February 24, 2014

  • The number of fuel bundles removed from unit #4 spent fuel pool stands at 374. There have been no reports of problems with the process, nor have any damaged, warped or heat-deformed bundles been found. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/decommision/index-e.html

  • More information on latest F. Daiichi wastewater spill – The overflowed tank had three valves on the inlet pipe, two of which were manually-operated and improperly left open and one power-operated unit that failed to remain closed. The problem was discovered shortly before midnight and the overflow stopped when the two manual valves were shut by workers at ~1:30am. Plant staff immediately began sopping up standing water outside the containing coffer dam and preparing sodden soil for removal. Zengo Aizawa, Director and Executive Vice President of TEPCO, said, "We are deeply embarrassed that this sort of unacceptable event would occur after the many steps we have taken to improve the management of stored water. We will therefore conduct a thorough investigation into what occurred and determine what additional steps must be taken to prevent any similar occurrence in the future, and will further strengthen field management of stored water. It also demonstrates the need for a permanent solution to the contaminated water issue." http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2014/1234394_5892.html  While the news media in Japan continues to focus on the level of radioactivity of the water inside the tank (23 million Becquerels per liter), the Nuclear Regulation Authority has posted sample activity from the water inside the coffer dam, which is more than 7 times lower. The reading inside the dike is 3 million Bq/liter, a number neglected in news media reports. http://www.nsr.go.jp/english/newsrelease/data/20140220.pdf

  • An evacuation order will be lifted inside the 20km “no-go” zone for the first time. On April 1st, the Miyakoji District of Tamura City will be opened for unrestricted repopulation. The official cessation of the “advisory” cannot be made until the current fiscal year ends on March 31. The formal announcement was made February 23rd to all interested residents of Tamura. About 100 attended.  Industry Minister Kazoyoshi Akaba told the audience, ''The government does not have the right to delay the reconstruction of your life.'' He added that radiation levels have dropped sufficiently due to the completion of decontamination work, and that necessary infrastructure for the district has been restored. District had a population of 358 before the evacuation was mandated. Residents were allowed to visit their homes beginning in April, 2012, and “long-stay” (overnight) visitation was allowed August-October 2013. Tokyo proposed lifting the evacuation restrictions in November of last year, but many residents reacted negatively over fears that some localized exposures could exceed 20 millisieverts/year. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2014022300244 -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140224p2a00m0na015000c.html (comment - In the Mainichi article, an interesting number is posted. It says there are ~130,000 displaced persons in Fukushima Prefecture. Subtract the 75,000 current Fukushima evacuees, and we find there are about 55,000 quake/tsunami refugees. It is the first time I have seen this statistic.)

  • Tepco has received another $1.45 billion to cover evacuee compensation through March. This will bring the total of Tepco pay-outs to $36.2 billion.  http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2014/1234444_5892.html  Using Tepco’s monthly financial statement, we find that the total compensation paid by 2/21/14 was $34.6 billion. Of this, $13.7 billion (~40%) was paid to individuals ($160,000 each for 85,000 individuals), $16.9 billion (~49%) to corporations and sole proprietors, and $3.352 billion (~9.7%) to voluntary evacuees.  http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/comp/images/jisseki-e.pdf

  • Tsunami debris removal and disposal for Miyagi and Iwate Prefectures will be finished in March. The Environment Ministry says the completed work in Miyagi stands at 99% and Iwate is at 97%. Fukushima Prefecture, however, lags behind with only 68% of the debris removal finished. The three prefectures were the ones that bore the brunt of the tidal wave’s damage. The Ministry says that there was nearly 17 million tons of debris caused by the 3/11/11 tsunami and earthquake in Iwate and Miyagi, plus another 11 million tons of sea sediment was washed ashore and deposited. 89% of the sediment has been cleared. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2014022100776

  • Tohoku recovery is being stymied by high material costs and land acquisition delays. 25 trillion yen was earmarked by Tokyo for population relocation costs caused by the tsunami, and planned to be spent by 2015. But, only 15 trillion yen has been spent since 2011. 60% of the 2011 and 65% of the 2012 budgets were actually used. The remainder was carried over into subsequent years or allocated to the region’s supplementary budgets. The reasons for material delays are two-fold. First, the cost of building materials in the Tohoku region has increased by an average of 50% over pre-disaster pricing. Plus, labor costs have doubled. As a result, 21% of the projects Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate Prefectures have had minimum bids greater than the local budgetary ceiling and rejected. The national average for unsuccessful public works bids is 3%. Another major problem is buying land to build housing facilities away from the tsunami-prone shoreline. In some cases, the landowners were killed by the quake/tsunami so the issue of current ownership needs to be resolved. In other cases, candidate sites have been owned by many families for centuries and there are numerous legal successors for each plot. Getting them all contacted and in agreement has been a major problem. Thus, some candidate sites have been dropped from consideration because the issues seem unresolvable. The Reconstruction Agency established a new system in October to allow third-party custodians, such as lawyers, to buy and sell land in absence of owners who cannot be identified. So far, this has not made much of a difference. There is also a third problem – Tohoku is a mountainous region with steep slopes beginning near the coastline, limiting land available for refugee relocation. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140223p2a00m0na008000c.html

  • “Indirect” deaths in Fukushima Prefecture are greater than the number killed by the 3/11/11 quake/tsunami. The official mortality due to the natural catastrophe is 1607. Unlike those caused by collapsed buildings or drowning, indirect deaths are determined by municipal panels that examine links between the disaster’s aftermath and death. Fukushima Prefecture says the number of indirect deaths due to stress and related illnesses now stands at 1,656. One official said many people “have undergone drastic changes in their lives and are still unable to map out their future plans, such as homecoming, causing increased stress on them.” The indirect death toll for Fukushima Prefecture is significant because Iwate has had only 434 and Miyagi 879. Iwate and Miyagi had much higher loss of life (17,000) during the quake and tsunami than Fukushima (1,607). Officials feel the disparity is because 90% of the Fukushima indirect deaths were aged 66 or older. Causes of indirect deaths include physical and mental stress stemming from long stays at shelters, a lack of initial care as a result of hospitals being disabled by the disaster, and suicides. The yardstick for the determination is based on a model created by Niigata Prefecture following the earthquake of 2004. However, the Niigata data showed a severe drop-off in indirect mortality after a month, but this has not been the case with Fukushima Prefecture. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/02/20/national/post-quake-illnesses-kill-more-in-fukushima-than-2011-disaster/#.UwdpCcuYYdU

  • Five thousand Fukushima residents want $1,000 per month in emotional stress compensation. A petition on behalf of the residents will be filed on March 5. All of the claimants are from locations far outside the mandated evacuation zone: Fukushima City, Koriyama and Iwake. This is the first large-scale petition of its type concerning residents outside the evacuation zone. The Social Democratic Party encourages all Fukushima citizens to take part. Mitsuaki Karino, a member of the Iwaki Municipal Assembly who co-leads the citizens' group, said, "Residents outside evacuation zones are also worried about the nuclear crisis. It's unfair for TEPCO to discontinue what is only a small amount of damages after a short period. With the petition, we'd also like to prevent people's memory of the nuclear disaster from fading." The petition calls for lump-sum payments, ranging from $1,200 to $7,200 per person. The petition also calls for between $10,000 and $20,000 for each person for the distress experienced during the two years following 3/11/11. The petition adds that the claimants deserve compensation because prejudice and conflict among Fukushima residents has been caused by the compensation paid to evacuees. Finally, the submittal asks that compensation be paid until all local radiation levels are returned to pre-accident levels. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140222p2a00m0na011000c.html

  • Japanese antinukes are planning rallies for the third anniversary of the accident. Since 3/11/11 falls on a Tuesday, three activist groups will combine their efforts on the preceding Sunday, March 9th. Tokyo’s most active antinuke group, Metropolitan Coalition Against Nukes, has been holding weekly antinuclear rallies near the prime minister's office since the accident. They and two other groups said they will take part in a protest march from Tokyo’s Hibiya Park to the Diet building. Some Fukushima residents and musician Ryuichi Sakamoto will deliver speeches at the park. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2014/02/275653.html

February 20, 2014

  • Human error appears to be the cause of the latest Fukushima waste-water spill. This morning, Tepco reported that an improper valve line-up resulted in water being pumped into an already-filled tank, located about 700 meters from the sea. The flow out of the tank and onto the surrounding ground was found late Wednesday night. Tepco estimates that 100 tons of water may have been spilled before flow was stopped and the proper valve configuration had been made. The water in the tank had come from the cesium absorption system and was analyzed at 2.3X108 Becquerels per liter for “all Beta” activity, and 9,300 Bq/liter of combined Cesium. It is unlikely that any of the contaminated water found its way to the sea because the tank is not near any of the site’s drainage ditches. Two inlet valves to the tank were found open. They should have been closed once the tank was filled. In addition, another remote-operated valve seems to have malfunctioned, which when combined with the two erroneously-open valves caused the tank to overflow. Water ran out of the tank’s upper seam and into a rainwater diversion pipe that directed the liquid to the surrounding earth. Tepco says they will investigate into the cause of the one valve’s malfunction and the reason why the two tank-inlet valves were not closed. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20140220_22.html -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2014022000480

  • As a result of last night’s spill, a local fisheries group says this is a significant mistake because it seems due to human error. Masakazu Yabuki, the head of the Fukushima Prefecture fishermen's group, said the leak of 100 tons was not small and could cause anxiety about the safety of local fish among consumers nationwide. Another group official, Hiroyuki Sato, said human error at F. Daiichi cannot be allowed. He added that the spill will only add to the local fishermen’s distrust of Tepco and could prevent the company’s recent plans to pump uncontaminated groundwater away from the uphill side of the station and into the sea. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • The Nuclear Regulatory Authority will prioritize the order of nuke plant safety screenings. The NRA has not said why they have waited since last summer to do this. Regardless, at Wednesday’s open meeting, the agency said they decided that prioritization will speed up the screening process. The official list will take “2 to 3 weeks” to compile, possibly determined by which units were the first to have applications filed. Following the posting, the NRA will seek public opinion on the draft report for the first unit to be screened, hold public hearings in the local community and solicit opinions on the technical aspects in the report. The combined timetable will cover 6 to 7 weeks, which makes the earliest possible date for finishing the first screening to the first half of April. This moves the earliest time for the first restart to August.  http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001047224 -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2014021900431

  • Twenty six American companies took part in a “Fukushima Recovery Forum” on Tuesday and Wednesday. The forum was jointly organized by the Japanese and US governments. It included officials from Japanese construction firms already involved with the clean-up. On Tuesday, a new underground facility for the chemical removal of radioactive substances was proposed by a company that took part in the Chernobyl recovery. In addition the American contingent felt that the use of US technology will speed up the decommissioning of Fukushima Daiichi. There seems to have been no follow-up article on Wednesday’s meeting. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • Plans to build public residences for some Fukushima evacuees have stalled. The problem is getting contractors to submit bids on a project in Aizuwakamatsu city that meet the budget constraints of the Prefecture’s planners. Aizuwakamatsu is located about 100 kilometers west of F. Daiichi where enough property has been acquired to build the concrete complex for evacuees who wish to relocate. This is part of Fukushima’s desire to accommodate evacuees from Tomioka, Okuma, Futaba, Namie, Katsurao, and Iitate who lived in homes that will probably not be open to repopulation by 2017. The prefecture ultimately plans to build 4,890 units to house people from these and 13 other municipalities. A similar contractor problem occurred last August for a 20-unit apartment complex in Koriyama, but was resolved when the prefecture upped their base pricing. The prefecture may have to follow a similar path for Aizuwakamatsu. Fukushima Prefecture would like to have 3,700 units completed by the end of 2015, but has only been able to buy enough property for 60% of them. Officials will continue to negotiate with landowners in order to procure enough property to build all planned units. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/

  • Fukushima officials want Tokyo to improve information flow concerning F. Daiichi. The Industry Ministry convened a conference on Monday at Fukushima City comprised of local officials, educators, business leaders and other interested members of the public. Many attendees said that press statements contain too many technical terms which are not understood by the public. Others complained there is too much press about the problems at the nuke station which discourages evacuees from repopulating after their districts are re-opened. Fukushima Prefecture Vice-Governor Masao Uchibori said progress should be measured using shorter periods of time, rather than decades. Achievable goals should be set using shorter time frames to give a better impression of progress. A Minister said the government will see what it can do to satisfy the perceived needs. This was the first public meeting of a program announced last week. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20140218_21.html

  • Tepco has developed a new personal dosimeter for the public. It will measure exposures 100 times lower than those currently in use. The device has a minimum detectability of .001 microsievert per hour, and can store up to 9,000 pieces of data per minute. Thus, people can follow changes in their exposures as they go about their daily activities more accurately than before. The dosimeter was jointly developed with Fuji Electric Co., which is based in Shinagawa Ward, Tokyo. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001020242

February 17, 2014

  • Tepco has now transferred 352 of 1533 spent fuel bundles from unit #4 spent fuel pool without news media-worthy incident. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/decommision/index-e.html
  • It is possible that no reactor safety checks will finish in time for summer restarts. A senior electric company official said, “To reactivate nuclear reactors this summer, the safety checks should be finished ideally in March.” But, with every week that passes it seems less likely that any of the safety inspections will be completed by then. Both sides of the issue are blaming each other for the delays. Meetings for the first nine units being inspected are taking about 10 hours each. The Nuclear Regulation Authority said last week that many applications do not fully account for the new regulations. NRA Chair Shunichi Tanaka says the utilities are not doing their part, “The inspections will move toward a close when appropriate responses have been made by the companies.” But, the utilities are saying the problem may lie with the NRA’s inspection program. One company source has said, “Even when we think the discussion has progressed on an issue, a new problem emerges on the same issue.” The utilities feel that the NRA is committed to coming up with as many new objections as they can at every meeting. As a result, there is a mutual lack of trust. Prof. Yoshihiro Nishiwaki of Tokyo Institute of Technology said, “Discussions will not progress if both sides remain distrustful of each other.” The bottom line question seems to be how good is good enough, which has yet to be answered. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001033369

  • One of 30 waste water tank barriers has leaked very low level radioactive water. Tepco says they have found seven places on the coffer dam at connections between steel plates used to raise the barrier’s height and where piping goes through the metal. Heavy rain last October overwhelmed the original concrete enclosures, so steel extensions were added. The company estimates that a bit over 19 tons of accumulated rainwater and melted snow have seeped out and were absorbed in the surrounding soil. The water still inside the dam contains 23 Becquerels per liter of Strontium, which is below the 30 Bq/liter national limit for release. It is, however, greater than Tepco’s self-imposed limit of 10 Bq/liter. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20140217_02.html

  • Fukushima’s governor seems to be committed to resolving the rural waste storage issue. He has met with the mayors of the eight accident-affected community and created a revised plan that could satisfy everyone. Main objector Nahara Town will temporarily store incinerated ash reading between 8,000 and 100,000 Becquerels per kilogram. Nahara’s ash will be solidified and shipped to an existing facility in Tomioka Town for storage. The original plan was for the Tomioka facility to burn the contaminated materials and ship the ash back to Nahara for temporary storage. But, Nahara residents said they do not want the solidified material stored there. So, the governor reversed the roles and it seems to have paid off. Nahara could not reject any and all responsibility because the roads used by the trucks hauling the material from other municipalities run through the town.  http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=307

  • Decontamination of property outside Fukushima Prefecture is at 59%. Nearly 80,000 homes have been checked and those exceeding federal limits have been decontaminated. This is 13,000 more dwellings than had been finished four months ago. The sharp increase in the number is attributed to both increased clean-up efforts and finding that many homes did not need to be cleaned. All work is nearing completion in Gunma and Chiba Prefectures which are between 200 and 250 kilometers south of F. Daiichi. Miyagi and Ibaraki Prefectures, which lie adjacent to Fukushima to the north and south respectively, are at about 30% completion. The Environment Ministry says Gunma and Chiba work should be finished by the end of March, but cleaning will probably not be over in Miyagi and Ibaraki by that time. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20140217_03.html

  • Former PM Naoto Kan is again preaching his gospel of nuclear energy apocalypse. This time, it has to do with the Hamaoka Station’s application for restart. Kan says this is “radically wrong”. Kan ordered the station to be shuttered two months after the Fukushima accident because he feared another crisis due to Hamaoka being in quake-prone Shizuoka Prefecture about 150 kilometers south of Tokyo. Kan told the Asahi Shimbun that emergency evacuation plans for the 30km radius have yet to be worked out, and Japan “cannot afford to take a risk that could compromise the very existence of the nation. An accident at the Hamaoka plant would require evacuating millions of people, and it would also deal a big blow to Japan’s major arteries, such as the Tokaido Shinkansen Line and the Tomei Expressway, as well as Japan’s auto industry [clustered in the region].” Later in the interview, Kan added, “Neither the government nor Chubu Electric has said no accident would ever happen. We cannot afford to take a risk that could compromise the very existence of the nation, even if that could occur only once in a century.” Kan firmly believes that a nuke accident at Hamaoka would force the evacuation of Tokyo, a point of view not shared by Japan’s citizens. Kan says, “A compelling sense of fright about Tokyo being rendered uninhabitable is, unfortunately, not shared among the general public.” http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/politics/AJ201402150051  (comment - Kan had similar nightmare’s about the Fukushima accident which led him to meddle in staff actions at F. Daiichi and made the accident much worse than it should have been.)

February 13, 2014

  • Japan’s nuclear watchdog says no restart reviews will be finished before April. The Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman Shunichi Tanaka said, “I think none (of the checks) will be completed by the end of this fiscal year,” which terminates at the end of March. Tanaka suggested that 10 of the 16 current applications are closer to being finished, most of which are in western Japan. The delay appears to be in utility upgrades for seismic protective measures. Kunihiko Shimazaki, in charge of assessments related to earthquakes and tsunami, said, “Some utilities have come to us without changing their style (from before the nuclear crisis), while others have actively used the latest method.” Most of the 10 nearest-completion applications are for Pressurized Water Reactor units with large, forgiving containment structures. F. Daiichi is a Boiling Water Reactor station with smaller, less-forgiving containments. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/02/12/national/no-reactor-safety-reviews-to-be-completed-by-end-of-march-nra-chief/#.Uvt_eMuYYdU 

  • NRA Chairman Tanaka criticized Tepco for faulty groundwater contamination measurements. Last week, Tepco stated that one of the near-shore wells had ten times more radioactivity than had been reported in early July. The company said the problem may have been improper calibrations on one of their analytical devices for Strontium and other monitors for all-beta activity. Tanaka said, "Something like this cannot happen ... this (data) is what becomes the basis of various decisions, so they must do their utmost to avoid mistakes in measuring radiation." He added that measures to block the radioactivity from reaching the sea kept this from becoming a serious safety situation. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201402120080

  • Tepco has taken umbrage with Jiji Press over their reporting of the above incident. Jiji Press posted, "TEPCO did not disclose data of highly contaminated groundwater of Fukushima Daiichi [equal to] 5 million Bq last summer.” Tepco maintains that Jiji did not disclose that the water sample in question comes from July 5th, and that the analyzed result was duly reported to the NRA. It was not until February 5th that Tepco found the error when the Strontium level for that date’s sample was analyzed at 5 million Becquerels, but the previous all-Beta reading was only 900,000 Bq per liter. The all-beta should have been at least twice the Strontium activity, and not vice-versa. Re-analysis of the sample for all-Beta showed nearly 10 million Bq/liter. The error was reported to the NRA on February 6th. Tepco says the Jiji article is materially incorrect. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/announcements/2014/1234213_5932.html (comment - the Tepco announcement linked above makes it sound like Strontium readings should read higher than all-beta. However, the opposite is true. I believe the apparent contradiction is a translational matter as Japanese and American English syntax are quite different.)

  • The highest groundwater Cesium level ever recorded was found in a new well. Tepco drilled the new well about 50 meters from the shoreline near unit #2 to find out whether or not a highly-contaminated equipment tunnel is leaking into the groundwater. The new well shows is 54,000 Becquerels per liter for the isotope Cs-137 and 22,000 Bq/liter for Cs-134. The well’s activity is 30,000 times the levels found in a groundwater well to the west of the four damaged units, which is uncontaminated by leaks from the facility. The tunnel suspected to be leaking is planned for isolation from the surrounding groundwater by freezing the surrounding soil. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20140213_22.html

  • The IAEA has offered to advise Japan on wastewater discharges to the sea. The International Atomic Energy Agency says it will suggest safety assessments for open sea releases, once the waste water has been purified to below international standards. The advice will include how to discharge Tritium, a very low-risk isotope of hydrogen found naturally in all open bodies of water around the world. In the latest IAEA report on Fukushima, the agency says, "The IAEA is ready to offer further advice to Japan on the suitable methodology to conduct the safety and environmental impact assessments associated with controlled discharges." The international watchdog points out that risk to individuals from the suggested releases is “almost negligible”. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2014/02/272086.html

  • A city in Hokkaido will seek a court order to stop construction of a neighboring prefecture’s nuke. The mayor of Hakodate, Toshiki Kudo, said the suit will be filed in Tokyo next month. He reports that the city demands Tokyo stop Japan Atomic Power Company from finishing the first Ohma station unit and prevent filing for approval to commence operation. J-Power’s Ohma station is in northern Aomori Prefecture, which at its nearest point is 23 kilometers across the straights from Hakodate. This is the first time a governing body has threatened legal action against a nuke located in a neighboring prefecture. Construction of the Ohma Facility resumed in 2012 with the approval of local Aomori officials. Ohma Mayor Mitsuharu Kanazawa said he was aware of Hakodate’s plan to seek legal action but added that his position to support the Ohma station is unchanged. The application for operation of the facility is expected to be filed this spring. Ohma will be the world’s first nuke to operate entirely on mixed-oxide fuel fabricated from the recycling of spent fuel bundles. Hakodate city argues that a local government has the right to prevent its possible destruction, just as individuals have personal rights for guarantees of their lives and safety. They base their objection on the belief that approval for Ohma construction was based on pre-Fukushima design standards and can no longer meet the new NRA regulations for safety. In addition, Hakodate says consent for operation of a nuke should be required from the entire 30 kilometer nuke evacuation zone, and not just from hosting municipalities and prefectures. The action is being coordinated by lawyer Hiroyuki Kawai, who has been involved in numerous antinuke lawsuits since the Fukushima accident. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20140212_35.html -- http://fukushimaupdate.com/hokkaido-city-filing-suit-to-stop-construction-of-nuclear-plant-in-aomori/

  • The NRA says the geologic anomaly under the Oi nuclear station is not seismic. The fault in question, called F-6, shows no sign of activity and is not likely to move during an earthquake. Chairman Shunichi Tanaka said the decision was difficult for the NRA to make, but careful examination forced their judgment. This is the second such positive seismic finding by the NRA. The anomaly near the Tsuruga station was judged non-seismic last May. Units at the Oi station might move to the top of the list for 2014 restarts. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20140212_20.html

  • Tokyo’s new energy policy will include nuke restarts. On the heels of the crushing defeat of antinuclear candidates in Tokyo’s gubernatorial election, the government will soon announce a national energy plan including nuclear as “a base-load energy source”. The position is set for adoption by PM Abe’s cabinet later this month. The basic policy was formulated by the Industry Ministry in December, but came under heavy antinuclear criticism for placing too much reliance on Japan’s nukes. The formal announcement of the policy was postponed while the government considered some terminological revisions, plus waiting for the outcome of Sunday’s election. The not-antinuclear outcome at the polls promotes confidence that the public will accept the new policy. The revision to the original plan includes the promotion of renewable electrical sources to reduce future reliance on nuclear. The new plan is expected to include development of fast breeder’s, but no time-table is known to be part of the policy statement. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001022634

  • A group of judicial scriveners have a nationwide helpline to counsel F. Daiichi evacuees on filing compensation claims. Scriveners are people certified by the Ministry of Justice to assist clients in filing real estate and commercial registrations, court documents, and legal affairs filings. They are not allowed to partake in formal litigation. The group believes there are many evacuees unfamiliar with filing for compensation so they will advise them free of charge. From the Press report, it seems some of the people calling them were not registered as living inside the mandated evacuation zone, but were residing there at the time of the accident and forced to evacuate with all registered citizens. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20140211_17.html

February 10, 2014

  • Fukushima staff moved another 44 spent fuel bundles from unit #4 last week. To date, 308 of 1533 bundles have been transferred out of the 5th floor spent fuel pool and safely submerged in another pool inside the neighboring ground-level common fuel handling facility. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/removal4u/index-e.html

  • Nuclear-neutral Yoichi Masuzoe has won the Tokyo gubernatorial election in a landslide. A graduate of the University of Tokyo, Masuzoe is the former Minister of Health under three Prime Ministers, taught political science and has become a well-known television commentator. He campaigned on a platform of improving the city’s social welfare system and making the 2020 Tokyo Olympics the best ever. He soundly defeated news media favorite, former PM Morihiro Hosokawa, who had been running on a firm antinuclear platform. Hosokawa and his ally, another ex-PM Junichiro Koizumi, took to the campaign trail to stir a national debate on nuclear energy. It did not happen. Masuzoe did not take sides in the nuclear discussion because he said it was a national issue and not a prefectural one. In the final tally, Masuzoe garnered 2,113,000 votes, former Bar Association president Kenji Utsunomiya a distant second with 983,000 votes, and Hosokawa was third with 956,000. There was a relatively low voter turn-out (~46%) for an off-year election, probably due to the heavy snowstorm of Saturday. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20140209_17.html -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/02/09/national/masuzoe-set-for-victory-over-anti-nuclear-foe-in-tokyo-gubernatorial-poll/#.Uvei18uYYdU -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2014021000026

  • Tokyo will study how to best inform the public about Fukushima Daiichi. Tepco and government announcements have been besieged with disapprovals concerning use of technical terms and lack of specific information demanded by critics. As a result, a study group will be created to deal with these issues. It is believed the panel will include Fukushima evacuees, local officials from the prefecture, as well as agricultural and fishing groups. The first session will be held on February 17th in Fukushima City. Gallery seating will be provided for interested citizens. This will be the first time ordinary citizens will take part in official study groups relative to F. Daiichi. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20140207_01.html

  • Additional information on plans to release F. Daiichi groundwater to the sea. The scheme to pump out some groundwater flow before it reaches the damaged reactor buildings has been ready to go since last March. However, Kyodo News reported the delay was due to “concerns for baseless rumors [that] remain strong particularly among fishermen, which has prevented the scheme from being implemented.” Recently, Industry Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said they “obtained ‘a certain level of understanding as to the necessity’ of the groundwater bypass plan from the National Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Association” which opened the door to begin the process. The Nuclear Regulation Authority has not yet approved the allowable concentrations for releases. http://ex-skf.blogspot.com.au/2014/02/fukushima-i-npp-groundwater-bypass-plan.html

  • Tepco will begin the “massive” job of reviewing a great number of contaminated water analyses taken since 3/11/11. The re-evaluation is because of a recently discovered error with the analytical procedure used by the staff. One of the groundwater wells between unit #1 and #2 was initially reported to be 900,000 Bq/liter, but it is now known that the procedure was faulty and only recording one-tenth of the actual activity. The company shifted to a different, more-reliable methodology in October. Tepco will re-examine all data compiled using the erroneous methodology, including the groundwater tests run on the liquids beneath and around the storage tanks that leaked last year. Spokesperson Masayuki Ono said, "We are very sorry, but we found cases in which beta radiation readings turned out to be wrong when the radioactivity concentration of a sample was high." http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20140207p2g00m0dm038000c.html -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20140208_02.html

  • Fukushima’s unprecedented child thyroid study has found more possible cancer cases. The new number of cases is 75, up from 59 reported last November. Since November, an additional 28,000 children were examined. So far, 254,000 have been examined out of the 375,000 children living in Fukushima Prefecture during the March, 2011 crisis. Research Chair Hokuto Hoshi said the nuclear accident is unlikely to be the cause of any of the discovered cancers because of the 4-5 year latency period between radioactive Iodine exposure and thyroid cancer expression. Regardless, the data being currently compiled will prove valuable. Researcher Shinichi Suzuki said, "We hope to look for unknown types of gene mutations, other than those known to be associated with the generation of thyroid gland cancer, to study if they could serve as markers for determining if the cancers were induced by radiation." He added that there is no way to distinguish between radiation-induced cancers and those caused by other factors, but analysis of the tumors removed from the children might shed light on a possible way to do it. The average age of the children with definitive or suspected cancer tumors is 14.7. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201402080047

  • Dr. Jerry Cuttler says Hiroshima/Nagasaki data shows that current risk models for radiation exposure are incorrect. He says the incidence of leukemia in 96,000 atomic bomb survivors serves as compelling evidence that the Linear/No Threshold model, used to estimate risk around the world, is wrong. Further, the data demonstrates a threshold for leukemia at ~500 millisieverts exposure, and lower exposures actually show positive biological effects in the bomb survivors. He concludes, “The continued application of the invalid linear dose–response model for cancer risk assessment raises enormous fear about the safety of exposures to small doses of radiation.” Dr. Cuttler’s letter has been posted in the Archives of Toxicology Journal. [Arch Toxicol (2013) 87:2063-2081] The download can be accessed via Rod Adam’s Atomic Insights article found here… http://atomicinsights.com/wp-content/uploads/Cuttler-2014_-Leukemia-incidence-of-96000-Hiroshima-survivors_ArchToxicol.pdf

  • Tepco has reluctantly accepted an arbitrator’s decision concerning additional compensation for ~1,200 Fukushima citizens. 180 evacuees from Iitate Village and another 1,000 from Date City, which lies outside the mandated evacuation zone, want more money because of health concerns due to low level radiation exposure. The Science Ministry’s Center for the Settlement of Fukushima Nuclear Damage Claims says they support the resident’s claims. Tepco has steadfastly maintained there is no scientific evidence for the additional pay-outs, but Friday the company caved to the arbitrator’s decision. However, Tepco continues to say that while it has no scientific responsibility to pay this compensation, they were responsible for the accident that has caused the resident’s unempirical fears. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20140207_43.html

February 6, 2014

  • More information on plans to release groundwater to the sea. It is estimated that 800 tons of groundwater flows through the property at F. Daiichi every day. The source is the nearby inland mountains. It is also believed that 400 tons of this daily flow gets contaminated. The government and Tepco want to collect most of this in-flow and eventually pump it out to sea. Tepco drilled 12 inland wells last year in anticipation that the discharge would not be a problem since the groundwater from the mountains is not contaminated. However, local fisheries balked at the plans and asked the government to insure that the groundwater is not contaminated. Tepco decided to dedicate some of the new wastewater storage tanks to hold the collected groundwater and test it for contamination before pumping it to the ocean. Everything was ready to go last March, but distrust of Tepco and Tokyo by the fisheries brought the process to a halt. Basically, rumors of a cover-up with what was really happening at F. Daiichi were at the root of the fishery’s refusal to approve the plans. As of February 3, Tokyo promised the fishermen that no discharged water will be at or above 1 Becquerels per kilogram of Cesium, which is one-tenth of the Japanese limit for drinking water. In addition, “all Beta” will have a limit of 5 Bq/kg and 1,500 Bq/kg of Tritium, both of which are one-fourth of the drinking water standard. If the plan is allowed by the fisheries, it will cut the amount of water contaminated each day by 25%. Industry Minister Koichi Noda said, “Winning understanding from the local people is absolutely necessary before starting it.” Fisheries president Hiroshi Kishi said he is not opposed to the plan. http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2014/02/04/fukushima-watch-small-step-toward-cutting-water-flowing-into-site/

  • Tamura City’s mayor wants an evacuation order to end in April. Mayor Yukei Tomitsuka specified the entire Miyakiji district and said, “Lifting the evacuation order on April 1 is desirable." This would be the first removal of repopulation restrictions inside the 20km radius around F. Daiichi station. Tokyo proposed to lift the order last October when all requirements for radiation levels and decontamination had been met. However, many Tamura evacuees opposed the move citing fear of low level exposure to radiation and the possibility of residual contamination. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2014/02/270029.html

  • On Tuesday, Fukushima’s governor said he wants Tokyo’s low level waste storage plans changed. Governor Yuhei Sato has proposed that the town of Nahara be dropped as a potential site because of strong opposition from the mayor and local residents. Sato has asked the other two towns, Okuma and Futaba, to approve the government’s proposal. Prefectural government officials plan to hold more talks, including with Naraha's mayor. On Wednesday, Sato said that Okuma and Futaba will accept low level waste storage facilities. Tokyo has earmarked $1 billion for buying land and building the facilities. The properties are all in locations with a greater than 50 millisievert per year exposure level, which has them designated as “difficult” to repopulate. The facilities will be designed to store 28 million cubic meters of material temporarily. The government is committed to finding a permanent storage location elsewhere. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html -- http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/two-fukushima-towns-agree-to-interim-nuclear-waste-storage-facilities?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2014-02-05_PM

  • Fukushima Prefecture wants the new evacuee psychological damage compensation paid as soon as possible. Vice Governor Fumio Murata and some local officials descended on Tepco’s Tokyo office today and told the company to make the pay-outs in a swift and appropriate manner. Murata also asked for yet another extension on the deadline for filing compensation claims so that those who no longer work in the area can be included. The deadline is the end of this month. Tepco told Murata they will announce their final decision on all matters in March. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • Tokyo will run a study on the health of Fukushima Daiichi workers. The Health Ministry will designate up a group of radiologists and “other experts” to specify what and whom to study. Medical checks have already been run on about 19,000 people, but that will expand to nearly 30,000. However, the study will not include lifestyle behaviors or radiation exposures prior to 3/11/11. This will make it difficult to differentiate exposure-caused problems from other factors that could cause cancer or cataracts. Ministry officials hope to have the program in full operation during 2015. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20140205_01.html

  • It seems the first official reactor restart decision in Japan is not good. The Nuclear Regulation Authority has told the owner of Tomari unit #3 in Hokkaido Prefecture that it does not conform to the post-Fukushima regulations. At least not yet. Hokkaido Electric Co. says the added work needed to meet the NRA criteria “will not finish in several months”, thus a restart this summer will not be possible. The NRA indicated the process of making another restart determination could be prolonged. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2014/02/269587.html

  • Supporters of antinuclear candidates in the Tokyo governor’s race are claiming a phantom victory. They say that if the combined votes of all candidates who have a no-nukes, no-restarts plank in their platform outnumber poll-leader and nuclear-neutral Yoichi Masuzoe, then it would be an antinuclear victory. As a result, some influential antinuclear intellectuals want the antinuke candidates to “join forces” in an attempt to win the election outright. Strangely, this might not be possible since such a move after the official campaign starting date (last week) would seem to violate Japanese election law. Popular Fukushima information website EX-SKF says it seems “…tantamount to either delusion or concession of defeat.” We will see what happens this Sunday when the election is held. http://ex-skf.blogspot.com.au/2014/02/ot-strange-logic-of-some-beyond-nuclear.html


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