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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May 26, 2023

South Korean expert group visits F. Daiichi. They arrived on Monday, may 23, and left today. Their official purpose was to assess the safety of the impending release of essentially harmless wastewater to the ocean. The S. Koreans will next assess what Japan tells them, after returning home. The waters have been run through the ALPS system (Advanced Liquid Processing) which removed all radioisotopes except Tritium, the harmless, mildly radioactive isotope of hydrogen that is part of the water molecules. As such, it is virtually impossible to remove. (See Background Information on Tritium) Japan hopes the visit will dispel rumors and unfounded opinions and influence S. Korea to accept the impending release. Upon leaving, S. Korean team leader Yoo Guk Hee said,"We confirmed things such as how to control facilities and those valves function when the power is out during an emergency," This item was a lead story on virtually all Press outlets in Japan.https://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/background-information-on-tritium.html - https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20230523_15/ - https://japantoday.com/category/national/S-Korean-experts-visit-Fukushima-nuclear-plant-before-treated-water-is-released-into-sea - https://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2023-e/202305-e/230526-01e.html

  • Sendai District court rejects local pressure to bar restart of Onagawa Unit #2. Presiding Judge Mitsuhiro Saito explained, "It cannot be assumed that a specific danger of an accident exists that leads to the abnormal release of radioactive materials. In demanding an injunction against a nuclear plant, plaintiffs have a responsibility to prove the specific danger of an accident." Onagawa was closest to the quake epicenter on 3/11/2011, experiencing the greatest shocks and tsunami in-surge of anywhere in Japan. There was minor damage and no release of airborne contamination. The lawsuit was filed by 17 local residents. The vacuous fears were summed up by a Sendai resident, "At the time (of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant accident), there were fears that nobody would be able to live in the whole of the Tohoku region. I don't want nuclear reactors in the devastated areas to resume operations." The story was covered by nearly all Japan news outlets on Wednesday. https://japantoday.com/category/national/update1-court-rejects-case-opposing-restart-of-miyagi-pref.-nuclear-planthttps://japannews.yomiuri.co.jp/society/general-news/20230524-111723/

  • The NRA has asked Tepco to immediately assess the damage to F. Daiichi Unit #1. Video images of the area immediately below the Reactor Pressure Vessel were recently released. The pedestal supporting the RPV was damaged all the way around, but there is no evidence that its ability to support the the weight has been compromised. The Nuclear regulation Authority says Tepco's assessments to-date have been too optimistic. The company says even iff the pedestal began to lose its ability to hold up the RPV, other surrounding structures would prevent catastrophic collapse. Regardless, the NRA demands upgraded countermeasures to prevent collapse. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20230524_18/

 May 12, 2023

  • Fukushima residents want more publicity about safety of their local fish. Local fishermen still adamantly oppose the release of the F. Daiichi wastewaters. Last week, The Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Associations held free tasting events In Iwaki City and Tokyo. All fish were caught off the prefecture. A Fukushima Fisheries Federation official, Tadaaki Sawada, said, “The volume of fish landed, which plummeted after the Great East Japan Earthquake, has slowly managed to recover to a little over 20% of its pre-2011 level. (but) If the treated water is discharged now, the rumors will be amplified. That’s why we’re absolutely opposed to releasing it into the ocean. The rumors will not disappear unless not only we, but also consumers, the public and the international community, understand the safety of the treated water. I hope that the safety will be properly understood and that reputational damage will not occur. ” Sale of the caught fish have not been good because of consumer radiophobia. https://japannews.yomiuri.co.jp/original/decommissioning-fukushima/20230506-107635/

  • South Korean experts will visit F. Daiichi later this month. S. Korea is one of Japan's neighbors that doubts the safety of the impending water release to the sea, sometime during the next few months. It is not to establish or verify safety. The visit is more of a fact-finding mission. Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura stresses that the visit is "not to evaluate or certify the safety of treated water." Rather, the Koreans will see the over 1,000 storage tanks, have the storage explained, and learn the status of release preparations. After sufficient runs through the ALPS purification system, the concentrations of all radionuclides except Tritium (H-3) will be one-seventh of the international standards for open release. Being an isotope of hydrogen and part of the water molecules, Tritium cannot be removed. Nishimura added, "We hope the inspection will help deepen understanding in South Korea of the safety of the release." Scientifically, Tritium is essentially harmless. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20230507_16/ - https://japantoday.com/category/national/gov't-to-pitch-safety-of-fukushima-water-release-to-s.-korea-experts - https://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/background-information-on-tritium.html

  • The IAEA inspects decontaminated soil to be reused. Nine International Atomic Energy Agency delegates visited Fukushima Prefecture this week to examine stored soils that had radioisotopic deposition following the nuke accident of 2011. Tokyo wants to use the soils since they have decayed to below safety standards for for Tokyo public works projects. It seems the only obstacle for reuse is radiophobic concerns of some Tokyo residents. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20230512_42/

May 5, 2023

  • A severe earthquake strikes west-central Japan. It registered 6.5 0n Japan's intensity scale of 7. Because it was centered near the shoreline, no tsunami was produced. Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said considerable damage occurred, “We have received information about collapsed buildings in Suzu. We are still in the process of confirming the extent of human and material damage.” One person is believed to have been killed. The Nuclear Regulation Authority's Shimoyama Toshihiro cautioned, "Please stay on alert for an earthquake that could reach an intensity of upper 6, especially in the next two or three days.” No abnormalities occurred at the Shika or Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear stations which were the nearest to the epicenter. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20230505_26/ - https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20230505_20/

  • More Fukushima evacuation orders are lifted. This means entry restrictions are no longer in place for any designated reconstruction bases in the prefecture. The last one, covering 1.86 square miles, is the Nagadoro District of Iitate. The five lifted earlier were for Futaba, Namie, Tomioka, Okuma and Katsurao. Of the 186 people expected to take advantage of the reopening, only seven have applied to do it. Unfortunately, only 1.2% of the 7,960 former residents in the six “no go” districts have returned. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20230501_13/ - https://japantoday.com/category/national/evacuation-order-lifted-in-last-of-6-impacted-fukushima-areas - https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14899178

  • Local fisheries appear ready for the impending release of Fukushima wastewaters. Yet, they still fear that unfounded reputational damage might hurt business, thus they are still opposed to any releases. Local wholesaler Katsuhiko Suzuki says, "I hope local and central governments will take effective measures to prevent people in Japan and around the world from thinking fish from the (Fukushima) area are dangerous. It is crucial that authorities or trustworthy bodies strictly monitor TEPCO and keep the public abreast of whether the company is living up to its promises." https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2023/05/bbd72558e91f-feature-fukushima-seafood-businesses-adapt-as-treated-water-release-looms.html

April 28, 2023

  • Delegations from France and Great Britain visit F. Daiichi. The British Environmental Minister, Trudy Harrison, was there on April 26, overlooked the plant from high ground and examined the plant's Marine Organism Test Facility. The French Nuclear safety Authority had several members visit the plant on April 27. No quotes have been attributed to either group. https://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2023-e/202304-e/230426-01e.html... https://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2023-e/202304-e/230427-01e.html

  • Tepco posts internal images of the F. Daiichi discharge tunnel. Two pictures show the shield machine that bored the excavation. The third image was taken after the shield machine had been removed. The tunnel is essentially complete and ready for use. https://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2023-e/202304-e/230426-02e.html

  • The existing tanks for wastewater at F. Daiichi will be sufficient until February... maybe even later. The new estimation replaces the former one, which was late summer or fall of this year. The former estimation was based on a 149 tons per day accumulation, but that has ebbed back to about 90 tons per day. The company still plans to begin releases this coming summer. Currently, there is 1.33 million tons in storage, which is about 97% of maximum capacity. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20230427_28/

  • Tepco speculates that F. Daiichi unit #1 has holes in the reactor pressure vessel (RPV). This is because videos of the underside reveals that a device on the vessel's bottom is gone. Also it seems that water is flowing out of the vessel, to a spot below. Further, devices inside the RPV are covered with corium debris, suggesting that other holes might have been formed before the corium re-solidified. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20230424_25/

  • Kansai Electric wants the operating licenses for two units extended. The company has applied for 20 year extensions for Takahama units #3 & #4. If granted, both units wil be allowed to operate until 2045. However, replacement of the steam generators will happen before the restarts occur. Both units are currently operating. Units 1&2 are already operating under extended licenses. All four units are Pressurized Water Reactors. https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14894598

April 21, 2023

  • Some of the F. Daiichi fuel debris will be sampled and tested later this year. The debris, also known as corium, is thought to contain a mixture of re-solidified fuel and structural materials. Pebble-sized corium removal is planned to begin with unit #2 later this year. In addition, the fuel assemblies in units #1 and #2 fuel pools will also be targeted for removal. Before removal can occur with unit #1, the entire unit will be wrapped in a large cover to prevent wind from blowing radioactive dust around the surrounding environment. The cover is hoped to prevent local resident's concern, says a Tepco official, “There are residents who have returned to their homes, and we must not cause them any concern.” The fuel assemblies might begin removal as early as 2027. All preparations are covered in the attached Yomiuri Shimbun article. https://japannews.yomiuri.co.jp/original/decommissioning-fukushima/20230208-89675/

  • Tokyo will lift yet another evacuation order, this time for a portion of Iitate designated as a reconstruction base. This means that all Fukushima reconstruction bases will be exempt of evacuation orders. Iitate Mayor Makoto Sugioka says, "It is essential to lift the order to keep our hopes for reconstruction and revival alive for the future.We'll continue working to get the evacuation order in the village lifted entirely."https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2023041500387 - http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=1170

  • Germany's Environment Minister visits F, Daiichi and voices stern criticism. She dislikes the idea of a planned release of treated wastewater to the ocean. Minister Steffi Lemke said Germany will not welcome the release, contradicting Japan's Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura. She called the situation at F. Daiichi, depressing, "The visit was depressing. I drove through deserted areas to get to the nuclear power plant that was hit by a tsunami in 2011." Both ministers will speak on the issue at the two day G-7 Meeting in May. Germany is abandoning nukes as a result of the F. Daiichi accident. The last three will be off the grid by this coming Saturday. https://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2023-e/202304-e/230418-01e.html - https://energycentral.com/news/lemke-visit-fukushima-nuclear-power-plant-depressing - https://www.dimsumdaily.hk/germanys-environment-minister-criticises-japans-release-of-treated-nuclear-water-into-ocean/

  • Meanwhile, an MIT study concludes shutting down nukes will increase air pollution. Polluting replacement power sources could cause more than 5,000 premature deaths per year! Many experts consider nuclear a low-carbon alternative to climate-warming coal, oil, and natural gas emissions. The greatest risks would be to African-American people. The study's lead expert says, In the debate over keeping nuclear power plants open, air quality has not been a focus of that discussion.” Another adds, “What we found was that air pollution from fossil fuel plants is so damaging, that anything that increases it, such as a nuclear shutdown, is going to have substantial impacts, and for some people more than others.” https://news.mit.edu/2023/study-shutting-down-nuclear-power-could-increase-air-pollution-0410

  • Japan's nuke watchdog requires corrected Tsuruga documentation by August. Japan Atomic Power wanted the unit #2 safety review completed so they can restart it, but the Nuclear Regulation Authority said no. Industry Minister Nishimura says the company has made repeated errors, and this is the last warning. The issue has been on the back burner since 2019. The problem is a fault line that runs beneath the unit and might be active. https://japantoday.com/category/national/tsuruga-reactor-operator-required-to-correct-document-errors-by-aug.

April 14, 2023

  • School opens in Okuma for the first time in 12 years. 26 students are enrolled at the Manabiya Yumenom school in the town. A gala opening ceremony was held on Monday, April 10. The students had been attending a facility in Aizuwakamatsu City since the evacuation ordered by Tokyo in 2011. A ninth grader spoke at the opening and said, "I'll carve out my own future so that the people of this town can see me grow into a respectable member of this community." Another said, Learning in our hometown is starting. We’ll take pride in opening a path to the future.” https://japannews.yomiuri.co.jp/society/general-news/20230410-102725/ - https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2023041000570

  • NHK World posts the history and current status of Fukushima's financial compensation. More than 160,000 have received an evacuation allowance, which has varied depending on mandated or voluntary withdrawal from their homes. About 75, 000 voluntary evacuees each received more than $50,000, lump sum. The 85,000 people ordered to leave by Tokyo have been paid generous compensation, to the tune of more than $75 billion. That's nearly $900,000 for every man woman and child. A family of four has received more than $3.5 million. The compensation is being paid by Tepco. Of the 85,000 mandated evacuees, some 16,328 have officially returned home. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/backstories/2388/

  • An essentially harmless fire near a washing machine makes headlines. Why? Because it occurred at the idled Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuke station, owned by Tepco. NHK World said the fire was in a building next to the nuke unit and “soon put out and no injuries were reported”. However, some foreign news reports blew the minor incident out of proportion. One, Latestly.com, posted “Japan Fire: Blaze Erupts at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant in Niigata”. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20230411_24/ - https://www.latestly.com/world/japan-fire-blaze-erupts-at-kashiwazaki-kariwa-nuclear-power-plant-in-niigata-5051061.html

April 7, 2023

  • Tepco posts new video taken inside the F. Daiichi Unit 1 pedestal. The 5 minute video shows that steel reinforcing bars have been exposed along the inner side of the pedestal’s wall up to 1 meter from its bottom and about half the inner circumference. The camera got hung up in debris or fallen equipment so the other half of the wall could not be imaged. Last year, Tepco posted video around the outside of the unit 1 pedestal showing exposed rebar. The nearly 4-foot thick, steel reinforced pedestal is the main load-bearing structure below the reactor pressure vessel. The International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning (IRID), made up of electric utilities and nuclear reactor manufacturers, says that quake resistance will not be compromised even if one-fourth of the pedestal was damaged during the meltdown.TEPCO spokesperson Keisuke Matsuo told reporters Tuesday that the steel reinforcement is largely intact Tepco will run a detailed assessment on what the camera saw during the 39 hour imaging and plan accordingly. Most news outlets, local politicians and Tepco assume new safety issues have been spawned, despite the Decommissioning group's expert opinion and the fact that the damaged pedestal has survived numerous earthquakes over the past 12 years. Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori urged TEPCO to “swiftly evaluate levels of earthquake resistance and provide information in a way prefectural residents can easily understand and relieve concern of the residents and people around the country.” Tepco posted “...[because video was unable to be taken] it’s possible that the other half of the circumference is gone.” Why the company would make such a provocative, fear-inducing speculation is unknown. Unit #1 is assumed to have experienced the most damage of the three reactors that had meltdowns 12 years ago. https://photo.tepco.co.jp/en/date/2023-e/202304-e/230404-01e.html - https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14878440 - https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20230404/p2g/00m/0bu/040000c - https://japantoday.com/category/national/new-images-from-inside-fukushima-reactor-spark-safety-worry

  • The IAEA says further oversight on F. Daiichi wastewater release is unnecessary. The International Atomic Energy Agency says no more surveys of the water is needed before the releases begin. The latest IAEA team report says, No further missions to TEPCO and METI (the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry) are needed prior to the issuance of the IAEA’s comprehensive report.” It asserts that the standards for the water release are “sufficiently conservative yet realistic.” https://japannews.yomiuri.co.jp/science-nature/science/20230407-102078/

  • Some areas of Tomioka are re-opened. The lifting of evacuation orders coincides with the community's annual cherry blossom festival. The Yonomori District has a row of about 400 cherry blossom trees stretching about 2.2 kilometers. Resident Koichi Ono said, "After 12 years, I can finally return to my life here. The disaster hit when I was just starting my retirement life, so I'm starting all over again." PM Fumio Kishida added, "The lifting of the evacuation is by no means a final goal.” Namie Mayor Eiko Yoshida said,"I have mixed feelings because there are many residents who still cannot return or have no idea when they can return."The re-openings mark expansion of the officially habitable part of Tomioka to 93%. However, only about 10% of Tomioka's pre-disaster population have returned. https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20230401/p2g/00m/0na/035000c - https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2023040100349 - https://japannews.yomiuri.co.jp/society/20230401-100975/

  • Trees near F. Daiichi have been genetically unaffected. This is the conclusion of a study done by Fukushima University and the Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute. In addition, radiation doses in the difficult-to-return zone around F. Daiichi were far below the international standard for low-dose exposure.https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2023040700212

  • A nuke restart screening for Tsuruga Unit #2 is further delayed. The Nuclear Regulation Authority cited documentation errors as the cause. The NRA made the move about four months after the screening was restarted in December. The main issue is a geological anomaly under the plant that might be affected by a nearby fault that might be active. The NRA has said the anomaly is an active earthquake fault, but Japan Atomic Power Company experts say that it is not an active fault. Of the existing 39 nukes in Japan that are believed to meet the post-F. Daiichi accident regulations, only 10 have been restarted. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20230405_19/ - https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2023/04/f93eec45eb34-japan-nuclear-watchdog-halts-tsuruga-reactor-safety-assessment-again.html

March 31, 2023

  • More Fukushima evacuation orders are canceled. Tokyo lifted the orders for four small populated areas of Namie, totaling about6.6 square kilometers. Residents gathered in the Murohara District to commemorate the occasion. One person hoped many more people will return, making the town bustling again. Namie covers 223 square kilometers, of which 174 remain “no-go” zones. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20230331_16/

  • S. Korea's president wants public consent for the release of F. Daiichi wastewater. President Yoon Suk Yeol says he is committed to improve his people's public understanding of the issue. He stated that his predecessor, Moon Jae In, "had avoided efforts to understand," preventing the public from becoming aware of Japan's plan. Public objection about the release remains strong. https://japantoday.com/category/politics/s.-korea-yoon-vows-to-seek-public-consent-for-fukushima-water-release

  • Japan's government begins a debate on extending nuke operating licenses. Of course, any increases depend on meeting official regulatory requirements. The discussion began on Thursday. Prime Minister Kishida Fumio stressed its significance, saying it will diminish the effect of future energy crises. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20230330_34/

  • NHK World posts new info on how US-Japan relations were tested by F. Daiichi's accident. The News giant interviewed former US ambassador John Roos, US NRC head Gregory Jaczko, and Japanese ambassador Fukuyama Tetsuro. Echoing Jaczko's severe over-reaction at the time, Roos said, “We thought it was probably going to be bigger than the Chernobyl situation.” He and Jaczko felt “America understood the urgency”, but Japan did not. They believed Japan was hiding something. Jaczko defended his actions saying, ” There was an enormous discrepancy between the US perception and the Japanese perception.” The US released drones to try and support Jaczko's opinion. He says the drones gave him “...some of the first solid information we got.” Fukuyama agrees, "There were discrepancies in information, there were gaps between the US perception and reports from the Japanese side. I think that these concerns or alarms spread like wildfire on the American side," The diplomatic problem peaked with the Unit 3 hydrogen explosion on March14, 2011. Jaczko wanted Japan to make “heroic sacrifices” to avoid radiation exposures he believed could cause ”...long-term cancer or even potential death." These unfounded fears led him to believe “The next accident is probably going to be something different that we didn't think about” and worse than F. Daiichi or Chernobyl. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/backstories/2349/

March 24, 2023 

  • More than half say they support the release of F. Daiichi waste water. This is result of a recent Asahi Shimbun survey. 51% favor the release, while 41% oppose it. Among men, 60% support the future discharge, while 48% of the women do not. Also, 45% approve of the licensing limit for nukes, while 43% do not. https://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14865588

  • Meanwhile, South Korea calls for a “scientific analysis” of the water to be released, despite the fact that it has been, and continues to be done! S. Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol made the demand last Friday while meeting with former Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga. This is in addition to prior opposition made by China and Taiwan, who both believe the release of the essentially harmless waters would hurt the marine environment, seafood safety, and human health. https://japantoday.com/category/national/s.-korea-seeks-scientific-analysis-before-fukushima-water-release

  • Another attempt to stop a nuke restart fails. The Hiroshima High Court upheld an earlier ruling by the Hiroshima District Court. Seven residents in Hiroshima and Ehime Prefectures filed an estoppel injunction with the district court in 2020. They argued that the maximum possible earthquake had been underestimated and the nuke plant should not be operated. The request was rejected in 2021, but the claimants refused to stop trying and appealed. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20230324_29/ 

March 17, 2023

March 11th marked 12 years since the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami. All Japanese news outlets provided coverage, with a summation of the accident at F. Daiichi caused by the natural disasters. Rather than summarize each of essentially redundant postings, we will list the URLs for you to pick and choose which to read. Please be aware that the impending release of biologically innocuous wastewater dominates the postings. Regardless...

  • Fukushima marks 12 years since triple disasters, Kishida vows "not to let lessons fade" – Fukushima Minpo http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=1167

  • 12 yrs after Fukushima nuclear disaster, gov't not facing evacuees' hardship” - Mainichi Shimbun https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20230311/p2a/00m/0op/006000c

    Now, for a couple of non-anniversary news items...

  • PM Fumio Kishida visits Fukushima Prefecture on the 12th anniversary of the accident. His itinerary included a Soma children's facility so that he might identify sufferings specific to the young. While there, he promised to draw up a list of measures to counter Japan's low birth rate. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2023031100431

  • There will be more evacuation orders lifted in Fukushima Prefecture. Locales include communities that border on F. Daiichi and spots in Tomioka. 2,580 people from 1,143 households were registered as residents in the area. But, only 54 people from 26 households have applied to return. Resident Yoshiharu Sugimoto says, “At long last, my life will be back to normal,” said Yoshiharu Sugimoto, adding, “I’m looking forward to walking around the town and looking at the cherry blossoms.” https://japannews.yomiuri.co.jp/society/general-news/20230312-96756/

  • Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura promises to promote nuclear energy to promote stable energy supplies and secure decarbonization. He said, "Amid the ongoing global energy crisis, we will address the three challenges of stable energy supplies, decarbonization and economic growth." He added that he wanted to, "restart (idled) nuclear reactors, develop next-generation reactors and replace decommissioned reactors with new ones." https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2023031001080

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