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Fukushima 77...10/16/14-11/63/14


November 6, 2014 

  • Tepco announces that all used (spent) fuel bundles have been removed from unit #4. The company plans to have the remaining 202 unused bundles transferred by the end of the year. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/decommision/index-e.html -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141105_02.html

  • Many governments in Japan’s 30km evacuation zones want control of restarts. Of the 155 municipalities and prefectures surveyed by the Asahi Shimbun, a significant fraction believe they should give their consent before their nukes are restarted. 123 of the surveyed do not host the nukes and currently have no power over resumption of operations. Of these, 66 (54%) said they should give their consent before restarts. On the other hand, of the 32 governments actually hosting the nukes, only three said all 30km governments should be included in consent granting and twelve believe only the host municipalities should make the decision on approval. "Only local governments hosting nuclear power plants have effective rights to give consent to the restart of reactors, which is why they have been given generous financial incentives," said Atsushi Miyawaki, of Hokkaido University, “This has created a rift between these municipalities and their neighbors. However, the Fukushima nuclear crisis demonstrated that damage from a nuclear disaster may not be confined to municipalities hosting the plants." The governor of Fukui Prefecture, which hosts four nuclear plants, said, “[The] concerned local governments are prefectures, cities and towns that host nuclear plants.” Meanwhile, the mayor of Niseko, Hokkaido, which is located within 30 km of the Tomari nuclear station, said utilities should obtain consent from all municipalities that could be affected by a nuclear accident. 39% of the surveyed groups want the government to create a binding procedure requiring nuke operators to gain restart permission from local governments. However, the mayor of Takahama said the legislation would only add an “excessive political factor” to the country’s energy policy. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/politics/AJ201411040025

  • Japan’s government awards Kurion $10 million to demonstrate Tritium removal technology. Kurion had been competing with GE Hitachi of Canada and Russia's FSUE Radioactive Waste Management Enterprise for the job. Although Tritium is an essentially innocuous isotope of hydrogen with the weakest known Beta emission, radiophobia has made its removal from purified Fukushima wastewaters a socio-political imperative. Kurion president John Raymont said the demonstration project would begin immediately at the company's facility in Houston, Texas. Japan requires that the technology must be able to remove Tritium from water with concentrations between 0.6 and 4.2 million Becquerels per liter and process more than 400 cubic meters (tons) per day. http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS-Japanese-grant-for-tritium-removal-technology-0401148.html

  • Three Fukushima rice farmers want all detectible contamination removed from their properties. Though none of the three farms have produced rice with radioactive concentrations above the national limit (100 Bq/liter) for open sale, fear of detectible radiation on the part of buyers and consumers has seen their market dwindle. All three believe that if their multi-hectare rice farms had all detectibly contaminated soils removed and replaced with virgin earth, their market would recover. They filed formal requests with the damage claim resolution center in April, 2012, but were rejected by Tepco the following month. The farmers said the contamination caused “itae-itae” (it hurts-it hurts) disease, which previously has only been associated with Cadmium ingestion. A claim settlement was reached in May, 2013, covering reduced revenues. The farmers brought the case before the Fukushima District Court in October. Farmer Hiroyuki Suzuki said, "The claim for reduced revenues was an attempt to seek compensation for past damages, but if the land is not restored to its prior condition, we will have to ask for more damages every year, which means that we have no future outlook." The Claim Center refuses to comment on pending individual cases. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/features/news/20141105p2a00m0na017000c.html 

  • Taiwan has once again rattled its radiophobic sabers at Japan. The legislature’s Finance Committee ruled that all waste materials from Japan must pass through radiation checks before being accepted. The motion was filed because of a Liberty Times article saying that Kaoshing Customs had found 226 cargo containers with radiation levels above the Taiwanese limits since 3/11/11. After the nuke accident, Taiwan banned foods from 5 prefectures and conducts radiation checks on 11 types of imported foods. The new rule will take effect early next year if no objections are filed. http://fukushimaupdate.com/taiwan-to-check-waste-shipments-from-japan-for-radiation/

November 5, 2014

UPDATE ALERT

ALL F. Daiichi unit#4 used fuel safely transferred

This morning, Tepco posted that all used (spent/irradiated) fuel bundles have been safely removed from the unit #4 fuel pool. They all now reside in the ground-level pools of the common facility at Fukushima Daiichi. The remaining 202 unused (un-irradiated) bundles are expected to be transferred by the end of the year. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/decommision/index-e.html -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141105_02.html -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2014/11/320699.html -- http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201411050045

November 3, 2014

  • Radiation experts appeal to international organizations over Japan’s “disastrous consequences” from using an incorrect risk model. Scientists for Accurate Radiation Information (SARI) has sent an open letter to standard-setting bodies around the world, including the IAEA, World Health Organization, and America’s Nation Academy of Sciences. The letter says, “The nuclear reactor accident at Fukushima Daiichi that followed the earthquake and tsunami in 2011 prompted well-intended measures that have had disastrous consequences. These were not caused by the radiation itself but by the social stress, the forced evacuation, and the ongoing displacement of tens of thousands of people. Both the stress and the population relocations are based on the fear of low-dose radiation that originated from the use of the linear no-threshold (LNT) model for radiation-induced cancers and its associated ‘no safe dose’ mantra.” SARI adds that the mistakes made subsequent to the Chernobyl accident in 1986 were repeated with Fukushima, causing adverse health consequences, but little discernable benefit to the affected population. SARI believes that most of the evacuated residents should have been returned home early-on, resulting in extremely low exposures that would have harmed no-one. The group asks that a firm, unconditional statement from the world’s organizations (above) should be shared with the Fukushima residents showing that repopulation would not increase their risk of cancer. Two of SARI’s esteemed members, America’s Dr. Mohan Doss and England’s Dr. Wade Allison, will be part of a conference in Tokyo on December 3rd, entitled “1st Scientific Advisory Meeting for Radiation and Accurate Information”. SARI asks that the above-mentioned “firm statement” be sent to the group, which will be subsequently conveyed to Japan by Doss and Allison. The full letter, as well as a survey asking for public opinion on the matter, can be found at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/openlet

  • Unit #3 rubble dust did not contaminate Fukushima rice paddies. Nuclear Regulation Authority Commissioner Toyoshi Fuketa says it is unlikely that radioactive particles from the unit #3 rubble removal contaminated rice fields 20 kilometers away. In August, 2013, detectible contamination was found in the paddies, spawning Press-broadcast speculations by local residents which assumed the radioactivity was because of dust from debris removal. Last July, A Kyoto University professor made a formal claim that the rice contamination came from the debris removal based on radiation monitors they used which were nearly 50 kilometers from F. Daiichi. The Agriculture Ministry called for an NRA investigation, and the agency asked Tepco to delay disassembly of the unit #1 temporary cover to prevent the possibility of a recurrence. Although the NRA affirmed that the work stirred up 110 billion Becquerels of radioactivity, the particles were too big to be carried beyond the nuke site’s property boundaries. Fuketa suggested that the particles had an environmental impact inside the plant compound, but not beyond. He said that the rice paddy contamination may have come from river and/or well water. The NRA is considering the potential for radioactive dust dispersal during debris removal, nonetheless. Not to let the issue rest, the Asahi Shimbun found someone who disagreed with Fuketa, saying it is unlikely that factors other than debris cleanup could have caused the detected level of contamination at the rice farms. Nonetheless, Tepco and Tokyo over-reaction to initial speculations has caused a lengthy delay in the necessary removal of debris from unit #1. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html -- http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201411010037

  • Tepco has removed one of the six large plastic covers that comprise the unit #1 enclosure roof. It occurred without incident on Friday. None of the surrounding radiation monitors showed an increase. The removed cover will stay off for a month to see if any radioactive material will be dispersed. Then it will be re-installed for the winter. Tepco will not remove all six sections of the roof until March. Tepco initially planned to begin removing it by the end of last March, but the company delayed the schedule after local residents and a few researchers voiced concern that debris removal with unit #3 in 2013 may have contaminated nearby rice crops. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20141031p2g00m0dm064000c.html For images of the removal of the roof section, see http://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2014/201410-e/141031-01e.html

  • Former PM Koizumi continues his antinuclear crusade. In the wake of Japan’s recent problems with bringing solar and wind-powered electricity into the grid (due to inherent oscillations in output), Koizumi rejected utility claims of being unable to insure the fluctuations will not cause grid problems. He said that with sufficient government support, these difficulties could be overcome. He added that if governments around the world would make the commitment, renewables could soon replace nuclear energy. Koizumi also attacked the situation at F. Daiichi over the recently delayed timetable for de-fueling unit #1, pointing to a history of human errors and technical failures that began on 3/11/11. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141102_05.html

  • The 233rd edition of the Carnival of Nuclear Energy bloggers, has been posted at Brian Wang’s Next Big Future site. This edition includes posts by Rod Adams, Dan Yurman, Meredith Angwin, Jim Conca, Brian Wang, Rick Maltese, Jim Hopf, and myself. http://nextbigfuture.com/2014/11/carnival-of-nuclear-energy-233.html

October 30, 2014

  • An unexpected wind gust caused minor damage to the roof of the unit #1 outer cover. A crane was being used to spray anti-dispersal chemicals through holes drilled in the roof. The wind was measured at a steady 7 kilometers per hour. But, a sudden gust arose and caused the machinery to move, making an opening one meter wide and two meters long. No increase in airborne radioactivity was detected. Work was suspended to further investigate.  http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141028_20.html For a picture of the damage, click here… http://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2014/201410-e/141028-01e.html

  • The timetable for removal of fuel from unit #1 has been revised. It is now planned to begin transferring the 392 used fuel bundles from the fuel pool in 2019, rather than 2017. The removal of melted fuel is now set for 2025, rather than 2019. The schedule changes are due to several reasons such as the recent issue with dismantling the temporary cover around the unit, installation of special machines to facilitate debris removal, and installation of the cranes and other technology for used fuel removal. The 40-year timetable for complete facility decommissioning has not been affected. Tokyo and Tepco are also reviewing plans for used fuel removal from unit #2. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141030_05.html -- http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201410300071

  • Cesium levels continually drop in the two wells which spiked last week. Last Wednesday, the Press reported that one well rose to 428,000 Becquerels per liter and the other to 458,000 Bq/liter. On Monday, NHK World said that the levels had dropped to 470 and 5,200 Bq/liter by last Friday. There has been no Press report on the levels since then. We have posted that the levels had plummeted to 1,000 and 3,700 Bq/liter by Sunday. On Wednesday (yesterday), the activities were down to 95 and 1,100 Bq/liter. Tepco says the wells are connected underground and may have cross-contaminated each other. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2014/images/around_2u_14103001-e.pdf -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141028_13.html

  • American Dale Klein hails Fukushima’s “seven samurai”. Former NRC commissioner Klein praised Tepco’s efforts at F. Daiichi in his presentation to the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan. Referring to the seven decontamination systems at F. Daiichi, Klein said, "The 'Seven Samurai' represent significant progress in putting in place a comprehensive and sustainable water management plan." He also addressed Tepco’s smooth shift from emergency response to the long-term tasks of decontamination and nuke station decommissioning, saying that “an important page has been turned”. Klein also pointed out that Tepco needs to do more. The company’s safety culture concept must be embraced by the entire chain of command so that individuals feel free to speak up, identify possible problems, and propose solutions. The full text of Dr. Klein’s presentation can be found here… http://www.nrmc.jp/en/news/detail/index-e.html#date_20141029-103000  (Comment – While reading Dr. Klein’s speech, I reflected on my days as a US Navy nuclear operator. All of us, down to the most junior staff member, were trained to “speak our minds”, respectfully of course. My first engineering officer evoked Hyman Rickover when he said, “Woe be the sailor who sinks this sub because he was afraid to speak up!” It seems Tepco has embraced this important safety concept.)

  • Klein also suggested that a U.S. utility inspect currently-idled nukes. Tepco they might follow the suggestion with respect to the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa station in Niigata Prefecture. Klein believes the opinion on safety by of an “experienced operator” from outside the Japanese nuclear community can only help Tepco’s efforts in resuming operations. He also believes the world’s largest nuke station at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa should now be considered for restart, “They have gone through and added back-up systems to back-up systems to back-up systems.” In addition, Klein said Kashiwazaki’s restart in Niigata prefecture and the situation with Fukushima should be considered separately, even though Tepco owns both. However, Niigata’s governor, Hirohiko Izumida, feels otherwise, “The Fukushima accident has not been thoroughly investigated and completely reviewed yet, so the idea of setting up new nuclear safety standards on that basis is questionable. The first step is to have a complete evaluation of what happened in the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident and where responsibilities lie. Until then we can’t be discussing restarting nuclear plants.” http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/10/30/national/tepco-may-ask-u-s-utility-to-inspect-kashiwazaki-kariwa-nuclear-plant/#.VFJGq6N0wdU

  • Completion of the Rokkasho used fuel recycling plant has been delayed for the 22nd time. Operation is now planned to begin in 2016. The project has been in the works for nearly 20 years. The president of Japan Nuclear Fuel Limited, Kenji Kudo released the new plan to Aomori Prefecture today. The company says this latest delay is due to the rigors of meeting the NRA’s safety standards. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • On Tuesday Satsumasendai City voted to approve the restart of Sendai station. Satsumasendai is the host community. 19 of the 26 assembly members approved resumption of operations, four were opposed and three abstained. Mayor Hideao Iwahiri immediately gave his approval, but added that a nuclear accident should be the responsibility of the Tokyo government which deemed the station’s safety adequate by the country’s new rules. While other local communities have protested the decision, Governor Yuichiro Ito rebuffed them saying they are not part of the legal process for restarts. It should be noted that the below link from Japan Times includes mention of a small fire at Genkai station, 5 kilometers from Sendai. The Times called it a “blaze” but other news outlets said it was merely a smoking circuit breaker – one is posted as an example. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/10/28/national/local-government-gives-ok-restart-sendai-nuclear-power-plant-kagoshima-prefecture/#.VE-bSKN0wdU - http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2014/10/319410.html

  • Residents of Shioya Town, Tochigi Prefecture, have petitioned to stop a proposed rural waste facility. The town is one of five designated for storage of the material generated by decontamination work in the prefecture. The Mayor of Shioya submitted the petition to the Environment Ministry on Wednesday. Shioya has a population of about 12,000, but the petition has some 173,000 signatures from all over Japan. The petitioners claim a permanent storage facility would threaten the town's water supply and accelerate population decline. A resident’s group representative said he expects the Ministry to understand how strongly people feel about the government's plan. The Ministry plans a meeting for the Prefecture’s mayors on November 9th. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141029_33.html

  • The NRA accepted a new earthquake assessment for Oi (Ohi) nuclear station. The Nuclear Regulation Authority approved Kansai Electric’s revised estimate increasing the worst-case quake intensity from 700 gals to 856 gals. The company says the new numbers will cause considerable reinforcement work at Oi, taking as long as a year to complete. The NRA will next examine Kansai’s revised tsunami estimates. In May, a district court ordered Kansai to not restart the two Oi units based on resident’s concerns. The two units were operated through the summer of 2013 without incident, and were the last nukes to have been shut down for the moratorium. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • An Asia-Pacific journalist says restarting Japan’s nukes is “akin to playing Russian roulette”. The article says that Japan’s new regulations should never be compared to other nation’s rules because the country is perennially threatened by massive earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions, and is in the path of mega-typhoons. Although the writer admits the human damage due to the 2011 tsunami was far greater than the nuke accident, it is sloughed off by saying the tsunami refugees “are now pressing ahead with reconstruction plans…But not Fukushima [where] large swaths of the prefecture remain unsettled”. This misleading statement overlooks the undeniable fact that much larger swaths of Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima Prefectures are also unsettled. Rather than continue rebuffing this quite opinionated article, read it yourself and decide… http://japanfocus.org/events/view/231?utm_source=October+27%2C+2014&utm_campaign=China%27s+Connectivity+Revolution&utm_medium=email

October 27, 2014

  • New Industry Minister Yoichi Miyazawa says nukes will be less than 30% of Japan’s energy mix. He told the Press, “We’ll never aim for 30 percent [of electricity generated by nuclear power].” However, it leaves the door open to bring the nuclear percentage up to the 28.6% level that existed before the Fukushima accident. When asked why Tokyo will not plan for a higher nuke input, Miyazawa said, “Some nuclear power plants will be decommissioned in the future.” He implied that building new nukes and/or expanding outputs with existing nukes would be politically difficult. Miyazawa has come under some mild Press pressure because he owns 600 shares of Tepco stock. He said he bought them before 3/11/11 and “I can’t sell the shares under the ministers’ code of conduct. So I will entrust the shares [to a third party].”  http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001666620

  • Initial environmental studies in Miyagi Prefecture were delayed due to local protests. The surveys were planned by Tokyo for the towns of Kami and Taiwa, as well as Kurihara City. A team was sent to Kami on Friday, but was blocked from the site by Mayor Hirobumi Inomata and perhaps 50 residents. Initial work at the other two sites was also called off. The Environment Ministry says the local protest made beginning the siting surveys difficult. One official said, "It's difficult to proceed with our work in a situation like this." The future facilities will be used to dispose of Miyagi-produced waste, including incineration ash, sewage sludge and paddy straw, that has higher than the limit of 8,000 Becquerels per kilogram. It seems the work had not been announced early enough to suit the locals. Mayor Hirobumi said, "We cannot accept any forcible start of surveys."  http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141024_27.html -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2014102400582  A second attempt to begin studies was thwarted on Saturday. This time, some 60 protestors blocked access to the proposed site in Kami, causing the plans for the other two community locations to also be cancelled. All three locations are on government-owned tracts of land. Further, Miyagi governor Yoshihiko Murai accepted the Ministry plans to collect soil samples. At Kami, there was a human blockade of the property access road with chants of “Go Home” and “We’ll never allow the disposal facility”. Protestors fear contamination of the town’s groundwater. One 56 year-old protestor said, "There's no guaranteeing our safety if a final disposal site is built here. We will continue our protest." The 72 year-old head of a local antinuke group said, "The Environment Ministry has no idea how much we're worried about economic damage rumors about this place will cause. I will not let them (the survey team) pass, even at the cost of my life." The Environment Ministry says they will consider forcible removing the protestors if this happens again. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2014102500138 -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20141025p2a00m0na014000c.html

  • Two wells inland of units #1-#4 have reportedly increased contamination levels. From the Press reports, the two wells seem to be part of the sub-drain system around the turbine basement walls which began operation last week. The system is designed to keep groundwater from entering the basements. The pumping of water from the two wells has stopped in order to determine the source of the contamination. Tepco suspects the cause is down-flushing of the Cesium from the upper soil due to recent heavy rainfall. The water pumped from the sub-drains is stored for treatment by the site’s purification systems for eventual discharge to the sea. The two wells previously showed less than 500 Bq/liter of Cesium, but both allegedly rose to at least 450,000 Bq/liter. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html Today (Monday), Tepco has posted the most recent Cesium Isotopic levels (10/25 and 10/26) for the sub-drain wells. The most contaminated well showed a steady decrease over the weekend. On 10/25, Cs-134 and Cs-137 were at 1100 and 3,900 Bq/liter respectively, and on 10/26 the levels were 1000 and 3,700 Bq/liter. This indicates the cause of the increase was, in fact, down-flushing of material from the soil above the water table. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2014/images/around_2u_14102701-e.pdf

  • The decision on indictment of three former Tepco executives has been postponed. The Tokyo prosecutor’s office had planned to decide on the matter by Friday, but said it has been difficult to interview the former Tepco chiefs and all of the needed experts. Last September, the office dismissed a criminal complaint filed by a citizens' group against roughly 30 former TEPCO officials. The citizens’ group refiled under the charge of negligence on the part of the three people facing indictment. The prosecutors said they should be able to make a decision by early February. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • A volcano 64 kilometers from Sendai Station shows increased underground activity. A public warning has been issued to keep sight-seers away from the summit. Mount Ioyama is experiencing small, but continuing tremors. One meteorological official said, “There is an increase in activity that under certain circumstances could even lead to a small scale eruption, but it is not in danger of an imminent, major eruption.” Recent public reaction to the sudden eruption of Mount Ontake, plus critics of the Sendai plants being less than 50 km. from non-erupting Mt. Sukurajima, has brought the nuclear/volcano issue to the fore-front. On Friday, the warning level for the Sakurajima volcano, which erupts frequently, was at 3, which means that people should not approach the peak. http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/agency-warns-of-increased-activity-at-volcano-near-nuclear-plant?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2014-10-25_AM

  • Volcanologists say a worst-case eruption could destroy Japan. Yoshiyuki Tatsumi and Keiko Suzuki of Kobe University say, “It is not an overstatement to say that a colossal volcanic eruption would leave Japan extinct as a country.” They estimate there is a 1% chance it could happen in the next hundred years, adding “It would be no surprise if such a colossal eruption occurs at any moment.” This prediction comes from geological studies of a 23 kilometer-wide crater in southern Kyushu formed about 28,000 years ago. They made no mention of the possible impact of such an eruption on affected nuke plants. http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/colossal-volcanic-eruption-could-destroy-japan-study?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2014-10-27_AM

October 23, 2014

  • Tokyo sent another $880 million to Tepco for evacuee compensation payments. The money came from the government’s Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation. Tepco recently submitted its 33rd request for compensation funds because there were not enough funds remaining to make anticipated disbursements through the end of November. The amount sent to Tepco by the NDF, to date, has been $43.76 billion. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2014/1243341_5892.html

  • Tepco demands that a woman repay $90,000 of her compensation monies. The 21-year-old had planned on going to college before the nuclear accident. She was among the residents forced to evacuate from the exclusion zone around F. Daiichi by government mandate. She enrolled in a Kanto nursing school in April of 2011, and made that her legal residence. She graduated this past spring. Tepco says she decided to enter the college before the nuclear accident, and her period of evacuation ended when she changed her address. In June, her family received a notice to return nearly all of the money for mental anguish, the cost of evacuation, and household effects payments made since she changed her residence. Her family went to Tepco to protest, and Tepco said they would crunch the numbers again. The final bill was received by the family in September. The woman believes she has been wronged and says, "I have no prospects of being able to return home, and my psychological pain continues." The Education Ministry's office on measures for nuclear damage compensation says that, in general, if a person can't return home, then their period of evacuation does not end because of academic advancement. However, the nuclear damage response office within the Agency for Natural Resources and Energy under the Industry Ministry says this is a borderline case in defining whether or not compensation is warranted. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20141023p2a00m0na013000c.html

  • The dismantling of unit #1’s temporary cover has started. The huge structure was erected some three years ago to stop the outflow of radioactive material into the atmosphere. F. Daiichi staff has begun drilling holes in the cover in order to spray in anti-dispersal chemicals. At the end of October, part of the cover’s roof will be removed to find out if radioactive dust is released. Data from surrounding atmospheric monitors will be posted on the Tepco website. When debris was removed from unit #3, locals feared that dust was stirred up and contaminated rice paddies outside the exclusion zone. The unit #1 cover removal has been delayed since July to insure this doesn’t happen with its debris removal.  http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141022_16.html -- http://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2014/201410-e/141022-01e.html (Images of drilling the first hole)

  • The second pair of nukes to restart appears to be Takahama units #3&4. Both are Pressurized Water Reactor systems rated at 870 MWe. Unit #3 began using MOX (mixed oxide) fuel in 2011. MOX contains several percent fissionable Plutonium, in addition to fissionable uranium recovered through the recycling (reprocessing) of used nuclear fuel bundles. Station owner Kansai Electric Co. says they will submit completed tsunami calculations to the Nuclear Regulation Authority as early as next week, making it the most probable restart site after the Sendai nukes resume operation. The NRA has already cleared Takahama for earthquake structural integrity, and the upgraded tsunami data appears to be the only open technical issue remaining. Takahama is located on the Sea of Japan in Fukui Prefecture, more than 200 kilometers west of Tokyo and 5km from the Oi station which is home to the last two nukes to operate in the country. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • The adoption of a petition to restart the Sendai nukes has caused enough local debate to attract Japan’s Press. Many residents support the Satsumasendai assembly decision. One positive comment came from a woman who says the station is a pillar of the local economy. Another resident adds that Japan needs a steady power supply, and that he has toured the Sendai facility and was impressed with the attention to safety. Contrary opinions have also been posted. An elderly woman says officials should take more care so that future generations can live without worries. Another woman says the city assembly has acted too hastily and has not taken the feelings of other Fukui communities into account. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141020_45.html

  • New Industry Minister Yoichi Miyazawa tries to avoid the local Sendai restart issue. He said it is not up to him to say what constitutes local community approval, and that “it is best decided themselves”. There are no laws or regulations to determine the matter. The host city, Satsumasendai, has been besieged by other communities around the plant site since the assembly’s decision. Two municipalities within 30 kilometers of the station submitted safety concerns to Satsumasendai in the form of 10 petitions, but the city’s Assembly rejected them. Miyazawa says his main concern is implementing responsible energy policy, but e does not believe he should intercede in local community disputes. Miyazawa recently replaced Ms. Yuko Obuchi after she resigned due to concerns about her use of funds from political supporter’s groups. http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2014/10/21/japan-industry-minister-leaves-key-term-unclear-in-nuclear-debate/

  • Tepco has begun “hot testing” of its new, improved water purification system. It is a “high performance” version of the pre-existing ALPS systems, and will process about 500 tons per day. When all three systems are operating, F. Daiichi will have a capacity of 2,000 tons per day. The new ALPS will be able to remove all radioactive isotopes to below detectability, including Strontium-90, except for non-hazardous Tritium. The hot tests will run contaminated water through the technology for six hours per day, increasing the duration of operation to 24 hr/day by next week. Also, the new ALPS will produce 90% less radioactive waste material than the two other systems. So far, 158,000 tons of wastewater has been processed by the two prior ALPS systems. For a detailed links explaining all three ALPS systems at F. Daiichi, go to… http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2014/1243241_5892.html

  • Prosecutors must decide on criminal charges against Tepco executives by Friday. Legal experts say the judicial review is unlikely to send the executives to jail, but rehashing the nuke accident could amplify distrust of Tepco and damage Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's effort to restart Japan's nuclear reactors. Last year, Tokyo’s prosecutor’s declined a criminal complaint filed by Japanese residents who said Tepco failed to protect the public. But, a citizen’s review panel reopened the complaint under the notion of criminal negligence. To date, there have been many civil complaints filed against Tepco, and legally rejected. This is the first one to have been reopened. Shin Ushijima, an attorney and former public prosecutor, said, "Prosecutors exhaust all means in their investigations and certainly would have in a special case like this, so if they were convinced they could not prosecute [former Tepco Chairman] Katsumata and the others earlier, they will not reach a decision to indict now. There is a 50 percent chance that some or all of the three ex-Tepco executives will be indicted and 99.9 percent chance those indicted will be found not guilty." http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/10/22/us-japan-nuclear-prosecution-idUSKCN0IB05H20141022?feedType=RSS&feedName=worldNews

  • Former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi says Japan’s nuke regulations are not the best in the world. He told a Tokyo symposium, "The government says Japan has the world's toughest safety standards for nuclear plants, but are they really tough compared with the United States, France or Finland? Not at all." He added that the public will not cooperate in finding a final disposal site for nuclear waste unless Tokyo guarantees a total nuclear abandonment so as “not to increase nuclear waste any more.” This marks a major departure from Koizumi’s previous, albeit unsuccessful, attempts at criticizing PM Shinzo Abe’s regime. Now, he is attacking the Nuclear Regulation Authority, which Tokyo touts as having the toughest nuke safety standards in the world. http://www.4-traders.com/KYUSHU-ELECTRIC-POWER-COM-6491331/news/Kyushu-Electric-Power--Ex-PM-Koizumi-raps-Abes-aim-to-revive-nuclear-power-19236052/

October 20, 2014

  • More than 99% of unit #4’s used fuel bundles have been removed from the damaged building’s fuel pool. As of 10/19/14, the staff at Fukushima Daiichi has safely moved 1342 (87.5%) of unit #4’s 1533 stored fuel bundles to the ground-level common storage facility without incident. Only 11 (<1%) of the original 1331 used (irradiated) bundles remain to be transferred. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/decommision/index-e.html
  • The percentage of evacuees refusing to go home continues to rise. The Reconstruction Agency says the number of dissents to repopulation has risen to almost half in the communities of Namie and Tomioka. This is an 11 point increase from last year for Namie and a 3 point upsurge for Tomioka. Officials say it seems that some of last year’s “undecided” have made up their minds. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • Additional decontamination has begun in Kawauchi village. The specific locations are inside the district Tokyo says is safe for repopulation. The reason for the added cleaning is due to many residents are hesitating because radiation is still detectible, even though exposures will be considerably lower than Japan’s standard for repopulation. Tokyo has identified 23 specific locations for the additional work. Removing top-soils at two vacant houses on Friday lowered exposure 90%, and is now is about a third of a microsievert per hour. This equates to about 3 millisieverts per year which is a typical natural exposure level in the United States. Unbridled fear of radiation, no matter the level, is costing Japan time and money, as well as delaying Fukushima recovery. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141017_29.html

  • Nuclear volcano-phobia is supported by a Tokyo volcanologist. University of Tokyo professor emeritus Toshitsugu Fujii heads a government panel looking into the risks of volcanic activity with respect to nukes. He says it is impossible to predict when volcanoes will erupt, thus it makes no sense to operate nukes near them, “It is simply impossible to predict an eruption over the next 30 to 40 years. The level of predictability is extremely limited… Scientifically, they’re [Sendai station nukes] not safe. If they still need to be restarted despite uncertainties and risks that remain, it’s for political reasons, not because they’re safe, and you should be honest about that.” Sendai is 40 kilometers from the nearest volcano, but Fujii says that an eruption in the far-distant past hadlava flows of 145 kilometers. He said a pyroclastic flow from Mount Sakurajima, an active volcano that is part of the larger Aira Cauldron, could easily hit Sendai station. Fujii feels the impact of the resulting speculated nuclear accident would cause greater problems than the volcanic eruption itself. http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/expert-says-2-sendai-reactors-in-danger-from-active-volcano?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2014-10-18_AM

  • Satsumasendai city approves the Sendai Station restart. Most of the city assembly’s special panel on the issue favored the restart because of a sluggish economy due to the nuke moratorium. Some were opposed because they felt NRA regulations cannot guarantee there will never be a nuke accident. The panel debated petitions both favoring and disapproving resumption of operations. The ten dissident petitions were rejected and the favorable petition was adopted. The full assembly is expected to adopt the positive petition as early as next week. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • Tepco shows its advanced ALPS system to the Press. ALPS is the multi-nuclide removal system that has already successfully treated more than 130,000 tons of wastewater at F. Daiichi. However, the processed water contains detectible levels of five isotopes, including Strontium-90. Fear of Sr-90 has supplanted fear of radioactive Cesium in the Japanese Press over the past several months. The new ALPS equipment will remove all five of the niggling isotopes. In addition, the existing system’s absorption materials are being replaced with resins that will be just as effective. None of the ALPS systems can remove radioactive Hydrogen (Tritium), which is biologically innocuous but will undoubtedly be the main radiophobic concern at some point in the future. Regardless, the total daily purification capacity will be more than 2,000 tons per day when all of them are working in unison. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20141017p2a00m0na007000c.html

  • Greenpeace says electrical distribution problems due to renewable feed-ins are merely a utility company ploy to restart nukes. Greenpeace campaigner Hisayo Takada says, “It sounds inconsistent that a power company says it plans to restart a nuclear plant on the one hand, and on the other says it does not want solar power because there is not enough demand.” He adds that there is no way to verify the power company claims, so they can hide the truth, “If a utility says it can’t transmit solar power on its grid, currently no one can verify the claim because the grid system is a closed box to outsiders.” Hikaru Hiranuma, research fellow at the Tokyo Foundation, agrees with Greenpeace, saying that utilities should not be allowed to control electricity distribution, “[Utilities] can set up barriers to new entrants to the power market, by, for example charging for transmission and imposing penalties for unstable electricity supply. The causes of the emerging problem is not the [Feed In Tariff], but utilities’ failure to prepare for growth in solar power... which raises a question about the utilities’ suitability as business entities.” http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/green-power-floods-japan-grid-as-premium-prices-bite?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2014-10-19_AM

 

October 16, 2014

  • As of 10/14/14, the staff at Fukushima Daiichi has safely moved 1298 (85%) of unit #4’s 1533 stored fuel bundles to the ground-level common storage facility without incident. Only 55 (4%) of the original 1331 used (irradiated) bundles remain to be transferred. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/decommision/index-e.html

  • As of 10/10/14, Tepco has paid-out $43.5 billion (USD) in personal and property compensation to Fukushima evacuees. A full $40 billion has been disbursed to the roughly 75,000 that were ordered to evacuate by Tokyo. $3.5 billion has gone to voluntary evacuees from outside the exclusion zone. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/comp/images/jisseki-e.pdf

  • Japan’s Cabinet Office has created a nuclear accident preparation team. The office will assist local authorities in drawing up emergency plans based on the lessons learned from the Fukushima accident in 2011. Previously, the Cabinet has been an advisor to Japan’s affected municipalities with no-one assigned to the job full time. This has brought harsh criticism from minority politicians in the Diet and most of Japan’s Press. The issue has come to a head with the impending restart of the two-unit Sendai station. As a result, the Cabinet created the new group and drafted about fifty full time persons from the Nuclear Regulation Authority and other relevant government agencies. While the initial focus will be on Sendai, all municipalities needing planning support will be assisted. Support will necessarily vary to meet the specific needs of each municipality. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • Tepco has a reason for the recent upsurge in groundwater radioactivity. In April of 2011, a steady stream of contaminated water was found flowing into one of the equipment tunnels coming out of the unit #2 turbine basement. It was several days before Fukushima staff could stanch the outflow. A considerable amount of contamination must have seeped into the soil above the underground water table, and remained there. Officials say the heavy rainfall from Typhoon Phanfone likely caused radioactive substances in the soil to move down into the groundwater. The typhoon moved off-shore on October 6th. Over the next three days, activity levels increased in several observation wells between the turbine basement and the barricaded shoreline. One of the wells has shown its highest Cesium activity to date. Tepco will increase the frequency of sampling and testing at three of the wells, from twice weekly to daily. It is not known how far from the tunnel the contamination was spread. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • Debris removal for unit #1 might be delayed. Before removal of debris can begin, the massive steel and polyethylene cover around the unit must be at least partially dismantled. But, because debris removal from unit #3 in August, 2013, resulted in detectible rice paddy contamination many kilometers from F. Daiichi, considerable Press and political pressure has occurred to prevent a repeat with unit #1 clean-up. The debris inside the unit enclosure must be removed before stored fuel bundles can be removed. Tepco says they will drill about 50 holes in the enclosure and spray resins inside to keep dust from becoming airborne. Work to remove the debris is scheduled for next March, which marks a several month delay with respect to the initial time-frame. Debris removal is now hoped to begin in 2016. The time-table for fuel removal is still for the spring of 2017, but a change in that schedule is now likely. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html -- http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201410160049

  • A Japanese nuclear expert recommends using the Fukushima Daini as a fast reactor research facility. Nobuo Tanaka, professor at Tokyo University and former executive director of the IAEA, says Japan should definitely restart its reactors to reduce the nation’s reliance on Middle Eastern oil and gas. The Wall Street Journal interviewed Tanaka on their Japan Real Time website. Concerning restarts, Tanaka says, “Japan has almost no natural energy resources. Giving up on nuclear power would put the country’s energy security at risk.” Tanaka also said he is a proponent of fast reactors because they are less prone to meltdowns than the current nuclear fleet, “[Fast reactors] are not necessarily prone to meltdowns, depending on their design. They also burn almost all problematic radioactive materials. What is leftover only needs keeping for 300 years or so. As they don’t need uranium enrichment, they also present less of a proliferation risk…I am suggesting that Tokyo proceed with the development of fast reactors using the Fukushima Daini plant.” He added that F. Daiichi could be decommissioning research facility. http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2014/10/15/japan-could-use-fukushima-to-develop-safer-nuclear-technology/

  • Tokyo is having trouble finding all owners of the land intended for temporary rural decontamination debris storage. Of 2,356 plots within the proposed site, the government has only found 1,269 owners. The environment Ministry has had their staff searching for the property owners, but a significant fraction cannot be found. The ministry says that if the owners are not found, or do not come forward, it will consider using family courts to appoint property administrators. Environment Minister Yoshio Mochizuki said they will send out officials when land owners come forward. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201410150056

  • The governor of Niigata Prefecture says the cause of the Fukushima accident is not fully understood. Governor Hirohiko Izumida is not convinced by conclusions about the accident reported by Tepco and Tokyo. Also, he charges the NRA with a lack of attention to emergency planning. Thus, Izumida says he cannot support the restarts of the two Sendai units in Kagoshima Prefecture, and will not approve any possible resumption of operation of units at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa in his prefecture. He added that because Tepco was responsible for the Fukushima accident, it has no qualifications for operating a nuclear plant in his region. Politicking in Tokyo, Izumida told reporters, “Protecting the residents’ lives and safety is the most important task for me as governor. I don’t even want to discuss a restart.” http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/10/16/national/niigata-governor-says-soon-reactor-restarts/#.VD-2yKN0wdU

 

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