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Fukushima 60...10/14/14-10/29/14

October 29, 2013

  • Guidelines have been set for rainwater release from F. Daiichi. The Nuclear Regulatory Authority says F. Daiichi no longer needs their permission to pump rainwater buildup to the sea as long as the waters test below current activity limits. NRA Commissioner Toyoshi Fuketa said, "We understand the situation is difficult, but we believe we've decided on a measure TEPCO would be able to follow." Up to this point, Tepco unilaterally decided to release the mildly-contaminated water if it met their self-imposed standards for Cesium (25 Becquerels per liter) and Strontium-90 (10 Bq/liter). However, before pumping to the sea, Tepco would first send all rainwater buildups to temporary holding tanks for testing. Now, the water can be tested at the point of buildup. If it has low-enough activity, it can be sent to the sea without the temporary storage step. --
  • F. Daiichi has upgraded their rainwater defenses. Included in the improvements were steel plates installed at the top of the coffer dams surrounding the 23 clusters of wastewater tanks. The plates effectively doubled the amount of water each dam can contain. In addition, the plants has installed 19 pumping units to drain dams that have rainwater levels approaching overflow. Each pump can transfer 60 tons of water per hour. Further, several empty underground water reservoirs and above-ground tanks have been designated as contaminated rainwater storage locations. Finally, plastic “eaves” have been hung from several tank tops to the ground outside the tank’s coffer dams to direct falling rain away before it gets contaminated. This was done in anticipation of Typhoon Francisco – the 27th named typhoon for 2013. --
  • F. Daiichi’s new multi-nuclide removal system’s first unit has been restarted. It began its test run in March, but had to be stopped in June when minor leaks due to excessive corrosion were discovered in a system storage tank. The three unit technology is called ALPS (Advanced Liquid Processing System), which is designed to remove all radioactive isotopes except Tritium. A second unit’s test run began in September after its storage tank was lined with an anti-corrosive coating. The third unit will begin its test run next month. Full-fledged operation of ALPS is anticipated for early in 2014. It is expected to be able to process 750 tons of contaminated water per day. Tepco plans on building another three more units after the first three are fully operational. --
  • Japan’s Atomic Energy Agency says forest contamination is staying in place. Researchers found that most radioactive Cesium in an Ibaraki Prefecture forest has been fixed in the earth. More than 2 years of study shows that after the first six months of rains washing off the Cesium from leaves and other debris, almost all of the remainder moved into the underlying soil. Further, the deepest any of the Cesium penetrated is about four inches. The research team concluded it likely that forest groundwater has not carried any Cesium from the soil and moved it under outlying areas. Hopefully, this will facilitate forest cleanup.
  • Tepco has refused to pay most of their environmental decontamination bill. The government has assessed the company for about $400 in area decontamination costs, but Tepco has only paid about $70 million. Under national law, state is responsible for leading and initially financing the decontamination effort, but it can ask Tepco to pay the bill later. Tepco has challenged more than $30 million in costs saying it does not directly involving actual cleanup. They say much of the spent monies have gone into public relations efforts and research. Tepco feels they should not be held responsible for such reimbursements. Further, Tepco is insisting that shouldering the cost for decontamination as damages will be “duplicate payments” because it is already compensating for land and buildings. The Environment Ministry says Tepco’s decision is “totally unacceptable”. Meanwhile, the Industry Ministry is considering exempting Tepco from paying most of the cleanup costs. Finance Minister Taro Aso concurred, “I wonder if we can put all the blame on Tepco, given that (nuclear policy) has been framed by the government.”
  • Some 779 companies have shown interest in the Fukushima cleanup. Japan’s International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning (IRID) says about 30% have come from firms overseas. The interested parties cover a spectrum of decommissioning and wastewater mitigation systems. Some want to be involved in forming the ice dam intended to stop groundwater flow into the units #1 through #4 turbine building basements. Others want to bring Tritium separation technology into the mix. IRID was formed in August through a consortium of Japanese companies including Toshiba and Mitsubishi. The deluge of interest was spurred by IRID’s September 25th international request for assistance. That request occurred soon after PM Shinzo Abe vowed to end Japan’s “ad hoc” response to the crisis.
  • The United Nation’s special human rights investigator has criticized the recent UNSCEAR report on Fukushima health effects. Rapporteur Anand Glover says the UNSCEAR conclusion that “there is nothing to worry about” is contentious, arguing that current evidence on low level exposure is insufficient to rule out the possibility of ill effects on health. Glover’s assertion was immediately evoked by Mari Inoue of Tokyo’s Human Rights Now group. She said the report should endorse evacuation from areas where exposure exceeds 1 millisievert of radiation per year, well below the Japanese government’s yardstick of 20 millisieverts per year. Inoue believes it is too early to rule out future health effects for those exposed.
  • An American scientific group says “Don’t fear the [Fukushima] radiation”. The American Council on Science and Health sternly criticizes the negative news media frenzy concerning Fukushima. The group argues that nuclear accidents, including Fukushima, have provided strong evidence that radiation fears have worse health consequences than low-level exposure itself. They cite the World Health Org. 20-year report on Chernobyl as powerful proof. Unfortunately, these facts have not been applied to the situation in Japan and the WHO report has been severely downplayed by the Japanese Press. As a result, “Levels of stress, anxiety and depression are significantly elevated. One survey found that stress among children in the Fukushima area is double the level of other children in Japan. In fact, the officials in the Fukushima region over-reacted so intensely that outdoor activities were curtailed, and the [secondary results] among schoolchildren include the highest rates of obesity in Japan.”
  • On Saturday, a small tsunami hit the shoreline of Fukushima Prefecture. The tsunami was caused by a 7.1 Richter-scale earthquake 200 kilometers off-shore of F. Daiichi, thought to be yet another aftershock of the massive 3/11/11 temblor. The highest reported surge was about 22 inches at the Onagawa station which was the nuke closest to the epicenter. After the quake’s shaking stopped, Japan’s Meteorological Agency issued a one-meter high tsunami alert. By procedure, all F. Daiichi staff along the shoreline moved to higher ground. Because it was the middle of the night, there were only 2 F. Daiichi workers affected. Regardless, some Japanese news outlets incorrectly reported this as yet another F. Daiichi evacuation and an indication of the on-going threat posed by the damaged nuke. The event was also reported by a few international Press sources, giving them a chance to replay their spins on the nuke accident of 2011 and re-visit their reports of problems at F. Daiichi since then. --
  • A Nuclear Regulation Authority official says the restarts of Tepco’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa station will be determined by the company’s efforts at F. Daiichi. NRA Secretary General Katsuhiko Ikeda told the Press, "The NRA will decide whether to go ahead with the safety assessment by seeing how the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi improves." He made the statement after the NRA held a closed-door meeting with Tepco President Naomi Hirose. Ikata said the NRA told Hirose to take more drastic measures at Fukushima in response to contaminated water situations. The NRA doubts whether the utility's management personnel fully understand the situation faced by workers at F. Daiichi and whether the company can ensure the safety of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant. NRA Chair Shunichi Tanaka told Hirose, "Work efficiency is not good when wearing full-face masks...and especially communication is difficult. I expect radiological countermeasures to be taken at the site to end this kind of situation." After the meeting, however, Hirose said the situation relative to the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa restart was not discussed.
  • Niigata Prefecture’s governor says Tepco uses “institutionalized lying”. Niigata Prefecture Governor Hirohiko Izumida said, "If they don't do what needs to be done, if they keep skimping on costs and manipulating information, they can never be trusted. There are three things required of a company that runs nuclear power plants: don't lie, keep your promises and fulfill your social responsibility." Izumida holds tacit veto power over the restart of any units at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuke station owned by Tepco. A long-term critic of the company, Izumida says he will create his own investigation into the causes and handling of the Fukushima crisis, and further decide whether or not the NRA is doing a sufficient job in regulating nuclear safeguards. "If Tokyo Electric doesn't cooperate closely with the prefecture nothing will be solved," he said. "Unless we start we won't know," he added, avoiding an estimate of how long his review could take. "If they cooperate with us, we will be able to proceed smoothly. If not, we won't." Izumida has called for the removal of Tepco from the Fukushima cleanup, turning all of the staff into public employees, and placing the utility in a state of bankruptcy. He argues that anything less is unacceptable, "Unless we create a situation where 80-90 percent of their thinking is devoted to nuclear safety, I don't think we can say they have prioritized safety." Tepco says they will fully support Izumida’s investigation.
  • Last Wednesday, Tepco received another $500 million from Tokyo to continue compensation payments to Fukushima evacuees. This will bring the total payouts to in excess of $30 billion. However, a Tepco press release says Tokyo’s funding will “not be sufficient for the total amount of payouts” mandated by the government after 3/11/11. (comment - Meanwhile, the 250,000 tsunami refugees continue to languish on federal subsidies of about half of the Fukushima-evacuee payout totals.)
  • Post-Fukushima radiation education follows the “keep it simple” adage. Although there was essentially no education on the basics of radiation in Japan prior to the Fukushima accident, it has become a part of primary and secondary curricula since. Tokyo University is teaching school teachers about radiation – what it is, what it can do, and what it cannot do. Many teachers have balked at presenting the material in their classrooms because they were never trained to teach this subject. Some feel only radiation experts should be teaching it. Yukiko Okada, an associate professor in the Atomic Energy Research Laboratory at Tokyo City University, disagrees. "One problem with education from experts is the jargon, which is hard for kids to understand -- all those words flying about causes them to drift away from science. But with infographics, there are no such worries," Okada says. She has given more than 30 lessons to Fukushima Prefecture elementary and junior high teachers since 2012. With the help of a colleague, Information Design Professor Seita Koike, they have created easy-to-understand graphics. It seems to be working well. Some Junior High Schools in Tokyo began teaching about radiation in 2008, but a program to cover all three public education demographics did not begin until 2012.

October 24, 2013

  • A trace of Cesium was detected 1 kilometer off-shore of F. Daiichi, and the Japanese Press again over-reacts. In an October 18 sample of open seawater, Tepco detected 1.6 Becquerels per liter of Cesium-137, which is 0.3 Bq/liter more than minimum detectability. It is far below the 90 Bq/liter limit for open release. The sampling location is the same one that showed 1.4 Bq/liter a few weeks ago. Although detectable, Tepco says it poses little or no environmental risk. The company would not speculate on where the miniscule level of Cesium has come from, pointing out that none of the other open sea sampling locations have shown any Cesium at all. It should be noted that the sample also contained 6.4 Bq/liter of non-hazardous Tritium (radioactive Hydrogen). --
  • Tepco has posted a detailed breakdown of their extensive rainwater countermeasures. It shows what is being done with each of the 23 tank clusters and the radioactivity found inside each of the containing coffer dams.  One groundwater sampling point inside the tank complex showed 400,000 Bq/liter of all-beta activity on October 17. Tepco feels the sharp increase (61 Bq/liter on October 16) was due to the extreme rainfall of Typhoon Wipha which caused isotopes in the soil to be flushed deep into the ground. The soil contamination is believed to have come from last month’s 300 tons of leakage from a tank 10 meters from the sampling well. Tepco’s near-shore seawater samples show no increase resulting from the tank complex’ groundwater contamination. By Tuesday, the well activity had dropped below 300,000 Bq/liter for all-beta, and 500,000 Bq/liter of Tritium.
  • As another Typhoon seems poised to strike Japan, Tepco has bolstered their ability to deal with high rainwater runoff. The company has added 19 more pumps to drain accumulated rainwater from inside the barriers around the 23 groups of wastewater storage tanks. The combined flow rating of the pumps is 60 tons per hour, which is a factor of four increase and should be more than sufficient. Tepco has also fitted the pumps with larger discharge hoses in order to insure maximum flow at all times. Waters will be tested for activity before pumping. Water above Tepco’s self-imposed limit of 25 Bq/liter (Cs-137) will be pumped to storage. Water below the limit will be discharged to the sea. Tepco also said they greatly underestimated the amount of rainfall that has recently occurred, which spurred the installation of new pumps.
  • Tepco is moving water from inside six tank-cluster coffer dams to an underground reservoir. This is being done in anticipation of another Typhoon bearing down on the island nation from the south. All six dam waters have been analyzed and found to have Strontium-90 activity greater than Tepco’s self-imposed limit of 10 Becquerels per liter.
  • Drainage water in a barricaded ditch at F. Daiichi contains a total beta activity of 140,000 Bq/liter. The activity has been rising ever since the ditch was closed by sandbags earlier this week. The water from the ditch is being transferred to above-ground tanks. The source of the contamination is believed to be contaminated soil entrained in rain runoff caused by two recent typhoons. There is no evidence of any tank leaks at this time. In addition, it seems the sandbag barricade has been successful because there has been no impact on any of the near-shore seawater sampling points. --
  • Tepco has moved the start date forward for unit #4 spent fuel removal. Previously, the company planned to begin in mid-to-late November, but now says the onset will be in the early part of the month. All of the more than 1500 fuel bundles will be transferred to a large common pool in a nearby storage building designed specifically for this purpose. The building is on ground level. Approval of the removal equipment has to be approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Authority before the work can begin. It is believed the transfer of all fuel bundles from the spent fuel poll will be finished by the end of 2014. Spent fuel removal will mark the next major milestone in decommissioning of the F. Daiichi complex. 
  • Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party is investigating amalgamation of all the nation’s nuke plants. The single company would be co-owned by nine private utilities and wholesalers Japan Atomic Power and Electric Power Development Companies. The idea was revealed by Taku Yamamoto, chair of the party’s energy committee. Profit from electricity sales would funnel toward the cleanup efforts at F. Daiichi. Yamamoto said, “The plan is based on Tepco’s profits covering Fukushima costs without taxpayers’ money and to increase the government’s role in the nuclear industry. Who’s going to like a bankruptcy of Tepco? The company has to go on working hard for the Fukushima disaster until it dies.” Tepco declined comment on the announcement. Regardless, the business move would allow customers to choose which of the companies they want to buy from. Yamamoto commented on the possibility, “The power industry reform bill would help stop utilities’ dominance in Japan and encourage more newcomers from home and abroad to enter the mature power market.”
  • Japan’s largest newspaper says nukes must be restarted. The Japan News (Yomiuri Shimbun) believes Japan’s “snowballing” trade deficit cannot be abated as long as “the nation’s wealth continues to pour out of the country. The government must do everything in its power to enable Japan to rebuild itself as a trade-oriented nation.” Japan has experienced an April-to-September shortfall of #49 billion, and it continues at a rate of nearly $10 billion per month. The News states, “The trade deficit has primarily stemmed from the sharp rise in Japan’s imports of fuel for thermal [fossil-fueled] power plants” as an alternative to the currently-idled nukes. By the end of this year, the total deficit since 3/11/11 will top $90 billion. Residential rates have increased by an average of $18 per month. Comparatively, the rates for corporate customers have risen even more. However, these cost increases have not come close to covering the financial crunch due to the nuclear moratorium. In order to achieve financial health in the business sector, the News believes “…it is essential to establish a system that guarantees a stable supply of cheap electricity.”

October 21, 2013

  • Rainwater has overwhelmed many wastewater tank containment dams at F. Daiichi. The resulting Japanese Press coverage is heavy. Eleven of the dams overflowed on Sunday, six of which were found to have contamination in excess of Tepco’s self-imposed release limits. One of the overflowed dams contained 710 Becquerels per liter of radioactive Strontium, spawning numerous scary headlines. The company said some of the water necessarily seeped into the surrounding earth, but most of the remaining run-off was contained by recently constructed “barrier mounds” surrounding the wastewater tank complex. However, Tepco could not absolutely guarantee all run-off was contained. There are 23 coffer-dam-enclosed tank clusters in total. Twelve did not appear to be overwhelmed. This is the first time simultaneous overflows have occurred. (The following are links representative of the Press coverage in Japan) --
  • One of the F. Daiichi groundwater wells has shown a significant radioactive increase. The well is 10 meters from the tank that lost 300 tons of wastewater in August. The new reading on Friday was 400,000 Becquerels per liter, up from 61 Bq/liter two days before. Tepco says the increase may be connected to the August tank leak. The reading indicates the contamination has invaded the groundwater due to the heavy rains from recent typhoon Wipha. No Cesium isotopes were contained in the well water. The Tritium level was measured at 790,000 Bq/liter. There has been no parallel increase in seawater readings due to the discovery. --  As of this morning, the well’s activity had dropped to 330,000 Bq/liter of all-beta and 550,000 Bq/liter of Tritium.  Meanwhile, the increased activity in the drainage ditch reported last week has risen. Last Thursday, the concentration was 2,300 Bq/liter, but on Friday it rose to 34,000 Bq/liter. Tepco says the sandbag barricade in the ditch has prevented the activity from reaching the sea. The company says much of the increase was probably due to evaporation. Tepco also announced they support the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning’s suggestion to pursue foreign proposals for Fukushima cleanup. A Tepco official said, “We will set up a website in both Japanese and English to notify interested parties at home and abroad of our calls for decommissioning ideas so that we can offer more useful and practical proposals to the government.” -- As of this morning, the ditch activity had drooped to 144 Bq/liter of combined Cesium and 1,600 Bq/liter of all-beta.
  • The contamination levels of the F. Daiichi inner port have recovered. Two weeks ago, the “all-beta” readings of the contained seawater between the unit #1 and #2 intake structures suddenly increased. The reason was contaminated soil dropping into the water from construction of soil-solidified barriers along the shoreline. As of this morning, the contamination level had dropped to pre-10/7/13 levels. Currently, the combined Cesium reading is 90 Bq/liter, down from 350 Bq/liter a week ago and the 1,200 Bq/liter reading on October 10 which spawned heavy negative Press. 
  • Japanese experts say the seafood off Fukushima Prefecture is safe to eat. Jun Misonoo, a consulting researcher at the non-profit Marine Ecology Research Institute, says, “[Contamination levels] of fish now coming to the market are well below the government safety threshold. We consider them safe to eat.” Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology’s Jota Kanda added, “Compared with the release of radioactive materials in the initial stage (of the crisis), the amount of material now is overwhelmingly small. This is not something that has a big impact on fish in the sea.” Since the testing does not include each and every fish being sold, some consumers fear dangerously contaminated seafood might be missed and could possibly be consumed. Misonoo says this is a misplaced fear because such a possibility is miniscule. He stressed that if someone were to ingest 1 kg of fish contaminated with Cesium of 100 Becquerels per kilogram every day for a year, that person would receive an internal radiation exposure of 0.47 millisievert. This is below the national standard of 1 mSv/yr. Misonoo pointed out, “And you would never keep eating 1 kg of fish every day. It’s quite unrealistic.” Finally, Misonoo said fears based on radioactive Strontium are equally naïve because the isotope would seek the bone in fish, “And you won’t eat much in the way of fish bones at any rate.” (comment – The attached link seems to be the only one covering this important story. Unfortunately, Japan Times seems to go out of its way to “balance” the expert’s statements with negative descriptive terminology and fearsome possibilities.)
  • On Friday, Japan’s Communist Party urged PM Shinzo Abe to abandon nuclear energy. During a meeting in Japan’s upper house, Party official Tadayoshi Ichida argued that Japan has experienced no power shortages due to the nuclear moratorium, the economy has not collapsed and people lead normal lives, thus there is no need to restart any nukes. Abe responded that the moratorium has caused Japan’s massive trade deficit, increased reliance on using fossil fuels, and that people’s lives have been greatly affected by soaring electricity costs. Fossil fuel imports have risen by $30 billion dollars, and nukes are needed to reverse a spiraling trend. Abe stressed that a responsible energy policy requires nuclear generation. He vowed to support renewable energy development and continue power saving measures for at least the next three years. Abe added that reducing dependence on nuclear energy in the future is possible.
  • Tepco owes the government more than $33 million in environmental decontamination costs. Tokyo has spent about $40 million, but Tepco has only paid about $7 million. The company says that with the costs of F. Daiichi cleanup and the loss of income due to the nuke moratorium, they are unable to pay the entire decontamination bill. Tepco also feels that some of the bill covers measures beyond what has been agreed upon, so Tokyo should shoulder some of the financial burden. Some ministries are sympathetic, while others are not. The Industry Ministry supports Tepco’s claims, saying, “If TEPCO’s business projection becomes murky, it would suffer severe staff drains that would disrupt its recovery from the crisis.” On the other hand, the Finance Ministry rejects Tepco’s claims, “A framework to collect the cost of decontamination work in the long term has been established, and it is impossible to consider the idea of TEPCO collapsing because of decontamination efforts.” In addition, Japan’s Board of Audit says Tepco could cover the cost if they better controlled what they pay contractors.  Regardless, Tepco is legally bound to pay the bill upon receipt, however company President Naomi Hirose says, “One company cannot bear it all.” Many legislators feel that honoring Tepco’s position would only ease their burden.
  • More Fukushima fisheries are back at work. Thirteen fishing boats sailed out of Iwate on Friday, seeking as many as 8 kinds of seafood for market including octopus and squid. The Iwate cooperative wanted to begin operations in September, but delayed their plans due to reports of possible sea contamination from F. Daiichi in the Press. They had actually decided to restart fishing on September 24, but persistent inclement weather kept it from happening. They subsequently feared a late September start would not be accepted by consumers outside the Prefecture. Fisherman Hisashi Yoshida said, “This is the first step to resume our fishing in earnest. I hope we will be able to catch a wider variety of fish soon.”
  • PMShinzo Abe is trying his best to dispel naïve rumors about Fukushima seafood. On Saturday, he visited the Fukushima port of Matsukawaura, met with fishermen, and ate samples of their catch. Abe told reporters that fishing has resumed and tests have found all seafood to be safe. However, he said the fact remains that fishermen and farmers in Fukushima are suffering from rumors that have no factual basis. He would like people across Japan to know that seafood caught off Fukushima is good and safe and the government will publicize the safety of the seafood. Later in the day, he visited tsunami-ravaged Shinchi Town in the Soma District, where homeless refugees have agreed to rebuild on higher ground. Abe promised he would do all he could to rebuild the tsunami-devastated Tohoku coastline.

October 17, 2013

  • PM Shinzo Abe has reiterated that the wastewater situation at F. Daiichi is “under control”. Called before the Diet’s extraordinary session, Abe was grilled by ex-Cabinet Minister Banri Kaieda, head of the deposed Democratic Party of Japan. When asked about his statement to the International Olympic Committee last month, Abe responded, “The situation has been under control, on the whole. The effects of radioactive substances in the sea are contained within 0.3 square kilometer of the plant's port."He added that the government will “continue efforts to address the problem with multiple preventive measures that will put together wisdom in the world." Kaieda was angered by Abe’s response, calling it “extremely flippant”. Abe’s remarks have been given widespread Press coverage in Japan. --
  • Tepco has released about 2,400 tons of accumulated F. Daiichi rainwater to the sea. (revised figures...10/19/13) The waters are the result of deadly Typhoon Wipha, which passed off-shore of the nuke station. The radioactive content of the water was 21 Becquerels per liter of Cesium-137, a bit less than Tepco’s self-imposed limit for release of 25 Bq/liter. The liquids came from buildup inside the numerous coffer dam containments around the groups of wastewater storage tanks at F. Daiichi. The massed rainwater was moved to 25 ton temporary storage tanks and tested for radioactivity before release. Some of the waters did not meet the limit for release and were transferred to an underground storage cistern. The cistern is not one of those that leaked several months ago. The release to the sea was approved by the Nuclear Regulation Authority before it happened. --
  • Tepco has issued a Press release on the effects of Typhoon Wipha. Pre-impact measures included protection of machinery, cables, and hoses, lowering of crane booms, suspension of off-shore work (including seawater sampling) and on-shore work that might have been impacted. Due to these precautions, there was no damage to machinery or operating systems, and no change in monitoring data.  The company has also posted the results of recent sampling inside the barricaded F. Daiichi water channel -  In addition, results of recent groundwater sampling was also posted -
  • Heavy rainwater run-off has caused drainage ditch radioactivity to increase. In all likelihood, the reason is contaminated soil carried into the ditch by the run-off. The location of the highest reading of all-beta activity (1,400 Becquerels per liter) is more than 150 meters from the ditch’s outlet to the sea. This is the highest reading with ditch-water since monitoring began in August. Tepco said some of the contamination may have reached the sea, but the seawater monitoring point at the ditch outlet showed no increase in activity. The Mainichi Shimbun says a sandbag barrier was placed in the ditch to prevent subsequent release to the sea. --
  • Some within the NRA call Tepco’s wastewater efforts at F. Daiichi “pitiful”. Commissioner Toyoshi Fuketa said that relative to Tepco’s mitigation measures “Our conclusion is that little effect has been seen,” and radioactive water “may be leaking directly into the sea instead of mixing with groundwater before making its way into the sea.” Emergency response secretary Masaya Yasui added, “It is reasonable to assume that the total amount of radioactive materials flowing into the sea has risen.” Yhe NRA bases their judgment on increases in Cesium-137 levels with waters between the water intakes of units #1 and #2.
  • Tokyo Electric Co. is adding staff to the F. Daiichi wastewater effort. On Tuesday, Tepco informed the NRA that as many as 200 people are being added to F. Daiichi’s workforce. It appears that 80 will be re-assigned from Tepco’s other nukes in Japan, including 20 from the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa station. The personnel moves are the result of the NRA’s October 4 request for Tepco to boost its measures to deal with leak and spill mitigation at F. Daiichi. A Tepco statement says, "We will increase the workforce at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant … and make sure we have an accurate grasp of the situation, follow procedures, introduce proper communications and instructions needed to carry out competent management of the site." --
  • Senior Japanese officials remain firm in getting nukes restarted. “The government has rethought the idea of abandoning nuclear energy. The Japanese government still considers nuclear as an option for the energy mix. It must not be excluded from the overall energy mix,” said Zengo Aizawa, vice president of Tepco. Aizawa was addressing the World Energy Congress being held in South Korea. Makoto Yagi, Chairman of the Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan, added, “It is important to resume nuclear power plants as soon as their safety can be guaranteed.It is a Japanese responsibility to help improve nuclear safety standards worldwide.”
  • On September 26, Tepco posted a request for international assistance with F. Daiichi. The request says, “International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning (IRID) is going to transmit information about technical needs and requirements, to give initial review on information submitted, and thereafter report them to the Japanese government’s Committee on Countermeasures for Contaminated Water Treatment.” The announcement page includes six PDF attachments covering the current status of the effort to control leaks and spills at F. Daiichi, including a detailed explanation of groundwater testing procedures. (“Understanding the groundwater flow”).
  • Senior Advisor Lady Barbara Judge says Japan needs foreign assistance with F. Daiichi cleanup. In a Tokyo interview, Lady Judge said, “They need to have a number of foreign firms to come in and assist them with the cleanup. For TEPCO right now, it’s a question of learning as you go.” She added that the recent spate of contaminated water leaks and spills at Fukushima pose no health threat to the public, and Tepco should be allowed to restart nukes at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa station to improve the company’s finances.
  • Some Fukushima residents persist in the effort to bring criminal indictments over the Fukushima accident. They are the same ones who had their criminal complaint legally quashed by Tokyo’s District court last month. The new filing focusses on six of the original Tepco and government officials named in the original. All six are former Tepco officials allegedly responsible for not providing F. Daiichi with adequate tsunami protection. The new complaint has been filed with the prosecutor’s office in Fukushima City. If the Fukushima committee finds grounds for indictment in two successive reviews, criminal charges may be issued.

October 14, 2013

  • The inner port (quay) contamination spike at F. Daiichi is abating. The increase in radioactive Cesium relative to the unit #2 near shoreline was caused by embankment barricading which caused some contaminated soil to spill into the water contained by a silt fence. The drop in Cesium content is due to the contaminated soil fines slowly precipitating to the floor of the quay between the unit #1 and unit #2 intake structures. On Saturday, the combined Cesium activity was at 970 Becquerels per liter. By this morning (Monday), combined Cesium had dropped to less than 190 Bq/liter. Before the contaminated soil intrusion last Tuesday, the reading was about 90 Bq/liter. There has been little mention of the activity abatement by the Japanese Press and none by the international news media. (The most recent posting in English) --
  • Tepco has decided to run daily seawater analyses in and around the outer port at F. Daiichi. While the company has sampled waters inside the “water intake channel” (quay) every day for several months, the outer port was being sampled on the average of twice per week. Since one outer port location recently had a barely detectible level of Cesium activity, they will sample and analyze all five locations every day. The increased frequency of sampling began Friday.
  • Former American nuclear official Gregory Jaczko says F. Daiichi urgently needs a better water recycling system. He said the resent leaks show “a weakness in the safety system, in the oversight and the management of the project, and I think what is needed is corrections for those elements…What is really needed is an effective, rigorous system of accountability and management at the site…what needs to be done is a more effective system of reuse of the water, the existing water… In the long term, a program to release the water would be very damaging for the credibility of the Japanese.”
  • One district inside the former “no-go zone” will have all repopulation restrictions removed. The Miyakoji district of Tamura City has allowed residents to return for a “long stay” of three months, which is set to expire at the end of October. Tokyo plans to remove all restrictions when the long-stay period is over. The plan is being presented to district officials today. The officials will next canvas both those who have already returned and others who have not due to radiation fears. Those who agree to return will be issued dosimeters so they can monitor their on-going exposure. The City plans on creating a temporary shopping area and bring in a convenience store to build a permanent outlet. Further support measures may be taken to get as many people to repopulate as possible.
  • Iitate village will build a state-of-the-art contaminated waste incinerator. This will reduce the volume of material which will need to be stored for long term disposal. The Mainichi Shimbun has arbitrarily dubbed the proposed facility “makeshift”. Regardless, flammable contaminated wastes from Iitate, Fukushima City, and five other municipalities will be incinerated, making it the first such facility in the region to handle wastes from neighboring communities. It will also be able to transform the resulting ash and low-contamination soil into construction material by removing the radioactive isotopes using a novel process developed by researchers in Fukushima Prefecture. Materials that cannot have contamination lowered to below national standards will be stored in concrete boxes for shipment to future temporary storage sites. Iitate Mayor Norio Kanno said, "We will aim to reduce the amount [of radioactive waste] as much as possible before transferring it to an interim storage facility. It is based on the idea of 'mutual assistance,' in which we do what we can" for neighboring communities. The facility is planned for completion by the end of 2014.
  • The International Atomic Energy Agency says some F. Daiichi workers may have had higher Iodine exposures. The agency’s radiation expert group, UNSCEAR, says the radiation scans used by Tepco were calibrated for I-131, so they may have not detected I-133. As a result, it is possible that 160 workers had exposures that will qualify them for lifetime thyroid examinations, in addition to the 2,000 already eligible. The UNSCEAR summary report says Tepco’s thyroid scans may not have accounted for “the potential contribution from intakes of shorter-lived isotopes of iodine, in particular iodine 133…as a result, the assessed doses from internal exposure could have been underestimated by about 20 percent.” UNSCEAR says the estimate should be verified before extending the thyroid checks to the additional 160 workers. The report also says that the new numbers for I-131 show thyroid exposures above 2 Sieverts with 12 workers and “an increased risk of developing thyroid cancer and other thyroid disorders can be inferred.” While UNSCEAR posed this as a possibility, and not an actuality, the Japanese Press is treating it as a certainty.
  • Sunday’s Nagaoka nuclear accident drill included actual local residents and wind data to direct their movement. More than 6,000 people living close to the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuke station, near Nagoaka City, participated. They were told to move in directions away from wind-borne radioactivity. During the evacuation, they scenario included a sudden 30-minute wind shift which caused a change in resident movement. This is the first nuclear accident drill in Japan to include a large number of public volunteers and include wind directions in the drill scenario. City safety director Yoichi Kojima said the intent was to quickly determine evacuation routes resulting in lowest public exposures. The haphazard evacuation from around Fukushima Daiichi in 2011 did not use available wind data, thus resulting in unnecessary exposures to thousands.
  • Greenpeace says Fukushima decontamination is “insufficient”. Greenpeace admits the radiation levels of homes and municipal facilities have been “significantly lowered”, but they feel it is not nearly enough. The international antinuclear group says their monitoring of the 20-kilometer radius around F. Daiichi shows that much of the area has not been decontaminated. Jan Vande Putte said most forests and farmlands are untouched, calling the cleansed buildings and roadways “islands and corridors” in an otherwise polluted region. He also said it would be “unrealistic” to expect returnees avoid these places. He argued, “They can be exposed to high levels of radiation” if they returned home. Greenpeace opposes repopulation of any evacuated area that is not decontaminated to meet all of the group’s concerns. Vande Putte also says that financial compensation should continue even after people return home, “no matter what”. --
  • A relatively large antinuclear protest was held in Tokyo on Sunday. The downtown march culminated at the home office of Tepco where demonstrators chanted “Stop the atom” and “Don’t pollute our sea”. Participants said the Japanese Press is not reporting on Fukushima water leaks, and only the international news media is covering it.  [Comment – actually, the Japanese Press is covering everything reported by Tepco and the Nuclear Regulation Authority, no matter how trivial. – end comment.] Rally organizers confused reactors with bombs calling for an end to both because both involve radiation. Lead organizer Misao Redwolf said demonstrators are angry because of PM Shinzo Abe’s “lie” about F. Daiichi being “under control”, "I am really angry to see (Abe's) lie go unchallenged." Metro police estimate that 9,000 people took part, while protest organizers said the number was more like 40,000. --


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