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Fukushima 73...6/30/14-7/21/14

July 21, 2014

  • The March 11, 2011, earthquake did not start the Fukushima accident. Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority has concluded that it was the tsunami which caused the full station electrical blackout. The panel of NRA experts rejected the government’s 2012 NAIIC investigation’s suggestion that the unit #1 accident may have begun with the quake. The NAIIC said that because a few Fukushima workers saw water leakage in the Isolation Condenser room prior to the tsunami and the IC was shut off before the water surge hit, it seemed possible that the quake began the nuclear emergency. But the NRA says their investigation shows that the arrival of the tsunami coincided with the time the reactor lost power. The NRA conducted an on-site inspection at the plant in May 2013 to look into what went wrong and found no evidence for the NAIIC claim. The agency says they will continue their probe and interview members of the NAIIC before releasing a final report on the matter. NHK World; NRA panel: Tsunami led to Fukushima meltdown; 7/15 --

  • Personal dosimeter-based radiation monitoring will change decontamination policy. The Environment Ministry says the new program might start later this month. Decontamination efforts have been occurring in locations showing greater than 0.23 microsieverts per hour by airborne monitoring. Continual exposure to the 0.23 µSv/hr equates to the 1 millisievert per year goal set by the government. However, dosimeters issued to 52,000 Fukushima residents from July 2012 through June 2013 revealed that actual exposures in many areas were less than 1 mSv/yr. In fact, a full 70% of the group had exposures below 1 mSv/yr. Survey residents live in the cities of Fukushima, Koriyama, Soma and Date. The lower actual exposures will allow the Ministry to scale back on decontamination work in many areas. A Date official said, “We should break the spell of aerial radiation soon.” Radiation Safety Forum member Junichiro Tada said he agrees with the ministry, “We should change the way radiation doses are managed from an aerial radiation basis to an individual exposure basis. That way, we will do away with ineffective decontamination work.” On the other hand, critic Keizo Ishii of Tohoku University says, “Many residents of Fukushima have deliberately stayed indoors since the nuclear disaster. If they start to go out like they used to before the quake, the individual radiation doses might go up and will not necessarily fall below the 1 millisievert threshold. As such, we should aim for continued use of aerial figures for decontamination.”

  • The Mainichi Shimbun has posted a Q & A on how nuclear safety is determined by the NRA. While most of the article is surprisingly objective, the continuation of doubt was proffered by repeating last week’s statement by NRA Chair Shunichi Tanaka, "We cannot say that a disaster will never happen. The regulations cannot guarantee safety."

  • Tepco’s treatment process to stop rainwater from becoming contaminated seems successful. The Rainwater treatment System has been tested inside dikes under water storage tanks and a receiving tank. In both cases, rainwater pooled after rainfall was tested. The analyses showed no detectible Cesium isotopes and a barely detectible level of Tritium.

  • Leakage of barely detectible contaminated water at unit #5 makes headlines. Leakage collected from a valve in the spent fuel cooling system was tested for radioactivity. The water contained less than 3 Becquerels per milliliter of Cobalt-60. No other detectible radioactive isotopes were reported. Tepco officials say the leakage-itself could possibly indicate a system deterioration. One Tepco official said, “We are aware that our approach proved to be lax as we were unable to detect the problem until the leak occurred. We are reviewing the way checks should be conducted.” (Comment - The level of radioactive contamination in the leaked water is essentially innocuous. The report seems to be yet another example of Japan’s antinuclear Press trying to make any detectible level of radioactivity seem inordinately dangerous and worthy of headlines.)

  • The Pentagon says the USS Ronald Reagan sailors were not exposed to dangerous radiation levels. In a report sent to Congress due to a January directive from defense committees, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Dr. Jonathan Woodson said that safeguards, put in place to protect service members, worked. He said any illnesses that Reagan sailors have developed are not a result of the Operation Tomodachi relief operation. His report states, “There is no objective evidence that the sailors … experienced radiation exposures that would result in an increase in the expected number of radiogenic diseases over time. The estimated radiation doses for all individuals in the Operation Tomodachi registry, including sailors on the USS Ronald Reagan, were very small and well below levels associated with adverse medical conditions.” 111 sailors have filed a suit against Tepco saying that misinformation allowed them to be exposed to dangerous radiation levels and has caused numerous health problems. Woodson said the health issues were not uncommon for an unexposed population of greater than 5,000 individuals, and the three claimed cancers began well before 3/11/11.

  • Ex-PMs criticize the NRA approval of Sendai plant safety. Antinuclear former Japanese leaders Junichiro Koizumi and Morihiro Hosokawa say that the NRA is not doing its job by allowing the Sendai units to restart. Koizumi called the NRA decision “absurd”. Hosokawa asked the NRA to reconsider its decision, adding that "I'd like those concerned to make an appropriate decision before something irreparable occurs." The statements were made before a meeting of the PM’s antinuclear group, Japan Assembly for Nuclear Free Renewable Energy.

July 17, 2014

  • Japan’s nuke watchdog says the two Sendai units meet the new, strict safety standards. While this is not the final approval for restarts, it is a major step in that direction. The Nuclear Regulation Authority's decision-making panel approved a draft report saying two reactors at Kyushu Electric Power Co.'s Sendai plant in Kagoshima Prefecture meet all NRA regulations. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says the decision is a step forward for Japan, saying, “We’d like to promote the reactivation (of nuclear plants) if the NRA conducts scientific and technological evaluations and it is concluded (that they are) safe.” He added that much work yet needs to be done to finalize the assessment, but Tokyo will work with the NRA on restarts if approval comes from local residents. The NRA has said they will only approve resumptions if residents say it is OK. Some residents say they welcome the decision because the nuke station is indispensable to the community. Others say there should be no restarts because they feel they have not been adequately briefed on the situation. World; Abe, residents near Sendai plant comment; 7/16/14

  • Public hearings on the Sendai restarts will soon occur. The thirty-day period for public input begins today. Public opinions on the unanimous NRA safety decision are being solicited and numerous public hearings will occur. While NRA says the Sendai units meet all safety requirements, NRA Chair Shunichi Tanaka stressed that meeting the criteria does not reduce accident probability to zero. He called on Sendai owner Kyushu Electric to strengthen safety efforts beyond what is required. Further, Tanaka said the the final decision on restart must include local consent from local residents and municipalities. NHK World; Public hearings soon begin on restarting nuclear plant; 7/17/14

  • The NRA announced that the next nukes for final screening are Takahama units 3&4. The nukes are located in Fukui Prefecture, central Japan. NRA Chair Tanaka said, "Related issues have almost been sorted out. I imagine they will be the second." He added, "I can't tell when [safety screenings of other reactors will be finished], but they are expected to proceed at a considerable pace." The Takahama units are both 870 MWe Pressurized Water Reactor systems owned by Kyushu Electric Company.

  • As expected, antinuclear groups in Japan denounced the NRA’s Sendai announcement. Five antinuclear groups held a joint Press conference on Wednesday. Eisuke Naramoto of the Citizens' Commission on Nuclear Energy complained that the decision is hasty, which completely ignores the fact that nearly three-and-a-half years have passed  and tens of billions of dollars invested in nuke safety upgrades since 3/11/11. Naramoto further claimed that the Sendai safety measures against natural calamities have not been scientifically examined, even though Kyushu Electric has spent millions of dollars on independent scientific expert studies on the matter and found the two units meet or exceed NRA rules. Two other repeated complaints were voiced - that no adequate evacuation plans for future accidents and the Fukushima accident investigation is not yet completed. What was not mentioned is that both objections are merely rhetorical appeals intended to sway public opinion and promote uncertainty. A protest was held by about 160 people in front of Kyushu Electric’s offices in Tokyo. They chanted that the Sendai units should not be restarted and the NRA is not doing its job by allowing the restarts. NHK World; Anti-nuclear power groups criticize NRA; 7/17/14 (Comment – The above rebuttals of the antinuclear claims are mine and not included in the NHK article….but they ought to be there. I cannot bring myself to report on such empty claims without response. It is clear that the only way to satisfy the antinukes is to keep all 48 units shuttered and continue the current level of electric deficiencies and $40 billion per year cost increases in fossil fuel imports, keeping Japan’s economy in a precariously weakened state.)

  • A public pasture has been reopened in Iwaki City. Iwaki City is located south of F. Daiichi and is outside the government-mandated evacuation zone. Shibayama City closed the 50-hectare meadow because higher-than-standard contamination was found in the grass. Now, seven hectares have fallen below the limit due to decontamination efforts. The city says the Shibayama pasture is the first of the public pastures run by 13 local Fukushima municipalities to reopen. Four farmers brought 10 cows to the pasture on Monday. The city has a $3 per day fee to use the land for grazing. NHK World; First public pasture reopens in Fukushima; 7/15/14

  • The lifting of evacuation orders for Kawauchi Village has been shelved. Tokyo had planned on reopening a small district in the village on July 26, but complaints from district officials and residents forced the plans to be cancelled. Reconstruction Agency Official Takashi Kumagai said, "We will work together with village officials to determine an appropriate schedule. The evacuation orders will not be lifted on July 26." The district of concern has a population of 329, comprised of 157 households. When Tokyo announced the schedule for cancelling evacuation orders three months ago, only 20 households registered to return. Worst-case annual exposures are well-below the 20 millisievert level which allows for unrestricted repopulation. However, Kawauchi Mayor Yuko Endo has called the move "premature" since a village verification committee has not been established and restoration of some roads has not yet begun. Also, many residents complain that neighboring communities are not allowed to return home, limiting availability of shopping and medical facilities. Dissenting residents add they won’t return until all decontamination wastes have been removed from Kawauchi.

  • Fukushima Prefecture has extended the checking of locally harvested rice for radiation. The prefecture says they will continue the screenings until March, 2015. Governor Yuhei Sato said, "We have yet to gain full understanding of the blanket checking program", indicating that unfounded rumors about Fukushima rice continue to persist. The $7 million per year program is running short of funds, but Tokyo has allowed them to use decontamination subsidies to cover the costs. Fukushima has no idea how long they will be able to keep the program running, but will study the situation facing rice farmers and continue measures to dispel harmful rumors.

  • Debris removal from unit #3 may have caused rice contamination 20 kilometers away. Last year, rice harvested from 14 locations in Minamisoma, to the north of F. Daiichi, were found to have contamination greater than the national standard of 100 Becquerels per kilogram. The Agriculture Ministry says above-limit Cesium contamination was found outside the rice husks, and debris removal around unit #3 may have stirred up radioactive dust which was carried to the rice paddies by the winds. The rice was impounded. The ministry ordered Tepco to take mitigating measures. The company said they will use chemicals to keep dust from leaving the station during future external debris removal. Tepco also said the unit #3 work might not have been the cause, but they cannot say was is impossible. Minamisoma officials expressed displeasure that the discovery was not announced earlier. NHK World; Debris removal may have caused rice contamination; 7/14/14

  • Tepco says they plan to install new contaminated water tanks at F. Daiichi. The total capacity of the new containers will be around 100,000 tons. The company plans to have 830,000 tons capacity in place by next March. Tepco shared its revised storage plan at a meeting with government officials on Monday. Senior vice industry minister Kazuyoshi Akaba said the risk of radioactive water overflow can be avoided if the tanks are built on schedule. NHK World; TEPCO to build more storage tanks at Fukushima; 7/17/14 [Comment – The issue of contaminated water build-up would be greatly mitigated if the tens of thousands of tons of stored water currently stripped of all isotopes but Tritium would be discharged to the sea. Tritium is the mildly radioactive, naturally-occurring isotope of Hydrogen that poses no risk to anyone (see “Background Information on Tritium” at The radiophobic concern relative to Tritium is the only thing keeping Tepco from releasing the ultra-pure waters to the sea.)    

July 13, 2014

  • Typhoon Neoguri’s approach to F. Daiichi produced numerous headlines. Tepco posted a Press release concerning preparations made just in case the typhoon struck with full fury. Since all reactor buildings were already strong enough to withstand the most severe typhoon imaginable, Tepco’s staff secured equipment, exposed pipes, and temporary decontamination and decommissioning structures. On July 11, site superintendent Akira Ono said, "The Fukushima Daiichi site is now prepared for the typhoon. Our workers have patrolled the site, taking a variety of precautions including securing pipes and cranes. To ensure that excess rainwater doesn't become contaminated or affect the environment, we have taken various measures to protect the tanks, including the construction of high dams that would contain any leakage."  While there were many scary news articles in the Japanese Press as the typhoon moved up the Japanese coast, NHK World was probably the most informative. NHK said all accumulated water from prior rainstorms was pumped out so that there might be enough room for a worst-case situation and prevent contaminated run-off. Workers also placed large weights on the bottom of tall cranes to prevent them from falling over. Tepco also told NHK that if the Typhoon hit F. Daiichi full force, outside work would be stopped to protect the station’s staff. NHK World; Fukushima Daiichi plant bracing for storm; 7/10/14  However, the typhoon merely “skirted” the station. A local meteorological official said they saw no rainfall or strong winds near the plant. A Tepco spokesperson said there were no problems and “We are conducting today’s operations as scheduled while monitoring any impact from the typhoon.”

  • The Asahi Shimbun reports the typical distance traveled by voluntary Fukushima evacuees. The average was 273 kilometers from their homes. A survey was run by two universities with about 10,000 voluntary evacuees participating. It does not include data concerning the 75,000 evacuees from inside the exclusion zone mandated by the government. It is the first such survey to provide details about the voluntarily evacuation of Fukushima residents. The results are expected to help municipalities near other nuclear plants map out their evacuation plans.

  • A Japanese court says they will rule on whether or not Tepco is legally culpable for a suicide. In June 2011, Hamako Watanabe and her husband began returning home periodically to tend their property, located just inside the mandated exclusion zone 50km northwest of the nuke plant. On June 30, Hamako cooked in the kitchen while her husband cleared brush around the house. They were required to leave the next day because of government-set stay-times. She did not want to leave. The next morning, she poured kerosene over herself and lit herself. Her husband, Mikio, filed a suit for over $900,000 USD against Tepco saying they are entirely responsible for her self-immolation, “If that accident hadn’t happened, we would have lived a normal, peaceful life. For them [Tepco] to argue that the suicide is not directly related is unforgivable.” Mikio now lives alone in prefabricated housing and regularly commutes to maintain the empty home. Since April 2011, there have been more than 1,500 suicides in the Fukushima Prefecture. So far, officials have ruled 54 of those deaths to be “disaster related”. This is the first of many suits concerning accident-related suicides to be tried.

July 9, 2014

  • The removal of fuel from unit #4 has been suspended until September. The reason is for scheduled maintenance and inspection of the ceiling (polar) crane used to move the transport casks in and out of the pool.

  • The cooling for the unit #5 spent fuel pool has been restarted. A leak was found on an auxiliary seawater throttle valve on Sunday. The seawater flow through the cooling system heat exchanger was stopped and the leak temporarily sealed with a hardening agent. Until a final fix is achieved, an alternative cooling method is being used through an interconnection to the Residual Heat removal System. The cooling of the pool’s water resumed at 3:50pm on Tuesday. A Tepco handout with timeline of the discovery and remediation plus pictures of the leaking valve, the specific location of the leak on the valve, and the temporary repair (patch) can be found here…

  • Fukushima Prefecture considers revising standards for deaths related to the nuke accident. Currently, all of the 1,729 post-3/11/11 “related” deaths have been listed as being due to the Fukushima accident’s evacuees being forced to live in temporary housing. Prefecture officials say it is difficult to identify a relationship between these so-called related deaths and the accident itself. Some, if not most of these post-accident deaths may well be due to the earthquake and tsunami themselves.  The government intends to provide municipal authorities with information on nuclear accident-related deaths to help standardize norms for identifying such fatalities. Nuclear accident-related deaths result from deterioration in health conditions following protracted life in shelters as evacuees. But what about those who have died which are not nuclear-related? Each identified death can provide survivors with as much as $50,000 in compensation if the deceased was main income earner, and $25,000 if not.

  • The government has cut the compensation amount for deaths caused during the nuclear evacuation. The Nuclear Damage Claim Dispute Resolution Center says it cannot prove that the evacuation deaths were entirely due to the nuclear evacuation-itself. There were some cases where full compensation would be warranted, but there were others where the evidence is not so clear. Center head Hiroshi Noyama said, "In some cases, we can recognize that the contribution ratio of the nuclear accident to deaths is 100 percent. But we assess the ratio is 50 percent in most settlement plans. If we are to carefully deliberate each case, we couldn't maintain the current pace of deliberations [an average of about six months per case]. This is the best thing that the center can do. If you're dissatisfied with the practice, please file a lawsuit." The Center has assessed the value of the damage for the death is $180,000 if the nuclear evacuation is 100% of the cause, but the average to date has been about half of that. Tepco says they are in no position to comment on the Center’s decision.

  • Japan’s nuclear regulator is considering stricter decommissioning rules for F. Daiichi. The issue is whether or not the station’s damaged units could withstand another 3/11/11-level earthquake and tsunami. NRA Commissioner Toyoshi Fuketa says the seriousness of the contaminated water situation is the main reason for concern. Chairman Shunichi Tanaka concurred. They agreed to apply the new regulations invoked for undamaged nuclear plants to F. Daiichi. Some NRA officials doubted whether the plant's operator has a sense of crisis. NHK World; New safety rules may be applied to Fukushima plant; 7/9/14

  • America’s EPA is increasing the “radiation threat level” for public protective actions. The increase is about a factor of 333. The Environmental Protection Agency says the previous standards were far lower than warranted by scientific analysis. The new ruling could potentially save billions of dollars per year and save lives in the process. The yearly cost of unscientific EPA regulations is in the many hundreds of billions of dollars internationally, reducing wages and hurting the world's standard of living. There are two “triggering” causes for the change. One is the impact of the mandated evacuation from around Fukushima Daiichi based on exposure standards that cannot be scientifically justified. This resulted in as many as 1,600 unnecessary deaths to elderly and ill persons, plus billions of dollars in fossil fuel purchases caused by Japan’s on-going nuclear moratorium. In addition, the American evacuation out to 50 miles from F. Daiichi due to the too-low limits was unwarranted and caused unnecessary harm to international relations. On the other hand, no-one has died or become ill as a result of the radioactivity released during and after the accident. The second trigger concerns over-reaction to terrorist threats due to the concept of making a radioactively “dirty” bomb. Prior limits were based on a computer model assuming that risk is proportional to exposures all the way down to zero. Studies run over the past three decades show that exposures below 100 millisieverts cause no adverse health effects, but the trigger level was 0.15 mSv. EPA public protective decisions were based on the linear no-threshold model assuming that any minimal exposure will cause cancer or asthma among some proportion of the population. But under this theory, even tiny amounts of sunlight are a threat. Advances knowledge of radiologically-induced health effects caused the EPA to make significant move. How this might impact the regulatory systems in the United States and Japan remains to be seen, but it could be substantial.

July 7, 2014

  • Many Okuma evacuees still choose to not go home. Last October, 67% of the Okuma evacuees said they do not wish to return. The dissenting residents of Nogami district of Okuma, 8 kilometers west of F. Daiichi, say they want more state compensation to buy homes outside of the area because the money they already receive is not enough. The Nogami residents say their abandoned homes and properties have been ruined, plus they are concerned about the short term storage of decontamination residues at the planned Okuma waste storage facility. Since they no longer want to go home, the residents want district decontamination stopped and the money shifted to more compensation. NHK World; Some Fukushima evacuees give up returning home; 7/3/14 

  • Cooling for the unit #5 spent fuel pool (SFP) has been stopped. Tepco halted the system on Sunday when a small seawater leak in a heat exchanger was discovered. Russia Today says the leak was 3 millimeters in size. The outflow was from a valve used to adjust seawater flow through the heat exchanger. Plant staff covered the hole temporarily while considering what permanent repair is to be effected. Tepco cannot yet say when the repair will be made so that seawater flow can be restored. The temperature in the pool was at 25.7oC on Monday, up 2 degrees from Sunday. It will be more than a week before temperature might reach the technical specification of 65oC. In a worst case, seawater will be pumped directly into the SFP to keep temperature below the operating limit. NHK World; No prospect to resume cooling of no.5 pool; 7/7/14

  • Local Fukushima seafood is eaten in Iwaki City. On Sunday, 500 servings of test-caught fish were cooked and handed out for free by local wholesalers. A fish called “mehikari” and crab soup were served. All of the seafood was below Japan’s strict radiation limits for public consumption. Wholesaler’s Association head Hiromitsu Endo said he wants the people of Iwaki to rediscover the great flavor of Fukushima-caught seafood. NHK World; Local fish enjoyed by people in Fukushima; 7/7/14  

  • A Hokkaido Mayor calls the construction of an Aomori Prefecture’s nuke “extremely high-handed”. Hakodate Mayor Toshiki Kudo wants an indefinite freeze on construction of the Oma Advanced Boiling Water Reactor, due to his deep suspicions of the technology after the Fukushima Accident. The southern part of the community is inside the mandated 30 kilometer nuclear evacuation zone, across the Tsugaru Strait from the Aomori Prefecture site. Testifying at a hearing for a suit brought against plant owner J-Power, Kudo said, “…construction (at the Oma site) resumed without any explanation to, or consent from, Hakodate city or the southern Hokkaido region,” and added, "If a severe accident were to take place, the very existence of the city of Hakodate would be put at risk for many years to come. Even though we are located so close, we have been ignored and have not been asked for our consent. No attention was paid to our region's fears, and there was no other course for us but to file a lawsuit." He also said that the plan to use MOX fuel containing some recycled Plutonium increases the risk to the surrounding population. He further doubts that the Nuclear Regulatory Authority safety standards are any better than those existing before 3/11/11. The government and Tepco argue that Japanese law forbids any city from filing a lawsuit to halt a construction project outside the community’s jurisdiction, thus the case should be dismissed. --

  • 15,000 Ichikikushikino residents have petitioned to oppose restarting the two Sendai Nukes. The Sendai units are thought to be the first Japanese nukes to be restarted. Ichikikushikino is 5 kilometers from the station in Kagoshima Prefecture with a population of about 30,000. Since it is not a host community to the nuke, the citizens do not have any say in the restart decision. They feel this is wrong. Buddhist monk Zenyu Niga was at the forefront of the petition drive, and says, “The evacuation plan itself is very sloppy, just slotting bits and pieces into a manual without giving any consideration to the special features of the area.” Among the complaints are a road that regularly floods, a day-care facility lacking evacuation plans, and a designated evacuation center said to be run-down. Kiyoko Kojima, 75, who works at the day-care center 13 km from the plant, said the facility has no evacuation plan, “I haven’t heard anything about an emergency plan. I’m not even sure whether we wait for the parents to come pick up the children or we evacuate right away.” Hirotada Hirose of Tokyo Woman’s Christian University says, “There aren’t enough people at the state and local level doing simulations of evacuation plans. This plan is based on a set of highly unrealistic assumptions and I have to question whether this is a true simulation.” Niga adds that there is no guarantee that residents will not panic, thus Fukushima-like chaos is possible. He said, “I feel very worried after seeing what happened in Fukushima.” Sendai could gain restart approval for its two units as early as September. The governor of Kagoshima and the mayor of host city Satsumasendai strongly favor restarts.

  • Former PM Junichiro Koizumi condemned the Abe government over nuke restarts. His rationale seems to come directly from long-standing antinuclear claims voiced internationally. The openly-radical antinuclear Koizumi says nuclear power can never be safe enough. He incorrectly asserts that it is the most expensive form of electricity, while completely ignoring the skyrocketing cost of electricity due to the current moratorium. He also alleges that not enough evacuation routes have been identified at any of the nukes and current anti-terrorism measures are inadequate. Finally, Koizumi says it is unreasonable to ask communities to have disposal sites for nuclear waste. For all these reasons, the former PM says none of Japan’s nukes should be restarted, even if they meet the new, stricter regulations. NHK World; Ex-PM Koizumi criticizes nuclear plants restarts; 7/7/14

July 3, 2014

  • Craig McClain posted a list of science-based reports on radiation in the Pacific. His piece is in Deep Sea News. The listed reports de-bunk internet-based postings of “pseudoscience, misinformation, or outright lies” which have “received far more attention and links than they deserve”. McClain cautions everyone to thoroughly evaluate all claims and look at the biases and expertise of the writers. The listings include the topic of the report(s) being discredited, links to rebuttals by experts, and McClain’s favorite quotes from the debunkers. My personal favorite quote comes from Scientific American’s Michael Moyer concerning scandalous reports about U.S babies dying from Fukushima radiation, “A check [of the data] reveals that the authors’ statistical claims are critically flawed—if not deliberate mistruths…picking only the data that suits your analysis isn’t science—it’s politics.” Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center. His popular writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.

  • Tepco has recovered 80% of last year’s major tank leak. The announcement was included in today’s Tepco news conference. In August of 2013, one of the wastewater storage tanks lost 300 tons of contaminated liquid to the surrounding earth. A report to the Nuclear Regulation Authority says the recovery has been due to removing soil which was soaked. The other 20% seeped deeper into the earth. However, the soil has effectively contained all radioactive isotopes, much like a high-efficiency water filter. Thus, it is unlikely that any of the leakage reached to sea. Tepco also said that the 300 tons of wastewater contained about 4.5x1013 Becquerels of Strontium activity A Becquerel is one radioactive emission per second. Another topic was the elevated levels of Tritium found in one of the inland wells used to pump out uncontaminated groundwater. Tepco says they continue the investigation. What does not seem to be reported anywhere in the Press is that the well’s Tritium level has dropped from 1,700 to 1,500 Becquerels per liter since May 28. --

  • The head of Japan’s nuke watchdog questions nuclear utility attitudes. NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka says the utilities applying for restarts "have not taken the accident that occurred in Fukushima seriously enough," and this has caused delays in processing NRA safety assessments. He added, "The primary responsibility to secure safety (of nuclear plants) is placed on the operators. I'm not sure if such a stance is well established in corporate culture of utilities in our country."

  • A fear-mongering editorial says health studies expose the myth of nuclear safety. The Japan Times purports that investigations published out of Germany, Great Britain and the United States show that routine operation of nukes inflicts health-threatening risks on the near-public. The editorial focuses on what they call “the scientifically established fact that there is no safe dose of radiation, no matter how small, bearing in mind that dangerous radioactive elements constantly accumulate in the body.” The editorial asks Industry Minister Motegi that “in light of this evidence…are you and the rest of the Abe administration still determined to restart the reactors?” What the article fails to report is that each and every cited report is that all of the reports have been refuted by experts from across the scientific community. Further, the notion of no safe level of radiation exposure is far from scientifically established. It is an historical assumption predicated on the data from of huge exposures, arbitrarily extrapolated down to zero. In fact, a major faction within the scientific community wants the no-safe-level assumption abolished in light of a mountain of conclusive evidence to the contrary. (see…Radiation: The No-Safe-Level Myth The Times editorial is a clear case of cherry-picking references, using only the fringe publications of antinuclear writers who have total faith in the no-safe-level assumption. One-sidedness in evidence-selection can only mislead and misinform the readership.


June 30, 2014

  • In a June 30 posting, Tepco reports 1188 fuel bundles have been removed from the unit #4 pool. This means more than three-fourths of the bundles (76.5%) have been safely transferred. 1166 (88%) of the 1,331 spent (irradiated) bundles have been removed.  In a June 27 posting, Tepco says they have topped $40 billion (USD) in compensation payments to evacuees. Of this, $17.5 billion has been disbursed in personal indemnification, and $17.74 Billion in corporate and property payments.

  • An American doctor says Fukushima radiation is being used as a terror weapon. Dr. Jane M. Orient, M.D., says Japan used a “wrong dose-response model” with mandating public evacuations around F. Daiichi. As a result, as many as 1,600 people have died due to radiation terror since the spring of 2011. Orient’s report, “Fukushima and Reflections on Radiation as a Terror Weapon”, is posted in the summer of 2014, edition of Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons. In it, Orient states, “The effects of low-dose radiation are in fact grossly misstated. The resulting fear-based regulatory regime deprives people of life-saving technology.” In addition, official orders based on “ignorance or fear-based official directives” thwarted Tsunami rescue efforts and produced disastrous social and economic effects. Orient explains how current radiation standards were created out of political assumptions based on extrapolations derived from huge exposures to fruit flies just after WWII, ignoring historical evidence. The extrapolations have become the Linear/No Threshold model used to set radiation exposure limits all over the world. However, a large body of scientific evidence clearly shows there is an exposure threshold for harm, and LNT collapses in the low level region. Worst-case public exposures from Fukushima are many times less than the threshold. Orient says evacuations were ordered out of ignorance and fear on the part of Tokyo officials, and the current reluctance of people to return home is due to the fear spawned by government standard-setting since the accident. She concludes, “The damage that could be caused by nuclear technology is amplified many-fold by extreme risk predictions based on false theory. Exposure limits need to be raised to realistic levels based on actual experience, and the LNT needs to be discarded…” Orient calls for physicians to insist on an honest appraisal of radiation exposure risks, which is currently not the case.

  • Tepco says they won’t further increase evacuee mental duress payments. The government’s Compensation Dispute Center says Tepco should increase monthly psychological damage payments by $500 USD for the 15,000 government-mandated evacuees of Namie Town. This would be in addition to the $1000 they already get for mental anguish, on top of the $7,500 in evacuation compensation they have received every month for more than 3 years. Tepco says the Center has not considered the individual circumstances of the petitioners and deviated from existing guidelines. The company added that the increase would be unfair to tens of thousands of other evacuees. Tepco said they would agree to a $200 per month increase for those physically injured or ill. This is the first time the company has refused settlement proposals to evacuees other than Tepco employees. Namie officials say Tepco fails to understand the mental pain of Namie evacuees, and Mayor Tamotsu Baba said, “…[TEPCO] has betrayed its loyalty and been incredibly insincere."

  • Tokyo has called for summer energy savings due to the nuke moratorium. Without the voluntary reductions, it is possible that some companies could experience power shortages. The two most vulnerable are Kansai and Kyushu Electric Companies, both of which have a relatively low percentage of fossil fuel-powered plants to replace their government-shuttered nukes. Fully 80% of Japan’s summer electrical supply is expected to come from fossil fuel-burning (thermal) units. More than 20 % of these thermal plants are more than 40 years old and susceptible to sudden failure. The minimum desired reserve capacity in Japan is 3% and the estimate of the August reserve is 4.6%. However, the estimated reserve margin for Kansai Electric will only be 3.4%. Kansai’s nuclear Oi units #3&4 were running last year to avoid the shortfall, but they will remain shuttered this summer. It should be noted that government estimates of reserve margin have been lower than what actually happened the past three summers. Japan’s Meteorological Agency says an unusually-hot summer, worse than last year’s, is possible due to a powerful, persistent high pressure zone over the Pacific Ocean.


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