Fukushima 120... 3/1/19-4/19/19

April 19, 2019

  • Stored fuel bundles are being removed from F. Daiichi unit #3. The fuel storage (i.e. Spent Fuel) pool contains 512 used and 54 unused bundles. The first four were slid from their pool locations and placed in a shipping container on Monday, April 15. It is generally believed that moving the bundles from the damaged pool structure to ground-level storage is a safety improvement. The bundles were handled by remote control because the 1 millisievert per hour area radiation level is considered too dangerous for people. It is hoped that all bundles will be transferred out of the pool by March, 2022. However, Tepco’s decommissioning and decontamination boss Akira Ono spoke in highly cautious terms about the time-frame, "We do not believe the process will proceed with zero problems." Toyoshi Fuketa, chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, echoed his words, saying, "To be honest, it will be difficult to say that no problems will emerge that will force a change in plans." Regardless, the handling of the unit #3 bundles will serve as a learning tool for the removal of fuel pool bundles from units #1 & #2. https://www7.tepco.co.jp/wp-content/uploads/handouts_190415_01-e.pdf --http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201904120036.html -- http://time.com/5570471/japan-fukushima-decommissioning-reactors-fuel/?fbclid=IwAR2Mi_pEk5asM1_zkVrNDjT1Zjh1cqunBGqk6xCrB4vPVcMCbb1DeT5_CQE
  • Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visits F. Daiichi. Last Sunday, Abe observed decommissioning efforts, explanation of contaminated water countermeasures, and handed out letters of gratitude to key contractor employees. He said, “Let’s continue to work together until we have enabled Fukushima to completely recover.” He also attended a ceremony for opening a new town hall in Okuma, which will start providing local services on May 7th. Mayor Toshitsuna Watanabe said, "The new government building is at the forefront of the town's revival, and it is a symbol of the pledge to realize our reconstruction."  https://www7.tepco.co.jp/newsroom/announcements/archives/2019/prime-minister-shinzo-abe-visits-the-fukushima-daiichi-nuclear-power-station.html -- https://japantoday.com/category/politics/Abe-visits-Fukushima-to-check-areas-affected-by-2011-nuclear-disaster
  • Tokyo is urged to end overseas restrictions on Fukushima-produced seafood. Last week, the World Trade organization ruled that it favored South Korea’s continuing, radiophobia-based ban on Japanese seafood imports. On Wednesday, ruling Liberal Democratic Party members called the ban a diplomatic defeat and blamed the Tokyo government for it happening! Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga met with the head of the national federation of fisheries cooperatives, Hiroshi Kishi, who says Tokyo needs a drastic review of the country’s strategies for resumption of unrestricted seafood trade. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190417_34/
  • Japan’s largest news outlet makes a call for reason with Fukushima repopulation. Currently the partial revocation of the evacuation order for Okuma affects only about 400 residents… those who have been staying in their homes for about a year. More people will be moving into 50 new housing units in June. However, necessary infrastructure (e.g. medical facilities and supermarkets) have yet to be built. The town government will assist returnees to access these conveniences in the nearby town of Tomioka. But before anything like schools and job sources can manifest, a sufficient percentage of the population must say they are willing to return, and that is currently not the case. At least 50% “have decided not to return”. Long term plans should be made under this probability. This does not mean that the town officials should just give up because a viable, working community is necessary for F. Daiichi decommissioning. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0005673286
  • Tepco decides to allow foreign workers at F. Daiichi. A shortage of workers in various job categories has happened across Japan. The country has created a new visa program to try and alleviate the problem. The new system was instituted April 1st to bring in mostly blue-collar workers to 14 “job-hungry sectors”. Tepco will not be hiring these people, but subcontractors can hire foreign workers for general janitorial and food service jobs, as well as industrial and automobile maintenance workers at F. DaiichiA TEPCO official explained, "The decision to hire foreign workers under the new visa system is up to our subcontractors” Negative xenophobic opinions assume that the radiation protection requirements for F. Daiichi workers are too complicated for foreigners and such naivety could produce disastrous consequences. Kazumi Takagi, a sociology professor at Gifu University, said, “Unless workers can instantly understand the (Japanese) language when minor mistakes or sudden problems occur, it could lead to a major accident.”
  • https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190418_28/ -- https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2019/04/b839c3aba30f-tepco-eyes-using-foreign-workers-at-crisis-hit-fukushima-daiichi-plant.html -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20190418/p2g/00m/0dm/079000c -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201904180027.html
  • Japan’s antinuclear Press continues to speculate that the location of fuel debris remains unknown. The Mainichi Shimbun posts that because the rubble bed in unit #2 was pebble-like, not a solidified mass, and emitted a several times lower radiation field than had been previously speculated, “This finding suggested that the sediment that TEPCO came in contact with in the survey was not the main nuclear fuel debris it was looking for. Many speculate that the surface of the sediment may mainly consist of metals including cladding tubes that used to cover nuclear fuels. The question now is whether fuel debris exists beneath the surface of the sediment or if nuclear fuel still remains within the reactor pressure vessel, or even somewhere else. There are currently no prospects for TEPCO to ascertain an accurate distributions of debris.” Such reporting only fuels the fears of unprincipled conspiracy theorists around the world, and serves no objective purpose! https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20190409/p2a/00m/0na/021000c

April 11, 2019

  • The evacuation order has been rescinded for parts of F. Daiichi host, Okuma Town. The districts are Ogawara and Chuyashiki, each located about 5ive miles south of the nuke station. Municipal employees explained the specifics to interested residents on Wednesday, April 10th. A new town hall will open May 7th in Ogawara. 50 families will move into a public housing complex in June, and a convenience store will open. Bus services will also start to and from the neighboring town of Tomioka, which has a supermarket and a hospital. Okuma Mayor Toshitsuna Watanabe said the town is finally starting reconstruction and promised efforts to make the town ready for anyone who wants to return. Some 700 F. Daiichi employees have lived in a company dormitory since 2016. It is planned to lift restrictions on the rest of the town in 2022.  https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190410_38/ -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201904100058.html  
  • Okuma’s “old man squad” ends its vigil. Six older men have patrolled the town for the last six years, removing weed, fallen tree branches, and assisted residents who made overnight visits to their homes. One team member said they did this because “There's no need for young people to risk their lives. We, old men, will make the rounds.” Mayor Toshitsuna Watanabe credits the evacuation order’s lifting to the efforts of the “old man squad”. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201904060001.html
  • Tomioka Town’s no-go areas are visited by cherry-blossom tour busses. A 2.2 kilometer stretch of the town is well-known for its ~400 cherry trees that are now in bloom. 1.9 kilometers of the drive is inside the so-called difficult-to-return zone. Ten shuttle busses were chartered by the town government for the event. One resident said, "It's good that everyone could gather to see a symbol of our hometown." https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190406_14/ -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20190406/p2a/00m/0na/011000c
  • Fukushima had Japan’s largest growth in foreign visitors in January. The Japan Tourism Agency says there were nearly 18,000 visitors, which is 2.4 times the number recorded last year.  The largest number came from Taiwan, followed by Taiwan and Australia. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=943
  • The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) uses artificial intelligence for automated transcriptions of its private meetings with electric utility representatives for safety screenings. This is a change intended to increase transparency and improve the way information is disclosed to the public. The technology achieved about 90 percent accuracy in a preliminary test. Although mistranscriptions will be included, some parts of the text will be deleted upon review, including information that needs to be kept secret for safety reasons. https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20190409/p2a/00m/0na/019000c
  • A bridge connecting Kesennuma, Miyagi Prefecture to a city island went into service on Sunday. The residents were isolated for about three weeks after the March 11, 2011, quake and tsunami. This will allow those who need medical services easier access to the mainland, and promote tourism. Kesennuma Mayor Shigeru Sugawara said , “I want many people to visit the scenic island.” http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0005660710-19.html

April 5, 2019

  • Tokyo makes the partial lifting of the Okuma evacuation order official. The town co-hosts F. Daiichi with Futaba, where the full evacuation restriction still holds. The Okuma order ends next Wednesday, but less than 400 of the town’s pre-calamity population of 10,000 are expected to exploit the opportunity. Industry Minister Hiroshige Seko said, "Lifting the evacuation order is not the final goal. We will strive to restore a habitable environment for the population." The relaxing of mandated evacuation will affect about 38% of the town’s area. https://english.kyodonews.net/news/2019/04/2c721791be19-lifting-of-evacuation-order-formalized-for-fukushima-plant-host-town.html
  • The last dregs of previously contaminated wastewater have been placed in weld-sealed tanks at F. Daiichi. Flange-type tanks held together with bolts and other devices were initially used because they could be built quickly. However, some of them developed leaks that made world-wide headlines, and gave the impression that Tepco was incompetent. Replacing the flanged tanks with welded seamed units began after a 300 ton leak in 2013. Some flanged tanks are being kept for temporary storage of uncontaminated groundwater. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0005647263
  • Japan’s business federation (Keidanren) wants nuke plant licensing to go beyond the current 60 year limit. It also wants time frames where the units are shut down to be excluded from the operating lifetime period. Chairman Hiroaki Nakanishi will announce the requests at a news conference Monday. The Keidanren continually stresses the importance using nukes that have been deemed safe by the Nuclear Regulation Authority. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019040501352
  • Former Tepco Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata apologized for the 2011 nuke accident at F. Daiichi. He explained that as chairman, he had no control over the decisions made by the company president and plant management. In Tokyo district court, he testified, "As someone who served as president and chairman, I apologize for causing enormous trouble to those who lost their lives, their bereaved families and the injured. I advised the (Tepco) president upon his request."   https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20181030/p2a/00m/0na/030000c

March 29, 2019

  • F. Daiichi Unit #1 containment to be robot-probed. A boat-shaped submersible will be inserted into the structure as early as this summer to put eight ringed objects and cabling at strategic locations. The installed technology will be used to guide the robots that will follow. In all, six robots will be used to survey the inner containment area. Units #2 & #3 containments have already been surveyed, but Unit #1 poses additional roadblocks, the most severe of which is the sandy-looking material covering the bottom of the vessel. It makes examining for possible fuel debris almost impossible. An official of Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy, which helped fabricate the robots, said, "We'll do our utmost to collect a vast range of data in preparation for removing debris." https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190328_28/ -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201903290051.html
  • The evacuation order for much of the town Okuma will be lifted April 10th. On Tuesday Iindustry Minister Yoshihiko Isozaki said that radiation levels have fallen significantly. As a result, two districts representing about 40 percent of Okuma Town will be opened for repopulation. 374 people have currently-registered addresses in the affected area. Mayor Toshitsuna Watanabe and Fukushima vice governor Masaaki Suzuki both expressed optimism with Tokyo’s decision. This is the first rescinding of living restrictions for both F. Daiichi host communities: Okuma and Futaba. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190326_20/ -- https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019032600732
  • The most recent tally for population evacuation compensation payments can be found here    http://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/fukushima-evacuee-compensation-payments.html
  • All flanged wastewater tanks at F. Daiichi have been replaced. Instead of bolted-together flanges for mounting pipes to the tanks, the newer versions leak-resistant welding of pipes to tanks. Freshwater now stored in flanged tanks will also be transferred to tanks with welded connections. https://www7.tepco.co.jp/wp-content/uploads/handouts_190327_01-e.pdf
  • A lawsuit for cessation of operations at Ohi Station is rejected. The Osaka District Court dismissed an injunction to shutter Ohi units No.3 and 4, both of which are safely operating. The suit claimed that Kansai Electric has underestimated possible earthquake intensity and placed undue risk on the surrounding population. Presiding Judge Kiyoshi Kitagawa ruled that it cannot be said that the plant lacks safety and poses specific risks of serious damage to residents. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190328_30/
  • Tepco is ordered to pay additional compensation for the 2011 F. Daiichi evacuation. More than 20 people who evacuated to Ehime Prefecture were awarded ~$245,000, above and beyond the compensations already paid-out. Presiding Judge Keiko Kuboi ruled that Tepco could have predicted the 2011 tsunami and taken adequate precautions before the natural calamity happened. Plaintiffs claimed they had lost the foundation of livelihood and suffered mental anguish which deserved the additional financial award. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190326_28/ -- https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20190326/p2g/00m/0dm/072000c
  • Japanese doctor’s say iodine should be given to all nearby residents under the age of 40. This affects everyone living within 5 kilometers of a nuke station in Japan. The panel is part of Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority. World Health Organization guidelines say the tablets should be given to children and pregnant women first due to the allegedly higher risk of thyroid cancer to the demographics. Now, the tablets are to be distributed in advance to everyone under 40. Although the risk of radioactive Iodine-induced cancer drops significantly after the age of 40, those in that age group can get the pills if there are sufficient supplies. The panel added that during a nuclear accident, Iodine should be distributed regardless of age. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190329_39/

March 22, 2019

  • Evacuation orders might be lifted next month for parts of Okuma and Futaba, the first for the F. Daiichi co-host towns. The schedule for rescinding the orders is intended to coincide with opening the new Okuma town office. Hideo Yura, deputy chief of the Local Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters said, "The town authorities intend to synchronize the removal of the evacuation order with the opening ceremony as much as possible." Okuma Mayor Toshitsuna Watanabe said, "We would like to see the evacuation order lifted as soon as possible in order to take a step forward toward our town's rebirth." The districts to be affected are Nakayashiki (11 households) and Ogawara (129 households). 21 of the households already have overnight privileges. http://www.fukushimaminponews.com/news.html?id=942
  • Japan’s opinion on nuclear energy seems to be changing. Japan Atomic Energy Relations Organization (JAERO) released the results of a nuke opinion survey taken last October. While most said nuclear was “unsettling” and/or “dangerous”, other opinion options signaled a positive shift may be happening. The “not reliable” notion fell from 30% to 22%, and those of the “bad” opinion fell from 19% to 12%. Further, those feeling future energy sources will include nuclear rose by 5.5% Whether or not this will continue cannot be determined. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/jaeros-recent-public-opinion-survey-on-nuclear-energy-support-rises-somewhat-for-restarting-npps/
  • A Fukushima elementary school graduates its first class since the nuke accident. Unfortunately, it will be its last! Five students were graduated from Yamakiya School in Kawamata. Because there are no other students remaining at the school, it will close next week April. At the ceremony, Principal Jindo Saito said, "All of you have unyielding perseverance. I want all of you to hold on to your love for Yamakiya." Meanwhile, an elementary school in Iitate graduated 14, and will not close! Fourteen elementary or junior high schools in Kawamata, Tomioka, Namie, Iitate and Katsurao, reopened in April 2018. It seems only the Yamakiya School will not continue to operate. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019032200737 -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201903220060.html
  • On March 18th, Tepco announced that the amount of “treated water” at F. Daiichi is now more than a million tons. Further, the company says there is no room to add more empty tanks to accommodate additional wastewater. A spokesperson said, “There’s no more vacant space available, so it’s becoming difficult to secure enough tanks.” Chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, Toyoshi Fuketa, presaged a possible release by saying, “We are entering a period in which further delays in deciding what measure to implement will no longer be tolerable.” The maximum volume that could be stored at the site is 137 million tons. The major issue is residual Tritium, which cannot be removed per existing technology (filtration or adsorption). Although detectibly radioactive, the Tritium is biologically innocuous. Most of the stored wastewater could safely by released to the Pacific Ocean, but fear of damaging rumors keeps it from happening. Tetsu Nozaki, head of the fisheries cooperative, says the release “will have a devastating effect on fishing in Fukushima”. It should be noted that nearly 120,000 tons of the wastewater has been run through a Strontium removal system to remove any residual Sr-90 from the water, and could be released immediately were it not for rampant radiophobia!  http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0005616178 -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201903190042.html -- https://www7.tepco.co.jp/wp-content/uploads/handouts_190318_02-e.pdf
  • Tohoku Electric plans to donate $3.58 million to a local community, but denies it is a “payoff” to restart a nuke at Higashidori Station. The funds will be donated through the corporate version of a hometown tax payment system. The system allows people to give part of their taxes to a local government of their choice. The corporate version allows companies to reduce their corporate and other tax payments if they donate to local governments projects. Satoshi Shimoyashiki, vice manager of Tohoku Electric’s Aomori branch, says, “We decided to provide this form of cooperation because co-prosperity with local communities has been part of our management philosophy since the founding of our company.” Higashidori Mayor Yasuo Echizen added, “We believe that Tohoku Electric decided to support the village's regional revitalization projects.” http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201903200054.html

March 15, 2019

Monday March 11 marked the 8th anniversary of The Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, along with the F. Daiichi accident. Numerous articles were posted by the main news outlets in Japan.

  • NHK World – At a memorial service in Tokyo, survivors and family members spoke about their losses, and coping with the aftermath. Masaaki Konno from Miyagi Prefecture said: "I couldn't find any trace of my mother...there remains a gaping hole in my soul because of the regret, the feeling of powerlessness, the sadness, agony and despair of not being able to find her.“ Kaneko Takahara from Fukushima Prefecture said, "Our hopes had been taken away by the earthquake and by the long evacuation.” Imperial Prince Akishino said, "It is important that we all continue to unite our hearts to be with the afflicted for many years to come, to ensure that none of those who are in difficult situations will be left behind, and that each and every one of them will be able to regain peace in their daily lives as soon as possible.” https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190311_32/ -The Nuclear Regulation Authority urges staff to speak up about things that seem wrong!   Chairman Toyoshi Fuketa addressed about 330 employees on Monday said NRA employees are deluding themselves if they believe Japan will not be hit with another nuclear accident. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190311_20/ - Although the on-going build-up of F. Daiichi waste water continues to hound the NRA, it says the water can be treated and safely released into the ocean. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190311_38/
  • Jiji Press – Prayers for victims of the quake and tsunami are said in Tokyo. The government hosted the service at Tokyo’s National Theater. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, "Steady progress has been made on reconstruction efforts in disaster areas." https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019031100887 – Prospective Bureaucrats tour Fukushima to reduce unfounded rumors. Entitled Hope Tourism, University students on a track to political careers are shown the realities of reconstruction from the 2011 tragedy. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019030600967 – Fukushima’s governor vows to revitalize all evacuated areas! Governor Masao Uchibori said, "The prefecture will work together with the central government, local authorities and related organizations to revive all such areas while respecting local municipalities' plans as much as possible." https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019030900548 - Local farmers and fisheries in Miyagi Prefecture join forces to speed up reconstruction. The Miyagi firms have seen a steady recovery, but hope to accelerate the process. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019030800657 – Creation of new Fukushima industries experiences delays. The national project (Fukushima Innovation Coast Concept) began in 2014, but has traveled a rough road while trying to meet some overly-ambitious goals. A prefectural official said, "The project covers a wide range of fields and involves new challenges." https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019030900553 – There are about ~52,000 people who officially remain evacuees from twelve prefectures. More than 32,000 are from Fukushima. The official death toll, including “disaster-related” injuries, now stands at 22,100! https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019031000429 – (comment) Although it should come as a surprise to no-one, Jiji Press broadcasts that the number of students in the old no-go zone “dives”. It has been known since the living restrictions began being lifted several years ago! The number of citizens returning to their homes is a considerable minority, so why should Jiji make it seem so shocking? https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019031300954
  • Asahi Shimbun - A Tokyo librarian moved to Fukushima to help recovery. Megumi Higashiyama remembers how fear almost kept her away, but the 28-year-old librarian visited Tomioka and saw library workers cleaning books and discarding other ones and overcame her fear. She recalls, “I thought Fukushima’s issues are not what only the local people should tackle… I wanted to walk along the path where the town is getting back to a normal daily life.” http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201903110044.html - The U.K. and Japan are studying Fukushima radioactive particles. It is dubbed a forensic investigation! Japan Atomic Energy Agency is collaborating with British scientists to understand the particles collected within the restricted zone around F. Daiichi. JAEA’s Dr Yukihiko Satou explained, "The particles were fundamentally extracted from those attached to soil, dust and debris", encased in protective tape, and accelerated to near-light speed at Britain’s Diamond Light Source synchrotron. Team leader Tom Scott of Bristol University says the particles resemble pumice and "Studying... this glassy matrix tells us how available within the environment they are." http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201903090019.html
  • Mainichi Shimbun – At the Tokyo 8th Anniversary memorial service, PM Abe said his government will "will continue to undertake reconstruction work with a commitment to providing seamless support through the various stages of livelihood rehabilitation and further accelerate the reconstruction work." Prince Fumihito said, "I am deeply concerned for the physical and mental health of the afflicted people, especially the elderly, who become more vulnerable year by year." https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20190311/p2g/00m/0na/017000c - The Mainici also posted a photo gallery remembering the Great East Japan Quake and Tsunami… https://mainichi.jp/english/graphs/20190311/hpe/00m/0na/002000g/1 - The average age of citizens returning to communities where living restriction have been lifted remains high. This suggests that younger people tend to shun returning home. More than 45%of the returnees in 9 such communities are over the age of 65. However, this is less than the 49% over 65 in August 2017, indicating that reluctance on the part of the younger demographic may be slowly waning.  https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20190312/p2a/00m/0na/016000c
  • Japan Times – The Times ran a series of five articles on the so-called aftermath of the 2011 calamity. Two of them contain information not found in the previous listings… The current amount of treated contaminated wastewater now totals about 1.1 million tons. More tanks are planned for construction to hold an additional 270,000 tons. This should allow for up to five years capacity if the current radiophobic stranglehold on innocuous release to the Pacific Ocean continues unabated. Akira Ono, president of Fukushima No. 1 Decontamination and Decommissioning Engineering Co., says, “Space isn’t a big issue at this point in time, but five or 10 years from now, after we’ve started removing the melted fuel debris, we’re going to need facilities to store and preserve it.” https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/03/07/national/eight-years-triple-meltdown-fukushima-no-1s-water-woes-slow-recede/#.XIqpN6OP59B – Japan’s nuclear industry continues to languish. With the ridiculously slow pace of restarting perfectly safe nukes, the industry hoped “it could export its way out of trouble.”Since 2016, most of Japan’s nuclear export projects have failed or halted.  This indicates that the nuclear export industry cannot elude the stigma of Fukushima. Thus the question: Is nuclear power still good business for Japan? https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2019/03/11/business/aftermath-fukushima-triple-meltdown-japans-nuclear-industry-faces-fierce-headwind/#.XIqpCaOP59B
  • Japan Today – Fukushima fishermen continue to cower under the dark clouds of unfounded rumors. Fishermen remain vehemently opposed to releasing reprocessed water - deemed harmless by the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) - into the ocean. Tetsu Nozaki, head of the Fukushima Prefectural Federation of Fisheries Co-operative Associations, said "That would destroy what we've been building over the past eight years." https://japantoday.com/category/national/Eight-years-on-contaminated-water-remains-big-problem-for-Fukushima-clean-up - Japan Today dubs the 2020 Tokyo Olympics the “Reconstruction Olympics”. The news outlet isn’t buying Tokyo’s plan to showcase post-disaster recovery at next year’s games. Japan Today erroneously asserts that “Japan ordered more than 140,000 people to evacuate when the Fukushima Daiichi reactors went into meltdown.” The truth is, as has been reported here for eight years, that the number of Tohoku citizens ordered to evacuate by Tokyo is more like 75,000. The article largely focuses on one voluntary evacuee’s verbal angst…one who fled Fukushima City, well-beyond the Tokyo-mandated no-go zone. https://japantoday.com/category/national/fukushima-evacuees-resist-return-as-'reconstruction-olympics'-near  (This is indicative of Japan Today’s incessant negativism the past few years, and why this reporter has shunned adding the news outlet’s reporting for the past four years.)
  • Japan News (Yomiuri Shimbun) – The News reports that there are pending issues that are slowing quake and tsunami recovery. While more than 90% of residential land development and 98% of the rebuilt homes have occurred, social isolation continues to plague the returnees. Evacuees have not returned to their former dwellings, which were lost to the two-pronged natural disaster. The problem exists because they now live in “relocation sites”. Plans to re-socialize these unfortunates have not gone well. Further, the quaint charm of the former seaside communities has been lost. As time passes, the return to pre-disaster society threatens to become a “passing topic”. http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0005598145
  • The International Press focuses almost entirely on Fukushima, and ignores the earthquake and tsunami’s aftermath – Reuters focuses on the wastewater buildup at Fukushima Daiichi. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-japan-nuclear-water/eight-years-on-water-woes-threaten-fukushima-cleanup-idUSKCN1QP0MA?feedType=RSS&feedName=healthNews&fbclid=IwAR1Caarzu5duQbGeW3dYeHxQO7PJg-Dis06VEEMJY-9XdkOGhGULFtwxwjY The Guardianrues the low percentage of people who have returned home after evacuation orders were rescinded. It looks at some of those who have returned, many who are glad they did. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/mar/10/fukushima-eight-years-on-evacuees-come-home?fbclid=IwAR1ef0uWxAUu_yRhZG-qw61lT2-W99W0xDnul-w7DzdLX6UyLRbtGqLEHQw – Clean Energy dot Org. reviews the sensationalist book written by former disgruntled Nuclear Regulatory Commission head, Gregory Jackzo! The review is written by anti-nuclear radical Don Safer, posted by an equally-biased Sara Barczak of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. https://cleanenergy.org/blog/fukushima-nuclear-accidents-8th-anniversary-book-review-an-alarming-inside-view-from-the-top-of-the-nuclear-regulatory-commission/ - International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War obverts its anti-war focus to smear the 202 Tokyo Olympics. Its article’s headline says it all… “Tokyo 2020 – The Radioactive Olympics”. The piece takes elaboration, exaggeration, and the long-passé idea of a military-industrial complex to the extreme! https://globalethics.files.wordpress.com/2018/07/ippnw-2018-07-11-tokyo-2020-the-radioactive-olympics-en.pdf

Here’s some news other than the 8th Anniversary focus –

  • A Yamaguchi court shoots down a suit to stop operation of Ikata unit #3. A Hiroshima court issued an injunction against the unit in December, 2017, citing an alleged risk posed by the unlikely eruption of Mt. Aso caldera, some 130 kilometers distant. The decision was overturned last September, and unit #3 was restarted. It has operated safely at full power since then. Undeterred, local activist fanatics filed suit challenging the government’s risk estimates, arguing that a pyroclastic flow reaching the nuke station was not impossible. Judge Akira Onose said the possibility of a major eruption during the reactor's operating life is low, and the NRA’s safety standards are adequate. Plant owner Shikoku Electric posted the following, "We find the decision appropriate. We will ensure safe and stable operation while keeping in mind that there is no end to efforts to improve safety." https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20190315/p2g/00m/0dm/069000c
  • A study claims that up to 70% of the Cesium released from F. Daiichi in 2011 remains in Fukushima’s forests. Japan Atomic Energy Agency completed the four-year survey in 2016, for forests in Kawamata Town and Kawauchi Village. Radiophobic concerns are based on the assumption of a spread to surrounding farms and residential properties. Researchers have found that 90% of the residual Cesium is now in the forest soil, up to a depth of about 4 inches, effectively containing it. Also, only about 0.1% of the surface residuals spread outside the area each year. In addition, the Cesium concentration in nearby rivers is less that one Becquerel per liter…one-tenth of Tokyo’s legal limit for drinking water! Concerns linger because a freshwater trout was found to have a Cesium concentration above 100 Becquerels per kilogram…Tokyo’s official limit. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190313_03/
  • Three former Tepco executives make a final plea to absolve them of criminal blame for the Fukushima accident. They are allegedly responsible for the deaths of 44 hospital patients and 13 others because evacuation efforts were inadequate to protect the citizens from such a massive seawater surge. The three reiterated their lack of guilt for the umpteenth time. Their lawyer said, "There was no (rational) predictability of massive tsunami and it's obvious that they are free from blame.” The plaintiff’s legal team said Tepco’s pre-2011 estimate of a massive tsunami was unreliable, and that if the three operating units had been shuttered as little as five days before the tsunami, the accident would never have happened. They demand each executive serve a five-year prison term. The verdict will be rendered next Tuesday, March 19th. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019031201049 - http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201903130041.html - https://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20190312/p2g/00m/0dm/058000c

March 8, 2019

  • Tests of new robot designs for disaster-response include one shaped like a snake. The test was on Tuesday at the Fukushima Robot Test Field in Minamisoma. Developed by Tohoku University, the robot slithered across rubble using body vibrations and climbed stairs by floating on air jets. Primarily designed for finding missing people in collapsed buildings, it is capable of being used in other disaster-related situations. Tohoku University Prof. Satoshi Tadokoro said, “It’s important to carry out robot tests at facilities designed to reproduce a power station and other buildings.” http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0005578294
  • Fukushima Dr. Sae Ochi hopes memories from the 3/11/11 triple calamity remain for the future. She maintains that such memories could give future Japanese some hindsight lessons. She feels this has happened to date, but should become forgotten lore. Especially in the case of medical lessons learned. In mid-January she found that 1,249 papers were published in English which included the phrase “Fukushima nuclear accident”, and many more in Japanese-only. However, when these documents are identified as “medical papers”, some of the population says the authors are merely seeking fame by using their patients as guinea pigs! Others say that the authors are using the plight of patients in order to maintain their academic standing! Dr. Ochi explains that such papers are invaluable as a legacy extended to future generations and the prevention of post-calamity discrimination. Further, maintaining these documents will unquestionably save future lives. These are but a few of Dr. Ochi’s important observations. Reading her entire posting should be a must for all who care. https://www.jaif.or.jp/en/memories-and-studies/  
  • An F. Daiichi official says the recent robotic look at the rubble inside the unit #2 pedestal is “big progress”. Tepco’s Decontamination and Decommissioning Engineering Co. President Akira Ono said that last month’s investigation “marked big progress that allows us to plan our future activities better." He added that the company needs to learn more before the unit #3 spent fuel can be removed from its fuel pool. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019030700641
  • Removal of used nuclear fuel from unit #3 is further postponed. Transfer of the 566 bundles, both used and unused, was scheduled to begin later this month. Tepco says the delay is due to problems with the newly-installed fuel handling technology. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190307_32/
  • The percentage of people that avoid Fukushima foods remains significant, but drops to an all-time low. A survey run by the Consumer Affairs Agency shows that as of March 6th, 12.5% of the populace continues to Fukushima products due to on-going concern that they might contain some nuke accident contamination. Remarkably, nearly 45% of the respondents said they were not aware that that all foods from the prefecture are tested for radioactive content! http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201903070041.html
  • Evacuees remaining in temporary housing are down to 3%. There are still 3,418 people in prefabricated housing units, out of the peak number of 116,565 in March, 2012. This covers Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima Prefectures. The intent was to find permanent places to settle by March, 2013, but the delay has been due to slow construction of public housing and Tokyo’s persistence in keeping nuclear evacuation orders in place. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019030600490
  • On Thursday, Jiji Press began its “8 Years On” press coverage. The 8th anniversary of the great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami occurs on Monday, and the news outlet got the jump on the other news media in Japan. First, Fukushima elementary schools are teaching students about radiation. This is intended to give the kids correct information to combat persistent rumors and prejudices. Tomioka Town Principal Shuichi Iwasaki says that radiation is invisible, so his students are taught how to measure it in the surrounding environment. Next, Jiji tells about the efforts of fishermen and public officials promoting products in Japanese cities and those abroad. Last year, safe catches off the prefectural coast totaled 4,010 tons, about 15% of the pre-nuke accident level. In the past four years, only one fish was found to contain internal contamination above the national limit. Finally, Naraha and Tomioka Towns are trying to plan for the inevitable end of the massive financial grants they have received from Tokyo. The monetary flow will cease when both F. Daiichi and F. Daini are fully decommissioned. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019030600848 -- https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019030600510 -- https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019030600483
  • Here’s the Friday postings from Jiji Press – The plan to use soil from decontamination efforts is facing considerable public opposition. The Environment Ministry proposed uses many months ago and wanted to begin a feasibility study. However, the public comment period required before beginning such a project has spawned submittals of heavy opposition. Another article says support for small businesses in the Tohoku Region must come quickly or they will have to close. President of the Corporation for Revitalizing Earthquake-Affected Business Takao Mastsuzaki says businesses in disaster areas "are starting to shut because they have no future prospects," and "the number of bankruptcies may grow." He adds that bakeries and barbershops are perhaps at the greatest risk. Finally, Jiji reports that holding of traditional festivals and other such events is at risk. They could disappear due to population losses and few people returning when evacuation orders are rescinded. https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019030601012 -- https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019030800381 -- https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019030700524
  • Just about all of the other early articles about next week’s 8th anniversary of the nuke accident are skewed to the negative. The Asahi Shimbun says that while some evacuees have returned home, “The scars of that awful time are difficult to erase, and plain to see in so many ways.” In another article, The Asahi implies that the anticipated 40 year decommissioning timetable will be difficult to maintain, “Already, more than one-fifth of the 30 to 40 years estimated for the work has passed without any discernible leap forward on the issue…The path to decommissioning bears all the signs of being long and bumpy.” In addition, the Asahi continues to remind its readers that “no decision has been made on where to store and dispose of the fuel debris even if the company manages to remove the stuff.” Meanwhile, Jiji Press focuses on the financial plight of the Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima residents having trouble repaying emergency relief loans. Out of the initial wave of some 28,000 loans, about 1,703 have failed to meet the first repayment deadline in March, 2018. Nearly 1,600 of them were in Miyagi Prefecture. In Sendai City, loan delinquencies of $5.8 million existed as of December, 2018. Further, NHK World renews concerns about the copious number of giant bags with contaminated debris stored throughout Fukushima Prefecture. 17% of the material has been moved to temporary storage adjacent to F. Daiichi station. But, more than 100,000 locations near homes and other public places continue to have numerous bags present. The Environment Ministry hopes to double the amount transferred to the Okuma/Futaba facility over the past year! http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201903050058.html  -- http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201903060056.html -- https://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2019030401054 -- https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190307_09/
  • Five utilities will loan Japan Atomic Power $2.6 billion to pay for Tokai nuclear Power plant safety upgrades. Tokai nuclear station is just northeast of Tokyo. It is expected that criticism of the planned loan will be considerable. Tepco will be the major participant by reportedly providing $1.9 billion. Tohoku Electric will loan $210 million out of its cash reserves, with Kansai, Chubu, and Hokuriku Electric Companies funding the remainder. The risk centers on JAPCO getting permission to restart from local communities. http://nuclearstreet.com/nuclear_power_industry_news/b/nuclear_power_news/archive/2019/03/05/five-utilities-to-loan-japan-atomic-power-_2400_2.6-billion-030501?fbclid=IwAR3gQs3pGUVv1S_2V9C4Q1kr1Us0DDREQtx6HaNlYPBrNBW26zEUZLY4TFk#.XIAiBKOP59C
  • The Nuclear Regulation Authority closely watches an undersea volcano near Sendai Station, Kagoshima Prefecture. The fear is that pyroclastic flows could engulf the nuke and spew catastrophic levels of contamination into the sea and air. The Aira Caldera, as it is known, erupted about 30,000 years ago. Such an eruption is believed to occur once every 10,000 years, at any one of the numerous calderas that exist in and near Japan. Sendai owner-operator Kyushu Electric has run extensive analyses on the possibility and says a catastrophic eruption with the Aira Caldera is “extremely unlikely”. Kobe University professor Yoshiyuki Tatsumi says predicting an eruption is extremely difficult, “You could make a rough guess that there is a magma reservoir at such and such a location… but monitoring of detailed changes is a difficult affair.” http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201903030001.html

March 1, 2019

  • The current radiation levels inside the F. Daiichi unit #2 pedestal have been reported. Tepco reported the readings to the Press, yesterday. The general area exposure levels are between 6.4 and 7.6 sieverts per hour beneath the bottom of the Reactor Pressure Vessel. The readings increased as the probe came closed to bottom head of the RPV, and decreased with distance, as should be suspected. There were a few local readings as high as 43 sieverts per hour in close proximity to physical objects (structures), probably due to accumulated contamination. The air temperature is steady at about 72 degrees Fahrenheit. During the press notification, Tepco said the device planned to remove some small pieces of rubble in October will not be the one used to take the recent radiation readings and pictures of the corium/debris rubble bed. https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20190301_03/
  • The Cesium internal contamination levels of fish inside and near the F. Daiichi break-wall have been posted for January. Seven Marbled Sole were taken inside and near the port entrance. Ttwo had internal contamination levels above Japan’s 100 Becquerels per 100 kilogram limit. The highest was 646 Bq/kg of total radioactive Cesium. Both also showed the presence of Cs-134, the Fukushima accident “signature” isotope. In addition, ninety-five fish of numerous species were caught outside the port area and analyzed. Only five revealed the presence of isotope Cs-137, with the highest at 5.3 Bq/kg. None of the fish had detectible Cs-134. https://www7.tepco.co.jp/wp-content/uploads/handouts_190226_02-e.pdf -- https://www7.tepco.co.jp/wp-content/uploads/handouts_190226_02-e.pdf
  • Reopened schools near F. Daiichi are having low enrollment issues. Eight elementary and six junior high schools have reopened in Katsurao Village and four other municipalities. One school has only five students and six teachers. While this is an ideal student/teacher ratio, it is far short of what will be needed to keep the doors opened. Millions of dollars have been spent to refurbish and modernize the facilities, but enrollment has actually declined in the schools opened in 2017. This trend may well continue. If it does, some of the schools will be forced to shut down in 2020. http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201903010026.html 

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