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Fukushima...3/10/16-7/6/16


October 23, 2016

331st  Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers

The Hiroshima Syndrome’s Fukushima Commentary is proudly hosting the latest edition of the Carnival of Nuclear Bloggers. This week, we have postings by Dr. James Conca, Meredith Angwin, Jessica Lovering, Dan Yurman, and Dr. Gail Marcus.

Here’s the Fact or Fiction (?) quiz for this week… Guacamole is almost as radioactive as bananas.

Now…for this week’s Blogs. To read the full articles, please click on the individual links. Blog topics for this edition include… Fukushima apples featured in a world cocktail competition, how the Vermont Yankee decommissioning fund helps schools, why Britain’s Hinckley Point C is not a stealth military project, the case for a nuclear energy investment bank, and how replacing CFCs with HFCs might not be a good choice.

*              *              *

From Dr. James Conca at Forbes Magazine

Fukushima Apples Are Dynamite In Cocktails

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2016/10/19/fukushima-apples-are-dynamite-in-cocktails/#34ea856d16c3

From Meredith Angwin at Yes Vermont Yankee

Vermont Yankee Decomm Fund Supports Local Schools

(guest post by Guy Page)

http://yesvy.blogspot.com/2016/10/vermont-yankee-decomm-fund-supports.html#.WAk9cjKZMUE 

From Jessica Lovering of The Breakthrough Institute

Britain’s Civilian Nuclear Program Is Not a Stealth Military Program

http://thebreakthrough.org/index.php/voices/britains-civilian-nuclear-program-is-not-a-stealth-military-program

From Dan Yurman at Neutron Bytes

The Case for a Nuclear Energy Investment Bank

https://neutronbytes.com/2016/10/22/the-case-for-a-nuclear-energy-investment-bank/

 

From Dr. Gail Marcus at Nuke Power Talk

More Unintended Consequences: Air Pollution versus Climate change

http://nukepowertalk.blogspot.com/2016/10/more-unintended-consequences.html 

From Andy Dawson at Energy Matters

UK Electricity 2050 Part 1: a demand model

 http://euanmearns.com/uk-electricity-2050-part-1-a-demand-model/

From Brian Wang at Next Big Future

First two generation 3+ nuclear reactors will be operation in China by the end of this year

http://www.nextbigfuture.com/2016/10/first-two-generation-3-nuclear-reactors.html

*                      *                      *

Here’s the Fact or Fiction (?) answer for this week… Fact.

A recent scientific study found that many common household items are detectibly radioactive, including foods. Most people already know that bananas are radioactive, as well as potatoes, carrots, lima beans, red meat, low sodium table salt, beer, and brazil nuts, But, no we know that guacamole must be added to the list. Researchers from North Carolina State University found that the avocado is almost as radioactive as the banana: 0.16 micrograys per hour vs. 0.17 µGy/hr. Is this a lot? Of course not. It is trvial, and much, much less than any reasonable level of concern. By the way… carrots top the list as perhaps the most radioactive food, at more than double the level of avocados and bananas, closely followed by brazil nuts. https://news.ncsu.edu/2016/10/radioactive-avocado-2016/ -- http://www.houstonpress.com/restaurants/8-foods-you-didnt-know-are-radioactive-6410052 

September 18, 2016

326thCarnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers
 
The Hiroshima Syndrome’s Fukushima Commentary is proudly hosting the latest edition of the Carnival of Nuclear Bloggers. This week, we have postings by Meredith Angwin, Dr. James Conca, Gail Marcus, and Dan Yurman.
 
Here’s the Fact or Fiction (?) quiz for this week… James Chadwick was the first to theorize the existence of the neutron, an –uncharged sub-atomic particle.
 
Now…for this week’s Blogs. To read the full articles, please click on the individual links. Blog topics for this edition include… Comparing the French failure to build the Panama Canal with the "renewable mandates" requirement in Vermont, how Asia may be the reason behind the variability in oil prices, self-driving cars and nuclear power, and UK’s Hinkley Point gets a “green light”.
*              *              *
From Meredith Angwin’s Yes Vermont Yankee
 
The Panama Canal and the Renewable Mandate: Guest post by Guy Page
 
 
From Dr. James Conca at Forbes Magazine
 
Wobbling Asian Demand Is a Problem for Oil Industry
 
 
From Gail Marcus at Nuke Power Talk
 
Self-Driving Cars and Nuclear Power
 
 
From Dan Yurman’s Neutron Bytes
 
UK’s Hinkley Point Nuclear Project Gets Green Light
 
 
*                      *                      *
Here’s the Fact or Fiction (?) answer for this week… Fiction.
 
Chadwick is credited with the discovery of the neutron, but his mentor, Ernest Rutherford, is believed to be the first to theorize on its existence. Rutherford discovered the proton in 1919, but protons-alone could not account for the mass of atomic nuclei. Many researchers had pondered this problem, but Rutherford was the first to postulate there was another, albeit uncharged particle in the nucleus. He called it a neutron, and imagined it as a closely paired proton and electron. Chadwick published his “Possible Existence of a neutron” in 1932, and was awarded the Nobel Prize on 1935. http://chemistry.bd.psu.edu/jircitano/neutron.html
 
September 4, 2016
 
NY Times Needs To Get Its Fukushima Facts Straight
 
On August 29th, the New York Times the article Japan’s $320 Million Gamble at Fukushima: An Underground Ice Wall. (1) The report is fraught with speculations and FUD – appeals to Fear, Uncertainty, and/or Doubt - with respect to Fukushima’s impermeable “ice wall” project. The Times is usually a source of reliable information, but the newspaper fumbled this one.
 
In the fourth paragraph, the speculations begin. While correctly stating that the ice wall will act as a dam to keep groundwater from flowing into the basements of the four damaged F. Daiichi units, it incorrectly says,  “It will also help stop leaks of radioactive water into the nearby Pacific Ocean.” Actually, the ice wall has nothing to do with the assumptive leakage of contaminated groundwater into the Pacific. Either the Times failed to keep up with Tepco postings about the ice wall over the past year, or the news outlet doubts the utility’s reports. Actually, a steel and concrete impermeable wall has been sunk deeply into the earth along more than 700 meters of the shoreline to prevent contaminated groundwater reaching the sea; not the inland ice wall.
 
The Times report mentions that Tepco’s shore-line wall has stopped all “measurable leaks” to the open sea. But, uncertainty and doubt are immediately injected with the statement, “Some scientists say that radioactive water may still be seeping through layers of permeable rock that lie deep below the plant, emptying into the Pacific far offshore.” As we shall soon see, this is not true. No such permeable layer exists that extends far out to sea, and never has existed.
 
The Times says Tepco built the power station by cutting away the shore’s hillside, which is true. But, this was not done “so that the plant could pump in water more easily.” The hillside was actually lowered (not removed) to facilitate building a break-walled harbor so that large, heavy plant equipment (like the reactor pressure vessels) could be shipped in without use of roads or railroads. Thus, we have a completely unfounded speculation.
Immediately following is the false assumption about the plant being built on permeable rock. The Times says the hillside removal “…put the buildings in contact with a deep layer of permeable rock filled with water…” The underlying bedrock beneath the plant is impermeable metamorphic ge0ology (granitic)! (2,3) There was some sandstone above the bedrock that terminated at the cliff along the pre-construction shore-line, but it did not extend “far out to sea”. The sandstone was removed to effect the port’s construction, then backfilled with soil and gravel which now surrounds the basement walls. The groundwater flow is above the bedrock through the mixture of soil and gravel. The rock under the reactor buildings is not permeable, so it cannot be filled with water.
 
Next we have two overlapping fallacious statement. The first concerns the in-leakage of ground water (plus leaks from the damaged units), “The continual flood of radioactive water has prevented engineers from searching for the (formerly molten) fuel.” The actual reason for not yet making a physical search is the high radiation levels inside the Primary Containments of units #1, 2 & 3! Staff could only spend a precious few minutes in such an environment before exceeding an exposure limit. In addition, the Times says no-one knows where the re-solidified fuel (corium) is located. Muon tomography has shown that the greater majority of the corium for unit #2 is inside the reactor Pressure Vessel’s bottom head, while a small fraction still remains in the core barrel above the head. It did not melt “…through the reactor’s steel floors and possibly into the basement underneath.” It seems the NY Times is trying to keep uncertainty and doubt alive concerning location of the corium at F. Daiichi.
 
Subsequently, The Times tries to connect the constant build-up of stored water in nearly 1,000 large tanks to the ice wall. To the contrary, the massive storage problem has nothing to do with the ice wall. About 95% of the water now stored in these tanks has been purified, removing all but one of the contained radioactive contaminants. The remaining isotope is Tritium; a biologically-harmless, albeit naturally-occurring form of Hydrogen. The only reason these hundreds of thousands of gallons of cleansed waters are not being released to the sea is radiation-based misconceptions and rumors about “tainting” the food-fish caught off the Tohoku coast. Nothing of the sort would happen if it were all released, but extreme radiophobia is a powerful hurdle to overcome in Japan.
 
Next, the Times continues the onslaught of uncertainty and doubt. While freezing large volumes of soil has been successfully used to bore massive tunnels around the world, the Times adds, “…but not on this scale. And certainly not on the site of a major nuclear disaster,” which really makes no difference. But, anything associated with a nuclear plant is always made to seem unique and inordinately iffy. In addition, the Times evokes unidentified “skeptics” who infer that the ice wall is actually “more like a sieve” because a fraction of a percent of the wall has yet to fully freeze and Tokyo requires that a half-dozen sections must not be solidified.  
 
Then, unidentified critics are evoked who say the ice wall is merely a temporary fix, the refrigerant is corrosive and could fail catastrophically, and (of course) no-one knows how the technology will hold up “in a high radiation environment”.! The Times obviously doesn’t know that a high radiation zone is defined as having exposure levels in excess of 100 millisieverts per hour. (4) None of ice wall comes close to this level.
 
In closing, the Times cites a former construction minister (I cannot find a listing for a Construction Ministry in Japan) who makes the following provocative statement, “Why build such an elaborate and fragile wall when there is a more permanent solution available?” He wants a 100 feet deep, mile-long trench dug around the four buildings and filled with “liquid concrete that is commonly used to block water.” Thus, a speculation is offered as the ultimate solution! But, the article overlooks the fact that flow of contaminated water into the four damaged unit’s basements will continue because of leaking cooling water pumped into units #1, 2, & 3! The ice wall might stop the influx of groundwater, but not the hundreds of gallons per day from system leaks!
 
The waste water problem at F. Daiichi is not what the Times purports. The problem is, was, and will continue to be Japan’s widespread fear of the radiation bogeyman.
 
References:
1 - http://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/30/science/fukushima-daiichi-nuclear-plant-cleanup-ice-wall.html?smid=fb-nytscience&smtyp=cur&_r=1
2 - https://www.researchgate.net/publication/285694770_Geology_and_petrography_of_the_Abukuma_granites_in_the_Hiyama_district_Fukushima_Prefecture_NE_Japan
3 - http://www.fukushima-blog.com/article-the-geology-of-fukushima-88575278.html  
4 - https://www.remm.nlm.gov/zones_radincident.htm

Commentary August 20, 2016

Does the Asahi Shimbun Comprehend the F. Daiichi Ice Wall’s Purpose?

On Friday, August 19, 2016, the NRA said the F. Daiichi “ice wall” is failing. (1) Nuclear Regulation Authority panel member Yoshinori Kitsutaka explained, “The plan to block groundwater with a frozen wall of earth is failing. They need to come up with another solution, even if they keep going forward with the plan.”

The Asahi Shimbun alleges that the report of failure is because the amount of groundwater flow on the ocean-side of the wall remains constant. The Asahi fails to understand that the ice wall is only supposed to change flows inside, not outside the wall. This should be self-evident by reading the first bullet on the cover page of Tepco’s weekly report on the thermal status of the wall, “The purpose of the Landside Impermeable Wall construction lies not in freezing soil to form an underground wall but in keeping groundwater from flowing into the reactor/turbine buildings and preventing new contaminated water from being generated.” (2)

The Asahi’s materially-incorrect assertion is analogous to someone building a tall fence to keep deer out of their garden, but calling it a failure because the number of deer seen outside the fence has not changed! The F. Daiichi “ice wall” is designed to keep the groundwater inside the fence from flowing outward and possibly contaminating fresh groundwater flowing from the mountains to the sea. Thus, it makes no rational sense to assume that the NRA’s judgment of “failure” is because groundwater flows outside the ice wall have not changed.

So, where did the Asahi get this incorrect idea from? Is it merely an inability to correctly decipher Tepco’s statement of purpose posted with each and every weekly report? That seems unlikely, to say the least. Surely the staff at the Asahi can read and comprehend! Or, is the Asahi continuing its aversion to statements posted out of the Tepco Press room? Perhaps, but the data being used by the newspaper to make its “failure” rationale is entirely coming from Tepco! In this case, the Asahi would be accepting the data but rejecting Tepco’s statement of purpose, which would be contradictory. This would also suggest a most egregious form of cherry-picking.

The only remaining option is that the Asahi has garnered the incorrect notion from the NRA! If this is the case, we are faced with a far worse situation. The NRA is supposed to have sufficient engineering and technical expertise to regulate with expert capability. But, if it promotes this sort of misinformational speculation - and proffers it as fact - then we have a regulatory failure!

The reason for our critical questioning of the Asahi is that it has the second-largest, circulation of all newspapers in Japan (12 million), exceeded only by the Yomiuri Shimbun (14 million). The Asahi is read by at least 10% of Japan’s adult population, thus it is an important source of information in the minds of a significant number of Japan’s citizens. That this news outlet provide its readership with correct information, seems essential. Utterly false reporting should be avoided like the plague! It doesn’t matter where the untrue information came from. The Asahi is historically an antinuclear bastion, without question. But, an on-going pursuit of the nuclear-critical persuasion, which flies in the face of truth, is unforgivable! The people of Japan deserve better.

References:

1 - http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201608190060.html  

2https://www4.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2016/images/handouts_160812_01-e.pdf

July 6, 2016

No Melt-through at F. Daiichi Unit #2 Suggests the Same with Unit #3

It can no longer be said that no-one knows where any of the F. Daiichi melted fuel is located. On June 30th, NHK World reported that the corium (formerly molten and re-solidified fuel core) for unit #2 is in the reactor’s (RPV) bottom head. (1) High-tech muon imaging for unit #2 included the bottom head, which was not possible with the earlier imaging for unit #1. NHK reports the still-in-process image now shows a “large, black shadow” inside the 8-inch thick steel bottom head of unit #2, strongly indicating that the corium was contained. No melt-through, if you will.
 
When the unit #1 imaging was reported, it made major headlines across Japan and many popular news outlets world-wide. This was because the image showed, not surprisingly, that the entire unit #1 core was gone. Where it ended up is still a matter of debate, though it is this reporter’s opinion that much, if not most of the corium remains pooled inside the unit #1 RPV bottom head. Unfortunately, the geometry of the scan for unit #1 could not include the bottom head of the RPV. So, the “nobody knows where it is” rhetoric was part-and-parcel to all news reports, continuing the uncertainty and doubt concepts historically common to reporting about nuclear power plants.
 
The new unit #2 discovery was reported by only one news outlet…NHK World. It is nowhere else to be found, neither inside nor outside Japan. We can be reasonably sure that if the unit #2 muon image showed the bottom head to be empty, it would have made headlines everywhere; especially in the Japanese press. But, with the exception of NHK World, the discovery of the contained corium hasn’t seen the journalistic light of day!
 
Finding the re-solidified mass in the bottom head of unit #2 literally dashes the “nobody knows” speculations to ashes. We can be assured that we know where the unit #2 fuel core ended up, at the very least. Further, the unit #2 discovery suggests that unit #3’s corium is also cooled and pooled inside its RPV bottom head.
 
Here’s why…
 
According to operator records, Unit #2 fuel uncovery began at approx. 4:30pm on March 14, and remained in a deteriorating condition until 7:54pm. Operator records for unit #3 say fuel uncovery began at 4:15am on March 13, and recovery started at 9:25am. Even though unit #3’s core appears to have been uncovered for about 100 minutes more than with unit #2, it seems unlikely that unit #3 would have experienced complete melt-through of the bottom head. On the other hand, unit #1’s fuel core was probably uncovered for more than 10 hours. Also, with core uncovery beginning about six hours after automatic shutdown (SCRAM), unit #1 had a higher decay heat rate than both units #2 and #3. Thus, the unit #1 notion of bottom head melt-through remains possible.
 
Finding the fuel core of unit #2 remaining inside its RPV, verifies one of this reporter’s assertions late in 2012. (See – “Fukushima Melt-throughs: Fact or Fiction”) I said that there was no way that unit #2 experienced a bottom head melt-through, and likely the same for unit #3. My 2012 prediction that unit #2 suffered a partial meltdown similar to Three Mile Island now seems incorrect. Unit #2 appears to have experienced a full meltdown. The same probably occurred with unit #3, but with no melt-through.
 
The point is that any further speculation of bottom head melt-through for F. Daiichi unit #2 must be ignored. The Muon imaging proves that it did not happen. Further, speculation of a unit #3 bottom head melt-through must be considered questionable.
 
Finding the mass of re-solidified corium with the Muon scan of unit #2 is the most significant news to come out of F. Daiichi this year. But, there has been an utter lack of Press attention given to the locating of unit #2’s corium. It clearly demonstrates that the only “newsworthy” information is that which keeps Fukushima fear, uncertainty, and doubt (FUD) alive. Once again, some “good news” concerning F. Daiichi is intentionally ignored by the world’s news media.

1. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160630_07/

July 3, 2016

316thCarnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers

The Hiroshima Syndrome’s Fukushima Commentary is proudly hosting the latest edition of the Carnival of Nuclear Bloggers. This week, we have postings by Nick Thompson, Rod Adams, Dr. Jim Conca, Dan Yurman, and Brian Wang.

Here’s the Fact or Fiction (?) quiz for this week… The earliest Asian conception of empty space can be found in the Tao Te Ching.

Now…for this week’s Blogs. To read the full articles, please click on the individual links. Blog topics for this edition include… More opinion on the 2025 closure of Diablo Canyon, whether or not proxy campaigns against nuclear energy are funded by non-nuclear competitors, the possible impact of “Brexit” on nukes, Uranium in seawater is 100% renewable, and the latest big news on the fusion front.

*              *              *

From Nick Thompson at Thompson Energy.com

When nuclear is closed in California, what takes its place?

https://thompson.energy/2016/06/29/when-nuclear-is-closed-in-california-what-takes-its-place/ 

 

From Rod Adams at Atomic Insights and Forbes Magazine (2) –

Corporate environmental contributions: Greenwashing or worse? (Atomic Insights)

http://atomicinsights.com/corporate-environmental-contributions-greenwashing-worse/

(and)

How Will Brexit Affect UK Nuclear Energy? Variety Of Views (Forbes)

 http://www.forbes.com/sites/rodadams/2016/06/25/how-will-brexit-affect-uk-nuclear-energy-variety-of-views/#e2a55c119c9e

 

From Dr. Jim Conca at Forbes Magazine -

Uranium Seawater Extraction Makes Nuclear Power Completely Renewable

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2016/07/01/uranium-seawater-extraction-makes-nuclear-power-completely-renewable/#2411465446e2

 

From Dan Yurman at Neutron Bytes (2) -

What about nuclear energy in UK after Brexit?

 https://neutronbytes.com/2016/07/02/what-about-nuclear-energy-in-uk-after-brexit/

(and)

Renewables cannot replace the power of Diablo Canyon

 https://neutronbytes.com/2016/07/02/renewables-cannot-replace-the-power-of-diablo-canyon/ 

 

From Brian Wang at Next Big Future (2) –

LPP Fusion can consistently achieve the ion energy to ignite hydrogen boron in an average shot

. http://nextbigfuture.com/2016/06/lpp-fusion-can-consistently-achieve-ion.html

(and)

Third Generation Laser Uranium Enrichment Technology is likely over 5 times more energy efficient and more compact than the best centrifuges

 http://nextbigfuture.com/2016/06/third-generation-laser-uranium.html

*                      *                      *

Here’s the Fact or Fiction (?) answer for this week… Fact…probably!

The Tao Te Ching is credited to Lao Tze (i.e. Tzu) about 400 BCE. In Chapter 11, we find what is understood as perhaps the first notion of inner space. http://www.wussu.com/laotzu/laotzu11.html -- https://mydescentintomadness.wordpress.com/2010/06/29/tao-te-ching-verse-11/   However, at about the same time, Buddhism’s Dvadasanikaya Sastra was written down (408 BCE). It says that the greatest wisdom is found in emptiness (sunyata). http://www.buddhanet.net/cbp2_f6.htm

May 22, 2016

310thCarnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers

The Hiroshima Syndrome’s Fukushima Commentary is proudly hosting the latest edition of the Carnival of Nuclear Bloggers. This week, we have postings by Dr. Jim Conca, Rod Adams, Dr. Gail Marcus, Steve Alpin, Dan Yurman, John Dobken, and Meredith Angwin.

Here’s the Fact or Fiction (?) quiz for this week… The Fukushima nuclear accident occurred the same year as the 50th anniversary of the world’s first nuclear-powered satellite being launched.

Now…for this week’s Blogs. To read the full articles, please click on the individual links. Blog topics for this edition include… Australia as a global nuke waste repository, natural gas is the energy source actually replacing nuclear, the economic challenges facing nukes, why mixed oxide fuel is so expensive, and a brief history of the antinuclear persuasion.

*              *              *

From Dr. Jim Conca at Forbes Magazine (3) -

Australia Should Cash In On A Single Global Nuclear Repository

www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca

Natural Gas, Not Renewable, Is Replacing Nuclear Power

www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca

Children Win Another Climate Change Legal Case In Mass Supreme Court

www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca

 

From Rod Adams at Forbes Magazine

(Note; Rod has become a new contributor to Forbes. This gives the nuclear blogging community another voice at Forbes, in addition to Dr. Jim Conca.)

Addressing Economic Challenges Facing Nuclear Power Plants

 http://www.forbes.com/sites/rodadams/2016/05/20/addressing-economic-challenges-facing-nuclear-power-plants/#14f4651f1378

 

…and from his home website, Atomic Insights -

How Did the MOX Project Get So Expensive?

 http://atomicinsights.com/mox-project-get-expensive/

 

From Dr. Gail Marcus at Nuke Power Talk

Positive Signs for Nuclear Power: Views from ANS Officers

http://nukepowertalk.blogspot.com/2016/05/positive-signs-for-nuclear-power.html

 

From Steve Alpin at Canadian Energy Issues

Ideology, altruism, and money: a brief history of the anti-nuclear movement

http://canadianenergyissues.com/2016/05/08/i-want-a-divorce-nuclear-energy-and-security-were-a-long-tortured-marriage-in-name-only/

 

From Dan Yurman at Neutron Bytes -

Surrender at Ft. Calhoun

https://neutronbytes.com/2016/05/21/surrender-at-ft-calhoun/

 

From John Dobken at Northwest Clean Energy

It's about value (and the future)

https://northwestcleanenergy.com/2016/05/19/its-about-value-and-the-future/

 

From Meredith Angwin at Yes Vermont Yankee (2) –

Cesium in the biosphere: Guest post by Stewart Faber

http://yesvy.blogspot.com/2016/05/cs-in-biosphere-guest-post-by-stewart.html#.V0CPjjZfD3E

(and)

Payments on the Grid: What Every Citizen Should Know

 http://yesvy.blogspot.com/2016/05/payments-on-grid-what-every-citizen.html#.V0CQ3jZfD3E

*                      *                      *

Here’s the Fact or Fiction (?) answer for this week… Fact.

On June 29, 1961, the Transit 4A satellite became the first test flight of a nuclear power source developed for use in spacecraft. The drum-shaped satellite weighing about 175 pounds was launched by a Thor-DM21 Able-Star rocket. The U.S. Navy's Bureau of Naval Weapons used Transit 4A as one of four navigational satellites used by ships and aircraft. It was a primary tool in regular updating of the navigation systems on Polaris missile submarines. Transit 4A used Plutonium-238 isotopic decay as the source of heat, which was converted to electricity by an array of thermocouples. http://www.space.com/12118-space-nuclear-power-50-years-transit-4a.html

Transit 4A remains in orbit and its path can be tracked at http://www.n2yo.com/?s=116

 

March 10, 2016

Please excuse the lateness of this posting. The Japanese Press has obsessed on yesterday’s Court Injunction which stopped operation of Takahama units #3&4. It has not only the lead story with most major outlets, and the number of side-bar articles is huge, so there has been little or no Fukushima news. In a few other news outlets, there has been a lot of good stuff specific to Fukushima…some of it really good…which is all-but ignored by Press outlets that fixate on Takahama. As a result, we will break this unusually-long Update into two parts: first will be the important, mostly good news concerning Fukushima, followed by an overview of coverage relative to Takahama.

A. Fukushima and related News…

  • A team of experts from four universities conclude that the Fukushima evacuation was not justified. The team consists of experts from City University in London, Manchester University, the Open University and Warwick University. Team head, Professor Phillip Thomas, said “We judged that no one should have been relocated in Fukushima and it could be argued this was a kneejerk reaction. It did more harm than good. An awful lot of disruption has been caused.” A second finding was that the financial impact of the evacuation was up to 150 times greater than what might be judged as rational. Another says Tokyo failed to consider the physical and psychological effects of their actions, leading to more than 1,000 evacuation-related deaths. Further, the fact that prolonged separation from home and hearth causes a significant fraction of evacuees to never wish to return, was overlooked. Thomas argues that governments should carry out a careful assessment before ordering a prolonged “relocation”. In addition, he would like to see more real-time information available to the public on radiation levels in order to avoid hysteria. Funding for the study came from Britain’s Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/fukushima-relocations-were-unjustified-kneejerk-reaction-uk-academics?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2016-03-10_PM  

  • Radiation exposures around F. Daiichi have dropped 65%. The Nuclear Regulation Authority routinely monitors radiation within an 80km radius from helicopters. The first such survey was in October, 2011. This was originally used to verify the efficacy of the extent of the evacuation. Areas with readings that extrapolated to 20 millisieverts per year or more, were considered to have warranted evacuation. The investigation has been run annually, ever since. The aerial survey run in October of last year revealed that there has been an average 65% decrease in exposure levels over the past four years. More than 80% of the drop is attributed to the passage of time, since radioactivity decreases as time passes. Professor Yuichi Onda, University of Tsukuba, says other reasons include isotopes sinking into the soil and decontamination efforts. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160311_04/

  • More than half of Naraha’s population is going home. Six months ago the evacuation order for the town was lifted. The latest Reconstruction Agency data shows that 7.6% of the original 7,000 person population have returned home. In addition, another 34.7% say the plan to return after all recovery plans have been realized, and some 8.4% say they will go back before then. Thus, 50.7% now say they have either returned home, or planning to return home, compared to 45.7% in October, 2014. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=640

  • The chance of catching a fish off Fukushima’s coast with above-limit Cesium is almost zero. The finding was published in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. The team of researchers was Japanese, headed by Hiroshi Okamura of the Fisheries Research Agency. They found the overall risk of contamination exceeding the standard has steadily dropped since the nuke accident, and is now almost zero percent when marine and freshwater fishes were taken together. The Japanese standard is 100 Becquerels per kilogram. They also found that the probability of catching a marine fish with greater than 20 Bq/kg was also almost zero, but 7.5% for freshwater game species. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=638

  • No radioactive cesium was found in Fukushima meals for the second straight year. The study, conducted by Co-op Fukushima, tested home-cooked meals made with locally-grown products and regular tap water. The meals were prepared by 100 residents of Fukushima Prefecture. Due to these results, the Co-op concluded that the probability of ingesting radioactive cesium in Fukushima meals is “extremely low”. The Agricultural Ministry hopes these results will persuade the 12 nations that have varying sorts of bans on Japanese foods, to reconsider. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/03/09/national/five-years-tests-find-no-radioactive-cesium-fukushima-meals/#.VuAerZBf0dV

  • A cattle ranch has been open inside the F. Daiichi exclusion zone as a “protest”, since the nuke accident. “Ranch Hope” is in Namie, about nine miles from F. Daiichi; well-inside the infamous no-go zone. Owner Masami Yoshizawa has tended his prize beef cattle since the accident, despite pressure from Tokyo to slaughter the animals. He feels his efforts protest the government’s attempts to cover-up the impact of the nuke accident on the surrounding environment, "An effort to eliminate a negative reputation is nothing but a cover-up… We'll stay here at the Ranch of Hope, and keep sending our message." Yoshizawa fled his ranch when Tokyo ordered everyone to evacuate, but returned a few weeks later to find that 200 of the 330 animals in his herd had died, of starvation. He then pledged, "I said I was not going to let any more cows die on my ranch." Tokyo has tried to block feed transports the force the rancher to kill his stock. However, the towns of Namie and Minamisoma, which border the property, have literally looked the other way. His cattle now number the pre-accident level of 330. He and his animals are hale and hearty. http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/rancher-near-fukushima-tending-herd-act-defiance  (Comment – Associated Press reporter Mari Yamaguchi tries hard to make the report negative, in keeping with the Press outlet’s historically-antinuclear agenda. But, the facts show that remaining in the exclusion zone - defying government mandates - is not a demonstrable health hazard to anyone or anything.)

  • Still no Fukushima contamination on the North American Pacific coastline. Fukushima InFORM researchers have announced that samples of seawater from the British Columbia coast, mostly taken in October and November, contain no detectible Cs-134; the unmistakable indicator of Fukushima contamination. Meanwhile, off-shore waters indicate a slow, continuous rise in Cs-137, which suggests that the main body of the low concentration Fukushima plume is getting closer to British Columbia. http://fukushimainform.ca/2016/03/08/march-2016-informal-update/

  • A former Tokyo official “blasts” PM Abe, the NRA and Tepco concerning nuclear safety. Yukio Edano was then-PM Naoto Kan’s Cabinet chief during the Fukushima accident. He is now Secretary General of the deposed Democratic Party of Japan. He says that the nation’s new nuclear safety regulations are not as good as they have been touted, “The government explanation is mistaken. The regulations have not won international recognition as the world’s toughest.” As for PM Abe’s support of nuke restarts, he charges Abe with shirking his responsibility as Prime Minister. Edano says there are no proven emergency evacuation plans, so restarts should not be allowed. In response, current Cabinet Chief Yoshida Suga said that Edano’s criticisms were “way off the mark”. As for Tepco, he argues that the recent discovery of an overlooked meltdown criterion in the company emergency manual is condemnable. Edano asserts that Tepco hid the truth, and the company “doesn’t take responsibility like it should.” http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/03/09/national/face-of-government-in-fukushima-aftermath-blasts-abe-push-for-nuclear-power/#.VuBCM5Bf0dV

  • Tokyo’s chief nuke watchdog appeases Japan’s large antinuclear demographic. Nuclear Regulation Authority Chair Shunichi Tanaka says nukes passing his agency’s screenings for restart is “not enough” to insure safety. He urges surrounding communities to increase their vigilance and not drop their guard once a nuke resumes operation. Tanaka cautions against Japan’s new, more-stringent regulations promoting a new “safety myth”. He asserts, “If they [nuclear utilities] are to establish a new safety myth, it would be better to cancel nuclear power.” Tanaka also continues to doubt the efficacy of the ice wall barrier being frozen around the four damaged units at F. Daiichi. He believes the wall “will not essentially help reduce risk”. Tanaka makes one positive statement, saying that rural decontamination work has been effective and should allow people to return home. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/03/08/national/japans-nuclear-watchdog-chief-urges-safety-vigilance-government-utilities/#.Vt71XZBf0dV

  • Tokyo wants to make hydrogen fuel by using geothermal and wind power in Fukushima Prefecture. The electricity from the two renewable sources is planned to be used to power large-scale electrolysis of seawater that generates hydrogen. The fuel will be shipped to Tokyo and supply fuel cell vehicles to be used during the 2020 Olympic Games. The government adopted the plan at a meeting of Cabinet officials on Tuesday. The technology for the project may come from Japanese and/or foreign companies familiar with seawater electrolysis. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016030800738

  • The idled Kashiwazaki-Kashiwa unit #5 had a minor control rod incident on Tuesday. During routine maintenance on the reactor’s control rod drive systems when one of the 185 fission-dampening devices moved a little, causing an alarm condition. The alarm cleared within a minute, indicating that the control rod had returned to its fully-inserted position. Station owner Tepco dutifully reported the unusual event to the NRA. The K-K station has seven Boiling Water reactor units. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160308_29/

  • Greenpeace goes “FUDing” over Chernobyl again. In a clear attempt to continue the promotion of radiophobia using rhetoric steeped in Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt (FUD), the international antinuke propaganda group reports that “…people continue to eat and drink foods with dangerously high radiation levels.” This conclusion is purported as rational because Chernobyl contamination is still detectible, especially in forests. The group reports, "It is in what they eat and what they drink. It is in the wood they use for construction and burn to keep warm." Greenpeace also says the Ukraine is going broke, so it "no longer has sufficient funds to finance the programs needed to properly protect the public... this means the radiation exposure of people still living in the contaminated areas is likely increasing. And just as this contamination will be with them for decades to come, so will the related impacts on their health. Thousands of children, even those born 30 years after Chernobyl, still have to drink radioactively contaminated milk." The report makes the same sort of scare-mongering claims with respect to Fukushima. Greenpeace continues to propagate the false notion that if radiation is detectible – even at the most trivial levels – it must be branded as highly radioactive. http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/locals-eating-radioactive-food-30-years-after-chernobyl-greenpeace-tests/ar-AAgyhry

II. Japan’s Press obsesses with the Takahama injunction…

  • An operation estoppel order was rendered against Takahama station on Wednesday. The injunction was effective immediately Thus, Takahama unit #3, in full commercial operation, had to be shuttered. Shutdown of the unit was completed today. The court, though, is not one from the Takahama plant’s home prefecture; Fukui. Rather, it is the Otsu district court in neighboring Shiga Prefecture. Presiding judge Yoshihiko Yamamoto said, “Kansai Electric has not fully explained its measures for ensuring the safety of the reactors, despite continuing concerns about such issues as measures to tackle a severe accident.” He further argued that Japan’s new regulations were not credible. NRA Chair Shunichi Tanaka responded by defending the new regulations, stressing that they are based on the lessons learned from the Fukushima accident. Lawyers for the 29 Shiga plaintiffs that filed the case called the decision “fair, calm, and wise,” and attacked the NRA’s safety standards as not sufficient to insure safety. They also questioned Kansai Electric Company’s safety culture. When the decision was announced, Kansai Electric immediately said, “We will promptly take steps to file an objection and will do our best to assert and prove the safety of the Takahama-3 and -4 NPPs so as to obtain the lifting of the temporary injunction as soon as possible.” Later, the company stated that the court must not have understood the issue they were adjudicating, and the decision rendered was entirely unacceptable. Meanwhile, a Shiga antinuclear group said that the Injunction was reasonable because an accident at Takahama would exposed the public to radiation and contaminate Lake Biwa; a source of drinking water for the region. They also claimed that no effective evacuation plan exists for the few hundred Shiga residents within the 30km Emergency Planning Zone. The antinukes have filed their own lawsuit, which is pending in the same court. Meanwhile, the governors of the two prefectures reacted to the injunction in very different fashions. Fukui Governor Issei Nishikawa says the decision is extremely regrettable, and inconsistent court decisions make host communities to nukes worry about their future. He emphasized that restart decisions are the responsibility of the central government, but it is the combined obligation of Tokyo, the NRA, and nuke utilities to educate the nation so that the current level of confusion can be overcome. On the other hand, Shiga Governor Taizo Mikazuki said the injunction places emphasis on nuclear safety, and sends the message that Tokyo needs to take public opposition seriously.  http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/otsu-district-court-orders-halt-to-operation-of-takahama-3-4-npps/ -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002800291 -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160309_28/  -- http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/court-orders-japanese-reactor-shut-2nd-offline-37510600 -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160309_36/

  • The injunction gained considerable traction with other international Press outlets on Wednesday. Reuters reported that the decision could potentially throw the government's energy policy into disarray. AFP News said the injunction will be a blow to PM Abe’s government policy on nukes. Bloomberg Business reports the decision undermines the promotion of nuke restarts. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160309_33/ --  http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-03-09/court-isues-injunction-to-prevent-operation-of-takahama-reactors

  • The Otsu Court questions the NRA’s new nuke safety standards. Presiding Judge Yamamoto charged that the NRA should not allow restarts until the cause of the Fukushima accident has been established, which he believes is still lacking, “The investigation into the cause of the nuclear accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant is still under way. Finding the cause of the accident is necessary to prevent a recurrence. If the NRA’s stance is to not pay attention to that point, I cannot help but say that I have major concerns.” He believes the tsunami might not have been the cause of the accident, and until a detailed internal examination of all damaged units at F. Daiichi is completed, the reason for the accident cannot be known with certainty. Yamamoto also attacked the NRA’s regulations and safety philosophy, “It is necessary to sincerely face the mistake that has been repeated every time a disaster occurs — saying that the disaster ‘went beyond our assumptions’. He asserted that the NRA should draw up safety standards “based on the goal of preventing reactors from reaching critical conditions even when a severe accident occurs.” He also charged that nukes should remain idled until “concrete, visible” evacuation plans are in place. Yamamoto feels Tokyo is violating public trust by allowing restarts while plans are incomplete. The Secretariat for the NRA responded, “The court apparently wants to say that the new safety standards are insufficient, but it does not provide clear reasons for that on some points. I cannot understand what logic the court used to reach the conclusion.” http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002802038

  • The Otsu Court decision has given new energy to antinuclear activists. Lawyer Kenichi Ido says the injunction could serve as a “tailwind” for similar moves by antinukes living in prefectures neighboring those hosting nukes, “It will no longer be an obstacle for plaintiffs not to be residents of prefectures that house a nuclear power plant.” He added that the ruling "is different from previous decisions because it calls on Kansai Electric Power Co. to verify how it reinforced the designs and operations of the nuclear plant and how the utility responded to requirements in light of the Fukushima nuclear disaster."  About a hundred residents of Shiga Prefecture gathered together and were literally ecstatic over the injunction. One Shiga resident hailed it as a “landmark decision” and “I got goosebumps when I read the (ruling)”. Another said, “I feel as if I’m in heaven.” A third stated, "The reactivation of the Takahama plant disregards the pains of people in Fukushima. It is only natural that the court has made this decision amid the ongoing Fukushima crisis. Today is the best day for me over the past five years (after the accident)." A Fukushima evacuee from Okuma said, “The ruling is good in preventing others from experiencing the same distress as we have." Finally, Iitate Mayor Norio Kanno hailed the Injunction, "It is absolutely necessary to provide sufficient explanations to residents who are concerned about safety regardless of the distance from nuclear plants. In that sense the ruling acknowledged the voices of residents in Shiga Prefecture even though it doesn't host a nuclear power station." http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160310/p2a/00m/0na/017000c

 

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