Fukushima 56...8/1/13-8/15/13

August 15, 2013

  • Tepco is accelerating “pumping up” groundwater inside the soil-solidified walls at F. Daiichi. One pumping operation was started last Friday at less than 20 tons per day. After the complete installation of about thirty pipes driven 5 meters into the ground later this weekend, Tepco says the total removal will be 60 tons per day. Jiji Press says the total pumping flow will be 70 tons per day. Regardless, the operating pump has lowered groundwater level about 5 centimeters (2 inches) since Friday. Considering that the groundwater level has been 60 centimeters above to top of the fully-solidified soil wall, some groundwater might yet be seeping over the barrier. Tepco also said that after the entire quay shoreline is solidified, up to 35 tons per day might continue to creep over the wall. At first, the water pumped out of the earth is being sent to an empty underground cabling tunnel coming out of unit #2. From there, it will be run through the Cesium-stripping system and eventually be stored in above-ground tanks. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130815_28.html -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2013081500595
  • Japan’s nuke watchdog ordered Tepco to check another underground trench for leaks at F. Daiichi. This time, it is an equipment tunnel running between unit #1 and its seawater intake structure. The NRA feels it is possible that highly contaminated water from a contaminated tunnel at unit #2 has migrated into the unit #1 trench. The NRA order was spurred by Monday’s announcement of a new groundwater observation well east of unit #1 showing 34,000 Becquerels per liter of Tritium, which is higher than the 1,500 Bq/liter reading from wells east of units #3&4. NRA Commissioner Toyoshi Fuketa said, "We have to take seriously the fact that highly radioactive substances were detected in front of the No. 1 reactor as well." Tepco tested the unit #1 tunnel last December and found Cesium-137 at 89 Bq/liter. They have not checked the trench since. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20130813p2a00m0na017000c.html
  • The NRA’s desire to build an underground ice wall at F. Daiichi continues to be criticized. Kajima Corporation, the main contractor in building the Fukushima Daiichi nuke units, has until next March to submit a feasibility study to the NRA. The wall of frozen earth will run about 1.4 kilometers in length, surrounding the basements of units #1 through 4. However, international experts doubt the efficacy of the proposed project, even going so far as to call it a “cash cow” for Kajima. American Richard McPherson feels it will be a waste of time and money because of the huge amount of energy needed to keep the wall frozen. Bernd Braun of Texas, an expert in freezing projects, estimates the system would draw nearly 10 megawatts of electricity, which could supply about 3,300 Japanese homes. McPherson feels the electricity would be better used to address Japan’s current power shortage. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga admitted the project is unprecedented and will require the government to “step forward and support its realization”. http://japandailypress.com/japan-looking-at-ice-wall-to-stem-leak-of-contaminated-water-from-fukushima-1533909/
  • Fukushima’s fishermen are upset with Tepco. Their complaints can be summed up in two phrases; “Harmful rumors will be reinforced” and “All our efforts have been for nothing”. The fisheries near F. Daiichi have been running test catches off-shore to see if the fish are contaminated. The Iwaki City Fishery Cooperative Association has decided to postpone its first test-fishing which was originally scheduled to begin in September. They hoped to resume their business without rumors harmful to business. Recent announcements by Tepco concerning contaminated groundwater and the possibility of elevated contamination of the station’s quay make fishermen feel defeated. Another concern is that Tokyo will eventually allow Tepco to discharge uncontaminated water to the sea, which will also spawn rumors. One Association member, Yasuo Yoshida, said, "Our efforts will be wasted. If the government releases the water into the ocean under its own responsibility, the government should also be responsible enough to take measures against harmful rumors." An Ibaraki fishing boat captain lamented, "The trading price is one-tenth of what it was before the (nuclear) accident" and will probably get worse due to rumors. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20130814p2a00m0na016000c.html
  • The Environment Ministry announced that a radioactive sludge incinerator has been completed. It is located in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture. It will be put into full operation next month. The sludge will be burned at 850oC. The resulting ash will reduce the volume by 95%. The plant will incinerate 11,000 tons of existing contaminated sludge and the 4,000 tons of earth now covering the material at a temporary storage site. All sludge burning is expected to be finished by March, 2014. It is estimated that the resulting ash will be in the 20,000-30,000 Becquerels per kilogram range, much lower than the national limit of 100,000 Bq/kg for burial. Four external radiation monitors at the incinerator site will be used to post constant data on-line for interested members of the public. The ash will be loaded into container vessels and sent to an existing disposal site in Tomioka Town. The Ministry and Tomioka officials are hammering out the issues with this plan. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=228
  • Naoto Kan says he did nothing criminal during the first chaotic days of the nuclear accident. He submitted a legal brief to the public prosecutors in Tokyo on Wednesday, detailing his side of the story. In it he says “there was no problem” with his actions. Last week, the prosecutors said there was no legal grounds for indictment of about 40 Tokyo and Tepco officials, including Kan, who were being sued by a consortium of Japanese claiming injuries due to F. Daiichi’s radiation. However, the prosecutors asked Kan to submit evidence of his innocence with respect to the claim that his actions were negligent, causing injuries to Tepco workers and needless radiation exposure to the public. Further, they claim Kan's visit to the plant the morning of April 12, hindered plant workers' efforts to contain the crisis, causing a delay with venting of the reactor containment vessel which might have averted the unit #1 explosion. Kan says the staff at F. Daiichi could have vented pressure early in the morning, but chose otherwise. Kan denies being the cause of the decision to not depressurize earlier than when it actually happened later in the morning. He also says his visit to the plant was to spur a speedier response. Regardless, the prosecutors say they will decide on whether or not to file criminal charges as early as the end of the month. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130814_27.html -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2013/08/240926.html  [Kan conveniently fails to mention that the staff at F. Daiichi wanted to depressurize at 1:30am on the 12th, but the PM ordered them to hold off until (1) a 3am press conference was held to announce the venting, and (2) the entire 3km radius around the plant was evacuated. The full evacuation was confirmed ~9:00am, and the venting started at 10:17am. Clearly, the plant staff was following his orders.]
  • Decontamination of schools and kindergartens in and around Fukushima Prefecture is 98% complete. As a result, de-con teams are now shifting focus to private dwellings. Decontamination orders have been issued for over 90,000 homes out of the more than 140,000 designated as needing the cleansing, most of which are outside the mandated evacuation zone boundaries. The government-sponsored work includes homes in 58 municipalities covering seven Prefectures. Work has been completed on about 43,000 dwellings, which is about 30% of the planned total. The Environment Ministry hopes the home decontamination effort will soon be in full operation. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130814_14.html

August 12, 2013

  • Japan’s Industry Ministry admits their statement of highly-contaminated groundwater flow to the sea is an assumption. The Ministry official who made the announcement qualified the Ministry’s position when he said, “But, we’re not certain if the water is highly contaminated.” In addition, a “French expert” said the environmental risk of the possible leakage to the sea is small compared to the overall impact of the accident in 2011. http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/tepco-starts-pumping-out-toxic-groundwater-from-fukushima-plant?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2013-08-11_PM
  • Tepco announced that the groundwater level just inside the soil-solidified wall rose above the barrier. They dug an observation well 4 meters from the quay shoreline and tested it Saturday for water depth and radioactive content. The groundwater’s level is 60 centimeters (about 2 feet) higher than the top of the fully-solidified ground. Thus, the company says flow into the quay is likely, but they are hopeful that the system to pump away the groundwater from the inside of the wall will drop the level below the top of the barrier. The soil-solidification appears to be 100% below a ground-depth of 1.8 meters. Above that depth, the degree of solidification decreases. The test for radioactive material from the observation well revealed Tritium, a radioactive isotope of Hydrogen, at 34,000 Becquerels per liter. The initial test on Thursday, when the well was dug, revealed 23,000 Bq/liter. Total Cesium is at 2.3 Bq/liter and all other isotopes show a collective activity of 210 Bq/liter. It should be noted that the limit for unrestricted release is 60 Bq/liter for Cs-134 and 90 Bq/liter for Cs-137.  http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2013/08/240416.html -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130811_01.html -- http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2013/1229649_5130.html
  • A Tepco spokesperson says they have been aware of groundwater flow under F. Daiichi for two years. Last Friday, Masayuki Ono said Tepco’s experts have known that hundreds of tons of under-Fukushima waters flow into the sea every day for that time period. Until last month, however, Tepco has said that none of the groundwater leaking to the sea was contaminated. Now, using worst-case-scenario assumptions, Tepco says that contamination might be leaking into their quay along the shoreline. Ono gave no reason why Tepco waited two years to disclose their knowledge of Fukushima groundwater flow. On Saturday, Tepco said they have tested groundwater near their underground soil-solidified wall and found radioactive materials in the water. (see above) http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130810_99.html -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2013/08/240353.html
  • Tepco plans to soil-solidify the entire shoreline along the F. Daiichi quay. They will dig wells deep into the earth between the seawater intake structures for units #2&3 and units #3&4 and start pumping water away at about 80 tons per day before solidifying the embankments next to the quay. They feel this will prevent groundwater building up at the solidified walls and seeping over them, as was the case with the first wall built recently. Tepco added that the pumping-out rate at the first wall’s well, between units #1&2, is now 60 tons per day. There has been no announcement as to the effect it has had on the water level at the solidified wall. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130812_32.html
  • Ten F. Daiichi workers were found to be contaminated on their heads. The skin contamination was about 10 Bq/cm2. This is 2.5 times Tepco’s skin contamination limit. The workers were contaminated while waiting for a bus inside the station’s property. The cause was in initially believed to be a machine spraying cool mist at the station. The mist was used to help avoid heatstroke due to the record-high temperatures now gripping all of Japan. The same water is used for toilets and other sanitary purposes. All uses of this water was suspended. Subsequent water analysis revealed no detectible Cesium in it. Thus, the use of the potable water was resumed across the station. Tepco now thinks the contamination was due to a localized dust surge while the workers were waiting for the bus. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130812_30.html -- http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2013/1229677_5130.html
  • The people taking advantage of the “long-stay” opportunity in Tamura town are looking ahead. This is the first time that evacuees from the nuclear accident have been allowed to stay at their homes for a long period of time, other than for long-holiday seasons. Currently limited to three months, if all goes well they will have all restrictions lifted and life can fully normalize. Tamura’s long-stay option has been taken by 28 families out of a possible 120. Businesses for retail, lodging and restaurants will resume operations to support the repopulation effort. Among the returnees were Tokuhiro Watanabe and his family who evacuated to Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture. Seven members of his family returned to their home in the Miyakoji district and enjoyed fireworks after dinner on Aug 1.http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=225 
  • Tohoku University has begun a detailed analytical program on fishing along the Tohoku coastline. They are testing the shallow seas where most fishing occurs. Professor Yukio Agatsuma said, “We want to confirm where and to what extent cesium still remains, and to also allay concerns that the cesium will go up the food chain to larger fish. We have been unable to determine trends yet because radioactivity levels have been different even for the same type of marine life depending on the sample and location where it was collected.” Most marine samples have shown less than 50 Becquerels per kilogram, though a few were as high as 72 Bq/kg. One Sea Squirt registered 483 Bq/kg, but the professor said it was due to bottom mud collected at the same time as the fish.  Tsuneo Fujita, an official with the Fukushima Prefectural Fisheries Experimental Station said they have found sand and mud with contamination as high as 5,000 Bq/kg, but “There should be no concerns about swallowing the sand that may swirl up in the ocean.” He explained by adding, “When cesium is attached to inorganic materials, such as sand and mud particles, it is believed that the cesium will leave the body along with those materials.” http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201308120096

August 10, 2013

  • On Wednesday, the Tokyo government estimated F. Daiichi’s leak to the sea could be 300 tons per day. While any leak is into the well-barricaded quay along the F. Daiichi shore, Press outlets in Japan make it sound like the Pacific Ocean is being polluted. In addition most Japanese news media calls the groundwater “toxic” and “highly radioactive”. Also, the levels of Cesium and Strontium found inside the quay have not discernibly changed since April. The increased quay activity is from Tritium, the radioactive isotope of Hydrogen. Regardless of the realities involved, news media pressure has Prime Minister Abe doing the politically-correct thing by pledging to increase government efforts to stop the leakage. Abe said, “Stabilizing the Fukushima plant is our challenge. In particular, the contaminated water is an urgent issue which has generated a great deal of public attention.” He added that he would make sure Tepco would not be left to fix the problem on its own and has committed extra funds to pay for any government involvement. Abe asserted, “To ensure safety, I would also like the head of the Nuclear Regulation Authority to do his best to find out the cause and come up with effective measures as a regulator.” The PM seems to be focusing on the Nuclear Regulatory Authority plan to have the earth perpetually frozen around the four damaged unit’s basements. It would be very costly and there is currently no technology available to freeze a 1.4 kilometer-long stretch of soil many meters deep for long periods of time. Shinji Kinjo of the NRA’s Fukushima Task Force says, “Right now there are no details (of the project yet). There’s no blueprint, no nothing yet, so there’s no way we can scrutinize it.” Groundwater expert Kotaro Ohga is critical of the idea, “It is incredibly difficult to completely block the groundwater like this. It would be better if they could pump [away] clean water before it reaches the plant.”  Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga echoed Ohga by saying, "There is no precedent in the world to create a water-shielding wall with frozen soil on such a large scale [as planned now at the Fukushima complex]. To build that, I think the state has to move a step further to support its realization." Estimates on the cost of creating the ground-freezing system run as high as $400 million. http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/abe-orders-govt-to-help-contain-toxic-water-at-fukushima-plant?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2013-08-07_PM -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130807_22.html -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20130807p2g00m0dm077000c.html
  • Tepco has started to pump contaminated groundwater away from the quay shoreline. They drilled a wide hole 2.5 meters into the embankment and began pumping some water out on Friday. The removed water is temporarily being sent to an empty cabling trench attached to the unit #2 turbine building basement. Next week, Tepco will sink 30 5-meter-long pipes into the ground and pump more water out. They estimate the system will remove 100 tons per day, which should reduce the level of groundwater at the underground soil-solidified wall and keep it from seeping over the solid earth. The NRA estimates there is a 1,000 ton per day influx of groundwater under the station. 400 tons seeps into the basements of units #1-#4, 300 tons bypasses the four damaged plants, and another 300 tons of contaminated water flows around the basements into the sea (actually, the barricaded quay). An official of the Natural Resources and Energy Agency said, "We are assuming that there are three locations from where a total of 300 tons of contaminated groundwater is flowing into the ocean." http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130808_03.html --  http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2013/08/240148.html --  http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20130808p2g00m0dm037000c.html
  • Local fishermen and Greenpeace have entered the groundwater contamination fray. Tetsu Nozaki, head of the Fukushima fisheries federation has called for an end of the assumed leak and claimed Tepco has a severe lack of transparency. He maintains he did not find out about the recent problems until he saw it in media reports, and he says that is the wrong way to handle information flow. At the same time, Greenpeace alleges that Tepco “anxiously hid the leaks”. In an Email, the international antinuclear group’s Dr. Rianne Teule said, “Greenpeace calls for the Japanese authorities to do all in their power to solve this situation, and that includes increased transparency…and getting international expertise in to help find solutions.” Both groups point to the two contaminated fish caught in the quay this year and Tepco’s release of mildly-contaminated wastewater a few weeks after 3/11/11 as proof of their claims. http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/fishermen-greenpeace-rap-tepco-over-toxic-water-leak?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2013-08-08_PM
  • The Industry Ministry has assembled a working group to mitigate the contaminated groundwater problem at F. Daiichi. Minister Toshimitsu Motegi told panel members to come up with ways to keep groundwater away from the basements of units #1 through #4. The Ministry estimates 1,000 tons of water flows under the station every day and Motegi wants it pumped out of the ground before it reaches the yet-to-be-determined contamination sources. He suggested pumping the uncontaminated groundwater directly to the sea, but local fisheries opposed the idea because they say it is hard to tell contaminated from uncontaminated water. Motegi also suggested building an underground wall at the foot of the hills behind F. Daiichi to divert all groundwater flow away from the nuke station. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130808_35.html
  • The Fukushima fisheries cooperative has stopped their test-fishing program due to the speculated leakage of contamination into the sea. Soma-Futaba Fisheries Cooperative had test-fished north of the Prefecture since June, 2012. Although all of the fish tested have radioactive levels far below Japan’s ridiculously low standards, the fisheries decided to stop the program. They explained that consumers would doubt the fish’s safety due to the heavy Press coverage over the presumed leakage of contamination into the sea. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130809_21.html
  • A University of Tokyo team has found some sea-bed hot spots off the Tohoku coast. One, 6 kilometers from F. Daiichi, is 70 meters wide at a depth of 32 meters. It has a Cesium concentration of 651 Becquerels per kilogram. The researchers believe this came from the damaged F. Daiichi nuke station. They found another hot spot much further north, off Miyagi’s coast, with 1,029 Bq/kg of Cesium in the bottom mud. The team suspects it came from a nearby river where contractors were discarding contaminated debris. Team member Bill Thornton says he hopes this will shed light on the effect of low level contamination of sea life. Professor Toyoji Kaneko, an expert on maritime creatures, said he doesn’t believe all fish caught at or near the seafloor hot spots is dangerous to eat. “Although I can’t guarantee 100 percent safety, it’s not like (meat from) fish will get immediately contaminated with radioactive cesium”, he said. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/08/07/national/radioactive-hot-spots-found-in-seabed-as-far-away-as-miyagi/#.UgOXk-vD8dU
  • Former PM Naoto Kan will not be indicted over his actions concerning the Fukushima accident…at least not yet. Resident’s groups across Japan had filed complaints against about 40 people on suspicion of professional negligence allegedly resulting in deaths, injuries and other charges. At the top of the list is Naoto Kan. Others named in the complaints included Tepco’s top executives at the time of the accident. Prosecutors say they can indict none of the named parties because it has been too difficult to establish negligence. The public prosecutors decided, based on the testimony of tsunami experts, that the government and TEPCO could not have expected the 3/11/11 tsunami because of a lack of “unified knowledge”. However, the charges against Kan included accusations that he delayed the venting (depressurization) of unit #1 and caused the three subsequent hydrogen explosions. The prosecutors have asked Kan to explain his actions at the outbreak of the crisis, thus keeping him in the dock, so to speak. Kan’s aides say he will submit documents proving he was not criminally responsible for what happened at F. Daiichi.  http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2013080900366 -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20130809p2g00m0dm069000c.html
  • Controversy about Tepco’s possible restart of the undamaged Kashiwazaki-Kariwa station continues. The mayors of the host towns have now say they will support Tepco applying for a restart, but stop short of saying whether or not they will be in favor of resumption should the application be approved. Kashiwazaki mayor Hiroshi Aida indicated his approval, saying the responsibility to file applications is "up to the plant operator." The village of Kariwa has also said it will give TEPCO the go-ahead. On the other hand, Niigata Governor Hirohiko Izumida refuses to agree to Tepco submitting a restart application. It is his opinion that there is no indication that Tepco has thoroughly investigated the Fukushima nuclear crisis. Tepco President Naomi Hirose has been trying to meet with the governor for several weeks, with no success. He says, “I want to meet with the governor.” http://japandailypress.com/some-local-officials-give-tepco-go-signal-to-apply-for-restart-in-niigata-0733483/ -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20130807p2g00m0dm041000c.html
  • Repopulation of former no-go zone communities has been slow. Less than 40% have returned to the now-unrestricted areas, and there’s a chance that those who have stayed away will decide to never return. Yamakiya residents who have returned this week are optimistic. Ornamental flower-grower Itsuki Miura says, "If I can cultivate quality flowers and turn a profit, I'll be able to continue living here in the Yamakiya district, and this in turn will help encourage others to return as well." On the other hand, non-returnee Katsunori Shigihara says he will not go back and called for the government to build “recovery housing” for people like him. The Reconstruction Agency said he doesn’t qualify because his home is in a district where repopulation is imminent, and the subsidized housing is only for “long-term” refugees. Shigihara scoffed, “We have already experienced long-term evacuation. If the housing is not constructed, more and more people will leave the region. It seems like the government is in a hurry to lift the evacuation orders." Yamakiya official Kiyokazu Kanno spoke of the frustration felt by many non-returnees, "Decontamination has not been completed even in the other areas where zone revamping has already taken place -- and compensation payments haven't been forthcoming, either." Evacuees who are not expected to be allowed home for 5 years can opt to build homes in their towns of resettlement. Each family will get $1,000 per month for 5 years toward securing new living arrangements. One building contractor in Fukushima said many evacuees are currently building new homes. This indicates they have no plans to repopulate their former domiciles. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20130808p2a00m0na013000c.html

August 6, 2013

  • The level of groundwater at Fukushima Daiichi is rising toward the surface. Tokyo Electric Co. staff at the nuke station say the level of water measured in one of the observation wells has increase more than two feet in the past 20 days. The company speculates it could be because they have solidified the ground along the shoreline between the unit #1 and #2 seawater intakes. Spokesman Noriyuki Imaizuma said, “The contaminated water that had already leaked into soil has spread gradually. If the water level continues to rise, it could reach the ground surface.We’ll consider taking steps to drain the groundwater and other measures.” It seems the sub-surface flow of groundwater has been stopped by the solid earth and is slowly building upwards. The Nuclear Regulatory Authority’s head of the Fukushima Task Force, Shinji Kinjo, says there is a “rather high possibility” that contaminated ground water has risen above the solidified ground and is leaching into the station’s barricaded inner quay. He added that he believes the situation to be a “state of emergency”.He feels Tepco’s “sense of crisis is weak. This is why you can’t just leave it up to TEPCO alone.” http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0000420364 -- http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/08/05/japan-fukushima-panel-idUST9N0FT06A20130805?feedType=RSS&feedName=governmentFilingsNews&rpc=43
  • The “emergency” statement by the NRA’s Shinji Kinjo has been trumpeted by most Japanese Press. Each news source has its “spin” on it. In fact Japan Daily Press headlined “TEPCO admits ‘state of emergency…’”, which is entirely fallacious. The quote comes from an NRA investigator at F. Daiichi. There is no record of Tepco either agreeing or disagreeing with him. Regardless, the main body of the Press coverage makes it seem that the NRA has declared a new state of emergency at F. Daiichi, which has not been the case at all…at least not at this point. There has been no response from NRA headquarters in Tokyo or any of the five commissioners. In fact, Kinjo admitted his estimate of the groundwater rising to the surface and pouring into the sea was not based on NRA calculations. Regardless, some nuclear critics are supporting Kinjo’s claim. Retired Toshiba Corp engineer Masashi Goto said, “If you build a wall, of course the water is going to accumulate there. And there is no other way for the water to go but up or sideways and eventually lead to the ocean. So now, the question is how long do we have?” On the other hand, some rational expert voices have been heard. Mitsuo Uematsu of a Tokyo University’s research institute said, “Until we know the exact density and volume of the water that’s flowing out, I honestly can’t speculate on the impact on the sea. We also should check what the levels are like in the sea water. If it’s only inside the port and it’s not flowing out into the sea, it may not spread as widely as some fear.”  http://japandailypress.com/tepco-admits-state-of-emergency-over-radioactive-water-leak-into-pacific-ocean-0633368/ -- http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/nuclear-watchdog-says-radioactive-water-at-fukushima-an-emergency?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2013-08-06_PM
  • Fukushima Prefecture has appealed to Tokyo to stop the hypothetical leak to the sea. Vice Governor Masao Uchibori submitted a written request to the NRA to do whatever is needed to stop the alleged leak. The document also asks Tokyo to take over the decommissioning of F. Daiichi because Tepco has not shown they are doing a competent job.  Uchibori said the Prefecture wants the government to handle the groundwater contamination matter in a way that will quickly produce results. He added that Tepco is merely taking makeshift measures to contain the radioactive material, and that it is not good enough. Meanwhile, the Prefecture was visually inspected the area alongside the station’s quay where the current leakage is supposedly occurring. They also looked in the cabling and piping tunnels running from the turbine buildings for units #2 & #3, which are filled with highly contaminated water that might be seeping into the groundwater.  Embankment reinforcement (soil solidification) was checked because it is believed to be the reason for water level increasing inside the nearest observation well. The team also looked at the steel-and-concrete wall being built the full length of the quay’s shoreline. After the inspection, many local officials said they were frustrated with Tepco and the effort to contain radiation and not taking preventative measures before a problem was discovered. Tepco spokesman Yoshikazu Nagai said measures to contain contaminated underground water leaks were delayed because “we devoted ourselves to cool the reactors,” which was the foremost task. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130806_37.html -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130806_40.html -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/08/06/national/tokyo-electric-cant-stop-radioactive-flow-at-fukushima-plant/#.UgD8f-vD8dU
  • While all this was going on, Tepco found that yet another groundwater observation well has increasing radioactive content. This well (no. 1-5) is 100 meters from the turbine building suspected to be leaking (unit #2) and 55 meters from the quay. Between July 31 and August 5, total Cesium in the well’s water rose from 65 Becquerels to 960 Bq/liter. Total Beta-emitter activity also rose from 47,000 Bq/liter to 56,000 Bq/liter. Antimony-125 (Sb-125) remained constant at 125 Bq/liter, however. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2013/1229533_5130.html -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2013080600086
  • Tepco has estimated the total volume of Tritium released from F. Daiichi since May 2011. The company says somewhere between 20 and 40 trillion Becquerels have escaped from the four damaged nuclear units and entered the port’s inner quay. Tepco added that the annual limit for the release of Tritium is 22 trillion Becquerels, thus the estimate covering the last 27 months is actually less than the allowed maximum. The information was shared with the Nuclear Regulatory Authority last Friday. The NRA responded by telling Tepco to speed up their efforts to stop further Tritium losses and stanch the natural flow of groundwater under the nuclear station. The NRA added they will create yet another study group to assess the possible impact the releases may have had on the sea. During the Friday meeting, Tepco outlined the measures they have already taken, such as ground solidification, and explained their construction of a new facility to remove groundwater from the earth and collect it. The new facility is scheduled for completion by the end of May. Most news media in Japan are treating Tepco’s total Tritium announcement as admitting to a “huge” release to the sea. One thing is for sure… such journalistic misinformation is un-necessarily harming the effort to revitalize the region’s seafood industry, further damaging its already-depressed economy.  http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130803_13.html -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20130803p2g00m0dm002000c.html -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/08/03/national/huge-leak-of-tritium-feared-in-fukushima/#.Ufzsg-vD8dU
  • Tepco says they plan to use pumps to move water away from the rising groundwater slowly climbing the underground soil-solidified barrier. On August 2nd the NRA ordered the pumping operation saying TEPCO "should know that the measures now underway will not stop the leakage." F. Daiichi staff will drill a new well on the inland side of the solidified-soil wall and install a pump that will remove 100 tons (25,000 gallons) of mildly-contaminated groundwater per day. The company is considering sending the waters into the flooded unit #2 basement. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20130806p2a00m0na022000c.html
  • The “long stay” program has started for Tamura City, inside the former no-go zone. The Miyakoji district has been decontaminated to below national standards and is open for residents to return home in unrestricted fashion for three months. The district is largely rural, containing 119 households which were evacuated. Twenty-eight households totaling 112 individuals began their “long stay” last Thursday. They have been cleaning their homes and tending to crops since April under the previous “short-term” restriction which did not allow them to stay overnight. The Tsuboi family has been living in a temporary housing unit some 40 minutes from their farm and making the trek daily to plant crops, which are doing quite well. They are looking forward to selling their produce when it matures as many of their former clients seem eager to buy what they have. One problem is wild boars. The animals “think they have the run of the place now,” said Hisao Tsuboi. The beasts began free roam of the area as soon as residents were ordered to leave in 2011. Most of those who did not take advantage of the opportunity say they are satisfied with their new communities. Hisao explained, "The people who really wanted to come back had begun making preparations since around last April. I doubt that many people will end up returning."  http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2013080100849 -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20130801p2a00m0na013000c.html
  • The full reclassification of the evacuation zones around F. Daiichi will end August 10. The final district to be reclassified will be Yamakiya in Kawamata town. The town is outside the old 20km no-go zone and located in the northwest evacuation corridor extending to 40km. 10 of the 11 administrative regions in Yamakiya have radiation exposures less than the 20 millisievert per year national standard for repopulation, and will be re-defined as ready for lifting of evacuation orders. The other region has estimated dose in excess of 20 mSv/yr and will have daytime-visitation-only status. Of the 1,246 people evacuated from Yamakiya district, more than 1,100 will be allowed to repopulate without restriction. The town government has been negotiating re-zoning for a long time and has agreed to reclassification only after payment of damages was settled. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=221
  • Some towns inside the no-go zone say they are unhappy with national standards set for repopulation. Mayors and other officials from eight of the eleven affected municipalities want decontamination to result in no more than 1 millisievert per year exposure to returning residents. The national standard is 20 mSv/yr. The dissenting towns include Hirono, Tomioka, Futaba and Namie. Decontamination efforts to meet the current national standard in Hirono are almost complete, but the town officials say it isn’t good enough. Environment Minister Nobuteru Ishihara met with the municipal leaders last Friday and promised to study their demands and deal with the matter appropriately. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130802_32.html
  • Tokyo’s investigation into the appropriateness of Japan’s new radiation standards continues. The debate was suspended for three weeks during the recent campaign period for the Upper house election. Some Press called this a “secret agreement” intended to delay further assistance to Fukushima refugees. Now that the election’s over, the debate can resume. Topics being discussed are radiation dose criteria and what might be done to alleviate resident’s radiation fears which keep them from returning home. Suspending the discussion for the election was intended to avoid cross-party criticisms of any possible decision that might have been made, which would have added complication to an already intricate campaign contest. On March 8, one Reconstruction Agency official said, “One of the pending issues was resolved today. To be precise, the concerned parties agreed to leave the matter ambiguous, without determining black or white.” There has been nothing to report since then. http://japandailypress.com/reconstruction-agency-agreed-to-put-off-disaster-relief-until-after-upper-house-elections-0133215/

August 1, 2013

  • Two more “trenches” at F. Daiichi contain high levels of radioactivity, specifically the seawater intake cabling tunnels for units #2&#3. The waters in the unit #2 tunnel has 340 million Becquerels per liter of total cesium activity at one meter depth, and then increases to 950 Bq/liter at a depth of 13 meters. The stratification of activity indicates that the water has been relatively stagnant for a long time. Regardless, the company feels that a leak from the tunnel into the enclosed port (quay) has been possible through the pump room for the unit #2 intake. The unit #3 tunnel waters contain 39 million Bq/liter at a depth of 1 meter and 36 million Bq/liter at a 13 meter depth, indicating a process at work in the tunnel to keep the Cesium from stratifying. On July 11, Tepco said a leak into the quay from the unit #3 tunnel was possible. Regardless, samples of seawater taken outside the quay show no detectible activity, which indicates that the inner port’s break-walls and silt dam are preventing contamination from reaching the Pacific Ocean. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2013/images/trench02_13080101-e.pdf -- http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2013/images/2tb-east_13080101-e.pdf
  • Tepco has been criticized for not immediately reporting changes in groundwater levels at F. Daiichi. Last weekend, staff at the power station noticed groundwater level in near-shore wells had increased as much as 2.5 meters above the “normal” benchmark. However, this change was not shared with the Nuclear Regulatory Authority until Monday (7/29) when Tepco met with the agency to discuss measures for keeping contaminated groundwater contained. NRA chair Shunichi Tanaka was unhappy with the delay in making the report, and said, "TEPCO has no sense of crisis at all. When something unexpected happens, we can only take stopgap measures, which shows how unstable Fukushima Dai-ichi still is.”   Tepco feels the increased groundwater levels may be due to their recent solidification of the earth down to 16 meters within the embankment. However, solidifying the top 2 meters of the ground is difficult because the soil is not compressed like the deeper material. The water level in one well increased to above the point of full solidification, so Tepco says it is possible that some contaminated outflow to the sea is still possible. However, the greater volume of the water in the earth seems effectively blocked. Regardless, most of Japan’s Press is calling Tepco’s effort to block the groundwater’s movement a failure. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2013073100625 -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130801_05.html
  • Prior to Monday’s meeting, the NRA announced it is increasing their inspection staff at F. Daiichi. The watchdog agency will send two teams to the nuke station to study the contamination and its possible impact on the oceanic ecosystem. One NRA official said, “We still don’t know the root cause of the problems as they are more complicated than initially thought.” The teams are made up of experts from the NRA, Tepco and a government research institute. http://japandailypress.com/japans-nuclear-watchdog-to-beef-up-monitoring-at-fukushima-3033113/ -- http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/nuclear-watchdog-to-beef-up-fukushima-monitoring-team
  • Fukushima Prefecture will increase their frequency of seawater sampling around F. Daiichi. Until now, two sites have been sampled and analyzed every 3 months as a check on Tepco’s sampling. The prefecture will increase the number of sampling locations to six and test them all on a monthly basis. Fukushima’s chief of radiation monitoring, Shunji Watanabe, says this is because oceanic contamination might be occurring and the prefecture wants to conduct its own testing. He added the results of the first series of tests, run yesterday, will be posted as soon as possible. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130731_34.html
  • Niigata’s governor continues to try and stop Tepco restarts. Revitalization Minister Akira Amari has met with governor Hirohiko Izumida to explain that Tepco’s plan to apply for safety checks at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa units #5&7 and the decision to restart are separate issues. Izumida isn’t buying it. He feels it is too soon after the Fukushima accident to even consider restarting other nukes owned by Tepco. The governor doesn’t believe anything Tepco says, "I hope the company will sincerely handle the matter and stop dodging and whitewashing issues." The governor also told Amari he feels the safety checks under the new regulations are unsatisfactory in many ways. He insists that no-one in Tokyo is listening to him when he criticizes the Nuclear Regulatory Authority and their new rules. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2013073000468 -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130730_29.html
  • Tourists are slowly returning to Fukushima Prefecture. A typical number of tourists before 3/11/11 were about 58 million per year. It dropped to less than 34 million visitors in 2011, but rose to 45 million in 2012. A prefectural official said tourism has "steadily recovered due to restoration of tourist facilities and declining misinformation about the nuclear power plant accident." The region inside the Fukushima exclusion zone has had virtually no tourist activity, of course, and is a major reason why the entire prefecture’s visitor activity continues to lag behind that of 2010. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2013/07/238296.html
  • More than a third of the federal money for Tohoku recovery was not used last year. Of the $97 billion allocated to the region, $34 billion remained on the books at the end of the year. Of the $47 billion designated for the rebuilding of roads, sea-side embankments and community relocation, more than $20 billion was not used. Reasons include difficulty in coordinating planning between federal and local governments, a shortage of workers and a lack of sufficient materials. Out of $6.6 billion intended for rural decontamination, $4.5 billion was unused. The reason for this is said to be local opposition to establishing storage sites for contaminated soils and leaves. The unused monies will be shifted into the 2013 recovery budget. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20130731p2g00m0dm048000c.html
  • A panel of international experts says the geologic anomaly under the Tsuruga nuke station is not seismically active. The group includes Neil Chapman, a professor at the University of Sheffield in Britain, and Kelvin Berryman, a geologist at GNS Science of New Zealand. The panel’s posted summary includes the statement, "There is clear evidence that...the faults (in question) at the Tsuruga nuclear power plant are not active." This contradicts Japan’s Nuclear Regulatory Authority which said the geologic seam under the station’s unit #2 was seismically active back in May. At the same time, Japan Atomic Power Company said that there is no chance of a meltdown even if the fault goes active and the unit’s spent fuel pool was completely drained. In addition, the highest temperatures fuel bundles in the drained pool would ever reach is hundreds of degrees Celsius below the point of a fuel pool “meltdown”.  http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2013/08/238876.html -- http://japandailypress.com/tsuruga-nuclear-power-plant-insists-safety-albeit-nras-warning-0133212/


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