)
  • The Shika nuclear station, Fukui Prefecture, does not sit on a seismic fault. Hokuriku Electric Company made this announcement on Wednesday. They say they will submit their findings to the NRA later this week. The NRA ordered the investigation last year. The company dug a 40 meter-long tunnel under the station to study the bedrock and obtain sediment samples. It says it found substances indicating that the fault was formed by underground water seeping into cracks. There were no signs that the soil above the fault had slid vertically. Hokuriku Elec. says this proves there is no evidence of a seismic fault. (NHK World)
  • A government panel has ordered a settlement over a suicide-related Fukushima lawsuit. The family of suicide victim Hisashi Tarukawa sought damages from Tepco because the victim’s suicide note said “this is the end for farmers in Fukushima”. He killed himself the day after his produce from Sukagawa City was banned from sale. Tepco says they will accept the terms of the mandated settlement. The terms were not released to the Press as of Wednesday. This is the first-such settlement of its kind. Tarukawa's son said the family's is not concerned about the money but only wish to prove that people died due to the accident. Lawyer Izutaro Managi said he hopes this settlement will inspire families of other suicide victims to file claims. (NHK World)
  • The American researchers who discovered Cesium contamination in Pacific tuna say consumption of the fish is safe. Their report in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences says consumption, even in abnormally large amounts, will produce exposure less than or equal to eating many naturally radioactive foods, routine medical treatments, air travel, and/or a fraction of the world’s average natural background exposure. The report focused on one naturally-occurring isotope, Polonium-210 found in seawater. "For American and Japanese seafood consumers, the doses attributable to Fukushima-derived radiation were typically 600 and 40 times lower [from Cs-137 and Cs-134], respectively, than the dose from polonium," said Professor Nicholas Fisher who headed the investigation. "In estimating human doses of the Fukushima-derived radioactive cesium in Bluefin tuna, we found that heavy seafood consumers – those who ingest 124 kg/year, or 273 lbs., which is five times the US national average – even if they ate nothing but the Cesium-contaminated Bluefin tuna off California, would receive radiation doses approximately equivalent to that from one dental x-ray and about half that received by the average person over the course of a normal day from a variety of natural and human sources. The resulting increased incidence of cancers would be expected to be essentially undetectable." (PHYS.ORG)

June 3, 2013

  • UN expert panel says there have been no health effects from the Fukushima accident. "Radiation exposure following the nuclear accident at Fukushima-Daiichi did not cause any immediate health effects. It is unlikely to be able to attribute any health effects in the future among the general public and the vast majority of workers," concluded the Vienna-based United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effect of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR). More than 80 leading international scientists from 27 countries analyzed the information available on the effects of exposure following the events of 3/11/11 in Japan. UNSCEAR says exposure to the Japanese population was low, or very low, leading to correspondingly low risks of health effects later in life. Evacuation and sheltering significantly reduced the radiation exposures that would have otherwise been received. Wolfgang Weiss, Chair of the UNSCEAR investigative group, said "These measures reduced the potential exposure by up to a factor of 10. If that had not been the case, we might have seen the cancer rates rising and other health problems emerging over the next several decades." Exposures for radioactive Iodine were less than 50 millisieverts, above which Iodine tablets are recommended for children. Two workers at F. Daiichi had a 12 millisievert exposure to I-137, but neither has shown any adverse effects. The internal exposures for Cesium-134 and Cs-137 for the population were below 15 millisieverts, much less than the 100 mSv threshold for incr3eased cancer risk. Carl-Magnus Larsson, head of UNSCEAR, said, "Families are suffering, and people have been uprooted and are concerned about their livelihoods and futures, the health of their children…it is these issues that will be the long-lasting fallout of the accident.”  The report added that although the rate of exposures may have exceeded the levels for the onset of effects on plants and animals in the first few months of the accident, effects will be transient in nature and of short duration. (United Nations Information Service; Japan Today; Japan Times; Jiji Press)
  • Tepco may be forced to pay residents for radiation anxieties. 180 Fukushima evacuees have won a compensation settlement decision for radiation exposure and future health uncertainties. A state-backed legal arbitration body, Nuclear Damage Claim Dispute Resolution Center, recommended the damages be paid to the claimants from Iitate Village. All claimants are from the Iitate district designated as “difficult to return” with radiation levels of 50 millisieverts per year. They claim they are fearful of radiation exposure because their evacuation was delayed until after the village was designated as part of the evacuation zones. The arbitrators recommend $10,000 for pregnant women and anyone under the age of 18. All other residents can get up to $5,000. The suit itself sought $50,000 per claimant, but was lowered because, “Despite a limited amount of money, the center recognized the state's and TEPCO's responsibilities over radiation exposure despite their attempts to ignore them,” said one of the lawyers. The residents already receive evacuation compensation but not for health anxiety. They have also received $1,000 each for anxiety caused by the evacuation itself. This could be the first radiation health anxiety compensation to be granted in Japan. Before it becomes official, however, Tepco will be given time to study the case and appeal, if they desire. This decision could affect the 10,000 Namie residents who have filed a similar suit. (NHK World; Jiji Press; Mainichi Shimbun)
  • METI says the tunnels under the F. Daiichi buildings need to be drained. The Ministry believes this is the only way to insure that contaminated water in the tunnels will not reach the sea. Two years ago, Tepco sealed the sea-side openings of the tunnels, but METI feels draining and filling them with concrete will effectively put an end to criticism and rumors. Tepco may have to run the 20,000 tons of water through the Cesium stripping system and store it all in tanks which do not yet exist. METI says Tepco should consider pumping the contaminated water into the already contaminated building basements. Tepco’s original plan to pump groundwater away from the basement walls and into the sea received METI’s endorsement. (The Japan News)
  • Tepco says the level of radioactive Cesium in the F. Daiichi groundwater is exceedingly low. In fact, their instruments at F. Daiichi could not read the actual isotopic concentrations because of background radiation. Thus, they sent samples to Fukushima Daiini, 10 kilometers south of F. Daiichi, for analysis. The Cs-137 level is less than 0.4 Becquerels per liter (0.0004 Bq/ml) and Cs-134 about 0.22 Bq/liter. The levels are so low they were difficult to detect. Atsushi Kasai of Japan's Atomic Energy Research Institute says Tepco should have discovered the trace levels sooner, and the Cesium is probably the result of the contamination spread around the area over the early part of the accident. (Kyodo News)
  • Tepco will apply for an additional $6 billion from the government to cover increased public compensation pay-outs. This will bring the total to nearly $40 billion, which will eventually have to be repaid to the Ministry of the Economy. Two years ago, the Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund was established to shoulder the expense of compensation in order to keep Tepco from going bankrupt. The new request is expected to be formally submitted later this month. Tepco says the additional money is needed to make pay-outs for mental damages requiring medical care, loss or depreciation of valuables such as property, the recently announced extension of the compensation period, and compensation for harmful rumors in accordance with “Revision of Compensation Eligibility Criteria for Damages to the Agriculture, Forestry and Fishery Industries and the Processing and Distribution Industries Caused by Harmful Rumors (announced on March 25, 2013)”. (Japan Today; Tepco Press Release)
  • The Environment Ministry might sue Tepco in order to recover the cost of decontaminating the Fukushima exclusion zones. This covers costs incurred by the government based on a special measures law on radioactive contamination, as well as government subsidies to local governments which contracted decontamination work. Under the law, Tokyo is supposed to cover decontamination expenses at first and ask TEPCO to reimburse them later. There is no statue on reimbursement. However, if the suit is filed and won by the government, Tepco will have to pay interest on the sum requested by the ministry. Of the $210 million Tepco has been billed, the company has agreed to pay $44 million. The remainder is being investigated by Tepco to insure the money has actually been spent on Fukushima-area decontamination. Tepco said that it has responded appropriately and in accordance with the law. (Kyodo News)
  • 83 municipalities in five prefectures agree with Tokyo’s radioactive waste disposal plan. 37 oppose it and 74 have no current opinion. The communities are in Miyagi, Ibaraki, Gunma, Tochigi and Chiba Prefectures. During incineration or wastewater processing, radioactive Cesium is concentrated. When it reaches more than 8,000 Becquerels per kilogram in the ash or sewage sludge, it is defined as “designated waste” under the central government’s criteria. It is believed more than 120,000 tons of such material is now being stored while awaiting a final decision on disposal. Asked why it agreed to the central government’s plan, Chiba city government said, “This situation is inevitable.” Gunma Prefecture’s Shimonita town government said, “Contaminated materials should be handled within the prefecture where they were generated. Any local government would meet stiff opposition [from residents] for accepting waste from outside prefectures.” 18 of the communities, however, said all waste material should be disposed on the F. Daiichi and F. Daiini plant sites. Opposing communities cited two reasons for their negative opinions – It will be difficult to get resident’s consent and/or harmful radiation rumors could hurt community businesses. (Yomiuri Shimbun)
  • This past Sunday, a large antinuclear rally occurred in Tokyo. The number of demonstrators varied widely from one news outlet to another, with as low as 7,500 in Japan Today and as much as 60,000 in the Asahi Shimbun. Banners and chants included “No Nukes” and “Unevolved Apes Want Nukes”. (Japan Today) Main organizer Nobel-winning author Kenzaburo Oe said, "Resuming (operating) nuclear power plants is a betrayal to Fukushima." Sunday’s rally resulted from recent reports that some of the currently-idled nukes in Japan could be restarted this year. Some participants also said Tokyo should not export their nuclear technology to other countries like United Arab Emirates, Turkey and India, purely for economic gain. The protest was organized by the Metropolitan Coalition Against Nukes and a few labor unions. (NHK World; Asahi Shimbun; Mainichi Shimbun)

May 31, 2013

  • A Ministry of Industry panel has told Tepco to freeze the earth surrounding the leaking building basements at F. Daiichi and stanch the inflow of groundwater. METI says circulating systems for the flow of a refrigerant should be buried around the basement walls. Coolant at minus 40oC would be sent through the pipes freezing the ground solid. The government panel admits that there is no record of this type of technology ever being used before anywhere in the world, terming it “an unprecedented challenge”. They also admit that the system would probably have to operate for several years before it would no longer be needed. The idea was submitted to METI by the Kajima Corporation. Kajima says the system would be relatively easy to build and would reduce the inflow of groundwater by at least 300 tons per day. Currently, 400 tons per day seep into the basements. It is felt the greatly reduced in-seepage would allow the basements to be drained sufficiently to enhance the decommissioning effort. Kajima adds that power to the cooling system could be cut for many months before the soil would completely thaw and allow the groundwater inflow to return to its current level. METI told Tepco to take measures to implement the suggested fix. METI says Tepco could have the system up and running by 2015. (Kyodo News; Japan Today; Japan Times)
  • One of the two operators at J-PARC estimates that particulate from last week’s incident may have reached as far as one kilometer west of the facility. There is a housing district within 700 meters of the site so some radioactive material may have landed on it. However, officials say that even if the estimates are correct, the radiation exposures would be too low to produce health effects. JAEA also says that one of the radiation monitors at the site’s boundary briefly showed an increase of about 10X natural background for the region. Although the estimates are exceedingly low, heavy criticism from politicians and the Press has deteriorated trust in the local public, so J-PARC director Yujiro Ikeda said, "We will do everything in our power to rebuild trust (in our facility)." He added that J-PARC will hold local briefing sessions with local residents. In addition, the Nuclear Regulatory Authority says they will review all procedures for radiological controlled areas for the dozens of particle accelerators in Japan. The NRA adds that they will develop guidelines for establishing the safety of accelerator controlled areas and require all facilities to meet them. They will also require that all ventilation ducts that exhaust to the outside environment be filtered. While many facilities filter their ventilation exhausts, some do not…including J-PARC. Currently, guidelines for setting controlled areas and emergency procedures are left to the discretion of facility administrators. (Mainichi Shimbun)
  • The NRA has launched a formal probe intended to establish whether or not the earthquake of March 11, 2011, began the nuclear accident at F. Daiichi. Of the five investigations into the accident, one held by Japan’s congress (Diet) suggested the quake damaged a key emergency system for F. Daiichi unit #1 before the tsunami hit. The debate as to the efficacy of the Diet panel’s assumption has continued for nearly a year. The NRA wants to provide a definitive answer to end the dispute. NRA officials will check the 4th floor of the building, where utility workers witnessed water leaking immediately after the earthquake. Tepco maintains the water leaked from the building’s air conditioning system, and was not from an emergency system. Because of the high radiation levels in unit #1, the investigation will be limited to 10 minutes. (NHK World)
  • The NRA has opened a new spent fuel pool issue, this time for Tsuruga station’s unit #2. Last Wednesday, the NRA has judged a fault running under the unit to be seismic. As a result, they now want Japan Atomic Power, the station’s owner, to investigate the safety of the SFP in light of their seismic determination. The pool contains 1,700 fuel bundles, the majority of which are used. The NRA wants Japco to determine what would happen to the pool if an earthquake caused it to lose water and the worst case impact on the local environment. The watchdog has given Japco until July to submit their findings. (NHK World)
  • An American author advises the people of Japan to see the new feature-length documentary, Pandora’s Promise. He believes it would ease the national anxieties about nuclear energy and reduce fear of radiation. Colleague Paul Blustein has lived in Japan with his family for several years. He and his family have supported Fukushima recovery by consuming as much food from the prefecture as they can. Blustein says the rumors that have hurt the market for foods from Fukushima have gone on for too long and need to be stopped. Here’s the link to his article “Everything you thought you knew about the risks of nuclear energy is wrong”… http://qz.com/89336/everything-you-thought-you-knew-about-the-risks-of-nuclear-energy-is-wrong/
  • The steel frame for the enclosure around F. Daiichi unit #4 has been completed. Here’s the link for the handout given to the Press which includes pictures and graphics. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2013/images/handouts_130529_08-e.pdf In addition, Tepco has posted pictures of the most recent inspection of unit #4’s structural integrity. http://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2013/201305-e/130529-02e.html
  • The Upper House of Japan’s congress has passed a bill extending the statute on Fukushima damages suits. The Upper House has mediated claims for more than two years and the statute on mediation ends after three years. The 3-year limit ends next March.The House's nuclear disaster damage dispute settlement support center mediates between claimants and Tepco. The new law stipulates that once the 3-year period passes while in the mediation process, claimants are allowed to file damages suits against Tepco for up to one month after the center declares failure of mediation. (NHK World; Kyodo News; Jiji Press)
  • A report in The International Journal of Low Radiation says that the health effects of the Chernobyl accident have been overestimated. Sergei Jargin of Russia’s People’s Friendship University in Moscow, says unfounded statements presented as facts have been used to strangle nuclear energy. He also finds that the effects of food contamination, in particular, have been greatly distorted for propaganda purposes. Jargin’s team has analyzed the more than 25 years of information on Chernobyl and found  "numerous references to mass media, websites of unclear affiliation and commercial editions, used to corroborate scientific views," as opposed to properly referenced, peer-reviewed scientific publications. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130528122339.htm?utm_source=feedly&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+sciencedaily+%28ScienceDaily%3A+Latest+Science+News%29 (comment - The flawed literature on Chernobyl that Jargin identifies is regularly used by the Japanese Press as factual evidence relative to Fukushima.)

 

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