Fukushima 100... 4/25/16-5/26/16

May 26, 2016

  • Restarting nukes is a “necessary condition” for reaching Japan’s energy goals. The statement was made by Tomoko Murakami, senior economist at the Institute of Energy Economics, at a presentation for Japan’s Atomic Energy Commission on May 17th.  She explained that the United States and Europe have more advanced deregulation strategies than Japan. Murakami says Japan must balance nuclear with all other low carbon-emitting energy sources, in order to provide energy security, economic efficiency, and environmental protection. She added that nuclear is the cheapest energy source to operate because of high fossil fuel costs, but must overcome the “tall wall” of initial costs. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/economist-notes-large-risks-stemming-from-indefinite-reactor-examination-periods/

  • Another country lifts restrictions on Japanese food imports. Kuwait has cancelled all restrictions on food shipped from Japan, including Fukushima Prefecture. The country is the first of the six-member Gulf Corporation Council to do this. Kuwait began import restrictions in September, 2011. Japanese food imports were not totally banned, per se, but any of it brought into Kuwait had to pass tough radiation testing. This will no longer be required.The products include soft drinks, sauces, mixed seasonings, and marine products such as tuna and bonito. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=671

  • 90% of the Fukushima Ice Wall is working as expected. However, one large Japanese Press outlet spins it in reverse fashion. The Asahi Shimbun, Japan’s second-largest newspaper, headlines that 10% of the ice wall is not working. Tepco records show that 88% of the monitoring points show the ground to be frozen. The remaining 12% have recorded temperature drops, but have yet to freeze. At least one of the 1,568 monitoring points has a recorded temperature of just 10oC, which becomes the focal point of the Asahi’s negative spin. Back in March when Tokyo allowed the system to begin running, Tepco said it could take as long as three months for the entire wall to form. But, the Asahi fails to mention this, rather posting that it has been a month-and-a-half and not all of the ground is frozen, so something is allegedly wrong. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2016/images/handouts_160519_01-e.pdf -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201605260056.html (Comment - No other news outlet in Japan  reported a Tepco ice wall failure…only The Asahi.)

  • The NRA says some high-level nuclear waste should be buried at least 70 meters underground. This does not include used nuclear fuel, but rather focuses on highly radioactive waste material resulting from debris removal and disassembly during decommissioning. The proposed regulations say that the burial site should not be near active volcanoes or geological faults.  The NRA says the burial site should be monitored for 300-400 years. The agency will begin seeking outside opinions today, and accept them for a month. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160526/p2a/00m/0na/015000c

  • Local governments want Tokyo to continue its efforts toward Fukushima reconstruction, and prevent future accidents. Council Chair, Mayor Takanobu Fuchikami of Tsuruga City, explained his ongoing concern for those living under a prolonged evacuation, but also stressed the need to restart nukes in order to meet Tokyo’s national policy on energy. Toru Shiraishi, who is responsible for nuclear emergency preparedness in the PM’s Cabinet, vowed to work hard on improving training for nuke safety and accident recovery. When asked by a Futaba Town resident about what the government was doing about areas where residents will not be allowed to return home for a long time, Shiraishi said that would be clarified sometime this summer. Other concerns aired at the meeting dealt with storage of used nuclear fuel, delays with operations at Rokkasho reprocessing plant, and whether or not passing new safety regulations for restarts makes any difference given the ability of local courts to prohibit operation. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/meeting-of-all-japan-council-of-local-governments-with-atomic-power-stations-features-opinion-exchange-with-national-officials/  

  • A Tokyo court orders Tepco to pay compensation for two evacuee deaths. Both individuals were evacuated from Futaba medical facilities by bus. One was a 97 year-old man, and the other a woman age 86. The compensation level was set at about $250,000, to be paid to surviving relatives. Plaintiffs originally sought about $600,000 in compensation. But, this was reduced because of the evacuees' pre-existing conditions unrelated to the nuke accident. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160526/p2a/00m/0na/013000c

May 23, 2016

  • Rice farming returns to Naraha Town. Farmers planted seedlings on a four hectare paddy on Friday. Naraha’s evacuation order was lifted last September, and test farming was done to insure that rice radioactivity was below the 100 Becquerels per kilogram limit for marketing. After the test crop was found to be well-below the national standard, shipments of the rice began in March. The town plans to plant a total of 20 hectares this year, and harvest in October. A problem is that only about 10% of the Naraha population has returned home, so there is a worker shortage. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160520_20/

  • The freshwater fishing business returns to Miyakoji. River fish distributor Yoshida Suisan is shipping char, trout, and rainbow trout for the first time since the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. The hatcheries were located within the Tokyo-mandated evacuation zone, so the operation came to a screeching halt. The hatcheries were re-opened last August and cultivated 900,000 of the three main product species. Radioactivity tests have been run on them every month, and none has been detectible. Company president Eimitsu Yoshida said, “I want to fight against rumors and restore sales to their level before the earthquake. I also hope I can contribute to my hometown, Miyakoji.” http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=667

  • Tokyo says most of the remaining Minamisoma evacuation orders could be lifted July 1st. Two zones with a pre-evacuation population of nearly 11,000 are planned for re-opening unrestricted access. Only one other zone will continue restrictions. The Minamisoma assembly was apprised of Tokyo’s plans on May 13. Chief repopulation official Osamu Goto said the government “would like to [repopulate the two areas] in early July or mid-July, targeting as early as July first.” This would be the largest repopulation number, exceeding those in Naraha town, Kawauchi village and Tamura city’s Miyakoji district. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=670

  • Tokyo wants to begin deep burial of contaminated rural waste and debris later this year. The Environment Ministry proposes disposing of 730,000 tons of “specified” waste from the 2011 nuclear accident at a government-run facility in Tomioka town. The agency wants to begin packaging and transfer of the material from the myriad of temporary storage locations to the Fukushima Ecotech Clean Center later this year. The wastes will include ash from incineration of sewage sludge and other burnable debris, and solidified in cement before being shipped to Tomioka. Solidification will take place in Naraha town. If all goes well, the entire mass of material should be buried by March, 2023. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=669

  • Tokyo will set up a Fukushima worker’s health counselling station near F. Daiichi. There are typically about 6,000 contract employees involved with decontamination and decommissioning at the station. Contractors are responsible for the worker’s health and safety, but Tokyo has concerns about contract worker radiation exposure and possible heat stroke. So, the government will set up a free consultation desk near the plant in early July. The Health Ministry believes this will assure everyone that contract worker health is a priority at F. Daiichi. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160523_06/

  • Tepco received its June evacuee compensation payment from Tokyo. The amount paid by the Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation for next month’s pay-outs is nearly 63 billion yen: a bit less than $60 million USD. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2016/1288543_7763.html  The total amount of compensation paid to Fukushima evacuees as of May 20th has been 6.16 trillion yen. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/comp/images/jisseki-e.pdf

  • JAIF posted an interview with Engineering Professor Shigekazu Suzuki of Fukushima College. Suzuki supervised displays shown by his students at an Iwaki City exhibition. Fukushima College was historically an all-women school, but has been co-educational since the turn of the century. The displays were shown by five women students. In the interview with JAIF, Suzuki talks about what has happened to the college since 2011; capitalizing on F. Daiichi decommissioning as an opportunity to learn, collaborating with the industrial world and local municipalities, and the future possibilities for his students. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/vol-3-special-interview-with-dr-shigekazu-suzuki/

May 19, 2016

  • Tepco opens their new water treatment control room. The facility is now located in the main anti-earthquake building, to centralize control functions for water purification and improve the work environment for operators. The water treatment control room is adjacent to the emergency response headquarters. The original monitoring and control equipment from before opening the new facility will be used as back-up. Any remaining space in the water treatment facility will be a resting place for F. Daiichi workers. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2016/images/handouts_160517_01-e.pdf

  • Minamisoma’s mayor says he is antinuclear. Speaking before a group of students from Taiwan, Mayor Katsunobu Sakurai verbally abused nuclear energy by saying, “Putting money ahead of people’s lives is totally unacceptable,” and, "27,000 residents including many children are still displaced." He added that the municipal government is still monitoring radioactivity in tap water and local food products, which is not normal anywhere else in Japan. But, realizing he was needlessly upsetting some of the students, he said that readings are now “low enough” for the students to be safe. His most antinuclear statement was, “Many local leaders tend to refrain from saying this, but I am making a strong plea to the central government, the business circles and the world that nuclear power plants are not needed because (if there is an accident) it can totally ruin people's lives.” On the other hand, Sakurai failed to mention that most of his city was never ordered to evacuate, the last of the evacuated parts of Minamisoma will be re-opened in June, the major reason for the delay in repopulation was his personal radiophobic concerns, and that more than 15,000 of those who remain evacuated are voluntary. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201605180045.html

  • Former PM Koizumi supports American sailors suing Tepco. The plaintiffs include crewmembers of the aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan that was involved in humanitarian relief called Operation Tomodachi. More than 400 sailors and service members are charging Tepco with lying about the levels of radiation in the atmosphere in March, 2011. Junichiro Koizumi expressed his alleged sorrow at a press conference in Carlsbad, California. Specific to the lawsuit, Koizumi said, "U.S. military personnel who did their utmost in providing relief are now suffering from serious illnesses. We cannot ignore the situation." He them seemed to begin crying before adding, "Proponents and opponents of nuclear energy must think together about what can be done." Koizumi also explained why he has turned against nuclear power, "I realized this is something that can't be skipped over, can't be ignored any longer. The three claims of being safe, cheap and clean were all lies." The sailor’s legal team is trying to keep the $1 billion case alive after it was “stayed” by a San Diego court on June 22nd, due to a lack of evidence sufficient to make a judgment. However, on April 5th of this year, U.S. District Judge Janis L. Sammartino said she will expedite the hearing of the case because some of the plaintiffs are “suffering and dying”. Fukushima-fee-chasing lawyer Paul Garner said, "I hope the Japanese people will realize there are American 'Tomodachi' who have been forgotten." Tepco has appealed the suit stating that the court is abusing legal discretion by allowing the case to continue. Medical experts say the exposure levels were miniscule and incapable of causing the physical suffering alleged by some of the sailors. http://www.cbs8.com/story/32000871/sick-sailors-meet-with-japans-former-prime-minister -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2016/05/411935.html --  http://www.law360.com/articles/780512/9th-circ-agrees-to-speed-up-sailors-1b-fukushima-suit --  http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201605190065.html (Comment – It is unfortunate that a few of the roughly 5,000 USS Reagan sailors have contracted health problems in the last five years, with one dying of a rare cancer. However, the measured levels of exposure were many times less than anything that has ever caused health problems, and never those purported in the lawsuit. For detailed information on the lawsuit prior to 2016, go to http://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/fukushima-commentary/fukushima-commentary-13.html and scroll down the page to January 3, 2014.)

May 16, 2016

  • All remaining Minamisoma evacuation orders will be lifted in July. Tokyo shared their plans with the city assembly on Friday. Much of Minamisoma lies outside the evacuation zone, and some of the zone has been re-opened. However, the remaining areas to have living restrictions lifted have a pre-accident population of nearly 12,000. This will make it the largest number of people to be allowed home since the government-ordered evacuation of 2011. Tokyo says decontamination has been completed and the living environment is safe for repopulation. A firm date for formal rescinding of the evacuation will not be set until after hearing opinions of the evacuees, in meetings that began Sunday. This will be the fourth evacuated community to be reopened inside the exclusion zone. Naraha was reopened last September, while Katsurao Town and Kawauchi Village will have the orders for the last communities lifted in June. The Ogi and Kainosaka districts of Kawauchi will have unrestricted residence beginning June 14th, making the entire town open for repopulation. Osamu Goto, deputy head of the Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters, says decontamination has reduced outdoor exposures by 70% and conditions living conditions are safe.  http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160513_11/ -- http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=664

  • Fukushima’s child thyroid cancer rate is probably due to over-diagnosis. Japan Times, the nation’s largest English-language newspaper, reports on the pain and suffering caused by child thyroid removal surgeries in Fukushima Prefecture since 2012. Two Fathers spoke at the launch of the 311 Thyroid Cancer Family Group, with their voices masked to protect their identities. Both have had children suffer thyroid surgery after the ultra-sensitive sonogram screening detected small anomalies that later tested positive for carcinoma. Both men said they do not want their speaking-out to be taken as linking the thyroid issue to the nuclear accident, and they fear social criticism if they reveal their identities. One said, “I couldn’t tell anyone that my child had cancer. My child was also unable to tell her friends” because of rumors that the nodules were caused by F. Daiichi radiation. 166 of the roughly 300,000 children screened since 2011, have shown the anomalies, and 116 of the nodules tested positive for carcinoma. None of them were under the age of five, strongly indicating that the nuke accident had nothing to do with it. Some doctors are showing support for the beleaguered families. Sagami Seikyo Hospital’s Motomi Ushiyama said, “[The families] were completely at a loss after being told their children had cancer and given little explanation. They were blaming themselves. It’s heart-wrenching to listen to such voices.” Shoichiro Tsugane, of the National Cancer Center, said over-diagnosis is probably the reason behind the rise in child thyroid cancers, “…based on scientific knowledge on thyroid cancer that we have, it is natural to think it is due to over-diagnosis.” Kazuo Shimizu, a thyroid surgeon at Kanaji Hospital, adds that contrary to most Press reports, not all of the children with detectible thyroid anomalies have had their glands removed. He has been observing some of them for three years, and their tumors often have not grown. Kuma Hospital reports that some of the originally-discovered anomalies have actually shrunk with the passage of time. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/05/12/national/science-health/thyroid-cancer-spike-fuels-fukushima-fears-cause-diagnosis/#.VzcUZClf0dV (Comment – This is the first national Press outlet to report on the over-diagnosis problem. Unfortunately, none of the major national News Media has done this.)

  • More than half of the forests in re-populated communities have radiation levels below the national decontamination goal. Of the nearly 5,700 forest sites monitored between September and November of last year, 58% were found to be below the 0.5 microsievert per hour goal. As such, these locations have been declared open for logging by the Prefectural Federation of Lumber Cooperative Associations. The analysis covered a total of 5,694 forest locations -- 1,619 in Tamura’s Miyakoji district, 1,269 in Naraha and 2,806 in Kawauchi. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=666   

  • Tepco agrees to a decommissioning lull during the Group of Seven summit, May 26-27, including President Obama’s visit to Hiroshima on May 27. A Tepco spokesperson said that the suspension of most work at F. Daiichi will be a precaution against “risks” that could disturb the meeting of leaders. These alleged risks include leaks of radioactive waters and airborne monitoring device alarms. All essential operations to maintain cooling of the formerly melted fuel and internal reactor components (corium) will not be suspended, and decontamination of waste waters will also continue. The spokesperson said, “We have made the decision without any request from the government.” http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/05/13/national/tepco-put-fukushima-decommissioning-work-hold-g-7-summit/#.VzXA4Clf0dV (Comment – This move makes no sense. Tepco should continue all work at F. Daiichi during the summit. The suspension of work will only send a message to the world that decommissioning is too risky for the world leaders 500 kilometers from the nuke station. This will surely result in the antinuclear demographic alleging that if decommissioning is too risky for Obama and company, it must be too risky for the tens of million living within 500 km. Tepco has everything to lose and nothing of any significance to gain. IMHO, this is a major mistake.)

  • Tokyo approves safety upgrades for two research reactors. The two less-than-100-watt units are located at Kyoto and Kindai Universities. The schools have been waiting for a Nuclear Regulation Authority decision on their restart applications since 2014. After a series of meetings by its experts, the NRA sent draft reports to the Japan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). After those two bodies agreed, NRA granted its permission on May 11. Six other research reactors are also under NRA consideration for restart. The reactors have been shuttered for more than two years with negative impacts on industrial research, as well as the development of human resources in the area of nuclear energy. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/nra-allows-reactor-modifications-at-two-research-reactors-first-under-new-regulatory-standards/

May 12, 2016

The lull in Japanese reports concerning Fukushima Daiichi continues. There has been but one item of significance this week, which relates to our coverage topic because of the post-Fukushima nuclear moratorium mandated by the deposed Democratic Party of Japan regime. 

  • Another smaller Japanese nuke will be scrapped. On Tuesday, Shikoku Electric Power Co. announced it will decommission Ikata unit #1, a 566 MWe Pressurized Water Reactor plant. It will reach its 40 year licensing limit in September of 2017, and the company believes it could not recoup the estimated $1.59 billion cost of upgrading to meet Japan’s post-Fukushima standards. There is no word on the fate of the similarly-sized unit #2 at Ikata station, which will reach its 40 year licensing limit in 2014. Ikata #1 is the sixth Japanese nuke to suffer decommissioning plans, all of which had outputs less than 600 MWe. The six units are Mihama-1 and -2 (Kansai Electric Power Co., Fukui Prefecture), Genkai-1 (Kyushu Electric Power Co., Saga Prefecture), Tsuruga-1 (Japan Atomic Power Co., Fukui Prefecture) and Shimane-1 (Chugoku Electric Power Co., Shimane Prefecture). As a result of these decommissioning plans, the maximum number of Japanese nukes that could possibly be restarted stands at 42. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2016/05/410415.html -- http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/6th-nuclear-reactor-scrapped-under-stricter-safety-rules -- http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/shikoku-electric-power-to-decommission-ikata-1-reducing-japans-npps-to-42/ (It is interesting to note that Shimane Electric Co. estimates that decommissioning could take up to 30 years, which positively parallels the estimated 30-40 years Tepco estimates for F. Daiichi. The Tepco estimate has been constantly bemoaned by Japan’s Press, the international news media, and the world’s antinuclear community for five years. Yet a similar estimation of decommissioning time for Ikata #1 has generated nothing negative from any of them. There is a double-standard at work, to be sure.)

May 9, 2016

The aftermath of last month’s Kagoshima earthquake disaster has been the understandable focus of Japan’s Press. It seems that there will be reduced Press interest in F. Daiichi until recovery sufficiently progresses on Kyushu Island. We will continue to post what we find concerning nuclear energy that may be of related interest to F. Daiichi…

  • Post-WWII fisherman file suit against Tokyo for a radiation exposure cover-up, in Kochi District Court. The plaintiffs are twenty-three still-living fishermen and members of 20 families of men who have died over the past six decades, who were on ships near Bikini Atoll when the Castle Bravo hydrogen bomb was detonated. They allege that the government has illegally withheld information for six decades that would have possibly allowed them financial compensation. Records from 1954 indicate that 556 of the ~1,000 vessels in the region around Bikini Atoll might have experienced fallout. Tokyo found that ten of the vessels probably did receive detectible fallout, so those crews were included in a financial compensation package. But, this information was not made public until 2014. One tuna boat, Fukuryu Maru No.5, was immediately downwind of the blast and showered with considerable bomb fallout. One of the crew died six months later of hepatitis, exacerbated by reduced immune system function. Those with Acute Radiation Syndrome symptoms fully recovered a few weeks later. The United States agreed to pay Japan $2 million in compensation in January, 1955, to be divided among the Fukuryu Maru No.5 crew. The other ten exposed crews were found to not have received enough exposure to be harmful, but were also compensated. However, the fishermen filing the Kochi suit have not been party to the pay-outs, and they want $18,000 each because they might have experienced some fallout exposure. The suits says (in part), “We lost an opportunity to be compensated because the government deprived us of the chance to prove our exposure by ending the official investigation, with Japan and the United States closing the curtain on the issue through a political solution in 1955… The information was deliberately kept from us. It is beyond words to describe the extent of psychological damage and outrage of former crew members about how their health problems were neglected.” The suit also says Tokyo failed to conduct health check-ups on crews of ships other than Fukuryu Maru No.5. They claim that many shipmates suffered radiation-related health effects, but were never acknowledged as such. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160509_23/ -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201605090088.html -- http://www1.american.edu/ted/lucky.htm [Comment – As with most, if not all of the post-Fukushima lawsuits filed over the past five years, the Kochi plaintiffs want compensation due to the mere possibility of low-level radiation exposures. Thus, we feel this story warrants inclusion in our Fukushima Updates.]

  • This week’s Nuclear Blogger’s Carnival is at Atomic Insights. The authors include Dr. Jim Conca, Andy Dawson, Dr. Gail Marcus, Dan Yurman, Meredith Angwin, and this week’s host Rod Adams. Topics include comparing fracking gas pollution to coal, using nuclear to decarbonize UK power generation, a Texas firm files for a nuclear waste storage license, and much more. (Aside – If anyone knows of nuclear writers who might wish to have their articles included in future Carnivals, please let us know. This site hosts the Carnival regularly, and we are in constant contact with the other participating bloggers. – End aside.) http://atomicinsights.com/carnival-nuclear-blogs-308/

May 5, 2016

  • Japan and the USA agree to study earthquake safety for nukes. On Sunday at the Group of Seven summit, Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Motoo Hayashi and U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz agreed that the two countries would conduct the joint study. Hayashi said Tokyo wants to solidify cooperation with Washington on the safety of nuclear plants, while Moniz proposed a joint study on measures to ensure nuclear plants’ safety against large earthquakes be made by the Japan-U.S. Bilateral Commission on Civil Nuclear Cooperation. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002917379

  • Tepco’s compensation payments have reached nearly 6.125 trillion yen. 2.65 trillion yen has been paid to the more than 70,000 mandated evacuees that were ordered to abandon their homes by Tokyo in 2011. This means that every man, woman and child has accrued roughly 380 million yen. At the average exchange rate over the past five years, each evacuee has made roughly $350,000 (USD). Further, this does not include the $1,000 per month being paid-out to each evacuee for mental anguish, which was grandfathered back to the summer of 2011, which would bring individual earnings to nearly $640,000 (USD). Beyond the individual compensation payments, nearly 3 trillion yen has been disbursed for property and business compensation. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/comp/images/jisseki-e.pdf

May 2, 2016

  • The Environment Ministry sets a minimum criterion for rural radioactive waste. Until now, materials with activity levels at or below 8,000 Becquerels per kilogram were deemed “specified waste” and disposed of as low level radioactive material. On April 28th, the ministry decided that debris with activity below 8,000 Bq/kg is no longer “specified” and may be handled as “ordinary” waste. However, the ordinance will not become an official designation until discussions occur between Tokyo and local governments. Environment Minister Tamayo Marukawa said, “The national government will deal with the matter, after lifting the [current] designation, together with local municipalities.” The revised criterion could drastically reduce the volume of wastes now stored at temporary locations in Miyagi, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Gunma, and Chiba Prefectures. I could also reduce storage issues in Fukushima Prefecture. Though the currently-stored materials all exceeded 8,000 Bq.kg when collected and bagged, five years of radioactive decay has lowered much of the debris activity to well-below the criterion. For example, two-thirds of the bagged debris in Miyagi Prefecture is now below 8,000 Bq/kg. http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/moe-revises-ordinance-changing-waste-designation-to-ordinary-when-radioactive-concentration-falls/

  • More than 10,000 F. Daiichi workers will remain for at least a year. The reconstruction Agency surveyed 24 of the companies involved with decommissioning work, including subcontractors. The Agency finding has been shared with the twelve municipalities evacuated in 2011, to give them an idea of long=term employment at the station. This was the first such long-stay worker projections have happened. The companies were asked what the workers would need, including living accommodations, grocery stores, and other support infrastructure. In addition, the survey found what type of mass transportation would be needed for trips to restaurants and recreational facilities in the region. Some of the surveyed workers are evacuees anticipating return to their homes. In addition to the above needs, they wanted available nursing care for elderly parents and children. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=663

  • Soma City resumes littleneck clam harvesting. It began on April 20th. 25 fishermen from the Soma-Futaba Fisheries Cooperative Association took part, wearing waterproof pants and boots. They used long-handled dredges to scoop 300 kilograms of shellfish; about average for a day’s work. Of course, the clams were screened for radioactivity, but none was detected. Tokyo has not banned clamming, but the association regards the restart as "test fishing" due to consumer concerns over contamination of the species. Clamming will be conducted once a week through August. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=662

  • A Tokyo citizen’s judicial panel absolved NISA of nuke accident culpability. The now-defunct Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency had been charged with professional negligence resulting in death and injury because of the Fukushima accident. The citizen’s panel voted to support the prosecutors' prior decision to not indict three former senior officials of NISA. Plaintiffs were unhappy with the original decision so they took the case to the citizen’s panel, as allowed by Japanese law. The panel finding means that NISA has become effectively exempt from criminal responsibility for allegedly failing to prevent the accident. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2016/04/409084.html

  • The Sendai station owner is besieged by local demands for shutdown. Literally thousands of Emails and phone calls have flooded Kyushu Electric Co. since the deadly twin earthquakes in mid-April. Fears of a Fukushima-level accident caused by a quake are at the root of the fearful public reaction. It doesn’t matter that the March 11, 2011, quake of 9 on the Richter scale did nothing to any of the 14 nuke units along the Tohoku coast. Nuclear-phobics on Kyushu Island are trying to shut down the only two operating nukes in Japan, anyway. Kyushu Electric’s President Michiaki Uryu said, “We are operating (the Sendai plant) after confirming its safety and concluding that there is no problem with continuing to operate it.” The mid-April quakes caused ground movement at Sendai station about twenty times less than the SCRAM set-point, and more than 70 times less than the station’s design criterion. NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka has insisted that “There are no compelling scientific grounds [for shutdown]. We are not going to shut down the plant just because of calls from the public or politicians. What has been going on is within our expectations… The plant is also designed to be quake-proof, so people do not need to worry about those things.” But voices of fear don’t care. They claim that if a nuke accident happened, damage to physical infrastructure would prohibit public evacuation. They also point out that the future could witness a natural calamity many times worse than what is expected and damage a nuke enough to release radiation.  http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201604290059.html

  • Nuclear emergency sheltering is questioned by some Japanese residents. Post-Fukushima emergency plan regulations call for virtually immediate evacuation within five kilometers, and sheltering in the 5-30 kilometer radius. Evacuation in the outer locations would be determined by radiation levels detected by installed monitoring equipment. However, some residents object, saying that if the nuke accident is caused by an earthquake, local infrastructure will be severely damaged and make evacuation much more difficult for those who want to flee along with the residents from the 5km radius. The objections have been spawned by the recent dual quakes on Kyushu Island, which did absolutely nothing to the operating nukes at Sendai station. One public servant said, "If there were a nuclear accident, remaining indoors would be impossible. The Kumamoto Earthquake has made me even more anxious. Even if we were to evacuate indoors, then we would have to go outside (to receive supplies, etc.) and wouldn't be able to avoid exposure to radiation. I would want to evacuate immediately, but evacuation routes would probably be crowded." A Kagoshima official replied that sheltering is the most reasonable approach and post-Fukushima emergency plans will not be revised. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160502/p2a/00m/0na/021000c (Comment - It seems that a fraction of the Japanese public plans on fleeing as soon as a nuke accident is announced because they fear the possibility of radiation exposure. In other words, the radiophobic demographic wants special treatment because they refuse to believe that low-level exposure is essentially harmless.)

  • Fukushima culprit Naoto Kan is lauded by Germany. He was given an award for promoting nuclear phase-out and supporting other renewables. Kan was given the award at a “citizen’s initiative against nukes” ceremony in Frankfurt on Saturday. Former German Environment Minister Juergen Trittin praised Kan as a “fighter” for his international campaign against nuclear power. (Aside) Of course, no-one at the ceremony would ever admit that Kan’s meddling and naïve orders to unnecessarily delay venting of unit #1 for eight hours was the most-probable cause of the three hydrogen explosions, greatly exacerbating the amount of core damage in units #1, 2, & 3. (End Aside.)  http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/05/01/national/311-prime-minister-kan-recognized-efforts-phase-nuclear-power/#.VyX_Z5Bf0dV -- http://www.japantoday.com/category/politics/view/germany-gives-ex-pm-kan-award-for-efforts-to-phase-out-nuclear-power-in-japan?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2016-05-01_PM

April 28, 2016

  • The number of worker injuries at F. Daiichi has been cut in half. Tepco says the number who were injured or died at the plant decreased by about 50% from last year. In 2015, 25 workers were injured, and one died while cleaning a tank on a vehicle. The number of injuries in 2014 was 49. 60% of the 2015 injuries were with inexperienced workers, but the majority were minor injuries that did not allow them to take off from work. Tepco says the reason for the marked drop is probably due to improved communication and thorough implementation of firm safety measures. The new training facilities for green workers must have also contributed. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160428_29/

  • The Associated Press says that the F. Daiichi ice wall is not watertight. The AP report has been posted by Japan’s most popular, antinuclear-friendly newspapers: The Asahi Shimbun and Mainichi Shimbun. Project Chief Architect Yuichi Okamura says the amount of groundwater that will be blocked is “not zero”. Edward Yarmak, president of Alaska’s Arctic Foundations, says, "The refrigeration system has just been turned on, and it takes time to form the wall. First, the soil freezes concentrically around the pipes and when the frozen cylinders are large enough, they coalesce and form a continuous wall. After time, the wall increases in thickness." Critics say the ice wall probably won’t work, the money to build it and run the system is wasted, and Tepco should have built a concrete wall to the west of the station to stop all groundwater from coming in. Regardless, the AP report fails to mention that Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority made Tepco agree to not entirely seal off all flow because of fears that a complete stoppage might allow highly contaminated basement waters to flow out, rather than groundwater flowing in. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201604280098.html -- http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160428/p2g/00m/0dm/096000c (Comment - The Associated Press completely ignored the early March announcement of the ice wall being approved, and the initial report of it progressing as expected on March 30th. If the AP had done its homework, it would have known that the NRA is the reason the full stoppage of groundwater flow is not going to happen. Once again, the AP shows it is little more than an antinuclear apologist.)

  • A Kyushu Mayor says his town might agree to be a nuclear waste disposal site. Genkai Mayor Hideo Kishimoto said the town is not volunteering, “…but if the state picks Genkai as an appropriate site, we will agree to hold talks. We have a forward-looking stance toward the country's nuclear policy. Construction of a final disposal facility in Japan is necessary for the country's energy plan. If Genkai is proposed as the only candidate, we will start considering accepting such a facility." Kishimoto is unique in that he has inspected a candidate location overseas. He also said he had his issues with his town becoming home to a disposal site at first, but changed his mind when Tokyo said they will consider off-shore, undersea disposal. Genkai is the home of the same-named nuke station in Saga Prefecture, on Kyushu Island. http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2016/04/408781.html -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2016042700811 -- http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160427/p2a/00m/0na/014000c

  • More information on the NRA’s “snap” inspection proposal. On Monday, we reported that the Nuclear Regulation Authority wants to institute surprise inspections at nuke plants. It will literally take an Act of Congress (Diet). The Agency plans to submit a bill that will revise the Nuclear Reactor Regulation Law at a Diet session in 2017 and implement the new policy in 2020. We posted that safety inspections now occur four times a year. As it turns out, the quarterly visits are security-oriented. The routine safety inspections are once every 13 months. The schedule is pre-arranged with the owning utilities, including letting the companies know what will be inspected ahead-of-time. Only the notified areas of safety are inspected. Thus, the current law makes surprise inspections possible, but unlikely. The NRA, at the behest of the IAEA, wants to make non-routine inspections entirely free of a pre-visit approval, and leave the scope of the examinations open to the discretion of the inspectors. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002903569

  • A Tokyo court orders Tepco to additionally compensate the families of two evacuation deaths. Two men, aged 98 and 73, were among patients forced to evacuate Futaba Hospital in March, 2011. Tepco has already agreed to partial compensation, but did not feel they should cover all of it because other factors had not been considered by the plaintiffs. The Tokyo court says both men lapsed into hypothermia due to the power outage caused by the quake, and that the evacuation aggravated their illnesses. As a result, Tepco has been ordered to pay about $280,000 in compensation to the families. One family will get about $160,000 and the other about $120,000. The court judged that each family was worthy of $200,000, but the nuke accident evacuation was not the only cause of the elderly patient’s passing. The lawyer for the families said the court had not taken the nuke accident into consideration. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160427_27/ -- http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160428/p2a/00m/0na/010000c

  • NRA scientists say a fault under Shika unit #1 may qualify as seismic. The panel decision supports a draft assessment of last year, which said it is reasonable to believe the fault moved since the Late Pleistocene period; within the past 130,000 years. The report says it is impossible to conclude that the fault will not move in the future, so it is prudent to assume that it qualifies as seismic under Japanese law. However, the panel admitted their decision is based on limited data, including sketches of the geological seam made when the plant was built. The report also concedes that the strata around the fault shows no sign of movement over the past 130,000 years. Thus the conclusion that it “might” be seismic. However, the panel says the NRA should seek further analysis before rendering a final decision. Shika station owner Hokuriku Electric Power says they will gather more data to support their finding that the seam is not seismic, and continue to pursue restart of unit #1. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160427_21/ -- http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0002907082 -- http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160427/p2g/00m/0dm/044000c

April 25, 2016

  • Tokyo wants to reopen most of Katsurao Village on June 12th. More than three-quarters of the community will have the evacuation order lifted, but it is not known how many of the 1,451 residents will take the opportunity. Mayor Masahide Matsumoto and Tokyo officials announced the plan to about 300 villagers on April 10th. Many were unhappy with the decision. Some questioned whether decontamination has been adequate. One person asked, "Is it really safe to live there?" The mayor said he will follow the will of his constituency, but added, "Personally, I would like to follow the schedule of ending evacuation on June 12." http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=658

  • Tepco plans to dismantle most of unit #1&2 exhaust stack. The Nuclear regulation Authority had asked for the disassembly because steel beams in the upper support structure had fractured, probably during the hydrogen explosion of unit #1. The NRA says there is a risk of the 120 meter-high stack collapsing in the future. Because of high radiation levels around the stack from residual contamination left inside after the venting of March 12, 2011, dismantling will be performed by crane. TEPCO officials said that fractures were found in eight steel joint locations at and above the 66 meter elevation. Tepco says a collapse is unlikely, even with the fractures in the support matrix. But, there would be impacts on the decommissioning effort if the unlike were to happen, so Tepco agreed to do it. http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160425/p2a/00m/0na/024000c 

  • Ground has been broken for a decommissioning research facility in Tomioka. It will be part of the “Innovation Coast” project, integrating high-tech industries along the coastal region of Fukushima Prefecture. The decommissioning facility is planned to employ 150 engineers and researchers from Japan and around the world, investigating ways to remove the re-solidified corium (melted fuel and core components) and handle disposal of the high-level wastes. Construction will cost about $12 million. Tomioka Mayor Koichi Miyamoto hopes that the new facility will motivate local revitalization efforts. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160425_28/

  • Tepco has posted the latest Press handout on the status of the “ice wall”. It seems that freezing of the earth around the refrigerant pipes on the sea-side portion of the barrier is progressing nicely. Once it is fully frozen and a period of monitoring groundwater levels is complete, Phase 2 freezing of the north and south portions of the system will begin. Interestingly, groundwater level locations both inside and outside the portion being frozen demonstrated an initial decrease in groundwater levels for a few days, but have remained steady since. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/handouts/2016/images/handouts_160421_01-e.pdf

  • The NRA is planning to have unannounced (“snap”) nuke inspections. This will be part of inspection upgrades the agency hopes to have in place by 2020. The introduction of “snap” inspections was suggested by the International Atomic Energy Agency in their assessment of the NRA, issued in January. Currently, on-site inspections are formally scheduled four times a year; once every calendar quarter. Inspections beyond the pre-arranged schedule must be approved by the plant owners. If the proposed change makes it through the Diet, unannounced inspections will be allowed regardless of a utility’s feelings on the matter. The NRA will set up a panel to next month to discuss the matter, and submit legislation to the government by next February. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160425_25/ -- http://english.kyodonews.jp/news/2016/04/408495.html

  • The OECD wants to set new international standards for radioactive food contamination. The Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development announced it two weeks ago, but Fukushima Minpo seems to be the first Japanese Press outlet to post it. NEA Director General William Magwood stressed the need to unify ways of measuring radioactive concentration and standards that currently differ from country to country. For example, the Ukraine’s limit is 20 Becquerels per kilogram for bread, and the United States is 1,200 Bq/kg for all foods. Japan’s standard for food radioactivity is 100 Bq/kg for all foods. Japan hopes the OECD decision will help ease bans on Japanese food exports to foreign countries. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=659

  • News reports on nukes following the Kumamoto earthquakes did not cause public alarm. This observation was made by NHK’s President Katsuto Momii at the NHK Broadcasting Center. A source close to Momii explained, "Ongoing reporting on nuclear power plants should be based on official announcements so as not to stir up residents' anxiety unnecessarily." While most news media representatives in attendance had no objections, a few didn’t like it. One executive commented, "This is an order wherein the president is trying to make sure that broadcasts reflect his own personal viewpoint" implying that other Press officials might not feel the same way. Rikkyo University’s Hiroyoshi Sunakawa, said, "President (Momii) has strong authority over personnel-related matters, and if the remark (on nuclear power) was indeed made, it is a problematic statement that has a chilling effect on on-the-ground reporting. It could threaten independent reporting that aims to verify the appropriateness of evacuation plans in the event of a nuclear power plant accident…” http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20160423/p2a/00m/0na/009000c

  • Tepco announces the latest financial assistance influx from Tokyo for evacuee compensation. Tepco received about $40 million from the Nuclear Damage Compensation and Decommissioning Facilitation Corporation for May. This brings the total for compensation pay-outs, to date, to nearly $50 billion. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2016/1278393_7763.html

  • Deregulation is hurting financially-strapped Tepco. As of April 8th, more than 600,000 households across Japan had switched electricity providers. About 60% of the total were from Tepco to other local providers. The majority of the Tepco switches were with customers in the greater Tokyo area, with Tokyo Gas Company garnering 260,000 new customers. Analyst Shusaku Nishikawa says that a million total switches could occur by the end of the year. If the current trend continues, this means Tepco could lose 600,000 customers. This will cut Tepco’s cash flow by at least 3%. http://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Trends/Deregulation-hurting-Tepco-s-earnings

  • Former fishermen plan to sue Tokyo because they may have been exposed to radiation 60 years ago. An American hydrogen bomb test detonation at Bikini Atoll in 1954 contaminated the crew of the Fukuryu Maru #5. There were as many as 1,000 other Japanese fishing boats operating in the vicinity at the time, but not all of those crews were screened for exposure. 40 former fishermen and their families are expected to take part in the suit, which is planned to be filed on May 9th. They want $18,000 each in compensation. In September, 2014, the Health Ministry announced that some of the fishing boats other than the Fukuryu Maru had crews with unusual levels of radiation after the Bikini blast. The prospective plaintiffs believe they were also exposed, but were never screened by the government. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20160425_13/


<< Later Posts | Earlier Posts >>