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Fukushima 86...5/28/15-6/18/2015


June 18, 2015

  • Nahara Town to be fully reopened by mid-August. It will be the third evacuation order lifted inside the Tokyo-mandated exclusion zone. Previously, the Miyakoji district of Tamura City and the eastern part of Kawauchi village have seen the restrictions dropped. Nahara is located ~12 kilometers south of F. Daiichi and had a pre-accident population of 7,400. Response task force head Yosuke Takagi made the announcement at the town assembly meeting on Wednesday. He stressed that Tokyo will not force anyone to return to full-time residency, but the town’s environment and infrastructure are ready for repopulation. Takagi said, “Whether to return is up to each person. . . . Even if we lift the order, we want to continue working substantially on measures to rebuild Nahara.” He added that current compensation payments for mental anguish will continue even if people return. Temporary stays have been permitted since April so residents can prepare for full-time residency. Only about 100 households have taken advantage of the opportunity. A Reconstruction Agency survey last November indicated that only about 45% of the town residents plan to return. Those not willing to return generally say it is because they have concerns for their health and lack of available jobs. Meetings to address the evacuees' radiation fears and the status of infrastructure will be held before and after the order is lifted. Currently, the town’s average radiation level is about 0.3 microsieverts per hour (2.6 mSv/yr). One town official called the scheduled lifting of the order “abrupt”, while another said residents worry about the availability of safe food and residual contamination of their homes. One evacuee says, “Our homes and our lives are anything but stabilized. We feel the announcement of the evacuation lift is premature and does not address these issues.”  http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html -- http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201506170090 -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2015061700452 -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150617p2a00m0na016000c.html -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/06/17/national/goverment-proposes-lifting-evacuation-order-town-naraha-mid-august/#.VYFnBqMw8dV -- http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/govt-to-lift-evacuation-order-for-fukushima-town-in-august?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2015-06-18_PM

  • Some bags of rural contaminated waste have been damaged while in make-shift storage. Last year, the Environment Ministry examined 580 sites outside the exclusion zone. The ministry says bags and/or their underlying water-proof sheets were found damaged at 78 locations, and 113 sites had rain damage to the underlying soils. No contaminated leaks were detected, however. The ministry promises to continue monitoring these storage sites and cooperate with local officials to insure against contaminated leaks. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150617_06.html

  • Tohoku Electric Company says all upgrades to Onagawa #2 and Higashidori #1 units should be finished by April, 2017. The upgrades include burial of tanks for emergency diesel generator fuel and improved fire-protection. The company filed with the NRA for the compatibility examinations of Onagawa-2 in December, 2013, and Higashidori-1 In June, 2014. The NRA’s examination for Higashidori #1 was delayed due to NRA earthquake fault studies. Nearby geologic anomalies were deemed non-seismic in March, 2015. It is possible that these two units will be the first Boiling Water Reactor plants to restart. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/tohoku-electric-power-says-work-on-safety-measures-at-onagawa-2-and-higashidor-1-to-end-by-april-2017/

  • More information on the revised F. Daiichi decommissioning plan. The Japan Atomic Industrial Forum has posted their summation of the roadmap. JAIF lists five primary areas of focus; (1) placing greater emphasis on risk reduction, (2) clarifying milestones toward goals, (3) strengthening mutual trust with local communities through more thorough information disclosure, (4) reducing workers’ exposure doses and strengthening work safety and sanitation management, and (5) establishing the “control tower” strategy for development of decommissioning technology. In addition, the plan clarifies the three principles of handling contaminated water; (a) removing the source of the contamination, (b) isolating groundwater from the contamination source, and (c) preventing leakage of the contaminated water. As reported here on Monday, revisions in the schedule for used fuel removal from units #1, #2, & #3, have not negatively impacted the envisioned 30-40 year time frame for decommissioning. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/government-revises-roadmap-for-medium-term-and-long-term-decommissioning-of-fukushima-daiichi/  On a related note, The Japan News (Yomiuri Shimbun) has posted a relatively objective report on the use of robots to determine the condition of the inner containment buildings (Primary Containments) as a prerequisite for damaged fuel (corium) removal. Extraction of the corium is projected for 2021. It is hoped that all the corium will be removed from the three units by 2030. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002179580

  • More information on ending voluntary evacuee rent subsidies in 2017. The voluntaries have been provided money to pay for the apartments to which they fled in 2011. Fukushima Prefecture and Tokyo have agreed end the housing payouts, but will continue limited support for some of the voluntaries after March, 2017. The demographic of most concern is families living in poverty. Financial assistance to help the impoverished return to Fukushima Prefecture is expected to start this year. In addition, rent assistance for low-income evacuees could last a few years after 2017, publicly-managed homes both in and out of the prefecture might be provided, and the prefecture will seek financial assistance from Tokyo in order to provide these services. Meetings with voluntary evacuees are expected to start next month to establish the extent of need. The prefecture estimates that 25,000 Fukushima residents remain voluntarily estranged. Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori said, "The construction of publically-managed recovery homes [for evacuees] has made progress, and it will be difficult to maintain the emergency aid being offered under the Disaster Relief Act. We will think of a framework that allows us to respond to everyone's individual wishes. We want to enrich the contents of our support policies." The prefecture believes that as long as the free rent exists, there is little incentive for voluntary evacuees to go home. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150616p2a00m0na015000c.html

  • A Tepco shareholder lawyer claims the company knew a 15.7 meter tsunami was possible long before the accident. A suit filed by more than 40 shareholders in 2012, demanding ~$50 million in damages, is being heard in Tokyo District Court. Attorney Yuichi Kaido said an internal 2008 Tepco document shows the company "had clearly recognized as of that year that measures against tsunami were inevitable, contradicting the company's explanations so far." Allegedly, the document says that Tepco anti-tsunami upgrades are “inevitable as we cannot help but expect bigger tsunami than currently projected” given the opinions of academics and the government, and “It is indispensable for us to develop measures against a higher tsunami than currently estimated.” The lawyers claim that Tepco’s inaction was to avoid spending “massive” amounts of money for the upgrades. Tepco responded that the 2008 document did not represent a consensus of the scientific community. They also submitted another internal report saying, “The (2008) document just mentioned the possibility of some sort of anti-tsunami measures required in the future and did not point out any specific risk of tsunami.” http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/06/18/national/crime-legal/document-shows-tepco-aware-need-tsunami-measures-2008-lawyers/#.VYKsuKMw8dU -- http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201506180062

June 15, 2015

  • A new study shows no need to worry about Minamisoma children’s radiation exposure. The city stretches between 10 and 40 kilometers north of F. Daiichi. 881 students between the ages of six and fifteen had an average exposure on 0.7 millisieverts over the second year after the Fukushima accident. The highest single exposure during the period was 3.49 mSv. 80% if the students received doses less that the goal on 1 mSv/yr sought by Tokyo. Team representative Masaharu Tsubokura of Tokyo University’s Institute of Medical Science said, "The radiation exposure of elementary and junior high students has been kept low, and there's no need to worry about the effects on their health." The study included internal exposure monitoring, and 99.7% showed nothing detectible. The researchers say this is the first post-Fukushima screening of individual internal and external exposure levels within 2 years of the accidental releases. Minamisoma residents have been given free personal monitoring and screenings since the fall of 2011. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150615p2a00m0na001000c.html

  • The revised Fukushima decommissioning plan focuses on reducing worker risk. A new roadmap was developed in meetings between government ministries, the Nuclear Regulation Authority, and Tepco. While the new roadmap delays used fuel removal by as much as three years from the previous plan, the 30-40 year time-frame for completing full decommissioning has not changed. The key change in the plan is a shift from “focusing on speed” to “safety and risk reduction”. The prime example is the longer time allowed for removal of used fuel bundles from the storage pools of units #1, #2 & #3. The lengthier schedule is intended to allow radiation levels to decay in the work areas and reduce stress on the staff. Keizai University professor emeritus Hiroaki Yoshii said, “It’s important to classify the risks since decommissioning work involves a range of procedures.” Tepco President Naomi Hirose said, "The revisions made to the mid-and-long-term roadmap are based on our experience over the past four years, and we will continue moving forward, adhering to the plan. Safety will always be top priority in the decommissioning of Fukushima Daiichi." Unfortunately, the full document released by the government is in Japanese-only. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2015/1252381_6844.html -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002218963 It should be noted that most Japanese Press outlets focus almost entirely on the estimated delays in used fuel removal, while making little or no mention of the main safety focus of the new roadmap. (two examples are linked, below) http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150612p2g00m0dm033000c.html

  • It’s official. Living restrictions for nearly 55,000 evacuees will be lifted by March, 2017. This will affect nearly 75% of those currently subject to the Tokyo mandate. PM Shinzo Abe commented, “The government will accelerate its efforts to lift evacuation orders early while presenting a vision of the future for local communities promptly.” The new guidelines focus on supporting local businesses to effect return of the population before the plan’s end date. The locations affected will have exposure rates less than 50 millisieverts per year. (Aside - radiation exposure measurements in these areas over the past year have shown that most people would actually receive doses much less than 20 mSv/yr. – end aside) The plan also calls for continuing the ~$1,000 per month (per person) mental anguish stipend until March 2017, regardless of whether or not restrictions are lifted before that date. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002216756 -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2015061200449 (Comment - The above links seem the least tainted by the Japanese news media’s penchant for nuclear negativity. The following links are examples of the majority, which all taint the Tokyo announcement with a “despite strong public concerns over radiation contamination” statement in the lead paragraph. This is a subtle, but significant rhetorical ploy to make it seem that Tokyo doesn’t care about the Fukushima evacuees.  http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2015/06/357980.html -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/06/12/national/cabinet-oks-plan-lift-fukushima-evacuation-orders-end-fiscal-2016/#.VXrh46Mw8dW )

  • The Environment Ministry has posted the latest data on groundwater by-pass activity. This is water pumped out of the ground west of the four damaged units at F. Daiichi. Groundwater flows west to east, so this water has not yet come in contact with the contaminated basements. The June 11th data shows no detectible Cesium-134, beta emitters, or alpha emitter activity. Cs-137 and Strontium-90 are barely detectible, and Tritium activity is merely 100 Becquerels per liter. http://www.meti.go.jp/english/earthquake/nuclear/decommissioning/pdf/20150603_01a.pdf

  • More than 7,000 Tochigi Prefecture residents to sue Tepco for fears caused by the Fukushima accident. The total damages sought by the plaintiffs will be over $15 million through an out-of-court settlement. The residents live in three Tochigi communities that are roughly 100km southwest of F. Daiichi. The plaintiffs also want a formal apology from Tepco for scaring them, and a fund to pay for any decontamination work and health checkups they want. The residents argue that people in Fukushima Prefecture who voluntarily evacuated from outside the Tokyo-mandated exclusion zone were compensated to the tune of more than $7,500 each. The plaintiffs say their exposures from the accident were similar to those experienced in southern Fukushima Prefecture, so they deserve to get the same money as those who voluntarily fled. The age-breakdown of the plaintiffs indicates that most are actual or prospective parents fearing negative health effects for their children. Lawyers for the group say the filing shows how many people are afraid of radiation. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2015/06/358307.html -- http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150615p2a00m0na009000c.html

June 11, 2015

  • 67% of Japan’s adults say they would use nuclear powered electricity. 32% say they would not. Mizuho Information & Research Institute of Japan polled more than 3,500 Japanese in February, in anticipation of the deregulation of electricity. When the respondents were asked if they would use nuclear-based electricity if the rates were the same or lower than now, 67% said “yes” On the other hand, 32% said they would not use nuke-based power, no matter what the cost. When asked if they would exclusively use electricity produced by renewables, only 5% said yes. The most important factors on the issue (each respondent could choose more than one), 80% said stability of power supply, 70% said cost, and 60% said environmental friendliness. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/only-one-in-twenty-japanese-would-choose-renewable-energy-exclusively/ (Comment – So, why do all Japanese Press outlets continually say that a significant majority of the public doesn’t want nukes restarted? This seems to further verify that the Japanese Press has a decided antinuclear agenda.)

  • North American radiation monitoring was not stopped after the Fukushima accident. Dr. Jay Cullen of Canada’s Fukushima InFORM project shared this fact during an 8-stop tour of coastal British Columbia. Beginning in September, 2011, many Press and internet sources continually reported that the Canadian and American governments turned off monitoring stations, implying (often openly expounding) a coordinated effort to conceal the truth. Dr. Cullen reported that this is extreme misinformation, hopefully based on misunderstanding. Actually, Canada’s Radiation Protection Bureau increased the frequency of measurements and reported a greater body of data than ever before, immediately following the accident. However, the amount of data reported to the Press was cut back due to lack of anything health-threatening being detected by September of 2011. Dr. Cullen writes, “They [Canada’s scientists] did not turn off monitors at any point but their return to normal monitoring and posting frequency, after dramatically increasing the reporting of data early in the disaster timeline, has been erroneously reported as cessation of monitoring or turning off the network.” Similarly, the American RadNet system upgraded their operations in March, 2011, but returned to their routine frequency in May, 2011, after no levels of radiation were found that might be a public health concern. Cullen writes, “Similar to the Health Canada network, this [American] network was not turned off in the aftermath of the Fukushima meltdowns.” It should be noted that the last time any detectible airborne activity was detected by RadNet was July 28, 2011, in Hawaii. http://fukushimainform.ca/2015/06/09/question-and-answer-public-discussion-of-fukushima-impact-on-the-west-coast-of-north-america/#more-1227

  • Fukushima forests have lost 57% of their radioactivity since 2011. The average exposure level of 362 forested survey points is currently 0.39 microsieverts per hour. In 2011, soon after the major Fukushima accident releases, the average peaked at 0.91 µSv.hr. This shows that the exposure level is decreasing similarly with the rate attributed to the combination of Cesium-134 and Cs-137. In addition, an average of only 1.07 µSv/hr exists in 134 locations where evacuees are allowed to return home for temporary visits. All readings were taken at 1 meter above the ground. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=516

  • Tepco has posted an English version of its new radiation data summary sheet. Unlike all other radiation data posted since the news media feeding-frenzy over rainwater runoff earlier this year, this is in English. The page graphically shows the histories of drainage ditch and open seawater radioactive levels from 4/22 to 5/21, air dose rate (general area radiation exposure levels) at various points on the site boundary from 4/26 to 5/26, and airborne levels from 4/26 to 5/26. Included is a map of F. Daiichi depicting the locations of all sampling points, boundary monitors, and drainage ditches flow paths. The levels were taken from 3,000 analytical data points. Needless to say, there were no fluctuations outside the norm for the month. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2015/images/handouts_150528_01-e.pdf

  • The further removal of used fuel from F. Daiichi might be delayed another three years. Government sources say the transfer of fuel out of unit #3, originally scheduled to begin presently, might not start until after March, 2017. Removal of the fuel bundles from units #1 and #2 was scheduled to start in the 2017-18 fiscal year, but will be delayed until after March, 2020. These delays are not expected to impact the station’s overall roadmap for decommissioning. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2015/06/357546.html

  • Critics of ending Fukushima rent subsidies say Tepco and Tokyo are cheapskates. The cuts are mostly, if not totally directed at voluntary evacuees currently living outside Fukushima Prefecture. The total funds allocated for all housing subsidies, including mandated evacuees, is 28.8 billion yen (~$240 million). The money designated for voluntary evacuees is a tad over 8 billion yen, or about 28% of the total. One allegedly knowledgeable “expert” says, "The reason that a plan to end these subsidies has arisen even though the financial burden is not large may be that government officials want to try and force voluntary evacuees to return to their homes, without respecting evacuees' own judgments on the matter." On the other hand, a Fukushima official said, "Non-voluntary evacuees have been using compensation for their lost real-estate to buy homes, and most of the people getting rent subsidies outside of Fukushima Prefecture are probably voluntary evacuees." The Cabinet Office says the payments cover nearly 19,000 residences in Fukushima Prefecture, and ~10,000 elsewhere in Japan. The plan is to end voluntary evacuee rent subsidies in March, 2017. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150609p2a00m0na006000c.html

  • Japan’s new climate goals cannot be met without 20% nuclear-generated electricity. PM Shinzo Abe’s recently-stated target of 26% GHG reduction by 2030 is ambitious, but possible, says Makoto Yagi, chairman of the Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan. He called the proposed energy mix for 2030 “well balanced and avoiding excessive reliance on specific power sources. It’s based on our country’s scarcity of natural resources.” However, Yagi cautioned that the targets will not be met if the process of restarting nukes is delayed by regulatory roadblocks. He said, “We should make our utmost effort, but we also hope that the Nuclear Regulation Authority will be conducting safety screenings [of nuclear reactors] in an efficient manner.” His words presaged the NRA’s announcement that some of the pre-operational checks at Sendai station need to be re-done, delaying the lengthy, tedious process of restarts another two weeks. The NRA blames the delays on Kyushu Electric Company for “not mere entry mistakes” in their paperwork, but also omissions and discrepancies in technical data. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002208943 -- http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/nra-to-partially-redo-pre-service-inspections-at-sendai-1/

June 8, 2015

  • World Nuclear News reports Japan might begin F. Daiichi fuel removal in 2021. Their source is the Director of the Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation (NDF), Yasuharu Igarishi. He stated,"We expect to select the retrieval method within the next few years, after which detailed design and mock-up tests will follow. For the start of retrieval of fuel debris, we are now thinking 2021." Three possible methods are being weighed: total submersion of the Primary Containment Vessel, partial submersion with top-access retrieval, or side access through to RPV pedestal. Igarishi also listed the five guiding principles in the plan; methods that are safe, proven, efficient, timely and "field-oriented"…based on the actual conditions confronted. The plan will further include waste management involving storage, processing and disposal methods. http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/WR-Japan-to-start-Fukushima-fuel-debris-removal-in-2021-04061501.html

  • Many Fukushima businesses will lose compensation in March, 2017. To date, about half of the nearly 5 trillion yen in compensation payments have gone to land owners and businesses. Pay-outs have been made to more than 8,000 proprietors, including tourism and food processing businesses located outside the evacuation zone which have been hurt by empty rumors. The payments were originally scheduled to end in March, 2015, but Tokyo and Tepco have extended the termination date to the end of fiscal 2016. The two-year lump sum payment will be offered to small- and medium-sized businesses with investments or capital of up to 100 million yen, as well as to individual business operators on a case-by case basis. Those outside the no-go zone could receive payments covering rumor-based losses until July, 2017. Tokyo and the private sector will jointly support those operators rebuilding in the no-go zone, those changing their venues, and find new employment for those who will lose their jobs. On the other hand, farm, fishing, and forestry businesses are expected to continue compensation after the March, 2017 deadline. But, not all firms will necessarily lose compensation in 2017. TEPCO said the condition for compensation payments beyond March 2017 is "being forced to endure ongoing damage due to special circumstances that cannot be avoided." Reaction from business owners is mixed. Rice dealer Ikuo Yamamoto said, “It is premature to stop paying compensation.” On the other hand, beauty salon operator Kumiko Hayakawa said, “It is inappropriate for us to just rely on compensation for so long. But I suspect people may not return to the town.” Bakery owner Masaki Yatsuhashi has opened a new bakery because he did not wish to be dependent on the pay-outs, but doesn’t know if he will reopen in his hometown (Nahara) when the evacuation order is lifted.  http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150608p2a00m0na005000c.html --  http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201506080034

  • The government has decided to nationalize Fukushima’s rural low level waste disposal program. The decision makes Tokyo fully responsible for resolution. Environment Minister Yoshio Mochizuki says they will buy a site in Tomioka to bury materials with radioactive concentrations between 8,000 and 100,000 Becquerels per kilogram. The program will include subsidies designed to regenerate the local economy of Tomioka. The site is currently owned by Fukushima Ecotech Company, and has been used for industrial waste disposal for many years. Materials over 100,000 Bq/kg will be stored at the Futaba/Okuma facility adjacent to F. Daiichi station. Tokyo initially wanted to outsource low level waste disposal, but local officials refused to accept it and pressed for nationalization. The low level materials will be given the title “designated waste”. While the minister claimed “We made the decision to secure the safety of the project,” it seems the underlying reason was to satisfy demands for nationalization made by local officials in Fukushima. Fukushima Governor Masao Uchibori called the decision “an important step”. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201506060036 -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2015060500971 -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/06/06/national/radiated-fukushima-prefecture-soil-disposal-facility-to-be-nationalized/#.VXLLM6Mw8dU

  • Tokyo says “fallout” remains Japan’s top environmental problem. The government’s white paper on the environment says high levels of radiation are still detectible in some locations, causing a number of problems. These difficulties include depopulation and unfounded rumors. The paper calls for renewable energy to be introduced to the problem areas, with part of the profits going towards projects intended to induce former residents to return home. More than two-thirds of the evacuees that are now allowed to go home choose to remain estranged. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150606_04.html

  • Critics attack the government’s projections for electricity production in 2030. Tokyo’s target is for fossil fuels providing about 55%, renewables between 22 and 24%, and nuclear at least 20%, in order to meet the nation’s most recent CO2 reduction goals. Mutsuyoshi Nishimura, a former climate ambassador for Japan, said, “The energy mix is based upon restarting nuclear in a substantive way, which looks unlikely in view of public opposition.” Greenpeace was even more negative, “By relying on a fantasy nuclear energy mix rather than setting ambitious renewable and energy-efficiency targets, Japan will fail to meet even the low-bar CO2 reduction goals that Abe announced.” http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/japans-emissions-target-relying-on-nuclear-seen-as-unrealistic?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2015-06-05_PM  (Comment - None of the critics seem to care about Japan’s massive trade deficit and large electricity price increases due to the nuclear moratorium.)

  • Former PM Junichiro Koizumi continues his antinuclear crusade. He blasted PM Abe’s new energy goals, alleging that they are “in breach of the election pledge. [Abe is] moving against the direction of lowering reliance on nuclear power as much as possible." Koizumi’s words fly in the face of the fact that the new 20-22% nuclear projection is much, much less than to 30% supplied before the Fukushima Accident. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2015/06/356558.html

June 4, 2015

  • Japan’s nuke watchdog sharply criticizes Tepco on the latest contaminated water incident. It turns out that last week’s hose leak was not only mildly contaminated rainwater run-off, but was actually mixed with highly contaminated water from a turbine building basement. On Monday, Tepco revealed that the water in the hose had an activity of 1.1 million Becquerels of “all-Beta” per liter, which was not initially reported. NRA Chair Shunichi Tanaka said, “[TEPCO] has failed to manage [contaminated water] properly.It lacks a strategic approach in addressing the contaminated water issue. [TEPCO] should be held deeply responsible.” It is estimated that at least seven tons escaped the leaky hose over a two day period, and some of it ended up in a drainage channel that outlets to the barricaded inner port (quay). The quay water samples taken nearest the ditch discharge point registered the highest activities measured in the last two years. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201506040105 -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150603_37.html  (Comment - The Japanese Press and the NRA fail to mention that the quay is effectively isolated from the Pacific Ocean. Instead, both make it seem as if the releases were to the open sea, which was not the case. While this exclusion by the Press is understandable considering its admitted antinuclear agenda, the oversight on the part of the NRA is inexcusable.)

  • Two more rural waste storage sites are being built in the F. Daiichi host towns. The temporary “stockyards” effectively double the previous capacity of the project to more than 40,000 cubic meters. This is roughly the amount of material generated by 43 Fukushima municipalities in the last year. To date, the Environment Ministry has transported 3,000m3 of the stuff to the site. Unfortunately, most of the 2,300 owners of remaining land for the entire stockyard (~15km2) have not agreed to sell or lease their land. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html 

  • Full-face masks are no longer required for 90% of the F. Daiichi station. On May 29, the area where full-face masks are no longer needed was expanded to nine-tenths of the total site surface. Unquestionably, work efficiency should have a general improvement. This will be especially true with respect to on-the-job communications. It will also reduce the risk of heat stroke during the summer and other hot periods. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/treatment-ends-of-contaminated-water-at-fukushima-daiichi-while-no-full-face-mask-area-is-expanded-greatly/

  • The new F. Daiichi worker “rest house” and food facility was opened to the Press. Workers will be able to have with hot meals, a place to relax, and an opportunity to socialize. It will aid in local community recovery because most of the facility’s staff are from Fukushima. The Meal Service Center will employ more than 100 people with nineteen from Futaba; an F. Daiichi host community. The center will be able to provide up to 3,000 hot lunches each day, effectively replacing the standard bagged food for about half the number of workers at the site during lunchtime. The building has a floor space of more than 6,400 square meters, with dining areas to accommodate up to 1,200 persons. Plant Chief Akira Ono said, "This facility represents fulfillment of our pledge to provide better working conditions for the people who have been working so hard at Fukushima Daiichi. I'm glad that by the start of providing warm meal to our workers, their health would be more secured, and communication enhanced."It is located on the western edge of the F. Daiichi station property. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2015/1251479_6844.html -- http://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2015/201506-e/150601-01e.html (pictures)

  • Opposition to disposal of rural low level waste is now a main antinuclear focus in Japan. While the nuclear-averse demographic demands that the large number of large waste-filled bags be removed from their current locations, none are willing to have a disposal site in their community. It’s a prime example of not-in-my-back-yard (NIMBY) self-interest. The geological testing for candidate sites has met with stern public opposition. Last year, a Tokyo analytical team went to Kami Town in Miyagi Prefecture, only to be blocked from entering the site by a group of outraged locals. Town officials re-opened the road to the site on Wednesday, but no-one was there to protest because the government test team was not there. One local explained, "I would come running here if the Environment Ministry were to visit to survey the site. Depending on circumstances I would not hesitate to stage a sit-in." The Kami Municipal Government has declared its opposition, in support of the local residents who object to Tokyo’s plans. Kami claims the site selection process is flawed and has passed an ordinance requiring the town’s permission to run the government analyses. There are nearly 3,400 tons of bagged rural wastes currently stored on private property and greenhouse-type sheds in Miyagi Prefecture. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150603p2a00m0na017000c.html

  • Japan’s main antinuclear group seems to be the source of all low level waste aversion. Tokyo’s Citizen’s Nuclear Information Center (CNIC) supports local NIMBY efforts to block creating storage locations for the relatively harmless stuff. They also provide fodder for stoppage of reducing the volumes of material through incineration. Their current focus is to disparage Fukushima Prefecture’s volume-reduction program. CNIC calls the twenty-four incinerators under construction “makeshift, and charges the prefecture with deceit because they allegedly ignore the risk of accidents, such as explosions. CNIC says the plans are not science-based, volumes are not determined properly, do not make Tepco formally responsible for accident countermeasures and final long-term storage, and fails to consider facility dismantling and decontamination costs. The group also alleges that only 99.99% of the incinerator exhaust will be filtered out, that undetectable radioactive micro particles will still be emitted, and that the filters easily break down and expose the public to radiation. Finally CNIC says, “Let’s stop incineration and burial by proposing alternative methods,” although no substitute volume reduction methodology is mentioned. They add that low level wastes are to be treated as if they are used reactor fuel. http://www.cnic.jp/english/?p=3089

  • South Korea agrees to consult with Japan over the trade restriction complaint filed with WTO. Tokyo’s Agriculture Minister, Yoshimasa Hayashi, said, "We received a response [from South Korea] on Friday in Geneva saying it will respond to our country's request for consultations." This is the first step in the World Trade Organization’s process of settling formal disputes. Korea banned imports of 50 marine products from eight prefectures following the Fukushima accident, expanded it to exclude all fish products in 2013, and stretched it to cover all fish and seafood products from everywhere in Japan last month. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2015/06/355978.html

  • Kyushu Electric Co. now says the restart of Sendai unit #1 is expected for August. Previous projections were for a late-July resumption of operation, but the testing of systems prior to loading fuel into the reactor has taken longer than anticipated. It is felt that fuel loading will happen in early July. In addition to pre-operational system testing and fuel loading, the NRA must check on the station’s nuclear emergency capability. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150601_36.html

June 1, 2015

  • Some mildly radioactive water has leaked into the barricaded F. Daiichi inner port (quay). The source of the leak was a hose connecting the storage tank holding radioactive rainwater run-off to a building which housed a decontamination system. The hose developed a crack about one centimeter long. Tepco says the small leak may have continued for two days before discovery. The leakage made it to a nearby drainage ditch that outlets to the quay. Water in the ditch registered 22,000 Becquerels per liter of Beta activity. Activity in the main channel leading to the quay was 6,600 Bq/l, and the levels at sampling points inside the quay nearest the channel outlet ranged between 190-320 Bq/l.  (Aside – The Press incorrectly reports that these are the highest levels ever recorded inside the quay. Actually, these are the highest since Tepco began including gross Beta activity in late 2013. Gross Beta in the quay was reported to be much, much higher in 2011 and 2012, but was not formally posted and archived. The fact there is no increase in Cesium detectible within the quay further belies the NHK statement. - End Aside) NHK describes the contamination levels as “Comparatively highly radioactive” but other news outlets exaggerate the concentrations as “high level radiation” (such as Jiji Press). It should be noted that Jiji Press’ posting that the waters contained 1.1 million Bq/l cannot be verified, and must either be a misprint or have come from an irresponsible source. There is nothing like this in the actual postings of sampling data. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150529_41.html -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150530_09.html -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2015053000175

  • PM Shinzo Abe says he will promote geothermal power for Fukushima Prefecture. He advised that Tokyo will have to ease regulations in order to do this because most geothermal locations are in national and local parks. The PM said he will make the recommendation as a part of the Fukushima revitalization policy package to be unveiled later this month. Abe also said he will promote increasing subsidies to geothermal power development, and take into account the concerns of the prefecture’s many hot springs operators. He said, "Japan must harness the possibilities that geothermal energy offers us." http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150601p2a00m0na008000c.html

  • Japan’s Atomic Industrial Forum says Sendai unit #1 could begin loading fuel as early as June 18. The unit has passed all formal NRA examinations for restart. The current “pre-service” inspection period is being used to test all systems for operability before fuel is loaded into the reactor. The fuel loading should take about four days. Initial low power operation (restart) is planned for the end of July. Sendai unit #1 should be in full-power operation by the end of August. Pre-service inspections for unit #2 should begin on June 10, with fuel load happening about the time unit #1 reaches full commercial operation. Kyushu Electric Co. says they expect unit 2 to be in full commercial operation by the end of October. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/nra-completes-examination-of-sendai-reactors-allowing-unit-1-to-restart-by-july-31/

  • To no-one’s surprise, the IAEA’s report on the Fukushima accident blames both Tepco and Tokyo. Tepco is chastised for failing to consider the possibility of an 8.3 Richter scale quake and resulting 15 meter tsunami. The UN watchdog argues that sufficient evidence existed to show that just such a natural calamity had happened in the past. Contrary to the evidence, Tepco protected against a much weaker quake and a tsunami of 5.7 meters. The IAEA also says that Fukushima Daiichi’s staff was inadequately trained for an ongoing crisis, and there was not enough emergency equipment available to support the emergency. The report also criticizes Tokyo’s now-defunct Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency for allowing Tepco to postpone plans for protecting against the worst-possible tsunami. Tokyo’s standards and policies for accidents were below those of other countries. In addition, Tokyo had no plans for evacuating large numbers of people to prevent radiation exposure during a major natural disaster. IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano says that some of the factors leading to the accident are not unique to Japan and lessons learned should promote a better international safety culture. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201505290052

  • The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has posted a page on nuclear emergency actions. The main points include – the health impact of exposure is well understood, there is no actual evidence of adverse health effects below 100 millisieverts, and exposure limits are intentionally set well-below levels that are actually harmful. The CNSC then stresses (as posted), “Dose limits have mistakenly been regarded as the line between what is safe and what is not safe.The dose limit of 1 mSv per year is a regulatory limit – not a health limit.” The posting also includes the statement, “… [Intervention guidelines] are based on the assumption that actions taken will result in more good than harm.” As we all should know by now; Japan’s public protective actions did far more harm than good.  http://www.nuclearsafety.gc.ca/eng/resources/fact-sheets/managing-public-doses-during-nuclear-emergency.cfm (Comment – These facts concerning regulatory and health limits should be widely disseminated to the Fukushima evacuees. They have suffered unnecessary psychological damage for far too long.)

  • The British Columbia CDC has created an informative website on radioactivity. Here’s the link to the BC Center for Disease Control page “frequently asked questions” concerning Fukushima… http://www.bccdc.ca/healthenv/Radiation/JapanFAQ/default.htm

May 28, 2015

  • Tepco says they have finished Cesium and Strontium removal from all stored waters. This is a major milestone for the wastewater situation at Fukushima Daiichi.  Of the 620,000 tons currently in storage tanks, 440,000 have been run through the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) and Cesium removal filters. The remaining 180,000 tons have been processed by the Cesium filters and the new Strontium removal system, but will need to be run through ALPS. At its peak, the untreated volume was more than 360,000 tons, but the operation of the multi-stage decontamination system has lowered the amount to less than 9,000 tons. The remaining 9,000 tons are in bolted-together storage tanks that are nearly empty and routine pumping cannot reach the liquid. As the tanks are dismantled, the contaminated water will be carefully removed and treated. Tepco had voiced doubts about decontaminating all of the stored liquid by May 31 because of 20,000 tons of salt water used to cool the damaged cores in March of 2011. However, the processing of the salty water has gone better than expected. Although nearly 450,000 tons have been totally processed, the residual Tritium in the liquid must be dealt with. Although biologically harmless, the isotope is detectible and for that reason unacceptable to Northeast Japan’s fishing industry because of widespread consumer fears. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2015/1251076_6844.html -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html -- http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2015/05/27/national/tepco-says-radioactive-water-fukushima-1-tanks-filtered/#.VWW8CqMw8dU -- http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201505260041

  • The dismantling of leak-prone wastewater storage tanks has begun. A total of 40 tanks are scheduled for the first round of the project. The tanks are “flange-type”, with seams between the sections bolted together. This type of tank was used in the early stages of the storage of waters building up in the basements of units #1 through #4 turbine buildings. However, substantial leaks from at least two of the tanks resulted in Tepco abandoning the flange-type construction and shifting to the current type where seams are firmly welded. The two tank groups being handled first are where leaks occurred. The groups are dubbed H1 and H2. Because the interior of the tanks are contaminated and contain some water in the bottom that pumping cannot remove, the dismantlement process will be slow. The twelve H1 tanks will not be finished until the end of September and the 28 tanks in H2 won’t be done until late January of 2016. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2015/images/handouts_150527_01-e.pdf

  • Reuters claims that most Japanese companies are not keen on Tokyo’s policy goal for nuclear. PM Abe’s regime is pointing to nuclear garnering 20-22% of the electricity production for Japan by 2030. In a Reuters poll sent to 481 companies, fourteen percent of the 230 respondents said it will probably be less than 10%, a quarter said it would be between 10 and 14%, and twenty nine percent said it would be 15-19%. It seems the greatest percentage (32%) believe Tokyo’s nuclear goal is possible. A doubting machinery company manager said, "Some nuclear power stations may resume operations, but it will be difficult to expect as many restarts as the government and utilities want," which Reuters says is due to last year’s poll which showed that as few as one-third of the idled nukes might pass Japan’s new, tougher safety standards and supply about 10% of Japan’s grid needs. Other doubters point to seismic problems, legal issues, and local political hurdles that could keep nukes from restarting. http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/05/24/japan-companies-nuclear-idUSL3N0YB2PR20150524?feedType=RSS&feedName=utilitiesSector

  • The Industry Ministry says nuclear should be at least 20% of the nation’s electricity. The ministry believes that without nuclear, energy costs for corporations and households will not be manageable. The most costly of other sources are wind and solar. Even though they will be expensive, the ministry says solar should have 7% contribution and wind 17% of the electricity mix. Any more than that will be financially unwieldy. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/behind_news/politics/AJ201505270040

  • The restarts for Sendai units 1 and 2 surmount another hurdle. The Nuclear Regulation Authority has approved the station’s emergency plans. Owner Kyushu Electric Power Company now has all approvals necessary for restart. Plant staff will be able to load nuclear fuel in unit #1 after the NRA finishes technical inspections and monitors a station emergency drill. Although NRA inspections have been tediously slow, Kyushu Electric still plans on June fuel loading and mid-to-late summer restart of unit #1. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20150527_26.html

  • A Kyoto volcano expert says pyroclastic flows are not a threat to Sendai station. The concern was whether or not an eruption of Aira Caldera, 50 kilometers away, could reach the nukes and destroy them. However, Kyoto Professor Kazuhiro Ishihara said pyroclastic flow should not travel as far as Sendai station.  But, he questioned "whether workers can remain at the plant to ensure the safe operations of the reactors if a volcano eruption effectively cuts off lifelines and residents start to evacuate, even if the pyroclastic flows do not reach the site." He also criticized Kyushu Electric’s plans to consult volcanic experts on whether or not to stop operations at Sendai if there are signs of the caldera erupting. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2015052700745

 

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