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Fukushima 83... 3/19/15-4/9/15


April 9, 2015

Woods Hole Oceanographic Inst. And Canada’s Fukushima InFORM announced the first traces of Fukushima Cesium detected at the North American Pacific shoreline. There was considerable Press coverage in Japan. The amounts detected are 1.4 Becquerels per ton of water (~0.0014 Bq/liter) for Cesium 134, and 5.8 Bq/ton (~0.0058 Bq/l) for Cs-137. For comparison, Canada’s limit for drinking water is 10,000 Bq/ton. Below are summations the respective Woods Hole and InFORM announcements, followed by examples of the type of coverage given by the Japanese Press. Links are provided.

  • Woods Hole Program Chief Ken Buessler said this is not unexpected, "Today's report is not alarming at all. It's kind of to be expected. We knew four years later it would be reaching our shoreline, and we had seen it offshore, and these numbers are quite small. As an example, even if they were twice as high and I was to swim there every day for an entire year, the dose I would be exposed to is a thousand times less than a single dental X-ray.” The discovery was made from a sample taken at Ucluecet, on the west coast of Vancouver Island, on February 19th.  http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/fukushima-radiation-measured-on-b-c-shore-for-1st-time-1.3022565

  • InFORM says the sample from Ucluecet and its analysis were part of its monitoring program. They agree with Woods Hole that the discovery was not unexpected, and, “These levels of 137Cs and 134Cs are well below internationally established levels that might represent a danger to human or environmental health.” They also point out that the detected level of Cesium is within the expected range. http://fukushimainform.ca/2015/04/06/fukushima-contamination-detected-at-shoreline-in-british-columbia/

  • Some of the Japanese Press makes their coverage on the discovery objective. NHK World says the detected levels are “well below the internationally set level at which human and marine life can be affected.” Jiji Press says “The detected amount of radioactivity is ‘well below internationally established levels of concern to humans and marine life,’ according to the institute [Woods Hole].” http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150407_16.html -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2015040700346

  • Other Japanese Press sites make statements seemingly intended to maintain public radiation angst. For example, Japan Today says the levels are “too low to pose a significant threat to human or marine life”, meaning that some risk allegedly remains. Perhaps the most provocative spin comes from Jim Corbett’s Fukushima Update, which says, “those of us in the alternative media have been warning about this for years and yet the msm [main stream media] is still taking the ‘nothing to see here’ position even when the proof has been handed to them on a silver platter. And what’s the lesson we can learn from this for today? Throw out your TV and don’t eat the fish!” Fukushima Update is published out of Tokyo, and touts itself as having “neither a pro- nor anti-nuclear agenda and no axes to grind”.  http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/radiation-from-fukushima-disaster-detected-off-canadas-coast -- http://fukushimaupdate.com/radiation-from-fukushima-has-reached-the-bc-coast/

Now... back to Fukushima.

  • Tepco considers evaporation and deep geological release for tritiated water. Hundreds of thousands of tons of contaminated water have been successfully run through the multi-step radionuclide removal processes at F. Daiichi. The only radioisotope that remains in these liquids is Tritium. Although Tritium is biologically innocuous at even the highest concentrations found at the plant site, fear of radiation and its significant negative impact on the market for seafood has local fishermen fighting against releasing the harmless waters into the sea. A general lack of trust in the company and the government exacerbate the situation. Tepco has already considered the costly process of stripping the Tritium from the waters using a technology developed by the Kurion Company. Now, natural evaporation and deep geological release are being pondered, in addition. But, experts experienced in these matters have their doubts with the evaporation notion. Tepco’s American advisor Dale Klein says the evaporation method was successfully used after Three Mile Island, but the volumes involved were much, much less than with Fukushima, "They have huge volumes of water so they cannot evaporate it like they did at Three Mile Island. If they did it would likely be evaporated, go out over the ocean, condense and fall back as rainwater. There's no safety enhancement." He adds that Tepco must eventually make an unpopular decision on what to do with the waters. US NRC Chairman Stephen Burns hs visited Japan and  agreed with Klein, saying, “I think they [Tepco] will need to make that decision.” http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/04/08/japan-fukushima-water-idINKBN0MZ0X620150408

  • Japan’s Business Federation (Keidanren) calls for up to 25% nuke generation. Keidanren surveyed 169 companies in January and February, with 88 replies. They found that 80% expect to lose profits if the current increases in electricity rates continue. To stop this foreboding trend, the companies said the government should introduce energy-saving products and expedite the restart of nuclear plants. What might happen if the current cost-trend continues? 56% said they would have to reduce domestic operations and 43% said they would consider moving overseas. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/keidanren-survey-businesses-affected-adversely-by-rising-power-rates/

  • Industry Minister Miyazawa doubts Japan's renewable energy goals. The Environment Ministry has said that renewables can provide up to 35% of Japan’s energy demand in the future. Miyazawa has his doubts because of the high cost of electricity produced from renewables. The Environment Ministry has cautioned, however, that their projection has not considered the feasibility of Japan producing the kind of technology needed to achieve the 35% goal. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • Tepco announces their newest robot will soon examine inside the unit #1 Primary Containment Vessel. It will be the first visual, thermal, and radioactive survey within the PCV. Radiation levels inside the PCV prohibit people from going inside, so a special robot that can change shapes to fit through tight confines has been developed. The robot will take its snake-like form and pass through a pipe to get inside the containment. It will then transform to its rectangular configuration and move around the reactor vessel pedestal on the first floor personnel grating. It will cover about 270o of the space. A Tepco official says the robot will not be able to go inside the pedestal below the RPV because the access is under water. The linked Tepco handout has pictures of the robot and numerous graphics to show what is planned. The linked Mainichi Shimbun article is representative of coverage by the Japanese Press.  http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2015/images/handouts_150406_01-e.pdf -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150407p2g00m0dm031000c.html

  • Nearly 40% of Fukushima Prefecture’s new radiation monitors experienced start-up problems last week. Two of the glitches resulted in devices reading about 1,000 times higher than what was actually the case. The two are located in Minamisoma and Date. It is not felt that the devices themselves were the cause of the problem. Rather, the data transferal system was at fault. The prefecture says they waited on reporting the readings because the system was in a test phase and they wanted to see whether or not the fata was reliable. Due to the recent furor over Tepco’s non-reporting of radiation fluctuations in F. Daiichi rainwater run-off, a prefectural representative said, "We thought we would make a public announcement after investigating the cause [of the high readings]. We should have done so at the time we were first aware of the abnormality." http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150408p2a00m0na010000c.html

  • An old nuclear accident worst-case scenario is unearthed in Tokyo. The Foreign Ministry had a worst-case-scenario study run in 1984 after Israel had bombed a reactor construction site in Iran. The speculative conclusion was that if a similar bombing occurred on a Japanese nuke and caused a prolonged full-station blackout, Hydrogen generated by the overheated core could cause an explosion that could compromise the primary containment, potentially killing 18,000 people due to radiation exposure of there was no evacuation. The Tokyo Shimbun says the findings were kept secret to prevent provoking antinuclear sentiment in the public. Hideyuki Ban of the antinuclear Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center said, “The report should have not been held secret. [The government] should publicize it and consider how it can protect [nuclear power plants].” http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/04/08/national/1984-report-warned-attack-nuclear-power-plant/#.VSUj6KMcQdU

  • Discover Magazine asks if low-level radiation is good for people. The article focuses on the phenomenon of hormesis with low level radiation exposure. Evidence showing a clear threshold level of exposure exists, below which there are no biologically observable adverse effects (NOAEL). However, exposures below NOAEL show slight, statistically-evident beneficial effects. The Discover article explains the possibility in understandable fashion. http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/crux/2015/04/06/small-radiation/#.VSWvLFyWEyG

April 6, 2015

  • Nahara evacuees can now stay at home 24 hours/day. Today, Tokyo began allowing interested town evacuees to stay at home around the clock, in preparation to lifting the evacuation order. The measure will last three months. Roughly 7,500 Nara residents have been living elsewhere since the 2011 order was mandated. It is not known how many will take advantage of the opportunity, but the initial numbers are disappointing. So far, Tokyo says 182 0f the 2,700 households have applied for the allowance. Many town residents say they are still concerned about radiation exposure and are waiting until all infrastructure has been restored. One returnee said there are no medical facilities or stores in operation, as yet. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • Oil Price.com says a return to nukes may be Japan’s only option. While new safety regulations and strong public antinuclear sentiment make the revival difficult, Japan’s ruling party realizes that ending the current moratorium could solve several pressing problems. In general, by having nuclear supply 20% of Japan’s electricity, the current trade deficit will literally vanish. In 2010, the country had a trade surplus of $65 billion, but that reversed to a $112 billion deficit in 2013. For example, since the start of the moratorium, Japan has spent $270 billion on coal; a 58% increase. At this point, Japan is the world’s largest importer of LNG, second biggest importer of coal, and stands third with oil imports. Whether or not the government’s 20% goal will be reached remains to be seen. http://oilprice.com/Alternative-Energy/Nuclear-Power/A-Return-To-Nuclear-May-Be-Japans-Only-Option.html

  • The Industry Ministry is thinking about a renewables goal to surpass nukes by 2030. While the ministry’s nuke goal is 20%, some officials believe nuclear generation will be greater than 20% by that year. In 2013, renewables accounted for 10.7% of Japan’s electricity, with most from hydro-electric. The government has financially boosted wind and solar, and is considering doing something similar for geothermal and biomass. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2015040600613

  • Radioactive water was found on a waste container lid at F. Daiichi. Although the Press is calling it yet another leak, it appears that it is merely a pool of from either the container vent opening, rainwater, or condensation. There are roughly 670 filled liquid waste material containers inside a storage building at the nuke station, each with a volume of about 3.2 cubic meters. The suspect liquid was first speculated to be a leak from the container, but it was subsequently found that there was no seepage. The ~6.5 gallons of liquid were found to have about 3 million Becquerels per liter of Beta activity, and 8,700 Bq/l of Cesium. These levels are more than ten-thousand times lower than raw wastewater from the plant basements. Later in the day, another container was found to have about a liter of water on its lid. There was no release of radioactive water outside the storage building. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • Half of the landowners in Okuma and Futaba are unknown. The roadblock to 30-year storage of rural low level wastes is gaining the land to build the 16km2 facility which will overlap both towns. There are roughly 2,400 owners of the property, and gaining access to the land is a huge headache. To date, negotiations between Tokyo and landowners have been at an impasse. The problem is exacerbated by the government being unable to find the about 1,200 of the owners. Government sources say the problems are two-fold. On one hand, many evacuees from the towns have been tough to contact. But, a more pressing issue is that many of the property deeds have not been renewed for more than 150 years, so identification of current ownership is very difficult. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/04/05/national/half-of-owners-of-fukushima-land-for-site-to-store-radioactive-soil-are-unknown/#.VSEhUaMcQdU -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2015/04/345343.html

  • Tokyo is hesitant to charge Tepco for voluntary evacuee rent compensation. Under the Disaster Relief Act, both government-mandated and voluntary evacuees have been provided rent-free apartments as temporary residences. Tepco pays covers rent for Tokyo-ordered evacuees, but Tepco will not pay for voluntary evacuee apartments. It seems the law says the company at-fault must eventually pay for all government costs with respect to recovery. But, the issue of cost recovery for voluntary evacuees is unclear because it has not happened before. The Industry Ministry agrees with Tepco on the matter, so Tokyo has been footing the bill. It seems both Tokyo and Fukushima Prefecture eventually want to charge Tepco for the costs, but cannot agree on which government should be the one to try and make it happen. The total being spent on this is about $300 million per year. The Dispute Reconciliation Committee might be who resolves the dilemma. They have found in favor of the voluntary evacuees in the past. They have awarded voluntary evacuees lump-sum payments of over $1,000 each for psychological distress, except for children and pregnant women who have been paid a lump-sum of about $7,000 each. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150404p2a00m0na014000c.html

  • A Tokyo Professor calls for logic concerning Fukushima. Yasuhiko Fujii, Professor Emeritus at Tokyo Institute of Technology, says the nuke accident has caused significant negativity towards nuclear energy in Japan. However, he argues that “all parties involved in nuclear development… truly believe humanity cannot do without nuclear energy.” He acknowledges that the social and political environment towards nukes is “vastly different” from when nuclear development began in the 1950s, but it is essential to “sort out the logic of entangled arguments” in order to have people understand the critical need. Fujii’s lengthy posting with the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum covers several topics. First, he stresses that the purpose of nuclear energy is to secure peace and prosperity. Then, he explains Japan’s Atomic Energy Basic Law of 1955. The focus of the Law was to insure that nukes would never be used for military purposes. Another issue is what Fujii calls “The Ohi Judgment”, referring to a Fukui District Court decision stating that nukes violate citizen's personal rights. He says that the judgment overlooks the fact that a secure, stable, emission-free source of electricity is a “central tenet” of personal rights in the modern world. Next, Fujii examines what has been purported as the “societal causes” of the F. Daiichi accident. He counters that he finds it difficult to blame an entire culture for what happened. Fujii also addresses the successful survival of the Onagawa station that experienced much worse quake shaking and a tsunami than F. Daiichi, which he says was because of sound engineering and design, but not because of luck. Finally, he looks at the public reaction to the Fukushima accident, believing that over-reaction has been the rule and because of it nukes might someday disappear from Japan. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/logic-and-sentiment-over-nuclear-energy-in-japan/

April 2, 2015

  • Tepco’s American advisor Dale Klein says tritiated water is safe to release. Klein is the former Chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. He says, “Most people don’t know what tritium is, so what they will think about is that it’s bad, something that’s really dangerous. But tritium is an element that we know a lot about. It can be released safely into the ocean. We know worldwide what the safe limit for tritium release is.” Tepco says much of the wastewater stored at F. Daiichi contains 1-5 million Becquerels per liter of Tritium. Japan’s limit for unrestricted release is 60,000 Bq/l, so much of the wastewater would have to be diluted. Tepco is awaiting the decision of a government panel on what to do with the several hundred thousand gallons which are already processed, but contain Tritium. Klein said he understands the issue of a release “is intensely emotional” with local fishermen, but he feels they will eventually agree to let it happen. Klein also said that the news media’s role in covering Tepco and the government is indispensable, but, “I can tell you it isn’t always fun to be on the receiving end [of the scrutiny]”.  http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/03/31/national/former-u-s-nuclear-chief-says-tritium-water-at-fukushima-no-1-can-safely-be-dumped-in-sea/#.VRr0T6McQdW -- http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2015/1249327_6844.html  (Comment – This writer has no idea where the 1-5 million Bq/l numbers have come from. Regular testing of the raw waters in the turbine building basements register about 630,000 Bq/l of Tritium. Regardless, even at 5 million Bq/l, someone would have to drink nearly two gallons of the basement water to reach the lowest amount of Tritium ever shown to cause actual, but non-lethal harm…37,000,000 Bq/l. But, the problem is not the Tritium itself. The real issue is a nigh-mortal fear of radiation that grips millions, if not tens of millions, of Japanese. This fear has its historical roots in the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945… the core reason why the Hiroshima Syndrome runs rampant through the island nation, inflicting significant psychological harm.)

  • The IAEA will investigate the Fukushima rainwater run-off issue. On Monday, the International Atomic Energy Agency announced they will send a mission to Japan April 17-21 at the request of Tokyo. The reason is the mildly radioactive run-off that occurs when it rains at F. Daiichi. Tepco has been aware of the situation for a year, but only reported on it when a drainage ditch monitor alarmed last month. Tepco has been castigated my local fishermen and blasted by the Japanese Press for not publicly disclosing the relatively minor fluctuations in the run-off earlier. The IAEA will look into the situation and the Press says they will discuss how relevant information should be disclosed to the public when any trouble hits the plant. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • A former British safety expert becomes Tepco’s Chief Nuclear Safety Officer. Dr. John Crofts will be the first foreign executive with any Japanese utility. He has spent the past two years as advisor to the Company’s Board of Directors. His move to the executive level will be effective today. However, he will not take on his new Safety Officer position until it is approved by the Nuclear Regulation Authority. Crofts said, "The last two years have been a deeply rewarding experience, and I very much appreciate the trust the company has placed in me. I look forward to the challenges ahead and to helping TEPCO continue implementation of the Nuclear Safety Reform Plan." Deputy Chair Lady Barbara Judge, also from Britain, said, "Dr. Crofts has done a superb job in creating the NSOO [Nuclear Safety Oversight Office] and making it a truly effective instrument in TEPCO's growing embrace of safety culture. Giving him executive authority to implement the recommendations the NSOO makes will help TEPCO take the important next steps on its safety journey. I congratulate both John and TEPCO on this appointment." http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2015/1249307_6844.html

  • Tepco announces its new Fukushima meal service center to the Press. The two-story facility is 9km southwest of F. Daiichi, in Okuma Town. It is scheduled to begin operation by mid-April. The center will cook warm meals for the thousands of workers at F. Daiichi. Currently, about 7,000 bring in their own meals in lunch boxes and/or prepared packaging, every day. The new facility will hand-prepare as many as 3,000 lunches daily, and as many other meals as needed throughout the day. The food will be meticulously prepared in the facility kitchen, loaded into insulated boxes, and transported to the worksite in food-service trucks.  The meal service center will employ 95 people, 19 of which are from Futaba County. This will surely improve the F. Daiichi work environment and worker morale. It is planned to use Fukushima-produced cooking ingredients in the hope that it will dispel harmful, unfounded rumors about locally-produced foods and the safety of the prefecture’s work environment. Further, the center will be opened to local schools for tours, again in the interest of quieting harmful rumors. A pictures and graphics of the center are contained in the attached link. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2015/images/handouts_150331_01-e.pdf

  • Minamisoma residents plan yet another lawsuit, this time against the Tokyo government. They allege that lifting of evacuation advisories endanger their lives because of supposedly high radiation levels. Specifically, removing the advisories allegedly violates the government’s Law on Special Measures Concerning Nuclear Emergency Preparedness, which states that its purpose is to “protect the lives, bodies and properties of citizens from a nuclear disaster.” The attorney who will represent the plaintiffs says the government arbitrarily raised the annual dose limit from one to 20 millisieverts per year. Lawyer Kenji Fukuda said, “ “The government has selfishly raised the limit on annual public radiation exposure from 1 millisievert set before the nuclear crisis to 20 millisieverts, having residents return to their homes still exposed to high doses of radiation. This is an illegal act that violates the residents’ right to a healthy environment guaranteed by the Constitution and international human rights laws.” One government official responded, “With the radiation levels [20 mSv/yr] unlikely to have a significant effect on the residents’ health, we have called off the advisories by going through legal procedures.” On the other hand, chief plaintiff Shuichi Kanno, age 74, said, “Radiation levels have even increased in some areas. There is no way our children and grandchildren will be returning to their homes like this.” http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201504010062  (Comment – Either the attorney for the plaintiffs has not done his homework, or is perpetrating a bold-faced fabrication. There was no official annual limit on exposure in Japan prior to 3/11/11. In addition, the 1 mSv/yr level is a long-term goal for decontamination purposes, not a legal limit on exposure to residents.)

March 30, 2015

  • F. Daiichi unit #2 will have high-resolution Muon tomography. Scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory and Toshiba showed the new device to the Tokyo news media on Friday. Muon detectors, each measuring 64m2 will record muons before and after they pass through the reactor. Some of the muons will alter their paths due to the high-density materials inside the primary containment, and the differences between the before and after detectors will provide an image inside the structure. The scientists say resolution with the new device is three times greater than with the much smaller one currently installed on unit #1. It is planned to set up and operated the technology on unit #2 later this year. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

  • Tepco discovers fuel pool gate doors out of position in unit #3. Officials say that both iron doors in the Spent Fuel Pool gate have shifted, probably because the fuel handling bridge falling into the pool due to the explosion in March, 2011. Part of the machine continues to rest on the gate. There is no leakage out of the SFP. Tepco says that before the machine can be removed to facilitate transfer of the 566 used fuel bundles from the pool, they must be sure that its movement will not cause leakage from the SPF. Whether or not this will delay the start of fuel removal by the end of June is speculative. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/03/27/national/debris-poses-risk-spent-fuel-pool-gate-fukushima-1s-reactor-3-tepco/#.VRVvFaMcQdV

  • Tepco says it will disclose all data on radiation levels at F. Daiichi. In addition, all of it will be reviewed regularly by a third party. This could double the already-considerable amount of data posted to date. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2015/03/344361.html

  • Two experts find that radiation exposures from Fukushima isotopes in the Pacific will not cause health damage. Researchers Pavel Povinec and Katsumi Hirose found that exposures from the ingestion of Pacific Ocean seafood, shellfish, and seaweed are “below levels when any health damage of the Japanese and world population could be expected.” They explained that exposure from ingestion of radio-cesium and radio-strontium with fish caught in the Pacific Ocean in 2012–2013 is considerably more that pre-Fukushima levels for cesium and strontium, but it is actually equivalent to the consumption of natural Polonium-210 in fish, and 10-times lower than with the consumption of natural Po-210 in shellfish. http://www.nature.com/srep/2015/150312/srep09016/full/srep09016.html#/introduction

  • An exclusion zone town holds a community festival. Nahara, which actually south of Fukushima Daini and lies between 10-to-20 kilometers south of F. Daiichi, held the large-scale event in the town proper on March 21st. Organizers said they wanted residents to see the progress of recovery as a group, rather than when individuals came for home visits. It is hoped the festival will encourage residents to move back. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=487 (Comment – Nahara has a roughly 10 kilometer stretch of coastline that was surely devastated by the tsunami of 2011. However, there has been no mention of the condition of the tsunami-destroyed part of the community, and I can find no pictures of it. Yet another example of the invisible, hypothetical aftermath of the Fukushima accident taking precedent over the actual aftermath of the quake/tsunami.)

  • A recent Fukushima 4th anniversary article contains an important graphic on protective measures along the Pacific shoreline. Nippom.com ran a comprehensive review of the contaminated water situation at F. Daiichi last Thursday with the headline “Contaminated Water Prevents Decommissioning: No Fundamental Solution in Sight”. By scrolling about half-way down the attached link, we find a graphic entitled “Contamination Countermeasures at Fukushima Daiichi”. The depiction clearly shows where the future underground frozen wall will be located, and the existing impermeable wall that has been built along the shore, inside the inner port area (quay). It shows that all groundwater drains the Press routine reports as release points to the sea are inside the impermeable off-shore wall. http://www.nippon.com/en/features/h00100/

  • The Japan Times calls for punishment of Tepco for the recent rainwater runoff issue. The editorial says Tepco admitted they did not report the mildly radioactive runoff for nearly a year, and should be held accountable for it. The Times says, “In the 15 days since Tepco finally confessed, have investigators raided its Tokyo headquarters? Have regulators demanded that heads roll? Has Prime Minister Shinzo Abe used his bully pulpit to demand accountability from the company that gave the world its worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl?” Because none of this has happened, the newspaper goes on to say, “It was all for show. Abe’s government never intervened, and Tepco stayed in charge. Four years to the day since the earthquake, Fukushima is still leaking; 120,000 people remain displaced; and Tepco’s opacity and incompetence are unchanged.” The Times calls for “at the very least” senior management to be fired without pensions and face legal charges. In addition, “The Company should also be nationalized” since taxpayers are already “bearing the costs of Tepco’s negligence anyway”. Finally, the Prime Minister should bring this “egregious offender to justice”. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2015/03/13/commentary/japan-commentary/its-time-to-punish-tepco/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=its-time-to-punish-tepco#.VRmA_KMcQdX (Comment - It should be noted that Tepco has already been nationalized, for all intents and purposes. The government is the majority shareholder of the company, Tokyo loans nearly more than $200 million per month to cover the generous evacuee compensation payments, and Tepco can literally do nothing in their nuclear division withourt getting formal approval from the Nuclear Regulation Authority.)

March 26. 2015

  • Fukushima Prefecture dismissed F. Daiichi as a cause of child thyroid cancers. An interim report from the Fukushima Prefectural Government on March 24th stated that the 86 identified cases of thyroid cancer since 2011 were "hardly attributable to the effects of radiation." While reiterating that the exposures were too low to cause the cancers, the report added that no child thyroid cancers have occurred in children under the age of five - the cohort assumed to be the most susceptible to negative radiation health effects. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150325p2a00m0na006000c.html

  • No radioactive Cesium detected with Fukushima students for 3rd straight year. Miharu Town’s children have been monitored since the nuke accident. In 2011, 54 of 1494 students had detectible Cesium contamination in or on them. But, since then none have shown ay. This year, 1,265 of the students were checked by a team from Tokyo’s Graduate School of Science, and none contained detectible internal Cesium. Team leader Ryugo Hayano said, “I guess it is now clear that it is fine (for residents) to live their daily lives the way they did prior to the Great East Japan Earthquake and that there is no need to be overly worried.” 23% of the families drink only bottled water and 16% said they do not eat Fukushima produce to avoid any possible ingestion. Hanayo implored, “I believe many families have been restricting their daily living (due to concerns about radioactive contamination), but I hope they can use (the test results) as reference and realize they can live more freely than they have been.” Miharu borders the government-mandated evacuation zone. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=486

  • Tokyo auditors urge Tepco to seek compensation for failed F. Daiichi projects. Specifically, those associated with decontaminating and storing waste water. The government’s Board of Audit says that about $1.5 billion has been spent on systems that have either been unsuccessful, or not operated up to expectations. One system cited is the first Cesium removal system supplied by Areva in 2011, which operated for three months and treated about 77,000 tons of water; much less than what was needed to keep up with the buildup. Another problem was salt-removal systems supplied by Hitachi, Toshiba, and Areva which worked for less than six weeks. A third item concerned the bolted-together storage tanks, some of which leaked many tons of contaminated water into the surrounding environment. Many of the tanks have been replaced, and many more will be replaced by welded-together tanks as soon as possible. Yet another cited problem is the underground storage tanks used in 2013, supplied by Maeda Corp., which leaked and had to be drained. A fifth item concerns the inability to stop trench water outflow from the turbine building basements by freezing, using technology supplied by Tepco subsidiary Tokyo Power Technology. The Board says Tepco should pursue measures to gain repayment for the troubled projects and analyze the causes of the problems so they won’t happen again. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/03/24/national/board-of-audit-billions-of-yen-wasted-in-fukushima-no-1-cleanup/#.VRFbW6McQdU

  • Rural radioactive waste shipments begin in Futaba Town. Futaba is one of F. Daiichi’s two host communities, with Okuma. Tokyo plans to store all accumulated rural low level waste on a 16km2 site overlapping both towns, adjacent to the nuke station. Shipments to Okuma started March 13th. The delay with Futaba was due to a request to delay shipments while residents visit ancestral graves at the spring equinox. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2015032500802

  • Minamisoma declares it is “breaking” with nuclear power. Part of the city, north of F. Daiichi, is inside the 20km state-mandated evacuation zone. Thousands of its residents are now refugees. The City declaration states, "The nuclear accident forced more than 60,000 residents to evacuate and many lost their lives in the process. Such a nuclear disaster should never be allowed to happen again." http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2015/03/343512.html

  • A group of business leaders say 20% of Japan’s electrical supplies should be nuclear. Officials with the Japan Association of Corporate Executives say nuclear power will be needed as a base-load energy source for some time to come. They add it's unlikely that renewable resources such as wind and solar power will supply more than 30 percent of energy needs by 2030. Thus, more than 70% must come from nuclear, hydro, and fossil-fueled sources. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150325_30.html

  • Two nukes get negative earthquake news from Tokyo. The Nuclear Regulation Authority affirmed their previous decision that the geologic seam (fault) running below Tsuruga unit #2 is “an active fault that can move if it is pulled by the Urasoko Fault near it.” Japan Atomic Power, the plant’s owner, disagrees and says they will apply for restart, regardless. The NRA also said a fracture zone near the Higashidori station in Aomori Prefecture also appears active. Plant Owner Tohoku Electric Co. has already applied for restart safety screenings, so they will likely argue the fault is not active. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002033411

  • Taiwan says many Japanese food products from the areas around Fukushima have been mislabeled. It seems the original labels were removed and relabeled to make it seem the foods came from parts of Japan not near Fukushima. Apparently, the foods came from one of the five prefectures currently listed for import restrictions: Chiba (part of the Tokyo megalopolis), Gumma, Fukushima, Ibaraki, and Tochigi. Nineteen of the suspect foods come from areas that were exposed to detectible levels of contamination from F. Daiichi. Nearly 2,400 kilograms of products are under investigation. Products found in violation of the law have been pulled from the shelves. http://fukushimaupdate.com/taiwan-283-mislabeled-japanese-food-products-originated-near-fukushima/

  • The Pope compares Fukushima to the Tower of Babel. According to Takeo Okada, archbishop of Tokyo, Pope Francis said, "Mankind can become arrogant and create a society convenient to them, driven by an egotistical motive. Acts thought to help mankind are ending up destroying themselves." The statement was made in conjunction with a message about the production and export of arms and “how massive wealth is created through them”. No formal issuance of the statements has been made. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/social_affairs/AJ201503250073

March 23, 2015

  • Tepco releases preliminary Muon images of F. Daiichi unit #1. Though blurry and difficult to visualize, the two Muon tomography units have separate images showing that most, if not all of the unit #1 core melted. Detector #1 shows no evidence of any of the melted then re-solidified material (corium) in the core barrel, while detector #2 indicates that some of the corium might still be there. The shape of the dense, steel-reinforced concrete Primary Containment Vessel and the reactor vessel side-walls are more clearly shown in both images. The Tepco handout says the relocation of the mass from its undamaged location agrees with prior Tepco computer simulations. However, the two images give no indication as to where the re-solidified corium might be currently located. Japan Times reports a Hosei University professor saying the images do not show the bottom of the reactor vessel, where the corium might have pooled and cooled. However, many Japanese news outlets are touting the images as proof of the core having melted completely through the bottom of the reactor pressure vessel’s bottom head and accumulated on the concrete floor below. There is nothing in the Tepco release to support this conjecture. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2015/images/handouts_150319_01-e.pdf -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/03/20/national/tepco-confirms-nearly-fuel-melted-sank-vessel-fukushima-1-unit/#.VQwcSaMcQdU -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002020969 -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150319_34.html -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/03/20/national/tepco-confirms-nearly-fuel-melted-sank-vessel-fukushima-1-unit/#.VQ1u5qMcQdU

  • Fukushima students find their radiation levels are normal. Five students at Fukushima High School were baffled that foreign teens could not believe life in Fukushima was back to normal. They contacted more than 200 students and teachers at websites in Japan, France, Belarus and Poland. Everyone had the same dosimetry as that used in Fukushima. Readings were taken between June and October, 2014. Background readings were extrapolated to annual exposures. Fukushima Prefecture ranged from 0.63 to 0.97 millisieverts per year, while France, Belarus, and Poland ranged between 0.51 and 1.17 mSv/yr.  Within the prefecture, Fukushima City was 0.86 mSv/yr, while Nihonmatsu was 0.97 mSv/yr. Nihonmatsu borders the F. Daiichi exclusion zone. Ena, in Gifu Prefecture, is about 600 kilometers from Fukushima City and had a reading of 0.87 mSv/yr. One of the Fukushima students stated that the differences were insignificant. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201503210039

  • Tokyo raises the ceiling on Fukushima loans to $75 billion. Previously, the limit was about $50 billion. The funds are being issued through the Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation. The total includes $1 billion in interest that is expected to build up by 2044. To date, roughly $45 billion has been disbursed on evacuee compensation. In addition, another $1.6 billion has been spent on F. Daiichi site cleanup. The government hopes to recover about $20 billion through sale of Tokyo-owned Tepco stock, once the company’s share price sufficiently recovers. Japan’s Board of Audit says the current stock value of about $10 per share will have to double to recoup the needed funds. The Board says, “The government should give sufficient consideration to ensuring the recovery of the state funds and boosting Tepco’s corporate value” to reduce the current taxpayer burden. It could take up to 30 years for Tokyo to be repaid all monies loaned to Tepco for evacuee compensation, site recovery, and rural decontamination. Tepco repaid about $415 million in 2014, and at that rate it will be 2044 before all monies will be recovered. However, continuing last year’s rate of repayment is contingent on future restarts of units at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa station.   http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html --  http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/03/23/national/%c2%a5189-billion-in-public-money-spent-on-fukushima-cleanup-so-far/#.VRAAr6McQdU -- http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/comp/images/jisseki-e.pdf

  • Tokyo has removed 20 food items from the list of items to be checked for radioactive Cesium. Those removed included broccoli, plums, and tea. The removals officially begin in April. There will be 45 items remaining on the list. Some, but not all, beef and milk will be tested depending on where the cattle were raised and what they are being fed. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2015/03/342613.html

March 19, 2015

  • A man has lived in the F. Daiichi “no-go” zone for more than two years. Naoto Matsumura defied government orders in 2012 and visited his Tomioka home to check on his farm’s dogs. He was struck by the plight of the abandoned neighborhood pets, and decided to remain and tend to all of them; including ducks, pigs ostriches, cattle, and a pony. The animals thrive today because of Matsumura. A Tokyo doctor has examined the man and says Matsumura’s body has the most contamination in Japan. He has no radiation-related health problems. Matsumura says, “The animals and I are staying here.” Because there are no laws forcing him to leave, he comes and goes from the no-go zone at will. http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/just-one-man-remains-in-fukushima-radiation-zone-hes-feeding-all-the-pets-left-behind/  (Questions – Why has there been nothing in the major Japanese Press outlets about Matsumura? Why does the vast majority of the Japanese Press ignore the 53 families also living in the no-go zone, as reported here on March 16th?)

  • All fish caught outside F. Daiichi’s port continue to be safe for consumption. Six species of food fish were examined in late February. 70% showed no detectible Cesium-134 and 40% had no detectible Cs-137. Combined concentrations were non-detectible in 40%. The highest combined concentration of the Cesium isotopes was 66 Becquerels per kilogram. Japan’s safety limit for consumption is 100 Bq/kg. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/f1/smp/2015/images/fish02_150317-e.pdf

  • Sixty percent of Fukushima Prefecture believes Japan is forgetting the nuke accident. This is 7% more than a similar survey in 2012. Specifically, 59.3% said they felt public memory was wearing thin with time, indicating that the government should do more to keep the crisis fresh in everyone’s mind. 61.3% said misunderstandings about radiation are continuing and 71.6% said the current understanding of the situation by the public is incorrect. Nearly 82% said there appears to be no end in sight for misplaced radiation concerns outside the prefecture. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=482

  • Five idled Japanese nuclear units will be decommissioned. The Kansai Electric Co. (Kepco) board decided to scrap units #1 and #2 at the Mihama station, and Japan Atomic Power did the same for unit #1 at Tsuruga station, all of which are in Fukui Prefecture. The other two are Kyushu Electric’s Genkai unit #1 in Saga Prefecture and Shimane #1 in Matsue Prefecture. Although most of the Press coverage blames the decisions on the age of the units being greater than the recommended 40-year licensing limit, it seems that all five were actually victims of economics. Each has a maximum electrical output of less than 560 megawatts, which is small by today’s standards for base-load generators. The cost of upgrades needed to meet Japan’s new, more-rigid safety regulations would be more than the anticipated profits of operating any of the five units for 20 years. At present, licensing can be extended once for a 20 year period. In addition, the post-Fukushima national effort to conserve electricity makes the units unnecessary at peak demand. Kepco president Makato Yagi said, “We decided to decommission Mihama’s Nos. 1 and 2 reactors after making a comprehensive assessment of the technology needed for safety measures and construction costs.”  http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002011860 -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150317_19.html -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150318_20.html  Despite the obvious cause being economics, most of Japan’s largely antinuclear Press says all five are so old that they are not capable of being refurbished under the new regulations. They also add that the decisions were political, pointing to pressure from the current government under Shinzo Abe. Japan Times says, “By picking off aging reactors and carrying out safety screening of newer ones before resuming operations, it [the Abe administration] hopes to win-over the public, which according to opinion polls remains wary.” Mainichi Shimbun echoes, “By closing at least some reactors and carrying out safety screening of every reactor before it is allowed to go back on line, the government aims to reassure a Japanese public still wary of nuclear power’s risks.” http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/03/17/national/three-aging-nuclear-reactors-in-fukui-prefecture-to-be-scrapped/#.VQgcJ6McQdU -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150317p2g00m0dm064000c.html

  • Nursing homes should shelter the elderly during a nuke accident. This is the opinion of Ken Takagi, head of a Nahara facility at the time of the Tokyo-mandated evacuation order. Speaking to a UN disaster preparedness conference in Sendai, Takagi said, "There is an option to not evacuate, but to hunker down instead." He says that some of the residents he accompanied as they evacuated from location to location fell ill, and others suffered early death some time later. Takagi recounted the chaotic events that happened when moving patients as soon as the evacuation order was invoked on March 12, 2011. He says he has fretted over the decision to comply with the order ever since because merely placing the frail elderly in a vehicle for movement can be dangerous. He pointed to another nursing home within the exclusion, in Iitate, zone that did not immediately evacuate and subsequently moved the patients in a safe, orderly fashion. Unlike the Nahara experience, the “Iitate Home” has not shown elevated death rates over the years since 3/11/11. He concluded, “I think the best way to protect (facility users') lives is to block off exposure from radiation outside the facility and keep the users there until a safe evacuation route is secured, then move them quickly." http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150317p2a00m0na010000c.html

  • There’s a new antinuclear booklet on Fukushima evacuees. It was distributed at the UN disaster preparedness conference in Sendai City, which concluded on Wednesday.
    The 70-page "10 Lessons from Fukushima" was assembled by the antinuclear Japan Center for International Cooperation (JANIC) to document what JANIC feels are challenging Fukushima evacuees. JANIC Chair Masaaki Ohashi said, "We must share the knowledge and experiences of Fukushima. We want the residents of nations that will be building nuclear reactors to be familiar with the contents of this booklet." The booklet says people must flee areas threatened with imminent danger; people affected by disasters have the right to a comprehensive health examination and disclosure of information; local agricultural, fisheries and forest products be carefully checked for contamination to ensure their safety; complete decontamination is not possible; and how taxpayers will bear compensation costs. The booklet has Japanese, English, Chinese, and Korean versions. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201503180061

  • Completion of the F. Daiichi “ice-wall” is further delayed. The 1.5 kilometer-long project will surround the four damaged F. Daiichi units and make an essentially impermeable shield against groundwater intrusion, all the way down to the underlying bedrock. Installation of the in-ground freezing units was supposed to begin this month, but has been postponed for about 30 days due to the development of upgraded safety procedures following the deaths of two Fukushima workers earlier this year. Further, Tepco needs to ask the Nuclear Regulation Authority for permission to begin, which has yet to happen. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150317_02.html

  • The Sendai nuke restarts move a step closer. On Wednesday, Tokyo’s nuke watchdog approved “detailed design change” documentation for unit #1. The next step is for owner Kyushu Electric to apply for an NRA site inspection of the systems affected by the design upgrades. Kyushu also wants to submit the same sort of design-change documentation for unit #2 and the common systems between the two, sometime in April. Kepco wants the common systems analyzed first. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2015031800498

 

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