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Fukushima 57...8/19/13-9/2/13


September 2, 2013

  • The Nuclear Regulatory Authority says the 3/11/11 earthquake caused no damage to F. Daiichi safety systems prior to the tsunami-induced full station blackout. A draft report on the NRA’s formal investigation was released on Friday. The investigation focused on a puddle of water seen by plant workers on the 4th floor of unit #1 after the quake. A prior government investigation said it might have come from an emergency cooling system. The NRA report shows the water probably sloshed out of the 5th floor fuel storage pool during the quake and trickled down to the 4th floor. An NRA inspection team visited the 4th floor earlier this year and found no evidence of emergency cooling system damage. The team added that an emergency system leak would have released steam, not water. One critic says ruling out quake damage without checking all emergency system piping in detail is premature. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130830_31.html  
  • The staff at Fukushima has found more radioactive hot spots. At least four were discovered on Sunday during the intensified inspection program for the wastewater storage tanks. One of the spots was found below a dripping pipe between two of the tanks. Inspection of the tanks revealed no leaks at the seams. The leakage rate from the pipe was about one drop every 90 seconds. The drip was stopped with absorbing material wrapped in plastic tape. The highest of the new readings was 1,800 millisieverts per hour of Beta radiation, but it was not the spot below the pipe-drip. If the 1,800 mSv/hr were Gamma radiation, it could kill a person exposed for four or more hours. Since it is Beta radiation at an energy level which cannot penetrate through clothing or skin, the measured activity is not deadly. Three new hot spots cannot be attributed to tank leaks because there is no indication of outflows and the water levels in the nearby tanks have not dropped.  http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130901_08.html -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/09/01/national/tepco-reports-leaking-pipe-four-hot-spots/#.UiNNeevD8dU
  • NRA Chair Shunichi Tanaka says they might lower the INES crisis declaration. He feels last week’s upgrade to INES level-3 may have been premature. He said, “We don’t think the [tank] leak was exactly 300 tons. It could be much more or much less. 300 tons is a huge amount. If workers patrolled twice a day without noticing it leaking, I don’t understand. It wouldn’t be desirable, but we would have to change the rating if the leak turns out to be much smaller.” Mr. Tanaka also took the opportunity to show his distrust of Tepco, “I have not been convinced with the data from Tepco. We need to collect more to make our own judgment.” http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2013/08/28/fukushima-watch-authority-chairman-not-convinced-level-3-needed/
  • Japan is being criticized by foreign voices for not taking the situation at F. Daiichi seriously. The critics want Japan to bring in outside expertise to deal with the situation because the country has no experience with nuclear accident clean-up. They also feel the worst-case scenarios being posted by Tepco and Tokyo are not really worst-case. Nuclear opponent Aileen Mioko Smith of Japan’s Green Action group says, “Expertise in the areas of hydrology, reactors and civil engineering is needed. But the issue is not whether it’s domestic or international. What is needed is non-vested-interest expertise, not the IAEA, Areva (the French nuclear conglomerate) or (companies like) Bechtel.” French critic Mycle Schneider adds, “First, there are too many political and economic biases involved. Second, the complexity of the challenges are such that Japan should make sure it reaches out to the most competent individuals in water management, spent-fuel handling and storage, waste disposal, building integrity and radiation protection.” Federation of American Scientists president Charles Ferguson said, “There are concerns fish caught near the stricken nuclear reactor plant could ingest strontium-90 or cesium-137. Monitoring of fish in the surrounding waters needs to be continued. There are many scientific experts in countries like Russia and Norway who have experience in examining marine life in radioactive-contaminated waters.” Many who oppose Tokyo’s Olympic bid charge that Fukushima problems are being downplayed because nobody wants to draw international attention. Japan’s foreign minister Mitsuhei Murata, a long-time nuclear critic and opponent of Japan’s Olympic aspirations said, “The nuclear dictatorship in Japan persists. There’s an international strategy to consider that Fukushima did not happen. Japan’s media seems to be fulfilling its duty in a way that does not indispose the strong nuclear dictatorship, and has succeeded in creating a ‘business as usual’ atmosphere.” http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/08/30/national/japan-under-increasing-pressure-to-accept-outside-nuclear-help/#.UiC4MOvD8dU
  • The NRA sys they may allow reducing the cooling flow to the three damaged cores at F. Daiichi. Decay heat production has lowered considerably since March, 2011, and the reduced cooling flows should not be a problem. The change could also lower the build-up of contaminated wastewater. The suggestion was made by Commissioner Toyoshi Fuketa on Saturday. He also said the use of air-cooling equipment for the damaged cores might be possible. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2013083001001
  • Japanese experts say Tepco took emergency power supplies at F. Daiichi for granted. The Atomic Energy Society of Japan has posted an outline of their up-coming Fukushima accident study. It concludes that the accident was caused by a “fundamental fallacy” that “all functions (at the plant) presupposed the presence of power sources." Specifically, the systems needed to remove decay heat from the reactor cores following automatic shutdowns. "The disaster could have been averted if measures against the tsunami and severe accidents had properly been implemented," the report says, adding, "Experts had been withdrawn in their own narrow fields of expertise and overlooked safety as a system." The study does praise the plant staff efforts to try and mitigate the situation by saying “…overall their responses were above regular standards.” http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20130902p2a00m0na008000c.html
  • Tohoku fishermen continue to blast Tepco for supposedly ruining their business. Hiroshi Kishi, head of JF Zengyoren, a federation of over 1,000 national fisheries, said his members “have no faith in TEPCO’s ability to control F. Daiichi. We think your company’s management of contaminated water has collapsed,” he said. “We are extremely worried as it’s creating an immeasurable impact on our country’s fishing industry and will continue to do so in the future.” In response, NRA Chair Tanaka said, “We are not in a situation at all that marine resources are showing radioactivity.” http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/tepco-president-apologizes-to-fukushima-fishermen  Before the current contaminated water issues at F. Daiichi, sampling results of fish caught off Fukushima Prefecture showed promising results. In order to reduce rumors, the Fisheries had set a self-imposed limit of 50 Becquerels per kilogram, half of the national standard. Of the 170 types of fish tested, 42 were above the self-imposed limit and 15 species show next to nothing. Nobuyuki Hatta of the Prefecture’s Fisheries Research Center said the trend was positive, but the recent contamination concerns have forced the fishermen to delay their running sample catches. However, Hatta said he expects fishing to resume later this month. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/08/30/national/fukushima-fishermen-cant-catch-a-break/#.UiHSH-vD8dU
  • Agneta Rising, Director General of the World Nuclear Association says "In Japan we have seen a nuclear incident turn into a communication disaster. Mistakes in applying and interpreting the INES scale have given it an exaggerated central role in coverage of nuclear safety." The WNA posting explains that the tank leak at F. Daiichi was “cleaned up in a matter of days” and news out of Japan has been “badly confused”. Rising added, "This cannot continue: if it is to have any role in public communication, INES must only be used in conjunction with plain-language explanations of the public implications - if any - of an incident." The IAEA supports the WNA position. In a document given to the NRA, the IAEA cautions that "Frequent changes of rating will not help communicate the actual situation in a clear manner", referring to the upgrade from level-1 to level-3 and the speculation by the NRA that they may have to downgrade. For the complete posting…  http://www.world-nuclear.org/WNA/About-the-WNA/Announcements/#.UiCVHOvD8dV
  • People returning to their homes surrounding F. Daiichi are being given dosimeters to monitor radiation exposure. The Environment Ministry has requested about $8.5 billion to support the repopulation of the former evacuation zones. It is estimated that as many as 34,000 evacuees from the mandated zones will qualify for the support. The dosimeter portion of the requested funds will be $27.5 million. The rest of the money is intended to pay for decontamination of those areas not yet ready for repopulation and facilities for the storage of radioactive soils. On August 1, returning residents of Tamura’s Miyakoji District were issued the dosimeters. http://japandailypress.com/fukushima-returnees-to-begin-receiving-radiation-dosimeters-from-environment-ministry-3135003/
  • The geology under the operating Oi nuke station has been judged non-seismic. A team of NRA-sponsored experts have been studying the situation since November. They pored over the data supplied by plant-operator Kansai Electric and made their own inspections to see if the company’s information was valid. The team said there is no evidence of recent geologic movement and that movement in the future is unlikely. Commissioner Kunihiko Shimazaki said a formal report on the investigation is forthcoming. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130902_39.html 

August 29, 2013

  • The Nuclear Regulatory Authority formally raised the crisis level at F. Daiichi to INES level-3. Level-3 is a “serious incident”. The watchdog said the upgrade it is entirely due to the wastewater tank leak announced by Tepco on August 21st. The NRA added that their decision was spurred by Tepco’s recent admission that all 300 tons of water lost from the tank may have reached the outside environment. The International Atomic Energy Agency has confirmed the crisis upgrade in writing. The NRA blasted Tepco for ignoring many of the agency’s orders concerning the tank leak. Commissioner Toyoshi Fuketa said, “Their instructions, written or verbal, have never been observed.” NRA Chair Shunuchi Tanaka tried to put the crisis upgrade in perspective when he said, “What’s important is not the number itself but to give a basic idea about the extent of the problem.  I’ve seen reports that this is a dire situation but that’s not true.” Concerning Tepco’s seemingly lax inspection procedures for possible tank leaks, Tanaka said, “I’m baffled. It may take time to stabilize the plant but we must put it on a right track.” http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/japan-formally-raises-fukushima-water-leak-to-ines-level-3-incident?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2013-08-28_PM -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/08/28/national/severity-level-of-fukushima-water-leak-raised-to-serious/#.Uh3uZevD8dU
  • Tokyo Electric Co. says they have found 2 new hot spots near the tank leak at F. Daiichi. The two are near the side of the tank opposite from the hotspots found last week. A second drain valve from the surrounding coffer dam was found cracked open. Plant staff suspects contaminated water exited the coffer dam through the second open valve. The new hot spots have a radiation reading of 16 millisieverts per hour. Tepco says they will remove the soil at these new spots in the same fashion as the removal of soil from the previous hotspots. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130827_11.html
  • Fukushima’s governor wants Tokyo to take the lead on the current radioactive water situation at F. Daiichi. Governor Yuhei Sato told the NRA that the 300-ton leak from a storage tank was the last straw. He believes Tepco can no longer handle the situation and Tokyo must put itself in charge. Sato added he believes the current situation at the nuke station should be regarded as a national emergency. Sato also approached the Industry Ministry and submitted a list of demands in parallel with what he gave to the NRA’s Chair Shunichi Tanaka. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130828_44.html
  • Japan’s governors disagree on reactor restarts. Fukui governor Issei Nishikawa is lobbying to have the prefecture’s 13 nukes resumed, but feels the NRA is dragging its feet in inspections toward restarts. He says, “For no logical reason, the NRA has delayed plant safety inspections.” He has met with PM Shinzo Abe twice to ask for a separate body to monitor NRA operations and make recommendations for improvement. Nishikawa also wants the NRA to use outside experts to study whether or not geologic seams are seismic in order to come to a “fair and impartial” scientific conclusion. On the other hand, Niigata Governor Hirohito Izumida says he will not support restart of any units at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa station. He says, “Now is not the time to talk about restarting the reactors, because the investigation into the causes of the Fukushima accident is not finished.” He feels the recent reports of leaks at F. Daiichi only serve to prove his position. Izumida’s feelings are so strong that he called for the formal break-up of Tepco “I feel very insecure about the fact that a company that cannot learn from its past mistakes would operate a nuclear power plant. There should be some procedures considered to bring about the liquidation of TEPCO, because right now short-term funding concerns are taking priority over resolving the problems.” Fukushima Governor Sato agrees, “There is no risk management at TEPCO and they are no longer capable of dealing with this on its own.” NRA Chair Tanaka seemed sympathetic to Izumida and Sato when he said, “I think it has become clear that they [Tepco] are lacking the technical knowledge [to deal with the problems].” http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/08/29/national/fukushima-spill-snags-reactor-restart-quest/#.Uh9B_OvD8dU -- http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/niigata-governor-calls-for-tepco-to-be-liquidated?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2013-08-29_AM
  • It seems PM Shinzo Abe favors direct Tokyo involvement at F. Daiichi. In a statement made during a visit to Qatar on Wednesday, he said, “The accident in Fukushima cannot be left entirely to Tokyo Electric Power. There is a need for the government to play a role with a sense of urgency, including taking measures to deal with the waste water. The government will make responsible efforts to address the matter, and clearly and promptly inform the domestic and international communities.”He has also tasked the Industry Ministry and NRAto find the cause of leaks at F. Daiichi and effect resolution.  http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/abe-pledges-greater-government-role-at-fukushima?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2013-08-29_PM
  • Industry Minister Toshimitsu Motegi says Tokyo will take control of the recent contamination problems at F. Daiichi. He made the following bewildering statement, “We’ve allowed Tepco to deal with the contaminated water situation on its own and they’ve essentially turned it into a game of ‘whack-a-mole.’” (emphasis added) He continued, “From now on, the government will move to the forefront” and the ministry “is working to draw up, sometime in September, both emergency measures and more fundamental steps to eliminate the roots of the contaminated water problem.” Tepco president Naomi Hirose responded, “We are very grateful that we are getting government support.” Motegi also gave Tepco until mid-September to get the ALPS filtration system, currently under initial testing, fully operational. The ALPS pre-operational test was temporarily halted last weekend because of surface corrosion found in one of the sediment tanks in the system. Some of the Japanese Press reports the ALPS shutdown is a loss of half of the plant’s wastewater cleanup system, which is materially misleading. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/08/27/national/tepcos-whack-a-mole-prompts-government-take-over-in-fukushima/#.Uhy8DevD8dV
  • Four Fukushima municipalities want all the prefecture’s nukes scrapped. They urge that the two undamaged units at F. Daiichi and four intact nukes at F. Daini pose too great a risk to be allowed restarts…ever! Two of the towns, Futaba and Okuma, are the host communities for F. Daiichi, while Tomioka and Naraha are the co-homes of F. Daini. The town’s main objection is that many residents have been forced to live as evacuees for two-and-a-half years. All four municipalities will jointly draft a formal request, seek approval from their town assemblies, and then submit their demands to Tokyo. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130829_36.html
  • The Atomic Energy Society of Japan suggests releasing Tritiated water to the Pacific Ocean. They believe that once the ALPS system removes all non-Tritium isotopes from the wastewater, it should be diluted with freshwater to levels below those naturally-occurring in the sea. Then, the waters can be safely released. The AESJ F. Daiichi investigation board reported, "It would be realistic to dilute the contaminated water to levels found in the natural world and release it into the ocean after removing radioactive materials other than tritium." The panel points out that Tritium is naturally made by cosmic rays and exists in seawater in small amounts. Tritium passes through fish and other creatures, minimally concentrating in their bodies. By diluting and releasing the diluted water into the ocean, the risk of environmental pollution through incidental leaks would be eliminated. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20130829p2a00m0na005000c.html
  • Tokyo says many decontamination goals for Fukushima communities have been met. This year’s goal for lowering the number of locations below 20 millisieverts per year by 50% has actually been exceeded. Currently, 61% of the designated locations are now less than 20 mSv/yr for adults and 64% for children. The Environment Ministry says 40% of the decline is due to the “passage of time”, 20% due to decontamination efforts and the rest because of rain run-off. Unfortunately, delays in re-designating many locations is held up by local residents and public officials who say the standard for completion be one mSv/yr. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130827_19.html  At the same time, the Ministry is considering running a second round of municipal decontaminations, if needed. Senior Environment Vice-Minister Shinji Inoue said the government will monitor all post-decontamination radiation levels before making a final decision. He pointed to many local communities wanting the threshold lowered to 1 mSv/yr, rather than the current standard of 20 mSv/yr. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0000497028
  • The flow of lawsuit filings against Tepco and Tokyo continues. 27 families, numbering 74 people, will file a suit in Osaka District Court on Sept. 17. They seek somewhere between $50,000 and $150,000 per person psychological and damages due to injuries suffered by their evacuation. 27 people are from Fukushima Prefecture and the rest from Ibaraki Prefecture. The plaintiffs will claim Tepco knew of a 20% chance of an earthquake of at least 8 on the Richter scale in 2002, but did nothing to protect the people at risk. The suit claims TEPCO failed to take measures such as reviewing its earthquake-resistant design and the government did not urge the utility to take necessary steps. The filing lawyers expect additional evacuees to join in the class action suit. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20130827p2a00m0na012000c.html -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/08/26/national/more-fukushima-evacuees-to-sue-tepco-government/#.UhynU-vD8dU

August 26, 2013

  • On Friday, Masao Yoshida, former Fukushima station manager, was laid to rest. He died on July 9 of esophageal cancer. Yoshida was the person in charge of the plant staff fighting the accident, beginning on March 11, 2013. He has been praised by all officials in Japan for the commendable leadership he demonstrated during the crisis, including defying naïve orders from the Prime Minister which could have made the accident much worse. Yoshida’s funeral was attended by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, many government officials, and a host of Tepco officials. More than 1,000 people attended the services. Former Prime Minister Naoto Kan, in office at the time of the accident, did not attend but told reporters Yoshida played a critical role in keeping the crisis from expanding. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130823_29.html
  • Tepco says some recent contamination leaks may have reached the sea. A drainage ditch running near the tank found to have leaked has low levels of contamination in it. The ditch runs north and south some distance east of the tank and empties into the sea. Samples from the ditch have 200-580 Becquerels of beta-emitting isotopes in them. There is no detectible activity in the ditch upstream of the tank that leaked. Two hot spots have been found between the tank’s coffer dam and the ditch. This all points to some contamination having come from the tank leak and found its way into the ditch. Small levels of contamination have been found near the ditch’s outlet to the sea totaling 6.1 Becquerels per milliliter. A Nuclear Regulatory Authority inspection team recently sent to the site is assisting in the investigation. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0000490823
  • Tepco has posted a handout concerning the water that escaped the coffer dam around the tank that leaked. It can be accessed here… http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2013/images/handouts_130823_05-e.pdf  Tepco also posted a detailed handout concerning the leaky tank at F. Daiichi. The handout contains the company’s measures to contain the leak, clean-up activities, along with pictures and graphics. It can be accessed here… http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/betu13_e/images/130826e0201.pdf
  • Japan’s Atomic Energy Agency says contamination may be moving sea-ward at 4 meters per month. According to a public JAEA document, contaminated leakage from the reactor and turbine building basements, roughly 150 meters from the station’s inner quay, may have been entering the groundwater since the accident. Consultant Atsunao Matui of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology says “the water from that area is just about to reach the coast,” if it hasn’t already. He added, “We must contain the problem as quickly as possible.” Efforts to stop the flow of groundwater are “a race against the clock”, said NRA commissioner Toyoshi Fuketa.  Some Press reports copy the following from an AP posting which focuses on uncertainty and doubt, “The underground seepage from the reactor and turbine building area is much bigger and possibly more radioactive, confronting the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co, with an invisible, chronic problem and few viable solutions…It remains unclear what the impact of the contamination on the environment will be because the radioactivity will be diluted as it spreads further into the sea.” International “spin-doctoring” has become widespread. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/08/23/national/tepco-hit-for-failing-to-foresee-menace-of-radioactive-groundwater-tank-leaks/#.Uhims-vD8dU -- http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/radioactive-groundwater-under-fukushima-plant-nears-sea?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2013-08-24_PM
  • The system to “pump up” groundwater between the unit #2 and #3 seawater intake structures is completed. The water is being lifted from the ground before it reaches the underground soil-solidified barrier to keep groundwater from flowing over the top of the wall. The positive-displacement pumping system has 28 intake points 5 meters deep in the earth. The “pumped up” water is being discharged to an empty “vertical shaft” next to unit #2 until it can be transferred elsewhere for storage. Two possibilities are to send the water into the turbine building basements or transfer it into the above-ground storage tanks. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2013/1229966_5130.html
  • A Tepco investigation of a seaside trench between units #3&4 shows it is empty. The power cable trench leading to the unit #4 seawater intake structure is dry and there is no evidence that it has ever held contaminated water. Tepco posted this information on August 13, but there has been nothing about it in the Press. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2013/images/handouts_130813_03-e.pdf
  • Tepco is being chastised for the tank leaks at F. Daiichi. Harsh criticisms are coming from the Nuclear Regulatory Authority, the Japanese press, and numerous voices from around the world. NRA commissioner Toyoshi Fuketa said, “Fundamentally, for a facility holding that kind of radioactive water, they did not take action that foresaw the risks of possible leaks. On top of that, and this is an impression I had before my visit, I can’t help but say that the inspections were careless.” http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/nuclear-watchdog-team-inspects-fukushima-water-leak In another article, Fuketa says, "The company has not left any record of inspections (of the tanks). I have to call this sloppy." http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2013/08/242456.html A local fisherman adds, “We’ve suspected (leaks into the ocean) from the beginning. . . . Tepco is making it very difficult for us to trust them.” Atsunao Marui of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology believes the contaminated groundwater is moving toward the shoreline and will soon enter the yet-to-be-contaminated quay (barricaded inner harbor). He said “The water from that area is just about to reach the coast. We must contain the problem as quickly as possible.” NRA Chair Shunichi Tanaka made this chilling statement, “It’s like a haunted house, one thing happening after another. But we must take any steps that would reduce risks to avoid a fatal accident.” Ken Buessler from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts says, “Any contamination in the groundwater would eventually flow into the ocean. That is very difficult to stop even with barriers.” http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/08/23/national/tepco-hit-for-failing-to-foresee-menace-of-radioactive-groundwater-tank-leaks/#.Uhd1gevD8dU
  • NRA commissioner Fuketa says Tepco needs government help to deal with the current situation. After inspecting the tank that recently leaked on Monday, he said the company had not considered the possibility of leakage and was ill-prepared. He also criticized Tepco for not keeping detailed records of tank water levels. Tepco says they would have to increase the number of workers checking tank levels by a factor of four. Fuketa answered the company should ask the government to help them do it. The commissioner feels that if Tepco would admit their limitations and ask Tokyo for help, they could improve their current lack of public trust. Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga says the government will do all it can to assist Tepco contain contamination and prevent future leaks. Suga also dismissed the rumor that the current problems at F. Daiichi will negatively impact Japan’s bid to host the 2020 Olympics. He added that the foreign ministry should be providing proper information to foreign contacts. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130826_24.html
  • The Industry Ministry says they will help to prevent further contaminated leakage. On Sunday, the ministry announced they are considering what they can do to mitigate the situation. Any Ministry-based measures will be government-funded. The move has been spurred by the recent wastewater tank leak at F. Daiichi, some of which may have drained into the sea. One measure previously considered is freezing the earth around the four damaged units. The ministry wants to estimate the cost of such a project and include it in the 2014 budget. Minister Toshimitsu Motegi will inspect the situation at F. Daiichi on Monday. Tokyo added that decontamination efforts are behind schedule in seven municipalities inside the former “no-go” zone. The government says the reasons are two-fold – difficulty in getting approval of residents and a lack of storage space for contaminated soil. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130825_02.html -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130826_17.html
  • Tepco has checked all other wastewater tanks for leaks and have found none. However, radiation surveys have indicated two “hot spots” of somewhat elevated levels near two non-leaking tanks. Tepco’s Press statement says, “We have confirmed two spots where radiation doses are high.” It also says water levels in the nearby tanks have not changed since their last measurements and the soil around the hot spots is dry. Regardless, some Japanese critics imply the worst is yet to come. Masashi Kusakabe, Marine Ecology Research Institute, said, “It is too early to estimate the impact of the latest leak. All we can do is to continue monitoring levels of marine radiation very carefully.”  Jota Kanda of Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology said, “It is inevitable that some water has reached the sea. So far its impact on the marine environment is limited, but it will be a different story if more leaks happen.” http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/new-radiation-hotspots-found-at-fukushima-tanks?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2013-08-23_AM
  • Tepco is digging up the soil contaminated by the leaking wastewater storage tank. It is believed that as much as 12 liters has leaked outside the barrier surrounding the tank group which includes the failed tank. It soaked into the soil. Using mechanized equipment, staff is digging up all soil found to contain contamination and will store in a safe on-site location. Some spots that appear contaminated are above an underground network of cables, which might exacerbate the effort. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130823_04.html At this point, the company believes 12 square meters have been contaminated down to a depth of maybe 50 centimeters (20 inches). Once this volume has been removed, the ground will be surveyed to see if more material should be removed and stored. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/08/23/national/tepco-testing-tainted-earth-at-no-1-plant/#.Uhd0xuvD8dU
  • Tepco estimates that the ALPS system for waste water decontamination will not be ready until September. ALPS stands for Advanced Liquids Processing System. When in operation, ALPS will remove all but one of the radio-isotopes remaining after the water has been run through the cesium absorption system. In order to minimize the possibility of new storage tank leaks, Tepco has set up a special unit to accelerate inspections of tank integrity. Tepco spokeswoman Mayumi Yoshida said, “We are inspecting all the parts now” relative to storage tanks, and “We are aiming for September” regarding the ALPS restart. After ALPS purges the wastewaters of the 60 residual isotopes, only Tritium will remain. Tritium is an isotope of Hydrogen with the weakest radiation emissions that come from nuclear power plant isotopes. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/08/26/national/alps-filter-off-till-at-least-september/#.UhtIJOvD8dU
  • Tepco seeks international help in mitigating the current groundwater contamination issue. “Many other countries outside of Japan have experienced decommissioning reactors, so we hope we can consult them more and utilize their experience,” said Zengo Aizawa, TEPCO’s vice president. “In that sense, we need support, not only from the Japanese government but from the international community to do this job.” The International Atomic Energy Agency says it is “taking this matter seriously and remains ready to provide assistance on request.” Japan has historically been adverse to foreign assistance with internal problems. With Fukushima, outside experts and international organizations have been literally relegated to the sidelines. http://japandailypress.com/tepco-looks-for-international-help-in-cleaning-up-fukushima-mess-2334476/The national hoopla over F. Daiichi has once again raised fears about Fukushima food-fish being “tainted”. Although the intense testing of fish being sold makes it highly unlikely that any are unsafe to eat, fear of radiation (radiophobia) is once-again keeping many consumers away from Japanese-caught fish. The new phobia concerns one of the least-harmful radioactive substances known to man – Tritium. Because it is part of the water itself, Tritium passes through the marine life rapidly and leaves virtually nothing behind. The radiation it releases is so weak it cannot pass through generic cellophane. But, this hasn’t stopped the fear of eating Japanese-caught fish from amplifying. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/08/23/national/tepco-radioactive-flow-raises-alarm-over-seafood-safety/#.UheCkuvD8dV

August 22, 2013

  • One of the Cesium-stripped water storage tanks at F. Daiichi has lost 300 tons of water. The tank lost the water into a coffer dam surrounding 26 tanks grouped together, each holding 1,000 tons. The leaking tank has been drained and the water pumped into another non-leaking storage tank. The issue was exacerbated by a drain valve from the coffer dam being cracked open, allowing some of the water inside to leak out. The amount of dam leakage has been estimated at about 4 tons. Absorbent material was mixed with the wet soil around the leakage point, gathered up and removed. Soil and sand analyzed from outside the leakage location show no further contamination spread. The dam’s drain valve had been opened to drain the rainwater that had collected due to the recent torrential downpours experienced by northern Japan. It seems this one valve had not been fully closed after the accumulated rainwater had been drained. Tepco says they will review the procedure used of coffer dam draining to insure this doesn’t happen again. The contaminated water inside the dam (and thus the water leaked out) shows a trace of radioactive Cesium (0.47 Becquerels per milliliter) and all other radioactive isotopes having a combined activity of 80,000 Bq/ml. The Nuclear Regulatory Authority has judged this as a level 1 incident, the 2nd-lowest on an 8-point international scale. Tepco spokesman Masayuki Ono said, “We apologize again for causing anxiety among the public.” Seawater samples inside the station’s quay show all radioisotopic levels remain as they have been since April. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2013/1229867_5130.html -- http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2013/1229899_5130.html
  • The NRA is considering declaring a level-3 severity rating with F. Daiichi. Specifically, level-3 on the INES scale, which means “severe incident”, all due to the cumulative effect of contaminated groundwater and recent leak reported above. Level-3 is not considered an “accident”, but is one step down from one declared being. However, most Japanese press and the international news media are reporting that the “level-3 declaration” is a “done deal”. The NRA initially evaluated the incident as an “anomaly,” or a Level 1 event on the INES scale, several weeks ago.  http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130821_17.html -- http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/japan-upgrades-fukushima-water-leak-to-level-3-serious-incident?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2013-08-21_PM -- http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201308210065
  • The NRA’s announcement of considering a level-3 incident assessment has caused adverse reaction from Korea and China. South Korea’s Asiana Airlines has cancelled all flights to Fukushima Prefecture, beginning in October. An Asiana spokesperson said, “The service will be halted in October and a decision will then be taken on whether to extend the cancellation depending on conditions. Passengers are clearly anxious and we are paying close attention to all reports on nuclear reactor pollution levels at Fukushima.” Meanwhile, China’s government says they are “shocked” at the situation.  http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/08/21/business/fukushima-fears-lead-asiana-to-drop-that-route/#.UhTNKOvD8dU
  • Tepco’s nuclear chief is being moved to F. Daiichi for direct control of the situation. Nuclear Vice President Zengo Aizawa will take command of all decommissioning and incident mitigation efforts at the station. Aizawa apologized for the utility's continuing to cause so much concern nearly 2 and one-half years after the accident. He said he will treat the water leaks as an issue of the highest priority. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130821_35.html
  • Tepco estimates that 30 trillion Becquerels of contamination may have leaked to the sea since May 2011. The company’s estimates are 20 trillion Becquerels of Cesium and 10 trillion for Strontium. This is much greater than Tepco’s self-imposed limit of 220 million Becquerels of total radioactive releases per year. The assessments are based on levels of contamination detected in the power station’s inner harbor (quay) and Pacific Ocean sampling out to 15 kilometers from the site. Further, Tepco assumed that leaks have been constant since May, 2011 and the levels of contamination found in quay samples are the result of on-going out-flow from the station. The company adds that it is difficult to determine the exact amounts of Cesium and Strontium which might have leaked because both elements are readily absorbed by the soil. Tepco will continue to assess the situation and bring in outside experts for consulting purposes. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130822_05.html
  • The recent events at F. Daiichi have many Fukushima residents and politicians up in arms. One angry resident told the Press “It’s just one problem after another”. Fukushima Gov. Yuhei Sato moaned, "We've repeatedly demanded that TEPCO improve its safety management, and this latest incident is very frustrating. We want these problems dealt with for what they are, a national emergency.” Local Fisheries Chairman Tetsu Nozaki echoed the governor’s words when he wondered if the utility "can really deal with the crisis on its own. This problem ought to be dealt with as a national problem." Fukushima prefecture has formally demanded Tepco find the cause of the latest incident and take appropriate countermeasures. The prefecture’s department heads are meeting to deliberate a further response. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20130821p2a00m0na012000c.html
  • Fukushima Prefecture has discovered 18 child thyroid cancers. This is out of the 210,000 children tested across the prefecture, which had about 360,000 individuals under the age of 18 at the time of the accident in 2011. In addition to the 18 confirmed cases, another 25 are suspected of possibly having thyroid cancer. The national incidence is said to be “one in hundreds of thousands”. For example, in 2006 only 46 cases were confirmed in all of Japan. The Prefecture says they cannot determine whether or not the 18 cancers were caused by Fukushima radioactive releases. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20130821_06.html (comment - It should be noted that the world’s medical community agrees there is a 4-5 years latency period  after radiation exposure before induced thyroid cancers manifest. It has been about 2.5 years since the Fukushima exposures happened. Also, the Fukushima Prefecture’s study is the most complete and intensive study of its kind ever attempted in Japan. Thus, until other prefectures run similar studies there is nothing comparable with which to establish any firm conclusions. Keep in mind that after Fukushima Prefecture found that their child thyroid nodule-rate was ~40%, three other far-distant prefectures ran the same detailed investigation. It was found that Fukushima’s thyroid nodule incidence is the lowest of them all.)
  • 19 Tohoku Region residents are suing Tokyo for violating the new disaster support law. The Act on the Protection and Support for the Children and other Victims of TEPCO Disaster was legislated in June, 2012. The government’s Reconstruction Agency is responsible for administering the law, and is the focus of the suit. The plaintiffs are from Fukushima City and Koriyama, both of which are outside the designated evacuation zones, including many people who fled voluntarily. The group also includes residents in Nasushiobara, Tochigi Prefecture, and Marumori, Miyagi Prefecture. The law says that support measures for victims (which the plaintiffs feel they are) must be enacted by June of 2013, based on radiation exposure surveys. Because radiation dose standards for determining who should receive Agency support have not yet been set, neither areas to be supported under the law nor a basic policy have been determined. Because a firm policy on enactment has not been worked out as yet, the plaintiffs charge the Reconstruction Agency with “illegal inactivity”. The plaintiffs criticize the government for failing to provide housing and employment assistance to people who evacuated voluntarily. They also demand one yen (about one cent) each in compensation to show they are not just trying to be awarded money.  http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20130820p2a00m0na013000c.html -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2013082000376
  • The NRA says the geology under the currently-operating Oi nuclear plants is not seismic. It turns out the suspect geology called “the F-6 crush zone” is not the remains of an earthquake, but may be the result of an ancient landslide. Because the crush zone is relatively close to an active fault, called F-6, the investigating experts say they will try and establish whether or not the crush zone is attached to it. Regardless, the crush zone, which runs beneath an emergency seawater cooling intake structure, is not itself an active fault. The details posted in the Press beyond the above are quite contradictory and defy summation.  http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20130820p2a00m0na015000c.html

August 19, 2013

  • Prophets of nuclear energy doom have again descended on Japan’s willing, nuclear-averse Press. Tepco is preparing to remove more than 1,300 spent fuel bundles from the storage pool on the fifth floor of F. Daiichi’s unit #4 reactor building. The bundles will be placed in another storage facility’s pool, at ground level, until a permanent solution of high level nuclear waste is decided upon by Tokyo. The “prophets’ are using exaggerations, conveniently-selective data and fear-oriented rhetoric in order to keep Japan’s already-frightened millions on edge. For example, one maintains the 1,300 fuel bundles contain radiation equivalent to 14,000 times the Hiroshima atomic bomb explosion in 1945. Here’s the kernel of truth…there is 14,000 times more radioactive Cesium in the pool’s fuel bundles than was generated at Hiroshima. But, Cesium is far, far down the list of all the isotopes produced at Hiroshima. It’s one of the lowest isotopic quantities of the hundreds of radioactive isotopes produced by bombs…So low that no-one has ever been found to have suffered cancer as a result of Hiroshima’s Cesium yield. When this fact is multiplied by 14,000, it loses most, if not all, of its scary content. This is but the tip of the fear-mongering rhetorical iceberg. There are also unfounded inferences of possible criticality accidents, fuel bundle meltdowns, and broken assemblies virtually guaranteed to “cause by far the most serious radiological disaster to date”. The doom-sayers even allege that one of the nine most-sturdy man-made structures in Fukushima Prefecture, the unit #4 inner containment building which holds the pool, is fragile and may collapse due to another 9-Richter-Scale quake. There’s more, but I think you get the point. http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/the-deadliest-part-of-fukushimas-nuclear-clean-up-removing-fuel-rods?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2013-08-16_PM

  • International, historically-antinuclear groups want increased testing of the Pacific Ocean. The Institute for Energy and Environmental Research and the Radiation and Public Health Project want the sea and its fish tested for radioactivity off the coast of the United States due to Press reports of contaminated groundwater leaks at Fukushima Daiichi. IEER president Dr. Arjun Makhijani says that while the dilution factor in the ocean is massive, distrust of Tepco’s flow of information makes it impossible to ascertain how polluted the Ocean is actually becoming. He calls for water analysis as well as fish testing because the creatures can migrate thousands of kilometers. "I definitely would recommend that the FDA and EPA increase their vigilance in terms of the monitoring of food," he said. Executive director of RPHP Joseph Mangano says the reported leaks are “a cocktail of more than 100 radioactive chemicals” that can potentially bring dangers through eating contaminated fish or merely breathing the sea air. He says health risks include thyroid cancer (although radioactive Iodine has been gone for two years) and birth defects such as reduced immune system function. It should be noted that RPHP posted a report in March alleging that Fukushima radiation had raised infant hypothyroidism 28% on the west coast of America. The report was subsequently quashed by the scientific community because the increase fell within the variations that normally occur anyway. Undeterred, Mangano said, "We've had such enormous releases already, we need to vigorously monitor how much radiation is in our environment and bodies, not just in Japan but in the U.S."http://japandailypress.com/calls-for-us-seafood-testing-after-revelations-of-fukushima-radiation-leaks-1633993/ -- http://news.msn.com/us/calls-for-seafood-tests-due-to-radiation-leak-in-japan

  • Tepco has found elevated levels of Cesium in a unit #1 equipment tunnel. The Cesium content is 11,600 Becquerels per liter. The total radioactivity for all other isotopes is 63 Bq/liter. Because of this massive disparity in activity, Tepco says it is likely due to rainfall run-off which necessarily contains high cesium concentrations but very little of anything else. It is quite likely the contamination source is not the water in the unit #1 basement which has 55,000,000 Bq/liter of Cesium and about half of that activity from all other water-borne isotopes. If the unit #1 tunnel water had leaked from the unit #1 basement, it would have contained at least 5,000 Bq/liter of all non-Cesium radioactivities. Regardless, the Press focusses on how much the tunnel’s water has increased in activity since late March, 2011, when it measured at 1,490 Bq/liter. It is also reported that the Cesium level is 1/100,000 of that first found in the now-infamous unit #2 tunnel. There is nothing in the Press about the disparity between Cesium and non-Cesium activities. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201308160041 -- http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2013/1229771_5130.html

  • Tepco says their groundwater “pumping-up” system will be finished later today. Last Thursday, they said they would be done by Sunday. However, the excavation machine experienced some damage and a new one had to be shipped in to complete the job, delaying the schedule a day. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2013/08/241428.html In addition, the company posted a Press handout explaining the installation of the “pumping up” system, which can be viewed here… http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2013/images/handouts_130815_03-e.pdf This morning Tepco says 22 “well points” have been installed the of thirty which are planned. The increased flow from the new system has dropped groundwater level in the earth about 20 inches in four days. The indicated level is now about three inches above the top of the soil-solidification wall between the unit #2 and unit #3 seawater intake structures. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2013/1229829_5130.html

  • A Liberal Democratic Party subcommittee wants all nuke construction stopped. The LDP is now the party controlling the Japanese government. This past Friday, the subcommittee announced they will recommend a full cessation of nuclear construction until the spent nuclear fuel disposal issue is settled. A committee member said, "It is not possible for the government to fulfill its responsibility to provide an explanation to the public if it builds new nuclear plants when there is still no final disposal site for spent nuclear fuel -- which is like having an apartment with no toilet." The proposal, to be submitted to PM Abe later this month, also calls for the permanent shutdown of nukes that are no longer financially viable because of expensive tsunami-protective upgrades. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20130816p2a00m0na015000c.html

  • Fukushima repopulation continues to be disappointing. Of the 3,000 Kawauchi residents who could return home, only about 500 have actually done it. Most of the town’s returnees are elderly. Those not returning have various reasons for their reluctance, above and beyond fear of residual radiation. Some say their reluctance is because the town has no functioning medical facility or high school. Another complaint focuses on the Tokyo government. Former resident Yatsutsugu Igari says, “There is no comprehensive plan on how to rebuild the village,” said Yasutsugu Igari, 34, who works in the reconstruction department at Kawauchi’s village office. “It’s the government that destroyed it, but now it’s doing very little to help us re-create our lives.” But decontamination manager Masayoshi Yokota says the objections are nothing new, “First they said they wouldn’t come back unless we decontaminated. So we did that and told them they could come back. But then it was about jobs or that they didn’t want to come back because they have children.” Some evacuees  will lose their income from Tepco if they return, and say it is unfair to cut off financial support when their homes and villages might still be unsafe. Ministry official Hiroaki Inoue voiced is frustrated with the complaints, “I feel like some people don’t want to go back because they’re happy living off the compensation money from TEPCO and they don’t want that to end.” http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/decontamination-of-fukushima-hotspots-costly-and-complex?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2013-08-18_PM

 

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