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January 16, 2014

  • Tepco has successfully transferred 154 spent fuel bundles out of F. Daiichi unit #4. The process was resumed this past week after a two week holiday hiatus.

  • Tokyo has approved Tepco’s financial “revival plan” which includes nuke restarts. Japan’s Press generally agrees the success of the plan hinges on restarting two Kashiwazaki-Kariwa units this coming summer to cut the company’s huge fossil fuel costs. Tepco says the restarts will reduce their annual $6.5 billion fossil fuel purchases, much of which is due to Japan’s nuclear moratorium.  Industry Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said, “As for the restart of Kashiwazaki Kariwa ... this is simply an assumption built into the financial plan.” Tepco President Naomi Hirose was asked if the plan’s approval absolved Tepco of responsibility since Tokyo now is majority owner in the utility. He responded, “TEPCO will throw all available resources at taking responsibility for Fukushima. We will compensate every last person and the company has many things to do in order for residents to return quickly.” However, the governor of Niigata Prefecture, home of the K-K nuclear station, doesn’t like it. Although not required by law, political protocol requires the prefecture’s approval before restart, and the governor’s anti-Tepco stance could stop restarts. Governor Hirohiko Izumida said, in his opinion, Tepco has yet to fully understand the 2011 accident at Fukushima Daiichi and is therefore unqualified to operate any nuclear plant in Japan. Izumida met with Tepco’s Hirose this morning and demanded the firm “fully verify” the accident, and called Tepco’s plan to restart the K-K plants a “moral hazard”.  The Asahi Shimbun quotes Izumida as saying the Tepco recovery plan is “pie in the sky”. -- --

  • The Nuclear Regulation Authority has begun screening Onagawa unit #2 for restart. The Onagawa station was closest nuclear plant to the epicenter of the 3/11/11 earthquake and was hit by the highest tsunami wave of all nukes (~13 meters). The 9 meter off-shore tsunami wall was overwhelmed, but the elevation of the plant at nearly 14 meters above sea level prevented a severe accident. None of the reactor operating or emergency cooling systems were damaged, although several seawater cooling supply pumps were flooded and rendered inoperable. (1) Units #1 and #3 were operating at full power when the quake struck, and unit #2 was preparing for restart after a scheduled refueling and maintenance period. Some 350 local residents fled to the station because their homes had been impacted by the tsunami, were safely taken-in by the site staff, and given the large employee gymnasium as refuge. 240 persons stayed for more than two weeks, provided food and water, plus floor bedding, because their homes were either destroyed or swept away by the waves (there were several). (2) Tohoku Electric Company, owner of the three unit station, feels unit #2 is ready to pass the NRA inspection for restart. The company is currently building new sea walls which will be 19 meters high in order to meet the regulation that tsunami protection must be built to survive a quake and wave greater than experienced on 3/11/11. Unit #2 is a Mark-5 Boiling Water Reactor system with a Mark I advanced containment. There are more reactor emergency systems on BWR Mark 5 than was the case at F. Daiichi, plus the Primary Containment is considerably larger and more forgiving.  -- (1) -- (2)  

  • Meanwhile, Tokyo delayed Japan’s new energy policy amid public outcry against nuke restarts. The policy draft was issued in December and roughly 19,000 public comments ensued. Industry Minister Motegi said, “We are hoping to proceed as soon as possible, but we have received about 19,000 public comments. We shouldn’t decide on it too hastily.” The plan’s draft said nuclear energy should remain as a base-load source of electricity in order to “stabilize Japan’s energy supply-demand structure”. While the body of public responses has not been made public, Motegi said the surge of citizen input has made it necessary to provide more detail on initiatives for fossil-fueled generation, power plant efficiency, and the implementation of renewables. Motegi added, “We also have to think more about nuclear waste,” which has become an ever-increasing issue.

  • Another former Japanese Prime Minister has joined the antinuclear ranks. Ex-PM Morihiro Hosokawa announced his candidacy for Tokyo governor, supported by antinuclear former PM Junichiro Koizumi. On Tuesday, Hosokawa announced he advocates a no-nukes future for Japan because he has a sense of crisis about Japan’s energy future. He also mentioned disaster prevention, measures to deal with the country’s falling birthrate and aging population as part of his platform’s issues. Both former PMs believe the gubernatorial race will affect national policy like never before due to the impending Olympics being held in 2020. Hosokawa says the survival of Japan is at stake and a no-nukes policy is a key to Japanese revival. Hosokawa’s main opponent, former health minister Yoichi Masuzoe, is running on a platform much less focused on nuclear energy. He wants to revitalize Tokyo, improve earthquake resistance in the city, ensure the 2020 Olympics will be a resounding success, and improve social services for the elderly. Masuzoe added that national energy policy is important, but as governor he can only increase the use of renewables by the city and support a reduction of dependence on nuclear power. --

  • Fukushima evacuees living in Tokyo have mixed emotions about the upcoming gubernatorial race. There are roughly 8,400 former-Fukushima residents who fled to Tokyo in 2011. Ex-Pm Morihiro Hosokawa, is doing his utmost to make nuclear energy the focal point of the election. But, many of the Fukushima evacuees are skeptical. They see Hosokawa’s antinuke platform as not addressing their needs. They want to know when they will be allowed to go home, not whether or not Japan should restart idled nukes. Hosei University professor Harutoshi Funabashi, commented, "Many evacuees cannot decide whether to change their registered address, due in part to the national government's vague policies. It's absurd that almost three years after the start of evacuations the evacuees don't have the right to vote in the areas they have evacuated to. If nuclear power policy is to become an issue in the gubernatorial race, I hope they'll also look at this and other situations that evacuees face." Kozo Misawa, from Minamisoma, said, "I'm anxious because I don't know how long I'll have before I'm told to leave. If I had some reassurance that I could stay here a long time I could plan out my life, but as it is I can't even buy furniture." He sees Hosokawa’s antinuclear stance as merely a ploy to get votes, "I wish he'd first focus on the many other issues (like how to support evacuees)." A 38-year-old woman who evacuated with her husband and child said, "I'd prefer the candidates in the gubernatorial race to talk about what they'll do for evacuees, rather than about nuclear power plants."

  • Fukushima Prefecture will increase efforts to insure effective public calls for evacuation. A survey after last month’s nuclear accident drill found that using 20 police and fire loudspeakers to announce an evacuation fell well-short of what is needed. Residents in 26 of the 36 affected locations said announcements were unclear and difficult to hear indoors. Also, many older cell phones did not receive emergency Emails. However, all evacuees making short-term visits to Okuma and Futaba towns who rented walkie-talkies got the messages. Fukushima officials say each communication method had strong and weak points, and plan to use the multiple announcement methodology in the future.

  • The US Congress plans to appropriate funds for detailed health checkups for the crew of the USS Ronald Reagan. The aircraft carrier took part in “Operation Tomodachi” (friends), to support the quake and tsunami relief effort following 3/11/11. Last year, more than 50 of the ships +5,000 person crew filed a lawsuit against Tepco and the Tokyo government for injuries allegedly caused by too-high radiation exposure. The suit was dismissed by a federal judge in November, but heavy Press coverage extended to the plaintiffs and their attorneys spurred several Senators and Representatives to push for a thorough investigation. The pending Omnibus Spending Bill earmarks funds to investigate the plaintiff’s health concerns. The Pentagon has released data showing that no US servicemen received hazardous exposures while in Japan, and the worst case exposure to the Reagan’s crew was less than a quarter of annual natural background levels found in the States. But, that’s not good enough for some members of Congress. They want an inventory of adverse medical conditions with Ronald Reagan sailors, plus a detailed account of actions taken by the service to prevent radiation exposure, minimize it or treat affected personnel. The Omnibus Bill is due to be submitted for congressional vote on April 15. --

January 13, 2014

  • F. Daiichi’s high-efficiency water treatment system resumed operation on Friday. The three stream process (acronym ALPS) was suspended last Wednesday because a crane broke down. The crane removes and replaces contamination-filled containers on the system’s outlet. As it turns out, one of the crane’s four motors failed, but the company decided to be ultra-cautious and check everything before continuing with use of the other motors. The other three motors were found to be fully functional and the three-stream system was restarted. Although operating at full capacity, ALPS is technically in a “test” mode. This test run is expected to end in April. Although the system has operated smoothly for a month-and-a-half, Japan’s Press continues to foment uncertainty by reporting “it remains unknown whether the system can operate reliably”. (NHK)

  • Tepco has taken umbrage with foreign Press and internet reports on unit #3 “steam” emanations. The company has posted a news release addressing the actual cause of the barely-visible wafting, irresponsible speculations of underground explosions on December 31, and an excellent graphic explaining the source of the visible little cloud of condensation. Here’s the graphic…


    The Press release can be viewed here…

  • The F. Daiichi site boundary exposure level has risen above the 1 mSv/year national standard. A few locations on the site’s property boundary are at about 7.8 mSv/year. The reason is the large number of wastewater storage tanks, some of which are not far from the security fence. Part of the increased radiation level is due to contamination in the tank waters. However, a little-known phenomenon has amplified the detected levels. When Beta (β) radiation interacts with steel, it stimulates what is known as the Bremsstrahlung effect. The result is the emission of x-ray radiation. While β particles cannot pass through the tank’s metal, x-rays can go through the walls because they are comprised of pure energy and will penetrate materials. Most of the radiation increase at the site boundary since last March is due to x-ray, caused by the Bremsstrahlung phenomenon. The Nuclear Regulation Authority wants a timeline from Tepco to determine when the site boundary level will be returned to below 1 mSv/year.

  • The issue of Cesium-contaminated fish has renewed. One Black Sea Bream was caught at the mouth of the Niidagawa River, 37 kilometers south of F. Daiichi, with a Cesium level of 12,400 Becquerels per kilogram. The national standard for consumption is 100 Bq/kg. The fish was caught on November 17. Thirty seven Bream were caught, in total, but only one registered at 12,400 Bq/kg. Two others exceeded the limit at 426 Bq/kg and 197 Bq/kg respectively. The other 34 were below the limit, according to the Fisheries Research Agency. As a result, all Bream have been restricted from sale and restricted from being fished off Fukushima and Miyagi Prefectures.

  • Nahara Town residents have petitioned for a plebiscite on building a low-level waste storage facility. The number of valid signatures exceeded the one-fiftieth criterion required for submittal to the town’s mayor, Yukiei Matsumoto. The mayor must now convene a municipal assembly and draft an ordinance to be voted on. It seems the mayor has veto power, but it is unlikely that Matsumoto will invoke it. Petition group leader Keiichi Matsumoto said he opposes the waste facility because it would be a disincentive to repopulation. There are 2,151 valid signatures on the petition out of a population of 8,230. Nahara is one of the two host communities for the undamaged Fukushima Daiini station 10 kilometers south of F. Daiichi.

  • A study of tsunami-caused fires in March, 2011 has been posted. The Japan Association for Fire Science and Engineering has compiled the first detailed analysis of the 371 fires spawned by the quake/tsunami of 3/11/11. While tsunami-spawned fire are considered atypical, the 3/11/11 tsunami produced more than 40% of the blazes cause by the surging torrent. The Association found that 371 fires erupted due to the quake and tsunami, with 159 due to the tsunami alone. The blazes stretched along a 610 kilometer coastline from Hachinohe, Aomori Prefecture in the north, down to Asahi, Chiba Prefecture in the south. The flames consumed more than 78 hectares of property in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima Prefectures, all of which bore the brunt of the water surge. This is greater than the 64 hectares of property immolated by the Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995, which devastated much of Kobe City. By Prefecture, there were 99 tsunami-spawned fires in Miyagi, 29 in Iwate, 12 in Fukushima, 9 in Ibaraki, and five each in Aomori and Chiba. 35% of the fires were buildings, more than 60% of which were non-wooden. 31% of the fires were because of vehicles. The fire origins were likely liquefied gas cylinders, vehicular fuel cells, and natural gas lines which burst as buildings were swept away from their foundations. It was also noted that 212 fires were caused by quake aftershocks.

January 9, 2014

THIS JUST IN (1/10/14) – Three reports have been posted verifying the Fukushima Commentary of 12/31/13, Pacific Beaches not at-Risk from Fukushima. It turns out the infamous Pacific beach radiation widely posted in a recent YouTube video was entirely due to naturally-occurring isotopes of Thorium and Radium. The three come from the Geiger Counter Bulletin, San Francisco Chronicle, and the Novato California Patch. Here’s the links… -- --

Now for the current Fukushima updates…

  • The transfer of spent fuel at F. Daiichi unit #4 has resumed. The operation was suspended on December 22 for the holidays. Fukushima Prefecture officials observed the fuel bundle transfer’s resumption. The prefecture says they will make future observations as often as possible.

  • Japan’s Atomic Energy Agency will run a small-scale meltdown test. The experiment will be used to shed new light on what happened inside the three damaged cores at F. Daiichi in mid-March, 2011. One JAEA official said, “We’d like to find out what phenomena occurred in the accident and use the data to work out responses in the event of another nuclear power plant accident. Results of the experiment will help us better predict the effectiveness of measures to deal with a nuclear accident, such as an emergency injection of water into a reactor. There are no safety problems with the experiment itself.” The experiment will be run at the Tokai Research Reactor Facility using a foot-long fuel “rod” isolated from water. It will be bombarded with moderated neutrons from fuel bundles in water outside the small dry enclosure. The water is needed to de-energize the neutrons from fission in a process called moderation. Freshly-released, high-energy neutrons cannot cause a chain reaction in fuel as dilute in the Uranium-235 isotope as is the case in all nuclear power plants. Only de-energized, low energy neutrons can do it. (click on The Uranium Explosive Myth in the left-hand column for more detail on this necessary process) The moderated neutrons should be sufficient to cause a chain reaction in the test rod. By increasing the concentration of neutrons from the water-moderating blanket, the test rod’s chain reaction should increase enough to reach the ~2,000oCtemperature needed to cause the fuel to liquefy, along with the other metals attached to the rod. Once liquefied into a material called corium, the chain reaction should cease and begin to cool. It should shortly re-solidify. The corium can then be given a detailed analysis. JAEA says they will begin fabricating the test module in April. They add that before the test is run, they will fully inform all Ibaraki prefectural officials. What does Tepco think of this? One official said, “The present calculation method has its limits when seeking precision.”

  • The Cesium filtering of waters in the turbine basements of units #1 through #4 continues to lower radioactive concentration. Tepco’s posting of January 8 shows the inlet water to the Cesium absorption filters in the Main Process Building is at about 25,000 Becquerels per milliliter. The same sample point posting on January 4, 2013, was 59,000 Bq/ml. This is about a 57% decrease over the one year period. Also, the Cesium concentration of the absorber’s outlet is now 0.34 Bq/ml. This means the filtration system is removing 99.999% of the Cesium. Not bad for a “makeshift” system. --

  • A popular twice-weekly podcast, “No Agenda”, praises the Hiroshima Syndrome for Fukushima information. This past Sunday’s pod cast (#580) was entitled Hiroshima Syndrome.  Leading nuclear energy blogger Rod Adams has posted an article about the podcast and the virtues of the No Agenda format, which seems to fit the show’s title quite well. Rod’s opinion of the show meshes almost perfectly with mine, so any elaboration on my part would be nothing more than unnecessary redundancy. Here’s the link to Rod Adam’s most-interesting piece…  Thank you Rod. And a huge “thank you for courage” to Adam Curry and John Dvorak, the hosts of No Agenda.

  • The immensely popular Deep Sea News has run another scientific report on Fukushima impacts. It is titled “All The Best, Scientifically Verified, Information on Fukushima Impacts”, written by Dr. Craig McClain. The piece begins, “With all the misinformation around the internet here are links to articles that we trust. The following provide credible information about what is actually occurring and/or dispel myths about Fukushima radiation that are prevalent on the internet.” It then lists a dozen web-available reports debunking internet scare-mongering specific to Fukushima contamination. Here’s the link…

  • An American English teacher in Fukushima Prefecture has posted a calendar to show people in America that the prefecture is not a disaster wasteland. Ryan McDonald says he was literally inundated with post-3/11/11 Emails and phone calls from friends back home. To dispel their concerns, he has produced a calendar depicting a “Fukushima is Beautiful” motif from his home on Lake Inawashiroko. He has printed 3,500 copies. McDonald says he wants the world to see that “Fukushima is about more than just a nuclear disaster”. The calendars have been sent to world leaders such as U.S. President Barack Obama and Britain's Queen Elizabeth II, government officials, Hollywood actors, movie directors and other prominent figures. The British royal family sent a letter expressing its appreciation, and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter sent a thank-you note. McDonald can be reached by Email…

  • Ibaraki Prefecture will build a nuclear waste incinerator for low-level substances. Workers at the JCO waste processing plant are building an incinerator equipped with high efficiency filtration to keep radioactive ash from becoming airborne. The company plans on having the facility ready to operate by November. The materials to be burned include waste oil, work clothes and contaminated paper that have accumulated at the JCO plant. They have about 700 barrels of material to be incinerated, each with a 200 liter volume (~50 gallons).

  • Tepco will create a new brand name for retail sales. Under its comprehensive business plan, the company will be selling electricity on a retail basis to large-lot consumers across the whole of Japan. However, Tepco’s name has been tainted by the Fukushima accident to such a degree that it might inhibit sales. The in-house structure of the brand and new business operation will be created this year. In the plan, Tepco will buy power from industrial facilities that use their own in-house generators, then re-sell it nationally.

  • Russia has banned more than 130 Japanese cars over concerns about F. Daiichi contamination. The fears stem from reports about water leaks at the nuke station that have dotted the international Press. Russia’s consumer watchdog, Rospotrebnadzor, said, “In 2013, Russia has banned 165 batches of contaminated goods from entering the country. There were mainly used cars – 132, and spare parts for vehicles – 33.” They added that fish from Japan are monitored, as well, “Particular attention is paid to this issue in Russia’s Far East, where radiation control of fish is being wieldy (sic) implemented, including the distribution chain.” So far, these checks have shown that all fish imports have met “sanitary regulations or radiation indicators”.

  • Two Japanese antinuclear groups are taking their rhetorical campaign to Taiwan. Members of No Nukes Asia Actions and No Nukes Asia Forum held a Press conference in Taiwan on Tuesday. They intend to file a lawsuit making reactor plant technology suppliers legally accountable for nuclear accident. The specific companies the groups are after are Toshiba, Hitachi, and General Electric. The antinukes are trying to abolish Japanese laws that make technology suppliers exempt from accident liability, as well as seek compensation for “spiritual damages” cause by the nuke accident. The groups have tried to file a similar lawsuit in Japan without success. --


January 6, 2014

The resurrection of old F. Daiichi news has spurred the Tokyo Electric Company to respond. The topic is the occasional mist emanating from the top of the unit #3 reactor building at F. Daiichi. This has been happening off-and-on since last summer. Tepco found that rainwater collecting around the Primary Containment head will evaporate on cool or (now that it is winter) cold days because the steel dome, which is inside a deep concrete pit, is warmed by the 100oF (40oC) heat being generated inside the containment. In the winter, the evaporation rate is so great that it looks like a steam leak from inside the reactor building. The progenitor of this not-so-new news is the Turner Radio Network, which is essentially a conspiracy theory site run by former convict Hal Turner. His website has nothing to do with Ted Turner or Turner Broadcasting Company.

Tepco’s Press Release says the steam itself indicates no abnormality. It also says “Since July 18, 2013, steam has been intermittently observed at the top of the Unit 3 Reactor Building. It was observed on days with comparatively low temperature and high humidity and, upon almost all occasions, when rain had fallen before… No significant changes were found in neither the main parameters related to the plant (temperature, pressure and xenon density of PCV/RPV) nor the monitoring post readings, which indicates no abnormality of the cooling of the reactor, nor dangers to human health… There has been no significant change in the radiation dose and nuclide analysis results (dust sampling data) compared to those from before the steam was observed.” 

I suggest reading the article on the “steam frenzy” posted by, headed by James Corbett of the popular Corbett Report. The blog seems to follow the agenda of reporting what is available in the Press. They give fear-mongering antinuclear postings equal billing with pronuclear. This piece attacks the recent fear-mongering and has an interesting timeline of visuals showing that the visuals used by the popular Press and internet scare-mongers are nearly three years old. The most recent image reveals the “steam” to be so minor that it is barely visible. (   


Here are some other updates from this past weekend… 

  • All of F. Daiichi’s inner harbor sample points are below national standards for Cesium. The limit for Cs-134 is 60 Becquerels per liter, and for Cs-137 it is 90 Bq/L. The concentrations along the shoreline and inside the quay break-walls have been dropping for several weeks, ever since the soil-solidified barriers were completed on-shore. As usual, the Japanese and international Press neglect to report this good news, unquestionably because it isn’t scary or unsettling. Here’s the latest test results…

  • America’s Arnie Gundersen admits F. Daiichi unit #3 cannot explode. Gundersen has been making disaster predictions concerning the four damaged units since March of 2011, but this is one of the first times he has forgone conjecture and posted something realistic…almost. With Arnie, any positive statement about Fukushima always follows with a negative caveat or three. This time, he focusses on the wispy emanations from around the exposed Primary Containment dome of unit #3 and uses it to reject the notion of cold shutdown. He purports, “While the plants are shutdown in nuke speak, there is no method of achieving cold shut down in any nuclear reactor.” His rationale is that there are fission products radioactively decaying in the unit #3 rubble, producing heat, and spewing radioactive isotopes into the atmosphere. To Gundersen, cold shutdown must mean no decay heat, which is entirely NOT in the definition of the phrase. Regardless, Gundersen uses a kernel of truth then blows it completely out of proportion. He says that in cold weather the release becomes visible due to condensation in the air, similar to exhaling in the winter and seeing your breath, which is correct. But Arnie’s assures us that the F. Daiichi #3’s atmospheric condensation is dangerously radioactive. His “proof” is that unit #3 produces about one Megawatt of heat from radioactive decay, which is correct. However, he twists this into a release of “radioactive steam” and unabashedly elaborates, “These hot radioactive releases [not physically hot, but radioactive hot – meaning they contain radioactive fission products] have occurring for the entire 33 months following the triple meltdown. The difference now is that the only time we visibly notice these ongoing releases is on the cold days with atmospheric conditions cold enough to condense hot vapor into steam.” What he fails to tell us is that none of the station’s numerous radiation monitors, and none of those run by Fukushima Prefecture and/or the Tokyo government, show any increases on the days the “radioactive steam” is visible.

  • Two posts concerning recent Fukushima fear-mongering on the Internet bear mention. The first concerns the UN Navy sailor’s Fukushima lawsuit. It is a YouTube video created by “Thunderfoot”, a popular Twitter video blog (vlog). The vlog has the misleading (sarcastic?) title, “Fukushima ‘Death Cloud’ Kills hundreds on Warship”, but goes into detail to show how the health problems alleged in the lawsuit could not possibly be the result of radiation exposure from the Fukushima accident. Thunderfoot states, “On paper they claim all sorts of cancer, however I can find no interview of anyone with cancer. Further the lawsuit doesn’t say what the claims are for. What I do find is interview after interview of people describing non-quantifiable symptoms that are wholly inconsistent with radiation poisoning.” Not your typical YouTube vlog, and worth the 19 minutes it takes to watch.  The other posting concerns stories that Fukushima contamination is killing sea life in the Pacific. It is entitled “Is the sea floor littered with dead animals due to radiation? No.” The author is Craig McClain, Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, jointly operated by Duke, North Carolina, and North Carolina State Universities. NESCent is sponsored by the National Science Foundation. The NESCent staff has been trying to combat misinformation about the presence of Fukushima contamination having a deadly impact on marine organisms of America’s west coast. They conclude, “After doing thorough research, reading the scientific literature, and consulting with experts and colleagues, we have found no evidence of either.” The report is detailed and blunt.

  • F. Daiichi’s contaminated underground tunnels will soon be cleaned. Two of these equipment and cabling shafts are filled with water contaminated to levels that are now higher than what we find inside the turbine building basements. The basement waters are being slowly Cesium-stripped which is lowering their overall activity, while the tunnel waters outside the basements are not being Cesium-filtered. Tepco plans to first block all tunnel connections to the turbine buildings by freezing, to prevent the shafts from refilling. Once isolated from the basement waters, the tunnels will be drained. It is felt this will be the first step in freezing the ground completely surrounding the contaminated turbine basements.

  • Antinukes in Shimane Prefecture had submitted a petition to end nuclear energy. The petition has 92,000 signatures. The Prefecture’s population is 713,000. This is the latest in a series of attempts by Japanese antinuke groups to force anti-nuclear ordinances on local governments. As yet, none have succeeded. The Prefecture has two Boiling Water Reactor plants at Shimane Station on the Sea of Japan, which is the focus of the petition. The signatures will be checked against the prefecture’s voter registration list. If enough are valid, the petition will be sent to the governor who, by law, must bring the issue before the prefectural assembly. The petition wants the two nukes decommissioned by an unspecified date and replaced with “natural and renewable” energy sources. (comment – the signatories must be unaware that nuclear fuel is renewable by recycling, and that natural fission reactors have existed in Gabon.)

  • Students from the disaster-hit Tohoku coast will be presenting their stories in Paris. The event is planned for August. The 100 students will come from Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate Prefectures. But as is the custom with the Japanese Press, only the students from Fukushima Prefecture are getting coverage. Some Fukushima student’s draft presentations use pictures depicting death and resurrection as an expression of their feelings. Others focus on what they have learned about radiation. Faculty from Fukushima University is overseeing the project. It would be instructive to know about the projects of students from Miyagi and Iwate Prefectures which were devastated by the quake and tsunami, but there’s nothing about them in the NHK report.

January 2, 2014 

Happy New Year, Everyone!

  • The Nuclear Regulation Authority says no nukes will be restarted in the near future. The NRA has held 65 meetings to study the first nine restart applications submitted last year and decided none of the operators have “appropriately renewed their estimations of the scale of possible earthquakes”. The NRA’s Chair Shunichi Tanaka says he has no idea how long the screening process will take after this new finding. (comment - Once again, the NRA shows its earthquake phobia, entirely ignoring that the worst quake in the history of Japan was successfully endured by all of the nukes on the Tohoku coast. When will this watchdog wake up and look at quake precautions in a realistic light? It was inadequate tsunami protection that caused the F. Daiichi accident. There was no safety compromise due to the quake. It seems the NRA has a guilty-until-proven-innocent attitude toward earthquakes and nukes. I thought being independent meant avoidance of bias.)

  • The number of feral cats in the F. Daiichi evacuation zone is increasing. However, it should come as no surprise, says Hiro Yamasaki of the Animal Rescue System Fund. His Fund provides affordable spay and neuter services, and has been doing this in Kobe since the aftermath of the Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995. The city became inundated with the feral offspring former pets whose owners were either dead or could not move them to quake evacuation centers that disallowed pets. Yamasaki explain the Kobe situation, “Sterilization is the most practical and humane way to curb the growing population of feral animals, and research backs this up. I then realized a bigger problem existed. In the years after the earthquake, the number of feral kittens in Kobe increased. I did some quite detailed statistical research and worked out how many animals various areas could support, and the optimum rate of spaying and neutering — 70 percent — that was necessary to achieve this.” However, tradition inhibited his work. Pet sterilization is the exception, and not the rule in Japan, plus most veterinarians make the operation expensive. Unwanted kittens were destroyed by residents, as an alternative to keeping them. Yamasaki opened his Kobe clinic in 2006 because “In the decade between the Hanshin earthquake and the Kobe clinic opening, the number of kittens being gassed by the city rose. However, following our efforts to sterilize the feral cats in the region, the killings dropped year on year between 2006 and 2012. The TNR (trap, neuter, return) model clearly works.” In 2012, he tried to open a new clinic near the F. Daiichi evacuation zone, but ran into strong opposition from local veterinarians. The “old-boys network” closed ranks to stop Yamasaki, “There’s a distinct inaka seishin (provincial mentality) in these communities. You can’t rock the boat if you want to fit in. The local government officials and businessmen like things to stay as they are.” Undaunted, he opened the Fukushima Spay Clinic near a Shirakawa shopping mall, about 100 kilometers southwest of F. Daiichi. To date, nearly 1,500 animals have been treated economically and safely. Yamasaki laments, “Unfortunately, our clinic is the only one providing this kind of service. The local vets and bureaucrats have not responded adequately to the situation.”  (comment – I live with three cats, and all are sterilized. Feral kittens show up occasionally because of a metro-park across the street where owners abandon their unwanted cats and they reproduce with other abandoned cats. The feral kittens won’t let me catch them and they keep their distance…such is the way of feral kittens. I give them some food, but it’s basically one-and done. I think the coyotes get them. Regardless, my heart goes out to each of them. Here’s the link for Yamasaki’s Fund… I sent a small donation…how about a little help, folks?)

  • Government officials will soon be explaining details of low level waste storage to Fukushima residents. Intermediate storage facilities are intended for F. Daiichi’s two host communities, Futaba and Okuma. Over the next two months, Tokyo representatives will inform the estranged residents of the safety provisions that will be taken and the process for compensation to those whose land will be expropriated. Some locals object because they do not want to lose the land held by their families for generations. Others fear that the proposed facilities will actually be a detriment toward recovery efforts in the two towns. Tokyo wants to resolve these issues quickly in order to have the facilities in operation by January, 2015.

December 30, 2013

  • Tepco has requested $10 billion to cover their new compensation pay-outs. This is the fifth time the company has submitted their estimated needs to meet the government’s mandated evacuee stipends. In all, the five requests total nearly $48 billion. The reasons posted by Tepco for the new estimate include redefinition of loss of property, damages due to procurement of houses (presumably for building temporary rural waste facilities), damages after evacuation orders are dissolved, and mental anguish with those whose return cannot be forecast.

  • PM Shinzo Abe pledged to increase financial support to quake/tsunami victims. This should not be confused with pay-outs to Fukushima evacuees. Rather, it is intended to assist municipal recovery in the three prefectures hardest hit, primarily due to the tsunami – Miyagi, Iwate, and Fukushima (outside the nuclear evacuation zone). Disaster-area municipalities are facing on-going difficulties with the public insurance program due to increasing medical costs and decreasing insurance premium revenues. It is intended that this boost in money will help for at least three more years. The proposed amount will be announced before March.

  • Rural decontamination teams can work overnight in some evacuation zone locations. Tokyo says workers will be allowed to stay overnight in areas where residents are allowed to visit during the daytime. One stipulation concerns work with projects deemed indispensable for zone restoration and revival, so long as the measured exposure levels are below the 20 millisievert per year limit. Local governments and businesses have asked for this because daytime access is slowed at times by workers traveling to their and from job sites, causing congestion on the roads. Tokyo said the allowance for overnight work will begin immediately in Iidate village. Other municipalities can apply for similar approval as long as locations in their communities meet the stipulations. Director of the National Institute of Radiological Sciences Makoto Akashi says strict monitoring of exposure will be needed for each worker, including their off-work hours.

  • About one-fourth of Fukushima’s citizens have answered the prefecture’s radiation survey. The analysis began a few months after the accident. It is designed to provide reasonable estimates of individual exposures due to the F. Daiichi accident during the early weeks of the crisis. The surveys were intended to cover about 2 million people, but as of September only 23.6% have completed and submitted the forms. The survey asks about time outside the home, eating habits and other behaviors that may have affected exposure, both internally and externally. Fukushima officials feel the reasons for the low response include the difficulty of filling out paperwork, insufficient explanation, and reluctance to try and remember what residents were doing early-on in the crisis. The prefecture is trying to simplify the survey in order to get more residents involved.

  • The number of Japanese nukes asking for restart is now sixteen. The latest submittal is from the Tohoku Electric Company for Onagawa unit #2. The Onagawa station was closest to the quake epicenter on 3/11/11, and experienced a bit higher than F. Daiichi. Quake damage was limited to non-safety systems, such as potable water. The anti-tsunami barricade much higher and more robust than at F. Daiichi, completely protecting the station. Tohoku’s Executive Vice President Shigeru Inoue said, "Some minor damage resulted due to the quake, but we have confirmed the soundness through on-site checks. Having our safety improvement measures checked will also bring a sense of reassurance to the local people." It should be noted that more than 200 nearby residents fled to the station to avoid the tsunami that swept their homes away, and were sheltered for more than a week at no cost until they could re-locate elsewhere. The Onagawa units are Boiling Water Reactor types, thus staff is installing hardened, filtered depressurization systems on each. Unit #2’s installation should be finished early enough to pass the government’s inspection in time to restart in 2016.

  • Tepco’s special rehabilitation plan was submitted Friday and has caused some controversy. The plan was co-opted by Tepco and the government’s Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund. Jiji Press says success hinges on restarting two Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nukes by July 2014. Because of the de-facto nuclear moratorium imposed on Japan by then-PM Naoto Kan, Tepco has been forced to re-start moth-balled fossil fuel (thermal) units. Also, the company has been forced to continually run thermal power plants designed for handling short-term demand peaks. As a result, Tepco’s fossil fuel importing costs nearly doubled from 2010 to 2012. They have stayed at the high level since. Tepco has experienced company-wide staff cutbacks and other cost-cutting measures, but the more than $2 billion outlay for fossil fuels has only been superficially impacted. One Tepco executive says, "No matter how much restructuring measures we take, we cannot achieve a turnaround unless we trim fuel costs." Meanwhile, Japan Real Time (Wall Street Journal) says the announcement by Tepco is hiding its real plan for the future, and adds that the Tokyo government is abetting the company’s lack of disclosure. JRT says it is unlikely that the two K-K units will be restarted because of opposition from Niigata prefecture’s governor, thus Tepco should have identified what they will do to prevent financial collapse without the K-K unit restarts. --


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