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Fukushima 65...1/20/14-2/3/14


February 3, 2014

  • Another 44 fuel bundles were safely transferred out of #4 spent fuel pool last week. The total moved to the ground-level common pool facility without incident now stands at 264. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/removal4u/index-e.html

  • The Tokyo gubernatorial race is center stage in the Press. The election will take place next Sunday. While most news outlets are doing their best to make nuclear energy seem as the key issue, the Tokyo electorate sees it very differently. In a detailed opinion poll by the Japan’s leading newspaper, the Yomiuri Shimbun, nuclear energy placed fifth on the list of relative importance. Medical and welfare policies topped out with an 84% rating, followed by disaster preparedness at 81%, the economy and unemployment at 75%, and, anticrime and public safety at 68%. Nuclear energy was next with a 61% rating, followed by 2020 Olympics’ preparation at 52%. Leading candidate Yoichi Masuzoe garnered at least 60% of the party-affiliated respondents. He also got more than 30% of the non-affiliated “swing” voters, which was by far the most of the four major candidates. Ex-PM Morihiro Hosokawa has been getting the most Press because of his staunch opposition to restarting Japan’s nukes, but he is running second to Masuzoe with party-affiliated voters and third with the “swing” demographic behind former Bar Association President Kenji Utsunomiya. It should be noted that nearly 40% of swing voters have not decided as yet. The Morihiro Hosokawa campaign has received the most Press coverage because of his support from another former PM and recent antinuke, Junichiro Koizumi. However, the electorate seems unfazed by the affiliation. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0000996164 -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0000996255  On the other hand, the majority of Japan’s new media continues to try and convince the Tokyo public that nuclear energy is the number one issue, often neglecting to cover the size of nuclear-neutral Masuzoe’s lead. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/02/02/national/tokyo-election-goes-nuclear/#.Uu5Mc8uYYdU

  • Tepco engineers are looking for more leaks out of units #1-#3 containments. In November, they found a leak of ~3.3 tons of water per hour from the lower part of Primary Containment #2. The plant staff is pumping 4.5 tons of water into the unit #2 RPV. Since RPV water levels seem to be remaining constant, there must be one or more other points of leakage totaling about 1.2 tons per hour. A debris-removal robot found the leaks in November, so Tepco plans on expanding their use of robots to scan the rest of the locations around the outer wall of the inner containment. Their next look will be around the large pipes that connect the containment to the 600,000 gallon, donut-shaped suppression chamber (torus). http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • Tepco will test the use of a Strontium absorber in February. The material is apatite, which has similar chemistry to bone. Since Strontium is known as a “bone-seeker”, the apatite will capture most Strontium that comes in contact with it. The material has been used at Hanford, Washington, to block the Strontium in liquid wastes that have leaked into the soil. It has removed about 90% of the Strontium in the groundwater. Apatite has never been used on water as saline as that found in Fukushima Daiichi storage tanks, so testing is needed before making a decision on building an expensive sea-side barrier out of it. Tatsuya Shinkawa, director of the Nuclear Accident Response Office, said, “If it goes well, we will probably make an apatite wall between the tanks and the sea.” http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2014/01/31/fukushima-watch-new-technology-to-stop-deadly-strontium/

  • Tepco’s 4th quarter report has brought praise from two foreign consultants. American Dale Klein said the report shows “steady progress”, particularly with spent fuel removal from unit #4. He added that "this is a time for TEPCO to remain vigilant and not allow these successes to lull it into complacency. A long-term water solution remains to be agreed upon, and that will require some difficult decisions. And continuing efforts need to be made to inculcate a true safety culture." Britain’s Lady Barbara Judge contrasted this quarter’s report with its predecessor. She stressed that the Nuclear Safety Oversight Office is now fully engaged, monitoring the line organization, making suggestions which are being listened to and implemented", and also praised TEPCO for "real change" in communications, including improvements in press communications and the hiring of a new leader of the Social Communication office. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2014/1234017_5892.html

  • Incoming Business Federation Chair Sadayuki Sakakibara says Japan’s nukes need to be restarted as soon as possible. He specified the sixteen nuclear units that have applied for restart with the Nuclear Regulation Authority. Sakakibara said, "It is in Japan's national interest to restart the 16 nuclear reactors as soon as possible after carrying out thorough safety inspections." He also addressed the risks of reliance on old fossil-fueled plants and their costs, "In light of stable power supply and cost reductions, it is crucial for the country to maintain nuclear plants." Sakakibara will take office in June. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2014013000929

  • Japan’s nuclear watchdog told Tepco to lower F. Daiichi radiation levels. Specifically, the elevated radiation levels at the station’s property line near recently-filled waste water tanks. Our update of January 13 reported that locations at the boundary read as high as 8 millisieverts per year, which is 8 times higher than Japan’s restrictive goal of 1 mSv/yr. On Friday, the Nuclear Regulation Authority demanded that Tepco be below the 1 mSv/yr level at the property boundary by 2016. The NRA said this will diminish possible effects beyond the property line and reduce exposure to plant staff that must work near the tanks. Tepco responded they already intended to decontaminate the water in the tanks as soon as their hi-tech ALPS isotopic removal system has been fully tested. However, some alleged “experts” doubt whether or not Tepco can actually do it because the ALPS system test has experienced some problems. The critics also say faster removal of contaminated debris would expedite resolution of the problem. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20140201_01.html

  • The NRA has modified nuclear evacuation rules. In the future, all residents within 5km of a nuke emergency will be evacuated unconditionally. Those living between 5 and 30 kilometers away would be given guidelines based on local radiation readings. These rules are to be enforced by local authorities. One location in each community is to be designated for monitoring of radiation and airborne contamination. Reliable back-up power is to be supplied for each monitor. Many rural monitors around F. Daiichi did not work during the regional blackout because of insufficient back-up power supplies. In addition, local authorizes are to designate a monitoring center to compile the data and make informed public protection decisions. Of course, critics say the new rules are insufficient and only one designated monitor per community is not nearly enough. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • Tokyo wants to get local fisheries to approve releasing uncontaminated groundwater to the sea. During talks with the National Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Associations, the Industry Ministry said they will set strict procedures for the release which should allay any public concerns that could hurt the fishing business. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2014/02/269390.html  

January 30, 2013

  • Woods Hole Institute says there is no detectable Fukushima Cesium in the Pacific Ocean along the American west coast. They are testing the waters at 8 locations from northern Washington to southern California. So far, the only detectable isotope of the element is Cs-137, which means it did not come from Fukushima. Why? Because Fukushima’s release included Cs-137 and Cs-134 isotopes. If the activity was from Fukushima it would include both. Woods Hole found the coastal Cs-137 activity is 1.5 Becquerels per ton of water, which is the Pacific Ocean’s concentration due to residuals from nuclear weapon’s testing more than 5 decades ago. Because of Cs-134’s 2 year half-life, it has been gone for thirty years. Woods Hole says this means two things. First, there should be no health concerns about Pacific recreational activities, including swimming, due to Fukushima. Second, testing results will provide a good baseline when any Fukushima-based Cesium begins to show up. Woods Hole also points out that bomb-based Cesium levels are hundreds of times less than naturally-occurring Potassium-40 already in the Pacific. Further, the Institute feels it will be several months before any Fukushima activity might be detected. http://ourradioactiveocean.org/results.html

  • Tepco has begun work to form frozen earthen walls around the tunnels leading from turbine basements #1 through #4. Vertical holes will be drilled around the tunnels and pipes installed in them. A refrigerant will eventually flow through the pipes and freeze the ground solid. Subsequently, the tunnels will be drained and the contaminated waters stored on site. The first tunnels to be addressed will be the ones from units #1 and #2 known to have high concentrations of radioactive isotopes. Tepco wants the piping installed by late March, then freeze the soil so that the first water removal can begin in May. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20140129_01.html

  • Tokyo Electric Company (Tepco) says they will move their reconstruction headquarters from the “J-Village” to Tomioka town. Both locations are within the government’s mandated 20 evacuation zone, but the J-Village location near Fukushima Daiini will be returned to being an athletic facility after 2015. Tepco says the move to Tomioka will happen in 2015. Town officials believe the town will be opened to repopulation by 2017. Tepco’s corporate move to the town will insure restoration of the town’s infrastructure and make repopulation more desirable to the citizenry. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2014/01/268379.html

  • Forested Hirono Town will try a new idea to reduce radiation levels. Much of the town has been opened to repopulation, but only a disappointing 20% have returned. Most who are reluctant to repopulate are afraid of radiation from contamination in the forests. So, the town will cover the forest floors with 4-inch-thick bags of uncontaminated topsoil to shield the activity, which is mostly Beta eradiation that will be completely stopped by the coverage. The planned test site has an area of 200 m2. If successful, the town will consider complete coverage of the forests and see if it increases the number of people willing to return. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20140128_36.html  (comment – considering the huge amounts of money Tokyo is forcing Tepco to pay evacuees in compensation, and the ~$900,000 the average landowner will also get if they decide they do not want to go home…why would those who are already reluctant ever want go back? Returning would end their monthly $7,500 per-person compensation checks and disqualify homeowners from the property windfall. I hope I’m wrong on this one.)

  • Much of Japan’s Press continues to try making nuclear energy the nation’s top issue. The present political blitz centers on the upcoming Tokyo gubernatorial election where the anti-nuke candidates lag behind the early poll-leader Yoichi Masuzoe. The most recent focus is on the governors of prefectures hosting nuke stations. Two, Yuhei Sato of Fukushima and Heita Kawakatsu of Shizuoka, feel the nuclear issue should be #1 with the Tokyo electorate, and they are getting the lead news media coverage. Sato said, “It is very meaningful that the issue (of the future of nuclear power in Japan) is debated in Tokyo, a huge energy-consuming place.” Kawakatsu, whose prefecture has Hamaoka station which was shuttered by then-PM Naoto Kan due to its relative proximity to Tokyo, said, “It is natural that candidates in Tokyo propose ending nuclear power generation to avoid a dangerous accident.” On the other hand, most nuke-hosting governors receive second-billing because they feel Tokyo has bigger political fish to fry. For example, Saga Gov. Yasushi Furukawa said nuclear energy “can be discussed as long as people in Tokyo have interest in it. But if I were a Tokyo resident, I would be seeking a clear answer about how to address the issues of an aging society.” Saga Prefecture is home to the Genkai station. Miyagi Gov. Yoshihiro Murai believes the Tokyo election will have little impact on nuclear energy’s future, saying, “Nuclear power generation won’t be stopped immediately, as it is a national policy.” Miyagi is home to Onagawa station. Ishikawa governor Masanori Tanimoto made a call to reason, “I want candidates to come up with prescriptions (for other sources of electricity) if nuclear reactors are scrapped.” Ishikawa hosts the Shika nuke station.  http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/01/28/national/governors-address-tokyo-nuke-debate/#.Uue3Asso4dU

  • A nuclear emergency drill was held for Onagawa station and vicinity. In addition to the nuke station’s staff, 800 people from the prefectural government, 7 municipalities, hospitals, police and fire stations took part. The scenario assumed a massive earthquake reminiscent of 3/11/11. Miyagi prefectural officials received notices of plant conditions and relayed relevant information to local municipalities. Video conferencing with the Nuclear Regulation Authority also took place. The town of Misato, 30 kilometers from Onagawa, asked residents to practice sheltering, including having sufficient fresh water and sealing around doors and windows with tape to prevent airborne contamination from getting in. Critics said the drill meant little because most local communities within 30 kilometers of Onagawa have not yet created evacuation plans. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20140129_22.html

  • Two lawsuits make headlines; one old and one new. The old has to do with the US Navy sailor suit against Tepco and Tokyo which was thrown out of court on November 26th by an American federal judge. Now, the American government wants an investigation. A formal request to the Defense Department was made in the explanatory statement from the House that accompanied the fiscal 2014 budget bill which passed Congress this month. Although the request is non-binding, it is being taken seriously. Defense Department spokesman Army Lt. Col. Catherine Wilkinson said, “The Department treats reporting requirements included in committee reports seriously and tries to respond to all of them.” Since the suit was dismissed in November, the number of plaintiffs has increased, now including sailors and marines from the USS Essex and USS Germantown, in addition to the original plaintiffs from the USS Ronald Reagan. The House statement directs Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus to use already allocated funds - for example, $200 million for its peer-reviewed medical research program, $100 million for its joint warfighter medical research program or $25 million for its peer-reviewed cancer research program - to research the health effects of radiation exposure and to ensure any health issues from the mission are fully addressed. Plaintiff lawyer Paul Garner is pulling out all the stops to get as much publicity as possible before re-filing, “It feels like maybe there’s light at the end of the tunnel, but we shall see. Their [the plaintiff’s] future is a dire one. We’re pushing TEPCO to start a fund to help these people right now.” The plaintiffs are now seeking at least $40 million each in compensatory and punitive damages and more than $1 billion for a fund to cover future health monitoring and medical expenses. http://www.stripes.com/congress-wants-answers-on-health-impacts-of-japan-disaster-relief-1.263843   The other suit is largely symbolic and directed at the companies involved with building F. Daiichi. Some 1,400 people want $1 each as compensation for undisclosed damages due to the accident. Plaintiffs include Japanese as well as people from foreign countries. The suit names Toshiba, Hitachi and General Electric as responsible parties. Japan's Act on Compensation for Nuclear Damages holds only plant operators liable, but the suit says this violates the nation’s constitution. Lawyers for the plaintiffs say the current Act protects the entire nuclear industry, all of which should be held responsible for the accident. The three firms declined comment. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

January 27, 2013

  • Tepco reports that 220 of the unit #4 fuel bundles have been safely transferred to the common facility pool. 22 of the relocated bundles are unused (unirradiated) and 198 are spent (used/irradiated) fuel bundles. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/removal4u/index-e.html

  • Tepco has posted the evacuee compensation criteria of increases for special cases, such as long term care (LTC). The raises are for mental anguish due to an out-of-court settlement mandated by the government’s Nuclear Damage Compensation Dispute Resolution Center. The LTC order lists the criteria: those receiving LTC insurance payments at nursing homes, persons with physical disability certificates, those with mental disability documents, people with specific rehabilitation certificates, and others with conditions confirmed by equivalent documentation. Pay-outs are also mandated for those who can document being caregiver to persons “requiring constant nursing care in their daily life.” These per-person pay-outs vary between $100 and $200 per month, in addition to what is already being received. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2014/1233808_5892.html 

  • 26% of Tohoku-region toddlers suffer on-going tsunami-caused psychiatric problems. A team of researchers from Tohoku University School of Medicine looked at nearly 180 children, ages 3-5, whose parents agreed to the study. An internationally-recognized checklist was used. The team analyzed the kids between September, 2012, and last June, in Fukushima, Iwate and Miyagi Prefectures. The physical symptoms included vertigo, nausea and headaches. Unacceptable behaviors were also noted, including violence, nail-biting and withdrawal. Some exhibited developmental disorders and learning disabilities that could result in life-long problems. The team says the affected children need psychiatric care, and the rate is three times that found in other Prefectures unaffected by the 3/11/11 quake and tsunami. The reasons for the negative impacts include losing friends, seeing their homes destroyed, temporary separation from parents, and watching the huge tsunami devastate the shoreline. The on-going nature of the problems have caused some concern among child-care professionals. Team member Makiko Okuyama of the National Center for Child Health said, “It is known that children need (psychiatric) care right after an earthquake disaster, but this study was done more than a year and half after the fact, so that concerns me.” http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/01/27/national/tsunami-left-mental-scars-on-1-in-4-kids/#.UuZfjMso4dU -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2014012700555

  • Alaska’s government says their fish are safe to eat. The Department of Environmental Conservation has been criticized by a few Washington politicians because they do not test seafood for Fukushima contamination. On Wednesday, DEC Commissioner Larry Hartig told the Senate Natural Resources Committee they are following the data posted by numerous other organizations along the Pacific coast and it seems there is nothing worth worrying about. He said, “We try to test for things that we think present real risk, like mercury.” Hartig added that people who claim that Alaska’s seafood is unsafe are mostly people from “outside”. He’s concerned that the public is being misinformed and not considering scientific research, “When I see things thrown out there, it worries me that not only will it affect our fisheries markets but also that it can affect people’s decisions on what they eat.” Tyson Fick, spokesman for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, said he has the same concerns, “If you check it against any kind of credible source, any kind of peer-reviewed science, they blow it out of the water as completely unfounded.” http://juneauempire.com/state/2014-01-23/dec-says-alaska-fish-are-safe-eat#.UuPA0Mso4dV

  • A remote-controlled radiation monitoring drone has been tested in a Fukushima city. It made its maiden flight from Namie on Friday and circled the area for about 30 minutes, measuring ground-level radiation. No results have been posted as this was only for test purposes. The device was developed by the Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). Manned helicopter readings are taken from a 300 meter altitude for safety reasons. But, the drone can fly much lower and follow topography closely, theoretically providing much more accurate readings and more detailed mapping. Further test flights are planned. JAEA and JAXA want the drone fully operational by 2015. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • The IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) has posted its latest report on Fukushima’s rural remediation. It says important progress has been made in the area of decontamination. Director Juan Carlos Lentijo, who headed the investigative team, said, "The Mission Team was impressed by the amount of resources allocated and by the intense work that Japan is carrying out in efforts to remediate the affected areas and promote the return of evacuees to their homes, together with efforts for reconstruction of those areas." The team observed remediation of farmland and forests, efforts with establishing temporary storage facilities, and the extreme measures used to insure food safety. The team urged Japan to enhance communicating the fact that exposures in the 1 to 20 millisievert per year range are acceptable. The IAEA recognizes the effort to decrease exposures below 1 mSv/yr, but the message that it is a long term goal needs constant re-emphasis. http://www.iaea.org/newscenter/news/2014/report-on-remediation.html  For the complete report, click here… http://www.iaea.org/newscenter/focus/fukushima/final_report230114.pdf

  • The Mayor of Nahara wants temporary waste storage plans revised. Nahara is one of the three communities near Fukushima Daiichi designated as a candidate site for a low level waste facility. Of the three, Nahara is the one that does not border on Fukushima Daiichi. The town lies between 13km and 27km south of the accident site and borders on the undamaged Fukushima Daiini station. Mayor Yukiei Matsumoto says his constituents feel the 100,000 Becquerel per kilogram criterion for storage constitutes high level waste and they don’t want it. The mayor added that residents fear that if the facility will impede the town’s restoration. The mayor submitted the town’s position to Fukushima Governor Yuhei Sato. Matsumoto mentioned that some residents are opposed to storing much lower activity materials, and others feel only rural wastes from Nahara should be in the proposed facility. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20140127_21.html -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2014012700369

  • Some Tohoku tsunami refugees are going to have “distinctive” government housing projects. Models of the various schemes are posted on the Reconstruction Agency website. The residences will be public apartment buildings and houses. The plan is for enough residences to accommodate 20,000 of the more than 75,000 households who lost everything to the tsunami and quake of 3/11/11. The three intended Prefectures are Fukushima, Iwate, and Miyagi. There are 20 different designs proposed to reflect the local environment and provide for a “vibrant elderly society” or a “society that protects growing children”. Some residences were completed in August in the devastated Ogakuchi District of Otsuchi, Iwate Prefecture. The Otsuchi residences harmonize with the local area and 60% of the construction materials came from the town. A site under construction in Tagajo, Miyagi Prefecture, will have seven four-to-six story apartment structures. “According to resident surveys and preliminary applications, these residences are popular among the elderly,” a city official said. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0000960579  (comment – at least 18,000 households have left Tohoku and moved to other parts of Japan out of frustration. What will Tokyo do to try and get them to return?)

  • Another worst-case-scenario for F. Daiichi groundwater contamination has been issued by the NRA. The Nuclear Regulation Authority and Tepco agree that there has been a relatively sudden rise in Tritium activity with water taken from a unit #1 sampling well. The activity is currently 5,600 Becquerels per liter. In November, water from the well had no detectible Tritium. NRA Commissioner Toyoshi Fuketa said that the contamination may have come unit #1 turbine building. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2014012401038 -- http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2014/images/2tb-east_14012401-e.pdf   (Comment – Apparently, the sampling well is the one designated “0-2” on the Tepco analysis chart, linked above. There is no Cesium activity detectible and very low “total Beta” is at 22 Bq/liter. The water in unit #1 turbine basement has more than 10,000 Bq/liter of Cesium and an even higher activity due to “all Beta” emissions. Thus, the NRA speculation must be questioned. The high Tritium reading is probably from some other source. Commissioner Fuketa appears to have spoken “off the cuff”.)

January 23, 2014

  • The newly-found leak in unit #3 may come from around the main steam piping. The large pipes pass through the Primary Containment wall on the Reactor Building’s first floor. The flow across the floor seems to be coming from the room housing the steam pipes. Tepco says it is possible the material sealing the opening in the Primary Containment wall around the pipes may have deteriorated due to the high temperatures experienced during the early days of the accident. Also, the deterioration may have been worsened by the salt water used for cooling after fresh water ran out at 12:20pm on Sunday, March 13, 2011. This cannot be confirmed by visual inspection because of the high radiation field inside the Main Steam Piping Room. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20140121_05.html
  • Tepco has received its latest evacuee compensation funding from Tokyo. It is intended to cover evacuee pay-outs through the end of February. The total for the month is nearly $1.2 billion from the Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund. This will raise the total Fund support to be about $34.8 billion. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2014/1233755_5892.html

  • A Japanese research group proved that nuclear fuel can be detected using cosmic rays. A team from the High Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK) used muon detection to correctly pinpoint the location of the core and spent fuel at Tokai unit #2 from outside its reactor building. Muons are a major part of naturally-occurring cosmic rays that constantly strike Earth from outer space. Muons generally pass through most everything on the Earth’s surface and are attenuated (stopped) by the dense material deep inside our planet. However, a very dense material like Uranium (and/or corium) will attenuate more muons than the surrounding materials inside a reactor building. The detectors identified these changes at Tokai and mapped out the location and rough geometry of the core. KEK would now like to use their system at Fukushima Daiichi to see where the cores of units #1 through #3 are located. This could possibly answer the question of whether or not any of the three actually melted through the many-inches-thick steel bottom of the Reactor Pressure Vessel. KEK hopes Tepco will allow them to run their system at F. Daiichi.  http://www.kek.jp/ja/NewsRoom/Release/20140123110000/ (right click and translate)

  • The public’s use of personal dosimeters in Fukushima Prefecture has dropped significantly. Soon after 3/11/11, most municipalities in the prefecture handed out the devices so that worried citizens could monitor their exposure. Roughly 140,000 dosimeters were issued. However, the number of them still in use is about 85,000. One reason for the decline is the more than 50% decline in radiation levels since April, 2011, according to Fukushima health consultant Dr. Osamu Saito. He adds that some parents feel having their children carry dosimeters causes them stress over radiation. Saito cautioned that people should keep their devices active because not everything is known about the health risks of low level exposure. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20140121_11.html  (comment – There can be little doubt that many who have stopped using the dosimeters have become informed about the trivial risks of low level exposures outside the exclusion zone. Why carry the devices when all they show is that there’s nothing to worry about?)

  • Tokyo’s Environment Ministry has designated three sites in Miyagi Prefecture for low level waste burial. The potential sites are in the municipalities of Kurihawa, Kami, and Taiwa. One will be selected for the facility. The materials to be buried will be sewage sludge, incinerator ash and non-burnable debris having more than 8,000 Becquerels per kilogram of activity. The three sites were selected based on three criteria; distance from local communities, distance from water sources and availability. Tokyo wants to study geology and other specifics with each location in order to make a final decision. Minister Shinji Inoue made the announcement in Sendai on Tuesday, asking the three mayors for their cooperation even though the prospective properties are state-owned. All three expressed concerns, with Kami Mayor Hirobumi Inomata the most oppositional. He said, "This is the worst location as local residents strongly opposed even a plan to store pasture grass contaminated with low levels of radiation. We can't cooperate." The other two said they have received numerous objections from residents and can’t agree to the government plans. On the other hand, Miyagi Governor Murai said "Nothing will move forward if we say 'no' because of opposition from residents." http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0000958834 -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140121p2a00m0na003000c.html

  • Canadian professor David Suzuki says he regrets his recent apocalyptic predictions for F. Daiichi. On October 30 he said Fukushima posed a high risk of a second nuclear accident which would require the evacuation of the North American west coast. He then added, “If that isn’t terrifying then I don’t know what is.” Suzuki rescinded the statement in an Email to British Columbian newspaper The Province, which said his statement was an “off-the-cuff response” and, “I regret having said it, although my sense of potential widespread disaster remains and the need for an urgent international response to dealing with the spent rods at Fukushima remains.” It should be mentioned that Suzuki’s wild October claims were vehemently dismissed by science experts in Canada. One was David Measday, professor emeritus of nuclear physics at the University of British Columbia, who said, “…it’s totally impossible! I can’t believe he would say that. When he’s in his own field, he’s usually reasonable. But this is just crazy.” Even staunch nuclear critic Mycle Schneider had problems with it, “I’m really, really shocked about the way it’s being discussed in Canada. It’s just totally insane.” http://news.nationalpost.com/2014/01/20/david-suzuki-regrets-claim-that-another-fukushima-disaster-would-require-mass-evacuations-in-north-america/

  • A Fukushima worker has internal contamination 200 times lower than Japan’s natural background level. The individual’s internal dose over the next 50 years has been diagnosed at 0.38 millisieverts, while the average internal natural background exposure for people in Japan over the same half-century will be ~75 mSv. The man said he briefly removed his face mask to clear the fog that had accumulated. He was working at the unit #2 reactor building when he made the error in judgment. Although the individual is at no risk from the internal isotopes, the Mainichi Shimbun made it a lead story on Tuesday. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140121p2a00m0na001000c.html

  • The Tokyo governor’s race is officially started. Wednesday marked the first day of the campaign. The Press is focusing almost entirely on one candidate, former PM Morihito Hosokawa, due to his extreme antinuclear position supported by another former PM, Junichiro Koizumi. Koizumi has been crusading for a no-nukes national policy for months. Hosokawa presented his agenda when he announced his candidacy. He said nuclear energy is "a top priority that must be addressed first. Without clearly mapping out a direction for zero nuclear power, it will be impossible for Japan to exit from its dependence on nuclear energy in 50 years or even 100." In addition, Hosogawa stated, “In order to realize a Tokyo that is not dependent on nuclear energy, I would prompt the public and private sectors to generate renewable energy as well as to ask for cooperation from the residents of Tokyo to conserve energy.” While most Press outlets seem to be reviving their failed national election ploy of making this a public referendum on nukes, one news source (Japan Times) has shown some balance by also covering the three other main candidates, led by pre-election favorite Yoichi Masuzoe, who is ahead in the Polls.  http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2014012200930 -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/perspectives/news/20140120p2a00m0na012000c.html -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/01/22/national/hosokawa-to-play-tokyo-nuke-card/#.UuAMMMso4dU

January 20, 2014

  • (Updated 1/21/14) Some primary containment  (PCV) leakage has been found inside F. Daiichi unit #3. The camera on a robot being used for rubble removal revealed a foot-wide stream of water running across the surface of the Reactor building’s first floor. The liquid entered a floor drain that leads to the building basement. This may account for some of contaminated water flow into the basement of the adjacent turbine building. The specific source of the water has not been located. Tepco says it is probably water used to cool the damaged fuel inside the Reactor Pressure Vessel since the activity level is much greater than the cooling water being pumped into the Reactor Pressure Vessel, and the temperature is also higher. The leakage activity is 24 thousand Becquerels per liter of Beta emitters and 2,400 Bq/liter of Cesium isotopes 134 and 137. Also, the water’s temperature is 20oC while injected cooling water is at 7oC. The water inside the PCV’s first floor is also at 20oC. This is the second discovery of a leak out of a Primary Containment Vessel. The first was with unit #1 in November. Tepco says the search for the unit #3 leak’s source will continue. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2014/1233734_5892.html    
  • 198 spent fuel bundles have been transferred out of F. Daiichi unit #4. All have been safely stored in underwater fuel racks inside the nearby common spent fuel facility. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/removal4u/index-e.html

  • The F. Daiichi Emergency Response Center was opened to the Press on January 15. There seems to have been only one major Press outlet reporting on it – The Wall Street Journal’s Japan Real Time blog. The center was undamaged on 3/11/11, and has become the command post for on-site recovery. It is staffed by about 200 blue-clad persons during regular working hours, and about 80 per shift the rest of the time. Plant Manager Akira Ono said, “Decommissioning basically begins by removing fuel rods. In that sense, I think we’ve finally taken our first step in the decommissioning of Fukushima Daiichi. There are still many things we need to do. In the immediate aftermath of the disaster we prioritized speed over quality…now we need to change both our approach and our equipment to facilitate our work over the next 30 to 40 years.” The remainder of the article was a re-hash of long-standing Press issues with the station.  http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2014/01/17/fukushima-watch-in-for-the-long-haul/

  • An important pamphlet on radiation has been posted by Robert Hargraves, entitled Radiation: The Facts. It is subtitled “Opening Eyes to the Facts”. The text immediately stresses that radiation is safe when exposure is kept within limits. It subsequently explains what radiation is, the differences between Alpha, Beta and Gamma, and, natural background. Hargraves then spends considerable time on the controversy with the Linear/No Threshold (LNT) concept used to set radiation standards, our body’s natural adaptive responses, and other interesting details. The work also covers studies concerning atomic bomb survivors, the high natural exposures with Taiwan apartment buildings, Chernobyl recovery workers, and American nuclear shipyard employees. Of course, a paragraph on Fukushima is also there. In conclusion, Hargraves asks that LNT be replaced with methodology to better reflect the latest scientific evidence and human experiences. http://home.comcast.net/~robert.hargraves/public_html/RadiationSafety26SixPage.pdf

  • Children’s teeth from Fukushima Prefecture are being checked for Strontium-90. The Fukushima Prefecture Dental Association spearheads the study, which is the first of its kind in Japan. Hokkaido and Kyushu Prefectures will conduct similar surveys to provide comparative background data. The teeth of children ages 5-15 will be analyzed. The teeth come from those extracted during regular dental visits with the consent of the parents. The results will be shared with the parents. Those teeth showing unusual radiation levels will be further analyzed for just the Sr-90 isotope. The more-detailed analysis will be run by Tohoku University, Miyagi Prefecture, which has the specialized equipment and training. The data will be collected and compiled by Ou University, Fukushima Prefecture. The study began last Thursday. The researchers hope for somewhere between 1,000 and 2,000 teeth being checked over the next year. Many Fukushima parents are worried about Sr-90 ingestion in their children due to the Fukushima accident. “We’d like to provide a source of relief by disclosing the research data,” said Hitoshi Unno, 52, executive director of the dental association. Professor Noboru Takamura of Nagasaki University added, “Based on past radiation data, any detected amount would be extremely small. If that is proved by the research, people will feel relief.” http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/01/19/national/fukushima-kids-teeth-to-be-checked-for-strontium-90/#.UtvSncso4dU  comment – The above-referenced article says Sr-90 “cannot be detected by whole-body radiation counters.” This is misleading, at best. Cesium emits Beta radiation, which cannot travel far before being attenuated (radioactively eliminated). Thus, the emitted Betas themselves cannot pass through the body and be detected by WBCs. However, the Betas spawn weak Gamma radiation by interacting with surrounding atoms via a process known as Bremsstrahlung. These gammas do penetrate through tissue and can be detected by WBCs. (http://www.irpa.net/irpa9/cdrom/VOL.1/V1_49.PDF) The gammas have a specific energy signature which can be shown on the WBC printout. The resulting activity in counts per minute are then divided by 0.06 to provide a confident deduction as to the actual Sr-90 activity in the bone or teeth - end comment

  • Residents of Fukushima Prefecture’s Odaka district have approved rural low level waste storage. The Environment Ministry can store wastes produced in Minamisoma and other locations from inside the government mandated exclusion zone. The facility will accept material from about 40% of the exclusion zone. The facility will sit on a 50 hectare tract of Oya Katakusa, Odaka, Okada and Tsukabara municipalities. The property will be purchased from the relevant landowners. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=292

  • Tohoku Electric Co. says the geologic anomalies near the Higashidori station are not seismic. The new study began in December after the Nuclear Regulation Authority decided the anomalies were active faults. The utility says the folds in the bedrock show no traces of destruction in the substratum. In fact, there is no evidence of the distortions being the result of earthquakes, but rather they seem to be due to other geological processes, such as the rock being formed out of ancient saturated soils. In addition, some of the distortions claimed by the NRA could not be confirmed. Thus, there is no evidence of seismic movement in the last 130,000 years, the upper temporal criterion for judging an anomaly to be seismic. The NRA says it will file a final report after they analyze four rounds of field surveys, including the Tohoku Electric findings. Unit #1 is currently idled and unit #2 is under construction. Unit #2 was being built prior to 3/11/11, so it can be finished under NRA regulations. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • Tokyo gubernatorial candidate and former PM Morihiro Hosokawa firmly opposes nuke restarts. His senior advisor, Shusei Tanaka, says that if Hosokawa wins the election, “Japan will never be able to restart nuclear reactors. No restart of reactors means ‘zero’ nuclear power generation.” Hosokawa said, “I’m concerned that the issue of nuclear power determines the nation’s fate.” Hosokawa is supported by another former PM, Junichiro Koizumi, who has openly politicked his belief that no nukes should be restarted. The LDP, Japan’s ruling party, acknowledges the Hosokawa/Koizumi tandem is a political force of some merit, but one senior LDP member of the Tokyo assembly said, “Mr. Hosokawa is past tense, but we have to watch out for Mr. Koizumi, who is still very popular.” The reason for the “past tense” phrase for Hosokawa is because his term as Prime Minister ended in scandal. Hosokawa allegedly borrowed $1 million “off-the-books” from Sagawa Express Company in 1982, but it was not made public until 1994 in the midst of his brief term as PM (9 months). Since then, he has been biding his time by making pottery. Another reason for the LDP not being very concerned is his statement posted in a book published by Akira Ikegami, last year. Hosogawa said Japan would be praised around the world if Prime Minister Abe would give up on hosting the 2020 Olympics. This was a very unpopular thing to say and the LDP feels the Tokyo electorate will not easily forget. Hosogawa seems to feel that Tokyo’s 50.1% ownership of Tepco can be used to stop nuclear generation in Japan, although how this could happen is unclear. Plus, his stance is sure to alienate business and industry, homeowners already burdened with inflated electric bills due to the nuke moratorium, energy security, and Japan’s inability to meet greenhouse gas emission goals. LDP candidate Yoichi Masuzoe continues to be the leading candidate. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/01/18/national/hosokawa-eyes-no-nukes-by-2020/#.UtqEWMso4dU -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0000953765

  • A newspaper study shows a third of Japan’s local assemblies want an end to nukes. All have submitted statement on their position to the Diet (congress) in Tokyo. Most of the dissenting assemblies are not from prefectures that host nuclear plants. For example, Koichi municipal assembly in Koichi Prefecture, which borders Ikata that is home to the Ikata nuclear station. Their statement calls for a “review of dependence on nuclear power plants whose safety is not established.” Fukaya municipal assembly in Saitama Prefecture demanded an “immediate halt to nuclear power generation.” The study was run by the Asahi Shimbun, a long-standing opponent to nuclear power plants. The article provides no data on similar municipal action from prefectures containing nuclear facilities. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201401190021

 

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