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Fukushima 54...6/20/13-7/8/13


July 8, 2013

  • Japan’s new nuclear regulations have gone into effect. The Nuclear Regulatory Authority says they are assigning 80 people in three teams to screen applications for restarts under the new rules. The agency says each application will take about six months to process before reaching a decision. Tokyo has said they will approve restarts of reactors the NRA deems to have met the new standards. Four companies who own ten nukes between them have applied for restarts. One company, Shikoku Electric, says, “We believe the [Ikata] reactor satisfies the state’s standards,” and the company hopes the NRA will conduct a “scientific, rational and efficient” safety assessment. The NRA says the new rules call for the world’s toughest level of nuclear safety, but critics say the agency has rushed the process because of pressure from the utilities with nukes. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130708_13.html -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/07/08/national/japan-reopens-application-procedures-for-rebooting-idled-nuclear-reactors/#.UdqtD-vD8dU
  • Minor protests and public criticisms have produced many more articles than the new safety rules have. A group of about 80 people demonstrated in front of the NRA’s offices calling for the restart applications to be rescinded by the power companies. They chanted, “No to restarts…stop Oi [nuclear plants].” Their main complaint is that the new rules were rushed into effect to justify restarts, but do not guarantee there will be no future Fukushimas. They also claim that the cause of the nuclear accident is still unknown. At the Prime Minister’s office, hundreds of outraged mothers protested the new rules and the possibility of restarts. One woman said she doesn’t understand why the government wants to restart nukes when she must raise children under the fear of radiation. Also, some of the Fukushima evacuees used the occasion to make their anger known. One of them, Naomi Namekata who fled from Fukushima and now lives in Sapporo, said, "The nuclear disaster has not been taken care of yet, nor is the damage from it under control. And yet, they are acting as if the disaster never happened at all." She adds that all she wants is to buy food without worrying about radiation, and radiation is the greatest fear she has for her son. Another evacuee, Hideko Hayashi, said, “No matter how strict the standards may be, an accident could occur. Having standards for restarting reactors is outrageous.” On the other hand, people living nearest the plants of possible restarts are generally supportive of their nukes. Also, some local officials welcome the impending nuclear operations. Fukui Gov. Kazumi Nishikawa said the new standards contain what his prefecture had demanded and urged the NRA process restart applications quickly. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20130708p2a00m0na011000c.html -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130707_29.html -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20130708p2a00m0na013000c.html
  • A Yomiuri Shimbun poll finds most local officials near nukes are in favor of restarts. 72 local and prefectural officials within 30 kilometers of nuke stations, including 11 governors and 61 mayors, were asked to participate. 41 agreed to the Yomiuri’s request. Four said they fully support reactivation, 30 said they would approve restarts if the plants meet the new safety regulations, and seven said they will not agree. The four giving unconditional support are the mayors of Kariwa, Izumozaki, Genkai, and Nagashima towns. 31 officials declined to participate because they felt a yes-or-no decision makes no sense, at this point and have taken a wait-and-see stance. The Yomiuri survey was given in late June using a multiple-choice format. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0000363952
  • Another new sampling well at F. Daiichi shows elevated water-borne contamination. The new well is near the cable trench that had a serious leak in April of 2011. Tepco says the detected beta-emitting isotopes may have come from the past leak and were retained in the soil. The isotopes in the water, including strontium-90, may have leached from the contaminated soil. The presence of Strontium in the water is not well understood because it is not supposed to be leachable. The new well, 25 meters from the sea, tested at 900,000 Becquerels per liter and Tritium activity is about 380,000 Bq/liter. While Tritium levels in the station’s port have increased, no corresponding increase in other isotopes has been detected there. Tepco says  they cannot be absolutely sure the new contamination discoveries are not from new leaks out of the plant, but the source is most likely residual from the April 2011 leak. Tepco says they will dig more sampling wells because the new ones have found groundwater contamination not previously detected. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20130706p2g00m0dm004000c.html -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2013070600218 -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130706_22.html
  • Tsunami debris has been removed from the Nahara town shoreline. The removal process began in March, many months after the government restriction was lifted last August. The delay was largely due to fears of radiation in the debris. The Environment Ministry, which had the work done, says that the contamination levels in the debris are much lower than anticipated and none was found to be in excess of the 100,000 Becquerel per kilogram limit. The debris is primarily wood and foundation materials from demolished houses, and has been moved from the shoreline to two temporary sites within the town borders. The ministry says the decontamination of the coastal area can now begin. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130707_03.html
  • None of Japan’s currently-idled nukes are being planned for decommissioning. The news media has assumed that the costs of meeting new safety standards would force some utilities to scrap older plants approaching the 40-year licensing limit. However, a poll was run by Jiji Press of all 10 companies with nukes, and found they plan to continue running reactors beyond the 40-year period. Jiji says the anticipated cost of decommissioning is much more than the cost of upgrading safety to meet the new regulations. Apparently surprised at the poll results, Jiji posted an antinuclear activist’s statement. Hideyuki Ban, co-director of the Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center, says, “Generally, older reactors have higher risks. If power firms put off decommissioning reactors to secure short-term profits and avoid [massive] losses, that could see the recurrence of a [major] nuclear accident.” http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/07/06/national/japanese-power-firms-have-no-plans-to-scrap-more-nuclear-reactors-poll/#.UdlzWevD8dU

July 5, 2013

  • The NRA says Oi station’s units #3&#4 can run until September. While the 48 idled nukes must meet the new regulations (to be issued July 8) before restarts, the two Oi units will not need to meet them until their routine outages are over. The NRA’s safety evaluation team said no significant safety problems should be expected during the two unit’s current operating runs. The report states, "We think facilities and the way things are managed will not create serious safety problems immediately." NRA Chair Shunichi Tanaka stressed the Oi units cannot be subsequently restarted until the new standards are fully satisfied, “Additional measures and closer examinations may be necessary after the routine checks. I want the operator to make further efforts to improve safety so that the reactors can (fully) satisfy the new regulation standards.” One Commissioner, Kayoko Nakamura, was not supportive of continuing operations at Oi. She feels the utility’s attitude toward safety was unacceptable and has “not received a passing grade”. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/07/03/national/oi-reactors-get-ok-to-stay-on-till-september/#.UdV0t-vD8dU -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0000355177 -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2013/07/233967.html
  • A nuke restart debate exists in Niigata Prefecture. The seven unit Kashiwazaki-Kariwa station is the focal point of the dispute. The mayors of the two host communities, Kashiwazaki and Kariwa, are taking a rational wait-and-see approach to the issue. Meanwhile, prefecture Mayor Hirohiko Izumida says he cannot go along with restarts for two reasons. First, Izumida believes the cause of the accident at Fukushima has yet to be fully determined by Tepco or the government and he won’t approve restarts until the investigation is complete. In addition, he feels Tepco has neglected the feelings of his constituency, "TEPCO's plan to file an application even without fulfilling its responsibilities will never gain the understanding of the public. The utility has failed to provide any explanation to the local community." On the other hand, Kariwa Mayor Hiroo Shinada said, "The village government is in no position to comment on an application because it is something that TEPCO's management decided. As mayor, I'd like to actively express opinions about the plant's safety while carefully listening to an explanation." Local citizen groups are also divided on the issue. Activist Keiko Hashimoto said, “TEPCO is desperate to reactivate the plant in order to meet its managerial requirements.” Meanwhile Kashiwazaki Junior Chamber Chair Kazumasa Takeuchi said he hopes the two units in question, #6 and #7, go into operation as soon as possible. Tepco President Naomi Hirose spoke with the governor and mayors on Friday, but it did not dissuade Gov. Izumida. During the meeting, the governor told Tepco to commit to filtered vents for their containments at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa before asking for his approval again. It should be noted that all units at the station are Pressurized Water Reactor systems with large, domed containments that the NRA has granted a five year grace period for filtered-vent installation. The governor added that he was concerned that the filtering devices will not remove all radiation from a venting, and small amounts would be released anyway. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20130703p2a00m0na012000c.html -- http://japandailypress.com/niigata-governor-criticizes-tepco-for-plan-to-apply-for-reactivation-of-nuclear-plant-0331667 -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130704_43.html
  • Four utilities have notified the NRA they will submit restart applications as soon as the new regulations are made official. The notifications were required to be submitted by 10am Friday. All plants are PWRs. They include Tomari units #1&#3, Takahama units #3&#4, and Ikata unit #3. One other notable notification was for the two currently-operating units, Oi #3&#4. Conspicuously missing from the notifications was Tepco’s two ready-to-go units at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa station. The reason for Tepco’s reluctance is the Niigata Prefecture governor’s stern antinuclear outcry. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2013/07/234326.html -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2013070500548
  • Japan’s Atomic Energy Agency has their first fully mobile laboratories for radiation monitoring. They unveiled two of them to the Press this morning. The units can provide near-real-time data on radioactive contamination on the land and in the air. Plus, factors such as temperature and time delays that are faced when sending samples to fixed laboratories will not come into play. Both units will go into operation later this month. JAEA did not say what the mobile units’ first assignments will be. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130705_24.html
  • While nuclear power is a fourth or fifth-level issue in most of Japan, it is No. 1 in Fukushima Prefecture. One seat is at stake for the Prefecture in the upcoming upper house election, and two of the three major candidates have taken a hardline antinuclear stance. Incumbent Emi Kaneko, 47, of the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) said, "I will send the message from Fukushima Prefecture to the nation and the world that we don't want nuclear plants." The Social Democratic Party's Yoko Endo, 63, said, "The whole of Fukushima Prefecture has been polluted. I will persistently stick to a platform of ending our nuclear power and dismantling reactors." On the other hand, second incumbent Masako Mori, 48, of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) avoided reactor restart issues while expressing concern for Fukushima parents who suffer radiation anxieties. She was joined by PM Shinzo Abe as she made her speech. The Prefecture’s number of seats in the House has been reduced from two to one, making this an unusually competitive campaign. Nationally, the LDP is expected to sweep the election and establish a clear majority in the upper house. Whether or not the party will be successful in Fukushima Prefecture is unknown. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20130704p2a00m0na007000c.html -- http://japandailypress.com/fukushima-voters-say-politicians-need-to-face-ongoing-nuclear-crisis-0431722
  • Test surveys for radioactive waste storage will begin in Nahara. The environment ministry will begin studies at 10 sites in the town’s Namikura district, located about ten kilometers south-west of Fukushima Daiichi. Minister Shinji Inoue notified town mayor Yukiei Matsumoto of the plan on Wednesday. Inoue stressed the situation is in the preliminary stage, meaning no construction work will be done. The initial surveys will test soil and underlying bedrock for temporary storage facility suitability. Mayor Matsumoto says the ministry plan does not guarantee that a storage facility will be built. He promised to carefully monitor the results. Nahara is one of three towns near F. Daiichi the ministry wants to use for contaminated waste storage until a future permanent repository is built. Lack of temporary storage sites has significantly slowed the region’s decontamination effort. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130703_31.html
  • Tepco has issued a Press handout concerning the rubbish fire at F. Daiichi earlier this week. The location of the fire was nowhere near any of the four damaged units at station, in fact it was between the undamaged units #5&6 and a warehouse on a bluff a few hundred meters from units #1-4. Pictures in the handout show how small the burned rubbish pile was. The handout also points out the waste incineration unit only burns “household waste”. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/betu13_e/images/130702e0101.pdf
  • Tokyo scientists have found a new radioactive Cesium hotspot on a Fukushima City roof. The total activity level of 1.7 million Becquerels is the highest found in more than a year. The area radiation exposure is about 0.5 microsieverts per hour. Team leader Ryoji Enomoto, professor at University of Tokyo’s Institute for Cosmic Ray Research, said the high levels were surprising. The contamination was found on June 8, but the team wanted independent confirmation from a Fukushima non-profit group before going public. The city will decontaminate the roof-top. “Decontamination works encompassing broad areas are important, but it is also important to find spots where radiation levels are locally high by using simplified measurement tools and to decontaminate the spots,” Enomoto said. “It will help reassure people.” http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201307040081

July 2, 2013

  • A new well at F. Daiichi shows elevated levels of radioactive isotopes. The total Beta activity is 3,000 Becquerels per liter. The isotopes detected include Strontium-90. The new groundwater sampling well is near the plant’s small shipping quay, located about 6 meters from the shoreline. It is one of the four new wells dug after finding Tritium and Strontium in groundwater near unit #2, in May. Jiji Press posted the misleading headline “Highly Toxic Groundwater Found near TEPCO N-Plant Port”, which was copied by most of the Japanese Press. The Press says there are suspicions that the material may be leaking to the sea because elevated tritium levels were detected at the unit #1 intake structure inside the quay. A Tepco official said, “It's true that radioactive contamination has been found from groundwater near the sea.” The NRA says it is “highly likely” that contamination has leaked into the port’s waters.  http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0000346561 -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/06/30/national/toxic-groundwater-found-in-fukushima-no-1-well-just-6-meters-from-pacific/#.UdAquevD8dU
  • A small rubbish fire at F. Daiichi made numerous headlines in Japan. A pile of cardboard had been temporarily-placed outside the station’s incinerator building and a worker noticed it was burning at 12:48pm today. The fire brigade arrived at 1:23pm and had the fire out at 1:37pm. Tepco made the perfunctory statement that no-one was harmed and no radioactive releases had occurred. However, many Japanese Press sources treated this as yet another example of F. Daiichi struggling with a growing number of incidents. Most Press took this opportunity to remind the public of recent radioactive water leaks and how “improvised” fixes at the site leave it vulnerable to problems with “no end in sight”. One paper went so far as to post “people remain concerned with the possible changes of radiation levels in the facility. According to critics, the improvised remedies used at the power plant cause it to become susceptible to a number of incidents.” How a small rubbish fire actually equates with minor water leaks and the auxiliary technology being used, is a complete mystery. http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/small-fire-reported-at-fukushima-nuclear-plant -- http://japandailypress.com/fire-breaks-out-at-fukushima-nuclear-power-plant-0231585 comment - The rubbish that ought to be burned is the overt use of fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) being foisted on the Japanese public by the Press. This may be the most ridiculous example of Fukushima FUD to date.
  • Tepco says that the last of F. Daiichi’s underground water cisterns has been drained. The last of the leaking reservoirs was emptied on June 11. In order to insure against any future leaks from the non-leaking cisterns, Tepco has drained them all. The final one to be emptied had contained about 3,000 tons of mildly-contaminated seawater from the basements of undamaged units #5&6. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2013/07/233586.html
  • Tepco will send reminders to 11, 000 Fukushima residents to apply for accident compensation. More than 160,000 either evacuated their homes or stayed indoors during the months after 3/11/11. They all qualify for Tepco pay-outs. However, 11,000 stragglers must apply before the statute runs out in March, 2014. The Tepco reminders have been mandated by the Fukushima Revitalization Headquarters. Headquarters chief Yoshiyuki Ishizaka says the company should find ways to prevent residents from missing out on the compensation. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130628_38.html
  • Numerous Press articles have been posted about a shipment of Mixed Oxide nuclear fuel arriving in Japan. Several Japanese nukes mix MOX with ordinary Uranium fuel bundles – Takahama unit #3, Ikata unit #3 and Genkai unit #3. Fukushima Daiichi unit #3 also used MOX, but that is now moot. MOX fuel combines recycled Plutonium with Uranium as a fission source. Typically, about 25% of the new installed fuel is MOX. The 20 fuel cells received this past week were fabricated in France. While nearly all Press outlets erroneously called MOX bomb-grade because of the small percentage of Plutonium in the fuel pins, one source (The Japan News/Yomiuri Shimbun) made no nuclear weapon connection. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0000341854
  • Millions of dollars in quake and tsunami recovery funds have been used to subsidize fossil-fueled power plant operations. More than $90 million was set aside as a “subsidy to facilitate thermal power generation” to off-set the loss of their nukes during the moratorium. Chubu Electric Co. received almost $20 million for fossil-fuel replacement power. The subsidy also allows the Shizuoka prefectural thermal effluent research center about $60-70 million. The center is a fish breeding facility that uses warm water from the Hamaoka nuclear station, but had to shut down because of the moratorium. The Industry Ministry says the shutdown was the fault of the government and the subsidy was given. But, they have since changed their mind and want the money returned and used for Tohoku recovery. While none of the money has actually gone to nuclear power plants, the news media is upset because the money has used by private utilities that have idled nukes. Japan Daily Press ran the headline “Government uses quake recovery funds to help out nuclear facility”. It should be noted that at least $100 million was spent on projects completely unrelated to Tohoku recovery and the Ministry is trying to get that money back, too. http://japandailypress.com/government-uses-quake-recovery-funds-to-help-out-nuclear-facility-2831402
  • The governor of Niigata Prefecture says the new NRA safety regulations are inadequate. Governor Hirohiko Izumida says "Even if the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant run by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) meets new safety requirements set by the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), it won't mean its safety is guaranteed. Setting safety standards without getting to the bottom of the Fukushima nuclear disaster provides no guarantee of safety.” He also believes the NRA fails to listen to local officials concerned about drawing up emergency plans, saying that "Such an absurd stance is totally unheard of." He further wants assurance that a nuclear plant will never be abandoned even in the most severe accident, "Abandoning the site of a serious accident could result in a meltdown. Unless the government determines how to respond to such a situation, we can't say it has gotten to the bottom of the Fukushima accident. The NRA standards alone won't ensure the safety of prefectural residents." It thus seems Izumida has no intention of agreeing to restart of any of Tepco’s seven Kashiwazaki-Kariwa units located in his Prefecture. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20130629p2a00m0na016000c.html
  • Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party has formally opposed a no-nukes future for the nation. LDP Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba said Tokyo should not mis-lead the public by rejecting nuclear power. He said the party wants to reduce reliance on nukes, but they need to restart all plants that meet the new safety requirements in order to secure a stable supply of electricity now and in the foreseeable future. The eight minority opposition parties in the Diet said they will not stop pushing for no-nukes, regardless of what the now-in-power LDP says.  http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2013062900300
  • Tepco has agreed to release information on residents yet to file compensation claims. Of the 165,000 who Tokyo says qualify for the money, 11,000 have not filed. By releasing the data, local governments can pursue having these people file before the statute expires in 2014. Tepco cannot post the data publically without violating the Personal Information Protection Law, thus the information must go through the local governments. Tepco official Yoshiyuki Ishizaka said that even if residents file after the statute runs out, the company will honor their requests. Tepco also announced they will begin acceptance of applications for contaminated mountain and forested properties in September. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/06/30/national/municipalities-ask-tepco-for-residents-data-to-expedite-redress/#.UdArKuvD8dU

June 30, 2013

163rd Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers

The Hiroshima Syndrome is proudly hosting the 163rd Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers. For the full reports, please click on the individual links. Blog topics include – Nuclear professional's philosophy, two new energy videos, the UK wants “strike prices” for renewable generation, who are the Fukushima tsunami refugees(?) and Limits to Growth’s 30 year update is wrong.

From ANS Nuclear Café (2)

1. "Philosophy, Shale Gas, and the ANS Annual Meeting"  http://ansnuclearcafe.org/2013/06/25/philosoph-shale-gas-ans-annual-meeting/ 

2. "Open Letter to Those Attending Global Power Shift and to the Climate Movement at Large"

http://ansnuclearcafe.org/2013/06/24/open-letter-to-those-attending-global-power-shift-and-to-the-climate-movement-at-large/

From Yes Vermont Yankee

“Energy Made Simple, Southern Company's 90 second videos” http://yesvy.blogspot.com/2013/06/energy-made-simple-southern-companys-90.html

From Mark Lynas

“Is Solar Really Four Times the Cost of Nuclear? No - But…”  http://www.marklynas.org/2013/06/is-solar-really-four-times-the-cost-of-nuclear-no-but/

From Canadian Energy Issues

“Nuclear-powered Iceland points way to carbon-free Canadian North” http://canadianenergyissues.com/2013/06/28/nuclear-powered-iceland-points-way-to-carbon-free-canadian-north/

From The Hiroshima Syndrome/Fukushima Commentary

“Who Are Fukushima’s Tsunami Refugees?” http://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/fukushima-commentary.html

From Next Big Future

“Limits to Growth 30 Year Update Claimed the World is in Overshoot of Carrying Capacity…” http://nextbigfuture.com/2013/06/limits-to-growth-30-year-update-claimed.html

From Nuke Power Talk

“Tilting Toward Nukes: Finding Reason in Unexpected Places” http://nukepowertalk.blogspot.com/2013/06/tilting-toward-nukes.html

From Atomic Power Review

“Obama's Climate Action Plan” http://atomicpowerreview.blogspot.com/2013/06/obamas-climate-action-plan.html

FromJim Conca

“Yes We Can Dispose of Nuclear Waste”  http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2013/06/30/yes-we-can-dispose-of-nuclear-waste/

June 27, 2013

  • Tritium levels may be increasing inside the F. Daiichi break-wall. On June 10, the Tritium concentration was at about 500 Becquerels per liter just off the seawater intake of unit #1. A June 21 sample showed 1,100 Bq/l at the same location. The Japanese limit for open release is 60,000 Bq/l, but with Japan’s radiophobic Press the Tepco announcement is being given sensational treatment. There has been no increase in Cesium and analysis for Strontium-90, the newest “scary” isotope, has not been completed. The source of the increased Tritium could be groundwater flow. Tepco is trying to establish the reason for the Tritium increase. NHK World reports the NRA has urged Tepco to check for new leaks at the plant and take all urgent measures possible to prevent contamination of the sea. The NRA says groundwater-borne leaks are “likely”. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130625_04.html -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/06/25/national/tritium-samples-in-sea-near-no-1-soar/#.UcmMvevD8dU -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20130625p2g00m0dm043000c.html
  • The former president of Japan’s Nuclear Technology Institute gave his view on the cause of the Fukushima accident. At a conference in Taipei, Michio Ishikawa rejected the notion of the 3/11/11 earthquake causing the crisis, saying the accident was due to the massive tsunami resulting in a blackout lasting more than a week. Ishikawa emphasized that existing technology with nuclear plant designs are very safe, but “It was the Japanese government and relevant institute’s incompetence that led to the disaster.” Ishikawa thus calls F. Daiichi a man-made calamity. Also at the conference, Taipei’s Economics Minister, Chang Chia-juch, said most of the reports coming out of Japan are too exaggerated to truly picture the extent of the crisis, and “People need correct information.” Antinuclear activist Tsui Su-hsin said both statements were incorrect and the earthquake was the actual cause of the accident. He charged that the conference is merely a government attempt to defuse opposition to the completion of the country’s fourth nuke. http://focustaiwan.tw/news/aall/201306240021.aspx
  • Japan’s antinuclear forces have descended on utility shareowner meetings. The Press has focused on the numerous proposals to scrap all nukes and the well-orchestrated protests held outside the meeting locations. The utility shareowners soundly defeated all of the proposals, however.  The utilities vowed to meet all new NRA safety regulations and get their currently-idled nukes restarted as soon as possible. Shikoku Electric president Akira Chiba expressed guarded optimism, “We will seek to restart our reactor at an early date by winning the consent of the local people.” The most heated meeting was at Tepco headquarters in Tokyo where angry antinukes submitted no less than nine proposals, including a demand that the undamaged Kashiwazaki-Kariwa station be dismantled. The leader of Tepco’s antinuclear shareowner contingent, Yui Kimura, said that as long as shareowners refuse to force nuclear plant dismantlement they are as responsible for the Fukushima accident as the company itself.  A Namie shareholder said,“Please think of our suffering, our uncertainty, our fear of living with radiation.” Outside on a Tokyo street, Greenpeace Japan activists were dressed up like casino workers working a fake roulette table. “Nuclear power is a dangerous gamble,” said Yuki Sekimoto, a Greenpeace spokeswoman. Only the Horuriku Electric Company meeting was devoid of protestors and antinuclear shareowner proposals. It is no coincidence that Horuriku was the only company with idled nukes to show a profit last year.  http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130626_18.html -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/06/26/business/reactor-operators-face-shareholders/#.UcrvqOvD8dU -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20130626p2a00m0na008000c.html
  • Some of Japan’s Press report that NRA-mandated safety upgrades “mask” existing problems with nukes. Japan Today calls utility plans to submit restart applications next month are “wildly optimistic” because the NRA will possibly err on the side of caution and effect unforeseen delays in nuke resumptions. In addition, local consent for restarts needs to be given, which is at this point not a sure thing. The Press is using the uncertainty tactic to the maximum because until the restart applications are submitted, acted upon and local consent is gained, no one will know the outcome for sure. http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/japan-nuclear-safety-upgrades-mask-industry-problems
  • The onset of F. Daiichi melted fuel removal may begin as early as 2020. The Tokyo government says it is possible to advance prospective date from the original 2021 schedule because of improvements in the efficiency of pre-removal work. The revised road-map for decommissioning was revealed in Tokyo today. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2013/06/232837.html
  • Tepco has rejected a financial settlement proposal by a state arbitrator. In May, the Center for Settlement of Fukushima Nuclear Damage Claims recommended that Tepco pay damages to 190 residents of Iitate Village. That was the first time a state body had endorsed a reward for radiation fears. The plaintiff’s homes are classified as currently uninhabitable by the government. The claimants believe they warrant compensation due to anxiety over the possibility of future health issues from radiation exposure. Tepco says they will not comply with arbitration because the evacuee’s claims do not fit scientific knowledge about the health effects of low-dose exposure. One angry claimant asked Tepco what they would do if this happened to them or their relatives. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130626_31.html

June 24, 2013

  • Stress among Fukushima mothers and children have eased since last year. Fukushima University's Faculty of Symbiotic Systems Science surveyed mothers of nearly 1,700 Fukushima City elementary school children in January. The detailed survey addressed mother’s worries about radiation exposure, their mental stress and the stress exhibited by their children. The results were compared to similar surveys run in January of 2012 and June-July of 2011. One of the most interesting changes is that 72% of the mothers now allow outdoor play, compared to just 33% in 2011. The survey was also run in neighboring prefectures and the results show that Fukushima mothers remain the most-stressed statistical cohort. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=203
  • The Nuclear Regulation Authority says it will prioritize nuke restart applications. The first ones to be screened will be those without earthquake concerns and have one or more units of the same design at the station. Units 1&2 at Sendai, owned by Kyushu Electric Co., will probably be moved to the head of the list. Both units are 890 MWe Pressurized Water Reactor systems commissioned 7/84 and 11/85, respectively. There are no known faults in the underlying bedrock for the Sendai station. The next in line will probably be Ikata unit #3, owned by Shikoku Electric Co., which has no underlying geologic anomalies and was commissioned in 1994. The governors of both Kagoshima and Ehike Prefectures, homes to each nuke station, have said they will concede responsibility for the restart decisions to the Tokyo government if the local public can be adequately informed of safety. Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of the NRA, said, “The new standards are appropriate, even in view of international standards. Whether we can give life to them depends on how the examination on the basis of new standards goes.”  http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0000324178
  • Some of the Fukushima towns want a second round of decontamination. Most of the government’s de-con work has been finished, but some say it isn’t enough. They want all of their communities to have radiation levels below the 1 millisievert national standard before they will consider the work complete. For example, in Kawauchi Town nearly half of the decontaminated housed still show radiation levels above the 1 mSv level. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2013062400516
  • Another new leak has been reported at F. Daiichi. This time it comes from the desalination system on the back-end of the Cesium removal system. Reports vary as to the amount that leaked from the system, from a low of 250 liters (NHK World) to a high of 360 liters (Mainichi Shimbun, Asahi Shimbun, and a host of others). While on routine system inspection, one of the plant staff noticed the leak flowing into the containment barrier around the desalination unit. He shut off flow through the reverse-osmosis technology and the leak stopped. None of the fluid has entered the environment. Several news outlets say Tepco has not disclosed the radiation level within the leaked water, but a quick look at the Tepco Press site shows Tepco has in-fact made the information available… http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2013/1228420_5130.html  The following URLs are representative of the myriad of articles found in the Japanese Press… http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130621_15.html -- http://japandailypress.com/tepco-reports-of-new-leak-at-fukushima-daiichi-plant-2131011 -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/06/21/national/360-liters-of-radioactive-water-leaks-from-fukushima-no-1/#.UcRCeevD8dU
  • The Environment Ministry says all radioactive waste must be disposed-of in the prefectures of origin. On Thursday, Fukushima Prefecture refused to accept the wastes generated in other Prefectures. It is no mere coincidence that the Ministry made their ruling the next day, apparently supporting the Fukushima government’s decision. The Ministry plans to select disposal sites after receiving local approval, but some prefectures, like Tochigi, have refused the idea of burying their own contaminated waste. Minister Shinji Inoue said, “Even if the discussion (on the pros and cons of disposing the contaminated waste within the prefecture) continues, there won't be any progress. Temporary storage continues, and residents are feeling uneasy. I trust the city, town and village heads will make a sensible decision on this issue." http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20130621p2a00m0na008000c.html
  • Tepco is accused of covering-up groundwater contamination. Tepco says they first noticed the elevated level of Tritium in one sampling well about three weeks before they released the information to the Press. The company says they wanted to make sure of their discovery, so they sent out samples to other laboratories for corroboration. They did the same thing with their detection of Strontium-90 from the sampling well. Numerous Press outlets in Japan say the delay in the announcement further deteriorates trust the Press has with Tepco. Kazunori Endo, of the Soma-Futaba fisheries cooperative, said he was exasperated with Tepco, “The problem is that (scandals) crop up one after another.” http://japandailypress.com/tepco-withheld-fukushima-groundwater-contamination-data-for-weeks-2131013
  • Tepco seeks dismissal of a lawsuit filed in the United States. The formal submittal for the dismissal was filed on June 21. The suit was filed last year by some 50 plaintiffs, most of which were American sailors taking part in the post-3/11/11 relief effort known as Operation Tomodachi. The suit demands unspecified compensation for damages and a $1 billion fund for medical checks and treatment because the plaintiffs allegedly face cancer risks due to Fukushima radiation exposure. Tepco’s filing in San Diego charges that the plaintiff’s claims have no specificity and they should have filed their legal action in Japan.  By both American and International standards, none of the plaintiff’s exposures are considered health-threatening. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2013/06/231860.html
  • Tokyo is asking that unused, inappropriately-designated funds for Tohoku reconstruction be returned. The amount being sought is about $1 billion. It is rare for such a request to be made in Japan once the funds have been allocated. Last year, it was uncovered that $10 billion had been diverted to projects irrelevant to disaster recovery. Most of the money has already been spent or is otherwise tied up in binding contracts and cannot be returned to the government, by national law. In addition to the #1billion Tokyo wants returned, another $400 million is ordered to be re-designated by local Tohoku entities so that it will be properly spent on recovery. Tokyo’s request is not legally binding, but it is nonetheless expected to find compliance. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20130622p2a00m0na011000c.html

June 20, 2013

  • Strontium-90 has been discovered in one of F. Daiichi’s numerous groundwater piezometers. An above-standard level of Tritium was also found in the well-water. This story has exploded across the Japanese Press and broadcast by several international Press outlets. The most-often used headline in Japan has been “High levels of toxic strontium found in Fukushima groundwater”, as well as Reuters and the ABC News. The Strontium’s radiological concentration is one Becquerel per milliliter, and the Tritium is at 500 Bq/ml. The Strontium concentration is 30 times Japan’s national standard, and the Tritium about 8 times the limit. The “well” from which the sample was taken is very near the basement wall of unit #2. Tepco believes the contamination is residual from the water that poured into a nearby cable trench from the basement in April of 2011. Strontium levels have increased in the well’s water by a factor of 100 since December, 2012. The leak was sealed but much of the leaked, highly-contaminated water found its way into the surrounding soil. The “well” is about 30 meters from the shoreline and none of the other piezometers have shown any Strontium or Tritium, thus Tepco believes none of the material is getting into the sea. Tepco spokesperson Toshihiko Fukuda said, “The density of radioactive material in the seawater is within the fluctuation range of the past. We don’t think (contaminated water) leaked into the sea.”However, the controversy over whether or not Tepco should pump groundwater to the sea and reduce the voluminous seepage into the building basements has been amplified. A Nagoya University Chemist, Michiaki Furukawa, said, “This contaminated water should not be released to the ocean. They have to keep it somewhere so that it can’t escape outside the plant. Tepco needs to carry out more regular testing in specific areas and disclose everything they find.”  Tepco says they will build a protective barrier to insure the material does not reach the sea. One waterproofing material mentioned is “liquid glass”. Construction will begin later this month and take about 90 days to complete. Comment – this has been carried by nearly all Japanese news media outlets, with some highly frightening commentary added concerning Strontium-90. The following URLs include one relatively rational report (NHK), two articles of the scare-mongering nature (Japan Times and Japan Daily Press) and one of the international reports (ABC News).  http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130619_18.html -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/06/20/national/strontium-in-groundwater-at-no-1-soars/#.UcH6IuvD8dV -- http://japandailypress.com/high-levels-of-toxic-strontium-found-in-fukushima-groundwater-1930883 -- http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-06-19/strontium-found-in-fukushima-groundwater/4766302
  • More detail on the NRA rejection of earthquake damage at F. Daiichi. This announcement denied the speculation drawn by the Diet’s investigative committee (NAIIC) last summer. The NAIIC said emergency cooling pipes on the Isolation Condenser, located on the fourth floor of unit #1, may have cracked and initiated the nuclear accident before the tsunami hit. The NAIIC based this on testimony by a few workers who saw water leaking down walls near the IC components. The NRA inspection has verified Tepco’s claim that the moisture came from the spent fuel pool on the fifth floor when water sloshed out due to the violent shaking of the quake. The NRA added that due to the nature of the IC system, cracked piping would have resulted in a steam leak, not water. The IC condensers receive steam from the reactor vessel during an accident condition and cool it back into water. The unit #1 IC system ceased functioning early into the accident, fueling conjecture that a pipe break may have caused its failure. No Japanese critics challenged the NRA judgment, but a few said the cause of the water sloshing out of the SFP needs further investigation. The NRA plans on another inspection later this summer concerning the possible cause of the hydrogen explosion with unit #4, which was shut down and defueled at the time of the accident. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130618_36.html -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/06/18/national/nra-denies-311-quake-damaged-condenser-pipes-at-fukushima-no-1-2/#.UcBW9-vD8dU
  • The new water leak reported this past Monday was actually a discoloration found in a drip pan below a storage tank. The brownish discoloration is similar to a rust spot caused by dirty water. Discolored condensation coated the bottom of the tank above the drip pan and may have been the reason for the drip-spot. One water droplet reading 4,300 counts per minute was sitting in the discoloration. A bucket was placed under the suspected drip-point. After 16 hours, 370 milliliters of water was collected in the bucket reading 5.8 Becquerels per milliliter Cesium-134&137 and 6,700 Bq/ml total Beta radiation. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/index-e.html -- http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2013/images/handouts_130617_02-e.pdf
  • Units at six nuclear power stations will apply for restart as soon as the new regulations take effect on July 8. All power systems at the six locations are Pressurized Water Reactors. The damaged units at Fukushima Daiichi are Boiling Water Reactors. The plants are Tomari in Hokkaido, Oi and Takahama in Fukui Prefecture, Ikata in Ehime Prefecture, Genkai in Saga Prefecture and Sendai in Kagoshima Prefecture. BWR units will not be among the first wave of restart applications because they must add hardened, filtered venting technology to depressurize their containments during a severe accident like F. Daiichi. PWR containments are several times larger in volume and the likelihood of accident venting is much less than with smaller BWR containments. PWRs will eventually have filtered venting systems, but a grace period of 5 years will be granted for them. Regardless, the NRA will have three teams of inspectors dedicated to making sure all new regulations are met before restarts will be allowed. The NRA says it will probably take six months to screen each of the applications for restart. Federation of Electric Power Companies Chairman Makoto Yagi said, “We’ve been already making necessary preparations and plan to file for screening as soon as we’re ready. We hope [the watchdog] efficiently makes screenings and a judgment for restart so that applications won’t be on hold for a long time.” NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka said, “I think we now have a framework that is up to international standards.” Critics say the new requirements have loopholes to make things easier for restarts, including five-year grace periods for PWR containment vents and the construction of emergency management command centers at each plant site. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130618_29.html -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20130620p2a00m0na012000c.html
  • The new nuclear emergency response center in Tokyo has opened. The NRA unveiled it for the Press today. The new facility is a significant upgrade from the small, inadequate one that existed during the F. Daiichi accident. The new facility covers more than 6,300 square feet in area, has real-time radiological monitoring for all nukes and their surrounding areas, links to all nuke command centers, links to the Prime Minister and local governments, and full video conferencing. During the opening ceremony, reporters witnessed a video conference with the Oi emergency command center. Oi units 3&4 are the only nukes currently operating in Japan. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130620_24.html 
  • Forbes columnist James Conca has posted an Op-ed piece concerning the more than 50,000 Fukushima refugees. He argues that if it were not for fear of radiation, most of them would already be back home. Conca asks, “Can we please stop scaring the Japanese people now? Can we let them relax and stop hurting themselves with stress that really is causing health effects? Can we let them rebuild their lives the way they should have been able after any huge disaster like the tsunami?... The situation in Japan [needs] to be re-evaluated and people allowed to return to most areas below reasonable radiation levels, levels in which many of us elsewhere in the world live… Instead, the Japanese people are being held in a horrible limbo, kept in fear by ideologues who care more about closing nuke plants than in the lives of these refugees.” http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2013/06/18/fukushima-2-25-the-humanitarian-crisis/

 

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