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Fukushima 78...11/10/14-12/8/14


December 8, 2014

  • Tokyo will have Fukushima’s rural contaminated material stored the facility’s land is purchased. Government sources say that companies owning land in Okuma and Futaba have agreed to let the wastes be moved to their plots. Environment Ministry officials say the materials will be transported to two industrial complexes straddling the two towns in advance of purchase agreement closure. It seems the storage will be “rent free” until all financial negotiations are complete. It is expected to take a month to prepare the storage facilities before materials can be shipped, therefore the goal of beginning the transportation process in January may be optimistic. Privately-owned lands are another issue. Owners are scattered throughout the island nation and some have been difficult to contact. In addition, other owners have been hard to identify because of confused inheritance procedures. Meanwhile, local communities currently holding the millions of tons of rural wastes continue to call for the government to remove the packaged debris as soon as possible. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001771695

  • A new thermal decomposition complex will handle contaminated waste and debris. The new facility is in the Shimokawauchi District of Futaba County, and is the second in Fukushima Prefecture; the other is in Iitate village. The facility disposes of waste and debris from wrecked structures caused by the 3/11/11 quake and tsunami. It is located on a 7,400 square meter tract owned by the government and has an incinerator, ash-discharging room and ash storage facility. Waste and debris are crushed and subjected to a temperature greater than 800oC for complete destruction. Exhaust gas is released through a two-stage process for the removal of radioactive Cesium. Other facilities are planned to start in Minamisoma, Tomioka, and Katsurao between March and April. Two units are under construction in Namie and the Warbidaira District of Iitate. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=439

  • Tokyo’s knee-jerk effort to promote unbridled development of renewables hits another snag. Two utilities, Kyushu and Tohoku Electric Companies, report they can only accommodate about 47% of the available renewable-generated electricity. Their reasons have to do with the existing transmission systems. Under the current “feed-in” tariff, renewable energy developers are literally guaranteed that their power will be bought by the utilities at inflated rates, which promise an immediate profit for the sellers. However, the amount of electricity that can now be produced by new, inherently-intermittent solar facilities poses serious risks in frequency and voltage disruptions that could cause power outages. Currently, Kyushu and Tohoku say that if they accept more than ~50% of the available solar-generated electricity, system reliability cannot be guaranteed. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001773622

  • Another lawsuit is filed to try and stop nuke Fukui restarts. Nine plaintiffs from Fukui Prefecture, Osaka, and Kyoto say that the two units at Takahama station and two at Oi station are getting close to restarting, thus there is an “actual and looming risk” of a nuclear accident. They want the four units barred from operation. This comes on the heels of Shiga District Court’s rejection of another court’s ruling that the Oi units would be barred from restart since allegedly insufficient measures had been taken to cover all disaster contingencies. The Shiga court said it is unlikely that Japan’s nuclear regulator (NRA) would make hasty restart decisions. This new suit appears to be yet another attempt by the vocal minority to keep Fukui Prefecture’s nukes from ever operating. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/12/05/national/fresh-suit-filed-in-fukui-over-plan-to-restart-kepco-reactors/#.VIGvJ6N0wdU -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2014/12/325786.html

  • Two roof panels of the unit #1 enclosure have been replaced. The two were removed over the past month to see if any detectible radioactive dust would be released to the atmosphere. Since nothing had been detected, Tepco had the panels put back on. The company will wait until March to remove the entire roof and surrounding structure in order to clear away the debris caused by the March 12, 2011 hydrogen explosion. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141204_22.html

December 4, 2014

  • An esteemed radiation expert is snubbed by the Japanese Press. Dr. Wade Allison of Oxford University made a science-based plea to the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan (FCCJ) yesterday, 12/3/14. There has been nothing in the Japanese Press about this…not even in the typically-balanced Yomiuri Shimbun (Japan’s largest newspaper) and NHK World. The reason? Dr. Allison said nothing scary or frightening about radiation! In fact he contradicts Japan’s ridiculously low, assumption-based radiation standards and instead calls for science-based realism. If something this different from the norm had been spoken by an antinuclear prophet of doom, many (if not most) Japanese press outlets would have made this a top story of the day. I am proud to be an internet colleague of Dr. Allison, and take distinct umbrage with Japan’s Press due to their complete lack of coverage. Dr. Allison has shared a summation of his presentation and graciously allowed me to post it here… http://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/time-for-the-scientific-environmental-and-economic-truth-about-nuclear-power.html A YouTube video of the presentation can be viewed here… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A2syXBL8xG0&list=UUaY31Acbdk1WUQfn304VCZg  A report on Dr. Allison’s presentation has been posted by fellow colleague Rod Adams at Atomic Insights… http://atomicinsights.com/wade-allison-foreign-correspondents-club-japan/

  • A global eco-radiation institute opens in Fukushima University. The Institute was formally established in July, 2013, to study the impacts of radiation from F. Daiichi, but was not in full operation until Wednesday. Takayuki Takahashi, director of the institute, explained its purpose, "With varying factors such as terrain, soil composition, water flow and vegetation, each region is influenced differently by radiation. Rather than conducting symptomatic treatments, we aim to take part in the recovery efforts by clarifying what effects radiation has in a scientific scope.” The Institute has 13 researchers, nine of which are from other countries. The facility has nine highly-sensitive germanium semiconductor units that can detect the most minute concentrations of radioactive isotopes, and an electron microscope that can magnify up 3 million times. Takahashi said, “When we make progress, we will inform the public to give them a better understanding of our work.” http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201412040069

  • JAIF releases details on filling equipment trenches with mortar. The report is posted by the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum. In April, 2014, Tepco began trying to freeze the water in an equipment trench leading from unit #2 to its sea=side water intake structure. It turns out it was not a total failure. 90% of the water did in fact freeze, but about 10% remained liquid. The company next injected filler material into cracks in the trench walls, but that did not stop the water inflow keeping the remaining liquid from freezing. Thus, on November 25th, Tepco began injecting a special mortar that will congeal under the water, while removing contaminated water that is displaced. The mortar takes about 12 hours to harden. It is believed this will eventually seal off the trench from further contaminated water in-flow. http://www.jaif.or.jp/english/news_images/pdf/ENGNEWS01_1417428481P.pdf

  • American Dale Klein says Tepco needs to have a foreign-based safety review. He feels that bringing in nuclear plant operators from outside Japan would provide the added assurance the company needs in order to regain trust. Klein told Reuters, “I would like to see what I call a readiness review. You’ve got regulatory aspects - Do you meet everything? Do you have right training? - and then, I think, because of Fukushima Daiichi, the Japanese public would feel better if another group came in and said operationally they are ready. I have been pushing for that.” Klein added that Tepco is making progress in developing a safety culture modeled after such companies as Toyota to ensure quality. Klein lamented that “it’s going slower than I would like.” http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/tepco-needs-safety-review-from-foreign-nuclear-operators-adviser?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2014-12-03_AM

  • Conditions remain severe in the Japanese nuclear industry. JAIF has posted its annual fact-finding survey of the Japanese nuclear power industry for FY13 (April 2013 to March 2014. JAIF distributed questionnaires to 446 private companies in Japan that have nuclear-related expenditures, sales and workers, and had responses from 263 of them, including 11 utilities, 240 mining and manufacturing companies and 12 trading companies. The comprehensive summary can be found here… http://www.jaif.or.jp/english/news_images/pdf/ENGNEWS01_1417509837P.pdf.

  • Some evacuees fear politicians don’t have their interests in mind. Poet Chikara Kojima, a Katsurao village evacuee, writes, "The senseless radiation that falls on the Futaba region residents robbed them of their homeland, and the people, dispersed with ease, wander aimlessly under far away skies." His wife says that Prime Minister Abe cares more about money than evacuee needs, "The economy is more important to him than what is happening to us evacuees. The politicians have forgotten about Fukushima, about the disaster-hit areas." Katsutoshi Sato, 53, who heads a Shiga Prefecture association for evacuees, says, "Even now there are many people who cannot return to their homes. I want the candidates in this election to face that fact and debate about support policies." There are 235 evacuees living in free housing Shiga Prefecture, which is more than 300 miles from F. Daiichi. Many are concerned they will lose the prefecture’s housing stipend when it comes up for annual renewal after the impending House of Representatives election. One of them, voluntary evacuee Katsutoshi Sato from Soma, says, "Even now there are many people who cannot return to their homes. I want the candidates in this election to face that fact and debate about support policies…In the election [later this month], I want the candidates to clearly lay out what the issues are and specifically say how they will address them. Just chanting 'recovery from the disaster' will not bring our lives back to how they were." http://mainichi.jp/english/english/features/news/20141202p2a00m0na028000c.html (Comment - I think the interview with the two people above is the result of seeking out and finding evacuees that fit the Mainichi Shimbun’s journalistic agenda. If this was really a major issue, other news outlets would be covering it, as well. In addition, voluntary evacuee Katsutoshi Sato could have gone home long ago, but has decided to stay in Shiga Prefecture. Is his complaint really worthy of Press coverage? I think not.)

  • A British scientist tells Japanese antinukes that the United Nations cannot be trusted. Keith Baverstock has a long history of denouncing UNSCEAR and WHO reports on the biological effects of low level radiation exposure. He was brought to Tokyo by a local citizens group. Baverstock told the Asahi Shimbun, one of Japan’s most popular newspapers, that last April’s UNSCEAR report on Fukushima exposures was “not qualified to be called scientific” because it allegedly lacked transparency and independent verification. He called for UNSCEAR to be disbanded.  He argued that exposures to F. Daiichi workers will cause about 50 cancers in the group. Baverstock also suggested an internal conspiracy within the UN to cover up what he calls the truth. http://fukushimaupdate.com/british-researcher-blasts-u-n-report-on-fukushima-cancer-risk-as-unscientific/ (Comment – The wild speculations of a hardened critic of international agencies, such as Baverstock, gets Press coverage in Japan, while the science-based words of an internationally-respected scientist such as Wade Allison gets no coverage at all. This is so wrong that it defies finding words to describe it.)

December 1, 2014

  • Fukushima Medical School Professor Shinichi Suzuki says the reported Fukushima child thyroid cancers differ genetically from Chernobyl’s. 23 of the prefecture’s 103 confirmed thyroid cancer cases underwent additional genetic analysis. The study focused on gene variations in the cancer cells. Observed mutations were the same as those commonly found in Japanese adult thyroid cases. Also, the type of gene variations commonly found among the Chernobyl cases was not detected among any of the 23 analyzed Fukushima cases. Thus, it is highly unlikely that the child thyroid cases specific to post-accident Fukushima children are due to the nuclear accident releases. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=435

  • Tepco has received another $738 million for evacuee compensation. Tokyo’s Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation (NDF) sent the money to cover compensation payments for December. The NDF has thus far supplied more than $43.8 billion. As of November 28, Tepco has paid out nearly $45 billion. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2014/1244500_5892.html -- http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/comp/images/jisseki-e.pdf

  • Japan is confident that all contaminated wastewater will be treated by the end of March. At this point, about 520,000 tons of wastewater is stored at F. Daiichi. Nearly 200.000 tons have been run through the multi-stage isotopic removal systems, including Cesium absorption technology and the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS). Roughly 320,000 tons remain to be treated. The only radioactive isotope that remains after full treatment is biologically-innocuous Tritium. (click on Background Information on Tritium in the left hand column) ALPS can now process 1,500 tons per day, but upgrades will soon bring that to 2,000 tons per day. Tepco says they are still on schedule to meet the end-of-March deadline. Tatsuya Shinkawa, director of the government’s Nuclear Accident Response Office says, “We’ll continue to be vigilant to make sure Tepco meets the deadline.” Nuclear Regulation Authority Chair Shunichi Tanaka adds that the waters must be radiologically cleansed because another big earthquake or typhoon could break the tanks holding liquid yet to be ALPS-treated, sending large amounts of contaminated water into the environment. Tokyo University professor Hiromitsu Ino says that even after all waters are processed, the residual Tritium will not be able to be removed and, “For the real solution, they have to stop the flow of new ground water.” http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2014/11/28/fukushima-watch-japan-confident-it-can-process-all-highly-contaminated-water-by-end-march/

  • Critics say Japan’s new secrecy law could have a negative impact on nuclear plant information during an accident. Tokyo says that nuclear energy information will not be classified as state secrets, implying the critics are wrong. The Mainichi Shimbun counters with a typical appeal to uncertainty and doubt, “Nuclear reactors, however, could be a terrorist target, and as such, there's no guarantee that information about nuclear plants vital to the safety of the Japanese people won't be classified.” Local officials near F. Daiichi seem to support the speculation. Soon after 3/11/11, then-PM Naoto Kan ordered all information on the nuke accident to be run through his office before release. The resulting level of transparency was horrendous. Minamisoma Mayor Katsunobu Sakurai remembers his shock that contamination estimates were withheld for more than two weeks, causing many evacuees to be unnecessarily exposed to radiation. He said, “I’d never seen anything like it,” and fears the secrecy law will make withholding of emergency information possible. Sakurai says he’s worried that information on nuclear accidents and emergencies could again be kept secret, adding, “We'd be in trouble if that ever happened." Namie Mayor Tomotsu Baba is also concerned, "The main principle here is not the protection of secrets, but the release of information" to the people. He stated that SPEEDI and other information "was hidden from us. They [Tokyo] told us that they didn't know how accurate the information was, and that they kept it under wraps to prevent a panic. Well, human lives are far more important than all that. This is a basic issue that comes even before any discussion about whether such information would be classified secret.” http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20141128p2a00m0na016000c.html

November 27, 2014

  • The pouring of cement into a contaminated trench began Tuesday. 80 cubic meters of cement was poured into the trench, but did not increase the water level enough to required removing any of it. Work was then suspended for a month to allow the cement to harden and see if the measure has stopped the inflow of water from the turbine basement. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html  

  • Analysis for Strontium will be greatly sped up. A new water analytical technique has been developed by the combined efforts of Fukushima University, PerkinElmer Japan, the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, and the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology. Currently, analysis for Sr-90 takes at least two days, but the new technology will reduce that time to as little as 30 minutes at a minimum detectability of one Becquerel per liter. Professor Yoshitaka Takagai, team leader at Fukushima University, said, "This system is really quick and handling is very simple as compared with the traditional method. Indeed, we hope it to be useful in preventing the discharge of contaminated water and accelerating the decommissioning of the reactors." new technique is called "inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry" (ICP-MS) which measures differences in mass rather than Beta emission. It will be used in areas where prompt assessment of Strontium90 presence is important. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2014/1244484_5892.html

  • JAIF says the NRA finding of the fault (K) under Tsuruga-2 as active is based on “thin reasoning”. Last week, the Nuclear Regulation Authority judged a fault line running under the nuke unit to be technically active because no one can conclusively prove that it has not moved in the past 120-130,000 years. Japan’s Atomic Industrial Forum sided with Japan Atomic Power Company’s rejection of the finding. The NRA announced the decision without any JAPCO representatives present, which appears like a convenience tactic. JAIF says the NRA finding completely ignored “the massive amount of survey data presented by the JAPC to show no active fault exists.” Further, “…there was scant demonstration of supporting data and interpretations at the meeting indicating the existence of an active fault, casting huge doubt on the ‘scientific fairness’ and ‘open decision-making’ espoused by the NRA.” JAIF makes three key points; (1) K fault includes volcanic ash from around 127,000 years ago representing a clear difference in era, (2) test borings confirmed that the ash accumulation corresponds to the era in which the rock stratum formed, and (3) an intermediate layer exists that has not been affected by the fault line. JAIF adds that the NRA used no evidence to reinforce its decision, although considerable geologic evidence exists to show there has been “no seismic activity there since the Late Pleistocene”. Further, JAIF says the NRA assumption of the K fault connecting to the distant D-1 fracture zone is incorrect. They are entirely different faults which indicates they are not connected. Thus JAIF concludes, “The NRA only mentioned “possibilities” and “inferences,” while failing to demonstrate any concrete evidence or supportive data that would be sufficient to overturn the evaluation that the JAPC had made based on its survey data,” and “All of the NRA’s judgments can be sufficiently rebutted and disproved, and can hardly be described as ‘scientific judgments’ based on the regulatory standards.” http://www.jaif.or.jp/english/news_images/pdf/ENGNEWS01_1416877039P.pdf

  • Rice fields 20 km from F. Daiichi were not contaminated by unit #3 debris removal. Some media reports in Japan speculated that detectible activity in the paddy fields of Minamisoma were “tainted” by radioactive dust stirred up by rubble removal with unit #3. The NRA reports that the levels of radioactivity in the fields were at most 30 Becquerels per square meter, which is far below the limit for arable soils. It is possible the detectable activity came from surrounding soils and trees that remain contaminated by the March 2011 releases from the nuke accident. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141126_31.html

  • Kepco shares some of the requirements for licensing extensions. As we have reported earlier, Kansai Electric Company is considering applying for 20 year extensions of the operating licenses for two Takahama Station units nearing the new 40 year limit. Kepco has revealed some of the inspections required by the NRA’s “stringent” regulations for licensing extensions. The special inspections will include ultrasound tests on the reactor vessels’ welds and eddy current tests on the primary coolant nozzles to identify cracks. There will also be an inspection of the reactors’ containment vessels and their concrete barriers, also for cracks. All monitoring sensors inside the reactor vessel will also checked. The inspections are expected to take several months and the results could be known by early spring. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/11/26/national/kepco-wants-extend-lifespan-40-year-old-takahama-reactors-60-years/#.VHXsJqN0wdV

  • A lawsuit against Takahama and Oi restarts has been rejected. About 180 residents in the nearby prefectures of Shiga and Kyoto and elsewhere had filed the petition about 4 reactors at the Ohi and Takahama nuclear power plants. They pled that Otsu District Court says quakes and tsunami can be worse than anticipated and nukes should not be allowed to restart. Judge Yoshihiko Yamamoto said it is unlikely the NRA will be overly hasty in allowing the reactors to resume operation, dismissing the residents’ claim. He said here is no need to bar the restarts. Yamamoto added that the units will not be restarted until all NRA screenings are finished and emergency plans are completed. The Otsu court decision contradicts an earlier Fukui court decision that the Oi units should not be restarted because electric plants are “merely a tool for generating electricity and thus inferior to people’s fundamental rights.” One petitioner said the court’s finding to leave the restart decision to the NRA is unjust. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/11/27/national/suit-against-fukui-reactor-restarts-fails/#.VHcZ0KN0wdU --  http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

November 24, 2014

  • Tsunami clean-up inside the Fukushima exclusion zone has finally begun. On Friday, 11/21/14, work on dismantling the ships beached by the 3/11/11 tsunami started. There are about seventy stranded vessels, mostly fishing boats; 62 in Namie, six in Tomioka, and one each in Minamisoma and Naraha. Cranes are being used to remove cabins and other open deck structures as the first step. The Environment Ministry plans to have the project done by the end of March. Similar efforts have been completed in Miyagi and Iwate Prefectures, but nothing had previously been done inside the exclusion zone due to contamination concerns. However, it seems that there is so little radioactivity on the ships that the Ministry feels there will be no problem with dismantling and disposing the waste materials. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/recovery/AJ201411210063 -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2014112100403

  • The first public evacuation drill in Fukushima Prefecture occurred on Saturday. It took place in Kawauchi Village, roughly 30 km southwest of F. Daiichi. More than 250 residents and about 1,000 local government officials took part in the exercise. The mock scenario was unit #3 at F. Daiichi having a prolonged loss of spent (used) fuel pool cooling due to an earthquake of “upper 6” on Japan’s scale, roughly similar in magnitude to 3/11/11. Japan’s scale runs from 0 (least intensity) to 7 (worst-possible intensity). The scenario assumed that radioactive materials were released, causing Kawauchi to register a 20 microsievert per hour radiation exposure level. (~175 millisievert/year) Residents evacuated to Tamura and Koriyama, while 27 students at an elementary school were moved to Tamura.  http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001738983  

  • Tepco will stop equipment tunnel water inflow with cement. Their unsuccessful freezing effort ended earlier this month and did not stop the inflow from the attached turbine building basements. Tepco made the formal announcement to the Nuclear Regulation Authority on Friday. The trench of most concern runs about 60 meters from unit #2 to its seawater intake structure, holding 5,000 tons of highly contaminated water. The company told the NRA they want to pour cement into the tunnel and remove contaminated water at the same flow rate as the cement pour. It seems Tepco will first fill the deepest part of the trench with concrete and see if that stops the inflow of water. If not, they will continue filling the tunnel. Tepco estimates that 1-3% of the contaminated water will mix with the concrete and become part of the hardened mass. The NRA questioned if the new plan would work and voiced concerns about cracks forming once the cement hardens. One commissioner asked why they didn’t do this in the first place. The other trench of concern runs from unit #3 to its intake structure and holds about 6,000 tons. Tepco says they should have both tunnels finished by January so they can complete building the frozen wall around the four units. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20141122p2a00m0na015000c.html

  • Kansai Electric Co. continues to weigh licensing extensions. Tokyo has told all Japanese utilities to decide whether or not to apply for license extensions for the units at or near the post-Fukushima 40 year limit on operations. Kepco has two units at the Takahama station that should be the first to be considered. Tokyo says the decision must be made by next July. Kepco President Makoto Yagi says they will base their decision on a 20-year economic forecast and whether or not the units will turn a profit during that period. Fukui Prefecture’s Governor Issei Nishikawa says local governments should also be involved in the process. He says, “Local governments, as well as utilities, have to check the decommissioning process and this will require funding. Where will midterm storage facilities be built? Where will a final storage facility for the spent fuel and nuclear waste be located? It’s necessary for the central government to be deeply involved.” Also to be considered is $200 million per year in state subsidies that the local communities will lose if the units are scrapped. Then there’s the general negative feelings toward nuclear plants expressed by most of the prefecture’s public. Further, if the units are to be restarted, the emergency planning and local consent issues must be resolved. In addition, the antinuclear entities want their say. Aileen Mioko Smith of Green Action, a Kyoto-based anti-nuclear lobby, said, “It is particularly unconscionable for the Abe government to open the way for old reactors to operate when the Fukushima accident is ongoing.” http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/11/23/national/kepco-weights-new-lease-life-geriatric-reactors/#.VHMvF6N0wdU

November 20, 2014

  • A Tokyo single mother laments her “radiation panic” over Fukushima. Yuka Shirai of Tokyo’s Tama district was mentally devastated by the quake and news of by the tsunami of 3/11/11. The next day, the nuclear accident became the lead news story across Japan. Shirai, who runs a self-owned seminar planning business, fell into a radiophobic panic. She writes, “I had a nervous breakdown; all I could think about was the situation at the nuclear power plant and radiation pollution, and I was always gathering information about it every waking hour… I couldn't shake my anxiety. I felt dizzy, had headaches, weakness, and was constantly harried by heart palpitations. My physical condition was at its worst.” She got all of her information from internet sources, social media, and like-minded people she met on the web. Shirai says, “The information sources were all people who were becoming well-known by spreading dark and tragic information. There were a lot of different people, from anonymous sources to university professors and researchers. Looking back on it, I think I believed a lot of strange people, but at the time, I thought they were right. As for people labeled as “government scholars” who were disseminating accurate information, I was certain they were wrong, and I ignored them.” Shirai’s anxieties also affected her family, “For my food, I only used ingredients from places far from Tohoku, such as Western Japan, Hokkaido, or overseas. I stockpiled large quantities of rice that was harvested before the nuclear accident. I'm a single mother, and I not only forced my kids to wear masks to school, I also raised questions to the Board of Education regarding the safety of their pools and school lunches. My kids resisted, and I fought with them every day. But even then, I was certain that I was correct and ignored how my kids felt. Every day, I gathered inaccurate information and disseminated it myself.” She came to realize she had become very discriminatory when she saw how poorly Fukushima refugees in her community were being treated. Her road to recovery has not been easy, but she feels much better now. Her biographical piece is fairly long, but well worth reading in its entirety. It gives us first-hand insight as to the devastating psychological and social effects of radiophobia in Japan. http://www.gepr.org/en/contents/20120507-03/

  • A minor water leak was discovered at Ikata nuclear station, Ehime Prefecture. Workers found traces of leakage on piping insulation in the wastewater treatment building for unit #2. The system solidifies concentrated low-level radioactive wastewater by mixing it with asphalt. It is estimated that 34 grams of dried leakage accumulated beneath the insulation, containing boric acid and Cobalt-60. The radioactivity was 1/500th of the level required for reporting to the government. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141118_39.html

  • Tokyo has passed a bill insuring Fukushima’s rural rad-waste storage will be temporary. The bill requires the government to have a final disposal site selected and operating in 30 years. Tokyo is currently acquiring sites adjacent to F. Daiichi in the communities of Okuma and Futaba for temporary storage of material generated by Fukushima Prefecture’s decontamination projects. The government hopes to start transporting existing material to the temporary facility in January. The interim facility will be run by Japan Environmental Safety Corp. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2014111900364

  • Tokyo’s nuke watchdog says a seismic fault runs under the Tsuruga station, Fukui Prefecture. The geological seam in question runs under unit #2, an 1160 MWe Pressurized Water Reactor system. A Nuclear Regulation Authority seismic panel had judged the seam as potentially seismic in May of last year, but station owner Japan Atomic Power Company disputed the judgment and submitted additional data. The NRA panel says they considered the new JAPCO data, but found that it could not prove that the seam under the station would not move at some point over the next 120-130,000 years. The panel based this on the possibility that the crease under Tsuruga may connect to a known seismic fault in the region. Actually, there is no proof the seam under unit #2 is not connected to the seismic fault, but the panel assumed it is. JAPCO President Taiki Ichimura described the decision as a “unilateral assumption” and was confident that it could be proven incorrect. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001733453

November 17, 2014

  • Radioactive water continues to seep into some equipment tunnels. Tepco says the attempt to stop the inflows from the connected turbine building basements does not appear successful. Plugging cracks with concrete at the points of inflow in the tunnels ended more than a week ago, but the problem remains, at least in part. If the inflow had completely stopped, the removal of 200 tons of water would have lowered the level in the trench by ~80 centimeters. However, it only dropped about 21 cm. The water is either coming from the turbine building/tunnel interface or groundwater is flowing in. Tepco says they will monitor the situation and do what they need to do, including possibly filling the tunnels with concrete if the problem persists. It should be noted that the Press continues to reinforce the questionable worst-case scenario that the contaminants are flowing from the tunnels and into the sea with groundwater. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141114_05.html -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20141118p2a00m0na005000c.html
  • Fukushima‘s new governor wants all of the prefecture’s nukes scrapped. Governor Masao Uchibori met with industry minister Yoichi Miyazawa today and said he would like all of his prefecture’s nukes decommissioned, including the four fully-functional units at F Daini. He also urged Tokyo to take the lead in all decommissioning efforts. Miyazawa said there are no government procedures for compulsory decommissioning of functional units and that the decisions concerning F. Daini are up to the station’s owner, Tepco. Uchibori also wants a thorough explanation of Tokyo’s plans for the temporary storage of rural radioactive material in Okuma and Futaba. He stressed the need for close communication between the central government, Fukushima Prefecture, the affected towns, and local landowners. Tokyo wants to have plans in place for material transportation by the end of the year. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html - http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141117_26.html

  • The family of another suicide victim plans to sue Tepco. One month after 3/11/11, Tokyo ordered Iitate Village evacuated. 102 year-old Fumio Okubo chose to commit suicide rather than follow the government’s orders. Now, the family has plans to file a $260,000 lawsuit claiming Tepco culpable for Fumio’s death. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141114_30.html (comment - While the man’s death is tragic and Japanese law allows for this kind of compensation, the culpable party is the one that ordered the evacuation – the Tokyo government under the antinuclear Prime Minister, Naoto Kan.)

  • 2,800 Iitate evacuees want more money. The village, located 40-50 kilometers from F. Daiichi, remains evacuated and decontamination continues. About half of the pre-accident population feels they are not being adequately compensated for mental anguish, so they have filed with an arbitrator to try and have their monthly stipend tripled to more than $3,000. In addition, they want another $172,000 per person because they believe their lives have been ruined. The residents say that the prolonged evacuation is splitting local communities and families, plus the community’s history is being threatened. The group’s legal representative, Kenichi Hasegawa, says the evacuees feel this is the only way to fully express their anger over the prolonged government-mandated emigration. They want their lives back, but are not optimistic. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141114_34.html

  • Japan Atomic Industrial Forum posted summaries of recent developments. Topics for this week include Kansai Electric planning for a licensing extension, Shimane nuke station completes an emergency “base isolation” facility, Tepco’s removal of a second unit #1 roof panel, improved safety plans at Hamaoka Station are delayed by a year, and a new low-voltage mobile power source for Tohoku Electric Company. http://www.jaif.or.jp/english/news_images/pdf/ENGNEWS01_1416185623P.pdf

November 13, 2014

  • Tepco embraces Woods Hole Oceanographic’s (WHOI) report on Pacific Ocean Cesium content. WHOI says the waters off the coast of North America show very little Cs-134, the isotope used to identify radioactivity from the Fukushima accident. The research group says the concentrations are "well below what is thought to be of human health or fisheries concern." WHOI researcher, Ken Buesseler says the levels have no impact on the human body, or and shellfish. The analyzed activity of less than 2 Bq/m3 is more than 1,000 times lower than drinking water limits established by the US EPA. (aside – Who drinks seawater? – end aside) Buesseler added that someone swimming in the water would be exposed to radioactivity "1,000 times less than a single dental X-ray. It will not deter me from swimming in the Pacific,” and Cesium "does not bio-accumulate [in fish and shellfish] the way many other elements do, like mercury." http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2014/1243939_5892.html

  • The question of where land-deposited Cesium is going, may have been answered. University of Tokyo’s Toshihiro Kogure and his team studied soil samples from Iitate Village, Fukushima Prefecture. They found that most of the deposited Cesium was contained in the soil’s black mica. Mica is a common mineral found in most types of rock. Granite in Fukushima prefecture contains the mineral, and tiny pieces flake off from weathering. Kogure’s study identifies that much, if not most of the radioactive Cesium is trapped in the mica and may spur ideas on how to remove it. The team says they don’t know why the Mica entraps the Cesium. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141111_09.html

  • More post-accident transcripts have been released by Tokyo. Unlike the release of Masoa Yoshida’s and Naoto Kan’s testimonies last summer, there has been very little Press about the latest releases in Japan. On Wednesday, the government disclosed another 56 testimonies taken by the Diet’s independent nuclear accident investigation panel (NAIIC). Tokyo has now released 75 testimonies, but roughly 700 continue to be sequestered. One of the latest released testimonies comes from Manabu Terata, aide to then-PM Naoto Kan. Terata mostly parroted his boss’ rationale for Kan’s infamous invasion of F. Daiichi the morning of March 12, 2014. Terata said Kan’s move was ill-advised, but in keeping with his character. He added that he wasn’t optimistic about what kind of impact the visit would have on emergency actions at the plant. Terata also said, “[Kan] appeared to be quite menacing, and he was speaking in an extremely harsh tone of voice.” Another testimony, by Hidehiko Nishiyama of NISA, concerned whether or not he said anything about meltdown early-on in the crisis, “There was no denying the possibility of meltdowns occurring there, but I did not use words such as meltdown.” Another testimony, this time made by Atsuo Tamura of the Science and Technology Ministry who was sent to Fukushima Prefecture, says, “I was convinced [the facility’s] reactor cores had been damaged, judging from the fact that, even prior to March 12, high concentrations of iodine and cesium had been detected [around the nuclear facility].” http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001716505 (comment - So, who ordered meltdown to be a forbidden topic at press conferences? I’ve repeatedly reported that it was Naoto Kan who ordered Tepco to stop speaking about meltdown on March 12, and have all press statements cleared by his cabinet before release. Now, the non-transparency plot thickens. It wasn’t only Tepco that was withholding the information (as all antinuclear sources allege), but it was government spokespersons, as well. Only one person could have muzzled everyone – Kan!!)

  • Japan’s nuke watchdog will consider a formal public objection to the Sendai station restarts. The document was signed by 1,400 citizens from across Japan, roughly .001% of the country’s population. The objection contains the usual antinuclear complaints, including insufficient safety systems to protect against worst-case earthquakes, inability to confirm that emergency evacuation plans will actually work to protect the public, and restarting at this point-in-time is unacceptably hasty. The NRA says they will consider the objection. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20141112_29.html

  • Kansai Electric is set to apply for licensing extensions on two units. Two Pressurized Water Reactors at Takamara station are approaching their politics-based 40 year lifetimes. One will be 40 by the end of the week, the other next November. KEPCO plans to ask for the allowed 20 year extensions. The company expects high returns on the money it will invest to meet the new regulations for extended licensing. Tokyo says it will allow the 20-year extension on conditions that plant operators conduct special inspections and upgrade safety measures. KEPCO is the first utility to announce plans for extensions, pursuant to Tokyo’s October request that companies decide on either lifetime extension or commitment to decommissioning for seven units approaching age 40. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20141113p2a00m0na001000c.html

  • Fukushima farmers continue to suffer from consumer radiophobia. Date City farmers produced 210,000 shipping-bags of rice this year, all of which met the Prefecture’s self-imposed 60 Becquerels/kg limit. The national standard is 100 Bq/kg. Regardless, market sales lag pre-accident levels by hundreds of millions USD. Another item, dried persimmons, has had a more difficult time. Although last year’s fruit met the local standard, drying concentrated radioactive isotopes by up to a factor of five and kept the item from being sold. None of fruit from the area’s 250,000 trees could be marketed. But, this year some of the dried persimmons have met the standard. Only time will tell if consumer radiophobia will hurt sales. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclearwatch/20141112.html

November 10, 2014

  • A second roof panel has been removed from the unit #1 temporary enclosure. The roof is comprised of six such poly sheets. The first panel was taken off last month and Tepco waited to see if any radioactive dust would be released before removing the second. So far, no detectible releases have occurred. Tepco will continue monitoring for about another month now that the opening has been doubled. If nothing is detected, full-scale enclosure dismantling will begin in March. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html   Pictures of the removal of the second roof panel can be found here… http://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2014/201411-e/141110-01e.html
  • American safety consultant Dale Klein praised the milestone of completing the used fuel removal from F. Daiichi unit #4. The former US Nuclear Regulatory Commission chair said, "Tepco is to be congratulated for this success. The processes used in planning for and successfully executing this complex year-long effort demonstrated that Tepco is incorporating concepts from its new safety culture into its work. As attention shifts to the other units this is not the time to become complacent, as challenges will be even greater, but I am confident that Tepco and its partners are approaching them appropriately." Tepco CEO Naomi Hirose echoed Dr. Klein’s sentiments, "This is a great achievement by our workers and the partners with whom we are collaborating.” He added, “They combined brilliant engineering with hard work to make this operation possible, and to execute it flawlessly and safely.” http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2014/1243876_5892.html

  • Sendai station has the required local support for restart. Kagoshima Prefectural Assembly passed a petition to resume operations and Governor Yuichiro Ito agree soon after. The Assembly’s extraordinary meeting was continually disrupted by about 200 prefecture residents, and the announcement of the petition’s passage was barely audible above the shouts of the angry audience. The protestors were loud, boisterous, and well-orchestrated. Their complaints included fears of a volcano causing another nuke accident, claims that the decision is hasty and not well-considered, the public’s feelings on the matter are being ignored, and assertions that evacuation plans are inadequate. After his approval was granted, Governor Ito said, “The plans drawn up by the central government for evacuation are concrete and logical.” Mayor Seiichi Tabata of nearby Ichikikushikino strongly disagreed with the governor, claiming that his constituency lives within the 30km emergency planning zone and their input was not sought, thus safely evacuating Ichikikushikino would not be possible. The assembly vote was not unanimous, however. One official stated, “The Sendai nuclear power plant has not been shown to be completely safe. It’s too soon to draw a conclusion.” About a dozen citizens from Fukushima Prefecture were in attendance and voiced similar dissent. One said, "The disaster taught us that there's no such thing as a safe nuclear power plant, and that humans and nuclear power can't coexist." Another dissenter complained, "We are seeing one fait accompli after another. I don't want the children and grandchildren of the future to have to pay the price."  http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/regional-authorities-ok-restart-of-sendai-nuclear-plant -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2014/11/07/national/kagoshima-assembly-oks-restart-two-sendai-reactors/#.VF0HU6N0wdV -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001702392 -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20141107p2a00m0na021000c.html

  • Minamata disease victims also oppose the Sendai restart. The ailment has nothing to do with radiation, but is actually an effect of Mercury ingestion. The town of Minamata is about 60km north of Sendai station in Kumamoto Prefecture. An antinuclear group called “Stop restarting nuclear plants Minamata”, was formed in September by eight town residents including three with the disease. The group’s anti-Sendai complaints have been given major news coverage by the Asahi Shimbun and the Nuclear Information Resource Service. Group head Koichiro Matsunaga argued,  “If they miss the danger of nuclear plants because of economic priorities, they have not learned the lessons from Minamata disease. While human lives should take priority, the priority has been placed on corporate profits. (The government) has not learned lessons from Minamata and Fukushima.” He added that evacuation planning is insufficient and Tokyo cannot guarantee people’s security. NIRS cites a similar feeling on the part of Aileen Mioko Smith, executive director of Green Action, who says, “The Kagoshima Governor has failed to learn the lessons of Fukushima and to act to protect the interests of the people of his region.” NIRS also reports that Kumamoto Prefecture feels they should be involved in the Sendai decision, even though none of the prefecture is inside the 30km evacuation zone. Kumamoto wants the NRA to issue regulations for radiation exposure outside of 30 km and Tokyo to provide financial support for evacuees should an accident occur. The government has not responded to any of this.  http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201411090008 -- http://www.nirs.org/fukushima/greenactionprsendai11714.pdf

  • A Tochigi Town’s Mayor rejects Tokyo’s siting plan for the Prefecture’s rural radioactive material disposal. Shioya Mayor Kazuhisa Mikata met with other mayors and Environment Minister Yoshio Mochizuki concerning the planning process. Mikata said he opposes the planning because "The disposal facility could threaten the town's survival. ... Such waste should be treated intensively in the most contaminated areas." He wants all of the prefecture’s accumulated radioactive material taken to Fukushima Prefecture for final disposal. However, Minister Mochizuki dismissed the mayor's demand, saying, "Our idea that such waste should be disposed of in various prefectures remains unchanged. We can't place any more burden on Fukushima Prefecture." Tochigi Gov. Tomikazu Fukuda wants the highest level materials separated from wastes with the lesser activity, and also does not want the prefecture’s future facility listed as “final”. Mochizuki said the suggestion will be considered. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20141110p2a00m0na005000c.html

  • The Japan News (Yomiuri Shimbun) has posted a listing of nuke safety check status with all 13 of the nation’s stations. It seems the nukes at the top of the restart list are all Pressurized Water Reactor systems. However, Boiling Water reactor sites are included in the listing. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0001704865

 

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