Fukushima Accident Updates (Blog)

Your most reliable source of objective Fukushima News... summaries of news reports in Japan's Press on Fukushima Daiichi, often mis-stated as a nuclear disaster.

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December 2, 2022

  • France delivers more Mixed Oxide Fuel (MOX) to Japan. MOX is a mixture of new Uranium with recycled reactor Plutonium extracted from used fuel from Kansai Electric nukes. This most recent shipment was delayed by a year due to technical difficulties at the french factory. This is the sixth such shipment to arrive for the Takahama station.A Kansai Electric official told the Mainichi Shimbun, "We've confirmed that the delivered assemblies fulfill a certain level of quality." Kansai Electric has sufficient recycled Plutonium to have more than 210 fuel assemblies fabricated. https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20221124/p2a/00m/0bu/009000c - https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2022112200567

  • The IAEA visit we posted November 18 has completed. The intent was to assess the safety of F. Daiichi's ALPS-treated wastewaters. The IAEA team news release says Our reports will be made widely available to the public. The IAEA’s scientific assessments should provide confidence to the people of Japan and to all IAEA member countries.”https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/news/6214

  • The Economy Ministry issues a draft action plan to extend nuclear operating licenses beyond 60 years. It also says the 60 year limit will exclude periods of suspension for safety inspections and lawsuits. This means that a nuke idle 10 years for such reasons could operate for up to 70 years. In addition, the development and construction of next-generation nuclear power plants will be built to replace decommissioned plants. This is in line with Prime Minister Kishida's desire to “make maximum use of nuclear energy”. New plants will only be built to replace retire ones and only on properties currently holding nukes. https://japannews.yomiuri.co.jp/society/general-news/20221128-73799/

November 25, 2022

  • IAEA report on F. Daiichi treated water to be released before this coming spring. The International Atomic Energy Agency says it will post the report just before the first release to the sea. IAEA director of safety, Gustavo Caruso, said the team has reviewed technical aspects of the project with transparency. He added that the report will offer a sense of safety for Japan as well as the international community. He also said there will be another IAEA visit in January. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20221118_42/

  • A small part of Iitate village will have its evacuation order lifted in the spring. Mayor Makoto Sugioka says the order will be lifted without prior decontamination and consent of the residents has been given. There is only one household in the subject district. Tokyo says the area is below the standard for removing the restriction, so decontamination is not needed. https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14773728

November 18, 2022

  • The IAEA begins its second safety inspection on F. Daiichi wastewater. The International Atomic Energy Agency's visiting team includes Gustavo Caruso, Director of the Department of Safety and Security. The team is made up of officials from 11 nations including nay-saying neighbors, China and South Korea. Caruso says the team will check the progress to construct facilities for water releases and collect baseline seawater samples. They will post a report on the visit early in 2023. The following includes two pictorials of the visit. https://japannews.yomiuri.co.jp/society/general-news/20221115-70909/ - https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20221114_19/ - https://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2022-e/202211-e/221116-01e.html (pictorial) - https://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2022-e/202211-e/221111-01e.html (pictorial)

  • The F. Daiichi wastewater discharge outlet has been installed. The outlet caisson (large reinforced concrete box} was lowered in place today. The area around it will be back-filled and sealed with concrete in preparation for arrival of the shield machine that will bore the tunnel beneath the seabed. The caisson measures 9x12x10 meters. https://www.tepco.co.jp/en/hd/decommission/information/newsrelease/reference/pdf/2022/reference_20221118_01-e.pdf

  • The NRA approves N-plant operating licenses for 60 years, in principle. The Nuclear regulation Authority has previously licensed Nuke plants for 40 years, with a possible 20 year extension if “hard” inspections show it to be possible. After 30 years of operation, these inspections will occur every 10 years. This policy has been previously approved by the Industry Ministry. https://japannews.yomiuri.co.jp/business/economy/20221116-71307/

  • The World Assembly for Women (WAW) will consider women's needs during emergencies. The 2022 conference will be held in Tokyo on December 3rd. Following the nuke accident in 2011, some female evacuees filed complaints about needs of infants and children were not being met. Similar complaints have been filed due to the war in the Ukraine. As a result of multi-national postings, United Nation's officials will participate. The conference will draw up a set of recommendations for national-level policy-making regarding support for women during disasters. Advisor to the Prime Minister Masako Mori says, "We would like to see that the conference will lead to female support coming true while using stories on women in Fukushima as lessons.” http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=1144

  • An antinuclear petition drive has accumulated nearly 9 million signatures. The drive has been on-going since the F. Daiichi accident in 2011. Journalist Satoshi Kamata says, “After 11 years, the government is now trying to turn back the clock to nuclear power.” https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14766672

November 11, 2022

  • Tokyo considers extending nuke operations beyond the current 60 year licensing period. There are two possibilities being looked at by the Industrial Ministry. One is to remove the 60 year limit outright, without restrictions. The other is to keep the 60 year cap, but not count periods idled by regulatory screenings or court ordered estoppel injunctions. Only periods of actual operation will count towards the 40-60 year licensing limit. The Ministry wants do make its decision by the end of the year. The nuke industry maintains that operation beyond 60 years will be safe if approved maintenance is retained. Unfortunately, the chief of the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), Shinsuke Yamanaka, has reservations about it. He says it “would make it very difficult to design” safety regulations, “It is important for safety regulations to look at the status of nuclear power plants on a calendar year basis [without excluding offline periods].” He used concrete deterioration as one of his main concerns. The anti nuke-leaning Asahi Shimbun belittles the possibility by calling it a “scramble” to extend nuke lifetimes to 70 years and anti-nuke “experts” argue that reactors and relevant equipment cannot avoid time-related degradation even when they are offline. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20221108_23/ - https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2022/11/5fd2ab0ff7ce-japan-looks-to-finalize-nuclear-reactor-service-extension-by-year-end.html - https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2022110801138 - https://japannews.yomiuri.co.jp/business/economy/20221110-69937/ - https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14762992

  • NRA's Fukushima Regional Office head, Ryusuke Kobayashi, feels especially qualified for the job. He studied nuke fusion in graduate school, and spent two years at Three Mile Island in America before applying for the job. He began his time at F. Daiichi in 2011. He has been part of the NRA Secretariat in 2013. He has been head of the office since 2017. He has been instrumental on making Tepco employees feel safe in revealing problems at the plant site. He says, “We can locate the cause of the problems if we communicate better with the workers,” and, “I go to work with a strong sense of determination to work for Fukushima for the rest of my life.” https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14741875

  • U.S. Industry representatives visit F. Daiichi. (pictorial) https://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2022-e/202211-e/221107-01e.html

  • So far, F. Daiichi has cost Japan $82 billion. This is according to the Japanese Board of Audit. This is nearly half of the total cost of about $140 billion, which includes about $50 billion in compensation payments. The government pays the “compensation costs” with money borrowed from financial institutions or through other means. A BOA official says the current cost estimate is sound, “We sincerely listen to various views but at least at the moment, we do not believe the cost will surpass the estimated figure, and we do not plan to review it.” https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14762193

November 4, 2022

  • Japan's NRA considers extending nuclear licenses to as long as eighty years. The Secretariat of the Nuclear Regulation Authority announced this on Wednesday. Nukes that are at least 30 years old will be screened for safety once per decade, and extended for ten years if they pass the test. NRA Chairman Shinsuke Yamanaka said the new proposal “is a regulation much stricter than the current one” for an extension to 60 years. The Secretariat explained the repeated testing by saying “The safety risk due to ‘aging degradation’ increases as time passes.” Pressure vessel embrittlement, containment corrosion, and possible concrete deterioration are listed as the main concerns. PM Fumio Kishida says Japan will use nuclear reactors that meet stringent safety standards in order to reduce carbon emissions and secure a stable electricity supply. The proposal also says the time a unit remains idled for safety reviews will continue to count as part of the operating period, although some of the staff feels otherwise. https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14759438 - https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2022/11/7163c5d57f67-japan-aging-nuclear-plants-may-be-checked-at-least-once-a-decade.html - https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2022110201213

  • Tepco continues to try and convince foreign governments to drop opposition to the wastewater release. Spokesperson Akira Ono promised to share information openly and not only with neighboring countries. He added that it is important for people to feel secure with the release.   https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/news/6184

  • Masao Uchibori has won a third term as governor of Fukushima Prefecture. He gained over 575, 000 votes, easily distancing opponent Yoshiaki Kusano who got less than 78,000 votes. Kusano ran on a ticket based on opposition to the release of the harmless wastewater from the nuke plant. He was supported by the Japanese Communist Party. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2022103100009

  • Japan will consider developing a next generation reactor system. The HTGR (High-Temperature Gas-cooled Reactor, which uses helium gas to cool the reactor's core, instead of demineralized water. This will allow higher coolant temperatures that will improve operational efficiency through the used of gas turbines. Proponents say it will also be safer than standard BWRs an PWRs. If japan is successful, it will be the world's first commercial HTGR. Industry Minister Nishimura Yasutoshi says nuclear power is extremely important to achieve both stable power supply and decarbonization and the HTGR will not succumb to the shortfalls of BWRs and PWRS. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20221029_14/ - https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20221029_17/

  • A brief (20 second) video on nuclear waste container safety is posted on tiktok. It is very good... highly recommended. https://www.tiktok.com/@bigcleanenergy/video/7119469076917046574?is_from_webapp=v1&item_id=7119469076917046574

October 21, 2022

  • Higashidori's mayor asks Tepco to finish its nuke plant. Mayor Hatanaka Toshiaki visited Tepco headquarters on Tuesday to make the personal request. He wants a firm completion timetable before the end of March, 2023. Unit No. 1 construction was halted in 2011 at 10% completion. It must pass the Nuclear Regulation Authority's post-Fukushima approval. The mayor said circumstances surrounding nuclear power and the government's energy policy are changing, and he wants the town's nuke finished before the community loses patience. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20221018_24/

  • The wastewater issue is the focus of the Fukushima governor's race. Incumbent Masao Uchibori supports the government's position on the matter, but his opponent, Yoshiaki Kusano, backed by the Communist Party, takes the opposite stance. Uchibori says, "Our long battle with reputational damage from the nuclear accident will continue," and "I would like to take on the challenges of keeping the reconstruction works moving and revitalizing regional communities with all my energy and heart." Meanwhile Kusano opposes the release of the harmless waters and accused Uchibori of "effectively tolerating the wastewater release plan” proffered by Tokyo. rhttp://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=1136

  • Sendai Units 1 & 2 seek licensing extensions beyond 40 years. Kyushu Electric testing shows there will be no problem in extending the largely arbitrary operating lifetime of 40 years. If the Nuclear Regulation Authority approves it, the units will be the fifth and sixth Japanese nukes to have their politically-based lifetimes extended to 60 years. The Kagoshima governor does not oppose the Kyushu Electric request. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/news/6180

October 14, 2022

  • Japan plans to reestablish stable supplies of energy. On September 28, METI minister Nishimura pointed to the war in the Ukraine that has altered the global energy situation, saying “Scrambles for energy are expected to intensify in the future.” He added that nukes can solve the problems that will likely surface. Here are the caveats – (1) 17 nukes that have cleared compatibility examinations are put in service by 2030 (2) Those under construction bring the total to 36, and (3) all nukes have their licensing lifetimes extended to 80 years. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/news/6155

  • Meanwhile, the U.N. says Japan should do more for Fukushima evacuees. Specifically, housing, jobs and other needs, regardless of whether they fled forcibly or not. Human rights expert Cecilia Jimenez-Damary said government programs to assist them have not been effectively used to address the vulnerability of the evacuees, “Those laws should not remain just laws on the books, but they should be implemented. Unfortunately, because they are not fully implemented, to a certain extent, this explains the proliferation of litigation against TEPCO and the government.” She added that evacuees have received unequal treatment depending on whether they were forced to leave no-go zones or left voluntarily. Voluntary evacuees are seen as having left unnecessarily and are excluded from TEPCO compensation and many other government support measures. “The categorization of forced evacuees and voluntary evacuees, especially when it comes to receiving support and assistance, should therefore be dropped in practice,” adding that the discrimination has “no justification under international law.” Seven people from Fukushima have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, and another 290 are so suspected, from the 380,000 children who were age 18 or younger at the time of the tsunami-caused accident. It is felt this rate is due to over diagnosis. https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14738336 - https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20221008/p2g/00m/0na/020000c

October 7, 2022

  • Japan to consider lifting the 60 year limit on nuke operations. Previously, the limit for operation was 40 years, with a possible 20 year extension after reaching 40 years. The possible extension could go beyond the 60 year total. PM Kishida wants to see what can be done to reduce future carbon emissions. Nuclear Regulation Authority Chair Shinsuke Yamanaka says,"We can assure you that strict regulations will never be compromised."https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2022100501092 - https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20221006/p2g/00m/0sc/003000c

  • Mihama unit #3 has completed its prolonged outage. In July 2021, it was the first Japanese nuke to be restarted beyond 40 years of licensing. The current planned outage began in October 2021, but restart has been delayed while awaiting completion of the NRA mandated emergency (remote) operating facility. The facility became operational on July 28th. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/news/6150

September 30, 2022

  • Tokyo's new Minister of Reconstruction visits F. Daiichi. Mr. Kenya Akiba overlooked the station from high ground, was briefed on the chemical characteristics of ALPS treated wastewater, and saw the marine organism rearing facility. (pictorial) https://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2022-e/202209-e/220928-01e.html

  • A closing ceremony was held in Namie for nine Fukushima schools. Mayor Eikou Yoshida of Namie said, "The closing of the schools, which were communities that bounded the area and acted as symbols, has left a gaping hole in my heart."Tsushima Junior High School graduate Sumio Konno added that the ceremony revived his memories of the school before its forced its closing. https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20220926/p2a/00m/0na/009000 

September 23, 2022

  • Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority is 10 years old. It was formed in September 2012, after the questionable policies of its predecessor were found to be lacking following the 2011 F. Daiichi accident. It upgraded Japan's nuclear safety standards, purported to be the most stringent in the world. Since NRA screenings began in July, 2013, only ten units have been allowed to operate. Several of those are now idled based of a requirement to have remote operating capability, in response to national anxiety over terrorists. Current NRA chief Toyoshi Fuketa warns that there can never be a revival of the so-called “safety myth” allegedly behind the Fukushima accident. He is concerned that Tokyo might eventually resurrect the “myth” if it lets its guard down. Although the government says it wants to accelerate restarts and build new nukes, Fuketa says it must happen by maintaining strict regulations. Prime Minister Kishida wants nine currently idled nukes restarted by the end of the year. The standards now in place are supposed protect nukes during natural disasters. Unfortunately, the drawn out screening process will not be relaxed. NRA Chair Fuketa confirms We cannot hope to shorten the screening period significantly.” Fuketa will resign later this month, to be replaced by colleague and nuclear fuel expert Shinsuke Yamanaka. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2022091900172 - https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20220921_28/ - https://japannews.yomiuri.co.jp/politics/politics-government/20220919-59147/

  • Add Micronesia to the list of deniers over the release of F. Daiichi wastewater. Micronesia's President David Panuelo made the asseveration to the United Nations. He said the country has the “gravest concern” about such a release,"We cannot close our eyes to the unimaginable threats of nuclear contamination, marine pollution, and eventual destruction of the Blue Pacific Continent. The impacts of this decision are both trans-boundary and inter-generational in nature. As Micronesia’s head of state, I cannot allow the destruction of our ocean resources that support the livelihood of our people."  https://japantoday.com/category/national/at-u.n.-micronesia-denounces-japan-plan-to-release-fukushima-water-into-pacific1

  • The Yomiuri Shimbun says 40% of Japan's nuke operators lack actual experience. The Yomiuri is the country's #1 news outlet. In most cases, it is because of the prolonged nuclear moratorium on nukes and strict post Fukushima regulations. To overcome these things, power companies use simulators and/or send operators to operating nuclear power plants for training to prepare them for the day their own units can be restarted. One operator says, I cannot gain (experience)just by reading manuals. I want to take part in the restart of (my) plant with confidence.” Another says, Operators must have actual experience to perceive any abnormalities instantly.” Of the seven utilities now under safety review, only 37% of their operators have actually operated nukes. https://japannews.yomiuri.co.jp/business/companies/20220918-59196/

  • France returns reprocessed nuke fuel (MOX) to Japan. MOX is the acronym for Mixed Oxide because it is a combination of 92% Uranium and 8% recycled Plutonium separated from used nuke fuel. The usual environmental naysayers say the shipping of the material is exceedingly treacherous. Greenpeace says "Transporting such dangerous materials from a nuclear proliferation point of view is completely irresponsible."   https://japantoday.com/category/national/france-sends-latest-nuclear-shipment-to-japan

September 16, 2022

  • Tepco posts its status report on testing marine organisms for biological effects from F. Daiichi wastewater. It is called a “rearing test”. Tepco explains, “In order to alleviate people’s concerns and to cultivate peace of mind, we will rear marine organisms in tanks of seawater containing ALPS treated water and compare them with organisms reared in normal seawater and report the results carefully in an easy-to-understand manner.” They are now beginning “preparation stage 2”, moving from mock-ups to actual rearing tanks. The first species tested is Flounder. They will also eventually test seaweed and Abalone. https://www.tepco.co.jp/en/hd/decommission/information/newsrelease/reference/pdf/2022/reference_20220913_01-e.pdf

  • Tokyo's Economy Ministry wants to promote “clean energy”, including new nukes. The goal is to “decarbonize” the electric power supply. The system will be paid for by consumer electricity fees. Currently, power providers pay into a fund to ensure a stable supply of electricity with existing units. The new program will cover construction of new units, including nuclear. The concept is supported by Prime Minister Kishida. https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14720336

September 9, 2022

  • Tepco opens construction of the F. Daiichi wastewater release tunnel to the News media. Work began in early August, first boring down 16 meters, and then horizontally out to sea. The tunnel begins near the quay wall of units number 5 & 6. Work has progressed at at rate of 5 to 6 meters per day. It seems the only issue with starting the release is Tepco and Tokyo gaining local public understanding. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20220906_24/

  • Fukushima Minpo posts the latest news on reopening part of Futaba to repopulation. A symbolic event occurred on August 29th to mark the reopening, Event organizer Kazuharu Fukuda said, "At long last, we are able to make a fresh start toward reconstruction in a visible manner." Futaba mayor Shiro Izawa said that he hopes "this opportunity being given today will move us forward step by step." Governor Masao Uchibori added, "This is a result of everyone in this town working together for reconstruction and revival of their hometown while cherishing a strong desire to make it exist by all means." http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=1123

  • Construction of the Oma nuclear plant in Aomori is further delayed. If and when completed, it will be the world's first nuke using only MOX (Mixed Oxide) fuel. MOX is recycled nuclear fuel, containing both Uranium and Plutonium. J-Power official Osamu Hagiwara said the screening of the plant, including its anti-quake measures, is taking time. Plant operation is now expected in 2030. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20220909_31 

September 2, 2022

  • Submersion for F. Daiichi #3 corium removal? Maybe! It would require turning the reactor building into a leak-proof, water-filled structure. If Tokyo chooses this method, it would provide at least two critical benefits. First, water is a great radiation shield, which would keep workers from over-exposure during the removal procedure. Secondly, debris removal could be effected from the top of the reactor vessel and greatly simplify things. The concept has no real-world track record, but it is a possibility.  https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2022/09/7822a9ad9e56-new-submersion-method-in-consideration-for-fukushima-debris-cleanup.html

  • Part of Futaba is officially reopened. On Monday the 29th, a celebration for residents was held at JR Futaba railway station. Resident Fukuda Kazuharu said that the lifting is the first visible step forward for the town. He said he wants to revitalize Futaba, not for the sake of the town but rather for himself. Mayor Izawa Shiro said that only a few residents might return at first, but the number will increase day by day. However, the Asahi Shimbun says the reopening is a virtual failure. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20220830_11/ - https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14706619

  • Tokyo mulls over a new fund to protect Fukushima fishermen. This will be in addition to hundreds of millions in funding already promised.  A written proposal says (in part), that the government will “introduce measures continuously to realize sustainable fishing operations through the use of a fund.” The government will also continue to consider local resident's protests. The plan also calls on the government to have TEPCO to draw up compensation standards for each region and industry by year-end. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20220830_22/ - https://japannews.yomiuri.co.jp/society/general-news/20220831-55123/

  • Japan's ruling party urges upgraded decontamination work in Fukushima's difficult to return zones. The Liberal Democratic Party has proposals for rebuilding the areas affected by the 2011 natural disasters and nuclear accident. The lawmakers are focusing on the F. Daiichi co-host towns of Okuma and Futaba.  https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20220829_05/

  • Mihama #3 is restarted. Restart of the 826 megawatt BWR has been delayed by several recent problems. The restart will go a long way toward restart of Kansai Electric's Takahama units #1 and #2, next year. The three units all have surpassed their initial 40 year licensing. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2022083000786

August 26, 2022

August 19, 2022

  • The new Industry Minister,Yasutoshi Nishimura, visits F. Daiichi. He seems to think the main problem is the ongoing challenge to the release of wastewater containing “trace” levels of Tritium. While at F. Daiichi, he said, "I will give my best in gaining understanding on safety (of the discharge plan) and preventing reputational damage" to local businesses. https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2022/08/fc4793599f8f-japans-industry-minister-inspects-crippled-fukushima-nuclear-plant.html

  • Industry MinisterNishimura says idled nukes need to be restarted soon. Why? Because Japan needs “a stable electric power supply from next summer and onward.” He added one caveat, "We are not thinking about building new nuclear plants or expanding or rebuilding existing plants as of now." https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2022081300293

  • Local support for a Hamaoka nuke restart takes a sharp upswing. This is the result of a polling of three nearby cities, Kakegawa, Makinohara, and Kikugawa. Kakegawa Mayor Takashi Kubota said, “More young people today have little knowledge of the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, which explains the higher ratio of supportive individuals. The outcome was also no doubt influenced by rising energy prices and Chubu Electric’s campaign to foster greater understanding over the issue of a restart.” He added that “the plan for reactor restarts has yet to gain the full approval of residents.” https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14687320

Next -  https://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/fukushima-134-6-10-2022-7-1-2022.html